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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  December 9, 2016 6:00pm-8:01pm EST

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and the 49 who signed up today will be in the 50's and the 60's when we come back. let me just close before -- and i know we've got other colleagues, but others have commented. i went through these talking points at other times. but you got to hear the voices of people being affected. i got a letter recently from sharon. sharon has a coal miner's family, not too far from west virginia and kentucky. here is what she wrote. my father is a retired coal miner. for many years, he worked at clinchfield coal number 2 mine. he gave them his time, sweat, hard work, and even his health. in return, he expected nothing more than a paycheck, a little pension and health care when he retired. he was promised that, and he deserves that. he went on to -- she went on to
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talk about the fact that her dad grew up in the depression. she said he grew up at a time when you took care of your things. he believed that you paid for what you got. he paid dearly for his pension and health care. please don't let that get away from him. permitting planned for years for his retirement. she said he was always tight with his money. he planned for years for his retirement. he saved and budgeted so he would have enough with his pension to be able to support himself through the rest of the years and not be a burden on anyone. sharon and her coal miner family and countless thousands of others, americans, are waiting for us to honor our commitments. we're taking a step forward tonight, echoing what other senators have been -- have said before. this issue will not go away until these miners get their justice. mr. schumer: i would just ask
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unanimous consent that immediately after senator mccaskill speaks, i be given three minutes. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: we have senator coons. mr. manchin: we have senator coons, and another, and i will talk and then we will be finished. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent after mccaskill, sexual violence, after -- after mccaskill, coons, after that it will only take a few minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. mccaskill: let me make very clear, mr. president, that when we get these benefits for the coal miners and their widows, when that happens, not if, but when, make sure no one misunderstands who is responsible for it. i want the coal miners in west virginia to know one thing. there is only one person who will be responsible for those coal miners getting their benefits and their promises
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being kept, and that will be senator joe manchin. it won't be president donald trump. it won't be the minority leader or the majority leader. it won't be any of us. there will only be one man that was responsible for these coal miners getting what they're due, and that is senator joe manchin who has fought -- i am so sick of joe manchin talking to me about the coal miners. you can't see him in the hall that he doesn't grab you about the coal miners. he feels this in his heart. these are the people he grew up with. these are the people he knows and loves. and he's the one that's going to make this happen. the other one i'm fighting for tonight is a guy named harry. every time i open my desk, i get goose bumps. because i look in my desk and i see the name harry truman scrawled in my desk. now, if you're a student of
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history and you know anything about harry truman, you know he was very plain spoken, got himself in a lot of trouble with his mouth, but boy did he believe in keeping his word. when pefs president of the united states, as louie roberts told me, a man from willard, missouri, he has been in the mines, he is a third generation coal miner. he has been in the mines all of his life. he said john lewis and harry truman, the president of the united states of america, signed an agreement guaranteeing lifetime medical benefits to me and my family. so mr. and mrs. senators and congressmen, would you please keep your promise? would you please keep your promise? we only ask that the promise be kept that was made by our president in 1948. so i'm also fighting for the
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word of harry truman. this debate reminds me of a fight i had in congress a couple of years ago. back then, congress had approved a trillion dollar spending package. oh, man, the elves get busy around christmas time. omnibus spending package is code for you have no idea what's in it. and we looked and poked around in it, and we found that they were cutting the pensions of thousands of missourians who drove trucks for a living. now, we're talking about the people who take a shower after work, not before work. this place is really good at taking care of the people who take a shower before work. we're really good at that. when they repeal a.c.a., they're going to give a big old tax cut to the 1% again. we're going to do that. we're going to throw 22.2 million people off health care. but boy, oh, boy, we're going to take care of that 1%. but we're not so good at taking care of the people that take a
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shower afterwards. that bill allowed those truck drivers to have their pensions cut. i was the only member of the missouri congressional delegation to vote against it. by the way, in the same bill, we gave a car and driver to a member of congress. really? a car and driver to a member of congress in the same bill we cut the teamsters' pensions. now i hear the house members had to go home. now, i don't know how many people who take a shower after work get three weeks off for christmas. but i'm pretty sure there's none. i'm pretty sure they're trying to figure out if they have to cover a shift on christmas. i'm pretty sure they've got to figure out how they can make ends meet so they can buy christmas presents. but we've got to get out of here so we can have three weeks off for christmas. what nerve. doing that to these coal miners and taking three weeks off for christmas. and on the way out the door, they did another christmas present. they made sure that the russian oligarchs get to sell us steel. they took out the buy american
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provision in the wrda bill. i think the guy that just won the presidency said we're going to buy american. what do the republicans in the house do? they take out the buy america provision. less than a week after he set it on his victory tour in cincinnati. i just know this -- i'm proud to vote no on the c.r. and frankly, i'm probably going to vote no on the wrda bill because of what they did with buy america. i'm sick of the games being played. and so we're going to fight, we're going to fight until we get this done. we may not win this fight tonight, but i guarantee you we're going to win it. as harry truman would say -- and he would say this. i'm quoting him so i can't get in trouble. come hell or high water, we're going to get it done. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? mr. manchin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. manchin: i know there is not a lot of coal mining in delaware, but we sure do have a lot of friends in delaware. i want to introduce to you my
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dear friend, senator chris coons. mr. coons: thank you, mr. president. i'd like to rise in support and recognition of the tireless efforts of my friend and colleague from west virginia. we were sworn in the same day, moments apart, and we were sworn in by a man who held this seat and this desk for 36 years. born in scranton, pennsylvania, joe biden, our vice president, served delaware for 36 years, and i know joe, and i know one of the things he tirelessly fought for, and that was the working men and women of this country. just like my colleague from missouri who speaks from the desk long held by harry truman, and in whose honor she spoke about our keeping our promises that date back to a law passed by this congress and signed into law by harry truman that promised pensions and health care to 100,000 coal miners. i, too, have to keep faith that my predecessor in this seat, joe biden, and our neighboring state to the north, pennsylvania, and my great and good friend joe manchin from west virginia and
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heidi heitkamp from north dakota and many others who have spoken before me and simply say that i understand, i understand that large, complicated appropriations bills never include every item that every member wants. i wanted a provision that would help a manufacturing company in my state. the 48-c provision, the investment tax credit would help keep a company that manufactures fuel cells in my state alive and running, and i heard an awful lot of talk in this campaign about saving american manufacturing, about doing the things we need to do, to help working people and to help manufacturing. and i'm as upset as my colleagues about the buy america provision being taken out of wrda and our not keeping our word to buy american steel. but what all of us are here in common to stand up for today is to keep our promises to the coal miners and their widows who the senator from west virginia has fought so tirelessly for. when told that that's a provision that can't be taken care of, that can't be done,
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when they are sent back 30 yards, they dropped back and said fine, we'll work on the miners' protection act. they held hearings, they held a markup, they moved through regular order, they found bipartisan support, it got out of the finance committee by 18-8, and yet here we stand likely on the very last night of this congress with a promised path being blocked and a four-month extension rather than a permanent solution seemingly the only option before us. and 16,000 miners and their families would lose health care this december 31 without a longer extension. four months. that's all we can do, four months, when these good senators worked so hard and so tirelessly to find a bipartisan solution that doesn't take money out of the federal checkbook, that has a proper path. this is a sad day, when we can't keep our promises to the widows of coal miners, to folks who did dirty and dangerous and difficult work for decades, to
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the people who built this country. i think in some ways this is just a symbol, mr. president, of so many other ways we have failed to keep faith with those who have worked this nation for us. so i have not ever voted against a c.r. i have always taken, i believe, the responsible path of making sure that we are able to craft a responsible compromise and get it done, but as an appropriator in this year and this instance, it was upsetting to me that we were kept completely out of the process of crafting and finalizing this appropriations bill, and so without hesitation, i will vote against it because it is important we send a signal that we and many other senators are determined to fix this problem. as the senator from west virginia said, there are no coal mines in my state, but there are many retired coal miners and their widows, and i have joined as a cosponsor of the act, and i
