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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  December 8, 2015 10:00am-12:31pm EST

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the conference report forward is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. eastern. the changeable recess from 12:30-2:15 eastern for party lunches. live now 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. oh lord, our lord, the majesty of your name fills the earth. we see your handiwork in the beauty of the sunrise and the majesty of the sunset. as the world listens to the
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american political rhetoric and history waits to judge us, guide our lawmakers. lord, make this upper chamber of the legislative branch a truly deliberative body. learning from the lessons of history, may our senators strive to defend our constitution against all foreign and domestic enemies. grant that this defense will involve looking before leaping. may our senators make decisions
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that will not seem foolish in the cool light of retro specks. arise, oh lord, remind the nations that they are merely human. we pray in your sovereign 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.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: both parties have long agreed that no child left behind is broken and needs to be fixed. the house of representatives passed reformist replacements for this law over the past few congresses, but the senate didn't consider legislation on the floor for years until now. a new majority in congress thought it was time to finally change that dynamic. so we demonstrated how a functioning committee process and a functioning senate could
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help break through the gridlock. we showed how it could lead to important work across the aisle from a republican like senator alexander and a democrat like senator murray. in so doing, we not only proved that conservative reform was possible, we proved that it could pass by big bipartisan margins. the version of every student succeeds act the senate considered this summer passed 81-17. the every student succeeds act before us just passed the house 359-64. and soon we'll have the opportunity to send it to the president for his signature. "the wall street journal" dubbed this bill the largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter century. it would stop washington from imposing common core. it would strengthen the charter school program. it would substitute one size fits all federal mandates for
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greater state and local flexibility. in short, the every student succeeds act would put education back in the hands of those who know our kids best: parents, teachers, states, and school boards. it would help students succeed instead of helping washington grow. that's something all of us can get behind, because all of us represent dimp states with different -- different states with different children who have different needs. kentucky's newly appointed education commissioner is enthusiastic about this landmark reform. he wrote me to say that this bill would be good for kentucky because it would do things like ensure more flexibility, support rural schools and help the commonwealth provide for teacher development. i want to thank the senior senators from tennessee and washington for all their hard work on this bill. some may have questioned whether washington could ever agree on a replacement for no child left
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behind, but today we have the every student succeeds act before us. it's a good replacement. it's a conservative reform with significant bipartisan support and one that will do right by those who matter most in the discussion: our children and our future. so, madam president, just days after the president signed an important bipartisan highway bill we passed, we soon expect to send him an important bipartisan education bill to sign as well. we might even pass it as soon as today. passing either of these bipartisan bills after years of inaction would have represented a pretty big win for our country. what's more, it's notable that both could now be signed into law within such a short time frame. passage of these bills follow senate passage of many other achievements for the american people too on issues ranging from cybersecurity to trade to energy to entitlement reform, even combatting modern-day
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slavery. sometimes it was assumed that washington could never come to an agreement on certain issues, but not only did we pass some long stalled priorities for america, we often did so on a bipartisan basis. the question is: how do you achieve passage of important bills? one way is to foster an atmosphere where both parties can have more of a say in more issues starting at the committee level. let me give an example. consider what the american people saw in the debate over the education bill. they saw senators they sent to washington having their voices heard again regardless of party. they saw them making meaningful contributions in committee. they saw them working across the aisle. they saw them having more opportunities to offer amendments. the american people actually saw the senate take more amendment roll call votes on this single bill than the senate took all of last year on all bills combined. here's what senator murray, the democrat, said when the senate
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first passed this bill until july. she said "i'm very proud of the bipartisan work we've done on the senate floor, debating amendments, taking votes and making this good bill even better." i know her republican counterpart senator alexander feels exactly the same way. just like senator inhofe, a republican, agrees with senator boxer, a democrat, when she refers to the highway bill as a major accomplishment. now, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the senate recess from 12:30 until 2:15 today for the weekly conference meetings and that if cloture is invoked on the conference report to accompany s. 11 77 the time during the recess count toward the postcloture time. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection.
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mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. the presiding officer: donald trump is standing on the flat form of -- platform of hate and i'm sorry to say hate the republican party built for him. it was last week i came to the floor here and saided republican party is run -- and said the republican party is running on a platform of hate. yesterday donald trump provided the strongest evidence yet, it's true. trump proposal to bar muslims from entering this country is hateful, despicable and vile. we're not a country that goes religious tests. trump's statement is a slap in the face to the numbers of peace-loving muslims living here and to those who want to travel and live here. we welcome all and say donald trump is not america.
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sadly, however, donald trump has become the republican party, because it's just not him. many of the leading candidates for the republican nomination have said the same hateful things, especially about muslims jeb bush, ted cruz proposed a test for refugees. you can't condemn trump when you want to impose a religious test for women and children fleeing death and persecution. ben carson's called muslims rabid dogs. chris christie said they should be tracked. today donald trump offered the only true statement he's made for some time, referring to some of his fellow republicans, those running against him for president, here's what he said -- quote -- "they have been condemning almost everything i say, and they come to my side."
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it's disturbing but it's true. republican candidates condemn trump's remarks and then adopt his racist policies as their own. we shouldn't try to fool ourselves, this sort of racism has been prevalent in republican politics for decades. trump is saying out loud what other republicans merely suggest. political leaders must condemn these hateful, un-american statements with their words and their actions. silence only empowers bigots. as the year draws to an end, republicans are doing high fives and celebrating as if they hit a home run when they haven't even singled. republicans are seeing a distorted image of reality. all their talk of productivity and products overlooks many facts but ignores their civic duty to provide advice and consent to president obama, any
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president's nominations. republicans are balking at fulfilling their constitutional role. the job of congress is to pass law and confirm nominations. by that measure this congress has been the least productive ever. the total number of bills passed and nominations confirmed this congress is lower than any congress in decades. this republican majority has confirmed fewer nominations of any congress in decades. because of republicans' obstruction, qualified nominees are prevented from serving the american people. just yesterday the senate skipped over the nomination of rstreppo. there are 18 more judicial emergencies than when the republicans took over control of the senate. they have more work than the judge can do. instead of making progress on judicial backlogs across the nation, we're falling even further behind and creating more emergencies. one of those judicial emergencies is judge restrepo.
