Skip to main content

tv   US Senate  CSPAN  April 13, 2016 4:00pm-6:01pm EDT

4:00 pm
quorum call:
4:01 pm
4:02 pm
4:03 pm
4:04 pm
4:05 pm
4:06 pm
4:07 pm
4:08 pm
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. rounds: mr. president, i would ask to terminate the quorum call.
4:09 pm
the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rounds: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i would also ask unanimous consent that lieutenant commander eric phelps, a navy legislative fellow in my office, be granted floor privileges for the remainder of the 114th congress. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rounds: mr. president, i rise today to introduce a bill to begin the process of reversing a list of historic wrongs against native american citizens brought by the early u.s. government. the idea that these laws were ever considered is disturbing, but the fact that these laws remain on our books is at best an oversight. currently, native americans who are u.s. citizens just like you and me are still legally subject to a series of obsolete, historically wrong statutes. these statutes are a sad reminder of the hostile aggression and/vitter racism that the federal government exhibited towards native americans. as the government attempted to assimilate them into what was
4:10 pm
considered modern society. in 2016, laws still exist that would allow for the forced removal of their children who can be sent to boarding schools and they can be denied rations if they refuse. they can still be subject to forced labor on their reservations on the condition of receipt of supplies. moreover, they can be denied funding if found drunk on a reservation. these statutes actually remain on the books of the land and in many cases are more than a century old and continue the stigma of sub juggation and paternalism from that time period. it is without question that they should be stricken. we cannot adequately repair history, but we can move forward. because of this, i am introducing today the respect act or the repealing existing substandard provisions encouraging conciliation with
4:11 pm
tribes act. let me list some of the 12 existing laws that respect will repeal. in chapter 25 of the u.s. code, section 302, entitled education of indians, indian reform school, rules and regulations, consent of parents to placing the youth in reform school, the commissioner of indian affairs was directed to place indian youth in indian reform schools without the consent of their parents. the issue of off-reservation indian boarding schools in particular is a rightfully sensitive one for native americans. between 1879 and into the 20th century, at least 3,830,000 indian children were taken to boarding schools to allegedly civilize them. many parents were threatened with surrendering their children or their food rations. this law in fact is also still
4:12 pm
on the books. a requirement exists in section 283 entitled regulations for withholding rations for nonattendance at schools. the secretary of the interior could, and i quote, prevent the issuing of rations or the furnishing of subsistence to the head of any indian family or on account of any indian child or children between the ages of 8-21 years who shall not have attended school during the preceding year in accordance with such regulations. yet, there still exists other outdated laws relating to wartime status between the indians and the united states, such as those found in section 72 of the code entitled abrogation of treaties. in here, the president was authorized to declare all treaties with such tribes, and once again i quote, abrogated if in his opinion any indian tribe is in natural hostility to the united states.
4:13 pm
in section 127 entitled moneys of annuities of hostile indians, moneys or annuities stipulated by any treaty with an indian tribe could be stopped if the tribe -- and once again i will quote -- has engaged in hostilities against the united states or against its citizens peacefully or lawfully sojourning or traveling within its jurisdiction at the time of such hostilities. likewise, in section 128 entitled appropriations not paid to indians at war with the united states, none of the appropriations made for the indian service could, and once again i will quote, be paid to any band of indians or any portion of any band while at war with the united states or with the white citizens of any of the states or territories. moreover, in section 138 entitled goods withheld from chiefs violating treaty stipulations, delivery of goods
4:14 pm
or merchandise could be denied to the chiefs of any tribe by authority of any treaty if such chiefs had violated the stipulations contained in such treaty. finally, in section 129 entitled moneys due indians holding captives other than indians withheld, the secretary of the interior was, and i quote, authorized to withhold from any tribe of indians who may hold any captives other than indians any moneys due them from the united states until said captives shall be surrendered to the lawful authorities of the united states. in section 130, racist identifications tying drubbingenness by indians to receipt of funds entitled withholding of moneys and goods on account of intoxicating liquors still stipulating that no annuities or moneys or goods
4:15 pm
could be paid or distributed to indians while they were, and once again i will quote, under the influence of any description of intoxicating liquor nor while there are good and sufficient reasons leading the officers or agents whose duty it may be to make such payments or distribution to believe that there is any species of intoxicateing liquor within convenient reach. mandatory work on reservations still exists in section 137 entitled supplies distributed to able-bodied males on condition for the purpose of inducing indians to labor and become self-supporting, and once again i will quote from the text, it is provided that in distributing the supplies and annuities to the indians for whom the same are appropriated, the agent distributing the same could require all able-bodied male indians between the ages of 18-45 to perform service upon the reservation for the benefit
4:16 pm
of themselves or the tribe in return for supplies. let me summarize what i said in the beginning. in the year 2016 in the united states, native americans, citizens like you and me, are still subjected to outrageous laws that were wrong in the their inception. there is no place in our legal code for such laws. in my home state of south dakota, which is home to nine tribes and roughly 75,000 enrolled members, we strive to work together to constantly improve relationships and to mend our history through reconciliation and mutual respect. it is not always easy, but with our futures tied together, with our children in mind, reconciliation is something that we are committed to. history also proves that since the onset of the government's relationship with the tribes, it
4:17 pm
has been complicated and challenging over the years, sometimes downright dark and disrespectful, and to this day often has led to mistreatment by the federal government. as governor, as governor of south dakota, i proclaimed 2010 the year of unity in south dakota. this was done in recognition of the need to continue building upon the legacy and work of those who came before us. the year 2010 also marked the 20th anniversary of the year of reconciliation in south dakota, which was an effort by the late george -- or the late governor, george mickelson, as a way to bring all races together. the year of unity and the year of reconciliation were efforts to build upon a common purpose, acknowledge our differences and yet find ways to work together. i suspect that we could use a lot more of that in washington,
4:18 pm
d.c. while legislative bodies before us have taken steps to rectify our previous failures relative to native americans, sadly these laws remain and out of a sense of justice i believe that we should repeal them. imagine a scenario where descendants of those from norway, britain, italy or any other group, for that matter, where they were treated in the -- in the same patronizing aire of superiority. only native americans face this discrimination and long overdue to repeal these noxious laws. i would take this opportunity, mr. president, to urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill and to put an end to this blatant discrimination against native americans. we can't change our history but
4:19 pm
we can start to change the paternalistic mentality of the federal government towards the native people. mr. president, i yield the floor and i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
4:20 pm
4:21 pm
4:22 pm
4:23 pm
4:24 pm
4:25 pm
4:26 pm
4:27 pm
the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. ms. murkowskims. murkowski: reqt proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. murkowski: thanks, mr. president. mr. president, as we're trying to determine whether or not we have a path forward for an
4:28 pm
energy bill that we've been working on for months as well as the f.a.a. reauthorization, i thought i would take the time to come to the floor to speak about the importance of this much-needed federal aviation administration reauthorization. recognizing the importance of what the f.a.a. does, it is just a reminder to us that when we delay needed reforms and those initiatives that provide some certainty of funding for airport improvements, it doesn't help us out here. and making sure that -- that we are attending to these matters in a timely manner is important. i think it's fair to say that all of us in this body travel a fair bit. most everyone seemingly will fly home to their respective states,
4:29 pm
visit with their constituents, be with their families on weekends. some of us that are from further away make -- make efforts to be back home as often as we can. but the distances might complicate it a little bit more. but i think it's fair to say that we see firsthand the -- the inside of many of our nation's airports and see firsthand those areas where improvements can certainly be made. and in my state of alaska, the airport is for some of us almost as -- as common and matter-of-fact as going to the grocery store. it seems like we're in and out of our small airports so much because it's how we get around. in a state where 80% of your communities are not connected by a road, how do you get there?
