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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  December 10, 2015 11:00am-12:01pm EST

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substance abuse care -- looks like of we have standards. and we began to provide dollars so that communities could provide those services, if they met the standard. a couple of years ago when we put together money for the first step by saying, we're going to provide money for eight states to be able to meet these standards, eight out of 50. the good news was -- is that half the states in the country responded and so we want to be one of those eight states. 24 different states across our country now signed up. they have received planning grants to assess their community mental health services, what they're doing and how they did meet these new high standards, how they can make sure that they are including 24-hour psychiatric emergency services
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in their community, so their citizens have the help they need as well as ongoing support for families and for individuals. so 24 states have said sign me up, we're willing to do the work. we have funding for eight of those states to actually be able to do it, to change lives. eight of those states to be able to provide services and treatment, hope for individuals and families, help for the sheriff, relief for the emergency room. what we are proposing now and what's under consideration is to fund the 24. we have 24 states that have stepped forward. let's provide them the resources. it is a relatively -- in the context of what we are talking about in the budget, a very, very small amount of money, and we could say to basically half the states, the communities across this country and half the states virtually that we are
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going to give you the resources to meet higher quality standards, to be able to provide the services desperately needed. for one out of four people every year who have some kind of mental illness. the ramifications of doing nothing are severe. in so many ways. the reality is that we are at a point where we have the opportunity to say we as a country are going to recognize and treat diseases above the neck the same as diseases below the neck and support communities who step up with higher quality standards and services. in the world in which we live in, this would be a huge bipartisan victory. and i'm hopeful that as the leadership moves forward, i know
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this is under discussion, i'm hopeful that they will join us, the bipartisan coalition in the house and the senate, in saying yes, by giving people an opportunity to live their lives, be successful, work and manage their diseases in the community just like any other diseases. let me just say in closing that, you know, if you're a diabetic and you manage, you check your insulin every day and -- you check your sugar, you take your insulin, you manage your disease, it is not debilitating, you can go on and live your life. my guess is there are many, many people that work here in the senate that are managing diabetes. you can do the same thing if you are by polar. -- are bipolar. it's a chemical imbalance in the brain. it's a different organ, a different part of the body. and if, in fact, you have the medication to stabilize and you have the support and treatment that you need, you can manage that disease and go on with your
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life and be successful and work and have a family and be able to live with dignity. that's what we're talking about. we're talking about giving people that have diseases in the brains the same opportunity for treatment and management of those diseases to live healthy, hopeful, successful lives as we do for people who had diseases in any other organ of the body. we have the opportunity now to do that, mr. president. i deeply hope that we will be able to join at the end of this next week and celebrate that we have done something incredibly important for families across america. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: mr. president, this is my 29th time i have been on this floor over this current
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session to address what is called -- i have a problem here here -- wasteful spending, waste of the week. 29 weeks i have been on the senate floor in this year talking about examples of how the federal government wastes taxpayers' money through waste, fraud or abuse. i've laid out specific examples of this. some changes have been made in programs. as a result of the publicity it has received not just from me but from the accounting offices that are doing the checking and the inspector generals that are doing the checking. sometimes i wonder if anybody's listening, but i'm very encouraged by the fact that a number of us now, including the presiding officer, are talking about this issue.
