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tv   U.S. Senate 11082017  CSPAN2  November 8, 2017 1:59pm-4:00pm EST

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he said, don't you think we could save a lot of money if we didn't fight anymore wars? and i thought for a minute. i said, we probably characters but there wouldn't be any reason for you and i to exist because america is the place we want to be because we're safe. i'm going to bring that up because that is the reason we celebrate veterans day. give thanks to the men and women who volunteer to serve in our country-and-in the wars overseas and battles overseas and sometimes challenges domestically. to protect us and keep us flee. america is a great country. you don't find anybody trying to break out of the united states of america. they're all trying to break in. for a very good reason -- it is a safe and free place to raise a family, start a business, and serve in many other ways. so this year on the 11th day at the 11th hour and the 11th minute of november, when you celebrate, pause for a minute to say thanks to those who have come and gone and those
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who are still here to fight and serve us and protect us. remember congress decided shortly after world war i, to decide that the 11th day, the day that the armistice was signed, the 11th of november, the 11th hour, 11:00 in the morning, would be the time to pay tribute to the veterans. so we're all going to toll that bell one more time to give thanks to our veterans for all they've done for us, for all they will do for us in the future. you know, it's b -- it's best when you talk about veterans, to talk about them of the people they were, the people they are, whether they are alive or passed on. i want to talk about two veterans whose paths crossed my life, to point out why we owe them so much and we have so much to be thankful for. one of them is jackson elliott cox, iii, of bird county, which is the bird dog capital of america. it's the home of a nuclear power
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plant. it's a beautiful rural county in georgia. jack was my best friend in college. we met in 1962. we graduated in 1966. i'll never forget the last time i saw jack, when he was shipping out to go to o.c.s. in the marine corps. jack decided when he graduated that it was more important for him to volunteer and fight for our country because of what was going on in vietnam than do anything else. he voluntarily joined the marine corps, went to o.c.s., got his commission as an officer, became a captain in the united states marine corps. he fought and he died in vietnam. i will never forget the last words he told me when we put him on the bus from waynesboro, georgia, to atlanta to ultimately go to be shipped out. he said johnny, i'm sure i'm coming back. don't worry about me, just pray for me. but in case i don't, make sure people remember who jackson elliott cox, iii, was. i said jack, i'll do that. and sure enough, two years later he was shot and killed by a
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sniper in vietnam, lost his life at the age of 24. the finest human being i ever knew. nicest guy i had ever met. my favorite friend out of all my life. he was taken from me because he volunteered to serve and fight for our country. so i -- i'm going to keep today before the united states senate the promise i made to him at that bus station. i want you to know who jackson elliott cox, iii, was. he was a good old country boy from south georgia. he volunteered to serve his runs life and gave his life so we could be here today. there are millions of men like him all over the world, hundreds of thousands of them. we have so much to thank him for because less than 1% of our population has worn the uniform, been in the battle and fought to save us like jackson did. when you have your chance to meet and become friends with a veteran, and all of you will, remember you owe them a debt of
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gratitude. sometime when you get a chance to pay that debt back, do what i'm doing today. don't let their memory ever be lost or forgotten, no matter where you go or where life takes you. because you wouldn't get to where you're going had they not allowed you to be safe and free to travel that route. the second name i want to mention is noah harris. noah is from georgia. he was a cheerleader at the university of georgia on saturday afternoon in november of 2001. it was his junior year. georgia played clemson. he cheered and led the school to victory and celebrated like everybody else did. a few days later on september 11, 2001, he turned his television on to see 3,000 innocent citizens, most of them americans, die in the twin towers when al qaeda and osama bin laden and the faces of evil and the agents of evil attacked our country. took our innocence, killed our people, and changed the world forever. noah was a cheerleader.
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we don't have mawpped draft anymore. you don't have to serve. he was not serving. he was going to graduate in a year and a half. he was going to be an architect. the next morning after 9/11 when he left his dorm, he went to the army rotc building at the university of georgia campus. he said after what i saw on tv last night, i want to go fight and get the people who did that to my country and my friends. they said mr. harris, you can't do that, because the o.c.s. is a two-year program at the university. you don't have enough time to do it. he said i will study up, i want to go. i want to fight for my country. they let him in, and he did. he graduated with honors. a few months later, he graduated second lieutenant from the united states army at fort benning in georgia. before too long, he was in gazaria, in iraq, a suburb of iraq. giving beanie babies out of one pocket while the other pocket of his field jacket has ammunition. he was trying to win over the
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hearts of the iraqi children while he was fighting to preserve freedom for them and return their country to some form of a democracy or a republic away from the captives of saddam hussein. i knew him casually. i knew his parents well, rick and lucy. i know they have mourned every day since they lost noah in baghdad when he went there and died in an i.e.d. accident. i know how proud they are of what he did and why he did it. i'm proud he was my friend. i'm proud to have known him as well. i'm proud to be able to stand on the floor of the united states senate today and talk about noah harris and talk about jackson elliott cox, who are exemplary of all the others who have served in the military. men and women, rich and poor, black and white, who have gone and fought the battle and borne the battle for us so we can be where we are today. it kind of reminds me of the guy who went to benjamin franklin in philadelphia shortly after the constitution was adopted. they said mr. franklin, what have you given us?
