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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  October 31, 2019 10:00am-12:01pm EDT

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the u.s. senate about to gavel in to start the day. more work is expected on a 2020 federal spending bill which covers several departments, including transportation and housing and urban development. those are expected throughout the day. now, live to the senate floor 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. most high god, your steadfast love endures throughout the
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generations. your faithfulness sustains the seasons of our earthly pilgrimage. you are worthy of our praise. infuse our lawmakers with reverential awe, as they remember you are the one constituent they absolutely must please. because of you, they live and move and breath and have their being. although they may plan, you alone decide what will or will not prevail. may our senators make you their refuge, their shelter in the time of storms. and, lord, we thank you for
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the inspiration of a stupendous world series. we pray in your glorious name. amen. 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: i ask to speak as
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if in morning business for 90 seconds. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: today is halloween. this may sound a little candy corny, but this iowan wants to talk about the scary prices of prescription drugs. since january i've joined with bipartisan forces to drive a stake in the heart of ghoulish price gouging. senator wyden and i working to shut down the pranks, poisoning the drug supply chain, we need our fellow lawmakers to step up and nail the coffin shut on monstrous drug price increases. one example that can't masquerade as a next-generation drug is the 500% increase for
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insulin which helps americans with diabetes regulate blood sugar. this medicine was discovered 100 years ago at the time the first horror movie debuted. there's no rhyme or reason for the terrifying price hikes spooking americans. the real horror story this halloween is what's preventing congress from doing its job. big pharma is spending a frightening amount of money to kill drug pricing reforms. let's fix the real injustice haunting the american people, which is sticker shock at the pharmacy counter. every senator can be a super hero for halloween.
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all you've got to do is join us to dig a grave for batty prescription drug prices ending big pharma's pricing tricks would be a real treat for americans. 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: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: to lead off, i'd be --. the presiding officer: we're in a quorum call. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: to lead off, i'd certainly be remiss not to congratulate the 2019 world series champions, the washington nationals. this year our national pastime came down to a dramatic finish. the nationals and the astros traded blows right up until the finalling innings of game seven. for the first time ever the away team won all seven games of the series and now stephen strasburg, max scherzer, anthony
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rendon and the rest of the 2019 nationals are bringing a world series trophy here to the nation's capital for the first time since 1924. back then, of course, the home team was officially the washington senators, although still often called the nationals. now, that's a distinguished name for a team, but this squad has to be hands down the most athletic, most resilient, most team-spirited bunch of ballplayers certainly this city has ever had. these remarkable players, their manager dave martinez, the nationals front office, and the team owners, the lerner family -- i particularly want to mention ted lerner, the patriot remark, 94 years old. many people thought he might not be around to see the washington nationals first championship, but he was. a great owner, great friend to the city, and it was fun to see him after the game revel in this
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great, great accomplishment. they really achieved actually a small miracle. for a couple of weeks, they gave us something that all of washington, d.c. could unite around, a miracle indeed, something we could use around here these days. so congratulations to the champions. on to another matter later today we're going to vote on something that should not be controversial, funding for our national defense for supporting service members and their families or sustaining america's global leadership and strategic edge. this will vital priority is not something that can take a back seat to partisan dis -- dysfunction. our men and women in uniform don't get to go on sabbatical while they get its act together. they have to stay vigilant,
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remain in harm's way, stay at their post. our commanders don't get to put critical operations on pause until washington does its job. their objectives loom large, whether we give them a predictable planning foundation or not. and russia, china, and iran will certainly not take a water break if uncertainty leaves our nation left footed. they'll keep growing defense spending. i hope our democratic friends would be able to put inteevment aside long enough to at least fund the department of defense. we heard public pronouncements from speaker pelosi and my colleague, the democratic leader, that they intended to work with us on substantial legislation. if anything qualifies as substantial legislation, it's this. it meets the pentagon's request for targeted investments in the u.s. military of the future, new resources for expanded
