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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  September 11, 2019 11:30am-1:30pm EDT

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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the yeas are 90, the nays are 2. the nomination is confirmed. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, many of us here -- could we have order in the senate? the presiding officer: could senators please take their conversations to the cloakrooms. mr. mcconnell: i know many of us know today is the anniversary of 9/11. many of us remember evacuating this very building on september 20, 2001. we knew the world would never be the same. for the people of new york, an
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ordinary beautiful morning was brought to a screeching halt as the clear blue sky filled with smoke. for those at the pentagon, work days and service of our nation, t. turned into a literal nightmare. for hundreds of air travelers, routine flights gave way to tragedy and thanks to the bravery of passengers and crew, incredible acts of heroism. the senate stands with the entire nation as we remember the terrible events of 18 years ago today and the nearly 3,000 innocent lives that terrorists stole away. we stand in solidarity with those who still grieve, and we honor the patriotic resolve that inspired first responders, u.s. service members, and countless americans to dedicate themselves
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that day and since to selflessly keeping our nation safe. may our remembrances renew our commitment to building a world where terrorists' evil has no home. may we never forget. mr. schumer: 18 years ago a cloudless tuesday morning, my city, our country, our world changed forever. in the span of a few hours, the twin towers fell, the pentagon was hit, smoke rose from an empty field in pennsylvania. more than 3,000 souls were taken from us that day. i knew some of them -- a guy i played basketball with in high school, a businessman who helped mae on the way up, a firefighter i'd go around the city doing blood drives with him. it was one of the bloodiest days
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on american soil since the civil war. and each year we correctly and appropriately pause to remember that awful day. we mourn those who we lost and think of them. the day after 9/11, i called for every american to wear the flag. i wear this flag every day. i've worn it every day since then in memory of those. and we also remember our resiliency, the resiliency of new yorkers, the brave firefighters, police officers, and ordinary citizens who rushed to the towers. the generosity -- i'll never forget a man who had a shoe store about two blocks north of the towers and just gave shoes to all the people. many of the women had run down 90 flights of stairs and left their shoes behind i remember the next day when president bush
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sent us back up to new york, the empty skies, a bunch of f-16's around our plane going down there, smelling the smell of burnt flesh and death in the air. seeing is over 1,000 people lined up with little signs, who was gone and who might be found. have you seen my sister marie? have you seen my son bob? it was an awful day and a day we live with. but we know our resilience. many predicted that lower manhattan would be a ghost town forever more. it has more people, more jobs, more business than before 9/11. many thought that america would succumb to the evil brutality of terrorists. we have fought back very successfully. and we think finally of those who are dying now as a result of
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their rushing to the towers in the fewer hours and days after, and we are all so grateful that this body has now fully funded both the health fund and the fund to see that the families are taken care of. so it's an amazing moment. i live with it all the time. i ride my bike around the city and every seventh or eighth block has the name commemorated to someone who died. police this, firefighter that. but america, new york, all of us have all been beaten by the terrorists, have not been beaten by adversity. on this issue, we have come together and we will prevail. i ask unanimous consent that there be a minute of silence in memory of those who were lost both that day and are still being lost because of their
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heroism in the few days after. the presiding officer: the senate will observe a moment of silence in remembrance of the events of september 11, 2001. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the next nomination. the clerk: nomination, office
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of personnel management, dale cabaniss of virginia to be director. the presiding officer: the question is on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote: vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? on this vote, the yeas are 54, the nays are 38. the the clerk will report the next nomination. the clerk: department of veteran affairs, james byrne of virginia tor deputy secretary. the presiding officer: the question is on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: have all senators vote ?d any senator wish to change their vote? the yeas are 81. the nays are 116789 the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action. the senate will resume consideration of the bowman
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nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: federal reserve system, michelle bowman of kansas to be a member. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i have five requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they a been approved by both the minority and majority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. cornyn: mr. president, as we all know, today we commemorate the solemn anniversary of the attacks on 9/11, 2001. if you ask anybody who was old enough to remember where they were that day, i bet they can tell you. it's one of those rare moments that defines an entire generation. i've always said that it's etched in my memory like the only other event in my lifetime
