Skip to main content

tv   US Senate  CSPAN  June 15, 2016 10:00am-12:01pm EDT

10:00 am
million young people who qualify, could qualify under the dream act. so we wrote to president obama and said can you give these young people some protection from deportation. if they were brought here under the conditions of the dream act. and four years ago he said "yes." and he created the daca program. the sign-up was to start in august of that same year, four years ago. and i joined with congressman luis gutierrez in offering a sign-up day at navy pier in chicago. we had immigration lawyers come in to help these young people fill out their forms, so they could qualify to stay in the united states for a few years, not be deported, and pay their fee and be here and have a future. we didn't know if 200 would show. we were worried when we heard it might be 300. in the end, there were thousands -- thousands who came signing up. and many of them waited in line all night with their parents.
10:01 am
this was their first chance to stay in america legally. it was an amazing day, one of the more rewarding days of my public career. to see these young people so anxious to be part of america's future to sign up you under this program -- to sign up under this program. that was four years ago that president obama created that program. if these young people are part of america's future, what about their parents? what if in that same household there is a father or mother undocumented. if they have no serious criminal issues, if they'll pay their fee, pay their taxes, sign up with the government, shouldn't they be allowed to stay in america at leasten a temporary renewable -- at least on a temporary, renewable basis in that led to the did dapa progr. well, that executive order has been challenged in court -- across the street at the supreme courters and we expect in a few
10:02 am
weeks it will be resolved and i believe the president's position will be sustained. he has said, it is his executive responsibility to decide priorities in deportation. he wants to deport felons, not families. he wants to make sure that young people have a chance, and the president is doing just what every other president has done of both political parties. he's been challenged by republican governors in a handful of states. and those challenges have really suggested that these young people and their parents should be deported. in fact, there is a presidential candidate on the republican side called presumptive nominee, mr. trump, who's called for the deportation of these people. the deportation of people that you're going to meet every single day. they're your neighbors, they're the people who wait on you in the store, they may be working at a nursing home, caring for your parent, they might be sitting next for in church. and the trump position -- and
10:03 am
those in the more radical wing in the republican party -- is that they should be asked to leave america and deported. that, to me, is unwise and unfair. these people should be given a chance to earn their way to legalization and citizenship, to pay their taxes, pay their fees, go through a background check to make sure they're no threat to our country, and be allowed to continue to stay and live in the united states. well, the challenges to daca, the program for the original dreamers, have reefed a point where -- have reached a point where one judge in justice, andrew haynen, hearing the chase challenging daca, ordered the justice department to turn over the details on 108,000 of these dreamers who received three-year daca permits, including their contact information. judge haynen indicated this
10:04 am
information could be given to the republican lawmakers who filed this lawsuit. they made it clear they want to deport these young people back to the countries where they haven't lived since they were children. thankfully, judge haynen's order to turn over this information has been enjoined or put on hold while we wait for the supreme court's decision. even if the supreme court upholds president obama's actions in creating daca, consider the possibility of donald trump as the next president. mr. trump has referred to hispanic immigrants in the most offensive terms. he has called them -- quote - -s called them -- quote -- "killers" and "rapists." he has indicated that he will deport the 11 million illegal immigrant whose live in this country. over the years i have come to the floor to tell the individual
10:05 am
stories of these dreamers, the young student whose grew up in this country. i want to put a face on the people that donald trump would deport. i want people who are following this debate to meet the young people that they believe have no right to be in the united states and have no future in this country and should be asked to leave. in fact, forced to leave. i want to show america who these people are. let's not talk about these undocumented people. let's talk about the individual that's involved and the families that are involved. this is liset diaz. liset was brought to america when she was six years old from chile. she grew up in long island, new york, and was a pretty good student -- in fact, excellent. in high school, she huang the a.p. -- in high school, she won the a.p. award and was a member of the national honors society.
10:06 am
she had an overall average grade of 95%. i wish i could say the same for my own high school career. she was involved in extra curriculum activities including the soccer and the dance team. "i knew that being undocumented made me different from my classmates. i recited the pledge of allegiance to our flag in school. i knew u.s. history far better than chilean history. i watched american television. the vast majority of my friends were american. i just really felt american." liset went on to attend harvard university where she received numerous awards and participated in many extracurricular activities. she volunteered at the harvard immigration and refugee clinic where she worked as an
10:07 am
interpreter. because of her immigration status, she wasn't eligible for any federal financial assistance to go to college. thanks to the daca program, which we are commemorating today, she's been able to work as a student super advisor at harvard kennedy school library to put herself through school. just last month liset graduated from harvard with honors. her dream? to become a lawyer and work in public service. liset diaz is one story, one of the 730,000 who have successfully applied for this deferred action under president obama's executive order. liset is one of these undocumented people that donald trump would deport and send away from america. mr. trump and those who happen to be endorsing him don't have any use for young people like
10:08 am
liset diaz. they believe they should leave. thethey add nothing to this country, in their estimation. they're just wrong. both donald trump and other republicans have made their agenda clear. they want to shut down daca and dapa and deport hundreds of thousands of dreamers and the parents of american children who may be downlted. if they have their way, liset will be deported back to chicialtion a country -- and be deported back to chile, a country where she hasn't lived since she was a child. will we be a better country if someone of her extraordinary talent is gone? will it make us safer and better if she is deported, as donald trump has called for? the answer to most ration national people is very -- to most rationale people is clear. i am hopeful the supreme court will uphold the president's immigration action and then i
10:09 am
hope they will refix our broken immigration system us an and for all. there was a time not long ago when we passed comprehensive immigration reform on the floor of the united states senate. 14 republicans joined with the democrats to make this bipartisan measure at least a vehicle for us to finally address immigration reform in america. it was one of the better days in my service in the united states senate. what happened to that bill after it passed with a bipartisan majority? it went to the house of representatives, where it languished and died. three years, not a single piece of legislation has been brought forward on the issue of immigration reform. everyone concedes our immigration system is broken. we know we have undocumented people in this country. those who are dangerous should be deported immediately. those who are not should be given a chance. that's what the bill said. a chance to file their filing
10:10 am
fee, to go through a criminal background check to pay their taxes, to register with the government and go to the back of the line and wait -- many times waiting for 10, 15 years for that chance to finally become a citizen of this country. that's what our bill said. i think it's fair. but the house of representatives, under republican leadership, would not bring it up. and sadly, this presidential campaign has shown that many in the republican party are not only topped that legislation -- opposed to that legislation, we're topped the concept of im-- they're opposed to the concept of immigration. they're opposed to the notion that people can come to this country and make a difference. you know, of the top fortune 500 companies in this country, the biggest, the biggest employers, the ones that have the most impact on our economy, out of 500 top fortune 500 companies, 70 were started by immigrants to the united states. some of the biggest and soment o-- and some of the most important. this is a nation of immigrants. i have said before and i will
10:11 am
again, i'm frowd stand here as a first-generation american. my mother was an immigrant to this country. thank goodness my grandparents had the courage to get up and leave lithuania and come to the united states of america, and because of that, i stand here today. that's my story. that's my family's story. it's america's story. and those who reject that history of this country and that heritage in this country are rejecting our birthright and our identity as the united states of america. this campaign by donald trump against immigrants building walls and all of the hateful things that he said is going to be remembered by a lot of people for a long time. it's going to be transformational as people really identify where they think america's future will be. i don't believe it's going to be part of the hatred and fear that's being peddled by mr. trump and others who support
10:12 am
him. we are a hopeful, positive nation. when we come together, our diversity is our strength. it is our unity. it is what really distinguishes us in the world. on the 4th anniversary of the president's executive order for daca, i want to thank the president for his leemplet i -- for his leadership. i hope that the supreme court decision in a few weeks will chart a path for us to open this so we can start moving through the president's leadership toward a goal which we started in the senate and which, unfortunately, died in the u.s. house of representatives. mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
10:13 am
mr. perdue: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. perdue: are we in a quorum
10:14 am
call? the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. perdue: i would like to ask that the quorum be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. perdue: today i would like to set the record straight for this on-going water rights issue. sasse i said yesterday-- -- language that accompanies this commerce, justice, and science bill has been inserted in an attempt to strong-arm the outcome of a matter that should be left to states. this is an interstate dispute with negotiations and litigations still pending and much like other parts of the country, the states have been in negotiation for many years. clearly, this is not a matter for congress. this is not a matter that congress in any way needs to insert itself into mr. president. this is a wait we have already had. last year the leaders of both chambers here in washington determined that congress has no business using the
10:15 am
appropriations process to tip the scales one way or the other on this water rights issue. so why are we going through this again? mr. president, this is not the work our constituents had in mind for us when they sent us up here. they expect us to deliver results on the priority issues of our day and they expect the national interests and the constitution to come before the self-interest of a select few members of the senate. but yet again the senior senator from alabama is attempting to impose washington as a solution for a matter that should be and is being handled by the states. for over 20 years alabama, florida, georgia, and the army corps of engineers have litigated and negotiated over water rights issues. despite decades of litigation, neither alabama nor florida has been able to approve real or substantial harm resulting from the army corps of engineers or georgia's water management practices. as a matter of fact, they're under court direction today.