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missile defense capabilities, trauma training, fleet maintenance, and key partnerships with allies around the world. but alas, the democratic leader announced at a press conference tuesday that he plans to filibuster the annual funding for our armed forces. this would put our colleagues across the aisle in quite an unusual position. the same democrats who recently rediscovered hawkish sounding positions on syria and the middle east are really going to filibuster a $755 million for the counter isis train and equip fund for iraq and for syria? and filibuster all the other broader funding of our armed services? really? the same democrats whose latest effort to impeach the president hinges on delay of military assistance to ukraine are
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themselves, are themselves going to filibuster funding for the exact same program the ukraine security assistance initiatives? really? it looks like it. the democratic party is too busy impeaching president trump for supposedly slow walking assistance to ukraine to fund the exact same program themselves. madam president, these are political gymnastics performed at an olympic level. at an olympic level. the core message here is hard to miss. our democratic colleagues have a priority list, picking fights with the white house is priority number one. number one. and our men and women in uniform fall somewhat further down. so, madam president, it doesn't have to be this way,
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even in a time as politically charged as an impeachment inquiry, it doesn't have to be this way. back in 1998, just days before the republican house voted to begin its impeachment inquiry into president clinton, the house and senate passed a regular defense appropriations bill. then some weeks later, even after the inquiry was under way, both chambers were still able to pass more bills to address the fundamental business of funding the government, and president clinton signed them into law during the impeachment. so if democrats follow through on their threat to filibuster defense funding later today, they will frankly be making even the 1998 impeachment period look like a clinic, a clinic in bipartisan cooperation. a democratic filibuster of defense funding is not the vote that the military families and military installations in their home states deserve. it's not the vote that our
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commanders deserve. and it's not the vote that our national security deserves. now, on a related matter, speaking of past precedent, i understand this morning house democrats will finally cast their first impeachment vote on an impeachment resolution which i understand they are afraid to actually call an impeachment resolution. as i mentioned yesterday, the democrats' draft does not even come close to restoring the kind of customary due process rights and protections that past impeachment inquiries included, either for president trump or for their own republican colleagues in the minority. here's what their resolution amounts to, madam president. this is basically what it says. no due process now, but maybe some later if we feel like it.
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no due process now, but maybe some later if we feel like it. this is not a fair way to treat any american, and it certainly is no way to conduct something as grave as an impeachment process which seeks to overturn the american people's choice in a democratic election. so i hope the house of representatives sees the light and steps away from their unfair and arbitrary process. now, on another matter, many of us have been concerned for some time about the trajectory of our strategy for our strategically important nato ally turkey under the leadership of president erdogan. despite the hopes of the obama administration and others that he would be a model of islamic democracy, erdogan instead has used democracy to work toward
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undemocratic ends. freedom of the press, secularism, and human rights have suffered under his rule, while corruption has flourished. opposition to erdogan is growing but the political space for turks to express their opposition is shrinking. obviously, in recent days, our concerns have centered on turkey's incursion into northeastern syria. we're angry about the damage turkey has caused for our local kurdish partners in syria. i've spoken at length about my concerns on turkey's incursion and my opposition to withdrawing u.s. forces from syria, but i believe we need to be guided by our strategic interests, not emotions, as we seek to contain the damage of turkey's incursion . peel ankara away from moscow and
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urge better behavior abroad by erdogan's government. i hope we will carefully examine whether a broad mandatory sanctions bill is really the best solution. we should think carefully about what specific effect we want sanctions to have, how turkey will respond to them and how russia and others may explore growing tensions between washington and ankara. before targeting an economy that is highly integrated with europe's economy, we should seek a better understanding of the specific economic impact that broad sanction also have on our economy, our european economy, and workers and job creators. we should reflect whether we would be better off working in concert with european allies to shape turkey's behavior versus abruptly forcing european companies to cut ties to trowrk through a threat of -- to turkey
