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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  April 28, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm EDT

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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, on this vote, the yeas are 52, the nays are 43. three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn not having voted in the affirmative, montana he radio consideration, the -- upon reconsideration, the motion is not agreed to. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: send a cloture to the desk for the alexander substitute amendment number 3801. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: cloture motion, we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate do hereby move to bring to a close debate on senate amendment number 3801 to 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, signed
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by 17 senators -- mr. mcconnell: i ask that the reading of the names be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the mandatory quorum call be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: the presiding officer: the senatosenator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask that the quorum call being suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, the press spends a lot of time reporting differences between republicans and democrats in the house and senate. that's one of the reasons why the press conference which i just left is noteworthy because at this press conference we had equal numbers of democratic and republican senators talking about a bill that we hope to move forward on the floor of the united states senate. the bill relates to criminal justice reform. i am a happy to cosponsor this
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legislation with senator chuck grassley, republican chairman of the senate judiciary committee. we're proud to have the support as well of senator leahy, senator mike lee of utah, who was one of the original authors of this bill three years ago when we both introduced it. we also have the support of the republican whip, john cornyn of texas, and sheldon whitehouse of rhode island. what is it about this bill that can bring together people that are so different -- liberals, conservatives, democrats, republicans? it is a common belief that we bring to this that at this moment in history we need to take an honest look at the incarceration policy in america. you see, the united states of america has 5% of the world's population, 25% of the world's prisoners. over the last 35 years, we have increased the number of federal prisoners by anywhere from 800%
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to 900%. our federal prisoners we're building as fast as you can imagine and they're dramatically overcrowded and it raises the obvious question: are we safer? if we spend $30,000 a year to incarcerate a person, take them off the streets and away from their family, are we safer because of it? well, in some cases, we clearly r our first obligation is public safety. if someone is a threatening, deadly, violent criminal, they ought to be taken off the streets as long as they are a menace or danger to society. but the largest increase in the federal prison population during the period of just described is for nonviolent offenders, people who have sold drugs in america. the problem is made worse because we decided 25 or 30 years to create mandatory prison sentences. what it meant is when the judge sentenced someone be, there was an absolute floor they couldn't
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go below, regardless of the circumstances. needless to say, that resulted in the miscarriage of justice in many, many cases. and, sadly, it isn't just a matter of longer sentences. we've seen some disparities in justice that we have to be very honest about, as painful as toss describe them. for instance, the majority of i will legal drug users and drug dealers in america are white. three-quarters of all the people incarcerated for drug offenses are african-american and latino. and the large majority of those who are being sentenced under mandatory minimum sentences are african-american and latino. let's be very honest about this -- and i have to be in my state of illinois because in the city of chicago and other communities, we are going through a very candid and painful discussion about the issues of race and justice. we have to be honest about this.
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we are incarcerating minorities in this country at dramatically higher percentages than we should. the reason i say that goes back to the original point: the majority of illegal drug users and sellers in america are white. three-quarters of those in prison are not. as a result of mandatory minimums, the families of nonviolent offenders are separated for years on end and a disproportionate number of them are people of color. this is destroying communities, damaging and destroying families, and, sadly, eroding faith in our criminal justice system. in 2010, i worked with senator jeff sessions of alabama, a very conservative republican but one of my colleagues and friends on the senate judiciary committee. we passed the fair sentencing afnlgt wsentencing --act. we had a disparity in sentencing so that those who were found guilty of selling and using crack cocaine were sentenced at
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100 times the standard of powder cocaine. oh, there was a reason for this, but it turned out not to be valid. and yet for years this was the standard. we were filling our prisons, primarily with african-americans on crack offenses, and if they were repeat offenders, three times and you're out -- three strikes and you're out, they could be sentenced for long, long periods of time. well, senator session sessions d decided to change t we reduced the disparity between crack and powder and we've seen a dramatic downturn not only in those serving time for crack phones and selling -- offenses and selling them but also the arrests that are being made today. this bill that we just announced in a press conference -- the latest very, a good version -- is another step forward. it will give judges more discretion in sentencing below the mandatory minimum on an individual case-by-case basis. this young man that i've come know named alton mills from
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chicago, illinois. in the year 1994, at the age of 24, alton mills was given a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole for a low-level, nonviolent drug offense. this man had never served one day in prison in his life and at age 24 he received a life sentence. i appealed to president obama to use his executive authority to give alton mills another chance. just before christmas last year, the president commuted his sentence and alton mills was released, after 22 years in federal prison. he was there today in a meeting we had with his mom. she never gave up on him. and she was the one who appealed to me initially to take a look at her son's case. and then his attorney, a dynamic african-american woman named
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miangel cody, really changed the course of this case as they described the case in detail. he is not a loan. there are hundreds more just like him serving mandatory life sentences for third-strike offenses. the sentencing reform and corrections act which senator grassley and i have introduced would eliminate this mandatory life sentence and this change alone would change the sentencing for many who are currently serving in federal prisons. the bill was reported out of the judiciary committee in its original form by a vote of 15-5, a good, strong vote. we've picked up an additional number of republican sponsors since we've made some other changes in the bill. i want to thank senator lee for joining me in initially introducing this bill. there are so many people who are counting on this legislation, not just those families that have someone serving time in prison but many people across the board -- black, white, and
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brown -- who want to see us restore faith in the system of criminal juvment w d. -- criminl justice. we had a letter of endorsement that i'd like to have entered into the record. i ask unanimous consent. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: thank you, mr. president. the national district attorneys association, the largest group of criminal prosecutors in america, have endorsed our criminal justice reform bill. we have brought together an incredible coalition. we not only have the civil rights community -- and i'm proud to have them -- but we also have others from the conservative side. michael mukasey, former attorney general, everyone knows to be a tough prosecutor -- he endorses our bill. offerothers have come forward. they understand that it is time to step back and take an honest look at where we are today. this criminal justice real estate form bill -- reform bill will bring some sanity tower corrections -- to our corrections system and it will save us money.
