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tv   U.S. Senate Debate on FAA Reauthorization  CSPAN  April 11, 2016 3:00pm-7:01pm EDT

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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. savior of all, make us patient and kind. help us to not do to others what we wouldn't want done to us. lord, fill the hearts of our senators with your overflowing love. enable them to love their
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neighbors as you have commanded them to do. plant within our lawmakers a sure confidence in your prevailing providence. renew and refresh them for the challenges of this day. keep them congenial with their colleagues, ever eager to explore common ground. we pray in your great 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,
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with liberty and justice for all. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senate majority leader. mr. mcconnell: the chairman of the commerce committee, senator thune, says that keeping americans safe from future attacks is a top priority. he's right, of course. from brussels to egypt, events around the world underscore the need for stronger security measures for our nation's air travel. that's why i was glad when large bipartisan majorities voted last week to advance the f.a.a. reauthorization act and then to strengthen it further with the most comprehensive airline security reforms in years.
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i appreciate senator thune's work with the aviation subcommittee chair senator ayotte as well as senators nelson and cantwell to move an amendment designed to keep passengers safer and to help deter terrorism at airports on u.s. soil. the amendment will help shore up security measures for international flights coming into the u.s. as well as improve vetting and inspections of airport employees. i'd also like to recognize senator heinrich for his work to improve provisions that will increase security measures in prescreening airport zones and expand preparation for active shooter events. this f.a.a. reauthorization legislation will do more for security than any other in years. it will do more for passengers than any others in years as well. don't take m word for it. a consumer columnist for "the washington post" labeled it -- quote -- "one of the most passenger-federal federal aviation administration bills
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tphal generation." it includes a number of consumer-friendly provisions like fee disclosures and refunds for lost bags or services paid for, but not received. and does so without imposing choice-limiting regulations or fees and taxes on airline passengers. this is a good bill and a good example of what can get accomplished with a senate that's back to work. it would help keep americans safe both in airports and skies. it enjoyed support from both sides of the aisle and if members have additional ideas they think might strengthen the bill further, i'd again encourage them to work with the bill managers so we can continue moving forward. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senate minority leader. mr. reid: later today the senate will confirm waverly
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crenshaw to serve as district judge for the middle district of tennessee. mr. crenshaw is a superb nominee. he works at a prestigious law firm in national and would be the first ever african-american partner. mr. crenshaw s-l well liked by democrats and well liked by republicans. his nomination was supported by the republican senators from tennessee. the judiciary committee reported his nomination unanimously. his confirmation is desperately needed. the vacancy will fill the middle district of tennessee is a judicial emergency, meaning there are more cases than judges in that district can administer. i'm pleased the senate will confirm mr. crenshaw later today but i wonder why this eminently qualified nominee wasn't firmed a long, long time ago. it's been more than a year since president obama nominated him. the judiciary committee reported his nomination unanimously more than nine months ago.
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a consensus nominee like mr. crenshaw had to wait so long to be confirmed is another example and not a good one of the senate republicans have a concerted effort to undermine the american judiciary system. the republican leader and chairman of the senate judiciary committee are leading an all-out assault on our nation's courts by depriving them of qualified judges. americans know of obstructionism of the supreme court nominee merrick garland. this gridlock is precluding judge garland from a hearing and a vote. that same gridlock is extending to important lower court nominees also. republicans slow walking obstruction of circuit and district court nominees is so pronounced, it's actually making history, and i'm not sure it's good history. to date republican-controlled senate has confirmed only 16 judicial nominations. today will be the 17th.