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through a threat of sanctions. before using these kind of policy tools, the kind we use against iran and north korea against a democracy of 80 million people, we should consider the political impact that blunt sanctions will have on the turkish people. we'll -- will sanctions rally them to our cause or to erdogan's? will more targeted sanctions perhaps avoid some of these unintended consequences? these are just some of the critical questions with which i hope our committees of jurisdiction and the administration are able to examine before we act. now, on one final matter, i have postpone at length in recent weeks about the protests in hong kong and the situation in syria. i would like to close today by recognizing other important developments in the middle east that regrettably haven't received much attention. massive protests are currently under way in lebanon and iraq. millions have taken to the
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streets to demand more responsive, more transparent, and less sectarian governance and an end to rampant corruption. by all accounts, these protests are cross-sectarian directed at an entire class of political leaders who have behaved undemocratically and unethically. the protests are also directed at iran. the islamic republic has long sought through proxies like hezbollah and iraqi militias to undermine the sovereignty of lebanon and iraq. now even shiite communities that have typically been heavily influenced by iran are demanding politicians that represent their interests instead of tehran's interests. unsurprisingly, the iranian regime is reportedly involved in violently suppressing peaceful protests in lebanon, iraq, syria, and, of course, in iran itself. the mullahs are showing the same
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fear as the chinese communist party. they are afraid of citizens demanding reform and speaking up for basic freedoms. the u.s. should stand with the protesters. the administration should use the tools at its disposal to expose corruption and foreign interference in these nations, impose consequences for violent crackdowns on peaceful protests and work with the lebanese and iraqi leaders who are committed to doing right by their people. now, madam president, for the information of the senate, in the managers' package of amendments that was announced last night, amendment numbered 1121 was misidentified as a murkowski amendment. it was actually an amendment by senator whitehouse that senator murkowski cosponsored. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. mcconnell: i understand there is a bill at the desk due a second reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill
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for the second time. the clerk: s. 2755, a bill to require a report on the plan to secure the enduring defeat of the islamic state of iraq and syria. mr. mcconnell: in order to place the bill on the calendar under the provisions of rule 14, i would object to further proceedings. the presiding officer: objection having been heard, the bill 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 h.r. 3055, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 141, h.r. 3055, an act making appropriations for the departments of commerce and justice, science, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2020, and for other purposes. the presiding officer: pursuant to the order of yesterday, the 45 amendments listed in the order are considered and agreed to en bloc and the motions to
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reconsider are considered made and laid upon the table. the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. thune: madam president, is the senate in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes, it is. mr. thune: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. he. mr. thune: last weekend i attended a ceremony for the 112 112nd national guard. these men and women who served in the 147th field battalion were deployed to europe, a partnership with our allies in eastern and central europe developed in response to russia's invasion of crimea in 2014. it allows the forces to hone their ability to conduct joint organses. members of -- joint
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organizations. members spent most of the year in europe working with partner forces. they participated in two multinational exercises and brought artillery to germany and hungary. these soldiers finally got home last weekend but they didn't leave atlantic resolve without south dakota support. other members of the 147th forward support company and alpha battery of the 147th field artillery battalion headed for europe in september. others, airmen from ellsworth air force base also deployed abroad recently. four b-1 bombers from the 34rd and 37th bomb quad rones at ellsworth made a trip to support u.s. military presence there. the bombers flew from south dakota to saudi arabia, refueling six times in midair, once again demonstrating the incredible capability of this aircraft and of our ellsworth airmen. madam president, atlantic
