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tv   U.S. Senate Meets for Legislative Business  CSPAN  May 3, 2017 9:29am-11:30am EDT

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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> the u.s. senate is about to gavel and to start work on this wednesday. today lawmakers expected to spend most of the day on a
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measure repealing and obama era labor department rule concerning retirement plans. a vote is expected later this morning. the senate in some respects marking time today waiting for the house to complete its work on a bill funding the federal government and related agencies to the end of the fiscal year september. that's $1.1 trillion agreement between the two parties. we expect that to make it to the senate floor in the next day or so as sin has to approve the bill before current spending authority runs out at midnight on friday. live now to the floor of the senate here on c-span2. the chaplain: let us pray. our lord and god, we would not journey through this day without contact with you. increase our faith, hope, and
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love that we may receive your promises. be merciful to our lawmakers and fill them with your hope. may they be fully persuaded in their minds about receiving guidance from you for the decisions they make. lord, deliver them from a reluctance to respect honest differences as they remember their ultimate accountability to you. provide them with divine insights as they grapple with complexities that require nuanced choices.
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may their ultimate goal be to serve you by doing what is best for our nation and world. we pray in your strong name. amen. 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.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: later today the house will vote to pass a funding agreement that advances a number of america's priorities. achieving important things that would not have been possible under the previous administration. let's take the border. president trump and the republican congress made securing the border a priority, and this funding bill acts on it. after years of an administration that failed to get serious on border security, this bill provides the largest border security funding increase in a decade. passing this bill means updating physical border infrastructure. it means enhancing surveillance technology. it means increasing support for border personnel. it means finally providing resources to end the practice of catch-and-release. on securing our border, this bill makes a departure from the
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obama years and is an important step forward. let's take defense. president trump and the republican congress made rebuilding our military a priority, and this funding bill acts on it. after years of an administration that drew down our conventional force structure and failed to address increasing threats across the globe, this bill provides a critically needed down payment on rebuilding our military. passing this bill means allowing our force to retain higher levels of end strength. it means funding the largest military pay raise in six years. it means replacing the munitions used in the fight against isil. it means finally ignoring the obama-era demand of requiring defense increases be matched to nondefense increases. on rebuilding our built, this bill makes the departure from the obama years and another important step forward. these are notable wins and they wouldn't have happened without this administration's tireless
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work in conjunction with the republican congress. of course, there's further to go in both areas. we know more work remains when it comes to strengthening our border infrastructure and stemming the tide of illegal immigration. we know more work remains when it comes to restoring our military's combat readiness and meeting the full needs of the force. but this legislation represents a step in the right direction in both of these areas, and it advances conservative priorities in many areas. it adheres to the spending caps, reforms bureaucracy, and consolidates, eliminates, or rescinds funds for more than 150 government programs and initiatives. it supports the implementation of the every student succeeds act, which shifts control of education out of washington and extends an important school choice program. it helps tackle terrorism, fight crime, support veterans, protect life, reform the i.r.s., and
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freeze funding for it. it cuts funding from the e.p.a., prohibits funding for president obama's climate slush fund and advances an all-of-the-above energy policy that prioritizes research on technical advancements in natural gas and coal power generation. this research funding along with the bill's support for troubled coal mining communities and dislocated miners is important for states like mine. as is the provision that i was proud to secure that will permanently protect health care benefits for thousands of retired coal miners and their families. this bill also extends resources for a pilot program i worked out with congressman hal rogers to secure, which will fund the reclamation an of abandoned mine sites. l this also provides resources to tackle the prescription drug opioid and heroin epidemic that continues to ravage communities
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across kentucky and across our country. the many achievements in this bill resulted from countless hours of committee work and bicameral negotiations. i want to recognize the appropriators, our members, and this republican administration for the tireless effort that made this bill possible. the president and his team should be commended for their efforts in working with the republican congress to address many important needs for our country in this bill. i look forward to the house passing the bill today so that we can take it up and send it to president trump for his signature soon. now, on the legislation we'll turn to today, in recent months, the republican congress has voted to provide much-needed relief to the american people from obama administration regulations pushed out the door at the 11th hour. we voted to eliminate 13 harmful regulations already using the tools contained in the congressional review act, and we'll vote to eliminate another later today.