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roughly one-fourth of the department of justice appropriation now goes into prisons. by the year 2020, it will be 30%. as senator lee has said, we are spending more money on prisons than we are spending in the department of justice on the f.b.i. and the drug enforcement administration combined. what if -- what if we could reduce that prison population in a responsible, sensible way that doesn't endanger public safety but gives us resources which can be used by the department of justice for law enforcement, for dealing with the heroin epidemic across america, making our neighborhoods truly safe? what if we could take part of that, invest it in the lives of young people before they turn to gangs, before they turn to drugs, before they turn to guns? that could literally change the face of a great city like chicago and a great nation that we live in. this is an historic bill, not because -- just because
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democrats and republicans have come together to support it. it's historic because we are tackling one of the toughest issues of our time. we're doing it in a thoughtful, careful, bipartisan, respectful manner. i happen to believe that's what the senate should be all about. and i look forward to encouraging my colleagues who have not signed on as cosponsors to do so as quickly as possible. mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: ms. klobuchar: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i rise today as the cochair of the rare disease congressional caucus in recognition of patients with duchenne, muscular dystrophy and the loved ones who care for them. duchenne is a devastating rare disease that primarily affects boys and young men.
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there is no cure. it is 100% fatal. there are no approved disease-modifying treatments at this time. but we want to give them hope. in 1999 there were no human clinical trials for duchenne. today there are 22 observational trial underway. life expectancy rates have increased about ten years in just the past decade. and the f.d.a. has more tools in its toolbox than ever to accelerate approval of safe and effective duchenne therapies. but we would like more therapies to be approved in the future. duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most common fatal genetic disorder diagnosed in childhood affecting approximately one in every 3,500 male children. the disease results in the gradual loss of muscle strength be usually beginning before age five. the progressive muscle weakness leads to serious medical problems, particularly issues related to the hearts and lungs.
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by age 14, over 80% of these boys are using wheelchairs. my work on duchenne muscular dystrophy began when i was elected to the senate. it was an issue that my dear friend and former minnesota senator, paul wellstone, championed. paul was instrumental in getting the muscular dystrophy community research assistance and education act, as its known m.d. care act, signed into law in 2001. the bill increased investment at the national institutes of health for muscular dystrophy research and included funding for the creation of six centers of excellence. in recognition of his work, all of the centers share his name. the bill supported public health policies designed to improve quality of life. since passage of the m.d. care
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act, $500 million has been leveraged for muscular dystrophy research and education programs, half of which is duchenne specific. i then led reauthorization of the m.d. care act in 2008 and it passed the senate by unanimous consent. in 2014 senator roger wicker and i led the m.d. care amendments of 2014 which built upon the progress by ensuring that efforts are focused on the most critical needs of doctors, patients and researchers. these are important accomplishments but more needs to be done. the food and drug administration safety and innovation act of 2012 gave the f.d.a. increased flexibility to grant accelerated approval for rare disease treatments that have proven to be beneficial. the bill also directed the f.d.a. to use patient-focused drug development tools during the drug approval process. the idea is simple. patient experience should be a factor when the f.d.a. considers
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a drug for approval. this gives the f.d.a. the opportunity to hear directly from patients, their families, and caregivers about the symptoms that matter most to them, the impact that the disease has on patients' daily lives and their experiences with treatments. to build upon that progress, senator wicker and i introduced the patient-focused impact assessment act. the bill would help advocates understand how the f.d.a. uses patient-focused drug development tools and how it engages patients, including those with rare diseases like did you shepb, as it -- like duchenne as it reviews drugs and therapies. last month this bipartisan bill unanimously passed the senate health education, labor and pensions committee, bringing us one step closer to ensuring strong patient engagement throughout the f.d.a. review process. as an f.d.a. meeting on monday there was one example of patient involvement in the drug approval process. it was a meeting that broke
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records. according to advocates, it was the largest gathering of duchenne families in history, more than 900 members of their community were there. in fact, turnout was so large that the f.d.a. changed the meeting location to accommodate everyone. many stories were shared during the daylong meeting, stories of hope, stories of progress, even seemingly small improvements like the ability to open a bottle of water on their own or lift their arm a little bit higher make a huge difference in the quality of these boys' lives. these small victories have a full effect across a lifetime. monday's historic event showed the strength of the duchenne community, passion of families and the hope extremists are on the horizon. this treatment was not approved that day but we hold hope that change will be on the verizon. the fight against muscular dystrophy won't be won overnight but we've already seen incredible progress in the last few years, and i'm confident that by working together, by
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bringing families to the table with policy-makers and health care experts, we can accomplish some truly remarkable things. one of the reasons senator wicker and i fought so hard to have the f.d.a. officials listen directly to the families is that when you know that your child has a disease that is 100% fatal, you might take different risks. you have might see different improvements in a different way than a medical professional might that does not have this experience. we hope that going forward, this kind of experience and testimony and information will make for better decisions by the f.d.a. we need to continue to ensure that the f.d.a. has the tools and flexibility it needs to increase the number of safe, effective and affordable treatments that are available for people with rare diseases. i also thank senator hatch who's done a lot of work with me on the rare disease issue, and we will continue to push for cures for people who have so little hope. thank you, mr. president.
