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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  April 21, 2016 10:00am-12:01pm EDT

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rules. more debate is likely and we are also expecting votes this afternoon. the senate does not expect to finish work on the bill this week. now to live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. . the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, -- today's opening prayer will be offered by the most honorable paul j. swain, bishop of the sioux falls catholic diocese in sioux falls, south dakota. the guest chaplain: almighty god, we thank you for the many blessings you have bestowed upon us and our country, especially those of personal freedom and
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self-government. continue to watch over and guide members of this senate and all who serve in public office, a high calling with grave responsibilities that affect the lives of so many. may they seek the common good with civility and charity, assuring that these blessings are secured for future generations. protect those who defend these blessings around the world and reassure their families who worry about them. be with those who are suffering this day in any way, especially from forces imposed upon them including persecution and violence. as each of us seek to do what is right and just, may we do so by looking out for those around us and looking up for inspiration and guidance. may you continue to bless this land of the free and the home of the brave, which thanks to those who have gone before is also a magnificent beacon of hope. 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
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and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. mr. thune: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senior senator from south dakota. mr. thune: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise today to welcome bishop swain to the united states senate on behalf of myself, my colleague from south dakota currently presiding over the senate and grateful believers all over south dakota i want to thank bishop swain. he was sworn in as the eighth bishop in late 2006 but his
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journey of faith and service to his country began far before that. paul joseph swain was born in newark, new york. after graduating from northern ohio university with a degree in history and earning his master's at the university of wisconsin, bishop swain joined the air force as an intelligence officer. he served our nation in the vietnam war where he earned a bronze star. bishop swain should feel right here at home on the floor of the united states senate because after serving in vietnam, he tried his hand in politics. he completed his law degree and went to work on the campaign and in the administration of governor lee sherman dryfuss who served as governor of wisconsin until 1983. after a short stint in politics, bishop swain answered a much, much higher calling. he was received in the catholic church, graduated divinity school in 1988 he entered the priesthood. years of dedicated pastoral work ensued in the diocese of madison, wisconsin and a decade
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ago we were truly blessed when pope benedict named him bishop of the diocese of sioux falls. on the day of his ordination, archbishop flynn gave the whomly at high mass. he noticed the service of bishops is to spread the word of god and promote the sanctity of the flock. bishop swain never forget. he understands the church has a role to play in the public square particularly on moral issues. he never shies away from challenges facing the poor and disenfranchised and never hesitates to stand up for the values that protect life and family. he is a pillar of our community and a spiritual leader to over 100,000 catholics in eastern south dakota. bishop swain's episcopal model is to give praise to the lord. mr. president, today we in the united states senate are giving praise for bishop swain's unwavering devotion to the word of the lord and to the service of his people.
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i thank the bishop for joining us today. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senate majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i understand there's a bill at the desk that's due a second reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill for the second reading. the clerk: h.r. 2666, an act to prohibit the federal communications commission from regulating the rates charged for broadband internet access service. mr. mcconnell: in order to place the bill on the calendar under the provisions of rule 14 i would object to further proceedings. the presiding officer: objection being heard, the bill will be placed on the calendar. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, this week we've seen what can be accomplished on behalf of the american people with a senate that's back to work under the republican majority. we just passed two broad-based bills aimed at protecting
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consumers and modernizing our energy policies respectively, and both bills take important steps to bolster national security as well. the passage of the energy policy modernization act yesterday marks the first broad energy legislation to move through the senate since the bush administration. in the years since that time, our country has gone from fearing oil and gas shortages to becoming the world's leading producer of both fuels as one paper put it. so it's clear that this energy legislation is much-needed when it comes to bringing our aging infrastructure and policies in line with current and future demands. i want to thank the energy committee chair, as senator murkowski, and the ranking member, senator cantwell, for working to advance this legislation. it's important for our country. it will help americans save more energy, produce more energy and pay less for energy. and to paraphrase senator murkowski, it's another example
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of how the senate is back to, would. let's continue that work today. the republican-led senate has made important strides to get the legislative process functioning again. we know the impact that can have on restoring the appropriations process. we also know that cooperation is going to be important as we move forward. so it was good to see our democratic colleagues yesterday recently pledge cooperation in the appropriations process wroegt that -- writing that this -- quote -- "is a win-win opportunity and we should seize it together." i've been pleased to see the headway by the appropriations committee. the committee held dozens of hearings so far and this morning members will mark up two more of the 12 funding bills and adding to the two the committee has already reported out unanimously, we'll continue floor consideration of one of those unanimously endorsed measures today. the energy security and water
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infrastructure funding bill. this legislation before us includes provisions that impact each of our states. it will support our waterway infrastructure, boost energy innovation and promote american competitiveness. it will strengthen national security and support our nuclear security program. it will also reduce wasteful spending. so i appreciate the leadership of senator alexander and feinstein on this bill and recognize the hard work and research that have gone into it. i also appreciate the appropriations chairman, senator cochran, for working with senator mikulski to move these appropriations bills through committee and to the floor. this is a responsible bipartisan bill. it invests in the future of american energy and waterways. it will keep our country safe. so let's continue working today to advance it. one final matter, i want to take a minute to say something about
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an amendment yesterday that would have defunded regional commissions such as the appalachian regional commission, or a.r.c. while i did not support that effort, i did raise some important questions about the direction of a.r.c. i've been a long supporter of the appalachian regional commission, the only government agency whose main purpose is to help poor and disadvantaged communities in the appalachian region. i'm deeply concerned, however, that after 50 years, the a.r.c.'s focus has become clouded. for instance, a.r.c.'s internal guidelines cap at 30% the amount of area development funds that can be used in the most, the most impoverished areas of appalachia. it seems utterly illogical to me that a government agency whose mission should be to alleviate poverty, 70% of the funds for area development go to counties that are not among the poorest.
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what does a.r.c. stand for if not to help the poorest areas of appalachia? is a.r.c. a special agency with a coherent mission or is it just another federal bureaucracy that simply allocates funds among 13 selected states regardless of the need? i hope the vote last night will serve as a wakeup call for management at the a. r.c., a wakeup call that it's time for the agency to reform itself and focus on the counties that most need assistance. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: it's difficult for me to be here today to talk about what i'm going to talk
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about. because i believe that the senate operates only when there's trust among the members of this body. a man that i served with, i have such great respect for said -- and that's the republican majority leader bob dole -- and i quote -- "i know, i know nothing else i did would matter very much if i ever forfeited the trust of my colleagues. as we all learned around here, if you don't keep your word, it doesn't make much difference what agenda you try to advance." close quote from robert dole. the trust which senator dole spoke has been broken. the republican leader mcconnell broke his word to me. in december of 2014, republican leader and the senator from south dakota, senator thune, came to me here on the floor and asked me if i would agree to
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confirm a republican commissioner to the federal communications commission. the man's name was michael riley. and he had worked for jon kyl and john cornyn. cornyn was still here, of course, and kyl left and we all had great respect for jon kyl being from my neighboring state of arizona. and so i said this is kind of an unusual request since everyone knows that the two leaders, when we have a commission that we're going to staff with our selections, he and i have the right to do that, that we always pair them. a democrat, a republican and a democrat and republican. we pair them. so i said to my friend from south dakota and my friend from kentucky that that doesn't sound like the right thing to do for me.
