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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  May 17, 2016 10:00am-12:31pm EDT

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>> the senate is about to gavel and for work on the 2017 transportation has in the military via spending bills which they have combined into one measure. it includes three amendments related to send three research funding and they will be taking a vote on this later today. at 12:30, members will break for weekly party members returning at 2:15. live now to the floor of the senate. 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.
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eternal god, who hears our prayers and listens to our cries for help, thank you for your mercies that come to us new each day. you save us with your strength, continually showing us your unfailing love. help our lawmakers today to discern your voice and do your will. lord, give them the ability to differentiate your guidance from all others, permitting you to lead them to your desired destination.
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speak to them through your word, guide them with your spirit, and sustain them with your might. oh god, you are our rock, our fortress, and our savior. all your promises prove true. we pray in your mighty name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: last week the republican-led senate passed by an overwhelming majority the first appropriations bill of the year, the energy security and water infrastructure funding bill. the republican-led senate did so in record early time. we began considering an annual appropriations bill this year at the earliest point in 40 years. 40 years. then we passed an annual appropriations bill this year at the earliest point in 40 years. passage of this bill also marks the first time the senate has passed an individual energy and
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water funding measure since 2009. it shows what's possible with a little cooperation and regular order. by returning to regular order, we're better able to make careful decisions about how taxpayer dollars are spent through the appropriations bill. here's what we mean when we talk about returning to regular order. we mean working in committee, allowing senators from both sides to have their voices heard. we mean bringing bills to the floor, empowering more members to offer suggestions they think might make a good bill even better. we mean working through hours of debate and deliberation, processing amendments from both sides, then arriving at a final bill that actually passes. that's just what we did here and it resulted in the record early passage of the energy and water appropriations bill that will help support economic
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development, waterways infrastructure, and energy programs, initiatives that are important in my home state of kentucky and in states across our country. so i want to thank senator alexander for working diligently with senator feinstein to move this bill forward. they collaborated with both democratic and republican colleagues to ensure a fair process and an outcome that a majority of senators could support. i also want to thank chairman cochran and ranking member mikulski for working within the appropriations committee to move appropriation measures so early this year. we've already begun considering two more of them this week. the first measure is the transportation and housing infrastructure bill. it will make smart investments and important infrastructure priorities. it will strengthen our surface transportation network and help make air travel safer, more efficient and more reliable. i thank senator collins for her
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dedicated leadership on this important legislation. the second measure is the veterans and military construction funding bill. it will increase accountability at the v.a. and help ensure veterans receive health care and benefits they rely on. it will advance vital national security projects like missile defense and help ensure military families are supported with housing, schools, and health facilities to serve them. it is the result of great work by a true champion of veterans, senator kirk. senator kirk and senator collins both work hard to move these bills out of the appropriations committee with unanimous bipartisan support. now they're working hard to pass them together out here on the floor. they've already lined up several amendments that we'll consider later today. i'd like to say a few words about one of these issues in particular. both republicans and democrats agree that preventing the spread
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of zika is a bipartisan priority. that's why members from both parties have been looking at different approaches to properly address the situation. they worked through the best avenue to address the funding that may be needed to do so, the appropriations process, and came up with several different approaches for us to consider later today. one amendment is from senators blunt and murray. it's a targeted approach that focuses on immediate needs while also providing resources for longer-term goals like a vaccine. it includes accountability measures and represents a notable departure from our democratic colleagues' initial position. it's good to see our democratic friends compromise. another amendment is from senators cornyn and johnson. their enhanced approach builds upon the appropriators' work by responsibly offsetting zika funding with funds that have been set aside for public health and prevention purposes. it would also remove red tape
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and help promote mosquito control, which is the best way to keep americans safe from this virus in the near term while a vaccine is under development. the house is also advancing its own paid-for zika measure this very week. so we'll take several votes today. we'll continue moving forward with the appropriations process, and we'll address zika funding in that context because keeping americans safe and healthy is a top priority for all of us. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: today is international day against homophobe i can't and transphobia. this day of recognition is especially significant for america since civil rights for transgender americans is at the forefront of debate. but the core comes down to the simple question: with whom do we
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stand? do we stand with the bullies or do we stand against the bull list? do we stand up for the bullies or against the bullies? do we defend the persecutors or do we come to the defense of the persecuted? these are the questions posed by us, and it should be. these are the questions posed to us by what's happened in north carolina, a law there that undermines the civil rights of transgender americans. during a one-day special session in march, the north carolina legislature rammed through a controversial law that strikes down local antidiscrimination ordinances. actions taken by north carolina's legislature and governor are nothing short of state sponsored legislation and transgender individuals. the law is completely illegal, it is in direct opposition to the federal civil rights statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex. federal courts have made it clear that sex discrimination
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under the civil rights act covers transgender individuals. this goes back to 1989, when the supreme court ruled in price waterhouse vs. hopkins that sex discrimination is covered under title 7. relying on the supreme court ruling in that case, appellate courts have concluded that discrimination against transgender people is prohibited when it's based on gender nonconformity. that's why last week the department of justice sued north carolina under the civil rights act. also against the violence against women's act we passed last year. this kind of shocking and discriminatory lawmaking has no place in the 21st century. it certainly has no place in america. as the attorney general of america said, loretta lynch, last week -- and i quote what
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she said -- this is not the first time we've seen discriminatory responses to historic moments of progress in our nation. we saw it in the jim-crow laws. we saw it in the fierce and widespread resistance to brown vs. board of education and we saw it in the proliferation of state bans on same-sex unions intended to stifle any hope that gay and lesbian americans might be afforded the right to marry. close quote. this issue has been far-reaching. it has far-reaching consequences. it is about access to employment, education, and just about everything else in public life. this is about whether we're going to allow our fellow citizens to be bullied, intimidated and harassed. north carolina law is not only wrong, it runs counter to the progress we're seeing in states and cities across all of america. right now 18 states, approximately 200 cities have laws on their books to protect
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transgender individuals in being able to use the restroom that matches their gender identity. take for example what happened in reno, nevada, just last year. reno, nevada, in washoe county, the second largest school district in nevada, in 2015, in february, in response to concerns from parents and students the washoe county school district passed a rule to make a healthy environment for transgender students. all students have access to school programs and activities. it is the first district in nevada to do so. in the years since those regulations were adopted, schools across the district have reported few, if any, concerns about the new policies. north carolina leaders need to learn from washoe county. they need to learn a thing or two about tolerance exhibited by
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the students and the adults across washoe county. north carolina is already paying a price for its law and more is to come. hundreds of america's biggest and most prestigious corporations have come out in opposition to the law, companies like google, bank of america and pfizer. you have major businesses that aren't going to do business. you have entertainers who won't perform there, like bruce springsteen. but it's not just that. it's hundreds, hundreds of other firms are coming out in opposition to the law because what they're doing is illegal. but republican leaders are standing by the bigotry at tremendous cost to the state and that's disappointing. so i stand with the administration opposing the north carolina law. i stand with americans, all americans, against the shameful bullying. and most of all, i stand with the transgender people of north carolina and our country who are
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the targets of state-sponsored discrimination. my heart goes out to them. this is not how a great nation should operate. we're better than this. i look forward to the day, and it's coming soon, when this hateful law is struck down. mr. president, i would ask that the following statement i am going to give appear at a separate place in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: yesterday the supreme court chose not to rule on the merits of zubik vs. burwell, a case brought by religiously affiliated nonprofit employers challenging contraceptive coverage provision. instead the court remanded the case to lower courts for further proceedings. the good news is the order doesn't stop women who rely on the scape a.c.a. for -- on the affordable care act for contraceptive coverage. this includes contraceptive coverage. this reap manned highlights that the supreme court cannot
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properly do its job until we do ours here in the senate. we must give judge merrick garland a hearing and a vote so the supreme court can become fully functioning again. mr. president, there have been numerous cases that have been determined differently because of the 4-4 split. a number of them are just tied 4-4. a number of them have been remanded back to lower courts without action. the supreme court to do its job needs nine, nine justices. so i hope the time is coming quickly when american women will know once and for all that their bosses can't interfere with their health care decisions, and i'm confident that the courts will ultimately do the right thing and uphold the affordable care act's accommodation to the contraceptive coverage provision. until that time, though, senate democrats will continue to watch this matter very closely and do everything in our power to
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defend access for women for birth control measures that they feel appropriate. mr. president, i think it's such a blight on the senate that we are not doing anything to fill that ninth spot. it needs to be done, and it needs to be done quickly. justice is being delayed. justice is not being served. i yield the floor, mr. president. my friend i see from montana is on the floor. i would ask the chair prior to his being recognized to tell the senate what we're going to do today. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of h.r. 2577, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 138, h.r. 2577, an act making appropriations for the departments of transportation and housing and urban development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending
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september 30, 2016, and for other purposes. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until 12:30 p.m. will be equally divided between the managers or their designees. mr. tester: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. tester: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, as we begin consideration of the twefnt military construction and veterans' affairs appropriations bill, i want to start off by thanking the chairman of the subcommittee and his staff. the process that chairman kirk and i put into place was fair, it was inclusive and it was open, and i pressure that he went out of his way to incorporate input from me, my team and the senators from this side of the aisle. this bill does right by our brave service men and women by honoring our nation's commitment to veterans, active duty military and their families. we owe these folks our gratitude for their selfless sacrifice to freedom and democracy. mr. president, as a result of last year's bipartisan budget agreement, we are on the same page this year in terms of
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top-line funding numbers. this level of funding has allowed us to make critical investments in military construction, veterans programs, as well as arlington national cemetery and the u.s. court of appeals for veterans claims. for v.a., this bill provides $102 billion in mandatory funding for veterans benefits, $102 billion. and it includes an additional $103.9 billion in f.y. 2018 advance funding to ensure that there is not a lapse in getting disability compensation and education benefits to our veterans. for v.a.'s discretionary accounts, including the veterans health administration, the bill appropriates $74.9 billion. that's $3.4 billion more than the department has this year. within that amount, we are -- we're able to target increased funding for several key priorities for veterans. that includes health care, disability claims and appeals process, medical and prosthetic
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research and family caregiver support. that means the v.a. will be able to aggressively pursue critical veteran-centric research into a host of medical conditions, including ptsd and traumatic brain injury, the unseen wounds of war that are so difficult to both identify and treat. it also means the v.a. will have additional resources to meet the growing demand of caregivers who are providing critical family-centered long-term care for our veterans. and it will allow v.b.a. to hire 300 new claims processors and 240 additional employees for the board of veteran appeals, all focused on reducing the appeals backlog, something senator sullivan andary working on over on the authorizing side. these funds will complement that work. the little before us also includes a new medical community care account that consolidates the various sources of funding that connect veterans to care in their own communities.