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according to the nonpartisan congressional is -- research is makes it the worst in confirmation of judges. because of the republicans sloth judicial emergencies have nearly tripled leaves our courts overworked and americans without prompt access to the judicial system. republicans are refusing to do their job and the american people are suffering as a result. republican efforts to cripple our judiciary will reverberate for decades. it's time for the republican leader and the junior senator from iowa to put an end to this obstruction. it's time they discontinue using the senate judiciary committee as a political arm of the republican leader's office and start doing their job. this should begin by doing their constitutional duty to provide advice and consent on president
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obama's supreme court nomination. the republican leader and senator grassley should give judge garland a hearing and a vote. they should stop stalling, hoping that donald trump or ted cruz will nominate justice scalia's successor. then the republican leader and the judiciary committee should move the backlog of qualified nominees, nominees like paula zinis. she has 13 years experience as a public defender, five years work as director of training for the public defender's office in all of maryland. the judiciary committee reported ms. xinis, yet for more than a half year senator grassley ignored her nomination. she is not alone. the republican leader has delayed other qualified
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nominations. edward stanton was supported by senators alexander and corker. the committee reported his nomination in october. robert roster -- rossiter, the committee reported his nomination in october. two nominees in the western district of pennsylvania, susan baxter and marilyn jean horan recommended by senator toomey. even though it was recommended by a republican senator, the committee reported the nomination in january but haven't done anything since. there are many other nominees the judiciary committee is ignoring altogether, not even holding hearings. why aren't republican senators pressing the republican leader to do his job and schedule a vote on these stalled nominations? why isn't the judiciary committee doing their part to get these judges confirmed? why isn't the chairman of the committee doing his part? because this is the same senator
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grassley who in 2008 said -- quote -- "we should get our job done and confirm those nominations because that is what it takes for the judicial branch to get their work done. the judiciary needs to have the personnel to get the job done." let's do what senator grassley said a few years ago. let's get the job done. from the supreme court down to the district courts, let's get the job done in our nation's judiciary. mr. president, i'd like this short statement i'm going to make now appear at a separate place in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: last thursday a gallup survey revealed more good news about the shrinking rate of insured americans. 90% much adults have health insurance. obamacare has been especially helpful to working americans. for adults making less than $36,000 a year, the uninsured rate has been cut by one-third.
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92% of americans making between $36,000 and $90,000 a year now have health insurance. every day more and more people who were previously without health insurance are now covered. that's especially true across the racial and ethnic lines where the uninsured rate is plummeting. according to the survey -- and i quote -- "across key subgroups, blacks and hispanics experienced the largest declines in their uninsured rates since the fourth quarter of 2013." the numbers bear that out. the uninsured rate for african-americans dropped by more than 50%. the uninsured rate for hispanics dropped by more than 25%. these are the facts, all across the nation our constituents are getting the health care coverage they were promised before congress passed the affordable care act. i think it is time for my republican colleagues to stop denying the evidence. the evidence is that obamacare is working for the american
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people. mr. president, i see no one on the floor. i would ask the chair to announce the business for the remainder of the day. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business until 4:00 p.m. with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts.
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mr. markey: mr. president, i ask for a vitiation of the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. markey: thank you, mr. president, very much. mr. president, i rise today to discuss a number of my amendments to the f.a.a. reauthorization bill. mr. chairman, i filed markey 3467 to protect consumers from ridiculously high airline fees. in recent years, fees have gone up despite the fact that gas prices and airline choices have gone down. regrettably, the only thing competitive about the current airline industry is the battle for overhead compartment space. since 2001, ten major airlines have become four, allowing air carriers to charge ridiculous fees and act in uncompetitive ways. the four major airlines now control 80% of the seat capacity in the united states.
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at some major airports, passengers only have one or two airlines to choose from, and now airline fees have climbed as high as the planes passengers are traveling on. we must stop their rapid assent to protect the everyday airline passenger. according to an excellent report released by ranking member nelson last year, three airlines increased checked baggage fees by 67% between 2009 and 2014, and four airlines increased domestic cancellation fees by 33%. one increased its fee by 50%, and one increased its fee by 66%. airlines should not be allowed to overcharge captive passengers just because they need to change their flight or check a couple of bags. it is just not fair.
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there is no justification for charging consumers a $200 fee to resell a $150 ticket that was canceled well in advance when the airline could then resell that ticket for a higher fare to a different traveler. further, airlines like delta, united and american charge as much as $25 for the first checked bag and $35 for the second bag even though there appears to be no appreciable cost increase for processing the second bag. that's $60 to check two bags one way or $120 round trip to check two bags. my amendment prohibits airlines from imposing fees that are not reasonable and proportional to the costs of the services provided. this commonsense consumer protection does not prevent airlines from charging fees. the amendment simply caps airline fees at a fair rate to
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ensure that passengers are not getting tipped upside-down at the ticket counter. i am pleased that senators blumenthal and klobuchar have cosponsored my amendment. i offered this amendment in the commerce committee and it received a vote of 12-12. it's time to break this tie on the senate floor. further, my amendment enjoys broad support from several groups, including the national consumers league, the consumer federation of america and travelers united. mr. chairman, i intend to offer my cybersecurity amendments as well, markey 3468, 3469 and 3470. in december, i sent letters to 12 domestic airlines and two airplane manufacturers requesting information on the cybersecurity protections on their aircrafts and computer systems. what i found was startling. currently, airlines are not