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but they talked for awhile longer. my heart said do it. my head said don't. my heart won. and i relented after having made an arrangement, an agreement with them that we would go ahead and do o'riley right then. i would agree to do that provided that when the new congress convened in less than a month that we would take care of the republican -- i mean take care of the democrat -- i'm sorry, mr. president. her name is jessica rosenworcel. that was the agreement. that's how we would pair one republican with a democrat, as is our custom. but i repeat, i agree we would do him now. he didn't have a job; that's what i told and needed to do that. they promised me that they would
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confirm rosenworcel the next congress. ii had my staff with me. i don't think anyone denies the conversation. mr. president, i didn't have to agree to this. i did it because the republican leader said he would do his part and get her confirmed. i'm sorry to report to the world, to the senate that i was wrong. over the last 16 months the republican leader has refused to fill his commitment. he hasn't kept his word. republicans assumed control of the senate in january 2015, and i waited patiently for the republican leader and senator thune to keep their word regarding the rosenworcel nomination. to his credit, john thune served
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here a long time. i know him well. worked against him once, was successful, worked against him a second time, wasn't successful. he beat my dear friend, tom daschle. but he's a fine man. he and i use the gym together in the house. to his credit, senator thune did everything he could to fulfill the commitment. he was having pressure not to do anything, i'm sure. but he called his committee together. he's chairman of the commerce committee and reported rosenworcel out of the senate floor. there, though, his authority stops. he didn't have -- doesn't have any power to do anymore. he did what he felt he was obligated to do, and i felt he was obligated to do. it's now senator mcconnell's problem, i guess. but a year went by. she's still wasn't sent to the
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floor. that's why i talked to senator thune the first of many times and he did what he said he would do and reported her out. a few months ago in december 2015, a year after we made our agreement, i reminded senator mcconnell of his commitment to do quickly what he said he would do to advance the nomination. he told me that the senate wouldn't con-- would confirm her when we returned in 2016. january 2016 passed with action -- with no action. before he left for the president's day recess, i spoke again with senators mcconnell and thune about rosenworcel's nomination. february passed with no movement. march passed. here we are 21 days in april and no confirmation. i've waited. i've waited patiently for my friend to do the right thing.
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i've held off for months coming to the floor. what else would i do? what else could i do? i held off hoping the republican leader would deliver on the pledge that he gave to me. i spoke with him yesterday on the telephone again urging him to move her forward. and he said to me we'll do it next year. mr. president, next year she's out of a job. her term expires at the end of this year. her career will basically be over because of my accepting my counterpart's word. i told the republican leader, i told senator thune that i wouldn't remain silent forever on this. i told them both yesterday i was going to come to the floor. the republican leader i hope was aware of the words of bob dole which i talked about earlier in
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my remarks. dole: i knew something else would matter very much if i ever forfeited the trust of my colleagues. as we all learn around here, if you don't keep your word, it doesn't make much difference what agenda you may try to advance. i'll do that again. i misspoke. i knew that nothing else i did would matter very much if i ever forfeited the trust of my colleagues. as we all learn around here, if you don't keep your word, it doesn't make much difference what agenda you try to advance, closed quote, from robert dole. so to say i'm disappointed is an understatement. the commitment was made to me a year and a half ago. we have to keep our trust. this is an issue -- this isn't an issue of my being offended. i've been offended. you've been offended.
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we haveall been offended. it's not a personal front to me. if it is, i'll have to bear that. i think it is but i can handle that. what i'm concerned about is what it means for the senate and what it means for a human being, a woman who works every day very hard trying to do the right thing for a very important part of our country. i understand the republican leader has a touch job. i know that. i've had that job a lot longer than he has. because of the dysfunction in his caucus, it's difficult i'm told and as we see for him to get things done, but that's no excuse for someone not keeping their word. he could go into executive session like that. we would agree to that he could file cloture. he could do this in many
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different ways. so i still expect him to live up to his commitment and get commissioner rosenworcel confirmed. i don't want this to be a bad time for the senate that continues. it's a bad day for the senate now because you just have to keep your word. that's all we have around here. mr. president, i see no one on the floor president i would ask the chair to announce what we're going to do the rest 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 11:00 a.m. with senators permitted to speak therein for up to 10 minutes each. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. a senator: mr. president, i rise today to discuss the bill that's on the floor and the fact -- the very fact that we have this bill on the floor i think deserves
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some attention. mr. blunt: we have an appropriations bill on the energy and water responsibilities of the federal government. i think this is the first time this bill has been on the senate floor in seven years. and the appropriating committee with the current majority is a month ahead of any time in recent history to mark bills up and get them to the floor. the majority leader set aside 12 weeks to do the work for decades and in fact for a couple of centuries was the core work of what the congress did. the congress set the priorities of the country by having an open and free debate on how the congress and the country would spend the money that was entrusted to the congress. the long ranging discussion, the power of the purse, you know. you don't have to be a great student of american history to
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say, well, don't you guys have -- don't you men and women in the congress have the power of the purse? well, we do have according to the constitution, but we haven't had in the practice of the last six or seven years when the work of the congress just simply was not done in a way that people could see what was going on or that members could freely weigh in. one of the things about the debate we're having on this energy and water bill is any member of the congress, any member of the senate, rather, can come to the floor and they can say don't spend this money at all. they can say in this bill spend the money here rather than here. they can say some combination of those two things and then the senate votes on that before we approve the final bill. so i'm pleased that we're debating this bill. that may actually be more important than the bill itself but the bill itself is important
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as well. this bill provides the critical resources to support the safety and long-term viability of our waterway systems. one of the reasons we're so competitive internationally and so competitive in our own domestic economy is we've had the ability to use the waterways of the country, particularly the internal as well as the external waterways in a way that makes us more competitive than we'd be otherwise. our inland waterways in particular are critical to economic growth. we're right on the edge of a time when world food demand doubles from your state, mr. president, from my state. agriculture, the biggest economic sector of the economy is in a great position to not only meet those food needs in our country but to meet food needs worldwide, and that position is dra matally enhance -- dramatically enhanced if we have a transportation system
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that doesn't just include highways and doesn't just include railroads but also includes the waterways of the country. another thing that our two states have had in common, the upper missouri and the lower missouri, is the devastating challenges that flooding can present. and this bill makes it possible for us to deal with flood control and navigation and once again emphasizes that the core of -- corps of engineers can't say those are the top two priorities of managing the mississippi river valley system, particularly missouri and mississippi, but those need to be apparent in their commitment to both flood control and navigation as things we want to do. i'm pleased this bill prioritizes things like the bank stabilization and navigation project on the mississippi river, the tributaries project that is central to our flood control efforts in our state. i'm also glad the bill increases
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funding for small ports and harbors to serve as a vital place for us to compete. the inland ports are basically export ports. and, mr. president, there's nothing wrong with buying things from other people, but it's better to sell things to other people. the inland ports serve a geographic area that's roughly twice as big as the coastal ports. doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the coastal ports. it just means let's get realistic about where we're making investments take allow us to compete. if a coastal port supports an area 300 miles inland from that coastal port, an inland port supports an area 300 miles in all directions. and so this is an effective thing for us to do. also we need to ensure that we're looking at our systems, our port systems as a system not
