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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  April 26, 2016 10:00am-12:31pm EDT

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and we are live on the floor of the u.s. senate for more coverage of the work on the 2017 spending on energy and water projects bill. this is live on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. loving father, you are high above all nations, and your glory is above the heavens. the earth belongs to you. you own the silver and gold and
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the cattle upon a thousand hills. we confess that we often forget that righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to people. we thank you for your mercies that come to us new each day. may we live lives of gratitude because of your generous kindness. today use our senators as instruments of your glory. fill them with your peace, as they keep their minds fixed on you. lord, bless our nation.
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make it a beacon of freedom and righteousness in these challenging times. we pray in your holy name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: when the new majority resolved to get the senate back to work, we knew we'd have to get committees functioning again first. we believe that would be
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critical to helping members on both sides rediscover their voices and find common ground and then develop real stakes in the outcome. that certainly what we've seen this appropriations season. the appropriations committee has held dozens of hearings already. it's marked up funding bills at a steady clip, and it's sending good legislation to the floor. one of those bills is the energy security and water infrastructure appropriations measure which is before us now. this legislation is important for american energy, for american waterways and ports, and for american commerce and safety. it will also maintain our nuclear deterrence posture by ensuring nuclear stockpile readiness which is important for national security. i'd like to recognize the bill managers for their diligent work to bring this legislation to the floor for consideration. i'd also like to recognize the leadership of the appropriations committee foits work in -- for its work in getting this process
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moving. by returning to regular order, we've opened up the process and empowered senators both those who sit on the appropriations committee and those who do not to have more of a say in the appropriations legislation. that's important because these funding bills can affect each of our states. the progress we've seen already is encouraging. it shows what's possible when the senate gets back to a productive legislative process.
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mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: i appreciate the good work, the exemplary work done on the energy and water appropriations bill by senators feinstein and alexander. i managed that legislation for many, many years. most of the time is was with pete domenici from new mexico. i was the chair most of the team but not all the time, but it didn't matter. our job was to move the bill forward. people don't realize about this most important bill is that most of the funding is not energy and water as we look at it. it's defense related. making sure our nuclear weapons are safe and reliable and things of that nature. making sure our national labs are funded.
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so i appreciate their good work. it's been very, very good and i appreciate it. last night the republican leader has filed cloture. now, cloture was filed not because of any on our side. we should finish the work on the bill tomorrow or maybe thursday but i'm glad we're going to get itone. it's an extremely important piece of legislation. i'm glad we started here. i'm glad to hear my friend, the republican leader, talking about the appropriations process moving forward. but we have to understand we have a lot more bills to go. this is only one. one out of many, one out of a dozen. but i want to be clear about something else, something that is vitally important, something that's imperative. the senate must do something now to address the outbreak of the zika virus. we're not going to interfere with the energy and water
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appropriation bill, but we must do something to confront this scourge that's facing our country and the western part of the world. anyone who's followed the news over the past few months has undoubtedly heard about the spread of this zika. zika is a virus spread by mosquitoes in warmer, tropical areas. we have warmer areas in the united states, not tropical but warm and they breed mosquitoes. zika has been linked to many health problems but most notably a terrible birth defect called microencephaly. we've all seen the pictures of these babies with these small heads caused by a mosquito bite. dr. anthony fossy from the national institutes of health, he's the leader of the institute
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dealing with infectious disease, came to the capitol last thursday and briefed us about this thing called zika. he described how dangerous it is. he was accompanied by senators for disease control -- by the centers for disease control. he of course represents the national institutes of health. we had the secretary of health and human services there. they are there to tell us how serious this situation is, how dangerous it is. there are a number of problems as a result of this virus, but the one that's been most illustrated is the fact that the -- in infants the skull doesn't fully form so the skull never completely pushes out to form around the brain. so when they're born es these babies have tiny -- born, these babies have tiny, undeveloped
