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tv   U.S. Senate Advances Labor Secretary Nomination  CSPAN  April 26, 2017 9:30am-2:06pm EDT

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nomination set or the 11 dirty eastern this morning. if confirmed, he would round out president trump's cabinet. all senators are encouraged to attend the closed door briefing on north korea that is happening today at the white house with the intelligence officials. the senate may resize during that time in majority leader mitch mcconnell can provide an update when he speaks this morning. now to live coverage of the senate. n prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal lord, the fountain of wisdom, thank you for your mighty love. give our lawmakers the will and strength they need to meet the challenges of these times. may they bend their ear
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to your spirit's voice and follow your leading. activate their conscience, as you motivate them to live with honor. keep them vigilant to look for redemptive possibilities in each of life's seasons, finding wisdom in your precepts. may they hear the murmur of your truth, so they will not deviate from your path. father of life, fill the precious hours of this day with your presence. we pray in your majestic name. amen.
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the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, north korea's determined effort to field a nuclear armed intercontinental ballistic missile threatens the united states and our allies. kim jong-un has by all appearances broken from a predictable cycle of escalation
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demonstrated by previous leaders where the regime takes a provocative action, draws the u.s. into a negotiation, and extracts concessions. instead kim appears willing to risk the disapproval of the u.n. and our regional allies by undertaking a breakneck testing program. the president has made clear that a north korea that is armed with a nuclear armed missile, a capability they have yet to test, is unacceptable to us and threatens our vital national security interests. thus in order to allow the senate to better understand this threat, i ask the administration to brief all senators on the issue. and the president graciously offered to hold the meeting down at the white house. so i would encourage all of our colleagues to attend this afternoon's meeting down at the white house on north korea. now, on another matter, i'm pleased the senate voted yesterday to confirm road rosen seen to serve -- rosenstein to
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serve as deputy attorney general despite the unnecessary delay, and i look forward to advancing another nominee today. for the past eight years, burdensome regulations put forth by the obama administration have held our economy back and taken a toll on too many hard-working americans. fortunately, we now have an administration that has already proven its commitment to easing the regulatory burden on our economy, and advancing policies that actually promote economic growth and job creation. the department of labor nominee before us today alexander acosta shares that commitment, and he has just the right experience to address these issues. he was previously confirmed to three positions by voice vote here in the senate meaning not a single senator of either party recorded a vote in opposition. so it's not surprise take he's earned a host of bipartisan support for his courant nomination as well. -- current combination as well.
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we should confirm him without delay. the sooner we do, the sooner he can advance labor policies that put american workers, businesses, and our economy first. on one other important matter currently being discussed here in the senate, conversations are ongoing about the way forward on a government spending bill. our friends on the other side of the aisle sent me a letter asking for this bill to reject poison pill riders. i would suggest that if they take their own advice, we can finish this negotiation and produce a good agreement that both sides can support. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, with the media and others looking at the first 100 days or so of this new administration and looking at this new congress and the republican majority, i think it bears reflecting on the last couple of months that we have had in the congress under the new trump administration, and look at some of the accomplishments that have been made on behalf of the american economy and the american people. we are committed to helping job creators do what they do best. that's innovate, create more jobs, employ more people, and
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not forcing those same job creators to waste time dealing with onerous rules and regulations that bear no relationship to public safety. with a like-minded president, we have been able to deliver some real relief to the american people. one of the ways we have been able to do that is through a mechanism known as the congressional review act. the congressional review act was created to give congress an opportunity to do away with regulations which it disagrees with. it allows congress to act as a real check. the problem with regulations is this is really a substitute for law making, and of course when congress acts and passes laws, the president signs those in, then we are held accountable by the voters for the laws that we pass. not so when it comes to the bureaucracy that writes regulation. bureaucrats don't stand for election. bureaucrats are not accountable
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to the people. so that's why it's really important for us to have a recognize nism like the congressional review act to act as a check on runaway regulation. by using this mechanism, the congressional review act, there was an ally in the white house, we started undoing some of the thousands burdensome rules and regulations created by the obama administration, rules and regulations that add up to a hefty price tag for our country. by one estimate, the costs of these obama-era regulations add up to more than a trillion dollars. that's a tremendous wet blanket on the american economy, that the job creators have to pay somebody to help them comply with these onerous rules and regulations, they obviously are not paying somebody to grow their business and to be productive. so by one estimate, the costs of these obama regulations adds up to more than $1 trillion and more than 700 million hours of
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paperwork. but fortunately, we have been able to chip away at them by working with the white house, focusing on bringing regulatory relief to the american people. here's the tally so far. so far, we have been able to save the american economy $363 billion worth of regulatory relief. that adds up to 52 million hours of compliance time. and again, when somebody's busy complying with busy work mandated by a micromanaging federal bureaucracy, they're not doing productive work. now, some of these rules and regulations are things that may not -- you may not read or hear about in the headline or the evening news, things like the stream buffer rule, the bureau of land management planning rule and the securities and exchange commission resource extraction
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rule. these are not well-known rules and regulations, but they have a real cost on the american economy, and there is a real reason why after the great recession of 2008, our economy has been bouncing along at about 2% real growth. that's not enough growth to keep hiring people as they come of age and become eligible to work in the workforce. we need the economy to grow faster, and one of the ways to do that is to relieve businesses and the economy of these overonerous regulations. as i was thinking about it, i really think what's happened to our economy is it's really died a death of a thousand cuts. each of these regulations, while they seem rather innocuous in and of themselves or people don't know about have actually accumulated to cause real damage to the american economy.