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just as one individual port. in the old days of the congress being able to say this is what you want to do in this report -- in this port or this harbor are now being replaced by being sure that the corps of engineers understands its responsibility to do this. now, another agency, mr. speaker, that we need to have understand its reasonable responsibility is the e.p.a. and so once again i'm on the floor for the third time in about as many months and heaven knows how many times in the last several years talking about this incredible overreach that the e.p.a. is making when they want to decide that they don't want to change the law that says navigable waters of the united states are under the authority of the environmental protection agency, not a new concept in law at all. navigable waters have seem to be
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a federal responsibility since the 1940's in law, in bills that have passed the congress. so in the early 1970's, the clean water act was passed. the e.p.a. was formed. and the clean water act said the e.p.a. will have jurisdiction over navigable waters. but with this outrageous waters of the u.s. rule, the e.p.a. wants to now define navigable waters as all the water basically in the country because they want to say it's any wart that can run into -- any water that can run into any water that can run into any water. i don't many how many reiterations of that there could be. it could run into any water that eventually runs into navigable water. there's a case before the supreme court right now where the e.p.a. is challenging a company in minnesota based on navigable waters. the location they're challenging is 1 ten miles away -- 120 miles away by no argument from the nearest thing that anybody would
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truly consider a navigable water. the farm bureau in missouri has a map that i brought to the floor now a number of times in in the farm bureau map of the jurisdiction of where the e.p.a. would be under the waters of the united states, this is anything, mr. president, that deals with water. a building permit runoff from your driveway, resurfacing a parking lot, fertilizer on a farm field, drilling a hole for a utility pole, anything that involves water theoretically under this rule could come under the jurisdiction of the e.p.a. and in our state, anything that would define in my state anything that would meet the e.p.a. definition of what could be the definition of their new sense of waters of the united states covers 99.7% of the state. now, mr. speaker, you're a little further from that map than i am. you may not be able to see the to dozen red dots or so on the map. there are two dozen white dots
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rather that would clearly still be under the jurisdiction of the state of missouri or under the jurisdiction of a county government or under the jurisdiction of a city. that, mr. president, would be three tenths of -- three-tenths of 1%. so senator hoeven who has fought to not allow this rule to go forward as i have since the day it was proposed has once again proposed an amendment to this bill. we all get to vote on it. a majority of the senate has shown its concern about this particular regulation, this outlandish regulation, enough that the senate and the house have put a bill on the president's desk in the last few months that the president vetoed that said don't go forward with this regulation. what this amendment says is no money can be spent to go forward with this regulation. i'd certainly encourage my colleagues to once again step up as they are already on the
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record having been willing to do to stop this regulation. this amendment, the way to stop this regulation, is to stay that no money can be spent to move forward with this regulation, that a majority of the congress, democrats and republicans, organizations all over america, government at virtually every level, county governments, city governments, state governments have said that they don't want the attorney generals of about half of the states have a case before the supreme court, but none of that seems to get through to the all knowing e.p.a. on this issue. mr. president, i urge my colleagues today to once again step up and say we want this stopped. and one way to stop it is not to have any money available to move forward with this outlandish rule. and i would yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mrs. gillibrand: april is actually sexually assault awareness month. i rise to speak about two women admitted to college and after they arrived on campus were sexually assaulted. they tried to seek help from their school and were blamed by their school administrators. a couple of years ago these two young women walked into my office. they didn't have an appointment. they didn't have any connections on capitol hill. they certainly didn't have an expensive lobbyist to lead them in. annie and an tkraoep i can't heard about -- andrea heard about my work to fight sexual assault in the military and simply wanted to help. the same crisis was unfolding on college campuses across the country. when they tried to report their
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rapes, they were not believed. they were -l actually retaliated against. for them, justice seemed impossible. but instead of doing nothing, annie and andrea joined together and created an organization called end rape on campus. they took their stories to college puss -- to college campus after college campus to be heard and help other ciphers ciphers -- other survivors to hold these schools accountable. together they have helped many other sexual assault survivors file dozens of federal title 9 complaints for how their schools mishandled their sexual assault claims. these young women are changing lives. they are helping their peers find justice. they took a risk to raise their voices and now we are closer than ever to passing a comprehensive bipartisan piece of legislation to make sure campus sexual assault cases are handled with the professionalism
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and fairness that all of our students deserve. we are closer than ever to passing a bill that would finally give our colleges and universities an incentive to solve the problem of sexual assault rather than stay silent and pretend it doesn't exist, because they're worried about application numbers or press releases. i urge all of my colleagues in the senate to support this bipartisan bill, the campus accountability and safety act because when surveys keep confirming that one out of five of our women in college are sexual assaulted before they graduate, we know we have more work to do. we need to follow the example of annie and andrea and speak out about this crisis. mr. president, i'm going to use this moment to just tell you one story, the story of andrea, what actually happened to her. she wrote a book. it's called "we believe you, with annie." an incredible compilation of
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survivors' stories. it is heartbreaking and very tough to read but it's one of the most inspiring books i've ever read. there are thousands of stories just like hers, and i have others to tell here on the senate floor but right now i'm going to tell you an tkraoep i - andrea's. "after i publicly came forward as a survivor, i learned the biggest triggers aren't the nightmares of my assault but the nightmares of betrayals i had to survive. when the media tells your story it feels like open season on your truth. it is exposed to commentary and a part of you loses control over it and the vulnerabilities you intended to share. when you tell your story to the media, you're at the mercy of their portrayal and the portrayal of others. i've been betrayed by friends who struggled to understand what happened to me and to accept that the same person who put forth strength and composure could fall apart. i wish i could have said the
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right things to get them to understand that i was broken and that my confidence was a lie to both of us. i've been betrayed by the university that i love so dearly, whose seal i wear around my neck and whose quads and bricks hold pieces of me, pieces of who i was before and of who i am today." mr. president, andrea is one of many young men and women whose lives have been shattered by violent sexual crime and then shattered again by that second betrayal when their schools chose not to believe them or to offer justice. these survivors deserve better. they need congress to act. we have to do the right thing. we have to be their voice. we have to stand up for them. and the bipartisan campus accountability and safety act does exactly that. so please let's all do our jobs and pass the bill. i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, i am rising to announce that i will be introducing, along with senator reid of nevada, legislation that is the president's emergency funding request to respond to the zika virus. now i've been on this floor many times talking about the ravage of the zika virus. it's up to 91 cases in my state of florida. fortunately none of them originated in the state. it's all because of a mosquito bite or some other means of transmission, such as sexual contact that has been done outside of florida. that's particularly true in the
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warmer climates of the caribbean, central america, latin america. and we know the devastating consequences of someone getting this virus not as a virus, because it has the effects of a mild flu, but if it is -- if the mosquito infects a pregnant woman. and now the researchers understand that it's any time during the tphaoeupbl -- nine months of the pregnancy. it has these disastrous consequences of severe deformties. now, what's the result of that? the result is not only trauma to the family involved, enormous tragedy, but look at the social
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cost that it's going to be. now, the world health organization declares this a public health emergency of international concern. the last time the world health organization said that such an emergency, it was for ebola. well, last week our c.d.c. announced that it is -- quote -- "scarier than they had initially thought, and it could be linked to other birth defects, not just the shrunken head and brain that is so horrendous to see pictures of. 800 americans -- this isn't just florida. 800 americans in 40 states and territories have been infected.