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i yield the floor. and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. isakson: i ask unanimous consent that the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to -- the presiding officer: the senate in a quorum call. mr. isakson: i would ask the quorum call being vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. dakota zach i'd ask unanimous consent that the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak thereon for up to enminutes eve. the presiding officer: without objection. dakota zach and -- mr. isakson: mr. president, i have seven unanimous requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and these requests be prescriptived in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. isakson: mr. president, this morning at 11:00, a big event happened in washington, d.c., on the third floor of this building when all the members of the veterans' affairs committee, republican and democrat alike, introduced what we call the
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veterans first act, a comprehensive overhaul of the veterans administration to bring about accountability to the services to our veterans by the veterans administration. every member of the committee, republican and democrat alike, came to that press conference. i want to start out by thanking ranking member blumenthal for his effort to make this a reality and each and every member of the committee for the work they did because in the end we adopted 148 provisions of the united states senate to amend, reconstruct, and hold accountable the veterans administration. i don't know about you, mr. president, but every morning when i wake up in washington, d.c., and turn on the tv, whether it is cnn or fox or a local station, one out of three tragedies is a veterans. this morning, what did i see? chicago, illinois, vents
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administration hospital, they found cockroaches in the food of our veterans. what kind of accountability is that in the veterans administration? for ow our veterans to be fed food with vermin in them is ridiculous and crazy. we all know when veterans missed their appointments and three veterans died in arizona. we all know when we had an outbreak of suicide in atlanta. we know what happened when the cost overruns went away. the veterans administration didn't know how to control t every time we turn around there's been no accountability in the veterans administration. so our committee decided it is our job to see to it that our veterans got what they deserve and what 42 fought for for us. that is a veterans administration that delivers on the promise of good health care, good benefits, and an appreciation of a grateful country for the sacrifice etch 00 of them made. to begin with, we wanted to make sure that the secretary of the v.a. could fire somebody and make it stick. mr. president, a few months ago the are merit system protection
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biewrd overruled the firing of two philadelphia employees of the veterans administration, reinstated them with pay with no reason except they didn't like the way in which they were fired. if you go around the country, you find out the veterans administration's best way to discipline somebody is to move them from one city to another, one hospital to another, or one throaks noamplet moving problems around don't solve problems. they just give a new problem to somebody else. it's time if somebody deserved to be fired for their lack of performance or their poor performance that we put our veterans first, make sure they are a getting the attention they should. if somebody is not willing to do their job or cannot do their job, then they are tearmted. we don't want to go through and take the rank-and-file of the veterans administration and tell them we don't appreciate you, we don't trust you, we want to tell those who don't want to be held accountable, those who are not doing their job that we're watching. we're going to encourage whistle-blowers to tell us where the problems are. we created an independent office within the v.a. so the v.a.
