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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  November 3, 2015 12:00pm-2:01pm EST

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mr. president, everybody agrees on the importance of clean water. farmers in my state depend on it. and the legislation that we're considering today will ensure that the e.p.a. retains the authority to make sure our lakes and rivers are clean and pollutant free. but, mr. president, members of both parties should be able to agree that allowing the e.p.a. to regulate what frequently amount to seasonal puddles is taking things a step too far. the cost of this rule will be steep and its burdens will be significant, impacting those who have an inherent interest in properly managing their water to protect their livelihoods and health. back in march, a bipartisan group of 59 senators voted to limit the e.p.a.'s waters of the u.s. power grab, and three democrat senators have cosponsored the legislation that's before us today. it is my hope, mr. president, that more will join us to
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protect farmers, ranchers, small businesses, homeowners from the consequences of the e.p.a.'s dangerous new rule. americans have suffered enough under the obama e.p.a. it is time to start reining in this out-of-control bureaucracy. i hope that we will have a big bipartisan vote today in support of the legislation before the united states senate that would do just that. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. donnelly: mr. president, whether you're a farmer or a small business owner in indiana, a republican, a democrat or someone who works at the e.p.a., we all want clean water. if we're going to ensure that our clean water protections are effective, we need to work together and we need to use the feedback from the people who work with the land every single day. unfortunately, the e.p.a.'s waters of the u.s. rule was written without sufficient
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collaboration with some of the people who care about this rule the most -- our farmers, our small business owners, our cities, our states. as a result, the united states court of appeals for the sixth circuit has blocked the implementation of the waters of the u.s. rule known as wotus nationwide. this ruling was in line with the concerns we have raised all along. when you write a rule without significant input from all of those impacted, including our farmers, our ranchers, our small business owners and our local government, legal challenges are inevitable. instead of further lengthy and costly court battles, congress should act to clarify the courage of the clean water act or the courts will do that job instead of us. it's time to roll up our sleeves and provide our ag producers, conservationists and county and
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local governments with the regulatory certainty they need to continue efforts to improve water quality. that's why i was proud to help author and introduce the federal water quality protection act. it's a bipartisan group of senators, including senator john barrasso, a republican from wyoming, senator heidi heitkamp, a democrat from north dakota, and senate majority leader mitch mcconnell, a republican from kentucky. most hoosiers believe we can get more accomplished when we work together, and i've worked across the aisle on what i believe is a very responsible solution. i hope today we'll continue this debate. it will be difficult but we have the ability to get this right. if congress fails to act, our ag community will be faced with continued confusion and uncertainty, and we will not have strengthened our efforts to protect the waters of this
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country. the wotus rule is a perfect example of the disconnect between washington and the hoosier ag community with farmers around our country, with ranchers around our country, with small businesses and with our families. no one wants cleaner water or healthier land more than the families who live on those farms and who work on our farms every single day, right next to those waters, the same waters their children play in and swim in and that they work with every day. that's why countless hoosier farmers are frustrateed that washington bureaucrats are calling the shots. rather than working together, together with our ag community and with our families to develop sensible environmental protections.
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this can be done if it's done the right way. in indiana, we're already leading in many agricultural conservation and environmental protection efforts. we have more farmers than ever before doing things like planting cover crops and using no-till farming techniques. this keeps the oil in the fields. it keeps the inputs in the fields. and we're leading the nation in cover crop efforts, and that's voluntary. that's as part of a program to make sure that our waters are cleaner, our rivers are cleaner and our streams are cleaner, and that's being done by people, not by bureaucrats. let's have some faith and some confidence in the people of this country, in the wisdom of our ag community, in indiana and in every other state. if we work with our friends and
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our neighbors, we can do even more to improve water quality. listen to farmers like mike shooter and mark leegan. mike is an indiana corn growers association member from frankton, indiana. he won the national corn growers association good steward award this year for sustainable corn farming practices. mike said i want clean drinking water for my wife, for my kids, for my grandkids. we work hard to reduce the amount of pesticides, insecticides and fertilizer on our farm. the e.p.a. is going too far by attempting to unilaterally claim jurisdiction over my farm land. mark, a farmer who received the american soybean association's conservation legacy award in 2013, here's what he had to
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say -- farmers have been good stewards of the land for generations. we have found ways to produce more while using less pesticides and less fertilizers. waters of the u.s. gives the e.p.a. one-sided jurisdiction over our ditches and our fields. it makes it more difficult to grow crops and it makes it harder to feed the world. after hearing these frustrations from hoosier ag producers and local and county governments about this rule and because i'm the hired help, not only for indiana but for our country, we wrote the federal water quality protection act. the intention is to strike a reasonable bipartisan compromise. what a unique concept. it's the concept our country has been built on. the legislation is simple -- focus on commonsense principles
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to shape a final rule and to require straightforward procedures that the e.p.a. skipped the first time. these are steps the e.p.a. should have done in the first place, such as reviewing economic and small business impact. the bill isn't designed to destroy or to delay the rule. in fact, our bill asks the e.p.a. to complete it by december 31 of next year. there is no long hide the ball game being played here. we want to have this done by the end of next year. the legislation includes explicit protections for waters that most everyone agrees should be covered. if a body of water impacts the water quality of the wabash or the kankakee rivers, the great lakes or anything similar, our bill protects those waters. it protects commonsense exemptions for isolated ponds and agricultural or roadside
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ditches, most of which the e.p.a. has indicated they never intended to cover. we require consultation with stakeholders such as states and the ag community, including soil and water conservation districts. given the e.p.a. principles, procedure and a clear deadline. this is the bipartisan effort that's meant to be constructive. i urge my colleagues, republican and democrat, to allow us to consider the bipartisan federal water quality protection act. it is our obligation to debate this important issue. i am confident a bipartisan majority of my senate colleagues will support this commonsense bipartisan bill. and this much i promise -- i will continue to push congress to pass a permanent solution. we will never stop advocating on
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behalf of indiana's farmers and families, ranchers and small business and those of the entire country. mr. president, i yield back my time. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. manchin: mr. president, first of all, i want to thank my colleague for working so hard on this. it affects indiana. it affects west virginia. it affects north dakota. it affects every state in the union. i just hope people realize what's going on here, and it's not a partisan issue, it shouldn't be. this is definitely a bipartisan issue that affects everybody in our state. i want to thank senator markey for allowing me to go for a few minutes. i have a funeral in arlington to attend, one of our dear soldiers. i have spoken on the senate floor many times before and the burdens of the e.p.a. has continued to impose on hardworking families and hardworking people in west virginia. today, however, i am not speaking on the mining jobs i spoke about so much. i'm speaking about everyday west virginia. if you have any property whatsoever, if you have a small
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business or a large business, if you come from any walk of life, if you're in agriculture or small farmer or large agriculture, this affects you. this allows the overreach of the government, which we talked about so many times. if you're a government agency, if you're a city, a small town, if you're a county, any decisions you make will be affected or could be affected. if imposed, the agencies waters of the united states rule known as wotus would have a harmful impact all over this great country. again, the wotus rule would not just impact certain industries, it impacts everybody. the e.p.a. wrote and finalized this rule without consulting, without even consulting with some of the people who care about clean water the most, everyday west virginians and americans all over this great country. the wotus rule would impose heavy financial penalties on all of us, including our small business owners, farmers, manufacturers and property
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owners. if you have ever seen the terrain of west virginia, we're the most mountainous state east of the mississippi. i mean, there is very little flat land whatsoever, so anything can be affected and everybody will be affected. whether you build a home, whether you have a small business, whether you're a -- whether your little city or community is going to be affected. if they can show an aerial map that there used to be a river or a stream of any kind, that comes under their jurisdiction. so anybody that thinks differently, it's not going to happen. this is exactly what's going to happen, and that's why all of these small towns, the counties, rural america is totally opposed to this. there is nobody that i know of that doesn't want clean water, clean drinking water, nobody. and with that, we're not saying that the federal government shouldn't have oversight on all of our parties, that -- all of our waters, that are drinking, that are navigable, that are
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recreational. i live on the water, so i know what it is to have the clean water in our streams and rivers. this is not what we're talking about here. as my good friend from indiana and my good friend from north dakota is going to be talking about, this affects everybody. it affects every puddle, every ditch, every runoff. you name it, it affects it. that means it affects all of our lives. they say don't worry, we're not going to do that. we're going to exempt it. oh, yeah, we have heard that before until something they don't like, until basically it gives them the chance to shut something down. i have farmers right now that are concerned about basically the crops they grow, the wildlife that -- i mean, the poultry, if it would be, or any type of livestock that they have to care to, that all of this could be under effect. we fought this before. so the only thing i'm saying is the supreme court instructs us to clarify the clean water jurisdiction over bodies of water in use. this goes too far. in fact, the supreme court has already ruled that not all bodies of water fall under the clean water act regulations, so why are they expanding?
