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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  November 30, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm EST

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that's why they followed this right of way. okay, so let's put this into perspective a little bit. we've got another chart that helps do that. remember, we're talking about crossing the river in one place, right? we're talking about a pipeline that's going to cross this river in one spot. so let's put that into a broader context, into broader perspective. the congressional research service estimates that there are 38,410 crude oil pipeline river and water body crossings in the united states. so there's more than 38,000 -- in our network of oil pipelines around the country, we cross waters more than 38,000 times. we're talking about doing it one more time here, but we already do it more than 38,000 times all over the country. this chart shows you that.
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in north dakota -- in north dakota alone, we cross bodies of water more than 1,000 times. more than 1,000 times. so this is hardly something new and different. the congressional research service estimates that there are 38,410 crude oil pipeline river and water body crossings in the united states already existing, including 1,079 in north dakota alone. so i guess we'd go from 1,079 to 1,080, just in our state. these crossings range from rivers, streams, and lakes to ponds, canals, and ditches. so let's talk about tribal consultation. in total, the army corps held 389 meetings, conferred with more than 5 trierks and conduct -- 55 tribes, and conduct add
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1,261 page assessment before findinfinding that this infraste project has no significant environmental impact. they did all that study, all that consultation. conclusion: this project has no significant environmental impact. in his september 9 federal court opinion -- so the federal court then reviewed this decision, once the protests started. the federal court reviewed the corps' work. u.s. district judge james vosberg noted that the companies surveyed nearly twice as many miles as the route that would eventually be used for the pine line. why did they do i that? the federal judge noted where the surveys revealed historically important or cultural resources such as stone features, the company modified the route on its own 140 times in north dakota alone -- 140
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times the company modified its route to make sure they avoided any cultural or sensitive features. and, remember, they're using an existing corridor that already has a gas pipeline and already has a high-voltage transmission line, and they still modified 140 times to make sure they avoided any culturally sensitive resources. additionally, in another instance, the court ordered the company to actually change the route where it crossed the james river, another river further east, which hasn't been protested. it crosses that river, too, to avoid bur -- to avoid burial sis there. they have avoided dozen attempts to engage with the tribe. judge bossberg, who i might mention again was appointed by the obama administration, u.s.
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federal court judge here in the district of columbia, vote that -- quote -- "the tribe largely refused to engage in consultations and chose to hold out for more; namely, the chance to conduct its own cultural survaifers over the entire -- surveys over the entire length of the pipeline." now, remember ... the entire length of a pipeline that goes from north duke al -- north dakl the way to illinois. further -- i will put this up because the tribe appealed to the court to stop construction of the pipeline. the court said no. they followed the law. they have done this appropriately. i think here is a good quote from the judge's decision. further, judge boasberg wrote, "as it has previously mentioned, this court does not lightly countenance any depredation of lands that hold significance to the standing rock sioux. aware of the indignities visited upon the tribe over the last
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centuries, the court scrutinizes the permitting process here with particular care. having done so, the court must nonetheless conclude that the tribe has not demonstrated that an injunction is warranted here." so the judge says he came into reviewing that the the court process trying to find if they hadn't covered all the bases properly. he came with a mind-set to make sure that they'd exercise due diligence, and he says they have. in the spring of 2016 i helped arrange meetings between colonel henderson -- colonel john henderson, the district director from omaha, nebraska, for our district. i helped arrange committeings between colonel henderson and the standing rock twieb at the request of the standing rock tribe. it was during these meetings that army corps colonel
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henderson imposed additional in response to concerns about environmental safety. he is now adding additional features after that initial consulation. -- consultation. he added even more conditions after further consultation. in july 20 1-6rbgs the army corps issued its final environmental assessment which concluded with finding of no significant impact and no historic properties affected terminations. the environmental assessment establishes that the corps made a good-faith effort to consult with the tribes and that it considered all tribal comments. in addition, dakota access has developed response and action plans and will include state-of-the-art monitoring systems, shutoff valves and other features to minimize the risk of spills and reduce
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potential damages. let's take a look at just some of these. there are many of them. again, it's at least 92 feet under the river. so if you had a break in the pipeline it would have to come up somehow through almost 100 feet of bedrock, come up through 150 feet of bedrock somehow to get into the river. but if you did have rupture, you got automatic shutoff valves that are monitored 24 hours day, seven days a week. remember that additional condition that the corps added after consultation? it is a double-walled pipe. it is a double-walled pipe. these are just some of the safety features. in addition, the army corps required the company to implement numerous mitigation plans, including, one, an environmental construction plan; two, a storm water pollution prevention plan; three, a spill prevention control and countermeasure plan; four, an horizontal drilling -- directional drilling
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construction plan; five, a contingency plan; six, unanticipated cultural resource discovery plan; seven, geographical response plan; eight, a facility response plan; and nine a tribal monitoring plan -- among other measures. those are just some of them. so let's talk about the protests. the obama administration's inaction on the final federal easement crossing the missouri river has created undue hardship and uncertainty for area residents. the private landowners, for farmers and ranchers that live and work in the area, for tribal members, for construction workers who have been chased off the construction site by protesters, and certainly for our law enforcement personnel who've had to be out there day and night for months. and now we have winter weather
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conditions, and recently with a very severe the senator from, -- a very severe snowstorm, you've got life-threatening conditions for somebody who is trying to camp out in the middle of winter. since the protests started earlier this year, state and local agencies have been put to the test in maintaining public safety, which have been threatened by on-going and often violent protest activity. there have been instances of trespassing, vandalism, therveghts and fire -- theft and fire -- construction equipment has been set on fire. workers have been chased off the work site, workers trying to lawfully do their job, chased off the work site. fires starts on privately-owned large land. this is not on the reservation. it is not on the reservation. it is on private land. residents have endured the challenges caused by roads being blocked or closed either by protest activities -- protest
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activities shut down highways. roads being blocked or closed and by protest activities, or by law enforcement efforts to ensure safety when farmers are busy shipping calves, moving their herds from summer pastures. in addition, law enforcement is investigating cases of butchered, mutilated, injured, on the one hand missing cattle, horses, and bi son in areas okay pied adjacent to the protesters. law enforcement has worked to protect everyone. again, i'll emphasize that -- law enforcement has worked to protect everyone. they have been patient, professional, and diligent. they have not used concussion grenades. more than 500 protesters have been arrested for breaking the law and over 90% of them are from out of state. over 90% of the more than 500 protesters that have been arrested are from out of state, and many, if not most, are not
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native american. the environmental activity -- they are environmental activists from other parts of the country. you want more information on law enforcement? go to youtube.co youtube.com y e youtube.com/knowthetruth the motto of law enforcement is to serve and protect. that is exactly what they are doing. so in conclusion, in accordance with the finding of the army corps of engineers' environmental assessment and the court decisions, the army corps needs to follow established legal and regulatory criteria and awe approve the final easement so that construction can be completed. in addition, federal resources should be deployed expeditiously to protect people and property in the area of violent protests
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to help support state and local law enforcement efforts. as i said, this issue needs to be resolved. it is past time to get this issue resolved. with that, madam president, i yield the floor. mrs. shaheen: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: i came to the floor this afternoon to talk about our failure once again to go through a regular appropriations process. and i share what i know is a disappointment on the part of many of our colleagues, that this congress is choosing to once again disregard the regular appropriations process and resort to a short-term continuing resolution. and this will have serious negative impacts on our country's national security and on the economy. as ranking member on the appropriations subcommittee on
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homeland security -- and i applaud the chair of that subcommittee, senator hoeven, who was just on the floor, for the bipartisan work that has gone on. but as i look at the potential impact on homeland security, it will -- our failure to get an appropriations bill will have serious negative consequences for our nation's emergency preparedness, for our transportation security, and for cybersecurity, just to name a few. and closer to home in our local communities, it will hurt law enforcement as well as efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. at the beginning of this 114th congress, the majority leader pledged to return the senate to regular order. now, translated into simple english for people who may be watching, regular order means doing our job and doing it the right way when it comes to the
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budget process. it means meeting our constitutional responsibility to produce an annual appropriations bill for the american people. legislation that will allow governments at all lel -- at all levels to plan, to invest, to build and to move our nation forward. but instead we are again being present with an inadequate stopgap bill, a continuing resolution that does not get the job done for the american people. i applaud the appropriations committee chair, senator cochran, and our vice chair, senator mikulski, and the great work that's been done by all of the members of the a appropriations committee. senators cochran and mikulski have led the committee in a diligent, good-faith effort to craft appropriations bills that meet our nation's current needs and challenges. but, unfortunately, all those efforts will now be cast aside.