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skulls. sometimes the skulls collapse. aside from their damaged brains and skulls, these babies also have, of course, developmentally delays. earlier this year a baby in hawaii was born with this disease. but, mr. president, sadly the worst is on its way. we're seeing cases of this cyrus all over the continental united states. these have been linked to travel transmitted from someone who has traveled to zika affected areas. most americans are afraid to travel abroad. i'm sorry to say rightfully so for fear of the mosquitoes carrying zika, sceek d.a. will infect -- zika will infect you. zika is already upon us. in florida, puerto rico, and it will spread to other places. these mosquitoes can breed in something smaller than a bottle cap and water. puerto rico is battling local
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transmission of the virus as we speak. as of last friday, the island already had more than 500 confirmed cases of zika and one this five puerto ricans are concerned they could have been infected. our fellow american citizens in puerto rico have limited funding to fight this growing epidemic. we've heard about the financial problems they're having. the puerto rican government doesn't have even enough money to pay contractors to empty septic tanks in schools which are breeding grounds for mosquito larva capable of producing billions of mosquitoes, not millions but billions. experts tell us it won't be long before mosquitoes carrying zika are affecting people here in the continental united states. we can't wait for that to happen before we act. this is an emergency situation if anything ever before. the senate must do something now to counter the spread of this
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virus. the white house has taken money -- asked for money two months ago but during that period of time, they took money from the ebola funding which is also vitally important. that's basically -- we're doing pretty well stopping the spread of that. but taking that money away, we'll be right back with the problem with ebola if it's not replaced. we have a bill ready to go. senator nelson of florida who is going to field this as -- feel this as much as any senator in the country has provided a bill to give the president the money he's asked for, $1.9 billion of emergency supplemental appropriations. democrats believe that this $1.9 billion is a good start. our nation's public health and infectious disease experts say this is roughly how much money they need to fight this virus. we would be irresponsible not to provide this money and do it now. senator nelson's bill will bolster our defense against zika by funding development of
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vaccines, mosquito control methods and testing and services to those who are infected. so i say to my republican colleagues, i say to the republican leader, if we want to wait till more babies are born with these permanent disabilities, these disabilities caused by a virus that we could help prevent, then for how many. do we want to wait till people in the united states suffer from paralysis because by the syndrome linked to zika. it a he already been two months -- it's already been two months since the president requested the funding. the longer we wait the worse it will be. states are already scrambling to address zika. there is a story all over the country but one in "the washington post" which highlighted the danger of inaction. and i quote, "cities and states are preparing for possible zika outbreak ths spring. some are losing millions of
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federal dollars that local officials say they were counting on, not only for on-the-ground efforts to track and contain the spread of the mosquito borne virus but also to respond to other emergencies that threaten public health. los angeles county, for example, says it onts be able to fill 17 vacancies at its public health laboratory. michigan is concerned about fighting -. minnesota plans to reduce its stockpile of certain medications needed to treat first responders during emergencies. the across the board funding cuts are part of a complicated shift of resources that the obama administration blames on congress for its refusal to approve the white house's $1.9 billion emergency request to combat zika. the president is right. he's pointing the finger where it belongs, right here when congress. so i implore my republican colleagues, i implore my friend, the republican leader, let's act
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now. we've done the work. we have the ability to provide what experts need to fight this devastating virus. let's get it done. for more than a week we've heard about republican -- the appropriation folks working toward an agreement. i have yet to see it. i've heard about it. if the republican leader and the appropriations haven a alternative, they should bring it to the floor now. democrats are happy to work toward a solution but we have to get started. we need to get the expert -- give the experts the resources they need to prevent the spread of zika. it's not acceptable to do nothing. the senate should not leave this week without addressing legislation that fights zika. we can't go on break without taking care of this emergency. when the senate finishes its work on energy and water, we must move to the zika legislation. the national institutes for health, centers for disease control, entire health and human services cabinet office, they
