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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  October 23, 2019 9:29am-11:30am EDT

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soldiers out of the tens of thousands of turkish troop. ironically the president's decision may finally allow the kurds to negotiate with assad for semi autonomous region in syria. if the kurds prove they're batt battle-- much as the kurds did in iraq. already we are seeing promising cooperation between the kurds and assad. this week, turkey's erdogan met with putin. putin it aligned with assad. there's a possibility that diplomacy may break through here. a chance that the syrian civil war could come to an end if assad with the kurds help would freed agree to secure the border. we are going to leave these remarks here because the u.s. senate is about to gavel in. later today lawmakers will work
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on 2020 spending. and first is by minority leader chuck schumer to repeal a cap on state and local income tax deduction, a vote later today. now to live coverage of the senate on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, give our lawmakers this day the wisdom to know your words and obey your precepts. as they follow your leading, may they remember the many times you
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have delivered them in the past. lord, give them the courage to not retreat from life's battles but to faithfully keep their hands in yours. guide us, great jehovah. we are pilgrims in this land. we are weak, but you are mighty; guide us with your powerful hand. in the time of our distress, console us with your merciful presence. we pray in your loving name, amen.
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the president pro tempore: please join me in the pledge of allegiance. please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of americ, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. mr. grassley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: later today i will attend the portrait unveiling of my former colleague and friend, senator ted stevens, who served in the senate from
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1968 until 2009. this portrait is being added to the senate leadership portrait collection because of senator stevens' service as the president pro tempore, a position i now hold. senator stevens was known for his tireless work on behalf of the state of alaska and their citizens, had quite a reputation for reaching across party lines to get the job done. i'm honored to attend today's ceremony adding senator stevens' portrait to the historic walls of the united states capitol. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: first, want -- the presiding officer: the senate in a quorum call. mr. mcconnell: i suggest that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: first i want to acknowledge two notable events taking place here in the capitol today. as we speak, the first lady of the united states is just down the hall for a special event related to our nation's opioid epidemic, making the progress that congress and the administration made in recent years and focusing our efforts on the work still ahead. i'll have more to say on the subject tomorrow, which will mark up the one-year anniversary of president trump signing our landmark opioid legislation into law. but i want to the warmly welcome the first lady to the senate this morning, thank her for her
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continuing focus on this crisis which affects so many of our states. i offer these thanks not only as the majority leader but as the senior senator from kentucky, which has been hit hard by this epidemic. and then later today in the old senate chamber, family, friends and former colleagues of our late colleague senator ted stevens will gather for the unveiling of the senator's leadership portrait. senator stevens' likeness will join the storied ranks of the leadership portrait collection, images of majority leaders, minority leaders, and president pro tempore which are proudly displayed around the building. our distinguished predecessor watch over the corridors they walked, the rooms in which they debated and the body they served. it is fitting that senator stevens is being recognized for his service as president pro tempore. as we all know, unlike the elected party leaders, that is not a job for which you can campaign or persuade your way into. the only way to become president pro tempore is to persuade your home state overred and over to
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rehire you, and ted stevens was about the most dogged advocate for his home state that anybody could possibly imagine. he was alaska's son and alaska's champion 24 hours a day and then some. so i look forward to honoring our former colleague's memory later this afternoon. i understand the house of representatives will vote on h.r. 4617. this is the latest installment in speaker pelosi's campaign to expand government's control over america's political speech. it is a transparent attack on the first amendment that has united an unlikely band of opponents across the political spectrum, everybody from hard-core conservatives to the aclu is speaking out to erode americans' constitutional rights. the proposal would give the federal election commission unprecedented to track and
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regulate americans' political speech on the internet and decide what speech qualifies as political in the first place. and if it were not bad enough on principle to fill more washington, d.c., filing cabinets with citizens what beliefs would also dependize media companies into the effort. they would force publications to keep excessive records for any advertisement they accept, not only for political campaigns but on any issue of national importance. when this regulatory burden has been tried on a smaller scale, it has frightened media platforms into rejecting political ads altogether. it's a textbook example of policy designed to reduce the amount of free speech in our country. press organizations such as "the washington post" and "the baltimore sun" have already sued over similar regulations on first amendment grounds and won in court, so house democrats want to vool the first amendment
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and harm journalists in order to give more control to the f.e.c. that would be the same f.e.c. the democrats have recently tried to shift from a bipartisan body to a partisan body for the first time in its history. a different part of the house bill refers to, quote, legitimate journalistic activities, end quote. now, i look forward to hearing what orwellian commission or process house democrats may have in mind for determining whether washington, d.c. deems a particular journalist legitimate. these are just a few examples. even the aclu widely viewed as a left-leaning organization not known for siding with republicans is publicly opposing the democrats' bill. here's what the aclu said. the shield act strikes the wrong balance, sweeping too broadly and encompassing more speech than necessary.
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the shield act goes too far, to the detriment of the public and the first amendment. that's the aclu. congress has real business to attend to, mr. president. house democrats need to stop blocking the usmca. senate democrats need to stop blocking defense funding. yet, rather than work on these issues, we -- the democrats continue to fixiate on chipping away at the first amendment. it's a pet project they return to time and time again. it's disturbing, especially in light of recent blatant attempts to intimidate americans into silence. just a few months ago, a sitting house democrat earned national criticism when he publicliette publicliette -- publicly tweeted out a list of his own constituents in san antonio, texas, who had donated to president trump's campaign. he listed these private citizens' names, along with their employers or businesses. in this era of political harassment and online mocks, the
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implication was clear as day. so from twitter post to partisan messaging bills, the house democrats' mission is the same. chill the exercise of free speech. send a message to americans with inconvenient views that speaking up is more trouble than it's worth. this proposal will not do anything to stop maligned foreign actors, something that every member of the body cares deeply about. as three former f.e.c. chairmen recently pointed out, foreign adversaries like russia are not going to stop their malign operations for fear of an f.e.c. fine. let me say that again. adversaries like russia are not going to stop their malign operations for fear of an f.e.c. fine. quote, campaign finance law isn't the tool to prevent foreign meddling. adversaries won't be scared off by civil penalties. this is a job for diplomatic national security and counterintelligence agencies.
