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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  December 18, 2015 10:00am-12:01pm EST

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waste land of warfare. much of the time was spent voting on the previous majority's bill. this legislation had no chance of passing the senate and was designed to buttress election year arguments. the time not spent on this political gamesmanship was otherwise wasted largely on rushing through president obama's nominees at a breakthrough pace. our new majority estimates the daunting task of restoring the senate to its proper function so this body can resume its rightful role as the source of wise legislation. these effort efforts are imprese statistics. the this year the senate has held almost 200 votes on individual senators' amendments. that figure is nearly nine times as many as last year. earlier this year the senate voted on more amendments in a single week than all of last year. debate has also flourished. the senate has spent over 25%
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more days in session than last year. the majority leader has greatly curtailed the practice of filing cloture as isn't as debate begins, restricting it to rare occasions that involve time-sensitive measures and particularly sensitive bipartisan legislation. furthermore, our committees are all back to work. with only a few exceptions, the legislation passed by the senate has been crafted by the committees rather than by leadership. the close, collaborative environment that committees foster helps build bipartisan concensus, even if -- even in these polarizing times. in fact, this year many of our committees have posted impressive statistics of bipartisan legislating. the finance committee, the accomplishments of which spoke on yesterday, has passed 37 bills, all bipartisan. the homeland security and government affairs committee has passed 71 bills, all bipartisan. the health, education, labor, and pensions committee has
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passed 10 pieces of legislation, and all but one was bipartisan. according to the resume of congressional activity as of december 1, the senate had passed 391 measures as compared to 290 in 2014 and 246 in 2013. and while this year's number compares favorably to the two previous years, the senate's productivity is best mentioned -- is best measured not by a single count of measures passe d but instead by the sort and substance of the measures passed. this measure paints by far the best picture of the good work done by the senate in the first year of our new republican senate majority. instead of wasting the senate's precious time on political show votes, the new majority leadership has focused the senate's consideration on measures that can actually pass,
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which almost always requires bipartisan support. we've also made sure to fulfill congress' most basic fiscal management responsibilities. we passed the first bicameral budget since 2009 and the first budget that balances in 14 years. based hon that budget blueprint, the appropriations committee passed all 12 appropriations bills for the first time since 2009, and while the minority unfortunately chose to block numerous attempts attempts we mo pass these bills on the floor through regular order, we struck a multiyear bipartisan dea budgt deal to last through the rest of the obama administration. passing this legislation warded off the threat of another shutdown or disastrous default in our debt. we've also struck a deal on an omnibus spending bill for next year that while imperfect makes important progress in a umin of areas such as -- in a number of areas such as repealing the
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antiquated oil export ban that create jobs at home and ward off the influences of vladimir putin, anothe and other dangeros rogues abroad, strengthening the visa waiver program to protect against terrorists, and provisions to bar transfer of guantanamo detainees to american soil. as we look forward to next year, our leadership has built a pathway to return to regular order in the appropriations process, allowing congress to fulfill our constitutional duty to oversee the executive branch through the power of the purse. the senate also over-calm a bitter -- overcame a bitter, partisan dispute to pass the annual national defense authorization act, to further our most basic responsibility to provide for the common defense. under the leadership of our armed services committee colleagues on both sides, we passed into law a bill that contains a wide variety of critical aid -- critical defense
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items from acquisition reform to aid to ukraine. moreover, among the most important accomplishments of the year has been the long-term challenges tackled by the senate. over the past years -- few years, congress earned a well-deserved reputation for i can canning the can down the road on -- for kicking the kang down the road that affects the lives of americans in crucial ways, from our communities, to our health care, to our children's education. this year has taken a number of crucial steps to end this cycle of irresponsible delays. instead of passing another patch to the highway trust fund, we passed the first long-term highway bill in a decade. instead of leaving seniors in a lurch with yet another doc fix, we passed a down payment on real entitlement reform. instead of a backseat role in
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shaping the economy of the future, we passed the first trade promotion authority since 2002. instead of waiting until the last minute to pass another extension of critical tax breaks, we struck a deal to make much-important tax relief permanent and provide multiyear extensions of others, providing vital certainty to business and family budgets. instead of leaving our schools webbed in by no child left behind and the obama obama administration's conditions waivers, we passed the every student succeeds act, which "the wall street journal" called the greatest devolution of power to the states in a quarter century. moreover, we've pushed back against the obama administration's most egregious overreach, preparing the way to reverse them under a future president. we passed congressional review act resolutions to repeal the president's most onerous and job-killing environmental and job-killing regulations and most
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importantly we passed the senate's first repeal of obamacare. finally, after the turmoil in the confirmation process in recent years, we've moved at a deliberate pass in examining the president's nominees. despite the claims of some on the other side, our record on conversations fits -- on confirmconfirmations fits withi. more than 37% of the active federal bench has been confirmed. only 229 of president george w. bush's nominees -- the presiding officer: the senator has used ten minutes. mr. hatch: i ask unanimous consent to be able to finish this. it will only take a few minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: only 2929 of92 of gee w. bush's nominees had been
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confirmed. there are only 65 judicial vacancies today. vacancies have been lower in only 13 of the 83 months or less than 16% of the time that this president has held office. during 2015 the average number of judicial vacancies have been 58. the lowest average for any year of the obama presidency. madam president, this is a record of achievement that speaks for itself, one that easily shows why "politifact" awarded the minority leader three pinocchios for hi. while there have -- while there is no doubt -- there have no doubt been many bumps in the road, we still need more mutual restraint from both members of minority and majority, there should be no doubt that our new republican majority has the senate back to work for the american people. i thank you, madam president, for this time.