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need congress to send the funding necessary to start working on a solution to zika. now, mr. president, very brief briefly, on another issue. i ask that it appear in a separate place in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: benjamin franklin said, quote, "when the well is dry and we know the worth of water. close quote. the drought is here. it's been going on for 15 to 20 years in the western part of the united states. we're all over the west perilously close to running dry. it's as dangerous as it's been in our lifetime. the states of california, arizona, nevada, colorado, utah, wyoming -- we don't have these huge rivers like we see west of the mississippi. we have basically the little colorado river. it is a tiny little river. it has in the past become
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mighty, but very short periods of time. that little river is called upon to respond to everything. one of the things that's happening is lake powell, the largest man-made lake in america, is going dry. there's no end in sight. this drought has dropped lake mead, which is the resource for water that goes every place in the west. the water in california -- they get most of the water out of the colorado. it all comes off the lake mead. the lake mead levels have dropped to levels not seen since the great depression. that's when, of course, the lake was formed. it hasn't been full in over three decades. to make matters worse, el mean o was supposed to ease the pain. it hasn't. only a little billet more. -- only a little bit more. some say that up to 50,000 people rely on the colorado
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requirement we know that the state of california has already 40 million people who depend on it as much as any other source of water. we have to work to reverse current trends or water shortage will become the new normal. the federal government should and can work with states on solutions that will make our precious water supplies more sustainable. we need to work together as the states of california, arizona, nevada, utah, and even wyoming, which is a long ways away, have worked to solve the issues. today the senate continues work on the energy and water bill. later we'll consider three amendments. one is the reid-heller amendment. our amendment would build on the spirit of collaboration by trying to address the fact that we need to stretch every drop of water as far as it'll go. this legislation isn't for any one city or region. it will help every state that relies on the colorado river
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system. i hope this amendment will pass. i urge my colleagues to support it. mr. president, would the chair announce the business of the day. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. 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 for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2016, and for other purposes. the presiding officer: yoshed the time until 11:00 a.m. will be equally divided between the two managers and their designees. mr. reid: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the assistant minority leader. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: the senate in a quorum call. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: and i ask unanimous consent to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. reid: to what? mr. durbin: speaking in morning business. mr. reid: okay, just give us a couple minutes more. mr. durbin: okay. i yield the floor and i suggest
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the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: is there objection? objection is heard. the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: there objection? without objection.
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mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, by now we've all seen reports of the damage that's done by the zika virus. we've seen the damage it can do to newborn unphants. -- infants. it's been clinically linked to birth defects in pregnant women. since the start of the outbreak, nearly 900 americans in 41 states and washington, d.c., and three united states territories including over 80 pregnant women have already contracted zika. in my state of illinois, 13 people have tested positive, including at least two pregnant women. but because we have the best scientists and researchers in the world at the center for disease control and prevention, we know more today about the virus and prevention measures than we did when most of us first heard the word "zika" a few months ago. we know that mosquitoes spread the disease. we know that the arrival of warm weather signals the start of mosquito season.
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but america is currently unprepared to deal with an outbreak of this dangerous virus. we must improve vector control. we must expand access to family planning, education, contraception, and we must accelerate efforts to develop a vaccine as quickly as humanly possible. the center for disease control desperately needs funding to deal with this crisis, and they need it now. before the summer months, when mosquitoes spread north across the united states. congress has failed to even consider president obama's emergency zika funding request. what on earth is congress waiting for? last week senate democrats sent a letter to republican leadership calling for immediate action to pass the zika supplemental request. i hope this call for action will be heard by all my republican
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colleagues, but i especially hope that it resonates with my colleagues from the southern states. these are the states that are most likely to be hit first and hardest by the zika mosquito virus. florida, mississippi, louisiana, texas, alabama, arkansas -- the list goes on. in the absence of congressional action, immediate congressional action, the administration has been forced to divert funding and resources away from other important public health efforts in order to respond to zika. this morning's "washington post" headline in a few words tells the story: "zika crisis costs states funds for emergency preparedness." what does that mean? the president asked for this supplemental request weeks ago. the refusal of the republican-led congress to respond to the president's