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so we have been able to help those small businesses that would like to hire more people to do productive work, to grow their economy, to help pay their employees better wages. we have helped them by repealing these regulations to help our job creators and not to hurt them. this has always been to me the mystery of washington, d.c. back home in texas, we look at the job creator as a positive influence on our economy, as somebody who is going to be creating a real opportunity for someone to find productive work and to pursue their dreams, but here in washington, the opposite seems to be true. so often, it almost seems like the attitude, particularly of the previous administration, was what other obstacles can we put in the way of businesses? what other burdens can we impose upon the economy in the name of trying to micromanage the economy from washington, d.c.? well, i think what we have seen, the evidence is pretty clear, is
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anemic growth, and that's something we need to roll back, along with these rules and regulations. i'm hopeful the president will be signing more of these congressional review acts soon. so far, he has signed soon of them and we have more in the queue. so as we look ahead to big-ticket items that we all want to make progress on, i want to continue to work with all of our colleagues and the administration to doing all we can to help keep small businesses, family farmers and entrepreneurs to help them spend more time doing productive work and less time doing busy work mandated by the bureaucrats here in washington, d.c. one of the areas that is one of those big-ticket items is tax reform, and we have seen some big ideas floated out there by the house of representatives and last night and today by the president and haste cabinet as well. i look forward to reviewing the proposal that the president has made. there's no question there's a
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lot of room for reforming our tax code. our tax code is literally a self-inflicted wound and damage to our economy. we have got trillions of dollars earned by american-based businesses earned overseas that they won't bring back because they don't want to be taxed twice on that money. we know our tax code is way too complicated. it's riddled with loopholes, inconsistencies and provisions that impede job creation. pro growth -- pro-growth tax reform should be our goal, and it's something that's united republicans and democrats in the past, and there is no reason why we shouldn't be united again in accomplishing that tax reform. so i look forward to hearing more about the president's proposal, and i applaud him for making a bold statement about the direction we ought to go. now is finally the time to address it. all of these efforts, tax reform, rolling back unnecessary
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regulations and rules and providing a better environment for businesses to thrive are vital to getting our economy back on track and away from years of stagnant growth we saw under president obama. and i should note, it's hard to argue with how business-friendly policies and the promise of more effective economy and create an atmosphere conducive to building businesses and helping families get by. i think what we have seen is a resurgence of public confidence in the american economy. one index by gallup suggests that small business owners are now more optimistic than they have been since the summer of 2007. that's the kind of confidence and optimism that helps them grow their business and create opportunity for the working man and woman here in our country, and it's a testament to the sea change that we have seen over the last few months since the new administration came into office and the american people
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chose to retain republican majorities in the house and the senate. more family-run businesses are expecting us to keep putting forward policies that empower job creators, not to get in their way. so, mr. president, i know we have only seen the first few months of the new congress. we have only seen the first few months of a new presidential administration, but i am proud of what we have been able to accomplish so far. frankly, without much help from our friends across the aisle who have done everything they can to slow-walk nominations and otherwise impede progress. i hope they realize that's bad politics and it's not serving the interests of the american people very well. and that sooner or later, enough democrats are going to say, you know, we came here not to just say no to every constructive proposal made, but actually to participate in the legislative process and to work for the benefit of the american people. i look forward to doing even
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more to help those who want to bring more jobs and more economic growth to our communities across this great land. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the acosta nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of labor, r. alexdon area acosta of florida ton secretary. the presiding officer: the time until 11:30 a.m. will be equally divided in the usual form. mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democrat leader. mr. schumer: well, thank you, mr. president. as senators continue to
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negotiate the appropriations bills this week, i want to reiterate my hopes we can reach an agreement by this friday. so long as we try to operate within the parameters our parties have operated under for the last few spending bills, i'm optimistic about the chances for a deal. i'm glad that the president has taken the wall off the table in the negotiations. democrats have always been for border security. in fact, we supported one of the toughest border security packages in comprehensive immigration reform in an amendment introduced by two of my republican colleagues, senator hoeven and senator corker. we may address border security in this bill as well, but it will not include any funding for a wall. plain and simple. now, we still have a few issues to work out, including the issue of cost-sharing, puerto rico, and getting permanent health for minors, which i was glad to hear
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the majority leader voice support for yesterday -- permanent health support for miners. and i want to salute senator manchin who has worked hard for the miners. the minors shouldn't have their health benefits taken away from them. but above all, we have to make sure there are no poison pill riders. i hope both sides of the aisle will pursue that now. we democrats remain committed to fighting president trump's cutback on women's health, rollback of financial protections in wall street reform, rollbacks of protections for clean air and clean water, against a deportation force. so those are the kind of poison pill riders that could hurt agreement, and i hope we'll just decide at the given time -- we can debate them in regular order, but they shouldn't be -- they shouldn't hold the
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government hostage and pass them without debate. now, on taxes, mr. president, today we'll be hearing some details -- we don't know how many -- about the president's tax plan. we'll take a look at what they're proposing, but i can tell you this: if the president's plan is to give a massive tax break to the very wealthy in this country, a plan that will mostly benefit people and businesses like president trump's, that won't pass muster with we democrats. the very wealthy are doing pretty well in america. their income keeps going up. their wealth keeps going up. god bless them. let them do well, but they don't need another tax breaks while middle-class americans and those struggling to get there need help to stay afloat. it is already the case that c.e.o.'s and other folks at the top of the corporate ladder can use deductions and loopholes to pay less in tangs' taxes than
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their -- taxes than their secretaries. we don't need a plan that allows wealthy businessmen like president trump to use pass-threw entities to pay is a% in taxes while everyone else pays in the 30's and 40's. we don't need a tax plan that allows the very rich to use pa pass-throughs to pay is a% while average americans are paying more. that's just a tax giveaway to the very, very wealthy that will explode the deficit. so, we'll take a look at what the president proposes later today. if it's just another deficit-busting tax break for the very wealthy, i predict their proposal will land with a dud with the american people. now, on north korea. later today the senate will be receiving a briefing by the administration on the situation in north korea. i look forward to the opportunity to hear from the secretary of state, who i
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understand drafted the administration's plan, and other senior administration officials about their views on north korea and the posture of the united states in that region. i think what many of my colleagues hope to hear articulated is a coherent, well-thought-out strategic plan. so far the congress and the american public have heard very little in the way of strategy with respect to north korea we've heard very little about strategy to combat isis. we've heard very little about strategy, how to deal with putin's russia. we've heard very little about our strategy in syria. only a few weeksing a the president authorized a strike in syria. is there a broader strategy? does the administration support regime change or not? do they plan further u.s. involvement? these are difficult and important questions, and there are many more of them to be asked and answered about this administration's nascent national security policy for hot spots around the globe.