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he is a talented federal district judge from the state of pennsylvania, and he is a talented latino nominated for the third circuit. the junior senator from pennsylvania who is responsible for delaying this good man for more than six months in the judiciary committee finally engaged on the nomination. on monday the junior senator said, umis hi'm sending letter o senator mcconnell requesting a vote on his confirmation. i don't know why he just couldn't say to the republican leader, would you bring this up for a vote? why the letter? where has senator toomey been since july when this nomination was first reported out of the committee, five months ago? why has this nomination been pending before the senate for more than a year? i wonder if it's because election time is here? senate democrats have waited months to confirm this good man. he should be confirmed now,
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today. sadly, though, republicans are blocking every latino judicial nominee currently being considered. here's a partial list: judge restrepo, armando benina, john michael vasquez, eric lopez nominated to the northern district of georgia, who would make history as the first hispanic-appointed judge in that state. georgia mass a large, large number of hispanics in that state. because of this obstruction, last night the senate skipped over judge restrepo -- i meninged thamentioned that earl. instead the senate confirmed robert mcdonough. after confirming judge mcdonough, 19 judicial nominees remain on the executive
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calendar that were all voted out of the committee unanimously. at this point, in 2007, democrats worked with president bush to confirm 36 judicial nominees. 11 compared to 36. if the republican senate keeps up this glacial confirmation pace -- and it is obvious why they're doing it; they hope that donald trump will be elected president, hillary clinton won't be. yesterday's confirmation marks only the is 1 1th confirmation of this congress. if the republican senate keeps up this pace, many of their recommendations for georgia and iowa and other states are at risk of not being confirmed. these are republican selections. the american people are paying the price. since republicans took control of the senate, the number of judicial emergencies around the country has more than doubled. during this session of congress, we've only confirmed one circuit
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judge. because of the republicans' slowwalking, the senate is yentsly on paccurrently on pacee lowest number of judges in half a century. justice delayed is justified denied. that is true. more than 30,000 people across the country have been waiting for more than three years for resolution of their court case. judge lawrence o'neil was nominated by president george w. bush to the eastern district of california and is fed up with the delays in his court. here's what he said. "over the years i've received several letters from people indicating even if i win this case, my business has failed because of the delay. is this justice? how is this justice? and simple answer, which i cannot give them, is this: it's not justice, and we know it." close quote. the judge is right. what's happening with our judiciary is damaging our
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country and the litigants depending on a way to get to court to go to trial. the republican leader has the power to alter the destructive path senate republicans have charted. before we leave for the holidays, the senate should act to schedule votes on the dozens of judges that have been denied a vote. where we have the judicial emergencies, the criminal cases are allowed to go forward, but not the civil cases involving people's businesses. they can't have their day in court. there are too few judges. this he have to take care of all the criminal stuff first. the civil stuff wait. it is damaging to our comirks around certainly damaging to people's lives. those of americans are waiting for their day in court without further delay by the republicans. it is outrageous. *7 mr. president, i see no one on the floor. would the court announce to the senate the work of the day.
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the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of the conference report to accompany s. 1177, which the clerk will report. the clerk: conference report to accompany s. 1177, an act to reauthorize the elementary and secondary education act of 1965 to ensure that every child achieves. mr. reid: mr. president, is the time divided equally in the quorum? the presiding officer: there is no order for division of time. mr. reid: i would ask all quorum calls this morning, the time be divided equally between sides. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be suspend. the presiding officer: wowcts. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: wowcts. mr. durbin: the founding fathers took great care when it came to the issue of religion in our constitution. many of the people who had come to the united states and became its he recalliest white settlers came for religious freedom. they had witnessed discretionary, they had witnessed government religion, they had wrnsed the type of conduct which not onl only offed their conscience but motivated them to come to this great nation. so when the founding fathers sat down to craft our constitution, they made three hard and fast rules when this came to religion in this united states
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of america. the first was our freedom to believe as we choose or mott to choose, a personal freedom when it came to religion embodied in the civil rights. the second, prohibition against any government of the united states establishing a state or government religion. and third, the prohibition of any litmus test before anyone could run for public office with when it came to religion. those fundamental principles have guided the united states and have kept us away from some of the terrible conflicts which have occurred in other nations and across history when it came to the clash of religious belief. it is hard to imagine that in this 21st century, more than 200 years after that constitution was written that in the midst of this presidential campaign we would once again be reflecting on religion and
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america, but we are. statements that were made over the last several months, and especially a statement made yesterday by a republican candidate for president, has called into question again the policy and values of the united states when it comes to the practice of religion. mr. donald trump, the republican candidate for president, has proposed excluding people of muslim religion from the united states. he said we need to do that until our government figures out what to do with terrorism. mr. truch' trump's statements hn roundly condemned by most of the other republican presidential nominees, as well as former vice president richard cheney. it's an indication that he has gone too far. i hope it's an indication that we in america will reaffirm the fundamental values when it comes to religious belief that have guided this nation for more than
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two centuries. but i might add, this is just the latest chapter in this story. it was only a few weeks ago when there was a conscious effort promoted by the republican presidential candidates to exclude syrian refugees from the united states. they called it a pause, that we needed to assess whether or not we could change our system for refugees coming to this country, and in so doing they required for the certification of each individual refugee before they could come to this united states by the heads of our national security agencies. each year the united states allows about 70,000 refugees to come to our shores from all across the world. they come from far-flung nations, the largest contributor last year: burma, those who were escaping persecution in burma. the second-largest group were
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those coming in from iraq. they included, incidentally, those iraqis who had served and helped the united states and its military during a period of occupation. many of them risked their lives for our soldiers, and now they're worried about retribution and have asked for asylum and refuge in the united states. well, the proposal was made by the republican side that we should limit, in fact should delay and then limit syrian and iraqi refugees. one has to wonder whether or not it has anything to do with the fact that the vast majority of people living in those two countries are of the muslim faith. i've met some of theels refugees in the -- these refugees in the city of chicago. some of them waited up to two years after they were being investigated and interviewed and fingerprinted, up to two years before they could come to the united states. their stories are tragic of what they and their families have
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been through. they come here simply to start a new life in a safe place and to raise their children. it really is what motivated people across the span of history to come to this great nation, and these refugees are no different. the fact that the republicans would start by excluding refugees and now mr. trump take it to the extreme of excluding people of a religious faith -- the muslim religion -- is an indication of a conversation in american politics which needs to stop. we need to reflect once again on the fundamental principles of this question and the fundamental values of this country as well. i hope that this is the beginning of a reevaluation. you know, it wasn't but two weeks ago that the house of representatives passed the measure, the so-called pause in accepting refugees. it's interesting what's happened
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since. more than half of the democrats -- 47 of them -- more than half of them have said they don't want to include this measure in any final appropriations bill considered by congress. they are l obviously having second thoughts about the votes, and at least one republican congressman from the state of oklahoma said he made a mistake, he never should have voted for this policy when it came to syrian refugees. so perhaps as tempers cool and as we reflect on who we are as a nation and what we want to be, we'll have second thoughts about this question of refugees. mr. president, there was another vote last week that i noted on the floor yesterday which i still find hard to believe. a measure was offered by senator feinstein of california and what it basically said is if you are on a no-fly list, if you've been identified by our government as a suspected terrorist, you
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cannot purchase firearms. that, to me, is not a radical suggestion. it is a commonsense suggestion. the two killers in san bernardino had ar-15's, a weapon that can be used to fire many rounds in a hurry. the net result, 14 people died, another 18 or so were seriously injured. so when someone is put on the no-fly list, the suspected terrorist list, i don't think it's unreasonable to say you can't purchase a firearm as long as you're on that list. senator feinstein addressed the question raised by the republican senator from texas, what if the government's wrong? what if your name should not be on the list? she included in her bill a process to challenge any name on the list toond do it in -- and to do it in an orderly way with due process, but that wasn't enough. overwhelmingly the republicans
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voted against the feinstein amendment. overwhelmingly they voted against a proposal to ban suspected terrorists from buying firearms in america. now i know that there are many people who are skeptical, maybe even cynical when it comes to the role of our government. but if we are not going to take the government's information and advice when it comes to suspected terrorists, where will we be? our government, through our military, our intelligence agency, f.b.i. and law enforcement, gathers information about individuals and warns us if those individuals could be a danger to our families and to our communities. the vote by the republicans rejected that warning and said we will err on the side of giving people firearms even if they are suspected terrorists. that makes no sense whatsoever. it shows you the extremes you can reach when you listen closely to the gun lobby and not