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and of course my state, 91 cases hit the hardest. and it is spreading across 15 counties. the three most recent cases were in the miami area, and it includes in florida five pregnant women. so now we are going into the warmer summer months, and this is when the mosquitoes breed all the more. this particular mosquito that carries the dungae virus, which has its own drastic consequences, but this mosquito, it's all over puerto rico. there is an estimate that 20% of
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the population of puerto rico may be eventually infected. if that's the case, you can wonder out of that 20% of the population, how many are pregnant women. and you can start to see in a territory of the u.s. where american citizens reside, the extreme depravity and social cost that that's going to be all at the same time that puerto rico is going through this tremendous financial crisis. yesterday i spoke at length to senator hatch, the chairman of the finance committee. and i believe he is quite
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sincere, as well as his staff director, of trying to do something about the financial condition of puerto rico. but now on top of that is added this additional plague. at the end of the day, we've got to do whatever we can to help puerto rico in its financial crisis, but now especially to help curb the spread of this virus. it's also in haiti. well, it just so happens that we have a large haitian american population in florida. it is particularly running rampant throughout south america, including brazil. and guess what's going to happen this summer? the olympics in brazil, the
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world population going. and so it is time to address this problem head on with the administration's request for $1.9 billion in emergency funding. now, mr. president, there are rumors that the appropriations committee is looking at a figure of $1.1 billion by stripping out the $250 million that would go through c.m.s. because of the federal medicaid assistance increase to support puerto rico's medicaid program. what have i just said? they're already in crisis. they've already been cut on
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their medicaid funds. and now we're not going to give this assistance in a population that is 20% going to be infected the appropriations committee shouldn't cut out that $250 million. there's also the rumor that the appropriations committee is going to cut out some $589 million of the request that would go back to replenish the ebola crisis fund that in order to meet the emergency, the administration took that money, just under $600 million, over to address the zika crisis until we can get off our duff here in the congress and appropriate the emergency appropriations. so i hope that the
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appropriations committee will think twice before they cut out the money for medicaid in puerto rico and replenishing the ebola fund. that crisis still goes on. but the success of us being able to get on that crisis, ebola from two years ago, is the fact of continuing to get that added source to stop it. otherwise you get the consequences that the ebola crisis will come back here to the united states. so, mr. president, this is truly an emergency. i'm calling on our colleagues to approve the president's $1.9 billion in emergency funding request now in the immediate future. not later. the cost of this inaction would
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be far greater, and the consequences way too devastating. and we don't want to have to say in the future, i told you so. i'm introducing this legislation. it will later be considered more than likely, possibly as a stand-alone bill, but possibly also as an amendment to one of these appropriations bills, and i urge our colleagues to support this $1.9 billion in emergency assistance request. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? mr. nelson: i would ask consent that a copy of the legislation be inserted into the congressional record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. a senator: mr. president, i rise to address an amendment that has been filed and i hope we're going to have a vote on. mr. toomey: it's amendment 3814. it's called end crony capitalist, advanced technology vehicle manufacturing loan program. let me describe what this is about. you know, we're all watching this presidential election campaign unfold, and a big theme on both sides of the aisle is about how the obama economy is not working for so many millions of ordinary americans, middle-income, middle class, working class americans who are working as hard as ever and falling behind. and it's true. and it's absolutely been a fact that this economy is not anywhere near where it should
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be. and part of that and part of the theme is how washington works for the well connected, for the few who get to figure out how to get special benefits from taxpayers, but that doesn't apply if you're an ordinary man or woman who's just working hard to feed your family and take care of your family, and you don't have the lobbyists and the connections to get special treatment. it's infuriating for people, and they're right. and one of the most egregious examples is this advanced technology vehicle manufacturing loan program. what this is is a program that forces taxpayers to lend money to specially preferred, very affluent generally and well connected businesses. it was created in 2007. and it requires the department of energy to lend this money, up to $25 billion of taxpayer money
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to private corporations that ought to be funding their activity privately. why should my constituents in pennsylvania be made to take the risk about some company that's got an idea that they want to float? why in the world should it be that my constituents and your constituents, mr. president, have to subsidize a particular business because some politicians decide they like it? this is completely outrainous. and this program -- outrageous and this program is particularly egregious. so far this program has made five loans worth $8.4 billion. of the five, two of them have already defaulted. two of them have already gone under. why should our taxpayers have to make these loans to companies that then fail? the taxpayers end up holding the bag. fisker ought might is one of them. they got $a 129 million loan.
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it took less than a year for them to defailt. the department of -- default. the department of energy which is to say our taxpayers took a loss just on that one transaction. the vehicle production group, they got a $50 million loan. in 2011. to years later they defaulted. taxpayers lost almost all of it, $42 million. but it get even more absurd, mr. president. in 2011 the department of energy under this program tried to make a $730 million loan to a company owned by a russian alagart so he could build a steel plant to compete with american steel companies and steelworkers that are already making this product. why in the world should my constituents be forced to be subsidizing a russian alogart. this is ridiculous. the plants had already been built. it was receipt troa actively fund -- receipt troa actively
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funding facilities that he already had the resources to ld about. this is crazy. this is what drives people crazy. the g.a.o. has recommended three times that this program be terminated. they've estimated that if the program continues, they're going to lose another $400 million. so here we have washington picking a handful of preferred companies to get huge taxpayer subsidies. it's proven it's a losing program and why are we doing this in the first place. so we have an amendment that would end this program. senator coates, senator fischer, myself, we want to end this. we don't want taxpayers to subsidize this. they don't think crony capitalism is the would i our system should work. we think our economy should work for everybody who shows up and punches a clock and works hard, not the well connected that can get a big subsidy from washington and so we've got an amendment that would end it.
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now, mr. president, there's some controversy about whether we're going to even be able to have a vote on this which is really disturbing. now, i hope we can resolve this and have this vote. i will live with the consequences of this vote as we all have to, but if there are people who like this program and think that our taxpayers should continue being forced to give away money and subsidize preferred special interests, okay. come on down to the floor and make the case. argue for why we should continue this crony capitalism, why it is that politicians ought to put the thumbs on the scale of our economy and divert taxpayer dollars to preferred interests. come on down and make the case. but at least have the courage of your convictions and have a vote. that's all i'm asking for. so i'm hoping we'll get there. i'm hoping we'll have a vote. and of course i'm hoping it will owe we'll end a terrible program that undermines confidence that the american people can have in our government. we could take a step in the right direction of restoring
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some confidence that this town can figure out what to do and can take steps to help our economy be more fair, more open and more successful for all americans. i thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president, i recently had the opportunity to convene a round table at the university of baltimore school of law entitled "why nine." , a discussion of the importance of a fully functioning supreme court. mr. cardin: i want to particularly thank the dean of the university of baltimore law school ronald weish for moderating this round table and bringing his extensive experience to the discussion. ron weish is well known. he was the chief council of senate minority leader reid and former assistant attorney general for legislative affairs at the u.s. justice department. i want to share with my colleagues some of the comments that were made by the people that were at that round table
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discussion. caroline frederickson, the president of the american constitution society discussed the lengthy delays for trials and appellate court decisions. lengthy delays in filling vacancies mean that justice delayed is justice denied. we've seen a growing number of judicial emergencies as a result of the senate leadership slow walking the consideration of judicial nominations. as i discussed recently on the floor of the senate. one of these is my own state of maryland district court vacancy in which paul dozen nice has been -- zenice has been waiting for floor action since she was reported out of committee unanimously in september 2015. she's waited oaf seven months for -- over seven months for action on the senate. miss frederickson also noted the increasing number of 4-4 decisions being issued by the supreme court, and she warned that a court that is split on a tough 4-4 decision might be tempted to legislate, a solution by asking the parties to reshape
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the legal questions before the court and go beyond the narrow case of controversy that is properly before the court. that's something i think all of us want to avoid. we don't want the court legislating. john greenbrown, the chief council and deputy director for the lawyers committee of civil rights under law told the group that if the republicans hold to their pledge to block the filling of the supreme court vacancy till a new president takes office, this vacancy would span a -- and negatively impact two terms of the court and could last more than a year. the presidential elections occur in november 2016, but the new president is not sworn into office till late january 2017 allowing for seven months which is the standard time for consideration of a supreme court nominee. it could be next spring of 2017, more than a year after judge scalia's death before the vacancy is filled. mr. greenbound noted the courts noted a number of 4-4 decisions