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i hope that later today, at least in relation to north korea, we senators are given a serious, well-considered outline of the administration's strategic goals in the korean peninsula and their plans to achieve them. now, on the president's 100 days. as we approach the is 00-day mark of the -- as we approach the 100-day mark of the trump president, we senators have been discussing the litany of broken promises the president made to the american families. it is our job to hold the president accountable. many of these folks voted for the president because they believed him when he promised to bring back their jobs or get tougher on trade or drain the swamp. so it's important to point out where the president has gone back on his word and where he's fallen short in these first 100 days. on the crucial issues of jobs
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and the economy, this president has made little progress in 100 days. his party hasn't introduced a major job-creating piece of legislation to date, and he's actually backtracked on his promise to create jobs. i was particularly upset to see the president consider repealing president obama's law that prevented corporate inversions, that allowed big corporations to locate overseas to lower their tax rates. instead of draining the swamp and making the government more accountable to the people, president trump has filled his government with billionaires and bankers and folks laden with conflicts of interest. and matingly -- and amazingly enough, the government has
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allowed lobbyists to come to work at the white house on the very same issues they were just lobbying on and those waivers were kept secret. these aren't the normal adjustment that a president makes when transitioning from a campaign to the reality of government. these are stunning about-faces on core promises that the president made to working americans. what i'd like to focus on now is on one issue -- the president's promises on health care. on the campaign trail, the president vowed to the american people that he would repeal and replace the affordable care act with better health care that lowered costs, provided more generous coverage, and guaranteed insurance for everyone with no changes to medicare whatsoever. that's what he said. we're not saying he said that. those are his words. i'm going to cover everybody. he said, quote, we're going to have insurance for everybody,
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much less expensive, much better. we're going to have insurance for everybody. but once in office, president trump broke each and every one of these promises with the rollout of his health care bill, trumpcare. did trumpcare lower costs as he promised? the c.b.o. said premiums would go up as much as 20% in the first few years under trumpcare. his bill allowed insurance companies to charge older americans a whopping five times the amount they could charge to younger folks. it was estimated that a senior citizen could pay as much as 15,000 more depending on their income and where they lived. did his bill provide for better coverage? no. the most recent version of the trumpcare bill would allow states to decide whether or not to protect folks who have preexisting conditions. this was one of the most popular things in obamacare, even if
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people didn't like some other parts of it. if you're a parent, your child has cancer, the insurance company said, we're cutting you off and you'd have to watch your child suffer because you couldn't afford health care. a.c.a., the affordable care act, ended that. they couldn't cut you off or not give you insurance because your child or you had a serious illness that would cost the insurance company a lot of money. but now, in the proposal they're making, it is up to the states. tough luck if you live in a state without it. did his bill guarantee insurance for everyone? that's what he said. nope, far from it. the congressional budget office said that trumpcare would result in 24 million fewer americans with health coverage after ten years. and despite an explicit pledge from candidate trump on the eve
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of the election that he would protect medicare because hardworking americans made a deal a long time ago, trumpcare slashed more than $100 billion from the medicare trust fund. trumpcare was exactly the opposite the president promised his health care would be. americans should breathe a sigh of relief, a huge sigh of relief, that the bill didn't pass and there is a lack of fundamental honesty here. if you believe that there shouldn't be government involvement in health care, and the private sector should do it all, -- and the president and frankly many of our republican colleagues are trying to have it both ways. they want to say to their right-wing friends, i'm making government's involvement much less. but then they say to the american people, you are going to get better coverage, more coverage at lower rates.
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the two are totally inconsistent. that's why they're having such trouble with trumpcare over in the house and there will be even worse trouble here in the senate, if it ever gets here, which i hope it doesn't. health care is another example of why this president has so little to show for his first 100 days. instead of reaching out to democrats to find areas where we could compromise on improving our health care system, we democrats have always said, don't repeal become, improve t we know it needs to have some changes. but instead they started out on their own in a partisan way, the very same party that criticized president obama for just working with democrats on the issue, despite a year-long effort to try. so it failed. and it's emblematic of the first's first 100 days. the president's my way or the highway approach is one of the main reasons he has to show little on health care and show
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little for his first 100 days in office. mr. president, i yield the floor. and i note the a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll -- and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. a senator: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. a senator: i ask unanimous consent that it be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: mr. president, arizona is home to more than a half million of veterans. they served in every conflict from world war ii to present day operations in the middle east. mr. flake: nothing makes me prouder than to shake the hand of one of these veterans and call them an arizonan. fortunately, many of these veterans have the support of friends and family as well as their fellow veterans with whom they served. but far too many that have served our country lack a support system that can help them successfully make the transition back to civilian
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life. for those who have post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury, this can be particularly difficult. studies have shown that veterans often do not seek out medical help treatment due to concerns about stigma, negative career prospects, lack of awareness or logistical challenges in accessing care. for those who go without treatment, it can lead to substance abuse, and in some cases run-ins with the law. while there is no justification for criminal behavior, it's important to recognize while certain actions may be symptomatic of heroin experiences, a veteran has endured during years of service. this is something the criminal justice system often fails to deal with. by not providing treatment that actually addresses a veteran's underlying service connected issues, our criminal justice system sometimes creates a vicious cycle.
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it overcriminallizes service-connected mental illness. it undertreats incarcerated veterans and it increases recidivism. to address the problem, the v.a. created the veterans justice outreach program in 2009. the program was established to remove veterans from the regular criminal justice process and to provide specially tailored treatments to address many of these underlying issues. these veteran treatment courts have a proven record of preventing initial incarceration and in reducing recidivism. the lifeblood of the program are veterans' justice outreach specialists, b.j.o.'s, who lead veterans to available services. these outreach specialists identify veterans in jails and in local courts, they assess their health status, and they help them to develop a rehabilitation treatment program specific to each veteran's needs.
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i recently had the opportunity to observe a veterans docket and meet some of the dedicated specialists while visiting the mesa municipal court earlier this month. let me tell you, there is no substitute for seeing this firsthand. even though it is a courtroom setting, there is a camaraderie and collaboration that you just don't see in traditional courtroom proceedings. i was amazed at how many organizations are there to help these veterans and to help them successfully transition to help them with treatment. now, the collaboration that i'm talking about comes from having a judge and hardworking staff who have served in the military themselves. they understand the hardship of deployments for service members and their families. they understand the mental and physical tolls of combat. and they understand that the transition back to civilian life can mark the beginning of a new battle for veterans.