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this legislation is a needless sacrifice to first amendment rights, not a serious effort to secure elections. that is three former chairmen of the federal election commission. i certainly agree. it was focusing on defense and counterintelligence, not attacking the first amendment, that made the 2018 elections go more smoothly than the 2016 elections. that's why the hundreds of millions of dollars congress has set aside for state grants has made a big difference. that needs to remain our focus as we continue our efforts to avoid repeating the mistakes of 2016. so, mr. president, house democrats have achieved something remarkable here. they have drafted legislation that is so antifirst amendment that it has united everybody from former f.e.c. commissioners to the aclu to yours truly in opposition to it. i'm sorry that speaker pelosi deems go nowhere messaging bills
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a better use of the house's time than the usmca, and the 176,000 new american jobs that experts tell us it would create. the american people deserve a house of representatives that works with the senate and the president to actually make law and make progress for the families we represent. now, on another matter, today senate democrats here in the senate will push forward their own resolution that seeks to undermine part of the historic tax reform we passed in 2017. remember back then, washington democrats were downright hysterical about our plan to let working americans send less of their paycheck to the i.r.s. speaker pelosi called the tax cuts, quote, armageddon. she said it was, quote, the worst bill in the history of the united states congress. that's the speaker on the 27 tax reform bills. well, i guess that shows how much democrats hate to cut
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taxes, but tax reform passed and the results are clear. it has increased americans' take-home pay and helped generate one of the best economic moments for working families in a generation. since tax reform, 22 states, including my state of kentucky, have set new record low unemployment rates. the national unemployment rate has set a 50-year low. but alas, rather than acknowledge that the sky hasn't fallen, our democratic friends still want to undermine tax reform. and listen to where they have elected to start, mr. president. listen to this. democrats' first target is changing the tax code so that working families across the country have to subsidize wealthy people in states like new york, new jersey, and california. here's the background. as part of tax reform, in order to maximize middle-class relief, the deductibility of state and local tax payments was capped. most middle-class taxpayers were
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more than compensated for this through other tax cuts. but for some wealthy people who elect to live in high-tax states, this represented a partial increase. republicans didn't think it was fair that middle-class working families in the states the obama economy left behind had to subsidize the tax bills of rich people in high tax states. without limit, we didn't eliminate the state and local tax deduction. we just capped it. for high earners. this cap is what democrats want to undermine. their resolution would help high-tax states typically governed by democrats create workarounds for their high tax earners. so let's be clear about what would happen if democrats got their real objective and repealed the salt cap altogether. according to data from the joint committee on taxation, 94% of benefits would flow to taxpayers who earn more than $200,000 a
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year. that's what they are advocating. 94% of the benefit would flow to taxpayers who earn more than $200,000 a year. more than half of it would actually go to people who make more than a million dollars a year. cutting taxes for the rich. repealing the salt cap would give millionaires an average tax cut of $60,000. meanwhile, the average tax cut for taxpayers earning between $15,000 and $100,000 would be less than ten bucks. $60,000 tax cuts for wealthy people and $10 tax cuts for the middle class. apparently, that sounds like a good trade to our democratic colleagues. it doesn't sound like a good trade to me. i'm sorry to break it to my democratic colleagues, but the middle-class kentuckians i represent have zero interest,
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zero interest in crosssubsidizing the tax bills of millionaires who live in brooklyn and the bay area. it's bad enough that my democratic colleagues want to unwind tax reform, but it's downright comical that their top priority, their top priority is helping wealthy people in blue states find loopholes to pay even less. they won't even propose to repeal the salt cap outright because they know it is bad policy and negates all of their talking points about tax fairness. they just want to bless a backdoor workaround. so i would urge members on both sides to use common sense and reject democrats' resolution when we vote on it later today. now, mr. president, i understand there is a joint resolution at the desk due a second reading. the presiding officer: the leader is correct. the clerk will read the title of the joint resolution for the second time.
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the clerk: s.j. res. 59, joint resolution expressing the sins sins -- sense of congress on the precipitous withdrawal of united states armed forces from syria and afghanistan and turkey's unprovoked incursion into syria. mr. mcconnell: in order to place the joint resolution on the calendar under the provisions of rule 14, i would object to proceeding. the presiding officer: the objection having been heard, the joint resolution will be placed on the calendar. under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of s.j. res. 50, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 258, s.j. res. 50, joint resolution providing for a congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, united states code, and so forth.
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mr. thune: mr. president. the presiding officer: majority whip. mr. thune: mr. president, today democrats are forcing a vote to repeal the administration's sensible rule to disallow bogus charitable deductions that are designed to circumvent the salt, the state and local tax deduction cap that was part of the 2017 tax reform bill. frankly, mr. president, i welcome this vote and today's
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debate. it gives us an opportunity to review all the benefits of the tax cuts and jobs act. while drafting the tax cuts and jobs act, congress made a conscious choice to cap the state and local tax deduction, or salt, at $10,000. doing so allowed us to provide additional tax relief to the middle class, support families by doubling the child tax credit, and simplify the tax code for filers by nearly doubling the standard deduction. these changes resulted in the average family of four in my home state of south dakota receiving a tax cut of more than $2,000. in response to this cap, certain high tax states adopted what some would call creative, what i would call bogus schemes to try and circumvent the cap. these so-called charities that these states have set up are designed solely as an alternative method of paying state and local taxes so millionaires can shirk their federal tax obligations.
