Skip to main content

tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 3, 2015 9:00am-10:01am EST

9:00 am
>> i understand that i have hida program in three counties, mcdowell, henderson county in my district and only common thread there is transportation. we're looking at main corridors from the south. to do away with money from the hida program there is not addressing treatment or prevention aspect because it is all about transportation and that goes from both a democrat and republican sheriff that are working in those counties. they work better together and to reduce their funds concerns me. you follow my lodgic? >> i appreciate your comment on this and let me just reiterate, that you know, our purpose here with the language was in no way, shape and form was to dilute the main mission of our hida program. >> i believe that. what i'm saying it could do that if we go that way. will you readdress the reauthorizing language with that
9:01 am
in mine and my bias? because i will give you after this time because i need to go on to my other colleagues. you can try to sell me. >> i think we can and i think one of the things we can work on maybe establishing better right tear yaw. >> let me put it bluntly. will my sheriffs agree we need to increase the amount of money going to treatment and prevention in hida and go away from them, would they agree with that. >> i honestly don't know what the locals are thinking but i think they would probably object and we would object if that dilutes from their main mission. >> if they do object we'll have a issue. i will go to the gentlewoman from the virgin islands, miss miss plaskett for five minutes. >> thank you very much, gentlemen and good morning. i'm very appreciative everything you all you're putting forward
9:02 am
in your testimony, your thoughtfulness. my first job out of law school was a narcotics prosecutor in the bronx. so i understand this completely and importance of the works that you do. as a member of congress represents the united states virgin islands i very much strongly support the bipartisan effort of reauthorizing the office of national drug control policy. i see how important it is not only for our nation in terms of treatment but preventative as well in terms of stopping the flow of drugs in and out of this country and its transportation throughout. for years, the otherwise peaceful communities in the u.s. virgin islands have been experiencing elevated levels of crime and violence. much of it is related to our economy and that economy has in turn moved tremendously to a growth in illegal drug trade and we are very grateful for hida's
9:03 am
presence in the virgin islands and would be in favor of increased presence in virgin islands and puerto rico. we're aware much of the traffic of drugs coming into the main land is coming through the caribbean corridor which many people are not aware of, how much drugs are coming through small area of the united states. if you imagine it is coming through a small porous border in the small community, the effect, tremendous effect it is having on people that live there. neighborhoods, individuals completely afraid to go out not only at night but now even during the day where we're having drug wars and shootings occurring, not even blocks away from schools in the middle of day in this community.
9:04 am
we think. needs to be done to stem the flow of drugs and increased crime and stem the negative impact of drug abuse in communities across the united states virgin islands and puerto rico. now in response to a congressional directive earlier this year. ondcp took a major step forward helping to promote a well-coordinated federal response to those issues by publishing the fir-ever caribbean border counternarcotics strategy. i would ask you, director botticelli, as well as mr. kelly, whether or not you believe explicit i enclouding the u.s. virgin islands and puerto rico and statutory mission of ondcp would help insure drug-related issues facing americans caribbean border are fully included in aspects of your work?