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resolve, the b-1 mission, the death of isis leader al-baghdadi during a raid conducted by u.s. troops, they're all a reminder of the vital work our u.s. members are doing. a lot of military missions don't make a big splash in the news. we don't hear a lot about everything that our men and women in uniform are doing on a daily basis. we don't hear details of all the operations, the joint exercises with our allies, the countless training evolutions, the never-ending aircraft and vehicle maintenance, the hours watching radar systems for contacts, the endless logistical work to support troops in the field or the painstaking weeks and months of intelligence gathering for a single mission. but every hour of every day members of the united states military are on duty working to keep the peace and to ensure the security of our nation. as members of congress, we have no greater obligation than to
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ensure that our troops have the resources that they need. we owe it to the men and women who get up each day willing to lay down their lives for us. and we owe it to every man, woman, and child we represent because the safety of our country depends upon the strength of our military. madam president, ensuring that our troops have the resources that they need obviously means ensuring that they have adequate funding. but it also means getting that funding to them in a timely fashion. it means passing regular order appropriations bills instead of forcing our military to rely on temporary funding measures that leave the military in doubt about funding levels and unable to start important new projects. getting military funding approved in a timely manner is a priority for me and for a lot of my colleagues here in the united states senate. chairman shelby, the chairman of the senate appropriations committee, worked hard this year to ensure that we could bring the defense appropriations
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bill to the floor in a timely fashion. but, madam president, senate democrats have so far blocked senate consideration of this important legislation. their refusal to allow the senate to move forward on funding has left the military in limbo, unable to fully fund 2020 priorities and to move ahead on key projects for the future. later today democrats will have another chance to move forward with the defense appropriations bill and to get our military the resources that it needs. i'm hoping that they will have a change of heart and decide that funding our military is more important than the partisan games that they have been playing. our military members are waiting on that funding. their ability to do their jobs is being jeopardized by democrats' continued blockade of defense appropriations. madam president, we live in peace and safety every single day because of the men and women of the united states military.
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it's not a new sentiment but it bears repeating because it's too easy to forget that we would not be enjoying the freedoms and benefits that we enjoy without the constant vigilance of our men and women in uniform. the least, the very least that we can do in return is to make sure that they have every resource that they need to do their jobs and to come home safely. madam president, i strongly urge my democrat colleagues to vote yes on moving forward with the defense appropriations bill later today and to send a loud and clear message to the american military that we're going to ensure here in the united states congress that you have the resources, the training, the weapons systems, the equipment and everything that you need to keep americans safe each and every single day. madam president, i yield the floor, and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call: the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. thune: madam president --. the presiding officer: we're in a quorum call. mr. thune: i would ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: madam president, for the information of the senate, in the managers' package of amendments that was just agreed to, amendment number 1143 was misidentified as a capito amendment. it is actually an amendment by senator jones that senator capito cosponsored. the presiding officer: duly noted. a senator: madam president, i rise today in strong support of my amendment with the senator from alabama, senator jones, to this domestic spending package. our amendment will block an
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impending $1.2 billion billion cut to federal investments in public transportation. ms. mcsally: without our legislative action to block this cut, public transit agencies across the country will suffer a 12% across-the-board cut. these cuts would be devastating to all of our communities. transit funds in my home state in arizona are critically important to our quickly growing communities. maricopa county was the fastest growing county in the united states last year and cities such as flagstaff and tucson are also attracting more jobs and more families. our state continues to have to meet the demands of our expanding cities and towns, and that is true from phoenix to flagstaff and all throughout the state. our amendment would block more than $15.4 million in cuts to arizona transit agencies. these cuts could result in drastically reduced services, including those for low-income individuals and individuals with disabilities, and reduce funds