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the integration of this new account is extremely important in providing better oversight in a program that is critical for our veterans, particularly those in rural areas where services through the v.a. are often unavailable. it's also a key component in ongoing efforts to consolidate and streamline the number of different programs the v.a. has to give veterans care in their local communities. that's something a number of us are working on in a bipartisan manner on the veteran affairs committee. on the milcon side of the ledger, the bill before us today also delivers. we have provided increased funding for a number of unfunded milcon requirements identified by the services. given the severe constraints on the budget, funding for military construction is squeezed more tightly now than ever. it is just the cost of trying to maintain a deteriorating building which in itself is substantial. it's also the impact that effort has on training readiness and
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retention to personnel, the very areas that department of defense is struggling to reinforce. shortchanging military construction is not a cost-effective or sustainable defense strategy over the long haul, and that is why i'm glad this bill provides nearly $500 million over the budget requested for unfunded priorities. and i am pleased that the majority chose not to put forward controversial amendments on this bill during committee consideration. the bill that funds veterans health care and our military installations should not be a vehicle for politics. our veterans and our service members deserve a clean bill. we need to avoid the ugly stuff on this bill. mr. president, i have a lot more to say about this bill as it is covered over the next hopefully several days. for now i want to reiterate my thanks to the folks on the majority side as well as vice chairwoman mikulski for their efforts in getting us to where we are today. lastly, i would remind all of our colleagues that we are open for business, so if there are
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amendments you are thinking about, get them filed, get them to our staffs so we can move forward. amendments at the 11th hour are never good, so get them in early so we can consider them. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. inhofe: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent i be recognized for such time i might consume as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. inhofe: mr. president, since friday, my state and offices and my d.c. offices have been flooded with calls from concerned constituents, from people regarding president obama's latest unilateral action directing public schools and colleges to allow transgendered kids into the bathroom and locker rooms of their choice. i mean, this is -- in oklahoma, we understand what it's all about. this is all about a liberal agenda being crammed down the neck of oklahoma and the rest of the country. on sunday, i was -- i went to a church service near the grand
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lake area in northeastern oklahoma where the nearest community was about 250 people. the pastor -- his name is mark -- he said -- and this is a quote. he said -- "if ever there was a shadeggraq moment in america, it is now." unquote. they understand that there is a real battle going on in washington for our values. these values should be decided at the local level by parents and by teachers who truly understand what needs to take place to protect all kids. he went on to say -- and i'm quoting now. he said -- "we have to embolden our school board members and other televisions with our support." and i agree. that's why i put forth a bill which passed last year in education legislation to empower local school authorities to make these kinds of decisions. now, what the president is doing is unilaterally redefining title
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ix of the education law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex with the new guidance he's issued, obama is aiming to prohibit anything that could be construed as discrimination against gender identity, including discrimination based on a student's transgender status. now, ultimately, the president is demanding under the threat of losing significant public assistance. in my state of oklahoma, this amounts to about $450 million. if the states and school districts don't comply. in other words, it's blackmail. you comply or you lose something that you're entitled to. by rewriting the law, president obama has decided without any input from congress that local schools must accommodate a very small segment of the population in a very specific way by allowing them to use the bathroom of their choice. by blackmailing our schools with funding that goes toward
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low-income and special needs kids, money which the schools are already entitled to receive, the obama administration is writing its own laws to punish those who disagree. as the pastor said this weekend, he said -- quote -- "we should not sell out the innocence and the safety of our children as a condition for receiving federal money that helps those who need it the most." in fact, he went on to say we'll just -- we just won't accept it. we don't need to accept it. it's not worth the price we pay. this misguided policy is directed at the comfort of a microminority at the expense of the comfort, privacy and safety of the majority of students who do not want to expose themselves or be exposed to other -- another student of a different sex. as oklahoma attorney general scott pruitt has noted, the administration's letter definitely changes the law in
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that it takes the unprecedented step of redefining sex to mean gender identity. furthermore, he states that the president's actions are unlawful and that they represent the most egregious administrative overreach to date, and that oklahoma will vigorously defend the state's interests. i fully support oklahoma and other states that are vowing to fight this undemocratic edict from the politician that is no longer accountable to the voters. oklahoma's parents and schools and state and local boards are best equipped to deal with the issues they face in the classroom and on school grounds and should not be dictated from washington. our nation's schools should not be ground zero for social experiments from liberal agenda. this is exactly what's happening now. but it doesn't take an attorney general or u.s. senator to come
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to these conclusions. i thank god that basic morality is ringing out from the pews, not just in northeastern oklahoma but throughout america. you're doing the lord's work, mark. keep it up. with that, i yield the floor and see -- i ask unanimous consent that time spent in a quorum call before 12:30 today be equally divided. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. inhofe: i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, as a mother and a grandmother, i know that one of the most frightening questions an expecting parent has to ask their doctor is, is my baby safe? too many parents are asking that question right now because of the zika virus. there are now more than 1,200 reported cases of zika in the united states and the three territories. more than 100 of these are pregnant women. and on friday, puerto rico announced its first case of
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zika-related microcephaly. unfortunately, those numbers are only expected to grow in the coming months, so this really is an emergency, and public health experts have repeatedly made it clear that as we get closer to the summer and mosquito season, we cannot afford to delay. we need to better control mosquitoes that carry the zika virus. we need to raise awareness to make sure families are informed about this disease, and we need to expand access to family planning services and accelerate the development of a vaccine. the president laid out a strong emergency funding proposal to accomplish each of those goals in february. i support that plan, and i was very disappointed that instead of acting on it as quickly as possible, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle simply refused to even consider it.