4:30 pm
how do you get to dillingham? how do you get to fort yukon? well, you can take a boat. you could take a snow machine in the winter. but the fact of the matter is, is we fly. we are a flying state. and it's not a matter of flying because it's a vacation or a business trip. it is to go see the doctor. it is to go to high school. it is to go to the grocery store, literally to the grocery store. so many of the people in the outlying rural parts of the state will fly to anchorage so they can shop at costco and really instead of taking luggage back home with them, they take toilet paper and diapers and canned goods and their grocery
4:31 pm
items. in one community we have kids that literally instead of a school bus to get to school, they take a small plane to fly across the river that separates their community from the school. we're working to get them a bridge. some might suggest things like these are bridges to nowhere. we think this is about connecting people because right now it's pretty limited in our ability to move in and out. when we talk about flying for us in alaska, it is a very matter of fact way to travel. it's pretty no frills. you come from a cold state, mr. president. you know that if you and your family are going out on a long
4:32 pm
trip out on the road and you're going to be in the high mountains and roads might be treacherous and it's cold, you'll be smart and you'll pack some snow gear in the trunk. you might have some emergency supplies there. we do that when we're flying on the airplanes, too. make sure you have snow pants and boots on because sometimes these airplanes are cold and unfortunately sometimes things happen. but this is a fact of life, and i think the alaska delegation, we probably log as many miles as any members out there, perhaps our friends from hawaii just a little bit more. it is a part of who we are. and we come to rely on that access with a -- just a pragmatism that perhaps some others don't necessarily
4:33 pm
appreciate. i can be here at reagan national and if a plane is canceled or there's a mechanical -- the tension is almost so thick, you can cut it with a knife. people are so frustrated. if your flight gets grounded in alaska, well, weather set in. my sister lived in -- out on the islands for many years in a community called an alaska. when she needed to take her family into anchorage, some 800 miles or so away for medical care or any other issues that presented themselves so that they would have to go to town, she basically planned for three days on either end of her trip because weather just shuts you in. i was in fair banks, alaska on a field hearing actually for the energy and natural resources committee two weeks ago. and it was just a quick day trip
4:34 pm
up and back but there was no plane that came my way. in fact, all the planes were grounded in fairbanks because a volcano blue about 800 miles to the south and the winds were strong, picked up the volcanic ash and deposited it all the way from pavlov volcano down into the interior of fairbanks. so what did we do? you don't panic. i was able to spend the night with my, catch up on family stuff, rent a car and drove the seven hours down to anchorage the next day. it messed up my schedule, but, you know, it is a matter of fact part of flying in alaska. at the end of that week i took a quick supposedly day trip out to kodiak to attend our commercial
4:35 pm
fishing sim pose ya -- symposium and halfway through the day weather kicks up again. it wasn't a volcano but it was pretty tough winds and rain and fog. while the airport wasn't shut down, the airplanes weren't flying. and so you find a friend's house to go camp out for the evening and you hope that the skies are favorable the next day. because you don't want to press the weather because when you're in the air and you're flying, you want a safe way to be around. i don't tell you the stories to be dramatic about what happens with volcanos and weather in alaska but to really speak to how integral air transportation is to people in my state. a good airport, reliable flight schedule, this is the equivalent of having a really good road and a good car on the road.
4:36 pm
and so i look very critically and very carefully at things like the f.a.a. reauthorization because some of what we deal with in this measure is a matter of effectively life safety for many of my constituents. some of whom flight is the only option in my state live in the small community of little diamede. little diamede is about 16 miles off the coast of alaska. it's in the middle of the baring strait. you may have heard of it because it's to and a half miles from big diamede. little diomede is owned by the united states. big diomede is owned by russia. when you hear that statement about you can see russia from alaska, when you're on big diomede, that is a true, true
4:37 pm
statement. but when you are sitting in this small island community of some 110 people, your hub community for food, for health care, for pretty much anything is nome, alaska. that's where you go. and during the -- during the summertime, during the time when the ice is not frozen over in the baring strait, literally the only way to get in and out is by helicopter because the island is so small and it's such a peaked island, basically a big rock coming out of the water. there is no flat space for a runway. so you've got a helicopter that provides for medical in and out and basically travel in and out. in the winter the residents will
4:38 pm
actually carve a runway into the ice so that planes can land on the ice to deliver essential products, whether it's food or medicine or the like. and sometimes you can't put the runway on the ice because the ice has been so compressed and jumbled. and you have ice ridges that don't allow for a place to land. so again you're back to helicopter. but the good news for the residents of little diomede, and this is thanks to the good work of my colleague, senator sullivan, little diomede will be joining the other 43 communities in the state that are part of the essential air services. and this will help provide funding to keep the airport open so people can continue to live in a place that they have lived for generations. and really, mr. president, nowhere in this country is essential air services so vital. the reason they call it
4:39 pm
essential air service is because it is essential. in a place like little diomede, it is essential. 43 communities in the state of alaska compared to 113 across the rest of the country. 43 are in alaska. many of these locations again are only, only accessible by air. as with little diomede, you don't have a road n. you don't have a -- road in. you don't have a road out. it truly does make the word "essential" or the phrase "essential air service" truly have meaning. another community that you have heard me speak about at great length and in fact we're going to be having a hearing focused on king cove, alaska. king cove is a community that is just at the beginning of the aleutian chain. and this is a community that
4:40 pm
again no road access in or out, accessible only by plane. it is an area that suffers from some very difficult weather conditions because of where it sits on the peninsula. the mountains, the ocean, the dynamics are such that it doesn't allow their small airport to be open for about one-third of the year. so think about that. getting goods in and out, getting people in and out, getting to safety if there is a medical emergency. and there is a small air strip there in king cove. it's about 3500 feet long. it's made of gravel. we have been working to try to get access for the people of king cove for about 25 years,
4:41 pm
access to the state's second longest runway which is over in cold bay. we have -- we've got an opportunity tomorrow morning in the energy and natural resources committee to shine a spotlight on this issue to remind people that since 1980 we've had 19 people die due to plane crashes or injured residents who have waited for a safe way out. i brought this issue up with secretary jewel so many times i can't count it but she continues to be a blockade and refuse to allow a road to be built so that these people can gain safe passage. since 200013, there have been -- 2013, there have been 42 medevacs out of king cove, 16 of them carried out by the coast
4:42 pm
guard. this is one of those examples where if you have people that are -- that live in a place where the elements and their geography dictate a level of concern for safety, that where we can provide for safe transportation systems, where we can provide them the access to the best air transportation possible, which is over in cold bay, then we should be trying to do just that. the last issue that i want to raise with the f.a.a. bill that is very important is all that is going on with unmanned aerial systems. alaska is home to one of the six official f.a.a. sites for unmanned aerial systems. it's managed by the university of alaska fairbanks. the pan pacific u.s.a. test
4:43 pm
range complex is huge. it covers an area from the arctic all the way down to the tropics. in alaska we have six test ranges that i think it's fair to say provides some pretty unique range for an opportunity to conduct experiments. and in addition to just incredible range, the arctic itself offers a unique opportunity for testing our u.a.s. it's vast. it's remote. you are away from the congestion of the lower 48. you are in different climate conditions so this is something where alaska truly has been leading and pioneering and we're very proud of that. so i am encouraged that this bill requires the department of transportation to develop a plan
4:44 pm
allowing u.a.s. to operate in designated areas of the arctic 24 hours a day and beyond line of sight. i think that is important not only from the research per sperktive but -- perspective but hopefully for the commercial purposes as well. mr. president, i think it's fair to say that there is good work, strong work that has gone into this f.a.a. reauthorization. i commend the chairman of the commerce committee, senator thune, for his leadership with this, and i look forward to its passage in the very short term. i will certainly stand in support of that measure. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. a senator: mr. president, i rise today to speak in support of the federal aviation administration reauthorization act of 2016. i'd like to thank senator thune and nelson for their work on this bipartisan bill.