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itself is soliciting input within its own organization to point out those who may not be doing the job. we need the v.a. to have a culture of support to our veterans, not a culture of corruption of our veterans. it is critical that we do that. we took a lot of other you shalls that have been big problems and we addressed them. oippedz, we had a major session on opioids to try to get medicines to our veterans that counteract the addiction of opioids and don't treat pain with opioids but instead treat it with the appropriate type of medicine. we did a great job in terms of caregiver. i am a vietnam-era guy. i remember the sacrifice of our troops there the 58,000 men that we lost in vietnam. a lot of our vietnam veterans came home with multiple disabilities. 22,000 are alive today with disabilities. but they've never been covered by caregivers. our post 9/11 veterans have been covered by caregivers but not our gren neigh do or vietnam or panama veterans or any of those. this bill makes them eligible as
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well. so a family member, a loved one who is giving care to a veteran who fought and was injured for our country, will get the same kind of stipend as someone that fought in iraq or afghanistan. it is only fair. it is also only fair to see to it that secretary mcdonald can be held accountable himself. he is a good secretary, he's done a good job and has tried his best. but we want to give him the tools needs. we want to give him the chance to find the people needs to put in place. one of the provisions in this bill allows the secretary to higher hospital administrators and physicians who are capable of doing the job and pay them when the market will bear. right now in the veterans administration, fully a third of its leadership is temporary, not permanent. we need a permanent commitment to our veterans that they're going to get the services they deserve and the services that they need. i could go on and on but the important thing to understand is
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we're putting our veterans first. we're telling the veterans administration we appreciate the good job you do, but we want to make sure it is 100% of the time. we want to make sure you're putting our veterans first. make sure that somebody who has a mental health call, they don't gate busy signal for a wrong number. we want to make sure somebody is there to meet for their appointment. we want it make sure that veterans who expect from the this v.a. the services they earned, they fought for and they in many cases sacrificed for is rabel to them. -- is available to them. i want to thank the members of the veterans' affairs committee. i want to thank this senate in advance for what i am a sure it will do later on this year -- putting our veterans first. when we front-runner our break, i am -- when we return from our break, i am going to do whatever it takes to get this bill before the senate. we need to find common ground to put the bills together. one ning is sure. what's happened to the v.a. for the last few years is
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inexcusable and indefensible. and i for one am not going to be a chairman of the veterans administration that did not try and make it right. i am going to use every strength are that i have, every power that i have and every ability that i have to bring meme together to say we owe our veterans everything. you wouldn't have your job, mr. president, i wouldn't have mine and our families wouldn't live in peace and security today in this country if not millions of americans had not volunteered to fight and risk their lives so we could be free. i can speak freely on the floor about what i believe. you can speak freely about what you believe. we can go home and assemble and gather together. all those are guaranteed by our constitution, which is a document preserved and memorialized by the veterans who sacrificed and risked their life to stey it that it was preserved. i am very proud to be the chairman of the veterans affairs committee. i am proud to have served with richard blumeen thacialg the ranking member and all the members of the committee whose contributions to this legislation have made it a great piece of legislation, one that we should pass and do so and i hope we do so before memorial day so on the dhait we honor
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those that have fought for us and sacrificed, we're sending them the signal, we've got your back. we're putting you first. we're putting america's veterans first. i want to pause for a second he at the end of my remarks and thank people for the efforts they made to make this a reality. as you know, mr. president, legislation doesn't just happen. we senators make a lost speeches. we're full of a lot of hot air. but the hard work that goes on is done in the back rooms of the capitol in the committees, people who do the research, find the pay-fors, make the decisions that have to be made to see to it how a piece of legislation works rather than just a hollow promise. i want to thank tom boman, my chief of staff, amanda meredith, maureen o'neil, david sherman, gretchen blum, jillian wartman, lesley campbell, tucker zebring, tommy reynolds, chris bennet. i want to thank my chief e. chief of staff, john kirksner,
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rveg on richard blumenthal's staff as well for all the contributions they made to make this happen. today we opened up a new day for the veterans administration in america and a new day for america's veterans. we put americans first today -- mechanic's veterans first, and -- america's veterans first. they sacrificed for us. it is time we did for the same for them. i'm going to urge each member of the senate to get the information we send to our offices about the veterans first arctic read it and study it and come back from the break and pass a bill before memorial day that tells our veterans we love you, we appreciate you and never again will you have a an appointment broken or not get the services you need from the veterans administration of the united states of america. mr. president, i yield back the balance of my time and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be vacated. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. coats: mr. president, today's announcement by the bureau of economic analysis that our economy grew once again at an anemic, anemic rate, .5% during the first part of the year is more than discouraging
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but not surprising. whether it's burdensome regulations, whether it's a broken tax code, whether it's a continued plunge into national debt, the obama administration's policies have been and are dead weight on our economy. the president continues to make big promises and insists his policies are effective but the facts speak for themselves. under president obama, the median household income has decreased, decreased in this term and remains 6.5% below its prerecession level. if this were our average post-1960's recovery, individuals would have nearly $2,700 more in their wallets. but instead they have received a $3,000 per year decrease in their income.