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so the i.r.s. did what the law directed. it enacted sensible regulations to shut down these bogus tax avoidance schemes. but it did so in a thoughtful manner. carefully considering more than 7,700 comments and creating a safe harbor for certain donations to avoid unintentionally avoiding actual charitable giving. it's ironic that democrats are now calling for a tax cut, mr. president, for the most well-off americans. based on nonpartisan data from the joint committee on taxation, 94% of the benefit from passing this c.r.a. would flow to taxpayers with incomes of over $200,000. 52% of the benefit would go to those with incomes over $1 million. in fact, repealing the salt cap
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would result in millionaires receiving an average tax cut of nearly $60,000 while the average tax cut for taxpayers with incomes between $50,000 and $100,000 would be less than $10. so put that in perspective, mr. president. the choice here is very clear. today we have an opportunity to vote no, to vote no on the democrats' proposed tax cut for millionaires. mr. president, the democrat party has undergone quite an evolution over these past three years. like all political parties, the democrat party has always had an extremist fringe, but the far-left wing of the democratic party is rapidly becoming its mainstream. democrats have been falling all over each other to see how far they can run to the left. socialism, a concept that in america at least seemed to have been firmly consigned to the ash heap of history is now being openly embraced by the democrat
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party. leading democrats have embraced putting the government in control of everything from americans' energy usage to their health care. but, mr. president, it's not socialism or government-run health care that i want to focus on today. i want to talk about another trend that has been gradually emerging in the democrat party but that doesn't always get the coverage that proposals like medicare for all receive and that is the growing democrat hostility to religion which culminated a couple of weeks ago in a democrat presidential candidate's proposal to selectively tax churches based on whether or not he agrees with their religious beliefs. let me repeat that, mr. president. think about that for a minute. a democrat presidential candidate proposed that the government should selectively tax churches and synagogues and mosques based on whether or not their religious beliefs passed muster with the president. that is -- or should be -- a
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shocking statement, mr. president. the idea of having churches based -- have taxing churches based on whether or not their religious beliefs meet with a political party's approval is antithetical to the fundamental right to freely exercise one's religion. and not just antithetical. it's unconstitutional. targeting churches for discriminatory treatment based on their theology is a violation of the first amendment. it's an understatement to say that it's deeply disturbing to see this proposal emerge from a mainstream candidate. but what might be even more disturb something that democratic leaders aren't lining up to reject this unconstitutional proposal. but maybe we shouldn't be surprised. because this is not the first time a democrat has shown signs of regarding religious people as second-class citizens.
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it became clear clear that democrats believed religious people should be subject to extra scrutiny. there was the nomination ofamy connie barrett. she received the highest rating of well-qualified. the a.b.a. valuation is the gold standard by which judicial candidates are judged, end quote. yet during the confirmation process it became clear that some democrats thought she should be disqualified because she is a practicing catholic. the dogma lives loudly within you, a quote from the democrat ranking member on the judiciary committee, with the implication that anyone who takes his or her religious faith seriously can't be trusted to hold public office. last december democrats raised questions about another judicial nominee because he is a member
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of a catholic charitable organization, the knights of columbus, which participates in such disturbing activities as serving veterans, raising money for the needy, and providing young people with scholarships. mr. president, the constitution is very clear on whether being a person of faith can disqualify you from public office. from article 6 -- and i quote -- no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the united states, end quote. no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the united states. that a quote, mr. president, from article 6 of the constitution s mr. president, religious liberty is a foundational part of our system of government. there is a reason it is the very first freedom mentioned in the bill of rights. more than one of the 13 original
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colonies was founded for the express purpose of securing religious freedom. and by religious freedom, i don't mean the right to worship privately, as long as you don't bring your faith into the public square. what people were looking for in america, what they still look for in america is the freedom to live according to their religion, according to their conscience and beliefs, freely and publicly, without interference from the government. that's what the first amendment was intended to protect. i want to move away from the constitution for a minute, though. there's no question that democrats' increasingly hostile attitude toward religion raises some serious questions about constitutionality. but that's not the only disturbing aspect of it. i am also profoundly disturbed about the none-too-little that
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we may have to tolerate them but that we should seek to push them out of public life. that idea is also one that would be absolutely and the net cal to the founders. the founders didn't see religion as something to be tolerated. they saw it as an absolute good. and that isn't just because a number of the founders were men and women of faith. they didn't think religion was just a private good that kept new a good place with god. no, they thought religion was good for society. think of the famous passage from washington's farewell address which we read in the senate literally every single year in observance of washington's birthday. let me quote. of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. in vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should
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labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. the mere politician equally with a pious man ought to respect and to cherish them. a volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. again, from president washington's farewell address. mr. president, this is a sentiment that occurs over and over again during the founding, that religion is a benefit not just to individuals privately but to the public. that it makes men and women into good citizens. it encourages them to uphold the law, to live virtuous lives, to take their oaths seriously, to respect the property of others, to moderate problematic passions
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like vengeance and avaric. e it does point to the truth that religion is something that adds value to society. that it builds men and women who are a bressing to their neighbors -- blessing to their neighbors and their country. americans are known football -- americans are known to be a generous people. again, to be clear, that doesn't mean that you have to be religious to be generous, but religion encourages generosity. think about how much of the charitable work in this country would go away overnight without religion. churches and religious organizations support food banks and homeless shelters and crisis pregnancy centers. they run tutoring programs and scholarship programs and mentoring programs. they reach out to immigrants and refugees, to struggling parents and struggling families. they serve military members and first responders. they sign up people to vote.
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they help families looking to adopt. they implement recycling programs. they collect aid for individuals caught in the path of natural disasters. they build houses for those without a home. and i could go on and on and on. to provide just one south dakota example, a few months ago i visited lifelights new youth center in an area of sioux falls. the center is focused on providing a place where underprivileged children can hang out and have a snack and do their homework. it is just one of the many tremendous things being done by churches and religious organizations in sioux falls and around my state. i doubt there is any area where good work is being done in this country where you won't find religious people helping out. so, mr. president, i don't just want to see religious people