10:16 am
mr. president, the numbers show this. since 1980 the population in the metro atlanta water district has more than doubled from just over two million to over five million. and that's as a percentage of about 5.5 million people in the state as a whole. that's since 2014. since 2000 alone the population of this metro area has grown by more than one million. since the formation of the metropolitan north georgia water planning district in 2001, withdrawals have increased dramatically even as the population grew by more than one million. the consumption per capita has gone down by more than one-third, mr. president. this is good water management. georgia has been a good steward of water resources, and this is repeatedly been validated. in fact, metro atlanta water systems have gone above and beyond the necessary water management practices to ensure that they're conserving as much as possible and efficiently
10:17 am
using the water they do withdraw properly. again, mr. president, the numbers back this up. there are 15 counties in the metro district, from 2000 to 2013. as i said before, water withdrawals have declined by more than one-third. both alabama and florida have consistently lost in court because their claims have been found to be baseless, because they can't win in court, now we see the senior senator from alabama trying to win through appropriation process in congress. this is a case -- there is a case on this issue currently being litigated between the states and the united states supreme court that is due to be heard by court-appointed special master in november of this year. there's another case pending in the u.s. district court for the district of columbia, and yet another one pending in the u.s. district court in the northern district of georgia. we need to allow the legal process to run its natural course on these cases.
10:18 am
but again, some in this body are short circuiting that litigation through the appropriation process. that's just not appropriate. this short circuiting would have improper influence on the outcomes of these court cases. that speaks volumes. mr. president, we're not -p sent here to pick winners and losers among the states. this is a matter for the states involved to litigate and negotiate, as are all interstate disputes. by the way, this could set a dangerous precedent not just for these three states but for all states who have water rights issues. this is a phaerpt for the states involved -- a matter for the states involved to litigate and negotiate as are all interstate disputes. this is not a matter to be dealt with through the appropriation process of the federal government. attempts at this kind of washington meddling are exactly why many of our constituents have lost trust in this body. we must remove this language from the c.j.s. bill or we'll set a dangerous precedent moving
10:19 am
forward. thank you. mr. president, i yield back and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: test
10:20 am
quorum call:
10:21 am
10:22 am
10:23 am
10:24 am
10:25 am
10:26 am
10:27 am
10:28 am
10:29 am
10:30 am
quorum call:
10:31 am
10:32 am
10:33 am
10:34 am
10:35 am
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i call up the
10:36 am
-- the presiding officer: morning business is closed. mr. mcconnell: i call up the substitute amendment number -- the presiding officer: the clerk will report the pending business. the clerk: motion to proceed to the consideration of h.r. 2578, an act making appropriations for the departments of commerce and justice, science, and related agencies and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: question is on the motion to proceed. all knows favor say aye. -- all those in favor say aye. all those opposed, nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the the clerk will report the bill. the clerk: h.r. 2578, an act making appropriations for the departments of justice and justice, science, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending september 30, 20 1-6rbgs and for other purposes. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i call up the substitute amendment number 4685
10:37 am
to h.r. 2578. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: mr. mcconnell for mr. shelby proposes an amendment numbered 4685. strike all after the enacting clause and insert the following -- mr. mcconnell: i ask that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. shelby: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. shelby: i ask consent to call up amendment 4686 to the substitute amendment of. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator alabama, mr. shelby, proposes an amendment numbered 4866 to amendment number 4685. mr. shelby: i ask consent that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection.
10:38 am
mr. shelby: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator alabama. mr. shelby: mr. president, i rise this morning to encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support h.r. 2578, the commerce, justice, science, and related agencies appropriations bill for the fiscal year 2017. but before i discuss this bill, mr. president, i want to take a few minutes to extend my condolences to all who lost loved ones in the who are refusic act of terrorism -- in the horrific act of terrorism that took place over the weekend in orlando, florida. the unspeakable act of violence underscores how critical it is for the nation's law enforcement
10:39 am
to have the tools they need to prevent future incidents and protect the american people. this bill funds important functions, mr. president, that are vital to our nation's security, including law enforcement, immigration enforcement, cybersecurity, and severe weather forecasting. i believe that this bill reflects our strong bipartisan relationship on the appropriations committee, and i thank my colleagues across the aisle for working with us to move the bill out of the committee. as chairman of the commerce, justice, and science subcommittee, i've worked with my colleagues to provide critical funding for the u.s. department of commerce and justice, the national aeronautics and space administration and the national science foundation, among others. the commerce, justice, and science bill before us meets the subcommittee's allocations of $56.3 billion in discretionary spending. this level is $563 million above
10:40 am
the fiscal year 2016-enacted amount and is $1.6 billion above the budget request. however, mr. president, when taken out score keeping adjustments and instead comparing true spending, this bill is actually $1.83 million below the president's request. the committee has made difficult but i believe responsible decisions to craft a bill that stays within the two-year budget agreement that was agreed on here last fall. within these budgetary boundaries, i believe the committee has achieved a careful balance between the competing priorities of law enforcement, national security, economic development, scientific research, space exploration. the bill also funds the department of commerce at $9.3 billion, which keeps our next
10:41 am
generation of weather satellites on schedule and ensures the national weather service can continue to provide timely warnings for severe weather. to help noaa modernize the way it manages fish rirks the bill continues to provide strong funding for noaa to expand its adoption of electronic monitoring and reporting in order to increase coverage of our nation's fisheries and reduce costs for our commercial fishermen. the red snapper fishery is vital to fishermen and businesses across my state of alabama and the rest of the gulf coast states, and i'm pleased that this bill continues several provisions that will help respond to the challenges facing anyone that wants to fish for gulf red snapper. this committee, mr. president, remains supportive of science and innovation by maintaining healthy funding for the national science foundation while preserving a balanced space program within nasa.