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that might rise to that level of shock and horror and that is the assassination of president john f. kennedy. 18 years ago i was in austin talking on the phone to then-governor rick perry. when i hung up the phone, my wife said you need to see this, pointing to the tv set. that was just as the second plane hit the world trade center, and we all know what came after. it was the same image that millions of americans struggled to understand on that morning and still struggle to comprehend today. how someone, something could be so evil and so determined to take innocent lives. september 11 serves as a dividing line in american history. for people like me, there is before and there is after, but
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for an entire generation of younger people, there is really only after. i believe this 18th anniversary carries special weight because those young people who have only lived in a post-9/11 world will now be able to vote in our elections, serve in our military, and help shape the future of our country. it's a reminder of our commitment as a nation to carry out the promise we made in the wake of the attack to never forget, never forget. so as americans, we must remain vigilant, we must remain with a strong sense of purpose and strong moral clarity regarding confronting evil in all its forms. we vow to carry the memory of the nearly 3,000 lives lost that day in our hearts, the sense of patriotism that welled up inside of each of us, and the
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determination never to be intimidated and never back down. today we remember the families that lost loved ones that day, the first responders who ran not away from but toward the danger, and the commitment of our armed forces who fight to eradicate terrorism around the globe each and every day. mr. president, on another matter, for a quarter of a century, the north american free trade agreement has guided our trading relationship with mexico and canada. when nafta was created, it sought to remove the barriers that impede free and fair trade to provide benefits to all three countries. while this agreement certainly has had its share of critics and champions, i think there is no doubt, certainly in my mind, that nafta has been of benefit to the united states -- a
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benefit to the united states. last year, the u.s. goods and services trade with mexico and canada totaled nearly $1.4 trillion. across every industry from major companies to small businesses, an estimated 12 million american jobs rely on trade with our nafta partners. 12 million. the importance of maintaining strong trade ties is certainly understood in my home state of texas, and that's in large part because -- and this will not surprise you -- that last year, texas exported nearly $110 billion in goods to mexico, our next-door neighbor. 35% of our state's total exports. we also imported $107 billion in goods from mexico, including everything from motor vehicle parts to computer equipment to tractors to avocados. and it's not uncommon to see certain products like automobile
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parts crossing the border multiple times during the manufacturing process before it eventually makes its way to the customer. nafta has fueled the economies of every state across the country, but a lot has changed since nafta was ratified in 1993. at that time, the internet was in its infancy. smartphones didn't exist. and shopping at brick-and-mortar stores was the normal. countless economic advancements in our digitalized marketplace have fundamentally changed the global trade landscape, and so it is clearly time to modernize nafta and bring it up to current needs. i was glad when the heads of all three countries signed the u.s.-mexico-canada agreement last november, which would take major steps -- and took a major step just to get that far.
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but the new nafta, or as we call it, the usmca, takes into account business practices that didn't even exist when nafta existed, things like two-day shipping, online microretailers, and digital products like e-books and music. the usmca will require mexico and canada to raise their de minimis shipment value levels, which will allow certain classes of shipments to enter all three countries with expedited entry procedures. that's a big win for small and medium-sized businesses, which often lack the resources to pay customs duties and taxes. overall, the usmca takes steps to advance the digital economy which accounted for nearly 7% of our total economy in 2017. a few months ago, the international trade commission publicly released its analysis of the economic impact of the
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usmca, which shows some positive indicators. the i.t.c. concluded that within six years, the usmca will raise real g.d.p. in the united states by $68.2 billion and lead to the creation of 176,000 new jobs. we can also expect more than a $33 billion increase in exports and more than $31 billion in imports. now, that's great news to north american workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses who will reap the benefits of this agreement. when i was traveling around the state during august, one of the most frequent questions i encountered from my constituents is when is congress going to pass the usmca? i assured them that i'm just as eager as they are to see congress ratify this agreement, but we're still waiting on the house and the administration to iron out their differences.
