tv U.S. Senate Democrats Accuse Republicans of Repeal and Run in Late Night... CSPAN January 9, 2017 3:59pm-6:00pm EST
up the nominations of men and women that president-elect trump has selected for his cabinet. i have to say for myself, looking at the quality of the people that the president-elect has nominated gives me quite a bit of reassurance about what his administration will be like starting with the vice president, mike pence, somebody well known to us who have worked here in the congress, served 12 years in the house of representatives, then went on to the governor of indiana for four years, a person imminently qualified to help the administration and the president-elect navigate the perils and pitfalls of the legislative process here in the senate and in the house. and then you look at the other people who have been nominated and whether it's for secretary of state, secretary of defense, department of homeland security, i would say literally across the board these are in some cases
unconceptional choices but -- unconventional choices but in every case i can think of people who have eminent qualifications to offer to the administration, to the country in this new administration. this is one of the most important responsibilities that a united states senator has to make sure we conduct the advice and consent process and make sure that we vet the nominees for these important posts, but in one case in particular, it's not going to be all that hard because we've served alongside of senator jeff sessions. some of us for 15 years. in my case for 20 years and other cases. we should be working together as the president himself, president obama has said recognizing the importance of a smooth transition from the outgoing administration to the new one, and that should be true no matter what side of the aisle you're on. unfortunately, i think some of
our democratic friends are still in some shock from the election on november 8, and i remember a book written on the grieving process describing first comes denial and then comes anger and then ultimately acceptance. and i think what our democratic colleagues have to work through is their denial, their anger to get to acceptance of the fact that president-elect trump and vice president-elect pence won the delegislation. so what is our responsibility then to work in a bipartisan basis to make sure that they have the people around them they need in order to run the government. what we are trying to do is simply stick to the same standard set under president obama. in fact, in january 2009, our democratic colleagues held seven confirmation hearings in one day.
that's more than we're planning to do on wednesday. so my response to our friends across the aisle is to listen to the junior senator from connecticut who told a reporter quote "i can figure out how to walk across the hall and attend two hearings occurring simultaneously." one of the most important hearings in my mind is going to be the hearing, as i said we're going to have the judiciary committee starting tomorrow on the president-elect's nominee as attorney general, our friend senator jeff sessions. as i said, the junior senator from alabama has a lengthy history serving his state and country and law enforcement, but his passion for public service started long before that. before we knew him in the senate, jeff sessions was an eagle scout from high bert, alabama and later served in the army reserves. after college he taught at good street elementary school in
montgomery, alabama. i bet even those of us who have known him a long time did not know that he taught at good street elementary school in montgomery, alabama after college. but then he went on to become a lawyer receiving his law degree from the university of alabama and later worked as a federal prosecutor, including 12 years as united states attorney for the southern district of alabama and then where i got to know him when he became his state's attorney general. senator sessions' record is one of a person not afraid to go after those who are abusing power from state judges and senators to county commissioners and school board members, jeff sessions has rooted out and punished corrupt officials as was his job as united states attorney. as united states attorney he fought to secure the rights of african-americans to vote and successfully advocated to uphold the death penalty sentence of a clue clax clan -- ku klux klan
member and murderer henry hayes. here in the senate he served on the senate judiciary committee for 20 years where i've come to know him well. working with him has shown me not only his sharp mind but his passion for the people of this country and his commitment to the rule of law. he's a hard worker and a person who makes his decisions based on look he thinks is the right thing to do and based on his own integrity. i know many of us can attest to this, including my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. while holding true to his principles, jeff sessions has found common ground with folks across the ideological spectrum on many issues, including ones he'll work on as attorney general of the united states. for example, 2003 senator sessions worked closely with the late senator teddy kennedy who i called the liberal lion of the