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as vice chair mikulski said yesterday, republican leaders have decided to procrastinate rather than legislate. this has brought us to the final days of the 114th congress with no regular order and no annual appropriations bill. now this has very serious consequences nationally as well as in our states and local communities. for example, just on homeland security, over the last year the appropriations subcommittee on homeland security has crafted a bipartisan bill to ramp up emergency preparedness at the local level to meet the rising threat of cyber attacks and to address challenges and transportation security, including at our airports. all of these improvements and gains will be lost for the time of the continuing resolution. over the last year we've seen terrorist attacks in san
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bernardino, orlando, and sadly just this week in c columbus, ohio. yet because of the c.r. -- the continuing resolution -- the federal emergency management agency will be unable to award more than $2 billion in homeland security preparedness grants to state and local governments. these are grants that allow states and local communities to plan and to practice their emergency response before disasters happen. that's how we cut response time and that's how we save lives. but now because of congress's failure to do our jobs and pass an annual appropriations bill, these preparedness grants will not be able to go forward. another area that is a critical national priority is cybersecurity. last year federal agencies reported more than 77,000 cybersecurity incidents and local businesses that own and operate much of the
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infrastructure from banks to sewage systems are under greater threat of cyber attack. last month hackers attacked the new hampshire-based company of dine. this attack on dyne took down large swathes of the internet all across the globe and dyne responded admirably to the attack but there will be more and more sophisticated attacks in the future. and to address these challenges our appropriations bill that we did in homeland security tripled the number of federal cybersecurity advisors and increased cybersecurity funds to harden systems and federal agencies. but again, because of the continuing resolution, all of these advances will be put on hold for the duration of the c.r. and of course our nation faces ongoing challenges in transportation security. to address increasing airline
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passenger volume and long security wait times, we've added nearly 1,400 transportation security officers, converted about 3,000 part-time officers to full-time status, funded 50 new bomb-sniffing k-9 teams and added new screening equipment. to sustain these efforts through fiscal year 2017, the transportation security administration needs a funding increase. but under the continuing resolution, these funds will not be available. this increases the prospect of staffing shortfalls and it means that more and more americans will be standing in long lines angry and frustrated at airports across this country. and the damage done by the continuing resolution will be felt in each of our states and in communities all across america. this week i heard from the executive director of new hampshire's coalition against
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domestic and sexual violence, lynn shallott she and her colleagues across new hampshire are very troubled by the prospect of a continuing resolution. she told me that crisis centers, which are critical to help victims of domestic violence, will be stretched. they will have unpredictability that will make it even harder for programs to train and retain competent staff. it will affect their ability to serve those victims of domestic violence across new hampshire. and then as a member of the armed services committee, i'm also very aware, as so many of us on that committee are, of the harmful effect of continuing resolutions on our military. just yesterday i joined with other members of the senate navy caucus to hear from the chief of staff of naval operations. the chief of naval operations, admiral john richardson. he pointed out that the navy and
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all the other services have lived with nine years of continuing resolutions. i want to say that again. nine years of continuing resolutions. nine years of not being able to count on a budget process that would allow them to plan. and he talked about how this chronic budget chaos has been very costly. he said that military planners now operate from the assumption that there will be a c.r. and that any planning for the first quarter of a fiscal year is rendered unreliable. year after year this has resulted in project delays, multiple contracting actions for the same work, and it winds up costing more. it winds up costing the taxpayers more. it winds up costing our military more. it winds up having an impact on all of the mission that we have asked our men and women in uniform to take on.
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during the current continuing resolution period running through december 9, the navy had planned to award $24 billion in research and development contracts. but now because of the c.r., it will award only $16 billion in contracts. and in my home state of new hampshire, the c.r. limits the ability of the portsmouth naval shipyard, one of four premier public shipyards in the country, to award contracts for critical infrastructure projects. this can interfere with submarine maintenance schedules which then impacts the readiness of the submarine fleet. and again i think it's important to point out this winds up costing us more. it doesn't save money to have a continuing resolution. that's a whole misunderstanding on the part of some people. it costs more. every senator understands that our failure to pass a full-year appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017 will do serious harm to people in communities all
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across america. and as i just said, as we've seen in past years, it's going to wind up costing us more money. the constitution vests in congress the profound responsibility to appropriate funds to meet the nation's needs. we have a duty to do so in a timely and responsible manner. i appreciate -- i understand based on news reports that the reason we're going to a short-term continuing resolution is because the incoming administration says they want to put a stamp on government spending. well, that's not the way the process is supposed to work. there will be in future fiscal years the opportunity for the new administration to put their imprint on government spending. and they will have a lot to do in the coming months of the new administration with the nominees and the process of vetting and
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approval of nominees, with new legislation. why set up a budget battle three months into the new administration when we don't need to? when we have appropriations bills that have been through committee, in most cases have been agreed to by house and senate negotiators, and we could move forward with that process just as the leadership of this body has committed to do. at the beginning of this congress, the senate's republican leaders pledged to restore regular order to the appropriations process. instead, once again we are presented with a short-term stopgap funding bill that shortchanges critical national needs and priorities. i believe the american people deserve better. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: madam president, i see the distinguished senator from arkansas on the floor.
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i suggest we go to him next, but i'd ask consent that i be recognized when he finishes his comments. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. cotton: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. cotton: today i would like to recognize james a. ross of qatar as the arkansan of the week to demonstrate what it means to be a great arkansan. after serving in the united states navy he and his wife moved to raise their three boys because they saw arkansas as a state that puts people first. jim worked as a carpenter and played a role in the construction of l many buildings in cotter, mountain home and other areas in central arkansas. he works tirelessly until his retirement to ensure the success and stability of his family, his church and his community. jim's a popular guy in coter. he's always been an active member of the community. he served as the cotter school
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board secretary and worked to help build the current city hall. he served as a deacon in the first baptist church in cotter for over 40 years. jim and mary have been married for 64 years. jim spends his time enjoying his children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. in fact, it was one of the grandkids, cameron, who nominated jim for arkansan of the week. in his nomination cameron wrote jim's faith drives his every muting and at 86 years old he gives as much back to the community as he can. on any day you can find him driving around town waving at passersby or in his garden in front of his green and brown house with sunflowers painted on it. cameron went on to say that jim ross is a great arkansan not because he has done one major thing, but because he has done countless little things to further his city, his state and his nation.