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request for emergency public health funds to fight zika means that we are cutting back on public health preparedness in states all across the nation. we are frankly endangering people that we represent because the republican majority in congress refuses to give the president his supplemental request to deal with the zika virus. for instance, the administration just had to divert $2 million in public health emergency preparedness grants away from illinois in order to fight zika in southern states. well, let me tell you, i want to help people everywhere, including those in southern states who are likely to be hit first, but not at the expense of the public health of the people i represent. there is an answer. president obama suggested an emergency public health supplemental for the zika virus. the republican majority in congress has refused to act. both the illinois department of
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public health and the chicago department of health receive grants to prepare for and respond to all kinds of outbreaks: ebola, zika, elizabet,elizabethan, which i'lk about in a moment. these cuts are unacceptable and unexplainable. they come at a time when illinois, my state, is in the middle of the longest budget crisis in our state's history. this current governor has been unable to reach an agreement on a budget for almost 11 months. making it difficult for illinois families and state agencies in ordinary circumstances. but because congressional republican leaders have failed to pass a zika emergency public health supplemental requested by president obama, the
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administration has had to divert money away from states like illinois to respond to the threat of the zika virus in other states. is this any way to govern a great nation? illinois should not have to lose precious funding to deal with public health threats because republican congressional leaders from southern states, i might add, have refused to pass the necessary additional funding to deal with zika, a virus that will likely impact their states first and hardest. we have to do both. we should pass a zika supplemental so illinois and other states can keep the funding they need to deal with current public health threats and receive additional funding to deal with zika. let me talk about why diverting $2 million from my state of illinois to southern states for zika is a challenge. the illinois department of public health and centers for disease control and prevention last week confirmed 10 cases of
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a bacterial infection known as elizabethkenya. it's resulted in six deaths in my state. this bacterial outbreak is separate from an outbreak in wisconsin that resulted in over 60 cases of this infection. so s -- middle of this bout yeak, illinois is losing 8% because of the failure of republican leaders in congress to pass president obama's emergency public health supplemental appropriation. this means that the illinois state department of health is not going to be as prepared as it should be to conduct the needed epidemiology, laboratory testing, and outbreak control. in four of our health experts say there will be major cuts that hurt our ability to respond to public health crises. what happens tomorrow if there's
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another outbreak? last year our state dealt with unexpected serious outbreaks of legionnaire's disease. taking money from one state's public health defense effort, to give it to another to deal with the public health threat makes no sense in a great nation, particularly when the president showed the appropriate leadership in asking for the $1.9 billion emergency supplemental to deal with the zika crisis. and the president asked over two months ago. now, i know that many republicans are in denial when it comes to climate change, but if they would have been in springfield, illinois, my home last sunday, just two days ago sitting out on the deck in 80-degree weather in april, they might understand that warm weather is coming sooner across the united states. and with that warm weather mosquitoes. and with those mosquitoes, the threat of zika virus.
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i don't come here to raise an alarm that i think is unmerited and unwarranted. i believe this is a serious public health challenge, so serious we should not leave congress this week and take a recess without passing the president's emergency budget supplemental for public health and the zika virus. the mosquitoes are not going to be on recess next week. they're going to be working. and sadly, they're going to be infecting people across the south and across the united states while congressional leaders dither. the supplemental request would provide more than a billion dollars in emergency funding to improve c. d.c. vector control, that is to control the mosquitoes that affect us t. would accelerate efforts at the national institutes of health to develop a vaccine. i heard testimony. it takes time to develop a vaccine. let's do it in an expeditious, safe, thoughtful and professional way, but let us not