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i hope every member in this body, all 100 of us, start thinking about ways in which we can make our federal government more efficient and effective and stop wasting through fraud and abuse, stop wasting taxpayer dollars. i don't want to keep doing this, but i'm going to keep doing this until there is a majority and hopefully unanimous clarion call saying let's clean up this government. let's go after this waste, fraud and abuse. we have totaled now well over $100 billion worth and we're careening on toward much higher numbers as we come down here every week in terms of examples. the presiding officer just issued a book which i think every member of this body ought to read, collecting other examples of waste, fraud and abuse. all of this i think has, you
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know, really -- is really in honor of a former member, senator tom coburn from oklahoma, who really led the charge on this issue. i regret that tom is still not a member of the senate. he had a way of digging out this information that was commendable. he would come to the floor, make a persuasive case and through the illustrations of various forms of abuse of the taxpayer dollars. and so a number of my colleagues are picking up the clarion call, and as i said we need all 100 of us to come to the conclusion that we don't have to stand here and say we're doing everything we possibly can to manage the people's money when we know that that's not true, when we know that inspector generals of virtually every agency in the government have come up with
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reports simply saying why in the world are you doing this in the first place or look at this amount of fraud. $100 billion or more is just a drop in the bucket. so we're going to continue to expose this today in this 29th waste of the week, which i had hoped would be the last one of this calendar year, but it looks like we might be here one more week so we'll get the 30th in next week, if necessary. recently, the inspector general for the housing and urban development agency conducted a series of audits on h.u.d.'s multibillion-dollar financial portfolio. the results that have been printed are deeply troubling. after reviewing h.u.d.'s books, the inspector general found that the agency's finances are missing records, contain inaccurate information and have even violated federal laws. he acknowledged that h.u.d.'s accounting has lacked
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appropriate oversight for a long time, he said, for a long time this has been going on. let me quote from his report. multiple defish deficiencies exn h.u.d.'s internal controls over financial reporting, resulting in misstatements on financial statements. noncompliance laws and regulations. we have reported on h.u.d.'s administrative control of funds in our audit reports and management letters since fiscal year 2005. h.u.d. continued to not have a fully implemented and complete administrative control of funds system that provided oversight of both obligations and disbursements. in 2005, this was exposed. ten years later, they're still having the same problem. they still haven't cleaned up their act. and this is just one agency. maybe this is the worst agency. i don't know, in terms of financial records and being responsible to the people in terms of how they spend money,
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but i doubt it. i would suspect that this statement could have been made by a number of our agencies. let me highlight a couple of specific examples from the inspector general's audits. one audit examined h.u.d.'s government national mortgage administration commonly known as ginnie mae. ginnie mae buys mortgages from banks and institutions, bundles these mortgages together and then sells portions of these bundles to investors. these mortgage-backed securities are fully backed by u.s. government guarantees. the i.g.'s audit bluntly noted that h.u.d.'s financial records are so bad that it was not even possible to audit the entirety of ginnie mae's 25.2 billion abort folio. in other words, the recordkeeping for -- for -- $25.2 billion portfolio. in other words, the recordkeeping for h.u.d. was in
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so disarray, so bad, they couldn't even provide an audit that correctly addressed the problem. from you what the i.g. could review, it found ginnie mae's finances contained nine material weaknesses, eight significant deficiencies and internal controls and six instances of noncompliance with applicable laws and regulations. after reviewing ginnie mae's 2015 finances, the inspector general found over $1 billion in abuse and inefficiencies. any business in america that this had happened to other than the federal government, the business would either be bankrupt, the stockholders would have depleted its value or the board of trustees would have fired its management. they would have had to reorganize the entire -- in no way can you run a business this way. no way will it be possible to run it. only in the federal government. because we can print money and
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we can keep flowing it in to h.u.d. and these other agencies, and they can for ten years, since it was disclosed, continue the same practices that have gone on before that don't even allow us the ability to fully understand what even they're doing. they have been warned about it. they have been talked about it. they have said we're going to clean it up, but it continues. now, the -- let me give you another example. the waste and fraud management involving h.u.d.'s taxpayer subsidized housing benefits, the low-income housing program provides affordable housing for households with incomes less than 80% of the median income for the area. this program has helped many families put a roof over their heads through the years. unfortunately, because of a loophole in h.u.d.'s review policies, households that have
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too high an income and thus not qualify to receive federal support have been able to remain in the taxpayer-subsidized federal housing program. in fact, the inspector general of h.u.d. found more than 25,000 over income families were living in taxpayer-subsidized housing in 2015 alone. so over 25,000 people who don't qualify for the program any longer because their income has improved are still living under the subsidized housing program, which is providing the subsidies to them that they are no longer qualified to receive. one doesn't actually have to have a low income to participate in this taxpayer-subsidized low-income housing. they simply have to have a low income when they applied. but hopefully this help to them as they were having income
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problems and financial problems, those that were able to come out of the system and receive the larger income, are therefore no longer qualifying retain the subsidies h.u.d. never took the action to basically determine that you no longer qualify for this, and it was over 25,000 specific instruments. a couple of specific examples there. in new york city, the program's income ceiling for a four-person household is just a little bit over $67,000. and yet, a new york family was legally able to remain in public housing when their annual income was nearly $500,000. in fact, they owned real estate that produced over $790,000 in rental income within only four years. so people who had qualified this had aachieved tremendous financial success.