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i know that the u.s. trade representative, ambassador lighthizer, and secretary mnuchin are having a conversation with the speaker of the house and they set up a process by which the house can provide its necessary input into the final product, but we're all waiting to see the speakers turn on the green light to allow them to start the process sooner hopefully rather than later, because we know that historically speaking, the closer we get to an election, the more challenging it is to get things passed, particularly in a divided congress like we have now, so i hope we can get this process moving soon. businesses, jobs, and communities in texas rely on a strong trading relationship between the u.s., mexico, and canada. while nafta has benefited all three countries, it's not able to propel our economies into the
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future. that's why the usmca is so important. the usmca increases goods market access, and it supports small businesses. as i said, it supports digital trade, it safeguards intellectual property, and it supports our agriculture sector and keeps jobs right here at home. free and fair trade isn't just good news for our economy. it's good news for the people behind it. this is a trade agreement built for the 21st century, and it's time for congress to pass the usmca and provide greater stability and more opportunity to north american workers. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. van hollen: thank you,
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mr. president. just a little bit earlier today, the senate voted to confirm president trump's nomination of dale cabaniss to lead the office of personnel management. mr. president, i voted against this nominee, but now that she is confirmed, it's more important than ever for the senate and the house to fulfill our oversight duties to protect our civil servants from political interference, and i know the presiding officer has a keen interest in this subject as well in his capacity as the subcommittee chairman on affairs of federal management overseeing the federal civil service, and i appreciate his work on that front. in order to do their job for the american people, our federal employees must be able to perform their duties free of politics. they must be judged on the merits of their work, not political favoritism or cronyism. they must be able to present
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factual information and analysis without fear of retribution. yet, time and again, we have seen that this president, president trump, views civil servants as his adversaries. the president has sought to silence those whose work or words contradict him, even when the facts are clear. we saw that most recently when the national weather service tried to calm the residents in the state of alabama after president trump falsely stated that hurricane dorian would put them at severe risk. secretary will better ross, -- wilbur ross, secretary of commerce, reportedly threatened to fire agency leadership after they corrected the president's false statements about hurricane dorian and alabama. and just within the last hour, "the new york times" is reporting that the order to
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change the statements at noaa came directly from the white house in the form of a directive from the acting chief of chance to the president mick mulvaney. mr. president, we have also seen this pattern at other times. we saw president trump standing side by side with vladimir putin in helsinki while president trump sided with putin's claims about noninterference in the 2016 presidential elections and where president trump, through our own u.s. intelligence agency experts -- threw our own u.s. intelligence agency experts under the bus. mr. president, these assaults on the federal civil service and the efforts to undermine the integrity of the federal civil service have also included an assault on federal employee unions. this administration knows that workers are stronger when they
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are organized and have representatives who can speak on their behalf. many -- not all, but many of the trump agency heads have repeatedly refused to comply with the law and to bargain in good faith with their workers. instead of trying to negotiate, they have tried to impose contracts in terms unilaterally. this has already happened at the social security administration where agency management has shown particular hostility to the unions representing their workforce. some of these issues are now tied up in the courts, but, mr. president, i would hope we could work on a bipartisan basis to address these challenges. now president trump is trying to abolish the office of personnel management, and that brings me to the nomination of miss cabaniss because she will be
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directed to preside over the dismantlement of the agency -- that is, if the president has his way. i know those of us in congress with a different view will be weighing in as well. because the office of personnel management is an independent federal agency with an absolutely vital mission -- to strengthen and protect the federal civil service system. their role is to protect our federal civil service, the integrity of our federal civil service and prevent it from being hijacked by political forces. mr. president, i know there has been a lot of talk that this is all about civil service reform. as i look at the proposals, i don't see it that way. i see these proposals as an attack on the institution that defends our civil service system. the office of personnel management needs a strong independent leader that will protect the federal work force from partisan interference and defend the agencies from the
