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tv   U.S. Senate Votes on Nominations  CSPAN  July 12, 2017 5:59pm-6:57pm EDT

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a senator: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cruz: mr. president, i stand here today on behalf of a hero of freedom and democracy. shea bow and his wife are the faces of liberty in china. they have sacrificed comfort and normalcy to chart a path toward political liberalization.
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for this, they have been detained, imprisoned and abused. in 2008, liu xiaobo cocharterred a manifesto that shined a light on the communist party of china and its totalitarian abuse of power. although many brave souls signed their names and their face to that document, dr. liu's name was at the very top. for this reason, he received the nobel peace prize. and he also received charges of inciting subversion of state power and an 11-year prison sentence. it is impossible to neglect this stark irony. a man dedicated to nonviolence, imprisoned for promoting peace.
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motivating dr. liu's tremendous courage and self-sacrifice was a determination to remember what the people's republic of china desperately wants the world to forget -- tiananmen square. a poet, author and political scientist, dr. liu was in 1989 a visiting scholar at columbia university, but when the pro-democracy protests broke out in beijing in june of that year, he raced back to china to support them. he staged a hunger strike in tiananmen square in the midst of the historic student protests and insisted that they would remain nonviolent, even in the faces of the tanks which the chinese military deployed to smash them. in 1996, the party subjected him to three years of, quote, re-education through labor for continuing to question china's
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one-party system. in 2008, on the eve of the 100-year anniversary of china's first constitution and the 30-year anniversary of beijing's democracy wall movement, dr. liu dedicated his work on charter 08 to the matters of tiananmen square. today, eight years into his unjust imprisonment, dr. liu needs our help more than ever. last month, it was revealed that dr. liu has contracted an aggressive late-stage form of liver cancer. although the p.r.c. authorities, quote, released him on medical parole, both liu xiaobo and liu xia linger without freedom, and even worse, liu xiaobo is dying. his condition's critical, and we are running out of time to act
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on his behalf. although chinese authorities compelled thely. liu -- the lius to sign an affidavit allegedly contesting their satisfaction with the medical care they have received in china and their wish to remain there, liu xia has communicated to their attorney their desire to spend liu xiaobo's final days in america. p.r.c. doctors insist that dr. liu was too ill to travel, but medical experts from the u.s. and germany, one of them being dr. joseph herman of the m.d. anderson cancer treatment center of the university of texas visited dr. liu and attested to the contrary. issuing a joint statement, they agreed that dr. liu, quote, can be safely transported with appropriate medical evacuation care and support. they then issued this stark
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warning. however, the medical evacuation would have to take place as quickly as possible. the urgency of this situation goes beyond liu xiaobo. liu xia's livelihood is inextricably linked to the ability of the two of them to leave china. due to his embe prisonment, liu xiaobo has been unable to receive his $1.5 million in prize money from the norwegian nobel committee. the holdup of transferring funds is merely rue teen. a signed form from dr. liu and an open bank account with his name on it, but china has prevented these technical steps from progressing. if liu xiaobo dies without receiving this account, liu xia will be left destitute with no money. i shudder to think what such a
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life would hold for the wife of china's boldest political prisoner. only one man stands between a dying man's wish and his wife's livelihood and freedom, xi jin-ping. although no one action can undo the turmoil that the lius have suffered over the last 28 years, it's not too late to do the right thing, and to allow this man and his wife to spend their last days together, according to their wishes. and it wouldn't be the first time that she has made a similar decision. earlier this year, he agreed after consultations with the trump administration to release an imprisoned houstonian, sandy fphan gillis who was incarcerated on false charges, although nothing could bring
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back the two years of separation from her family, she and her family are now reunited, something i spent considerable time urging and encouraging and was grateful to see come to pass. and lest she forget, even kim jong-un, the dictator in north korea, allowed otto warmbier, the american college student from ohio who was tortured and abused and left in a coma to return home for his final hours. surely she can show -- surely xi can show the same degree of humanity shown by kim jong-un. and yesterday, towards that end, the bill that i have introduced numerous times to rename the street in front of the chinese embassy in honor xiaobo