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from what source, i'm not exactly sure. but they had moved from a program that said you have to have income below $67,000 to qualify and their income was over $500,000, and yet they still retained their qualification. so that's new york city. let's look at a small town. in oxford, nebraska, a single-person household earned over $65,000 annually and had assets valued at nearly $1.6 million. far higher than the city's income cap of $33,500. in other words, to be in the program, you could not be earning over $33,500. this individual was earning obviously extraordinarily more than that, $1.6 million value of assets and yet still receiving subsidized housing. now if this was a one off, if this was just a few people here and there taking advantage of the system and so forth, we're
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talking tens of thousands of people here on just this single program. remember the audit of h.u.d. looked at a whole range of discrepancies. i'm only talking about a couple of specific programs here. so it's not hard to agree that this waste of taxpayer dollars is something that can be addressed. as i said, i am encouraged that my colleagues are looking more at this in a number of ways, and the more the better. if we do this in respect of the matter for what the senator from coburn started -- and i'm happy to be a part of all of that, and i know the presiding officer is also. let me conclude by saying i could give a lot more examples of just this one agency of reckless disregard for use of taxpayer money. that has been documented by an inspector general, that has been provided to that agency and has not been able to clean up its
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act since 2005. they had ten years to do it, and it still continues. and the inspector general says it is such a mess, it is so dissembled, it is so poorly administered that it can't even come to a conclusion of how bad that it is. it's impossible to fully audit the department of housing and urban development because of their financial ineptness, their financial incapability of keeping records on their very own programs. so today we're going to add a modest amount. this could be tens of billions because we only took a couple of examples here, and those examples total $1,1474,000,000. not small change. think about being able to send
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this to the taxpayers who are sending their hearts out and getting their taxes levied on them. or think about how we can send this money to more higher priorities, maybe some things related to national security where we're scraping for some funds to be able to provide the security this country needs. whatever the reason, the waste just continues to pile up, and no one coming down to this floor can simply say we can't cut a penny more of spending without addressing this first. and so, mr. president, i'm going to, with that conclude. it appears we'll be down here for the 30th waste of the week next week which i regret, but we've got plenty of waste lined up to be talked about. and with that, i yield the floor.
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mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, it's december 10, and congress is working its way through some final items of business, including a giant spending bill called an omnibus. some might call it an ominous bill because it's so big it takes all of the discretionary spending that congress makes for the entire year and wraps it up in one big package. and i have to tell you that it did not have to be that way. it shouldn't have been that way. in the 114th congress under new leadership, we actually did
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something that hadn't been done in six years. we actually passed a budget. and the purpose of the budget in part is to set caps on the spending levels for the appropriations committees and for the 12 appropriations bill that should come out and in fact did come out of the appropriation committee. but the reason why we find ourselves here at the end of the year with this ominous omnibus appropriation process is because our democratic colleagues filibustered all of those individual appropriations bill. and it would have been so much better to take those up one at a time so the american people and members of the senate could read them, understand them, we could debate them, we could offer amendments to try to improve them and then finally pass them and send them on to the president. but because of the desire to force the majority to agree to
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higher spending levels, our colleagues across the aisle filibustered those appropriations bill. so here we are at the end of the year with a few huge pieces of legislation left to consider. i think most people looking at washington, d.c. these days, they're tempted to want to look the other way, because so much that happens up here seems to be so contentious and, frankly, a reflection of our polarized politics in america. but despite all of the challenges we have -- and i know the democratic leader the other day, actually he claimed that this was one of the most unproductive senates in recent memory, only to be given three pinocchios by the fact checker at the "washington post." so i'd like to just remind the
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democratic leader about some of the things that we've actually done working in a bipartisan fashion to get legislation through the senate, through the house and to the president's desk. sometimes i think we need a refresher course on what the constitution provides in terms of the division of responsibilities in government. the founders of our great nation made it hard, not easy, they made it hard to pass laws, and appropriately so, because they viewed a concentration of power and the ability to push through legislation as a potential threat to their individual liberty. and so not only did they divide the legislative power between the house and senate, they created a presidency that has the ability to veto that