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madam president, i couldn't agree more. jim truly embodies what it means to be the arkansan of the week, and we could all take a few lessons from him about the commitment to faith, family and community. jim and mary lou came to arkansas because they saw it as a state that puts people first, and it's people like jim who make that reputation a reality. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. leahy: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: madam president, first i should note how much i agree with the senior senator from new hampshire and her comments about the appropriations process. i mentioned on the floor yesterday that after an appropriations, we put together a foreign operations bill. it was passed 30-0. it was basically ignored by the
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other body. we'll never get a chance to vote on it. in the ignoring of it, the other body took out almost $500 million that we put in for, among other things, the security of our embassies abroad. it's very similar to what they did when they refused to vote for our increased money for security prior to the benghazi attack. they didn't really want to admit that as they had, they spent tens of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money investigating the lack of security in benghazi and did not want to note that the republican leadership of the house had taken out money for security. it will be interesting now whether they will acknowledge the fact that they are still
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taking money out for security. madam president, on another matter, i have noted for months, actually for years in the lead up to the november 8 election congressional republicans spent millions of taxpayers' dollars to air their unsubstantiated concerns about corruption at the highest levels of our government. if they were to get on television doing it, we might want to take a look at what they said. the said the clinton foundation should be dissolved. not withstanding the amount of good work it's doing around the world. every activity, every meeting, every activity of the clinton foundation should be revealed, they said. we cannot allow such a foundation to run so close to
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the oval office, they said. so it's ironic, sadly ironic, actually it's madly ironic that since november 8 i've heard neither a shout nor whisper from those same congressional republicans echoing the same concerns about our president-elect's personal and profitable business dealings. no outrage that the president-elect's family may charge the american taxpayers millions of dollars to rents paid by the secret service at trump tower. no demand that the president-elect and president-elect of the trump corporation will dissolve the interests he owns. today we hear how the president-elect plans to address these conflicts of interest which he calls a visual problem rather than an ethical one. but unless he does what i and
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others in both parties have called for -- divest his interest in and sever his relationship to the trump organization and put the proceeds in a true blind trust -- it's nothing more than lip service. until we know more about what role his family will have, both in his business interests and the government's operation under a trump administration, no one should consider this serious concern as addressed. and here's the duplicity of congressional republicans' double standard. after years of partisan witchhunts and millions of wasted taxpayer dollars investigating bogus allegations against hillary clinton and by extension the clinton foundation, if they fail to demand the same of donald trump that they demanded of her, they
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will as e.j.diyone said so eloquently in his column in "the washington post" -- quote -- fully implicated in any trump scandal, the results are shameful and double standard. madam president, i'm hearing from vermonters. they're worried. they're uncertain. some of them are scared. congress could do a great service to all our constituents. if led by example, not just by convenience -- convenient spoken platitudes, they might give you a few seconds on the evening news. if my colleagues want to actually be the leaders that they claim they are, do not start by validating an offensive and dangerous double standard as the same standard for republicans as you do for democrats. you can't condemn democrats on
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something but say it's perfectly okay if republicans do it. it doesn't work that way. madam president, i ask consent that the column from "the washington post" of november 27, 2016 by e.j.diyone entitled ethical double standard for trump and g.o.p. be placed in the report. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: i do not see anybody else seeking recognition, but let me just say just a little bit further on these issues. i commended my republican colleague, senator mccain, the other day who was complaining we don't have regular order in our appropriations bills. he's absolutely right. we should have. we always did. we heard a couple of years ago
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that we would do this again, have regular order. and we worked hard in the appropriations committee, republicans and democrats together. and we passed out all our appropriations bills. hundreds and hundreds of hours of work by members, even more by their staffs. in almost every one of these bills, they were bipartisan usually by unanimous vote or close to it. all that goes for naught. we can't get a vote. i commented about -- i comment about just one of these and of course that's the foreign operations bill. both before benghazi and since benghazi, the republican chairman of the committee and i
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have put in extra money, a considerable amount of money for security of our embassies and our personnel abroad. in each case, including with the support of those who held tens of millions of dollars of hearings to say we didn't have adequate security in benghazi, they voted to cut out the money. madam president, maybe double standards make for a sound bite on the evening news, especially if it sounds good and the people putting it on haven't done the research to find out what's really going on. but it's no constellation to the men and -- consolation to the men and women at our embassies and throughout the world there to represent all of us.
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oftentimes in danger, as we just just within the last couple of days in the philippines. it does them no good to see us spend tens of millions of dollars to decry the lack of security, tens of millions of taxpayers' dollars to decry it and get on television for political purposes to say lack of security and then turn around and vote against the money that would bring about the security. madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: madam president, i ask that the quorum be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from iowa.
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grass soon i will offer a unanimous consent request. it is in regard to a bill that would reform and reauthorize federal juvenile justice programs. mr. grassley: this bill is known as -- quote -- supporting youth opportunity and preventing deling defensey act -- delinquency act of 2016. it passed the other chamber last month by a vote of 382-29. the bipartisan house bill is modeled closely to one that i introduced over a year ago with senator from rhode island, senator whitehouse. that legislation was titled "the juvenile justice and dlimpg defensey prevention reauthorization act."
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it has 19 senate cosponsors and cleared the senate judiciary committee which i chair without a single dissent willing vote last year. the house companion before us today also won the unanimous approval of the committee in the other chamber before passing the house with overwhelming support a few weeks ago. the two bills are remarkable similar in many or most respects indicating their objectives. one such objective is to extend the juvenile justice and dlimpg defensey prevention act for five more years. that assault was last reauthorized in 2002 and is long overdue for an update. congress is still funding juvenile justice programs that expired in 2007 or nearly a decade ago. i think my colleagues know the hard work of senator enzi,
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chairman of the budget committee, a program that he has of the hundreds of billions of dollars that we're spending of taxpayers' money that has not been authorized by the authorizing committees. so getting a lot of bills that have expired reauthorized is in the spirit of what senator enz enzi's trying to promote among the 15, 16, or how many ever committees we have in the united states senate that don't do their work on a regular basis. at the centerpiece of the 1974 act is its core protections for youth. over 40 years ago congress committed to making federal grants available to states that observe these core protections
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of which there are now four. the first core protection discourages the detention of children and youth for extremely minor infractions, such as truancy, underage, tobacco use, dispoe baying parents -- disobeying parents and running away. no state would ever jail an adult. that's an important emphasis. no state would ever jail an adult for the same conduct and research shows that nothing much positive comes out of locking up children no conduct that isn't even criminal. the second core protection calls for juveniles to be kept out of adult facilities except in certain very rare instances. the third calls for juveniles to be separated from adults when they're held in adult facilities. the fourth calls for states to
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try to reduce disproforce nat -- disproportion nat contact in the juvenile justice system. that's from 1974. those goals are still legitimate goals. under our proposed legislation as under this current law if a state commits to meeting these core protections for youth, it can expect to continue receiving federal grant money to support its juvenile justice activities. our second objective for this legislation is to make reforms to current law so that taxpayers' supported juvenile justice programs will yield best possible outcome. to that end our bill reflects the latest research that works best with at-risk children and youth. we added provisions to promote the rehabilitation of runaways
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or of high risk of being trafficked. we included language to discourage shackling of pregnant juveniles during childbirth after learning that a handful of states receiving federal grant funds are locking up children as young as 8 or 89 for minor -- or 9 for minor infractions like truancy, we called for a phaseout of valid court orders permitting that practice. last but not least, we responded to concerns voiced by whistle-blowers by adding accountability measures to protect the taxpayers and promote more oversight of justice reforms. and these accountability measures are something that i've been working on both as ranking member of the judiciary committee and chairman of that committee for a long period of time, not just on the juvenile justice program but on a lot of other programs where the taxpayers' money is being wasted
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by having different standards in some programs versus the others. and particularly when the bureaucracy at the justice department is not policing what states do and they let the states get out. we have all kinds of g.a.o. reports or inspector general reports that come back to us that say this money is not following -- by the states not following the intent that was intended by congress. and i think all senators assume a responsibility to make sure the taxpayers' money will go as far as it can. and so we worked some of those issues, accountability issues into every bill that i can get out of the justice department that affects these programs. now, groups such as the campaign for youth justice, the coalition for juvenile justice, boys town,
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fight crime, invest in kids, many others endorsed 9 legislation. we contacted the national justice association. national district attorneys association and a coalition of roughly two dozen antihuman trafficking groups which endorse the legislation as well. the house bill before us today includes many or most of the same provisions that senator whitehouse and i championed, and it enjoys the support of virtually all of the same 100-plus organizations that endorse the versions we sponsored in this chamber. but the house made a few key changes to preserve more flexibility for states. speaking about those 100-plus organizations, i feel a responsibility to them to work as hard as i can to get this legislation passed because they have worked so hard at the grass roots.