9:05 am
because we're so small in numbers in population, people are unaware that almost 40% of the drugs that come into this country come through those two areas. >> thank you, congresswoman, for your question and for your concern. we share your concern in terms of looking at trafficking, increasing crime in puerto rico and u.s. virgin islands. we've seen an increased flow in the caribbean as it relates to some of the drug flows. we share your concern. we're happy to comply to produce the 2015 caribbean counternarcotics strategy which addresses wide-ranging issues. we'll actually be convening all the relevant stakeholders in early 2016 to review our progress against our goals and ambitions in this and have every intent going forward to include specific action items in our strategy going forward to the address the u.s. virgin islands. >> i will work closely and be as supportive with you in that. our families, our elders, our
9:06 am
children really need your support at this time. >> thank you. >> mr. kelly, do you have any thoughts? i visited hide at -- hidta's, gp in puerto rico. impressed with their group and working with the coast guard and impressed with that group as well and like to get your thoughts on this. >> thank you, congresswoman. you struck a number of points i written down are very germain. the hidta program has been involved in the caribbean not only through the hidta program there presently, but we on monthly basis we have conference call, sometimes attend as many as 90 people on conference call and it is caribbean intelligence conference call but members of not only ondcp but all federal agencies here in the united states but talk about the transportation of drugs and
9:07 am
sharing of intelligence and we made some great, great progress. so much so it has been a repetitive conference call and we'll continue to do that. to your point on including in the reauthorization and the type of border strategy, i think it's very, very important as we look at drug issues here in this country, that we not only have to look inward but we have to insulate ourselves from the outside. and whether a northern border strategy, southwest border strategy or caribbean border strategy, that is the transportation corridors where these drugs are invading our communities. so it makes perfect sense to me and ondcp and with the strategy that just came out that the caribbean is a very, very important partner in this issue of reducing the supply that comes from elsewhere in the world. we know that we have to take greater strides in protecting not only people of the caribbean
9:08 am
and those nations and those territories but to prevent the transportation of drugs through it to make that a no-go zone for these drug trafficking organizations. >> thank you very much, gentlemen. thank you, mr. chair. i'm going to be so impressed with working with you all in that but know that i will be on you. i will be watching. >> thank you. >> i thank the gentlewoman. before i recognize the gentlewoman from new york, mr. director, could you, why are you requesting 22% less for the hidta program? >> so, part of the challenge -- >> you were just talking about what a good job they do. so you punish them by reducing their budget by 2 it 2%. >> -- 22%. >> it is not reflective of value of hidta program is. >> my wife was a waitress. she said appreciation is green. >> i know.
9:09 am
>> so what is it reflective of? >> i think it is reflect shun of challenging priorities of president's budget. >> where did the money go? can you get that to the committee. >> i will get that. >> i am concerned. i recognize the gentlewoman from new york, for five minutes and thank you for gracious five minutes. >> thank you for this hearing and all your testimony and join the chairman in really underscoring you should not be eliminating review processes but strengthening them and certainly knowing the problem that we have, we shouldn't be reduces what we're spending but should be maintaining it, hopefully growing on it but i want to go back to the conversations we've been having on opiates that they have been described very deeply and strongly and increase of prescriptions for it. are you tracking whether the prescriptions are coming from doctors or there illegal
9:10 am
prescriptions? >> as we look at data, the vast majority of prescription pain medications that are coming into the supply are coming from legitimate prescriptions. we only see a small percentage that are coming from pharmacy or internet sales or street level purchases. 70% of people who start misusing pain prescription medication get them free from friends and family who often got them from one doctor. as people progress they often move from doctor to doctor. that comprises of very little proportion of overall prescription pain medication in this supply. so we know if we're going to deal with this issue that we've got to diminish the prescription pain medication. >> and also there are reports that people on opiates become addicted to heroin? have you been attracting --
9:11 am
tracking that? apparently heroin is cheaper than opiates. is that in your database? is that one of the questions you ask were you on opiate before you were on heroin and often heroin goes to crime? >> we know about 80% of people, newer users to heroin started misusing prescription pain medication. they're both opiates and act the same way in the brain. we do know when you look at heroin use is much, much lower percentage use than prescription drug abuse. we know only small percentage of people are progressing from prescription drug misuse to heroin. however because of the magnitude of the prescription drug issue, that led to really significant increase in number of people who are using heroin. >> is there any punishment to doctors that abuse these opiates? i thought the example from congressman lynch was astonishing. that the woman had teeth pulled out of her head to get pain
9:12 am
medicine. obviously the doctor wasn't competent pulling out of her head teeth that did not deserve to be extracted. so what is the punishment for a doctor for prescribing painkillers or any medicine inappropriately? >> so i think we have to distinguish between those physicians and dentist who is are prescribing, who are well-intended, not doing it with malice of intent versus dealing with those physicians using this as cash business that we've seen in many parts of the country. >> how is it a huge cash business? do they get money for simply prescribing drug. >> give you an example. in one county in florida, because of lax drugs and they didn't have a prescription drug monitoring program, 50 of the top 100 prescribers were in one county in florida. working with dea, working with
9:13 am
police and working with prescription drug monitoring program we were able to enact lays and reduce these huge pill mills that we saw that were often for cash business. so, law enforcement and reducing those pill mills become a prime strategy for us. we've been working with the federation of state medical boards who have oversight and disciplinary action as it relates to physicians who are clearly outside of the range of appropriate prescribing because taking disciplinary action against those physicians and other prescribers who are clearly outside of the bounds what normal prescribing behavior would be needs to be part of our overall strategy. >> and, my time is almost up but i did want to ask you, i guess, mr. more row, about the gao release part on ondcp's coordination of efforts on drug abuse prevention.