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required to report attempted or successful cyber attacks to the government. let me say that again. airlines are not required to report attempted or successful cyber attacks on that airline to the federal government. according to the national air carrier association which represents a -- aledge ypsilanti, spirit and sun country, some of the country's smaller airlines, some of their carriers experienced several hundred hacking attempts into their system every single day, but there is no requirement to share this information with the f.a.a., potentially valuable cybersecurity information may not get to the other airlines, manufacturers and regulators. so my amendment addresses these concerns. one, mandating that airlines disclose cyber attacks to the f.a.a. two, directing the f.a.a. to establish comprehensive
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cybersecurity standards. three, commissioning a study to evaluate the safety and security risks associated with wi-fi on planes. my amendment enjoys again broad support from the association of flight attendants, federal law enforcement officers association and the international association of machinists and aerospace workers. and finally, on drone privacy, in committee we added a requirement to -- that government operators disclose where they fly drones, whether the drones contain thermal imaging or cell phone interceptors. my amendment would extend those requirements to commercial drone operators, and i encourage all senators to support my amendments, and i thank you, mr. president, for giving me this opportunity to address the chamber, and i yield back the balance of my time and once
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again i question the presence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. cornyn: mr. president, i'd ask consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. morning business is closed. under the previous order the senate will resume consideration of h.r. 636 which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 55, h.r. 636, an act to amend the internal revenue code of 1986 to permanently extend increased expensing limitations and for other purposes. mr. cornyn: mr. president, this week the senate is continuing its consideration of the reauthorization of the federal aviation administration and to bring important improvements in terms of aviation infrastructure and public safety. and i'm glad the senate voted, not withstanding the impression
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i think people get from the outside that all we do is bicker and we don't actually solve any problems. i'm glad that the senate has worked in a bipartisan way to move this legislation forward. we've got a lot of heavy lifting left to do on this legislation this week, and none of these issues is easy, but it is important that we do everything we can to demonstrate to the american people that our interests are their interests in moving bipartisan solutions forward for their benefit. but i'd like to just take a moment and to point out that this week also is a very important week because it's national crime victims' rights week. too often crime victims in our country aren't treated with the sort of fairness and respect that they deserve, and it seems like so often we focus our attention on those who commit the crime and not nearly enough on those who are the victims of crime that they had no part in
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instigating, but just happened to perhaps be in the wrong place at the wrong time. but when we don't show proper respect for victims of crime, it can lead to distrust in our communities between law enforcement and the public. and it can make our country a more dangerous place. p-t -- the fact of the matter is our law enforcement professionals work best with community cooperation and frequently the community can be the eyes and the ears for law enforcement and help give them information they need in order to prevent crime in occurring in the first place or to make a show of force to in fact deter the commission of crime. when i was texas attorney general, i had the privilege of overseeing our state's crime victims compensation fund. this is an idea that said that we ought to take the fines and the penalties from people who commit crimes and then to use those funds to make grants to the victims of crime and the
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people who attempted to help them heal and recover from the consequences. and time and time again i saw that when we don't support the victims of crime, they and their families aren't the only ones who suffer because it can also impede law enforcement efforts when they feel this disjuncture or disconnection between the victims and the law enforcement professionals. and so it's important for many reasons out of basic fairness and compassion, but also in the interest of law enforcement generally to make sure that we do everything we can to keep law enforcement and the victims of crime on the same page and the communities in which they reside. and i think we need to continually look for ways to improve our support for crime victims. one way we can do this is by continuing the state -- assistance to state and local governments in a variety of ways. we recently had a hearing on the intersection of mental illness
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and law enforcement, and in fact unfortunately in our society today, because of the deinstitutionalization of people with mental illness with no safety net to take its place, many of the people who suffer from mental illness are residing in our jails or filling our emergency rooms or simply living on our streets. so we need to redirect more than the 1% that's currently directed by the federal government of the funds it gives to state and local law enforcement for support and training. we need to redirect more of that in a targeted sort of fashion to deal with this crisis in mental illness. just an anecdote but recently i had the chance to meet with some of the major county sheriffs association and the sheriff of bexar county, texas said how would you like to meet the largest health care provider in
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the united states? i said sure. she said meet the sheriff of los angeles county. it made a deep impression on me and tells me we still have a lot to do. another example of where the federal government can play an appropriate support role for local and state law enforcement -- i'm not suggesting that the federal government take over state and local law enforcement; far from it, but rather recognize and support the important role that local and state law enforcement play and to provide that support where possible here at the federal level. but nowhere else have i found that more important recently than our efforts to try to audit and test the massive nationwide rape kit backlog. it's been estimated that there are 400,000 rape kits that are collected as forensic evidence from sexual assaults that remain untested. what we actually know, these