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let me go back to the flexibility that we give to the states that the house put in. states that object to phasing out the detention of status offenders over a period of three years can invoke a one-year ha hardship exception. that hardship exception is renewable every year and for an indefinite period, and that's at the state's option. the house passed major also includes a modified version of legislation by senators inhofe, casey and vitter back in this chamber. that language would encourage the revocation of youth who are at risk involved in gangs or the criminal justice system. the house bill shouldn't be controversial, which is why we're requesting unanimous consent to have the senate pass it today. again, i remind my colleagues that the other chamber passed it
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by an overwhelming vote in september after the education committee under chairman john klein's leadership reported the measure without a single dissenting vote. i also want to thank our cosponsors, sponsors, which include ranking member of the judiciary committee, senator leahy, as well as ranking member, senator feinstein, for their support of this legislation. unfortunately, when we sought to bring up the senate version by unanimous consent back in february, the single senator objected preventing his passage. he has objected to the language that requires states to embrace one of the 42-year core principles. mr. president, before this congress comes to a close, we have a great opportunity to pass an important piece of legislation to help some of the most vulnerable children and youth in the united states, but it's not just these at-risk children who would benefit due to the reforms that we have
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included in this bill, the legislation would benefit taxpayers as well. if -- i see senator whitehouse on the floor. before i ask unanimous consent, i would like to yield to him for that purpose, for his speaking on the bill. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: thank you, chairman grassley. the chairman and i have been working on this bill since 2014, and what we heard from juvenile justice practitioners around the country is that a lot of the policies that had been in place for dealing with juvenile offenders were stale and ineffective, that there were better ways to do business than were currently being supported by this grant, so we worked for years to get this program, the
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juvenile justice and delinquency prevention act reauthorized. the crux of today's concerns -- i see senator cotton on the floor, and he can speak for himself, but i think the crux of today's concerns are that the jjdpa would phase out over time, over three years, in fact, the ability for states to take its money -- you don't have to take the money, but if you take the money, you have to phase out locking up young people, kids for status offenses, for offenses that an adult could not be locked up for. it is simply not good practice, and that is one of the reasons that the national council of juvenile and family court judges has supported this bill. it's because they know it is bad practice and indeed the members of the national council of juvenile and family court judges from the state of arkansas support this measure.
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the bill that the chairman referred to that passed the house by such an astonishingly strong vote was voted for by every member of the arkansas delegation in the house of representatives, and the senior senator from the state of arkansas supports this bill. so we hope that the junior senator from arkansas would be willing to take the legendary advice of ben franklin that perhaps we should doubt each of us a little bit of our own infallibility and give us a chance to let this bill go forward. if arkansas doesn't like this, there is a provision that the house put in that allows any state to declare itself outside of the provision under a self-declared hardship provision, and that's an indefinite -- that's not the three-year phasing. that's indefinite. so if the arkansas courts really want to lock up juveniles for status offenses that no adult could be locked up for, all they have to do is declare under that
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provision. they may or may not want to do that. the fact that every other member of arkansas' delegation in congress appears to support this and that the family court members from the arkansas -- from the council appear to support it suggest that that may not be the case. but in any event, we would like the ability to go forward. we are prepared to move this bill right now, and i would be delighted to join the chairman of the judiciary committee in his motion for unanimous consent that the bill be adopted. i would just like to add for the record that these law enforcement leaders in arkansas have expressed their support for the bill. chief alcon of the mayflower police department, chief benton of the ward police department, chief harvey of the lowell police department, chief kaiser of the bryant police department, chief lane of the benton police department, chief reid of the glenwood police department, and
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also chief -- in this case sheriff, i guess, symms of the lafayette sheriff's office. with that, i will yield the floor back to my distinguished chairman. mr. grassley: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: before i ask for a unanimous consent request, i see my colleague from arkansas is on the floor. he is right so many times, i'm sorry that we disagree on this issue, and i don't suppose you're going to make me wrong on that point, but i do want to respect your right. you are such a good legislator. so i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 649, h.r. 5963. i further ask that the bill consider -- be considered read a third time and passed and that the motion to reconsider be made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. cotton: madam president?
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the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. cotton: reserving the right to object, i share mutual disdain with the senator from iowa. i hate to find myself on the opposite side of an issue with him. we found ourselves on this issue in february, nine months ago. there are many fine points of the legislation as the chairman of the judiciary committee outlined, including his legendary work of holding agencies and recipients of federal funds accountable and working with the g.a.o. to ferret out fraud and abuses. my objection to this legislation is very specific. it is not as the senator from rhode island said about the jailing of juveniles for so-called status offenses. that's for something that a juvenile would do like smoking cigarettes, running away from home, skipping school. that wouldn't be a crime if you're 18 years old. so for all these young pages down here who are not supposed to be smoking cigarettes, the law currently says you cannot put them in jail for smoking cigarettes, and you shouldn't smoke cigarettes regardless. however, if a juvenile goes
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before a juvenile judge and the juvenile judge issued a valid court order and tells him don't smoke any more cigarettes, don't skip school, don't run away from home and that juvenile flaunts the authority of the judge, that judge needs some mechanism to enforce his orders. that is no longer a status offense. that is contempt of court. in my many conversations with arkansans, be it judges or prosecutors or parents or public defenders, they have said repeatedly that the judge needs that authority to get the attention of that juvenile delinquent. now, i want this legislation to pass, as i said, nine months ago. in a colloquy, the senator from rhode island and i thought we had an agreement worked out about a provision on the inherent authority of judges. it didn't work out, but we worked together in good faith on it. on multiple occasions, i've worked with the chairman of the judiciary committee to resolve some of these issues. some activists say that, well, we shouldn't do this to kids that are so young, so i proposed an age for in the teenaged
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years. they could not be corrupted or hardened by more juveniles. i said let's impose a separation requirement. some activists said they could be detained indefinitely. i said that's fine, too. let's put a time limit on how long they could be detained, but repeatedly we have been told that this legislation cannot be changed. i would submit to the senate these are all small, reasonable changes that would allow this legislation to move forward quickly in the senate here in these final couple weeks, and again on the suspension calendar in the house of representatives. but when arkansans have specifically passed justice reform legislation in recent years in our legislature and they retain this authority of juvenile judges not to detain decontinuing wentz for their status offenses but because they disobeyed a valid court order, i don't think we from washington should dictate a single one-size-fits-all solution for every state in the union.
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this legislation or legislation like it has come before the senate multiple times in recent years, and every time it's hung up on this specific issue. i want to protect arkansas' interests. i want to ensure that judges can enforce their own orders. i want to do what is best for the people of my state and our criminal justice system. i also want to pass this legislation. so i would offer to both of the proponents of this legislation that we continue to try to address some of these proposals i have made, but until then, i am going to have to regretfully object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. grassley: madam president, i was going to take some time to react to that. i think i will just put it in the record, so i ask unanimous consent to put the rest of my statement in the record, and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. toomey: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: thank you, madam president. i thank the acting president for complying with my scheduling request. mr. president, i have spoken before on the floor about the tremendous dangers that arise from cities across america that choose to be sanctuary cities. recent events compel me to come back to the floor today. just this week, federal law enforcement officers finally found winston enrique perez belarte. belarte was an illegal immigrant from the dominican republic. in july of 2015, a little over a year ago, philadelphia police arrested belarte, a 40-year-old man, for the rape of a child. now, he had previously been convicted of drug trafficking, resisting arrest and theft. convicted, sentenced, went to
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jail, but he was releaseed, and rearrested. in 2015 when he was re-arrested, he managed to raise the money necessary for bail. federal loarmts when the background check was done, they asked the city of philadelphia to hold him temporarily after he had raised the money for bail rather than simply releasing him, but to hold him temporarily so they could pick him up and begin deportation proceedings. but the city refused to cooperate, and instead they released this dangerous, previously convicted man who was here illegally, released him back onto the streets of philadelphia. belarte roamed the streets of philadelphia for a full year doing who knows what until just this week when federal officials managed to find him and took him into custody.
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or, madam president, consider the case of jose palermo ramirez. in 2013, this 43-year-old illegal immigrant was convicted of indecent assault on a 7-year-old girl. federal immigration officials asked the city in this case to notify them when palermo ramirez completed his sentence and prior to his release so that they would be able to pick him up and begin the deportation proceedings of this person here illegally and obviously a dangerous and convicted criminal. but the city refused, and instead they released this convicted child molester back out onto the city streets. well, luckily for pennsylvania families, federal law enforcement officers were able to find and deport him despite the lack of help from the city. but maybe the most heart breaking story is that of ramon
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ochoa. ramon ochoa was a honduran immigrant. came here illegally in 2009. he was caught, he was deported. he found his way back into the united states, managed to get to philadelphia. last year, philadelphia police arrested him, and they had him in custody on charges of aggravated assault, making terroristic threats, resisting arrest, harassment. again, when the background check was done, federal law enforcement officials realized they knew who this was, he was here illegally, he had been deported previously, he was violent and dangerous, and they asked the city to cooperate with them so they could pick him up and begin deportation proceedings, but once again, philadelphia refused. instead, they released him back onto the city streets where he continued to prey on others, and just four months ago, ochoa was arrested, this time for raping a child under the age of 13.