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to the vast majority of americans who simply want to live in a safe country. it shows what happens when your opposition to this president and this government has reached the point where you even question the basic conclusion that someone has been engaged in suspicious, if not outright, terrorist activity. that vote was defeated. the amendment by senator feinstein was defeated. she also offered an amendment originally penned by the late senator lautenberg of new jersey relating to terrorists, but she also offered an amendment that related to background checks for those who wanted to purchase firearms. that amendment came to the floor under the sponsorship of senator manchin, democrat of west virginia and senator toomey, a republican of pennsylvania. what it said is very basic. if we are going to sell firearms in america, we are going to make
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every reasonable effort not to sell them to convicted felons nor people who are mentally unstable. that makes sense. in fact, it should be a standard we all accept. the vast majority of gun owners accept that standard. they don't want guns in the hands of people who would use them in crime nor people who are mentally unstable and can't manage a firearm. that amendment came to the floor again, defeated by the republicans in the united states senate. and it's unfortunate. in the state of il, in the city of chicago too many crime guns cross the border into the city of chicago, coming into that city when they're traced to gun shows and indiana where there are no background checks where people can fill up the trarchgz trarchgz -- trunks of that are cars with ammunition and tros -- cross that border into chicago
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and engage in deadly violent contact. we should bring that to an end. people who would buy them legally have no fear but those who would buy them for illegal purposes should be stopped. the republicans disagree. they can explain it. they are listening instead to the gun lobby. they should be listening to the people of this country. mr. president, i ask the next statement i make be made in a separate part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. durbin mr. president, last mont- mr. durbin: last month the d.o.j. justice announced an agreement to settle litigation against education management corporation, the second-largest for-profit college chain in america. edmc was found to have been engaged in fraud and deception when it told the federal government it was complying with federal laws that prohibited
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incentive compensation to be paid to recruiters. for edmc recruiters, students essentially had a bounty on their heads. the more students they signed up for their for-profit colleges, the more bonus and perks the recruiters could receive, like trips to places like cancun and las vegas, starbucks gift cards, expensive candies, tickets to sporting event. the saying at edmc is they were recruiting young people to attend these for-profit colleges really tells the whole story. the recruiters needed to only find students who have -- quote -- "a pulse and a pell" to sign up. what they're referring to, of course, is low-income students eligible for over $5,000 in pell grants. $5,000 that would flow to this for-profit college regardless of whether the students were getting a good education or not. u.s. attorney general loretta lynch referred to this school as
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a -- quote -- "recruitment mill." and what was the result of this recruitment mill? well, these illegal practices were taking place, edmc reportedly took in -- listen to this -- $11 billion in federal funds. $11 billion in taxpayer funds. under the settlement, the company was fined $90 million. $11 billion. $90 million. well, how about executives who masterminded the scheme to sign up young people so that their pell grants and government loans would flow to the for-profit college regardless of whether they ever finished school or ended up with a diploma that was worth anything. whatever happened to these people who engineered this scheme that cost federal taxpayers $11 billion, sthiewnt1 billion in debt and a fine by the government of $90 million?
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so far they're getting off scot-free. todd nelson, c.e.o. of edmc until 2012, received over $25 million personally in total compensation during his five years. the settlement didn't include any accountability for him. and now mr. nelson is the c.e.o. of another for-profit education company that's under massive state and federal scrutiny. the career education corporation. what about the students who were lured by edmc's illegal recruitment mill pressured by the company's high pressure boiler room tactics entered mountains of student debt. they can't find jobs many times and they certainly can't repay their loans. attorney general lynch called edmc's tactics a violation of the trust placed in them by the students. more than 40 state attorneys general accused the company of
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deception and misleading recruitment. so let's be clear, this was not just a case of edmc lying to the federal government. students who were the victims. i encourage the department of education to use the evidence the department of justice for students provided loan relief. but make no mistake, if the students are spared, the student debt from these fly-by-night, for-profit colleges, ultimately the taxpayers will be the losers as well. we provided the money to the students that flowed to the schools and now everyone's a loser, including the taxpayers. oh, not the officers of the company. they walked away with millions of dollars in compensation. there's one thing that i always say at this point to make my case, and i have never ever heard a rebuttal from the for-profit colleges.
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for-profit colleges educate about 10% of all of the high scho in america. who are the major for-profit colleges? the biggest one is the university of fee nicks. kaplan -- phoenix. kaplan is another large one. devry university out of the city of chicago. these are for-profit schools. about 10% of high school grads go to these for-profit colleges. the for-profit colleges as an industry receive 20% of all the federal aid to education. 10% of the students, 20% of the federal aid. their tuition is so high, students have to go deeper in debt than if they had chosen a community college or a public university. but here is the number to remember. 10% of the students, 44% of student loan defaults occur with students who attended for-profit colleges and universities. almost half of the students who end up going to these for-profit schools default on their student
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loans. don't forget student loans, student debt is not dischargeable in bankruptcy. a 19- or 20-year-old student and their parents who sign up for these student loans have signed up for a debt for life. it cannot be discharged. they'll take it to the grave. we actually have seen efforts to secure social security payments from the parents who cosign these loans when the student defaults. 10% of the students in for-profit schools, 44% of the student loan defaults. well, the edmc news came on the heels of a major announcement by west wood college, one of the worst actors in the for-profit college industry. westwood announced it would stop enrolling students in campuses nationwide, including the four it operates in the chicago land area, praise the lord.
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illinois attorney general lisa madigan sued west brook for engaging in their practices, she focused on their criminal justice program, one of the first that i heard about that really raised my interest in this for-profit college industry. in in order to lure students into their criminal justice program, westwood college convinced students they could get jobs with the chicago police department and the illinois state police. what happened when these students actually graduated from westwood college, this for-profit school? they took their degrees to the employers and the employers laughed at them. they didn't recognize the westwood degree. in fact, it reached a point where they said to the student, you know, you'd be better off -- don't include westwood college on your resume. just say you didn't go to scoovment you'lschool. you'll have a better chance. the attorney general recently reached a settlement with westwood in which it would forgive student loans for
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students. now it appears that the company on its whole may be on the way out. that's the trend in this industry. as students and parents are starting to realize these for-profit schools are bad news and state and federal regulators are shining a light on their i wilillegal tack tax deduction. -- tactics. i think they're down to less than 500,000 students. along with the declined enrollment, stock prices are plummeting. years of bad behavior is starting to catch up with these companies. but the damage is really done for the students. many of their lives have been harmed, if not ruined, by this debt. and of course damage to the federal treasury, which shells out billions -- that's with a "b" -- billions of dollars to the for-profit colleges that the taxpayers will never get back. and yet the other party
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continues to come to the aid of the for-profit college industry, attempting to block any steps to ensure for-profit colleges are following the law and held accountable. we saw it earlier this year. the junior senator from florida came to the aid of the disreputable corinthian colleges. while corinthian was lying to students about its job placement rates, suckering them into enrolling, saddling them with debt, the junior senator from florida was writing to the department of education asking them to demonstrate leniency to corinthian -- leniency to a company that made misrepresentations to students, lied to the government, and swindled taxpayers out of billions of dollars. that's the junior senator from florida's answer. if republicans are willing to defend corinthian, it should be a surprise they want to shield for-profit colleges from what's known as the gainful employment rule. the department of education has
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developed responsible criteria for determining whether career education programs really do prepare students for gainful employment. that's required by law. the gainful employment rule ensures that students who graduate from a covered program of study are able to get a job that allows them to manage the student debt they take on in the process. the point is to protect students from worthless post secondary programs that leave them saddled with debt and unable to get a good job. the point is also to protect federal taxpayers by cutting off federal funding to programs of study that don't really prepare students for a job. but for the for-profit college industry and their friends in congress, they hate this rule. why? as an industry, for-profit colleges, as i mentioned earlier, enroll 10% of the students and account for more than 40% of the student loan defaults. they take in $25 billion in
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title 4 dollars annually. if they were a federal agency, the for-profit colleges and university would be the ninth-largest federal agency in america. is this the private sector, is this the free market, or is this crony capitalism that survives on massive federal subsidies? the for-profit colleges and universities are the most heavily subsidized private industry in america. their business model depends on easy access to federal funds and the ability to spend as little as possible on quality education. they spend more money on advertising than they do on teaching. earlier this year the u.s. district court for the district of columbia dealt a devastating blow to this industry's attempts to block the gainful employment rule. the court upheld the rule in its entirety. this was the second u.s.