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rape kits contain vital d.n.a. evidence that can put criminal behind bars. it can exonerate the falsely accused and it can help detect those who commit crimes serially, not just one at a time, but over and over and over again until they're ultimately caught. many communities we know at the local level simply don't have the resources or expertise to test these rape kits in a timely fashion, so that's an area where we can help. and that means that while evidence is collecting dust on shelf for years, that criminals will remain loose unless we continue to act. and make it impossible for the victims of these crimes to find closure. i'll give you one is example. last year houston had a backlog of thousands of rape kits going back into the 1980's. fortunately, due to resources provided by the federal government under the debbie smith act, and with the
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determination of the local leadership, mayor anice parker, the city of houston began to work with the state of texas and the federal government to eliminate houston's rape kit backlog, and so far they've tested thousands of rape kits resulting in 850 codice matches. that's the d.n.a. check system run by the f.b.i. where when people have committed -- been arrested for offenses, their d.n.a. information is recorded in this database and can be matched against other forensic evidence. just as a result of the city of houston undertaking this massive effort, again, with the cooperation of the state and federal government, to eliminate its rape kit backlog, they've gotten 850 hits in the codice system by testing the evidence they already had, in other
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words, houston officials have been able to identify hundreds of people who are perpetrators of crime because the d.n.a. evidence does not lie, and to place them at the scene of the crime. and again, as we find out, sadly, people who commit sexual assaults frequently don't do it once in their life. many of them do it serially or until they get caught, and looking for victims of opportunity, sometimes even children. it's really terrible. but fortunately with the tools and resources provided by the debbie smith act and something called the safer act, houston will complete the testing of all backlog rape kits this year. this is really important because in the past, testing these rape kits was viewed as mainly a way of just confirming the identity of the assailant using d.n.a. evidence. but frequently the identity of the assailant is not an issue in these cases, and it's expensive to test rape kits. frequently the assailant is
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known and the question is one of consent or nonconsent. but what we found is by testing more rape kits, even where the issue of identity is not in question, you can literally tie these defendants until criminal cases to other sexual assaults in a way that is pretty powerful and pretty revolutionary. so i'm proud of the work that houston and the state of texas are doing working with the federal government to end the rape kit backlog, but it's going to take a lot more work for us on an ongoing and long-term basis because, first, one of the things we need to do, which congress has already required, is an audit to make sure we know where all of these rape kits are, whether they're sitting in an evidence locker or whether they're still sitting in a police station in an investigation locker. we need to make sure an audit is done so we can get our arms
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around the size and scope of the problem. but then we need to redirect more of the resources that the federal government has already appropriated money for under the debbie smith act to actually test these rape kits. so this is really important because we need the survivors of sexual assault to know that we continue to stand with them in their fight. and thank goodness for brave women like debbie smith and so many others that i've met along the way who i think demonstrate not only their own courage but also give others people courage to stand up for their own rights when they are, through no fault of their own, victim of sexual assault. but the crime victims rights week is more than just about the crime of sexual assault. it's about respect for all victims of crime. that's why i'm proud to be working with the senior senator from vermont, senator leahy, and congressman ted poe of houston, texas, on the justice for all
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reauthorization act. this is comprehensive legislation to increase rights and protections for crime victims across the country. it will reauthorize the landmark justice for all act signed into law by president george w. bush in 2004. as part of the authorization, reauthorization, it will also increase the collection of compensation and restitution for crime victims. it will protect the housing rights of domestic violence victims and it will strengthen the forensic sciences to swiftly put criminals behind bars and to improve the integrity of the forensic testing frequently we know that the, both the expertise and the equipment used by local governments and law enforcement is sometimes pretty spotty, and it's really important in order to maintain the integrity of this important and powerful type of evidence that we provide some guidance, perhaps best practices, for
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forensic sciences. and we have the ability to do that because of the resources of the federal government. again, not to congressman dear or mandate -- not to commandeer but basically to help state government to improve their testing. this legislation will improve access to legal and health care resources for all victims and it will ensure that we're efficiently providing direct services for crime victims on a national basis. this legislation is supported by more than 130 different law enforcement and victim advocacy organizations nationwide, including the rape abuse and incest national network, the so-called rain organization; the national district attorneys association, the national center for victims of crime, the international union of police organizations, the national network to end domestic violence, and the national organization for women. it's at pretty broad spectrum of
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organizations along the political or ideological spectrum, and they're all unified in supporting this important bill. this chamber has done what it takes to help victims in the past, and we should continue to build on the legacy of legislation like the justice for victims of trafficking act, a law that already makes, is already making a clear difference in the lives of victims across the country. one of the best moments in this chamber last year was when we passed the justice for victims of trafficking act by a vote of 99-0. it was a rare and welcome coming together of all members from all different parts of the country, all across the ideological spectrum to enact the most important assistance for victims of human trafficking that we have done in basically 25 years. and providing for something as basic as shelter for victims of human trafficking when many of them have nowhere to live or to