senate. perhaps i'm not the first one. he certainly was that. he was a larger than life personality but somebody who personified our political opposition across the aisle, but jeff sessions and teddy kennedy worked together to help fight sexual assault in prison in a way that was both proactive and pragmatic. senator sessions crafted legislation that encouraged state governments to take affirmative measures that reduced the frequency of sexual assault in jails and in prison. we continue to see the benefit of this legislation today as more and more states get serious and crack down on this crime. last congress i was proud to work with senator sessions, senator leahy, the ranking member in the 114th congress and others in this chamber to pass the justice for all reauthorization act which created additional tools that strengthened the prison rape elimination act. and then there's the work that the -- senator sessions has done
with the assistant minority leader, the democratic whip, the senior senator from vermont, and the senior senator from vermont to this chamber's more liberal members to address sentencing disparities between crack cocaine and powder cocaine. it became obvious over time that many people living in our inner cities were using crack cocaine but their fellow -- their fellow countrymen living in more affluent areas who were caught with powder cocaine were subject to far lesser sentences than those in the inner cities that were using crack cocaine. but the work that senator sessions did with senator durbin and senator leahy was called the fair sentencing act, and it was signed into law by president obama in 2010. senator sessions saw the harsh penalties many young african-american men experienced
for possession of crack compared to the lighter punishments given to suspects found with powder cocaine who was a group tended to be more white or hispanic. to me this is a sort of thing that offends the most basic sensibilities of jeff sessions, somebody who believes unequivocally an in color blind justice and equal justice under the law and of course the utmost responsibility of the united states department of justice is to enforce the law and ensure equality for all americans under our constitution. senator sessions has demonstrated that he is qualified and prepared to serve as the nation's top law enforcement officer, not only thanks to a proven track record because at core he understands the importance of justice for all and upholding the rule of law. you don't have to take my word for t. here's what some of our leading democratic colleagues have to say about working with
senator sessions over the years. you can see the new incoming democratic leader senator schumer, a democrat of new york, back in 2002 called jeff sessions straightforward and fair. and then senator durbin, the democratic whip, in june 2010 working with him on this -- to eliminate this disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine called jeff sessions a man of his word. and then there is somebody, an unlikely person to com complimet senator sessions perhaps because of some of the positions that general holder took i think senator sessions found objectionable, particularly when injecting too much politics into the work of the department of justice and not enforcing what senator sessions saw to be the rule of law. but nevertheless former attorney
general eric holder january 16, 2009 called senator sessions a great united states attorney. madam president, senator sessions has both the temperament and the experience to restore faith of all americans in our justice system and now we have the responsibility to grant him a fair confirmation hearing starting tomorrow. and i suspect my democratic colleagues agree because in 2015 they penned a letter which which said -- quote -- "the attorney general --" this is our democratic colleagues in 2015. they said "the attorney general plays a pivotal role in our laws and protecting our national security. that's why the senate regardless of the party in control has historically given swift consideration to attorney general nominees." that's our democratic colleagues. so the chance to do so is right
before all of us, and i hope they will assist us in a fair and swift confirmation process for a truly honorable and deserving candidate for attorney general. while i know we will miss senator sessions here in the senate not that we always agreed with him, but he always disagreed in the most congenial sort of manner and in a way that knew he has respect for people of widely divergent views but the fact is our country needs him leading the department of justice now more than ever. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. a senator: i want to thank the senator from texas for his comments about the senator from alabama, senator sessions has been an outstanding senator. he came into the senate the same
time i did. has served for ten years. that's a lot of votes a person can pick apart if they want to. mr. enzi: but here's how it came out. i don't think we've emphasized enough that senator sessions didn't have a primary opponent in alabama. i don't know how many senators in the united states senate haven't had primary opponents. even more unusual, he didn't have a general election oppone opponent. i'm not sure if that's happened before. i know it hasn't happened for a long time, but that's -- but that says something about the kind of respect he has in his home state which is a wide variety of people. so i thank you for your comments on that. i would ask unanimous consent that the following disposition of the parliament, there be two minutes of debate divided in the usual form and the senate then vote in relation to the hirono amendment number 20 in the usual form. the presiding officer: without objection.