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am proud to join in the great and good work of my friend from west virginia and the senator from north dakota and so many others, from my neighboring state of pennsylvania, senator casey, and so many other states across the region who are determined to do right by the people who built this nation for us. thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. manchin: mr. president, you can see there is a lot of passion here, an awful lot of passion from a lot of people who have hardworking men and women in their state also. i'm so proud to have our incoming leader of our caucus from new york, senator schumer, who has been a -- who has been a stalwart on this. he's fought, he has stayed with us every step of the way, and he will continue to lead this fight until we are successful, and i would like at this time to make sure the senator schumer gets recognized. the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. first, let me pay tribute to the steadfastness, the strength and the courage of my friend from west virginia. as senator mccaskill said, not
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a day goes by where he doesn't remind us of the coal miners and their flight. and last night, through his good offices, i met with some of these miners. they're not from my state either. i looked into their eyes. hardworking people. their eyes, many of them, tired. not from the day, not from lobbying here. that's easy work for them. but from working in those mines for so many years. they are america. they are the people that we owe so much to. and having met them and seen them and looked into their eyes, i understood why my dear friend from west virginia and my friend from virginia and missouri and pennsylvania and north dakota have such passion for these people. it's real. i hope some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle in the next month will be visited by these very miners, look them
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in the eye and tell them you can't help them, -- help them. i'll bet you can. i'll bet you can. so we're here to live up to a promise made by harry truman. legislation in this body over and over again. i don't care what your ideology is. i don't care if you're a big government cutter. this is not the place to cut. this is the place to recognize hard work, a promise and america, because we say to people if you work hard, we're going to be there for you, and tonight we're barely there for you. not cutting it off, but we're not doing right by the people that i met last night through the auspices of the senator from west virginia. fine people who got to my heart. so we believe deeply in preserving these benefits, and
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we also believe in not hurting other people to preserve these benefits, so we're not going to shut down the government. we're going to keep it open. that would hurt millions of americans as well. take millions out of the economy. so we're going to provide the votes to make sure we don't shut down. there are so many people who want to show and stand with the miners. we never intended to shut down the government, but our intention is very real. first, to highlight the seriousness of this issue, not to let people think this is going to go away because they didn't live up to their promise. i think we have made our point. i don't care if people don't like being here on a friday night. i know people have other obligations. those obligations are nothing compared to our obligation to these miners. leader mcconnell spoke to
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senator ma manchin a few hours o and said that he'd work hard to make the health benefits for miners not lapse in april. that's good. it's not close to enough. it's a step forward. but we will go further, hopefully with the majority leader but even without. we need the finance bill, the miners protection act, a bill that would move money from the abandon mine land reclamation fund into a fund to pay for the pension and health care benefits for tensions of thousands of coal miners and retirees, not for three months not for one year but prmtly. to show how searsious we are, every single democrat within just a few hours cosponsored the miners' amendment to the c.r. and we did get two republicans to join us. welcome. we need more of you. stand up for the miners. the fact that we've gotten so many people on this legislation
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bodes well for our chances of getting something significant done in the new year. so when we return in january, we're going to be looking at every way we can make sure the miners receive full funding. the sooner the better, the stronger the proposal the better. and we will do it. finally, i want to call on president-elect trump to support our proposal. the president-elect ran on a campaign with explicit direct promises to coal country, and he won coal country big. that's for sure. he held big rallies with coal workers. he said he'd protect them. he talked to the miners and got to know them. so we're simply asking our president-elect to communicate to the people in his party to get on board, live up to the promise we made the miners many years, decade ago. tonight, mr. president, we are
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putting our republican colleagues on notice. we will not rest until we do right by our miners. i yield the floor. mr. coats: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from -- mr. manchin: mr. president, i thank you. i want to first of all thank my colleagues so much. i'm so sorry. the patience you have hay is appreciated very much. as you can tecialtion we're very committed and very passionate. thank you, we're just about wrapping up. i just want to say one thing to put it in perspective. i get to go around to schools in my state and really around the country talking to school kids. i try give a little history lesson. i always tell them. i say, you know, if you see a person in uniform, if you're a parent or grandparent or your aunt or uncle, someone served in the military, i want you to say "thank you" because i want you to realize they were willing to take a bullet for you. they were willing to sacrifice their life for the freedom that they're providing for you. don't ever take it for grafntsed. what we fail to teach in that
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lesson is saying "thank you" to a coal miner that's given you the energy. thank you. thank you to every one of my coal miners for what you do. what you've done for me, for me, and my little town of less than 500 people, and i can't tell you how much i appreciate the life that i have had because of the sacrifice and the hard work you've given for me. and with that, i want to say to all of my colleagues, god bless each and every one of you. thank you for the fight. this is the right fight for the right reason for the right people. we'll tbsh very quickly -- we'll finish very quickly now with senator jeff merkley. mr. merkley: mr. president? mr. president, we heard a tremendous amount over the course of the coming -- the year past about fighting for workers and working families, and what does it take for a work being family to thrive -- a working family to thrive? well, a good living-wage job,
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access to public education for children and those children to be able to pursue their dreams with affordable opportunities in education. and it also takes health care. and take a profession like coal mining. far more dangerous than virtually any professional members of the senate have had in the course of their lives. health care, an essential element -- an essential l. element both for the miner and for their families. so how is it that we're at this point right now in which many miners don't know if they're going to have health care beyond april of next year? they don't know whether this body is going to stand with them. they are in limbo. they are in a state of anxiety, and it is absolutely unfair. so we know, as tonight progresses, that we're in a situation where we have an
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extension through april, but as joe manchin has said in his fight, leading this effort to necessarily secure health care and as our incoming democratic leader has said that this is going to be something that we are going to stand together for this coming year, we are going to make sure that that health care does not expire in april. this benefit has been earned through hard labor over difficult years in ways few of us can imagine. and we're going to stand with the coal miners in et going that benefit. and i am proud to sponsor this bill and stand with joe manchin and chuck schumer tonight. thank you, mr. president. mr. coats: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator indiana. mr. coats: mr. president, a number of us have been waiting several hours to speak. we understand the concerns of my colleagues across the aisle. we've been patiently waiting.
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i believe that they have finished their remarks. i would say, there are a lot of remarks directed across the aisle. there are several of us over here who are in support and voted for the issue of the day here. so if only our republican friends could join us, as they said, we wouldn't be in this situation. several us have supported this. i think we've had a -- given the circumstances here at the end of the year with making sure we keep funding for government functions and not have it shut down, the agreement that has now been reached is a reasonable agreement. and obviously it will be taken up again in the next congress. i won't be here. i supported it this year. i know a umin of my colleagues have -- i know a number of my colleagues have supported it. many of us are from coal company
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and understand the concerns. but the larger issue for us here is not to go into another shutdown. i've served in the senate for many, many years. there's been nothing more disruptive and leaving more uncertainty among businesses and individuals and employees throughout this country than the congress not doing its job and providing funding for them and shutting down the government. having said that, i would like to ask unanimous consent that following what we have just heard, that senator gardner have the opportunity to speak. i think relatively unlimited time. the that i follow him. and that i believe senator tell tillis -- senator tillis also wants to come to the floor to speak. i'd like to ask for consent for that. mr. merkley: mr. president, reserving the right to object, there has been a list that has been worked out between the two
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sides. many of us have been waiting hours to deliver our speeches. i believe what you're proposing modifies that considerably. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. merkley: mr. president, i'm not -- reservin reserve theo object, i have been here on the floor waiting for, i think, two and a half hours to deliver my speech on wrda. i haven't seen my colleague here for two and a half hours. maybe we should stick with the list that has been wrorked out with our -- worked out with our staff on bodge side -- on both sides. mr. coats: we have also been waiting hours and hours and hours. we patiently waited. again, when the working down the list wases not followed by the opposition. i am simply asking that we did not object a few moments ago for our colleagues to speak. they left the floor u there's no one left on their side that has not spoken.