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this is unacceptable. while the president continues to say that the economy is improving, it's clearly not reaching its potential or anywhere close to its potential. and at some point you have to acknowledge the policies aren't working. i mean, here we are eight years from the beginning of the recession, and to sit in the white house and insist that our policies are working, hang in there with us, folks, things are going to get better, and then these statistics come out that things are not only not getting better, they're getting worse. we're not only moving closer to the average level of recovery after a major recession, but we're moving further and further away from it. our current annual growth rate in this recovery is less than 2%. although in 2016 with this
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quarter's report, we're off to a very weak start. but if this were an average recovery, we'd be seeing an annual growth rate of somewhere around 3.5% to 4%. i served previously in the congress during the reagan years, and the growth rate during the reagan recovery was 4.5%, which is well more than double what it is today. so i've seen firsthand how progrowth policies turn around a dismal economic situation but i haven't seen it here in washington. where i've seen it is in my home state of indiana. in 2005, under the policies that clearly weren't working in indiana, under a democrat administration, indiana faced a $200 million deficit and our state had not balanced its budget in seven years even though the state constitution requires that we do that. under the leadership of former indiana governor mitch daniels and current governor mike pence,
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indiana reduced spending, cut taxes and paid down its debt. as a result instead of a $2 billion deficit we have a surplus. we enjoy a triple-a rating from the credit agencies and been listed in index after index as the state to go to for low taxes, business friendly, family friendly, tax friendly, and so the contrast between this and the state i represent and the policies that have been put in place there and the policies that have been put in place here, the contrast is dramatic. and by the number, by the indexes, it's clear -- it's clear that this federal economy under the policies of this administration is simply not making any progress. and i think we see that playing out here in the election for the next president. it has become a major campaign
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issue, and we hear it talked about on both sides of the parties. over the past three years in indiana we -- private employment has grown by nearly 130,000 jobs, reflecting the results and success of indiana's pro-growth policies. employers are taking notice of our healthy business climate and coming that the state to establish new business. the resurgence is evidence that sound economic policy works. i've seen how it works in indiana, and i'm simply not willing to accept the stagnant rate of growth here without trying to do something about t unfortunately, -- to do something about it. unfortunately, the last part of this president's term, and i don't think anything is go to change. no indications from the white house or even from our colleagues here that they're willing to now at least debate
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and put into play those policies that bring about economic growth. in order to boost economic growth, we need to reverse the failed policies of this administration by overhauling or tax code, stripping away unnecessary government regulations, give employer policy certainty they need to grow their businesses and create jobs, follow the lead of states like indiana, ohio, and others that have turned their states around and made prosperous states in bringing prosperity to our people. congress can take action to encourage our economy to grow, but convened a partner in -- but we need a partner in the white house willing to cut the red tape, willing toenact grow -- willing to enact pro-growth reforms. i hope i don't have to come down here and report another anemic rate of growth that is keeping the american people from enjoying the kind of prosperity
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that we need, simply to pay the bills, pay the mortgage, send the kids to college, put aside money for the future. that's not happening. it needs to change and hopefully we can take a lesson from what we learn on these quarterly reports that the policies in place simply are not doing the job. with that, i suggest the absence -- i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk should call the roll. quorum call:
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sulaymaniyamr. sullivan: mr. pr? the presiding officer: the senator alaska. mr. sullivan: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. so ordered. mr. sullivan: i am glad to see my good friend from indiana on the floor here talking about a really important issue that the administration certainly won't talk about and, to be honest, not many other members of this body talk about nearly enough. as my colleague from indianamansed this morning, the commerce department -- the u.s. commerce department came out with some big news. they said the u.s. economy grew at .5% g.d.p. growth this first quarter of 2016. that's one half of one percent. that is a horrible number.
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now, mr. president, i'm going to make a prediction. i don't think anybody in the media, if they're still up there, is going to talk about this. nobody talks about this. and, you know what? in the old days, whenl it was a republican -- whether it was a republican administration or a democratic administration, if the u.s. economy was growing at .5% g.d.p. growth -- essentially not growing, stopped -- then almost certainly the secretary of the treasury would have come out and said, don't worry, america, we got this. we have a plan. we know that .5% g.d.p. growth is horrible for everybody, especially working-class families. or the secretary of commerce, he or she would have come out, hey, we know you're hurting, america. don't worry. we got a plan. or the president. in previous administrations, that's what would have happened, democrats, republicans. but i don't think we heard a
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peep out of this administration this morning. not the president, not the secretary of the treasury, not the commerce secretary -- nobody, nobody. and don't count on it. i don't think they're going to be coming out talking about this number. you know what, mr. president? they even seem to be satisfied with this number, .5% g.d.p. growth. and they certainly don't want the american people talking about it. because this is not a good number. but, mr. president, this is a really important issue for our country. this is an important issue for every single american, and yet we have an administration that doesn't want to talk about this issue because it's a big problem for them. it's a big problem for all of us. we can't grow the u.s. economy. we can't grow the u.s. economy. now, some of my colleagues come down on the senate floor often
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to talk about what they view as moral imperatives. and i respect everybody in this body, but there is a lot of talk about moral imperatives, but nobody talks about this as a moral imperative. and in my view, growing the economy, providing opportunity for americans has to be the number-one moral imperative of this body, of the federal government, where we should be talking about it. but we're not. and one of the reasons we're not is because there's no doubt that the federal government, the obama administration is failing the american people in this regard. by any serious measure, any serious measure, this is not a debatable topic, the obama administration's record on
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economic growth has been one of the worst in u.s. history. let's take a look at this chart. one of the worst in u.s. history. is it any wonder why the president and secretary of the treasury didn't come out tawngdz about these -- come out and talk about these numbers this morning? because they're abys -- because they're abysmal and they're their numbers. when the president did talk about the economy, he's taken to bragging about the u.s. economy because we're doing better than europe. look at the press. the president is talking about the economy. we're doing better than europe. well, after today's news, he won't even be able to brag about that, because .5 g.d.p. growth is not better than europe. and if the president is actually comparing his record to another country, the only other country that matters is america.