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shortchange n.i.h. or any other agency that's facing this crisis. we need to expand education. we need to expand access to women's health planning services. the administration provided a comprehensive plan. it cannot be implemented successfully without resources and we should act on it this week. get it done before we leave. i join my colleague senator nelson, leader reid, senator schumer, senator hirono in introducing a bill to fully fund the administration's request. i'm pleased to hear that my republican colleagues on the appropriations committee are interested in working with democrats to reach a deal. i see senator alexander on the floor. i know he's sensitive to this and i hope he will join in calling leadership on both sides of the row done today to move on this before we take our recess. let's not delay this any longer. we need to make sure we're not
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directing ebola money. it's naive to believe the ebola threat is gone and ignore the possibility of its reemergence. we know all too well in my state and others what happens when you divert money from one public health fund to another. this brings to mind the biblical story of noah and the great flood. noah built the ark before the rain, not before it started. it's reckless to delay. the cases of zika are continuing to grow and inaction and further delay put many families, pregnant women and children in jeopardy. we've seen the zika threat coming for months. we've had the president's request for over two months. i urge my colleagues this week before we go home, let us came this appropriate action to begin to protect americans in every state. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator at tennessee. a senator: mr. president at 11:00 a.m. we'll have three votes on the merkley, flake and
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reed amendments. that will bring a total of 17, the number of amendments we will have disposed of on the floor. senator feinstein and i have worked with members on both sides of the aisle to include many of their policy suggestions and requests in our basic bill. the last count i saw said that 77 members of the senate had at least part of their requests or policy suggestions in our basic bill. so we're going very well. cloture has been filed. there are only a few amendments remaining that are in question. we hope to conclude that quickly and bring the bill to a conclusion. my hope is that when the senator has a germane amendment we can have a vote. sometimes if they're controversial, they're at 60. we've done that so well giving senators a chance to have a say and have a vote. i would spend four or five minutes on an amendment we'll be
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voting on at 11:00 when we'll have limited time to talk, unless senator feinstein has something she'd like to say before i do that. mrs. feinstein: the only thing, as i understand it the filing deadline for second-degree amendments is this afternoon. it's either 1:30 or 2:30. everybody should get their amendments in. i just want to thank you again for the cooperative spirit with which you are working this bill. it is very much appreciated. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee alexander mr. president, i want to speak to the -- mr. alexander: i want to speak to the increase of wind energy program. this is in addition to the $30 million that our subcommittee has recommended at the request of senator gardner of colorado
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for the national renewable energy laboratory and the $50 million that senator collins of maine has recommended for offshore wind research. within the priorities in the bill, we've already put $80 million, and this would add $15 million more, which may not seem like much, mr. president, but here is my question. i wonder if the american taxpayers wouldn't think that $32 billion is enough to spend on giant wind mills? $32 billion. that's the amount that the congressional research service has said that congress has spent of taxpayers' money to subsidize wealthy people so they can build giant wind turbines across america. of that money has been spent from 1992 through 2016 this year. it was started out as an effort to help wind turbines get started in 1992, and it's been renewed ten times.
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you would think this is a mature industry. in fact, the previous energy secretary said it was. what do we get for this $23 billion? $23 billion? 4% of our electricity in the united states is introduced by wind turbines. this is a country that uses 25% of all the electricity in the world. we spent $23 billion for 4% of our electricity. 37% of all the subsidies, all the spending we have for energy, different forms of energy produces 4% of the electricity. mr. president, the president of the united states and a number of private people in the united states, such as bill gates, have announced that they would like to double energy research. i support that. the senator from illinois, senator durbin and i, introduced legislation that would authorized increased funding at the level of 7% for energy research this year so that we
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could move more rapidly toward the goal of doubling research for energy. we spend $5 billion a year on energy research for the united states government. we spend nearly $5 billion a year on subsidizing wealthy people so they can build giant wind turbines. we spend as much subsidizing wind millions as we -- wind mills as we spend on all of our energy research. and if we stop the subsidies, we could double the research, which is what we should be doing. now, what are we getting for this? well, we're getting energy, electricity. that's true, but it mostly blows at night when we don't need it. it can't be stored for use when we do need it. so it's unreliable. the wind only blows about a third of the time in -- of the time. in tennessee it's 18% of the time. can't be stored and we don't need it. we don't need it.