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instead they found reason after reason to delay. first they said the administration should just take funds from the ongoing ebola response to combat zika. then they said they needed more information about the president's proposal, even though zika has been discussed in 55 congressional hearings. even after briefings by senior administration officials, and even though the administration's 25-page proposal had been available for months for anyone to see. and now house republicans have released a proposal that would provide a very meager, $622 million, less than arrest third of what is need -- less than a third of what is needed for this emergency without any funding for preventive health care or outreach for those at risk of zika. they are still insisting in the house that funding be fully offset. in the face of all of that partisanship and inaction and with public health experts making it clearer every day how
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much we need to act before mosquito season is in full effect, i was encouraged that chairman blunt and others on the appropriations committee were willing to work with democrats on a first step to respond to this emergency. the agreement we've reached would put a down payment on the president's proposal into the hands of our first responders and researchers right away. it would provide much-needed relief for puerto rico, backfill nearly $100 million in essential funding the administration had been forced to reprogram, invest in prevention and support services for pregnant women and families at home and abroad and put research dollars into developing a vaccine. i believe, mr. president, the republicans should do what we have urged them to do for months and join democrats in supporting the president's full emergency funding request. but if they continue to refuse,
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then at the very least, they should be willing to support a bipartisan first step towards protecting families from this virus. and democrats will continue pushing for every necessary resource going forward. families across the country are looking to congress for action on zika. they do not have time for lengthy debates about offsets or more time to waste. so i hope that we can move very quickly to get this emergency funding package through the senate and the house and on to the president's desk. if we act now, we can help protect our families across the country from the truly tragic consequences of this disease, and there is no reason to delay. thank you very much, and i yield the floor. ms. warren: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. ms. warren: for months democrats have asked the republicans who control the senate to let us act while the
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zika virus has spread across south america, central america and several u.s. territories. for months we've asked the republicans who control the senate to let us act while more and more american travelers are back in the u.s. after contracting the zika virus. for months we've asked the republicans who control the senate to let us act while health experts at world health organization, national institutes of health and centers for disease control have begged congress for the resources to fight this disease. for months we've asked republicans who control the senate to let us act while more people infected by zika have developed a debilitating and sometimes fatal condition that damages the nervous system. for months we have asked the republicans who control the senate to let us act while mor mothers infected by zika have given birth to babies with severe brain defects. and for months we've asked the
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republicans who control the senate to let us act while the president has been forced to divert emergency funds from other critical areas including the emergency ebola response. today months after president obama first requested nearly $2 billion to fight the zika virus in the united states, the republicans who control the senate women finally, finally -- senate will finally, finally let us vote on options for funding the zika response. today the senate will consider three proposals. the first proposal would completely fund the president's response plan. it offers our best hope to fully protect americans, and i will vote for that proposal. i plead with every senator to do the same because that's what our nation's experts have said it will cost to limit the sickness, death, and deformity caused by the zika virus. i know that some republicans
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understand this point. senator rubio, whose state of florida is at great risk for local transmission of zika, recently said this: "i believe in limited government, but i do believe that one of the obligations of a limited federal government is to protect people from dangers, whether they be foreign enemies or the risk of disease outbreak. i don't think we want to be halfway through the summer and wake up to the news that hundreds and hundreds of americans in multiple states have been infected and we did nothing." senator rubio supports fully funding the president's response plan, and i hope it passes the senate. if it doesn't, it will be because the majority of senate republicans vote against it. and if that happens, we will be forced to consider another proposal. the second proposal would give the president half of what is needed to fight the outbreak. i will support this proposal if
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that's the last resort, as will many democrats, because this is a health emergency. if your ship is sinking and you need 12 lifeboats but you can only get six, you take the six. we will take whatever the republicans who control the senate are willing to give to protect the american people. cutting the zika funding requests in half might give republicans a chance to tell people how tough they are on spending, and that may be how republican politics works. but, boy, it's sure not how science works. it is not possible to delay a response to a health emergency for month after month without consequences. it is not possible to nickel and dime a response to a health emergency without consequences. sure, the republicans' half measure is better than nothing, but an estimated four million people are facing the prospect
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of zika infection by the end of this year. and a half-response is not good enough. now the final republican proposal is even dumber. it would not only give the president about half of what is needed, but it would cover the cost by gutting the prevention and public health fund which provides significant support to local public health departments all across the country. you heard that right. some senate republicans think the best way to fund america's emergency response to the zika virus is to rob from america's front line responders who help identify and track infectious diseases like the zika virus. on the other side of congress, house republicans are kicking around an even more bizarre
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idea, funding only about a third of the president's plan to fight zika and doing it by cutting hundreds of millions of dollars out of our ebola response. gee, with the ebola epidemic just passed and still no f.d.a.-approved vaccine or treatment for ebola, what could possibly go wrong with that plan? i simply do not understand the republicans. the responsible thing to do, the rational thing to do is to invest the resources needed to stop the zika threat in its tracks and to invest in more science and public health infrastructure so that we're ready when the next crisis comes. as congressional republicans embrace this irrational antispending ideology, this country is put in greater and greater danger. instead of investing in research
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so that we can develop effective treatments, instead of supporting careful planning so we're ready for the next health challenge, and instead of fully funding emergency response infrastructure so that we're prepared to respond to new threats, these republicans govern by simply lurching from crisis to crisis. we're in this mess with zika, a mess that's about to get a lot worse because of stupid decisions made right here in congress. keep in mind that zika, like ebola, is a disease we have known about for years, but our ability to do the necessary research to eradicate these threats has been undercut by republicans' desire to make more and more and more budget cuts, even when they put the health of americans in danger. this country's scientific research capacity has been decimated. over the last decade the budget
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of the national institute of allergy and infectious diseases has lost about 20% of its purchasing power. 20%. the prevention and public health fund that helps build the infrastructure needed to prevent people from getting sick and to shut down outbreaks like zika has been on the republican chopping block year after year after year. here's the bottom line, our doctors, scientists and health officials need our complete support in fighting this virus. they've told us how much money they need to do that. the less money congress gives them, the more people will be hurt by the zika virus. more babies with heartbreaking deformties, more adults with devastating illnesses. the zika virus does not care what politicians in washington decide is politically expedient.
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the virus is coming. and if republicans block congress from protecting the people of this country, then republicans must accept responsibility for the devastating consequences. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: thank you, mr. president. first of all, let me begin by saying how encouraged i am that we're finally seeing some action here in congress dealing with the zika virus. today we have not one but three separate proposals to deal with this that are going to come up for a vote. i support fully funding the requests made, people say the president's request. fine, it came from the white house. but it's really the scientists requests, the doctors requests, the public health sector's requests for how to address this issue. the fundamental point that i make is twofold. number one is we can pay for it, $1 phoeu 9 billion -- 1.9 billion we can find it, by the way we can always come back
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later and find it too. i know that is hard in washington. but this is a public health emergency that cannot wait for this extended debate on this issue, especially when you talk about an $18 trillion debt, zika funding is not the reason we have an $18 trillion debt. it's not the national driver of our debt. that's why dealing with long-term security and medicare and social security is so critical. but we can pay for $11.9 trillion -- for $1.9 trillion and we should. it is public health experts that have said the amount we need is $1.9. i continue to ask my colleagues to take this with the sense of urgency the public health exerts have, the people i've met with, the people i've been talking to are not political people. i have been talking to people in the white house political office. i've been meeting with people that work at the centers for disease control. i've been meeting with people that work at the florida department of health. i've been talking with department of health officials in puerto rico. i've been talking about doctors that are in the front line of
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dealing with microcephaly and what it means long term for the childrenning -- children impacted by it. more importantly they outlined there is so much we don't know about zika. we don't know what the long-term consequences are of a mother infected with zika while pregnant. and the child is born with microcephaly. we don't know what happens in six, nine months, a year down the road. i do know many medical experts believe there will be further manifestations of the disease's impact on the central nervous system in many of these children years after this debate in congress is finished. i do know that puerto rico is being ravaged by this. puerto rico is a territory of the united states. these are american citizens. that have been infected with zika. they don't have a senator from puerto rico, although i'm more than honored and grateful for the opportunity to speak on their behalf on these issues. but what people have to
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understand -- and 24-s not the right way to approach it. but even if your approach is well, but it's puerto rico, it's not the mainland of the united states, then i invite you to go to the airport in orlando and miami and you can see the constant flow of people back and forth. we also look at the fact that the summer months are coming. mosquito season is here, and it's coming fast. we know that the zika virus becomes more potent as temperatures get warmer. guess what? it's about to get really warm, not just in florida but throughout the gulf coast states and throughout the country. we know that places like brazil have been deeply impacted by the zika virus. guess what? tens of thousands of people are about to travel through the united states to and from brazil for the summer olympics. we know that major league baseball canceled a game in puerto rico because they believed it was a serious enough risk not to want to put their players at risk of it, not to mention the crowd. we see something that's percolating that we don't know that much about. we know enough about it toe know