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he stopped and paused for a republican and said a republic, if you can keep it. and we have kept it. we have kept it because we have subscribed to our constitution but because we have a militia and a military, we're willing to fight for what we believe in, protect our citizens, keep our country free. so the country that our founding fathers gave to us that was nurtured in the early days of this republic that now is almost hundreds of years old still is there today for lots of reasons, but principally the undergirding foundation of a strong and vibrant military. so when veterans day comes back, give thanks to the veterans that you know. mention a couple of them like i have done here so their memory and their names never die, but also so we can lift them up at a time we pause for just a minute to say thank you for the greatest country on the face of this earth. senator blunt talked about our committee and what we have done this year. i want to just take a minute to reiterate some of the things he said because there are no
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democratic veterans and no republican veterans. there are only american veterans. they don't go to the battlefield as a partisan. they go to the battlefield as an american. they fight for us whether we're a republican or a democrat. they risk their own life and sometimes sacrifice it, so we can do what ben franklin said -- keep that republic. we owe them a lot. in many ways, we owe them everything. we have had a mess of the v.a. in the last ten years. they have been the lead story on "usa today" more than any other agency in the government for failures of the v.a. to do the job it should have done. but under david shulkin, the secretary of the v.a. appointed by president trump, under the leadership of our committees in the house and the senate, and under a commitment to bipartisan service by all of our members, which means we do almost everything unanimously and if not unanimously, almost unanimously, because it's not about getting a republican president or a democratic president. it's about doing the right thing for the right people who have done so much for us. we passed the whistle-blower protection act this year to give whistle-blowers in the v.a. the
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protection they need to go and turn into authorities, those veterans, employees in the veterans administration are not doing their job, and we give them the safe harbor they need to encourage us to help root out problems, and we're doing that. we passed the accountability bill to open the light of sunshine on the employees of the v.a. and to give the authorities in the v.a. the ability to terminate, fire, if you will, for cause an employee that is not doing the job they should be doing for our veterans. so we had to hold the standard of accountability up a little higher for our employees in the veterans administration. we're magnifying choice so veterans can have more choice. we don't want the government to hire all the lawyers and doctors and physicians assistants to service the v.a., we get them in the private sector as well. the 21st century g.i. bill, we finally made sure the g.i. bill applies to everybody, not just world war ii or vietnam war-era veterans, but veterans of all
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conflicts and of all types. we have done everything we could to see to it the benefits we promised them would be there when they left the military are there for them in retirement and in their later life. the sacrifice they make is great and the sacrifices we have made to save our veterans is great. today veterans come home from the battlefield 90% of the time when they are wounded, they come home, whereas in world war ii, 10% came home, 90% died on the battlefield. but because of the advancements we have made in armor and protection and the health care services we have, a lot of veterans today live that would not have lived just 25 or 30 years ago. and the injuries they sustain are far greater than any injuries we knew in warfare before. the signature illness is ptsd, pose traumatic stress syndrome, but part of the body is
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protected by the new vests which are impenetrable by a bullet. most of them are from i.e.d.'s and explosives and things of that nature. but we have the best health care to provide them with the best possible rehabilitation you can. but you can never really replace a leg or an eye or a body part. once somebody has sacrificed it forever, they wear the burden of battle and the war. but we have the obligation in the veterans administration as the congress of the united states and the house and senate to see to it that we back up those promises our recruiters made when they came to join the military, see to it they get those services from their veterans administration. dr. david shulkin is doing a phenomenal job. my ranking member, jon tester, democrat from montana, is doing a fantastic job. the house committee is doing a great job. the members of the senate are doing a great job. in a week and a half, we'll have our final bill of the year which when we pass it, it will make us eight for eight. we will have totally reformed the v.a. and worked with the v.a. to reform it and do it in a way that our veterans get better
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service, our taxpayers get more accountability for the dollars they spend, and america remains the great country it's always been, safe and free because of those who volunteer, fight and are willing to die on behalf of our country. so sometime on the 11th day and hopefully at the 11th hour and the 11th minute of that hour on november 11, you will pause for a minute and remember i told you that's when we celebrate veterans day, because our country decided at that time when the arm cities was signed in world war i, it was the perfect day to remember all those who fought in the past. let's look around and every time we see a uniform, man or woman in uniform, stop and say thank you for your service because those are the people who are risking their lives so you and i can do whatever it is we choose to do in this land of the free and home of the brave. there are lots of things to be thankful for, but nothing more important than the men and women in the united states military. may god bless our country and god bless our veterans. may god bless the united states of america. and i yield back.
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. hoeven: i'm pleased to have the opportunity to speak on the floor of the senate after my esteemed colleague from the state of georgia. my colleague is the chairman of the veterans' affairs committee. i just want to express my appreciation for this commitment and his work on behalf of all of our great veterans. like him, i rise today to speak in tribute to our veterans and men and women in uniform and all that we do for them. this weekend, at events across the country, we will pay tribute to the fine men and women who have served in our nation's armed forces. every day, but especially on veterans day, we honor these soldiers who left the comforts of home and family to defend our freedoms, to fight for our way
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of life. our freedoms have been secured by the sweat and sacrifice that face men and women who throughout our history have bravely done what was needed to protect our great nation. we also recognize that those who serve do not serve alone. we appreciate, too, the sacrifice of the families and the loved ones who have supported our veterans in their service. this veterans day, we will honor military members from our greatest generation to those men and women fighting in the war on terror today. these americans understand best the words of president ronald reagan when he said, quote, freedom is nevermore than one generation away from extinction. we didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. it must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, end quote. these men and women who have fought for and protected our country have given so much, and we cannot do enough to thank them whether they return from active military duty seven days
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ago or seven decades ago. although we can never repay our debt of gratitude, one of the most tangible ways we recognize our veteran service is by providing these men and women with quality health care and support services, including education and work opportunities. with that debt in mind, let me briefly outline some initiatives that we have been working on to provide for our veterans. congress has passed significant veterans bills this year, including legislation that holds the v.a. accountable and ensures that v.a. employees are putting our veterans first. legislation that updates and modernizes the v.a. benefits claims and appeals process, reducing wait times for our veterans. additionally, one of my top priorities is ensuring that our veterans have access to health care options closer to their homes and their families. this includes improving
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veterans' access to services under the veterans choice program and building on the success of the veterans care coordination initiative at the fargo v.a. medical center in my own state. this effort has decreased the wait times, scheduling and appointment under veterans choice from 24 days a year ago to five or six days at present. this initiative can serve as a model to help address delays through the veterans choice program across the nation. we've invited secretary shulkin from north dakota to see this work firsthand. our care core work initiative has been expanded to the v.a. facility in helena, montana, as well and believe it will be expanded to other locations across the country. we provided expansion to the veterans choice program earlier this year and secured dlshes --
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$2.1 billion in additional funding for the program. this gives us time to work with the v.a. on the next phase of the program. we are working to improve local access to long-term care for our veterans. we secured a commitment from secretary shulkin to work with us on the veterans access to long-term care and health services act. we've now included this legislation -- excuse me -- introduced this legislation in the senate and a companion bill has been introduced in the house of representatives. legislation would remove burdensome red tape that prevents nursing homes and other health care providers from accepting veteran patients. our bill allows the v.a. to enter into provider agreements to qualified health care and extended care facilities bypassing complex federal contracting requirements. this will give veterans more options to access long-term care services closer to their homes, to their families, to their
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loved ones. additionally, earlier this year congress passed and the president signed into law the forever g.i. bill which improved and extended veterans access to education and workforce opportunities. this is part of our efforts to ensure that we're supporting our veterans as they transition back to civilian life and work here at home. these are just a few examples of our efforts to ensure that our veterans have the resources and the support that they have so richly earned. while we cannot say thank you enough, in this way we can honor their courage and their sacrifice. we honor veterans day because we have the greatest veterans in the world who have committed themselves to protect our nation and in so doing have transformed this country into the greatest the world has ever known. may god continue to bless our veterans and this great nation that they have been protecting
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and to make sure that we honor their selfless service for all our men and women in uniform, for all our veterans not only on veterans day, but every day. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. tillis: thank you, mr. president. i appreciate the kind words of senator hoeven and his affinity towards veterans. i'm here to talk about veterans as well and i come at it from three different perspectives. i chair the personnel subcommittee in senate armed services so we're trying to work on things to make sure that when somebody -- into veteran status we try to make it as productive as we can be to make sure they enter back in fully with the workforce, the educational opportunities, all the kinds of opportunities that are afforded them as a result of serving in our armed services. but also i want to take a minute
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to talk about the, actually the person whob served who never -- who served who never wore a uniform and that's the husband or the wife or the children that on this veterans day we should also thank. a lot of times when i have an opportunity -- i live in charlotte. i live in north carolina where we have nearly 800,000 veterans, one of the largest populations of any one state. i make a point to get to the airport a little bit early so i can go up to the u.s.o. and just spend a moment meeting with people who are there transitions there active duty and veterans just to thank them for their service. and oftentimes i'll thank a man or woman and they'll say i didn't serve. my husband or my wife did. i said by virtue of being being a military husband or wife you served as did your children. on this veterans day let's make sure we expand those thank yous to include everybody who ising affected when somebody is deployed to a dangerous time or through peacetime.