9:14 am
the it identified overlap of 59 of 68 programs righted in gao review. what is the possible impact of this overlap and why did you raise that in your report? >> this is a report we issued back in 2013. at that time we found overlap. what we meant by that there was disparate programs that could potentially providing grant funding to the same grant recipient and right hand wouldn't necessarily know what the left hand was doing. the good news on that, we issued our findings. made recommendations to ondcp to look across universe of programs. they have done that they have identified the need for greater coordination. they put mechanisms in place to improve their coordination. they addressed that recommendation. we since closed it as implemented. >> that is very fine success. my time has expired. thank you. >> thank you. >> i thank the gentlewoman. we, just so you'll know, we'll do a very, very limited second round. and by very limited we're going, i'm going to recognize the
9:15 am
gentleman from wisconsin for four minutes. then a strict four minutes. we'll recognize miss norton for strict four minutes and then do closing remarks. gentleman from wisconsin is recognized for four minutes. >> okay. still had to come back because kind of it was rhetorical question whether possession of heroin was a federal crime but what is the expected prison term you get if you have enough heroin with you that you're probably some sort of dealer? what you guys asked for, maybe maurer. if you prosecute locally what do the federal prosecutors ask for? >> i do not what the standard sentences are. a lot of facts go into sentencing. mandatory minimums weigh large particularly with heroin. >> is there mandatory heroin if i have given enough heroin i am apparently not using it for
9:16 am
personal use? >> function of prosecutorial discretion and what actions they choose to take but there are mandatory minimums associated with heroin. i don't know what those are though. >> okay. do you know how many people are in federal prison for selling heroin? >> i don't know how many are in federal prison. i do know over half the current federal inmate population is serving a sentence predominantly based on drug possession and drug trafficking. >> the reason i say this, there is big difference between heroin and other drugs. marijuana being illegal, but nobody dying of mayor one overdose. this heroin thing is a whole new thing. much worse than the cocaine thing. much worse than anything. that's why i don't like it kind of blended with the other things do you know how many, how many prosecutions for heroin, heroin possession every year? >> i do not know.
9:17 am
>> okay. i want you to get me those things and i think it's important for you three who are after all supposed to be the federal people out in front with heroin, to familiarize yourself what is going on in federal courts with regard to heroin. i ask you the questions and you don't know the answer. >> happy to work with our colleagues. >> you should know answers. you have important jobs. i think if i had your jobs i would know the answers but -- hmmm. okay. i guess, ask you more questions later when you have time to get the answers. give you one more question though. which is the entirely unrelated thing but kind of a follow-up. one of the problems we have that there are physicians out there who are clearly selling prescriptions for opiates they shouldn't be selling. another problem, to me, is we
9:18 am
have physicians prescribing more opiates than you traditionally need. someone goes in for receipt canal, instead of giving awe prescription for three days they give you a prescription for a month. you want to comment on that. why that practice has taken hold? >> sure. we would completely agree with you, not openly are we overprescribing in many instances people who only need limited duration of pain medication are getting up to 30 and 60-day doses of that. part of what we've been focusing on not only in terms of our prescriber training but health and human services is no the process now of developing clear and clinical guidelines as it relates to prescribing pain medication for these exact purposes not only appropriate prescribing but also not overprescribing the amount of medications given out in many instance. >> i don't want to say it's a federal business but since so many of the prescriptions i
9:19 am
suppose are paid for with medicare and medicaid, you think there would be appropriate for there to be appropriate federal guidelines on appropriate amount of opiate prescriptions paid for in those two programs? >> one of the issues we're particularly looking at with our medicaid programs is not only implementation of these clinical standards to lookingbt!
