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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  September 17, 2019 10:00am-1:22pm EDT

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sweden. later this afternoon, they'll work on several treasury and state nominations and today senators will adjourn for their weekly caucus meetings. now to live coverage here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. almighty god, our fortress and might. deliver us from clouds of pessimism and fear. lead our lawmakers in these
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challenging time, fulfilling your purposes through them. be exalted, o god, above the highest heaven, as you demonstrate your power to make the crooked places straight. have mercy upon us and protect us for your unfailing love and faithfulness sustain us. shine your glory over all the earth as we learn to trust you at all times. and, lord, we thank you that senator grassley has had another wonderful birthday. we pray in your strong name. amen.
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the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. mr. grassley: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: may i speak for one minute in morning business? the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: since the day i was born, i've celebrated constitution day. that's because the 39 delegates signed the u.s. kiewrn on --
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constitution on september 17, which is exactly 146 years before i was born. it's a gift to share my birthday with the historic signing of our nation's founding charter. the constitution lends weight to the resilience of our heritage and to the heroes who have fought to defend and protect our borders at home and from the distant shores around the world. on this constitution day, it's my hope that americans of all ages will reflect upon the blessings of freedoms handed down from one generation to the next and protected by the united states constitution. i yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: madam president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: the american people deserve the federal government to spend their money in a considered deliberate fashion, and until very recently
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we've been on a track to conduct a smooth, regular appropriations process for this year. more than a month ago, leaders in both parties in both chambers and at both end of pennsylvania avenue all agreed to terms that had been negotiated by the speaker of the house and the president's team. it specified top-line funding levels and put guardrails around the appropriations process to keep our poison pills and all of our other disagreements. so yesterday to keep us on track i began the process to advance the first set of appropriation bills. the next step is a vote tomorrow to begin consideration of a package of house-passed funding bills that speaker pelosi grouped together. they include several of the domestic funding bills along with the legislation to fund the department of defense. there should be no reason for democrats to vote against this first procedural step. as chairman shelby and our
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committee colleagues continue to process senate legislation, proceeding to this floor action will help keep us on track to passing as many of the 12 bills as possible this month before we turn to a temporary continuing resolution. so, madam president, it's been distressing to hear troubling signals from the democratic side. we heard they may choose to filibuster the defense funding bill. they may block the very increase in defense funding that they all just agreed to a month ago. progress on our shared priorities, good-faith cooperation on areas of disagreement, it seems all of this may be taking a backseat to a familiar litany of partisan stumbling blocks. my democratic colleagues seem eager to block the process with all of the outstanding disagreements with the president. in other words, exactly the kind of partisan approach that we
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successfully avoided last year and which both sides pledged just last month -- just a month ago -- to avoid this time as well. a couple of weeks ago everyone at the table seemed to understand that the world was too dangerous to leave funding vulnerable to poison pill riders or political copouts. i wish democrats would keep bearing that in mind today. so whatever rational my colleagues across the aisle may offer for these new disruptions, let's get one thing straight, holding defense funding hostage for a political gain is a losing strategy, not only for members of this body, not only for the proap appropriations -- for the appropriations process but for the strength of our nation. as partisanship bogs us down here in washington, moscow and beijing are not exactly slowing down to wait for us. our two most powerful
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adversaries are modernizing their forces by the day. in the current international system, delivering on our promises to america's men and women in uniform is not a simple matter of routine maintenance on equipment. if we like the u.s. military future to remain the world's preeminent fighting force, then the stakes are much higher. as russia rattles its sabre and has quite sum marines, -- submarines, we need to have our own cutting-edge capabilities. we need to update defenses against cyber threats so that china's ever-bolding meddling will not bring about the cyber hem gi it graves. and we cannot turn our backs in
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afghanistan, yemen, somalia and beyond we face ongoing terrorist threats. iran's violent aggression highlights the need for vigilance and for strength. all of this is needlessly more difficult if we don't do our job and fund the military's modernization and readiness. so, madam president, the sakes are too high for us to fail. we cannot afford to abdicate our responsibility to deliver timely funding to the critical priorities of the federal government. least of all to the men and women in uniform who keep us safe. so i would urge each of my colleagues to engaging in this process, honor the agreement we made just a month ago -- just a month ago -- and keep us on track to deliver for our country.
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the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of state, john rakolta, jr., to be ambassador to the united states of america to the united states arab emirates. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. schumer: madam president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: are we in a quorum? the presiding officer: we are. mr. schumer: i ask that the
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quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: as negotiations continue on a continuing resolution to keep the government open past next week, we should be laying the groundwork to process the 12 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2020n an ideal world, republicans on the appropriations committee would be negotiating with democrats on the appropriations committee in good faith to determine allocations and the content of those bills. but republicans, unfortunately, have not chosen to do this. they're acting in a totally partisan way. republicans have chosen to back the president's demand for an additional $12 billion in funding for his border wall, taken from other sources including medical research, opioid treatment, and funding intended for our military, their families, their kids. mexico, oddly, isn't chipping in a penny. this was all done totally on the republican side, with no
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consultation of the democrats and certainly no buy-in. so of course democrats oppose taking funds from congress for our military to use on the president's border wall. everyone knows that. in fact, 12 senate republicans oppose the very same thing this year. but in typical washington blame-game fashion, the republican leader, mitch mcconnell, has been accusing democrats of threatening to block military funding because we don't want to pass a bill that steals money from the military. that's right. democrats are threatening -- are the ones threatening not vote for this bill because we oppose a republican bill that would shortchange the military. i've heard some howlers in my day, but that's pretty rich what mcconnell is saying.