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administration's attacks, and after looking at miss cabaniss' record, she is not the right person to lead o.p.m. when she chaired the federal labor relations authority, morale was dead last among small federal agencies. and that's the agency that's supposed to resolve disputes between federal workers and management. 55% of their decisions were overturned under miss cabaniss' jurisdiction. o.p.m.'s mission is vital to the success of our federal civil service and their ability to deliver services to the american people. we need a leader who is going to stand up for the integrity of that system, not one who's going to preside over the dismantlement of that agency. so, mr. president, i hope we can work on a bipartisan basis to ensure that this country preserves one of its vital
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assets, which is a nonpartisan civil service. presidents come and presidents go, and presidents, of course, give direction to the different agencies, but we will be doing a great disservice to the people of this country if we allow political cronyism to seep into the system and create an environment where people fear speaking out, telling the truth, and providing the facts. so i want to take this opportunity today as we discuss the nomination to the office of personnel management to raise that larger issue, mr. president, and i hope we'll be united in that effort because lots of countries around the world suffer from political cronyism. the united states has helped shield itself from that by establishing decades and decades ago a system that tries to
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immunize ourselves against that kind of political infection in terms of the day-to-day work that we ask people to do and carry on on behalf of the american people. let's work together to accomplish what i believe is a bipartisan goal, and i yield the balance of my time. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. jones: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without
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objection. mr. jones: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, before i get into the substance of what i want to talk about, i want to take my own personal opportunity to remember those that we lost 18 years ago today. as everyone else, i remember the events, home with my family and young children, not knowing what was going to happen and seeing, seeing things happen. and i can remember on the way to taking one of my kids to day care when the second tower collapsed, the radio announcer just simply saying they're both gone, and just the emptiness that we felt. we remember today. we honor today. and we honor not only those that we lost, but we honor those responders that were there and that still suffer the pain from having to deal with all of that. so thank you for that indulgence, mr. president. mr. president, i do rise today almost a year ago since i first
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came to the senate floor to discuss the state of our nation's historically black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions. as i did then and many times since, i am again making an urgent call to colleagues to act. at the end of this month, at the end of the fiscal year, nearly half of all federal funds for these schools that they receive each year and have so for a long, long time, that is going to end, nearly half of that. that's $255 million annually that they have been able to count on for well over a decade. that is going to come to a screeching halt if we don't act, and we need to act now. these historic institutions serve nearly four million students of color. many of our nation's brightest minds have matriculated at these
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institutions. hbcu's are the leading educators for african american ph.d.'s in science and in engineering. they are foundational to building generational wealth in communities that have long faced headwinds in doing so. they are doing amazing work. they are doing incredible work with very limited resources, and with their own individual financial headwinds to contend with. in alabama, we are home to 14 hcbu's, more than any state in the country. so they are an integral part of my home state's higher education system, and just as importantly, they're integral to the economy of alabama. minority-serving institutions play an essential role in america's higher education system. for example, hispanic-serving institutions account for 13% of
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all nonprofit colleges, yet they enroll 62% of all hispanic students. more than 75% of students at hcbu's and nearly 80% of students at tribal colleges and universities receive pell grants, compared to only 32% of all students. these schools have a very, very serious purpose for these kids who otherwise might get shut out, likely would get shut out of our higher education system. they are so important, and they face such strong headwinds financially to achieve. i will tell you, mr. president, last year we held our first hbcu summit where we brought all of our hbcu's in alabama together to talk about the challenges, to talk about what they were facing, but also to talk about opportunities to
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work together, to work with the state, to work with the congress to try to meet the challenges of our resource of the 21st century -- of our workforce of the 21st century, to try to meet the challenges of our educational system in general, and what i saw was an amazing group of people, amazing group of people who were doing the work for their students and for their communities. people who are committed from deep down in their heart, they love these kids. they love the purpose that they are serving. and they are thinking ahead. they're thinking outside the box. these are not institutions that are so cookie cutter that they're not willing to explore new opportunities for their students. they're seizing every one of those opportunities. i have seen firsthand, though, increasing concern from our hbcu community. given their significance, it is frustrating that some of these schools continue to struggle. public and private hbcu's face