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too often the obama administration pursued regulations that grew government at the expense of jobs, wages, and economic growth. too often under the guise of helping ordinary americans, the administration was really just helping to expand the reach of government. that is certainly the case with the regulation we are considering today. president obama's department of labor issued regulations that would impose new burdens on employers and employees when it comes to saving for retirement. these regulations would give state officials the power to force employers to enroll their employees into government-run savings plans. though these state-run plans might not seem too bad on the surface, what theyed a up to is more -- what they add up to is more government at the expense of workers.
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they would provide fewer basic consumer protections to the workers who would be forced to contribute to them. as i mentioned when we voted on regulations concerning municipalities, states always had the power to set up these plans, but until this regulation, they had to follow federal laws that protect the workers who would be automatically enrolled. in other words, states preferred that the basic retirement protections that apply to those who manage private-sector retirement plans not apply to the government as well. as a coalition of human resource markers pointed out, the obama administration was encouraging state governments to provide private-sector employees' retirement programs that do not have the same high-level protection as other private-employer sponsored plans. so as they put it, passage of the legislation before the senate would ensure that all retirement plans -- all of
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them -- for private-sector workers are subject to equal consumer protections under the law. that's why we'll vote today to overturn this regulation which undermines a private retirement savings system that millions of americans have counted on for decades. by blocking the state-running retirement regulation like we already did a regulation aimed at municipalities, we can empower families in making their own decisions when it comes to saving for the future. so i want to recognize senator hatch, the finance committee chairman, who's been the lead -- who's been leading the charge on this important issue. we look forward to sending this bill to the president's desk very soon. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each.
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the senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president, as we continue this historic effort in congress to repeal harlful regulations -- harmful regulations, i rise today in support of h.j. res. 66. due to the aggressive regulatory posture taken by the obama administration in its final months, congress has to spend a significant portion of time repealing regulations under the congressional review act, and our level of success has been unprecedented. before 2017, only one c.r.a. resolution had ever been successfully passed by congress and signed by the president. if passed and signed, h.j. res. 66 would be the 14th c.r.a. resolution enacted this year. that's remarkable,
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mr. president. it's unfortunate that we're in this situation, no doubt, but our success in rolling back harmful regulations is a positive step, in my view and in the view of so many others. there is a growing consensus here in washington that throughout our country and, i mighted might -- and i might add throughout our country, our workers, businesses, and job creators are horrible overregulated. -- are horriblely overregulated. regulations take hundreds of billions of dollars out of our economy. the resolution before us will repeal a regulation that president obama apparently personally ordered labor secretary tom perez to draft as a gift to certain blue states. the regulation eliminated long-standing federal protections for the retirement savings of private-sector workers. specifically giving states a,
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quote, safe harbor, unquote, from the protection workers have had for decades under h erisa, f the state requires its employers to enroll its employees in a state-run plan. these plans do not have to be portable. states like california, oregon, connecticut, maryland, and illinois are already using this authority to impose new mandates on both large and small employers, including start-up businesses. some of the mandates apply regardless of the size of the business. the regulation not only encourages states to impose conflicting mandates on private-sector businesses, it also encourages states to bar private workers access to their retirement accounts, and it would let states invest private sector workers' retirement assets, ignoring provisions in
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federal pension law that require prudent pension investment practices and that ban kickbac kickbacks. some states have already made it clear that once they take control of the private worker assets, they intend to invest them just like they invest our state pension plan assets. for anyone who is follow being our nation's current -- who is following our nation's current public pension crisis, that's not a pretty picture. and that's being kind. states like california and illinois shouldn't get a pass on investing potentially billions of dollars in private worker retirement assets without having to follow federal rules requiring prudent investment practices, rules designed to protect retirement nest eggs of hardworking americans. mr. president, i am all for increasing coverage for employees in workplace
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retirement programs. i have been working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address this issue. for example, last congress the senate finance committee, which i chair, unanimously approved the retirement enhancement and savings act of 2016, a bipartisan bill designed to increase voluntary retirement savings. my bill and others like it provide workable voluntary solutions to give more workers access to retirement plans, and i emphasize the word, quote, voluntary, unquote. in america, we have a voluntary defined contribution retirement system for private businesses, and the voluntary approach with appropriate incentives for workers and employers is far better than the one taken by the obama administration and former labor secretary tom perez. which would take us down the path toward government-mandated and government-run retirement