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leader mcconnell constantly talks about stunts. he doesn't like stunts because they won't be signed or passed into law. this is a stunt, if i've ever seen one. putting this bill, $12 billion for the wall, no buy-in by democrats, for a vote. it'll lose. we know it'll lose. what's the point, leader mcconnell? you say you don't like stunts. you say you don't want to bring bills to the intoer that won't become law. well this one certainly won't. the fact of the matter is, the republican leader knows well that democrats oppose taking funding away from our troops to use on the president's wall. he knows that members of his own caucus oppose taking money out of their states to spend on the president's border wall, and some have been quite vocal. and yet leader mcconnell is moving forward with the bill all the same knowing that this lacks votes. for him to say that democrats are the ones threatening to
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block military funding when in fact we oppose a republican bill that would shortchange the military is the height of double talk by the leader, the republican leader. again, the republican leader is fond of reminding the press he doesn't like to engage in stunts. that the senate is for making laws, not a forum for political theater. but putting this bill on the floor of the senate that everyone knows lacks the votes is the definition of a stunt. leader mcconnell -- and i mean this with all due respects -- it is time to negotiate. both sides must sit down and have a serious negotiation. democrats want to work with our republican colleagues, but we knead a willing partner and time is quickly running out to get a bipartisan ppropriations process -- bipartisan appropriations process back on track. after we returned from the august work period, senators on
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both sides of the aisle are still waiting to hear what the president proposes to combat the epidemic of gun violence in america. the president's plan will like lip not include universal background checks or even a significant expansion of background checks. if those reports are true, it would be a profound shame. without changing the loopholes in our background check system, most other would be severely compromised. background checks must bees base, the foundation of gun safety legislation. if background checks aren't included, we'd still be allowing guns to fall into the wrong hands -- convicted catch and release, domestic abusers, the a jude indicated mentally ill. you can have one of these emergency protection orders issued to someone, let's say mr. john smith, but if we don't close these loopholes, mr. john
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smith can go online the next day and gate new gun because the sell of the gun had no way there was a protection order against him. so without background checks a lot of this other stuff isn't going to do the job. isn't going to save the most lives that we can. so i hope the president thinks long and hard before releasing a proposal that falls short of making meaningful progress, particularly on background checks. in the past, republican senators, congressmen and candidates were promised action after mass shootings, only to announce support for legislation specifically designed not to offend the n.r.a. we've seen that before. this is a chance for the president to do something different and, frankly, something courage success. it would be a terrible shame, terrible shame, if he squandered that very much-needed opportunity.
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if whatever the president announces this week falls short of what the american people are demanding, democrats will continue to press the issue. later tonight i'll join several of my democratic colleagues on the floor for an extended debate on the issue of gun violence. many of my colleagues have seen their communities torn apart by gun violence. some by horrific mass shootings. others by a relentless daily stream. many of them have worked for years to bring commonsense gun safety measures before the senate. tonight democrats will hold the floor and bring those stories to the senate floor, the stories of families shattered by gun violence, the stories of our constituents who demand that we take action. my republican colleagues, i hope, will listen closely and, more importantly, join democrats in working to pass meaningful legislation. i yield the floor.
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mr. thune: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: madam president, i spent a lot of time talking to south dakota farmers over the august break. this is one thing on farmers' minds now. it is trade, it is markets, it is having place to sell the things we raise and sell. farmers and ranchers have had a few rough years, low livestock
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prices, natural disasters and protracted trade disputes have left our agricultural economy trailing behind our economy as a whole. as farmers emphasized to me during august, one of the biggest things we can do help our agricultural economy is to implement trade agreements that benefit american farmers and ranchers. the united states is currently involved in trade negotiations on multiple fronts, with the european union, with china, with japan, other asian pacific countries. like many farmers and ranchers, i support the president's goal of addressing trade imbalances and securing more favoritable conditions for american products abroad. but we need to conclude these agreements as long as possible. the longer they drag on, the tougher the situation is for farmers who face retaliatory tariffs. we've had some recent successes. in august the administration announced a deal to increase u.s. beef sales to europe. in may, the administration announced a deal with japan to
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remove all remaining age restrictions on u.s. beef, giving american ranchers full access to the japanese markets for the first time in more than a decade. but that's just a tiny fraction of what needs to get done on the trade front when it comes to agriculture. and every time i speak with the president and his administration, i emphasize what south dakota farmers have told me -- we need to conclude negotiations on the various trade deals that we're working on and we need do it now. we need to open new markets, expand existing ones, and give farmers and ranchers certainty about what those markets are going to look like. while we're still in negotiations on a number of agreements, one deal that we don't need to wait for is the united states-mexico-canada free trade agreement. this agreement has already been fully negotiated by our three countries and congress can take it up at any time. the agreement is a clear wing for our farmers and -- a clear win for our farmers and graunches. mexico and canada with the number one and two markets.
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this agreement will expand access to the critical markets and give farmers certainty about p what these markets will look like long term. aim particularly pleased with the improvements the agreement makes for u.s. dairy producers. south dakota has experienced a massive dairy expansion over the past few years, and this agreement will benefit u.s. dairy producers by substantially expanding market access in canada where u.s. dairy sales have been restricted. the u.s. international trade commission estimates that the agreement will boost u.s. dairy exports by more than $277 million. the agreement will also expand market access for u.s. poultry and egg producers and willed make it easier for u.s. producers to export wheat to canada. and of course while i've been talking a will the about farewells, the benefits of the agreement will not be limited to the agricultural industry. virtually every sector of our economy will benefit from this agreement. from manufacturing to digital
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services to the auto motive industry. it will create 176,000 new u.s. jobs, grow our economy, and wage -- and raise wages for workers. madam president, republicans in the senate are ready to consider the united states, mexico, canada agreement. we're just waiting for house democrats to stop threatening to oppose the agreement and to show a willingness to put it to an up-or-down vote in the house of representatives. the administration has made addressing democrats' concerns a priority throughout the negotiation process and it seems to me that if you are a democrat who is unhappy with the status quo, voting for usmca is the best way to fix t i am encouraged by the fact that democrats appear to be working with the administration to reach a resolution on this agreement. and i hope, madam president, that they will continue to work with the white house to bring this agreement to a vote in the house of representatives as soon as possible. american farmers and ranchers
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need the united states, mexico, canada agreement. while it won't be a cure-all for all the problems that are facing farm country, it will be a significant step forward. congress should pass this agreement as soon as possible and allow farmers and ranchers and the rest of the american economy to start realizing the benefits. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. durbin: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: madam president, the disability rights movement is one of the great civil rights cheevment of our time. -- achievement of our time and this is the movement's rosa park. marka was a visionary and inspiring leader who helped change chicago and the world when it came to the rights of the disabled, and she was my friend. sadly she died last week in her
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adopted hometown of chicago at 66 years of age. in typical marca style she worked up to the few days before her death, trying to bend the arc of history a little more toward justice before she drew her last breath. i was happy to join my colleague senator duckworth in sponsoring a resolution honoring marca life work. i would like to take a moment to remember this amazing woman. while most americans have never heard of marco briso, few lives went untouched. she was a nationally and internationally acclaimed leader in the disabilities right movement. she helped to pass america's disabilities act in 1990, which outlawed discrimination of those with disabilities. she made sure that the a.d.a.