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it is a great sacrifice and one we should always show our gratitude for. as i said, in north carolina we have about 800,000 veterans. we also have one of the highest military concentrations of any state. it's the home of the global response force at fort bragg, over 65,000 men and women serving, 38 generals. you go right down the street, right down just a little bit closer to the coast and you get to jacksonville, north carolina, where we have camp lejeune. there's a debate over the pronunciation. so i'll pronounce it both ways. but there we have nearly 45% of the marine corps. many people don't realize that, but stationed out of north carolina. we could go to seemour, johnson, new river, to jerry point and seeing these men and women serving every day and the ones who served before them who are now part of our veterans population. we should thank them all for their crnt service or their -- current service or their past service. mr. president, the gentleman from arkansas, i want to thank you for your service because you
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served bravely in combat positions before entering the u.s. senate. that's another amazing thing about the veterans, is they continue to serve. if you go to a coffee shop, you may see a huddle of veterans around somebody that's organized the event. that's probably a veteran making sure that veterans are speaking to each other and working through some of the challenges that some of them have when they're put in very difficult situations. or if you go into a community center, you'll almost always see a veteran there continuing to serve even after they have ended their vif duty -- active duty service. on veterans day we should go to every person we know is a veteran and thank them. we should make sure that anybody you see in uniform -- i'll be in the airport probably thursday evening or friday. i'll make it a point to go to every person i see in uniform and thank them for their service because we owe that to them for all that they do for us. now, i think that on the one hand, we need to think about veterans especially on veterans
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day. but as senator hoeven said, we need to think about them every day. and as a u.s. senator, the way we do that is not just by thinking, but by doing. what more can we do in my capacity on the veterans' affairs committee or in my capacity on senate armed services to make service easier and safer and after they move out of active status to veteran status what more can we do for them? there are a lot of things we can do. one, we need to make sure they have an opportunity to get a job that in many cases will leverage the skills that they learned when they were in the military into private-sector jobs. mr. president, you know that you and i sponsored a bill, the valor act, that will be brought up before the senate that helps to actually expedite the process of having those who have served in the military to get hired, to make it easier for employers to put them in apprenticeship positions where maybe they leverage some of the skills they learned while they were in active duty but get them in good
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paying jobs to support themselves and their families. there are a number of other things we have to do for other who are veterans that i think is particularly important. when we talk about post traumatic stress or we talk about traumatic brain injury, those are in some cases invisible wounds of war. we need to make sure and we need to understand why is it that nearly every day 20 veterans take their lives through suicide. to what extent could that be something we simply didn't know about that veteran? why are they disproportionately more likely to do it? many of them incidentally, the vince today who have this disproportionately high amount of suicide incidents are veterans from the vietnam war. we need to go back and figure out how we can reach out to that population a significant number of whom never even seek v.a. medical services to provide them with the resources that they need to work through these sorts of challenges. we need to make sure that health care is available across the map, and we need to recognize that that challenge in north carolina is vastly different than the same challenge in,
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say, south dakota. we have a state population of ten million people, almost a million veterans or approaching that when you include the spouses and families, well above it. and we need to make sure that we're getting health care and services where it's most convenient for them. i think some of that will be provided on what the choice to go to the doctor that makes the most sense for them. a lot of it will provide a brick and mortar presence at the v.a. so that they can go and be amongst other people who are actually dealing with the same sorts of circumstances. and they're actually being served by about half the population in our veterans hospitals and our health care centers are veterans themselves. this is a very important part of the broader solution we need to provide our veterans as we continue to build a relationship with them for the rest of their lives. mr. president, we'll never finish all the work we should do. we'll keep on making installments into a debt we can never repay. but what we need to do on november 11 is support our veterans by showing our gratitude and our thanks for
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their service. so on this veterans day, take an extra effort to thank a veteran. thank a veteran spouse. thank a veteran child, the child of a veteran for their service to this great nation. we'll never ever be able to fully repay the debt that we owe them, but we can sure make a lot of installments as individual citizens and as members of this congress and as long as i'm in the u.s. senate, that's what i intend to do. mr. president, once again, thank you for your service and thank all the men and women who have served before. and with that, i yield the floor. and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mrs. murray: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mrs. murray: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: i ask that i be allowed to speak as if in morning business are. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. first of all, i'd like to say that i appreciate colleagues from both sides of the aisle who
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will be here to speak about, and thank them for their leadership on our legislation and taking the time to speak today. we are now exactly one week into open enrollment, and it has been three weeks now since chairman alexander and i put forward a bipartisan bill to stabilize our health care markets and lower patients' health care costs. so i wanted to come this afternoon to talk a few minutes about what it means that so many people nationwide are signing up for coverage and why there is no good reason for republican leadership to wait another minute before bringing up our bill for a vote. mr. president, it's still early, but what we're seeing so far is millions of people across our country are going to healthcare.gov to shop for coverage. 200,000 signed up on the first day, more than double the amount from last year. the vast majority will get tax
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credits to help cover their costs. in fact, some who are struggling the most will find they can save even more this year because of how our current health care system absorbs cost increases, but, mr. president, there's no question that premiums are going up in many places and fewer coverage options are available and not every consumer is protected. as one woman, melissa, told "the washington post" this week, she is, quote, joining the ranks of the uninsured for the first time in her life as a 51-year-old. she says she doesn't qualify for subsidies and given how much her premiums would increase, her insurance costs would have been more than her mortgage payments each month. melissa is one of the people paying the price for president trump's health care sabotage and republicans so far -- leadership's unwillingness to cheer him along. mr. president, it is unacceptable that are patients and families are having to take on this burden.