9:20 am
i think it was your height today law enforcement did it and made big news here. these synthetic drugs present a new challenge. i want to know how you're handling it. we've had, in october alone, emergency services were called 580 times, more than 18 times a day, to respond to synthetic drug emergencies. here we have bipartisan legislation that has been introduced. i'm not sure any of it can be found to be constitutional because unlike heroin, which is what it is, for example, they changed the competition -- composition, sorry. are you pursuing synthetic drugs
9:21 am
in light of the fact a criminal statute can not being overly broad or it violates due process? do you have the tools to do your law enforcement work with what is now a growing menace across the united states? my republican members who have this problem, for example, on the bills come from texas and pennsylvania. mr. botticelli? >> thank you, congresswoman i'm glad to have opportunity to talk about sin set ticks -- synthetics, while we talk about opiate uses and i've seen incredible impact that it has had. we've been working with our counterparts in china because we know the vast majority of precursor chemicals are coming in from china. we're happy to say china moved to schedule over 100 of these substances. one of the areas to your point about how do we stay ahead of these new chemical compositions has been a challenge for us at both the federal and state
9:22 am
level. we're happy to work with congress in terms of the legislation that's been introduced that would give the federal government additional and quicker scheduling authority. >> you do need, you do need, china is doing new legislation. you do need new legislation to do effective law enforcement. >> i believe we have not been able to stay ahead of these new chemical compositions and we -- >> i have one more question before my time is up. i know that four states and the district of columbia legalized small amounts of marijuana. the other four of course have legalized possession, excuse me, sale as well. in d.c. they're sending our people to the, to the illegal market because we can't get, do the sale. how much of your work goes for marijuana, in light of the fact this drug is increasingly, you
9:23 am
have 20 states that decriminalizeed it? are you continually spending resources on marijuana, particularly in light of the facts in terms of the white, black, getting into what happened with mandatory minimums, the arrest records are almost entirely black or latino because the white kids are not exposed in law enforcement areas and don't get picked up. in light of that racial disparity, how much of your funds for law enforcement goes for marijuana which is being legalized before your very eyes? >> so i can get awe exact breakdown in terms of where our law enforcement efforts but -- >> can you send the chairman of this committee a breakdown in terms -- >> sure. >> mr. kelly has a breakdown. >> no. i was going to address one other issue if i may, if the chairman allows. >> excuse me, could this question be answered, mr. botticelli? >> i would be happy to do that. to your point the vast majority of the resources that ondcp and
9:24 am
the federal government looks at for enhanced and federal treatment programs. we don't, federal government and deet of justice issued guidance we're not using limited federal resources to focus on, on, low level folks who are using this for largely personal use. i think you've heard today that folks want to use every opportunity to divert people away from criminal justice system. but i do have concerns based on data we share here in terms of marijuana use, what implications of decriminalization and legalization mean for the people of the united states. i've been doing public health work for a long time. we know there are disproportionate health impacts particularly with poor folks. >> i appreciate the studies especially when it comes to children. we know most people that smoke marijuana -- college. >> mr. kelly, we'll give you latitude to make the last comment and we'll close up.
9:25 am
>> thank you, mr. chairman. congresswoman i just want to bring your attention for the record, i would certainly in the washington baltimore hidta which is it in your district i would certainly invite you in fact i spoke to the director before coming down here, knowing this is prevalent issue i would invite you he would be able to speak to you anytime that you wish. i also have with me a threat assessment that was done on synthetics in this very area and a number of recommendations which i will be glad to share with you, developed by the washington-baltimore hidta, their initiatives they're working closely with the chief of police who sits on their board to address these very issues. >> thank you, mr. kelly. i would like to thank all of you for your testimony, for your indulgence. it has been very insightful hearing. i want to, director, we have a number of to-do items for you to get back. it is critical because as we look for reauthorization, as we
9:26 am
get back into a normal budgeting process, a normal appropriations process, some of these have been appropriated without reauthorizing as you know. those days are, growing future in number. it is more critical we look at reauthorization, but look at meaningful budget numbers too. i am extremely troubled based on your testimony, your question is to cut a program. if it is not working, cut it all out. that is not what i heard from you. yet, we're taking a program that, what my local law enforcement officers say works with them. it is a critical tool. we're somehow wanting to give greater flexibility. it appears we want to shift the money into prevention and treatment and ultimately do away with hidta. and you're going to meet great
9:27 am
resistance in bipartisan way. i think if that is truly the direction, i don't want to put words in your mouth. you're very eloquent with your words. so, i just want to say thank you all for your time. i think we can make real good progress here, working through, director you have to do working through gao to make sure we keep performance reviews in meaningful and statistically accurate manner. and, if there is no further business, without objection the subcommittee stands adjourned.