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was faithfully implemented. along with leaders like her, americans changed the way they thought about disabilities. she said to look at it as a civil rights issue not just a medical issue. to her mind what kept many people with disabilities facing full lives, she said it was not the person with disabilities but those obstacles that blocked their path. the problem was not the wheelchair was too wide for doors. remove the barriers and people with disabilities can lead rich and full lives and make enormous contributions, that's part of what marca taught me. she was smart, funny and fearless. she knew how to build coalitions. her parents named her marsha,
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but during her freshman year in college, a classmate called her macra and it stuck. she earned a nursing degree in 1976. in 1977, when she was 23 years old, working as a labor delivery nurse at a chicago hospital, she and a friend were sitting on the shore of lake michigan when a dog grabbed her favorite pair of sandals and ran into the water with them. she dove in to retrieve her shoes not realizing the water was shallow. she was broke her neck and paralyzed. because of her paralysis she lost her job, health insurance, her home, her car and the ability to navigate the city she loved many she thought she would never work again, but luckily the director of northwestern university hospital thought otherwise and convinced her to
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return to nursing. at one point she attended a work conference in san francisco and saw for the first time an abundance of curb cuts that enabled people with disabilities to cross the street. it was an eye opener for her. as she later wrote, and i quote, no longer did i see curbs or stairs as a problem ashed around which -- around which i needed to navigate, i saw them as examples of societal discrimination and felt a responsibility to get involved to help people with disabilities in illinois and beyond. 1980, she found access living in chicago a nonprofit dedicated to helping people with disabilities, help them live as independently as possibly rather than warehoused. this led to the fight for public transportation in chicago more accessible. she was not a shrinking violate. in 1984, she joined others
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chaining themselves to chicago transit authority with buses. she ended up getting arrested and ended up filing a lawsuit i reply against the transit agency. her determination led to the installation of wheelchair lifts and critical changes to c.t.a. buses and rail stations. excess living became a leadership model for other cities around and around the world many she founded the council on independent living, in 1993, president clinton named her to head the national council on disability. she was the first person with a disability ever to hold that post and she held it until 2002. she was elected president of the united states international council on disabilities and traveled around the world advocating for people with disability and their families. she participated in the negotiation for the united nations convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, a
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global accord based on americans with disabilities act. more than 60 nations have signed that treaty, including the united states, but, sadly, this senate has failed to ratify that treaty. i worked hours and hours with marca to try to win the votes in the senate for this bipartisan measure to help people with disabilities. we even brought former united states senator bob dole, a world war hero and father of the a.d.a., to sit on the floor of the senate when we cast the votes on this treaty. unfortunately it did not pass. marca called july 26, 1990, the day george h.w. bush signed the disabilities act, quote, our independence day. on that day she said, and i quote, this ragtag army of people who couldn't see, hear, walk, and talk did what everyone said couldn't be done, we passed the most comprehensive civil
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rights law since the passage of the 1964 civil rights act. in a 2015 interview interview from rush medical center celebrating the 25th anniversary of america's disabilities act, she said the law for the first time enshrined in federal law that disability is a normal part of the human condition and the world needed to change. in july, 2017, days before another a.d.a. anniversary, she was again fighting for justice. she was more -- she was one of more than 60 arrested for protesting about the proposed deep cuts in the medicaid program that had been included in a republican effort to repeal the affordable care act. as the capitol police carried her away, she raised a fist and smiled. that is how i will remember her, optimistic even against long odds. days before her arrest, john mccain, came to this floor and
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in the well of this senate shocked his party and the nation by becoming the deciding vote against the repeal of the affordable care act. i'd like to thank my colleague from arizona, john mccain, saw in marca and her friends the same courage he witnessed so often in our military. we extend our condolence to her husband bob, their two children samuel and madeliene, her granddaughter, who was born in june, to her sister gail and countless friends and colleagues. she made the lives of hundreds of millions of people better. i am going to miss her warm smile, wise advice, her vision and her courage. madam president, i ask consent to speak on a different topic that will be placed in a separate part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: madam president, i rise in opposition today to president trump's continued
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efforts to move funding from our military in order to build his beloved wall on our southern border. and i rise as well in defense of the powers given to congress in article 1 of the constitution. last week the president announced he was taking $3.6 billion from america's military to build his wall. he did so by canceling 127 million construction projects around the world and in 26 states and territories. already president trump has taken $2.5 billion from our military earlier this year. last week's decision brings the total to over $6 billion. $6 billion of investments in our american military and national security that the president of the united states has diverted so that he can have a bragging point in the reelection campaign about his beloved wall. this decision has ripped across the current and the world.
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remember the terrible damage that hurricane maria did in puerto rico, which is still being repaired? our military prioritized $400 million to rebuild national guard facilities and a school for military children there. with a stroke of a pen, and without the approval of congress, the president took away these funds. joint base andrews in maryland needed a new child care facility for military families. some of the rooms in that current facility have been closed due to mold, which created overcrowding. there are 130 children on a waiting list to get in this facility. their parents are paying for expensive off-base child care. it's unacceptable. so congress, on behalf of these military families at joint base andrews in maryland, approved the money to upgrade the child care center, once again, with the stroke of a pen president trump took the military family
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child care funds for his almighty wall. military children in fort campbell, kentucky, the home state of the majority leader, are forced to use overcrowded classrooms and a cafeteria so small that children are often shipped off to the library to eat. with the same stroke of a pen, $62 million that congress authorized for senator mcconnell's home state of connecticut to fix the problem is gone, headed to the border of the united states for the president to be able to boast at a rally. as if these stories weren't troubling enough, the air force is also sounding the alarm. a leaked internal review by the air force warns that president trump's decision to cancel 51 air force projects poses serious national security risk to our country. imagine if the shoe were on the other foot and the president were a hem of my -- a member of my party, the democratic party,
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what would we be hearing from the republican side of the aisle. one of the projects canceled for the air force to divert funds for his wall is an air base in turkey. she needed an upgrade for security on their main gate. the air force says without this project, and i quote, the base is vulnerable to hostile penetration in the midst of contingency operations and increased terrorist threat. for goodness take, the president is building a wall this the middle of a desert that is not solving the problem we face with our southern border and taking money away from the main gate of an air force base in turkey that has been identified to rebuild a gate for security against terrorism. there is canceling ee h emissions may inpact bombers to operate properly.