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if they have already ruled on it, why are they expanding these rules? why do they believe they can grab this? they claim they are not required to consult with local governments under the federalism executive order, arguing that the rule did not impact them. the e.p.a. claims even though it did not comply with executive order, it still reached out to local governments. that's not true. that is not true in west virginia, i can tell you that. the e.p.a. claims that it addressed the concerns of local governments by providing exemgz for public safety -- exemptions for public safety ditches and storm water control systems. that is not true either. so with that being said, i can only tell you what my citizens, my communities, my business owners, my local governments are being affected by them and why they are concerned. the bottom line is that it is completely unreasonable that our country's ditches, puzzles and other unnavigable waters be subjected to the same regulations as our greatest lakes and rivers, which we all agree. the wotus rule exempts ditches only if the local government can
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prove, only if the local government can prove, can prove that our country -- can prove that no part of the entire length of a ditch is located in an area where there used to be a stream. the wotus exempts storm water management systems only if they were built on dry land. the wotus rule says e.p.a. can rely on historical maps and historical aerial photographs to determine where the streams used to be, not where they are now. these provisions of the wotus rule should strike terror into the heart of every mayor, county commissioner and manager of a city that was founded before the last century. it's unbelievable. with the sweep of a pen, the e.p.a. is trying to take us back to the days of lewis and clark. according to a memo written in april, not even the corps of engineers knows how it will determine which ditches are exempt and which are former streams. this is our own government. morgumorgantown and wheeling, wt
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virginia -- to go back in time to determine where streams used to be. there's no question that an additional permitting and regulatory requirement requirems implementation of this rule will place a burden on west virginia's economy, which is already hurting very badly. that includes businesses and manufacturing, housing and energy production. many of my home state are already struggling to make ends meet, as you know. we're one of the highest-unemployed states. we're fighting like the dickens and we will to infight and persevere. the new financial and regulatory blurred set them up for failure in an already unstable climate which is in large part caused by harmal regulations the e.p.a. and administration have established we all want to drink wateclean water. this rule represents broad
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overreach that has forced -- of law without professional proven. you cannot regulate what has not been legislated. why are we elected to represent the people when we can't even do if, when we have to fight our own government to do the job that we have been charged with doing? so i urge my colleagues to support this motion to proceed to senate bill 140. thank you, i yield the floor. -- senate bill 1140. thank you, i yield the floor. mr. markey: mr. president, boston's sports teams have had their share of great moments. a a win, you can hear the crowd celebrating by singling a song by the san dells, "down by the rirvetion down by the banks of the river chiles, while i love that dirty water, o boston, you are my home." well, dirty water signals a win
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for a boston team when that is sung. the real victory has been beating the pollution in the chiles river and boston harbor since the passage of the clean water act. that victory is thanks to the implementation of that law which protects sources of our drinking water from pollution and restores dirty waters back to health. we need to keep the clean water act's winning streak alive. unfortunately, the bill the senate may consider today could end the record of wins for the clean water act. its history of success has made the clean water act one of the greatest american success stories. before the clean water act, there was no federal authority to limit dumping, set national water quality standards, enforce pollution rules, city and
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household waste flowed untreated into rivers, harmful chemicals were poured into wetlands and streams from factories and power plants. back then we were all on the honor system. water supplies were managed by a patchwork of state laws and in an appeal to the common good. the result: mass pollution on an historic scale. oozing rivers so toxic that they could ignite in flames, fish dead by the thousands, america's riversides became a theater of public hazards and death. before the clean water act, the federal involvement that was necessary, america's waterways were its sewers. and then in 1969 a public firestorm was touched off by a "time" magazine photo of the cuyahoga river on fire in ohio, with full-throated support from
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the public, congress mobilized and produced the clean water act, one of the most important pieces of environmental law in the history of the united states. the ultimate goal of the clean water act: making waterways safe for people and wildlife -- was so popular that in 1972 a bipartisan congress overrode a veto by richard nixon. the successes and benefits yielded by the pursuit of clean waterways would prove tremendous in the years ahead. the clean water act guides how we use the waterways. it protects the wetlands, the streams and other surface waters that ultimately provide us with drinking water. the clean water act has slowed the loss of wetlands known as the kid anies of the landscape
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because of their ability to remove pollution from the water. and they do it for free, making wetlands the most fiscally responsible water recycling system in the world. the only alternative to this free service is to put our waters on dialysis by constructing filtration plants for billions of dollars in long-term maintenance and building costs. our wetlands support the united states' $6.6 trillion coastal economy, which comprises about half of the nation's entire gross domestic production, and includes our $2.3 billion recreational industry. the clean water act has doubled the number of swimmable and fishable rivers in the united states. it has saved billions of tons of fertile soil from being washed off our farms.
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it has fostered state and federal collabo rairks giving states a key role in managing poisonous rover-off from cities and farms. it established a permitting system to control what gets dumped into america's waterways. it developed fair and objective technology-based pollution control standards to help industries plan their compliance investments in advance. it set science-based water quality standards and requires we will-thought-out plans to meet them. it's environmental monitoring requirements prevent rehabilitated waterways from backsliding. it provides $2 billion for water quality and infrastructure improvements. and among its most important contributions, it empowers citizens to enforce its provisions and actively guard the health of their families. for all of its benefits and successes, however, the clean water act has still not reached
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its goal. one-third of our rivers still have too much pollution. when these drain into coastal waters, they add to the problems being caused by ocean acidification and warming. the pollution can cause dead zones off of our coasts and in the great lakes putting drinking water supplies at risk and threatening sea life. while the act has slowed their loss, wetlands continue to disappear and gone with them are millions of wetland-dependent creatures like ducks and turtles and most of the species of fish we find on our plates. clearly, clean water must be preserved for the health of the public, the environment, and the economy, and that is why the environmental protection agency and the army corps have spent so much time developing the recently finalized clean water rule.
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the clean water rule clears up confusion caused by two u.s. supreme court rulings on the reach of federal water pollution laws and restores protections that were eliminated for thousands of wetlands by president george w. bush and his administration. specifically, the rule revises the definition of "waters of the united states" a term which identifies which waters and wetlands are protected under the clean water act. the rule was written in response to requests for increased predictability for clean water-permitting programs. the clean water rule restores clear protection to 60% of the nation's streams and millions of acres of wetlands that were stripped away under the previous republican administration. the e.p.a. estimates that the
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returning of these clean water protections will provide roughly half a billion dollars in annual public benefits, including reducing flooding damage, filtering pollution, supporting over 6 million jobs and over a hall a trillion dollar outdoor recreation industry. the rule protects public health by closing pollution loopholes that threaten drinking water supplies for one-third of americans. in massachusetts, the drinking water of nearly three in four people will now be protected. the rule enjoys broad support from local governments, small businesses, scientists, and the general public which submitted over 800,000 favorable public comments. 80% of americans support the clean water rule and when asked if congress should allow it to go forward, they responded with a resounding "yes." despite public support for clean water and this commonsense rule, the republicans want to bring a bill to the floor that would
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undermine the national goals and policy written by the clean water act. if enacted, this water-polluting bill will undermine the legal framework that protects our water. it would once again leave one-third of the nation's drinking water vulnerable to dangerous contamination and it will set up a fight over technical details that would prevent us from protecting the public's health by preventing the dumping of toxic chemicals into natural public drinking water sources. and the critics falsely claim that the clean water rule overreaches because it enables broader federal jurisdiction than is consistent with law and science. and so, ladies and gentlemen, i support the work that the e.p.a. and the army corps have done in putting together the clean water rule. it will continue the string of vick thrais our nation as enjoyed under the clean water act. and i urge my colleagues to oppose any legislative efforts to overturn the clean water
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rule. we need to keep the clean water act working for all of america, and i want to make sure that the only place in massachusetts people are talking about dirty water is after one of our great boston sports teams have chalked up another victory. that's the only time we should be singing about dirty water because otherwise the health and well-being of people across our country will be harmed. so, mr. president, i ms. heitcamp: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. ms. heitcamp: i ask this aask unanimous consent that amy crane be grantinged floof floor privileges for the duration of today's session of the senate. the presiding officer: without objection.
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ms. heitcamp: thank you, mr. president. you would think listening to this that people who want some commonsense regulations don't believe in clean water. you would think that somehow if we do this, the charles river or the cuyahoga river all of a sudden, having been navigable their whole -- the whole while here under the clean water act jurisdiction suddenly wouldn't being navigable. i mean be, that is not the case. that is not the case. and i think that it's really important that we ratchet down the emotion and we start looking at the facts. and let's start with where we are right now. with this idea of what is in fact jurisdictional waters under the clean water act. this has been a debate for 40 years. it's been in and out of the courts for 40 years. in 1985 the court made a ruling. in 2001, the court made a ruling and in 2006, the court decided a case called rapanos.