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tolerated. i'd like too see the democrat party rejecting the un-american idea that being religious somehow makes you less qualified to participate in the public square. and i'd like to see the democrat party standing up to condemn unconstitutional ideas like that proposed of one of their -- by one of their presidential candidates. until then, i will keep fighting to ensure that every american's fundamental right to live in accordance with his or her religious beliefs is protected. mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a remain q -- of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. schumer: now, mr. president, three weeks ago, a small number of u.s. special forces were working with our syrian kurdish partners to conduct operations against isis and hold more than 10,000 detainees, many of them hardened isis fighters. it was a product of half a decade of hard work by american and coalition forces, and the kurds to degrade isis, to put them on the run, stabilize a post-conflict of interest region. today, only three weeks later, as american troops continue their withdrawal from our bases in northern syria at the president's orders, president putin and president erdogan have announced a plan to establish russian and turkish control of a region that was once patrolled by american and kurdish forces. our partners, the syrian kurds, have been killed and wounded in erdogan's invasion and forced to leave their homes in groves. and most importantly, the upper
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hand we once held over isis has been eroded. we don't know how many isis detainees have escaped from detention facilities or where they have gone, and there seems to be no articulable plan on how to get them back. in the blink of an eye, president trump has undone over five years of progress against the islamic state. three weeks after first announcing the troops' withdrawal, the president does not seem to have a clear strategy for securing the enduring defeat of isis and fixing the mess he has created in syria. secretary of state pompeo does not have a clear strategy. secretary of defense esper does not have a clear strategy. every day, it seems like we're going to -- we're going in a completely different direction. one day reports indicate the administration was considering a
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residual force in eastern syria. the next report says the administration plans to target isis from iraq. the next minute, reports said iraq won't allow our forces to do that. what is the strategy here? america's security is at risk. isis is dangerous. isis is escaping. how will the administration continue to bring the fight to isis? what will the president do to prevent russian and turkish aggression and the potential slaughter of our allies and friends, the kurds? when will the administration present its strategy to congress? we need answers to these questions right away, but shockingly, the administration's top officials, secretary of state pompeo, secretary of defense esper, have now canceled two scheduled briefings with the senate, and there is no new time on the calendar. secretary of state pompeo apparently had time to speak to the heritage foundation
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yesterday, which is four blocks away from the capitol, but he doesn't have time to come to congress, not even to brief us on syria. secretary pompeo is derelict in his duty. he has an obligation to come here. it's not a question of timing. he spoke four blocks away at the heritage foundation. he's ducking. we need answers. and if they don't have answers, we need to have a q. and a., a dialogue, and maybe that will push them to some answers. it's too dangerous for america to sit here and do nothing and run and hide, and secretary pompeo is now doing it. today, senate democrats are holding a special caucus to hear from brett mcgurk, the former government envoy in charge of countering isis under both presidents obama and trump. while i expect mr. mcgurk's presentation to be helpful to our caucus, it does not replace the need for the trump
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administration and its officials to come to congress and explain their strategy. and at the same time, we should send a message to the president that both parties oppose his policy in syria. the house has passed such a resolution on an overwhelming bipartisan vote including republican leaders like leader mccarthy, representative scalise, representative cheney. i have asked the senate twice now to take up the house resolution, only to be blocked by a single republican member. i continue to believe the quickest and most powerful way to convince the president that he's on the wrong track is for congress to put a bipartisan joint resolution on his desk saying so. that's what the house resolution does and the senate should take it up and pass it. we all know that it's hard to shake the president from his thoughts and ideas, even when they are creating such disaster. his ego is enormous.
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but the one thing they can do, it is our republican colleagues joining us in a resolution that reaches his desk. when republican colleagues criticized him about doral, he backed off. it's the only thing that can get him to change, and america is at risk. why aren't our republican colleagues stepping forward? do they care more about protecting president trump than protecting america? i hope not. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. daines: mr. president, it has been over one year since the united states-mexico-canada agreement was signed by president trump and the leaders of canada and mexico. this landmark trade agreement is
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expected to create 176,000 new american jobs. it's expected to grow american businesses all over our country and help give a jump-start to our hardworking farmers and ranchers. with 95% of the world's population outside of the united states, montana produces the access to these global markets. agriculture drives our economy in montana. in fact, it's our number one economic driver in our state. and canada and mexico both are in high demand for our products like wheat, like barley, like beef. in fact, in 2018 alone, montana had $731 million in total exports to canada and mexico. for our producers in montana, the usmca would be a positive step forward in providing certainty and alleviating the
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challenges and obstacles they faced virtually every single day this season. when i travel across montana, i have heard from folks in every corner of our state. 4-h members, f.f.a. members, farmers and ranchers at county fairs, producers, they all want action on usmca. they all need relief. they are looking for something certain coming out of washington, d.c. in these uncertain times. i can't stand by any longer as my colleagues in the u.s. house of representatives fail to act. listen, we have enough votes in the senate to pass it. there are enough votes in the house to pass it. president trump can't wait to sign it. mexico's ready. canada's ready. the u.s. is ready. and i can tell you, my home state of montana, we're very ready. and i along with the majority here in the u.s. senate, we're ready to get this deal done, get
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it across the finish line for some of the hardest working folks in our nation. that's our farmers and ranchers. hardworking small business owners, folks on farms and ranches all over montana. they are sitting and waiting for speaker pelosi to stop slow-walking the usmca. the house democrats cannot continue to hold our farmers and our ranchers hostage for any future political gain that we're seeing right now in the house. it's become a political game over there. and this is negatively impacting the montana way of life. there are countless numbers of montana families out there who are surviving paycheck to paycheck. they're living on a prayer. they are sick and tired of the politics and the partisan games being played in washington, d.c. you know what? i am, too. we were elected to come back here and get something done, not spin the wheels on cable tv at night just talking about other issues that aren't moving the
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ball forward on behalf of the american people. what montanans care about is how they are going to put food on the table and how they are going to make ends meet this tough winter that's coming up. the usmca is more than just a trade deal. it's an opportunity for more jobs and importantly higher wages. that's who i am here -- that's why i am here before you today. i am here to encourage my democrat colleagues in the house stop playing politics with our communities, our jobs, and our very lives. i'm calling on the u.s. house to act. bring this important trade deal to the floor for a vote. let's have a up-or-down vote. let the house chamber speak. let them vote. the usmca has the potential to boost our nation's g.d.p. by $68 billion. plain and simple, that means more money in the pockets of montanans. it's better opportunities for our folks in ag. there is more revenue to main street businesses across montana. usmca would deliver much-needed trade certainty, secure
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intellectual property rights and modernize digital trade. i'm not alone in wanting swift action. i'm honored to have support from the montana chamber of commerce, from the montana farm bureau federation, from the montana grain growers association, from the montana stock association, from the montana pork producers. they are all with us in this fight to get usmca done. and the longer we stall on this deal, the further we stall economic opportunity in mt. and across this -- in montana and across this nation. to speaker pelosi and my colleagues in the house, the time to act is now. our neighbors depend on it. my montana farmers and ranchers depend on it and the entire country depends on it. mr. president, thank you. i yield back.