10:42 am
the budget request that nasa presented to congress included, i believe, a disingenuous combination of discretionary spending and an unprecedented amount of funding disguised as mandatory spending. the truth is that the nasa request only totaled $18.2 billion, a cut of $1 billion from what congress provided last year. these cuts, if they were enacted, would erode on-going science missions, delay exploration launches, and stifle american innovation. in contrast to the budget request, the bill itself now before us funds nasa at $19.3 billion, preserving the funding congress provided in 2016. mr. president, this level makes it possible for the agency to continue supporting on-going science and exploration missions, especially the space
10:43 am
launch system and the orion capsule development. -- which are both critical stages of development. the bill maintains strong funding for the department of justice at $29.2 billion and the bill provides either the budget request or at least a 1.5% increase for all federal law enforcement operations to support men and women on the front lines of preserving public safety. the bill also before us includes essential cybersecurity funding through the department in order to protect our nation and to track down, arrest, and prosecute child predators to keep our communities safe. i want to point out that this bill provides $2.96 billion for victims of violent crime from the crime victims fund, or c.v.f., which meets the three-year average of deposits in the fund and is a metric that the budget committee requested. as a result, mr. president,
10:44 am
overall funding for victims and victim-related grant programs, which are widely supported by many members of this committee as well as members of the senate, remains above -- at or above the 2016 levels. i believe that this bill strikes a balance between the competing priorities of law enforcement, terrorism prevention, research, scientific advancement, and u.s. competitiveness. i think we have basically a transparent product that accommodates the senate's priorities and addresses the needs of our nation. i urge my colleagues at the proper time to support this motion to proceed and to support its swift passage. i yield the floor. ms. mikulski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: mr. president, i, too, rise in support of the commerce, justice, science appropriations bill. as my colleague, the chair of
10:45 am
the subcommittee, the gentleman from alabama, senator shelby, said, the c.j.s. bill does provide $56.3 billion to fund the department of commerce in its many -- and its many agencies. the justice department, the national science foundation, and the national aeronautics and space administration. it meets the bipartisan budget act of 2015, by every account is pretty much at the level we funded last year. it is a bipartisan bill. it is free from poison pill riders, and it was reported 30-0 from the committee. i support the underlying bill and look forward to moving it through the senate. when i left, what a difference a few days make. when i left the senate on thursday to return to maryland to be with my constituents, i
10:46 am
was so excited about bringing -- joining with senator shelby to bring the commerce, justice, science appropriations bill to the floor. i was excited about it for several reasons. not only the legislation, but what the legislation and what we brought here actually meant. first of all, that we actually e going to bring a bill that was bipartisan and that i was going to be joined with my colleague of so many years, senator shelby of alabama, where we have worked together, where we've tried to come up with how we meet the needs of the united states of america to protect our citizens, to really make sure that we're the country of innovation and discovery, and that we do this in a way that's also fiscally responsible. in order to have bipartisanship, you must start with friendship. senator shelby and i've
10:47 am
developed that over the years based on mutual respect, candor and civility and consultation. and i was looking forward to bringing the bill based on content. mr. chairman -- i mean mr. president, this will be the last subcommittee bill that i will bring to the senate with my retirement at the end of this session, well, i'll be leaving. but this subcommittee is one that i have chaired for a number of years and have worked with such wonderful colleagues on the other side of the aisle. so there was a whole sense of excitement in bringing the bill to the floor. two people working together to bring something before our colleagues in a spirit of, number one, meeting america's needs, being fiscally responsible and showing that with mutual respect we can get a mutual job done. but you know, that excitement
10:48 am
ended. it ended sunday morning when i woke up, and to my horror and shock saw what had happened in orlando. orlando, i saw was bleeding. the lgbt community was bleeding. the latino community was bleeding. america was bleeding. the terrible act of terrorism and hate killing 49 innocent people and with a death toll possibly on the rise at a nightclub in orlando, this was just terrible. and i knew that it wasn't the first time a terrorist with hate in his heart and a gun in his hand had mowed down his fellow citizens with a high-powered weapon. it seemed so hard to believe, and yet i noted that last friday it was one year since the murder at charleston. innocent americans going about their lives murdered in churches, schools, movie theaters, at work. they had names like new town,
10:49 am
aurora, san bernardino, and america wants to know what are we doing to keep america safe. well, i want to say to america, first of all, that in the underlying bill, we really worked hard to make america safe. the senate c.j.s. bill includes $3.7 billion to protect americans from terrorism and to respond to growing threats and incidents. senator shelby leading the way, working with me, we worked to help the f.b.i. transforming from fighting bank robbers to fighting isil and lone wolves. the bulk of the d.o.j. -- the department of justice -- counterterrorism funding is for the f.b.i. $3.5 billion to uncover and discover plots against america. we fund the joint terrorism task force where all the agencies work together in 104 cities.
10:50 am
we make sure we have a watch listing through terrorist screening centers. individual investigations resulting in arrest for those who seek to join isil and syria. this legislation, this appropriations bill before you also funds something called the national security division. $95 million to make sure we have the prosecutors, the law enforcement and coordinated intelligence communities to make the case against terrorists. we fund the u.s. attorney's office at $51 million. and we also make sure when we catch the bad guys they go to the federal prison. and also we help local law enforcement to train and respond to the active shooter incidents. last year alone -- well, not last year. in the last decade we've had to respond to 160 incidents in which there was an active
10:51 am
mass -- an active shooter trying to do mass murder. overall this bill contains a -- overall the bill contains a 1% increase for federal law enforcement. it's what we could do with our budget allocation. but that's not enough. our tight allocation means we can't afford the resources to respond to the threats of america and stay within the budget caps. the f.b.i. needs the right tools, the right technology and the right training to stop terrorists before they act, to uncover these lone wolf and organized operations. that's why later on in the bill i will offer an amendment for emergency funding for the f.b.i. to add $170 million to fight terrorism whether it originates overseas or here in the united states. we've helped with emergency supplemental funding to the
10:52 am
f.b.i. before every year between 2001 and 2008. but the threat is growing and the emergency is now. but sunday's attack was also a hate crime. no hate crime should be tolerated against any community or any group ever. america's strength lies in its diversity. we all have to stand together, and we have to stand strong in denouncing prejudice and violence directed at any group. and we must speak out against hate in any form. i too want to express my condolences to those people who died at orlando. i also want to express my condolences to their family members and to the injured, all who will bear the permanent impact of this. this bill is a way also of showing that we're serious about hate crimes. the bill that senator shelby and
10:53 am
i brought here maintains funding for the civil rights division of $148 million to enforce antidiscrimination laws. we've worked with assistant attorney general tkpwup at that and her -- assistant attorney general gupta and colleagues to keep schools safe and free from intolerance and discrimination. again there we need more help and i hope to add $30 million to that agency to fight discrimination. hearing the strong cry across the country, i know that there will be those who will be calling action on gun control. senator feinstein and others will speak later on today on that. so in terms of what just happened -- so it happened in orlando but it happened in new town and so on, i think we have a good response in the bill, and i think there are good pending amendments.