call? the presiding officer: the senate not in a quorum call. ms. hirono: thank you. i rise today to urge the senate to pass the. ms. hirono:-donnelly amendment to protect medicare and medicaid. during his campaign, president-elect trump made the american people a promise that he will protect medicare and medicaid. today we are giving senate republicans an opportunity to reaffirm this promise to the american people. but i am deeply skeptical that they will do the right thing because they are committed to repealing the affordable care act. senate republicans have fought for years to repeal the affordable care act, which would drastically cut medicaid funding for the states. and the president-elect's nominee for secretary of health and human services is the architect of the republican plan to privatize medicare. the assault on the a.c.a. is an assault on medicare and
medicaid. both of these programs can be dismantled through the language in the budget that congress is debating right now. the president-elect and congressional republicans might be willing to break their promise to the american people. instead, i, along with my like-minded colleagues, will do whatever we can whenever we can to protect these social safety net programs. i'm fighting for seniors like ann and lanny brewer from hawaii. lanny is 80 years old but is still working three jobs in order to make ends meet after losing the family home during the 2008 home crisis. ann has glaucoma and pays what she called a ridiculous amount for eye drops. lanny surrrived a heart attack and has two artificial knees. like many of our seniors living on a fixed income, they simply could not afford the extra
$6,000 a year they would be forced to pay if republicans succeed in their effort to privatize and voucherize medicare. i'm also fighting for young people like anne who walked into a clinic three years ago. she had no health insurance and she was pregnant at the age of 15. the doctors at the clinic helped anne apply for medicaid, which helped her afford prenatal care and gave her support to stay healthy and, very importantly, to stay in school. medicaid helped anne and her husband dan, age 17, welcome -- they welcomed a healthy baby boy named joseph. and today anne is a graduate of farrington high school, works part-time and has plans to become a pediatric nurse practitioner. anne, dan, and joseph now have insurance through dan's employer. she is stories -- and there are
thousands of similar stories in hawaii -- demonstrate just how important medicare and medicaid are to millions of people across the country. it's why we are fighting tooth and nail to prevent any cuts that would jeopardize these social safety programs. the hirono-donnelly amendment would prevent any attempt to harm medicare and medicaid. specifically, it would block congressional republicans from using budget reconciliation to privatize medicare or increase the medicare -- medicare or increase the medicare eligibility standards. it would also prevent changes to medicaid that reduce state funding from current levels. passing this amendment would send a clear message to seniors and working families that congress is serious about protecting their access to quality, affordable health care. i urge all of my colleagues to support the hirono-donnelly
amendment. i yield the floor to senator donnelly. mr. donnelly: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. donnelly: madam president, i rise today in support of the amendment senator hirono and i are offering to protect medicare and medicaid for the millions of americans who currently count on these programs for health coverage. this week some of our colleagues are beginning the process of repealing the health care law. i want to be clear. i don't think it's a perfect law. in fact, i've long agreed with many of my colleagues in saying it has work to do. the and for years we've put forward ideas on ways we can work together to improve it. the repeal strategy we're debating this week, however, is
not about improving the health care system. it's about taking people's health care away. and, make no mistake, the consequences are very real. a repeal strategy, particularly with no alternative, would throw our health care system into chaos. taking away coverage from nearly 30 million people, increasing premiums on working hoosiers and families across this country, and threatening to take us back to a time where anyone with a preexisting condition could not get coverage. it doesn't have to be this way. if we're serious about improving health care in this country, we can do this work together. that's what the american people expect. just as hoosiers go to work every day to make life better for their families, they expect us to come to work and do the
same thing. and, at the very least, they expect us to do no harm. doctors swear by the hippocratic oath, where they pledge to first and foremost do no harm when they are treating patients. we should appreciate this approach -- approach this debate in the same manner. do no harm. that's the basis of the hirono-donnelly amendment. do no harm means not cutting medicare benefits or turning it into a voucher program. do no harm means protecting the health care of those who use the medicaid program. many of whom have health care for the first time. here's what we know. repealing the health care law reduces medicare's insolvency by five years to 2021. we know that some in congress, including the nominee to run the department of health and human