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i ask my colleagues, are these risks worth taking from our military so the president can have a walk-off line at one of his political rallies? u.s. allies across the globe committed to our defense are starting to doubt if this white house is still interest in being a leader of the free world. u.s. troops based in nato allied countries like poland, italy, germany, and estonia expected training center and logistical support to push back on russian aggression in europe. i can tell you after visiting the baltic states how critically important these funds are to remind the people of that region that the united states and nato allies still stand solidly behind them as putin threatens them with aggression on a daily basis, and now president trump has removed many of these funds. similarly, u.s. troops in south korea and japan were planning on $670 million to protect them from threats from north korea
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and china. the cancellation of all of these projects is based on a national emergency declared by the president that was rejected by both houses of congress in bipartisan votes. congress should not be silent when anyone dismisses the real needs of our men and women in uniform for politics, nor should it sit back when the president of any party tries to undermine its constitutional you duty to provide for the defense of the united states. i'm concerned that this undermines the appropriations committee which i dedicated my senate career too. we remember president trump's idea that we heeded a 2,000-mile concrete wall, as he said, from sea to shinning sea, paid for by mexico. he said it 200 times when he campaigned for the office of president. but, as we've seen, mexico
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hasn't put up a peso. the president decided the military should pay for it instead. the resulting damage to our military and the appropriations committee constitutional short continues to accumulate. it has -- it has to stop. it can stop if my colleagues on both sides of the aisle can come together and reassert their obligations under the constitution and provide our military families with certainty that they haven't been forgotten in the midst of the runup to the 2020 campaign. i hope that all of us think long and hard about the importance of this decision and our obligation to stand behind our men and women in the military. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee.
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mrs. blackburn: thank you, madam president. i want to get straight to the point this morning. i find it absolutely incomprehensible that some of our friends across the aisle are repeating the same missteps that turned last fall's supreme court confirmation battle into a black mark on the history of this body. i want to make it clear that i have no desire to relitigate the disputes borne from justice brett kavanaugh's confirmation hearings. i do not want to hear my friends on the other side of the aisle leverage for of the same baseless, salacious allegations in the name of partisan politicking, but when you stop and you think about it, since they have chosen to go there, it is imperative that i speak out, that we speak out about what is transpiring. you know, i was not in the
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senate for the first go-round on this, but i'm here now and i can tell you that i intend to give their arguments exactly the amount of deference and respect that they deserve. you know, sitting on the sidelines is never easy, but it's especially difficult when you're watching a fight you know that you could get in there and you could help win that fight, and i know this feeling very well. last fall, i was fighting to go from the house of representatives to the senate. i was also fighting to become the first female senator from the state, from the great state of tennessee, the very first. while on the campaign trail, i got more than an earful from other tennessee women who were watching this breathless coverage of justice kavanaugh's confirmation. these women were concerned that
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their voices were not being heard in this debate. they were concerned also for spouses, sons, brothers, male colleagues, that they could see these baseless claims and concerned for the lack of due process. they did not like for one minute what they were seeing, and i didn't like it either. these women -- and they came from all political walks of life, all areas of our state, but they were disgusted by the nature of the sexual assault allegations, and they were horrified by what they rightly saw as an eagerness to set aside due process that is so important to this nation and to the rule of law, and it was being set
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aside in order to make an example out of kavanaugh. were flimsy allegations and social justice buzzwords the new standard for credibility? as much as i wanted to reassure these women that sanity would prevail, in the back of my mind, i remained fully aware that if left unchecked, insanity is fully capable of carrying the day. it knows no bounds. as it turns out, conservatism prevailed in tennessee and sanity prevailed in the united states senate. i was humbled when supreme court justice brett kavanaugh performed my ceremonial swearing in this past january, and when i received the additional honor of being one of two republican
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women afforded a seat on the senate judiciary committee. humbled, truly humbled. but also prepared to stand up for what i know is right. mr. president, i will not abide or participate in the lack of civility that we saw during justice kavanaugh's confirmation. we have to realize that this is more serious than just evaluating a final tally of political points on a board. politicians, journalists, activists are leveraging unfounded criminal allegations against a duly confirmed supreme court justice. i repeat that. they are leveraging unfounded criminal allegations against a duly confirmed supreme court
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justice in an effort to undermine not only his work but ultimately the entire court as an institution. is this honestly what we have come to? is this the new low of lows? can no one see the danger in doing this and letting it continue and giving it air to breathe or to thrive? this is a danger. we are a nation of laws, and the senate is a body built on process and deliberation. tennesseans are asking who is going to stand and who is going to defend that process in this body. as a woman, as a new united states senator, and a member of the senate judiciary committee,
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i stand to defend the process and for civility. i refuse to lead this -- leave this political chaos unchecked, and i welcome my colleagues and my friends across the aisle to join me in recognizing that due process and civil discourse are required for productive, respectful debate. i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from montana.
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mr. tester: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are not. mr. tester: we all returned here to washington last week after, in my case, spending five weeks in the state of montana. it's always great being in montana, getting around the state and being able to visit with folks and see the challenges that they're dealing with on a daily basis. and hear directly from them. and i can tell you that one of the things i heard a lot about was montana is a -- is an ag state. it was the price of grain, the price of cattle. the marketplace is very, very depressed, and it doesn't matteg state. it doesn't matter what corner of the state you're in. we have got some challenges. and those challenges have been brought about by really, really bad public policy when it comes to tariffs.