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mr. gardner: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. gardner: thank you, mr. president. i thank my colleague from montana for his comments on the usmca. i come to the floor today to talk about a farm tour that i have done every year that i've been in the senate. this is a tradition that started when i was in the house of representatives with the wheat growers in colorado, where we'd go around the fourth congressional district talking about those issues that matter to our farmers in the wheat business. colorado's fourth congressional district raises the majority, vast majority of wheat in the state of colorado. about 87% of that wheat gets exported. senator daines' comments on usmca and what that means for eastern colorado are incredibly important, and i hope that is a bipartisan effort that we can all get behind in the house and the senate. of course it has to start in the house, and we need the thousands to act as quickly as -- the house to being the a as quickly as possible because
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wheat farmers in colorado need the certainty of new markets. the cattlemen in colorado need the certainty of new markets and existing markets, and that's exactly what the usmca will do. so i commend my colleague for his words on the usmca. over the last several weeks, last several months i've been participating in this annual colorado farm tour that i undertake every year with not only my staff but producers from across colorado. it's in con junction with a number of organizations across colorado like the colorado farm bureau, colorado wheat growers, cattle growers and others who come together to show us every aspect of colorado agriculture from the production itself to the actual processing and finishing of agricultural products. we drove hundreds and hundreds of miles across the state of colorado starting in greely at a cheese making plant where almost all of the milk that's produced in colorado -- colorado being one of the highest milk producing states in the country -- goes into cheese that every american gets to
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enjoy whether it's domino's pizza or papa john's pizza, that cheese most likely comes from colorado. this is a great opportunity on this tour to connect all four corners of colorado and the work that we do in agriculture to hear their concerns. we ended the farm tour at the state fair in pueblo. what was particularly special about this year's farm tour was of course being joined by the colorado farm bureau and the fact that it's the 100th year anniversary of the colorado farm bureau, so congratulations to the colorado farm bureau. we'll be talking about that more over the next several months. but congratulations on this very historic anniversary, and thank you so much for joining this tour and making it happen once again. as members of congress, all of us are used to discussing policy topics, but keeping farming and ranching at the forefront, keeping rural america at the forefront of those discussions is critically important, because we need to focus specifically on those issues facing our farming and ranching communities. in colorado, the agriculture
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community accounts for more than 170,000 jobs and is responsible for more than $40 billion in economic activity. it's one of the largest economic drivers in our state, a state that is, has been transformed by energy jobs and high-tech aerospace jobs, agriculture remains one of the highest job sectors in the state. but even though it's so vital to our state, we know how much of a struggle it has been in agriculture over the last several years. according to the department of agriculture, 2019 farm income is projected to be done 40%. debt held by our farmers and ranchers is at $409 billion this year. that's up from $385 billion the year before. this is significant worry in the heartland about what is happening in the future of
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farming and ranching in this country. one way to immediately help, to provide solutions to solve this problem for farmers and ranchers is to make sure we implement the 2018 farm bill programs as quickly, as expeditiously as we can and resolve outstanding trade disputes, that we pass the usmca, that we resolve the trade dispute with china so we can continue to open up new markets, develop new markets and thrive with existing markets. when an industry that accounts for nearly 11% of our nation's employment is struggling like agriculture is, we simply can't wait any longer to provide help. we must act now to put the ag community back on the path to sustainability so that not only current generations of farmers and ranchers can continue in operation, but that new generations of farmers and ranchers can come back to colorado, to north dakota, and to states across this country to make sure they have bright futures in ag. even in the face of difficult times, we saw on this tour how farmers and ranchers are innovating and how they are
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looking to address new markets to increase their incomes, opening up new markets through the asia reassurance initiative act, whether that's a trade act with asean or taiwan. another example is the clean energy opportunities that our farmers have embraced. on one of the stops during the tour we visited a farm in eastern colorado near liman, colorado, to talk about what wind production means for that rancher. the farm, at least the land, the area to xcel energy, which is california's larger investor owned utility to install wind turbines which provide them an alternative source of income. another rancher in the county talked about how they may earn as much as $5,000 per turbine for the wind operations on their ranch. you think about it. this farmer had 20 turbines on his land. that's $5,000 times 20. that's $100,000 in income that this farmer would not have otherwise had.
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farm income down 50%. farm debt has increased. this wind production, with a very small footprint, may be the difference between keeping an operation this year and next year. we have to welcome that diversified agriculture opportunities. another example of diversified income for agriculture producers is in springfield, colorado, the far southeastern area of the state, we visited a hemp processing plant. this chamber has done great work when it comes to hemp, a new value-added opportunity for farmers and ranchers in colorado. when this facility, this hemp processing plant is fully up and running they're hoping to employ around 50 people. when we went to this facility, millions of dollars being invested in a very small town, employees will have a shop, gym, recreational facilities, they're going to build a lake there. i remember asking one of the county commissioners who was on the tour with us, did you ever imagine the day when 50 employees, one business would bring 50 employees to
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springfield? and the answer was very quick, no, never at all. this is an incredible opportunity not only for the farmers in the area, but also the community that will now benefit from 50 good-paying jobs with benefits. that's just one other source of revenue that we can achieve. we also had the opportunity to visit the agriculture research service station in akron, colorado, where they're doing tremendous research on dry land oilseeds and new technologies. one of the things we talked about is how we can make it more effective to produce dry land crops, how we can make oilseed opportunities available for additional value-added opportunities in the area. we also had opportunities on the farm tour to talk about mental health needs and what's happening in our communities. at too many stops during the farm tour i heard about the impact that our struggling ag economy is having on mental health on farmers and ranchers. the 2016 center for disease control and prevention study
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found agricultural workers have a higher suede rate than any -- suicide rate than any other occupation. when we passed the bill we included the farmers first act which will help create mental health opportunities for those involved in agriculture to help make sure we have suicide assistance prevention training for mental health assistance, suicide prevention efforts for farm advocates to help create support groups and reestablish the farm and ranch stress assistance network, and that needs to be something we all talk about back home to our agriculture community because they have provided food and fiber for this country and the world, we need to make sure we support them in every way. we talked about how we saw a nearly 40% increase in admissions for meth addiction in colorado between 2011 and 2018. while we talk a lot about opioid addictions in this country, it's actually meth that our sheriffs are most concerned about in our rural areas.
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while we address the opioid epidemic, we also have to be giving and providing new tools and resources to deal with the addiction scourge of methamphetamines. alarmingly a significant number of that meth is coming into colorado from basically industrial-scale manufacturing facilities, sophisticated operations in mexico and china, and we need to make sure that we disrupt those operations. we need to advocate more for the high intensity drug traffic program and task force to prevent cartels from getting these drugs inside the country and continue to work on the mental health and substance abuse administration. we heard about the labor shortage, whether it was the cheese making facility or whether it was the ranch or the hospitals that we visited on the farm tour, they talked about the need for labor. we need a guest worker program that meets the needs of labor in this country.