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it's a serious problem. we do not know how far this is going to go. as a result, we see the people of this country facing a public health threat. our response should be let's deal with it the way that medical experts are saying we need to deal with it and put language in the proposal. that says if you don't end up spending the full $1.9 billion, if you don't need all that money, all that money automatically goes back to treasury within a year or two if you haven't spent it. but why take the chance? why take the chance that at some point this summer we could have a significant and serious outbreak in the united states of america, and everybody here is going to be back in their home state doing their campaign stuff or whatever you're doing this summer, and you're going to have to come back here and either deal with it and explain to people why when doctors and medical experts were warning us that this was a significant risk, we decided to lowball it, we decided to spend less than what's being called for. i by no means mean this as a criticism of senators murray and blunt. i thank them for their work. they have tried to come up with
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a bipartisan proposal that can pass. as i have said earlier, while i am proud of the effort that i am alongside with my colleague from florida, senator nelson, are proposing here today and hope that the $1.9 billion amount passes, if what we're left with is a vote on the blunt-murray amendment, i certainly think that's better than nothing and i will support it. but why are we taking this chance? it makes absolutely no sense. i would also say that while i am happy that today hopefully the senate is about to take action on this issue, i'm concerned about what i hear coming from the house. i'm glad that there has finally gotten some movement and that something's happening, but i'm really concerned about the direction their own funding measure is going. their funding measure isn't even $1.1 billion. it's $622 million. quite frankly, that's just not going to cut it. if we don't spend more than that on the front end, i think we're going to spend a lot more later on because the problem is not going to go away and it's not going to go away with
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$622 million to combat it. this is concerning to me because even if we do manage to pass the $1.9 billion request, i'm afraid long term even that may not be enough. the issue here that seems to be holding them back is the desire to offset spending. as i said, look, i support that 100%. i believe we can find $1.9 billion and transfer it from some other part of our budget to ensure that we're not deficit spending. we can do that. we should do that. i'm in favor of doing that. but that's not going to keep me from trying to do something about it. in times of public health emergencies, just like during times of natural disasters, i don't think we should be delaying action while we try to figure out these budgetary moves and trying to agree on what we're going to cut from other parts of the budget. i still believe we should do it, but we cannot hold back for another few weeks while we get to that point. now, the administration has already diverted half a billion dollars that was intended for the fight against ebola, but the fight would raid even more of the ebola funds for the zika
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response. now, it's easy to say look, ebola is not in the headlines anymore. we're not reading about it that much. it must not be a problem. ebola still exists. it's not polio. we haven't eradicated it from the united states or from the world. it's just not a percolating crisis right now. but nothing goes to say that this couldn't itself pop up again. and by the way, these sorts of pandemics are going to become more and more common as people now are able to travel and extensively travel all over the world. we're at the crossroads of a lot of that travel. so i don't think i'm prepared to walk away, although i don't think maybe they don't need the full half billion dollars, but i think it would be shortsighted to say ebola is finished, we don't have to worry about it anymore. there has got to be some money available in case that comes up again because it could. i believe the house can and should do better than what it's proposed. provide offsets to the spending. provide the $1.9 billion offsets. i guarantee you will be able to find that fairly quickly. provide stringent accountability
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measures. stipulate in the law that you passed, for example, that if we're wrong, if we don't end up spending or needing anything close to $1.9 billion or even $1.1 billion, that the taxpayer money is going to be returned to the treasury. let's not play with fire here. as of now, there are 112 people in the state of florida who have been infected. we have many more american citizens who have been infected in puerto rico. many unborn children who are the a risk. and many more who will be impacted once mosquito season really sets in. and at the end of the day, these are the people we should be fighting for, and we can quite frankly do much better than what the house is proposing. this is a devastateing disease. it's taken lives throughout our hemisphere and the way it impacts unborn children alone should call us to action. you see the images coming from brazil. you have seen the images coming of these children being born with microcephaly. this is a devastating condition. the cost of caring for those children throughout their lives is extensive, and we're going to do it. we need to do it. we will do it.
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but let's try to prevent this. let's try to get ahead of this. let's try not to just be reactive but proactive. just today in the press, there are reports that scientists have been able to make a significant step toward potentially creating a vaccine. once there is a vaccine for zika, this problem will be under control. but let's not play with fire here, as i said earlier. i hope that my colleagues will jump on board in fully funding the $1.9 billion. and if you want, let's put language in there that says if the money isn't fully spent that it will be refunded to the treasury, but why take the chance? why take the chance on an issue that is not yet well-defined? why take the chance on an issue that we still don't know everything about this disease? why take the chance that we could have an outbreak much worse than anything any of us anticipated and we were caught off guard? why take the chance that you're going to have to go home in august and september and explain to millions of people across this country why are so many americans now being infected by
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this and you were lowballing our approach to it a few months ago? why take the chance? let's do this once. let's get it right. let's ensure that we're protecting our people. let's deal with this now. let's deal with this fully. this is our obligation, and i hope we'll embrace it here today. there is no reason why we should not fully fund this proposal and listen to the doctors and the health care experts that are asking us for this and build from there. that's what i hope my colleagues will do here today in a few hours when we vote on these proposals that stand before us. mr. president, with that, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. flake: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be done away with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. flake: i take the floor today regarding the efforts to provide zika funding for the crisis that the senate will be considering on the floor today.
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mr. president, we in this body and the entire congress over the past several years has provided a lot of additional funding, health-related supplemental funding. in fact, for the past 13 years, roughly $19 billion has been directed toward health-related emergency supplemental funding. this of course is not -- does not include the hundreds of billions of dollars in other supplemental spending that has circumvented the budgetary oversight process. with a national debt of $19 trillion, we have got to make sure that we budget for these type of emergencies. when you appropriate on a supplemental basis $19 billion over the past 13 years, completely health funding, then we know that we need to budget for this type of crisis and not simply go the supplemental route and go out from under our
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budgetary caps. so i will support cloture today on the measure that includes an offset. we have got to be more fiscally responsible as we deal with these crises. this is a crisis that we need to deal with, but we ought to at least attempt to offset that funding. i think we, the taxpayers, deserve nothing less than that. with that, i yield back and suggest suggest -- suggest 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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ms. mikulski: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: excuse me, mr. president. didn't mean to startle you but this microphone kind of projects my voice in a way i didn't even anticipate its volume. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. ms. mikulski: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the call of the quorum be vacated.
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the presiding officer: without objection. ms. mikulski: mr. president, sir, it's been three months since the administration sent congress the emergency funding request for zika and congress hasn't acted on it, but today we have an opportunity to do so, and i hope we do do so. we will have pending before the congress three different options on how to fund this public health emergency, but we must realize that it is an emergency and we need to have a sense of urgency to protect our american people and to help those south of the border to be able to cope for it. what are we waiting for? the mosquitoes are here. the mosquitoes not only have come, they have already come. what i've said in the past is you can't build a wall to keep them out. the mosquitoes won't pay for it. but, mr. president, it's no laughing matter.
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the president has said we need $1.9 billion to fight zika to stop it from doing any more harm. that's what i am fighting for. we know we need to get the job done, and it's not just senator barb talking. the world health organization has declared zika a public health emergency. the president declared it. the centers for disease control, dr. frieden, has said this is a national and international emergency. and dr. fauci, head of the institute on infectious diseases and virology at n.i.h., who we turn to on so many occasions, has also said it. so every public health entity has validated that this is a serious public health crisis. but we can prevent its dire consequences. we can, through action, particularly related to mosquito control and working with
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pregnant women or women of child-bearing age, we can deal with this. this is not some unknown disease that suddenly would be arriving on our shores for which we would have no knowledge and no tools. these are basic public health tools related to controlling mosquito control and helping women of child-bearing age. if we refuse to act, this will be a self-inflicted wound on our own people. and the consequences are dire. for those who care about children, i'm sure we've already seen what has happened south of the border with little children being born with microcephaly. my gosh, it is heartbreaking. it is heartbreaking for that little child with the limited life expectancy and limited life
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opportunities, the responsibility that will come to the family, usually to the mother, and to the society that will have to care for that child. so today we're talking about money, but we have to think about the human concerns. both dr. frieden and dr. fauci have conveyed to me and other members of this body, particularly those on the appropriations committee and on the health, education committee that there are also unknown issues related to people over 65 or those compromised immune situations now. if you have a chronic condition like diabetes, you could be subject to really negative consequences of being bitten. we've heard about guillain-barre. there are other diseases that are the consequences of this that give arrest -- that give arthritis systems, that can last for over ten years.