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what these tariffs have done is they have increased the price of steel, for example, which increases the price of the equipment that folks in agriculture and everybody has to buy. and on the other side of the coin, because of the tariffs that are put on ag commodities, it's driven all ag commodities down. the tariffs on soy, for example, have driven all the commodities down, including wheat which we raise a lot of in montana, but also post crops and everything. in fact, when i was determining what we were going to plant this spring, i was trying to find what we could make money off of, and quite frankly, commodity prices are down across the board, and there wasn't anything that you could turn -- turn a profit on. and i don't say that being a -- being a farmer that wants to complain about prices because we
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do that occasionally, but i say that because the price of hard red ordinary winter wheat which probably doesn't mean much to anybody unless you're in agriculture is about the same price it was in may of 1978 when i took the farm over. and that's not inflation-adjusted prices. that's what it's selling for. a little over 350 a bushel. and if you take a look back at 1978, it doesn't take a nuclear physicist to figure out that things cost a little less back then. you could -- you could buy a car for probably about 15% of what you're paying for one now. and farm equipment was the same way. it was far, far, far less expensive. my dad bought a brand-new four-wheel drive tractor three
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years earlier in 1975, he paid about $20,000 for it. today that tractor would run you north of $200,000. so we have -- we have got a lot of challenges out there. and it all starts with the price of ag commodities. it isn't like mother nature frowned on us all and put us into a drought or put a hailstorm on us or put locusts on it. it's all man-made. and i think most people in this body would tell you that what's going on with china right now, even though china does need to be held accountable, we can't do it alone. we have to bring our allies in. and that's why it's not working. and that's why commodities prices are in the tank. and so why should anybody care if you're not involved in agriculture. you know there was a bumper sticker on a car a few decades
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ago that said if you eat, you're involved in agriculture, and that is a fact. if you want to talk about things like food security and being able to have food on the shelves, those family farmers are critically important. and if you force them out of business, that's more consolidation, that's less people living in rural america. that's a problem. and it's less certainty with our food supply. we feed the world for good reason, because there is a lot of family farmers out there that work very, very hard each and every day, and we overproduce, and the overproduced items need to be exported. if they are not, the prices go down. that's what we see right now. we see overproduction because we produce food. and if that food is not exported, the prices go down and they go down and they go down, and now they are prices that we had 40 years ago. now, this administration's solution for this problem is to
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borrow money from our kids and write farmers checks. and i don't know a farmer out there that wants to go down to the local f.s.a., farm service agency government office, and get a check. we do it, but that's not the preferred place. the preferred place is from the grain elevator. or from the livestock auction. but because the prices are so low, now farmers have to have a bailout. people talk about socialism and who is advocating for socialism around here, but the fact is this is pretty much socialism. the sad part is that the amount the farmer's getting is probably about a tenth, once again, of what they're losing in the marketplace. if we had trade, if we were up promoting trade, and if we were
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moving the ball forward to get rid of the excess production, but instead it's tariff after tariff after tariff because we're trying to teach somebody a lesson, and unfortunately because we don't have our allies on board with us, we haven't seen much success. so we've got a problem. the forefathers set forth three coequal branches of government. unfortunately, i have been a bit frustrated because the legislative branch hasn't been able to do much about these tariffs. we need to reinsert ourselves. i have a bill that i intend to drop in very soon that will empower the legislative branch. hopefully we can get it through committee and get it to the floor. it seems that we always ask permission of the administration whether we're going to take any bills up on this floor, the greatest deliberative body. it used to be. it's not anymore. when in fact we need to take the
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power back. we need to hold the administration, the executive branch, whether there is a democrat in the white house, a republican in the white house, accountable on these issues that revolve around trade. we're having a debate right now on appropriations, whether we should be a rubber stamp for the executive branch on appropriations. we've given away our power on trade. it is our job to deal with issues on trade, i am talking about congress' job. so i have got a bill to bring back some of that power. now, i will tell you, i hope tomorrow all these tariffs and trade issues go away. i don't think it's realistic. and in fact i think we've seen a lot of our foreign trading partners that were traditionally our partners turn to our countries to get their products. i think that's a problem long
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term and certainly short term because we're feeling it in the short term. when they start getting their ag commodities from some other country, it's hard to get those customers back, even when the trade agreements have been ratified. so i would ask the executive branch to quit playing games with american agriculture. i know most of the farmers support the trump administration, but i'm telling you, we saw a mass exodus off the farm in the 1980's because of bad policies, in part to this town. and i am afraid we're going to see it again. i've already seen it in my neighborhood. and i think it's just the start. it is time -- it is time that we start to do what we do, and that is we need to export some of this product. you know, the farmers union was
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in last week, and one of the people in the farmers union group asked -- from montana farmers asked, what do we do about the excess supply? well, what we do with the excess fly is what we've always done. we ship it out. we export it. and when those exports dry up, we have wheat, can't get rid of soy, corn is in a pinch, and as i said earlier, all ag commodities are depressed. so while we set here and talk about important stuff that we talk about, just know that the american farmer, the family farmer is hurting. and i will tell you that one thing that's made it country great is family farm agriculture, and if it gets consolidated, whether it's a family that owns tens of thousands of acres or controls
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tens of thousands of acres, or whether it is a corporation, it is the same thing. you've got nobody living in rural america, and it impacts our food security in this country, and quite frankly it's very bad for democracy. i invited the president to come to montana, to visit with the producers so that he could hear it from their mouths. i haven't gotten a response. but the bottom line is that he needs to know that rural america is not new york city. it has challenges that if we don't do our job and get products exported, we're going to see it change, we're going to see it dry up, and we're literally going to see it blow away. it's not a step forward. it's not making this country great. in fact, it's exactly the opposite.
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so i hope the president comes to montana. i hope he visits with the producers. he'll find a friendly crowd. i think most of them voted for him. and he'll be able to hear from the horse's mouth on what's happening with trade and hopefully get these trade tariffs and all the things around trade that have been negative for family farm agriculture put behind us. i think time is of the essence. it may be too late for a lot of folks, and we may see a lot of good operators no longer be able to make a living in agriculture. time is of the essence. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. and i also suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. kennedy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. kennedy: thank you. are we in a quorum call, mr. president? the presiding officer: we are. mr. kennedy: skilled to come out of the quorum -- i would ask to come out of the quorum call, please, sir. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kennedy: mr. president, i want to talk a little bit today about something i'm embarrassed about on behalf of the federal government. but first i want to -- before i explain to you why i'm embarrassed on behalf of my government, i need to give you a little background, mr. president. did you ever stop and think how much we pay in taxes in this
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country? you know, we got city taxes, we've got county taxes. in louisiana, we call our counties pair issues. so we have parrish taxes. we got state taxes. we've got fees and all those laws. sometimes politicians will try to call a hand in your pocket a fee as opposed to a tax, like you're going to be dumb enough to think that makes a difference. it's still money out of your pocket. and then we got federal taxes. i mean, government now taxes -- government taxes the food we eat, the clothes we buy, the houses we live in, the cars we drive. the government taxes when we work, when we play.