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at the same time it destroys the landscape. i'm astonished at the environmental groups that would support putting these huge giant turbines in the most beautiful part of our country and then building transmission lines across the country through everybody's backyard. if we replace the 100 nuclear reactors in this country that produce 60% of the carbon-free electricity that we have, 60% of the carbon-free electricity, it would take enough wind mills to cover a state the size of west virginia, and would you have to have about i think 17,000 miles, 19,000 miles of new transmission lines. the presiding officer is the senator from arkansas. in arkansas a wind mill company is building 700 miles of transmission lines across arkansas that the state doesn't want, has objected to, and the administration is allowing the wind mill company to use federal preemption for the first time to build transmission lines where
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people don't want them. not only is this a wasteful amount of money, mr. president, not only is it a kind of energy that a country this big cannot rely on, the size of the subsidies create preposterous results. for example, in some cases the subsidy is so large that the wind mill producing companies pay the utilities to take their power and they still make a profit. they can pay the utilities to take their power and still make a profit because the taxpayers have spent $23 billion subsidizing wealthy people so they can build wind mills. and these aren't your grandma's wind mills. you can see them from 20 miles away, the flashing lights. they are twice as tall as the football stadium at the university of tennessee and only one of these would fit within
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the football stadium at the university of tennessee. it would take four reactors -- four nuclear reactors each taking one square mile would produce enough electricity to equal the same amount of electricity produced by wind. if you strung 45-foot wind mill towers along the entire 2178-mile stretch of the ap labor ya trail -- appalachia trail, you may say that's a stretch but that's exactly where the wind towers would most likely go, on our scenic mountaintops where more wind blows and then the transmission lines come down the mountaintops through your backyard. so, mr. president, my objection today is a very simple one. i think $23 billion is enough to spend on wind mills. i have other objections to wind. i think we should focus instead
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on nuclear power instead of unreliable wind power. i believe trying to use wind turbines to power a country that uses 25% of all the electricity in the world is the energy equivalent of going to war in sailboats when the nuclear navy is available. but certainly i think there is no need at all for senators to say yes to an amendment that spends more money for wind than our subcommittee recommended. we're already spending $23 billion. the taxpayers have been bamboozled into allowing that to happen, and i don't think they would want us to spend more. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. a senator: i rise today to speak in support of the flake amendment, number 3820, which
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would lower the construction appropriation for the u.s. corps of engineer by just under $69 billion and eliminate funding for environmental infrastructure projects. mr. flake: ostensibly the corps of engineers uses these funds to build water supply and water supreme and wastewater projects. i'm not here to argue against the need for environmental infrastructure projects. there are a great many knew miss palties that consider these projects essential and have made efforts to fund them on their own. that's usually done through a combination of utility bills and municipal bonds. typically the users pay for this. however, despite the fact that these projects have traditionally been funded by state and local governments, federal support is actually diewb tif -- duplicative. the federal government already offers resource fossil lar projects through the -- offers similar projects through the
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e.p.a. the clean water state revolving fund and drinking water state revolving fund programs provide states with low interest loans based on the merits of these projects and the need of the communities. taxpayers deserve better than to be expected to provide the u.s. corps of engineer $69 million that it never asked for to fund projects that they already support in a program that has been intriebed by many -- griebed by many as a slush fun for parochial interests. that's how the program started. it's never seemed clear that the corps of engineers understood how these projects fit into its mission. because of a carve-out, these environmental undertakings are not subject to the environmental studies or economic analysis and cost-effectiveness standards that are required for more traditional corps projects. as far as i can tell, there's
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really no rhyme or reason to how one project gets funded over another. with a national debt of over $19 trillion, it's time that we get a little more serious about putting our fiscal house in order. i would urge my colleagues to support this amendment and to eliminate this duplicative funding. mr. president, i would also like to say a couple of words about the reid-heller amendment, number 3805. i support the colorado river system conservation program. voluntary efforts like these in arizona are estimated to have kept lake mead about three feet higher hasn't it would be otherwise. not coincidentally, lat week the bureau of reclamation announced that at the end of this year, lake mead is predicted to be three feet above the level that would trigger a shortage declaration. what i want to make sure happens is that any conserved water
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actually stays in lake mead to keep these levels up and above the shortage declaration area. i would note that this amendment sumly authorizes funds to go to the -- simply authorizes funds to go to the program. i would note that we actually develop assurances that the water will go to its intended purpose. i look forward to ensuring that our federal dollars are well-spent in this area. thank you, and i yield the balance of my time.
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mr. flake: i call up my amendment number 3820 and ask for it to be reported by number. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: mr. flake proposes amendment numbered 3820 to amendment number 3801.