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why don't we do something about it? we know that mosquitoes carry zika. we know they are in several states. we know puerto rico is already being hard hit. sports events and others have been canceled. we know it's down in florida. look at the great way senators rubio and nelson are working, and so on. we need to being -- to act and we need to act now. because we do know these horrible and devastating impacts. we have heard eloquent and poignant and even wrenching descriptions of what happens to children. now, i know a topic in our congress and in the senate has often been talking about the unborn. well, if we really want to protect the unborn, this is the way to do it. we have to stop the mosquitoes through mosquito control. this is basic public health. we also then have to work with those women who are pregnant, who are of child-bearing age to
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know about the consequences and what actions they can take and be able to be able to do that. now, we need to be able to do this at the federal level. congress needs to act, but they're already acting at a local level, but they're spending local money to be able to do it. my own governor, a republican governor, governor larry hogan, is acting. he convened a task force. he ordered his own health department to coordinate education and awareness with local health departments in maryland. i salute governor hogan in taking that action. he has already authorized the distribution of thousands of prevention kits for pregnant women across the entire state. those kits just right now cost about $130,000 to put together and to distribute, and maryland
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is doing it on its own dime. well, mosquitoes are a national consequence, and even an international one. the counties in maryland are doing their job. and again, not democrat or republican. and again, my governor is a staunch fiscal conservative, but he knows public health saves money along with helping people with their lives. anne arundel county, the home of the state capital headed by a republican county executive, is acting. this local county is already distributing its own prevention kits. it's not only the state capital, it's the home of the naval academy. everybody's acting on their own. and in baltimore city, our mayor is acting, working with the bloomberg school of public health. we're spending local money on mosquito control. they need help. they need help from their own government to deal with the issues south of the border as they come up here, and they need help in our own community to be able to fund the basic public
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health measures that we know are tried and that we know are true to be able to do that. i really encourage us to really be able to do this and to do it not by raiding other programs. i absolutely oppose taking money from the prevention and public health fund to pay for zika. the prevention fund provides resources to fight against other public health problems. we can't prepare for and protect against zika by taking funds from other public health activities. we don't know what the summer and the winter holds. states could lose as much as 40% of their surveillance dollars to track other infectious diseases. so, mr. president, we have asked for a very straightforward set of options. there is the nelson-rubio
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amendment asking for $1.1 blion. that's what i support. it would fully fund our measures both nationally and internationally and particularly helping deal with the spread of this disease and helping local communities. i reject another amendment that will be coming offered by the gentleman from texas, senator cornyn. well intentioned, and i appreciate his sincere interest in this, but he is robbing the prevention fund. we need an urgent supplemental. this was an unexpected event, which means that it's temporary, it's unexpected, and we need to deal with it. then i really want to congratulate -- i know senators blunt and senators murray have been working on another option if the other two fail, but whatever it is thepped of the day, we need to take action. this is a public health
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emergency. we need to deal with it in a most expeditious way, and i know every senator here is concerned about it. the mosquitoes have already come to maryland. what we don't want is to be stung by its consequences. so let's get on with the business of today, and i thank my colleagues for now dealing with this issue. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. blunt: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: mr. president, i want to talk about the amendment that i have offered with senator murray and senator mikulski and senator cochran, the chairman and the ranking member of the appropriations committee have joined in that amendment, as have senator graham and senator leahy. this is truly the committees involved, looking at this, trying to find a way forward that allows us to take action because we do need to take action, as my good friend from maryland has just so well explained, there is no vaccine,
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there is no simple diagnostic test, there is no way to treat the virus once you get infected, so communities really don't have very many options right now, and the limited resources that they have to manage the one thing we can do something about immediately besides education, the local mosquito population it nearly adequate to meet the current need. at this time there is no way to fully prevent the infection, leaving high-risk populations, especially pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant at risk. that seems to be the population where the -- the impact of this disease, the impact of this zika infection has not only the most short-term but the most long-term i am -- implications
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because of microcephaly and other things that are going to be impacting children born. now, i'm told by the center for disease control that every indication now would be that once you had zika, you are not -- you can't get it again. it becomes the inoculation. so just because you get zika and may at a later time become pregnant, you are not likely to have the same thing. that's one of the studies going on to verify for sure that that's the case and also to verify for sure how long after you have had zika pregnancy could still be a problem. but this is a growing problem. there are already 650 confirmed zika cases in the u.s. territories, with the majority of those being in puerto rico. there are over 500 travel-associated cases of zika in the united states. nobody has -- if they got it
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here, it's been through sexual transmission, not from mosquitoes themselves because obviously it's not mosquito season yet, although that is very close. this is a public health threat, and clearly an emergency. this is not something that we can plan now to deal with two years from now because two years from now would be too late to deal with this crisis. i want to make it clear, however, that our deliberations over the supplemental request have never been an either/or scenario. there have never been a scenario where we are either going to rubber stamp the administration's request or do nothing. that strawman won't work. that's not the situation. we need to evaluate this request, and in their request are certain items that the administration asked for that i think if you look at them not even very closely and certainly when you look at them closely, you find out that they are unnecessary, they are
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unwarranted. this is a bill designed to address an emergency situation, not a bill designed to make the most of an emergency. for example, the administration's proposal has a request for the building and expansion of new federal buildings. $85 million of that initial request was to build new buildings -- no way those buildings would have been probably even started during the so-called emergency time frame or during the real emergency time frame, but certainly they would not be of use during the time frame. that's not a real reason to ask for money. it's just an excuse to ask for money. the congress could, should, and i believe will say no, we're not going to do that. the second request that i'd like to point out today, the request to provide the department of health with $175 million of that
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$1.9 billion was just a slush fund. it was just a fund where virtually unlimited authority to transfer that $1,775,000,000 or any part of it to any purpose of any federal government agency. now, there may be some purposes in this emergency we don't know about yet, but there are not going to be $175 million and they are not the kind of emergency appropriation you couldn't get by other means where the congress is clearly involved. you know, we didn't provide this kind of funding in the ebola crisis when the democrats were in charge of the senate, and we shouldn't provide it today. there is no reason for $175 million undesignated fund to be used anywhere in the federal government any more than there is a reason to take $85 million and build a new federal building and say well, it's part of the zika emergency because it clearly is not. if there is a need for a federal
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building at c.d.c., the center for disease control can come to the congress and make that case, and that's the way that should be done, and if this amendment prevails today, that money won't be available. it's not unreasonable to ask the administration for details on what activities would be funded, what are your priorities and when would they realistically spend these funds. the $1.1 billion emergency fund would take us through the end of not just this fiscal year but the next fiscal year, about the same time we would hope talking to the national institutes of health that a vaccine will be available, and once a vaccine is available, we'll need to look at this zika infection in a new way and we'll get to look at it in a new way. if the administration had been a little more transparent at first, maybe we could have
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reached this point earlier, but to suggest that the congress has needlessly delayed funding is both unfair and untrue. now, i also think that this is the time we can move forward. the role of the appropriations committee is to look at this and to see that the money appropriated is going to be spent in the right way. now, in the meantime, the administration has utilized -- has made available to the zika crisis almost $600 million. $589 million is a lot of money. it's particularly a lot of money when it's basically a third of what was being asked for, whether what was being asked for was necessary or not. $589 million of unobligated funds that was -- that were available in other places have been brought to this cause. now, the fact that the administration did that i think shows just how serious they are
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about the crisis in a good way. if this wasn't a real crisis, they wouldn't be taking $589 million that in some process would be spent somewhere else and say listen, we need to spend this on zika right now, but for the people we work for, it's important to understand that $589 million is being spent on this, and that's no more than would have possibly been spent if this appropriation would have happened the day the administration asked for it. the appropriations committee took the necessary time to understand the funding needs and response requirements to ensure that we protect all americans, including tax-paying americans. we work in a bipartisan manner to provide the department of health and human services and the department of state with targeted funding to respond to zika. today we have that result, a bipartisan worked out between the leaders of the appropriations committee and the
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labor-h.h.s. and state and foreign operations subcommittee to meet this emergency, specifically i worked with my ranking member of labor-h.h.s., senator murray, to reach an agreement that would provide $850 million to the department of health and human services to respond in a three-pronged strategy. first, that department is to provide the funds necessary to develop vaccine candidates, therapeutics and new diagnostic tools. secondly, the center for disease control and prevention will be able to focus responsible efforts domestically and internationally on the highest priority activities such as vector control, emergency preparedness and public health outreach. and finally, the supplemental provides targeted funding to puerto rico, which public health experts believe will be the most at historic in a zika outbreak. additionally, this amendment with the work of senator graham and senator leahy includes
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$248 million for the department of state and usaid to support other affected countries' ability to implement programs to reduce transmission of the virus. this amendment is a targeted response to providing the funding needed through 2017. it includes funding for priority initiatives focused on prevention, control, and treatment. it does not include funding for unessential requests. i hope at the end of the day all members find a way to meet this emergency. i believe the bipartisan amendment that we're offering is the most likely of those -- these amendments to meet the need, certainly in my view is the amendment that has taken the most focus on exactly what is needed to meet this crisis and meet it now. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, i
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would say to the senator from missouri that while this senator is most appreciative, that he and senator murray have come forth in a bipartisan fashion with about half of the funding that this senator also in a bipartisan proposal since my colleague from florida, senator rubio, is the sponsor of this amendment with this senator, i would point out to the senator's own words and him commending the administration that they recognize that this was a crisis enough to go in and borrow from the ebola fund $589 million to get started since we couldn't get the congress off dead center
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until now, and i do commend senator blunt and senator murray for their action. i commend the leadership for being willing to put this on the t-hud bill, appropriations bill, but to suggest for the senator that he raise that point that it was such an emergency, $589 million but the appropriations committee proposal only replaces that ebola fund, that $589 million that has been taken from it replaces, replenishes it only with $88 million instead of $589 million. by the way, the news just broke.