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legislation. so sometimes in a -- in their enthusiasm for certain policies, some of our own constituents get frustrated and they say, well, why couldn't you pass this bill or that bill? well, the truth is the only way this happens is when there is, first of all, some leadership on the part of the majority party because it's the majority leader and the speaker and the majority in the house who actually set the agenda. so that's pretty important. a lot of legislation we considered this year would not have even come up if our democratic friends had been in charge. but once we have a bill on the floor, it literally takes bipartisan consensus building in order to actually get something done. and i would just like to talk about a few of those things that we've been able to get done this year because i don't want them to get lost amidst all of the contentiousness that people read
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about and watch on their television, because it's important that the people we work for understand that we've actually been trying very hard to get some important things done. after the house of representatives passed the every student succeeds act with a strong bipartisan vote last week, yesterday the united states senate followed suit, passing that legislation with 85 votes. it obviously wasn't perfect because 15 of our colleagues did not vote for it, but that was about as strong a bipartisan vote as you get in the united states senate these days. and i think it's important to highlight the time and effort it took many members of this body to create and ultimately pass this bill. of course it took the leadership of chairman alexander of the health, education, labor and pensions committee. but the fact is -- and i know he would say this if he were standing here on the floor -- he could not have done it if it
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weren't for the partnership of the senior senator from washington, senator murray, a member of the other political party. what they showed us is how working together in a bipartisan way can achieve real reform and positive change for the american people. that is the way the process is supposed to work. sometimes, though, policies are so bad the best response is simply to stop it. and i don't think we should diminish or deprecate the merits of stopping bad legislation. but where there is an area of common interest, where consensus can be built on what the appropriate legislative response is, that is how it is done, the way senator alexander and senator murray did it. of course we are in a political environment where people like to focus on the partisan bickering and gridlock. the passage of this bill serves
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as just one example of a senate that's been back to work under new leadership since the last election about a year ago, and we appreciate the willingness of our friends on the other side of the aisle on a number of areas to work with us to try to make those accomplishments a reality. another example is in the area of transportation funding. last week and for the first time in more than a decade, congress passed a multiyear transportation bill. i think it was more than 30 different times before that congress had past short-term patches to those spending bills, or transportation, and you can imagine how difficult it was to plan, for states to actually plan and then to implement some of their construction projects to improve their transportation infrastructure. in that case it was the hard work of the senior senator from oklahoma, senator inhofe, who
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chairs the environment and public works committee, as well as the junior senator from california, senator boxer, working together as a team. and then nowrks senator hatch, chairman of the senate finance committee. and senator wyden, the ranking member, a democrat, working together to try to come up with some of the funding mechanisms. but as the majority leader said last week, it would not have been possible to pass this multiyear highway bill for the first time in a decade if it weren't for the bipartisan cooperation we saw, and particularly on the democratic side, the leadership of senator boxer. now with this legislation, states like mine, like texas, growing states, can plan and build projects that should strengthen our nation's infrastructure and make our transportation system safer and avoid some of that churning and uncertainty and inefficiency
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that comes from temporary patches. president obama signed that legislation last week, and so now it's the law of the land. like the education bill i mentioned a moment ago, the transportation funding bill, which was called the fixing america's surface transportation, or fast act, passed this chamber with more than 80 votes. 80 votes. 54 republicans and 46 who affiliate with the democrats, the minority, and the transportation bill got 80 votes. obviously a strong bipartisan vote and a testament to the bipartisan spirit this year in the senate that has allows us to make some progress on long- neglected and long-overdue goals like transportation funding. and then i think about other topics where we've worked together on, like trade. you know, when the president said he wanted us to pass the trade promotion authority
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legislation, only 13 democrats voted for that. and so it was up to the majority, the republicans, the other party to provide the votes to actually pass trade promotion authority. now, not everybody thought it was a good idea, sure, but in my state one reason why our economy continues to do better than most of the rest of the country is we're the number-one exporting state in the nation. we believe it's good for our economy and for job creation to be able to sell things that we make and agricultural goods we grow and livestock we raise to markets around the world. and that's what trade promotion authority will allow. it will help texas farmers and ranchers and manufacturers get the best deal possible out of pending trade agreements like the trans-pacific partnership, which is focused on 40% of the
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world's gross domestic product in asia. and it's really important we stay engaged in asia because the default is for china to fill that void and set the rules. so the trade promotion authority which was an important priority for the president happened to be something that republicans by and large agreed with and his own party disagreed with. like i said, only 13 democrats voted for it. but the trade promotion authority legislation is really the first step to opening up the doors of opportunity for our country's businesses worldwide, but particularly in asia. like the other bills i mentioned, trade promotion authority was the result of the tireless effort of a bipartisan partnership. in this case, the senior senator from utah, senator hatch, chairman of the finance committee, and the ranking member of the finance committee, ron wyden, the senator from oregon, who spent soundless hours negotiating and renegotiating the legislation to bring it to the floor and