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let's remember that when someone goes to sign up for health care coverage, they are not doing it as a republican or democrat, they are doing it as a parent or a caregiver or a business owner who wants to stay healthy and financially secure. here in washington, d.c., health care has become bogged down in politics, but in cities and towns across our country, it's about taking care of yourself and your loved ones. that's why so many people are going on to -- going on-line to shop for health care coverage. regardless of the fact to make implosion a reality, president trump, among his many other efforts that sabotage, shortened the enrollment period this year and gutted investments in outreach and advertising and caused premiums for those people to increase by double digits on the average. you know, patients and families deserve so much better. i've said it before,
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mr. president. the frustrating thing is that this all could have been avoided. way back in september chairman alexander and i were on the verge of an agreement to stabilize health care markets and lower premiums for the coming year and for 2019. our agreement would have provided multi-year certainty on the out-of-pocket cost reduction subsidies that president trump decided to stop paying, even though the law says he is required to do so. had we been able to move faster, our legislation would have resulted in lower premiums right away for 2018, but republican leaders pressed the pause button on bipartisan negotiations so they can try to jam bipartisan repeal through the senate. we lost a lot of precious time. but, mr. president, our bill, the lamar alexander-patty murray
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bill would do a lot of good right now. if we take up our legislation now and passes it, families would see rebates this year and lower health care costs next year because our bill is designed that the greater benefit is passed on to patients and taxpayers, not horded by insurance companies. our deal would also invest in open enrollment and it would allow more states the flexibility to innovate as the affordable care act was always intended and it would mark a critical step away from this harmful partisanship on health care and towards working, under regular order, on solutions that make health care work better for the people we serve. finally, mr. president, this legislation would send a critical message to patients and families that when congress sets aside partisan difference and focuses on what is best for our country, we can deliver a result
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as chairman alexander often says. more than 200 groups representing doctors, hospitals, state officials, governors, and patients have endorsed our bill. the nonpartisan congressional budget office says it would do exactly what it was intended to do, stabilize markets and bring down health care costs while returning $3.8 billion to taxpayers. 12 senate democrats and 12 senate republicans cosponsored it. we are continuing to build support, and there is no question that it would pass here with a filibuster-proof majority if it was brought to the floor. while the senate shouldn't need president trump's signoff to fix the nation's health care, the president has supported this process moving forward. so here we are and right now it is up to republican leaders. they can choose to stay in a partisan corner, reject the
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opportunity to lower patient health care costs in a bipartisan way or they can do what people across the country want them to do and put patients over politics. i don't want to note, mr. president, if republican leaders hadn't got the message, they deeply reject the partisanship on health care. so it is well past time for republican leaders to give up the -- trump care and work with democrats for real solutions and that starts with the health care bill to lower health care costs and stabilize the market because if they don't we can be sure they will be held accountable. thank, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: i'm pleased to join my colleague from washington, senator murray, and congratulate her and senator alexander on being able to reach agreement to move forward to address the uncertainty in the
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marketplace, but, like senator murray, i want to also begin with what we're seeing going on in this open enrollment period. despite all of the efforts to undermine the affordable care act, to shorten the time period in which people can sign up to make it more difficult by having sundays -- having the site closed for part of sundays, we are seeing a record number of people enrolling. according to news reports, on the firstday alone, more than a million people visited healthcare.gov, almost double the number that signed up last year on the first day. so for anybody who is still thinking about it, you have until december 15. so sign up early, as senator hassan says, it is the best christmas shopping you can do,
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get your health care. go to healthcare.gov and enroll during the open enrollment period. this surge in signups is especially remarkable in light of the widely publicized efforts by the trump administration to depress enrollment. the administration has slashed the budget by 90%, cut the open enrollment period by half and shut down the online service on sundays taking away valuable weekend hours when people have free time to explore plans. i think the healthy involvement of enrollments sends two very important messages. first, it shows, again, that ordinary citizens, faith groups, insurance navigators, and other private organizations have done an amazing job of filling the outreach void that has been created by this effort by the administration to cut back on letting people know about the website and how to enroll.
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those folks have spent countless hours getting out the word that the affordable care act remains the law of the land and that those who qualify for financial assistance can purchase high-quality affordable coverage. the second message that i think is important from these strong enrollments is a message that has been echoed in recent public opinion polls. it's one we saw in the turnout in the virginia elections last night. it is that a clear majority of the american people support the affordable care act. they reject efforts to sabotage it and they want members of congress to work together to strengthen it, just as senator murray said. now, i'm really pleased that we have in the senate come together to do just that. we have come together in support of bamp efforts -- bipartisan efforts led by senator murray and senator lamar alexander, the
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chair and ranking member of the help committee. they've come together to stabilize the affordable care act and the marketplaces and to bring down premiums. and i am proud to be one of the 12 democrats who are original cosponsors with 12 republicans of this legislation. this balanced agreement, which was negotiated by senators alexander and murray, over many months is our best bet for restoring stability to the marketplaces in the short run and giving us the time we need to negotiate longer term to deal with other changes to the health law to make it work better. i'm especially pleased that the alexander-murray agreement provides for the continuation of cost-sharing reduction payments, or those c.s.r.'s which are payments which are necessary to keep premiums, deductibles, and copayments affordable for working families. they are extended for two years in this bill, and without these
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payments, the cost of coverage will skyrocket, ensurers -- insurers will leave the marketplace, as we have already seen, as the trump administration said they will discontinue those payments and millions of people will lose their health coverage, but this is an opportunity for us to keep that from happening. both democrats and republicans have recognized that these cost-sharing reduction payments, these c.s.r.'s are an orderly, necessary subsidy that keeps down the cost of health coverage for every day americans. in recent months i've heard from hundreds of people across new hampshire about the enormous difference that health care reform has made in their lives many we're a small state. we have just over 1 point of order 3 million -- 1.3 million people, but 90,000 grant it staters have gotten -- granite staters have gotten coverage.
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there was bipartisan support in new hampshire. that is about one-tenth of new hampshire is covered either through the affordable care act or through the expansion of medicaid. for us in new hampshire it has been particularly critical in responding and providing treatment to those people with substance use disorders. patricia tucker has written to me. she's a substance use counselor in new hampshire. she talks about how grateful she is for the medicaid expansion. she writes, and i quote from her letter, i'm seeing people come for help that were not able to get help in the past as they couldn't afford it. they're getting help and they're remaining act nent. oo abstinent. if one mother gets cleaned, this affects so many others. she goes on to say, i treat one mother who has two children. she now cares for these children and has a full time job. in the past she lived off the state and didn't care for
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anyone, including herself. multiply this by thousands just in new hampshire, and this makes such a big difference. and think about how across the country we have affected people with substance use disorders because they can now get treatment. i agree with patricia tucker and so many others who have contacted me about the affordable care act. we are grateful for the progress, and we refuse to be taken backward. that's why the bipartisan agreement hammered out by senator alexander and senator murray is such an important breakthrough. this agreement stands on its merits as a good-faith, win-win compromise, but just as important and maybe even more important, these two senators have given us a template for bipartisan negotiations on other critical matters that lie ahead. tax reform, reauthorizing the community health centers and the children's health insurance program and reaching an agreement on the 2018 budget.