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and a wide range of ame cuss briefs and the court was trying to resolve circuit splits in a number of the cases. it cannot resolve flits with a 4-4 vote leaving us would different laws in different parts of the country. michele jeowanda, vice president of the legal progress at the center for american progress discussed focusing the american people's attention on the third branch of government, the judiciary, which often does not receive the same level of focus as the executive and legislative branch. professor charles teifer is a professor at the university of baltimore school of law. previously he served as deputy general counsel of the united states house of representatives and served as the assistant legal counsel for the u.s. senate. he formally clerked for the court of appeals of the district of columbia circuit. professor teifer cited two interesting precedents we should
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keep in mind as the senate considers or frankly fails to consider chief judge garland's nomination. in 1988 the senate confirmed justice kennedy to the supreme court, even though the senate was controlled by a democratic majority and president reagan was in his final year of office. very similar to the circumstances that we have today. and in 1991 when democrats controlled the senate, they allowed the nomination of clarence thomas to reach the senate floor, even though the judiciary committee had not favorably recommended him. the judiciary committee under chairman biden believed that the full senate should debate a nomination for the supreme court of the united states and each senator should cast their votes either for or against the nomination. ultimately the senate narrowly confirmed justice thomas by a 52-48 vote. indeed attorney to judge garland, no nominee and really no president has ever been treated this way by the senate. since public confirmation hearings of supreme court
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nominees began a century ago in the judiciary committee. the senate has never denied a supreme court nominee a hearing and a vote. this would be the first. by refusing to follow this practice, the senate judiciary committee leadership are abrogating their constitutional doats. this is an affront to the constitution. this is not a political assault. this is an assault on the constitution. turning to article, the executive powers in the constitution, the senate republican leadership is trying to unilaterally alter the term of the president from four years to three and somehow argue that the president in his or her final year in office cannot do his or her job which includes nominating supreme court justices if a vacancy occurs. this flies in the face of the plain text of the constitution. the constitution commands the president shall nominate supreme court justices in the event of a vacancy. the senate's failing to exercise its constitutional duty to advise and consent. turning to article 3, the judicial power of the constitution, the senate leadership is trying to unilaterally shrink the supreme
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court from nine justices to eight by creating an artificial vacancy for an indefinite period of time. congress by enacting a statute has set the size of the supreme court consisting of nine justices. there's an odd number for a reason, to enable the court to break tie votes. the senate republican leadership is pursuing a strategy that will hobble the court for two terms. this could result in an increasing number of circuit splits and a nonuniform application of federal laws across the country. with no resolution in sight meaning that your rights and responsibilities under federal law will depend on what circuit you happen to live in or do business in. article 6 of the constitution provides that the senators and representatives before mentioned and the members of the civil state legislators and all executive judicial officers both of the united states and the several states shall be bound by the oath or affirmation to support this constitution. and i would say what we're doing right now is abrogating that
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right. professor michael higgenbakken, the dean joseph curtis professor of law at the university of baltimore school of law and was a former clerk to a u.s. circuit judge. he agreed that it's unprecedented for the senate not even to consider or vote on a nomination for a supreme court justice. he cited the famous case of marberry v. madison decided by the supreme court in 1803. the case held that a constitutional right without a remedy is no right at all. and the right must have a remedy. but what happens when the supreme court cannot issue a final decision on a complex or controversial case in the law? what is the remedy that follows that right? what happens when one brample of government re-- branch of government refuses to do its job endangering the operation of another, an equal and independent branch of government? a supreme court that divides by a vote of 4-4 in a major decision leads to uncertainty and lack of specificity in the law. due to the splits of the various circuit of court of appeals around the nation. amy matsui is the senior counsel
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and director of women's law center. she reminded us that women's lives are affected every day by decisions of the supreme court and lower federal courts. lawyers have a respect for the rule of law and legal process. if lawyers report to work and do their job every day, why can't the senate? she asked a good question. the deputy attorney general of maryland serving under the leadership of brian frosh discussed the importance of the judiciary to be able to function nonpartisanly. -- independently. the supreme court ultimately decides about 150 cases a year: dozens of these cases were 5-4 decisions of a divided supreme court. these are hard cases with reasonable jurists can disagree and a number of these cases have split circuits around the nation with judges issuing conflicting decisions and different
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interpretations of federal law. this uncertainty is bad for the marketplace, business, bad for judges, bad for litigants and ultimately bad for the american people. quite frankly, in some cases businesses prefer any ruling because at least it gives certainty about what the is. businesses do not want federal law to become a patchwork that varies from circuits to circuit and state to state because of a divided supreme court that cannot resolve the issue. carl barry, director of justice programs at the alliance of justice discussed the importance of judicial independence. while the president has the power of the sword and controls government agencies and power has the power of the purse and ability to change laws, the judiciary relies on the other branches of the government and the american people to carry out its decisions. framers of our constitution gave the justices lifetime tenure because it insulates them under article 3 of the constitution so they would not have to worry about losing their job through
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congressional impeachment if they reach an unpopular decision. framers forbid the congress from cutting salaries of the justices while in office. under article 3, section 1 of the constitution, to avoid retribution from congress for unpopular decisions of the court. by undermining the independence of the supreme court and making the court appear to be a political entity, the republican senate leadership is undermining the public's confidence in the court and ultimately the very legitimacy of the court. our framers intended with these specific constitutional provisions to protect the court and the federal judiciary from politics. the senate should do its job and carry out its mission to fill the vacancies of the supreme court so that the americans have confidence that the supreme court decides cases based on the law. constitutional -- constitution and facts of the case. the american people supports congress doing its job and giving judge garland the hearing he deserves.
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the stakes at the supreme court could involve matters of life and death and death penalties of a court split 4-4, the defendant would be put to death even though the court's decision did not resolve the issue. chief judge garland is a nominee for the supreme court and should be dealt with in this term of congress. it's not a matter for the next president or next congress. it's a matter for this president and this congress. there are nine months left in this year, and to suggest we don't have the time and the president doesn't have the authority to appoint a nominee is absolutely outrageous. it's an affront to the constitution. we immediate to go through the process and give judge garland a chance. i have met with judge garland and believe he is eminently qualified to be a supreme court justice. before the senate makes a final decision we need to do our job and vet the nominee, hold a hearing and hold a vote that puts all senators on record. how can senators in good conscience reject this supreme court nominee without fair vetting and hearing process? i think it's hard to understand how you can be excused from doing your job for nine months
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by not having a confirmation hearing. the president did his job. it is now time for the senate to do our job. the american people want to see nine justices on the supreme court when it convenes its new term in october. the senate now has the responsibility and the duty to respect the independence of the federal judiciary, the authority of the president to nominate justices and the power of the senate to advise and consent nominations. lets us support the oath, support the constitution, let's do our job. let us take up the garland nomination. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. cardin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: i would 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. 2028, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 96, h.r. 2028, an act making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2016, and for other purposes. mr. cardin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: mr. president, i understand shortly we're going to be voting on the hoeven amendment. the hoeven amendment would deny the ability for the clean water rule to go into effect. in 1972 congress passed the clean water act. it passed the clean water act in response to what was happening around this country. we saw rivers literally catch on
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fire as a result of polluted waterways. we had lake erie, which was considered dead. the chesapeake bay was one of the world's first marine dead zones. that's nothing to be proud of. the environment and status of our water was a national disgrace. and through congressional leadership, we passed the clean water act. we did that because we understood that the status of upstream water affects the status of downstream water, that we are all in this together. we understood that having clean water was a public health issue from swimming in the water to the source of our drinking water supplies. one-third of our drinking water supplies come from regulated waters. we also understood it was important for our economy.