9:28 am
[inaudible conversations] >> she was such an authentic person. i always thought there was more to the story of ladybird than anybody ever covered, certainly when i wrote the book on all first ladies. she became i think the first modern first lady. in other words, she had a big staff. she had very important project. she wrote her book as soon as she left the white house. she really invented the modern first lady. >> sunday night on "q&a"
9:29 am
historian, bed at this boyd corelli. discusses her book. releases pages of the former first lady's diary, looking at marriage and partnership of ladybird johnson. >> ladybird johnson, was conclusion, those women saw something in those men. the ambition, of the opportunity to really climb and make a mark in the world and they married them inspite of parental objection. she is good example of that. that is why i decided i had to find more about her. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern and pacific on c-span's "q&a." the u.s. senate is about to gavel in on this thursday morning to continue work on a bill repealing the nation's health care law and defunding planned parenthood for a year. the bill is being offered through a process called reconciliation. and it stipulates 20 hours of debate. allows unlimited amendments and
9:30 am
can't be filibustered. amendments and final passage votes will get underway 1:30 eastern today. after the senate is expected to turn attention to a five-year high way and mass transit funding bill. the house will be voting on that bill today as went now live to the floor of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. . the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god our helper, as a tragic pattern of insane violence continues to bring pain to our nation and world, we turn our eyes to you.
9:31 am
thank you that though evil seems undeniably strong, you continue to rule in your universe. may we refuse to be intimidated by the adversaries of freedom, as we remember your sacred words, "there is no fear in love." lord, lead our senators with your wisdom. as they focus on your presence and power, shield their hearts with your peace. when they seek your guidance, direct their steps in the path of truth.give
9:32 am
us all the sensitivity to comprehend the holy meaning and the sacred mysteries that reside in every moment. and lord, be near to all who are affected by the mass shooting in san bernardino, california. we pray in your merciful name. amen the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
9:33 am
the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
9:34 am
9:35 am
the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: mr. president, i hope all members of congress, democrats, republicans, members of the house of representatives and senators, take a long, hard look this morning, maybe in the mirror, and ask themselves, where do i stand? yet again our country is faced with another sickening act of gun violence. yesterday's shooting rampage took the lives of 14 people and wounded at least 17 more, a number of those grievously injured. that wasn't the only shooting yesterday. a gunman in georgia killed a woman and injured three others. so where do we stand? we have an epidemic of gun violence in america, and it's
9:36 am
nothing less than sickening. fort hood, 13 dead. tucson, 6 dead. carson city, 4 dead. aurora, 12 dead. newton, 20 little children, 6 educators. navy yard in washington, d.c., 12 dead. las vegas, 3 dead. two were police officers. and i've heard this talk from others so issue, husband and wife. these people killed in las vegas were killed by a husband and wife team. charleston, 9 dead. wamataw, 2 dead.
9:37 am
on live television they killed two people. community college, 9 dead. colorado springs, 3 dead. that tragic list is nowhere close to being comprehensive. you know the one in georgia yesterday, one dead, two wounded, hardly made the press. but the ones i just mentioned are a few that we picked up early this morning in my office. it would be very difficult to list all the mass killings that have taken place in recent years why? because we're 337 days into 2015 and we have had at least 355 mass shootings. 355 mass shootings, 337 days. we're averaging more than one a day. two months ago i came here to the floor really sad. i was here mourning the murder
9:38 am
of innocent community college students attending class in rosenberg, oregon. i said then each time our nation endures one of these mass killings, we go through the same routine. first we're shocked. then we ask questions about the killers, their motives. how did they get their hands on those guns? then we wonder what could we have done to prevent this terrible thing from happening? as i said, the disturbing surprise is we don't do anything. we don't do anything. we as the legislative body of this country do nothing. so i have a question for every member of this body: how can we live with ourselves for failing to do the things we know that will reduce gun violence? will it get rid of all of it? of course not. but will it reduce it? yes. we're complicit through our
9:39 am
inaction. and if we continue to fail to act, we'll be complicit today and every day into the future. we'll keep ending up right where we are, mourning innocent victims in san bernardino, california, or charleston or newton. when the victims turn to us for help we'll have nothing to show but empty hands and a few empty gestures. it's despicable. for far too long we've done nothing even as gun violence shakes our nation to its core. we must do something. we can start by passing improved background checks legislation. is it asking too much that if someone is crazy or a criminal that they should be able to walk in any gun shop and buy a gun? of course not. but that's the law in america.