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turn. but one of the important pieces of that justice for victims of trafficking act was something called the hero program. this was primarily inserted in the legislation at the request of the senator from illinois, senator mark kirk, a veteran of the united states navy himself. but just yesterday, "army times" ran a story on a program that was permanently authorized under the bill known as hero. it trains veterans to work alongside federal law enforcement officials to go after child predators. in other words, using some of the veterans' expertise that they acquired in their training and their service in the military to help victims of -- victims of child pornography and the predation unfortunately that happens too often on the most innocent. so far, according to this article, the program has already trained about 80 different
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veterans with plans to train 40 more this year, giving many of these veterans, some of whom have been seriously injured during the course of their military service a real purpose in life and indeed, in the "army times" story i mentioned just a moment ago, there are heart-rending, touching stories about how even for people who suffer very traumatic injuries during the military service, giving them a new sense of purpose and focus, and it's very, very encouraging. i had the chance to see the hero program in action last year in san antonio, and it is protecting our children and taking criminals off the street. it's pretty clear that when we set our minds to it, we can make a difference in the lives of crime victims. we have proved that with the passage of the justice for victims of trafficking act, and we can do it again. so i encouragal of -- encourage
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all of our colleagues to consider supporting the justice for all reauthorization act. this is a bicameral, bipartisan proposal that would help victims get the support they need and they deserve. as advocates and survivors across the country used this week highlight the needs of crime victims, let's also remember that we have a responsibility and an opportunity to do something about it right here in this chamber. mr. president, i don't see anyone interested in recognition, so i'd note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, i ask consent that the quorum call be lifted.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president, the zika virus is getting very serious. the centers for disease control just announced today, one of the top officials there said, "this is scarier than we initially thought. and that's because what they're finding out is that it -- not only does this virus affect women who are pregnant and the possibility that their fetus is deformed with a much smaller head, but other birth defects they're finding out and in some cases premature births as a result of a woman who has the zika virus. the virus manifested in a normal
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person is a relatively mild kind of symptom like the flu. even a milder flu. but where it's having such devastating consequences is when the virus is contracted by a woman who is pregnant. and what we are finding in this country, as announced today by c.d.c., most of what we've learned is not reassuring. that's a quote. "everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought." that's coming straight out of the experts at c.d.c. so when you look at where this virus is, unfortunately there's
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more of the people with the virus that we know of in my state of florida than any other. nationwide there are multiples of hundreds. in the state of florida, just under a hundred that we've identified. thankfully, of those people infected in florida, none of them have contracted it in florida. it's always been because they've been someplace else. and since we have a vast amount of travel back and forth between florida and puerto rico, that is one source because this mosquito, when it bites you, transmits the virus. that mosquito is quite prevalent in puerto rico. and so the island is having its
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own trauma with the zika virus being manifested there. but it's also a source, as is other countries throughout central america, the caribbean and latin america. so what do we need to do? well, one little bit of good news that i can give you is that the bill that we passed in the senate before the easter recess is now in the house, and it will be taken up by the house tomorrow. they should pass it and send it on to the president's desk for signature. and what that bill does is give a financial incentive to the drug companies by adding zika as a virus to the list of tropical
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diseases where the drug companies have a financial incentive to go on and to find a cure or a vaccine. it's a complicated bill as to what the financial incentives. i could explain that but for purposes of discussion here, we've got a little bit of good news that we're going to have that then in law which we want to unleash the creative potential of our pharmaceutical industry to go find a cure or a vaccine that will take care of it. the other side of it is what the c. d.c. is saying it's scarier than we thought is the fact that it is having such devastating societal and medical
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consequences for a woman who is pregnant that gets the virus. you can imagine the trauma to that family with a deformed child being born as a result of the virus. you can imagine the expense to society of a child that is severely, severely handicapped, and as a result we're talking about major effort. okay, so there's something else we can do about it, mr. president, and that is that the president's budgetary request has $1.9 billion specifically targeted for helping do the research on the zika virus. it's my hope. i know i have the cooperation,
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indeed the considerable help and energy of my colleague from florida, senator rubio, in wanting to seek this and get successfully in the appropriations bill for the department of h.h. srchlts, the $1.9 billion to continue -- h.h.s., the $1.9 billion to continue the research and all the ancillary expenses that are coming as a result of this. down the road we'll find a vaccine. down the road we will be able to manage this problem, but in the meantime there's a great deal of trauma, some extraordinary heartbreak to some families which should be again the warning. if you are pregnant, don't go anywhere exposing the skin to a
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mosquito bite, particularly in those regions with that variety of mosquito that carries the zika virus. and so i hope by this time tomorrow night, we will say one hallelujah that the house bill is passed, the senate bill has passed the house and it's on the way to the president's desk for signature, and then let's take up this issue in the appropriations bill when it hits the floor in another few weeks. mr. president, i yield the floor. i'd suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: i ask consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order the senate will proceed to executive session to consider the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination: the judiciary, waverly d. crenshaw, jr. of tennessee to be united states district judge for the middle district of tennessee. the presiding officer: under the previous order there will be 30 minutes for debate only on the nomination equally divided in the usual form. mr. nelson: mr. president, i ask consent that the time during the