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is an instrument of leverage that can help produce his freedom. 01 on three separate occasions for unanimous consent to pass my bill to rename the street in front of the chinese embassy after liu xiaobo. over and over again, sadly, democratic senators stood up and objected, stymyingeach time, i f of liu xiaobo and liu my colleagues expressed prearl concerns. this is counterproductive. doing so will only antagonize china. well, some of us are less concerned about antagonizeing chinese communist dictators. my fellow senators assured me that they have negotiated the release of many political prisoners behind the scenes. well, that is wonderful, and i
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encourage them to do so now in the few days and weeks liu xiaobo has shady of him. even so, even despite repeated democratic objections, repeated democratic obstructionism, ultimately the united states senate was able to pass my bill by voice vote in the 114th congress, and the reason at the time was evident. china's stubbornness, strongly imprisoning a nobel peace laureate required public action to force the issue. the end goal, it should be clear, is not merely to rename a street but rather to use the action to shine a light on the lius and to pressure the p.r.c. to do the right thing. no member can explain the success of this tactic better than my good friend, senator grassley, the senior senator from iowa, who led a very similar effort in 1984 to rename
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the street in front of the soviet embassy after andrei sakharov, the famed soviet dissident. senator grassley led that effort under ronald reagan, and when the street was renamed, it meant any time a soviet had to write to their embassy, they had to write sack raise's name -- sakha rov's name. it meant any time you had to pick up the phone and call and ask where to find the embassy, they had to give the address and highlight the dissident. for the p.r.c., they do not want to highlight liu xiaobo because he is a powerful voice for freedom and against tyranny. just as it worked against the soviet union and reagan demonstrated public shaming, shining light, telling the truth can bring down the machinery of oppression, so, too, can public
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shining light secure dr. liu's freedom. as we stand here today, we don't know if xi is going to allow dro live out his last days in peace, and to receive the nobel peace prize that he was so justly rewarded. if xi does the right thing, we can all commend that action, but if not, i am announcing my intention to continue to press this bill, to seek its passage again in this congress, just as the senate passed it in the prior congress, i intend to press forward and seek passage of this bill, and if dr. liu is not released, if he dies in
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china still under their oppression, i intend to continue to fight until the day when the street is named in front of the embassy and the chinese communists can bow their heads in shame at their injustice. if they don't want to be publicly shamed, there is an easy path. don't commit shameful acts. truth has power. sunshine and light has power. and so i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, republican and democrat, if there is an issue that should unite us all, it is that a nobel peace laureate speaking out for peace and democracy should not be wrongly imprisoned in communist china. that should bring us together, and the full force of the united states i commend president trump for leading on this issue, and i am hopeful that china will see
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its way to do the right thing. 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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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: i ask unanimous consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: as we all know, yesterday the majority leader announced that he plans to delay the start of the august recess by two weeks.
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he stated that this delay is necessary in order to, quote, complete action on important legislative items and process nominees that have been stalled by a lack of cooperation from our friends on the other side of the aisle. that's the majority leader's words. i have no problem with the leader's decision. i will happily stay here an additional two weeks. i'll stay three, four, even five weeks as long as we have a plan, as long as we have a plan to address the serious issues that face this nation. my friends, when the senate completes its work this week, we will have considered a whopping total this entire week of three nominations. one of them being a noncontroversial district judge nominee on which the majority leader was forced to file cloture.
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that cloture vote was unanimous, 97-0. yet, we were still forced to burn postcloture time, 30 hours, before being allowed to vote earlier today on his confirmation, a vote that was, again, unanimous, at 100-0. what? that's the way we're doing business in the united states senate? i repeat: the vote to stop debate was 97-0, after 30 hours, after we burned 30 hours. then we were allowed to vote earlier today, a vote that was again unanimous at 100-0. why? we've got a war on. we've got men and women in harm's way. we've got nominees stacked up. and so we're spending -- we're spending an entire week with three nominees.