10:54 am
but i also want to speak to the other part of the bill. you know, one of my big issues is jobs. jobs today and jobs tomorrow. and in this legislation, working again with my colleague, we put money into this for jobs and innovation. why is innovation so important? for the companies in the s&p 500, about 80% of their value comes from intangible assets, patents and trademarks, research software. not bricks and mortar and inventory. that means that through innovation, companies need new knowledge to invent new products to have new jobs. we want to win not only the nobel prizes but we want to win the markets. but we have to start with research. that's why we fund the national science foundation at $7.5 billion, supporting more than 11,000 research grants. the national institutes of standards and technology, $974
10:55 am
million to make sure that it sets our standards for products to be sold everywhere in the world. and, mr. president, those are american standards, not chinese standards. we're not buying chinese mammograms, mammogram equipment. we're not buying chinese equipment to make our cars lighter and safer. and also we're doing important work there on cybersecurity. also we had the national oceanic and atmosphere administration. i am very proud of the work they do in terms of fisheries and their oceans and certainly their work in the chesapeake bay. but we also have the very important weather predict shun where, again, working with the other side of the aisle we made sure they had the right computational capacity to be able to do the weather forecast that we need. the hurricane season is upon us. we need to pinpoint when a
10:56 am
hurricane's coming to be able to save lives and be able to save property. and every mile of evacuation costs $1 million. the more accurate we can be, the earlier we can be, the more lives we will be able to save and also protect property. that's what they do. then there of course is nasa. my colleague from alabama, senator shelby, and i have worked a number of years on the national space agencies. we've worked so hard for a balanced space program, human space flight, reliable space transportation, aeronautics in space science, inspiring all ne. we've helped promote innovation. we've looked at new stars from the hubbell. we've looked at new planets using pluto. we spawned a new satellite servicing industry. and we've also looked out for
10:57 am
the planet. whether it's in huntsville, alabama or at the goddard space agency, we've moved this forward. we need our science agency to be able to sell their products. that's why we fund the pa trent trademark office. senator shelby and i believe private property needs to be protected, but intellectual property is private property and we want to make sure that our patent office is able to be not a bottleneck but a pathway to protecting this. we also promote the trade administration and the economic development administration. i look forward to robust amendment process to address the issues related to safety and security and other aspects of the bill. so i would hope that our colleagues would come forth, debate. there is no restrictions here to debate and then to offer their
10:58 am
amendments. now's the time to seize the moment, and i look forward to working with my colleague, senator shelby, and all of our colleagues to move this bill. i think at the end of the day we could be very proud of what we're doing to protect america at many different levels. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. nelson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, i want to commend the chairman and ranking member for many, many things. and i want to say to the ranking member, senator mikulski, we are going to miss her upon her retirement. and as one who is near and dear to our nation's space program, both civilian and military, their leadership has been extraordinary. mr. president, i want to talk about orlando. i want -- since i hadn't had
10:59 am
time to blow this up, i want people to see if you can see the small print where my finger is is an ar-15. a similar weapon is what the shooter mateen used called a sig sour and it has some designations of letters. it has a collapsible stock. and that is probably why he was able to conceal it as he went in to the nightclub late in the evening while some people were leaving. it was last call. there was probably some
11:00 am
reduction of heightened awareness because the evening was over. it is an extremely lethal military weapon that can shoot what the ar-15, which is like the military m-16, a bullet called a 223, or it can shoot a bullet that is a little larger and more powerful called a 300-aac blackout. all the more that will do damage, tearing into flesh. mr. president, this tragedy in my state, in the town in which i
11:01 am
live, could have been prevented since he had been on the terrorist watch list for over two calendar years while he was questioned three times in 2013 and 2014, and upon that questioning, the f.b.i. saw no prosecutable evidence to continue and close the case. as the director of the f.b.i. said -- quote -- "once an investigation is closed, then there is no notification of any sort that is triggered by that person then attempting to
11:02 am
purchase a firearm when the case or cases were closed as inconclusive." end of quote. f.b.i. director comey. and therefore i have introduced legislation, mr. president, that would -- if you have been questioned about a possible terrorist act, much more so if you have been put on the terrorist watch list but have been taken off because, as the director says, that case was closed as inconclusive, his words. when you go to purchase a gun, you can purchase that gun legally.
11:03 am
yp shouldn't the f.b.i. be -- why shouldn't the f.b.i. be notified that the person that st purchased the weapon had been on the terrorist watch list? it's common sense. i don't think even the n.r.a. can object to this, and they are accustomed to getting their way around here because this doesn't in any way inhibit the purchase of that firearm. this is after the fact of the purchase a notification is given to the ncis system, the national instant criminal background check system, a notification that this person was once under the investigation by the f.b.i. oned/or put on the terrorism watch list.
11:04 am
it seems to me that this is common sense, and had that been in place in law, 50 people, 49 victims, innocent, would not be dead, and there would not be another 50, some of whom are fighting for their lives. mr. president, i will also say that we have already hotlined a resolution that my colleague, senator rubio and i, have introduced expressing the condolence to orlando, condemning the terrorist attack, giving our support to the family and friends of those affected and applauding the dedication of
11:05 am
the law enforcement that responded and the interagency officials, and i will also say what i repeated in my remarks monday afternoon as i had just returned from south orange avenue in the street in orlando not far from the nightclub and not far from ormc, the hospital where so many of those victims are still in critical condition. i said that we are healing. it is going to take a long time, but one of the things in the healing process that we need is the expression of unity instead of division. it was a marvelous sight in the command center, the temporary command center set up in the
11:06 am
middle of orange avenue to see the state, local and federal level all working together seamlessly with the f.b.i. taking the lead. that is how government is supposed to respond. how is a society supposed to respond? was it on sunday when we opened our orlando office to try to help the incoming calls, all of which were support. was it like the ceremony two nights ago at the first baptist church of orlando where it was one of unity and the members of the muslim community were prayed for by the other faith communities in that church setting, or was it in the 400
11:07 am
calls that we had in our orlando office on monday, the day after 95% of which were expressing hate, antigay, anti-immigrant, anti-any gun control, anti-whatever it was, expressing not a message of unity but a message of division. this senator had just been elected in 2000 when in the first year of my tenure in the senate 9/11 happened.