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quorum call be charged equally. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president, i 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 tennessee. a senator: mr. president, on december 1, 2014 -- the presiding officer: i advise the senator we're in a quorum call. a senator: mr. president, i ask consent that we vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: so ordered. a senator: thank you, mr. president. in december of 2014, judge hanes
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of the middle district of tennessee assumed senior status creating a vacancy on the middle district bench. mr. alexander: that vacancy has resulted in increased caseloads for the three active federal district judges, judge sharp, judge campbell, and judge troger. fortunately, mr. president, help is on the way. in june senator corker and i had the pleasure of introducing waverly crenshaw to the united states senate judiciary committee when it met to consider his nomination. i was pleased that the committee agreed with us. they reported out his nomination by voice vote the following month. it's easy to see why tennesseans support mr. crenshaw and are excited about his nomination and the prospect that the united states senate will confirm him tonight. he was born in nashville and then he stayed attending vanderbilt university both for college and for law school.
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after law school he clerked for judge john nixon in the middle district of tennessee, the same court where we hope he will soon serve. after his clerkship, he worked for the tennessee attorney general before entering private practice. in 1987 he became an associate of a small labor and employment law firm in nashville and in 1990 he joined one of our largest firms, waller, land, deuther and davis where he's partner. he's served as unpaid legal counsel to the national convention corporation, the tennessee independent colleges and universities association, and the ywca among others. the middle district of tennessee is fortunately to have such a well qualified nominee. waverly crenshaw is a man of good character and of good temperament, and today i encourage my colleagues to vote for his confirmation.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the junior senator from tennessee. a senator: i'm glad to join the senior senator on the floor as i have many times. i thank him for his comments about this distinguished person who i hope is going to be confirmed this afternoon as a district court judge. mr. corker: he -- when the white house began looking for someone to fill this position, i spoke with people, as i'm sure lamar did across middle tennessee to really find someone who not only was someone who would serve in this position well but in its current role has been involved in the community and done many other things outside of law to benefit the community itself. certainly this is someone who has done that. it became very clear he's distinguished himself not only as a talented attorney but also as a well respected leader in the nashville community.
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as lamar has mentioned, he's a lifelong middle tennessee resident. mr. crenshaw received his law degree from vanderbilt university. he was the first african-american attorney at waller -- at the waller law firm and has been a partner since 1994. he served as tennessee's assistant attorney general from 1984 to 1987 and was a law clerk as was mentioned for the honorable john nixon. as was mentioned this is exactly the branch that he hoped to serve n. i'm confident that -- i'm confident that he will serve the people of tennessee in an honorable fashion and i'm proud to be here to support him with our senior senator and so many other people, by the way, that want to see him confirmed in this position. i hope that others will join us today in confirming him and i look forward to him serving. by the way, in a place that is in dire need of having someone of his capacity. we have many cases that are
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backed up. this is one of those places where we not only need someone to fill the role but someone as distinguished as mr. crenshaw is. so i thank you for the time, mr. president. i look forward to his confirmation. i hope everyone will join in, in that and i yield the floor. mr. nelson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the sphror florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, while we're waiting for members of the judiciary committee to come and speak as to the judicial nomination which we will vote on shortly, i want to take the opportunity to tell about one amendment that is pending that's being offered by senator bennet of colorado, which i would like to recommend to the senate that they favorably consider. and it is in dealing with
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families traveling on airlines. as you know, things get very specific about seats and how much they charge for the seats. you pay extra for some baggage and other services, and then you get into seats that increasingly are getting smaller. and its it's even worse if you a woman has pregnant or is traveling with small children. well, what senator bennet's amendment is a family-friendly amendment. it, first, requires, if you have a minor child that is going on the plane by themselves, it would require t.s.a. to allow the parent to accompany the child throughout the screening
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process. to a small child, that can be quite intimidating. secondly, it would require the airlines to provide pregnant women with the opportunity to preboard the flight. how many times have you seen everybody queuing up to get on the flight, the special-advantage passengers can get on, the first-class passengers can get on, the members of the frequent flyer, and here is a lady that is quite along wit in her pregnancy, and she's still standing. well, that's just common sense. that's being gentlemanly about the rules of airlines. and, thirdly, then it tries to keep families together, because it would require the airlines to
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make sure that it at least -- at least one adult of the family that is traveling together can sit next to the child on the plane without the airline saying to the parent, you've got to pay an extra fee in order for you to guarantee that you have a seat next to your minor child. this is common sense, and it's encouraging family travel, and i certainly urge our colleagues to support this amendment, as we will be taking up the f.a.a. bill shortly after this judicial nomination confirmation vote. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. mr. nelson: i ask unanimous
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consent for the quorum call. the presiding officer: i thank the senator to that. i jumped the gun there. the clerk will now call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: i ask consent to vitiate the quorum call. i yield back any remaining time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: i yield back the time. the presiding officer: without objection. the question occurs on the crenshaw nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be a sufficient second. the clerk will now call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: on this vote the yeas are 92, the nays are zero. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered and made and laid upon the table. the president will be notified of the senate's action and the senate will resume legislative session.