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extensive capital project needs, but have few funding sources to rely on. on top of that, the government accountability office found that hbcu's average endowment is half the size of a similarly sized nonh bcu. we've got to change that. we have to make sure that we provide to these schools, because the bottom line is they have no safety net. they struggle, they work, they do the things, but the bottom line is they have no safety net. and if they have no safety net, neither do the students that they serve. this time last year i was talking about legislation that i had introduced called the strengthening minority serving institutions act, which would have permanently extended and increased mandatory funding to all minority-serving institutions. that bill was supported by a
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quarter of the senate. unfortunately it was simply all democrats. we could not get the bipartisan support that i hope we will get in the future. however, now we are here and only have 19 days left in the fiscal year, and these schools still have no certainty about whether these critical funds will continue to be available. now, we hear a lot in this body about the need to make sure that we continue to fund government, that we continue to fund our military and how devastating even a continuing resolution might be to the defense department because it doesn't allow the military to plan. i agree with that. i see it. but this is $255 million that all of a sudden is going to be cut off completely from schools that have relied on it, that have planned, that have done their budgets around. we owe it to them. we owe it to them because they
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give so much back to us to make sure that we get this funding. ensuring equal access to quality education should not be a partisan issue, and i've worked over the last year to find a solution that i think should receive and could receive broad bipartisan support. i believe we have that in the fostering undergraduate talent by unlocking resources for education act. it's called the future act, which i've introduced with my colleague, senator tim scott and representatives alma adams and mark walker over in the house. the future act reauthorizes funding for the next two fiscal years, maintaining just level funding of $255 million a year. it is the least that we could do. our bill checks all the boxes. it helps institutions in 43
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states. it is bipartisan. it is bicameral. and it is paid for. so let's just not delay any longer. let's, with this important bill, let's get this to the floor. let's come up with something that we can show the american people how important these institutions are, but just as important, we can show to the american people that doggone it, we can get something done, because that is the most frustrating part that i have heard from when i went back to alabama over the recess. when are you going to get something done, jones? well, it's difficult. and you all know it, it's difficult. but this is a piece of legislation that ought to receive support here in this body and across the aisle, across the capitol in the house. so i urge my colleagues. this week we have a lot of hbcu
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presidents and administrators that are on capitol hill. it's part of the, their coming up -- they're coming up for their own benefit but also the congressional black caucus events later this week. they're here on the hill. it would be the perfect time to get this to the floor. i don't see it on a schedule anywhere, but it would be the perfect time. as people are looking here, as they're watching us and listening to us, they know we support their institutions. let's show them that we support their institutions. i urge my colleagues to support the future act. get on board with us. sponsor this legislation and turn our -- support our nation's institutions of higher education. their graduates, their graduates deserve the same quality education as any other student, and they deserve a fair shot at a successful future. let's get this done.
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let's do our job and get this done. thank you very much, mr. president, and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i'm going to be joined on the floor over the course of about an hour of so by members of the senate who are desperate for our colleagues to wake up and recognize that the time for action to quell the epidemic of gun vice presidents in this country is now -- gun violence in this country is now. it was also a year ago and six years ago, it was also nearly
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seven years ago after the shooting in my state of connecticut, which felled 20 little 6- and 7-year-olds attending first grade at sandy hook elementary school. we tend to pay attention to the mass shootings -- the odessas, the el pasos and newtowns. every single day people die from gunshot wounds. most are homicides. the numbers may not be that meaningful to you because it's a big country, and so how does that compare to the rest of the world or at least the rest of the high-income world? well, that's about ten times higher than other countries of similar income, of similar situation as the united states. something different is happening here, and it is not that west more mental -- and it's not that
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we have more mental illness. it is not that we have less resources going to law enforcement. the difference is that we have guns spread out all over this nation, many of them illegal, many of them of a caliber and capacity that were designed for the military, in which this slaughter becomes predictable. and so we have a chance to do something about it right now in the united states congress. we have a chance to try to find some way to come together over some commonsense measures. mr. president, i just got off the phone -- a 40-minute conversation with the president of the united states. i was glad that he was willing to take that amount of time with myself and senator manchin and senator toomey to talk about whether we can figure out a way to get republicans and democrats on board with a proposal to expand background checks to more gun sales in this nation.