9:40 am
i know the thought of upsetting the national rifle association scares everybody, especially my republican colleagues. you know what scarce the american people? gun violence. these mass shootings at holiday parties frighten the american people. is that the only reason they're frightened? of course not. they're afraid to go to a movie theater, go to a concert. the bill before the senate here today is to get rid of obamacare, and everybody knows it's just a gesture of futility. they've tried it 60 times or 48 times. we lost track -- in the house. every time the same answer: "no." and over here we've done it 14, 15 times; always the same answer. einstein said that the
9:41 am
definition of insanity is when someone does the same thing over and over again knowing they're going to get the same result. so we're wasting our time here today. everyone knows the result. but we have the opportunity to cast a vote here today, and we will shortly. because we're focused on doing something. people on this side of the aisle are focused on doing something to stop this gun violence, and we're going to force amendments to that end today. not many, but a few. we will try to do something, anything. are we going to vote on expanded background collection? shouldn't we do that at least? we're going to vote to prevent criminals convicted of harassing women in health clinics from buying a gun, owning a gun. senators will have to decide where they stand on these amendments.
9:42 am
do they stand with babies as killed in connecticut, families who want to do nothing more than go on about their day without the daily threat of shootings? my friends in nevada, two police officers in uniform sitting down to have a lunch break, and two people walk in behind them and shoot them in the back of the head and killed them. go over to wal-mart, kill another person. people are afraid. now, there was a time in my legislative career that i tried to work with the national rifle association, but the n.r.a. today is a far cry from a sportsman's organization that i once supported. the n.r.a. once called mandate forebackground checks reasonable.
9:43 am
that's -- mandatory background checks reasonable. i'm not making this up. now they are transformed in a a quasi militant wing of the republican party. they're being pushed more and more into the camp of guns for everybody any time they want them. and they're being pushed -- they have a competitor now: gun owners of america. those who choose to do the bidding will be held accountable by our constituents. their vote against these measures will be a stand for all the american people to look at and look at it and look at it. something has to be done. we must take a stand. the american people are desperately looking for help, some help, any help. it will never be possible to prevent every shooting. we know that. but we have a responsibility to try. there are certain things we can do. someone that is deranged
9:44 am
mentally and is a criminal, should they be able to walk in and buy a gun anyplace? of course not. we have a responsibility as lawmakers to enact commonsense reforms that have been proven to stop attacks and save lives. i hope republicans will find the courage to join with us and pass meaningful legislation to prevent further gun violence. i apologize for going before the republican leader but i was told he was going to be late. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: the senseless loss of life yesterday in san bernardino continues to defy explanation. we have faith that law enforcement will continue
9:45 am
working hard to uncover the truth behind this tragedy. today what we should all agree upon is this, that we will keep the victims and the families in our thoughts, that we as a senate offer condolences to them, and that we as a senate recognize the continuing efforts of law enforcement officials and first responders. middle-class americans continue to call on washington to build a bridge away from obamacare. they want better care. they want real health reform. for too long, democrats did everything to prevent congress from passing the type of legislation necessary to help these americans who are hurting. well, today, mr. president, that ends. today a middle class that's suffered enough from a partisan law will see the senate vote to build a bridge past obamacare and toward better care. the restoring americans' health care freedom reconciliation act we are debating deserves the
9:46 am
support of every member of this body. because here's what we know. obamacare is a direct attack on the middle class. it's riddled with higher costs and broken promises. it's defined by failure. it's punctuated with hopelessness. and the scale of its many broken promises is matched only by the scale of its defenders' rigid and unfeeling responses to them. let's consider just a few right now. americans were promised they could keep their health plans if they liked them. it's a promise democrats made to sell obamacare and it's a promise they broke. americans could only keep their plans if the president liked them. not if they liked them.