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although the program has experienced remarkable success, the unfortunate reality is the v.a. doesn't have enough outreach specialists to ensure access to already available treatment for justice-involved veterans. demand for v.j.o. specialists is outpacing the program's ability to serve eligible veterans. this means that future veterans' courts can't be established and existing courts will go understaffed and veterans will go unserved. that's not right. that's why today i'm introducing the veterans' treatment court improvement act to ensure that our veterans receive swift and appropriate access to justice. this legislation will provide 50 additional v.j.o. specialists for veterans' treatment courts nationwide by increasing the number of dedicated specialists at these facilities, congress can ensure that more veterans have access to the treatments that they have earned with their service. this is bipartisan legislation
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and will work to inform my colleagues about the need for this program and additional v.j.o.'s in the coming weeks and months. i yield back the balance of my time. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. flake: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. flake: i ask unanimous consent that time during the quorum call be equally divided. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. flake: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. cotton: i ask that the quorum call be ended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cotton: i come is to the floor today to honor the memory of former congressman jay dicky who passed on april 20. when he roamed the halls of congress, you knew there might be mischief afoot and what merry mischief it was. jay was opinionated, colorful, zany, and now that he passed the warm laughter of memories once again echoes in these cold marble halls as we reflect on his life. he died last thursday after a battle with parkinson's, a battle he fought like every other with determination and gusto. i for one will miss his counsel and friendship, as will the people of arkansas whom he loved so deeply. jay was an arkansas original. he was born and bred and in the end breathed his last in his hometown of pine bluff. he shared a lot in
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common with the mighty pines of south arkansas. he stood tall and proud of his community's heritage. he was a pillar of the community, a lawyer and a businessman who of left his mark as an entrepreneurial starting franchises throughout the state, as an advocate representing his city and later taking on such famous clients as coach eddie sutton. unlike the proverbial tree in the forest, now that jay dickey has fallen, the whole state has taken notice. but of course a man's accomplishments are only a window into his character. you had to know jay personally to get a sense of all the fun there was inside him. it was as if his feet had sunk deep into the soil and sunk up all the state's natural richness, its humor, earnestness stripped the bark off candor. i got to know jay in my first political campaign. i was a political newcomer but jay spent
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many hours getting to know me and ultimately supported my candidacy which helped put me on the map. of course jay shared a lot of candid advice too. after attending one of my early town halls, jay and i went to lunch down the road at the cracker barrel. i asked him how i did. jay replied, you did good, but you've got to cut it down some. you see that baked potato there? that's a fully loaded baked potato. it's got cheese, sour cream, onions, your answers are like that fully loalded baked -- loaded baked potato. you've got to make them a plain potato. this was a man who offered a ninth grader a college-level internship because he thought the kid had potential. the man who answered any phone in his office that rang twice just to keep his staff on their toes. the man whose dog once drove his truck into a
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radio station in hamton because he left the dog running during an interview to keep the dog cool and somehow that dog put it in gear, the man who kept a picture of jesus on his wall and who when meeting a new client would point to the picture and say have you met my friend. yes, the first grade joy of his life was his faith. but the second great joy was his politics. jay was the first republican elected to congress from south arkansas since reconstruction, and he won in 1992, the very same year arkansas elected our democratic governor as president. and despite, being who the democrats must have viewed as most -- he held on. he won only by the narrowest of margins in 2000 with president bill
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clinton campaigning for his opponent mike ross. he and mike would become friends after that race speaking regularly about issues and their faith. jay's time in office won't be remembered as an historical oddity, an anomaly or oneoff because unconventional though it was, it was also a forerunner of things to come. it was an early sign of a coming political realignment as the small towns that dotted rural america, towns where few people had ever even seen a republican, never mind voted for one, were starting to cast their votes up and down the ballot for the grand old party. in other words, jay dickey was a trailblazer, or perhaps a bulldozer. he smashed through history and precedent and grooved a path in rough terrain for the rest of us to follow. for that, he has my thanks and the thanks of
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the people of arkansas, and for his humorous, quirky, unparalleled example, he has the thanks of the u.s. congress which today is a little sadder for his passing, but also a little brighter for his memory. mr. president, i yield the floor, and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thanks, mr. president. i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: thank you very much. on monday morning i stood with workers and fellow public officials in bridgeport, connecticut, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the lambiance plaza disaster. some 30 years ago last sunday l' ambiance plaza collapsed, and the worlds of 30 families who lost loved ones and 22 others who were seriously injured also collapsed. their worlds collapsed as the lift-slab
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construction used as the device for building the plaza in effect imploded the workers were constructing a 16-story apartment building when that disaster happened, and the lift-slab construction method used at that site subsequently was banned. it was banned because it was unsafe. that disaster was preventable, as so many workplace injuries and deaths are preventable. that is a tragedy in the modern american workplace, just as it was 30 years ago at l' ambiance plaza. it is an urgent and grave need for this
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nation to confront. this plaza collapsed literally within seconds. , and the 28 workers who left their homes that day expecting to come back, the families who said goodbye and never saw them again alive were the victims of workplace dangers that day, but so many others have followed them since. those families are still affected, still reeling, still grieving decades later. one of them spoke at that ceremony monday morning. it revived for many of us the memories of that day when literally hundreds of workers from throughout connecticut went throughout that site, digging by hand through the wreckage trying to find the
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living survivors. on that day, and every day since, i have sought to increase the safety of our workplaces and avoid those kinds of tragedies and that pledge brings me here today because that pledge would be, in my view, inconsistent with voting for the nomination of alexander acosta to be secretary of labor. i commend mr. acosta for his public service during his presidency serving on the national labor relations board member and holding two positions at the department department ofe was later united states attorney for the southern district of florida and i want to commend and thank him for his
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willingness to serve again. i say that in all seriousness, as a former united states attorney myself, and i believe as secretary of labor he will have important responsibilities if he is confirmed in the area of enforcement. i am constrained to oppose his nomination because i believe, number one, that this administration needs a champion, not simply a bystander, and mr. accosta has given me no reason in his records to assure me that he will overcome as what i see as a bias against enforcement in this administration. last month president trump proposed a budget that guts the department of labor.