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it said e.p.a. is write. four justices said e.p.a. is wrong and one justice said e.p.a. may be right. and as a result, we have created a system that creates and has caused great uncertainty in america today as it relates to how we use land. okay, acting into that uncertainty, e.p.a. promulgated a rule. that rule is inconsistent, in my opinion, with the direction that they were given by the courts. that rule has created an incredible amount of uncertainty, and to suggest that every major ag group rin, every group that is out there, including the association of counties, including many of the governors, are all wrong and they all love dirty water is absolutely insulting as we kind of move forward on this discussion. i'm going to show you why north dakota is concerned about this regulation.
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this is an aerial picture of my state. you know, you may not think that -- you may not think that there's a lot of water in north dakota. this as picture of my state in devil's lake, in the devil's lake area. you might say, oh, she picked a picture that looks like this. i ask and invite you to come to north dakota. i'll fly you in anywhere in north dakota. you see all this water here and you see all this water here, and you see this. see that? that's a pothole, what we call a prairie pothole. it used to be and seasonably is full of water. sometimes it's farm, sometimes it's not. is this waters of the united states? it's not connected to any navigable stream. it's not adjacent to any kind of navigable water, moving water. none of this is connected with any kind of cross-land connection. but i will tell you under the
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rule that we have, and under the interpretations of the corps of engineers, which we always forget when we're talking about this, the corps of engineers and e.p.a., what they would say is we don't know. we have to send biologists out to take a look at this. we have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, of taxpayer dollars, to determine whether in fact there is substantial nexus. we asked for a simple rule, first just as a point of view, when the statute says navigable water, that water ought to be moving some place other than into the ground. all water in the world is interconnected. we know that. that's a matter of hydrology. that's a matter of science. and scientists would say there's no such thing as a discreet separation, but you know what? legal le there is. -- legally there is.
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it did not say every drop of water is controlled by the environmental protection agency under the clean water act. it said navigable waters. and we have been in this fight for a lot of years, including 2006. i want to make this point -- and i know, mr. president, that we are in excess of the time. i'd ask for just a little more time to conclude my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. heitkamp: i want to make this point because it really is a question -- the senators who have come here and talked about this rule, talked about we're making progress, what they haven't told you is that rule has absolutely no legal effect anywhere in this country today. you know why? because the courts of the united states abstained it. it's not in effect while we litigate yet another case. and so, when we looked at this problem and we looked at trying to give certainty to farmers who own this land -- by the way, this land is not owned by the people of this country. this land is owned by farmers
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who need certainty, who need to know. and so, we looked at this. we said it is time for congress to do what congress ought to do, which is legislate. which is to actually make a decision, to not just get on either side of a regulatory agency and yell about whether they're right or wrong, but actually engage in a dialogue. and that's why senator donnelly and senator barrasso and senator inhofe and i sat down and said look, this will continue in perpetuity, we will spend millions of dollars litigating this and never get an answer because chances are we're back to 441, and that's not an answer. and so we put together a piece of legislation looking at how can we as legislators, as congress, provide some parameters on what this means. now, people who will vote "no" on a motion to proceed will tell you we want e.p.a. to decide. and i'm telling you that people
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in this country expect congress to decide. they expect congress to make this decision to step up and resolve this controversy, because 40 years and millions and millions of dollars spent in litigation is not a path forward. and so, as we look at this legislation simply on a motion to proceed, on one of the most controversial issues in america today, which is waters of the united states, not voting to debate this issue, not voting to proceed on this issue is the wrong path forward. and so i would urge my colleagues to open up the debate and let's talk about this map. not the charles river and not the cuyahoga river, because i will concede today that they are navigable water. but i want to know in what world is this navigable water of the united states? in what world should e.p.a. have jurisdiction over this pond? and in what world when you're the farmer who owns it do you
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think you have any certainty as we move forward? we are trying to give certainty to the american taxpayer. we're trying to give certainty to people who build roads and bridges. we're trying to actually have a debate on an important issue of our time. and so i urge my colleagues to vote "yes" on the motion to proceed so that we can have an open debate. it could be fun as we talk about this issue. so with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: i would ask consent to speak up to two minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: mr. president, we have a chance at 2:15, i believe, for 15 minutes to close the debate. at 2:30 we're going to have a cloture motion. i would urge my colleagues to vote against the cloture motion. and i agree with my friend, senator heitkamp in that we need certainty. we've been debating this issue for a long time since the court cases. if this bill were to become law, you're not going to have certainty. it's going to be litigated.
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whatever is done is going to be litigated. we know that. we've seen the litigious nature of what has happened over the course of the issues. yes, i want congress to speak on this, and congress has spoken on this. congress has said very clearly that we want the test of the clean water act be to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of our nation's waters. i don't want congress to say, no, we don't want that. we now want a pragmatic test that could very well jeopardize clean water. the bottom line is each congress should want to strengthen the clean water act, not weaken it. this bill would weaken the clean water act and prevent a rule from becoming law that has been debated now for a long time. i urge my colleagues to reject the motion nor cloture and we'll a little bit more to say about this at 2:15. mr. barrasso: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: i ask unanimous consent that the mandatory quorum under rule 22 be waived with respect to the cloture vote on the motion to proceed to
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s. 1140. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. barrasso: mr. president, i also have six unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate the previous order, the senate
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>> about whom will your next ride? i thought there was only one
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person, only one about whom i would write if i were to write a second biography. i remembered, i did write that book and i thought i'm going to be standing next to the president speaking to 3500 of the most important people in the world in this room. who knows how i will feel in the moment. i don't know. i had the idea i might do that. i put it out of the book later but if i feel as a newcomer use the word chutzpah, if i feel that in a moment to be able to pull off the goofiness i will do it. this sunday night on q&a. >> i think support for going to take politics seriously and at least vote, but never to make what we christians would call an idol of politics. they are people that have done that and they are sort of
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worshiping that idol rather than the god who would cause them to care for the poor and injustice. i think it's a fine line something i talk about very often. >> sunday night at eight eastern and pacific on c-span's q&a. >> c-span presents "landmark cases," the book, a guide to our landmark cases series which explores 12 historic supreme court decisions including marbury v. madison, korematsu versus united states, round versus the board of education eric miranda v. arizona and wrote the way. landmark cases, the book features introductions, background, highlight and the impact that each case.
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"landmark cases" is available for $8.95 plus shipping. get your copy today at >> coming up next we are planning live coverage of today's white house briefing with josh earnest. it was scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. we will have it for you when it gets under way. before that the president obama yesterday announced new actions on criminal justice reform including new grants for adult reentry programs for former prisoners and eliminating requirements that job applicants check a box regarding a criminal record. [applause] >> hello, everybody. thank you. thank you so much. thank you, everybody. thank you so much. everybody please have a seat. thank you very much. well good afternoon, everybody.
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it is good to be in newark. [cheers and applause] let me first of all thank you chancellor, nancy cantor, for hosting us here today. where's nancy? there she is. [applause] your mayor, ras baraka, is here. [applause] your senator, cory booker, is in the house. [applause] where did kory cook? there he is right here. your congressman, donald payne, jr. [applause] you know, over the course of this year, i've been talking to people all across the country about reforming our criminal justice system to be fair, to be smarter, to be more effective. i met with police chiefs and beat cops.
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i've met with prisoners, corrections officers. i've met with families of fallen police officers and families of children who were killed by gun violence. i've met with men and women battling drug abuse, and we have coaches, and folks working on new solutions for treatment. and i have to tell you that from all these conversations, i have at times despaired about the magnitude of the problem. i've asked myself, how do we break the cycle that has young children somehow on that pipeline where they end up incarcerated? and yet what's interesting is
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i've been really helpful as well during the course of this year, because what i've seen is that there are people across the board, folks who work inside the criminal justice system, folks who are affected by the criminal justice system, who are saying there's got to be a better way to do this. and are not just asking questions about how we make the systems smarter and more effective, but are also showing us how it's done and are actually implementing it. this afternoon i spent with the mayor and senator booker, getting a firsthand look at how newark is helping to lead the way. and as a partner in our my brother's keeper initiative, the mayor and the senator, congressman and others are working in a public-private partnership to focus on
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disrupting the pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails. here in newark when it comes to rehabilitating prisoners and reintegrating former inmates into society, you've got organizations that are doing extraordinary work. and that's what i want to focus here today. because places like integrity house, the work that's being done in our federal renewal program through the district court and our u.s. attorney's office, they are publishing extraordinary things. and when you meet folks were taking that step that break addiction, and overcome great odds, and you see what they have already accomplished and what more they're going to publish in the future, you cannot help but feel hopeful about the future.