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ultimately to be signed into law by the president. another example happened to be the way we pay physicians under the medicare program that our seniors rely upon, and year after year we would come up with short-term patches to the so-called doc fix. but this year we passed a permanent fix in a negotiation between speaker boehner and democratic leader in the house, congresswoman pelosi, that actually preserves seniors' access to care under the medicare program. i think a noteworthy accomplishment. another intubt that i'm particularly proud of is we passed the justice for victims of trafficking act, a bill that this chamber passed with 99 votes. this law will help victims of modern day slavery recover and
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rebuild their lives. it will make sure that these survivors, some of whom are children, are not treated like criminals but given the help that they need to heal and to get on with their lives. we have also passed critical bills to protect our country from cyber attacks, something we saw happening at the i.r.s. where 100,000 records of taxpayers was hacked in a cyber attack and stolen and compromised. we saw also millions of people's records compromised at the office of management and budget. so congress has passed legislation that's now being reconciled with a different house bill to be able to get that to the president to providt security that we all need when we are online. and as i said, we passed the first budget that's been passed in six years. the point i'm trying to convey is that not everything up here
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is fighting like cats and dogs. it's not the shirts versus the skins. it's not like democrats and republicans can never find anything that we agree on. sure, there is a lot we disagree on, and that's fine. it's fine to have policy differences, and this is the forum where those policy differences are debated and where, if possible, the common ground can be found that we can find that common ground. i've told the story, and i'm going to conclude here since i see our colleague from georgia waiting to speak. when i came to the united states senate, ted kennedy from massachusetts, the liberal lion of the senate, who had been here for so long, he was working with one of the most conservative members of the senate, the senator from wyoming, on the help committee, health, education, labor and pensions
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committee. so i asked senator enzi, the senator from wyoming, how is it that you and senator kennedy who are polar opposites with find common ground and actually work productively on the help committee. senator enzi told me and i have never forgotten it. he said it's simple. it's the 80-20 rule. we look for the 80%, if possible, that we can find common ground and agree on, and the 20% we can't agree on, we leave for another fight another day. and that's always stuck with me as a very constructive way to work in a highly polarized environment where many of us just share completely different views about public policy. but we owe it to our constituents and to this institution and to the american people to try to find common ground where we can. and to offer them constructive solutions as we have done time and time again this congress. so while there are some who want
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to distract or miss construe or deny the fact, the fact is there has been bipartisan accomplishment this year, but it takes leadership and frankly appeared to take a new majority and a new majority leader after this last election to get the senate back on track. even many of our democratic friends who served in the majority previously, they couldn't even get votes on amendments, on legislation that they wanted to offer because the senate was basically shut down. but now we're back to work and the senate's functioning the way it should, and i just wanted to say a few words to note these accomplishments but also to say thank you to those who have worked together to make it possible, who put the american people ahead of party to deliver real results in the senate this year. mr. president, before i yield the floor, i have five unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. these have been approved by the
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majority and minority leaders. i ask consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: i yield the floor. mr. isakson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. perdue: mr. president, i have spoken at length about how our debt crisis and our global crisis are interconnected. before i speak today, though, i want to thank the senator from texas for his leadership this year as we did get the senate back to regular order, and i know we have much to do, but i appreciate his leadership as whip and as a fellow colleague. thank you. today, mr. president, i rise to speak about how this overlap between our debt crisis and our global security crisis impacts the future of a vital air force asset. the joint surveillance target attack radar system or j-stars
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as they call it. i just finished with team j-stars to hear about their critical role. we made a visit and we talked about how their role affects our national security and our national defense in countering the global security crisis we face. i've also seen in iraq and afghanistan firsthand how this platform is absolutely vital to protect our forces on the ground in harm's way. the global security crisis facing our nation continues to grow. first, we face our traditional rivals -- china and russia as they become ever more aggressive. the persistent threat of nuclear proliferation is now exaggerated and increasing every day with iran's efforts and of course we see what's going on in north korea as well. finally, we face threats from radical jihadist terror groups, not just in the middle east but here at home, unfortunately, and not just from isis.