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another outbreak of ebola. this senator is not here to talk about ebola. this senator is to talk about another health care medical emergency of which there is well over a hundred cases in this senator's state of florida and senator rubio and i are desperately trying to help. i want to say to senator blunt before he leaves one other thing. he mentioned that we need to control the vector. what does that mean? the vector is the gremlin that spreads the virus, and that is the aegypti strain of mosquito. that mosquito is all over now the southern united states.
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it is especially in puerto rico and that costs money, mosquito control. so, mr. president, i'd like to enter into the record a letter as an example from one of my counties, the osceola county commission, saying that they desperately need the funds -- they're out of funds for mosquito control. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: so, mr. president, what senator rubio and i have is an emergency appropriation, although it's not treated that way in this appropriations bill of $1.9 billion. the centers for disease control predicts that up to 25% of our fellow american citizens on the
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island of puerto rico are going to be infected by the end of the year. that's 800,000 people just there. we know in the united states we have already over a reported 1,000 cases in 45 states. 113 of those 1,000 are in florida, most of them in south florida, miami-dade county and we just had another case yesterday that brought that. those 113 cases are spread all over the state of florida. now, the community leaders as indicated by this letter from osceola county are saying they're out of funds, help. this is an emergency. with four reported cases of the
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virus so far just in that county which is near orlando, they have determined that they will need to triple their annual budget for mosquito control. and so the county manager writes -- quote -- "this public health emergency placed osceola county under significant financial pressure, the county resources are exhausted and the funds are not readily available to respond to the disaster." and he ends up saying lives are at stake. so think about what the house has done. a $600 million zika bill. that's nowhere near what we need. such a figure is not only absurd, it's an insult to the men and women who are on the front lines that are trying to
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battle this virus. local governments like the one i mentioned in osceola county. so we've got an opportunity to respond. now, this senator understands that it's already baked into the cake, even though this proposal by senator rubio and me is bipartisan, it's already baked into the cake, that it's going to be the 1.1 but beware. the crisis is looming. we haven't gotten an effective method for controlling the mosquito. we do not have a vaccine. all of these things take time and they take money. and it's going to need research. the $277 million in this proposal that senator rubio and
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i think need to go to the national institute of health to accelerate their research for a vaccine and other basic research. and so when you compare the two competing provisions out here today, the committee position and ours, going to puerto rico, $250 million, that island is devastated. $250 million for medicaid funds. what's in the committee report, $126 million, half. take, for example, the $743 million in our proposal for the c.d.c., the centers for disease control, and the committee, $449 million. take overall the funding to
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h.h.s., $105 billion. and ours? roughly half, $850 million in the committee provision. i think we shouldn't nickel and dime our response to what the world health organization has said and already declared a public health emergency of international concern. the urgency is now and we ought to do the right thing. i just conclude by saying, mr. president, we've got an olympics that's coming up in a few months in rio. brazil is covered over with zika infestation and infection. remember, it cannot only be transmitted by the mosquito, the aegypti, but it can also be transmitted sexually.
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remember also that the doctors do not know other than to suspect that it can be transmitted to the pregnant woman any time during the nine months of pregnancy, that it may not show up in the infant until years later in some developmental thing. they do know that in the first trimester of pregnancy, the infected virus is producing the babies with encephaly and such a case was just reported with an infected pregnant woman in puerto rico. and so we have not heard the last of this, and you're going to see it magnified with regard to the olympics. so, mr. president, sooner or later we're going to have the face the music. looks like we're going to face
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the music about half the appropriation today. ultimately this is a full blown emergency. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: while our colleague from florida is on the floor, i just want to thank him for being a loud and vocal proponent, for taking swift action. thank you for leading the fight. mr. nelson: i thank the senator for his support because he recognizes the emergency. mr. carper: thank you. mr. president, i rise today in support of emergency supplemental funding for federal efforts to combat the impending threat of the zika virus. reports of the spread of this virus are concerning. they're not just for public -- actually they're troubling. they're not just for public health officials but for many americans who are reading about it in the paper and seeing coverage on the news almost by the hour. families are reconsidering vacations they had planned,
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especially to more tropical locations. as we approach the mosquito season, people are understandably worried about how this outbreak will affect them and their families, not just to go on a vacation and go camping but literally go outside and how to -- have a cookout and eat out on the porch. we're going to need to continue working to fully understand and combat the health risks that are posed by zika. and just like with our response to ebola, our response to zika must be an all hands on deck effort. in february, president obama submitted a $1.9 billion emergency supplemental funding request to congress to bolster programs and to activate -- and to activities which would curb the spread of this virus. given the real threat posed by zika, i support the funding levels requested by the president. i intend to vote for the amendment offered by our colleague from florida, mr. nelson, which would fully fund this request. with that being said, i understand that the bipartisan agreement on funding has been
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reached between senators blunt and murray which would provide $1.1 billion toward zika efforts. i appreciate their hard work in negotiating this language, and i'm going to support their amendment as well so that our nation's public health officials can take all necessary actions to combat the spread of this virus. the zika virus has spread explosively throughout central america and south america, as we've heard. in fact, it's already reached puerto rico and other u.s. territories and is expected to spread further north as the weather continues to warm. researchers have learned much about this virus in just the last couple of months. their findings are indeed troubling. last month the centers for disease control and prevention announced there is not enough scientific evidence to confirm what many have long expected and that's the zika virus is a direct cause of severe birth defects. further complicating matters, it now appears that the mosquito primarily responsible for transmitting the virus has a
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wider presence in the united states than we had originally thought. i have to maps here. we'll look at the first one here. the colors in blue not good. orange is less dangerous, let threatening in terms of the mosquitoes. the -- and the combination of the blue and the orange is troubling. if you look at the combination of blue and orange means the two most worrisome mosquitoes are going to be really covering about the southern half of our country this summer. the areas up here to the northeast, midwest, up there to the northern part are somewhat less troubling but my state is right here. mr. president, your state is right over here. mr. nelson's state is right here. the only person in florida who looks like they'll escape is the senator from maine.