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now, right now there are 2.2 million americans behind bars, 2.2 million. we incarcerate people at a rate that is unequaled around the world. we account for 5% of world population, 25% of its inmates. they are disproportionately black and latino. as one of cory's republican colleagues, john cornyn from texas, no bleeding heart liberal here, likes to point out, almost all these individuals will eventually he released. more than 600,000 inmates are released each year. around 70 million americans have some sort of criminal record, 70 million. that's almost one in five of us. almost one in three americans of
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working age. now, a lot of time that record disqualifies you from being a full participant in our society, even if you've already paid your debt to society. it means millions of americans have difficulty even getting their foot in the door to try to get a job much less actually hang on to that job. that's bad for not only those individuals, it's bad for our economy. it's bad for the communities that desperately need more role models who are gainfully employed. so we've got to make sure americans who have paid their debt to society can earn their second chance. and as i said before, we spent the day seen people who are doing just that, counselors, parole officers, small business
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owners who are giving folks a second chance, federal judges who are not only being smart about the sentencing but are also helping, to the extent that they're going into their own pockets, just to help somebody who is transitioning out get the right clothes for a job interview. i've spoken to men and women who are part of programs like nj-step here at rutgers newark. you are giving prisoners a second chance to start taking college courses before they released so that they can we ever society with marketable skills. and i've had a chance as i said to speak with folks who are working hard to get back on track. i just want to highlight a couple of them. i hope you guys are not embarrassed if you were here, because i'm really proud of what you are doing.
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daryl rose was arrested for drug-related abuse charge in 2013, served six months in prison. it is a member of integrity house, that's a treatment center that i visited earlier this afternoon, determined to become a productive citizen. he's getting to counseling and support that he needs to achieve his goals. and his family is with him every step of the way. so we're very proud of daryl. [applause] i don't know if daryl is here. are you here, daryl? ashley sinclair. ashley judd today, i know that. were is actually? come on. there you are. stand up, ashley. [applause] ashley spent most of her 21 years on the streets, and involved in crime. eventually she decided she wanted something better for herself, joined a program called project hope, ebbers everybody
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with her work ethic. she earned a place in the newark department of sanitation. antedate instead of getting in trouble on the streets, she's earning a paycheck cleaning up those street. so we are proud of actually. [applause] -- actually. we want more success stories like these. it's good for everybody. it means less crime. it means less recidivism. it means less money spent on incarceration to it means less wasted taxpayer money. it means police are not having to arrest the same folks over and over again. it means young people are seeing in their community people who are working. that in turn creates economies in those communities that are legal and not just illegal, which creates redevelopment for everybody. and now suddenly businesses have more customers, which means they're hiring more, educated
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virtuous cycle. that's why today we are taking to new actions to create more success stories like this. these are actions that i can take as president through my executive authorities. number one, my administration is announcing new grants to help returning citizens seized a second chance fo to education ad job training and housing and legal help and children's services. [applause] five cities are announcing commitment of their own to help folks reentering society to train for high-tech jobs come and we're going to be partnering with them come and others, to try to make sure that the good work that we saw here today we can start expanding. all right, so that's point number one, putting some more money in the system. let me say it's nowhere near what we need, but it gives us
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more ability to create more programs that serve as an example of best practices so they can be duplicated around the country. that's point number one. point number two, and taking action to ban the box -- [applause] -- for the most competitive jobs at federal agencies. now, the federal government is a big employer, as you know, and like a lot of big employers, on many job applications there's a box that asks if you have a criminal record. if you answer yes, that a lot of times you are not getting a callback. we are going to do our part in changing this to the federal government i believe should not use criminal history to screen applicants before you even look at the qualifications. we can't dismiss people out of
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hand simply because of the mistake that they made in the past. and i have to say that, although this is something that i can do on an executive basis, this is an area where cory booker, working with one of his republican colleagues, ron johnson, are working to try to pass federal legislation, a ban the box bill that's working its way through the senate. i believe congress should pass legislation that builds on today's announcement. and keep in mind some really good, really successful companies are already doing this. wal-mart, target, koch industries, home depot, they have already taken action to ban the box on their own. and 19 states have done the same. so my hope is, is that what the federal government also taking action, us getting legislation passed, this becomes a basic
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principle across our society. it is relevant to find out whether somebody has a criminal record. we are not suggesting ignore it. what we are suggesting is, when it comes to the application, give folks a chance to get through the door. [applause] give them a chance to get in there so that they can make their case. [applause] now, this is not just the only step that we can take. just two weeks ago, cory, the democrats and republicans moved through the senate a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill. this is a bill that would reduce mandatory minimums for nonviolent offenders. they would invest in law enforcement. it would reward prisoners with time off if they complete programs that make it less likely that they will commit crimes in the future. and there's a similar bill working its way through the
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house. i urgently encourage both the senate and the house to pass these bills. it will not completely change the system overnight, but it will login the basic principles that we understand i'm going to make us a fairer and safer society over the long term. and i'm very proud of the work that those legislators are doing. i especially proud because it's not typical of democrats and republicans get together on useful legislation, let's face it. but this is an area where we've seen similar strong bipartisan work, and i'm very encouraged by that. there are so many americans who desperately want to earn a second chance. i already mentioned daryl and actually. i'm going to call out one other person.
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dquan rosario -- >> we are going to the rest of the presidents remarks and take you live to today's white house briefing. >> congratulations. >> typically i will follow my cup of water. today it is filled with the sweet nectar of the world series championship. if you see me saving it today, you will know why spend what does that involve speak with maybe by the time i finish it you will be able to tell. [laughter] exactly, aged for 30 years. well done. i don't have any announcements at the top legal go straight to your questions. >> i know the state of women said they are reviewing the request to suspend the process. what does the president want to see with that request? >> my understand is the state department is to return the letter to determine exactly what the request is and what is motivating that request.
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i think we have all shared our collective view that i think this is wha one associations wee neglected you. this is a process that is taking an extensive amount of time to complete. i do have it update for you in terms of what the state department currently is in the process. but given how long it's taken, it seems unusual to me to suggest that somehow it should be paused yet again. but this is something the state department is still considering. when they have a reaction to the letter, when the administration has reaction to the letter they will be the one to announce it spent so the president stands by what you said yesterday, which is he plans to make a decision by the end of his presidency speak with that is their current plan even as we evaluate the request and consider the reasoning behind it.
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>> does the president taking responsibility for the length of time? this was to push back up for the 20 oh collection, now transcanada, they would've pushed back until after the 2016 election. does the president-elect this is something he bears some responsibility for? >> the art couple of things that have intervened. the first is the way to legitimate reason to hold this up what was in the midst of a legal and judicial proceeding in nebraska. and that did delay the consideration of this proposal primarily because that legal process was having some impact on the potential final route of the pipeline. so at that stage it made sense for there to be a delay. we've talked about how aggressively advocates on both sides of this issue have politicized this particular infrastructure project i would venture to say there's probably
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no infrastructure project in history of the kind that has been as politicized as this one, although i wasn't around for the intercontinental railroad. maybe there was some politics associated with that. this one has been infused with politics. my experience when things are worthy of tactical consideration get politicized, that really speeds up the technical consideration. that typically has the effect of slowing it down. i think there are a number of competing factors and i think the president has worked hard to try to ensure that the eventual determination is one that is focused on the merits. on the merits of the application. the president himself has talked about how part of what will be factored into consideration is the impact this project would have on greenhouse gas emissions and carbon pollution. so that certainly will be a part
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of the consideration. i guess what i would say is there's no doubt that been a series of delays for reasons relating to politics and legalities but there's also been a delight based on the desire to shield this process from politics so that the merits can be a properly considered spent this has been going on for so long. does the president feel pashtun and we have a transcanada stepping in and wanting -- [inaudible] why doesn't the president tell the state department give me your final answer? why doesn't he just do that? >> i think in large part it's because he doesn't want this process to be inappropriate influence by political posturing on either side frankly. >> soundtrack. >> but i do think what is appropriate notice to do our best to try to shield this process as much as possible. there's no doubt of this debate has been heavily influenced by
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politics and the president is doing his best to try to shield the actual process that will consider the merits of the project from those politics. it's difficult to to give me the politics that are being played. i would stipulate that is a difficult challenge but it is one the president is committed to. because, and this is the reason why it's important. is for as politicized as the process has been, you can imagine a politicized the analysis of the outcome will be but all of the interested observers. so that's the other reason to invest in the integrity of the process, to try to shore up the integrity of the outcome. roberta? >> transgender says it wants to wait until after the election and if the present desired -- [inaudible] would that mean that that would not be a good enough reason to
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pause the reduce? >> i think that the election is a year away. i believe exactly a year away. so i don't think that that's a good excuse for basically spent the next year doing nothing. in fact, there are a lot of things the president wants to do, and there are other things that could be derailed by politics over the course of the next year, but that's not an excuse to do nothing. it's frankly a reason to try to focus on the merits and to rise above politics and focus on the best interest of the country. that's exactly what the ongoing process is, is trying to determine, the best interest of the country. so we are going to continue to do our best to shield that process that will consider the merits of this project from the political debate. and given the fact election is a year away, we should be able to do that.