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how can this possibly happen? how can this possibly happen that a city would knowingly, willfully and repeatedly choose to release dangerous criminals, including child molesters, who don't even have a right to be in the united states in the first place because they came here illegally? it's just unbelievable. but this is what's happening. it happens because philadelphia is a sanctuary city. let's be clear about what that means. that means it is the legal policy of the city of philadelphia to forbid local law enforcement from even cooperating, even sharing information with federal immigration officials when the person in question came here illegally. so we confer this special legal privilege on in many cases dangerous, violent criminals because they came here illegally. it's just unbelievable.
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this isn't the police's fault. police would much rather be cooperating with federal immigration officials. they're not allowed to because local politics r televisions in cities -- politicians in cities across america have decided they won't allow it to take place. this is absurd. this is very, very dangerous. and small children in my state are paying a price for this. this is why, madam president, earlier this year i introduced legislation. it's called the stop dangerous sanctuary cities act. it would solve this problem. it does it with two components. the first is to eliminate the perceived and understandably perceived legal liability that communities have, knew nice palties have -- municipalities have. here's the nails of their concern. there's a court order that says if the department of homeland security issues a detainer request, a request that you detain a person that's here illegally that they believe is violent and you comply with that
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request, you detain the person, and it turns out that the department of homeland security had the wrong guy, just the wrong guy, well, the concern on the part of our knew nice palties is -- municipalities is they can be sued for that. my legislation solves that problem. in a case where knew nice palty complies with a bonified detainer request, if the person is wrongly held and they have a cause of action they can take, they can do so but it has to be against the federal government. it has to be against the entity that asks for the detainer. that makes perfect sense and it completely eliminates any legal liability on the part of the municipality that would then cooperate with these detainer requests and information requests. so that's the first part, eliminate any danger of illegal liability. the second part is if a city nevertheless chooses that it wants to be a sanctuary city, then with should withhold some
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of the federal funding we currently send to these cities. specifically, my legislation would withhold community block grants very cherished by city governments all across america if they choose to endanger all of us by continuing to be sanctuary cities. well, we had a vote on this, madam president, last summer we had a vote. the majority of this body voted in favor of my legislation to bring an end to sanctuary cities this way. but unfortunately we didn't have the 60 votes we needed to overcome senator reid's bill fuster on this. i'm suggesting we revisit this because these appalling crimes are continuing to be committed as of course they will if cities keep releasing violent criminals back out on to our stleets. now -- on to our streets. in the meantime i will suggest that there's something that president-elect trump can do when he becomes president, and that would be he could issue an executive order which would i
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think significantly limit dangerous sanctuary cities. let me be clear. the executive action that he could legally pursue would not be permanent. i don't think it would be as effective as the legislation that i've introduced. they wouldn't have the legal force of a new law, but it would be a good start and it would be fully consistent with his constitutional powers. so that, madam president, would be progress. i think it's very clear that we have to act. how important is the rule of law to all of us? how important is the safety and security of the american people. and how important are the childhoods of the victims that we are hearing about repeatedly as recently as just this week? to me the answer is clear. these are very important priorities and we need to act. and while we await the opportunity to enact this legislation, i hope that our new president will take the
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executive order steps that he can to at least diminish this problem. i yield the floor. madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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lex mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: i have five requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: so noted. mr. alexander: mr. president, i ask for consent to use the time that i may require and following my remarks, that senator cassidy and senator murphy be recognized. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i come to the floor to speak on two matters.
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the first is the matter of wildfires in tennessee. anybody who's been watching television the last few days have seen the devastation caused by the runaway wildfires just outside the great smoky mountains in gatlinburg, tennessee. mr. president, in tennessee we're not used to that i know we have debates on the floor and we have colleagues who see the fires in the west where it doesn't rain much. a few inches of rain a year. but in the great smoky mountains where i live or i live just outside of it, we have 80, 83 inches of rain a year. so we have dense forests. and this time of year the leaves are all over the ground and usually there's a lot of rain to tamp that down. but for the last three months we've not had rain. and so the forest floor is just like a tinderbox. and on monday in the chimney
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tops area of the great smoky mountain park, a fire started. maybe it was a campfire. and then winds of 80 to 90 miles an hour came and swept the fire through the park and into the resort town of gatlinburg and burned up half the town. there were stories of firefighters getting back in their trucks who avoid the bears who were fleeing the fire. there were stories of cars catching fire as motorists drove to escape the fire. a couple from alabama said they watched their windshield wipers melt on the car as they drove down the mountain. at least four people have been killed. there are others who are missing. fortunately, the fires have been put out pretty much by now. there were no fire outbreaks that were new in pijon forge which is -- in pigeon forge
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which is nearby. gatlinburg had a similar fire but the rain last night helped put most of those out. but 14,000 citizens were evacuate interested that small town of gatlinburg, a picturesque community on the edge of the smokies where people for years have gone for their honey moons and vacations. the red cross operated six facilities. the mayor of gatlinburg told people his home was burned up in 15 minutes. the city manager's home was burned up. we have a tremendous response from the governor of our state, governor haslem who was on the spot the next day with many of his state officials. there are 400 firefighters. there are more than 100 fire trucks who came from all parts of east tennessee. national guardsmen, highway patrolmen. the governor said that he hadn't seen a fire like that in tennessee in 100 years.
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half of the ten square miles of the city of gatlinburg has been burned up. as i said, 14,000 have been evacuated. so this is a heart breaking story for all of us who know and love the great smoky mountains and the people who live near there, and i want the residents of sevier county and gatlinburg and that area to know that senator corker and i and all of us in the delegation will do what we can appropriately do to help. that starts with helping to pay for 75% of the cost of fighting the fires, and after that cooperating with governor governor haslam as the state looks for ways to help people hurt by this. i know the mayors of the areas would want me to say that this is a resilient town and resilient people, and they're
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going to be fine, but it's going to be tough and hard. fire always is. but dollywood will be open at 2:00 p.m. on friday, people will be coming back. two million visitors come every year, so we don't want people to stay away, but i do want the people of gatlinburg and sevier county to know how much we care for them and how determined we are to help them help themselves get back on their feet. mr. president, the second subject i want to talk about is the legislation that we call 21st century cures and the mental health legislation, both of which are being debated in the u.s. house of representatives this afternoon and will be voted on this afternoon about 5:30. this is legislation that has the strong support of the president of the united states, the active
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support of the vice president of the united states, speaker ryan in the house has said that it is important part of his agenda for health care for the future, and the majority leader, senator mcconnell, has said he believes it's the most important piece of legislation congress could enact this year. one reason it has been successful is because it has been so bipartisan in its making, both in the house and in the senate. let me begin by thanking president obama and vice president biden for their strong support and their interest. the president's interest in precision medicine, the idea of personalized medicine that if the senator from pennsylvania and i each have the same disease, that we might not take exactly the same medicine because our genetics might be different. we now know enough about that
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that if we can help doctors have that information, they could prescribe medicines that will help us to live longer. the president and the executive office of the president have issued a statement of administration policy that's one of the strongest that i have seen. i hope p persuades republicans and i hope it persuades democrats both to be supportive of this legislation. i ask consent that following my remarks, that the statement of administration policy be included in the congressional record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: mr. president, i mentioned the bipartisan nature of the legislation, and i'll give two examples of that and their two colleagues on the floor who i will ask to give the second example, which is the mental health bill. this has been complex, no doubt about that. i spoke at length on the floor yesterday about that, but i would ask my colleagues to recognize this, that the core of this legislation is the
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following. 19 different bills that went through the senate's health, education, labor and pensions committee, 22 members of the senate, after many hearings, and the largest number of recorded votes against any of those 19 bills was two. now, we have a very diverse committee. we have some of the most liberal members and some of the most conservative members, and on a complex issue like this, we were able to work out 19 bills that are the core of this legislation, and the largest number of votes recorded against any of the 19 was two. secondly, every single, every single one of those 19 bills had a democratic sponsor and a republican sponsor, usually more than one. in addition to that, there is money attached to the bill. now, that's very unusual because this is an authorization bill,
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but the house did it and so we did it as well, recognizing the importance of this to the american people, and we did it in a fiscally responsible way. it's $6.3 billion. it doesn't add a penny to the overall budget, because for every part, for every increase in the discretionary budget, we reduce the same amount in the mandatory ledger. and what is the funding for? the funding is for -- i i have e exact figures right here. $4.8 billion for the national institutes of health for research and -- in urgent matters. $1.8 billion for the chan moon shot that the vice president is leading. $1.4 billion for precision medicine.