services, are intent on privatizing medicare or turning it into a voucher program. ending the program as we know it. the hirono-donnelly amendment makes it clear, we will not privatize medicare. the amendment protects medicare both for the seniors who count on the program to age indignity and for the tens of millions of americans who are contributing to the program with the expectation it will be there when they retire. do no harm also means we will protect insurance coverage for those who get their care through the medicaid program, which after the passage of the health care law enabled millions of our friends and our neighbors to access affordable coverage for the first time in their lives. i know this is true because i worked with and supported our
soon-to-be vice president mike pence when he used obamacare to establish a program we call "the healthy indiana plan" or hip2.0. if expanded health care coverage to over 200,000 of my neighbors in our beloved state and helped reduce the uninsured rate among hoosiers by 30%. 30%. the hip 2.0 program has been critical in our on-going effort to provide treatment to those struggling with opioid abuse and heroin use in our state. don't just take my word for it. in his farewell address as governor to hoosiers yesterday, mr. pence said -- and i quote -- "our innovative healthy indiana plan is a national model of how to provide affordable health care country of origi -- -- affh
care coverage. we've also made great strides expanding treatment to those who struggle in the grip of drug addiction. i agree with the vice president-elect that hip 2.0 is something we can be very proud of because it helps hoosier families across our state every single day. and it was done by working together -- republicans and democrats using the health care law to provide access to our friends and neighbors who wouldn't be able to obtain insurance otherwise. that's a great result. the repeal plan before us today takes all of this away. including the very program that vice president-elect pence and i worked to put in place. the amendment senator hirono and i put forth is simple.
it says to seniors and to people participating in hip 2.0 and medicaid plans across the country, we will do no harm. i'm happy to work with anyone to strengthen the health care law, but we're not going to take away the health care that people have come to rely on. i urge my colleagues to support the hirono-donnelly amendment. instead of going forward with a plan it that creates chaos by repealing the health care law with no alternative, we should work together to improve it. that's just common sense. most of all, we should strive to do no harm. that should be our guiding principle here in the senate. and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle can demonstrate their commitment to this principle by supporting our amendment.
madam president, i yield back. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. mr. sullivan: madam president, i want to talk a little bit about alaska this afternoon. alaska is a beautiful state, and anyone who's visited knows that. those who have watched any of the numerous television shows featuring my state know that. we have mountains that seem to go on forever, fish-filled rivers and streams and oceans, miles and miles of beautiful tundra and glaciers. people save up their whole lives to take a trip to alaska to see the wildlife, see the bears, the salmon and the wild. now there's no doubt alaska is physically beautiful, but for those of us who live there the
true beauty of our state comes from our people, from our urban areas to the hundreds of smaller towns and small villages that dot our state, we have so many great citizens doing so many great things throughout all of our communities. and what i want to do, madam president, is to recognize some of our citizens and tell their stories. so every week i'll be doing that. every week i'll be recognizing an alaskan who has made a special contribution to our great state and great nation. madam president, for the kickoff of the alaskan of the week, i think it's appropriate to recognize a story teller, narratives keep the people in my state connected with one another they keep history and culture
alive in our great state. that's why and that's what juneau resident professor earn earn --estine hayes does for us in her writing. she was recognized by the alaska humanities forum and the alaska state council on the arts as the current alaska state writer laureate, and the recognition is well deserved. professor hayes teaches writing at the university of alaska southeast and is the author of two extraordinary award-winning memoirs. "the blonde indian and the thao of raven." her books charter her unique experiences of growing up in juneau as a tlingit at a time when alaska natives were denied basic rights, and no natives
signs were common on storefronts. her career as a writer and a teacher began in her 50's. living the principle that learning should be a lifetime passion, she graduated from the university of alaska southeast magna cum laude, i might add, when she was 55 years old. in between, she moved to california where she struggled to find purpose and, as she put it, she was determined to go back home to alaska or die facing north. thankfully for us, she made it back home. in the tao of raven she weaves in the story of raven and the box of light. professor hayes writes about the importance of giving back to the community. although raven could well have
decided to keep light, luster and blind brilliance for only his own pleasure, she writes, he knew that to keep rishes to one's self guarantees' one's decline. i want to congratulate professor hayes for being chosen as our state's writer laureate in our first inaugural alaskan of the week. and thank you, professor hayes, for sharing your blinding brilliance. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii.