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cull quoll madam president? the presiding officerpresident?d ms. mikulski: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: i rise to speak on the scl dated appropriations act of 2014 otherwise known as the omnibus bill. madam president, i wish to report to my colleagues in the house -- excuse me, in the senate, that the house has passed the bill this morning with a robust vote of 316-113. madam president, the senate is not in order. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. the senate will be in order. i would ask that conversations be taken off the floor. ms. mikulski: madam president, three months ago it was unclear that we would be at this
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positive point. we were uncertain if we could get a budget deal that would lift the caps for defense and non-defense spending. it was unclear if we could cancel sequester, and it was unclear if we could avoid a government shutdown. i'm happy to say that i had we have completed our work, and we've done it in the traditional style of this institution and also of the appropriations committee by working on a bipartisan basis. the chairman of the committee, the gentleman from mississippi, mr. cochran, and i worked across the aisle to get the job done. i would like to thank him for the leadership he provided the committee, for his professionalism, and for the ability -- the fact that we could work, both he and i together, and our staffs with civility and candor. for the third year in a row, we
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left no appropriations bill behind. we negotiated and we compromised. we compromised without capitulation of our principles. this is a strong tradition of the appropriations committee. as we bring this bill to the floor, i urge all of my colleagues to vote for this bill. i want to do it on the basis of content, on the basis of merit. i want to tell you what this bill does. first of all, it does a lot to protect the united states of america. we know that right now america feels on edge. we know our leadership needs to provide clarity, consistency, and specificity. but, most of all, we need to provide the resources to the institutions who protect our country with the resources that they need. in this bill, we have $606
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billion for the national defense of the united states of america. to support and train and equup our troops, to deal with the new threats of biosecurity, the rising efforts of isil, which we dwow to defeat and destroy them. we have a must-do list to make sure our troops have the best weapons and that the troops and families are supported. we look out for their health care in tricare and we look out for the food that they need to buy in their commissaries. but we also know that protecting america is not only in the defense department. it lies in important agencies that do the tough work. we have adequately capitalized the state department, provided money for embassy security so that we can protect our embassies and those who work with them abroad, and we've also funded homeland security, from the coast guard to protect our
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ports and waterways of close to $11 billion, and weaver added new grants to counter violent extremism -- $50 million. we've also made sure we've given transportation security administration, the equipment and people it needs to protect travelers with the airport screeners that have been requested. and at the same time we have funded the f.b.i., which is doing such an able job of rooting out the terrorists and the lone-wolf threats that are emerging in our own country. i want to particularly do a shout out for the f.b.i. in the baltimore district that uncovered a plot in our own home state of maryland in which someone was organizing and planning a lone-wolf effort. i also want to thank my colleagues for what we did in the budget deal. this bill provides $65 billion
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more to meet our national security needs, support compelling human needs, and promote the middle class. we made sure we kept promises to our veterans. we have a $1.3 billion increase for veterans' health care, to meet their health needs, to meet the educational needs that we promised them, and to deal with this backlog of disability benefits. but we're not only looking to the past, we're looking to the future, and we've made robust funds available in our innovation area, whether it was the department of energy -- and in my own home state the national institutes of health. we on our committee across the aisle, senator patty murray, the ranking member, and senator roy blunt, the chair of the labor-h.h.s. committee, we've nicnick named the national institutes of health the
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national institutes of hope because of what it does to find the cures in the breakthroughs from alzheimer's, if which we have almost doubled the research to break the code on how we can find a cure or a cognitive stretch-oustretch-out, and we'v2 billion because we worked together, because we know that when you want to find the cure for cancer, alzheimer's, autism, we need to be able to do that. we looked at also looking out for other compelling needs like head start, child care development grants to which we've added more money, and we make the first payment to fund the programs for elementary, middle and high school. we also meet the physical infrastructure of our needs where we've increased our funding in the t-h.u.d. bill by