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the senate is at its best when we observe regular order, when we honor the committee process, when we work across the aisle and make principled compromises and get big things done for the american people. in a senate that's nearly equally divided between republicans and democrats, bipartisanship is the only productive way forward. this is how the great majority of americans want us to conduct the senate's business, and this is especially true on matters such as health care and tax reform that impact families in new hampshire and all across america. so i'm grateful to people across our country who have gotten out the word about the health insurance open enrollment period that began on november 1 and continues through december 15. i'm heartened by the surge in enrollments, and i'm encouraged by bipartisan progress in the senate to stabilize the health
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insurance marketplaces. i certainly hope that the leadership here in the senate allows this bill to come to the floor because we know we have the votes to pass it. and instead of partisan efforts to undermine the law and take health insurance away from people, let's embrace the spirit of the alexander-murray agreement. let's work together in a good faith, bipartisan fashion to build a health care system that leaves no american behind. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i would like to request unanimous consent that my energy policy fellow suchi delatto be granted floor privileges for the remainder of this congress. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. franken: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise today to talk about the importance of bipartisan action on health
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care, just like the senator from new hampshire just did. now, over the past year, i have traveled all around minnesota to talk with individuals and families and community leaders about health care. i've heard from mothers and fathers who have been worried about losing the health insurance that their children need to access life-saving services. i've heard from daughters who have been panicked about how to pay for their parents' long-term care and prescription drug costs. and i've heard from hospital executives in rural areas much like the rural areas in arkansas who have been concerned about how they're going to keep their doors open. what is abundantly clear from all of these conversations is that minnesotans want congress to work together to build on the affordable care act, lower health care costs, and support
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policies that work. that's why i believe first that congress must act immediately to pass bipartisan legislation to stabilize the individual market. secondly, we must do all we can to support strong enrollment in our health insurance exchanges, so that all consumers, regardless of their health needs can find high quality, affordable health insurance coverage and third reauthorize the children's health insurance program. now, let me take each of these in turn. when republican efforts to repeal the affordable care act failed, the senate health, education, labor, and pensions committee got to work and developed a bipartisan plan to stabilize the individual market. as a member of that committee, i participated in numerous
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hearings with witnesses who span the ideological spectrum, solicited input from state and national leaders, and worked in good faith with all of my colleagues to develop legislation that is truly a compromise bill. this legislation referred to as the alexander-murray deal will contain health care costs for consumers, provide certainty to insurers participating in these markets, and provide states with flexibility with the flex he -- flexibility, with the flexibility they need to develop innovative local solutions. i'm proud that we were able to accomplish this. what i am most proud of is that this bill includes a provision that will reverse a decision by the trump administration that would effectively punish
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minnesota for pushing forward a bipartisan plan to stabilize the individual market, a bipartisan plan in our state legislature. last year after our state experienced dramatic premium rate hikes in the individual markets, state leaders worked together, worked together in a bipartisan way to pass a reinsurance program to contain these costs, but the program's enactment was contingent upon approval from the federal government. after months of foot dragging, the federal government finally approved the state's reinsurance plan as part of the 1332 waiver proposal. but simultaneously the government -- simultaneously the federal government cut federal funding for minnesota care, which is another program in the
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state that provides affordable health coverage to working families. thus, our state had to choose whether to support a bipartisan proposal to stabilize the individual market and lower premiums for consumers or swallow hundreds of millions of dollars in lost federal funding. it's an impossible choice that was completely unnecessary. and that's why i set to work to fix it. and after weeks of productive negotiations, i am pleased to report that the alexander-murray deal will prevent the trump administration from imposing these cuts on minnesota. but my state wasn't the only one threatened by potential funding cuts. the alexander-murray bill would prevent such problems from recurring in any other state as well. and it would do much more. according to the congressional
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budget office, this agreement would reduce the deficit by billions of dollars, lower premiums in 2019, and preserve coverage options for individuals and families. in short, it's not only good for minnesota, it's good for the entire country. this bill is a bipartisan win-win-win. now our job is to pass this legislation into law. at the same time, we must do everything we can to drive up enrollment in the health insurance exchanges regardless of party, if we want to ensure that consumers have access to affordable, high quality health insurance coverage, we have to get people to sign up for the coverage. more people equals better risk
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pools, which equals lower premiums. it's really that simple. look, the trump administration has done everything in its power to undermine obamacare. it's halved the amount of time that people have to enroll in coverage. it slashed funding for outreach and enrollment efforts. and it's deliberately misled consumers about the benefits of the a.c.a. and individual requirements for coverage. but we have the power to combat these efforts. let's get people enrolled. open enrollment started on november 1 and will end for most people on december 15. minnesotans are lucky in that they have until january 14 to sign up for coverage. but everyone who doesn't receive coverage from their employer or
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through medicare needs to sign up now. so i urge you to get your constituents to visit healthcare.gov, to shop around, and then enroll in coverage. and lastly, it is time to reauthorize the children's health insurance program, community health centers, and the national health service corporation. these have -- service corps. these have always been bipartisan programs. there's no reason this should be any different today. the anxiety that people in minnesota and across the country feel about their access to health care is not inevitable. it is the results of political decisions made here in washington, d.c. let's prove to the country that we're not here to fight with
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each other. we're here to fight for them. let's show them that we can get something done. let's take action to protect health care and give our constituents at long last some piece of mind. thank you, mr. president, and i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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senator mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. klobuchar: i rise today to call for bipartisan action on health care. i think it was interesting to learn that the citizens of virginia when they voted yesterday listed as they are top issue, from what i've learned, health care, and there was
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obviously an issue there where there had been no medicaid expansion, and they were unhappy with the way it had been handled by the legislature there, as well as the republicans that were in charge of the legislature, and they appear to be pushing for a change. and so we have an opportunity here to make a bipartisan change. and i think it is exactly the kind of message that we got yesterday. in fact, in my state -- we have a republican legislature and a democratic governor -- and they came together to do something about some of the rates, particularly in our rural areas, and they focused on reinsurance, cost-sharing, some of the things that are in the bipartisan agreement that was reached between senator alexander and senator murray. we have 12 democrats and 12 republicans cosponsoring that bill, and support includes the
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american cancer society, the american diabetes society, the march of dimes, the arthritis foundation, and those are just the "a's." the american people want us to work together to make fixes to the affordable care act. i said the day it passed, that a beginning, not and he. we have been sometime need trying to -- we have been stymied in trying to make those changes. i think this is a sensible, bipartisan approach. as we all know, both senators, senator alexander and senator murray, held a series of hearings and discussions on commonsense solutions to bring down insurance costs with senators on both sides of the aisle. there were governors, there were insurance experts, and we worked hard to make sure that there was some agreement on this bill. i fought for a provision that would help states apply for and receive waivers to give them
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some flexibility to construct their health care system, to bring down the cost, without losing federal funding. that's something my state did. as i mentioned, my state, with a republican-led legislate toured and a democratic governor, came together to apply for a waiver and a reinsurance provision. the bill would also expedite the review of waiver applications for proposals that have already been approved for other states that are experiencing certain circumstances, emergency circumstances where they need to make changes. the legislation also shortens the overall time period that states would have to wait for the federal government to decide whether to approve their waivers. all of these are good, fundamental concepts. this idea that states should have some flexibility, that they should be able to apply for waivers, that they should be able to get their answers as soon as possible from the federal government -- that's what this bill is about. and not only does the bill improve the process for waivers