4:45 pm
ms. klobuchar: the presiding officer also serves on the commerce committee. thank you. and i also want to thank senator murkowski because in 2013 we worked together to pass the small airplane revitalization act, and the law requires the f.a.a. to move forward with modernizing the part 23 safety certification process for small airplanes. updating the 23 process will improve safety, decrease costs and encourage innovation for american small airplane manufacturers. the bill before us actually builds on those efforts by requiring the f.a.a. finish the part 23 rule making by the end of the rule and make further reforms to the certification process. it will also help ensuring greater coordination across f.a.a. regional offices when they interpret and implement f.a.a. rules and regulations so that the aviation industry has
4:46 pm
certainty. there are also provisions to help the f.a.a. and the industry maintain leadership on safety at a time when the aviation market is becoming increasingly global and competitive. senator murkowski and i have similar and competing interests here. in arkansas people fly smaller airplanes to get places. in minnesota we do the same thirntion but we also -- simple thing, but we also share an interest in shaft of small planes and also in expediting these safety regulations being approved. itle been taking a while with the f.a.a. so we're really glad this bill before us, the f.a.a. reauthorization, actually includes a deadline so that this can get done. mr. president, last week i spoke about the security elements of this bill. i am a cosponsor of the amendments that we passed to
4:47 pm
strengthen airport security, improving security in nonsecure areas of the airport like the check-in and baggage claim and also tightening airline employees' access to secure areas of our airport are important securityadvancements and show how we can make bipartisan progress on a eelly important issue. in my airport we're also experiencing significant delays in processing passengers. there's been a bit of an improvement since the f.a.a., the homeland security t.s.a. administrator actually came out and saw for himself what was going on. so we got some additional dog teams that were used, similar to what we're talking about in this bill, using the dog teams for security. but in this case they also walk the lines, longer lines of passengers, and once you can use the dogs, which are highly efficient and good, you actually are able then to expedite the lines because the passengers become the equivalent of a precheck passenger and you can
4:48 pm
move them along faster. when i first heard we were getting a few dog teams, i wang sure -- i wasn't sure that would actually solve our problem. but we've seen some improvement, including adjusting to the reconfigure reagan administration at our airport -- reconfigure reagan administration at our -- recon reaganation at our airport. the bill also addresses human trafficking. imawf imawf w we adopted my stog on planes act that i'm doing with senator warner on the amendment. and the bill that senator warner and i introduced would require training for flight attendants to recognize and report suspected human trafficking. flight attendants are on the front lines in the battle against trafficking and this amendment will ensure that they have the training they need to help prevent the horror and violence of women, children, victims that they suffer when they are victims of human trafficking.
4:49 pm
obviously senator cornyn and i will add a significant bill last year on this issue to make -- give our law enforcement some better tools to be able to go after these perpetrators. this is really a continuation of that work. there is another important safety priermt a concerned this bill doe does not address. i have filed an amendment with senators moran and inhofe to clarify that the oklahoma city aircraft registry office provides essential services and should remain open during a government shutdown. you might wonder why the senator from minnesota is concerned about the oklahoma city aircraft registry office. well, that is because every aircraft that is sold domestically, exported or imported to the united states, must be registered and obtain f.a.a. approval. these registrations are vital to the safety of our national airspace system and they are all
4:50 pm
processed by the oklahoma city aircraft registry office. in addition to the safety risks from closing the registry office -- and this is what occurred during the shutdown -- we saw that it had a devastating economic impact. the kim a talking about makes these jets. they had jet lined up in a warehouse for weeks and weeks and weeks, multimillion-dollar products that were supposed to be sold around the world, and they were unable to ship them out because this particular office in oklahoma had been shut down. the general aviation manufacturers association estimates that 1.9 billion -- $1.9 billion worth of aircraft deliveries were delayed during the last cutdown putting a severe drain on many manufacturers and employees. it is vital to the safety of our national airspace system and the
4:51 pm
economic well of high-income of our aviation sector. it was an entire sector that was shut down because they couldn't get approval to keep selling their planes. -- for a number of weeks. so i urge my deletion support my amendment to -- so i urge my colleagues to support my amendment to ensure that this important office remains open in case we have another shutdown, which we all hope does not occur. and the last thing i wanted to speak about in terms of a grouping of provisions in this bill is the safe skies amendment. i'm on this amendment with senator boxer. she is leading this amendment, which is based on her bill, the safe skies act. this bill would close the so-called cargo carve-out. there is absolutely no reason to exempt cargo pilots from the stronger pilot fatigue rules that we all pass, that congress mandated after the tragic 2009 crash of kolyn flight outside of
4:52 pm
buffalo. i have met those family members, have seen the tragedy, i have talked to others who have been in other crashes that were a result of pilot fatigue. we had our own tragic air crash in minnesota when senator paul wellstone and his wife sheilah died in a small airplane, not a commercial airplane, due to pilot air and that pilot supposedly had not slept for a long time. and so we have seen in this my own state. cargo airline operations share the same airspace as passenger airplanes, runways and airports as the flying public. a tired pilot is a danger to not only himself or herself but to others in the air and to those on the ground. to just give you an example of this problem -- and of course for nhtsa, this is a top priority, they wnts t want to hs
4:53 pm
loophole closed. i don't how it could be more telling than it dialogue. this happened in 2013 when two cargo airline pilots were tragically killed in a crash near the airport in birmingham, alabama. i'm going to read an excerpt from the cockpit voice recorder on that flight and it's right here on the champlet and these were the two pilots speaking to each other just 20 minutes before this flight went down, and this happened just a few years ago in 2013. pilot 1 says, "i mean, i don't get that. you know it should be one level of safety for everybody." so they're actually discussing the fact that these rules don't apply to them. they are not protected, they don't get that 8-hour flying and then they can rest. pilot 2 says, "it makes no essential at all."