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district court to do so. having been embarrassed in federal court, the for-profit college industry has turned to my friends on the other side of the aisle to protect them. they attached a rider to the appropriation bills that fund education programs and are pushing to include it in the final spending bill this year to stop the department of education from enforcing the existing law on gainful employment. how can we as members of congress block implementation of this commonsense rule in light of what just happened with corinthian? this company was inflating its job placement rates to lure new students, de-friewdindefraudings and taxpayers and lying to the creditors and the federal government. when they collapsed, when corinthian went down, more than 70,000 students were left in peril, many with more debt than they can ever possibly repay and a corinthian education that is worthless.
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now is not the time for congress to meddle in the department of education's efforts to protect taxpayers, students, and their families and to prevent another corinthian collapse. the department estimates that nearly 1,400 programs of study, 99% of them at for-profit colleges, will fail under this basic rule. that's why the industry is in a mad dash to find political sponsors to save them from accountability. programs have to fail to be cut off of federal funding. so the institutions do have an opportunity to improve. if they don't, we shouldn't just continue to bliewndl blindly sed billions in taxpayers to these companies. with all that we know about the for-profit college industry and their fraudulent and deceptive practices, i can't believe my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are prepared to fight
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a rule that is nothing more than a way to protect students and the taxpayers. but here we are facing the prospect of a policy rider, substantive legislation in a spending bill to shield for-profit colleges from being held accountable and delivering on their promises to students. i am going to resist that, and i hope my completion will join me. it isn't just a matter of making certain that these schools follow the law. it is a mast protecting students -- it is a matter of protecting students and families from being exploited, going in for an education and ending up with nothing other than debt, and protecting taxpayers who are sending $25 billion a year to this industry. mr. president, we have had some heated debates on the floor here, talking about people receiving food stamps. perhaps $180 a month in food stamps and whether they are deserving and whether this is a ripoff of taxpayers. $180 for food, and when it comes
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to $25 billion for an industry that has shown over and over again that it is the source of 44% of student loan defaults to the misery of the students and families who are victims of it, some of people critical of food stamp fraud turn a blind eye. oh, this is just business; don't be afraid of making a profit. i salute businesses that make a profit, if they do it honestly, honorably, and dhow it with competition. this dry i industry is taking advantage of federal companies in a way no other industry in america is. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. a senator: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cotton: i'll be briefly. i have to respond to what wye heard from the president on sunday night. the democrats will have you believe anybody on a watch list
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can go and buy a firearm without any notice whatsoever. that is simply false. the background check system, the federally licensed firearm dealers use include a terror watch list and the f.b.i. counterterrorism division is notified when that occurs. of course the list is notoriously inaccurate. the department of justice i.g. report a few years ago said up to half of the names on the list are incorrect. "the new york times" which continues its proselytizing for gun control used to be strongly opposed to the use of this list. most famously, ted kennedy, the united states senator from america's leading political dynasty, was on the list and couldn't get off for weeks having flights disrupted time after time. steven hayes, a well-known journalist who i'll admit looks a little suspicious also found himself on the list. it took him comongts -- months of commentary and was only
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removed from the list when jeh johnson was challenged on fox news. if it took people like ted kennedy and steve hayes weeks or months to get off the list how long do you think it will take the little guy in arkansas, for that matter how long do you think it will take patriotic muslim americans who are most likely because of confusion about their names of suspected terrorists on that list to get off the list? what other rights would democrats like to deprive american citizens of without notice and due process? the right to free speech? right to practice their religion? right to petition their government? right against unreasonable searches and seizures? right to trial by jury? right to confront their accusers right to get just compensation when their property is taken? democrats should quit being so politically correct. they should focus on winning the war against radical islam. if they did, maybe fewer americans would feel the need to buy firearms to protect
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themselves from terrorist attacks. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. alexander: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: this is a day of rare opportunity for the united states senate. we have an opportunity today to reverse the trend of the last several years toward a national school board. we have an opportunity to make clear in the future the path to higher standards, better teaching and real accountability will be through states, communities and classrooms and not through washington, d.c. we have an opportunity to vote in favor of what the "wall street journal" has called -- quote -- "the largest devolution of federal control to states in a quarter century." unquote. we have an opportunity to inaugurate a new era of innovation and excellence in student achievement by restoring responsibility to states and classroom teachers. tennessee, after all, is the first state to pay teachers more
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for teaching well. minnesota educators created the first charter schools. the real advances in higher standards in accountability and appropriate testing have come from classroom teachers and from governors, not from washington, d.c. and i believe that's where those advances will come from in the future. and we have an opportunity today to provide much-needed stability and certainty to federal education policy from some very important people who are counting on us. 50 million children, 3.4 million teachers and 100,000 public schools. "newsweek" magazine recently reminded us what we already know very well. no child left behind is a law everybody wants fixed. governors, teachers, superintendents, parents, republicans, democrats, and students all want the law fixed. there is a consensus about that. unfortunately there is a
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consensus about how to fix it -- fortunately there is a consensus about how to fix it. that consensus is continue the law's important measurements of academic progress of students. just aggregate and report those results, the results of those measurements so that teachers and parents and the community can know what's going on in the schools. but restore to states, school districts, classroom teachers and parents the responsibility for deciding what to do about those tests and about what to do about improving student achievement. in our senate hearings, i suppose we heard more about overtesting than any other subject. i believe this new law will result in fewer and better tests because state and classroom teachers will be deciding to do about the results of the test. building on the consensus i've just described is why the senate, our senate education committee passed our bill 22-0
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and why it passed on the floor 81-17. that's why conferees from the senate and the house were able to agree 38-1. and that's why the last -- on last thursday the house of representatives approved the conference report 359-64. and that is why, madam president, the national governors association gave our conference report its first full endorsement that the n.g.a. has given to any legislation in nearly 20 years. that's why the chief state school officers, the school superintendents, the national education association, the american federation of teachers all have supported our result. this consensus will end the waivers through which the united states department of education has become in effect a national school board for more than 80,000 schools in 42 states. governors have been forced to come to washington, d.c. and
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play mother may i in order for a state to put in a plan to evaluate teachers, for example, or to help a low-performing school. our consensus will end the federal common core mandate. it explicitly prohibits washington from mandating or even incentivizing common core or any other specific academic standards. that is exclusively the responsibility of the state. it moved decisions about whether schools and teachers and students are succeeding or failing out of washington, d.c. and back to states and communities and classroom teachers, where those decisions belong. i'm grateful to senator murray who is here today and representative klein and scott and to all of the members of the our senate education committee for the leadership they have shown and the bipartisan way in which they have worked on this legislation. i'm grateful to both the democratic and republican staffs in the senate and the house for
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their ingenuity and hard work. fixing no child left behind has not been easy. everyone is an expert on education. this has been a lot like being in a football stadium with 100,000 fans all of whom know exactly which play to call, and usually each one of them says so. some republicans would like even more local control of schools than our consensus provides, and i am one of them. but my scholarship for kids proposal, which would have given states the option to allow federal dollars to follow children to the school their parents choose, only received 45 votes in the senate. it needed 60. so i've decided, like a president named reagan once advised, that i'll take 80% of what i want and fight for the other 20% on another day. besides, if i were to vote "no," madam president, i would be voting to leave in place the common core mandate.