9:47 am
americans could only keep their plans if the president liked them. millions saw the coverage they liked ripped away as a result of a callous and partisan law. democrats' response to their broken promise -- they tried to dismiss stories about folks losing insurance by saying they had lousy plans flea, that they should be -- plans anyway, that they should be grateful the government was taking them away. the american people took a different view. here's a note i received from a constituent in calwell county when her family lost their plan. here's what she said. she said i was lied to by the president and congress when we were told that the affordable care act would not require us to switch from our current insurance provider. my husband and i work hard, pay a lot of taxes and ask for little from our government. is it asking too much, she said,
9:48 am
for government to stay out of my health insurance? americans were promised that obamacare would lower costs and even break down premiums by $2,500 per family. it's a promise democrats made to sell obamacare, and it's a promise they broke. just last night, we learned from the government's own actuaries that obamacare is leading to higher health care costs. we also know that premiums continue to shoot up by double digits in many areas, including kentucky. democrats' response to their broken promise -- president obama said that americans who already had health insurance may not know that they've got a better deal now under obamacare than they did, but they do. obviously, the president thinks he knows more about our health insurance than we do. of course, the american people took a different view. one kentuckian wrote me after being forced into an obamacare
9:49 am
plan that she called subpar with a nearly $5,000 deductible, i cried myself to sleep, she said. i work hard for every penny i earn, and this is unacceptable. americans were promised that obamacare would create millions of jobs. it's a promise democrats made to sell obamacare, and it's a promise they broke. obamacare's leading to fewer jobs, not more of them. in kentucky, our democrat governor once declared it an undisputed fact, our democratic governor said that obamacare's medicaid expansion had added 12,000 jobs to kentucky's economy, but as kentuckians now know, he was undisputably wrong. not only did these jobs fail to materialize, but health care jobs have actually declined in kentucky since the passage of
9:50 am
obamacare. democrats' response to their broken promise -- i think this headline about the comments from a senior democrat captures it perfectly. obamacare allows workers to escape their jobs, to escape their jobs. well, the american people took a different view. a constituent from somerset wrote to tell me that obamacare's mandates were causing her to lose up to 11 hours -- up to 11 hours per week at work, which meant about $440 less in her pocket every month. obamacare, she said, is causing us to lose hours and lose wages, yet expecting us to spend more. now, americans were promised that obamacare wouldn't touch medicare. americans were promised that taxes wouldn't increase. americans were promised that shopping for obamacare would be as simple as shopping for a tv on amazon.
9:51 am
three more promises, three more betrails. and on and on and on it has gone. for more than five long years. democrats need to understand that it's time to face up to the pain and the failure their law has caused. they can keep trying to talk past the middle class. they can keep trying to deny reality, but they have to realize that no one is buying the spin but them. americans are living with the consequences of this broken law and its broken promises every single day. its negative effects are often felt in the most personal and visceral ways, and americans are tired of being condescended to. they want change, and they want a bridge to better care, not
9:52 am
obamacare, and this bill offers it. i think democrats have a particular responsibility to the millions their law has hurt already to help pass the law we have before us. i think the president has a particular responsibility to the millions his law has hurt already to then sign it. that's the best way to build a bridge to a fresh start, to a better, healthier and stronger beginning. now, mr. president, on another matter, every day this week i have mentioned some of the significant accomplishments of a senate underner new management, a -- under new management, a senate that's put its focus back on the american people. after years of inaction, the senate took bipartisan action to help the victims of modern-day slavery. many said the justice for victims of slave trafficking act would never pass the senate, but we proved them wrong.
9:53 am
we proved it could actually pass by a wide bipartisan margin. and a new and -- in a new and more open senate, senator cornyn was able to work with democratic partners to ensure that it ultimately did. after years of inaction, the senate took bipartisan action to protect the privacy of americans. many said the cybersecurity information sharing act would never pass the senate, but we proved them wrong. we proved it could actually pass by a wide bipartisan margin. in a new and more open senate, senator burr, republican, and senator feinstein, a democrat, were able to ensure that it ultimately did. after years of inaction, the senate took bipartisan action to lift children up with better educational opportunities. many said the every child achieves act would never pass the senate, but we proved them wrong. we proved it could actually pass by a wide bipartisan margin.