4:54 pm
pilot 1 says, "no, it doesn't at all. "request then pilot 2 says, "and to be honest, it should be across the board. to be honest, in my opinion, whether you are flying passengers or cargo ... if you're flying this time of day ..." often flying in the evenings or late --" the you know fatigue is definitely ..." pilot 1 says, yeah ..., yeah ... yeah ..." >> pilot 2: "when my alarm went off, i mean i'm thinking, aim he 10 tired ...." pilot 1 says, "know -- i know." 20 minutes later, this plane crashed and both of the pilots were killed. i would shouldn't have to wait for more tragedies before we close this gap in aviation safety. i urge all my colleagues to support senator boxer's amendment and create a uniform rest standard for all pilots.
4:55 pm
i don't know how much clearer it can be when the actual pilots who crashed were discussing the fact that they were too tired because of the way the cargo rules work. this bill, the general bill that's before us, makes great strides in aviation security and safety. and i think there's some things that we can add to this bill, including this which is, by the way, sully sullenberg -- captain sullenberg did an event yesterday with senator boxer and myself. he is the one that made that miraculous landing in new york and he stood with used and a bunch of -- and he stood with us and a bunchts of pilots and says there's absolutely no difference between flying cargo and people. it's just a different kind of car goavmen--cargo. i look forward to working on this and urge my colleagues to support this long-term f.a.a. re-thorks avoid the uncertainty of further short-term extensions and i hope weal we will be able to have a vote on this very
4:56 pm
important safety amendment. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. portman: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: mr. president, i rise once again today to talk about the urgency of us passing the comprehensive addiction and recovery act in the house of representatives. this is legislation that passed the senate with a 94-1 vote about a month ago. in fact, the senator from minnesota, who just spoke, senator klobuchar, is one of the four original cosponsors of this legislation, one of those who feels so passionately about it along with senator whitehouse, senator ayotte, but 94 senators -- all but one senator in this chamber when this vote came up for a vote said this is important, it is urgent, we need to address it. passing it in the senate with that kind of a vote meant that the house of representatives would likely take it it up quickly, partly because over the last three years we've worked with the house. we didn't just make this bipartisan. we made it nonpartisan. we didn't just make it a senate project. we made it a house-senate project. it was bicameral.
4:57 pm
so we introduced identical legislation near in the senate as to the legislation in the house, they now have i think 119 cosponsors of that bill ins house. it's been subject to a lot of hearings over here. it's been subject to five different summits we had here in washington, d.c. we brought in experts from all over the country to tell us what to do. we don't have all the best ideas huer in washington. so we got the ideas from around the country. and one reason the legislation got this strong vote of 94-1 here in the senate is because indeed it does address the problems people see in their communities. i want the house to act on this because it's so urgent. this legislation will help right away in terms of helping to prevent drug abuse, helping -- help the young people to make the right decisions, help get people into treatment and recovery, that's evidence-based, that works rather than people overdosing and dying from this heroin and prescription drug epidemic. mr. president, it's been more than a month. every day it's estimated 120
4:58 pm
americans die from drug overdoses. that meanings we have now lost more than 3,800 -- that's 3,800 americans to drug overdoses sings the legislation passed the senate. -- since the legislation passed the senate. we can't way. we have to move and we have to move quickly on this because it is an epidemic. the experts say that from 2000 to 2014, the rate of overdose deaths doubled, leaving nearly half a million americans dead from drug overdoses. that's why we call it an epidem. we've lost over 160 ohioans since the senate passed cara. drug overdoses have killed more ohioans than car accidents. so car accidents used to be the number-one cause of accidental deaths in ohio. now it is drug overdoses. it is probably true in your state too. according to the c.d.c., center for decease control, ohio has the fifth-highest death overdose
4:59 pm
death rate in the country. statewide, overdose deaths have tripled from 2009 to 2010. it's not slowing down. unfortunately, this crisis continues and therefore our response cannot slow down. it needs to speed up. washington is not going to solve this problem. it is g going to be solved in or communities back home. we can help, we can be better partners. that's what cara does, it makes washington a better partner to be rabe able sto to save lives. last week i discussed one of our cities in ohio, cleveland. i would like to update you and my colleagues in the house on what's happening in cleveland. from march 10, the day we passed cara, to march 27, the latest numbers we have statistics for, 29 people died of overdoses. that's just in one 17-day period in one city. one long weekend during that
5:00 pm
period, 8 men and 4 women died of overdoses, one long weekend in one city. 12 ohioans. that included a 21-year-old. it included a 64-year-old. some of the victims were white. some of the victims were african-american. some of the victims were from the suburbs. some of the victims were from the inner city. this is affecting all ages, all races, all background, all zip codes. some of you may have heard the story of jeremy wilder. he's from portsmouth, ohio, one of our areas hardest hit by the way. in portsmouth, ohio, we had a town meeting six years ago where we brought in the did you go czar and law enforcement -- brought in the drug czar and law enforcement. as we made more progress on prescription drugs, heroin started to come in, a cheaper alternative and more and more people got into the grip of that heroin addiction. jeremy wilder said he became
5:01 pm
addicted to heroin and sold drugs to pay for his own use. he told national public radio this -- and i quote -- "i sold dope to cops. i sold dope to lawyers. i sold dope to doctors. i had a cop that drove me to my drug connection. rich kids, who their parents have nothing today because their parents drained them." it was on national public radio. there is no demographic, no city, no county safe from this epidemic. one of the big issues we have now in ohio is heroin laced with what's called tpepbt nil. that is an even more powerful drug. in 2013 five people in ohio died from overdoses of fentanyl which we're told is 100 times more potent than heroin. in 2013 that number increased by more than 700%. from 2013 to 2014, a 700% increase to 37 people dying. last year, by the way, that number more than doubled to 89 people dying of fentanyl
5:02 pm
overdoses. over the weekend, four weeks after the senate passed, a man died at aing -- at a mcdonald's in a suburban community in cleveland. in franklin county annual overdose deaths quadrupled. we think now 10,000 people in the toledo area are addicted to heroin or opioids. people in akron have been heartbroken over the story of andrew fry. his mom, and his grandmother did heroin. last week andrew's mom found him dead at the age of 16 in a summit county hotel room. that was last week. 16 years old. summit county, by the way, where akron is located, has seen their overdose death rate double in
5:03 pm
five years. i think you get the picture. this is clearly a growing epidemic. it's a problem that must be addressed. as i've said, mr. president, no zip code, no congressional district is safe from this threat. in ohio, we understand that. just in the last few weeks there have been summits on this issue. in cincinnati, in middle town, in centerville, cedarville, ohio. on march 23, nearly two weeks after cara passed the franklin county coroner convened the county opiate crisis summit. sheep has seen children -- she has seen children as young as 14 die of overdoses in her community, as the coroner in that community. there is a sense of urgency across ohio out of this. a sense it has gotten out of control. people understand it. washington could use that sense of ergz -- urgency too.
