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tv   U.S. Senate 10252017  CSPAN  October 25, 2017 3:29pm-5:30pm EDT

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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that any pending quorum call be vitiated.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. it's nice to see the distinguished senator in the chair presiding. i'm not sure in my 183 time to wake up speeches i've had yet had the pleasure of speaking while the presiding officer was presiding. i am here to wake up to the corporate capture of congress and this administration, the capture of governance by the fossil fuel industry that keeps us from honestly addressing climate change. there is a saying that personnel is policy -- personnel is policies. well, well, the trump personnel for positions at the environmental protection agency reflect a policy to undo the public welfare mission of the
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agency and align it with the special interests of the fossil fuel industry. there is a word for that. it is called corruption, at least as the founding fathers knew the meaning of that term. it starts at the top. trump named scott pruitt head of the e.p.a. pruitt has a long record of dark money fundraising and long, cozy relationships with big energy industry political donors. in effect, he is a tentacle of the fossil fuel climate denial operation wiggling and rigling in the administrators chair near his new $25,000 code of silence secret communications booth that
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he built so no one would hear him checking in with his masters. results are as expected. "the new york times" has reported how rollbacks at scott pruitt's e.p.a. are a boon to oil and gas. no surprise. in the four months that followed his appointment, pruitt moved to undo, delay, or otherwise block nearly 30 environmental rules benefiting his fossil fuel friends. this regulatory rollback, larger in scope than any over so short of time in the agency's nearly half-century history went straight into the pockets of the fossil fuel industry. long-time pruitt benefactor is cashing in on its investment in scott pruitt's career as he is
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looking to eliminate rules on the leaking and flaring of methane and rescinded requirements for reporting methane emissions. devon, as you may recall, is that company whose letter to the e.p.a. pruitt put on his own oklahoma attorney general letterhead to mask devon's hand and submit their work as his own official work as attorney general of his state. so this hand in glove relationship between devon as the hand and pruitt as the glove goes back a long way. the e.p.a. has career scientists and legal experts who bring decades of experience in environmental law and science to the e.p.a. who are all being cut out as the administrator takes
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drastic steps to undo environmental protections. just this week e.p.a. scientists were yanked from a conference in rhode island where they were going to talk about climate change. the matter of climate change and -- on narragansett bay in rhode island is pretty significant. this is "the providence journal" headlines, will climate change negate bay cleanup? with a big map of narragansett bay and the areas that are at threat of being flooded. the e.p.a. yanked out its scientists. they weren't allowed to come down and talk at an event where
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they were going to talk about climate change. and it's not just yanking the scientists. here's a "new york times" article by lisa friedman from october 20. headline "pea scrubs a -- e.p.a. scrubs a climate headline" an e.p.a. website has been scrubbed from scores of links. 15 words of climate change have been removed from the main page alone. it's not just at e.p.a. here's today's exclusive, quote, headline. the interior department scrubs climate change from its strategic plan. i mean, they act as if this is the soviet union and the government is allowed to tell scientists what they can say and not say and to put phony
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propaganda on to official websites and to keep scientists from going to meetings because they might actually tell the truth about climate change. mr. president, i am the son and grandson of foreign service officers. i grew up serving in countries that did that where the government could tell the scientists no, -- no, you don't say that, no, you don't go there. no, this is the party line. i never thought that would happen in the united states of america and here we are. to aid pruitt in his fossil fuel industry crusade our president has nominated a parade of fossil fuel whackies, lobbyists and operatives whose -- it is not just the fossil fuel industry that gets their hacks planted in
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government offices. you remember in the cat in the hat they had thing one and thing two running around. well, let's look at hack and one hack two who just cleared committee food today in the pruitt e.p.a. for sale roster. hack one is a toxicologist who consults for major chemical corporations and has spent the better part of his professional life fighting regulation of potentially toxic compounds in consumer goods. his name is michael dosserren. president trump elected him to run chemical safety and chemical prevention. it is a seller of pesticides and funning sides -- fungicides
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called him the perfect fit for that job, the perfect industry hack, more likely, for that job. hack two is william wareem, to run the office of e.p.a. radiation. it is the host of the rubber manufacturers association, the american paper and forest association and the american petroleum institute. president george w. bush actually nominated this guy to the same post in 2006. but the white house withdrew his nomination because it was so controversial. well, that was 2006. that was before citizens united. that was before that decision am amped up industry power to the point where it can now ram
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through conflicted and general candidates with as happened this morning unanimous republican support. not one republican senator on the committee would voice an objection. when senators asked questions for the record in the environment and public works committee nomination hearing on wearum and dorsum these captured nominees played dumb about the sensitive programs they will oversee if confirmed. i asked dorsum if he agreed that the tobacco industry manipulated and obfuscated scientific research into the dangers of smoking for decades. end quote. dorsan, who conducted scientific studies designed, reviewed and paid for by the tobacco industry and whose name is all over in hundreds of places, the discovery records of the tobacco industry's denial