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close to tran skit new starts to $2.2 billion, increased the funding for the program program. instead of l cutting it by 90%, we increased $50 million to $950 million. we've also looked out for our ports, creating jobs by keeping goods moving through the full funding of the harbor maintenance trust fund and the army corps of engineers. these are about jobs. this isn't about money. this is about jobs. in my own home state of maryland, the port of baltimore is an incubator for jobs. it keeps people going whether it's the people who work to bring the ships in, whether it's the long shoremen who understand them or the tugboat operators or those who benefit from the goods and services coming into our port or leaving our port. it is the ports that create our jobs, and we in maryland are
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ready for the new ships coming through the newly built panama canal. we know that this is a big deal and could help our communities all over america if we invest in our ports. i know many of our colleagues also want to know about riders. we faced hundreds of policy riders, some of which were highly, highly controversial. we did the best we could with them, but while everybody talks about one item or this item, i want to talk about some of the ones that we were able to deal with. we prevented double trailer trucks from taking over our highways. we protected women health against devastating riders. and we also made sure those that regulate our financial institutions so that we never have another meltdown like we had eight years ago are taken care of.
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and we looked out for the environment. the appropriations bills are good bills, and i could go over more items, but i see that the chairman is on the committee -- the chairman of the committee is on the floor. i want to again reiterate my appreciation to senator cochran and his very able staff. i also want to comment about the other side of the dome. working with congressman hal rogers, the chairman of the appropriations committee and our own ranking member anita lowey has been a very professional relationship indeed. i wish that now with new leadership in the house, that they could function like the appropriations committee. do we disagree? yes. the gentlelady presiding is a member of that committee. you know we're ready to duke it out when we have to. but we put it all out on the table. we discuss it. we debate it. we had an open process in our committee of amendments.
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we have a method for resolving conflict by actually meeting and discussing this with each other. we did the same thing with our colleagues on the other side of the dome. this is what we mean. when we say we want to get back to regular order, thanks to the budget deal we have now, i do hope we could next year bring bills up one at a time for debate, discussion, and amendment. and i hope we can do that. but also i hope that the tone of the appropriations committee is adopted. we can make sure that we advocate for our states and for our viewpoints, but we can do it in a way that it gets done. so i want to conclude by thanking my entire staff: chuck keyfer and jean i on and those who work for me, shannon kuva,
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russell knight and jean juan. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. cochran: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. cochran: mr. president, i am pleased to recommend approval of the senate of the omnibus appropriations and tax relief bill that will soon be considered by the senate. this bill is consistent with the budget act that was enacted in november. it funds the operations of the federal government for the remainder of this fiscal year. it provides funding for the department of defense and the state department along with the f.b.i., customs and border protection and u.s. immigration enforcement provisions. it provides a $2 billion increase for the national institutes of health.
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it also funds improvements to our nation's water and surface transportation infrastructure. i deeply appreciate the good work and active leadership of our committee's vice chairwoman, the distinguished senator from maryland. she's been a pleasure to work with. she's been very helpful in producing this bill. i also want to thank the very able staff members of the committee who have been very diligent and professional throughout this process. they are a credit to the senate. madam president, i urge approval of the bill. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. a senator: i ask unanimous consent that the senate immediate to the appreciating of calendar 204, s. is 35, the bill be read a third time and passed
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and that the motion to table be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: reserving the right to be 0. madam president, the bill that senator flake is referring to, s. 145, is a bill that i support but it's part of a package of 11 bills that have been approved by the energy committee known as the land bills. it also includes -- by the way, of the 11 bills, the -- seven of the principal sponsors are republicans, four are democrats. senator klobuchar is on that list, s. 521 that i introduced concerning the president's station in baltimore; s. 593 by senator barrasso that includes the bureau of reclamation, report on their infrastructure assets; s. 610 dealing with p.n.