11:08 am
what i saw was remarkable. in this senate coming together to crowd around the senators from new york and montana and new jersey and offering them the unity of the nation at the time that we were still under the terror watch on that very evening of september 11, 2001. the members of congress in this senate and that house said we don't care. we're going to the center steps on the east front of the united states capitol building, and we broke out in unison, singing "god bless america." we were showing our unity. where is that unity now? it's being expressed in pockets
11:09 am
around this country, and it's being expressed to those grieving in orlando. we must do more. and, mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: mr. president, i want to follow some remarks listening here to my friend, senator nelson from florida. let me first say a couple of things about the bill that's on the floor. this is a challenging bill to bring to the floor. senator shelby, as the chairman of the committee, has done a great job to bring a bill to the floor. that's not the bill he would have written if he was writing the bill by himself. sara -- senator mikulski has done the same thing. by having these bills on the floor, we have a chance to let
11:10 am
all the senators express their views by offering amendments and voting on amendments. this bill has some excellent things in it at a critical time. p pursues a -- it pursues a national network of manufacturing centers. senator brown and i a couple of years ago were able to get advanced manufacturing centers of excellence into the law in a way that the commerce committee could do things that otherwise -- or the commerce department that they otherwise are not able to do. this fully funds an important program that the administration zeros out every year. the victims of child abuse advocacy centers. these are centers where kids can go who have either been the victims of a crime or the witness to a crime and have the interview that needs to be had and have it one time in almost all cases by somebody who knows
11:11 am
what they're doing. the forensic interview that puts that crime on the record in a way that kids don't have to constantly relive that moment because somebody who might be very good at interviewing adults isn't very good at all in interviewing kids, someone who doesn't understand how traumatic that moment is if you're 2 -- if you're 5 or 15 or if you're a child who has been part of a crime. senator coons and i were able to put legislation on the books that extended that program a few years ago, and i'm grateful to see the program fully funded even though i'm annually puzzled by why the justice department says we don't need these programs for these -- these victims. but that's taken care of here. lots of things happened as we
11:12 am
should be focusing on the law enforcement community, and once again after what happened sunday morning, we're praising the law enforcement community. we're praising the equipment they have. i haven't heard anybody critical of the fact that there were armored vehicles. not armed vehicles, mr. president, but armored vehicles there, the bear or the bearcat that they could perforate the wall, and those weren't in the state capital and local police didn't have to call and say is it okay if we get the armored vehicle brought down here from atlas. they -- from tallahassee. they had the vehicle. many of these vehicles bought under programs that uniquely allow either funding or equipment to be transferred, but when you see those holes in the wall where victims got out and law enforcement officials got in, that was a very -- that was
11:13 am
the very kind of victim that this congress was -- many in this congress were critical of just a couple of years ago when those same vehicles were being used to save lives, bring people out who had -- who had been injured in our country, and we heard a lot about the militarization of the police. we didn't hear any of that over the weekend, and thank goodness we didn't hear that. i'm pleased that the senate has responded to senator rubio and senator nelson's resolution that expresses our gratitude for those who have helped in this tragedy, gratitude to the law enforcement community, gratitude to first responders, gratitude to people in the community who have stepped forward to donate blood, people in orlando and around the country who have sent in national support groups to offer counseling at a time when a lot of counseling is
11:14 am
necessary. it's hard to imagine what it would have been like to be in that nightclub, hard to imagine what it would have been like to -- as one father i heard yesterday have a message from his son over the son's ivan that he thought -- son's iphone that he thought was the last time he would ever hear from his son, only hours later to see video of his son being one of the people that's being helped out of the building, and only then did he know his son was alive. lots of counseling needs to happen. people who have lost their loved ones, people who have lost people that mean so much to them. 49 innocent people killed on sunday. 53 people still suffering injuries, and many more people suffering the trauma of what happens when you're there or when this is your community or this is your family, and we need
11:15 am
to be thinking about that, and that resolution recognizes that. you know, people need help at times like this. you know, after a tragedy like this, we are almost certain to hear two debates. one is about the second amendment and one is about how big a problem is the mental health problem of this. we add to this debate now orlando and san bernardino and other places around the world. we add radical islamic terrorism as a motivator, faith taken out of any rational context of faith and ends up in violence. we'll have a debate about the no fly list and the terror watch list and, by the way, mr. president, those are two very different lists. the no fly list is a relatively
11:16 am
small list. the terror watch list has about a million people on it, and as a member of the intelligence committee, i'm still waiting for a better explanation to take this individual off than the interview was inconclusive which is the comment -- the quote just given by the senator from florida, that he said the f.b.i. director made inconclusive, not good enough. i would think if there's a reason you're on that list, there should be a conclusive reason that you're taken off, not an inconclusive reason you're taken off. you know, i would suggest, though, we need to be thoughtful here. when the government can put people on a list outside the normal justice system and because the government has put your name on a list that somehow you lose rights that you might
11:17 am
otherwise have is the kind of thing that we wouldn't assume our government would ever be able to do. now, to put somebody on a list that needs to be watched is a different thing and how they get on and off that list is a different debate, but just the idea that we could have a government put your name or my name or the name of anybody listening to this on a list and because you're on that list certain things happen that wouldn't happen otherwise is concerning to me. senator stabenow and i have been working for a long time now to try to create an opportunity for states back to the counseling element of this, states to treat health, including mental health the same. we have a bill, expand the
11:18 am
mental health act where we have 24 states that have applied for the grant process to make a proposal to the federal government to where they would try this for a couple of years and see what happens and what they're going to find out that happens in the somewhere between eight and 24 states that are able to do this, what they're going to find out will happen is that not only is it the right thing to do on all fronts but it is the right thing to do in terms of just health care costs generally. if you treat mental health like all other health, all those costs go down. the last bill that president kennedy signed into law was the community mental health act. that was the end of october 1963. the law was meant to free many thousands of americans from mental health illness, spent in lifetime institutions. and those institutions were closed, mr. president, but other
11:19 am
alternatives have not yet been made available in the way they should be. according to the national institute of health, one in four adult americans has a diagnosable and almost always treatable mental health issue, and they say that one in nine adult americans have a mental health issue that impacts how they live every day. and this brings me to one of the points i wanted to be sure and make today. as we always talk about mental health when these tragedies occur as one of the elements to tragedy, people with a mental health issue are much more likely to be the victim of a crime than they are the perpetrator of a crime. we want to be careful as we have this discussion that we don't drive people further away from an interest in seeking treatment. if one out of four adult americans has a diagnosable mental health issue, this is not
11:20 am