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operation replied, i do not have firsthand knowledge to comment. i do not have firsthand knowledge to comment. the president's selection to run the office that protects americans from dangerous chemicals doesn't know the tobacco industry's history of falsifying science? please, he worked for them. he was part of it. remember by the way, that the tobacco industry was taken to court by the united states department of justice back when the department of justice would take an industry to court. and the department of justice won a judgment declaring that tobacco had endangered in a fraud -- had engaged in a fraud conspiracy, a fraud con spinach is i -- fraud conspiracy to
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deny tobacco's harms. dorsan sees no evil. he knows nothing. i asked him whether he believes that hydro fluorocarbons are greenhouse gases and about the global warming potential of methane. his response: i am not sufficiently familiar with the definition of greenhouse gases and do not have the expertise to answer these questions. not familiar with the definition of greenhouse gases? this is basic high school science. every one of us has a home state university that teaches this stuff. this has been science for more than 100 years. on to hack two, bill wearum about carbon dioxide's role and the observable defense of climate change he replied the
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degree to which they are contributing to climate change has not been conclusively determined. this claim just doesn't match the scientific record, mr. president. the e.p.a., the very agency to which mr. wearum is nominated, along with noaa states that, and i quote, carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change. close quote. this consensus is held by published climate scientists, by scientific agencies and societies, by all of our national laboratories, and by universities in america and around the globe. as i said, every one of us in this room, every senator i expect -- haven't found an exception yet, and i've looked -- has a home state
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university that doesn't just know this to be true, but it teaches it in its curriculum. but hack two sees no evil. he knows nothing. wearum's disregard for well-established science provides a grim preview of what we can expect from him if confirmed. his predictable dodging falls in lock step with administrator pruitt who has stated he does not agree that carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see. that puts him in a very small circle of people, i think, every one of whom is connected by money to the fossil fuel industry. i asked mr. wearum what he believes is a healthy standard for ozone. now bear in mind that one of the goals of the clean air act is to
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set national ambient air quality standards for ozone. that the office to which he's nominated oversees this ozone standard, and that the e.p.a. has had ozone standards in place since 1971, more than 45 years. in response to my question, wearum answered, i'm not familiar with the current science on the health effects of ozone, so i cannot comment on your question as to the appropriate level of the standard. really? i asked wearum whether he agreed with e.p.a.'s 2009 finding that the current and projected concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations. would he commit, i asked, not to narrow or weaken the e.p.a.'s
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endangerment finding? wearum wrote back that he had not read the endangerment finding or the record prepared in support of the finding. therefore, he said, i currently do not have a view. i currently do not have a view. that's funny. i bet he had a view when he was being paid by the rubber manufacturers association, the american forest and paper association, and the american petroleum institute. but i guess it was the miraculous evaporating view. maybe these see no evil nominees, dorsum and wearum don't know the basics of the problems they would confront. maybe they just don't know. but let's not be fooled here. polluters have paid these nominees well for their services over years. they were expert enough to be hired by industry groups as lobbyists and consultants.
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we know where their allegiances lie. we know who's been paying them. we know who they will serve. and preview of coming attractions, coming up before the e.p.a. committee soon is andrew wheeler, trump's nominee for the e.p.a.'s second in command. wheeler was a top lobbyist for the coal mining behemoth murray energy. not only did this company support trump's campaign and provide $300,000 to help pay for his inauguration, murray energy has contributed to pruitt political action committees to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. i can't wait to hear his answers on the role of coal in climate change, childhood asthma and mercury poisoning. the sad part of all of this is that the interests, the polluting interests who own
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these nominees also throw their weight around in congress. so good luck getting an honest look at this mess through congressional oversight. over and over appalling nominees get through confirmation with no republican dissent. more see no evil. it's just wrong. for now the american public will pay the price of dismantling these regulatory safeguards. they'll pay the price in poisonings and carcinogenic exposures, in rising seas and raging wildfires, in childhood asthma, and northbound tropical diseases. but mark my words, one day there will be a reckoning for all of this. when captured e.p.a. officials
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put payback to their donors first and clean air and public health a way distant second, it stinks. it is crooked by any reasonable definition of the term. it is corrupt in exactly the way the founding fathers understood corruption. the fossil fuel industry will one day be held to account for this binge of corruption and manipulation. exxonmobil, koch industries, arch coal, murray coal, peabody coal, you own this just as much as the republican party does. i yield the floor.
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mr. gardner: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. gardner: thank you, mr. president. i come to the floor this afternoon to talk about the health care tax relief act, legislation that i have introduced to delay the health insurance tax that was created by the affordable care act. this tax often referred to as the hit or h.i.t. tax, the h.i.t. tax imposes fees on health insurance coverage to consumers. it's a pretty simple business concept that this h.i.t. tax results in, that if a fee increases on an insurance policy, if a fee goes up, there is a fee charge to the company that issues this insurance policy, then that fee gets passed on to the consumer. it's the consumer then that pays the fee in the form of higher health insurance costs. as is the case with most excise taxes, whether it's an excise
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tax on food or beverage or any other item, personal good, if this tax takes effect, this health insurance tax takes effect, costs will be passed on to consumers directly in the form of higher premiums as confirmed by the congressional budget office. this is one of the cost drivers that was built into the affordable care act. health insurance tax that will directly increase the premiums of consumers' insurance product. this tax was set to begin, it was supposed to begin a few years back in 2014 and it was going to start, this tax was going to start at $8 billion. and by 2018 the tax would reach $14.3 billion. however, congress recognized that this tax was going to have a significant impact on the price of coverage, and as a result suspended the tax from taking effect in 2017. but without congressional action to delay or stop or prevent this obamacare tax from taking place again, this tax will take
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effect in 2018. and according to nonpartisan actuarial analysis conducted by oliver wyman, an estimated 157 million americans will be affected by this massive tax. even more, middle-income earners across this country, 157 million americans and working americans are expected to shoulder the weight of this tax. oliver wyman estimated that premiums will rise by 3% in each year, 2018, 2019, and 2020. that's 3% each year. that's 9% over three years. to put in simple perspective, in colorado alone, premiums in the individual market rose by 34% from plan year 2017 to plan year 2018, adding an additional 3% every year for those three years would leave those on the individual market paying nearly 43.4% on average more year to
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year if combined with the 2018 increases at the end of that three-year 9% increase run. what's more, according to the department of health and human services, the average individual market premiums have increased by 105% from 2013 to 2017. think about that. when the affordable care act passed, a promise was made, when obamacare was passed, a promise was made that the average family would see a decrease in their health care costs of $2,500 per family. instead 2013 to 2017, they saw a 105% increase in costs. and if the health insurance tax takes effect as planned by obamacare, then we'd see another 9% increase over the next several years on top of that. without congressional action to delay this tax, estimates show that costs will rise between $200 and $300 annually for families and individuals -- annually for individuals and
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$500 annually for families. that's a $200 to $300 increase for individuals and a $500 increase annually for families. to put that into some perspective, 25% of americans don't have access, emergency access to $100. 25% of americans don't have immediate access in an emergency to $100. and yet here we're talking about a mandated law -- you have to have insurance coverage under the affordable care act, but this law would then increase $200 or $300 for an individual, $500 for families. even more statistics show how much of a hardship this would create from the federal reserve. the federal reserve showed that 46% of americans did not have enough money to cover a $400 emergency expense. and yet the obamacare hit tax would increase family insurance costsly $500. 46% of americans don't have
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access to $400 in an emergency, and yet the obamacare hit tax would increase it by $500. this tax has the potential to push over half of americans into financial ruin, and it would be neglect for -- negligent for congress to allow this to take effect. the effect that this tax imposes on families is a far cry from the bold promise made to reduce costs by $2,500 per family, one of the biggest pinocchios, stow speak, of the -- so to speak, of the affordable care act. at a time when almost half of americans could not shoulder a $400 expense it would be irresponsible to allow this obamacare tax to take effect. this affects seniors as well. for seniors involved in medicare advantage plans, one of the most popular aspects of medicare, premiums are expected to rise by roughly $370 a year per enrollee, if congress does not find a resolution. these are fixed-income -- in
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many cases, fixed-income individuals that would see their premiums increase $370 a year because of the obamacare hit tax. in addition, seniors enrolled in medicare part d prescription drug plans could expect their premiums to increase as well, hit them on their medicare plans, hit them on the prescription drug plans, higher costs due to the obamacare hit tax. even more, the impacts have large-scale consequences in the workplace as well. a study by the national federation of independent businesses showed that allowing the hit tax to take effect could result in job losses of as many as 283,000 people by 02023. this tax could have the impact of costin costing 286,000 jobs . research and analysis from our most respected actuaries continues to validate the negative consequences much the health insurance -- of the health insurance tax.
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on behalf of all hardworking americans, i call upon my colleagues to join me in cosponsoring this commonsense piece of legislation, the health care tax relief act. health care plans are being finalized for their -- health care plans are being finalized for the 2018 rate year, and it is urgent for done take action so that consumers are not saddled with yet one more cost that they can't afford. mr. president, thank you, and i note the absence of a quorum -- i am serum take that back. i would just -- i'm sorry. i take that back. i would just yield the floor. thank you. mr. peters: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator michigan is recognized. mr. peters: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise today to recognize the bicentennial of the university of michigan. the university has adopted the motto "always leading, forever valeant" for its bicentennial year, a motto that captures it's 200 years at the forefront of
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american academic excellence. the genesis of the university of michigan predates the founding of my home state of michigan. on august 26, 1817, lewis cass, governor of the michigan territory, enacted a charter to create the university of michigamichigania. in 1852, the university's first president henry phillip capin pioneered a model of education in which scholars actively pursue new knowledge through rigorous science. this approach solidified the university's enduring legacy as a center for scientific research and discovery. the university has paved the way for future innovation with many firsts throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. it was the first university with a chemical laboratory.
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the first to own and operate a hospital. the first to teach aeronautical engineering. the first public university with dental and pharmacy schools, and the first with a program in human genetics. and perhaps the most game-changing first -- it was the first large state university to open its doors to both men and women. today faculty and students continue to reach new firsts by answering important research questions that will affect future generations. take, for instance, how the university has laid the groundwork for breakthroughs in american mobility. in 2015, m city, a public-private partnership led by the university of michigan, became the first -- the world's first controlled environment designed to test connected and automated vehicle technologies. the 32-acre simulated urban and
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suburban landscape designed to support vigorous, reapeddable testing of self-driving car technologies before they are tested on public roads and highways. this hub of innovation reflects our state's legacy as the heart of the american auto industry and will help lead our country into the next era of transportation. a similar nexus between our past and future is true across nearly every disciplining of u of m's research, touching engineering, medicine, social sciences and humanities and more. students and faculty are developing new cancer treatments, creating energy-efficient batteries, engaging in cutting-edge environmental science to protect the great lakes, and building prototypes of engines to take us to mars and that's just to name a few. tied with the university of michigan's drive to pursue knowledge is its trive drive to
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put knowledge into action for the greater good. the university's mission is to serve society and this has been demonstrated by its history of activism and civic engagement. the university commemorates one such event that occurred on october 14 of 1960. senator john f. kennedy, whose former desk is just a few feet in front of me here today, delivered an unplanned speech on the steps of the michigan union at 2:00 a.m. he challenged university of michigan students to work abroad in developing nations in an effort to promote peace. those remarks laid the blueprint for the u.s. peace corps which was established in 1961. the university of michigan continues to have a truly global reach. it provides a world-class education to a diverse student body of 63,000 students on its ann arbor, deerborn, and flint
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buses, educate being in state, out state. they are drawn to the university's unfaltering endeavor to expand our base of knowledge and empower individuals to leave a lasting and a positive impact on the world around them. with more than 572,000 living alumni, including my daughter madeleine, who just graduated this past may, the university of michigan has one of the largest alumni networks full of artists, astronauts, business and government leaders, entrepreneurs, and humanitarians, as well as nobel laureates in economics, medicine, and science. the university of michigan's many illustrious alumni include u.s. president gerald r. ford, swedish diplomat rule wellenberg, playwright arthur miller, actor james earl jones,
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civil rights leader mary francis barry, google cofounder already ary pagers and author and scholar robin wright. many more will follow in these footsteps, they share a drive to make what is affectionately known as "the michigan difference" and of course cheer for the amazing blue. mr. president, i would like to congratulate the university of michigan on its bicentennial as we look forward a future driven by michigan innovation. with that, i'd like to close with something very simple -- go blue! mr. president, i yield the floor and 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 presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. ms. hassan: mr. president, i ask to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. hassan: thank you. mr. president, i rise today to discuss an issue that is devastating families and communities in my home state of new hampshire and across the united states. the fentanyl, heroin, and opioid crisis. this crisis is the most pressing public health and safety challenge that new hampshire faces. it does not discriminate. it affects people in every community and from every walk of life. in 2016 alone, 485 people in new
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hampshire lost their lives as a result of this epidemic. and the rising use of synthetic drugs like fentanyl is making matters worse killing people faster with smaller amounts. last year 72% of drug-related deaths in new hampshire involved fentanyl. behind these numbers are real people. moms and dads, sons and daughters who are dying, and their loss reverberates in pain and suffering for the family and friends who they have left behind. mr. president, the family of my state have a long-standing tradition of sharing their stories and their priorities with their elected officials who represent them. and everywhere i go i hear stories from those families and friends, of people who have been
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affected by this crisis. granite staters who are stepping forward and explaining what they have gone through all in an attempt to break down the stigma of addiction, push for solutions, and hope that they can help others by making their voices heard. earlier this year greg and linda of derry, new hampshire, reached out to my office to share the story of their son who was also named greg. they wrote to say, and this is a quote, if you were to put a name and face to this disease, it would be that of the devil. let's change that, they said. let's put a face of hope and humanity to the disease of addiction. if by doing so, even if just one life is saved, it is worth it. mr. president, i'd like to share some of greg's story today.
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greg was born on november 16, 1985. he and his younger brother neal were raised in a caring and loving home where their parents did their best to teach them right from wrong stressing the importance of being considerate, polite, and kind. when greg was 15, his parents moved to derry where he attended pinkerton academy and graduated with honors in 2004. during his senior year, like so many other students his age, he applied for college eventually deciding on keene state college pursuing a major in biochemistry. he had a dream of becoming a physician. he excelled academically, but his mom, linda, said during his transition between his freshman and sophomore year, something began to appear off. she wrote, quote, i saw firsthand that something was off about him.
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he was very quiet and withdrawn. he was showing obvious signs of depression which runs in both sides of the family. even as his depression progressed, greg battled throu through. graduating cup laudee with a bachelor degree in biochemistry. after graduating and moving back home, his parents urged him to seek help, but greg held back. during this time he had an outpatient surgery after which he was prescribed an opioid-based painkiller. his mom said that after he was prescribed that opioid, he went from bad to worse. eventually greg sought help. he saw a physician and was prescribed an antidepress sanity. his mom said that -- antidepressant. his mom said he seemed to be coming back around. he seemed happier. he took steps to voons his career, hoping -- advance his career, hoping to find a job that would offer him
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reimbursement on tuition so he could continue to pursue a career in medicine. though the job market was tough, he said, quote, hands down i have to say one of the happiest days of my life is when he finally got a decent job. the dark cloud was lifted temporarily. unfortunately, greg eventually lost that job and then things spiraled out of control. his mom wrote, quote, the years following were a nightmare to remember. just imagine a loved one slowly losing all sense of themselves, legal trouble, bouncing from one job to the next, losing his license more than once while he drove back and forth from jobs -- while we drove him back and forth from jobs, some an hour away. a restraining order here, a night in jail there, debts that weren't getting paid, fits of rage, fights, a lack of interest in family, friends, and basic
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hygiene. she said, quote, by the time our worst fears were confirmed, he was using heroin. we basically lost the soul of our son. greg's last few years were filled with back and forths. he had overdosed. his brother finding him in the bathroom of their home. tired of being dependent on heroin, he signed up for help, entering rehab and giving his parents hope that he would make progress. unfortunately, he started to use again, but he was getting ready to enter a drug court program. and after joining his family on a vacation to vase sit an ailing -- visit an ailing relative, he decided to clean up his act, going to the gym and eating right.
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tragically, though, his mom wrote, quote, this was short lived, however. as the demon snuck into his room and stole him from us. all he left for us was a lifeless body on the floor behind a locked door. mr. president, greg's death and his heartbreaking story is the story of far too many people in new hampshire and across the country, of people with dreams, hope, and aspirations whose lives are cut short as a result of this illness. greg wanted to be a doctor. he wanted to be a husband and a father. he loved dogs and video games, and he loved to watch patriots games on sunday with his mom, his dad, and his brother. as his mom put it, again a quote, brilliant and head strong, he was to be reckoned
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with and as his parents, we will never stop trying on his behalf to see that there is an end to this epidemic. his parents wanted to make clear that his substance use disorder really grew as a result of the opioid he was prescribed following surgery, a painkiller that was originally manufactured for terminally el patients. they -- ill patients. they believe pharmaceutical companies marketed this drug at the expense of their son saying, quote, given to ease pain and suffering, ironically it has caused irreparable pain, suffering, and death. mr. president, we can never thank families who lost loved ones enough for speaking out about this issue and for working tirelessly and courageously to try to prevent others from
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suffering as they have. nor can we forget to thank law enforcement and first responders who are on the front lines of this epidemic. i want to make a special mention of greg's father, greg sr., who is a firefighter in nashua witnessing as a first responder every day the hal havoc that ths crisis wreaks on other families and living with the reality of his own family's loss, too. greg's mom said that at the moment of his death, she vowed that she would ensure that his life would not be in vain. his family reached out because they wanted to make a difference. i'm grateful for their efforts to do this because they do in fact have the ability to make change. speaking up helps break down the stigma that prevents too many
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from seeking help and prevents too many others from offering it. it provides a voice to the voiceless making those who have died more than just a statistic. it gives us a perspective from which we can learn and it pushes us to take action. because, mr. president, while thanking these families for their bravery is appropriate, it is simply not enough. their bravery and their struggle must be marked by constant vigilance and urgent action. we must continue to focus on an all hands on deck approach at all levels of government and with those on the front lines in order to make progress, save lives, and end this epidemic. i'm going to continue fighting and working with members of both parties to combat this crisis,
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and i will continue sharing the stories of the people of my state. it's up to all of us to stop this from happening to more families. thank you, mr. president. 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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ms. warren: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. ms. warren: i ask the quorum call be lifted. officer without objection. ms. warren: thank you. on september 30, the children's health insurance program expired. it has now been 25 days since the united states congress has put our children's health and well-being on the back burner. my colleagues and i don't think that children's health belongs on the back burner. so we've come down to the floor of the senate today to spend the afternoon speaking up for kids. so thank you to everyone who joins me today to say we shouldn't wait any longer to make sure that children, community health centers and new mothers have access to the health care programs that they need. republicans control congress. it is up to them what we vote on and when we do it. so what was more important to the republican leadership than
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the health of little kids? well, republican leaders blew through the days before the children's health care deadline by trying to repeal health care for millions of americans. and then once the children's insurance program had already expired, republican leaders burned through more time by holding a series of votes on a budget with giant tax cuts for billionaires and giant corporations that would also gut medicare, medicaid, and a bunch of programs that would help working families. republicans jammed through their terrible budget without a single democratic vote last week. 19 days after blowing past the deadline to fund health care for kids. and last night, last night it was 24 days past the deadline to make sure that kids had health care coverage, and what were the republican leaders doing?
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republican leaders stayed up late into the night holding a vote to make it easier for financial institutions to cheat people. and the days continue to tick by. 24, 25. tomorrow members of congress will leave for the weekend 26 days past the deadline and still no vote to fund this critical program. senator ted kennedy and senator orrin hatch, a democrat and a republican, wrote this legislation together back in the late 1990's. the children's health insurance program also called chip provides health insurance to low income children and to pregnant women. senator kennedy and senator hatch created this program because they knew that providing health care coverage for children help make them healthier as children and healthier even after they grew
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up. they knew that some children were slipping through the cracks and this was their solution. the children that weren't covered -- the children covered by chip didn't qualify for medicaid, they weren't covered by employers, and they couldn't afford to buy private insurance. in 1997, 15% of all the children in this country lacked any form of health insurance coverage. today because of the chip program and the affordable care act, that number has shrunk to 5% of children. chip works with medicaid to provide health insurance for one out of every three kids in this country. states choose whether or not they want a chip program, and here's the deal. every single state has chosen one because every single state recognizes the value of providing their children with health care coverage.
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in massachusetts the percentage of children with health care coverage is even higher than the national average. it's at 99%. we're doing something right here. the original program was set for ten years, and since then every few years congress has had to act to reauthorize the program so that children can continue to get health care coverage. the chip program has been reauthorized four times since 1997 and not one of those times has congress missed the deadline. not one, not one until now. in fact, in past years, congress has made sure to reauthorize the program many months ahead of time in order to give states the time they would need to plan their budgets. sounds like a pretty sensible thing to do. but not this year.
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we're 25 days past the deadline for reauthorizing chip, 25 days and counting. this isn't fair to states or to kids or to their families. so what actually happens now? well, the money runs out. 11 states are set to run out of their chip funding by the end of 2017. the others soon after. our republican governor in massachusetts set me -- sent me a letter on day three past the chip deadline, and he wrote, quote, parents are already afraid that their children's insurance may be lost in the near future. with each passing week, their fears continue to grow. my governor is right. states have to start making tough decisions. they may have to freeze enrollment turning away sick little kids who qualify for coverage, but don't make it in
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the door on time. they could just start kicking kids out of their insurance saying, sorry, we just can't help anymore. or they could be forced to make some tough calls on benefits. we can't cover the wheelchair you need to get around. no physical therapy or no prenatal care until the funding comes through again. that is just flat out immoral. tax cuts for billionaires shouldn't come before making sure that a sick kid gets the help he or she needs. mothers are lying awake at night, fathers are tossing and turning worrying about their health care coverage. and what is the republican leadership doing? tomorrow they will be heading home for the weekend without lifting a finger to fund a bipartisan program that has been reauthorized four times over the past 20 years. and if that isn't bad enough,
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september 30 wasn't just the deadline for congress to reauthorize chip. we also blew past the deadlines on several other health care programs to help children, to help pregnant women, to help older americans, and to help the chronically ill. we blew past the deadline to reauthorize the community health center fund and the national health service corporation which fund health centers and support health care workers that provide children with high care -- high quality primary care. we blew past the deadline to reauthorize the maternal, infant, and early childhood home visiting program which funds home visits to new and expectant parents to give them help keeping a new baby healthy and safe. and we blew past the deadline to reauthorize the special diabetes program, which funds diabetes research that could offer hope to many children living with
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diabetes. when a kid is sick, moms and dads move heaven and earth to get them the care they need. they don't wait 25 days to go to the doctor and check to see if something is wrong. they stay up all night to make sure their little ones are all right. they wait outside the hospital room pacing until they get an answer. but republican leaders in congress, they just don't seem to care. they don't seem to care if these families have the health insurance coverage they need so they can get an x-ray or pay for an antibiotic or run some tests. 25 days, 26 days, 27 days. it just doesn't seem to matter to republican leaders, but it sure matters to moms, and dads, and kids in massachusetts and all over this country. senator kennedy used to say, the test of greatness for a nation
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is how it cares for its children. right now republican leaders in congress are failing that test. my colleagues have come to the floor today to say that time is up. we are here to fight for kids. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. a senator: mr. president, i rise in support of my colleagues who have come to the floor to urge the senate to quickly pass funding for the children's health insurance program also known as chip. mr. coons: chip provides comprehensive health insurance coverage to nearly nine million low income children who don't qualify for medicaid, including in my home state of delaware 18,000 children. lots of other states 18,000 children would be a small number but in delaware, that's a significant population. but bluntly, whether it's one or a hundred or a thousand or
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18,000, how can we allow inaction in this chamber to put at risk the health care of millions of children across our country? it's now been more than three weeks since funding for chip expired. and while some states have enough money in their accounts to carry them through the end of the year or just beyond, the uncertainty around if or when chip funds will be reauthorized is causing chaos, concern, and anxiety across the country. some states will soon have to start issuing notices to households that they will face loss of chip coverage. imagine the unnecessary fear this will bring to parents, to families, struggling households across the country as they are facing other challenges in their lives. mr. president, this is totally unnecessary. we can stop this uncertainty right now and bring needed stability to parents, children, to states, and show some kind of leadership from this, our federal government.
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i'm a proud cosponsor of the bipartisan kids act, that's senate bill 1827 that's being led by senator warren hatch -- orrin hatch of utah and senator ron wyden of oregon. and this kids act would extend funding for chip for five years. i urge the senate to do right by america's children and america's working families and swiftly take up and pass this bill. mr. president, while we're on the topic of programs desperately in need of reauthorizing, -- reauthorization, i also want to draw attention to the expiration of the community health center fund, which ensures access to cost effective primary and preventive care for 26 million patients across the country. now, in my home state of delaware, about 50,000 delawareans benefit from several community health centers that are widely respected, well run, and provide affordable, accessible preventable health care in communities up and down my state. funding for this critical program also lapsed more than three weeks ago and now sadly
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community health centers across my state and our whole country are struggling to make key decisions, decisions like renewing leases or signing on new medical personnel and physicians. without certainty that the federal government will reauthorize their funding, how can we expect community health centers to plan, to deliver on services, and to provide the preventive health care that reduces costs, improves health, and strengthens our communities? we should do everything we can to swiftly pass a five-year reauthorization of funding for community health centers, such as the bipartisan bill that senator blunt of missouri and senator stabenow of michigan have introduced the community health investment modernization and excellence act of 2017. that's s. 1899. and i am proud to support that bipartisan bill. so, folks, i urge that we work together in a bipartisan way. we should not be using children and access to health care as a bargaining chip. we should be taking up these two
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bills and provide reauthorization and funding and certainty immediately for both c.h.c.'s and chip funding now and without hesitation. mr. president, thank you. with that i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. a senator: thank you, mr. president. i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: the senate is not in a quorum call. mr. casey: thank you, mr. president. as you know, the children's health insurance program expired on the 30th of september in large part because we spent much of this year and in the days leading up to that date debating the repeal of the affordable care act instead of focusing on
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bipartisan priorities like the children's health insurance program. as as a result, the program known as chip expired and the health of nine million children, including some 340,000 pennsylvania children, is now at risk. chip is a -- not just a bipartisan program but a successful program, with a pennsylvania history. it was modeled after a state program in pennsylvania that was signed into law by my father when he served as governor in the early 1990's. the program provides affordable health insurance to children whose family incomes mean they don't qualify for medicaid but still struggle to find affordable health insurance options. it's a program that working families rely upon and that provides peace of mind to
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parents. many families turn to chip during times of economic hardship, such as when a parent loses his or her job. at such a stressful time, i've heard from parents over and over again how they have peace of mind knowing that their children will get the health care that they need. some parents who rely upon chip for their children are in fact students, working and going to school so they can make that leap into stable middle-class life. they may not have a job with health insurance or they may not be able to afford the insurance, but they know their children will get the health care that they need. regardless of what drives families to the chip program, it is thanks in large part to chip that the united states of america has the highest rate of insured children in our nation's history. according to the census bureau,
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95.5% of children had health insurance in 2016. chip is also a popular program, as repeated studies have demonstrated. parents think chip is a valuable program, and they are satisfied with the coverage and with the care their children receive. but unless the senate acts and acts very soon, we will have betrayed all of those children and all of those families. there's no reason for chip to have expired and no reason why we shouldn't pass a bill right now, if not in the next couple of days, certainly in the next two or three weeks. to ensure that not one single child loses his or her health insurance. we've taken important steps to extend the program.
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the finance committee marked up the bipartisan, quote, keep kids insurance dependable and secure act of 2017, known by the acronym kids, or kids. the kids act came out of the finance committee which reauthorizes chip for five years and that happened some three weeks ago, and i'm proud to be a cosponsor of that bill. so it is time toage of we have a -- so it is time to act. we have a commonsense, bipartisan, successful bill in the senate that is ready to go. it is out of the financial committee. so i'd urge my colleagues to join me and join others who have come to the floor today and on earlier days to take swift action to pass the kids act. mr. president, i would 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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the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: i ask unanimous consent that roger cacurry be granted floor privileges for the remainder of this congress. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president.
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the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: health care for our nation's children ought to be something we should be able to
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come together on, but this congress, which has not done much of anything, but is always, always able to find a way to help wall street, think about the middle of the vote last night where the president of the united states came to the rescue of equifax and the rescue of wells fargo and the rescue of wall street overall and think of the celebrations last night on wall street because of the tied vote which stripped consumers of their days in court and stripped consumers of their consumer rights. but this congress, when it came to the children's health insurance program let it expire last month, left millions of families afraid of losing care for their kids. trying to make sure your children are safe and healthy is enough to worry about. families shouldn't have to fear losing coverage for their kids because some politicians in washington -- all of us have
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peap-funded -- taxpayer funded health insurance. some politicians didn't seem to care about these kids. in my state 200,000 children have insurance under chip. even if their parents lose their job or their insurance, those 200,000-plus children in ohio have insurance because of chip, but it expired september 30. governor kasich who is a republican, i'm a democrat, we stand together on this as we stand together protecting medicaid as we stand together protecting the affordable care act, he knows, as i know, he says there is a little bit of money leftover in ohio to get us through the next few weeks until congress does its job, but it doesn't mean that parents don't worry about their children losing health insurance. kids on chip are a little bit more likely to have asthma or a little bit more likely to have illness in part because they are
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low-income kids or -- and may live by a busline and the air they breathe may not be quite as good, and appalachia where they are not table to get to the doctor as quickly. those parents are worried because even though governor kasich and i assure them we're going to do this, look at what congress does. congress can debate hours on a giveaway to wall street and debate hours to equifax who -- who have abused bailed out wells fargo, who fraudulently -- who had -- who fraudulently attacked, for want of a better term, 3 -- three and a half million of their customers, congress can bail them out but
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not children? 209,000 ohio children have access to quality affordable health care today, health care they might not have received otherwise. it used to be bipartisan until this congress, always in its rush to help wall street, forgot about these children. this program provides peace of mind for parents. they know a parent, regardless of income, knowing that a daughter or a soon has health insurance, it provides them peace of mind. they know if their child has a soar throat -- sore throat or earache, they won't have to hesitate or afford the doctor visit or afford the antibiotic. most of us in this body are parents. most all of us in this body have insurance provided by taxpayers. wouldn't you think -- wouldn't you think this would be important enough to leader mcconnell and the leaders in this boat and speaker ryan --
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this body and speaker ryan. most of us are at the age -- many of us have grandchildren, we don't care enough about these children as we get insurance from taxpayers, we don't care enough about these kids to do this? it's been three weeks since it expired. chip means a child in cincinnati, dayton, portsmouth or mans? -- or mansfield can see a doctor. chip means vaccine and shots and dental coverage. we know what happens to low-income kids that don't get good dental care. the state of ohio probably has enough money to protect chip children until the end of the year. josh, whom i met in cleveland, whose children were covered by chip when he was laid off his job. the ability to feel confident that my family will continue to get the same quality of care they had while i was working,
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that was a huge weight lifted. think about that, this father -- he had plenty of things to worry about, he lost his job and who knows what that meant about his lifestyle and family. at least he knew he had insurance for his family. think about noble from columbus who came earlier this week with his mom to talk about chip. noble relies on chip for the five pediatric specialists he sees at one of america's great hospitals, nationwide children's hospital in columbus. my colleagues need to think about noble and his mom in columbus. we need to think about how the mother of a soon with diabetes and worried about whether her son will be able to see the same doctor next year or about a father with a daughter with asthma and prays that she doesn't lose the inhaler on the playground. my wife has asthma and i know
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what that means. she had a father who had health insurance through his union plan. the illuminating company where he worked maintenance. it was a good blue collar job, it didn't pay enough to send her to college but it was enough to give them a decent lifestyle. they didn't have chip. more people had union plans and more people were protected. we used to have chip until september 30 when this congress doesn't care enough to provide it. we should not pay politics with families' lives. two years i led the fight to protect chip. because of that work, with the support of advocates all across ohio and across the country, we extended funding for chip for two years back -- with bipartisan support when congress operated that way. we passed a five-year extension of chip out of the senate finance committee. it had every vote in that committee, with the exception of one. i want to thank senator hatch
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and senator wyden and senator portman and so many of my colleagues with their help with that. this process is taking it too long. josh and noble and 209,000 children in ohio are in this situation where their parents are unsure of whether they'll have insurance through the end of the year and next year and the year after. it's time for us to come together and ensure that families we work for have the health care that they need for their children. i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: ms. hirono: i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. hirono: mr. president, donald trump and the republican
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congress has spent most of the past year pushing their misplaced priorities no matter the direct and collateral damage it causes for millions of americans across the country. there are so many examples to choose from to illustrate this point. ju last night -- just last night the vice president had to come in and break a tie to protect huge corporations. now they are putting together a huge tax cut for the wealthiest people of our country and trying to sell it as a raise for the middle class. in hawaii we call this b.s. but there is perhaps no issue where donald trump's caused more harm than his quest to deprive millions of americans the health care and health insurance that they need. his first attempt at repealing the affordable care act would have thrown 30 million people off of their health insurance.
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thanks to the combined efforts of so many people, enraged people, active people, engaged people across the country, we defeated this proposal. a few months later, continuing the assault on health care, donald trump renewed his attack on the health care system under the so-called graham-cassidy bill, but once again the combined outrage of millions kept the bill from coming to the floor. but in the too many they spent on their single-minded unrelented quest to repeal the affordable care act, donald trump and the republicans in congress have allowed authorization for the children -- for chip to lapse. more than 30,000 children in hawaii and more than nine million across the country depend on chip for their health care. you heard my colleague from ohio tell you stories about the children in ohio, children with asthma. in hawaii it's children with
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asthma, children with diabetes. 30,000 children in hawaii rely on chip for their health care are being affected by our inaction. primarily covering children from low-income families who earn too much to qualify for medicaid, chip provides critical and much-needed care for children with complex medical conditions. although existing funding has allowed states to stretch budgets to keep the program in place, money is quickly running out. if we don't take action soon, as many as four million children could lose their health insurance entirely -- four million children. congress cannot and should not be explicit in this -- complicit in this gross negligence. chip has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support, and in fact, it emerged from the committee with bipartisan support. i'm glad that senators wyden and
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hatch have come together to create the kids act which i have cosponsored. this would extend chip's authorization and funding through 2022 and provide much-needed certainty to millions of families across the country. if we brought this bill to the floor right now rs it would -- now, it would pass. it clearly would have the votes to pass. the only question is, why don't we do it? why don't we provide health care to millions of children in our country for heaven's sake? i cannot believe my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are afraid to risk incurring the rath of -- wrath of a vengeful president. i can't believe that is what is keeping them from doing the right thing. i encourage the majority leader to bring this to the floor for a vote as soon as possible. i yield the floor


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