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ms. collins is here to help lead the fight to make sure we're all in this together and looking out for each other. i want to show another map. major cities across the east coast including right here in the district of columbia, right up here, could be hit hard by the zika virus, hit hard. with mosquito season upon us and with more than 500 travel-related cases already diagnosed within the continental u.s., we must be prepared for the possibility of outbreaks in some parts of this country. that's why i was glad to see president obama and his administration taking an early and proactive role in addressing zika. some oñ -- some of the actions include assisting state and local governments in addressing mosquito control efforts. we also know that promising prog advance are being made in countermeasures in vaccine development. to date these have required transfer of resources from other
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priorities, including ebola. last month the obama administration announced that it would redirect on an interim basis almost $600 million from other public health accounts to pay for zika-related activities. i believe the president has made the right call. in light of the circumstances and the dire threat that's posed by the zika virus, now however it is time for this congress to do our job. it is my hope that we can come together and pass the amendment offered by our colleague from florida, senator nelson. however, if we're unable to fully fund the blunt -- the president's request, i believe that funding provided by the blunt-murray amendment will go a long way towards supporting the many efforts currently being undertaken by the administration to combat xi kavment i urge my -- to combat xi kavment i urge my colleagues to -- when the president gave the state of the union right after the 2014 election, he had up in the gallery sitting next to
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mrs. obama some of the folks who helped lead the fight against ebola in africa. some were doctors, nurses, others who developed sack seans. but it was a proud moment for our country, about three months after the election. and we were not threatened here by ebola directly. it was 40,000 people in africa, in the western part of africa. for the most part there was a lot of scare tactics actually used in the run-up to the election about ebola here in this country. but the actual threat in hindsight was not that great. what we did is we reached across the world and we invest add lot of our taxpayer resources to help people who were real any a terrible situation. terrible situation. and we helped save literally hundreds of thousands of lives. their lives -- not so much ours but their lives. this is different. this is different. and what we have at stake here
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is our lives and the quality of our lives -- the quality of ow lives and the ability of women to bring into this world healthy children, a healthy baby. it is not just us. it is our friends to the south of us in mexico, central america, south america, the islands like puerto rico and cuba. we're all in this together. and this is an all-hands-on-deck moment and we need a good team effort. the united states senate is going to vote on whether we're going to be really a full partner of that effort and we need to be a full partner. we need to do our job. it is one of those days i'm confident and hopeful that we will. i would yield the floor. i know the senator from hawaii, which i don't think hopefully will not be affected by this virus, but i'm happy to yield to the gentlelady. thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: our nation is facing a serious threat to public health. the zika virus has the potential to be a major public health
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crisis. according to the centers for disease control, there are over 500 cases in the united states, including nine in hawaii. currently all of these cases are travel-related. there are 700 cases in u.s. territories. almost all of which are locally acquired. summer, just peak travel season and mosquito season is almost upon us. every year 40 million americans travel to zika-affected countries. it is just a matter of time before the threat of locally transmitted zika becomes a reality in the u.s. although the president sent his emergency funding request to fight zika to congress more than three months, a i am glad to see democrats and republicans coming together now to prevent a major u.s. zika outbreak. public health experts at the centercenters for decease contr, department of health and human services and elsewhere in the
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administration have said that $1.9 billion is needed to fight the zika virus. during the senate's last state work period, i met with hawaii researchers and health care providers who agree that we need this federal funding to get ahead of zika. this funding would go to our vector control programs, education, and vaccine development. i visited a hawaii company, hawaii biotech, that is working on a zika vaccine. this company has a proven track record in developing vaccines. hawaii biotech has spent months working to develop the zika vaccine using private funding. at this critical point of vaccine development, dr. elliott parks and his team at hawaii .tech agree that a public infusion of funds will help them get over the finish line. i also had the opportunity to
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visit with the governor and they all shared one message. federal fund something critical to get ahead of a widespread zika outbreak. this funding -- the funding we are voting on today could help companies like hawaii biotech develop a much-needed zika vaccine. it would help states like mine increase mosquito control and awareness on zika. zika is not the benign virus we once thought it was and funding only becomes more urgent as we learn about its harmful effects. zika poses an imminent threat to pregnant women and in reality to all women of child-bearing age. by now we have all seen the harmful impact zika has on babies. the images and reports of babies born with microcephaly are heart sh breaking. zika can threaten our nation's supply of donated blood.
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while blood banks are working on methods to clean and test blood, they need funding to accelerate their research. congress can take steps to ensure the safety and well-being of all citizens. we can be proactive, not reactive, to impending threats like zika. the federal government should play a leading role in coordinating and assisting local and state governments can mosquito control and supporting the latest research. much as we stepped up with federal support when confronted with ebola and avian flu. while there are three zika funding measures before us today, i strongly urge all of my colleagues to join me in voting "yes" on senator nelson' amendment to fully fund the president's request at $1.9 billion. i yield the floor.
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mr. schatz: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. mr. schatz: mr. president, what we do next on zika is not an ideological test, it's a test of our basic competence. it's got nothing to do with one's views on the size and scope of the federal government because, after all, if you believe that government should do even just a few things, preventing a catastrophic epidemic has got to be one of them. zika is a public health emergency, and we have to act now to fund $1.billion in supplemental -- $1.9 billion in supplemental funding to address, as requested impi the public health experts. i congratulate senators nelson, rubio, blunt, and murray for working across the aisle to reach these agreements, and i'd especially like to offer my support for the nelson-rubio
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$1.9 billion compromise. nelson-rubio provides the full $1.9 billion through the following: approximately $743 million from the c.d.c., $277 million for n.i.h., $335 for usaid. and $41 million for the state department. and here's an important aspect of it. it also pays back borrowed ebola money that we need to ensure that countries stay prepared to prevent another ebola crisis. there are few proposals to pay for this, but i want to make the following point. this is an emergency. it fits the definition precisely, and so it shouldn't require a so-called pay-for. and i'd like to say something to the members who have rediscovered their fiscal conservatism. remember that we just passed a $622 million tax subsidy package last december, and none of it was paid for. more than half a trillion dollar
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not paid for. and five months later, we are nickeling and diming the centers for disease control. i recently visited c.d.c. headquarters in atlanta to heroin more about their efforts -- to learn more about their efforts about zika and other vector-borne diseases. we have to give them the strongest funding possible to make sure that they can do their good work. and taking money away from the prevention and public health fund will strip c.d.c. and other important rations of the funds -- agencies of the funds they need to protect our country from within and from without. this is -- it's fair to say that this is a congress that has struggled to do its job. and even when it stumbles through a solution such as this, it sometimes creates a new set of problems. so far in addressing zika, we have forced the administration
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to full money from the c.d.c. for ebola or from states to address public health risks. if you want to find savings, there is plenty to be had in the tax code, including the more than half a trillion dollar package that was passed in december and noted a penny was -- and not a penny was paid for. $622 billion of tax subsidies -- some great things in there, some questionable things this in there. but, importantly, not a penny of it was accounted for and paid for properly. but regardless of your side of the aisle, we can all agree that this is the one thing that the government ought to do: keep us safe. thank you to senator rubio and others for their calls to make zika funding nonpart safnlt investing in the c.d.c. and other agencies will protect our citizens from the horrific diseases and shouldn't depend on your philosophy regarding the size and scope of the federal government. let's do our job. let's keep the people of the
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united states safe. let's fund this emergency for zika. and let's keep us safe from ebola and other dangerous diseases. mr. president, i yield the floor. ms. collins: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding the adoption of the feinstein-portman amendment number 3922, that it be modified with the changes at the desk. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. ms. collins: thank you, mr. president. mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the
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majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, shortly the senate will vote on three different versions of aappropriations bills that would provide the needed money to help combat the anticipated challenges we're going to have with the zika virus, which we've talked a lot about. obviously, zika is a threat particularly to women of child-bearing age because of the horrific birth defects associated with it; most promptly microcephaly, or basically a consul that is smaller -- a skull that is smaller than normal, leading to premature death and horrific injuries. there is bipartisan support thor this legislation. first of all, the president has requested $1.9 billion. we'll have a chance to vote on that. the biggest problem -- or objection i have to that $1.9 billion is that it really doesn't come with a plan that
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says how the president would spend that money. it also is not paid for. and as the presiding officer well knows, we are -- we have a huge national debt. and there's no reason to just gratuitously rack up more debt in order to deal with this public health concern. then there is a second vote we'll have on a $is.1 billion -- on a $1.1 billion aappropriations bill. this is the product of good work done by senator roy blunt of missouri, senator patly murray of washington. they have cut down the president's request and they believe that this will fund the needed work, not only this fiscal year but into the next fiscal year as well. that is also not offset or paid for, and that i think is a problem. first of all, the house s. has proposed roughly $600 billion bill that is fully offset and so
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we're going to have some differences tweej the house and the -- between the house and the senate over how we address the zika virus challenge. the third is a piece of legislation i've introduced that i would certainly ask for my colleagues to support. this is fully offset out of something called the prevention and public health fund that was created by the affordable care act. so there's money in the treasury now that could help pay for the $1.1 billion, i should say about $900 million of it could be paid for now and by next year there will be more money put in this public prevention -- prevention public health fund. but as you can see the affordable care act provides that this prevention and public health fund is to provide for expanded and sustained national investment in prevention and public health programs. i can't imagine any more urgent public health program or one that's -- we should be looking