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>> so fundamentally then, the president says he wants. this is something wants to finish before he leaves office of? >> the president has said that before, yes, that he would like to this determination be completed before he leaves office. >> is there anything in the executive order that is used to evaluate whatever it is, that would preclude a company of any type asking for a delay? >> i'm not aware of any legal requirements that are included in the executive order, but because of the state department is the one implemented this executive order i would actually ask the state department legal experts over there further analysis of the legal implications of this request from transcanada. >> donald trump said today in a news conference that the fed is
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keeping interest rates low other across a president obama and his administration. can you comment on that? has the president or the administration asked the fed to keep interest rates low? >> of course not. use ambitious goes to great lengths to ensure that the federal reserve can make monetary policy decisions that are focused solely on the best interests of the country and our economy, and to prevent of those decisions from being influenced or even tainted by more narrow political considerations. that has been an important principle of policymaking in this country and it's one that this administration has worked assiduously to protect. >> a couple of questions. speaking of legacy, i want to go to the issue of criminal justice. could you get into the depth a little more than the president talked about, a little more into the neat about how race plays in
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fixing all these problems, the criminal justice reform, crack cocaine, ban the box are some of things he was talking about yesterday speak with the president was actually directly asked this question in interviews that he did yesterday with nbc, and i think the president was quite clear in noting that the entire country has a stake in the resolution of these issues. the entire country's interest in a criminal justice system that is implemented fairly big in the entire country has a stake in the reform of our criminal justice system that results in lower crime rates and safer communities. so this is something that the president is taking on because of his concern for the kennedys all across the country. >> there's a course out that there's been very vocal to the
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media talking about, they have -- [inaudible] about who will be released from prison, how they would be released, closing of the gap and the retroactive sentencing change with the crack cocaine versus powder. could you talk to us about what information or how the white house, what people are saying that her hearing, we are hearing -- people of this understands about what the president and some people just hate the idea. could you give us some information in the communication you guys have? >> i think it's hard to generalize about the comments of people who choose to contact the white house about one particular issue or another. i think the best way for you to assess what the grassroots across the country, citizens across the country are saying
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about this is to consider the unusual display of bipartisanship that we have seen in pursuit of this form efforts in congress. i have report on a number of occasions that these kinds of displays of bipartisanship in this congress have been quite a rare, but this is one of those instances where we have seen republicans engage constructively with the democrats in pursuit of a shared goal. it does mean we agree on every aspect of this reform proposal but it does indicate that there is a lot of bipartisan ground to be seized in pursuit of these kinds of reforms that i think democrats and republicans alike acknowledge that concerns about fairness in our currently structured criminal justice system are well founded or i think democrats and republicans alike agree that are some commonsense reforms that could be made to our criminal justice
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system that would actually lower crime rates and make communities across the country safer. that does have much to do with politics. that has to do with a basic response with other united states government to provide for the state as he could of the american people and committed all across the country. i think democrats and republicans alike acknowledge that i think what's remarkable is a willingness on the part of both parties to set aside their partisan fight on whole range of other issues in order to focus on the common ground that exists here. so i think it's an indication of how high the stakes are and i also think it's an indication of how much, grant actually exists. so that leaves us reasonably optimistic that some important steps can be taken even in the divided congress and even in a divided capital city to reform our criminal justice system. >> there's a focus of this week in the house on the highway transportation funding act of
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2015. is very concerned out of this white house that the funding like some members, democrats and house, are concerned that the funding will only be for three years versus a six-year period, where states normally typically have those at six years. isn't a concern out of this white house about that? >> the fact is the last several extensions though he's kind of be measured not in years but in months. and that is something that we've expressed some significant concern about their primary because the impact that it would have on the good of states to plant infrastructure projects. so we have been encouraging congress to consider as long term legislation as they can in working on this funding mechanism. we are going to continue to do that. i know there's a wide range of considerations from members of
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congress as they pursue those but whether it's three years or six years, it certainly would be an improvement on the most recently passed i believe it was a three or four week extension. we need to get ou out of this of these short-term extensions and consider longer-term proposals but it sounds like that's what congress is doing. >> one last question director do you agree with the assessment from the transportation secretary when it comes to the roadway infrastructure? he feels like no one is listening and he says it's so severe he feels like chicken little and the sky is falling. do you agree with that assessment? >> i know it is secretary fox's responsibility to look out for the transportation infrastructure and to make sure it is in place to again provide for the sake of the american traveling public. that's his top priority but also to ensure the free flow of commerce at high function become in this country. we know there are direct
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economic implications for allowing our transportation infrastructure to degrade. so modernization projects and improvements are good both because they create jobs i in te short term to lack of this upgrade are modernize infrastructure but they are also important to the long-term economic strength of the country. i know this is something secretary fox's been focused on and it's important for people in both parties and all across the country to listen to his advice. he actually knows what is been talking about. he's the one who assessed the situation so i would refer you to them. >> back to keystone for a second. when you asked why doesn't the president has asked the state department to give a recommendation on the merits, you said is trying to shield it from politics. i'm trying to understand how the president asking for a report on the merits would be influenced by politics? i think would be just the
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opposite. >> no. the suggestion, let me try to be clear about this. the point i'm trying to make is that there's recently been mighty politics at play here in trying to affect the timing of the keystone proposal. for a long time we sing advocates on both sides, to be fair, urging the petition to reopen make a decision. nonow we're hearing propose a website urging the administration to slow down in making the decision. or policy. in fact, is we believe that the decision should be made on the timeframe of experts for evaluating this project. ones that come to determination based solely on the merits an obvious on the political the timing, that's when this process should be completed. >> while those who may not have a stake in this one way or the other and for not taking a partisan position might be legitimately curious about how it could take so long to study the merits of what is as you
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said pretty straightforward infrastructure project your i mean, the lack of a decision doesn't seem to me to have insulated this from politics at all. it is only intensified the politics around the decision-making process. it seems to me and i think a lot of people, you want to shield of this, the continued application of political pressure, make a decision. >> again -- >> proper way to get the politics out of there. >> the president instruction to the state department is to carefully consider the merits of this proposal and to make a decision since those mayors have been properly considered. what exactly was into that and why it has taken so long, the state departmen department ablee you more insight into that, but i would concede that it's taken quite some time already. >> getting back to the donald trump conversation about janet yellen. he also says the president has instructed her because he feels there's a real estate bubble and he wants to be out of office
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before the bubble burst and that would be burst by any incremental raising of interest rates. that's a economic observation to by someone who at least tells the country has some experience in real estate. >> and who has declared bankruptcy like four times, too. consider that advice. consider the source of that advice i guess. >> does this industries have any fear of arrest a bubble and disciplined in any way, shape, or form current interest rates are creating the potential to be a bubble? >> i have seen any sort of economic analysis of this. i'm sure the treasury department has taken a look at this. and i know that, as we've talked about the broader economic recovery over the last seven years from the worst economic downturn since the great depression there has been a focus on particularly residential real estate. and are some steps that this administration has taken to try
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to help homeowners who lost a lot of money in the last economic downturn to help them stay in their homes first of all, but second of all to help them be able to conduct transactions in an efficiently functioning real estate market. so this has included another thing, you'll remember back in january that the president announced a set of reforms around mortgage premium insurance where we would lower interest rates or mortgage insurance, that would allow homeowners to make purchases that would save them essentially $900 to you. one example of the kinds of steps the president taking using his executive authority to try to make the real estate market work better for homeowners in
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this country. for the consequences of any sort of independent that decisions on the housing market, i'm sure that's something that the fed takes into consideration, but because of our commitment to their ability to make independent decisions i wouldn't speculate on what the impact might be from here. >> hillary clinton anbar no mali have proposals they said they would enact executive authority on gun control. i'm curious if the administration has had any conversations about either this if you're looking for their suggestions because the president told -- [inaudible] or does he administration with either hillary clinton or martin o'malley are going to on what is actually permissible executive authority even with gun violence? >> i haven't looked carefully at their proposals and then ushered administration has conducted a legal analysis of their specific proposals.