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$1.6 billion for the brain initiative, including alzheimer's. and then $1 billion for the state greats to help states fight the opioid abuse epidemic. that money has been accelerated so that all of this billion dollars is spent in the first two years and all of the cancer moon shot money is spent in the first three years, and speaker ryan arranged for this money in the following way. while it has to be approved each year by the appropriations committee, it cannot be spent on anything other than these designated -- this designation. so that $1 billion can only be spent on opioid abuse. i cannot imagine a house of representatives that passes by an overwhelming vote the 21st century cures bill, not completing its promise to spend $1 billion on opioid this year and next year, and i cannot
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imagine the united states senate, which i expect to also approve this by a large vote doing the same. i also can't imagine democrats and republicans going home and explain why they would vote no on $1 billion of state grants or opioids money when we have been talking all year about what an urgent epidemic it is or against $1.48 billion for a cancer moon shot when so many advances are being made, or against $1.4 billion for precision medicine when the president has made so eloquently the case of why it is important, or $1.6 billion for the brain initiative at a time when dr. francis collins, the head of the national institutes of health, tells us that we are near two medicines that will identify alzheimer's before there are symptoms and permit us to retard its progression. think of the grief that will save millions of families. think of the billions of dollars
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that that will save in our country. this bill has had the participation of dozens of members of the united states senate, but none were effective and none more important than the senator from louisiana, senator cassidy, and the senator from connecticut, chris murphy. they have taken the mental health bill, and even though they are both relatively new to the senate, they have navigated land lines as if they were -- had been here 25 years. they have worked across the aisle with each other, and they have worked with democrats and republicans in the house of representatives to produce a bill that passed overwhelmingly in the house, that will be added today by amendment. it's also been approved by our help committee here, and i thought it would be helpful today, mr. president, and an example of the bipartisan support for the bill to ask senator cassidy and senator murphy to describe the mental
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health bill. senator mcconnell says the 21st century cures bill is the most important piece of legislation that congress will enact and pass this year. i believe that the mental health bill which has three parts that we will enact this year, part from our committee and part from the judiciary, is the most significant piece of mental health legislation in terms of reforms of programs that the congress will have passed in more than a decade. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. cassidy: i thank senator alexander for yielding. i thank you for his leadership and senator murray's leadership, and i thank senator murphy for his cooperation, collaboration in passing this. i will speak to mental health as a senator but also has a doctor, as a family member and friend of those with mental illness.
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and because of this, these different hats, passing comprehensive mental health reform has been a priority since day one. senator chris murphy and i introduced the mental health reform act of 2015 shortly after arriving in the senate. again, since then, senators alexander and ranking member murray have made mental health reform a priority, and i thank them once more for their vital work to include the provisions the four of us introduced in the mental health reform act of 2016 into the 21st century cures act. everyone in some way is affected by serious mental illness. this is not a partisan issue. it crosses any division of age, gender, demographics and certainly of political party. if i go to a town hall meeting in louisiana in an area not so wealthy and speak of the need to address mental health, heads nod yes. if i go to another town hall
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meeting in another area very wealthy and mention the need to address mental health, all heads nod yes. everyone nods their head yes because mental health is an issue in the minds of everyone. i mentioned earlier everyone has a family member or friend who has a serious mental illness. maybe not, but it might be that person you went to high school with, and her life turned out far differently. her marriage broke up, her children in foster care, perhaps she homeless. if you think, not even hard, that person will come to your mind. the largest problem affecting americans with serious mental illness is lack of access to care. just a few weeks ago, i spoke to a neuropsychologist in baton rouge, dr. paul dammers. he told me he sees 15-20 patients a day and is booked up to six months in advance. if your loved one is having a mental health crisis, they should not have to wait six months to receive treatment.
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he stressed the significance of the barrier to treatment posed by the shortage of mental health professionals. thank god for dr. dammers, for all the work he and the other mental health specialists do to help those with mental illness return to wholeness, but they need help. access delayed is access denied, and access is hampered by a shortage of mental health providers and too few beds for those with serious mental illness who need to be hospitalized. patients too often cannot get the care they need and too often have a long delay between diagnosis and treatment. and without appropriate treatment options, prisons, jails and emergency rooms become the de facto mental health care facility. sheriff greg champov, past president of the national sheriff's association, quotes the statistic that sheriffs, sheriffs are the number one
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provider of mental health services in any parish or county in the country. incarceration has become our top mental health treatment strategy. more than three times as many mentally ill are housed at any one time in prisons and jails than being treated in hospitals. now, it is clear. it is time to fix our broken mental health care system. the 12st century cures act provides incentives to build an adequate and skilled mental health workforce to expand access to mental health care providing quick and effective diagnosis and treatment. our goal is that that person who has their first psychotic episode when she is 18 will be restored to wholeness so that when she is 50, she looks back upon that as a distant memory but not as a life-defining event. this bill also addresses privacy issues that keep some patients from receiving the best
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treatment possible. as an effective government regulation hipaa, when this comes to a patient with mental illness as an adult, the doctor feels as if she or he is not allowed to share vital information for their care to a third party even if that third party is their caregiver. a woman i went to high school with has an adult son with serious mental illness. she is the one who brings him to the doctor, gives him his medicines. yet when he is discharged, she is not told what medicines he is taking and she is not told when to bring him to follow-up. when an important regulation gets between a doctor and a patient and the loved one they are caring for, the legislation
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needs to change. train the workforce to better understand the rules of disclosing patient information. this allows doctors to better serve their patients and ensure they are getting the proper care they need. as a physician, this next provision just matters so much to me. it promotes access to services through the integration of primary and behavioral health. now right now, if someone with serious mental illness goes to see their psychiatrist and their hypertension is out of control and she wants to send the colleague to see her family practitioner, she refers him to the emergency room instead much the family practitioner treating the hypertension notes that the patient is psychotic. they're not allowed to sengd the patient down to the psychiatrist on the same day. in private insurance programs, this is not an issue. it's only been an issue in medicaid. this law begins to change that.
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and i will note that patients with psychiatric illness die of -- die 20 years younger than do patients that have a physical illness but do not have a psychiatric illness. we must do better. another thing this bill does is establish a grant program focused on intensive early intervention for children who demonstrate first signs that may evolve into serious mental illness later in life. dr. howard asachky did research and found that you can detect from ages 0-3 evidence of a child who may have a problem with mental illness lairlt in life. this bill provides grants for early intervention for the infangtses and children that will address the children with trauma and the adverse experiences that children v a
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second grant program supports pediatricians consulting with mental health teams. this is modeled after a successful program in massachusetts and connecticut. this legislation does many important things to change how we treat mental illness by expanding access to mental health resources, clarifying the rules and disclosure of patient information with family care take,and integrating primary and behavioral health. the 21st century cures act will begin to fix our broken mental health system and prevent more people affected by mental illness from being denied the care they need. i yield back. mr. murphy: mr. president, i ask that dr. laura willings be permitted floor privileges during the remainder of the year. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. murphy: thank you. i want to thank senator cassidy and senator alexander for being
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amazing partners in bringing this legislation from introduction last summer to the floor of the house and soon to the floor of the senate. i'll say a little billet more about them -- a little bit more about them and their teams. i've learned a lot especially from senator alexander how to overcome some tough obstacles and pitfalls as you bring something this meaningful through the process. i accept the fact that there's something wrong in washington, d.c. it means there are a lot of big issues like immigration reform and entitlement reform and infrastructure that don't get done because politics get in the way. there are frank lay lot more breakthroughs that happen here than most americans know about. a lot of them happen on the help committee. there are more often than you think moments where politics gets put to the side or temporarily squeezed out of the way and something really
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important happens here. and this is one of those moments. senator cassidy, i think, really explained to you the contours of this bill very well. i want to provide a little bit of the context for t i've been working on this issue since i was 25 years old in the connecticut state legislature, and i ran in congress in part because i knew that i couldn't fix what was broken with connecticut's mental health system without addressing the myriad of federal funding sources, laws, and regulations that create today what is kind of currently a dis-topian web of -- dis-topian web of health care in this country. they're increasingly impossible to ignore. senator cassidy talked about some of them. but it is personal because every single one of us knows somebody in our family, our next-door neighbor who suffered from a serious mental illness and failed to et go the care they needed. this suicide crisis is spiraling out of control. we've seen a 25% increase in suicides in the last 15 years.