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plans. that's not really hyperbole, mr. president. that's essentially the stated purpose of these types of regulations. the current retirement savings system clearly demonstrates the superiority of the free market over government mandates when it comes to retirement savings. private retirement savings vehicles like 401-k's and ira's that have been encouraged but not mandated by federal tax laws have reduced nearly $14 trillion in wealth and savings for the middle class. let me repeat that. private retirement savings vehicles with encouragements and investor protections but not mandates have produced nearly $14 trillion in wealth and savings for middle-class americans. i agree that we need to enhance
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this system to give more workers access to incentives to participate, but there is absolutely no justification for any effort to reinvent the retirement savings system in order to give primacy to government-run plans. i can only wonder why states think that they will be able to produce better results than the private retirement savings system which has been an unqualified success, and i have to wonder how some of my colleagues who value considerable financial protection as i do would want to see abandonment of rules under the guise of safe harbor that erode protections for the savings of workers and future retirees. we can do our part to undo this harmful regulation by passing h.j. res. 66. towards that end, i urge all of my colleagues to vote in favor of this resolution. and with that, mr. president, i
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suggest the absence of a quorum. or i yield the floor. i'm sorry. mr. schumer: okay. first, mr. president, a note on health care. as the house republican caucus continues their effort to revive trumpcare, i just want to remind my friends in the house of a few things. first of all, the significant changes house republicans are proposing to the bill would still cause premiums and deductibles to rise, would still jack up the costs on low-income and older americans, and most importantly, it doesn't change a thing about the 24 million fewer americans who would get health care. it may actually increase that number, but it certainly won't decrease it. second, it's unwise, irresponsible to rush through a brand-new bill without a new
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c.b.o. score, without committee hearings, without any debate on the floor of the house. if this thing were so good, why wouldn't there be open debate? why wouldn't there be discussion? and i hope if the bill gets to the senate -- and i hope it doesn't -- but if it will, i hope we won't mimic the house, have no committees, no hearings, no c.b.o. score, not much debate. that would be very wrong. third, even if the new version of trumpcare passes the house -- we hope it doesn't -- its chances for survival in the senate are small. we don't even know if the new version would survive the rules under reconciliation. the amendment to allow states to drop preexisting condition requirements, for instance, very possibly violates the byrd rule. if the moderate group in the house gets an additional amendment to deal with the very same issue, that may violate the byrd rule as well.
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because if republicans try to throw money at their problem, as it has been reported, they may end up violating the budget instructions to reduce the deficit, and they won't even know if it does violate the byrd rule, because, again, they won't have a c.b.o. score. as my friend, the republican senator from south carolina, senator graham, said, quote, i just don't see how you square the circle here. he's talking about the trumpcare bill. continuing his quote. some of the things the freedom caucus wants probably won't make it through the senate. now, i'd add the same is true for the group of moderates who are arguing for more changes to the bill right now. the reality is trumpcare cannot pass the senate. so to my moderate republican colleagues in the house i ask why would you risk a yes vote for a bill that is devastating to your constituents and has virtually a minuscule chance,
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probably no chance of becoming law? now, we democrats, as we have said time and time again to both the president and to our republican colleagues, we're willing to work with you on ways to improve the affordable care act and our health care system in general. drop repeal and then come talk to us about finding a bipartisan way forward. we are always willing to work in a bipartisan way. but again to repeat, bipartisan means talking to both sides and taking things from both sides, not just throwing the bill down and saying you have to support it. that's what bipartisanship is. now, let me talk about the retirement c.r.a., the vote that's coming before us quite soon. mr. president, so far this congress, the republican majority, has passed 13 c.r.a.'s, congressional review act votes, all on party-line votes. far from being a major accomplishment, these c.r.a.'s
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just overturn rules passed at the very end of the obama administration to make them a major accomplishment of the first 100 days misreads what they are when compared to history and compared to many other presidents. most of them, to boot, even worse. rather than benefiting the american people just benefit large, wealthy special interests. not just this one but just about all of them. they are not for working people. they are not for middle-class americans. there are some narrow special interests who doesn't like it, this congress goes along, republican-led congress. it's not right. let me give you a few examples. the republicans passed a c.r.a. that would remove protections from our waters and streams from harmful pollution that comes from the runoff of mining sites. why? large mining companies wanted it. the american people weren't crying out for it. this republican congress passed