a unique thing. if one out of nine adult americans has a diagnosable mental health issue that impacts how they live every day, we should be talking about this as a health issue. clearly somebody who does irrational things may have a mental health concern but we don't ever want to make the mistake that mental health and crimes somehow are the same thing. and let me repeat one more time. if you have a mental health issue, you're much more likely to be the victim of a crime than you are the perpetrator of a crime. we have in this bill we're dealing with right now for too long we've allowed the law enforcement community, actually required is a better way because they don't want this responsibility. we've acquired the law enforcement community and the emergency rooms of the country to be the defacto mental health
11:21 am
delivery system of the country. we're doing significant and helpful things in this bill for law enforcement. let's look for other opportunities to do the right thing for law enforcement by being sure that we take one of their daily obligations, the mental health deliver system obligation and look for every way we can to minimize that by creating opportunities for everybody to be able to go that treats mental health like all other health. mr. president, i would yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. a senator: thank you, mr. president. let me first extend my thanks to chairman shelby and to ranking member mikulski for putting together a truly bipartisan
11:22 am
bill. mr. murphy: i'm honored to be a member of the appropriations committee. this is a difficult bill to put together but they did very good work in the subcommittee to make this a product that both sides could support. and so i thank them for allowing me to be a part of that process. second, let me acknowledge the remarks that senator mikulski who noted that in many ways the world and the country has changed since this bill was scheduled to come to the floor. our heartbreaks collectively in this country for the citizens of orlando and as i'll speak in a moment, in particular in connecticut. our heartbreaks for the people of orlando because we know in a very real way the pain that exists there today but we also know how that pain is really never ending, how the ripples of
11:23 am
that pain are unceasing and unrelenting and they span generations. they span neighborhoods. they span years. newtown is still putting itself back together, probably will be for a long time and orlando the same. and so our heartbreaks for -- our heart breaks for what that community is going through. but this is a different moment today than it was at the end of last week. there is a new found imperative for this body to find a way to come together and take action, to try to do our part to stem this epidemic of gun violence and in particular this epidemic of mass shootings that plagues this nation and no other industrialized nation in the
11:24 am
world. there is something fundamentally different happening in the united states that causes us to have these catastrophic level mass shootings on almost a monthly basis, caused news 2015 to have 372 mass shootings. definition of that would be four or more people being shot at any one time. and of course every day results in 80 or more people on average being killed by guns, by suicides, through domestic violence, through accidental shootings and through homicides. and it won't surprise you to know that for those of us that represent connecticut, the failure of this body to do anything, anything at all in the face of that continued slaughter isn't just painful to us. it's unconscionable. i can't tell you how hard it is to look into the eyes of the
11:25 am
families of those little boys and girls who were killed in sandy hook and tell them that almost four years later we've done nothing, nothing at all to reduce the likelihood that that will happen again to another family. and i shutter to think what it's going to be like for senator nelson four years from now to talk to the parents of those that were killed this weekend in orlando and tell them that four years after orlando, eight years after newtown, congress has been utterly silent. now, mr. president, i've stood on this floor dozens of times talking about this subject. often i come down to tell the story of the voices of the victims of these gun homicides, of these mass shootings just to make sure everybody here knows
11:26 am
who these people are. they're real people with families. and so this isn't new to me, but i'm at my wit's end. i've had enough. i've had enough of the ongoing slaughter of innocence, and i've had enough of inaction in this body. every shooting is different. there's a different set of facts around every single shooting. the story in newtown was of a deeply mentally ill individual who had been isolated in school and in his neighborhood. it's a story of a young man who had a fascination with violent content and violent video games. it was a story of a young man who had access to a very powerful weapon that was able to shoot 20 kids and kill all 20. and this shooting in orlando has
11:27 am
a different set of facts as well. there's clearly a terrorist connection here. there is a story of radica radicalization. it's also a story about a very ill, very confused young man. there's a story of access again to a very powerful weapon. there's a story here of interaction with the f.b.i., of holes in a network of surveillance and checks that we need to discuss. every set of facts is different, but what unites all of these shootings from littleton to aurora to newtown to blacksburg to orlando is that the weapon of choice in every case is a gun. often a very powerful gun, an ar-15 or ar-15 style gun that was designed for the military,
11:28 am
for law enforcement to kill as many people as quickly as possible. what unites all of these incidents is our failure to do anything about it. no one law can guarantee that a shooting won't occur. no set of laws can allow us to say with certainty that there won't still be killings in chicago, in new haven, and los angeles. there's no legislative guarantee that there won't be another omar mateen. but the idea that we don't even try, the idea that we don't even proffer ideas on this floor, debate them, it's offensive to those of us that have lived through these. and so i have great respect for the product that chairman shelby and ranking member mikulski have
11:29 am
put on the floor. and i know this isn't going to make me popular with many of my colleagues or with the leadership of this body, but i don't think that we should proceed with debate on amendments to this bill until we have figured out a way to come together on at the very least two simple ideas that enjoy the support of 80% to 90% of americans, two ideas, two pieces of legislation that would have been potentially dispossive, impactful with respect to the case in orlando. that is one piece of legislation that senator feinstein has introduced that would simply say that if you are on a terror watch list, that you shouldn't
11:30 am
be able to buy a weapon. and i heard one of my colleagues talk about reservations. i am certain that there is a way to bridge any divide that we have on how to administer that protection in a way that could bring republicans and democrats together. second, in order to make that protection meaningful, you also need to make sure that whenever a would-be shooter buys a gun, he goes through a background check. if you put terrorists or suspected terrorists on a list of those who are presented to buy guns, it doesn't do you much good when around half of all gun purchases today are made outside of the background check system. let's say that the orlando shooter was on a list that prohibited him from buying a weapon and he went to a store and was denied that ar-15 style weapon because he was on that list. well, all he would have to do is go to a weekend gun show or go
11:31 am
online and he would be able to get that weapon without a background check. so if you really want to prevent terrorists or would-be terrorists or suspected terrorists from obtaining weapons, you have to pass legislation that puts those on the terrorist watch list on the list of those who are presented to buy guns, give them an ability to get off that list if they are on there without reason , put them on that list as a default, and second you have to expand the sales that are subject to background checks to make sure that you're creating a web that catches that potential terrorist when he tries to buy that weapon. and so, mr. president, i'm prepared to stand on this floor and talk about the need for this body to come together on keeping terrorists away from getting
11:32 am
guns through those two measures for, frankly, as long as i can because i know that we can come together on this issue. and i know that there is other really important business to be done here. i know other people have amendments that they would like to call up. i know that there are other issues that senators would like to raise. but having come through the experience of newtown, i've had enough. it's been four years and nothing has been done, despite the fact that 90% of the american public wants us to act. the vast majority of gun owners want us to expand the reach of background checks. polls suggest that 80% of americans believe that people on the terrorist watch list shouldn't be able to buy guns. there is no controversy out there about these two provisions. we can work it out.