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so i don't see what the problem is. the senator from oregon wants to follow a list, but no one on the list from the other side is here. we're here, we're going to speak for a limited amount of time and we've been waiting three hours to do so. so i'm hoping my colleague would allow us to do that. mr. merkley: mr. president, he reserving the right to object, i think my colleague makes a persuasive argument. many did come to the floor to share in that extended dialogue regarding the importance of funding health care for our miners, and given that, i take your point and i'll look forward to talking later in the evening. mr. coats: i thank my colleague. the presiding officer: without objection, the request is granted. proceed. mr. gardner: i thank the gentleman. mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. gardner: i thank the gentleman from oregon for his accommodation in the speaking tonight. i thank the gentleman from
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indiana, who we will miss in the 115th congress and thank you for your service to our country. the gentleman from indiana has been a great example to those of us who are new to the senate in terms of his representation and statesmanship, and i hope and wish the gentleman from indiana nothing but the best in his future. mr. president, today i rise to honor the retirement and lifetime work of my dear friend alan lee foust. he has been part of my congressional staff for six years, representing the eastern plains of colorado, first in sterling and now in my hometown of yuma. his devotion is nothing short of iin-- inspiring and his aisht mr.s are a true -- and his accomplishments are a testament. his ability to find the positive in any solution and it makes my grateful and honored to call him a true nendz friend. born on december 29, 1946 and raised in akron, colorado, alan developed a pension for agriculture.
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he was raised on his family farm where they grew wheat and hay, raised hogs and a small dairy farm. he graduated from colorado state university and earn add master's degree in 1970. alanguage went on to earn his pmd from the university of arizona and work with top scientists on several projects such as mapping out the barley gee noasm he then followed his passion to california polytechnic university where he accepted a job as associate professor of crops and from there was able to impart his wisdom and expertise to students cultivating the next generation of food producers before our nation. without a doubt it was alan's enduring spirit and overall ameability that made him the perfect fit to inspire young minds. it was his love of colorado that drew him back to his roots. alan returned home and put his credentials to the test by partnering with his dad to
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operate a 10,000-acre farm. that was not enough to satisfy his appetite to advantages colorado agriculture. he became heavily i have involved with the colorado farm bureau and was elected president of both the colorado farm bureau and colorado farm bureau mutual insurance company. from there, his commitment to uphold and ensure colorado's traditional farming values wrasse fortified guaranteeing a lasting impact on the ag community. it wasn't just his service confined to agriculture. not in colorado, nor the shores of america. he dutifully served on the american farm bureau federation board for six years, made trips overseas to help further u.s. agricultural markets and exports. indeed with this impressive record it is easy to see how lucky i was to have such an accomplished staffer join my team. over the years while he was employed in my office, alan demonstrated his tireless work ethic. he played a role in ensuring farmers and ranchers in the
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colorado river basin were being properly compensated by the usda. likewise, throughout the 2014 farm bill negotiations, alan used his lifelong knowledge of ag policy to ensure that ag stakeholders were being properly represented. through the casework in my office, he has touched so many lives, likely more than he realizes. he's helped families navigate the adoption process and take home a child without a home. he's assisted countless veterans with getting the benefits they deserve. these aren't just cases to alan. these are acts changing people's lives desands them because he has a heart that is geared torse the service others. after all of his successes and degrees and after awful his accomplishments in and out of my congressional office, it's alan's devotion and absolute love for his family and his church that is most inspiring. he married his wife in 1966 and raised two children. when he is not work on behalf of colorado, he enjoys spoiling his
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grand chirchlt according to alan, the driving force that propels him, his ambition and us? his life is his family. that's the true mark of an honorable man. he wakes up every sunday morning and drives almost two hours to serve as the only pastor at kimball presbyterian church, 150 miles one day from his home towrntion a church that relies on his commitment to their community each week. a trip he makes for funerals, for weddings, for home visitations. but he doesn't just keep his commitment of his faith through the walls of his church. he keeps it with him wherever he goes. whether by lending an ear to a young staffer needing advice or traveling to a hospital to visit those in need. mr. president, few people can honestly say that they have made a long and lasting and meaningful impact upon society, and allen is one of those. thank you for your passionate zeal, allen, that you bring to our team day in and day out. thank you for your dedication to
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colorado's farmers and ranchers. and thank you for providing me an opportunity to learn from you and to help move our great state forward. god bless your family, and i hope that your goodwill, passion, and enduring spirit will continue to flourish. mr. president, -- just a few further comments, mr. president. mr. president, i rise today to honor the legacy of colorado state trooper cody donahue. on november 25, 2016, cody pulled his vehicle over to the side of i-25 in colorado to investigate and assist with a car accident. cody was struck by an oncoming vehicle and tragically killed. cody gave his life while nobly performing his duties as a colorado state patrol trooper, and he, like all that walk the thin blue line, dedicated his life to protecting and serving his community. cody was the 11-year veteran of the colorado state patrol, a
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loving husband, devoted father and a wonderful son and brother. he grew up in grand forks, north dakota, and attended the university of north dakota, during which time he married the love of his life velma and eventually moved to denver where they gave birth to two beautiful girls, maya and leila. since his passing, it's evidence through the numerous stories shared by family and friends that cody was always quick to put others before himself, so it comes as no surprise that cody joined the state patrol. his courage, reliability and selflessness made him a perfect fit for a unit dedicated to the safety of coloradans. it's well known within the colorado state trooper's family that the badge represents distinct values that each trooper must possess -- character, integrity, and honor to name just a few, and cody was to form an emcodiment -- embodiment of each of these values. cody was a hardworking and equitable man. his troopers were quick to point out he would always treat each
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person he met fairly with dignity, a true character of his integrity. he possessed a natural aspiration to lead and serve others. according to a tribute cody was -- quote -- so honest that he once ticketed his wife. honor. cody was a genuine team player and would show up to work every day ready to serve, ensuring that his team was never a man down. indeed, cody's core values as a state trooper extended beyond the department. he was known as a loving husband, caring father. his adoration for his family knew no bounds. he placed his family on a pedestal, strived to be the best, best father and husband that he could be. as we separate this holiday, the holiday spirit, family and friends, we must never forget the tireless efforts undertaken by cody and all the courageous men and women in blue to uphold the law. many of these brave officers do not have the luxury to spend holidays with family and friends. instead they answer the call to duty. they ensure the safety of those that we love most. they are the force that watches
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over us. so from the bottom of my heart, thank you. mr. president, a hero is defined as someone who is admired for his or her courage, outstanding achievements and noble qualities. through his work and time spent with family and friends, cody embodied each and every one of these. so although cody is gone, his memory will live on, with character, integrity and honor. these were cody's core values, values that we must all strive to emulate, values that will make colorado a better place and a better world. when i was preparing this speech, mr. president, i was at my desk and i noticed there was a christmas card on my desk today. i have it right here with me. it says merry christmas. inside it says wishing you all the beauty and joy of this peaceful christmas season. and there was a note, a note if it from david and sandra gere. earlier this year, derek gere, their son, a law enforcement
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official, was also killed. and so while we pay tribute to cody today, we pay tribute to derek and so many others who feel like they have been targeted, who feel alone, who must know that we care for them, who must know that we love them, who must know that we keep them in our prayers day in and day out. may it not be just this holiday season but every day that they stand on that thin blue line. mr. president, thank you, and i yield back my time. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: mr. president, as my time here in the senate winds down, i find myself reflecting on many of the reasons why i decided to return to the united states senate, and without a doubt, one of the main factors for my return was a skyrocketing federal debt and the harm that washington's excessive spending