5:04 pm
communities are taking action. the united states senate is taking action. that means it is time for the house of representatives to take action. right now the house version of cara has 113 cosponsors. this bill was written together with us on a bipartisan, bicameral basis to ensure we could get this legislation through to the president for signature and get it out to our communities to begin helping, to avoid not just these overdose deaths but all the dislocation that is occurri because of this epidemic, all the families torn apart, all the communities devastated. prosecutors in ohio tell me 80% of the crime is related to this opiate addiction issue. i know the house majority leader said he wants the house to take on this drug epidemic and pass legislation sometime this month. i appreciate that. i know he's sincere. i watched the republican weekly address by congressman bob dole of illinois. it's clear he's passionate about this issue. i appreciate his advocacy on behalf of those who need our help. but i would say i didn't notice any hearings or markups this
5:05 pm
week. i would say we passed this legislation, it's been subject to all kinds of scrutiny and hearings. it passed with a 94-1 vote. are there other ideas? of course there are. and that's fine. but we know these ideas work. better prevention, better education, more people into treatment and recovery that's actually evidence-based that works. helping the police officers to have the narcan they need to save lives, this drug that can stop an overdose from turning tpho a death. helping to ensure prescription drugs are taken off bathroom shelves, having a good drug monitoring program because most people hooked on heroin started with prescription drugs. we know these things. this legislation does provide around $80 million in additional funding going forward. that funding is needed to be a partner with state and local governments and nonprofits. not to take their place. we know this works. let's get this legislation passed. let's move this legislation separately. it can be sent to the president's desk next week. we can begin to make progress
5:06 pm
now. if there are other ideas, that's great. send them over here. we'll work on them. we'll work on our own ideas. there's always more to do on this issue. unfortunately there's always more to do. but we know that the bill we passed here works. we know it's bicameral. we know it has the sponsorship in the house to be able to get it done. we hope that the house will simply put cara on the floor, pass it by a large bipartisan margin just as the senate did and get it to the president to his desk for signature. this is close to being an historic achievement for this congress and much more importantly, for the american people. it's really one vote away. one vote away on the house of representatives floor. i tell you why it's going to pass. it's going to pass because senators from every state in the union representing every single -p congressional district supported this bill. it has the support, more importantly, from groups all over the country. 130 different organizations, stakeholders, the people who represent those in the trenches dealing with treatment, in the
5:07 pm
trenches dealing with prevention our law enforcement community, the fraternal order of police, the national sheriffs association endorse this legislation. this is a unique opportunity for us to move forward with something in this political year, in this partisan atmosphere. this is one that should not have partisanship to it at all. it should just get done. senator whitehouse, sheldon whitehouse and i drafted this legislation together, again, working with others in this chamber we talked about earlier. we crafted it with a lot of different stakeholders from around the country, holding five forums on various aspects of the debate. these forums were in washington but we brought in the experts from all over the country,. the best practices in the country are represented in the legislation. we've done the fact finding, consulted with the experts, doctors, law enforcement, with patients in recovery, the drug experts in the obama administration, including the white house office of national
5:08 pm
drug control policy, the department of health and human services, the department of justice. we brought in people from all over, and they agreed this is where we can make progress and make progress now. that work is important. it should not be ignored. but much more important is the fact that people out there are waiting for us. they're waiting for us to act. thousands of veterans, pregnant women, first responders are waiting because this legislation affects all of them. every single one of these groups would benefit from cara, and they want it now. think about the peace of mind we could give parents by expanding prevention and educational efforts to prevent prescription opioid abuse and the use of heroin so kids don't make that mistake of experimenting one time, one time, which is sometimes all it takes. cara would give them some peace of mind. cara would increase drug disposal sites to keep pain
5:09 pm
frills getting into the -- pain pills from getting into the wrong hands. we're told by the centers for disease control the amount of prescription opioids sold in the united states nearly quadrupled since 1999 and there has not been a change in the amount of pain that americans report. some of these are being abused or sold on the streets to addicts. 4.5 million persons use them for nonmedical purposes. cara would set up a drug monitoring program to better know who is getting these drugs and why and be able to stop inappropriate use. cara would create law enforcement task forces to combat heroin and meth and expand the availability of narcan to law enforcement and first responders. they know how important that is. they know if they had more training and more availability they could save more lives. that's why law enforcement, including the fraternal order of police, supports this legislation. thank god we have them out there. as you talk to your police officers, you talk to your
5:10 pm
firefighters, you will find that they are doing this work every single day. they are intervening and saving lives every single day in your community. they know that this addiction epidemic is driving lots of other crime too. it causes thefts, violence, human traffic. last month in columbus i met with traffic victims. these were women. they all told me the same thing, which is their pimps, traffickers got them hooked on heroin and trafficked them. in each case they were trafficked on this drug issue in human trafficking are related. we're told by law enforcement again that the majority of the crime in our state is being driven by there drug addiction. there are so many heart breaking stories but also stories of hope. i've seen them firsthand, met people who have been in recovery, who have made it through to the other side. so part of what this legislation is saying is that this addiction
5:11 pm
issue is an illness. addiction is an illness like other illnesses and needs to be treated that way. it's a disease, but also part of our legislation is saying there is hope. we have seen where treatment and recovery that is evidence-based can work to get people's lives back on track, to bring families back together. i've heard so many stories. i was at a treatment center in athens, ohio, a couple weeks ago meeting with women wore now reunited with their children for the first time in years because they have taken the brave and courageous step to get into treatment. this grip of addiction is very difficult. it's very difficult to escape from but they have done it. they're now in long-term recovery. they're back at work. they have the dignity and self-respect that comes with taking care of their family and being at work. on march 29, 19 days after we passed cara, the president spoke at the national prescription drug abuse summit in atlanta, georgia. at that summit we heard from
5:12 pm
crystal ertley. she told her story of trying vicodin because someone offered it to her. she became addicted because she tried it once. but eventually she needed something stronger and stronger and pills weren't always available and they were more expensive but heroin was more readily available and cheaper, so she started using heroin. she would drive an hour to columbus, ohio, with her two-year-old daughter every day to get her heroin. her addiction drove her to theft but her family begged her to get help. she is now getting treatment. she is more than one year sober, part of an outreach program, the urban minority and abuse outreach program. she is taking drugs that block the effects of opiate. this is exciting new medication. she is getting counseling, part of a support group with other people in treatment. it's working. it's working for her and it's working for many other americans. she's dedicating herself to eliminating the stigma around addiction to get other people to step forward because she knows
5:13 pm
if you treat addiction like other diseases it will have an impact. more people will come forward. more people will be able to get their lives back on track. so there is hope. addiction is treatable. we're told that nine out of ten people who need treatment aren't getting it. again, that's one reason cara is so important. it will get more people into treatment. mr. president, as i said before, i take the house leadership at their word when they say they'd like to move this legislation and move it to regular order. i understand that. but i will say this, they need to move and they need to move quickly because of the urgency of this issue, because of the fact in their communities and the communities represented here in the senate floor, which is every community in america because every single state here, a united states senator supports this legislation. people are waiting. they need the help. we can provide the help. we can make the federal government a better partner. we can deal with this crisis. i'm going to do everything in my power to protect the people of ohio.