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the budget, admittedly, is short on specifics, devoted little more than one page, that is tasked with the safety of american workers. it made clear it would slash resources at the department of labor by $2.5 billion, that means 21% fewer inspectors, 21% fewer investigators, 21% less enforcement. that's one-fifth less enforcement when, in fact, five times more enforcement is appropriate. and the budget, although short on details, singled out a program that helps to train workers and employers on ways to ensure avoidance of hazards on
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the job. president trump has proposed the ee limb nays, zero -- elimination, zeroing out of that program. at his confirmation hearing last week, mr. accosta demonstrated neither a willingness or interest of challenging the budget, stressing that his son-to-be-boss, president trump, guides the ship. i find that view and perspective alarming. there's an old saying that budgets are moral documents. it's a saying frequently repeated, but it has a real meaning when it comes to enforcement of worker safety. it has a real meaning to real people in their lives or loss of lives. it is a matter of life and
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death. where you put scarce dollars and resources reveals values and priorities -- moral values and moral priorities. president trump has put his values on clear display in this budget. he believes until building a wall -- a needless show project that he mentioned repeatedly in his with budget, but he's given short shrift to efforts that protect people who go every day to workplaces where they are in serious jeopardy and where, as in belief -- the plaza, they could lose their lives. voting for mr. accosta would
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mean i would not have kept my promise to the workers at the plaza and those in danger every day in workplace that's must be made safer and can be through vigorous enforcement of rules and laws that exist, and improvement of those laws. one of the greatest challenges facing our nation today is fairness in the workplace, particularly fairness in pay for women, fairness concerning pay disparity between men and women, with women making a fraction of what men make for the same work on this critical issue, also this nominee is silent. and on other issues critical to the modern american workplace, overtime pay, minimum wage,
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protecting retirement, fighting discrimination, matters that affect women and minorities more than others, he has a said -- he has said little, if nothing. certainly little to indicate he will be an enforcer of laws that protect minorities and women and others who may be victims of discrimination. there's no question that this nominee is far better than the president's first proposed person to fill this job, andy puztner who withdrew. but the standard we should use is not whether he is better than the president who was found wanting even before the vote was taken, but rather whether they can be trusted to protect
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workers, to enforce rules vigorously and fairly and fight for a budget and a set of priorities that are critical to the future of american workers. on that score, unfortunately, i answer this question with a clear no and i will vote against this nominee. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. rubio: i ask unanimous consent that i be arrowed to complete my -- allowed to complete my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rubio: i am here to ask that my colleagues support alexander acoscia. he have been familiar with his work for many years. when the president nominated him, i thought he was an outstanding choice to lead the department of labor. he has an impressive academic record. he has two degrees from harvard. he has a sterling record of public service to the tate of florida and -- to the state of florida and the united states of america. he was a member of the national labor relations board, appointed by president george w. bush and served from 2002 to 2003. he served as assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, he also served as
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assistant attorney general in that office. he was attorney general in one of the most challenging districts in our country, florida southern district. he was the dean of florida university's college of law where he was instrumental in advancing the young school's profile and graduating young men and women who are well prepared to excel in their legal careers. with every challenge he has demonstrated his ability to tackle the problems at hand with ease. he is a brilliant legal p mind with deep knowledge of labor issues and a proven manager. it's for these reasons and many more that i am confident that alexander acosta will serve this nation admirably. he has previously been confirmed unanimously by the senate for three different positions in the united states government, and this man is not even 50 years old. and he has now already
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been confirmed unanimously by the senate for three separate positions, and i believe in a few moments he will be confirmed to his fourth. he is well qualified for this role, and i look forward to working with him to ensure americans are equipped with the skills that they need to be successful in the 21st century economy. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion. we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of r. alexander acosta to be secretary of labor signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum has been waived. the question is is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of r.
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alexander acosta of florida to be secretary of labor shall be brought to a close? the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: is there anyone in the chamber wishing to change his or her vote? being none, the ayes are 61. the nays are 39. the motion is agreed to.
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. ms. murkowski: i have eight requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington pat pat thank you -- mrs. murray. thank you when working families fought against president trump's first disaster pick, they made it clear they want a secretary of labor who will fight for their interests, especially as president trump continues to break promise after promise he made to workers on the campaign trail. and i couldn't agree with them more. that as bad as he would have been, our standard cannot be not puzder. napt, never has it been so critical to have a secretary of labor who is committed to putting workers protection and rights first. mrs. murray: even if that means
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standing up to president trump. it is with this in mind that i cannot support alexander acosta to run the department of labor. i have serious concerns given mr. acosta's professional history about whether undue political pressure would impact decision making at the department. my concerns were only heightened at his nomination hearing when mr. acosta said he would defer to president trump on the priorities of the department of labor. madam president, the trump administration has already cemented a reputation for flouting ethics rules and attempting to exert political pressure over federal employees. we need secretary of labor who will prioritize workers and the mission of the department of labor over special interests and political pressure. unfortunately, mr. acosta's time leading the civil rights division at the department of justice suggests he will not be
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the mission-focused secretary of labor workers across the country have demanded. a formal investigation by the inspector general showed that under acosta's tenure, the civil rights division illegally considered applicants' political opinions in making hiring decisions ignoring their professional qualifications. and as assistant attorney general acosta chose to recuse himself from consideration of a texas redistricting plan instead allowing political appointees to overrule career attorneys who believe the plan discriminated against black and latino voters. madam president, mr. acosta's past raises questions about whether instead of making workers rights and protections the priority of that department, he will allow political pressure to influence his decision making.
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mr. acosta's refusal to take a strong stand on many of the most pressing issues workers face today was equally concerning of the we need a secretary of labor who's committed to expanding overtime pay to more workers and fighting for equal pay and maintaining protections for our workers but in responding to questions about those priorities plrks acosta -- mr. acosta made is clear he plans to defer to president trump would has already made it abundantly clear he will not stand up for workers. mr. acosta continued to evade addressing my concerns about how he would prioritize workers' interests at the department of labor in our follow-up questions. we need a secretary of labor who will remain committed to the core principles of the department of labor, someone who will prioritize the best interests of our workforce, who will enforce laws that protect workers' rights and safety and livelihoods and seeks to expand economic opportunities for workers and families across our
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country. unfortunately, alexander acosta has failed to show he will stand up to president trump and prioritize those principles and help our workers get ahead. therefore, i urge my colleagues to listen to the millions of workers who have made their voices heard about the need for a secretary of labor who's committed to building an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top and vote against this nomination. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. mr. durbin: madam president. 20 years ago when i was elected to the united states senate, a group of people came to me and asked me to sponsor a bill. it was a bill that had been sponsored many times by senator bill bradley of new jersey. he retired shortly before i arrived. the bill related to the utah wilderness. i remember saying to those who approached me, this isn't my state. it's the state of utah. they said well, this is a bill
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which we're having some controversy with when it comes to the utah congressional delegation. secondly, i said it's a wilderness bill about a part of the world that i have never seen. i don't feel right introducing it. they said why don't you come out and look at it, and i did just a few weeks later. my wife and i went out and took a look at the red rocks wilderness area in utah. i will tell you initially as a midwesterner, when i looked at this stark landscape, i looked around thinking what are we trying to preserve here. but then i took a closer look, which everyone should, and found a unique, a unique part of america, a wilderness area which is -- which can't be found anywhere else, a wilderness area which boasts archaeological and historic and environmental significance way beyond what many people in the rest of the lower 48 might appreciate. today i'm reintroducing the america's red rock wilderness act. it would safeguard 9.2 million acres of land
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management -- bureau of land management land in utah as wilderness. some of the last great wild places in the lower 48. throughout my time in the senate, i have worked with the committed volunteers of the utah wilderness coalition to protect this stunning, fragile desert landscape. these unique lands are rich in archaeological resources and provide a habitat for rare plants and serbiaies. they offer unparalleled research, educational and recreational opportunities for scientists, teachers, outdoor enthusiasts and families. the bureau of land management has confirmed that the vast majority of the lands meet the qualifications for a wilderness designation. however, despite their pristine condition, their historical significance, these lands are threatened by oil and gas development as well as rampant off-road vehicle use. although these activities are appropriate in some places, they don't belong in such a fragile landscape. designating these lands as wilderness would safeguard
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wildlife, protect ancestral lands, help mitigate climate change and provide access to future generations of hunters, anglers, hikers, boaters and lovers of the natural world. last december, president obama took an important step in protecting some of southern utah's fragile lands by designating the bears ears national monument, which contains some of the lands that would be protected by my red rocks bill. the 1.35 million-acre swath of land covers forests and basins and red rock canyons and the designation protected the region's abundant native american cultural resources. the monument contains well over 100,000 cultural and archaeological sites. let me say that again. over 100,000 cultural and archaeological sites, including ancient cliff dwellings, granaries, burial sites and kivas as well as spectacular
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pick toe graphs and petro glafs. artifacts range from 700 to 12,000 years old, providing tribes with incredible insight and shared history of their ancestral homeland, bolstering their deep spiritual connection to the land itself. the bears ears monument designated by president obama is the first monument of its kind to be proposed and advocated by a united coalition of five tribes who sought its protection because of its importance in their respective culture. in total, 30 native american tribes with ancestral, historical and contemporary ties to the bears ears region supported the designation. the tribal coalition's original bears ears proposal was 1.9 million acres. you see it over here. slightly larger than the 1.35 million-acre designation by president obama.