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will have on future generations, including my children and ten grandchildren. the day president obama took office, the national debt was $10.6 trillion. we're now closing in on $20 trillion, and clearly this cannot be sustainable without extraordinarily negative consequences for the future. that debt clock continues to tick along, and we continue to roll into more and more debt as we spend more and more on government programs than we do with the revenue coming in to pay for it. so when i returned to the senate in 2011, i sought out opportunities to address this ticking time bomb and debt bomb. i worked with my colleagues, the republicans across the aisle with democrats on efforts to restrain federal spending and stabilize our nation's finances. there were a number of efforts
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made. we are all familiar with simpson-bowles, a bipartisan effort that tragically did not succeed and was not accepted by the president. the committee of six, the gang of six, so-called gang of six. three democrats, three republicans. seriously, fastidiously working to try to put together a formula, to put us on a path to fiscal responsibility. then there was the subcommittee, and there were -- the super committee and there were outside groups, led by both republicans and democrats. ultimately, we finalized the effort or hoped we were finalizing the effort when the president, through his own initiative, brought -- across the aisle here brought several of us into his venue and talked about how we could work together. and i was part of that effort. ultimately eight of us spending a considerable amount of time with the president's top people and the president himself to try
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to find a solution or at least a step forward in the right direction. and i'm really sorry to say that that also did not succeed in the end when even some of the president's own budget initiatives that he proposed were rejected by him later as part of a package. so when it became clear to me that the major reform efforts could not be enacted while the administration occupied the white house, i launched a new initiative which i called the waste of the week. i decided that each week in the senate when the senate is in session, i would speak about documented and certified examples by nonpartisan agencies, those that we turn to to give us the numbers to those inspector generals that have investigated the situation and made recommendations, the
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government accountability office, all the material provided to us, not on a partisan basis but simply the numbers, just the facts in terms of how taxpayers' money is being spent. well, today marks the 55th and final waste of the week speech, and maybe fitting so on a -- what looks to be the last day of this session and my last day serving in the united states senate. it's a little bit of a walking down memory lane in terms of talking about the waste of the week and the various items that we have proposed. it's been everything from the serious to the ridiculous, which grabs people's attention and says look, i can understand maybe this particular situation where we were overspent, but come on, clearly, surely we
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weren't using taxpayer dollars for something as ridiculous or as embarrassing as that. well, from everything -- pi might mention a few of my favorite examples here that we have talked about. fraudulent double-dipping and social security disability insurance and unemployment insurance benefits at the tune of $5.7 billion that was went through basic fraud by those who were submitting and receiving applications for and receiving payments for both. look, if you can work but are thrown out of work, unemployment insurance is available for you. if you are disabled and can't work, social security disabled payments are made to you. but you can't collect both. people were collecting both. fraud in the food stamp program. people were fraudulently
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receiving up to -- up to a total of three billion documented dollars in that program. the department of agriculture payments to dead people resulted in over $27 million of payments. and these were the things that were presented to this. perhaps the thing that gathered the most attention, we were talking about several hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars. something that grabbed the most attention was a study by the national institutes of health, a grant which was issued in which 18 new zealand white rabbits received four 30-minute mr. sadges a day -- massages a day. the study was conducted at ohio state university and designed to figure out whether massages can help recovery times after strenuous exercise. well, i raised a question do we need to bring over 18 white new zealand rabbits. i don't know what the cost of that was. i think we probably could have
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found some rabbits in the united states at much less cost. but nevertheless, the study went forward and guess what? the results were that after four massages a day after strenuous exercise, they felt better than if they didn't get the massages. i wanted to apply for that process there, but i learned that they euthanized the rabbits after the study was done so i thought it's a good thing i didn't join that effort. nevertheless, i kind of was thinking, you know, couldn't you just ask the ohio state football team after a practice? hey, guys, we're going to divide you in two categories. this category over here is not going to get massages after our strenuous practice sessions, and this half is going to get the massages, and we'll see if the guys who get the massages feel better than the guys who didn't. i think that would have saved the taxpayer a considerable
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amount of money had we done that. i don't see why the national institutes of health can come to the conclusion that a grant request for massaging rabbits is a good use of taxpayer money. so well, that's just four out of the 54 that i talked about. that's my walk down memory lane. but the total amount of waste identified through these 54 examples adds up to more than $350 billion. we're down here arguing now about payments on a program, and we are talking about, well, we can't fund this, we can't fund that, that's an essential program, that the defense department needs more money, the national institutes of health needs more money for cancer research, but we don't have any more money to give them. why not take actions to stop this waste, fraud and abuse. or better yet, why not ask the taxpayer for this money in the
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first place? why should the taxpayer be sending money to washington to see if the accomplishment is waived, fraud or abuse? now, i'm pleased to note that we have actually had some success in addressing some of these wasteful spending highlighted in these speeches. last year, the congress approved legislation that will finally, finally phase out the so-called temporary tax credit for wind energy, a credit that was supposed to expire over 20 years ago. we were promised that this is a study to get us started and see if it works, to get enough wind energy at a cost that the public could afford and see this as a way of providing alternative energy. but boy, once something's on the books, it gets reauthorized and reauthorized over and over, and for 20 years, it's oh, we just need it one more year. we just need it one more time. and on and on it goes.
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and finally, finally we have seen action taken by the congress to complete this phaseout program which will essentially save taxpayers billions of dollars and reduce the government's involvement in picking winners and losers through tax policy. congress also approved a measure i introduced to approve compliance and higher education tax benefits by simply adding language to require proof of eligibility for certain tuition tax credits, we saved taxpayers over a half a billion dollars in improper payments. in recent defense -- ans recent defense authorization bills have provided provisions to reform the defense contracting process which will help cut down on billions of waste. and of course more work is still needed in this area. a recent report identified as much as $125 billion in wasteful spending at the department of defense. and i am a strong proponent of a strong national defense. but when we find that well over
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$100 billion has been misspent, we're compromising our national security and we're not giving our soldiers and sailors, marines, and coast guard and others, we're not giving them all the resources they need to provide for our national security the way it needs to be provided for. well, today i'm here for my 5th and final -- for my 55th and final "waste of the week." only in washington is $48 million called modest, because we talk in billions and trillions. but, anyway, $48 million in medicaid funding for drugs to treat hair loss. not hair loss for therapeutic reasons, not hair loss as a result of cancer treatments, but for cosmetic purposes. medicaid is paying out $48 million to provide for measures
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that will help reduce hair loss. i want to stress that medicaid is part of our nation's safety net to help those in need. all the more reason why we have to ensure that medicaid is run effectively and efficiently to have the financial resources to help low-income families gain access to medical care. but this also means we have to protect medicaid by ensuring that its finances are not used for medically unnecessary services. now, there are certain service -- medical services that all state medicaid plans are mandated to provide, and then there are a number of additional services that are optional for states to cover. but one of these services includes drugs to treat cosmetic hair loss. now, this is not hair loss due to an underlying medical issue, as i mentioned.