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and the flexibility for the states, like we've seen in minnesota where already even the projected numbers brought the rates down something like 20% -- well, the nonpartisan congressional budget office says that this bill, the murray-alexander bill, would actually cut the deficit by $3.8 billion over the next ten years. okay, that is hard to argue with. it is clear that this legislation could get support from both sides of the aisle to make health care better for americans. we have a majority of senators supporting this bill, so we need to get it done because the longer we wait, the more the markets don't know what's going on, the more confusion is created, the more when the administration is doing things that sabotage the affordable care act that we need this kind of stability in the system. passing the bill would be an important step forward, but we still must do more to bring down the costs for middle-class families. a big part of that is addressing the skyrocketing costs of
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prescription drugs. i've heard from people across minnesota who are struggling to afford the medicine they need. this is about the woman in deluge who told -- in duluth who chose not to fill her prescription because it would cost too much. another person could not afford the medicine she needed. it is about 0 someone from crystal, minnesota, who told me i am practically going without food pay for the prescription. it is heartbreaking that this is happening in america. reducing the cost of prescription drugs has bipartisan support in congress and the president has said he wants to get something done. he has said this. he has said the drug companies are getting away with murder -- those are his words. that is what he said. so what can we do. well, republicans and democrats could come together and act right now. i have a bill that has 33 cosponsors that lifts the ban
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that makes it illegal for medicare to negotiate prices for prescription drugs -- for how many seniors? 41 million seniors of i think 41 million seniors are pretty good at getting deals. they deserve to have someone negotiating on their behalf. that is the government that is supposed to be negotiating with medicare. except why don't we negotiate like we did for the v.a., like other countries do? well, we don't negotiate because there's a provision in law that says that the government is not allowed to negotiate on behalf of 41 million seniors with the drug companies. they're just set. guess what that means? that's a big part of the reason why our drug prices are double the cost of those in canada. because we're just taking it and we're not negotiating it. another idea, bringing up canada, senator mccain and i have a bill that would allow less expensive drugs to be sold in the united states. to me that's a way of putting pressure on our own drug
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companies to put out some better prices, if they know there's going to be competition. senator grassley of iowa and i have a bill to stop something called pay for delay. that's when big farm suit qual companies actually pay off general maker companies to keep less expensive products off the market. this bill would save taxpayers $2.9 billion. you know why? because right now there's no competition or very little competition and they're actually paying their competitors to stay off the market. and the competitors have decided, well, i get more money to be paid to stay off the market than if i actually competed. think about what a rip-off that is for the american people. we're allowing this to go on while the consumers are paying the price. how much? we know the government alone is going to save $2.9 billion if we stop this practice. well, consumers would save most likely around that same amount
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because they're paying all the co-pays. both the government is ripped off and the consumers are ripped off, and the only ones that are making money off it are the drug companies. another idea: senator lee and i have a bill that would allow temporary importation of safe drugs from other countries that have been on the market in another country for at least ten years when there isn't healthy competition in our own country. again, if you're drug companies that are messing around, charging high prices, not allowing competition in, if you know there might be foreign competition coming in, well, that's an incentive because you want to then make sure that doesn't happen, because you know that if you keep your prices high and you do things to disallow competition, you're going to have some major competition. i don't know how else we bring the prices down without allowing more competition. i also have a bipartisan bill with senators grassley, lee, feinstein, and leahy that,
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it's called the creates act to put a stop to other pharmaceutical company tactics like refusing to provide samples to generic companies that are supposed to be allowed to compete with them. according to the congressional budget office, this legislation would save approximately $3.6 billion. so as we hear about tax reform and all of this going on and you hear about the debt that we may be seeing expand if something like this goes forward, then you ask yourself, what's not in those bills? why aren't we saving some money for the american people and reducing the debt by allowing for this competition? by allowing for the samples? by allowing for more generics? by stopping this practice of companies paying each other to keep their competitors off the market? what this health care debate has been about for the last year where repeatedly there's been attempts to repeal the affordable care act, it's just been about that. and the american people made it really clear they want to make it about something else.
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they want to make it about improvements to the system we have now to make it easier for them. one way is the alexander-murray bill which i strongly support. i'm one of the cosponsors. how smart it works with the state, both democratic, republican state, blue state, red state that want to see that kind of flexibility. the other way is to actually take a stand, be willing to take on the pharmaceutical industry and take on some of these cost issues when it comes to prescription drugs. so let's come together in the senate as an initial move and pass the murray-alexander bill. we must do that and we must do it by the end of the year. then we can go on from there to actually do something about the cost of prescription drugs. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president.
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the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. peters: mr. president, there are a number of matters where we disagree here in the u.s. senate. they range from deeply held foundational beliefs to the smallest details of legislative language. but despite these agreements, i believe there's a lot that we can all agree on. i hope i speak for every member of congress in saying that in this great nation of ours, hard work should always be rewarded. if you play by the rules and do the right thing, you should have an opportunity to earn a good life for yourself and for your family. our mothers, fathers, and others before us have worked hard to ensure that we have a fair shot at the american dream. unfortunately, it feels like the fabric of american dream has started to fray for far too many families. even more troubling, we are seeing nominees from this administration that seem
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committed to actively unravel the support and the protections that help workers get ahead. today we are considering the nomination of peter robb to be general counsel of the national labor relations board. mr. robb would be responsible for ensuring safe working conditions and fair compensation for american workers. he would be tasked with protecting the treshed rights of workers to engage in good-faith negotiations with their employers. however a brief look at mr. robb's career reveals a clear track record of working to undermine our nation's workers and middle class on behalf of corporate executives. to mr. robb's credit, he's not trying to hide his record or run away from his record. all you have to do is visit his firm's website and to see the experiences that he's proud to display. and i believe that it is a
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preview of how he will approach his position at the national labor relations board. his self-proclaimed accomplishments include advising large corporations on mergers, acquisitions, and plant closings. securing labor injunctions. and bringing suits against labor organizations. when someone tells you who they are, believe them. and while i certainly believe that every american and corporations are entitled to vigorous representation by their lawyers, i also believe that senators must evaluate every nominee's full body of work. let's be clear about how mr. robb has chosen to spend his professional life. helping management close plants and cut jobs, suing unions, delaying workers' right to collectively bargain and defending companies that violate
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workplace safety and fair pay laws. at a time when corporate profits and executive compensation have skyrocketed and worker wages are stagnant, i have no confidence in mr. robb's ability to be a neutral arbiter between labor and management, let alone advocate for the safety and the well-being of america's working men and women. our nation's workers deserve a nominee that will protect their right to negotiate for fair pay and safe working conditions. not someone who has spent his entire career litigating against workers. i will be voting against mr. robb's confirmation, and i strongly urge my colleagues to do the same. thank you, mr. president. i yield and i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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shatt-al-arab mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. shatt-al-arab thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent to the waive the quorum call. mr. schatz: thank you, mr. president. the senate has actually already considered bill wehrum for the assistant administrator for air and radiation at environmental protection agency. that's the person in charge of the rules to administer the clean air act at the e.p.a. this person has already been considered, and the senate decided that he was not right for the job. over ten years ago, president bush nominated mr. wehrum to head the office of air and radiation at e.p.a. he was rejected because his six-year record as an employee of the e.p.a. told the senators all that they needed to know. as ranking member jim jeffords put it at the time, quote, mr. wehrum's disdain for the