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mr. merkley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent for rickey gondey to have floor privileges for the balance of the day. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: thank you. i ask also to call up my amendment number 3812. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from oregon, mr. merkley, proposes annanamendment numbered 3812 to amendment 3801. on line 15, strike the period at the end and insert following. provided further that if such amount, d 95,400,000 shall be available for wind energy. mr. merkley: thank you, mr. president. i thought i would add a few remarks about this, as we're preparing shortly to consider a number of amendments. this particular amendment is a bipartisan amendment. i'm pleased to sponsor it with my partner from iowa, a state in
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which wind energy is particularly important. this amendment would restore funding to wind energy research to the fiscal year 2016 levels of $95.4 million. otherwise, this research in wind energy would suffer a substantial reduction and yet this program is indispensable to the success of wind energy in the united states. the wind energy program works to advance innovations in grid integration, in manufacturing, and in deployment that are key to reducing the costs of wind energy. for example, the wind program helps to address market barriers through including wind forecasting tools, which helps utilities and regulatorrers to better integrate large amounts of wind energy into the grid. the wind program provides research, development, and technical support to manufacturers and distributors of wind technologies that are still emerging. this enhances small wind
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manufacturing, supports offshore demonstration projects, and improves economic viability of distributed wind. currently there are eight national laboratories across our nation conducting test related to wind energy. the proposed fiscal year 2017 funding leferl is $80 million, which is over $15 million less than last year's funding, thwarting the ability to realize the true potential for wind energy. during debate, we have sometimes heard that wind is a mature industry and that that is why the funding for research should be revoked or lowered. but, in fact, as wind is emerging, we're seeing continuous innovations that are resulting in different designs and different strategies for integrating intermittent wind energy into the grid. as that wind component becomes substantially larger, we need to understand the details about how
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we accommodate it effectively. now, if we were to talk about mature industries, then we wouldn't be doing incentives for the fossil fuel industry, which is as about as mature as an industry can get. so, clearly, this is an evolving industry with great potential to assist us with clean energy and, moreover, a program that can affect the economy of rural america. in 2015, wind energy supplied about 5% of the total electricity generated in the u.s. so it's no longer just a fraction of a percent. it's growing enormously in the last few years. but the department of energy estimates that wind could provide as much as 35% or more than a third of the electricity generated in our country by the year 2050. as my colleague and partner on this bill from iowa knows, wind energy can be a huge boon to a
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state economy. iowa is already getting over 30% of its electricity from wind. and because the wind energy is less expensive and the forecast and potential other sources, it could result in billions of dollars of savings to the energy consumers in that state. and in my home state of oregon, we're already over 10% of our electricity being provided, generated from wind energy. and the savings from our state down the road could be enormous. but we can only reach these goals if we support wind energy research. with the development of wind energy comes hundreds of thousands of jobs in mchg, in instahl -- in manufacturing, in installation, in maintenance, in supporting services. the estimate is around 600,000 jobs, generally good-paying jobs, by the year 2050. now, i do a lot of town halls
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back home in oregon, one in every county every year. much of oregon is very rural. and i hear about the impact that the property taxes on these wind installations have on our rural counties, enabling them to do things, for example, like build libraries or assist the development of their local schools. there's no question that this is a boon to the rural economy. it's our job in congress to look at what policies will be most successful, give the most bang for the buck in terms of creating jobs now and in the future. we should be supporting programs that spur economic development and support families in rural areas. and that's what this amendment calls for. when we create jobs, communities benefit, certainly the energy industry benefits, and our environment benefits. all of this depends upon robust research, and we're asking simply that the research
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continue at the same level it did in fiscal year 2016. let's back red, white, and blue american-made wind energy and support this bipartisan amendment. i urge my colleagues to support it, and i yield the floor. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. a senator: i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: there are now two minutes equally -- a senator: we will be voting on amendment 3812 which my colleague from iowa and i have put together to restore research
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on wind development to the level it was last year. mr. merkley: when you see these wind turbines, what you should see is economic development in highly deserving rural communities putting clean electrons on to the grid, putting jobs into the community, and putting money into the property tax coiffeurs of the local community to do good works. i would like to reserve the rest of my time. thank you. the presiding officer: who yields time? does the senator from tennessee wish to use his time on the amendment? mr. alexander: i do but i'm going to wait till the end. the presiding officer: the presiding officer: if no one uses time, time will be charged equally to both sides. lex can i not reserve the rest of my time? the presiding officer: not at this point. mr. alexander: mr. president, don't you think $23 billion is
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enough to spend on windmills? that's what we've sent since 1992. $23 billion for 4% of america's electricity. this is electricity that is unreliable. the windmills blow about a third of the time. often at night. it can't be stored. $5 billion this year. $4.4 billion next year. we could double our energy research spending if we would stop subsidizing wealthy people to build giant wind turbines. 60% of our carbon free electricity comes from nuclear reactors relying on giant wind turbines and new transmission lines to power a country that uses 25% of all the electricity in the world is like depending on -- is like going to war in sailboats when the nuclear navy is available.