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a c.r.a. that would make it easier for the adjudicated mentally ill to purchase firearms. priority of the gun lobby. certainly not of the american people. they even passed a c.r.a. that allowed large oil, mining and gas companies to make payments to foreign governments, essentially bribes, without even having to disclose it. that's not the america we know. that's not the lady -- the shining city on the hill. that's not the lady in the harbor with the torch in the city in which i live. now today, the republican majority is going to have a vote on another c.r.a. this one may be the worst of all because it would block initiatives by states to provide alternative retirement savings options for millions of americans. is that because americans are clamoring take away my ability for retirement if my company doesn't give me one? no. we haven't heard a peep about that. it's because the private
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financial institutions, wall street, who manage retirement plans don't want to see any competition from city or state retirement plans. another giveaway to wealthy special interests that will hurt working americans, who should have more low-cost choices when it comes to their retirement. we all know, mr. president, our nation faces a retirement security problem. pensions, often a guarantee for large numbers of americans, are vanishing. new employers often don't provide pensions. older employers' pension plans are running low. people used to feel when they retired there would at least be something there so they could live their final years in dignity are worried, as they should be. 55 million working americans do not have a way for retirements
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to save through their employer. that's nearly half, half of all the private sector workers 18- 18-64. so it's a huge concern. so what did the obama administration do in its last few months? wisely, they said states could set up -- could set up initiatives for employees to save through their employers' payroll systems. the obama administration acted to allow states to pursue these initiatives by exempting them from overreaching federal regulations and then providing necessary consumer protections. that's what people want. now, maybe some of these big financial interests don't want it because the plans the states head up will be a lot cheaper and more cost-effective than the private sector plan, but we have to adapt to the 21st century, any way we can help people with security in their golden years
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with retirement savings, we should. and here is another issue. we hear a lot from our colleagues on the other side of the aisle about states' rights. well, this regulation doesn't force the states to do it. it allows the states to do it. it gives them a choice. this c.r.a. vote would reregulate the states. my republican friends who spare no opportunity to decry regulation and exhort states' rights will impose a new regulation on states from washington. my republican friends talk about increasing americans' freedom of choice in all sorts of matters. what about their choice in terms of retirement, one of the most important things to the america. middle-class incomes are squeezed in so many different directions. it's harder to scrap and save for retirement when the cost of college, medicine, other essentials goes up, while take-home pay is stagnant.
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it makes sense to give americans a choice to start saving earlier at a lower cost for retirement. that's why 23 state treasure remembers from across the political spectrum, from states like utah and kentucky, our two speakers before me, have written to their senators opposing this c.r.a. red states and blue states alike want to pursue this option. polling shows that across party lines, 77% of voters support state facility retirement savings, but republicans want to block it. we haven't heard one good reason, one good reason. we know the real reason. financial institutions don't want competition, particularly if it's a little cheaper for the worker. another example of special interests taking hold of the republican agenda. almost every one of these
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c.r.a.'s have been at the behest of a narrow special interest over the interests of working americans, and unfortunately it's a metaphor for both the new trump administration and how our republican colleagues are marching in lock step -- in lockstep to supporting wealthy people doing great over the middle class and working people who need help. president trump promised over and over again in his campaign to stick up for working americans. he said he would be their voice, their champion. since he's taken office, president trump sure hasn't governed that way. he's pursuing policy after policy that would help the wealthy, hurt the middle class, breaking promise after promise after promise to working americans. i would ask him to veto this legislation. leader pelosi and i are sending him a letter to him or mutting
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out -- putting out a statement to ask just that. stand up for working people. there is no good argument to what the obama administration does. there is no good argument to people wanting to decide their own retirement plan. the c.r.a. is another request. if the president and our republican colleagues were truly a champion of working men and women, they wouldn't support this bill. if president trump were truly a champion of working men and women, he would veto this bill. we call on him to do so. i yield the floor and 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 louisiana. mr. cassidy: this past week -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. cassidy: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cassidy: i rise to pay homage to rose landry. the state of louisiana lost a loving mother, a grandmother and a dear friend.