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clean air act is alarming. and if you disagree with the foundational federal law that we use to keep our air clean, then it is hard to believe that you completely -- that you can competently lead the e.p.a.'s efforts when it comes to protecting our right to clean air. a decade later, nothing has changed. mr. wehrum has done nothing that should change our minds about his ability to lead the e.p.a. and this, of course, is part of a pattern. this administration continues to nominate antiscience, pro-pollution, climate-denying people to lead the u.s. agencies in charge of science and clima climate. scott pruitt has denied a century's worth of established science and basic facts saying that climate change is real, urgent, and caused by humans. he now leads the number-one federal agency charged with working on climate change. then there's jim bridenstine,
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who hopes to lead nasa. he, too, is still on the fence about climate change. meanwhile, 13 federal agencies, including the e.p.a. and nasa, just publish add dire report that says greenhouse gases released by human activity are to blame for rising temperatures and severe weather throughout the world. and this is why mr. wehrum should not go any further. it is really very civility our own government scientists say that climate change is real, urgent, and caused by humans. and fuds don't want to take their word for it look at the rise of severe weather here in the united states alone. a record number of category-4 hurricanes killed dozens of people and destroyed or damaged entire communities in the southern united states and puerto rico. wildfires killed dozens of people and burned more than 8.4 million acres in the northwest. droughts lasting for months wiped out farmers' crops and
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forced ranchers to sell livestock in the midwest. the city of seattle had soot on cars from the wildfires. the state of montana, depending on where you were, for a period of -- it looked like it was -- for a period it looked like it was literally on fire. the u.s. forest service budget is soon to be more than 50% fire fighting. this is supposed to be the forest service for conservation and management of our forests and now it is a federal fire fighting force. there have been 15 severe weather events this year that result in losses exceeding $1 billion. and that's what insurance companies and reinsurance companies consider the threshold. they consider a big event, a catastrophic event from an insurance standpoint to be $1 billion event. we had 15 of them. we had 15 of them this year in the united states. in the past ten years, the u.s. government has spent more than $350 billion to help communities
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recover from severe weather, and that's before we get through with the various and necessary disaster supplemental budget requests that are coming down for florida, houston, and puerto rico. look, severe weather is a reality. whatever you want to call it, if you feel uncomfortable politically calling it climate change, fine. but severe weather is actually already happening. and it is now a moral issue. it's also a fiscal issue. it's taken a huge toll on our economy, on the american taxpayer, and on local communities and for the most part we don't budget for these costs because we've decided these are one-time events. they just happen to be one-time events that are occurring more and more frequently and costing more and more. and because of the leadership vacuum that scott pruitt and donald trump have created, states and cities and the private sector are stepping up so that the united states can stay on track to cut carbon
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emissions and fight climate change. but the federal government still has a responsibility here, not just a moral responsibility but a legal one. climate will keeping changing and the costs will keep rising and more and more people will feel the effects. but instead of stepping up so that our federal debt does not balloon and our coastlines don't owe road on the one hand our security isn't threatened, this administration keeps nominating people like mr. wehrum to deny that climate is an issue and that the government ought toage of throughout his career, mr. wehrum has demonstrated antipathy for the very laws that he is now going to be tasked with upholding. when he held this position in an acting capacity -- in other words, he was filling in until he was confirmed but never confirmed in the 2000's -- he was sued dozens of times for not doing his j and time and time again, the courts found that he was putting special interests over science and over the public
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good. now this is not just a rhetorical statement. this is 27 times -- 27 times mr. wehrum lost in court for exceeding his authorities under the law. and here's where he kept getting specifically into trouble. mr. wehrum is a former lawyer for the very industries that the e.p.a. regulates -- chemical companies, utility companies, the auto industry. and this is the experience he relied on while he worked at the e.p.a. fair enough so far. but when the agency started work on a rule regulating pollution from power plants, mr. wehrum took language from his former law firm, which again represented power plants, and gave it to the e.p.a. to put into the rule. in other words, the e.p.a. does not look to experts and scientists to decide how best to regulate power plants. they looked to the power plant lawyer. mr. wehrum job was to protect clean air and public health and he failed at that job by siding with special interests over that mission.
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and the courts actually stepped in 27 times, and he lost 27 times. one case went all the way to the supreme court. mr. wehrum said it did not have the authority to regulate carbon dioxide from automobiles. the supreme court acknowledged that carbon pollution fits the description. so just to be clear, under the e.p.a.'s responsibility to administer the clean air act, the e.p.a. does not just have the authority to regulate carbon emissions. they have the obligation to regulate carbon emissions. in other words, anything that is airborne that causes harm to people, to public health, must be regulated. the e.p.a. does not simply decide which of these airborne pollutants must be regulated. they have to regulate all of those pollutants that cause damage to public health, and
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clearly carbon fits that category. on a common sense level but the supreme court also decided that. there have been more intense storage which as we've seen from hurricanes harvey, maria and others that are certainly bad for health and well-being. the supreme court agreed. the e.p.a. has the authority and the obligation to regulate these greenhouse gases. and so we don't need to go through this again. mr. wehrum has already shown that he is not the right leader in the e.p.a. he will not commit the necessary steps to address severe weather. he will not fight for clean air. he will fight for his former clients, and this is not an accusation. it is based on exactly what he did when he was in the same position. it's the reason the senate rejected him ten years ago. so with this kind of information in front of us, there is he no way -- there's no way we can put mr. wehrum back in charge of the
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office. not when we are face ago planetary emergency, not when the fiscal and human costs of inaction are so clear. the e.p.a. needs leadership that understands the crisis we are facing and that understands and is willing to do everything in their power to address it. mr. wehrum has clearly demonstrated he is not the right person for this job. i will vote no on this nominee and urge my colleagues to do the same. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. gardner: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. gardner: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. there will now be 30 minutes of debate equally divided between the leaders or their designees. mr. gardner: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that my staffer tom corliss be allowed to remain -- for privileges for the rest of the day. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. gardner: thank you. mr. president, i rise today to talk about a very historic opportunity that will soon be before this body. it's an opportunity to bring real relief to the american
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people. it's an opportunity to jilt our economy into a higher gear and bring real, tangible benefits to america's hardworking families. it's been 30e6r years since this country last reformed its tax code. over 30 years we've seen a lot of change. we've seen the country move from ataris to smartphones and wi-fi. this ford l.t.d. station wagon rolled off the assembly line 30 years ago. it's the car that many of us decided to drive 30 yearsing a. today we have cars that drive themselves. unfortunately, we still have a tax code, though, that is made for this l.t.d. so while the world has changed around us and other countries have learned how to craft tax codes to entice businesses to grow, our code has gotten more and more out of date and more and more laden with special interest given aways. our tax code has turned main street into a dead end and our
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oafers -- overseas growth a one way street. reforming the code is not only a way to give us an opportunity to end those giveaways but can boost our economy. i applaud those in the house who are working to overhaul the tax system last week. in the coming days the senate finance committee will introduce their own legislation. and while i'll mostly focus my comments today on one aspect of tax reform, i'll note that on friday the tax foundation, this last friday the tax foundation released its analysis of the entire house proposal. this analysis concluded that the house proposal would create 975,000 full-time equivalent jobs and push g.d.p., 3.9% higher than it would otherwise be. taking into account the economic feedback from the proposed reforms, this means taxpayers would end up with 4.4% higher income. in other words, they will make greater, higher income as a result of the bill that the house is working on today.