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i'd be voting to leave in place the waivers that permit the united states department of education to act as the national school board for 80,000 students in 42 schools, and i'd be voting against the largest step toward local control of schools in 45 years. let me repeat that. voting "no" today is voting to leave in place the common core mandate and the national school board and voting against the largest step toward local control of schools in 25 years. i say to my friends especially on the republican side, many of whom, as i do, would like more local control. that's not the choice. the choice is whether you want to leave in place common core, the national school board, and vote against the large he want step toward local control in 25 years. i don't want to do that. this law expired eight years ago. it's become unworkable t. if strictly applied it would label nearly every school in america a failing school, so states and teachers and parents have been waiting eight years for us to
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reauthorize this law. if this were homework, they would give congress an "f" for being tardy. but i hope they'll give us a good grade for the result we have today. it is a great privilege, madam president, to serve in the united states senate, but there's no need for us to have that privilege if all we do is announce our different opinions or vote "no" if we don't get 100% of our way. we could do that at home or on the radio or in the newspaper or on a street corner. as united states senators, after we have had our say, our job is to get a principled result. today we have that opportunity. i hope that today we'll demonstrate that we understand the privilege we have as senators and show that we cherish our children by building upon this consensus and vote "yes" to fix the law that everybody wants fixed and "yes"
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for the consensus that restores responsibility for our schools to states, communities and classroom teachers. now, before senator murray speaks, i would like to do two things briefly. the first vote, the vote we're having today at 11:30 have a vote about whether to cut off debate on fixing no child left behind. i would hope no senator would not think we've not had enough debate. we've been at this for seven years, failed in the last two congresses, been working in our committee since january. we've had innumerable hearings, many amendments on committee, more than 70 amendments were dealt with on the floor. a dozen or so amendments in the conference report. every senator has had this in his or her office since last monday, at least for a week. so the question today is at 11:30, is it time to cut off debate and move to a final vote?
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and i would hope every senator would vote "yes" on that. finally, i mentioned to senator murray and her role in this which has been indispensable in terms of our ability to come to a result, but i would like to extend my deep thanks and appreciation to her staff and our staff, the committee staff, that worked on fixing no child left behind. many of them have been working on this effort for nearly five years. they have been ingenious, they worked hard, they have been understanding, they have been tireless and they have been indispensable to creating this important, bipartisan, bicameral bill. that would include the staffs of representative klein and representative scott in the house. on senator murray's staff i would like to thank evan schatz and amanderer beaumont, iasia
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conchola. i would like to thank my staff director david cleary as well as peter opennenhim. hillary knutssen, allison martin, bobby mcmilan, liz wagamuth and taylor holsey. madam president, i yield the floor. mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: madam president, i first ask unanimous consent that sarah rosenburg, a fellow with the senate help committee and lauren burdette, a fellow in senator casey's office be granted floor privileges. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: thank you. thank you, madam president. 50 years ago president lyndon johnson returned to the old elementary school he once attended and with him he had a
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major piece of legislation. at a picnic table on the lawn of the school, president johnson signed into law the elementary and secondary education act or esea. he said with this law he envisioned -- quote -- "full educational opportunity as our first national goal. " our nation has always held the ideal of education for all, but in 1965, esea put that idea into action. it aimed to close the education gaps between rich and poor, black and white, kids from rural areas and kids from big cities. and in doing so, esea took a step forward for civil rights. today, madam president, we have a chance to reauthorize that civil rights law to continue what president johnson called our first national goal. we have the chance to finally move away from the no child left behind act. and we have the chance to send the every student succeeds act
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to the president's desk to help ensure all kids have access to a quality education regardless of where they live or how they learn or how much money their parents make. madam president, i appreciate the tireless work of chairman john klein and ranking member bobby scott in the house and their staffs. but i especially want to thank my partner here in the senate, the chairman of the help committee and senior senator from tennessee, senator lamar alexander. you know, the chairman had an opportunity to go down a partisan road, but instead he committed to work with me earlier this year to get this important bill done. i was very proud to work with him and many of our colleagues to break through the gridlock and keep this bill moving forward. together we passed our bill through the help committee with strong bipartisan support. we passed our bill in the senate with strong bipartisan support. we got approval from our bicameral conference committee
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with strong bipartisan support. last week the house passed this final legislation with strong bipartisan support. and today i hope our colleagues will approve this final bill with the same bipartisan spirit that has guided this progress thus far. now, nearly everyone agrees that no child left behind is badly broken. i have heard from parent after parent, teacher after teacher about how the law overemphasized testing and how oftentimes those tests are redundant or unnecessary. and i've seen firsthand how this law is not working for my home state of washington. no child left behind issued one-size-fits-all mandates but then failed to give the schools the resources to meet those mandates. these mandates were so unworkable that the obama administration began giving the states waivers from the law's requirement. but my state lost its waiver this year. parents across the state got a letter in the mail saying their
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child's school was failing, and teachers were left working as hard as ever knowing that "failing" label didn't reflect the reality in their classroom. a few months ago i heard from a teacher in seattle named lion terry. he has taught school now for more than 17 years and pours his energy into engaging with his students. starts the morning by playing songs on his guitar. he keeps his students laughing with jokes. and every day he tries to create an environment where kids want to come to school. but despite mr. terry and his fellow teachers' hard work, his school was labeled as failing. that's not fair to teachers like mr. terry. it is not fair to the parents who need confidence in the education their kids get at public schools, and it is not fair to students, who should never have to bear the consequences of this broken law. fixing no child left behind has been one of my top priorities for students, families and communities back home in washington state and across the
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country. madam president, back in january we didn't know if there would be a path to compromise to reauthorize the nation's k-12 law, but i started out with several principles and washington state priorities i'd be fighting for. first, i knew we needed to make sure schools and states provide a caught he had quaition to -- quality education to all their students because we already know what happens when we don't hold them accountable for every child. inevitably it's the kids from low-income neighborhoods or kids of color or kids with disabilities or just learning english who too often fall through the cracks. i said back in january and i'll repeat, true accountability means holding up our schools to our nation's promise of equality and justice. madam president, i knew we had to give schools and teachers the resources they need so they can help their students reach their full potential. because in some schools, students simply don't have the same opportunity to graduate, ready for college and careers in
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the 21st century economy like other students do. and i know we should pass an education bill that helped expand access to early childhood education. giving more students the chance to start kindergarten ready to learn is one of the smartest investments our country can make. i'm proud to report that our bill takes major strides on those priorities and much more. the every student succeeds act will put an end to the one-size-fits-all mandates of no child left behind. it will end the era of state waivers. that will give teachers and parents in my state of washington and across the country some much-needed certainty. our bipartisan bill will reduce reliance on high-stakes testing so teachers and students can spend less time on test prep and more time on learning. i know that's going to be a major relief for teachers and principals like high school
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principal lori brianbory in spokane, washington. she told me she wants to see some commonsense priorities for testing. that's what our bill will help to do. madam president, while every student succeed act gives states more flexibility, it also includes strong federal guardrails to hold schools and states accountable. our bill will make sure that schools work to close achievement gaps that too often hurt kids from low-income backgrounds or students of color or those learning english or those with disabilities. and for schools that struggle the most to help students succeed and for high schools where more than a third of their students fail to earn a diploma, our bill will ensure they do take steps to improve. madam president, a couple weeks ago i met a parent named duncan. he has a son in second grade in the highland public schools and duncan is active in their p.t.a. many of the kids in his school district struggle with poverty. duncan said that he has seen firsthand how in districts like his -- quote -- "every dollar
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matters." in the every student succeeds act, i fought hard to make sure federal resources go to the schools and districts that need them the most by rejecting a proposal known as portability. because if enacted, portability would have siphoned off money from schools with the highest concentration of students in poverty and would send it to more affluent schools. our bill protects students who attend schools in low-income areas and upholds our responsibility to invest federal resources where they are needed the most. even still, many schools and districts don't get equal access to the resources they need to help students learn and grow and thrive. threes things like offering a.p. classes or how much funding districts spend on each student or access to preschool or more. so our bill will require all schools to report on those issues to help shine a light on resource inequality. and, madam president, our bipartisan bill will help improve and expand access to preschool programs.