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and so with a credible act of another chapter in profiles in courage, rather than say okay, we'll stay here friday, we'll stay here saturday and sunday but by god we've got to do the people's business. we're not doing the people's business. i can't go through all the machinations between the democratic leader and the majority leader and all the to's and fro's and all that. but i'm supposed to go back and speak to a high school civics class and say i'm happy to be here. i've had a really tough week this week in the united states senate, my young friends, who may want to be engaged in public service someday. and we voted on a district judge 97-0. 30 hours later we were allowed to vote on his or her nominatio, and the vote was 100-0.
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that's what the united states senate is supposed to do? there was no reason why we needed to take three days on this nominee. i say to my friend, the democratic leader, and i say to the republican leader, this type of obstruction has gone on long enough, and it has to stop. as i said, i'm happy to stay here for the entire august recess to do the work the american people sent us here to do. but we must first have a plan of what we're going to do and how. why don't we just say to the american people if we stay here for several weeks, have no legislative plan and accomplish nothing. we've been here for six months now. what have we done? we've done gorsuch and we've done gorsuch and we've done gorsuch and we've repealed some regulations. all of it, my party in control of all three branches of government. i'm not proud to go back to arizona and talk about that
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record of nonaccomplishment. right now we have no consensus on how to repeal or replace the failed policies of obamacare. i can't tell you the number of hours i have heard the same arguments go around and around and around and around. as far as i know, there's no consensus on how to best to fund the government, no plan to do a bipartisan budget deal, and no path forward on appropriations bills. this is disgraceful. what i'm asking for is simple. if we're going to stay here to work, then let's get some work done. why aren't we working now? why aren't we working tonight? there's nominees. there's the department of defense that are before this body. and we're in a war. and what are we doing? we're doing a vote on a district
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judge that we took 30 hours -- 30 hours -- to discuss. if we're going to stay here, let's get the work done. let's come in early, stay late, negotiate a health care deal. let's process important nominations to make sure the administration is adequately staffed so that the executive branch can function. let's renew f.d.a. user fees. let's fund the veterans choice program to ensure our veterans are able to access care in their communities, let's address the debt limit before we default on our. let's pass the defense authorization act and perhaps most importantly let's get to work on the budget so we can begin moving individual appropriations bills to fund the government and not have to resort to a continuing
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resolution on an omnibus. to those who may be watching, the fact is that what a continuing resolution and what an omnibus is is that we have two choices, yes or no. we don't have an amendment, we don't have a way to improve it. we're talking about trillions of dollars, but we're going to wait until we're right at the edge of the cliff and then my distinguished friends and leaders on both sides will say, you've got to vote aye because the government is going to be shut down. i'm tired of having that choice. we know it's coming. we know the cliff is there, so what did we do this week? spent 30 hours discussing a district judge -- 30 hours debating a district judge. is that the right use of american taxpayers' dollars? are we -- have we no shame? the consensus isn't that the
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senate armed services committee successfully reported out the fiscal year 2018 national defense authorization be act supporting $650 billion for the base budget for the national defense and an additional $60 billion for overseas contingency operations at this point it would be $91 billion of above the budget control spending cap. to put it another way, it was a unanimous bipartisan support for an increase of defense spending in the budget control act capped by more than a quarter of this body -- more than a quarter of this body on both sides of the aisle. in one sense this consensus isn't surprising because after years of budget cuts under the b.c.a. and sequestration, our military faces a serious crisis as we ask them to do more and more in an increasingly dangerous world, congress has failed to provide our men and women in uniform with the
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training, resources and capabilities they need. i will repeat that. congress has failed to provide our men and women in uniform with the training, resources and capabilities that they need. however, simply passing an authorization bill with higher defense spending levels won't solve the funding problems for our military. we know we must pass a bipartisan budget deal to undo the budget control act caps, senate agreed upon top line to allow the appropriations bills to move forward. that's in a bipartisan budget deal, we will be stuck with another continuing resolution which i might add will be below the b.c.a. budget caps for defense, or worse, we will be facing, guess what, a shutdown of the government. has it been that long since we had the last shut down? i have come to the floor several