ms. hirono: i'd like to reclaim the time that democrats have to talk about the hirono-donnelly amendment. we are expecting some of our colleagues to be here, and i see senator wyden. senator blumenthal. thank you. mr. blumenthal: madam president? the presiding officer: the mr. blumenthal: madam president, i am proud to join my colleagues, senators hirono and donnelly, and i want to thank them for their very impressive and steadfast efforts on behalf of medicare and medicaid during a time of tremendous uncertainty in our health care system, as unfortunately our friends on the other side of the aisle work toward repeal of the affordable care act without any replacement. and any clear plan on what the
alternative will be. not only would repeal the affordable care act impact children, families, but most particularly our seniors who have worked hard and have earned the benefits of medicare, any additional changes to the program that have been previously suggested by republicans, whether changing the eligibility, age or privatization, have no place in a reconciliation that has not been fully debated by the house and senate and without a hearing from constituents and stakeholders about what those changes would mean. and that's why we are here in support of the very important amendment offered by my colleagues. the congressional budget office has estimated that full repeal of the a.c.a. would increase medicare spending by $802
billion from 2016 to 2025. this increase in potential spending could lead to higher medicare premiums, deductibles and cost sharing for beneficiaries. medicare as it stands, we all know benefits millions of our nation's seniors who have worked hard and earned this program, but they would rather privatize or gut the program. and so, this action really should be decided not under reconciliation, but by a 60-vote margin after hearings and an opportunity to be heard for our constituents. similarly, any replacement plan must not include fundamental or restrictive changes to the medicaid program. the bottom line is medicaid continues to work to provide essential health care to our most vulnerable citizens.
i come from a state that is truly making a commitment to make sure that our medicaid program works. in fact, connecticut was the first state to take advantage of the medicaid expansion in the affordable care act, allowing the state to cover 72,000 more of our people in the state of connecticut. in connecticut, the state has also utilized existing flexibility in the medicaid program to improve outcomes to the patient-centered medical home. and as a result, in 2016, medicaid hospital admissions decreased by 5.4%. emergency department visits fell 4.3%. and people requiring intensive case management saw a reduction of hospital in patient admissions of nearly 40%. these statistics are of
staggering scope and scale and profoundly significant. we cannot make mean-spirited changes to the medicaid program, such as block granting that would weaken the safety net. and we cannot allow gutting medicare, endangering millions of seniors. we will not allow it without a fight. i am determined to join my colleagues in working and fighting for this amendment and to keep the pressure on our colleagues who disagree. thank you, madam president, and i yield the floor. mr. wyden: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that my remarks and those of senator blumenthal appear in the record immediately following those of the senator from indiana, mr. donnelly. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. wyden: madam president, i'm very pleased to be able to join
senator donnelly, senator hirono, senator blumenthal on this extraordinarily important issue that goes right to the heart of what we want health care to be in this country. and i have always felt that the really big issues, the really important issues need to be bipartisan. you need to find a path to some common ground. and as senator donnelly and our colleagues have pointed out, what is being discussed now is an inherently partisan process for dealing with one of the most sensitive and the most important issues of our time, and that is medicare and what it represents. and i had a chance to listen to senator donnelly and senator hirono discuss this issue, and