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necessary to modernize bus and rail fleets as well as slow construction of new stations and shelters. a broad coalition of over 30 associations, including the american public transportation association, the associated general contractors of america, and the u.s. chamber of commerce support our efforts in this amendment to block these cuts. madam president, i ask unanimous consent to include in the record a copy of a letter from the 32 national associations urging congress to support our amendment. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. mcsally: thank you, madam president. i urge my colleagues to join senator jones from alabama and me in supporting this important bipartisan amendment, and i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senator from montana. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: madam president, today we come to an inflection point in the appropriations process this year. leader mcconnell has scheduled a vote on the defense appropriations bill which comes with a certain irony. a bill that's sphoased to provide -- pieced to -- supposed to provide resources for our troops and our families, steals money for them and puts it
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toward a border wall that president trump promised mexico would pay for. democrats will not proceed to a bill that steals money from our troops and their families. fluns know it's a nonstarter, and, yet, leader mcconnell is schedule -- has scheduled a show vote this afternoon to demonstrate something that everyone already knows, there is nowhere close for the necessary votes in the senate for president trump's border wall and of course it is not in the house. this is just a show vote. leader mcconnell got on the floor a few weeks ago and railed against show votes. he said i only want to put things on the floor that will pass. i understand that memories in politics is short. but the exercise we will go through this afternoon is absurd. senate republicans, by pursuing a partisan process, by doing president trump's bidding on the wall. they know he's wrong, most of
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them. they are so afraid of him, they say yes whenever he has an absurd idea and will proceed to a -- toe the longest shutdown in history. i warn leader mcconnell, if you lead us down this path, you could lead us straight into another government shutdown and your party will shoulder the responsibility. last time you had a retreat from that position after the longest shutdown in history. isn't history teaching you anything? we know it won't teach president trump much, but we hoped that our republican colleagues would have more sense. instead of standing up and defending their own position, that they want the money for the wall, however indefensible in my judgment, senate republicans have resorted to bogus attacks against democrats. senate republicans accused democrats of delaying a pay
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raise for the troops even though the pay raise is bipartisan and even more important, the standing law of the land dictates it will go into effect. our republican friends are so desperate to divert attention that they are holding up bills for president trump's wall, that they come up with completely false arguments like the fact that if we don't pass this, the troops won't get a pay raise. yesterday leader mcconnell and president trump repeated a slightly less specific but even more outrageous charge, claiming that democrats were not supporting the fight against isis due to the disagreement on appropriations. hello. who was it who abandoned our kurdish friends who led the fight against isis? not the democrats in the senate. not even the republicans in the senate. it was president trump. president trump's reckless
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decision to green light president erdogan's invasion of northern syrian left hundreds of hardened isis fighters out of jail and according to most experts set a course for resurgeance of isis. instead of blaming president trump, although some of them did early on, they are trying to switch the blame to typical tactic that leader mcconnell is using with more and more irregularity, but like its previous attempts, it fails. we were briefed yesterday by senior administration officials, and they talked about the need to pick up the pieces of what was tear strategy to defeat isis. the majority leader and i have been working on legislation requiring specific plans and reports from the administration on the isis threat. i hope it will receive some action on the floor soon. so let's cut the nonsense that democrats don't support the troops or the fight against
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isis. it's not true. it's not -- it's not true, it's laughable. it ain't gonna stick. instead of this bunk, leader mcconnell, my republican friends, roll up your sleeves and work with us and get something done. democrats and republicans have been working through a package of appropriations bills as is clear, the bills we are voting on where there's agreement, we can move forward. this week has shown the senate can efficiently work through these bills when we have a bipartisan buy in. that's how the democrats want to proceed on the remainder of the bills. republican friends, work with us, as you did on these four bills, to come up with bipartisan bills, and we can get them done. now, on impeachment. at least a dozen witnesses have testified in congress as part of the house's impeachment inquiry. the facts in the public record are troubling and require further investigation.