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the status of tourism very much depended upon the quality of our water. literally people were concerned about going close to h some of our inner harbor water areas. now the inner harbor of baltimore is a tourist attraction, as is the inner harbor of many of our cities. it was important for our economy for agriculture. agriculture depends upon clean water. we understood that when we passed the clean water act in 1972. and we also understood it was a matter of quality of life for the people in our country. from those who want to take hikes and do bird watching to those who enjoy fishing and hunting, the status of clean water very much affects the way that we do life. as a senator from maryland, senator mikulski and i both understand the importance of clean water for the chesapeake bay. the chesapeake bay, a national treasure, the largest estuary in
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our hemisphere, it was at great risk because of the waters coming in from other states into the chesapeake bay watershed affecting the quality of water at the chesapeake bay. it was for all those reasons that we passed the 1972 clean water act. and we understood the enforcement of the waters that were regulated under the 1972 clean water act. it was based upon best science. science told us what we needed to do in order to have clean water, clean water for our environment, clean water for safe drinking water. and it was well understood until a supreme court decision. that decision in 2016 known as the rapanos decision was a 5-4 decision of the supreme court which remanded the case but it was a 4-4 decision on the merits of the case. and since that time there has been uncertainty as to what
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bodies of water can be regulated under the clean water act. so this was a situation caused by the ambiguity of a supreme court case. it's interesting that the merits were 4-4 as we're now debating whether we're going to have a full supreme court in order to make decisions that affect the clarity of law in this country. but the rapanos decision sent back to the lower courts a decision on how to make, decide this. and since that time there has been uncertainty as to what bodies are legally regulated under the 1972 clean water act. now, the easiest way to resolve this -- remember this is 2006. the easiest way for congress to pass a law, clarifying the clean water act. but congress has chosen not to do that. so the obama administration has done what it should do, using its power to promulgate a regulation that would provide clarity to which bodies of water
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are regulated. and guess what? they've done that in a way that's consistent with how the law was enforced prior to the rapanos decision. without much complaint before the rapanos decision. it basically goes back to best science, tells us logically what needs to be regulated, and that's what this rule would do, protect our clean water. now there's a lot of misinformation that's been given about the clean water rule. quite frankly, normal farming activities don't require any new permits, any permits under the clean water act. and if you would listen to some of the arguments against the clean water act, you would have a hard time comparing that to what in fact is in the bill. so the clean water act would reestablish the well-thought
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regulatory framework for protecting our clean water so that we don't return to the days of jeopardizing the chesapeake bay or jeopardizing our rivers or jeopardizing our clean water supplies or our environment. mr. president, tomorrow is earth day. 46 years ago our colleague, senator gaylord nelson, established earth day. what will this congress's legacy be? what will we be remembered in regards to protecting this planet and protecting our country and protecting our environment for future generations? i hope that we will work together to build on the proud accomplishments of our predecessors for clean air and clean water. and the first thing we can do is to make sure that we reject the hoeven amendment. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. a senator: mr. president, this is number 40 in waste of the week. 40 weeks the senate has been in session here. i've come down each week to talk about a waste of the week, a waste of taxpayers dollars through waste, fraud and abuse. this week i'm going to raise yet another federal program which has at best a questionable track record. mr. coats: i filed an amendment to the frg and water appropriation -- energy and water appropriations bill currently in the senate which is related to this program and hopefully we'll be voting on an amendment i'll be offering here in a few moments to address this
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issue. this amendment which i offered with senators fischer, toomey and flake would finally, finally wind down the department of energy's failed advanced technology vehicles manufacturing loan program. remember the stimulus? remember how we were thrown all kinds of taxpayers money out there? we talked about advanced vehicle programs, and this one -- and many of these distributions of funds have been misused or just simply not come to fruition and a great deal of money has been wasted. the atvm as it's called, loan program, continues to sit on billions of dollars of unused funds that could be put to better use. now, i'm glad there's some unused funds there because it means that when we look at the history of this program, perhaps we'll have an opportunity to better use those unused funds or
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to help return it back to the treasury so that the taxpayer isn't on the lamb for this kind of thing going forward. let me explain this program. the department of energy's advanced vehicle technology manufacturing loan program was created in 2007. it was created to provide very low interest loans to manufacturers who make vehicles or components of vehicles that use alternative energy. i'm not here to downplay the use of alternative energy. i think that's something that is happening throughout our country hopefully on a market-base basis. but to qualify for this loan from the federal government, there have been a couple of requirements applicants must meet. one is the vehicle or component must be new or significantly improved from what's currently available in the u.s.
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marketplace. and secondly, it has to be manufactured in the united states. that was the purpose of the program partly was to encourage manufacturing here, not in china, not somewhere else. so last month nearly ten years since the program's inception, the government accountability office took a look at the program. the finances. and found that the department of energy has some billions really, billions of unused and unspent funds. and i'm glad they do because a lot of things that have taken place under this program have not proved to be worth their weight. i've spoken before on the highlights on a number of programs, but in 2011 under this fund, the alternative vehicle fund, the obama administration
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approved a $730 million loan to a company called serve arestall steel company, a russian-owned company with operations in michigan. remember, i just said to qualify for this loan the alternative fuel vehicle or vehicle part needs to be manufactured in the united states and -- here's the key -- it must be a new product. technically serverstahl was manufactured in the united states but the obama administration certainly walked the line in this case. the u.s. government was providing american taxpayer dollars to a russian company owned by one of russia's richest oligarch, olesky mozascoff. it's reported he has ties to the kremlin and russian president vladimir putin. apparently this russian looked at this program and said hey, here's a way i can get a low
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cost, low interest loan. all i've got to do is operate this plant. the government will loan me $750 million, and i will produce al new part, a component of steel that's used in automobile manufacturing. well, after working with the department of energy's inspector general, senator toomey and i learned that the type of steel made by this russian company was identical to the steel already being produced in my home state of indiana and senator toomey's home state in pennsylvania. obviously that violated one of the basic criteria in that it can't -- it's got to be an alternative that is brand new and not something tt is produced already being produced here in indiana. fortunately with the help of the inspector general, we were able to ensure that the obama administration voided the loan. so to their credit when we
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brought it to their attention, they said okay, we've got a russian oligarch. we're giving money. that doesn't sound very good. we're giving money to this multibillion their in russia with close ties to vladimir putin. and secondly, we now have learned that what they're producing is already produced in the united states. in my state of indiana and in senator toomey's state of pennsylvania. and thus fortunately the administration canceled this loan. but this example calls into question the integrity of this program. the atvm program also has a lackluster success rate. for example, firvegger automotive received the $125 million loan to produce a $100,000 plug-in hybrid sports car. you won't see any of these on the road because the company went bankrupt after drawing down $193 million of taxpayer funds.
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another loan recipient called v.p.g. planned to sell natural gas powered advance. it went bankrupt after receiving a $50 million government loan. of the five projects funded by this program to date, to of them have gone bankrupt. these examples i think demonstrates what happens when the government tries to pick winner and losers instead of letting the free market determine how we're going to go forward. so the coats-fischer-flake-toomey amendment that will be offered here would do just that. it would wind down this program and it would make much better use of the unspent funds for this program. now, i want to be clear. this amendment prohibits didn't o.e. from reviewing any new loan applications after the bill's enactment. there are currently some pending applications. we do not address those pending applications.