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housing issues seem to be something that we don't talk about when it comes to rural areas. we talk a lot about it when it comes to the denvers and mountain communities and resort communities but rural areas are face shortages as well. we worked on legislation out of this farm tour to help focus our labor and housing shortage needs. i've talked about trade and the opportunities we have with trade, to open up new markets, to resolve current trade issues, and we need to continue to work on that. mr. president, while the agriculture community is currently facing very serious issues, i want to be clear that our farmers and ranchers are strong as ever. growing up on the eastern plains of colorado, still living in the heartland of colorado agriculture, i've always observed the incredible be positive impacts that agriculture has on our communities and our rural communities and our urban centers as well. when the federal government gets out of the way of farmers and ranchers and growers and allows good things to happen, that's when our rural communities grow and thrive. a couple of weeks ago we had the opportunity to celebrate national farmers day. it was a day to celebrate the
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great community that has always been the backbone of this nation. but we could never express all our thanks of the industry into one day of the year. and so to all of our farmers and ranchers, to those who make our breakfast, lunch and dinners possible, providing abundant food and fiber for this country, this world, i'm grateful for them and look forward to continuing to work on new solutions and bigger opportunities in the years to come. mr. president, i yield the floor. ms. murkowski: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. ms. murkowski: mr. president, i'm here this morning, i'm very pleased to be at this point where we're talking about consideration of an appropriations package that includes the fiscal year 2020 bills for the subcommittees on
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interior, environment, commerce justice and science, agriculture, rural development, food and drug administration, and transportation, housing and urban development, and the various related agencies. it may be premature to call this a return to regular order, but i think that's kind of what it feels like. i would note that it is the 22nd of october, well past time that we should have finished our appropriations work, but we are advancing with bills that we have moved through the subcommittees and the full subcommittees, and now moving packages of these to the floor. and i'm pleased that we are here where we have an opportunity to take up these substantive measures that the full committee has addressed with strong, strong bipartisan support, in the case of interior and
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environment bill, unanimous support for our bill. but then the opportunity to bring the bills to the floor for consideration where other members have an opportunity to debate these appropriations bills, offer amendments and then advance them through the process. so i'm pleased this morning, particularly pleased to be able to speak on the interior appropriations subcommittee bill and to be here with my ranking member, senator udall. we have worked through this subcommittee account now for several years. it has been a good partnership, a strong partnership with our teams working side by side. it's not the easiest of bills. we get our fair share of controversy, in addition to taking care of all of our public lands, we also have oversight of our native peoples.
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we also have oversight of the e.p.a. so we've got a range of subject matter that sometimes can bring us together and sometimes causes some bumps along the way. but we committed to do working collaboratively, working together, i think has resulted in a good, strong measure that the senate now sees before it. last year was the first time since fy-20, so nine years, that the interior and environment appropriations was brought before the full senate. so we've been in a situation where for years we've kind of been at the tail end of the line, the last of those spending bills to move, and now we're debating it in the first package. so we really like we kind of arrived here.
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but, again, you don't arrive here as part of the package without a great deal of work, you don't do that and receive unanimous support from the committee for a second year in a row now if we hadn't demonstrated this -- this strong commitment that both sides have made to create an environment where we can work through these issues in a bipartisan manner. the interior environment and related agencies portion of this minibus includes funding for all of the major land management agencies. so this is the national park service, this is the bureau of land management, fish and wildlife service, forest service as well as the environmental protection agency, we provide funding for essential indian health, education and resource management programs through the b.i.a. and the indian health service and we provide funding for important cultural
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institutions like the smithsonian institution, the national endowment for the arts. often this aspect of our oversight is kind of forgotten because it doesn't necessarily fit in with the public lands, with e.p.a., with b.i.a., but it is an important and an integral part of our subcommittee's work. our subcommittee's allocation for 2020 is $28 billion, with an additional $2.25 billion made available with the wildfire cap adjustment, and i will speak to that a little bit later here. similar to the approach we took in f.y. 2019, the bill rejects the proposed budget decreases. we make investments such as infrastructure investments for our land management agency, indian country, and wastewater
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and drinking water improvements. the department of interior itself is funded at $13.7 billion. these funds go to support energy development that is critical to our nation's economy, to recreation activities that power our rural communities and conservation efforts to protect our public lands and the wildlife that rely on them. funding is provided to support energy support on shore and offshore that will help our country achieve energy independence. on the conservation front, investments in grants programs for species and combating wildlife trafficking is included. we took a keen focus on some of the invasive species that are wreaking havoc in certain regions, like the asian carp, so we provide a lot of good focus there. with our parks, americans love
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to love our national parks. this bill provides the funds necessary to meet our responsibility at the national park units, but we also focus on the deferred maintenance, something that we have talked a lot about in committee and here on the floor. we invest $127 million for deferred maintenance. we also increase funding for historic preservation, which is critical to preserving the sites and the stories of our nation. the usgs receives funding for important programs that help our emergency responders, whether it is national disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, but we work within this bill to provide assistance to response to natural hazards and disasters as well as inform the public. in my state of alaska, support for earthquake hazard programs
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helps us, helps us in a state that is very seismically prone, but it helps with warning, but it helps to enhance earthquake monitoring capability. the bill contains funding for mapping initiatives that will help gather data that will improve our maps enhancing aviation. in certain parts of the country, believe it or not, we do not have current and accurate mapping. certainly in my home state, but i know in other parts of the country, the updates to the maps have not been made. on other lands matters, we fund payment in lieu of taxes. it maintains our commitment to meeting the needs of local communities, for county roads, public safety, and for schools. i know that many of us in this chamber hear from our constituents about the significance of adequate pilt funding. land and water conservation
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fund. this is something that is near and dear to many in this body, and you will see in this bill an increase to the lwcf, which receives $465 million, this is $30 million above the enacted level. this also includes $140 million for the n.p.s. stateside program as well as additional funding for recreational access. so we are focusing on how to access our treasured lands and to ensure that we have a level of conservation that is supported across the country. i think it's important, certainly important for me, but in working with senator udall over this year, it has been a great partnership, a strong partnership when it comes to trying to meet the needs of those within indian country, to fund the critical services, and with this bill i think we're
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making good measure to do this. the two primary agencies that deliver service for the indian community are the bureau of indian affairs and the indian house service. together they receive $288 million over the 2019 levels, but we maintain all critical funding with some increases for indian country. for the bureau of indian affairs, the b.i.a., we maintain the substantial increases we provided over the last two fiscal year. we're helping on matters such as construction, operation, and maintenance of indian schools. we know, unfortunately, that -- that our -- our schools in so many of the reservationings in the lower 48 are simply -- reservations in the lower 48 are simply inadequate. the education scores we're seeing from our schools are not where we need to be. so making sure we're doing right by our native children around
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the country is so important when it comes to the education. we also include funding for irrigation systems. we also fully fund contract support costs. we increase funding for public safety and justice construction and programs which certainly, as i hear from folks in alaska and those around indian country in the lower 48, public safety is something where, again, we -- we are not doing right by -- by those that we must serve in these areas and this is an effort that i intend to continue to push going forward. i'd specifically like to tell my colleagues that we have a comprehensive look at new funding for those issues related to murdered and missing indigenous women.