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the founders greatly interfered foreign interference in our elections. here we have a president who allegedly used the powers of his office to pressure or coerce a foreign leader to investigate a domestic political rival. the matter at hand is serious. both parties must treat it as such. but already some of our republican colleagues have tried to kick up as much dust as possible to distract or detract from the facts of the case because they know it's so real and so damaging to the president if these facts prove to be true. last week roughly 40 republicans stormed the secure facility in the capitol in a fitted stage protest even though a third of them were already allowed to participate in the hearings that were taking place. here in the senate, my colleague, senator graham, a veteran of the house impeachment process, put together a resolution of trumped up charges that the house process was
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unfair, all of which -- all of which have been thoroughly debunked as misleading or baseless. again, an attempt by our republican friends to do donald trump's bidding no matter how false, reckless, or harmful that bidding is. meanwhile, the white house and its allies in congress and the media have leveled shameful attacks against the witnesses of the house inquiry, questioning the loyalties of a u.s. lieutenant army colonel and purple heart recipient and calling the whistle-blower a treasonist spy. reports suggest that members of the house committee have a campaign to cause to be disclosed the identity of the whistle-blower, placing that courageous individual's safety and that of his or her family in jeopardy. we are supposed to be engaging with the facts of the case on
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the merits. we have a solemn constitutional duty to do so. even the president himself has said he'd rather go into the details of the case than the process. my republican friends in congress should stick to the facts, quit the partisan theatrics, quit the politics of blame, and quit trying to harm very serious patriots whose lives and safety might be in danger. this is a time to put country over party and examine the facts -- only the facts. and, finally, madam president, on pensions. this week murray energy, which employed over 5,000 people, has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, putting thousands of hardworking americans at risk of losing their pensions. 40% of murray's employees are represented by either the united mine workers or the sea fairers
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international union. murray faces over $8 million in pension obligations, of which over $2 billion are unfunded and under threat. this is the latest example of the danger facing millions of americans with pensions from construction, mining, truck driving, bakeries, and other industries. these workers did nothing wrong. they saved up little by little, week by week, expecting to retire with security and dignity, but their pension plans are sadly now at risk of becoming insolvent because of circumstances totally outside of their control. the time has come for congress to bring relief to these working families. members on both sides of the aisle have been working on legislation that would provide relief to these underfunded pensions. just two months ago the house passed the butch lewis act, which i proudly support, and which would provide immediate relief to critical and declining pension plans.
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but leader mcconnell has inexplicably refused to take action on this bipartisan legislation. another tombstone in his legislative graveyard. leader mcconnell and the republican majority are turning their back on hardworking, middle-class americans who need their pensions and they could be robbed of them through no fault of their own. i hope the news this week magnifies the consequences of republican inaction. president trump has claimed to be a champion for american workers, but under his presidency, working americans have slipped further and further behind. now, for millions of hardworking americans, a secure retirement is also at risk. if the president were truly a champion for working americans, now is time. for him to show some leadership by urging leader mcconnell and his republicans in the senate to work with democrats to protect these pension plans. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. tester: thank you, madam president. i've got a number of things that i wanted to talk about today. on monday of this week we -- we lost a fine lady in kay hagan. it is very difficult for me to put into words my admiration for the senator from north carolina. but the fact is is that kay was the first person -- the kind of person, the first time you met her, you felt at ease. she had the ability to calm a situation down. when she was running in 2008, i went to north carolina, and she had an event at a -- a farm. i think it's a hog operation, if my memory serves me correct. and i had a chance to meet her for the first time and -- and really she was somebody that --
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she was somebody that you knew if she was able to get into this body would be successful. well, in 2008, she won that election and she came here and she made a difference. she made a difference for working families and small businesses and family farm agriculture. and i just wanted to express my condolences to her husband chip and her kids and grandkids and -- and let them know that she was very loved by all in this body. madam president, i also want to rise today and speak on behalf of the thousands of montanans who have preexisting conditions or struggle with the cost of prescription drugs. even with the affordable care act's protections, many of these folks struggle to afford their medical bills, their cosponsors at the pharmacy counter at their