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if you want to go fishing, you got to pay a tax. if you want to go hunting, you got to pay a tax. the government even taxes when we die. let me just talk about the federal taxes just for a second. now, this is just a fraction of the money that people pay, but at the federal level our main tax is income tax -- corporate income tax, personal income tax. you know how much we pay every year, the american people, in corporate and personal income taxes? i'm going to show you. i'm going to write it out because it's impressive. see all those zeros? it's 12 zeros. $2 trillion every year.
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you know how much $2 trillion is? that's $2,000 billion. you know how much $1 billion is? if i started counting right now to a billion, you know when i'd finish? it would take me 32 years. i'd -- eyed finish in -- i would finish in 2051. i wouldn't make it. eyed be -- i'd be dead by then. a billion seconds ago it was 1986, ronald reagan was president. a billion hours ago, the romans were congress -- a billion hours ago neanderthals romeed the -- roamed the earth. american taxpayers pay $2,000
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billion, federal, corporate, and federal income taxes. look, we know that as a result of the social contract we have made among ourselves that we're better off living and working together, pooling our money so we can hire cops and build roads and educate our children. we know that's the price to pay in a civilized society, but it's still a lot of money. i don't know about you, but i get mad when some people cheat -- when all people that i know of cheat on their taxes because that means that law-abiding citizens have to pay more to make up for those that cheat. you know what else makes me mad? what else makes me mad is when
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the federal entity to which we pay these taxes has money of ours and they don't return it. i'm not talking about tax refunds. i'm talking about something else, and that's going to be the subject of my talk for a few minutes today. now, look, we're -- the federal government, the internal revenue service, which is housed, as you know, mr. president, and the department of treasury, they are very aggressive. oh, lord, you better pay your taxes. if you don't pay your taxes, they are on you. they'll chase you like a hound. you better pay them in the right amount, you better pay them on time. and most americans, we don't like it, but we're okay with that, because, you know, we've got to run the government, we have to defend our country, we've got to educate our kids.
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but what happens, mr. president, when the department of treasury, which houses the internal revenue service, owes money to the american people and refuses to give it back? and that's what embarrasses me. and that's what makes me angry. right now our united states department of treasury is holding $26 billion, and you remember i told you, mr. president, how big a billion is, it owes to the american people in unclaimed matured savings bonds.
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you know what a savings bond is. that's a loan by an american citizen to our government. we are funded -- we funded world war ii, in part, through savings bonds. this is how a savings bond works. it's real simple. let's suppose a buy a 100 savings bond. i give 100 to the u.s. department of treasury, which collects this $2 trillion through the i.r.s., but i give $100 to the department of treasury. it's a loan. treasury takes that $100 and promises to give me in, say, 20 years, $200 back. i don't get annual interest payments. there's some exceptions to that. and in the old days i'd get a paper bond, today it is done electronically. i loaned the federal government
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20 years, interest accrues, and in two years i go down with my -- my savings bond and i say, okay, i want my $200. but sometimes people forget and put those bonds in a safe deposit box or today we don't use paper bonds, we do it electronically, people will forget. sometimes -- in the old days when we used paper bonds, they would -- they would -- they would lose those bonds. a lot of times grandparents would give, as a birthday present, a bond to their grandchildren and say give them a $100 bond, and they'd say son or grandson or granddaughter, hold on to this bond and in 20 years you will have $200 and, of course, sometimes, you know, people would lose them. but they are not really
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completely lost. the bond might be lost, the physical bond in the days when we used paper bonds, and the people who loaned the money to the federal government might have forgotten about the bonds, but you know who knows about the bonds? the united states department of treasury because they've got the names and the addresses, and right now they've got the names and they got the addresses and they got the money, $26 billion that they are holding that belongs to the american people, and they won't give it back. i used to be a state treasurer in louisiana. i, and some of my colleagues, sued the department of treasury -- the federal department of treasury. you know why we sued them?
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because as state treasurers we had -- we had programs called unclaimed property programs. you might have heard about them. where we would return money to people in our states that we would take in from businesses who owed people money but couldn't find the people. let's suppose you -- you go rent an apartment, you put down a utility deposit back in your home state. and you move and you don't get your utility deposit back, you forget about it. the utility can't keep that deposit. they are supposed to look for you, but they can't fine you, they can't keep the money. they've got to turn it over to state treasury and the state treasurers of every state work very hard to contact the people and to give them back their utility dpos i. -- deposit. every day state treasurers return utility deposits, lost
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stocks, lost bonds, they'll turn -- they'll tax refunds. every state treasurer is very active. they have the infrastructure set up. they have websites, they have computers. they return this money every day to people because when a business has your money and can't find you, they can't keep it, they've got to turn it over to the state treasurer. so the treasurer sued the u.s. department of treasury and said we've got these unclaimed property programs, give us the names and addresses of these people to whom the treasury department owes $26 billion and we'll give it back to people. and you know what the department of treasury said? nothing. not a thing. he said -- they just ignored the treasurers. when we finally got their attention, they said, no. we're not giving it back. we're keeping the money.