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indeed the tax foundation concluded that the total after-tax gain in income for a middle-class family would be nearly $2,600. but more importantly, for my constituents, for my home state of colorado, the gain would be over $3,000. these are serious gains that will bring real, meaningful benefits to hardworking americans. and this is just the starting point of our reform. this number, over $3,000 of impact the people of colorado -- additional income, tax relief -- when a significant segment of americans don't even have access within 24 hours to just a few hundred dollars, a $3,000 a year gain is a significant amount of money. today i'd like to focus on one part of the tax reform package and theas lowering taxes on -- that's lowering taxes on america's job creators. because we have this ford l.t.d. station wagon tax code corporate tax rates are no longer competitive.
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they encourage companies to invest abroad rather than here at home in the united states. back in 1986 when this caroled off the assembly line, our corporate rate was competitive. it didn't discourage companies from investing in the u.s. but things have significantly changed since 1986. foreign countries have figured it out. they've lowered their tax rates and now the u.s. has the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. indeed one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, period. consequently businesses have moved abroad more and more and invested more abroad and in the u.s. they've invested less and less. but it's not a republican view alone. in fact, i would draw your attention to this quote right here. president obama noted this gradual deterioration of corporate tax code, this gradual deterioration of our corporate tax code in his 2011 state of the union address saying that over the years a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries. those with accountants or
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lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. but the rest are hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world, corporate tax rates in the world. it makes no sense and it has to change. those are the words that president barack obama spoke to a joint session of congress in 2011 before a state of the union address. the council of economic advisors estimates that just moving the tax rates on corporations from the uncompetitive 35% to the middle of the pack 20%, lowering it to 20% and adding permanent full expensing of capital investments would increase g.d.p. by 3% to 5% above what is already currently forecasted. that increase would not just happen in a decade or ten years, 20 years. it would be front loaded, meaning that we would see a fast response from the economy with 2.4% to 3.2% higher g.d.p. in the first three to five years under this proposal. that boost won't just be to the corporate bottom lines. it will increase the average american household income by
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$4,000. let me say that again. it will increase average household income in america, average household income in america by $4,000. and since these estimates, though, were released, since those numbers and statistics, analysis has been done, owns of pro -- opponents of pro-growth tax reform have thrown everything they can at proposals and estimates to see what will stick to bring them down. they said that these numbers are too rosy. they said that we can't possibly get a $4,000 increase in average household income because that would mean more money ends up in the bank accounts of american households than is raised in revenue by the corporate income tax. they've said that corporations have been rolling in money for a long time so if they wanted to invest in america, they already would have. some opponents say we should tax corporations more. take the profit that's sitting overseas and spend it as the government wishes. you see, when opponents of tax relief, when they see a company
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with money their reaction is to take it, take it and let the government spend it. but we know that doesn't work. even our european friends whose residents tend to be far more open to socialist experiments have rejected this notion. they know that tax reform is about creating the environment that will cause companies to invest in america. not attempting to seize profits from companies that can easily move elsewhere. that's why france and germany and spain and italy and greece, france, germany, spain, italy and greece, not exactly bastions of open economic innovation, country after country have lower corporate tax rates than we do. as the chairman of the croinl croinl -- council of economic advisories said recently this is not about right-wing parties throwing money at rich corporations. it is about economic, literate government understanding that if we want wages to be higher we
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have to give wages capital to work with. let me say that again. this effort for tax relief is about economically literate governments understanding that if we want wages to be higher, then we have to give workers capital to work with. so let's go back to the first response that we heard from opponents of tax relief. it's absurd to think the average american household will get $4,000 more in income because that's more than the country raises in revenue from the tax. in other words, if we took every dollar raised from the corporate tax and handed it over to american families, they wouldn't get $4,000. that's what the arguments against tax relief are saying. but this response just simply doesn't get it. so what's the economically literate perspective? recall that a lot has changed since over the last 30 years. but one thing hasn't l changed and that's the u.s. corporate tax rate. as you can see, here the average oecd tax rates have dropped over time, you can see in the 199 0's blue, the
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straight flat across the line. the average oecd tax rates dropped over time but the u.s. rate stays right where it is. the u.s. advantage that made it the place to invest in 1986 have slowly faded away. other countries have used their tax rates to become more competitive. and the companies there have responded. business investments is unfortunately now low. indeed, chairman hasset warned that there is a crisis in our country because of the lack of what's called capital deepening, which is just an economist term for the increase of capital stock. things like equipment, structures, intellectual property, worker productivity. worker productivity in turn is what drives up wages. that is what makes wages increase. the more productive a worker is the more the employer is willing to pay that worker to keep him or her in that job rising wages. if we can go to another chart, you can see the oecd chart where they lowered taxes, we'll go to
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another chart and you can see the effects of that here. prior to 1909 when profits were going up by 1%, workers' wages went up by more than 1%. but since that time, since 1990's over that time we've seen change. from 2008 to 2016, a 1% increase in business profits corresponded with only a .3% increase in worker wages. one of the biggest culprits in this is the corporate tax rate. it's what causes that disconnect between corporate profits and worker wages. you see, when a company decides whether and where to invest in new buildings, equipment, research, they look at the tax rate to know what return is needed to make that investment profitable. the higher the tax, the higher the needed return. so companies facing higher taxes either don't invest at all or they invest in another country. that's why experts say that employees, the workers, bear 45% to 75% of the burden of
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corporate taxes. because businesses invest in them less and -- less the higher the tax. it's like the corporate tax rate casts a shadow on the entire economy. you can see that shadow here. this is the way the economist models the market for capital. again, factories, equipment, buildings, i.p. the higher the price, the less the companies demand. the lower the price, the more companies demand. pretty simple concept. suppliers of those things are the reverse. if they have to sell at a low price, they don't make very much. but if they can sell at a high price, they make more. these two should meet in the middle. but they don't meet in the middle today because the government has come in and imposed the corporate tax. so each unit of capital costs more than it should because of this tax system. that means businesses only want this much.
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producers only get this much. the government takes the rest. what's left, and you can see it right here. you can see what the government, what the government's taking, you can see the effect that taxes then have on the economy. what's left is this triangle, this dark, shaded triangle. this is what economists call dead weight loss. that's the stuff that doesn't happen because the tax -- this is the tax shadow. dead weight loss. dead weight on our economy. and in that shadow, business activity just doesn't happen. and workers just don't get the capital they need to be more productive. remember, businesses are deciding whether and where to invest that next dollar. if the cost is too high -- you can see that reflected on here. if the cost is too high, they won't invest it, at least not here in the united states. they'll decide not to expand at all. or they'll expand in a country that has a lower tax rate. or they'll just simply shut down entirely. i don't think the american people would be surprised by
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this. it's not news to them. they've lived this for a long time now. they know it well. they know businesses aren't expanding here. they've seen businesses close. they've seen a slowdown in the start-up of new businesses. they know their wages haven't gone up in many years. they understand this shadow. businesses don't expand. workers laid off. money moves abroad. it's because of this high tax that doesn't meet up with increase in costs or decreases in costs, creating a dead weight loss on our economy. they understand it. and they know that corporations pass that tax on to them in the form of lower wages. but here's the good news. help is on the way. lowering the corporate tax rate lowers the rate of return needed to make the investment work. it removes the shadow that blocks the economic sunlight. suddenly businesses are operating here in the green. more investment in factories, buildings,

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