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we -- we have -- many of us have been -- been shocked at -- at what we're coming to understand about the murdered and missing of our native women around the country, and the data that we have we know is lacking. we don't know what we don't know and thus oftentimes it is difficult to address and to respond and to address resources. but the fact is that many who live in tribal communities are often located in rural areas that lack public safety and even though you've got high rates of violence, abuse, murder, trafficking, we simply don't have the resources there to help respond to it. so i have been working with several of my colleagues to address these challenges, working with senator udall, senator hoeven, so many, senator daines, to -- to shine a light in this area.
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we know it's going to take a lot of coordination and communication among law enforcement agencies to get this right, but in this bill we include $6.5 million for cold case investigations, equipment, training, background checks and the necessary important language to move us in the right direction. attorney general barr came to the state of alaska in may and had an opportunity to sit in anchorage, listen to statewide leaders, native leaders, law enforcement, then to get out to the rural areas and into the villages, and after he left, he declared a public -- an emergency -- a public safety emergency in the state of alaska because of -- of where we sit. so we've been working with the attorney general. greatly appreciate his efforts there, but we need to do more through this appropriations to look specifically at these
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issues as well. for the indian health service there's also programs that we have an obligation to fund that are vital to indian country. and many of these programs and the costs associated with them have grown since we enacted the 2019 bill. among these are leasing and staffing costs associated with new health care facilities that are operated by i.h.s. or by tribes under compact agreements. so our bill funds these new increases, we provide additional funding for quality improvement and $24 million increase for facilities, including an increase for medical equipment. the forest service. the forest service receives investment in funding for health and improvement of our management, such as the trails that we hike on, cabins and special permits to allow certain
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businesses to enhance the recreational experiences and opportunities. i mentioned at the beginning of my comments the wildfire cap adjustment. it was in the omnibus that we created the wild land fire adjustment and fy-2020 is the first year it is available. it invests $1.6 billion in wildlife land. we have certainly seen in my state this summer intense and extensive fires. it was a record breaking heat year this summer and we had some pretty devastating fires. we're still talking about the fires from california just last year. we know the threat is real. we know we have to respond and so making sure we have the capacity to fight fire is important.
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in this bill we not only invest in fire suppression, we also invest in state and volunteer fire assistance and provide increases for hazardous fuel reductions. as far as the e.p.a. budget goes. we prioritized funding for the programs that result in concrete actions to improve the quality of the environment across our country. the bill provides significant increases in state and tribal grant programs which will lead to tangible on the ground cleanup and environmental benefits. another priority that was strongly supported by many, many in this chamber are on the ground cleanup and environmental benefits. the -- the priority that is targeted by -- by many in the water space is the water infrastructure investment. -- development. many of the newly authorized programs in america's infrastructure water act are funded for the first time in this measure. funding is also provided for the
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clean water and state water drinking water funds and the wifia bill to develop critical water facilities. there is a powerful set of tools to provide for clean air, water, and land. one of the issues that i hear a lot about from folks back home, as well as from my colleagues here in the senate is the issue of pfas. we have increases in pfas, including state cleanup and mediaton efforts. we also focus on the environmental health impacts and the regulatory actions. $20 million in increases are provided for e.p.a. grant programs to support states in their cleanup and remediation efforts of pfas as well as the
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water systems and the lands. the remaining $5 million in increases will support the e.p.a.'s priority actions on pfas and supplement other agencies that are currently looking at the chemicals. we heard the concerns of so many and worked to respond in this measure. lastly, the bill includes increases for cultural institutions for our agencies. the smithsonian, the national endowment for the arts received increases in the measure. i think it's important to make sure when we think about our treasures, clearly our land, the cleanliness of our water but we also have national treasures and we see so much of that reflected in the arts, whether it's the smithsonians, the galleries, or what the endowment for the arts and humanities do. consistent with f.y. 19, we do
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not include policies that were not in the enacting bill. we worked with chairman shelby, vice chairman leahy and the ranking member with senator udall to assemble a package that both sides supported in committee. again, i want to reiterate that the work that senator udall and i put in to produce a bipartisan product that invests in programs that we care about, programs that protect our land and our people, enable infrastructure projects to boost the economy, help communities to help provide vital services that many may take for granted. we also worked ha ready to shape the bill so it reflects the priorities of members on both sides of the aisle. i'm proud, i'm really very proud of the good bipartisan work to ensure that this interior appropriations bill directs the federal resources to where they're needed most, providing critical investments in communities across the nation. and of course this interior bill is just a part of this package.