it made me recall my days when i was director of the oregon gray panthers, the senior citizens group. i was director of the group for almost seven years before i got elected to the congress. this was back in the days when i had a full head of hair and rugged good looks. and we always talked about medicare being a promise. it was a promise of guaranteed benefits. they were going to be there. they were going to be secure. they were going to be defined. and in effect all who supported medicare said that they would oppose unraveling that promise, unraveling that pledge of guaranteed benefits. and it seems to me without
strong legislation, the kind of legislation my colleagues are advocating, we're really putting that promise at risk. and i think when you look back at the history of what was available for older people before medicare, you see why this promise and this pledge is so important. for so many older people, there was essentially what amounted to poor farms. we had one not far from where we live at home in oregon. and when medicare was being debated, people brought out those pictures and they talked about what it meant in a country
as strong and good and rich as ours for older people not to have a life of dignity and security and decent health care. and so when medicare was adopted in 1965, it was all about the promise. it was all about the guarantee. and that is with senator donnelly and senator hirono are standing up, standing up for as part of this debate. and i know that some who don't share our view are going to say, well, there are tremendous challenges with respect to medicare. there's no question about that. 10,000 people turning 65 every day for years and years. but there's so much that can be done, democrats and
republicans, if you want to reject something that's partisan like reconciliation and come together, you can come together around updating the medicare guarantee. and i say this to my friends, senator donnelly and senator hirono, who have done such good work on this, we're not saying there aren't any challenges. the fact the fact is medicare in 2016 is very different than medicare when it began in 1965. it's dominated by chronic illness, cancer and diabetes, heart disease, but we can come up with fresh, practical approaches for dealing with those challenges consistent with what senator donnelly and senator hirono are talking about which is keeping the medicare promise, keeping the medicare
guarantee, not allowing the program to be privatized. we started on that with the affordable care act. a number of us in the senate, senator isakson was very involved at the time. senator markey was a member of the other body. we advocated something called independence at home which allowed the medicare program to begin to take care of those with chronic illness at home. so i'm very appreciative of what senator donnelly and senator hirono are doing because what they're saying is instead of gambling on the health of older people with a partisan reconciliation process, let's work in a bipartisan way to build on the promise of
medicare, the promise of those guaranteed benefits. we can do that. we can do that by creating more options for caring for older people at home. we can do it by expanding telemedicine and using new technology. we can do it by creating more opportunities for nonphysician providers. these are all ways that we can build on the medicare promise anded medicare guarantee and deal with the challenges of our time, but we're not going to be able to deal with those challenges through partisan approaches, like reconciliation that would privatize the program and unravel the promise. so i'm very pleased to be able to have a chance to be out on the floor with my colleagues who
have been strong advocates for medicare, who rightly put this issue front and center in the debate because i think a lot of what is being discussed is really getting lost. a big part of this debate really seems to be about creating a trojan horse to give tax cuts to some of the most fortunate while infect raising health care costs for millions of others and breaking the medicare promise which is what my colleagues are seeking to protect in their amendment number 20. madam president, mr. president, we're going to be talking more about this. certainly as the senior democrat on the senate finance committee, we'll be having significant debates about these issues in
the committee, but i'm very appreciative that senator donnelly and senator hirono have allowed us to jumpstart what this debate is really all about and that is keeping the promise of medicare, keeping the promise of guaranteed benefits, working in a bipartisan way to update the guarantee to deal with chronic illness and improve options for home care. i commend them both for their good work and i yield the floor.