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when we visit our hospitals, no matter what state we're in, we all notice that one of the major building campaigns that's happening is additions to the emergency departments to take care of the tsunami of mentally ill patients who are walking into these e.r.'s because they have absolutely nowhere else to go. and lastly, for as much backpadding as we've done for ourselves in the last 50 years because of our decision to close mental institutions all across the country, we've essentially just created these institutions all over again. they're now called prisons. a recent article in "the boston globe" by the now famous spotlight investigative team found that prisoners in that state had to self-mutilate themselves in prison in order to get any mental health care. the spotlight team concluded that "there may be no worse place for a mentally ill person to receive care than prisons." yet we have essentially decided in this country to exchange the
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old insane asylums for new ones. mainly, though, i stay awake thinking about a meeting i had earlier this year with moms, a bunch of mothers in west hartford, connecticut, moms at their wit's end. they were fairly affluent, well-educated, had learned the ins and outs of this system. yet they had no answers about what to do with their deeply mentally ill children. they were adults, not under the care of their children anymore. these women were petrified that their children would end up in these prisons or, works end up dead -- or, worse, end up dead. these moms told this story dozens of times, courageously. and yet they wept and they trembled with me as they were telling these horror stories. and yet, of course, for all of the disaster that exists in our under-resourced, unkoorded behavioral health system, that
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is lots of hope. why? because recovery is possible. check that. it's not possible. it's actually probable -- if you can find the right therapy, supports, and medications that you need. over the past 20 years of public service, i've met plenty of people who have beaten this disease, who have trained their mind to work differently and are leading if you would and happy lives. the simple problem is there are just -- the resources here are just too far out of reach and sometimes nonexistent for millions of constituents living with mental illness. that brings us to this moment and how this place actually does work for good sometimes. two years ago i approached senator cassidy right here on this very floor just days after his swearing in, and i told him that i had heard when he was a house member that he would come to hearings on mental illness in the house with a dogeared, worn-out copy after book called "crazy" by pete early.
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it is a story of a father who had the same story of as those moms in west hartford. he asked if he was interested in working on this mental health policy. he said absolutely. we worked with everybody we could find both nationally and in our states who could tell us what was wrong with our mental health system. we decided to do something big. lots of us work on small bills. they're kind of one-offs, they fix one problem here or there. bill and i decided to write a big sweeping imil, one that would -- bill, one that would tackle as many problems as we could all at once. we had a head start because our friend in the house of representatives, representative ted murphy, had already introduced a comprehensive bill. we introduced our own version of tim murphy's bill, the mental health reform act. today about 16 months after introduction, the house is going to pass this bill as a major component of the cures package,
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as senator alexander said. my hope is that we're going to have a big bipartisan vote here sometimes very soon. senator cassidy and i will be the first to admit it doesn't come close to solving all of the problems that people with mental illness confront. most importantly, it doesn't include new medicaid or medicare money to address some of these huge shortages that patients and families face. but it does require insurance companies to stop discriminating against people with mental illness by rejecting claims for mental health at a rate that is much higher than they do for physical health. this strengthening of our nation's mental health parity law is probably the bill's most important provision in my mind. i'm convinced it is going to result in hundreds of millions of dollars of new care for people with mental illness. it was at times controversial. the bill elevates the place of mental illness by creating a new
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secretary. it creates new programming to assist young children who show the first signs of mental illness. it reauthorizes important suicide prevention programs that have been shown to work. and it clarifies that parents don't need to be totally cut out of their adult child's care, that doctors can share information with parents if it is in the best interest of the patient to do so. and frankly that's just the tip of the iceberg. senator cassidy went much deeper. there's lots of other provisions in this bill that'll make it less likely that people with mental illness face continued barriers to care. over the past two years this bill has faced a lot of uncertain moments and that's where senators alexander and you armurray come in. they've helped us navigate through some tough waters. give a lot of credit as well to senators cornyn and frank en. -- and franken.
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senator cornyn in particular for helping us overcome a major hurd until this bill. i want to thank all the staff people who have worked on this. i want to thank brenda destro, i want to thank mary pesky, evan schatz, collin goldfinch in senator murray's office. i wonts to thank joe dunn in my who was who has seen this bill, who in many ways is the parent of this bill, from beginning to end and all the people in our office-to-who worked underneath him. when and if the senate approves this bill and the president signs it into law, maybe the most important thing that will happen is we will show this place can work together to address a big problem that really has no partisanship to it. mental illness doesn't care if you're a republican or you are a a democrat. mental illness doesn't care if you voted for hillary clinton or donald trump.
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and it doesn't think if you think you're not the kind of person that could suffer from mental illness. it doesn't discriminate. yet we do. we t to inpush those with mental illness into the shadows. our unwillingness to fund the better coordinated care system we know we need is a clear message to these patients that they are something less inside our health care system. that begins to change with the passage of this legislation. i think accurately described by senator alexander has probably the most significant piece of mental health legislation we pass in over a decade. i can say there's nothing -- maybe there's nothing i've worked on this my 20 years of elected office that i'm more proud of. i commend this bill to all of my colleagues. i yield the floor. mr. alexander: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ten init. mr-- the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: i want to thank senator cassidy and murphy for professionalism on a big issue. we all have a chance to support
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their work when the bill comes over from the house on monday as part of the 21st century cures legislation. wonts to reiterate what senator murphy said about senator cornyn. he played a key role in developing the parts of the legislation that came from the judiciary committee and he, like senator murphy and senator cass -- had to negotiate a new land mines in order to -- for the bill to be considered and included as it has been. so i want to pay my respects to senator cornyn and thank him for his leadership on the mental health bill as well. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. rounds: thank you, mr. president. let me begin by thanking the senator from tennessee, the senator from louisiana and the senator from connecticut for the
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hard work they are doing to create new health care for americans for the future. but i come here as well to speak about legislation which was already passed that was designed to improve the health care of veterans across the entire united states. i come here today to speak in favor and in support of the emergency care fairness act of 2009 which recently has come under attack by the v.a. and legislation introduced on this floor. in 2009, the 111th congress passed the emergency care fairness act to fix a very big loophole in the law which hurt our nation's veterans. prior to 2009, the v.a. was not authorized to cover any costs of emergency room care at non-v.a. facilities for veterans who are covered by any type of third-party insurance. that meant that if a veteran had a limited insurance policy that covered even $1 of an emergency
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room bill, the v.a. would not pay a dime to cover costs that were not paid for by their insurance. meanwhile, if a veteran had no insurance and was rushed to the emergency room, the v.a. was authorized to cover all of his or her costs. clearly this made no sense. under the system, the v.a. penalized veterans for owning third-party insurance, particularly medicare. leaders in both the house and the senate got to work to fix this issue and introduced bills in both chambers of congress to allow the v.a. to pay the remaining balance of emergency care after a veteran's third-party insurance was applied. this made good common sense. at the time the chairman of the senate veterans' affairs committee, senator daniel akaka of hawaii, stated the following on this very floor -- and i quote -- "the bill i'm introducing would amend current law is so that a veteran who has
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outside insurance would be eligible for reimbursement in the event that any outside insurance does not cover the full amount of the emergency care." end of quote. mr. president, congressional intent does not get any clearer than that. while the emergency care fairness act was being considered in committee, the v.a. is on the record as having supported the intent of the bill. everything was going according to plan, and the president signed the bill into law in february of 2010. the problem arose when after the law was passed -- after the law was passed the v.a. implemented a new regulation which continued to deny veterans' legitimate emergency room claims. despite having previously supported the emergency care fairness act, the v.a. reversed course and elected not to comply. this went on for six years, and hundreds of thousands of
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veterans had their emergency room claims denied by the v.a. it was not until a veteran from minnesota named richard stabb had a heart attack in 2015 that the v.a.'s illegal regulation was challenged in court. mr. stabb was rushed to the emergency room following his heart attack and accrued $48,000 in medical expenses. because he carried limited medicare insurance, the v.a. denied his claim for reimbursement as it had done for so many veterans, even though his medicare didn't come close to covering the cost of his treatment. mr. stabb sued the v.a., and in april of this year his case was heard by the u.s. court of appeals for veterans claims. after hearing the case, the court unanimously ruled in mr. stab's favor and ruled the v.a. was in violation of the law by denying his claim and
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specifically ruled that the v.a.'s regulation was in violation of congressional intent of the emergency care fairness act. part of the court's ruling -- part of the court's ruling stated, and once again i quote, "therefore, it is clear from the plain language of the statute that congress intended the v.a. to reimburse a veteran for that portion of expenses not covered by a health plan contract." end of quote. this was a huge win for veterans. mr. president, unfortunately, today the v.a. has appealed the decision of the u.s. circuit court of appeals. this is an egregious dereliction of duty and a clear effort to avoid complying with the original intent of congress back in 2009. just since the v.a.'s appeal of the ruling, over 100,000 veterans have been put -- their
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claims have been put into a pending status. that equates to thousands upon thousands of veterans who are waiting today for the v.a. to help them pay their bills. mr. president, it is a fact that those most affected by the v.a.'s noncompliance with the emergency care fairness act are our elderly veterans, many of whom are living on fixed incomes and have limited resources to pay medical bills. often these veterans find themselves dealing with collection agencies as a result of emergency care received in the community. in an era where we know that more than 20 veterans commit suicide every day with 65% of those veterans aged 50 years or older, this is simply unacceptable. i'd like to tell a short story about a constituent of mine who is a veteran that was supposed to be covered by the emergency care fairness act. his name is mr. alfred dimmick.