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local doctors' offices. but instead of working to fix these problems, this administration, the trump administration, has issued a rule that brings us back to the dark ages by letting insurance companies discriminate against hardworking families across montana and across this country. the affordable care act guaranteed health coverage for all americans, it required -- it required health insurance companies to issue policies to folks regardless of whether or not they had preexisting conditions. but the trump administration is chipping away at these laws and they are tos sing the protections out the window so big insurance can make big bucks. health insurance companies across this country are flooding the market with junk plans. they are called junk plans they are cheap insurance that are junk. and when you think you have health insurance and you get sick, it's not there. trust me, i know first hand how
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this works. when i was 9 years old, i lost three fingers in a meat grinder, and my folks thought they had insurance. they didn't because they had bought a junk plan. they end up paying every dime for the surgeries related to my left hand out of their pockets. money that they didn't have. these plans tell folks they've got insurance but truthly they don't -- truthfully they don't. they have less coverage and don't even cover the most essential health benefits. if you need prescription drugs, you can get them, but it's going to cost you. maternity care, sorry, the plan doesn't cover that. mental health, you get that coverage in your wildest dreams. these insurers tell you you're getting a great deal, but the
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truth of the matter is the pocketbook is going to pay the price and god forbid if you get in a situation where you need to use it. so what we see is insurance companies lining their pockets, selling plans that do nothing. and the majority leader is working to make it easier for them to do it, all while blocking reasonable bipartisan bills to improve the a.c.a. and make health care more affordable to working families and small businesses around this country. the senate was established by our founders as the greatest deliberative body in the world, to be a check and balance on the office of the presidency, the executive branch. it simply is not occurring right now. take a look at the tariffs situation. the president puts on tariffs, a knee-jerk reaction, doesn't bring any of our allies along. we're seeing small businesses,
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family farm agriculture literally being to the point of being put out of business, and this body lets him do it. a couple weeks ago, the president said you know what? we're pulling our troops out of northern syria, and to hell with our allies. the kurds who have been fighting with us, fighting as partners for the last 15 years, too bad. they have done nothing about it, no checks and balances. the president asked for other countries to come in and influence our elections, and it seems like the senate's just fine with that. the greatest country in the world is going to let other countries determine who's elected to our elected offices in this country, whether it be the presidency, the senate, or any others.
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and now we can't even pass a budget. we continue to kick the can down the road. and we do have a vote on the defense bill, which, by the way, this body is going to allow the president if the majority leader has his way to take any amount of money they want out of that defense bill and put it into a wall, a wall that costs $25 million to $35 million a mile, and we're not even talking about expenses down the road for upkeep. so we just deal with continuing resolutions. more uncertainty. more uncertainty for families. more uncertainty for business. so right now, we're standing by letting funding for our schools, our roads, our hospitals run out, leaving families across this country, especially in rural america and states like montana without resources to be able to do their job. and that is exactly the case for
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community health centers in this country. these facilities provide lifesaving care to nearly .1 of the people in montana, running 65 health care clinics across our treasured state, and they don't even know if they are going to have funding come november 21 when the continuing resolution we passed expires. so how can we expect these places to stay open, let alone recruit and retain staff when we don't know if they will be around another month? what do i say to folks where there are community health clinics. the communities rely on these health clinics to keep their communities healthy. quite frankly, because we can't sit down and negotiate and come up with long-term funding agreements, they potentially are going to be out of business. but the uncertainty for families doesn't start there. a number of kids who don't have
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insurance has gone up since this administration started its war on health care. kids in montana are getting the worst of it. the number of kids in my state without insurance went up 25% between 2016 and 2018. let me say that again. the number of kids in the state of montana without insurance went up 25% between 2016 and 2018. that's the fifth highest percentage jump in the united states. this place is worse. and the kids being hit hardest are the kids that are in the most vulnerable groups. they are in indian country which continues to have the highest uninsured rate in this country. these young folks are our future leaders. they are our next generation. we're not doing our job. we are failing them. this coordinated sabotage of our health care system by this administration and this body is
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unacceptable, and our children deserve better. i'm not going to sit here and tell you the affordable care act is perfect. i have said from day one we need to work together to build improvements and build upon the successes that were in that bill. the a.c.a. allowed states like montana to pass medicaid expansion that insured more than 90,000 montanans in the process and help greatly for keeping our small hospitals open. it helped millions of montanans with preexisting conditions rest easy at night knowing they are not going to be kicked off their plans because of that preexisting condition or hit an annual cap on care. all that's gone. americans have spoken clearly that they want more access to affordability, not less. my colleagues on the other side of the aisle attempted to repeal the a.c.a. a couple years ago, folks all across this country stood up and said no.