5:14 pm
even if that means continuing to come out here on the floor every week and continuing to do everything i can, including making calls as i did yesterday over to the house of representatives, including talking to my colleagues personally, including telling some of these stories i've told today. people's lives are at stake. we have to move this legislation. we need to get it to the president's desk. he will sign it and it can then begin to make a real difference for the families we represent who are so affected by this epidemic. thank you, mr. president. i yield back my time. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
5:15 pm
quorum call:
5:16 pm
5:17 pm
5:18 pm
mrs. fischer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. mrs. fischer: thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mrs. fischer: i would ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. fischer: thank you. yesterday, many members of the senate came down to the floor to discuss the importance of equal pay for equal work. republicans remain committed to enforcing our equal pay laws and preventing discrimination. we all believe wage transparency is an important tool, and we agree that employees have a right to freely discuss their compensation without the fear of
5:19 pm
retaliation. this transparency will allow employers and employees to identify what trends or factors exist and how they are actually contributing to wage disparities. no meaningful change to overcoming an opportunity gap can occur without this knowledge. we have bipartisan agreement that preventing retaliation will empower american workers, and it will enable them to negotiate more effectively for the wages that they have earned. protecting employees from retaliation is an issue that all of us, democrats and republicans, we can agree on it. today we have a unique opportunity to pass a bill that will strengthen our nation's equal pay laws for the first time in over 50 years. today we have a chance to make the difference for american
5:20 pm
workers. so that is why, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 278, s. 2200. i ask consent that the bill be read a third time and passed and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, the bill that my colleague from nebraska is asking to bring before us today falls far short of closing the wage gap. i will speak for a few minutes just about why, and then at the end of my remarks, i will ask for another unanimous consent request. because if we really want to offer working women solutions for pay discrimination, we should instead pass senator mikulski's paycheck fairness act because today women across the country make just 79 cents for
5:21 pm
every dollar a man makes. this is an issue actually democrats have been focused on for years, and i'm glad that at least some republicans finally recognize that there is a wage gap problem, and i really welcome their support for fixing this systemic problem. unfortunately, the republican proposal that's offered today would not provide the solutions that working women need. mr. president, many companies prohibit workers from discussing their pay, so if a woman talks with a male colleague about their salary and discovers there is a wage gap, her employer could fire her or retaliate in some other way. the republican bill would make it illegal for an employer to retaliate against workers for discussing salary but only when those conversations are for the express purpose of finding out if the employer is providing equal pay for equal work. nonretaliation is only one small part of the wage gap problem, and it doesn't provide nearly
5:22 pm
enough protections to actually make a difference in closing the pay gap. in today's workplace, many workers find out about pay discrimination by accident. maybe they see a spread sheet that was left on a coffee machine or maybe a male colleague's salary comes up in casual conversation. but in these circumstances, any worker who attempts the problem would have no protections from retaliations under this bill. the only way to qualify for these limited protections is if a woman uses the magic words to pass a legal test when discussing equal pay with their colleagues. and, mr. president, it's even worse than that. this bill could give workers a false sense of security that their conversations about equal pay are protected, when instead women could still be reprimanded or worse lose their job altogether for finding out that their male colleagues earn more than them. so this republican bill wouldn't even solve the one narrow
5:23 pm
problem it is trying to address. thankfully, mr. president, we do have a bill that would address the wage gap. it is the paycheck fairness act that senator mikulski has championed. the paycheck fairness act would make it unlawful for employers to retaliate against workers for discussing pay, period. it wouldn't involve a complicated legal test like the republican proposal, and the paycheck fairness act would help close the wage gap in so many important ways. if a woman finds out her male colleagues are paid more for the same work, the paycheck fairness act backs her up. it will empower women to negotiate for equal pay and close the loopholes in the equal pay act and create strong incentives for employers to provide equal pay. i want to make one thing very clear. the republican bill being offered today has zero democratic cosponsors. it is not bipartisan. by contrast, before republicans politicized equal pay for equal
5:24 pm
work, the paycheck fairness act actually passed the house of representatives, in both 2008 and 2009 with bipartisan support. unfortunately, since then, some republicans have decided to make the wage gap about politics and blocked it here in the senate, so i am glad today that republicans do agree with us that this is an urgent problem. we need real solutions to address it, so that's why i objected to the fischer bill, and i urge my colleagues to support the paycheck fairness act that would tackle pay discrimination head on. and therefore i ask unanimous consent that the help committee be discharged from further consideration of s. 862, the paycheck fairness act, the senate proceed to its immediate consideration, the bill be read a third time and passed and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? mrs. fischer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. mrs. fischer: reserving the right to object, mr. president, i have heard many times from my
5:25 pm
friends on the other side of the aisle that my proposal doesn't go far enough. respectfully, i believe that some of the provisions of the paycheck fairness act go too far. i take issue with the accusation from those who wrongly assert that my bill will make it harder for women to discuss wage discrimination. i understand that my nonretaliation language is different from the paycheck fairness act, but the intent and the effect are the same. my bill will protect women and men from retaliation when they learn about or seek out information about how their compensation compares with other employees. it's clear there is common ground to make progress on equal pay when it comes to wage transparency. every senate republican is on board with this proposal. it is a needed update to our equal pay laws.