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now, many in the utah delegation, including one of my colleagues in the senate, have raised concerns about president obama's decision to protect this area and even the size of the designation. one of the critics of the size of the designation is the chairman of the house natural resources committee, rob bishop. but last congress, before president obama designated the bears ears region a national monument, the same chairman bishop introduced a bill that would have protected part of the bears ears region while opening other areas of land for oil and gas development. look at the two here in comparison. chairman bishop's proposal protected 1.28 million acres. only 17,500 acres smaller than the area protected by president obama. as you can see from these maps, the areas protected by chairman bishop's public lands initiative were not that much different than the areas protected by the
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bears ears monument. to argue that the designation is so much larger than anyone anticipated is to ignore what the chairman submitted in his own legislation last year, and both are much smaller than what the tribes originally requested, which is the third map here. despite that, utah's congressional delegation has called the current area, quote, well beyond the areas in need of protection, and they have pushed president trump to consider shrinking or overturning this wilderness designation, monument designation. yet utah's salt lake tribune called utah politicians' determination to rescind these, quote, blindness. let me quote "the salt lake tribune." quote, that blindness can be sourced to utah's one-party political system that has given us leaders who are out of touch with their constituents, end of quote. they then continue and say, quote, the bears ears monument
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may be with us forever, and there is no bucket of gold waiting if it does go away. the presidential proclamation bent toward the same shared boundaries and shared management that congressman bishop pursued with his public lands initiative. they saw the same maps and said why is this acceptable and this objectionable? today president trump is planning to sign an executive order. it's going to call on the department of the interior to review previous national monument designations under the antiquities act. while the president's executive order will target the bears ears monument first, the argument is going to go well beyond utah and consider changes to all of the national monuments that have been designated since 1996, more than 50 different sites. these are areas designated national monument protected areas by republican and democratic presidents with bipartisan support, and yet
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president trump is going to insist with his new order that he can review and change every single one of them. let me tell you the list of places and sites of great cultural significance that could be impacted. a portion of the sequoia national forest in california. harriet tubman underground railroad national historic park in maryland. african burial ground national monument in new york. and in my home state of illinois, the pullman national monument. it's rare for any national monument designation to be changed by another president. it happened once. the last time a president used the twarks act -- the antiquities act to adjust the borders of a national monument was over a century ago in 1915. then-president woodrow wilson shrunk washington state's mount olympus national monument so they could harvest more timber resources from this land. a lot has changed since 1915,
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including our views on conservation, but attacks on conservation seem to have remained consistent. one of our greatest conservation presidents, teddy roosevelt, a proud republican, i might add, faced a great deal of opposition to his designation of a national monument that most of us are familiar with. the grand canyon. most americans can't imagine our country without the iconic grand canyon because it's truly a national treasure. but at the time of its 1908 designation by president roosevelt, groups were opposed to protecting that area. for years after its designation, oil and gas miners fought additional protections for the grand canyon. the attacks on the bears ears designation doesn't seem all that different from the attacks on the grand canyon, but the attacks on the bears ears monument also attacked the native people who have worked so hard to get this area protected. 9 -- protected. let's be very honest.
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when we look at how native americans were treated by our government and the settlers, we certainly look back with some shame and some embarrassment. what the tribes are asking for here is the protection of areas that are of special significance to them and special significance to the environmental legacy which we should leave to future generations. the president's decision to review these national monuments puts the future of these resources in jeopardy and threatens our culture, history and heritage. and if president donald trump decides to use the antiquities act to reverse one of these monuments, he is going to be treading uncharted waters. never before has a president used the antiquities act to repeal a national monument. for what purpose? for oil and gas exploration? for off the road vehicle use? these monuments themselves help promote tourism and outdoor recreation. regions with national monuments saw increased employment and
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personal income growth, exactly the opposite of what the critics promised. specifically, rural counties in the west with protected lands saw jobs increase by 345% over areas without protected lands. 345%. despite the opposition from utah's elected officials, many in the state, including the tribes, want to protect those areas, and i want to help them. teddy roosevelt once said, and i quote, it is also vandalism wantonly to destroy or prevent the destruction of what is beautiful in nature, whether it be a cliff, a forest, or a species of mammal or bird. president teddy roosevelt said here in the united states, we turn our rivers and streams into sewers and dumping grounds. we pollute the air. we destroy forests and exterminate fishes, birds and mammals, not to speak of vulgarizing charming landscapes with hideous advertisements.