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no, this is hair loss that, frankly, just happens, often as we age, and the treatments paid by medicaid are for cosmetic purposes only. i think all of us would love to have a full head of hair, and i speak as one that falls in that category. and as i look around the senate chamber, i see others that have joined me in watching the hair fall off their head. and looking in the mirror and say, how many hairs did i lose last night and when is this going to end? so losing your hair is not always fun, but i promise you, as someone who's been through all this, you're not alone. and soon enough, you will simply effect the fact that while you won't make the finals of the 50 most beautiful people in america, life will go on. according to the nonpartisan
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congressional budget office, the federal government could save $48 million over ten years by not paying for this cosmetic loss treatment. and while this may seem like a small amount of money compared to our nearly $20 trillion national debt, it is yet another example of unnecessary use of hard-earned taxpayer dollars. fortunately, the senate recently passed legislation that included a provision to end the federal reimbursement for cot metic hair -- cosmetic hair loss and that bill fortunately a is on the way to the president for signature into law. and so by bringing attention to some of these issues, we've been able to take legislative action to try to address and keep this unnecessary spending off the charts. to conclude, let me say that i would like to -- while today marks the end of the "waste of
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the week," i want to implore my colleagues to -- in the house and senate to keep going, to keep fighting, to stop wasteful spending. i also want to acknowledge that my staff over the period of time at different times as they were working on this project provided to me the examples and they dug in and did the research so that i could come to the ploor to make -- floor to make these points and hopefully, hopefully, save the taxpayer hard-earned dollars that shouldn't have been sent to washington in the first place but were not used wisely and efficiently when they came here. you know, our former governor, my friend mitch daniels, former governor of indiana, and the current president of purdue
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university fam famously said yol be amazed by how much government you'll never miss. indiana has set the example with significant cuts in reforms in spending. to take our state from a deficit to a $2.4 billion surplus. significant cuts in many agencies through the growing of bureaucracy that took place, and we have yet to find what parts of government that we miss. there are so many programs and so many ridiculous things that the government funds, like rabbit massages, like cosmetic hair loss treatment that most americans have never heard of and while i know -- no longer will be here, i'm hopeful that the next president and congress will work in tandem to achieve these goals. they can use my 55 "waste of the week" examples as a starting point they can continue because we have just scratched the
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surface. so today i'd like to add $48 million to our total, and just in this cycle of the senate alone, we have come up with a grand total of $351,635,239,536, money that can be used for a better purpose. mr. president, with that and my final words addressed to my colleagues in this extraordinary experience i've been privileged to enjoy, i for the last time yield the floor. the presiding officer: who seeks recognition? who seeks recognition? who seeks recognition? under the previous order, the --
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mr. coats: i ask unanimous -- ik unanimous consent, i think senator tillis was up. but i notice the leader is up. i'm sure he would yield to the leader for his leadership purposes.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senate i don't recall. mr. mcconnell: let me give everyone a state of play.
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first, i'll be offering a subsequent agreement to set -- a consent agreement to set the continuing resolution votes at 10:00. so having said that i ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding the provisions of rule 22, at 10:00 p.m., the senate vote on the cloture motion with respect to the house message to accompany h.r. 2028. i further ask that if cloture is invoked, all time postcloture be considered expired and senator mccain or his designee be recognized to offer a budget point of order and that if the point of order is raised, the moke motion to waive be considered made and the senate vote on the motion to waive without any intervening action or debate. i further ask that if the motion to waive is agreed to, the motion to concur with a further amendment then be withdrawn and the senate vote on the motion to concur with the house amendment. the presiding officer: is there any objection? no objection heard. so ordered. mr. mcconnell: now, mr. president, let me just
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explain for my colleague, the democratic leader -- before my colleague the democratic leader addresses the matter. what this does is set up votes in connection with the c.r. at 10:00 p.m. but then i want everybody to understand that if we can't get an agreement to move the wrda votes up to that series of votes, they will occur three hours later at 1:00 p.m. so failure to consent to including wrda only will delay the senate until 1:00 a.m. in the morning. so let me go over that again. at the moment, i understand there is an objection to adding the wrda votes to the stack that we just agreed to. so, without consent, we'll be here another three hours or so voting at 1:00 a.m. so everybody should understand we're going to finish all of these votes tonight, and that's
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the -- that's the schedule for the rest of the evening. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: mr. president, we have now three hours until 10:00. and i would hope during that period of time that people will do whatever they need to do to make sure that they get anything they want in whatever they're trying to get. the reason i say that is that we're going to continue, as the leader has indicated, working on a way to get out of here tonight. if not, we get out of here tomorrow. and so i would hope that if someone has something they want to talk to me about, i'll be happy to carry that message to anyone, including the republican leader. but i think right now we have three hours to-set sit around, stand around, talk about this
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and find out if there is anything that can be done. i would hope that we can have, after these votes -- in fact, i would hope that when we get here at 10:00 this we would be in a position to let everybody know if we're going to have a vote before 1:00 this morning because these votes will take at least an hour, the three votes that are scheduled. that means 11:00. so by waiting around, you're delaying things a couple of hours until a fairly late time at night. and i think by now everyone has a pretty good idea how they're going to vote. mr. wyden: mr. president, colleagues have been very gracious and we have gotten a little bit out of the queue, so i would ask, mr. president, thas consent that i be allowed to address the body for five minutes. following me, senator sullivan would address the senate for ten minutes. and following him, senator coons would address the senate for five minutes. the presiding officer: is there
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any objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. wyden: thank you very much, mr. president. i'm rising to voice my opposition to the water infrastructure improvement act. senator boxer and senator inhofe, in my view, have done a lot of good bipartisan work on this legislation. the infrastructure is hugely important to our country. i constantly say you cannot have big league quality of life with little league infrastructure, and this legislation in particular has some very important provisions that i and senator merkley have worked on for our home state. it includes assistance to help build homes for displaced native american families. it provides funding to help restore fish and wildlife habitat in our rivers, and it particularly includes assistance for small ports in oregon and across the country. the fact is the small ports provide crucial access for commercial and recreation
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fishing. they're home to ocean science and research vessels. they're really in our part of the world the gateway to the global economy. year after year, these ports have faced uncertain funding that threatens good-paying jobs and i and others work to make sure that the water bill includes stable, permanent funding. over $100 million annually for small ports in oregon and across the nation. i highlight this by way of saying that with respect to what this legislation does for a number of crucial areas, the economy and our quality of life, senator boxer and senator inhofe have done very good work. my big concern is about the rider, mr. president, added on california drought which threatens the west coast fishing industry and has put every single good provision in this legislation at risk.
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water issues have never been easy, and i want to compliment my colleague from california for her hard and long work to get a deal on drought that addresses california's serious and ongoing issues. oregon is no stranger to water challenges, but there has to be a collaborative stakeholder-driven process, and this rider is not a product of the kind of compromise you'd get with a true collaborative effort. in effect, an entire west coast industry feels left out of the discussions. fisheries and hardworking families in coastal communities depend on a healthy stock of salmon salmon stand to lose the most and these stakeholders have told us they really felt they have had no meaningful seat at the table. now, the rider is not just about water and agriculture in california. it threatens the health and sustainability of the salmon
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fishing industry up and down the pacific coast. the drought provision, in my view, also threatens to undermine bedrock environmental laws like the endangered species act, and it certainly would create the prospect of the new administration having the power of its own volition to override critical environmental protections. i and my pacific northwest senate colleagues have concurrem concerned west coast fishery groups and coastal businesses for days. my constituents are concerned about the implication of pumping water out of the bay delta to support a small number, a handful of very large agribusinesses in california. they believe that hardworking men and women in the fishing industry and coastal businesses are going to pick up the tab for this break for the large agribusinesses. that's not the way to manage water in the west for the long
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term. the water infrastructure bill which is meant to provide support for water-dependent communities doesn't do a whole lot of good if there are no fish in the ocean, mr. president. if there are no fish in the ocean and no fishing families or fishing boats in the ports and no fish at the dinner table, the water infrastructure bill is going to be something that we regret, and i believe we will regret it in this form. at a time when coastal communities need as much help as they can get, this provision threatens to do the opposite. as long as the water infrastructure improvement for the nation act improves this california drought rider, i think it would be a mistake to go forward. with that, i yield the floor.