5:26 pm
and in 2014, every senate democrat welcomed a more limited but similar executive order that was issued by president obama that pertained only to federal workers. my workplace advancement act goes further. it protects all americans. moreover, it is bipartisan. five senate democrats are already on the record in support of this plan. so why can my friends on the other side of the aisle not now support my bill? colleagues, this is an issue that we can agree on. it's clear that my legislation enjoys bipartisan support, and it can make meaningful progress for american women. while i am disappointed in today's objection to my bill, i hope we can move beyond the soundbites because this issue is
5:27 pm
too important to politicize year after year. the paycheck fairness act that my colleague speaks of, it will inhibit employers' ability to establish merit-based pay systems, and it will inhibit employees' ability to negotiate flexible work arrangements. the independent women's forum recently conducted a study on what really matters to women when they choose a job. they found that flexibility was a common theme. whether providing flexible schedules or offering alternatives like telecommuting, women value flexibility, and they value it at about the same level as receiving ten paid vacation or sick days or receiving $5,000 to $10,000 in extra income. this is important to women. we should be doing it, and this survey shows what many of us
5:28 pm
already know. every situation is different, and providing more options, workers can negotiate work arrangements that can suit their own particular needs. so with these concerns in mind, mr. president, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mrs. fischer: i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
5:29 pm
5:30 pm
5:31 pm
the presiding officer: the a senator: i ask unanimous consent that the proceedings under the quorum call be vitiated. i ask that dan pisbla of my staff be given floor privileges for the dation of today's session. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coons: mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
5:32 pm
quorum call:
5:33 pm
5:34 pm
5:35 pm
5:36 pm
5:37 pm
mr. coons: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent proceedings under the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coons coons: mr. president,k unanimous consent to enter into a colloquy with the senators from minnesota and connecticut. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coons: mr. president, in the months since world powers reached an agreement to block iran's pathway to building a nuclear weapon, iran's behavior has given the international community reasons for both some
5:38 pm
optimism and continuing serious concern. the positive news has been that iran has taken some real steps to restrain its nuclear program. it's disabled two of its short-term pathways to producing weapons-grade material by shipping nearly its entire stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country and by filling its plutonium reactor with concrete. iran has reduced its number of functioning uranium enrichment centrifuges by two-thirds and the country has provided international inspectors 24/7 access to continuously monitor all of iran's declared nuclear facilities. these are positive developments. yet at the same time, iran continues to engage in deeply concerning activities such as support for terrorism and efforts to foment instability in the middle east and to conduct illegal ballistic missile tests and to continue to violate its citizens' most basic human rights. today my colleagues and i come to the floor to draw attention
5:39 pm
to some of the more grave, more concerning developments of recent weeks. and i'm honored to have the company of my friend, the senior senator from connecticut, senator blumenthal, who will join me in addressing why russia's refusal to condemn iran's bad behavior and, in fact, in some ways encourage it, poses huge security risks for our allies in the middle east. i'd now like to yield if i could to my colleague from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. i want to express my gratitude to my friend from delaware, who is truly expert on this issue as a member of the foreign relations committee. he has been a leader in this area and i'm delighted and honored to join him on the floor today to discuss the ever
5:40 pm
evolving and concerning cooperation between russia and iran, particularly in recent months. and he has very eloquently and persuasively described a number of the concerns that we share and i want to associate myself with what he has said here this afternoon. as we all know, iran has conducted multiple ballistic missile tests in the last several months. that is beyond question. and i have continuously condemned both iran's ongoing ballistic missile program and iran's failure to uphold its international obligations under the u.n. security council resolutions by calling for sanctions enforcement at the armed services committee hearings and in letters to the administration and in public statements. we have been steadfast in this effort. while the administration has
5:41 pm
heeded my calls by enforcing sanctions against 11 entities and individuals supporting iran's missile program, clearly more must be done. the united states and the international community must vigilantly enforce sanctions on iran's ballistic missile development as well as its state sponsorship of terrorism and human rights violations, which continue day in and day out, and these steps must be taken to hold this regime accountable and prevent tehran from believing it can violate international law with impunity. nothing less is at stake here than that principle. and yet russia has refused to punish iran. as a world power and permanent member of the u.n. security council, russia can and must be doing more to counter iran's
5:42 pm
destructive deeds, including ensuring that iran abides by u.n. security council 2231. this resolution calls on iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology. that is a quote, and that mandate applies for up to eight years from the jcpoa's adoption day, october 18, 2005. in march, one of iran's defiant tests notice tou notoriously ina missile that had a disturbing and alarming message scrolled on the side -- quote -- "israel must be wiped off the face of
5:43 pm
the earth." this explicit message -- by the way, written not only in persian but in hebrew -- was designed to directly threaten israel and that is hardly speculation. it should not be tolerated by any nation. even worse than russia's refusal to condemn iran's ballistic missile test is that russia has essentially rewarded iran for its bad behavior by continuing, even increasing, its cooperation with iran through military deals. in february, iran's defense minister visited moscow to discuss purchasing an array of weapons and any sale of major combat systems to iran in the next five years would require approval by the u.n. security council under resolution 2231.
5:44 pm
but the united states has made it clear that such a sale will not be supported and therefore will not be approved by the security council. media reports in recent weeks have highlighted russia's shipment of parts of an s-300 air defense system to iran. in addition, russia and iran are supposedly in talks over sacoy fighter jets. if such sales are finalized and the systems are delivered, russia would be directly defying u.n. resolution 2231. supplying weapons to iran is particularly dangerous and potentially damaging because it is not done in a vacuum. russia's growing partnership has far-reaching ramifications
5:45 pm
because hezbollah, iran's terrorist proxy in lebanon, also benefits, at least indirectly, from russian arms and military operational experience in syria. the flow of support from russia to iran to hezbollah feeds into yet another threat that deeply concerns me, and our greatest ally in the middle east and one of our greatest in the world, israel. coupled with continued chaos in the region, the russian-iranian cooperation strengthening hezbollah only adds to the urgency and importance of ensuring that israel remain secure, stable and independent. last november, senator bennet and i co-led a letter to the president concerning the need to renew the memorandum of
5:46 pm
understanding on united states military assistance, the m.o.u., as it's known, with israel to help that nation prepare for, respond to and defend against threats in an uncertain regional environment and to ensure its qualitative military edge. nothing original or novel about that policy or principle. the current m.o.u. provides $30 billion in assistance to israel through fiscal year 2018. as threats in the region continue to evolve, including iran's influence by russia, the administration must engage at the highest levels to continue to develop a shared understanding of threats confronting israel by strengthening the m.o.u. that serves as the foundation of our
5:47 pm
bilateral security efforts. those efforts support not only israel, they are in the national interests of the united states of america. they are essential to our national interests in the region and in the world. while negotiations remain ongoing between the u.s. and israel regarding historic renewal of the m.o.u., i want to express that i continue to support making the m.o.u. a truly transformational investment to deepen the u.s.-israel strategic partnership. it is based on a shared understanding of the environment that confronts israel and the united states together, and russia is only exacerbating the threats in the region to our partnership, the united states and israel as well as to each of
5:48 pm
our nations. the russian-israeli -- the russian-iranian cooperation legitimatizes and strengthens tehran's adventurism as well as the assad regime in syria and threatens international security. moscow's affair with tehran and beyond has brought russian military might to a network of terrorism that we must continue to monitor closely and work to combat for the safety and security of the united states. it is our security and it is israel's security that are at stake together, and the entire international community's security. i want to thank my colleague from delaware again for giving me this time and his patience in
5:49 pm
hearing me out. i look forward to working with him and others of our colleagues who are concerned about the russian-iranian cooperation. they are certainly deeply concerning, and i want to thank him again for his leadership and vision on this topic. thank you. mr. coons: mr. president, i thank my colleague from connecticut who has been a determined and engaged, thoughtful and vigilant for his wise words today and for his persistence of effort in making sure that our colleagues on both sides of the aisle are aware of alarming developments in the region and continue to do everything we can in a responsible and bipartisan way to support israel's security through the m.o.u. which he's referenced and where he led a letter about the importance of a prompt and supportive renegotiation of that m.o.u. and by calling attention to russia's destabilizing actions. as senator blumenthal just referenced, recent media reports convey that iran is reporting russia has already delivered