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what the commission is doing at the direction of the president is carefully consider what authorities are available to the president and looking to see if there are some additional steps that can be taken to prevent criminals, those were the subject of a restraining order of those with mental problems, from getting their hands on a gun so easily. it is our view that there are some things that congress can do that would not require an executive action, but also protect the basic constitutional rights of law-abiding americans would come to the second a minute does this administrative leave these ideas are helpful? the implication is you are not moving fast enough and there are things that are obvious to hillary clinton and martin o'malley? >> what is helpful is people putting forward ideas. the president said at this point a month or so ago and made quite clear it's a more forthcoming political debate about these issues but the prospect of them coming up in the context of the
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presidential campaign i think is something we consider to be good news. >> do you want to hear and have a conversation about these and bring them in or do something that's more aggressive than you have done so for? >> we welcome an aggressive public debate on these issues but in terms of our own legal analysis we have the resources or the white house and within the federal government to consider what authorities are available to the president. >> thanks, josh. the dnc sent an e-mail said earlier this year thousands of democrats back president obama when he vetoed case of xo. we made our voices heard that we would stand up to protect our plan. earlier in this very critical about political posturing on either side. isn't the present own party billing office decision that very definition of politicizing this? >> i think there are a variety of voices that have tried to capitalize on a political opportunity around the
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consideration of this project. and that's, again i think we see that inches but everything that happens in washington. we have certainly seen that both from opponents and proponents of this particular project. and i didn't see the e-mail you're referring to from the dnc, but it sounds like based on what you have read that they were articulate their support for the president's decision to veto a piece of legislation that would circumvent a long-standing administrative process. i think, yes, i think it adds politics to the debate i don't think that makes that kind of debate illegitimate. it certainly doesn't make those arguments illegitimate. >> he vetoed that legislation to protect the planet or was it an executive power play? >> i think it was a concern about both. but i think a principal concern we had at that point was that
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this was an effort by congress, a political effort by congress, to circumvent this administrative process that would consider exactly what impact it would have on carbon pollution. in order to allow the administrative process to continue, the president vetoed legislation that would circumvent it your. [inaudible] >> i probably am i just, i guess they are quicker rate will be affected by the fact that i didn't open it. >> i'm going to take a stab at another keystone question. is what the state department doing right now and analyzing this request from keystone is it that there try to figure out whether they and president obama can reject something that has been pulled back or are they trying to figure out how to do that? do understand the distinction for? >> i don't think i do. >> i think what you're saying is you guys are not sure whether
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the administration can reject it now. is that which was in? >> no. i don't mean to leave you with that impression. because my understanding is come and get this is something the state department is to redo it, they are trying to figure out exactly what transcanada specific request is. i think transcanada based on my own reading of their new phillies was drunk at distinction between withdrawing the application edges asking the state department to essentially applause their consideration of the pending application. >> that's what intended to give because that's what w we're all thinking, wait until the next president so maybe we get a better chance. if that's what they are doing, and the president wanted to act, then he would just act before the end of his term, right speak with it depends on essential with the state department determines based on their review of the letter and then it depends based on what they determine about the merits of this specific project.
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>> you are not willing to say the last remaining hangups to administration action is the legal basis for acting on a suspended request from whatever? that's not the issue. the issue could be any number of things. >> i would be surprised if a similar summit that is considering all of that. i think that goes into the consideration of exactly what transcanada's request is. >> the president has said he wants to be the one to do with his before he leaves office. then there's the reason why he can't be and less bears some legal complication to weighing in on something that the guise of september may hold off on it now. >> i think that is part of what in terms of considering translators request i'm sure that's part of what is being considered. >> i just want to ask a paul ryan question. we've seen all the mor more appd
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by an action if it turns out he doesn't think president obama is doing good things for the country and he doesn't think hillary clinton will be the. do you have a better sense that he is someone that you can get stuff done with yet, or not? and basically does the white house have a clear game plan for how much you want to try to work with him on staff? have you figured out what you can do with them yet speak with i think it is too early to tell at this point about whether or not he will follow through on the promise that he is made to try to change the way that the house of representatives conduct their business. for years now we've seen a house that has been driven to dysfunction based on the chaos within the republican conference here in the hope was that somebody like speaker ryan would be able to do two things. one is to unify the conference, but to actual put forward an affirmative governing agenda.
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right now all we've seen from republicans in the house and in the entire congress is to careen from crisis to crisis hoping they can diffuse the bomb before it goes off. speaker ryan was bound to conduct the business of the house of representatives in a different way, and it has been our observation that in order to do business in a different way it means that somebody like speaker ryan is going to have to be open to some compromise to it so it does mean that he has two capitulate on his principles. i do think anybody would have that expectation, particularly somebody who has spent as much time writing and thinking about the conservative principles that he has. we certainly, we have profound differences that those differences are respected. the question is, in order to
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make progress for the country in the general direction of those principles, are you going to cover lies with democrats to get it done? this is where sort of goes to the basic challenge of the job come is any piece of legislation that is passed by the house and by the senate has to be signed by democratic president. that means that republicans are going to have to negotiate, and they are going to find a way to compromise and it does mean they have to get in on the principles but it does mean that they're not going to be able to get 100% of what they demand. the challenge for the republican leadership in the house has been that there's a substantial and the vocal conservative element inside their conference that for some reason doesn't understand that. and so speaker ryan has to determine how he's going to deal with it. i will say that it is an interesting sign that he was willing to vote for the compromise budget proposal that
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the president signed into law yesterday. that is certainly reflected a compromise. the administration didn't get everything that we wanted but we got a lot. and republicans got something and that's the essence of compromise and that's why the president signed into law. but we'll have to see moving forward. my guess is this is not a judgment that can be rendered in just a couple of weeks or even a couple of monster i think it would take some time for us to get a sense of how speaker ryan is going to approach this problem. let me, i think the last thing i will say about this is that if speaker ryan does he come he does want to get somethings done and he is willing to try to compromise with democrats to advance the governing agenda that he is laid out, he will find a very willing partner in the oval office the president obama has a lot that he wants to try to get done to make the most of his remaining 14 months or so in office.
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and if he can work with republicans in congress to do that, he will not hesitate to do so. whether that is, you know, sort of the tough ones people refer to come things like criminal justice reform and eventually getting approval of the trans-pacific partnership, but even more basic things like a highway bill or the completion of this budget agreement. hopefully democrats and republicans can work together to find common ground and to enact those things that they would be in the best interest of the country. >> on keystone, is it your understanding that if transcanada was actually withdrawing their application, i guess to put it again under different administration, but if they were withdrawing and that would be the end of the process? in other words, the president would have to make a decision? >> i don't know the answer to that.
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you can check with the state department. >> and the other question is, you suggested that, to record a, there was a message to wait until after the election him indoors until he is a lame duck to make it this decision. are you telling the state department that you expect them to send him recommendations before election to? >> what i'm merely suggesting in response to roberta's question is that the state department and experts were taken a look at this project need not feel rushed base on the political posturing of either side of this debate. >> but you don't necessary want the recommendation before or after election day speak with the timing is up to the state department. >> you've always said the process is ongoing. you did want to comment on the. >> i'm not sure that's different that i've always said you should go ask the state department about the tony. right now i am saying the timing is up to the state department.
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i don't think there's a dramatic difference in those two positions. >> so the only thing the president is waiting for his recommendation from the state department? >> the state department is inducting over differences with long-standing precedent to buy what the merits of this project and determine whether not the completion of this project is within the national interest of the united states. and the president has previously weighed in on some of the factors he believes should be considered including the degree to which it would contribute to an increase in carbon pollution in this country, but ultimately that determination something isg that's being worked on by the state department. >> you talk about trying to shoot this process. the longe longer it goes to cosa to election day. isn't that by definition more politicized? >> i guess the other way to turn around the question is if a given how politicized the award has been is a possible for it to be even more politicized but i'm not sure it is. [inaudible]
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>> because i think what we will do is we're going to try to do our best to make sure that the eventual timing, whatever it is, if it's tomorrow or a month from now or a six months of the or year from now, whatever it is that that time is driven by the consideration of the merits and not like political arguments being made on either side. >> getting back to paul ryan. you said again today that he does want to move forward with confidence of immigration reform the president can't be trusted on this issue. ..