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103, s. 173 by the chair, senator murkowski to designate wilderness within the lake clark national park preserve, two bills, s. 1103 and 1104 by senator daines extending deadlines. s. 1240 by senator heinrich designating the sierra sonta wilderness area in new mexico and p s. 1305 by senator barrasso concerning the colorado river storage project act. and lastly, s. 1483 by senator alexander that would have a study of the feasibility regarding james k.holm columbia of tennessee. therefore, madam chairman, i would ask consent that the request by senator flake be modified so that the senate would proceed to the immediate
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consideration of the following calendar items en bloc: calendar 204, p s. 145. calendar 205, s. 403. calendar 206 s. 521, calendar 209, s. 610. calendar 21 # 1 -- 211. c calendar 213, s. 1104. calendar 215, s. 1305. calendar 216, s1483. the applicable amendments be agreed to and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. madam president, that would be the list i just mentioned, the bills that have been reported out unanimously by the energy committee. the presiding officer: does
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the senator so modify his request? mr. flake: i have no objection to the modification. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cruz: reserving the right to object, madam president, as the ranking member on the foreign affairs committee is well affair, in july i told secretary kerry in a written letter that if the administration sent to the united nations this catastrophic iranian nuclear deal before submitting it to the united states congress that the consequence would be each and every political appointee to the state department would be held. secretary kerry nonetheless decided to disregard the context of that letter, submitted it to the united nations in derogation of the united states sovereignty and accordingly i have been blocking those political nominees.
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mr. cardin: this request deals with the land bills, not the political appointments. i just really want to point that out. this is the bills that came out of the energy committee that deal with designating seven lands. we'll have a chance later on the nominations. mr. cruz: reserving the right to object on that one, i would simply say we were going to do both. i thought you were going to do the first one but you're doing the other. on that as well, in my view, there is far too much federal land in the united states that is under the control of the federal government. i was just yesterday in the state of nevada where some 84% of the state of nevada is controlled by the federal government. we do not need the federal government becoming the largest landlord in the united states. and, therefore, i object. the presiding officer: does the senator so modify his request? a senator: yes, i modify. the presiding officer: objection was heard to the modification. is there objection to the original request?
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objection is heard. the senate will receive a message from the house of representatives. the majority secretary: madam president, a message from the house of representatives. the house reading clerk: madam president? the presiding officer: the clerk. the house reading clerk: i've been directed by the house of representatives to inform the senate that the house has passed house amendments to the senate amendment to h.r. 2029, an act making appropriations for military construction, the department of veterans affairs and related agencies for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2016, and for other purposes in which the concurrence of the senate is requested. the presiding officer: the message will be received. mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask the chair to lay before the senate the message to accompany h.r. 2029. the presiding officer: the chair lays before the senate the following message: the clerk: resolved that the house agree to the amendment to the senate to the bill h.r. 2029
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entitled an act making appropriations for military construction, the department of veterans affairs and related agencies for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2016, and for other purposes with amendments. mr. mcconnell: i move to concur in the house amendments to the senate amendment to h.r. 2029. i have a cloture motion at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. 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 motion to reconsider to concur in the house amendments to the senate amendment to h.r. 2029, an act making appropriations for military construction, the department of veterans affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2016, and for other purposes, signed by 16 senators. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent the reading of the tsunamis be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the mandatory quorum under rule 22 be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. there are two minutes debate on this motion.
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who yields time? mr. mcconnell: i yield back the time on this side. the presiding officer: without objection. by -- motion to advocate. the clerk: cloture motion we the we, the undersigned senators do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the motion to concur in the house amendments to the senate amendment to h.r. 2029. an act making appropriations for military construction, the department of veterans affairs and related agencies for the fiscal year ending september 302016 and for other purposes, signed by 16 senators. the presiding officer: the question is, is it the sense of
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the senate that debate on the motion to concur in the house amendments to the senate amendment on h.r. 2029 shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or wishing to change their vote?
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on this vote the yeas are 72. the nays are 26. three-fifths of the is not duly chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative, the motion is agreed to. mr. mcconnell: madam president? madam president? the presiding officer: cloture having been invoked under the previous order all postcloture time is yielded back. mr. mcconnell: madam president, the senate is not in order. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. mcconnell: madam president, i'm going to ask everybody to take their seats and ask everybody to -- the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. mcconnell: in your seat. the presiding officer: senators take your seats. mr. mcconnell: the senate is not in order. the presiding officer: the senate is not in order. senators tear their conversations off the floor.