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you know, before i ever thought about running for elective office, i taught preschool in a small community in my home state of washington. i remember the first day with new students. it would always start the same way. some kids wouldn't know how to hold a pencil or a crayon or how to turn a page in a book. but over the first few months, they start to catch on. they learned how to lis onat storytime. they learned thousand stand in line before recess. and by the time they left for kindergarten, they had those basic schools scilz and many more so -- skills and many more so they were ready to tackle a full curriculum in school. i have seen firsthand the kind of transformation that early learning can inspire in a child and i'm so glad that for the first time our nation's primary education law will invest in early childhood education. i fought hard for this because i know that investing now in preschool will pay off for years to come. madam president, strong federal guardrails for accountability, shining a light on resource
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inequities, reducing the reliance on high-stake testing and increasing access to preschool are some of the great things in this bill. but almost -- bray no audio] [no audio] on an issue as important as education, on a law as broken as no child left behind, we worked together and found a way to find common ground. it's not the bill i would have written on my own. i know it isn't the bill that republicans would have written on their own. it's the nature of compromise. but we put partisanship aside and proved that congress can get results for the american people and that kind of bipartisanship is what we need more of here in congress. with the legislative process for this bill coming to an end, i'm looking ahead to the future when all students have the chance to learn and we strengthen our work force. our nation grows stronger.
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our economy grows from the middle out, not from the top down. and we empower the next generation of americans to lead the world. so as proud as i am that we've come this far on the every student succeeds act, we've always got to keep improving educational opportunities. i'm going to see to it that this bill is implemented effectively, that schools and teachers get the resources they need, that students have access to the programs that help them succeed in the classroom and beyond. i'm going to keep pushing to build on the progress we've made in this bill and make sure more students start strong on -- start school on a strong footing. and i'm going to keep fighting to make college more affordable and reduce the crushing burden of student debt. and i'm going to keep working every single day to make sure our government is doing everything possible to help students in washington state and across the country. reauthorizing esea isn't the finish line. for me it's more of a milestone in an ongoing commitment to swing open more doors of
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opportunity for americans. and i'm asking all of my colleagues here today to join me. let us fix this no child left behind law. let's show teachers and principals we are on their side, and let's help instill educational opportunity as our first national goal and grow our nation stronger for generations to come. madam president, in a few minutes, as the chairman said, we will be voting on cloture to end debate so that we can move to passage of this bill. along with him, i thank all of our staffs. and when we get to the final bill, i want to name them personally as well. they have put in an incredible amount of time and work and hours to help us to get to this agreement. so again, i want to thank all of our staffs on both sides of the aisle and in the house. i will say more about that later. but i truly want to thank chairman alexander for taking the time to be thoughtful and to work with us and to find a path forward for compromise on a law that was broken that needed to be fixed that we are about to
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pass. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. mr. alexander: madam president, i've said maybe times but i'd like to say again, at the beginning of this discussion when the senator from washington and i talked about how we'd been stuck for two grosses this, i had started in one direction, she suggested a different direction. as it turned out, she gave me good advice. i took it. and as a result, we have a result. so i thank her for that. and i look forward to working with her on other important issues in the same way. the senator from georgia would like to speak before we vote. mr. isakson: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. isakson: madam president, as the last surviving person who served on the committee that wrote the original no child left behind in the congress, i'm dlied to be here on this day -- delighted to be here on this day and i think i speak for every superintendent, every governor, every parent and every child to say thank you to senator alexander and senator murray. we knew when we wrote no child
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left behind that if it worked, by the time the sixth year came, we'd have to reauthorize it or tels would go from a net positive to a negative. we didn't reauthorize and a.y.p. became a problem and good schools became needs improvement schools and the law worked backwards. in fact, we've run education by waiver the last six years. the leadership of these two great members of congress, seeing this bill through in the committee, is a great testimony to working together, to finding common ground and to our collective purpose of seeing to our children are the best educated children in the world. so senator alexander, thank you. senator murray, thank you for what you've done. to the members of congress -- of the senate who will vote in a few minutes, we need a vote for cloture and a vote for final passage to see to it we end a chapter in education and open a new chapter. a chapter that focuses on student improvement, student achievement, leaves no child left behind but also sees that every child can succeed and make sure we disaggregate so we can focus on children as they perform within their own groups and we focus on every child in every school in america. so i'm honored to have been a member of the committee that worked hard on this bill.
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i'm honored to serve with senator alexander and senator murray. and i appreciate the time to speak on behalf of not just myself but every superintendent and every teacher and every parent in america. thank you very much. mr. alexander: madam president, i thank the senator from georgia. and i salute him. the senator from georgia is a former chairman of the georgia state board of education so his experience there, his work with senator murray on early childhood education and his insistence on an amendment that gives states a right to allow parents to opt out of federally required tests all were major contributions to this legislation. i think it's fair to say that we could not have fixed no child left behind without johnny isakson's experience and leadership and i'm deeply grateful to him for -- for that. mr. alexander: we yield back all time on our side.
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mrs. murray: madam president, we yield back all our time as well. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion, we, the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the conference report to accompany s. 1177, an act to reauthorize the elementary and secondary education act of 1965 to ensure that every child achieves. signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimouunanimous consent, the y quorum call has been waived. the question is: is it the sense of the senate that debate on the conference report to accompany s. 1177, an original bill to reauthorize the elementary and secondary education act of 1965, to ensure that every child achieves, shall be brought to a close? the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll.
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not, on this vote the yeas are 84, the nays are 12. three-fifths of the senators
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duly chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative, the motion is agreed to. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: on behalf of the senator from washington, senator murray, and i, i ask consent that not withstanding the provisions of rule 22 the vote on adoption of the conference report to accompany s. 1177 occur on 10:45 on wednesday, december 9. that's tomorrow. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. alexander: thank you, madam president. that sets the final vote on our bill to fix no child left behind tomorrow morning at 10:45. i don't think there is any doubt what the result will be. we found a series of votes to give a pretty clear indication of where the senate is. the vote today was 84-12 to cut off the debate and i move to the final vote.