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well, the treasurer sued them. and we're still in court. and not only is the united states department of treasury not giving the money back, they've gone and hired lawyers and they are spending millions and millions and millions of dollars to try to keep this money from the american people. and remember the u.s. department of treasury, they have the names and they have the addresses. they hey be old address -- they may be old addresses, but all they would have to do would be to give the names and the old addresses to the state treasurers in every state, for example, in my state in louisiana, and we've asked treasury do this, the u.s. treasury department would give all the names of all the people in louisiana to whom this money is owed through savings bonds and give them the addresses and
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the treasurer in my state will track these people down and give them their money back. but the u.s. department of treasury won't do it. they are fighting us in court. you know why they won't do it? greed. they figure people just -- they'll never claim their money. we'll just keep it. you can't do that if you're a business. if you're a business in america and you have somebody's money, you've got to go look for them. it's a law in every state. and if you can't find them, you've got to turn the money over to the state treasurer and the state treasurer gives it back. but not the federal government. not the department of treasury. we're talking real money here. let me give you an example. i see my good friend senator
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cornyn over here. he works hard for the people of texas. they love him. i just came back from san an san antonio, they love senator cornyn. you know how much the u.s. department of treasury owes senator cornyn's people, just in texas? $2.1 billion. this money isn't lost. the department of treasury has it. and they've got the names and they got the addresses. now, as we went along in our lawsuit -- and the lawsuit is still pending. it's not mine anymore. i'm no longer the state treasurer. one of the statements the department of treasury filed in court, i almost laughed. if i hadn't been in court, i would have laughed. they said that, yeah, we've got the names and we've got the addresses, but it would take us -- it would cost $128 million to organize the records. that was one of the excuses they
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gave to the judge. give me a break. if you believe that, you will never own your own home. now, if -- if you and i lie to the government, we can go to jail, but if the government lies to us, oh, it will take $128 million to organize the record. that's called politic -- politics. oklahoma, next door to texas, $312 million, michigan, the u.s. department of treasury is holding $773 million in fully redeemed -- they are not paying interest anymore, but unclaimed savings bonds to the people of michigan. do you think some of those folks in michigan could use that money right now? maybe to save for their retirement, maybe to educate their children.
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idaho. idaho's not very big. it's a great state. $128 million. tennessee, $480 million. wyoming, $45 million. new york, $1.5 billion. i'm just beside myself. you wonder why people hate government, here it is. we have to pay our taxes in the right amount and on time. if we don't do it, they come and take our first born. and if we're late, they fine it r us. this is the -- they fine us. this is the i.r.s. under the department of treasury, but here they have $26 billion, and they've got the names and they've got the addresses and they won't give it back.
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and it's an embarrassment. it's a disgrace. they should hide their heads in a bag. now, i've got a bill, and i'm hoping my colleagues will support it. it's called the unclaimed savings bond act of 2019. s. 2417. it's a real simple bill. it would just tell u.s. department of treasury to do its job. it doesn't own this money. it doesn't own this money. it's not theirs and need to give it back. and every state -- they don't have to spend a lot 0 of time on it. they just have to give the names and addresses to every state treasurer. i will give them the cell numbers if they want it. give the names and addresses to the state treasurers. i would like to get their senators involved. in florida, where our -- our
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presiding president is from and senator rubio, i'd like them to have the names. maybe they could go out -- we used to do this when we did unclaimed property in louisiana, you advertise in the paper or on the radio or in television or on the internet and say i'm going to be out at the so and so mall saturday with my team's computers. come out, we'll check your name and see if you have unredeemed savings bonds. you'd be surprised, people come out, they find their name. we'll get your current address and we'll get your checks in two weeks. people say gosh, the last time government gave me any money was never, but they feel a little bit better about their government. this bill will work. i can't imagine who would oppose this bill except my friends at the department of treasury. and they don't have good reason
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to oppose it. they just want to keep the money. i'm going to be talking about this a lot. because the money is important. people worked hard for this. i tell you what's more important, mr. president -- the principle. we have to pay our taxes in the right amount and on time. when government has our money, it ought to give it back to us in the right amount and on time. thank you for your attention and your time, mr. president. i suggest the absence of a quorum. i yield to senator cornyn. who has over $2 billion in uncashed savings bonds in his state, thanks to our department of treasury. mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: last weekend, of
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course we're next-door neighbors. we share a lot in common. i want to thank him for highlighting this injustice. it is shocking to me that the united states senator would have to introduce legislation, pass both houses, and get the president's signature for people to get their money back from the federal government. it is shocking. and i didn't know anything about it until the senator from louisiana highlighted it, so i thank him for that. and i am proud to be a cosponsor of -- no audio. regular order as we call it around here, but i wish them good luck.
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so my constituents would like to get that $2.1 billion back in their pockets instead of the federal treasury. thank you. mr. president, on another matter, through the august break back home, i heard from a startling number of my constituents about their increasing struggles to deal with their -- with their drug costs, their prescription drug medications. this included stories about skipping their blood pressure medication or diabetics rationing their insulin and people traveling across the border going to mexico, to the pharmacitas in mexico to get inhalers at a lower price. of course, the problem is you don't know when you go to another country whether it is as advertised, whether it is counterfeit or whether it's genuine, so there are risks associated with that, but my point is that people are
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struggling to deal with their drug costs and they're going to extraordinary means that are potentially dangerous to their health. i know my constituents back home are frustrated by confusing price hikes. they don't understand the dramatic price differences from one pharmacy to the next. they are terrified about what will happen if the price gets so high that they will have to give up taking their prescriptions altogether. it's no surprise that a recent gallup poll found that americans view the pharmaceutical industry more negatively than any other industry. a whopping 58% said they have a negative view of the pharmaceutical industry. and 48% have a negative view of the health care industry as a whole. now, congress' numbers are much worse than that, but the point is people are concerned, and they want us to do something about it.
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the products and services these groups provide mean the difference between life and death, which they do, that lack of trust is its bad side, to be sure. so i believe, along with many of my colleagues, that it's time to get to the bottom of these rising costs and provide the american people with some transparency, some clarity, and some peace of mind, and hopefully a break on their out-of-pocket costs for their prescription drugs. here in the senate, we have taken a bipartisan approach that reaches across several of our standing committees, and we have made some serious progress, and i'd like to remind anybody who's listening what we have done so far and what we need to do next. earlier this summer, the senate health, education, labor, and pensions committee passed a package to end surprise billing to create more transparency and create more competition. the senate finance committee on
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which i sit passed a package of bills designed to reduce prescription drug prices for seniors and children, and the judiciary committee on which i also sit has passed several bills to lower the cost of prescription drugs and stop bad actors from gaming the patent system. we've talked to every major player in the supply chain and have asked questions about the confusing practices that are driving up costs, and of course i would be remiss if i didn't acknowledge the presiding officer's leadership when it comes to this topic. knowledgeable as he is about the health care industry beyond which -- beyond the average senator. but one example of the problem is the anticompetitive behavior of drug manufacturers. companies pour extensive time and money into research and development of new medications, and that's good. what they get in return is the ability to recover their costs and earn a profit under a
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patent. these patents, justifiably, protect the intellectual property of these drugs for a time and are a key driver behind the incredible innovation that occurs here in the united states. the united states discovers and manufactures more innovative and lifesaving drugs than any other country in the world, but we're increasingly seeing companies using the patent system as a shield for competition beyond the life of a patent. it's time we put that to a stop. one of the bills in the judiciary committee that i introduced is called the affordable prescriptions for patients act which would address two circumstances that lead to higher drug costs. first is something called product hopping which occurs when a company develops a reformulation of a product that is about to lose its patent and pulls the original product from the market.