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rose landry long left us too soon, but she will always be remembered. my wife laura and i had the pleasure of knowing prose and her wonderful family for over ten years. we taught two of her grandchildren in our sunday school class. rose was born to a french-speaking cajun family and he english was her second language. she graduated from gaton high school and became the first person from her family to attend college. there she met her husband, gerald long, at northwestern university. a sidenote about gerald. he's member of the famous long family, which includes huey long, earl long, speedy long, jaime long, and many others. respectively, senators, governors, congressmen, and state elected officials. when gerald was elected to the louisiana senate, rose came to baton rouge and befriended everyone, republican and democrat alike.
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just being so loving toward others, she became the symbol of encourage to many. rose had a way of reaching out to people, making them understand how much she cared for them. you could see each person respond to that care and love. rose was a tremendous woman of god. she loved the lord. was always interested in sharing her love for him with others. she led bible studies in every town in which she lived, in baton rouge she led a bible study for senate staff which my wife laura attended. her commitment to jesus christ was embedded in her values and made her the great woman we will remember. her ability to pass these values to friends and family will live on as part of her leg civil rose landry long will be remembered as a great mother, grandmother and wife, but more than anything, as someone who served others by loving others. mr. president, i yield back. i note the absence of a quorum.
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the presiding officer: will the senator withhold? mr. cassidy: the senator will. oh, i'm sorry. the presiding officer: the senator connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president. i am on the floor today to talk about the c.r.a. has pending before the senate today. you know, i really can't keep track of when my colleagues on the republican side are for state innovation and when they're against state innovation. when it comes to medicaid, the republicans seem to be very willing to hand a bunch of money over to the states, no strings attached, and let them figure out what to do with it. that's at the essence of the bill that cuts $800 billion from medicaid that's pending before the house of representatives today. but when it comes to retirement right now we are engaged in a debate that would rip away from states the ability to innovate on behalf of their constituents to try to get them access to retirement savings. i can't figure out when my
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republican friends want states to innovate and when they want to take away from states the ability to deliver results to their constituents. let's be honest. we have a retirement crisis in this country right now. the majority of americans barely have enough money saved to last two or three years after they retire. everybody knows this. and the people that are affected by this retirement crisis, they aren't exclusively democrats. they aren't exclusively republicans. they aren't just liberals. they aren't just conservatives. but no matter where you live, you are more likely than not today to have not enough money in order to retire. and so states have figured this out. my state is one of them. many states have recognized that one of the biggest barriers to retirement savings today is the fact that if you work for a
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small employer, you probably don't have an employer-sponsored retirement plan. in fact, there are over 50 million americans today who do not have through their employer a retirement plan available to them. why is that a big deal? well, it's a big deal because that is the most likely way that you save today. in fact, for those 50 million americans who don't have access to retirement through their employer, only 5% of them are going outside of their employer to set up a retirement plan. there are a variety of reasons for that. sometimes people that are working for a company that doesn't offer retirement are making such a small amount of money, they simply don't have the means to save. but many more simply look at the private retirement savings industry as so convoluted and
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confusing, so opaque, that they don't even attempt to intersect with it. so we know we have a problem on our hands. we know there are all of these americans that cannot get retirement from their employer, largely because they work for small employers and we know that if you don't get your retirement through your employer, you are unlikely to go out and get it on your own. and employers would love to do more for their employees. this isn't about employers not wanting to provide a retirement plan for their employee. the problem is that for an employer who only has three or four or five or ten or 15 employees, it is prohibitively expensive in order to provide a retirement plan. a recent op-ed from an oregon business owner showed that for
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him it would cost him about $1,100 per employee just in fees to establish a retirement plan. that's not even counting any possible contribution the employer would make. so you can see for, a you know, small restaurant owner for a small retail grocer, they are not likely to provide a retirement plan to their six employees when this costs them $1,000 per employee to do t their employees are on their own. and, again, very few of them are actually going and setting up their own retirement. now, why does this matter to us? well, it matters to us, first, because we -- i think -- have a policy obligation to try to help people save for retirement. but it also matters to us here in washington because, to the extent that people don't have retirement, they are going to be more likely dependent on the programs that are already busting our budget. like social security and medicare and medicaid.