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that's the only measure he should be looking at, not europe, not japan, not brazil -- our country. how has he done historically relative to every other president, democrat or republican? well, mr. president, if you take a look at this chart, here's the answer. and these are just -- these are facts, right? we're not debating anything. these are just the numbers. real g.d.p. growth, as i mentioned, .5% growth this quarter. but if you lack at some history here -- but if you look at some history here, since 1790 to 2014, the average real g.d.p. growth for the united states has averaged about 3.3er. that's -- has averaged about 3.7%. that's dernlings republicans.
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almost 3.7% g.d.p. growth. that's what made the united states graivment i keep talk about g.d.p. growth but in essence gross domestic product, that's an indicator of the economic health of our economy, how it's growing, an indicator of the measure of the opportunity that exists in the united states. so like i said, almost 4% growth throughout american history. the president's numbers in the last seven and a half years, 1.36% g.d.p. growth. here you go. this is kennedy, johnson, nixon, ford, carter, reagan, bush 41, clinton, bush 43, president obama. the red line here is important. that's 3% g.d.p. growth. that's considered pretty good.
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not great but pretty good. take a look, president obama's never hit that. he's never hit that actually in one quarter ever. by any measure these numbers are abysmal. so what are we looking at here? the obama era has been a lost decade of growth. a lost decade of growth. again, compared to any other period, even the great depression period, these numbers represent lost opportunity, stagnant wages, middle-class families struggling. and yet the administration never talks about it. never talks about it. if we can't grow our economy, who's hurt the most? it's the most vulnerable. it's the working poor. it's the elderly.
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it's the young people. our pages right here who want a positive future. these are the people who are hurt. and yet, if we grow our economy, if we got to reagan levels or clinton levels or johnson levelo many of our challenges, so many of our challenges as a country we can take care of. so what's happened, mr. president, and you know the media certainly helps the administration deal with this, we don't talk about it. the president might compare our economy to europe. that's pretty weak. but instead what we do, we define the -- we define the problem down. so you may have heard this term the new normal. that's a term they're now using in washington. the new normal. so what does that mean?
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it means we can't grow at 3% anymore. look at that time, we never hit 3% ever. so let's just define it down. we're not going to look and shoot for traditional levels of robust american growth, 4%. again, the historic average 3.7% for 200 years, democrats and republicans. we're just going to say, well, it's a new time in the history of our country, secular stagnation. this is the new normal. and if americans believe this or accept this or our young people do, we are in big trouble. so we talk about the new normal or we're silent, like what happened today. no one came out, not one person from the obama administration explained how we're going to get out of this rut. they're silent because there's no way to sell .5% g.d.p. growth
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to anybody. the american people are smart, and they know they're being sold a clunker. the economy is a clunker right now, and it's been one for almost eight years. it's important to understand just how bad this record is, again, in terms of u.s. history. let me give you a little more statistics. in 85 years for which the bureau of economic analysis has calculated the annual change in real g.d.p., there is only one ten-year stretch, and it's right here. right here. the entire obama administration, when the annual g.d.p. growth never hit 3%. even during the great depression was only a four-year stretch. ten years starting with the bushehr are -- bush era recessi.
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the president is talking about the recession but that was almost eight years ago. we need to get over that and grow this economy. during the last ten years, real annual growth and g.d.p. peaked in 2006 at 2.7%. it's never been that high again. in the 25 quarters since the recession ended, real p g.d.p. growth has totaled just 14.3%. so that is' what we grew our economy by, the total growth of our economy. in comparison, other recoveries -- again, democrat, republican -- since 1960 that lasted much more than a year, real g.d.p. growth for the whole economy grew on average at 27%. you have 14% obama, 27% over the comparable period for the
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average -- kennedy, johnson, nixon, ford, carter, reagan. if real g.d.p. growth in the obama years had grown at that average, our g.d.p. would be $1.8 trillion higher. think about that. $1.8 trillion, almost $2 trillion higher. think about what families can do with that kind of money if you divided that by american families. in the reagan recovery, real g.d.p. growth grew a total of 34%. the economy expanded by 34%. again, obama 14%, average 27%. reagan 34%. he grew -- the average rate of the economy grew about 4.8%, almost 5% g.d.p. growth. look at the comparison here. if the eight kwraoerdz of president obama grew at the rate that president reagan's recovery
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took place at, you're seeing almost $3 trillion more in terms of the size of our economy. higher annual after-tax income of almost $5,000 per american. and of course millions and millions of more jobs. you know, the president talks about the job -- unemployment rate going down, but what he doesn't talk about is the reason its going down is because people are leaving the workforce. we have the highest rate since the mid-1970's of workforce participation. why? because we're not growing the economy. so, mr. president, i know i'm throwing a lot of numbers out here. but what this chart reveals is something much more important than numbers. this chart goes to what the american dream is all about, and
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that's progress. that's progress. when you're an american, you expect progress. you expect growth. you don't expect this. this is not progress. this is not progress. and ware hearing it and we're seeing it. the american dream was founded on progress. there's opportunity. you have the opportunity to take advantage and move up the ladder. a recent poll came out and said 13% of americans -- 13% -- think their kids are going tpof -- to have a better economic future than they have. that's the death of the american dream, and this chart explains why. the young people right here
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doing great, hard work, 13% of americans, only 13% think you're going to have a better future than we have. and that's the essence of the american dream. we all used to think our kids would have a better future. now 13% do. it shows people are losing faith in the american dream because of these numbers. because of these numbers. and, thr-pt, it -- and, mr. president, it gets worse in terms of the unequal growth. i was talking about 1.36% is the average growth rate for the obama administration. in actuality, about 20% of the population in regions of the country, mostly on the east and west coast, are doing pretty good. 20% are growing at about 5% g.d.p. growth. 80% of america, the rest of the country is not growing at all. zero growth.