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in particular we were talking about expanding background checks to commercial gun sales. that's certainly not as far as i would like to go, but i understand that part of my job here is to argue for my beliefs and my convictions but then try to find a compromise. there's no single legislative initiative that will solve all of these, but what we know is that if you want to take the biggest bite out of gun crime as quickly as possible, increasing the number of background checks done in this country is the way to go because all we're trying to do here is make sure that when you buy a gun, you prove that you aren't someone with a serious criminal history or you're not somebody that has a serious history of mental illness. in 2017, about 170,000 people in this country went into a store,
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tried to buy a gun, and were denied that sale because they had an offense on their record or a period of time in an inpatient psychiatric unit that prohibited them from buying a gun. of those 170,000 sales that were denied, 39% of them were convicted felons, who would try to come in and buy a gun, many of them knowing that they were likely prohibited from buying those guns much the problem is that that isn't a barrier to buying a weapon. being deny add sale at a gun store -- being denied a sale at a gun store. why do we know that? well, because just a few weeks ago in texas, a gunman who went in and shot up seven people who were killed and 23 that were injured failed a background check because he had been diagnosed by a clinician as
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mentally ill and had triggered one of those prohibiting clauses. but then he went and bought the gun from a private seller, knowing that he wouldn't have to go through a background check if he bought the weapon in a place in texas that didn't have a background check attached to it. then he took that weapon and turned it on civilians. now, this happens over and over and over again every single day. estimates are that at least 20% of all gun sales in this country happen without a background check. now, these aren't gifts of guns to a relative, not a loaner to someone who's going to go use it for hunting on a saturday or a sunday. this is about legitimate commercial transactions in which 20% of them when they involve guns happen without a background check. we also have plenty of data from states that have decided to expand background checks, to make them universal. states requiring universal
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background checks for all gun sales have homicide rates that are 15% lower than in states that don't have those laws. and in connecticut, we have research showing that when we extended background checks to all gun sales through a local permitting process, we had a 40% reduction in gun homicide rates a. compare that with the state of missouri, which repealed its permitting law, which was their way of making sure that everybody who buys a gun has to get a background check, and they saw a 23% increase in firearm homicides immediate lid after they started a-- immediately after they started allowing people to buy a gun without a background check. so you can get pretty immediate and serious returns -- safety returns if you expand background checks out to all gun purchases. but the benefit to a united states senate that has to go back for reelection every six
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years is that not only is background checks as a legislative initiative impactful, it's also really politically powerful. in fact, very few things are more powerful than expanding background checks to more gun sales. 90% of americans want more background checks. apple pie is not that popular. baseball is not that popular, right? background checks are. you're not going to get trouble with your constituents if you vote to expand background checks to all commercial sales or all private sales in this country. you're going to get rewarded politically if you do that. i don't argue that that's the reason you should vote senator background checks, but i think -- that you should vote for the background checks, but i think you should accept the plaudits if you vote for background checks. after spending about 40 minutes with the president this afternoon, i don't know that the president is yet convinced that he should support universal background checks. i was with the president right
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after the parkland shooting, in which he said he was support universal background checks, and they he didn't after speaking to representatives of the gun lobby. i'm sure that the gun lobby will come in and at that you can to the president this i do not have -- and tuck -- and talk to the president this afternoon or tomorrow. people are sick and tired of feeling unsafe when they walk into a walmart. parents are heartbroken when their children come home and tell them about the latest active shooter drill that they participated in. i know that from the direct experience, having listened to my then-kindergartener telling me about being stuffed into a tiny bathroom with 25 of his other colleagues and told by his teacher to remain as quiet as possible because they were practicing for what would happen if a stranger came into their school. some of the kids knew what it was really about, some of them didn't but my seven-year-old --