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if you don't have any retirement savings, then you are going to go on to medicaid much earlier, meaning the federal expenditure that we are all on the hook for and all of our constituent taxpayers are on the hook for starts getting spent earlier. so just as a matter of fiscal prudence, we should be helping people pile up private retirement savings because it will result in less liability for public retirement programs, and yet we aren't doing that. we talk a lot about trying to help people save for retirement, but we are not passing any ground breaking legislation that helps americans to save for retirement. senator isakson and i have this small little bill that says that on your retirement statement, it should just tell you that if you continue to save at a current
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amount -- this is for people who have employer-sponsored plans -- this is how much you will get per year when you retire, just so there is some transpairn say so people can look at the amount they are putting away, be able to clearly and easily understand whether that is going to actually easily be able to pay for their expenses when they retire. we can't even get that piece of legislation passed through the congress, and that's just a transparency provision. and let's be honest. the industry isn't providing answers either. the industry has had decades to try to figure out how to be more relevant for individuals who don't have an employer-sponsored plan, and that number is still at 5%. so the industry may be hamstrung by federal rules or state rules and has not been able to fill this void. so we have this massive number
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of people who don't have anywhere near the money necessary to retire. the federal government is not providing any answers and private industry is not providing enough answers. so states have begun to pick up the ball. here's what states are doing. i think there are about 12 states that have either adopted this kind of program that i'm about to describe or are in the process of adopting it. states like connecticut have said okay, here's what we're going to do. for employees that don't have an employer-sponsored plan, we are going to allow for those employees to enroll in a private retirement plan with the state as the conduit. if the employer can't do it because the fees are too much, then we'll give those employees the option to enroll in a retirement -- in a private retirement plan, have a portion of their earnings withheld, with the state as the conduit.
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okay. states are deciding to do this. and it's supported by constituents across the ideological spectrum. i looked at a survey the other day that said amongst self-identified conservative voters, three quarters of them wanted states to be able to have the ability to set up these conduit accounts for people that don't have retirement through their employer. so connecticut's done this, a handful of other states have done it, and the federal government needed to clarify through regulation how erisa rules would apply to these state innovations. why? erisa is really designed to regulate the relationship between an employer and the plan that they sponsor and the employee. but in the case of these
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state-backed retirement plans, there is no traditional employee-employer relationship between the person enrolled in the plan and the state of connecticut in this instance who is trying the access to the private plan, so a regulation was proper by the obama administration that clarified that erisa rules won't apply to these plans in the same way that they apply to the traditional employer-sponsored retirement plan. it's just -- erisa is just a mismatch for this state-based innovation. it seemed like a pretty routine regulatory function, the federal government clarifying how erisa rules should apply to these state-based innovations. and nobody had a problem with
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this except for the big retirement companies, except for the big wall street companies who invented in their mind that they would be losing business to these state innovations whereby individuals would get enrolled in private accounts through a state-endorsed conduit. there is two problems with that. first, the states aren't running these retirement plans. all the state is doing is providing access for individuals to a privately run fund, and second, it's not taking any business away from these retirement plans because these people weren't going to private retirement plans in the first place. only 5% of people who didn't have retirement through their employer were finding a way to a privately run plan themselves.
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so there is no risk that wall street or these big retirement funds were going to lose business. we don't need to do this just because the big retirement companies have imagined in their mind that they aren't going to have access to a set of business that they weren't offering in a way that was relevant or cost-effective. and, you know, republicans are either for state-based innovation or you're not. you can't be for state-based innovation when it aligns with the special interests and then be against it when it misaligns with the special interests. states are innovating to solve a problem that we are not solving.