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i hope serious evaluation will be made relative to whether they qualify or not under the criteria that is laid out and we won't end up with any more serverstals. so those who argue that this shuts down an alternative program, that is not valid. anything that is now being currently evaluated up through 2020, the end of 2020, the next five years, will be allowed to go forward and be evaluated under the program. so the amendment doesn't take that away. c.b.o. has scored this amendment of saving at least $300 million over the next ten years. i've been down here every week talking about waste of the week. i just identified another waste of taxpayer dollars. we're not counting that, but we're counting what we can save if this amendment is adopted. and it's $300 million, and i think that that's a significant amount raising our waste, fraud and abuse level to $162 billion
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and change. i encourage my colleagues to work with us together so that we can offer this amendment. remember, it does not affect anybody who has a proposal before the department of energy under this loan program. if that is under way, it can be evaluated, hopefully successfully evaluated and bad stuff, it doesn't qualify by the criteria, it's not accepted as it was earlier. i think we learned the lesson on all of that. but what it does do is it does free up funds for anything that will not be -- that not is currently before the evaluators of this. mr. president, with that i trust we can gain the support of my colleagues here in saving the taxpayers some dollars. with that i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president, it appears that there is lack of a quorum here so i suggest the clerk call the roll. 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 california. a senator: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with, please. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: mr. president, we're going to vote on the hoeven amendment shortly. i rise to speak against that amendment which would undermine one of our nation's landmark environmental laws, the clean water act. it is very difficult for me to understand how we could be at this point in time attacking a clean water rule, a clean water rule. in light of what has happened in flint, michigan. this is what the water looked like as it came out of the tap in flint, mr. president, at the height of the crisis.
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and by the way, peopleere told this was safe. why on earth would we be going against the clean water rule at a time when we're fighting against this kind of problem. this is what the pipes looked like in flint. the corrosion, the obvious problems with lea lead. this was getting right into the drinking water. while we look for ways to help the people of flint, and i'd love to do it on this bill. if we can't do it on this bill, i would like to do it on any bill. we need to take care of what happened there and we also need to help other communities from the east coast to the middle of our nation to the west coast. help us help our families. here we have in the face of flint an attack on a clean water
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rule. let's see what else we have to say and what else we learned about what happened in flint. pregnant women, kids cautioned over jackson water. this is mississippi. so jackson, mississippi also has a problem with lead. so what is our response to that today? to stop a clean water rule. what are my republican friends thinking? it just doesn't make sense. the associated press wrote this. elevated lead levels found in newark schools' drinking water. so here we are talking about elevated levels of lead in newark. we've got places in california where the kids can't drink the water out of the water fountain. so what's the response of the republican senate? turn back a clean water rule. it makes absolutely no sense. what we have going on on the
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senate floor is a very heated debate, as i speak about how to handle the issue in flint. let me tell you this. the first thing to do in the light of flint is not to weaken environmental law, is not to stop a clean water rule. it's completely ridiculous. now, my friends will say all we're doing is delaying implementation for a year while the court looks at it. we shouldn't be doing anything here that plays into the hands of those special interests who simply don't want to clean up the water in our nation. the clean water standards that are a target of this amendment are designed to safeguard drinking water for america's families and businesses. this dangerous amendment rolls back protections of small streams and wetlands that provide drinking water to one in
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three americans. that's 117 million people put at risk because this united states senate run by the republicans think the best thing to do in the light of flint is roll back the clean water act. come on! get a life. read the paper. look at what happened to those people. this is the time to provide reliable drinking water to all americans and to clean up our waterways. now is not the time -- and never should it be the time -- to attack the clean water act, which is vital to health and safety of our families. i want to mention, mr. president, that i've received opposition to the hoeven amendment from numerous sportsmen groups. the presiding officer: can we have order? mrs. boxer: including back
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country hunters and anglers, international federation of fly-fishers, national wildlife federation, theodore roosevelt conservation partnership and trout unlimited. these groups understand the important link between clean water and the outdoor recreation economy. when you go right after the clean water rule, you are going right after the people who enjoy outdoor recreation, and they are against the hoeven amendment. leading environmental and conservation groups oppose the amendment, including american rivers, clean water action, earth justice, earthworks, environment america, environmental defense fund, league of conservation voters, national -- natural resources defense council, prairie rivers network, sierra club, southern environmental law center.
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these are some of the most popular groups in the country. you know what the rating of this republican congress is in the last polls i saw? 14%. you know what the rating of the president is in the last poll i saw? over 50%. so what does this republican senate do today? they're going after the senate with their 14% rating in the polls. did you ever stop to think, i say to my friends on the other side -- and, believe me, they're my friends -- what are you doing? how do you expect people to support y when you, a after seeing what happened-- --when you, after seeing what happened in flint, continue to go after environmental clean water laws like you're doing today? then you have the american public health association, physicians for social responsibility, trust for american health -- they've opposed similar legislation to block this important rule.
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200,000 businesses represented by the american sustainable business council have called on senators to oppose efforts to block the clean water rule. these experts understand the importance of the clean water rule. they know that our drinking water remains vulnerable to pollution. just last month, e.p.a. released a report showing that nearly half of u.s. waterways are in poor condition. it found one in four waterways have levels of bacteria that fail to meet human health standards, and our children go swimming in these very waterways. we have cities across the u.s. with sewer systems that discharge raw, untreated sewage in waterways. again, where our children swim. it's a disgrace.
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despite enormous success since the passage of the clean water act, we have more work to do. nothing is more important than protecting the lives of the american people, whether it's through our military or through our public health laws. when we weaken the clean water act, as the hoeven amendment will do, we put our families at risk, we put our children at risk. why are we here? now, flint has put a spotlight on the need to keep our families safe from toxins and pollutants in their drinking water. the first thing the republicans do in light of flint is try to roll back the clean water rule. now, i have to say, one of my deepest greets -- and i've -- one of my deepest regrets -- and i've written about it -- is how partisan this place has become over viewrmtal laws. when i -- over environmental laws. when i started a long time ago, it was republicans that were leading the way on the environment.