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provide the senator from alaska is recognized. mr. sullivan: mr. president, yesterday my state lost a great leader in a plane crash. mike kelly was a former state legislator from fairbanks. he was the mate remark of a wonderful interior alaska family. he leaves behind a long and accomplished legacy of public service in leadership to his community, for the interior and to our great state which he loved so much. he also leaves behind a wonderful wife, siblings, children who have also played and continue to play such an important role in alaska. he will be sorely missed by all of us. rest in peace, mike. mr. president, i ask consent that my next set of remarks
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appear in a separate place in the record. mr. president, the holidays are nearly upon us. it's a time when christmas cheer descends, when hearts open and when we reach out to our neighbors, our friends, even strangers, particularly those who are in need. mr. president, today i want to reach out to the police force in alaska, men and women who put their lives on the line every day for us, and anyone who has seen the news in these past few months knows it's been a particularly difficult time for police officers all across the country who have been faced with unprecedented levels of violence, deliberate attacks. across our great nation, our men and women who get up every
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morning with the mission to protect us are having their lives taken. as of december 5, there have been 134 fatalities against police officers this year alone. that's up more than 20% from last year. and let's face it. they are being targeted. some of them are even being ambushed. and the presiding officer, just a few minutes ago on the floor right here where i was, gave some very eloquent remarks about what's happened in colorado, what is happening, these kind of acts all across the country -- iowa, massachusetts, texas, california, colorado, pennsylvania, georgia, and unfortunately more than once in recent weeks in my home state of alaska. one brave anchorage police officer, arn salla, who was the
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victim of a cowardly ambush in alaska thankfully survived. the incident resulted in the arrest and the killing of an accused murderer who has now been accused of killing five others in anchorage. unfortunately, another officer involved in a shooting in alaska, this time in fairbanks, wasn't so fortunate. on the morning of october 16, sergeant allen brant, an 11-year veteran of the fairbanks police department, responded to reports of shots being fired. after pulling over his vehicle to question a suspect, sergeant brant was shot five times. after being treated for several days, sergeant brant was expected to survive. he even came to testify in a remarkable, remarkable act of courage in front of the fairbanks city council on
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october 21. his testimony was riveting. and in a devastating turn of events, on october 28, just a few days later, alaskans learned that sergeant brant had succumbed to the complications related to his injuries in recovery. mr. president, the hopes of our entire state were crushed on hearing this brave, young public servant had passed. alaskans from every corner of our state held vigils and continued to mourn his loss. there was a memorial service in fairbanks attended by thousands. i happened to attend that with my fellow alaskans. it was one of the most moving services i have ever attended.
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at the memorial service, sergeant brant's testimony from just a few days earlier in front of the fairbanks city council was played. there he was, speaking to all of us on these important issues. it was so powerful and so moving to see this young man so articulately speak about issues that don't just impact fairbanks, alaska, or alaska, but the whole country. sergeant brandt left behind his wife natasha and their four young children under the age of 8. mr. president, i'm talking about his testimony that he gave in fairbanks. it was played at his memorial service. it was so powerful. it was only a few days earlier that he had been shot.
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he gave this testimony, and then unfortunately he passed. mr. president, i'd like to read several excerpts from this testimony because i think it reflects not only on the importance of this issue but it shows this young man speaking on something that impacts the whole country. so here's the testimony that he gave at the fairbanks city council. there was thunderous applause, of course, when he walked in, a man who had been shot five times just a few days earlier. he stated i am humbled by the honor, and i'm no exception to the rule. we have many fine officers that are far greater and have done better things than i have. i do appreciate the community's support, and i know sometimes it's hard for officers to see whether or not the city supports us. but i've always said that by and
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large the city does support its police officers. and you know we're never going to have the support of the criminals, and to tell you the truth, they don't have my support either. however, i do support their constitutional rights and their free exercise of them. he continued -- i've seen the hand of the lord in my situation. can you believe i was shot five times through the legs, and yet i walked into this room. there's a bullet. it's almost healed up, but right here over my heart where my vest certainly saved my life. i appreciate the support of the community, the fairbanks police department, the anchorage police department, the alaska state troopers and other officers, but our officers do a very hard job, he continued, and they need your
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support, he told the citizens of fairbanks. unfortunately, when an officer gets shot or something bad happens, it's just human nature. we don't think about things we need to until something bad happens. i don't blame anyone for that, but, you know, think about our officers. i've worked for the city for 12 years. probably ten of those years i worked weekends when my friends are off. i work at night and sleep during the day. i don't sleep with my wife, and the other officers, too. i was never called a racist until i put the uniform on. you know, once you put a police uniform on, you can be called that. i can't ever let my guard down, not at fred meyer, not at my house. i've traveled everywhere armed, always vigilant, always watching. and the other officers over there, they're the same. so we need your support. we need your support.
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not just when bad things happen, but the officers over there do a hard job, and most of the time it's thankless, and we've really appreciated the outpouring of support that comes from this. h, mr. president, his testimony, he called out to one of his buddies. i think sergeant barnett is here and i want to thank him. sergeant barnett was the first on the scene. until he got that tourniquet on my leg i didn't think i was going to survive because i was bleeding a lot. but let me leave you with this last story he told his fellow fair banksans. the time i was shot i had my four kids and my wife on my bed and i read them a story like i always do. and after the story i told them, i think i'm going to get shot tonight.
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can you imagine that? saying that to your kids? he continued, and it happened. and in the middle of the gun battle, that's all i could think about. he concluded by saying this, can you imagine telling your kids before you go to work that you're going to get shot? well, that's what our police officers deal with every day. and i'm not complaining, but i just want you to know what it's like, the life of a police officer. but then he looked at the audience and said, but we appreciate your support. mr. president, that was his testimony, and only a few days later he passed away. as i read that testimony again, i'm struck by sergeant brandt's extraordinary selflessness. at the same time community members were applauding his bravery, sergeant brandt sought
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to remind us of the bravery of his brothers and sisters in blue, the unsung heroes who face the same dangers he did but without public fanfare or an outpouring of support. having met with first responders all over my great state, i know that sergeant brandt's extraordinary selflessness is not an outlier, not an exception. it's a hallmark of our police force and the fire department. they wake up each morning knowing that today may be the last day they get their kids ready for school, the last day they kiss their spouse goodbye. today they may be asked to lay down their life to save another. that is a heavy burden. it is a burden that is shared by the spouses and children who have seen too many sleepless nights praying for the safety of their mom and dad. so, mr. president, in
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conclusion, over the holidays we're all going to come together with family and friends to celebrate the holidays. we're going to remember our troops overseas, but let's keep in mind the sacrifices being made by our brave officers as well as their families who will be on the beat during the holidays just like our members of the military, protecting us. and on behalf of my p fellow alaskans, i want to express my profound gratitude and thanks to our proud law enforcement community for all they do to keep our community safe. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. coons: mr. president, i rise today to speak about the continuing resolution that is the business before this senate. we are here once again today as we have too often been in the
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six years that i've served here in the senate working at the last minute to avoid shutting down our federal government later tonight. and as we have before to avoid a shutdown, we appear likely to pass yet another continuing resolution. and as an appropriator, someone who is on the committee that is responsible for putting together all the provisions that will help keep this government moving forward, it is a real disappointment to me that this continuing resolution fails to address issues of real concern. to folks all over this country earlier this evening i joined a number of my colleagues to draw attention to coal miners and their widows and the concerns we have about extending their health care through adoption of the miners protection act. and although that is an issue that many of us are concerned, dozens of senators are concerned about, i wanted to speak tonight about another unacceptable omission in this legislation. this continuing resolution does not include a lesser known but to me no less important provision, one that my senior
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senator, tom carper and i have fought tirelessly for and one that's important to a manufacturing company in my home state of delaware and dozens of companies in dozens of states. last year when congress passed at the end of the year the omnibus spending package, we looked on the cutting room floor through an inadvertent staff error, provisions to extend a series of clean energy tax incentives known as the 48c investment tax credit or i.t.c. not all of them, just for a few narrow or defined areas and in a case that i care most about for fuel incentives. these incentives have bipartisan support and have proved successful in creating new technologies and good manufacturing jobs in this country. we've had heard a lot of talk in the last campaign about bearing in and fighting hard to save manufacturing jobs in the united states while extending the i.t.c. is the chance we've had here today, we have had in the
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past year to do just that. there are tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds, likely thousands of companies across our country which rely on this i.t.c. in my home state, bloom energy a company that manufactures in a number of states has a significant presence built on the site of a former chrysler plant, was taken down when chrysler closed its facility, bloom energy offers promise for the hundreds of delawareans who work there in a cutting edge clean energy business that was growing. without the benefit of that section 48 investment tax credit they are not growing. they may even have to lay people off. and in my home state and in states all over this country, that's a concern i wish we had worked together to address. these are incentives that have been proven to bring good jobs to the united states and if we don't extend section 48 as i think is very unlikely to happen tonight, tens of thousands of jobs across our country and dozens at least in my home state are at risk.