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and connecticut, we're representative of other states who have done this, but the consequences of what we are about to do are real. you're talking about 600,000 people in my state who had access to retirement savings who will have it ripped away from them if this c.r.a. passes. that's real. when you combine all of the states together that have passed these innovative retirement plan programs, the number's 12 million. if your state doesn't want to do it, they don't have to. if arkansas doesn't want to do it or wyoming doesn't want to do it, if tennessee doesn't want to do it, you don't have to, but why take away from the people of connecticut the ability to set up a way for employees of very small businesses to save for
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retirement? why do you care what we do in connecticut, if that's what my constituents want? is it just because the big retirement companies told you that they were going to lose business? that's not true, but even if it is, it should be up to the people of connecticut as to whether or not we innovate in a way to try to provide more retirement savings to the people of our state. it wouldn't hurt republican members if connecticut does it or california does it. it feels like we're scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to these c.r.a.'s. it feels as if we are going out and asking every special interest group whether they have any remaining problems, minor as they may be, with regulations that were passed at the end of the obama administration and opening the floor to any and all.
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i know there are republicans who are going to vote no. i know there are some republicans who have a deep problem with the fact that the congress is taking away from states the ability to innovate on the question of retirement. and i hope that there are enough that this c.r.a. goes down, because the consequences to many of our states will be big and it will frankly chill any states' interests in trying to solve this problem, because you're telegraphing that any time a state tries to step in and deliver more access to retirement, if it slightly rubs the big retirement companies the wrong way, you're going to step in and take that power away from them. so why would a state step in ever again to try to do something for people who need access to retirement?
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and my republican friends are coming to this floor with a really sound plan to replace the plan that we developed in connecticut. if republicans said i don't think that it makes sense to do it in a patchwork way, this state innovating this way, this state innovating that way, we're going to come in and pass a really comprehensive approach to giving people who work for small companies access to retirement, that's a reasonable conversation to have, but you're not. republicans are not offering the people of my state any alternative. all you're doing is robbing from 12 million americans the ability to get access to retirement. this is a crisis. and if we're not going to deal with it and the industry is not going to deal with it, let states deal with it. this is a terrible, terrible thing that we are doing later today. i think it's going to be a really close vote because i think there are republicans who know it. i hope that there are a few more that think about the message that you are sending to states. think about the fact that on one
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day you're for state inovation and the next you're against it. we have got time to allow states to continue these innovations, and i hope we take advantage of it. i yield the floor. mrs. murray: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i want to thank the senator from washington who framed this exactly correctly on the vote we are about to take on a motion to proceed to yet another c.r.a. that will be another broken promise on the part of president trump and republicans said he would help workers and put them first, but the legislation that we are about to move to will get in the way of our states' efforts to expand access to retirement saving programs, which is something that so many workers in this country really need. president trump said he would drain the swamp, but by rolling back this rule in question, as
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republicans are proposing today, president trump and his party are sending yet another very clear message on top of many others in the last 100 days, they're listening to wall street rather than working families. this rule, all it does is clarify an existing safe harbor that affords flexibility to states that want to give workers more options for their retirement. it is not complicated. it would do a lot of good for families across the country, including in my home state of washington. i will have a lot more to say on this this afternoon, as i know many of our colleagues do, but this is about taking away the options for people's retirement security. i hope that the senate turns this down. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to h.j. res. 66. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to consideration of h.j. res. 66,
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disapproving the rule submitted by the department of labor, and so forth. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. mr. mcconnell: i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote: vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber
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wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the yeas are 51, the nays are 48. the motion to proceed is agreed to. the clerk will report the joint resolution. the clerk: h.j. res. 66, joint resolution disapproving the rules submitted by the department of labor relating to savings arrangements established by states for nongovernmental employees. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: i yield back four hours of majority time. the presiding officer: the majority has one hour remaining. mr. portman: we yield back our time. we have one hour remaining, we'll keep our hour.
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the presiding officer: the time will be charged equally.
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