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senators who wish to speak between now and then can do that. senator murray mentioned in her remarks to the effect that. i'd like to call that to the attention of senators as well. i've said before that i think one reason senator murray worked so well toward a result, even though she's a partisan leader in the democratic congress is that she used to be a preschool teacher and in kindergarten you learn to work well together, and that's true in her case. that's actually true with all the members of our committee. we have as much divergence of opinion on our committee, the 22 members, as does any committee. i won't name the names of the senators, but there's no one who can dispute that. yet we went through a process, madam president, which senator murray and i agreed on at her suggestion, and this is what
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happened. we had 22 members in the committee vote "yes" to move the bill to the floor. that's every single member of the committee. several of those members agreed to withhold amendments that might have been damaging to the bill so that we could deal with them on the floor. in the committee, we've considered 58 amendments. 29 were adopted. 24 of the adopted amendments were offered by democrats, five were offered by republicans. then we went to the floor and when we moved to the floor, the vote was 81-17. not the way to as good as today but a very good vote. and on the floor, we had 52 member priorities incorporated into a substitute amendment. in other words, 52 senators made suggestions about the final bill. 44 of those were requested by democrats, eight were requested by republicans.
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on the senate floor, 177 amendments were filed. 78 were considered. 23 by roll call vote. 65 amendments were agreed to. 40 of those were offered by democrats, 25 by republicans. now, sometimes it's said we don't have time to deal with amendments. madam president, we dealt with 177 amendments on the floor in less than a week. the practice of going around to our colleagues talking them out of amendments takes more time than it does actually to vote on it and to give them a chance to participate. and then in conference, 17 more amendments were filed. 10 from the house, 7 from the senate. nine were considered. seven were agreed to. four democrat, three republican. so i would suggest to the senate and to the president that it's not a secret why we were able to succeed this year in fixing a bill which is very difficult to
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fix. we know that because we've tried in each of the last two congresses hard working with the secretary of education, the house republicans, the senate -- house democrats, senate republicans. we spent a lot of hours, we worked on a bull but we failed. -- we worked on a bill but we failed. why did we have more success this time? i think it's because everybody had a part of the process. everybody had a chance to have their say. we had amendments in committee. we had amendments on the floor. we had amendments in the conference. and if you're convinced that you've had a chance to have your say, then it's easier to say, okay, let's vote. i might win or i might lose but at least i've had my say. we need to get a result. i'd like to see more of that here. we can -- we can do that fairly easily. and the key to it is allowing amendments. it's possible under the senate rules for senator murray to offer an amendment and to try to make it pending and i object.
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and if then i offer an amendme amendment, she might object. and then the whole process collapses. so any one of us can really keep the senator from functioning as it should. but in this case, on an issue when there are alligators lurking in every corner of the pond that could have brought this to a halt -- and nearly did actually several times -- we were able to come through a process and get a result for the benefit of 50 million children and 3.4 million teachers in a hundred thousand public schools. someone asked me earlier today -- or yesterday, what would it take to have the american people have a higher opinion of the united states congress? my answer is actions like this. take an issue that affects real americans in the schools they attend, in the homes where they're doing their homework, the teachers who are working every day. this affects every single one of them. this empowers them to do their job. this creates a new era of innovation and opportunity -- an
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opportunity for a new era of innovation in opportunity and student achievement. and when we work together to get this result, i think people think better of this process here. as i said earlier, you know, it's possible just to stand here and say, here's my opinion and if i don't get 100%, i'm going to vote "no." well, if that were all i wanted to do, i would stay home. i would stand on the street corner, offer my opinion for about five minutes and then go do something else. or i'd get my own radio show. or i'd get my own column. but i wouldn't waste my time trying to be a united states senator. it's hard to get here. it's hard to stay here. and while you're here, you might as well amount to something. and amounting to something in the united states senate means getting a result, a principled result on issues that are important to the american people. now, we've done that this year more than most people might think. i mean, senator murray has a well-known reputation in this body not just for being a democratic leader but for being
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someone who's interested in a result. but senator wyden is working with senator hatch on tax extenders. senator udall worked with senator vitter on chemical safety. the energy bill that came out of committee depended upon senator cantwell as well as senator murkowski. the mental health bill that came out of our committee came from murray and alexander. the cybersecurity bill that passed the senate was the work of senator feinstein as well as senator burr. the trafficking victims law was mccaskill and cornyn. the terrorism risk insurance was brown-shelby. iran nuclear review act -- a pretty extraordinary bill -- was first menendez then cardin along with senator corker. the veteran suicide prevention act, durbin and mccain. and i haven't even mentioned all of the important legislation that came through the senate this year, madam president. so it's perfectly possible for us to deal with very important
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pieces of legislation if we work together, and those democratic senators and republican senators have all shown that they -- that they could. so, madam president, i look forward to the vote tomorrow at 10:45. i have eight 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 consent that these requests be agreed to and these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: i yield the floor. mr. schumer: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: yeah. i ask unanimous consent that for the next 20 minutes, i be given four minutes, senator shaheen, four minutes, senator bloom blumenthal, four minutes, senator feinstein, four minutes and senator murphy four minutes concluding in a unanimous consent request. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: thank you, madam president. now, like so many americans, my
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thoughts are with the family and friends of those affected by the act of terror in san bernardino last week. our hearts go out to the victims and to their families. and as we learn more the suspects, it's becoming clear that san bernardino will serve as a sad but also a shocking reminder of what needs to be done to address what has become known as the terror gap. so, madam president, i rise today in support -- to support that most commonsense proposal to bar individuals on the terrorist watch list from being able to legally get a gun. the g.a.o. found between 2004 and 2014, suspected terrorists attempted to exploit this loophole. now, people say, well, this never happens. listen to this. they tried to purchase guns, those on the terror watch list,
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2,233 times and succeeded in 2,043 of those. 91%. madam president, it is -- it is absolute insanity that this is not already a restriction we have in place. given what happened in san bernardino, it is extra insanity that we're not going to move on this, we haven't moved on this already. it makes no sense. we can't let a small group, an influential powerful lobbying group make america less safe. and yet, many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are doing just that because the n.r.a. says no, they say no, even though terrorism is a scourge that we have to deal with on many fronts. and i appreciate my friend from texas. he says there are certain people on the terrorist watch list who
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don't belong there. there are a few, but this newly found sympathy for the civil liberties of those who might be causing trouble is surprising. we don't say abolish the criminal justice system because not every single person we convict is guilty, although 99% probably are, some large percentage. why are we doing it here? are we saying if there are two or three people on this terrorist watch list, 20 or 30, who shouldn't be there, and they have the right to appeal and correct it -- i've done it for constituents -- that we should let the other thousands on the watch list buy guns who belong on that watch list and who present a danger to america? it makes no sense. so i'd ask my friends on the other side of the aisle, why should terrorists like the one who perpetrated the heinous
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attack in paris or the ones who did in san bernardino be allowed to buy a gun? no red herring argument will work. this is plain common sense at a time when we need common sense, and it should not be a partisan measure. guess who introduced this idea originally? not barack h. obama, but george w. bush in 2007. the vast majority of gun owners -- and they have a right to have a gun, and i would protect that right for them to have a gun if they're not a felon or adjudicated mentally ill or a spousal abuser -- therefore everyone is for it. the other side says no. so i hope people now who have become -- i ask unanimous consent for 30 additional seconds. now that it's become clear since our last vote that the two in san bernardino had terrorist
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ties, i hope when senator murphy makes the u.c., the unanimous consent request, the other side will support it. i yield the floor. mrs. shaheen: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: mr. president, i come to the floor to join my colleagues because i also believe we should keep guns out of the hands of terrorists. now, i don't think that applies to law-abiding citizens, but i think it does apply to terrorists. i've been a strong supporter of the second amendment. in new hampshire, we have a rich tradition of safe and legal firearm ownership. we have a rich tradition of hunting and sportsmen's activities. but like most granite staters, i also support pragmatic and sensible ways to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people who would threaten this country while also protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens.