11:33 am
we can work it out today. we have got a majority of the senate to support manchin-toomey. that legislation still exists. senator schumer has introduced other legislation. senator feinstein has introduced a bill to keep terrorists from getting guns. i'm certain there are ways that it can be made better, but as someone who represents the community of sandy hook, which is still grieving today, i'm going to stand on this floor and talk about our experience in sandy hook, orlando's experience, the need to come together on this issue of making sure that dangerous people who have designs on mass murder don't get dangerous weapons, as long as i can, so that we can get time to try to figure out a path forward, to bring this body
11:34 am
together on the issue of changing our gun laws so that they reflect the will of 90% of the american people. i know this is extreme what i'm suggesting here. but we've had enough of inaction in connecticut. and i just don't want the senator from florida who just spoke four years from now to say to those families that he couldn't do anything either. let me tell you what i mean about how this affects sandy hook in an ongoing way. why -- why i couldn't help myself but to come down and take this stand today. the families that are dealing with this grief in orlando are spread out all over the country and all over the greater orlando
11:35 am
area. it's awful. you just can't imagine, i certainly can't imagine what it's like to lose a child. these are young men and women who died in that nightclub. but it's something different to lose a 6 or 7-year-old. and it's something different when four or five of those kids lived on one road in newtown. all of a sudden overnight four or five kids disappear. they're gone. it's something different when all of the other kids in that school heard those gunshots. they had to flee, stepping over the bodies of their administrators and their teachers. that pain stays with you for a long time as a community, such that in the months and months after what happened in sandy hook occurred, you could be in a classroom and hear a young child scream out a word that seemed
11:36 am
like a nonsector -- non sequitur. in one particular class, the word was monkey. you would have a student stand up and yell monkey. what that was was a safe word. the teachers had worked out that if a conversation started in class about the shooting, about maybe what one kid had saw and the other student didn't want to be part of that conversation -- because you remember, there were survivors from these classrooms as well as kids in the classroom next door. if one kid didn't want to be in that conversation, then that child would stand up and say monkey at the top of their lungs and a teacher would come over and break up that conversation. i don't know why but i think about that a lot, about little kids standing up and screaming monkey in the middle of these classrooms just as a reminder of how the trauma of these events doesn't end. they say in cities across america when one person is shot,
11:37 am
there are 20 people surrounding them, friends, family members, aunts, uncles, children who experience post-traumatic stress after that event. studies suggest that there is 20 people that experience levels of trauma. often in our cities, that leads to a cycle of violence. the anger that comes from a loved one being killed often leads to someone else getting killed as well. it's part of the reason why over memorial day weekend in chicago, there were over 60 people who were shot. and so this grief is never ending for communities like newtown, which is why i am as passionate today as i was in the days and weeks following and why for me orlando was a breaking point. i just looked at myself in the mirror and i think, as you will
11:38 am
hear from some of my colleagues who will interject with questions o'they reached a breaking point as well that we couldn't proceed with business as usual in the senate this week , that we couldn't do what we have largely done after mass shooting after mass shooting. we couldn't go on and debate other issues and ignore the fact that the vast majority of americans, 80% to 90%, want us to take this action, and that it would be impactful. now, again, you can say what i am proposing today wouldn't have changed the result in sandy hook because this individual in sandy hook, he did buy the weapon with a background check through a legal means, his mother did. and i understand that. there is no one change in law that's going to apply to every situation, but it potentially
11:39 am
would have been impactful in orlando, as i'm sure senator feinstein will explain later today, there is a possibility that if her bill had been in effect, the f.b.i. could have put this individual on a list that would have prohibited him from buying a weapon, and had we expanded background checks to make sure that it applied to internet sales and gun show sales, then he might have been stopped in his ability to get this weapon. we can't know that for sure, but we certainly can say that it would have been less likely that he would have been able to get that weapon and carry out this crime had those laws, again supported by the vast majority of the american public, been in effect. and by acting, by coming together and finding a way to act on these two noncontroversial measures, i think we also send an important signal to the american public
11:40 am
and to would-be murderers that we're serious about stemming this epidemic. i think that people notice when we remain silent. i know it's unintentional, but it almost seems to some people as if we don't care about what happens when we don't try to do anything about it. and i understand that we have deep disagreements here about how to proceed, but with the exception of one week in 2013, we have not brought a debate to this floor in which we try to hash out our differences. the republican leadership didn't announce in the wake of orlando that we are going to spend this week working on trying to enact measures to make sure that another mass shooting doesn't happen, and there is a fundamental disconnect with the american people when these tragedies continue to occur and we just move forward with business as usual.
11:41 am
and so i'm going to remain on this floor until we get some signal, some sign that we can come together on these two measures, that we can get a path forward on addressing this epidemic in a meaningful bipartisan way. orlando is the worst mass shooting in american history. a gunman shot and killed 49 people and shot and injured at least 53 others outside of pulse, a gay nightclub in orlando at about 2:00 in the morning on sunday, a gunman opened fire inside pulse, a large gay nightclub in downtown orlando. it opened in 2004. the owner started it to, frankly, promote awareness of the area's lesbian, gay, bye
11:42 am
sexual and transgender community. they host monthly lgbt-related education events. there was one ununiformed orlando police officer working security at the nightclub, along with a number of other private security officers. the police officer working security exchanged fire with the gunman. after this incident began, the gunman began to proceed back into the nightclub and take the people hostage where he held them until 5:00 a.m. a swat team comprised of true heroes stormed them. the gunman was killed in the firefight. one officer was injured. law enforcement rescued approximately 30 hostages. in a press conference at about 10:30 that morning, we all remember this, police indicated that 50 people were killed and 53 more were injured. the shooter was identified as omar mateen, 29, a u.s. citizen
11:43 am
from st. lucie county, florida. we now know that this shooter became a person of interest to law enforcement in 2013 when the f.b.i. learned that he had made comments to co-workers alleging possible terrorist ties. and again, in 2014. the f.b.i. did open an investigation into the shooter, but it was subsequently closed when they didn't think that it warranted any further investigation. mateen was armed with a ar-15 assault rifle and a glock handgun. he did obtain licenses to possess these guns, legally. he bought them about a week or two before the incident. it's pretty clear he was buying these weapons with an intent to kill civilians. prior to the shooting, mateen called 911 and pledged
11:44 am
allegiance to isis. he mentioned the boston bombers. it's a complicated story line here. and you know some of the other story lines about this shooting as well, whether he had been frequenting that club prior to entering it as the shooter. it's a complicated story line here. but at the root of it is someone who had been flagged by the f.b.i. at the root of it is someone who had access to a weapon that was not designed for civilians. ar-15 style weapons weren't legal in the united states until 2004 after being banned for ten years. it's not coincidental that there was a massive increase in mass shootings in this country after 2004. we're still gathering information on the exact nature of the motive, but what we know is that this incident is the
11:45 am
deadliest mass shooting and the highest casualty mass shooting in american history. but it's not the first. and if we don't do something, it won't be the last. in 2009, at fort hood, texas, a gunman shot and killed 13 people and shot and injured 30 others at the fort hood military post. in august 2012 a gunman shot six people and shot and injured three others at a sikh temple at oak creek. in june of 2015, in charleston, and we are sitting on the one-year anniversary of this mass shooting, a gunman shot and killed nine people at the emmanuel african episcopal church, one of the largest and oldest black congregations in the south. about a month later, in july, a gunman shot and killed five people, including two u.s. marines and a naval officer and shot and injured two others.