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mr. dimmick is 90 years old and he served in the army air corps during the korean war. he flew over 100 combat missions during the war and earned a bronze star and a distinguished flying cross for his heroic service. mr. dimmick receives all of his medical care at the v.a. as a disabled veteran but also carries medicare part-a, as does nearly every american over the age of 65. during a one-month span earlier this year, mr. dimmick collapsed twice in the middle of the night while he was in the bathroom. one time he hit his head and was bleeding. because his 85-year-old wife was unable to pick him up, she appropriately called 911 each time. in both instances, the ambulance took him to rapid city regional hospital, even though
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he requested to go to the fort meade v.a. hospital, the v.a. facility where he normally receives all of his care. the paramedics did not want to take him on the 25-mile drive to fort meade because they feared he was having a heart attack and he may not survive even that short of a drive. as a result of these two incidents, mr. dimmick's emergency room bills totaled over $44,000. now after medicare part-a paid its share, mr. dimmick still oaz rapid city regional nearly $10,000. the v.a. has denied mr. dimmick's claims to cover this amount because he, like nearly every american, is eligible for medicare part-a. the dimmicks do not own a home. they live in an apartment. they live solely on their social security and on mr. dimmick's v.a. disability payments.
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if the v.a. continues to deny his claims, the dimmicks have no ability to pay these medical bills. today mr. dimmick is in hospice care with stage 4 kidney disease and liver disease. his daughter writes to me that even as frail and ill as mr. dimmick is, he wants to know before he dies that his bills are covered so that he can have peace. mr. president, it was veterans like mr. dimmick in rapid city, south dakota, that congress intended to help when it passed the emergency care fairness act in 2009. today i call on the v.a. to drop their appeal of the court's ruling and begin writing new regulations to comply with the law as congress intended to
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properly reimburse our veterans for their emergency room care. now i fully understand that there is a cost associated with this course of action. taking care of our veterans and complying with the law in this case is not a cost issue. i believe it is a moral and in this case it is also a legal issue. complying with the intent of the emergency care fairness act is also simply the right thing to do. should the v.a. agree, i stand ready to support them in their efforts to take care of our veterans and to get them medical care which they need, both from the v.a. and in the private sector. while we certainly have a long way to go to fix v.a. health care, i fully believe that implementing the emergency care fairness act as it was intended is a step in the right direction. i look forward to working with the secretary of the v.a. and my colleagues on the senate veterans' affairs committee on a
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broad range of initiatives to continue to improve health care for our veterans. it is my goal to keep the veterans at the center of all that we do. i urge my colleagues to join me in standing up for our veterans and supporting the emergency care fairness act of 2009. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. thank you, sir. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. isakson: mr. president, first of all, i want to commend the senator from north dakota who is a member of the veterans' affairs committee for his diligent effort, thoughtful words and all he does for the veterans of america. he is a gem on the committee and i appreciate what he had to say today and support his effort. as a 71-year-old citizen of this country, one who's been in business, been fortunate to be married 49 years to a wonderful woman, raised a family, one who has been involved in public life for 40 years, you learn that there are three kinds of people in the world. those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what the
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hell is happening. we have a chairman of the health, education, labor and pensions committee in lamar alexander who is one of those people who makes things happen. what we're going to do on the cures bill is nothing short of remarkable but it is an example of somebody who cares. it is a bill which incorporates many of the provisions of this administration, members of this senate, things that have been worked on for years in the united states senate and things that will save and improve lives in america. for me it's personal. it's personal for two or three reasons. one is the pediatric review provision. you know, in 2005 i met a young lady named alexa robott. she was five years old when i met her. she came to find me about finding cures for incurable diseases and cancers. she had one. neuroblastoma. she won my heart over. i've got her picture in my office to this day and i had dinner with her parents two weeks ago in atlanta at the
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rally foundation. alexa is in heaven looking down today but i'm testifying on her behalf that the more we can do to accelerate research and development for cures of rare diseases the more we're going to plaik the lives of people and long. alabama -- alexa was an inspiration to me. if this bill had been in place when i met her she would have been safe from the rare disease she had and we would not have to talk about her in the past tense but only in the present tense. the second reason is some things are finally coming to fruition in this legislation. one is home infusion. i have a son named kevin who was almost killed in an automobile accident in 1989. he got a bad leg infection. he had the bottom part of his leg blown off and lost a lot of the bone. they had to put a lot of metal rods in. he had to lay in a hospital running antibiotics through his system to keep his bone marrow from getting infected. he had to come home for six
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months with antibiotics being administered daily. my wife and i administered those. he got to recover from his disease at home with his parents tending to him. under the law today for home infusion to be reimbursable. it is only reimbursable if you're in the doctors office or hospital if you're with visiting nurses or any other way you can't do it. what costs more a hospital or home visit? obviously a hospital. this bill provides a way for us to find a way forward to reimburse for home infusion at home so the safest, best and least effective way is incentivized by the 21st century cures bill. we know alzheimer's is the number one threat to people of my age. this bill provides the neurological register provisions to bring in registry of all those diseases, all of which have common characteristics to help in more early diagnosis and
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cure. i as one who suffers from one of those diseases can tell you the more you learn from one you can help in another. i want to commend senator alexander in his effort to bring that forward so we have a neurological disease registry that works, we have an expedited review process for drugs for rare cancers for children and so that we do the things we need to do to cure the bad diseases of the 20th century so the lives of people in the 21st century are better and better and better. chairman chairman alexander is a unique individual, a great leader in health and education and labor and pensions in this senate and we passed this bill as a trademark to him next week. it'll be in large measure because in his belief if you give everybody a chance to be a part on the same team, whether democrat, republican, rich, poor, northerner, southerner, they'll do the right thing for the american people. senator lamar alexander deserves ash credit and appreciation. i thank him for allowing me as a member of the committee to work on the 21st century cures

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