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bow coharry ham and al-shabab are all thinking about how to do harm here in our homeland. as a result, we know that the need for american leadership in the world isn't going to go away any time soon. team j-stars plays a critical role in our response to these threats. j-stars is an air force platform that provides critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance or as they call it i.s.r. and ground targeting capabilities and service to all branches of our military. over the past 25 years, they have flown over 125,000 combat hours in five different combat zones. as a matter of fact, they have flown every day since 9/11. the j. in j-stars stands for joint. team j-stars is a blended unit, the air force, army, and national guardsmen who work on the team, eat, sleep and deploy together. these men and women leave for days, weeks. sometimes they deploy for months to protect our men in uniform around the world. not only are they a joint
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mission with the army, but j-stars also does several mission sets. j-stars does command and control as well as providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. from stakeout to shootout, j-stars is capable of supporting all missions in all phases with full spectrum capability from low to high intensity conflict. in the words of general kelly, south com's commander, j-stars is quite unique. quote -- "a true force multiplier working seamlessly with both the dodd and interagency assets, generating impressive results in our asset austere environment. what makes j-star unique from other intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance platforms is on each j-stars plane, we have unique manpower in the tactical age to talk to our service members on the ground with 22 radios, seven data links, three internets and a secure telephone system. these are things we cannot take for granted. our men and women on the ground talk about this insist antly.
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as i saw in iraq and afghanistan, we could not fulfill our mission without this type of capability in the air, overseeing our men and women every day. as we see threats around us from an increasingly aggressive russia and china, the threat of electronic warfare is also of growing concern. if satellite communication radios are targeted, if these systems are degraded by the enemy in any way, j-stars can in turn provide the same critical capability in theater. this is a redundant capability we cannot do without. this platform has proven itself to be invaluable and indispensable to our armed forces, not just in the air force and army, but in every service, the marines, navy, coast guard, and even some counterdrug missions. in the pacific, j-stars has been a key part of the asia rebound, helping to maintain stability and assure allies by providing pretty insight into marine forces as they push back against an expansive china. in fact, as china continues to
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challenge freedom of navigation and asserts itself in the asian pacific region, they are asking for more j-stars presence at the very time when their capability is declining. also u.s. commander general scarpati calls j-star very important to us as he predicts a very unstable hemisphere. j-star does drug interdiction missions. as south com commander has said, j-stars is especially important, providing a detailed maritime surveillance capability that is unsurpassed. to give you a comparison, a single j-stars sortie, a single plane can cover the same search area as ten maritime patrol aircraft sorties. but the future of this platform is in jeopardy. as threats against our nation have evolved, j-stars has, too, but there are only 16 of these
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planes covering our needs worldwide over the last 25 years, 16 planes. we have relied on j-stars for 25 years to protect our men and women who we put in harm's way, to protect them while other people are trying to do them harm. unfortunately, in the last 25 years, these planes are beginning to wear out. they're refusing the end of their service life. these planes have been in service since 1999, but even then these planes weren't new when the air force acquired them. each plane on average, mr. president, had over 50,000 hours when we bought them. the average age of the fleet is 47 years. if you look at just one example in the j-stars fleet, there is one aircraft that had 16 different owners or lessees over that time before it became a j-stars, including pakistani international airlines and afghan air. i think it's very ironic, mr. president, today that very plane flies oversight missions
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over those two theaters. as these planes near the end of their service life, they're spending more and more time in depot maintenance and more maintenance is more costly. dramatically increased maintenance time is threatening aircraft availability and mission readiness. this in turn impacts the number of j-stars that can be put into mission at any one time and be out in combatant commands doing their job while day by day the demand for combatant commanders for j-stars grows. what's more concerning is as j-stars near the end of their service life, as you can see on this chart there's a gap. if we do nothing, we will have a gap of ten years. the best we can do, starting today, is to shorten that gap to four years. this is a gap we cannot allow to happen. this chart shows the declining availability of the current fleet down to zero by 2023. it also shows that under the current plan pending department of defense approval and funding,