the presiding officer: the senator from kentucky. mr. paul: tonight we will vote on a -- the presiding officer: senator, we're in a quorum call. mr. paul: i would ask tbhak knack that we dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. the senator from kentucky. mr. paul: tonight we will vote on a conservative budget that
balances within about five years and saves the country from trillions of dollars of new debt. this budget that will be presented as an alternative also allows us to repeal obamacare at the same time. we have taken the identical language from the underlying budget, put it into the replacement budget, but we've done something different. instead of allowing spending to continue to grow unabated, instead of allowing spending to grow at such a rate that we will add $9.7 trillion to the debt, we do something novel, something that i consider to be the conservative vision for our country. we actually freeze spending. we just say no more spending. interestingly, the budget will balance, the country's budget would actually balance and we wouldn't add $9.7 trillion if we simply freeze spending. now, i think there's something in my version of a budget for
both republicans and democrats because mine calls for a freeze in spending, but would allow the different appropriation committees to decide where the spending would be cut. so, for example, if you decided that we needed more military spending but you thought maybe we could spend less on corporate welfare, you might cut out the department of commerce. you might not know if once we did it. you might not know that the department of commerce really could be eliminated, and you really wouldn't notice that it was gone. we look at the budget and we look at the spending every year and we recount all of these terrible, wasteful episodes of spending, and yet they never get fixed. why? because we continue to give government more money. the current budget that we will vote on will increase spending at about 5% a year, and you will hear from people this washington-ese, this language that says well, we're just holding to the baseline.
all this is is, is the baseline, son, just vote for the baseline, jump on the team and vote for the baseline. the problem is that the baseline's not flat. the baseline is inclined, and that increase in spending every year is what's bankrupting the country. spending is going up at about 5% a year. that's what the baseline is. and so when people say oh, we're going to cut trillions of dollars, this is a frugal budget, they're talking about cutting spending from the proposed increases in spending. to illustrate that, the budget that i'm offering isn't even a cut of any kind. it's a freeze. anybody in america ever had their income frozen? anybody in america ever had to take a cut? why shouldn't government, why shouldn't we force government to look at their finances and say you know what? this spending is good and this is not so good. i'll give you an example. we spent $700,000 last year studying neil armstrong's statement on the moon.
neil armstrong landed on the moon and said one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. and your government in its infinite wisdom spent $700,000 to study that to determine whether neil armstrong said one small step for a man or one small step for man. and after spending $700,000, your government concluded that they still don't know. they spent $500,000 studying selfies. if you take a selfy of yourself and you smile, will you feel better later? they spent $2 million studying whether or not if you're standing in a food line at a buffet and the guy in front of you sneezes on the food, are you more or less likely to want to eat the food? you can't make this stuff up, and yet the budget that we're being offered does nothing to fix any of that. it just puts a stamp down and says we're going to keep doing
things the same way we have always done them. well, my friends, i think we should do things differently. i think a $20 trillion debt is alarming. i think it's the number-one problem we face as a country, and someone ought to do something about it. so i didn't have much luck saying, you know what, guys, we should produce a balanced budget, and so what we got is $9.7 trillion, and i just can't support that. so i've offered an alternative. for people who believe that debt is a problem, they can vote for my alternative, and it still maintains the exact same language that the underlying budget has for repealing obamacare, you can do both. why should it be an either/or? why should it be, well, we have to vote for a crummy budget but that's the only way we can get to obamacare? well, why don't we vote for a budget that balances? i thought that's what we were for. see, i remember a time when republicans talked not even just
about freezing spending, some of them actually said we should reduce the size and scope of government. that's what ronald reagan said. and yet, government grows inexorably. over and over again, year after year, government grows. we had republicans in charge about ten years ago, remember. george w. bush was president. we controlled, i think, both branches for at least one period of time. and yet, the debt doubled under george w. bush's administration from $5 trillion to $10 trillion. under president obama, it's gone from $10 trillion to $20 trillion. and now you have republicans say just put us in charge, put us in charge of the house. you did. 2010, put us in charge of the senate. you did in 2014. put us in charge of all three branches, and we will make conservative -- a conservative vision for the country. we will balance budgets. we will reduce spending. and yet, this is an all-republican congress where