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>> i think this is some of the disappointing evidence we've received so far. i think there's probably a political calculation that speaker ryan is making here in terms of criticizing the president over this issue. and that's disappointing, but it certainly is not going to prevent us from trying to find areas where he's being at least a little constructive. because in this case, in this regard he's not. >> so do you see anything in there on the immigration issue that you can work with ryan on given that he's, you know, obviously, he was a proponent of comprehensive, he was a proponent even of a path to citizenship. >> yeah. >> but now he's saying he can't work with you on that, but he is willing to work on, you know, border security. >> yeah. i just, i mean, we'll see what proposals he's willing to put forward, but when it comes to immigration reform, it's not clear to me that he takes this process very seriously. right now, at least, he seems to
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be more considerate about shoring up his support in the conservative elements of his caucus. the problem is that speakers being overly focused on shoring up their conservative, shoring up their support in the conservative wig of their caucus -- wing of their caucus has led us to a whole lot of problems and a whole lot of dysfunction. and, ultimately, that's proved to not be in the best interests of the country. so i recognize that's how, that speaker ryan is making decisions as it relates to immigration reform. hopefully, he will make different calculations when it comes to considering other prior is. >> so far and in one other line of the omnibus, he refused to rule out the idea of putting policy riders on the omnibus spending bill. do you think we're out of the woods yet on a government shutdown on december 11th, or does that possibility raise, you
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know, the possibility we may have a, you know, a showdown over policy matters? >> yeah. my suspicion is that speaker ryan doesn't want to preside over a government shutdown six weeks after getting his new job. and so we continue to have a lot of confidence that the -- as congress works to implement the budget agreement that the president just signed into law yesterday, that they'll continue to work in a bipartisan spirit that will allow the government to remain open, allow our national defense and economic priorities to be adequately funded and to reach those kinds of agreements in a spirit of bipartisanship, meaning that not everybody's going to get 100% of what they demand, but a substantial majority of democrats and republicans in both the house expect senate will be able to consider legislation and a budget that they can support. mark. >> yeah, josh, can you help us
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out on this russian jet that was downed saturday? it was reported yesterday that u.s. satellite systems detected some sort of infrared signal before the plane went down s that true? >> mark, at this point i'm not able to help on this. the egyptians are leading this investigation. obviously, russian authorities are involved in that investigation, and the united states has offered our support and assistance to that ongoing investigation. like the egyptians and russians, we're interested in understanding exactly what happened in this terribly tragic incident. and so we've offered them, offered them our advice and and any resources that they would find useful in conducting that information. investigation. but at this point i don't want to speculate on even reports like the one you just cited, because i don't want to get ahead of the ongoing investigation. >> can i ask one other thing? >> yes. >> did you see the comments by the ayatollah ham neighbormy
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saying -- khamenei saying that chant death to american doesn't mean that, it means death to american policy? did you see that? >> i didn't see it. [inaudible conversations] [laughter] i guess it's better than the alternative, right? [laughter] >> would that be a -- [inaudible] >> but, you know, look, i think what i would say is what we've said in the past on this which is that the way that we will evaluate the iranian activity and their role in the international community is to take a close look at their actions and not be distracted by their words. and that's certainly what we did in the context of the international agreement that was reached to prevent them from obtaining a nuclear weapon. and all along we closely monitored their compliance with the interim agreement, and we're closely monitoring their
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implementation of the comprehensive final agreement than reached. that's evidence that we're, you know, very focused on their actions. and that's how we're continue to operate. okay? >> getting back to paul ryan's comments about the spending bill, the president said yesterday when he signed the budget deal here in the white house that this would eliminate the possibility of a government shutdown, that it, you know, takes us beyond this constantly being on the brink of catastrophe, and yet you have the new speaker of the house talking in terms of, well, maybe this is not a deal after all. >> yeah. >> what do you make of that? i mean, just to go back to that. you said that you're confident he doesn't want a government shutdown six weeks into his speakership, but i suppose that prospect is still a live one, is it not? >> i think it always is, particularly when you consider the dysfunction and disorganization that has run
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rampant in the house republican conference in recent years. but there is a new leader and, again, i continue to be confident that he doesn't want to be responsible for a government shutdown six week into the job. that's certainly -- it's not something i think would be clearly in his interest. i think leader mcconnell has also been quite forward-leaning in assuring the american public that there won't be a government shutdown. he said the same thing about raising the debt limit and preventing the loss of the full faith and credit of the united states for the first time in our history, and senator mcconnell and speaker boehner in the process of cleaning out the barn made good on those words, and they deserve some credit for that. and i continue to have confidence in their assurances
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that there won't be a government shutdown informed in part, again, by the fact that i don't think the new speaker of the house wants to preside over a government shutdown six week into the job. >> and to sort of build on the relationship between the president and speaker ryan, should we foresee at some point in the future, in the near future these two getting together publicly, meeting over here in the white house, something along those lines? >> well, i think as is true of the president's communications with speaker ryan's predecessor, they spoke occasionally x we didn't read -- and we didn't read out every one of those communications. that will continue to be the case under speaker ryan. but, you know, i'm confident there will continue to be conversations, both conversations that you hear about and conversations that you don't between the two of them. and at some point, though, i also anticipate we'll satisfy your desire for a showy, public
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sit-down of some kind. so we'll get to work on that. [laughter] you're probably right about that. >> and i want to ask you about the affordable care act, because -- and i'm sure you've taken note of this in recent days -- hhs is estimating ten million people enrolled by the end of next year. and that is about half of what the congressional budget office said would be around that time. is the president concerned about the health of his signature domestic policy achievement? >> no, he's not. in fact, the affordable care act, i think, is working better thus far than anybody predicted. and, you know, over the first couple of years we have exceeded the expectations of the congressional budget office. since the affordable care act went into effect, 17.6 million
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americans have gained health coverage, and the nation's uninsured rate is now lower than it's ever been. be and that's -- and that's a reflection of, you know, the president's commitment and our efforts over this strenuous partisan objection of republicans to do something good for the country and to do something good for our economy and certainly to do something good for the tens of millions of americans who no longer have to lay in bed at night worried that they're one illness away from bankruptcy or that they are going to be discriminated against because they have a pre-existing condition, or they're going to be charged more just because they're a woman. these are all benefits that every american enjoys because of the affordable care act. and the president is pleased with that so far. i mean, the one thing i can tell you is, you know, one of the reasons for optimism about this open enrollment period is that
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in just the first six hours of opening up for the third open enrollment period 40,000 applications were submitted for coverage. that's consistent with the pace that we saw the first two years of open enrollment. now, i think, jim, to get more directly to your question about the cbo, the assumptions that the cbo was making were consistent with some of the warnings that you heard from republicans which is that employers in large numbers would be cutting off health care benefits for their employees. and that would mean, according to the cbo's calculations, that those employees would then have to turn to the marketplaces that were established by the affordable care act to purchase health insurance. and the fact is we haven't seen large scale actions like this from employers across the country. the good news is for those individuals that don't get health insurance through their
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employer, for the first time -- thanks to the affordable care act -- they have a place to go where they can shop for and purchase high quality, affordable health care. they've got more options than they ever did, and you have health insurance companies competing for their business in a way they never had before. and that's been good for consumers, and i think that's part of why we've seen the unemployment rate drop to the lowest levels in reported history. >> what about these premium spikes that we're seeing across the country? what are you going to do about that? >> well, jim, i think what we saw is we saw premium spikes in -- all across the country before the affordable care act went into effect. and the fact is there are actually some states where health care premiums are done the unthinkable, they've actually gone down. i think the overall average is an increase that is lower than we've traditionally seen. and the fact remains that thanks
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to the the assistance that people can get from the federal government for paying for their health insurance through the marketplaces, that more than seven in ten marketplace consumers can buy a plan for $75 or less a month. that's a good deal. that's why millions of people have flocked to the marketplaces to sign up. and we continue to be confident that people are going to do that in this open rollment period too -- enrollment period too, okay? j.c. >> josh, thank you. as winter begins to really wreak havoc on the european humanitarian refugee crisis and many of the countries there allies of the united states are perplexed in terms of how to actually deal with this issue economically, socially, etc., and some very serious, old ethnic hatreds are starting to resurface, how front and center is this crisis on the
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president's agenda, on his mind when he goes to turkey for the g20 in less that two weeks' time? >> i would anticipate that this is something that the g20 leaders will discuss in turkey, primarily because the turkey -- turkey is really at the forefront of dealing with a large influx of syrian refugees who are fleeing violence in their own country. it's tragic, what's happening there. and i think that generally speaking we've been heartened by the kind of response that many syrian refugees have received from people in the region and in europe who have taken them in and try to provide for their basic humanitarian needs. that's a reflection of people seeing the common humanity in people who come from a faraway land. and that certainly hasn't been the response from everybody, but i think that's been a response from many people. and the united states has certainly done our part. we're the largest donor or humanitarian assistance to those
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efforts to try to meet the needs of syrian refugees, and i'm confident this will be discussed at the g20 about what more the largest economies in the world can do to try to help the countries in the region and countries in europe deal with this influx of innocent be people fleeing violence. >> aside from that, the humanitarian aspect, we are now in a borderless global economy. we trade with the europeans, with the e.u. we're very close in terms of our banking systems, etc. how concerned is this administration, this government that this crisis in europe could, in fact, affect our economic welfare? >> uh-huh. well, my colleagues at the treasury department are constantly monitoring the fundamentals of the to global economy -- of the global economy to try to detect volatility. and this is something that we devote a lot of resources to. and, in fact, they've used their expertise around the world,
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including in europe, to try to help partners deal with problems in their own country. this is something we'll continue to monitor moving forward and, again, i would anticipate this will be discussed at the g20 meeting in turkey coming up later this month. >> thank you. >> okay? kevin. >> josh, i'm not sure if i asked you this previously. did the president speak about the keystone xl pipeline project with prime minister-designate trudeau at all? >> kevin, off the top of my head i don't recall whether or not that was included in the readout, but we can take a look at -- it wasn't include inside there? i don't believe -- so i, all i can say at this point is i don't have more details of the call other than what we've already provided. >> you talked about the process, broadly speaking, state department handles it. i'm curious, who's the point person that the white house is in conversation with at state to get updates on the process? >> well, you know, we obviously
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have a number of inputs to the state department, so obviously through the national security council, you know, obviously, the president, you know, climate change team is engaged here because of in the basic question about -- because of this basic question about the degree to which this infrastructure project would contribute to climate change by substantially increasing carbon pollution. you know, there are a variety of agencies that have weighed in on the process that the state department is running including the epa. so point is there are a variety of experts across the administration that the state department has drawn from to carry out this evaluation of the project. >> i'm curious, though, about the process, where we are in the process. does the president get regular updates on what's happening? does he get a readout, presumably this is where we are, this is what we've discovered? because he seems to me to be a
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very hands-on man in that sense, and i can't imagine him just sort of throwing his hands up and saying you guys do that and get back to me. >> i think the president gets periodic updates in terms of where things stand. i don't think that happens daily, weekly or even monthly, by any means. but i think the president, when necessary, is updated on the progress of that ongoing review. >> is there a specific person who updates him from state? >> i think typically the secretary of state who would do that. if it's not him, then, you know, you can imagine, you know, memos being sent and those kinds of things. >> [inaudible] lastly, want to ask you about syria. how concerned is the administration with some of the pictures that we've seen coming out of syria parading backers of the assad regime in cages yesterday? is there a sense at all that any alliance is drawn with the ypg, for example, is inconsistent with american values?