5:50 pm
parts of this s-300 weapons system, a defense system, they claim, but a weapons system that would significantly change the regional balance of power. i'd just like to again thank my colleague from connecticut for being shoulder to shoulder with me here on the floor today and in the months and years behind us and months and years ahead of us because this will be a long-standing challenge to keep the members of this body and folks here in washington focused on the very real threat to america's security and israel's security that's presented by iran in its actions. as senator blumenthal mentioned, when it comes to countering iranian aggression in the middle east, a number of russia's recent actions do threaten to do more harm than good. last summer when the united states came together with the united kingdom, france, germany, china and russia to reach an agreement with iran to block their pathway to build a nuclear weapon, the community, the international community was clear that the success of this deal relied on every signatory
5:51 pm
keeping its word and doing its part to prevent iran from violating the deal. the responsibility to enforce the terms of the jcpoa goes hand in hand with an understanding that world powers must also push back on iran's bad behavior, outside the four corners of this agreement. specifically, it's support for terrorism, it's continued legal ballistic missile tests at its human rights violations. so despite its participation in the negotiations that led to the agreement, russia reportedly plans to sell missile systems to the still dangerous iranian regime as well as the reference by senator blumenthal advanced fighter jets. russia also continues to block the u.n. security council from taking action necessary and responsible action after iran's recent illegal ballistic missile tests which contravene its commitments under security council resolution 2231. despite the divisions that have brought congress to a standstill in recent years, i am confident that we all agree on one
5:52 pm
thing -- that iran must not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon, and i continue to believe the jcpoa represents the least bad option for blocking iran's pathway to a nuclear bomb. but in recent months, as i have said, russia has repeatedly undermined the spirit of that agreement, using the jcpoa as an excuse to proceed with dangerous and provocative sales of allegedly defensive equipment to iran. according to news reports, as i said, russia has begun delivering parts of the s-300 surface to air missile system to iran. although it remains unclear how much of that system has already been delivered, five s-300 systems russia has promised to iran would contain 40 launchers which would shoot down missiles or aircraft as far as 90 miles away and one version of the s-300 currently used by the russian military could travel nearly 250 miles at five times the speed of sound. in a worst case scenario, if iran backs out of the nuclear deal, this s-300 system would
5:53 pm
substantially limit the international community's options to act to prevent iran from developing a nuclear weapon. that's not all, though. recent news reports indicate russia and iran are actively negotiating an agreement to allow iran to purchase an unknown number of sukhol su-30 fighter jets, some of the most advanced fighter jets available in the world. although it is unclear what specific version of this aircraft iran is seeking to obtain, these advanced weapons would significantly enhance the capabilities of iran's air force. currently iran fields an outdated mix of antiquated russian, iraqi and american and chinese-built aircraft. many of these planes date from the cold war. one particularly advanced variety of this russian jet, for example, is armed with air-to-air, antiship, land attack missiles and bombs. precision munitions that would significantly increase the performance capabilities of the iranian air force, and they could target other fighter aircraft, stationary military
5:54 pm
facilities and naval vessels. these fighter jets in the hands of iran would fundamentally change the balance of power in the middle east and pose a threat to u.s. facilities and our local allies. according to some reports, iran more concerning is seeking not just to buy these aircraft but also license their production in iraq which would greatly strengthen iran's industrial base and its technical knowledge but also leave the international community with even fewer options to prevent iranian access to this technology in the future. at a recent senate foreign relations committee hearing, tom shannon, the under secretary of state for political affairs, said the united states would block the approval of fighter aircraft sales from russia to iran, and i urge the obama administration to use all diplomatic measures available to it to ensure we fulfill under secretary shannon's commitment. as my colleagues know, iran could use these weapons to threaten u.s. assets in the persian gulf region, challenge the safety of our vital ally israel and other close partners or to protect illicit nuclear
5:55 pm
sites within iran's borders. these threats are not just hypothetical. iran remains a rogue and unpredictable regime that supports terrorism in the region and is publicly committed to the destruction of israel. mr. president, the international community cannot stand by while iran continues to threaten our allies and destabilize the middle east. its illegal ballistic missile tests in march served as yet another example that the iranian regime is not a responsible member of the international community. these tests helped iran to further develop missiles capable of reaching most of the middle east and even parts of europe, and they destabilized the region and belie iran's supposedly peaceful intentions, stated often by both its president and foreign minister, they claim iran's intentions are to serve as a responsible member of the international community, but these provocative ballistic missile tests clearly contradict their commitments under u.n. security council resolution 2231 and demand a response. last week, i met with the russian ambassador to the united
5:56 pm
nations. ambassador turk inreiterated russia's commitment to the giangreco and our shared goal of preventing iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. i left our conversation convinced that russia will continue to stand in the way of the international community's efforts to penalize iran for its ballistic missile tests. mr. president, russia's military sales to iran and intransigence at the u.n. security council are disappointing, to say the least. in light of russia's agreement to the terms of this nuclear deal and the importance of all of us working together in the international community to constrain iran's bad behavior. the challenge for american diplomacy is to convince russia that its military sales to iran, its refusal to engage in multilateral action, to punish iranian ballistic missile tests and its hesitancy to sanction iran for supporting terrorist groups are not only american interests but russian interests as well. enabling iran to strengthen its military capabilities makes it easier for iran in the future to one day return to an effort to develop a nuclear weapon. ballistic missile tests form an
5:57 pm
instability in the persian gulf and southern europe, both of which lie close to russia. as we have seen in recent week, the scourge of montana tarrism does not abide by international borders and poses a real threat to russia as well. in the coming months and years, the united states must continue to pursue action with the security council and work with our european allies to punish iranian for its bad behavior. with that, i'd like to yield to my friend, the senior senator from minnesota who has just joined me here for this colloquy. senator klobuchar has joined me to talk about the importance of continuing to work to hold iran accountable under the giangreco, to urge the need to confirm senior national security nominees and the imperative of supporting our regional partners, especially our ally israel. senator klobuchar? ms. klobuchar: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i want to thank senator coons for his work, and as he has stated, russian actions are very harmful in the effort to bring peace in the middle east.
5:58 pm
russia reportedly plans to sell advanced aircraft and missile systems, as senator coons has noted to iran, and may begin making these shipments in the next few days. these weapons could be used to destabilize the region and threaten the security of our allies, especially israel. russia also continues to block the u.n. security council from taking action in response to iran's recent illegal missile tests. these actions can only embolden iran and encourage iran to disregard its commitments. russia, as a jcpoa country, a world power, a member of the u.n. security council, needs to be convinced that it is in its best interests and in the interests of the international community that iran sticks to its commitments under the jcpoa. i thank you, senator coons, for making those points. as you noted, i also want to stress the need to enforce iran's commitments under the
5:59 pm
joint comprehensive plan of action. also to confirm nominees for positions vital to national security and to support our allies in the middle east. preventing iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is one of the most important objectives of our national security policy. i have strongly advocated for and supported the economic sanctions that brought iran to the negotiating table over the last few years. those sanctions resulted in a nuclear nonproliferation agreement between iran and the united states, united kingdom, france, germany, russia and china that was implemented in january, but our work is clearly not done. as we have seen over the past few months, iran continues to conduct ballistic missile tests, continues to support terrorism, threatening regional stability, and now we are reading news reports, as i noted, that russia is selling a long-range surface to air missile defense system to iran. all of this means that we have
6:00 pm
to remain vigilant in our monitoring and in our verification. that's why i sponsored the iran policy oversight act and encourage my colleagues to pass it. the bill does three important things to hold iran accountable. first, it allows congress to more quickly impose economic sanctions against iran's terrorist activities. ^+sebgd, the bill also expands military aid to israel and, third, the bill ensures that agencies charged with monitoring iran have the resources that theyeed. we also have to reauthorize the iran sanctions act in order to ensure that we can hold iran accountable if it violates the deal, the iran sanctions act is up for reauthorization this december and has been a pivotal component of u.s. sanctions against iran's energy sector and it's applications have been steadily expanded to other iranian industries.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on