only republicans will vote on the budget today, and yet, we're going to be voting on a budget that will add $9.7 trillion. now, i'm told by some, well, you know what? this really isn't a budget. we're going to call it the vehicle to repeal obamacare. well, that's not what it's called. it's sitting right here. it's called the concurrent resolution on the budget for 2017, because whoops, we didn't get to it last year but we're getting to it this year. so this is a budget, it does have numbers in it, and i think the numbers in the budget are of significance. i think when we look at the numbers, we should make them mean something. but people say to me, they say well, the numbers don't mean anything, just vote for it so we can repeal obamacare. we've got to repeal obamacare, so just vote for the numbers no matter what they are. i guess my response is if the numbers don't mean anything, why don't we put good numbers in there? if the budget is inconsequential and means absolutely nothing,
only republicans are going to vote for it, why don't we put numbers in there that lead to balance because then we could go home to the people who voted for us and said they wanted us to balance the budget and said they wanted us to restrain spending, we can say we did what you told us to do. instead, i've got to go home and tell people that the republicans introduced a budget that will add $9.7 trillion. now, i am told oh, we're going to do a better job. in about three or four months from now, we'll do it again. but i tell you what i fear is in three or four months when they come back to do this again, they will say you already voted for it once, why not vote for it again. it's the same thing you voted for last time. it's just the baseline. well, the baseline's not flat. the baseline's increasing at 5% a year, and that's a problem. we have to look at spending across the board. all of the spending has to be looked at. the great thing about what i have offered as an alternative is whether you're a liberal or a conservative, it doesn't define exactly where you have to have the cuts come from. it says what the overall number
would be -- and actually, we're not talking about cuts. we're talking about freezing spending. but what you could do to get to a freeze is you could cut or eliminate some parts of government like maybe the $700,000 we spent studying neil armstrong's statement could be eliminated completely. maybe the $30 billion that we spend on corporate welfare in the department of commerce, maybe that could be eliminated. not one poor person would go hungry and maybe a couple of rich c.e.o.'s would fly on their own jet instead of a taxpayer jet when they are flying around the world. you could eliminate things like the department of commerce and you could keep spending for other items. if you think the military's bloated, you could actually cut money in the military and spend it on other items of the budget. the bottom line is if you vote for this amendment, you will be voting for fiscal conservatism that says enough's enough, we have a $20 trillion debt, we're borrowing a million dollars a minute, and enough's enough. so if you are a fiscal
conservative, if you're worried about the debt of the country, i hope you will support my amendment which replaces the underlying budget with a federal on-budget spending freeze and actually leads the budget to balance in the near future. thank you, mr. president. mr. enzi: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: it's my understanding that there is two minutes equally divided now between the proposer and the opposition. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. who yields time? mr. paul: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kentucky. mr. paul: i propose that the senate vote for this budget because it leads to balance, it's fiscally conservative, it allows the senate and congress to decide where money will be
spent and where it won't, it will eliminate waste, and above all will get us on the right track towards eliminating or at least staying the expansion of a $20 trillion debt. i think this is the biggest problem we face as a country. as much as i think obamacare's a mistake, just ignoring the debt to get to obamacare is also a mistake. and so i would ask the senate for those horror claim to be fiscally conservative, that you will consider voting for a budget that actually balances and continues to have the language underlying in it that would allow us to also repeal obamacare. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont bern thank you -- mr. sanders: thank you. let me begin by thanking senator paul. he has shown a lot of courage for standing up and exposing the hip pock si of the republican
budget resolution. year after year we hear from our republican colleagues that the united states is going broke, that we have used deficits, that we have a $19 trillion national debt, that we've got to cut social security, we've got to cut medicare, we have to cut med -- medicaid, we have to cut education. we have to deal with the deficit. but as senator paul has indicated, the -- if the republican budget resolution passes, the federal deficit would more than double over the next decade going from $571 billion this year to over $1.3 trillion ten years from now. and i would hope that all of the deficit hawks on the republican side hear what senator paul has to say and support him. i will not support him, because i understand that the cuts that he is proposing are devastating to working families, to the elderly, to the children, to the sick and the poor. they would mean massive cuts in
medicare, medicaid, federal aid to education and a variety of programs that people desperately need. so i will oppose the amendment, but all of my republican friends who year after year talk about the deficit, here's a vote that you should cast. thank you. the presiding officer: the question is on the amendment. the yays and nays are requested. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll.