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tv   U.S. Senate 10312017  CSPAN  October 31, 2017 5:22pm-6:41pm EDT

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in them the values that you think are important. i think it would be a terrible mistake to enter tax reform, perhaps one of the most meaningful debates we've had since i have been here and perhaps in the past two decades in terms of our economy, without talking about what tax reform means to the millions of americans i just described. the one thing it should mean is that those jobs that left, some of them should be able to come back because, frankly, our own policies have forced some of those jobs to go somewhere else. when other countries are making it easier to open up factories and create job over there instead of over here, you're going to lose some of those jobs. i'm not saying all of them, but a lot of them were. if we have tax policies that do not allow us to create jobs here, we have to reverse that and tax reform should be about that. it also has to be about working americans, not americans that
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are rich and can hire fancy accountants and lawyers and lobbyists to help create special tax statuses. i'm talking about americans dependent on government programs many i'm not talking about disability or social security or medicare, programs they made into. i'm talking about programs that assist antipoverty programs. something else we should talk about again. some are not working in terms of helping people escape poverty. i'm talking about people who work and make just enough not to qualify for any of that stuff but not enough to afford the cost of living. not just them. you add to that the cost of raising children. it's more expensive to raise children more than ever. there is nothing we can do in tax reform by itself that solves all of those problems, but there is no way we can do tax reform without addressing the millions of americans who feel every time there is a debate in washington it's about helping everybody
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else except for them. so take, for example, the issue of the child tax credit, which is called the child tax credit, but it really is about helping families, parents and children. take for example, a married couple with two children. let's say one works in a warehouse and another is a home health aid. this is not insurance. -- unusual. based on the bureau of statistics, their combined income is $30,000 a year. it is not a lot of money where i'm standing now or where i live in miami. if we don't do anything, if we do the whole framework on tax reform but do nothing on the child tax credit and leave it as is, that couple paying $55,000 -- making $55,000 a year with two children, if we do nothing, they are going to have a tax increase of $738. i cannot imagine a single person here voting for a tax reform
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package that does nothing on the child tax credit and thereby raises taxes on a couple making $55,000 a year with two children by a penny, not to mention $700 a year. what if we do less like some are suggesting. let's raise the tax credit to $500, but let's not make it refundable against payroll tax. they'll get a tax cut of about $263. when you compare that to some of the tax cuts you will see in other parts of this tax reform, i would say that is not enough. it's certainly not enough to make a difference. what if you do this? what if you double the value from $1,000 to $2,000 and make it refundable to payroll tax. that couple with those two children will have a tax cut of $1,263. that doesn't solve all their problems, but it makes a difference. i can give you other examples. let me use, you know, others will get to in the years -- in the weeks to come and days to come, but let's take a family
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like the one i grew up in, a bartender and maid. the median income of a bartender and maid is about $43,000 a year. they have three children. without anything in the child tax credit and leave it like it is and do the framework, they will pay $762 more in taxes. can you imagine a tax reform plan that raises taxes on a bartender and maid with three children who are making $43,000 and raises their taxes by more than 700 a year, who would do that? i dare you. actually i don't dare you. let's do the symbolic thing, let's raise them $500, but make it nonrefundable. they will get a tax cut of $233. what if we doubled the value of the child tax credit and made it refundable toward payroll tax? then their tax cut is $1,733.
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that's a tact. and -- tax cut. that's the drubbings we have to go -- that the direction we have to go. some said, we shouldn't make it refundable, the payroll tax, they are people not paying in taxes. that's the way people here think, that's the way accountants might think, but for those who work and get a paycheck every two weeks, it shows that money came out of their paycheck. it doesn't matter if it went to income or payroll tax, that's the money they earned. they are paying taxes, whether they are paying income tax or payroll tax, they are paying taxes. if you want to help people who are working but don't make enough, then the only way -- and they are trying to raise a family, the child tax credit is the best way to do it. and so as we move forward, i truly hope that some of these voices i hear treating the child
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tax credit as some sort of welfare program or giveaway or gimmick will reconsider that attitude, will reconsider that attitude. because a child tax credit only applies to families that are working that make less than a certain amount of money and that raising children, our future taxpayers. i'm going to ask this. if our tax code does not help working families, given all of the other challence -- challenges they face, that is inexcusable. how can we pass a tax reform that is loaded up on how we're going to help the business sector? and it should. it will create jobs and help get higher pay down the road. how can we have spending programs that spends billions and billions of dollars to help the poor but do nothing to help the backbone of our economy, something that we take pride in, the working class.
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there is no way we can have a tax plan that helps them. if we go in that direction, that will convince millions of americans that they were right. that the people in charge this -- in this country and the people who advised them don't care about, look down on and have no idea about what life is like for people like them who work hard every day, who sweec nothing from the government -- seek nothing from the government other than a fair chance. all i'm advocating for is we allow them to keep more of their own money so they can provide for their families and the better future and rebuild those working class values and that working-class backbone that i believe that has made america so great. so i look forward to continuing to work in this direction. we better do something real and we better do it right otherwise i don't know how you pass tax reform. i'm hopeful that's where we're headed. i know we still have some work
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to do. i know tomorrow is only a starting point. i'll repeat once again, any tax plan that doesn't cut taxes on working families with children is not one we're supporting. and so that i hope that's the direction we will move in. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: mr. president, the american people depend on the federal judiciary to be fair and unbiased. a judge should decide a case based on the facts at hand and the law, not in service of a particular ideology. over the past nine months, i have been deeply concerned that president trump is nominating judges to lifetime appointments on the federal bench, people who share his ideology rather than judges who apply the law fairly and follow precedent. donald trump has made his ideology very clear during his first months in office.
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he is anti-immigrant, antiunion, antiworker, antiwoman. he prioritizes the interests of corporations over the rights of individuals. i am not often given to hyperbole but in this case i'm so alarmed by donald trump's nominees to the federal bench that calling them extreme is not extreme. congress has a constitutional obligation through advice and consent to fight back against these types of appointments. this is particularly important for circuit court judges, but under republican leadership, the senate is shirking its responsibilities too often. we are forced to consider too many judges at one hearing. the judiciary committee has already had nearly as many hearings with two circuit court nominees on the hearing agenda in nine months as the obama administration had in eight years. sometimes they even add district court and department of justice
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nominees to an already crammed hearing agenda. that's not right. each circuit court nominee should be considered in a separate hearing. there was a time when there was consensus that controversial nominees needed more scrutiny. apparently this president is sending us who he deems the best and the greatest nominees, and we are supposed to trust him that they will safeguard our rights and treat all americans fairly. in short, this i cannot do. the senate judiciary committee has an obligation to vigorously vet and question these nominees and we expect them to be honest and candid and complete in their replies. we've had a number of very frustrating exchanges so far at these nomination hearings. on several occasions nominees have disavowed direct quotes of their past writings and
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comments, even when members of the committee repeat them word for word and follow up with specifics to the contrary. sometimes the nominees will acknowledge their past statements, but they think we are naive enough to believe them when they say that if confirmed, they will. and i quote so many of these nominees -- follow precedent, end quote. give me a break. a circuit court judge will be involved in rewriting precedent if the judge goes in that direction, which a judge could very well do. some have even written that they think that's what lower court judges are permitted to do. i'm talking about district court judges. just a short time ago, the senate narrowly voted to confirm a nominee that would apply her own ideology to the decisions she makes rather than the law or precedent. and this nominee is amy coney barrett. as a professor at the university
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of notre dame law school, miss barrett's scholarly writings reveal a nominee who questions the need to follow precedent and who outlines specific conditions under which a judge does not have an obligation to follow precedent. in a texas law review article entitled "precedent and judicial disagreement" she wrote, i quote, i tend to agree to those who say a justice's duty is to the constitution and this it is thus more legitimate for her to enforce her best understanding of the constitution rather than a precedent she thinks clearly in conflict with it. end quote. in a university of colorado law review article stare decisis and due process she wrote, -- again i quote her -- unconstitutionally deprives a
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litigant of the right to a hearing on the merits of her claim. end quote. and in a third piece, statutory stare decisis in courts of appeal published in the george washington law review. she goes further in saying, quote, whatever the merits of statutory stare decisis in the supreme court, the inferior courts have no sound basis for following the supreme court's practice. end quote. her lack of respect for stare decisis is deeply concerning and raises serious concerns about her future conduct on the court if confirmed. professor barrett has also expressed a number of highly controversial political positions that could influence her ability to fairly hear and decide the cases that come before her. in criticizing the supreme court's ruling, upholding the affordable care act, for example, she wrote that chief justice roberts had, and i quote again, pushed the affordable
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care act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute. end quote. her views on the rights of detainees are similarly disconcerting. in 2008 the supreme court held that non-u.s. citizens held at guantanamo bait were entitled to file habeas corpus positions to challenge their detentions. she argued in turn that the court's decision in that case was, quote, contrary to precedent and unsupported by the constitution's text, end quote. and that the dissenters, quote, had the better of the argument, end quote. during her confirmation hearing, professor barrett ignored or deflected with not answers but concerns that i and my colleagues raised about her past statement, beliefs and judicial philosophy. instead of addressing what she wrote head-on, professo professt denied she was trying to
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overturn precedent and insisted she would follow the law. her writings raise serious concerns to the contrary. unfortunately, professor barrett's nomination is not the only one we will consider this week. before i can vote in favor of a lifetime appointment to a federal court, i should be able to conclude that the nominee in question would rule without bias or obvious ideology. amy barrett's answers on record made it impossible for me to draw such a conclusion regarding her nomination. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. a senator: thank you, mr. president. mr. wicker: over the past year our navy has had four serious mishaps at sea, including fatal collisions involving the u.s.s.
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fitzgerald on one occasion and the u.s.s. john s. mccain on another. in the mccain and fitzgerald accidents, 17 of our sailors were killed. in response to these serious incidents, the chief of naval operations, admiral john richardson, directed that a comprehensive review take place. and today the senate armed services committee was briefed on the results of this comprehensive review. the results will be made public either tomorrow or the next day, and americans will be able to see the serious situation that we're in. now, there are various reasons for these collisions and these
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fatalities, including regrettably human error, unfortunate circumstances, but also the review makes it clear that we are not doing right by our sailors and we're not doing right by the navy and not doing right by the taxpayers in terms of making sure these brave men and women have what they need. we need to work quickly with the navy here in congress to implement the recommendations that will be coming forward later this week. mr. president, we need to enhance training and readiness and we need to recognize and i think the majority of this senate does recognize that the size of the fleet has contributed to the problem. simply put, we need to acknowledge that the navy has a supply and demand problem.
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we have a demand for more naval action than the supply of our ships can produce. our ship force has declined recently by some 20%. we're asking too few ships to do too many things for american security. and that needs to be rectified. the consequences of this supply and demand mismatch were summed up by naval analyst robert c. o'brien and jerry hendricks in a recent article. they argue the navy is on the precipice of a death cycle, a death spiral. we're in more overworked and damaged ships placed an increasingly greater strain on the remaining operational ships thus eroding readiness across the fleet. i agree with mr. o'brien and mr. hendricks that the situation will result in more collisions,
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more injuries, and more deaths in the fleet. to avoid this death spiral, we need to commit to growing the navy and meeting its minimum requirement of 355 ships. i have the privilege of chairing the c-power subcommittee which has held a series of oversight activities, both classified and unclassified on the navy's 355-ship requirement. we've examined the security environment that drives the requirement to add about 80 more ships to the fleet. we've listened to navy leadership outside experts and industry on options, capabilities, and considerations, and we received perspective from key players behind president reagan's naval buildup in the 1980's. as the fitzgerald and mccain collisions have demonstrated, the short-term cost of doing more with less are simply unacceptable. the long-term implications will prove devastating to american
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power and the global order that it underpins. the u.s. military's commanders have identified 18 maritime regions where the navy must secure american interests. our current naval strategy is designed to command the seas in those regions. the navy needs a minimum of 355 ships to get this done. if the navy cannot get the bare minimum it needs, then our naval strategy must change and i can assure you it would be a change for the worst. instead of a global command of the seas, what we would get would be a new weaker strategy. what would this look like? in the national review article i mentioned, o'brien and hendricks lay out -- strategically they could withdraw from certain maritime regions and hope that our allies and partners will pick up the slack, let norway, denmark and canada patrol the
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arctic. let the baltic states poland and germany patrol the baltic sea. let turkey, romania and bulgaria control the black sea. really? let taiwan, philippines patrol the south china sea and hope for the best or we could return to the pre-world war ii unacceptable surge and exercise model. this strategy involved consolidating a smaller fleet into a few strategic hubs, deploying occasionally for exercises, and greatly reducing the number of missions the navy could perform in peacetime and crisis. in their article, o'brien and hendricks note that these two strategies, quote, make the past eight years of lead from behind look like an assertive foreign policy. these two strategies would
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create dangerous power vacuums and shifting allegiances. our adversaries would use the navy's absence to rewrite the rules of global commons. our allies would accommodate challengers to the american-led order, abandoned by america in some cases they would have no choice but to cut deals with beijing, moscow, and tehran. i know my colleagues in congress want a different future. i hope we can take the first steps this year toward building up the fleet. as former navy secretary john layman told our subcommittee this year, president reagan reaped 90% of the benefits of his rebuilding program in the first year. this took place in the early 1980's and made it clear that president reagan, congress, and the pentagon were serious about rebuilding the fleet. it sent a signal to our allies and to the soviets that america
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was coming back and that our navy was coming back in a big way. which makes 2017 and 2018 so important. i'm confident -- i am confident that congress can establish a firm foundation in the coming months for a fleet buildup. to that end, i would note that both the house and senate defense authorization bills contain the wicker-whitman ships act, which would establish a 355-ship requirement as our national policy. both bills also contain multiyear procurement authority for virginia-class attack submarines and arlie burke-class destroyers. multiyear procurement will stabilize the industrial base for those ships and generate billions in savings, which would be plowed into more shipbuilding. both bills contain cost control measures to protect taxpayers.
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although negotiations are ongoing, the final ndaa conference report should include the ships act. multiyear procurements and acquisition cost controls. the defense authorization bill is a good start, mr. president, but congress also needs to add funding for shipbuilding in upcoming appropriation legislation. we need an agreement that eliminates the budget control act with regard to defense spending, or at least provides relief. the bottom line is that a buildup would require more funding. president reagan's first defense budget included a 35% increase for the navy compared to president carter's last proposed budget, and it was well worth it, mr. president. both resources are needed to accelerate shipbuilding. it is time to end the two decades of low-rate shipbuilding that has brought us to this point. compared to its earlier planned
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levels, the navy's accelerated fleet plan concludes that the shipyards can produce 29 more ships over the next seven years. investment is needed, particularly in submarine facilities, but the yards are up to the challenge, especially those with hot production lines. mr. president, i was disappointed to hear that acting under secretary thomas dee, an obama holdover still in the department of the navy said last week that 355 ships is probably out of reach until the 2050's. mr. dee's pessimism about the navy's own requirement is perplexing when it is incumbent on the navy to development fleet buildup options within budget constraints. those current and likely future fiscal environments were accounted for in the navy's 2014
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force structure assessment of 355 ships. so we can do it, and the leadership of the navy, with the exception of under secretary dee, knows we can do it. c.n.o. richardson's white paper on the future navy notes we ought to achieve a 355-ship fleet in the 2020's. not the 2040's, not the 2050's, but the 2020's. thank goodness for the foresight and positive attitude of the chief of naval operations. he's right. a 355-ship fleet should be our goal for the next decade. regrettably acting under secretary dee must have been asleep for the past nine months while congress was talking about this and while we're on the verge of enacting legislation making a 355-ship navy the official policy of the united states of america.
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shipbuilding is indeed a long process, and a 355-ship fleet will not happen overnight. new ship production is critical to achieve this objective, but the navy should also examine service-like extension programs for older ships, and perhaps even reactivating ships in the ready reserve. it's irresponsible to retire ships early if they have useful life. such ships may have to be reassigned to less stressing missions, but they should not be prematurely sold overseas or sunk as target practice. it is equally irresponsible to miss opportunities to reactivate retired ships if the benefits exceed the costs. let's at least look at that. the senate defense authorization bill includes my amendment directing the navy to look at service life extension and reactivation. the navy needs to go ship by
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ship through the inventory and provide congress with a thorough analysis of these options, and that's what the navy is doing. as o'brien and hendrix write, navies and international influence go hand in hand. a smaller navy means a smaller role for america, and we can't afford that. we must cultivate the national will to avoid this fate. i urge my colleagues to help me, to help the armed services committees in both houses in an effort to begin rebuilding our naval power at once. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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mr. merkley: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: mr. president, there are few things we do here in the senate that matter more or have longer lasting impacts on our nation than confirming individuals to lifetime appointments on district courts and circuit courts and the supreme court. it is the senate's duty, as alexander hamilton laid out in the federalist papers, to prevent the appointment of unfit characters. i have often thought that this power would be used rarely because a president would seek to make sure that he or she sent qualified individuals to the senate for confirmation but we're seeing something quite different today. we're seeing the president engaged in a zeal to pack the
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court with extreme right-wing ideologues and to ram them through this confirmation process without due review. just yesterday, the american bar association sent a letter to the judiciary committee, saying that leonard graz, president trump's nominee to the eighth circuit court of appeals, is not qualified to serve as a federal judge, and yet his confirmation hearing is scheduled for this week. putting extreme and unqualified people on the court is a disservice to the american judiciary. it impacts the protection of fundamental rights, fundamental american rights for generations to come. it's simple for us to have a conversation about what is going on at this moment. just this week, we have four
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nominees for the court of appeals coming to the floor. one, amy barrett, was confirmed just hours ago. another vote is scheduled for tomorrow. and these individuals, as i will go through in a moment, don't come here with the type of qualifications that really should be considered, allow them to be considered for lifetime appointments. now, time and time again, we have heard from our republican leadership that democrats are engaged in a massive, quote, often mindless partisan obstruction, in the words of the majority leader. from where comes this evaluation? well, he wants to move judiciary nominees faster without due consideration, and certainly he does know something about obstructing judicial nominations since he spent the entire eight
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years of the obama administration leading the effort to obstruct consideration of nominees here in this chamber. 80% of president obama's nominees waited 181 days or longer. certainly far more than under president bush or president clinton or the first president bush or under president reagan. obstruction taken to the maximum. six months or longer to work their way through the confirmation process. throughout president obama's entire eight years in office, just 55 circuit court judges were confirmed. that's the lowest number for any president. and by this point in the previous administration -- that is, in the obama administration -- just one nominee, one had been confirmed for a spot on the circuit court.
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but here we are taking a look at how in this time period just one had been confirmed for obama, but we will have at the end of this week, assuming each individual gets the full majority, eight circuit court nominees confirmed, one for obama, eight for president trump. in fact, that number wasn't reached substantially into president obama's second year in office. or we can look at the average number of days that it's taken for a committee to report for the first seven nominees. president trump's first seven circuit district court nominees waited 37 days for confirmation once they were reported out of judiciary committee, and let's compare that to president obama where the judiciary committee held them up 75 days. so once again, democrats in the
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minority moving far, far faster today than did our colleagues when president obama was in office. so certainly by comparison, president trump's nominees are sailing through at a -- at a rapid pace. so let's not hear any more of the preposterous false news coming from the majority side about things being slowed down when the facts are quite the opposite. but why this emphasis on creating this false narrative? perhaps it is because right now there is a lot of pressure on the majority to show that they're getting something done, and not much is happening that will help anyone in this country. oh, they have tried to get something done by trying to strip health care from
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20 million to 30 million americans, in five different versions of the trumpcare monster. they didn't quite get it done, thankfully. and i doubt that the american people -- in fact, i know that they certainly would not have been appreciative of the bill in which my republican colleagues said let's strip all this health care away from 20 million or 30 million people so we can give massive, multitrillion-dollar tax benefits, tax giveaways to the very richest americans. wow, well, that's certainly not a way to win the hearts and minds of americans. attack working americans time after time after time in order to deliver the national treasury to the very richest americans. perhaps my colleagues in the end will be glad that they didn't succeed in that effort. so here it comes now to a tax plan that's on the floor, a tax plan being considered that will once again take a trillion and a
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half out of health care to deliver several industrial dollars to the richest 1% of americans. we see it time and time again. attack working americans to deliver incredible gifts from the national treasury. really, a raid on fort knox. has ever such an audacious theft been considered previously in u.s. history than the theft my colleagues are trying to perpetuate, both through the health care strategy and now through this tax strategy? but there is a bigger purpose at work here, and that is a goal to rewrite the vision of our constitution. our constitution has this incredibly powerful, meaningful vision of government of, by, and for the people. but my colleagues don't like that vision, and they decided the best way to change it is to put people onto the court who like a different vision of
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government of, by, and for the privileged and the powerful. we saw it in their health care bill. we see it in their tax bill. and now we're seeing it in their nomination strategy to the court. a g.o.p. agenda that will tip the scales of justice to favor the powerful and privileged over working americans. judges who want to legislate from the bench on behalf of the powerful. judges who want to legislate from the bench on behalf of the privileged. that want to support predatory consumer practices, who want to strip away individual rights of women to determine their own health care, who want to deny a fair day in court by allowing binding arbitration where the seller of the services gets to pick and pay for the judge -- judges, rather than pursuing
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neutrality or pursuing government for the powerful and the people. that is the radical right-wing agenda attack on working america. and we should do all we can to stop it, including opposition in this chamber. we will have this week stephanos bibas, president trump's nominee to the third circuit court of appeals who believes that over-incarceration in our jails has nothing to do with race or with mandatory minimums, despite all the research and data that show otherwise. he takes on and disagrees with the experts on medical care who understand the fundamentals of addiction and that said simply drug addiction being painted as a disease, requiring medical intervention -- he says all those unnecessary, just drug addicts can in fact just stop using drugs. if only it was that easy.
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but to have such a profound misunderstanding of a basic health care issue that person after person after person on this side of the aisle say is an addiction and yet a nominee that doesn't understand any of that. well, he also believes that when it comes to legal sentences, corporal punishment should be applied that are, quote, public and painful. despite the understanding of rare and unusual punishment is something missing in his legal education. and let's look at his two years as a prosecutor in the southern district of new york. the notable case of the united states v. williams in which "the new york times" described it as "a legal legend in the making." he didn't say that because of it being a wise or insightful decision. while he was working as a prosecutor and he wanted to really go after the little guy. he used his position to marshal
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prosecutorial, law enforcement, court resources to bring charges against a cashier the at a veterans hospital who was accused of stealing $7. not $7,000, not $700,000, not $700 million or $1 billion being laundered by a big bank but a cashier stealing $7. now, stealing is never acceptable, never appropriate. but it didn't matter that the cashier maintained that she had given the $7 crinkled $1 bills that she had straightened out or the security cameras didn't show her pocketing it or that the customer who was right there saw it and stated that she was innocent. it didn't matter. none of the facts mattered. he wanted to go after the little guy. rather than going after the big
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folks who steal us blind. the morning of the trial comes around. a detective testifies that he found those seven $1 bills in the cash register just as the customer stated. meanwhile, this nominee saw fit to spend huge amounts of federal resources going after an individual who by every form of testimony hadn't committed a crime in the first place. but it's easy to go after little people and if you believe in government by and for the powerful and the privileged, like these nominees do, then that's your mission in life -- go after the little people. she lost out. even though she was innocent, she lost her job because of her prosecution. and there's joan larsen, the president's nominee for the sixth court of appeals, a nominee who was added at the last moment to another nominee's court confirmation against the senate practices and against minority opposition. why do you add someone at the
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last moment? to ensure that the committee doesn't have enough time to adequately review her record. that's always a cause for suspicion. someone changing the procedure so that a person's record can't be reviewed before the committee sits down in the hearing. this probably is fitting with the nominee's -- miss larsen's long-held disdain for the legislative branch. she coauthored a law review article stressing the importance of protecting the president from congress, she said, quote, the most dangerous branch of government. and she goes on to denigrate the use of committees in congress. she says, congress has maintained and extensive costly network of committees that watch over the work of cabinet departments because, quote, the ambition and love of power of our senators and representatives cause them to lust after the patronage that a committee post could bring.
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is there any deeper or more profound misunderstanding of the committee process here in congress? does she have any idea that you have committees because they are complex topics. as president trump said, who knew health care could be so complicated? so you have a committee of members who specialize in that topic, so they can fairly consider the ideas for legislation. it has very little to do with ambition and love of power and lusting after patronage. there really isn't patronage on a committee. the members don't hire the staff. with someone with such a profound misunderstanding of the branches of government, why do my colleagues say they want her in there? is it because of this vision, a government by and for the powerful. take on the little people, beat them up, squeeze them dry, and deliver the benefits to the richest in our society on every single issue -- on health care, on taxes, on judicial appointments.
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and then we have allison eid. she holds a seat that was previously held by neil gorsuch before a seat was stolen from one administration and delivered to the next, for the first time in u.s. history. a complete, complete denigration of the integrity of this body and the legitimacy of the court. a mar on the record of this chamber that knows no equal in decades. yet there she is in that seat, adhering to an extraordinary degree of ultraconservative partisan we the powerful and privileged philosophy. she opposes the use of eminent domain to seize properties to be used for a public purpose, public parks and highways. that's the purpose of eminent domain. but she supports the use of
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eminent domain to rip away a piece of property from individuals, private property owners, in order to give it to a for-profit corporation, the opposite of the purpose of eminent domain. once again, an individual hating, if you will, a public purpose and ripping away individual rights, destroying them on behalf of a for-profit corporation. she has advocated for narrowing the scope of the federal government's legislative powers to such a degree, it would be virtually impossible to protect clean air, clean water, and civil rights. she's attacked increased funding for public schools while supporting sending public funds to private religious schools. mr. president, this path of using legislation like the health care bill, legislation
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like this tax bill to crush working america on behalf of the very wealthy is simply wrong, and it's wrong to do it by trying to pack the court, and we need to do everything we can to stop it. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of calendar number 443 through 454 and all nominations placed on the secretary's desk and that the nominationnominations be confire motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate, that no further motions be in order, that any statements related to the nominations be printed in the record, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate then resume legislative session. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the appointment at the desk appear separately in the record as if made by the chair. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 244, s. res. 245. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 244, s. res. 245, calling on the government of iran to release unjustly detained united states citizens and legal permanent resident aliens and for other purposes. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i further ask the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the senate now proceed to the en bloc consideration of the following senate resolutions which were submitted earlier today -- s. res. 315, 316, 317. the presiding officer: is there folks measures en bloc? without objection.
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mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preambles be agreed to, the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, all en bloc. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that is not withstanding rule 22, at 11:30 a.m. wednesday november 1, there be 30 minutes of postcloture time remaining on the larsen nomination, equally divided between the leaders h.r. other designees and that following the use or yielding back of that time, the senate vote on the confirmation of the larsen nomination and that if confirmed the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, and the president be immediately notified's senate's action. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. wednesday, november 1. 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 their use later in the day, and morning business be closed. finally, following leader remarks, the senate proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the larsen
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nomination under the previous order. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. mcconnell: so if there is no further business to come behalf before the senate, i ask that is it stand adjourned under the previous order following the remarks of senators casey and sanders. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: thank you, mr. president. i rise this evening to talk about our system of justice. if we were to walk out from the senate, out the front door and across the front of the capitol, directly we would find ourselves across the street from the united states supreme court. as everyone knows, across the -- inscribed across the front of the united states supreme court are these words "equal justice under law" a pretty simple statement about our system of justice. but of course they have profound meaning in our system. hundreds of years ago
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st. augustine said without justice, what are kingdoms but great bands of robbers. so we've always had this focus on what justice means. it came into sharper focus, of course, when our nation was born. we set up three branches of government -- i should say, our forward'd founders set up three branches of government. one of them being the judiciary and then of course that was followed by after the constitution was ratified the judiciary act of 1789, and we've had that system of justice in one form or another all these years. in so many ways, our system of justice sets us apart from the world. our system of justice, though it is often strained and stretched
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and sometimes undermined, it's still the envy of the world. it does set us apart. we know that throughout our history and even more recently several examples of one judge being able to stop the executi executive, one judge being able to reverse policy or at least -- at least force the executive to make amendments to an executive order, as has happened over the last couple of months. i think we always have to ask ourselves whether or not our system of justice getting it right, whetherst whether or not the balance is -- is getting it right, whether or not the balance is there there are ways to express the tension between our system of justice. one way to express it, when you consider the awesome corporate power in a nation like ours is
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when we have a system that allows everyone to get a fair shot at justice, to literally fulfill the obligation or the goal really of equal justice under law, or will we have a system of justice that rewards or supports or seems to find in favor of corporate interests, or having a court, whether it is the supreme court or a federal court of one kind or another, too beholden to corporate interests? so one way to suggest the tension and sometimes the conflict is fair shot for everyone versus a corporate tilt or a corporate justice system. i have to say that when you look at some of the evidence most recently, the supreme court
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under chief justice roberts has become an evermore reliable ally to both big corporations and those with great power, those with great wealth. a major study published by the minnesota law review in 2013 found that the four conservative justices currently sitting on the court -- justice alito, roberts, thomas, and kennedy -- are among the six most business-friendly supreme court justices since 1946, so found the, a major study in the minnesota law review just four years ago. so four justices on the court now who were found among the six most business friendly. that's one indicator.
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another review by the constitutional accountability center which of course is ongoing as decisions are handed down, that shows that the consequences of the court's corporate tilt, finding that the chamber of commerce has had a success rate of 70% -- seven, zero -- a success rate of 70% of cases before the roberts court, a significant increase of the previous courts. two major indicators of the tilts of this supreme court. these cases are important to every american. cases involving, for example, rules for consumer contracts, challenges to regulations ensuring fair pay and labor standards, attempts by consumers to hold companies accountable for product safety and much, much more. and because the supreme court's
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decision set precedent followed by every federal district court across the nation, hundreds of district courts, these rulings have an impact beyond just the particular case and the particular parties or the litigants in that case in that district or in that supreme court case. but the tilt towards corporate interests at the expense of everyday americans is not confined to the supreme court. i've had serious concerns about many of the judicial nominees put forward by the trump administration, particularly those nominated to sit on the circuit courts, the highest appellate court in the land other than the supreme court. in essence, the circuit courts that sometimes cover more than one state are effectively the highest court in the land for the vast majority of cases that are not heard by the supreme court.
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the supreme court may take only a few cases a year, sometimes very low percentages, less than 5% in most years. the president has plucked many of these nominees for the supreme court from a list compiled by "the federalist" society and the heritage foundation. two substantial conservative organizations. i don't want the supreme court chosen by the federalist society and the heritage foundation. i certainly don't want circuit court judges chosen, hand-picked, designated ahead of time that only you can select from this list, because that's apparently what happened in the midst of the campaign. they gave the republican nominee a list and said that is your list. you choose from them only. it wasn't a suggested list.
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it was a directive. i think i'm joined by a lot of people across the country in my concern when groups like that have veto power over who sits on the supreme court or over -- veto power over those who sit on federal courts. like several of the conservative justices on the supreme court, many of those on this list from the federalist society and heritage foundation, many of these nominees have a corporate philosophy, a philosophy that ignores the realities faced by many americans. the realities faced by many workers across our country. the records of these nominees indicate that this problem will only be exacerbated and workers
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and their families will continue to have the deck stacked against them. in the real world -- not the world of briefs and the world of supreme court jurisprudence and the world of arguments in front of the supreme court -- but the real world, the decks will be stacked against them in the real world of making ends meet in a family, the struggles people have every day, and the real world of working every day long hours and sometimes in not the best working conditions and up against very powerful forces. the fundamental promise of our court system is this principle of justice i talked about earlier. the principle that everyone should have a fair shot at justice all the time, in every case, without exception, in every court in every year, in every era.
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that's what equal justice under the law means. and when that doesn't happen, when someone is denied equal justice under law, even one time, of course our system hasn't worked well. but when you see the numbers that i cited earlier that the chamber of commerce has a success rate of 70%, i'm not sure we can say that equal justice under the law, that principle has been adhered to. when that happens of course, with saint -- augustaine reminded us of several years that without justice kingdoms people are great band of robbers. but in one case, but unfortunately we know from the record it is a lot more than one case. but one is too many if you believe in equal justice under law. so i have serious concerns that
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that promise, the ultimate promise of justice which was enshrined in our constitution by our founders, brought forward by the judiciary act of 1789 and continued to this present day, that that basic promise of equal justice under law could be in jeopardy. some would say it is in jeopardy already, as this administration puts its stamp on the judiciary. we must demand -- demand -- that the judiciary live up to the principles of equal justice under law for all the people in all the cases, all the time. i would yield the floor. mr. sanders: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: thank you, mr. president. let me begin by pointing out an
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op-ed that appeared in the boston globe today. it's an op-ed that i wrote. it is called "the health care crisis no one is talking about." and, mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent that this be allowed into the "congressional record." the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: mr. president, thank you. mr. president, the united states today faces a major health care crisis. i think we all understand that. and in the midst of that health care crisis, we face an even greater crisis in primary health care. and that means that there are many, many millions of people -- not just people who don't have any insurance, not just people who are underinsured. people even with decent insurance cannot get to a doctor's office when they need to because there are not sufficient number of primary care physicians in their area. this is a major crisis today.
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but unless congress acts immediately, that crisis is going to become much, much worse. millions of americans are at risk of losing their access to health care because congress has still not renewed funding for the community health center program, which expired on september 30. so we hear a whole lot of discussion about a whole lot of serious health care problems. this is one that we do not hear very much about. and that is congress has still not renewed funding for the community health center program which expired on september 3. and unless we renew that funding immediately, some 70% of funding will be lost. 70% of funding for community health centers will be lost. the doors, the doors of 2,800
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service sites will close, and nine million patients will lose access to the health care they currently have. nine million people will find that when they go to a community health center, that center will no longer be able to treat them. this clearly is unacceptable. mr. president, our nation's community health centers provide affordable, high-quality health care to more than 27 million americans in every state in this country. 27 million people. this includes, by the way, in terms of community health centers, not only primary health care, but also dental care, which is a major crisis in this country. very hard in many parts of america to find affordable dental care. it also includes mental health
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counseling; another major issue, especially within the context of the opioid and heroin epidemic that we face. and in addition to all of that, community health centers provide low-cost prescription drugs at a time when many americans cannot afford the medicine that they need. so they play a vital role in community after community, state after state, in providing health care to some 27 million americans. for the 13 million rural patients served, community health centers often are the only health care provider for hundreds of miles. in rural america, there are deserts in which americans cannot access a doctor, and community health centers are the oasis in that desert. and in addition to all that, community health centers often provide a lot of good jobs in underserved communities that need them the most.
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mr. president, community health centers not only save lives, they also save money. every dollar we invest in strong primary health care saves us dollars in the long run. instead of people ending up in expensive emergency room care, and emergency room care is the most expensive primary care in the country, or ending up in the hospital because they can't and do not go to the doctor when they should, community health centers provide the primary care that people need at a fraction of the cost of an emergency room. medicaid in many cases will spend one-tenth as much per patient for a community health center visit compared to an emergency room visit. one-tenth as much. so it is an opportunity not only to provide good-quality care,
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but to save substantial sums of money. compared to other providers, community health centers save on average $2,371 per medicaid patient and up to $1,210 for medicare patients. what's more, community centers, community health centers have played a pivotal role in generating more than $49 billion in savings to the entire health care system. they provide quality primary health care. they save money by keeping people out of emergency rooms or keeping them out of the hospitals. mr. president, not only do we have to renew funding for the community health center program, we must also improve and expand the national health service call, which is a program that provides debt forgiveness for young doctors, nurses, dentists, mental health providers and pharmacists who are prepared to work in our nation's most underserved areas. without debt forgiveness,
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without telling young graduates of medical school who often leave school $200,000, $300,000, $400,000 in debt, without giving them the opportunity to get those very large debts frinch, it will be very -- forgiven, it will be very, very hard to attract physicians, nurses and psychologists to rural areas or urban areas where we have a significant underserving in terms of medical care. and so we need to fund not only community health centers, but the national health center. we currently have 1,100 national health center corps members who are in school or in emergency care programs who will not be able to complete their training and become primary care professionals. we need to provide the workforce for community health centers and other underserved areas in this country.
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now here is the very good news: the truth is that for many, many years community health centers, which are playing a vital role all over this country in urban areas and rural areas, have received bipartisan support. i know a lot of the bipartisan efforts of the past have kind of disappeared in the current politic cal climate. -- politic climate. there is a very strong piece of information by roy blunt of missouri which has a number of republican cosponsors on it. my own view is that i think every member of the democratic caucus would sponsor it, but i think there is a whole lot of republican support for this community health center bim. we have senator capito, senator collins, senator wicker, senator
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fischer, senator boozman, senator senator murkowski who are all republicans. i believe if that bill came to the floor as a stand alone bill, it would pass overwhelmingly because people in are rural america, people in urban america, people on both sides understand how important this is. this bill is about, significantly, is a -- is funding for five years, not quite at the level that i would like to see, but at about 4% of the year, which in terms of medical inflation means level funding. now, that is in contrast to a bill that is being discussed in the house which is simply not satisfactory. the house bill is talking about two years of funding and -- which means it is level funded, which means that really it is a
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significant decline in real dollars for community health centers. also, there are pay-fors for the bill which is unsatisfactory. it is taking money from peter to pay paul, taking money from very important health care programs to put money into this important health care program. mr. president, it is widely acknowledged that we currently have the most wasteful, inefficient, and expensive health care system in the world. despite spending almost $10,000 per capita on health care, that is twice as much as any other country. i just returned from canada the other day. they spend about 50% per capita what we spend and they guarantee health care and their outcomes
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are better in many cases. we are spending a whole lot of money and not getting particularly good value. one of the areas where we are getting good value is in the area of community health centers. so, mr. president, we need to not allow a bad situation to get worse. we have a very serious crisis of primary health care, dental care in this country, certainly mental health council. if we do not fund immediately the community health care program and the other workforce programs, a very bad situation will become tragically worse. we cannot tell millions of low-income and working people in every state in this country that they will no longer be able to access the dental care, health care, and mental health counseling and prescription drugs they need. we cannot tell pregnant women that they will not be able to
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get the necessary prenatal care that they require in order to deliver healthy babies. we cannot tell the -- so many people, the tragic number of people who are struggling today with opioid or heroin addiction that there is simply no treatment available to them because community health centers do much of that treatment. we cannot tell chronically ill senior citizen that they cannot survive without the prescription drugs they have used for years. we cannot community health centers which provide some of the most cost-effective health care in this country to lay off doctors, lay off nurses, dentists, and administrators who keep these centers going. historically the community health center program has enjoyed widespread bipartisan support and i'm glad to say that for this program that support continues. so what i am asking today is for
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strong support for the blunt legislation. let's get it on to the floor of the senate as quickly as we can. let's pass it. let's demand that the house work with us to pass strong, strong legislation. the time for delay is over. congress must act immediately to fully fund the community health center program, national health service corps and the teaching health centers program now, today. we know that these programs work. we know they save money and lives. these programs must be funded for five years which is what the blunt bill does, and we should not -- should not continue to ignore this very serious problem for another day. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. the presiding officer: will the senator withhold?
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under the previous order the under the previous order the >> the chamber also voted to limit debate and set up a final vote on joan larson to be a judge in the sixth circuit. two more judicial nominees are expected on the floor this week. live coverage of the senate continues tomorrow here on c-span2. officials from twitter, facebook and google testified today on russia's use of social media and influence on the 2016 elections. "the wall street journal" tweeting that the american public got its first glimpse at two of the russian-created ads during the hearing. senator chris coons displayed two images of ads.
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one was an anti-hillary clinton ad from a page called heart of texas which he said was, quote: despised by the overwhelming majority of american veterans. the second ad came from another russian-backed page, being patriotic, and promoted an october 2nd, 2016, event call minors for trump. you can see all of the hearing on c-span tonight at 8 eastern or online anytime at >> representatives from twitter, facebook and google testified before congress wednesday as part of the investigation into russia's influence on social media and the 2016 election. complete deliver coverage -- live coverage available on the c-span networks. on wednesday, at 9:30 a.m. eastern the senate intelligence committee, and at 2 p.m. the house select intelligence committee hear testimony from
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colin stretch of facebook and kent walker, senior vice president and general counsel for google. watch both hearings on c-span3, online at or listen live on the free c-span radio app. >> the c-span bus is traveling across the country on our 50 capitals tour. we recently stopped in nashville, tennessee, asking folks what's the most important issue in their state. >> hello, my name's -- [inaudible] and one important issue to me in nashville is the difference in gender wages. women are paid a little less than men for the same exact jobs and doing the same jobs just as well, and i think they should be paid just the same amount. >> hi, my name is colin, i'm a junior from nashville, tennessee, and an important issue to me is education, and i think tennessee has done a great job with offering free community college across the state, and i'd like to see it across the federal level. >> hi, i'm cara, i'm a junior at belmont university in tennessee,
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and the most important issue to me is protecting the right the life. >> hi, my name is morgan, and an important issue to me is the daca removal. i believe those who have been contributing to society should stay this set. >> what's important to me is every child receives a quality arts education. it builds self-worth and self-confidence and gives them the skills to diswrt just understand -- to understand not not -- and also interact with different types of things from around the world and from different people who might have a different point of view from them. >> voices from the states on c-span. >> president trump said today that he wants to sign a tax overhaul by christmas. the hill reporting that he vowed the signing ceremony will, quote, be the biggest tax event in the history of our country, end quote. house republicans are planning
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to unveil their tax plan tomorrow. "the new york times" reporting that many key details remain in flux we eliminating the deduction that taxpayers take for state and local expenses emerging as one of the most contentious issues. senate republican leaders talked about tax reform legislation today after meeting with rank and file members. leader mitch mcconnell also responded to the indictment of former trump campaign chair paul manafort and two others. next knox -- [inaudible conversations] >> hello. hi, dave. well, as i think you know, we're confirming circuit judges here in the senate this week. this has been a big priority of this administrationd


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