9:54 am
in a new and more open senate, senator alexander, a republican, and senator murray, a democrat, were able to ensure that it ultimately did. and after years of inaction, the senate took bipartisan action to meaningfully improve our roads and infrastructure over the coming years. many said that a long-term highway and transportation funding act would never pass the senate, but we proved them wrong. we proved it could actually pass by a wide bipartisan margin. in a new and more open senate, senator inhofe, a republican, and senator boxer, a democrat, were able to ensure that it ultimately did. today we're on the verge of passing that bill again. we're on the verge of passing it into law. the revised legislation will consider -- we'll consider provides five full years of highway funding. it would be the longest term bill to pass congress in almost two decades, and it would provide long-term certainty in a
9:55 am
fiscally responsible way. in other words, mr. president, this bill will finally provide state and local governments with the kind of certainty they need to focus on longer term road and bridge projects. this is a significant departure from years, years of short-term extensions. there is a lot more to say about what the new congress has been able to achieve on behalf of the american people. i look forward to continuing to share these successes here on the floor. tuesday's announcement on the highway bill is just the latest reminder of what's possible in a new and more open senate. it builds the basis for more wins into the future, and most importantly it's an achievement for the american people, an achievement that only a new congress has been able to deliver. the presiding officer: the democratic leader.
9:56 am
mr. reid: no matter how many times my friend -- we've served together in this body for a long, long time. no matter how often he comes here and talks about how wonderful this senate is under a republican leadership, the facts aren't on his side. he talked about getting things done after years of inaction. the inaction was a result of republican filibusters, record-breaking filibusters. bill after bill was blocked. elementary and secondary education, cybersecurity. everything that he mentioned, everything, without exception, would have been done a long time ago except for republican filibusters. now to come to the floor and claim isn't it wonderful, we were able to get things done
9:57 am
during this congress because we did not block things. so no matter how many times he comes, the pundits have already said this is the most unproductive year in the senate's history. we've had more revotes than any time in the history of the country and less done than any time in the country. i wonder, mr. president, what my republican friends do when they're not here in washington, d.c. do they bother to talk to their constituents? do they sit down and meet them in town hall meetings or across a fence in someone's back yard? i have a hard time believing my republican friends are spending much time listening to constituents' concerns. i already talked about guns today. because it seems to me that what we're doing runs counter to the needs of constituents.
9:58 am
this absurd attempt to repeal the affordable care act through reconciliation is a perfect example. every day the republican leader comes to the floor and rails against obamacare, and yet more than 10% of his constituents are benefiting from the affordable care act. 500,000 people. i can't believe those people in kentucky are telling the republican leader to take away their health care. now, he is not alone in pushing a repeal that would explicitly hurt people back home. my friend from wyoming, he and the junior senator from wyoming both oppose the affordable care act and the law's expansion of medicaid. but their own republican governor, the governor of wyoming, is using obamacare to expand health coverage to the people of wyoming. wyoming governor matt meade is proposing a medicaid expansion that will help 17,000 people. now, 17,000 people in the sparsely populated state of
9:59 am
wyoming is a lot of people. the governor wrote this to the state legislature -- quote -- "this economic boost would stabilize services and inject tax dollars paid by wyoming citizens into wyoming communities. the numbers are compelling." close quote. but apparently, those facts are not compelling enough for the senators from wyoming. they will both vote for repeal. the republican senator from north dakota has also been a critic of the affordable care act. once again, his opposition does not jibe with what north dakota's governor is saying. north dakota governor dennis dugard is fighting in the state legislature to expand medicaid access to residents. his lieutenant governor who served ten years is john hoeven. but he will vote for repeal. the junior senator from montana is opposed to medicaid expansion. earlier this month, he seemed supportive of montana's expansion of medicaid, saying -- quote -- "i respect the
10:00 am
decision of our legislature and our governor on medicaid expansion. i am one that respects and writes their voices." close quote. but today i'm told he will perform a breath-taking about face and vote to do away with montanans' health care. there is a longer list. republicans in ohio, west virginia, the state of nevada will all embrace medicaid expansion. republican governors. in nevada, brian sandoval considered by many to be staunch with his republican party, but he displayed courage by expanding health coverage for tens of thousands of nevadans. so i hope my friend and fellow senator from nevada will follow our governor's example and stand for our constituents' health care. too few republicans will. if obamacare is so awful, why are republicans in kentucky, wyoming, montanart


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on