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i remember a state senator named peter behr -- a republican -- who i supported -- state senator -- because he understood how critical and important it is to defend state government, not only in terms of the beauty of our planet but the very health and safety of our families. and as i often say, no one -- in all the years i've been in office -- it's 40 years, hard to believe; time flies when you like your work, i guess. the fact is, no one has ever come up to me and said, barbara, our water is too pure, our air -- oh, it's way too clean. doing is! dirty it up. repeal landmark laws, barbara, that protect our -- they don't do that. they say they're no -- they say
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they're worried. they don't know what pollutants are in their water. i'm going 0 say, please vote against the hoeven amendment. this is not smart legislation in light of what we face. i would yield the floor. i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. hoeven: mr. president? ms. stabenow: mr. president? mr. hoeven: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. h.o.v. i'll defer for a -- mr. hoeven: i'll defer for minute to the good senator from michigan -- the presiding officer: the senate is? -- the senate is in a quorum call. mr. hoeven: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hoeven: i defer to the good senator from michigan for her purposes to request to speak. ms. stabenow: we will be voting very shortly on -- thank you very much. mrs. boxer: of course i support my friend. the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: if we could move to a vote, i think it helps us -- the current vote. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan is recognized. ms. stabenow: thank you very much. i just wanted to quickly take a moment to speak about the advanced vehicle program from two sides. one, when i authored it back in 2007 and we began to see fuel economy standards agreed to, be increased in the united states, part of our focus on keeping jobs in america is to make sure at that time that we had low-cost financing available for companies to be able to retool
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plants so that smaller vehicles, fuel-efficient vehicles, would be made in the united states rather than shipped overseas. we saw that with an initial loan with ford motor company bringing jobs back from mexico and focusing on electric vehicles. we now, fast-forward, as we are looking at fuel economy for trucks and for larger vehicles, we see alcoa with the most recent loan that's focused on aluminum materials, making lighter-weight trucks to meet new fuel economy standards. so there are positives. there are also areas under this loan program that have i not ben successful. but there are positive things as well. i come to the floor specifically to say that when we are considering an amendment in front of us, which senator peters and i are willing to do -- a coats amendment, to completely eliminate this
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program now, colleagues need to know that we are undercutting a carefully crafted compromise, bipartisan compromise, with senator inhofe, senator portman, and others to move forward on a water infrastructure plan to deal with lead in water, that will not only help 100,000 people in the city of flint, but people in jackson, mississippi, and cleveland, ohio, and across the country. our proposal responsibly phases out this program and uses the funds for critical water infrastructure needs. and so we strongly oppose pulling the rug out from under national only flint but jackson, mississippi, and cleveland, ohio, and communities across the country who are counting on us to come together and to pass what we have done in a bipartisan way to address
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critical water infrastructure needs and deal with lead poisoning issues, not only in flint but across the country. so i ask colleagues to vote "no" on the coats amendment and allow us to phase out this program in a way that will be able to use this investment in a critical way to address water infrastructure needs across the country. thank you, mr. president. mr. hoeven: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator north dakota. mr. hoeven: i am willing to yield for a minute to the junior senator from michigan. mr. peters: thank you. i appreciate that, senator. i just wangted to rise and to -- i just wanted to rise and concur with my colleague from michigan, senator stabenow, that we would urge our colleagues to vote "no" on the coats amendment. this is parlt of a very call ofly craft -- this is part of a very carefully crafted agreement to deal with the water issue around the country, flint in
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particular. we have a plan to do that while dealindealing with an incredibly important initiate our state but also an -- in our state but also an incredibly important issue across the country. i thank you for yielding. mr. hoeven: mr. president, i rise today to ask my colleagues to support an amendment i filed that prevents the e.p.a. and the corps of engineers from implementing its waters of the u.s. final rule. the language from my amendment is actually identical to the waterwaters of the u.s. provisin the underlying bill. so it's already in the bill. h.r. 2028 that we are considering right now. my amendment will make sure that this water waters of the u.s. provision stays in the bill and that our bill is consistent with legislation supported by the house. it's critical to preserve the prohibition on implementing the waters waters of the u.s. becaus bill will greatly expand the scope of e.p.a. regulations over
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nearly every water in the u.s. threatening farmers and job creators with permitting requirements that make it more difficult to produce our nation's food, as well as for construction, other industries to complete necessary projects. moreover, this regulatory overreach by the army corps and the e.p.a. is inconsistent with the law. let's look at what the courts are saying. when granting a preliminary injunction against this rule, the north dakota district -- federal district court stated that -- quote -- "the rule allows e.p.a. regulation of waters that do not bear any effect on the -- quote -- "chemical, physical, and biological integrity" -- end quote -- of any and and a -- oy navigable, in fact, rule." no evidence actually points to
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how these intermittent and remote wetlands have any nexus to navigable, in fact, waters. e.p.a. has jurisdiction over and --over navigable bodies of wate. the sixth circuit court i shoulded a nationwide stay of the rule citing that e.p.a.d and the corps of engineers could not identify substantial support of the brightline standards that they ultimately chose. end quote. to get a sense of the size of the federal power grab we're talking about here, consider under the administration's final rule all water located within 4,000 feet of any other water or within a 100-year floodplain is considered a water of the u.s. as long as the e.p.a. or the army core ever corps decides that it has "significant nexus."
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so that's the argument e.p.a. is making, significant nexus. they're saying, well, we can navigate -- regulate navigable bodies of water. we'll decide without statutory authority provided by this body, they just decided that because other waters run into navigable bodies, they can regulate all water and they've issued a regulation to do that. the waters of the u.s. is clearly flawed from a legal perspective but it is even more clear to take a look at how this law affects hardworking americans with excessive regulation. for those of you who haven't had the opportunity to visit with a farmer across this country, do so, because they'll tell you how difficult it is to deal with excess water on their property, particularly when they says an overbearing regulation like this one.
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those farmers could tell you that just because there's water in a ditch or field one week doesn't mean that there will be water there next week. and it certainly doesn't make the water worthy of being treated the same as a river. -- or a lake or a navigable body of water. a field with a low spot -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. hoeven: mr. president, i would ask that members of this body consider not only the underlying issue and the impact of farmers and ranchers really all out on private property, rights that affect all of us, but also consider your own prerogative. under our constitution, we have legislative, judicial, and executive branches each with their own authority. we have to stand up on this one. when an agency overreaches and takes statutory authority which we have not provided, i ask that the members join with me and support this vitally important amendment. with that, mr. president, i thank you and i yield the floor.
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mrs. feinstein: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: mr. president -- excuse me. mr. alexander: mr. president, may i lock in these votes and then senator -- the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: i ask consent following locking in the votes that she has an opportunity to vote and we move to the vote. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. alexander: mr. president, i ask consent that it be in order to call up the following amendments: franken 3833, coats 3841, murray 3813. further that following the disposition of the hoeven amendment 3811, the senate vote on the coats amendment number 3814 with a 60 affirmative vote threshold for adoption of the amendment and that at 1:45 the senate vote on the franken amendment 3833. following that on 5:30 p.m., the senate vote -- on the murray amendment and there be two
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minutes equally divided prior to each vote. mr. president, i should have said coats 3814. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. alexander: may i say before the senator from california speaks, i see the senators from michigan who are here and the senator from indiana. and i want to thank the three of them for working with senator feinstein and me toward the goal of making it, making sure that senators who have a germane amendment have the opportunity to have an up-or-down vote. if we're able to follow that practice generally, we'll be able to have an appropriations process and the senate will function well. they all responded quickly and promptly on issues they feel very strongly about, and i thank them for it. the presiding officer: is there objection to the motion? without objection, so ordered. the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: thanks very much, mr. president.
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mr. president, i wanted to say a few words. the junior senator from california has been speaking in opposition to the waters of the u.s. amendment of senator hoeven's. and i just want to put before the body a little bit of the history. in 2006 the supreme court introduced real uncertainty regarding which weapons and water bodies were subject to federal jurisdiction under the clean water act. since 2006, the e.p.a. and the u.s. army corps of engineers have been working on new rules to clarify their jurisdiction and address the supreme court's ruling. e.p.a. and the army corps just finalized the new rule last may. this new rule helps resolve almost a decade of confusion by clearly stating which types of water bodies are subject to federal jurisdiction and which are not. it will make federal permitting
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easier, faster and less costly for business and industry. it maintains all previous exemptions and exclusions for normal farming and ranching practices and agricultural discharges such as irrigation return flow and storm water runoff. nevertheless, the sixth circuit court has issued a stay, suspending implementation of the rule. i strongly believe we should let the courts decide whether the executive branch has overreached in its interpretation of congressional statute. just like the constitution calls for. the president has threatened to veto the entire energy and water appropriations bill if this amendment is included in it. and right now we have the best opportunity in seven years to pass this bill as a stand-alone piece of legislation and get the
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senate appropriations process working again. so i am very hopeful and would strongly recommend that the senate defeat the hoeven amendment. thank you very much, mr. president. the presiding officer: the question occurs on the hoeven amendment 3811. the clerk will call the roll. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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