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mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak up to 10 minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: i'd note the -- the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. cornyn: i'd note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the quorum call in progress be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. the senate will be in order. mr. inhofe: thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: we're all concerned
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about the plight right now in puerto rico, what's happening over there financially, and i'm reminded of something.and i'm and i'm going to later on this week revisit the issue, the four-year battle of sr sri veget took place from 1989-1991. i am verm concerned that we have a chance to rectify something that should not have been done back in 2002. the island off of puerto rico called vieques has been an integrated training center for many years, about 0 years, up until 2002. and for purely political reasons at that time, it became quite an issue. first of alling, the island of vieques had joint training taking place. joint training means you have different branches of the military --
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the presiding officer: will the senator suspend? mr. inhofe: you have different branches of the military trying to accomplish something together they couldn't do individually. we're talking about the area in the case of vieques it was the marines, it was the navy and it was the air force. we were able to do the type of training that you can't do any place else. that sounds kind of ridiculous but when they were talking about doing away with using vieques for a military center to continue to do what we've been doing for 60 years, it was all around an establishment called the roosevelt roads. roosevelt roads was a major navy station. we had about 7,000 sailors that were there. they added to the economy of puerto rico something like $600
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million a year. and anyway, that island we found out there was a great effort by a lot of people who i always suspected wanted to ultimately develop that island for private purposes and to financially gain from that. and consequently, with no regard for the contribution it made for our defense, they -- they started this major problem. one person was killed in 60 years on that -- on that island and that happened to have taken place with what they used as a reason to try to shut that down. it became quite a political football at that time. i know that al gore was very much involved in that and there are some great benefits, i'm sure. but from world war ii through the operation in coz kosovo, our military has been ready to execute combat operations due to the training that they were able to get at the island of -- of
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vieques. in fact, during kosovo, they used those individuals who conducted successful operations, were all trained at no place else other than vieques. and the reason for that is, if you are going into kosovo, as our air force was going in, they had to be able to drop ordnance was a high enough elevation that the surface-to-air missiles would not be able to reach them for the safety -- if we didn't have all of those guys over there that were trained at viuques. and it was speculated without that, they would not have been able to be successful. secretary richard danzig was then the secretary of navy. he said -- quote -- "only by providing this preparation can we fairly ask our service members to put their lives at risk." admiral johnson, he was the chief of navy operations and general jones at that time was the commandant of the marine
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corps. he said that vieques provides integrated live-fire training critical to our readiness, and the failure to provide for adequate live-fire training for our naval forces before the deployment will place those forces at an unacceptable high risk. that is a quote from those two individuals. admiral ellis, then the director of operations in plans and policies on the staff of the commander of the chief of the u.s. atlantic fleet, said during his confirmation hearing -- and i was there at that time -- to be commander of strategic command, he said -- quote -- "those types of facilities, particularly those in which we can bring together all the naval and that of -- that means both the navy and marine corps -- combat power for integrated and joint training are particularly useful elements of the overall war-fighting preparedness." and so we -- at the time that we felt that there was a -- a
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problem, i personally went around the world to every place that might have been a substitute for vieques. i went to cape rath. i always remember that. that was in i think northern scotland. i'm not sure where it is. i went to southern sardinia in italy, and none of those places were adequate and could provide the same type of support. admiral fallen, who was then the commander of the navy's second fleet, and general pace -- you remember peter pace? he was the commander of all marine forces in the atlantic. he testified that the u.s. needs vieques as a training ground to prepare our young men and women for the challenges of deployed military operations. general wes clarke, he was a supreme allied commander at that time. he said -- quote -- "the live-fire training that our forces were exposed to at training ranges such as vieques helped secure the forces assigned to this theatre." and what he was talking about