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the replacement fleet doesn't even start to come online until 2023, meaning we will have a ten-year gap. they don't get back to full strength until around 2027, again, the ten-year gap. due to the increased maintenance requirements of this aging fleet, j-stars is already at a point where we only have about half the fleet available to fly at any point in time. even if we extend the service life of j-stars and accelerate the replacement, we can only narrow the gap to four years. this is unacceptable. i've talked about the planes. let me talk about the men and women who man those planes, who service those planes, who keep those planes in the air. these are talented professionals, mr. president. i've met with them. they're dedicated professionals, protecting our soldiers on the ground. they're committed to this mission, but they have to have our help. the men and women on the ground in iraq, afghanistan and around the world deserve our help, but when it happens, to have a gap like this, our irresponsibility
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as a congress and as military leadership shows up. mr. president, we cannot allow this to happen. recapitalization for the j-stars fleet needs to happen, it needs to happen right now. as these aircraft age, depot maintenance is not only more costly but also keeps these aircraft which are in high demand for every combat commander, from fulfilling their mission fully and putting our soldiers on the grounds. this puts our soldiers on the ground in moral danger. this is precisely where we see our debt crisis and our global security cries intersect. in the last six years i've spoken about this before, but we borrowed 40% of what we spent as a federal government. this puts in jeopardy our ability to support a strong foreign policy backed up by a strong military. as admiral mullen, former chairman of the joint chief of staffs once said, the greatest threat to our national security is our own federal debt. the j-stars program is an
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example of how our debt crisis is impacting our ability to fulfill our mission requirements. j-stars recapitalization which would replace these planes over time is the number-four priority within the air force. the other three priorities ahead of it are very valid, very expensive platforms. just last month the air force acquisition chief, assistant secretary la plante said the j-star's recap might get scrapped thanks to sequester and tight budget constraints. again, this is a result of our fiscal intransigence and poor planning by military leaders, mr. president. this prohibits us from meeting the very basic needs of our men and women on the ground who depend on this critical platform to protect them and provide overarching eyes and ears in the battle space. this should not have happened. the intransigence of congress over the last decade, the intransigence of our military leadership in procurement planning are all at fault. we can fix this, mr. president.
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this week i'm joining senator isakson and at least 11 other senators in writing to secretary of defense carter about the importance of funding for the next fleet of j-stars in next year's budget request. i'd like to thank the defense appropriators as well as the armed services committee for their support for this critical platform and mission. and i look forward to continuing to work with them to support j-stars. not only do we need to ensure the new j-stars fleet is funded, but this needs to be done fast. as i said, if we do nothing today, again, we have at best a four-year gap. not to mention the problem with the planes. what do we do with these professional military men and women that are irreplaceable? pilots, navigators, engineers, technicians, mechanics, schedulers, computer experts. mr. president, this is a capability we cannot do without. not only do we need to ensure the new j-star fleet is funded, but this has to happen again
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immediately if we're going to eliminate this gap or manage this gap. this gap incapability that you see right here on this chart will become a reality if the pace of recap doesn't change. we need a faster solution. this chart shows why this recap needs to be a rapid acquisition program, and we need to get on that immediately. we need to ensure that this critical platform stays in theater. our combatant commanders demand it and our troops on the ground depend on it, and certainly, mr. president, they deserve it. we cannot allow washington's dysfunction to put our men and women in combat theaters in further danger. this needs to get fixed and needs to get fixed right now. thank you, mr. president. i yield my time and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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