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we've also got c.j.s., ag, t-hud, all of these have significant impacts across the country. certainly in my home state we're looking at the c.j.s. bill to help keep our fisheries healthy, provide assistance for public safety programs. in the ag bill there is funding for much needed water infrastructure in our villages, helps expand our ever growing agricultural industries and of course t-hud, make sure that rural communities in my state can still receive things like essential air service, helping with our transportation system, help provide travel housing. there's so much good in all of these measures. i would commend them to members' consideration but would certainly urge passage of this very important appropriations bill and pleased to be here with my colleague, the good senator if new mexico. with that, mr. president, i
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yield. mr a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. a senator: from new mexico. thank you for the recognition. it's great to be here with senator murkowski. i rise to speak in support of fiscal year -- fiscal year 2020 interior appropriations bill which is now before the senate. mr. udall: and i want to begin by thanking my chairman and partner in this endeavor, senator murkowski for her working with me to produce a very fine bill that is crafted on a bipartisan basis. it's extraordinary that this bill is on the floor for the second consecutive year. after many years when we were not able to move the bill by regular order. and much of the credit goes to her leadership and her commitment to working through tough issues in a fair and a pragmatic way. one of the reasons i'm particularly proud of moving a bipartisan bill is the importance this bill has for my
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home state of new mexico. this bill reflects the long tradition we have in my state of working across the aisle to support conservation priorities. it includes a number of important accomplishments for the state, including language to protect the sacred landscape of chaco canyon. and the national pe serve and the new re-- reserve and the new resources to clean up the pfas contamination in new mexico and across the country. this bill is also an important reflection of why the work that chairman shelby and vice chairman leahy did earlier this year to secure a two-year budget agreement and chose why it is so important. the interior bill delivers roughly 2.5% more funding than last year. once you factor in the increase we received under the budget agreement and the savings we picked up from using the first
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year of the wildfire cap adjustment. the funds in this bill allow this body to make solid increases to support the land and water conservation fund and to protect and manage national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands. i know many hope we can do better on the land and water conservation fund funding and so do i. while i'm pleased about the increase in this bill above the enacted level, i will be working to improve lwcf's funding when we conference with the house. but our efforts in the short term should not take away from the goal we have set on a bipartisan basis to to provide permanent mandatory full funding of the land and considerate conservation fund. that remains a top priority for me and i think we can and should accomplish that in this congress. the bill also makes critical
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investments in indian country. many of those were mentioned by chairman murkowski and we believe they're really solid things that have been done there, investments in indian country, providing a 4% increase for the indian health service and a 2% increase for programs funded through the bureau of indian affairs and the bureau of indian education. we provide $2.25 billion in new firefighting funds using the wildfire cap adjustment which means that these funds are finally for the first time provided without required reductions to other important programs. it also means that the forest service will not be forced to raid nonfire programs to pay for firefighting needs. without knowing whether those funds will be repaid.
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the bill increases funding for the environmental protection agency by 2% in order to support new bipartisan infrastructure priorities. and to make important investments in regional cleanup programs. e.p.a. is still struggling after years of budget cuts, but i'm proud my bill includes the best e.p.a. budget in a decade and completely rejects the billions in cuts proposed by the trump administration. it also provides vital resources to our counties by fully funding the payment in lieu of taxes program, a program that supports over 40 million per year in local government services in new mexico. this bill boosts funding for cultural agencies, including the national endowment for the arts and humanities as well as the kennedy center, national gallery of art, and the smithsonian
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institution. specifically i'm very proud that we were able to increase the budgets of n.e.a. and n.e.h. by $2 million each. these funds provide a critical boost to local arts and humanities programs in small towns across the united states, programs that create countless jobs and ensure economic vitality in communities like those in new mexico. i'm also pleased that the bill contains no new funding requested by the administration for the interior department reorganization, including the efforts to dismantle the bureau of land management. this bill sends a strong message that the administration needs to push pause and work with members on both sides of the aisle. it's vitally important that we now have both chambers on record on this important issue. and i hope the administration
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hears us loud and clear. i appreciate that the bill contains no new poison pill riders for the second year in a row, which is all the more notable given the number of difficult issues that we confront through the e.p.a. and the federal land management agencies. and i want to thank chairman shelby and senator murkowski for their commitment to moving a clean interior bill. that said, i do want to note that the bill does continue -- continues several provisions i proposed, including provisions dealing with the lead content of ammunition, biomass energy policy, clean water act exemptions and clean air act exemptions. i also oppose a troubling provision in the bill that weakens protections for the sage-grouse given the bad-faith efforts by this administration to weaken efforts to protect the sage-grouse. it is extremely shortsighted for
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congress to continue to block protections under the endangered species act. for the species when the administration has failed to hold up its end of the bargain. these provisions are contrary to the spirit of the no poison pill rider's agreement. thankfully they are not in the underlying house bill, h.r. 3055. and i expect to have some frank conversations as part of the conference process about the need to remove them and the need to include a number of other important curbs on this administration included in that administration -- in that legislation. so i want to be on record that in the conference i will be fighting to keep the house's positions on several of these very important items. i look forward to debating this bill, considering amendments and ultimately passing it with a
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bipartisan vote so we can proceed to a conference with the house. i also want to express my personal thanks to the majority subcommittee staff, emmy lasofski, known that mccoy -- nona mccoy, lucas agnew working with me. this is emmy's first bill serving as the clerk of the subcommittee and congratulate her on this milestone as the senate takes up the bill. their work is a great credit to chairman murkowski and chairman shelby. i'd also like to thank my staff, rachel taylor, ryan hunt, melissa zimmerman, feisel ameen for all their hard work to accommodate the priorities of senators on both sides of the aisle. i think that's one thing, chairman murkowski, that you and i worked on, was trying to handle any requests that comes into us through wherever it is in the senate and deal with it in a bipartisan way.
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so i very much appreciate working hard with you to get this bill done and to move it on to conference with the house and to get it into law. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania.
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mr. toomey: mr. president, are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are not. mr. toomey: thank you, mr. president. i rise to agrees the congressional review act we'll be voting on later today. let's be very clear. this is a vote the purpose of which is to overturn a very, very important part of the tax reform that we passed in december of 2017 that made the tax code much more fair than it was before. and specifically i'm referring to the limitations that we put on the ability of people to deduct state and local taxes. let's remember what our tax code looked like before our tax reform. wealthy individuals could deduct the full amount of any state and local tax deductions however high they got. and we used the acronym salt to refer to these state and local tax deductions. why do you say that's unfair? it's unfair because it
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subsidizes people who choose to live in high tax jurisdictions. it does that because it lowers the tax bill of somebody who lives in a high tax jurisdiction, like manhattan or san francisco because they get to deduct the full amount of the outrageously high state and local taxes that they choose to pay. now, the fact that they get to deduct that big number means the rest of us have to pay higher rates on our income than we otherwise would have to pay. so why should my constituents in blare county or cambria county or anywhere else in pennsylvania, constituents with modest income who choose local governments that keep modest level of service and, therefore, modest level of taxes, why should those constituents have to pay higher tax rates to subsidize the folks who have multimillion dollar condos on the upper west side of manhattan? it's totally unfair. ey

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