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times already this year demanding that we start negotiating a budget deal. we're two months away from the start of the fiscal year. we know that a budget deal must be done. the failure to begin negotiations means we are knowingly driving towards an outcome that will fund our military at levels below the budget control act caps. i don't understand why we haven't started. it's not because we think the b.c.a. levels are acceptable, it's not because we believe there is a way to responsibly fund the government without adjusting the b.c.a. caps. even our leader, senator mcconnell, has publicly stated we will need to adjust the caps. this leads me to believe in is only one reason that we are stalling negotiations on a budget deal and forcing the government and our military to start the year on a, quote,
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continuing resolution, and that is one word and that word is politics. the same tactic that the democratic leader is employing on nominations, stalling is being applied to a budget deal. i find that to be shameful. there's plenty of blame to go around. the white house has also been surprisingly absent. their own budget submission asked for additional spending above the control caps, but none of that -- none of that is possible without negotiating a bipartisan budget deal. yet, we have heard nothing from the white house -- nothing. any budget deal that will pass both the house and the senate will be signed by the president will be extremely difficult to negotiate. that's why we should have started long ago and we must start now. i've been ready and willing all year to begin work. my door -- and i know the
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majority of my colleagues' door -- is open to any senator, republican or democrat, but what we really need is for a select group of key members to come together with leadership's blessings to begin negotiating. unless and until this body gets to work on a bipartisan budget deal, we will continue down the path we've been on for years lurching from crisis to crisis, no strategy to meet our budget responsibilities or fund our national security needs. my friends and colleagues and fellow americans, we must summon the political courage to do the hard work the american people expect of us to do a budget the way we're supposed, a budget that is sufficient to meet the complex threats of today's world. our brave servicemembers are
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facing those threats every single day, deserve no less. finally, mr. president, every year for many years now i have taken my time on the fourth of july to have the honor of spending that national holiday in afghanistan with the men and women who are serving in the military with courage, sacrifice, and skill. as part of our activities there, we have a town hall meeting -- a town hall meeting with several hundred of the men and women in uniform who are serving. my friend lindsey graham, who occasionally has a great idea once every decade, asked the group -- he said, how many of you are here not for the first time? almost everybody in that room
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raised their hand. he said, how many of you have been here more than twice? two-thirds of those in the room raised their hands. he said, how many of you multiple times? a good number of them raised their hands. the point is -- the point is that they are out there serving time after time after time away from their homes, away from their families, working more than maybe two weeks in august, and what are we doing? what are we doing for them? there's a lot0 of things they need and there's a lot of things that we need to give them. yet, somehow we can't see our way clear, republican and democrat, to sit down and do the right thing for these men and women -- to do the right thing so that they can win. we now have a new president and
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a new national security advisor and new secretary of defense. i don't agree with this president very often, but i do know that this president is committed to rebuilding the military and a winning strategy. the strategy for the last eight years has been don't lose. i know that general mattis and mcmaster are people who want to win and they have a strategy to waned we have to be -- to give assistance to them and provide the men and women with what they need to win. so i ask my colleagues with passion that we sit down and figure out a budget deal, move forward with it and not spend a week like we just spent this week with 30 hours in order to confirm one district judge. mr. president, i yield the floor
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and 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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a senator: mr. president? the presidin a senator: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: i ask unanimous consent that 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. a senator: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 12:30 p.m. thursday, july 13. further, that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired. the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for
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their use later in the day and morning business be closed. mr. perdue: finally, following leader remarks the senate proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the haggerty nomination -- hagerty nomination for all postcloture time expiring at 1:45 p.m. the presiding officer: without objection due if there's no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until 12:30 p.m. tomorrow. mr. barrasso: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr

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