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all over the country we've heard in writing from hundreds of countries and 48 different states that support this extension, these companies want to investment in the research and development, the scaling up of new clean energy technologies and they require long-term certainty and stability. the extension of those credits has been pushed into next year some time after a year in which it was promised over and over this would get addressed and the fault here lies predominantly in the other chamber, in the house which did not respond to requests of the leadership of this chamber for this to be addressed. but republicans in the house are trying to push this issue, this extension into a tax reform package plan for next year. tax reform has been on the agenda here for year after year, and these credits expire this year, december 31. with countless jobs at stake across the country, punting this to next year after a year in which it was failed to be brought up and addressed has real world implications in my
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state and states across the country. so, mr. president, after mistakenly admittedly by error dropping this extension a year ago, leaders promised that this issue would be addressed. a year later it hasn't been. so on the stack of reasons why i will cast an unprecedented "no" vote on the c.r. tonight, this is just one more reason, is a failure to fulfill a long-standing promise these tax credits would be extended. companies can't invest and grow if they can't have a predictable path forward for investment and know about what is the possibility for their incremental investment in r&d and manufacturing. and real american businesses today like bloom energy in my state and hundreds of others need this reliability. there is no reason this couldn't have gotten done. there is no reason promises made couldn't have been kept and there is no reason this couldn't have been resolved. with real disappointment and regret i'm going to vote "no" for the first time on a continuing resolution that keeps
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at risk keeping this government open because of a whole series of missed opportunities in this year's bill. it is my hope, it is my prayer, mr. president, that next year with the new congress, with the new president, we will renew an attempt to find a bipartisan consensus around what it is we have to do to be competitive as a country, to sustain an all of the above energy strategy and to work together to find solutions that will grow manufacturing in our country. thank you. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. mr. sullivan: mr. president, a number of my colleagues were down on the floor a little bit ago talking passionately about the challenges that our coal miners in the united states face. and i want to mention senator manchin from west virginia, in particular, is someone who speaks with a lot of passion on this issue, as was mentioned. so much so that i cosponsored
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the bill that he's been advocating largely on the basis of his strong advocacy and to be perfectly honest the great respect i have for senator manchin. mr. president, i do find it a bit ironic that what we have not heard from many -- any of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle when talking about coal miners' challenges is that we've just had an eight-year war against the coal industry and coal miners waged by the president of the united states, barack obama, and all of his federal agencies. eight years, unprecedented, illegal from my perspective. where is the outrage? there's been a number of us who have been trying to fight this war against coal miners for the last eight years. where is the outrage about that? the war on coal is what has hurt
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many of these miners, and i am confident and hopeful that the incoming trump administration will help these miners with real jobs not continue to purposely put them out of work as the obama administration has done. so when we talk about coal miners and taking care of them, we also need to talk about who's been waging that war and who's been fighting against it. and that's what we really need to do to protect coal miners. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: thank you, mr. president. i would ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: the senate is gnat in a quorum call. mr. franken: okay. then i ask to speak for ten minutes. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota is recognized. mr. franken: thanks a lot. first of all, i would just like to associate myself with the members who came to the floor this evening to talk about the c.r. i will be voting against it. i don't see any reason. we don't -- this isn't about shutting the government down. this is about the house putting forward a bill really without
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consultation with senate democrats. there was some, but at first there was none. and then leaving town. i feel that we could easily do a very short-term c.r. to hash out a few of these matters, the health care for miners and their widows being foremost in my mind . that easily could have been done. it's not like we have worked in this body too many days this year. and i think we could have worked next week to iron this out, to hash this out. i will be voting no, because if
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we really are -- care about the working people in this country, we really ought to be protecting their pensions and their health care. but i rise today, mr. president, to honor a very special man and one of my personal heroes. may i have a glass of water. thank you. oh, it is here. i'm sorry. forgive me. i -- i come to honor a friend of mine, captain luis montana -- montalbaum. on monday, i received news that luis had died last friday. this has been a difficult week, mr. president, and i am grieving luis' death. luis deserves to be honored because he dedicated his life to
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helping other veterans cope with the same struggles that he faced after returning from war, so i hope to do him justice because his story deserves to be told. i met luis january of 2009 at an iava, the iraq and afghanistan veterans association, at an event for them. and luis was there with tuesday, his service dog. and i love dogs, so i immediately went to luis and to tuesday. and he told me that he could not have been there if it weren't for tuesday. and he told me that he had -- i asked him what tuesday did for him. he told me he had severe ptsd
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and he had been agoraphobic, which is why he couldn't be there without tuesday. so i asked him what tuesday did for him. he said that tuesday could anticipate when he was going to have a panic attack by the smell of his perspiration or changes in his breathing pattern, and that tuesday would nuzzle him, and he wouldn't have the panic attack. and luis talked about he had debilitating nightmares, and if he started thrashing in his bed, tuesday would jump on the bed and wake him up, and he wouldn't have to endure a debilitating nightmare. he said that -- he said i was
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agoraphobic, so i -- he couldn'. and he said he got tuesday as a service dog. he had been drinking very heavily, alcoholiccally, and he was offered this opportunity, this chance to have a service dog, to be paired with a service dog, and he was, and he learned -- he was trained with tuesday. tuesday had been trained for a couple of years beforehand, including by a prisoner who had been serving a sentence for second-degree murder, had been a big part of tuesday's training, and that -- that man was released from prison and now trains dogs for a living. has a business doing that. anyway, so he brought tuesday back to his apartment in
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brooklyn, the small amount that he couldn't leave. he said he learned something about having a dog. you have to take a dog out at least twice a day. and he learned something else, which is that people don't go up to scruffy looking wounded vets. and he walked with a cane from part of his wounds in iraq, but they will go up to a scruffy looking wounded vet with a beautiful dog. and so having tuesday broke his isolation. and he got out of his apartment and got into life and started attending columbia journalism school. i was so inspired by meeting
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luis and tuesday that while i was waiting for my election to the senate to be resolved in 2009, -- it took about six more months. i met him in january of 2009 -- i spent a lot of that time during my recount and the legal actions after that researching service dogs and their benefits that they bring to their owners. and when i got to the senate, my first piece of legislation that i introduced was quickly passed into law. johnny isakson of georgia was my lead cosponsor, and the bill was designed to increase the number of service dogs for veterans, and luis inspired that. in 2011, after graduating from journalism school, luis turned
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his story into a book entitled "until tuesday," that chronicled his journey after returning from iraq. it was very candid and deeply moving account of his struggle. i've always admired the bravery that it took for luis to share that -- his story. and in the year since the book came out, he had been traveling around the country and sharing his story with lots of people and giving speeches and interviews about his experience. he even got the chance to appear on david letterman's show with tuesday. it was something i know that luis really enjoyed. luis wrote two children's books about tuesday. his book "tuesday takes me there" is one of my grandson joe's favorite books. luis wrote these children's
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books so that kids could learn about how tuesday changed his life and by helping -- it helped him by helping him through his daily activities. this year has been a tough year for luis. despite tuesday's steadying presence, luis was feeling -- still feeling pain in his leg when he walked and sometimes that made it difficult to get around. to ease the pain, he had his leg amputated a few months ago, and he was in an intensive therapy program to relearn to walk with a prosthetic. he had other physical tilts -- difficulties, though. i talked to luis' parents this week, called them to tell them how sorry i was for their profound loss, and they told me that, among other health
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difficulties, he was suffering from very severe heart problems. so he was going through a difficult period. but, mr. president, i want to celebrate the legacy that he leaves behind, his legacy of helping veterans cope with life after combat. because of luis, more veterans are now able to access service dogs. so let me tell you something about these amazing dogs. obviously a service dog can't do everything, but they do a lot to help. dogs, service dogs raise their master's sense of well-being. they help reduce depression. they ward off panic attacks, as they did with luis. they assist when their owner needs help standing back up after falling. they do so much things. they're not just for veterans.