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to prevent than this particular threat, the zika virus. i want to point out that the prevention and public health fund has been used to fund some things, many good things, some which i think are questionable, like promoting free pet neutering, encouraging urban gardening, and boosting bicycle clubs. certainly prevention of these horrific birth defects and the threat of the zika virus spreading to the continental u.s. and its impact on our population is more important than these. so i would just ask my colleagues, please, let's deal with this threat in a responsible sort of way that we all agree we should, but let's do so in a fiscally rponsible way as well. there's just no reason to gratuitously add to the deficit and the debt. we can do this in a responsible
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way both from a public health standpoint and fiscally as well. mr. president, i know the senator from new york, senator schumer, is coming to the floor. at noon we're getting to do -- going to present a matter for the senate's consideration, but i don't see him here yet. but i'm told he is on his way. let me just turn to that topic. i know senator schumer will be here momentarily. all of us remember the horrible events of september 11 and the grief and the pain that so many people went through in new york, 3,000 roughly people lost their lives. obviously the family members have not forgotten that and the
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nation hasn't forgotten their loss either. the senator from new york, senator schumer and i have introduced legislation called the justice against sponsors of terrorism act. this is bipartisan legislation that would enable americans and their family members who lost loved ones on that horrible day to pursue their claims for justice against those who sponsored these acts of terrorism on u.s. homeland. this bill was reported out of the senate judiciary committee without objection, and similar legislation has passed the senate unanimously last congress. that kind of unanimous support i believe send as clear message that we will combat terrorism with every tool we have available, and that the victims of terrorist attacks in our country should have every means at their disposal to seek justice. i'm grateful for the work of the senator from new york, senator
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schumer, in introducing this bill along with me, chairman grassley for shepherding it through the senate judiciary committee, and i appreciate the support of a large bipartisan group of like minded senators in this chamber. we've worked with a number of senators, including the senator from alabama, senator from south carolina who expressed concerns about earlier versions of the legislation, and i'm -- i appreciate their willingness to work with us to deal with their concerns in a way that now has gained their support. i would say that this legislation amends the foreign sovereign immunities act that was passed in 1976. so we already have a piece of legislation on the books that waives sovereign immunity under some circumstances but the problem is it does not extend to terrorist attacks on our homeland by countries and organizations that have not
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already been designated as state sponsors of terrorism. so what this does is make some small changes in that legislation that first passed in 1976 to expand the scope of that to allow the families of the 9/11 tragedy to seek justice in our courts of law. mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent that a colloquy between myself and senator schumer be made part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: i would add, mr. president, that already there are -- there's litigation pending by the families of -- that lost loved ones on 9/11 and
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right now there appears to be somewhat of a split in the courts, in federal courts with regard to the scope of sovereign immunity and whether it applies, but this legislation would basically clarify that both for the pending cases and for future claims. and at this point i would defer to my friend, the senator from new york for any statement he'd care to make and then i'll be happy to offer a unanimous consent request. mr. schumer: thank you. i thank my good friend from texas from yielding and for the great job he has done. this is another example of bipartisan legislation, and in fact another example of a cornyn-schumer collaboration which works pretty well around here. we've introduced this bill, senator cornyn and i, for the last three congresses. and first under the leadership of senator leahy, then under senator grassley. it has twice passed without
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objection through the senate judiciary committee, once by the full senate, and so i want to thank both senators leahy and grassley for their help as well. the bill is very near and dear to my heart as a new yorker because it would allow the victims of 9/11 to pursue some small measure of justice by giving them a legal avenue to hold foreign sponsors of terrorism accountable for their actions. the courts in new york have dismissed the 9/11 victims' claims against certain foreign entities alleged to have helped fund the 9/11 attacks. these courts are following what we believe is a nonsensical reading of the foreign sovereign immunities act. so for the sake of the families, i want to make clear beyond the shadow of a doubt that every entity, including foreign states, will be held accountable if they are found to be sponsors of the heinous act of 9/11.
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my friend, the senior senator from texas and i have worked hard to narrow the bill, to strike the proper balance between our interests abroad and the rights of our citizens to obtain redress when they're victims of terrible wrongdoing. we will submit a colloquy for the record that goes into more detail on some of the legal nitty-gritty here. but we cannot lose sight of the bigger picture. what this legislation means to the victims of 9/11 transcends day-to-day politics. one of the most impassioned advocates of this bill is mistery strada seeking justice for her husband tom. tom lost his life in the north tower on september 11. itery didn't just lose a husband. she lost a father to a young son of 7, a daughter of 4, and a tiny baby boy who was born shortly after the towers fell. she lost a loving father and her
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best friend. terry strada and many others are seeking what we would all be compelled to seek if we suffered such a loss at the hands of hate and evil which is simply justice. the fact that some foreign governments may have aided and abetted terrorism is infuriating to the families if justice is not done. that's what they seek, justice, justice, justice. terry and her three children have championed this bill for over a decade. they are not cursing the darkness as would be human nature to do at their terrible injust and almost inexplicable loss but instead her family and many other families have chosen to light candles, to do whatever they can to make sure this never happens again, so that any foreign entity that would seek to choose to help and aid and
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abit -- abet and do terrorism here on our shores will pay a price if it is proven that they have done so. so terry and the other families are lighting a candle, a saintly act. i thank them, all the other families as well. monica gabe grel, mingdzy clineberg, laurie vanawkin, patty kasoza for their tirelessly advocacy and patience. in conclusion, mr. president, justice is long overdue. a responsible balanced fix to a law that has extended too large a shield to foreign actors who finance and enable terrorism on a massive scale. the victims of 9/11 and other terrorist attacks have suffered such pain and heartache, but they certainly should not be denied justice.
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now i yield back to my colleague from texas for the unanimous consent request. mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i thank my colleague from new york for his comments and for his partnership working on this important legislation. i now ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 362 and s. 2040. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 362, s. 2040, a bill to deter terrorism, provide justice for victims and for other purposes. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i ask consent that the committee reported substitute be withdrawn and the cornyn substitute amendment be agreed to, the bill as amended be read a third time. the presiding officer: is there objection?
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without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i know of no further debate on the measure. the presiding officer: the presiding officer: is there further debate? hearing none all those in favor say aye. all those opposed no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the bill as amended is passed. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i ask consent that the motions to reconsider be considered and be laid on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kentucky. a senator: i ask to speak for up to five minutes. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection.
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mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. there is are a urgent need that we must address. i hope it will be later in the day for emergency funding to facilitate a rapid response to spreading -- to a spreading public health crisis now in puerto rico but threatening the rest of our nation. there must be a rapid, robust response to the public health emergency that the zika virus poses. zika is a virus capable of crippling and killing. we have seen its effects in some of the cases of developmental disability that have resulted to children. it poses a threat to four million people in the americas. connecticut may not be thought generally to be one of warm
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climates but in fact the mosquitoes are swarming and spawning there, and they include a type of mosquito, the asian tiger that now has been documented to carry zika. that poses an immediate threat and an urgent one for connecticut and for the entire eastern coast and northeast united states. there is a way that connecticut is contributing to a solution. two of our companies in connecticut, quest and protein sciences are developing, activism -- actively working on a vaccine. i visited protein sciences recently and saw first hand the work that is being done there, but the scientists at that company and others that are working on a vaccine need this
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emergency funding. that is their plea to us and i hope that we will respond to it today, not just because a vaccine is needed but it must be part of a broader effort to include eliminating and eradicating mosquitoes wherever possible, educating the public on how to protect themselves and particularly their children and pregnant women against this disease. already in connecticut there have been six zika dying know decease -- dying kno diagnosis . our experience documents that any state in our country may be eventually affected. my plea today is that we use
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this opportunity to pass emergency funding, not deplete our gut a critical resource -- the prevention and public health fund. this fund has provided, for example, $324 million for section 317 immunization grant programs, which states rely on to maintain and increase vaccine coverage, particularly for uninsured americans, and for needed responses to disease outbreaks. invading and decimating this fund will do lastin lasting damo the public health because the prevention and public health fund is the federal government's largest single investment in prevention. over the past five years the fund has put more than $6
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billion toward overdue investments in disease prevention in public health -- and public health promotion. this raiding this fund would wreak havoc on our efforts to reduce chronic disease rates, immune ic -- immunize our childn and ironically lower health care costs. there is a saying -- and i've heard it numerous times on the floor of the senate and in other public forums -- that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. that lesson has been brought home by our experience with ebola, as well as other public health threats. it is true equally of zika. and we should endeavor to prevent through vaccine eradicating mosquitoes, and educating the public the spread of this disease before it causes microcephaly, other developmental disabilities, loss
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of vision, and hearing in newborns. it is a threat to adults as well as newborns and undercutting the investments we've maude to date in public health is far from the right course to take. with women and families across the country looking to congress for action, now is the time for us to take advantage of the bipartisan measures that are before us. i urge that we support those bipartisan measures that will help us increase readiness and surveillance, develop a vaccine, and educate communities about how we can better protect women and children as well as others from this vicious and pernicious disease. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: thank you, mr. president.
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i have nine unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. each has the approval of the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that the requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. collins: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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there are three amendments in the military housing and va spending bill. that include amendments to those he got virus funding recess. both amendments are expected later today. lawmakers and a couple minutes are expected to take a break for their weekly caucus
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