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we already have $80 medical for research -- $80 million for research that senator collins has asked us to include. it's in the bill. we don't need to spend more. $23 billion since 1992, $4 billion or $5 billion a year is much more than enough to spend on jiendz wind -- giant wind turbines. i urge a no vote on the merkley amendment. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: mr. president, these subsidies are a tiny dot compared to the $52 billion annually spent on fossil fuel subsidies and the massive subsidies spent on nuclear and yet these jobs are creating -- these subsidies are creating jobs in rural america. that matters. these communities need these jobs. these are clean electrons. these are terrific middle class jobs, and this is an industry that's still on a curve where research is truly beneficial in making it a success. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired.
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the question is on the amendment. is there sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: anyone wish to vote or change their vote? the presiding officer: anyone wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the ayes are 54. the nays are 42. the amendment is agreed to. a senator: mr. president? mr. president, the senate is not in order. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. the senate will be in order. the senate will come to order.
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the senator from nevada. mr. heller: i call up the reid-heller amendment 3805. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. heller, for mr. reid and mr. heller, proposes amendment number 3805 to amendment number 3801. the presiding officer: the senator from nevada. mr. heller: thank you, mr. president. the colorado river is the lifeblood of the west. it supplies many of our communities with the majority of its water. the ongoing drought is threatening shortages, reviving the old mark it twain saying "whiskey's for drinking. water's for fighting over." in response the west has teamed up to establish the colorado river system conservation pilot program, an innovative effort to improve levels in our reservoirs. it's very clear that the program's going well.
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19 agreements have come together saving 80,000 acre feed, enough water for 160,000 households. increasing our region's water security is essential to the western states. without water, mr. president, we cannot grow. i would urge this body to support this extremely important western initiative. and i yield back my time. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: this amendment does not increase funding in the bill, and the senator from california, senator feinstein, and i intend to vote for it. the presiding officer: the question is on the amendment. all those in favor. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber that wish to vote or change their vote? if not, the yeas are 73, the nays are 23. the amendment is agreed to. under the previous order, there will be -- now be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote on amendment number 3820 offered by the senator from arizona, mr. flake. mr. flake: mr. president? mr. alexander: mr. president, the senate is not in order. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. the senator from arizona. mr. flake: mr. president, this amendment would simply cut $69 million in unobligated -- i'm sorry, unrequested funding for corps of engineers projects. this is kind of the outgrowth of the bad old days when we had
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earmarks when all of this funding came about. we now have an earmark ban but some of the funding still goes to some projects that haven't even been requested. if we have a debt of $19 trillion, deficit of $500 billion, it's time that we actually make some cuts somewhere, and i would submit that this is a place ripe for cutting. i yield back. mr. alexander: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mr. alexander: i'm going to oppose the flake amendment. the army corps of engineers rebuilds looks and -- locks and dams, builds environmental restoration projects. there is not a funding line in the budget that more senators seek for their states, and our spending is under control in the discretionary side. it is the mandatory spending, the entitlement spending that's out of control. mrs. feinstein: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: thank you. i also strongly oppose this amendment. this would eliminate funding for
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our -- for environmental infrastructure projects for the army corps of engineers. funding for these projects enables communities to solve local problems in a way that protects the environment. problems are being solved, such as upgrading wait water treatment facilities so that our drinking water and marine resources are protected and replacing deteriorated distribution systems with efficient systems that help conserve water. i hope we will vote this amendment down. thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the question is on amendment 3820. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote: vote:
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the presiding officer: does anyone wish to vote or change their vote? if not, on this vote the yeas
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are 12 and the nays are 84. the amendment is not agreed to.
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the presiding officer: the
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