11:46 am
and in san bernardino at the beginning of december of 2015, two gunmen killed 14 people and injured 21 others at the inland regional center. i mention these particular shootings because these are the shootings that were investigated as an act of terrorism. these are the shootings that have involved connections to radical groups or the intention to commit an act of terrorism against a minority group. and so i think it's right that we drill down today on this issue of stopping would-be terrorists from getting guns because just since 2009, this would be the sixth american mass shooting to be investigated by the f.b.i. as an act of terrorism. we think of ter i.r.s.es --
11:47 am
terrorists as using bombs or improvised explosive devices as their weapon of choice. in fact, the reality is that over the course of the last 12 months, it's been the military style assault weapon that has been the weapon of choice of would-be terrorists. the san bernardino shooter and the orlando shooter chose a gun, not a bomb in order to carry out their attacks. why? because it's frankly a lot easier to get a powerful rifle that was designed for the military than it is to obtain or construct a military capacity bomb or explosive device. and so we have to admit that there is this trend line heading in the direction of powerful firearms that used to be banned in this country and by the way,
11:48 am
through bipartisan legislation to carry out this destruction. and you don't have to listen to me. you have to listen to terrorist organizations themselves. isis today relies on lone wolf attackers in order to perpetuate its mythology of increasing strengthen. -- strength. why is that? because we've actually had success in reversing their territorial gains in iraq and seer ya. isis is on -- syria. isis is on the run inside the middle east. they are far from being defeated and we need to take strong steps to continue to support the syrians, the rebel forces, to support the iraqi army, to push isis back. but they had two narratives that
11:49 am
they had proffered in order to recruit people into their ranks. one, that the caliphate was inevitable and growing and for a long time it was. that so-called caliphate, their geographical territory of control was growing. second, that the east is at war with the west, that this is a fight it the muslim faith and the christian faith. well, that first narrative is not as available to them as it used to be because in fact, for people that are thinking of signing up for isis, they don't have to read too deep in the news to know that the supposed caliphate, the so-called caliphate, is shrinking, not growing. it doesn't look so inevitable, but isis is going to control big portions of the middle east for the long term. it looks like the gig might be up for them. so they are now more than ever relying on the second narrative, that this is a much broader global war between the east and the west. and so lone wolf attackers in
11:50 am
places like paris or brussels or orlando or san bernardino become much more important to their continued international growth. and so it is not without coincidence that terrorist groups have made it very clear to potential converts in the united states that a firearm works just as well as a suicide bomb. they took credit very quickly for this attack and they are going to be hoping that there are others that will go to a store, buy a powerful assault weapon and turn it on americans. and it's our duty to do everything possible to make sure that that doesn't happen. and it isn't an either/or proposition. it's not fight them there or fight them here. it's not focused on -- focus on
11:51 am
terrorism or focus on guns. it's both. it's to continue to support the momentum that exists on the ground in middle east, to defeat isis and defeat them for good and to harden our defenses here in the united states to make sure that these potential lone wolf attackers can't get access to an assault weapon. think about this statistic today. we know who's on the list of those that are being watched as potential terrorists. and we can match that up against who's gone and requested to buy a weapon. and the statistics, mr. president, are pretty stunning. individuals on the consolidated terrorist watch list cleared a background check when seeking to obtain a gun in 91% of the attempted transactions. and this is between 2004 and
11:52 am
2014. that's a total of 2,043 successful transactions out of 2,233. there are 2,000 people over the course of ten years who are on the terrorist watch list who walked into a gun store and bought a weapon. now, those are only the ones we know about. because 40% of gun sales happen outside of gun stores. and so there's likely another thousand to 2,000 people otter i.r.s. watch lists who got -- on the terrorist watch lists who got guns through other mechanisms. so if we're serious about taking on terrorism, then we've got to beat these guys where they live in the middle east, and we've got to support the administration's efforts to do that and supplement them. but we've also got to make sure that these potential mass shooters don't get their hands on powerful weapons, especially
11:53 am
when we know that they have connections to terrorist sourc sources. and in order to do that, you've got to do both. you've got to put those people that are on the terrorist watch list on the list of those that are prohibited from buying weapons and then you also have to make sure that wherever that person is going to buy a weapon, that they are checked to make sure that they aren't a terrorist. mr. president, i don't know how long i'll last here, but i hope that i will be able to give time to our leadership to come together and try to find a path forward on legislation that will make this country safer and that we'll acknowledge that our gun laws are part of the story, not the whole story but part of the story as to why this mass slaughter continues in this country. i live every single day with the memory of sandy hook and i know this is inconvenient for the
11:54 am
leadership and for colleagues on both sides of the aisle. i get that. i am most of the time around here a team player, but i've had enough. i've had enough and i just couldn't bring myself to come back to the senate this week and pretend like this is just business as usual. we've got to do something different. we've got to find a way to come together. i don't know how long this will take, but i'm going to stand here and continue to hold the floor while we give time for our colleagues to try to figure out a path forward to recognize that without changes in this nation's gun laws, supported by the vast majority of americans, that this slaughter will continue. i see my colleague from connecticut rising, mr.
11:55 am
president. i would yield to my colleague from connecticut for a question without losing my right to the floor. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. i have a question which i will previoupreviouspreface. i thank him for his leadership. we have worked as a team on this issue of gun violence prevention and the fight against terrorism abroad and at home. and i want to thank our other colleagues who will be part of this effort. it is very much a team effort that we bring to the floor today involving our friend and distinguished colleague from new jersey, senator booker, senator feinstein who has worked so hard on this legislation before we arrived here, our colleague senator durbin who is with us
11:56 am
now, senator schumer, so many of us who feel so deeply ch and i think for -- deeply, and i think for senator murphy and myself, the deeply emotional experience of orlando evoked the images and sounds and sights of newtown on that tragic day when both of us were there and witnessed the aftermath of 20 beautiful children and six great educators gunned down senselessly, needlessly in an act of unimaginable and unspeakable horror. this effort is more than about just words. this chamber is filled with words. rhetoric is the business of the floor of the chamber. we're here today to seek action. and action has been too long a
11:57 am
delay on preventing gun violence and the kinds of acts of hatred and terror that happened in orlando. actions speak louder than words, and the nation deserves action. 90% of the american people want sensible common sense measures like background checks to be adopted by the senate. there is no question that we are learning more in shock and horror about the details of orlando. it seems to have involved potentially insidious bigotry and hatred, a pernicious extremist ideology, perhaps inspired by isis and others abroad as well as very likely
11:58 am
mental illness of some kind, but we know it was an act of terror and hatred that can be prevented by the kinds of measures that we are seeking today, specific measures preventing anybody who's too dangerous to fly on a plane commercially to buy a gun. no fly, no gun. someone who is deemed to be a terrorist or deserving to be on the terrorist watch list should also be deemed too dangerous to purchase the kinds of weapons that this individual was able to purchase. and to strengthen the f.b.i. because its investigative authority in effect, perhaps not
11:59 am
legally but in effect would have been strengthen by this kind of measure enabling anybody too dangerous to fly to also be stopped from buying a gun. and this individual could have been stopped, not with any certainty can we say it here but at least that possibility realistically is there, and its investigations might have been continued and pursued had that law been in effect. and of course, background checks are a means to enforce existing laws and prevent categories of people already deemed too dangerous to buy guns, convicted felons or drug addicts or others in those categories adopted literally years, decades ago with full support of the opponents of background checks
12:00 pm
who may be in opposition now. these measures comp meant each other and we know that we must fight terrorism abroad. we are at war against isis. we must pursue that war effectively and aggressively and relentlessly. and we must fight the home-grown terrorists who are either inspired or supported by isis. the lookalikes and soundalikes that claim allegiance to isis, whether they are supported or inspired, and for whom isis may claim responsibility. and the defenses must be hardened at home. that is part of what we are seeking to do here, just as we fight abroad against terrorism that would

17 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on