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this is done not because the new formula is more effective necessarily but because it prevents generic competitors from competeing with the original product. one example is a drug called nimenda which is used by patients with alzheimer's disease, a terrible, devastating disease. near the end of the exclusivity period, the manufacturer switched from a twice daily drug to a once daily drug. that move under the current law prevented pharmacists from being able to switch patients to a lower cost generic, even though it's just as effective, so the company could continue to earn a profit under this exclusivity provision under the patent laws. by defining these types of anticompetitive behaviors, the federal trade commission would be able to bring antitrust suits against the bad actors who deliberately game the system.
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secondly, the bill disarms patent thickets which occur when an innovator uses multiple innovating, overlapping patents or patents with identical claims to make it harder for competitors to enter the field. one example is the drug humera which is commonly used to treat arthritis and a number of other conditions. ab-v, the manufacturer of humera has 136 patents and 237 patent applications on that drug, which has been available for more than 15 years. this type of behavior makes it very difficult for biosimilar manufacturers who bring a product to market. competition. while the patent on the actual drug formula may have expired, there are still in this case hundreds of other patents to sort through. litigating all of these extraneous patents is expensive
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and difficult and unnecessary. this artificial structure delays market entries for competitors years beyond the exclusivity period the law intends to grant. today there are five supports to humera that are available in europe, but they are blocked from being sold in the united states until 2023. this bill won't stifle innovation or punish those that use the patent system as it's intended. it simply stops the bad guys from profiting off the backs of patients. this is a critical component of our efforts to bring down drug costs, and i'm glad this proposal received unanimous support in the judiciary committee. later this week, the house energy and commerce subcommittee is holding a hearing about pharmaceutical companies gaming the system, and i'm eager to see what kinds of proposals our friends in the house introduce as part of this effort. i think it's fair to say we've
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done some serious work here in the senate when it comes to reducing prescription drug costs, but we've got work ahead of us to do. in other words, we have to bring them to the floor for a vote, and i hope we do so soon. i appreciate the countless texans who have reached out and communicated with me and who continue to reach out to share their concerns and their stories about unnecessarily high out-of-pocket drug costs, and i'm committed to working with all of our colleagues across the aisle to address these rising health care costs generally and ensuring that drug companies put patients before profits. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. romney: mr. president, i rise today to speak on behalf of the nomination of mr. john rakolta to become the ambassador to the united arab emirates. mr. rakolta is the owner of a construction company that builds
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major projects like factories, churches, hospitals, and airports. his firm guides the work of thousands of workers here in the united states and in countries around the globe. with revenues of approximately $1.7 billion annually, he has built one of the largest and most successful general contractors in the nation. i presume the success has made him a prosperous person, but he is also a person who is actively engaged in his community. he has served on the boards of numerous organizations, several of which have focused on the rejuvenation of his city of detroit and its less-advantaged citizens. he's also received so many awards that it would be impractical to list them all here today, but i note that he has been honored by such groups as united way, the michigan black chamber of commerce, the urban league of detroit, the boy scouts of america, and new
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detroit. of course my friends on the other side of the aisle are dutiful in their examination of any possible flaw. i'm convinced that the concerns they may have raised are not well-founded, and he is in fact entirely qualified and appropriately nominated to this important position. i note that i am biased in favor of mr. rakolta because i have known him personally for more than 30 years. he and his family have spent dozens of evenings in the home of my parents, studying the teachings of their faith. he's a man who makes commitments only after a great deal of thought, and when they are made, he is fully loyal to them. in his business in his communities, in his nation, in his faith and in his marriage and family of four children and 11 grandchildren. i know genre coal it -- i know
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john rakolta as a man of honor and integrity and am convinced that he will serve the country well. i yield the floor.
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mr. cornyn: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: madam president, are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are not. mr. cornyn: i have five requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. these have been approved by both leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. the yeas and nays are requested. is there a second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll.
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the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to vote or change their vote? seeing none, -- the senate will be in order. the ayes are 63. the nays are 30. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion is -- to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table and the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action. the clerk will report the motion
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to invoke cloture. the clerk: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of kenneth a. howery to be ambassador of the united states of america to the kingdom of sweden signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of kenneth a. howery of texas to be ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the united states of america to the kingdom of sweden shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: are there
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any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or thank their vote? if not, the yeas are 63, the nays are 29. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: department of state, kenneth a. howery of texas to be ambassador of the united states of america to the kingdom of sweden. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands in recess voting to move ahead with nominee for the us ambassador with speed sweden. coming up for work on several state department nominations and this evening senate democrats will talk about gun violence legislation. the senate is live here on
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cspan2. and president trumps former campaign manager corey lewandowski is on capitol hill today testifying before the house today sherry committee. committee looking at possible obstruction of robert mueller's investigation by president trump . watch live coverage on c-span3, online at c-span.org or with the free c-span radio app >> president trump and the first lady will host the second state dinner of it is administration as he welcomes australian prime minister scott morrison and his wife jenny morrison. once guest arrivals and dinner totes. i live coverage begins friday at 6:30 p.m. eastern on c-span, online at c-span.org or listen on the free c-span radio app . >> c-span is back in demoing iowa this saturday for life campaign 20/20 coverage of the polk county democrats annual state run beginning at
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2 pm eastern where 18 presidential candidates will take the stage for speeches. watch the iowa state fry live on c-span, c-span.org or listenlive on the go using the free radio app . broadcast journalist cokie roberts has died today due to complications from breast cancer. (he and her daughter gave remarks at a reception married in the 100th anniversary of the house of representatives passing the 19th amendment to the u.s. constitution which guaranteed women theright to vote . >> ladies and gentlemen, miss cokie roberts andrebecca bonds roberts . [applause] >> i forgot to tell her to wearwhite . what a true honor to be here in this hollow hall.

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