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that's what we're discussing here today. we have put forward commonsense legislation that adheres to a pretty simple principle. if you're not allowed on a plane because you're on a no-fly list because you're suspected of threatening the country, then you should not be allowed to buy a gun. i want to repeat what senator schumer said because i think people don't think that this is real. they think, oh well, if you're on the no-fly list, you're not going to be able to buy a gun. but l according to the government accountability office, between 2004 and 2014, suspected terrorists attempted to purchase guns from american dealers at least 2,233 times, that we know of. and in 2,043 of those cases 91%
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of the time those suspected terrorists succeeded. that is just unacceptable, and it's time we close the loophole that allows suspected terrorists to purchase guns. after the horrific tragedy last week in san bernardino that was carried out by radicalized individuals, it's clear that we immediate to be doing more to prevent violent attacks inspired by isis here at home. closing this loophole in our gun laws is a commonsense thing that we can do today. now, i've heard concerns that the legislation that we have proposed doesn't allow for adequate due process for those on the list, but that is just not correct. the department of homeland security has a process in place for removing your name from the no-fly list. as senator feinstein, the author of the legislation, has noted, the f.b.i. office that handles the firearm background check
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system must provide a reason for a denial upon request. individuals who are listed then have a right to correct any inaccurate records in the background check system. so there is a process in place if people are wrongfully on that no-fly list, to be able to remove their names. so i would just ask those who oppose this bill if the no-fly list is not good enough for keeping guns out of the hands of terrorists, why is it worthwhile for protecting commercial airline flights from terrorists? the reasoning is just inconsistent. it's time -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mrs. shaheen: -- to come together in the interest of national security to close this this -- pass this bill. mr. blumenthal: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. we talk in this chamber about the threat of terrorism and many
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associate terrorist threats with airplanes and explosives, but we've seen in recent horrifying events in paris and san bernardino how much tragic carnage can be brought by a small number of people using firearms designed for war. assault weapon that had the purpose to kill and maim humans. no other purpose. for me and for the american people, common sense says a person too dangerous to be permitted on a plane is too dangerous to be permitted a gun. no fly, no gun. no check, no gun. and that ought to be the rule. it's a commonsense rule. whenever i talk to people in connecticut, they say to me, why
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didn't the senate approve that rule? there is no commonsense explanation. and the reason given by colleagues on the other side that there's some due process violation is nonsense. i hesitate to say it is that frivolous, but it is because, number one, there's a right to challenge the designation on the no-fly list through the department of homeland security, which has to provide reasons and an opportunity to challenge it. but also under senator feinstein's bill, there is an additional safeguard to constitutional rights because it can be challenged through the department of justice, which is required to establish an administrative process, and then an appeal. a right of appeal to the federal
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courts. anybody denied permission to buy a gun has a right of appeal. and so the rule no fly, no gun is based on common sense and legal constitutional right. no right in fact is absolute, whether it's the first amendment or any other right. there is the guarantee in the constitution that there will be reasonable restrictions when necessary to protect the public interest. and here is a case of the public interest clearly deserving of this protection. if there are problems with any individual being on the list, challenge it. but clearly having to wait 72 hours for that check and for the denial of permission to go forward is unreasonable.
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and so i urge that we move forward with this commonsense protection for the public. i am hard pressed to think of a more clear and staggering example of the gun lobby's influence than the defeat of this bill. plainly, the vote last week showed that the gun lobby unfortunately still has a staggering stranglehold on this process. when it comes to law enforcement, they are on our side. and i urge our colleagues to heed this reasonable request: no fly, no gun. if you're on that no-fly list, if you're too dangerous to fly and to board a plane, the constitution --
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the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. blumenthal: -- says that this reasonable restriction should be adopted. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i ask consent to speak for three minutes. i understand i wasn't in the original request. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. klobuchar: thank you very much, mr. president. when i was a prosecutor, we had one straightforward goal: convict the guilty and protect the innocent. to me, that simple mission still holds true. we must make our world safer by rooting out evil in our midst while still protecting the rights of people who mean no harm. those 14 people in san bernardino, that american aide worker killed in mali, innocent families whose planes exploded over egypt and those young people killed and maimed in paris deserve nothing less. that means, of course, taking out the evil at its roots, increasing our efforts and
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leading an international coalition against isis. and it means keeping our homeland safe. part of that is tightening the visa waiver program. some of it is the work that must be done on encryption. but there is one commonsense way to get at this terror that i join my colleagues in supporting today, commonsense action to close a dangerous loophole that allows suspected terrorists to legally buy guns in the united states. incredibly current u.s. law does not prevent individuals who are on terror watch lists from purchasing guns. a total of 2,233 people on the watch list tried to buy guns in our country between 2004 and 2014 and more than 2,000 or 91% of them cleared a background check according to the information from the government accountability office. i'm a cosponsor and have been before these tragic events of the last few weeks. i'm a cosponsor of senator feinstein's bill to close this
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loophole. and during last week's budget debate, i joined 25 of my senate colleagues in offering an amendment that would also have stopped these dangerous individuals from buying firearms and explosives. passing legislation to ensure that suspected terrorists cannot buy guns has bipartisan support in the house of representatives where republican congressman peter king of new york has long advocated for this change. as we work to fight terrorists abroad, as we work to stop the recruitment in our own country, which i know well from my own state, the state of minnesota, where we have over a dozen cases, indictments against those that were trying to go to fight with isis and others who were going to fight with shabaab, we've been very aggressive in going after those cases and in working to prevent this recruitment from occurring in the first place. this is all a piece of a very difficult puzzle. but to just close our eyes and say that people on the terror watch list can go out and buy a gun is wrong.
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we need to do everything we can to ensure that those suspected of terrorist activity cannot buy guns in the united states. i'm hopeful that the senate can come together to advance this commonsense national security measure to keep lethal weapons out of the wrong hands. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. murphy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president. i'm here to join my colleagues in our call to bring forward a debate and vote on the senate floor a measure that's supported, i argue, by probably 95 to 99% of my constituents, that is the simple idea that if you're on a terrorist watch list, if you are suspected of being involved in terrorist activities, that you shouldn't be able to purchase a gun. and i'll be asking for a unanimous consent agreement in order to move this debate before
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the floor. but here's why it matters. what we know right now is that over the last 12 months isis has lost about 25% of their territory in iraq and syria. that's not good enough, and hopefully we will be able to join together to put even more pressure on the so-called caliphate, to shrink it down eventually to elimination, but the growth of isis is dependent on two narratives. one, this narrative that the so-called caliphate is growing, and, second, the narrative that east is at war with west, that the muslim world is at war with the christian world. and as their first narrative is becoming less powerful, then the second one becomes even more important. and so as shocking as paris was, as shocking as san bernardino was, it's not surprising in

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