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but at last it looks as if our people were awakening. end of quote. that was said by that republican president over a century ago. since teddy roosevelt's time, we have made progress in protecting our lands and waters, but these recent attacks and this recent executive order by president donald trump show that we still have a long way to go. i urge this administration, this republican administration to heed the words of teddy roosevelt. carefully consider the legacy that they will leave to future generations. it would be foolish not to protect bears ears and other monuments, just as it would have been foolish to listen to the critics and refuse to protect the grand canyon. these monuments are for all of us, and we must ensure that they remain in their natural condition for current and future generations to enjoy. madam president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, i ask consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president, i want to address the senate on the occasion of the solemn memorial of seven years since
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the deep water horizon explosion and the resulting oil spill and the tragedy of killing a number of workers t. it was 11 men were killed. it fouled the sensitive gulf ecosystem in ways that we still do not fully realize, and yet we are hearing today that the president is expected to issue an executive order that ignores the implications of that tragedy which was also the largest environmental disaster in u.s. history by this new executive order blindly encouraging more drilling in very sensitive areas. mr. president, i can tell you that drilling
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off of florida's neighboring states poses a real threat to our state's environment and our multibillion-dollar tourism industry, and that's because a spill off the coast of louisiana can end up on the beaches of northwest florida just like a spill off the coast of virginia or south carolina can affect the entire atlantic coast. b.p., as a result of the deep water horizon, agreed to pay more than $20 billion in penalties to clean up the 2010 oil spill and repay gulf residents for lost revenue. but apparently that wasn't enough. if b.p.'s recent spill in alaska is any other
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indication. so we shouldn't be surprised since oil companies and their friends have fought against any new safety standards or requirements. and still the president wants to open up additional waters to drilling despite the fact that we haven't applied lessons learned from the deep water horizon. it is certainly at a time when the united states has been able to find all new reserves of oil and gas onshore. so we are not in a time of shortage of discovery and reserves of oil, and especially what is being affected, our domestic energy market with the low price of natural gas
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since so much of it and the reserves are just tremendous here in the continental u.s. the most visible change since the deep water horizon, the division of the minerals and management service into the bureau of ocean energy management and the bureau of safety and environmental enforcement, all of those changes made as a result to try to improve things after the b.p. spill, it doesn't seem to have made any major improvements in oversight, and that's according to a report issued by the g.a.o. this last month. so i've come to the floor to try to alert other senators about the
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importance of preserving the moratorium on drilling in the gulf of mexico. it makes no sense to put florida's multibillion-dollar tourism-driven economy at risk. and there's something else at risk. the department of defense has stated numerous times -- i have two letters from two republicans, secretaries of defense, that says that drilling and oil-related activities are incompatible with our military training and weapons testing. that is the area known as the gulf training range. it's the gulf of mexico off of florida. it is the largest testing and training range for the united states military in the world.
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now in that gulf training range is where the pilots for the f-22 are trained. that's at tyndall air force base. and it's where the new f-35, the pilots are trained, by the way, not only for the united states, but also for many foreign nations that their countries have bought the f-35. of course that's essential to our national security. and that's just pilot training. that doesn't speak of the testing over hundreds and hundreds of miles because it is restricted airspace of some of our most sophisticated weapons. and, oh, by the way, when the u.s. navy atlantic fleet shut down on our training in
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puerto rico and the island of vieques, where do you think that a lot of that training came to? the navy still has to train, so they'll send their squadrons down to key west naval air station at boca chiqas acee, and when those pilots lift off the runway within two minutes they're out over the gulf of mexico in restricted airspace, so they don't spend a lot of fuel and a lot of time to get there. and so that's why a lot of our colleagues across the state of florida, across the aisle -- in other words, this is bipartisan -- have weighed in with this administration urging continued protection for the largest military testing and training area in the world.
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opposition to drilling in the eastern gulf of mexico is bipartisan. it's the senate and house -- bipartisan. but so is our opposition to drilling off the atlantic coast. now let me just distinguish between the two. years ago my then-republican colleague, senator mel martinez, and i both authored in law an exemption until the year 2022 of any oil drilling off of the coast of florida. it's actually everything east of what is called the military mission line, and it's virtually the gulf of mexico off of florida. and of course we did that for the reasons
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that i've already stated that's in law up until 2022. but the administration will be coming forth with another plan for the five-year period for oil drilling offshore for the years 2023 up through 2028. it is my hope that the words of this senator and the words of our bipartisan colleagues from the florida delegation will convince the administration that it's not wise to impede the military's unnecessary training and testing area, not even to speak of the tremendous economic deprivation that will come as a result of an oil spill. and just think back to
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the b.p. spill. think back to the time when the beaches, the sugary white sands of pensacola beach, they in fact were completely covered with oil. that picture, a very notable picture, a contrast of the black oil on top of the white sand, that picture went around the world. the winds started blowing -- this is the oil from the b.p. spill off louisiana. the wind started to continue to blow it to the east. and so some of the oil got in pensacola bay. some of the oil started to get into chock hatchee bay. some got on the beautiful beaches of destine and fort
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walton -- destin and fort walton beach. the winds took it as far east as the panama city beaches. there they received basically tar balls on the beach. and then the winds reversed and started taking it back to the west. so none of the other beaches all the way down the coast of florida, clearwater, st. petersburg on down to the beaches off bradenton and off of sarasota and fort myers and naples and all the way down to marco island, none of those beaches received the oil because the wind didn't keep blowing it that way. but the entire west coast of florida lost an entire tourist season because our guests, our visitors, the tourists, they
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didn't come because they had seen those pictures. and they thought that oil was on all of our beaches. let me tell you how risky that had been. there is in the gulf of mexico something known as the loop current. it comes through the separation of the yucatan peninsula of mexico and the western end of cuba. it goes up into the gulf and then it loops and comes south in the gulf. it hugs the florida keys. it becomes the gulf stream that hugs the east coast of florida and about mid down the peninsula it starts to leave the coast, follows and parallels the east coast of the united states and eventually goes to northern europe. that's the gulf stream. had that oil spill been blown
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south from louisiana and the loop current had come enough north, that oil spill would have gotten in the loop current and it would have taken it down past the very fragile coral reefs of the florida keys and right up the beaches of southeast flori florida, a huge tourism business. and by the way, the gulf stream hugs the coast in some cases only a mile off of the beach. now, that's the hard economic reality of what could happen to florida's tourively industry -- tourism industry, not only on the west coast that it already did that season of the b.p. oil spill but what could happen on
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the east coast of florida, too. so opposition to drilling in the eastern gulf of mexico is certainly bipartisan, but also is the opposition to drilling off of the atlantic coast. in the last congress, members from both parties joined together to file a house companion to the legislation that this senator had filed that would prohibit seismic testing in the atlantic off of florida. the type of seismic air gun testing that companies wanted to use to search for oil and gas would threaten thousands of marine mammals and fish, including endangered species like the north american white
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whale. the blast from seismic air guns can cause permanent hearing loss for whales and for dolphins which disrupts their feeding, calving, and their breeding. and in addition to the environmental damage that those surveys would cause, businesses up and down the atlantic coast would also suffer from drilling activity. over 35,000 businesses and over 500,000 commercial fishing families have registered their opposition to of offshore drillg in the atlantic. from fishermen to hotel owners to strawt turs -- strawnts turs -- restaurateurs understand it's too risky to risk the