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mr. mcconnell: i'm going to ask everybody to sit in your seat. we're going to ask consent for the next votes to be ten minutes, which i think would be widely applauded if anybody is listening. the presiding officer: is there an objection? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i move to table the first house amendment to the senate amendment to h.r. 2029 and ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there is. under the previous order there are two minutes of debate equally divided. who yields time? majority leader yields back. ms. mikulski: madam president? i urge a no on the motion to table. this is the time to avoid a shutdown or slow time, time to pass the omnibus, protect america, help the middle class and meet our constitutional
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responsibility. vote "no" on the motion to table and let's get on with the bill. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to table. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: is there anyone wishing to vote or wishing to change their vote? if not, on this vote the yeas are 31, the nays are 67. the motion is not agreed to.
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the senate will be in order. mr. manchin: madam president? i raise a point of order that the pending motion to concur violates section 311-a-2-b of the congressional budget act of 1974. mr. wyden: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: pursuant to section 904 of the congressional budget act of 1974 and the waiver provisions of applicable budget resolutions, i move to waive all applicable sections of that act and applicable budget resolutions for purposes of the house message to accompany h.r. 2029, and i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the yeas and nays are ordered. there are two minutes debate on the motion. mr. manchin: madam president?
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the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. manchin: all i'm asking for in raising this point of order is because tax extender legislation would reduce revenues below the fiscal year 2016 budget agreement and would violate section 311. all i am asking for is separate the votes. if you're proud and you want to vote for the extender, please do so. voting no on this separates it so you will have a vote on the extenders and a vote on the omnibus bill. go home and explain. there are good things in both. but give us a chance, basically those of us who don't agree and not take the cowardly way out by putting them all into one. that's all we're doing. if tom brokaw writes his book after the greatest generation, we're going to be the worst generation by saddling this debt to our children and grandchildren. this is unconscionable what we're doing here. 2,200 pages, 2,200 pages all wrapped into one -- the senate is not in order, madam president. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. manchin: so all i'm asking for is a no vote so we can separate it, so go home and explain it. we owe that to the people.
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we're at 16% now. we can't go much lower, but we're trying. i know that. i encourage a no vote on this, we'll separate the two, vote them up or down, go home and explain them and be proud of what we're doing here. thank you. mr. wyden: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: colleagues, this bipartisan package is the biggest tax cut for working families and the biggest antipoverty plan congress has moved forward in decades, and it is the biggest bipartisan tax agreement in 15 years. all together, 15 million americans are going to benefit from the child tax credit and the expanded earned income tax credit. benefit because they're made permanent and on a permanent basis students will be able to count on the american opportunity tax credit to cover up the $10,000 of a four-year college education. that's a lot of money they won't have to borrow. the presiding officer: the senate is not in order.
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mr. wyden: madam president, this also includes a permanent tax break for research and development which for the first time will be available on a widespread basis to help small businesses and start-ups pay wages, a booster shot for the innovation economy in america, and there will be permanent small business expensing that's going to help our employers invest and grow and create. a a senator: madam president, the senate is not in order. the presiding officer: the gentleman is correct. the senate is not in order. mr. wyden: madam president, just to wrap up, it will include permanent small business expensing to help many employers invest and grow and create new high-wage, high-skilled jobs for our people. and i believe finally this clears the deck for us to move to comprehensive bipartisan tax reform because it provides the breathing room congress needs to throw the broken tax code into
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the trash can and get bipartisan tax reform. so i urge my colleagues to waive the budget point of order, give millions of families across this country predictability and certainty they need on their taxes and put this congress on a path towards achieving bipartisan comprehensive tax reform in the days ahead. and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to waive. the yeas and nays are ordered. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote: the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? are there? i senators wishing to change their vote? on this vote, the yeas are 73, the nays are 25. three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative, the motion to waive is agreed to.
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the senate will be in order. the question now occurs on the motion to concur. there are two minutes equally divided. the majority -- majority time is yielded back. ms. mikulski: madam president, this is a bill that protects america, rebuilds it, and invests in the future. i think it's a great bill, as a result of bipartisan effort. let's vote for it and may the force be with us. a senator: i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: sufficient? there appears to be. question is on the motion to concur. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: the motion to concur is agreed to. the vote is 65 yeas, 33 nays, and the motion to concur is agreed to.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i disuct that the senate now proceed to the consideration of s. 2425. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report. the clerk: s. 2425, a bill to amend titles 18 and 19 of the social security act and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the bill be read a third time. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will read the title for the third time. the clerk: s. 2k4, 25, a bill to amend titles 18 and 19 of the social security and so forth and for other purposes. mr. mcconnell: i know of no other debate on the measure. the presiding officer: if there is no further debate, question is on passage of the bill. all those in favor say aye. opposed, say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the bill is passed. mr. mcconnel i

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