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was kosovo. and that's when we had to be ready on arrival to fight and win and survive, which we did. captain james stark, then the commanding officer of roosevelt roads -- that was the naval station that had about 7,000 of our sailors there -- he said -- quote -- "when you steam off to battle, you're either ready or you're not. if you're not, that means casualties. that means more p.o.w.'s. that means less precision and longer campaigns. you pay a price for this in war and that price is american blo blood." admiral murphy said -- he was then the commander of the sixth fleet of the navy -- he said "the loss of training on vieques would cost american lives and it has cost american lives and that has been since 2002. we're talking about american blood, american lives unnecessarily put at risk if they're not fully trained for combat operations. you know, i remember one person back at that time, he was
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talking about the analogous situation of some of a football team where you have all the quarterbacks training over here and all the backs training over here, all the defensive people training over here. never training together. and they -- then they go and they lose. because you have to have integrated training. we don't even have that today. we've required to to find -- tried to replicate that effort and it isn't there. now, this week i understand -- and i reason i came down quite unprepared, because i didn't know this was coming up -- the u.s. house natural resources committee's going to consider legislation that provides bankruptcy powers to puerto rico while subjecting it to the authority of the federal oversight board. now, this is something that's going to become very controversial. there will be a lot of people around who are going to say, why are we doing this? and once you provide the benefits to puerto rico, there's no reason why others won't line up and want the same thing. and so i'm really much concerned about that. puerto rico apparently -- and i
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don't know this is true -- but they are saying it owes some $73 billion in government debt. in january, puerto rico started defaulting on that -- part of that debt. section 411 of this legislatio legislation -- now, we're talking about the legislation that's going to be discussed tomorrow over in the house -- would turn over approximately 3,000 acres of the department of interior conservation zones that were formerly part of vieques. so what happened in 2002 was the that had been used for that training range was turned over to this department. and now they're talking about taking it out i suppose for legislation -- for people to develop. i remember so well when we were talking about closing vieques. the governor at that time was governor rosea. he was governor of puerto rico. he came and we had a hearing. we had a hearing at that time.
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i was the chairman of a subcommittee, the readiness subcommittee, the senate armed services committee. we had a hearing. he was there. he made all kinds of threats at that time. he's not in office anymore but he said at that time you can't -- it's just a bluff that you would be -- it would be closing. i made a statement if we are denied the opportunity to use vieques, the island of vieques for joint training, that we're going to lose -- we're going to lose roosevelt roads and governor fosea said not telling the truth, we're not going to lose thatnd of course they did lose that. so the total impact from the navy was estimated to be $600 million a year. that was in 2003. the departure of the navy also impacted -- impacted business and contracts. in fact, i was visiting with miriam -- let's see.
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yeah, miriam ramirez just today. she was at that time in the state senate in pleek company and was talking about the disas rose economic effect fs they close vieques. she's still concerned about that -- many of the people who are the strongest opponents in my effort at that time to keep vieques operating are now saying we should have left it open. and so i would think that any kind of a deal that is made is going to have to include consideration for the training that is still available. i mean, there's still no range like vieques anywhere in the western hemisphere. what can be done in vieques cannot be done on one location by a joint force. so i understand firsthand both the importance and significance of having a range in your home state. you know, i remember a tv show that's very popular at that time. it was called "cross-fire." and i was on that show in may of
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2000. i remember so well there was one figuera who is the president of the puerto rican legal defense and education fund. he was talking about and we're debating this live on tv, and he said, well -- finally he said how would you inhofe, like to have a live range in your state of oklahoma. i said let me tell you about fort sail. they train 360 days out of the year, 24 hours a day, and they make all kinds of noise. and it is within one mile of a population of 100,000 people. at that time vieques was in nine and a half miles of 9,000 people. and yet all the people that hear this noise down there and they're going to be in town -- no, they were in town last week. they said, when we hear that noise, it's the sound of
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freedom. something kind of interesting is they opened up what's considered to be the most modern, most aggressive elementary school and they called it freedom elementary school. they named it after that phrase when they say it's the sound of freedom. so this is what is happening in -- i'm very much concerned that we are going to stumble into this thing without -- and pass up an opportunity that might still be there. you know, we have an opportunity to actually go back and use that for some of our joint training. so later on this week, i'm going to go back and kind of relive the history of what happened on the four-year battle of vieques and hopefully this might be an opportunity for us to save american lives, to have integrated training which we still don't have today that we had back in that time. with that i yield the floor and suggest the absence. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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