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they do it for diabetics. they can smell when the blood sugar is too low. they can be companions for autistic kids. parents have told me that i can take my child to the mall now because they won't act out, because they think they're taken care of -- they are taking care of their dog while the service dog is taking care of them. for veterans living with service-related injuries, these dogs can make a tremendous difference between a veteran
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having a real good life, a decent life and a very difficult one. my bill was a step in the direction to make sure that all veterans who need a service dog are able to get one. still, we must realize that so many of our veterans still struggle mightily, sometimes years and decades after they come home, and the hard truth is that in many ways we are failing our vets. the v.a. estimates that upwards of 20% of veterans of operation iraqi freedom and operation enduring freedom in afghanistan suffer from ptsd. 12% of gulf war veterans and 30% of vietnam veterans have suffered ptsd during their lifetime. mr. president, these statistics should serve as a sobering
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reminder of the pain that so many veterans live with, and it should remind us that unless you yourself have seen combat, which i have not, there is really no way to ever fully understand what they have gone through. i know i certainly don't. but i do know that these men and women put themselves in harm's way in their service to our country, and it's our obligation to do everything that we can to help them when they come back, and as members of congress, it is our responsibility more than anyone else's in this country to do right by them. i certainly do not have all the answers, but i do know that we can do better. luis was my friend. he was a good man who loved his country. he wanted nothing more than to help ease the pain that so many of his fellow veterans experienced.
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i don't have the words to describe the sadness that i feel knowing that luis is gone. there is a lot to learn from luis' book about what these men and women endure when they come back from war, but learning about the relationship between luis and tuesday is really my favorite part. here's one of might have favorite passages, and remember one of the things that tuesday could do for luis is anticipate panic attacks. so here's a quote. this is from his book. "tuesday quietly crossed our apartment as i read a book. and after a nudge against my arm, put his head on my lap. as always, i immediately check my mental state, trying to assess what was wrong. i knew a change in my biorhythms
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brought tuesday over because he was always monitoring me, but i couldn't figure out what it was. breathing? okay. pulse? normal. was i glazed or distracted? was i lost in iraq? was a dark period descending? i didn't think so, but i knew something must be wrong and i was starting to worry until i looked into tuesday's eyes. they were staring at me softly under those big eyebrows and there was nothing in them but love. luis, i want you to know that while you're not with us anymore, i'm proud of you. i'm so proud that you were brave enough to serve your country for 17 years and then brave enough to share the story of the hardship that you faced afterwards. i am so proud of you for giving hope to other veterans who face the same struggles you did. your book sits on my senate desk
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still and always will. it will stay there as a reminder of the man i am so proud to have called my friend. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. daines: today the senate can make history in montana. the senate has the opportunity to send the black feet water rights settlement act for his signature with the passage of this wrda bill, an issue i've been working on since i first came to congress. modern efforts to settle the black feet tribes water rights date back to 1979 after long negotiations and after being introduced four times in the congress since 2010, this year the compact passed the senate for the very first time. and with the passage of this bill, it will finally become
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law. the black feet tribe have waited long enough. it is time to get this compact across the finish line, and we are very, very close. this compact will not only establish the tribe's water rights but irrigation from neighboring farmlands. we call that area montana's golden triangle. it's some of the most productive farmland in our state. in fact it's where my great great-grandmother homesteaded. and today is an historic day for the black feet tribe, montana farmers, montana ranchers and montana families. the black feet water compact will update decades-old infrastructure. it will strengthen irrigation for agriculture while also protecting habitat. i want to commend the black feet tribe and its chairman harry barnes who have been diligent and patient in seeing this settlement forward. i commend our state for its commitment to the black feet tribe in indian country,
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montana and i urge my colleagues' support in passage of this wrda bill. mr. president, i yield my time.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas city. more i want to call to the attn of my colleagues s. 290 passed by the senate committee on veterans' affairs. it's a bipartisan bill that was crafted by the ranking member, the senator from connecticut, senator blumenthal and me. it deals with accountability at the department of veterans affairs. mr. moran: this legislation has a number of components but the
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one i want to focus this evening on is one that has a consequence to those in senior executive positions at the department of veterans affairs who commit felonies in the scope of their employment at the department of veterans affairs. and this legislation, s. 290, would eliminate their pension if convicted of a felony in a court of law and only that portion of their pension that was accrued after the conduct that resulted in the felony conviction. so that's the circumstance that was approved by the veterans' affairs committee a year ago this month. that bill has yet to come to the senate floor. and during that time in which we've been waiting for consideration of this legislation, certain events, certain terribly unfortunate events occurred at the v.a. hospital in leavenworth, kansas city. and i've been on the senate floor speaking to this issue previously, but the basic facts
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are that a physician assistant committed sexual acts with his patients, veterans who came to the v.a. hospital in leavenworth, kansas kansas for e and treatment and we learned of this reprehensible conduct from newspaper reports in 2015. so that conduct has affected many veterans in kansas and in missouri who sought the care and treatment of a physician's assistant and who relied upon the v.a. to provide that care for them. and in fact mr. wisener was never discharged from the v.a. he resigned. veterans have sued him in courts and at least a dozen veterans are seeking redress and criminal
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proceedings are pending in the district court of leavenworth county, kansas against mr. wizner. one of the things that the veterans who have called our office to talk about this circumstance -- and we believe there are many other veterans who have suffered the consequence of this sexual abuse by a v.a. employee, a health care provider. one of the consequences has been phone calls to our office asking for our help. and one of the common conversations is it's so difficult for me to get my pension, my benefits from the v.a. why would mr. wisener if convicted of these crimes receive his? and so i have offered an amendment to senate bill 290 that would add an additional category of veteran -- department of veterans affairs employees who also would suffer the loss of their pension should they be convicted in a court of law for conduct they committed
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in caring for patients at the v.a., and that reduction in pension would occur from the point of time of the conduct that resulted in the felony conviction of that veteran employee, v.a. employee. and what we're talking about is adding provisions such as physicians, dentists, podiatrists, chiropractors, optometrists and physicians assistants to the language. the theory being if it's appropriate to remove the pension benefits of a member of the upper echelon, the executive team at the v.a. for felony conduct, conviction of felony conduct, why would it not be appropriate to also add those who can do even more damage to a veteran by felony conduct against them while seeking care and comfort and treatment from the v.a.? and so what we now present to
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the senate, in fact, we've asked for unanimous consent on two previous occasions for this to be considered. we've hotlined this legislation. it has cleared the republican side twice but has yet to clear the democrat side of the senate. and so the request soon will be that s. 290 as amended by a moran that was negotiated, the language of which was negotiated between me and the ranking member, senator blumenthal of the veterans' affairs committee, be added to the original senate 290, the bill that senator blumenthal and i created to create accountability at the department of veterans affairs. so mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the committee on veterans' affairs be discharged from further consideration of s. 290 and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. i further ask that the moran
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substitute amendment be agreed to, the bill be amended, be considered read a third time and passed and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: is there objection? the democratic leader. mr. reid: reserving the right to object. we're going to have to be back here in two hours anyway. i would ask my friend if he would be willing to come about 9:50 again to renew his request. i've got a few calls i need to make to make sure that the matter about which people on this side have raised a concern is valid. would he be willing to come back in a couple of hours? mr. moran: i appreciate the remarks of the senator from nevada, the distinguished leader and am happy to accommodate. the presiding officer: objection is heard. democratic leader, is there objection to the request for unanimous consent?
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mr. reid: the senator from kansas and i will come to the floor in an hour and 50 minutes. mr. moran: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: based upon the conversation, the dialogue that occurred with the senator from nevada, i would withdraw my unanimous consent request and yield to the senator from nevada. the presiding officer: the question is withdrawn. mr. moran: mr. president, i will renew my request later and look forward to the minority leader being present.

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