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environment and economy that they depend on. there is one unique industry off shore in the florida east coast, and this was, we made the case, way back in the 1980's when a secretary of the interior named james watt decided that he was going to drill all the way from cape hatteras, north carolina, all the way south to fort pierce, florida. this senator was a young congressman then and took this case on and what finally convinced the appropriations committee not to include any funds for the execution of, an offering of those leases was the simple fact that where we are
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launching our space shuttle then as well as our military rockets from cape canaveral, that you simply can't have oil rigs out there and be dropping the first stages and the solid rocket boosters from the space shuttle. now as you know, the cape has come alive with activity, a the love commercial rocketry as well as the mainstays for our military space program. and in a year and a half, nass a will launch the largest rocket ever, one-third more powerful than the saturn five which was the rocket that took us to the moon. and that's the beginning of the mars program as we are going to mars with humans. and so because of that space industry, whether it's commercial or whether it's
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civilian nasa or whether it's military, you simply can't have oil rigs out there in the atlantic where we are dropping the first stages of those rockets. this is common sense. so when president obama took the atlantic coast off the table in 2017 to 2022, that five-year planning period in that offshore drilling plan, floridians finally breathed a sigh of relief and they sighed, too, happily. if president trump intends to open these areas up to drilling, his administration can receive and expect to receive a flood of
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opposition from the folks who knows what's going to happen. so it is this week, and here we are mid week, it is this week that we're expecting for the trump administration to move forward with an executive order that would ignore the wishes of coastal communities. now, i want to say that the areas off of florida in the east coast of the atlantic are very sensitive, as i have just outlined. but there's nothing to say that if you have a spill off of georgia or south carolina, that it can't move south. and that starts the problem all over. this announcement by the president will be like a big
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present for the oil companies who, by the way, in areas in the gulf of mexico that are rich with oil and there are in fact active leases, they're not producing the oil. so why would you want to grant more leases in areas that is so important to preserve the nation's economy as well as our military preparedness. i hope the president thinks twice before putting florida's economy at such a risk. i hope he refrains from issuing this executive order, but if he doesn't, this senator and a bipartisan delegation from florida will fight this order.
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mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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ms. warren: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. ms. warren: mr. president, are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are.
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ms. warren: i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. warren: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i come to the floor today to urge my completion to the senate to oppose the nomination of commander acosta for labor seventh the test of whether a nominee is qualified to be labor secretary is a pretty simple one. will that person stand up for 150 million american workers and their families? mr. acosta has had multiple opportunities in more than two months since he was nominated for this position to demonstrate that he would stand up for workers, and time after time he has refused. americans deserve to know where a nominee like mr. acosta stand on key policy matters that will have a powerful impact on the lives of working people. at mr. acosta's confirmation hearing, i asked him where he stood on three policy issues that are important to working americans and their families.
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first, will you promise not to delay a rule that will protect 2.3 million americans from being poisoned by lethal cancer cancer-causing shrill can a on the job? second, will you appeal a texas court's injunction that has halted implementation of a new overtime rule that would give 4.2 million americans a $1.2 billion raise in a single year? and, third, will you promise not to delay a rule that will stop investment advisors from cheating retirees out of an estimated $17 billion a year? now, these are not tough questions. for most people, these would have been total softballs. will you keep workers from being poisoned? will you make sure that employers pay for overtime? and will you make sure that
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investment advisors aren't cheating retirees? come on ... this is the very least that a labor secretary can do, the very least. mr. acosta refused to answer a single one of these questions. instead, he bobbed and weaved, stalled, and repeated my questions. he even insisted that these topics were so complex that he needed more time to study them. and it wasn't just my questions that mr. acosta refused to answer. he spent more than two hours ducking, handwaving and dodging basic questions from committee members, both democrats and republicans, questions about whether he would commit to stand up for workers on issues that profoundly affect their health, their safety, and their economic security. mr. acosta has been so evasive about his views that we still have virtually no idea what he
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will do to help or harm workers if he is confirmed for this job. you know, the fact that mr. acosta isn't willing to step up on easy questions and tell us that he will be on the side of workers tells us a lot about him, and none of it is good. and that is particularly troubling, since mr. acosta is president trump's nominee, and we can see how president trump treats workers. in less than 100 days on the job, president trump has managed to kill, weaken, our undermine an unprecedent the number of protections for working people. he signinged a bill to make it easier for government contractors to steal wages from their employees. he signed a bill to make it easier for employers to hide injuries and deaths that their workers suffer on the job. he signed a bill to keep cities
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from offering retirement accounts to more than two million employees who don't have access to a retirement plan on the job. he delayed a rule protecting workers from lethal cancer-causing beryllium. he delayed a rule protecting construction workers from deadly silica, and he delayed a rule preventing investment advisors from cheating retirees, a rule that would save hardworking americans about $17 billion -- about $17 billion a year. you know, that's a pretty long list, and it doesn't even include the devastating impact to workers of the president's proposed 20% cut to the labor department funding, which means fewer cops on the beat when employers steal wages or force people into unsafe working conditions. during his campaign, president
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trump talked a big game about standing up for workers and creating good, high-paying jobs. but if his first 100 days are any indication, his real plan is to keep corporate profits soaring by gutting the rules that american workers depend on to keep money in their pockets, food on their tables, and keep them safe in the workplace. unlike president trump's first failed nominee for this job, mr. acosta is not openly contemptuous of people who work hard for a living. and i suppose we should be tha thankful for that. but that's not the test for a labor secretary. the test for a labor secretary is whether this person will stand up for american workers. mr. acosta won't make that commitment, and he's made it perfectly clear that he sure won't stand up to president
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trump. that's just not good enough, and because of this on-going evasiveness, i have no confidence that mr. acosta is the right choice for this position, and i urge my colleagues to join me in opposing his confirmation. thank you, mr. president. i yield. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without
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objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the committee on judiciary be discharged from further consideration of s. res. 123, the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 123, designating may 20, 2017, as kids to parks day. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection, the committee is discharged. the senate will proceed. mr. mcconnell: i further ask the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: now, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent when the senate completes its business today it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. thursday, april 27. further, that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour deemed
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expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day and morning business be closed. further, following leader remarks the senate proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the acosta nomination. finally, that all time during recess, adjournment, morning business and leader remarks count postcloture on the acosta nomination. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. mcconnell: if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask it stand adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.


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