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i believe this is a surrender. i believe this body is not talking about it enough. the white house wants to ignore it, and it's a surrender of america's greatness. it's a surrender of our future. it's a surrender of our kids' future. and we need to do something about it. if we stay at these levels of growth, issues like infrastructure, issues like military spending, issues like social spending, even social cohesion are going to be much, much harder to address. but if we grow, if we grow back to traditional levels of american growth, the future is going to be bright again like it has been for 200-plus years in the united states. mr. president, we don't have to continue down this path. we can make decisions in this body, the right decisions in order to right this sinking ship
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of an economy. but the first step is to admit that we have a problem. the first step is to recognize that we have a big problem. and the president and his cabinet won't do this. as a matter of fact, there was a recent "new york times" article where the president was talking about how this is actually pretty good growth. again, dumbing down expectations. the new normal. did they say anything today? no. but the american people know. we have a huge problem. you see it reflected in polling and our politics with people losing work, stagnant wages, historic levels of failed businesses. more businesses, more small businesses -- the presiding officer: the gentleman's time has expired. mr. sullivan: mr. president, if i may, two more minutes? the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. sullivan: thank you.
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we need to realize that what we're doing here is part of the problem. look at this chart. we are overregulating every aspect of our economy. every aspect of our economy. and what we need to do is start focusing on ways that washington can be a partner, an opportunity, not the center of regulations that focus on small businesses. mr. president, let me conclude by saying although i've highlighted the challenges we have right now and the lack of focus by the administration, this is something that all of us in this body, democrats and republicans, should be working on together. nobody wants 1.36% g.d.p. growth.
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nobody wants .5% g.d.p. growth. we need leadership now to tackle these challenges and to get america back on track. we have to grow this economy. we have to continue progress. we must do better for our children and restore the american dream. but first we need a white house that recognizes the problem. and unfortunately today we saw that that's not the case. i yield the floor. ms. warren: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. ms. warren: eight years ago we suffered through the worst financial crisis in generations. millions of people lost their homes, jobs and savings. although the economy has improved under president obama leadership, many of those families are still struggling to recover today. terrible subprime mortgages were at the heart of this crisis. but wall street invented other new financial devices, including
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exotic derivatives that piled risks on top of risks in the financial market. the subprime mortgages were like hand grenades, but the derivatives packed them together and magnified the risks, turning them into giant bombs that blew up parts of the economy. the financial crisis commission concluded that derivatives -- quote -- "contributed significantly to the crisis, amplifying losses many times over and exposing institutions and sroes debt -- investors throughout the system." remember the billions of taxpayer dollars congress shoved to a.i.g. throughout the bailout? that was to cover losses from risky tkhreuf alternatives that went south -- derivatives that went south. in response, congress dedicated an entire title of dodd-frank to
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the regulation of derivatives. congress tried to make the market more transparent so regulators could have a fighting chance to identify the risks and address them. congress also tried to reduce the risk to taxpayers by requiring banks to raise more capital as they increased their derivatives exposure. and by forcing banks to push out that derivatives -- that derivatives exposure from their depository banks and the parts of the bank that actually hold checking accounts and savings accounts and to put them into another entity that doesn't have access to taxpayer backed insurance. but over the past few years, the dodd-frapping approach to derivatives has started to unravel. at the end of 2014, the swaps pushout was repealed. how? because lobbyists for citibank literally wrote the amendment and had a friendly congressman slip it into the end-of-the-year
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spending bill, a bill that had to pass or the government would shut down. and with the help of other big banks, including personal phone calls from the c.e.o. of j.p. morgan chase, jamie dimon, to his personal friends in congress, the swaps repeal got rammed through congress. how big was the hole that this wall street amendment blew in dodd-frank? well, congressman elijah cummings and i spent a year looking into it. the fdic now estimates that the repeal allows a few big banks to put taxpayers on the hook for risky swaps to the tune of nearly $10 trillion. and who's gobbling down most of this $10 trillion risk? three huge banks: citigroup, j.p. morgan chase, and bank of america. three banks, nearly $10 trillion
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of risk. now, these banks will happily suck down the profits when their high-stakes bets work out and they will just as happily turn to the taxpayers to bail them out if there is a problem. all of this because wall street lobbyists persuaded congress to do just one little favor for them. meanwhile, last year, the commodity futures trading commission final lished a rule that it was required to write under dodd-frank. the rule was about margin, the amount of money that financial institutions have to put up when they enter into a derivatives contract. essentially, the cftc rule was about making sure that financial institutions had enough money to pay off on their derivative bets, if they bet wrong. i.t. th-- it's the kind of monet keeps the taxpayers from needing to bail them out. the cftc rule was exceeding by weak, far weaker than the one they had nucially proposed.
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-- initially proposed. changes in that rule came after months of intense lobbying from giant banks that were worried that a stronger margin rule might cut into their profits. as cftc commissioner sharon bowen wrote in her dissent to the rule, "this action today seems to be a return to blindly trusting in large financial institutions ability and will-- willpower to manage their risks adequately are we reilly e really willing to make that bet again?" i know i am not. rather than strengthening the agency and plugging the gaps in dodd-frank that have emerged in the last few year, the bill goes p in the opposite direction, weakening or delaying other dodd-frank requirements and starving the agency of the resources it needs to oversee a
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$500 trillion derivatives market. i applaud senator stabenow, the ranking democratic member on the agriculture committee, for leading the unanimous democratic opposition to this bill in committee. democrats should not be supporting a bill that weakens financial rules, period. we need strong rules and strong federal agencies to oversee our financial markets. we learned that lesson the hard way in 2008. and while some lobbyists -- and their friends here in washington -- may be trying to forget that lesson, i know that millions of american families remember it all too well, and they will be watching congress to see who stands on their side and who stands on the side of the big banks. thank you, mr. president. i yield my time. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk should call the roll.
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quorum call:
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mr. barrasso: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise today as a senator and, as you, a doctor, and i want to talk about a disease called duchenne multiple
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sclerosis. i northerlyier senator rubio was on the floor and senator wicker was on the floor talking about the disease, and it is a topic that as an orthopedic surgeon, is very personal to meevment i was introduced to it more than 30 years ago and worked at a muscle disease clinic with young people with muscle disease and one of those muscle diseases is called duchenne. it's a disease that affects young boys and i met patients, i met their families in the fight against this disease. the experience has left a lasting lifelong impression on me, and it's something i continue to work with today. you know, when i think, mr. president, of reasons we've gone into medicine to help people, make a contribution, one of the reasons i chose orn orthopedic surgery is because i really enjoyed seeing the relief that the care that i gave could
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help people and the cause-relief of their symptoms, referra -- rf their pain and symptoms that have they were living with every day. it is rewarding to tell that patient that the surgery you performed was success fled and they're going to get better, back to normal. as a doctor, i was able to see patients go ton graduate from college, get married, have children of their own. i was overseas visiting our troops, met a young man, a commander -- a pretty good buy. he told me i had taken care of his broken leg i didn't really recognize him. he said i was only 8 at the time. we take care of patients and you see people through their lives and it is encouraging to see theme go on and thrive and get stronger and bigger and more productive. for patients with duchennes muscular dystrophy, that kind of treatment doesn't exist. with when i saw patients with the muscle disease clinic that
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suffered from the condition, i knew that that day that i saw them it was going thob their best day going forward. many of them have brothers because it is a disease that affects young men. it was a disease that there may have been coming in their family to children who had not yet been born and in some families there were several brothers in line who had the disease, as one was diagnosed and another younger brother diagnosed a couple of years later with the same disease because this does tend to run in families. so, you know, that's the thing has a doctor, you want to see somebody get better and stronger. as a parent, you want to see your own child go from crawling to walking to running, getting stronger, bigger every day. but patients and families who live with this disease every day know too well the unrelenting fofs -- force of duchennes.
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it causes degeneration of muscles and weakness, and the vast majority of people with this disease, as i say, are boys, and they are iewcialg diagnosed between -- are usually diagnosed between the ain't of 3 and 5 -- between the pages of and 5. they start to realize that their son is beginning some of the developmental milestones. they might be a late walker, less coordinated than other children. most parents aren't worried. they are a just cautious and may mention it to the pediatrician. then the doctor may run a test or two. but once that diagnosis is made of duchenne muscular dystrophy, patients pretty quickly and parents find sought that their child, their son doesn't just have a developmental delay, they learn that their son is typically going to lose the ability to walk by the time he's a teenager, and graduate to a
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wheelchair and then make that qulun--young man prone to condis like consoleio circumstance ofnlg requiring surgery to correct it. as the muscle continue to deteriorate, that young man will lose lung function, which puts him at even higher risk of infection, pneumonia, eventually he'll have to use a machine to help him breathe to clear his lungs, and the muscle deterioration doesn't just occur to the skeletal muscle, the muscles of the arms and lerks it can also occur to the heart, which is itself a muscle. so when a young man with duchenne's multiple sclerosis catches a cold it could be life threatening. even when the patients get the best medical care. and so many of them do get the best medical care. they usually lose their fight against duchenne's multiple sclerosis by the time they are into their 20's. so that's the devastating reality of this disease and we cannot all


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