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>> well, kevin, we've seen some of those reports and some of those images, obviously. we're reviewing those images. there's no denying the degree of chaos that has taken root in that country. and that is primarily because of the failures of the assad regime to unite that country. in fact, that country is now starting to break down along sectarian lines. and we have seen extremists try to establish footholds there, capitalizing on that chaos. that's obviously what isil has done. we've seen other extremist organizations do that. and that is our principal concern, is making sure that extremist organizations can't capitalize on that chaos to carry out attacks against the united states. and so, you know, we continue to be very concerned about the broader security situation inside of syria. and just the reports that you cited without being able to confirm the authenticity of those reports, i do think they
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paint a picture consistent with our sense of the widespread chaos in that country. okay? pam. >> josh, is it significant that the russian foreign ministry is now be saying it doesn't matter -- now saying it doesn't matter whether assad stays or goes from power, or do you have doubts that they really mean that? >> well, i have doubts that it reflects any sort of change in their view. and, unfortunately, it's certainly inconclusive about whether or not they're prepared to change their flawed strategy. the fact is the russians acknowledged the need for a political transition. this is something that president putin and president obama had the opportunity to discuss in new york a little over a month ago. both president putin in the context of that meeting affirmed for the president his commitment to the need for a political transition inside of syria. the problem has been that he's engaged in a military strategy that undermines that political objective. right now the russian regime is carrying out military attacks
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against the very people that should be participating in a political dialogue to try to effect a political transition inside of syria. so there has always been this internal contradiction in the russian approach to syria. and it's an internal contradiction that has grave consequences for russia's foreign policy interests around the globe, primarily because it serves to only further isolate them from the broader international community and deepen their involvement in a sectarian quagmire inside of syria. and it does nothing to advance the political goal that president putin has shared which is -- or has articulated which is the need for a political transition to address the root causes of all the problems inside of syria. >> and just to be clear on keystone, the fact that the state department is now reviewing the letter, the request from transcanada, they're still going on with
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their review of the project itself. there's no pause while they review the letter. >> that's correct. i'm not aware of any impact the consideration of the letter would have on the broader review of the project. okay? kelly. >> when the president talked yesterday, part of the conversation on syria, the president described the mission there with the addition of special operators to form an extension. but even hearing you talk about how the conditions on the ground have changed, is that a way to try to sort of reassure the public it's not getting worse or more involved for the u.s.? it's not a way to try to make it seem less of a big deal? >> no, kelly, i think it's an attempt to try to help the american people understand exactly what our strategy is and has been. the, you know, we have talked about variety of components of our strategy including everything from shutting off, shutting down the financing of isil's efforts to trying to shut down the flow of foreign
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fighters that isil has used to resupply their ranks. another element of our strategy has been the military element of our strategying, and that's what's gotten the most attention. understandably so. and at the core of that military component of our strategy has been building the capacity of fighters on the ground with whom the united states and our coalitioning could coordinate nature -- coalition could coordinate. and there are a variety of ways which we provided assistance to moderate opposition forces on the ground that are committed to fighting isil. some of that assistance has taken the form of coalition military airstrikes. the united states has taken airstrikes in support of ground operations that are being carried out by moderate opposition forces that sort of softened the ground and made them more effective in taking on isil. the united states and our coalition partners on a couple different occasions have undertaken missions to resupply and to provide military equipment to moderate opposition forces on the ground inside of syria. and we have seen evidence that
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those forces have used that equipment to important effect to drive isil out of important regions of syria. and because of the success of some of those efforts, what the president asked his military team to do was to see if there were additional teams that we could take that would intensify our coordination with those forces on the ground that have made some progress against isil. and one of the proposals that his military advisers came back with was the suggestion that devoting some special operations forces to offer advice and assistance to those opposition forces would further intensify our coordination, would serve as a force multiplier and furtherren hasn't the performance of those opposition forces on the battlefield. and so that's what our strategy has been. it is in no way an effort to
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downplay the amount of risk that our men and women in uniform are taking on. it's a very dangerous situation inside of syria, and there are significant risks associated with deploying these fewer than 50 special operations forces to syria. >> topic change. does the president think it's appropriate for the department of defense to pay professional sports leagues or teams to honor service members at games? >> i'm not aware that the president has weighed in on this, and i will acknowledge that i'm not aware of the policies that govern those kinds of relationships. i do know that the department of defense would likely say that these kinds of relationships enhance their recruiting efforts. but for the policies that guide those relationships, i'd refer you to the department of defense. >> but as commander in chief, do you think the president would think that would be appropriate? i mean, we all understand recruitment costs money, but to set it up as a way for fans to
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cheer or honor service members, if there's a payment, doesn't that sort of taint that tribute? >> well, i don't think so primarily because i think the fans who are taking off their caps and offering a standing to ovation do so not because of a financial interest, but because of their genuine appreciation for those soldiers or veterans who are being honored at the stadium. so, you know, i'd refer you to the department of defense for sort of the propriety of those financial relationships, but i think the reaction you see from the fan is the an authentic one, okay? jerome. >> josh, taiwan's president will meet the chinese president saturday in singapore, the first since 1949. what do you expect from this meeting? do you see it as a turning point? >> well, i think it's too early to say something like that. at point the fundamental interest of the -- at this point the fundamental interest of the united states in a faithful and peaceful cross-strait
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relationship. and the united states remains committed to our one china policy that's based on the three joint communiques in the taiwan relations act. so, you know, we would certainly welcome steps that are taken by, steps that are taken on both sides of the taiwan strait to try to reduce tensions and improve cross-strait relations. but, you you know, we'll have te what actually comes out of the meeting, okay? paul. >> josh, thank you very much. two quick ones. the new army chief of staff said yesterday at a conference something that the white house has disagreed with in the past; namely, that russia continues to be the number one threat to the united states. again, that's the new army chief. is that still a view that the white house takes issue with? >> well, we've talked about this a couple of times. our views on this haven't changed. i understand the views of the army chief of staff may not have changed either. he certainly has a set of metrics that he uses to evaluate
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that and make that kind of determination. for the explanation of his position, i'd refer you to his office, but our position hasn't changed. >> a quick moving to polls, you know, every president in their second term have shown a lot of volatility in their poll numbers, up and down quite sharply. but the president's numbers, actually, his numbers have been quite stable for two or three years now. what do you make of that? >> well, you guys are the highly-paid political analysts out there, and i assume that's presumably why you're on tv doing it. all i would say is, you know, our goal here has been time and again particularly over the last year to look for ways where we can make progress for the american people. and there have been some obstacles. you know, there's obstacles when the president first took office was, you know, came in the form of the worst economic downturn since the great depression. and that certainly created some challenges for the country, but also some challenges for the policy making process.
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but, you know, we've made tremendous progress in recovering from that economic downturn. and over the last year, the president has sought to work with congress where we can to make progress, and whether that's passing trade promotion authority legislation or trying to make progress in some of these budgetary issues, we've done that. but the president has also considered a wide range of areas where he could act on his own to make progress for the american people. and whether that's an historic climate agreement with china or policies that would allow for genuine net neutrality in this country or even some administrative steps that would bring much-needed accountability to our broken immigration system, the president's taken those steps. and, you know, i think the american people do -- i think the reservoir of political capital that the president has preserved and even built up over the last year, i think, is a testament to the american people understanding that he isn't, is committed to rising above
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politics and trying to do the right thing for the country. >> those things that you just cited though, his numbers nevertheless tend to move in this fairly narrow range, low to mid 40s, sometimes pushing 50, but never really beyond that. why is that? >> well, i think that's hard to assess. i'd sort of leave all the political and polling analysis to all of you. you know, what the president has done is tried to be as focused as he can on trying to move the country forward, and he's met some obstacles, particularly most prominently in the form of dis function in congress. dysfunction in congress. but i do think that people genuinely see the president as somebody in washington who is succeeding and actually getting some things done that are good for the country. and i think there are even some people who might disagree with many of the president's policy initiatives, but do actually acknowledge that he's the one person that's actually making some progress for th


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