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six years old at the time -- knew enough to say to me, dad did i, i didn't like it. no child should have to fear for their safety. and i'm not saying that background checks are solve all of our gun battles in this country. but i can say that i don't understand the lives it will save, it will send a message to children and families that we are not encased in concrete, that we are trying our best to reach out across the aisle and come to some conclusion to at least save some lives. and i will tell you, that peace of mind -- right -- that moral signal of compassion and concern that we will send, that will have a value as well next to and beside the actual lives that we will save. layla hernandez was 15 years old, a high school student when she was shot by the mass gunman
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in odessa, texas. her grandmother, nora, explained how layla spent a lot of time with family, would drop by after school to visit her grandmother. she described layla as a happy girl who adored her parents. she was described at her funeral as a naturally shy girl who became a leader on the basketball court. lois s oglesby said she was a wonderful mother, a wonderful person. according to the oglesby's father, she facetimed him saying, babe, i just got shot in my head. i need to get to see my kids. she died that day in dayton. jordan and andre enchatto were
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25 and 23 when they were among the 22 killed in el paso. the couple had dropped their 5-year-old girl at cheer practice. then went to walmart to pick up some back-to-school supplies. their 2-month-old son was with them and survived the shooting, probably because it looks like jordan died shielding her baby while andre jumped in front of the two of them. the baby was found under jordan's body and miraculously suffered only two broken fingers. on august 31 in buffalo, new york, nolzel l aldridge saw an altercation happening from a distance. he went over to diffuse the situation. he was a youth league football coach. i guess he tried to deal with this altercation.
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he was shot and killed. one of his friends said, the guy died a hero trying to save somebody else's life. the -- one of the folks who worked in football with him said, his legacy will always be, never give up. give it your all. now his legacy is through his son. you guys haven't heard of norzel because he didn't die in a mass shooting. he's just one of the routine gun murders that happens every single day in this country. they matter just as much as those that occurred in el paso and dayton and odessa. and we can do something about those right now. i'm becking the president to come -- i'm begging the president to come to the table and agree to a commonsense background checks expansion bill that will save lives. i'm begging my colleagues here to do the same. figure out a way to get to yes. there's no political liability in it for you, and there are thousands and thousands of lives to be saved. i yield the floor.
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mr. blumenthal: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. i'm honored to follow my colleague from connecticut, after his powerful and eloquent description of the lives that have been lost, the stakes of this decision, and the clear path that we have, an opportunity and an obligation to save lives. and let me begin where he ended. the president of the united states has an obligation here to lead, and if he does, we will have legislation that will literally save thousands of lives. he has an obligation, as we do, to find a way to save these lives because all of us have seen all too often the needless,
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senseless, unspeakable tragedy done by gun violence. we focus on the mass killings. but those 90 deaths a day consist of the drive-by, one-by-one shootings in hartford and new haven and bridgeport and cities and communities around the country. none is immune. no family is untouched -- through friends and relatives and workplaces, and through suicides which are a major part of those 90 deaths every day in this country. and domestic violence, made five times more deadly when there is a gun in the home. mr. president, you must not only come to the table but lead.
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and if you will not lead, get out of the way because we have an obligation to move forward now and take advantage of this historic opportunity and obligation. just weeks ago in one 24-hour period, massacres in el paso and dayton left 31 people dead. 11 days ago a shooter in odessa, texas killed another seven. communities are forever changed by these events. and so is our nation. the trauma and the stress done in schools to our children, by the drills they condeduct, by the advertise -- conduct, by the anticipation that's raised, by the fear that's engendered. the sights and sounds of gun violence echo


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