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but here we are, again watching the majority and the trump administration pushing plans to rip away affordable health insurance from hardworking americans. i would encourage my colleagues to join, join together in work and find a bipartisan solution to improve our health care system. we need to reduce health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs. we need to crack down on skyrocketing prescription drugs. we need to expand insurance to more americans. we need to make sure that when people put their hard-earned money on the line to buy an insurance policy that it is not junk. now, on a lighter subject. back in my early years on the farm, i would come in on wednesday night and there would be baseball night in canada. and i got to watch the montreal
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expos for a couple decades play some pretty darn good baseball. they didn't win, but they were very entertaining. that franchise has moved to washington, d.c., i think in 2006. the same year i got elected to the united states senate. so consequently, i got to watch the nats be -- be entertained by them and occasionally in person. last night, they did the impossible. after being 19-31, i believe, around may 23, may 24 of this year, they ripped off 100 games and won the world series. and i just want to congratulate them on that feat and look forward to a repeat next season. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: we recognize the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: mr. president, i rise to honor the life and legacy of my friend and former colleague, senator kay chang -- kay hague -- kay hagan of north carolina. there vr several tributes to kay. i am sure there will be more to come. they all know her profound grace, her fighting spirit, her charm. of course i agree with all of those remarks. i want to especially extend my very sincere condolences to her husband chip, to her children jeanette, tilden, and carrie and to her father joe. the news of her death on monday were deeply felt in the senate. kay and i were in the same class of freshman senators. we came in in 2008. as the only two women in that
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class, we became fast friends. but of course it wasn't hard to make friends with kay hagan. she never met a stranger. she had contagious optimism and joy. she drew everyone in with her smile and her kindness. kay first arrived in the senate, not as a senator but as an intern where she had the job of operating the elevators. of course, those were the days when women senators were few and they were often appointed to fill temporary vacations. so i'm sure it was a very powerful moment when kay took the elevator here in the capitol for the first time as a united states senator. only the second woman from her state, north carolina, to do that. kay and i often compare notes about our new roles as senators. we talked about our families and the challenges of computing to and from d.c. i remember kay showing me and the other women in the senate pictures of her daughter's
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weddings and beaming with excitement. she was so tremendously proud of her children and so appreciated the support she received from them and from chip during her campaigns for public office. and of course in addition to her character, kay had boundless energy. growing up, she studied ballet and she aspired to be a professional dancer. i remember she told me about her magic bag that she went -- took with her everywhere so that she could exercise in the morning. carried a yoga mat and everything else she needed. she recommended i get one, and of course i was never quite energetic enough to do that. but in addition to yoga, kay loved early morning runs, pilates and swimming, and it was that swimming that brought kay some early notoriety -- i use that term in quotes -- because kay wanted to use the senators' swimming pool in the mornings,
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but when she first got here, there was a sign on the door that said it was for men only. and what we learned after kay did a little bit of investigating was because some of the male senators were not interested in wearing appropriate swimming attire when they swam. well, kay put a quick stop to that, and it wasn't long before all of the men were wearing swim trunks and kay was swimming laps in the pool with them. and that was kay. she was incredibly kind, but she was also tough. and when she was falsely accused of being an atheist during her first senate race, kay didn't miss a beat. she responded immediately with an ad that set the record straight. she demonstrated to her supporters and to her detractors alike what she was made of. i have fond memories of our calls when we were both up for
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reelection in 2014. kay would call and buck me up. i remember she called me after her last debate to say she was finished, she didn't have to do any more debates, and since i was still looking at having to do two of them, she was very encouraging to me. with kay, the glass was always half full. when she arrived in the senate, it didn't take long for her to make her mark on the issues of greatest importance to north carolina and the nation. she applied her skills as a pragmatic legislator who were honed in the north carolina senate and she got to work with the pressing issues of the day. she fought tirelessly for jobs and the economic well-being of her constituents, and she was a champion of small businesses. her expanding rural broadband for developing regional infrastructure. she helped pass the historic reforms to wall street following the financial crisis because she served on the banking committee.
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and we worked together along with the rest of the members of the class of 2008 to try and improve the affordable care act as it was being drafted. kay took a tough vote in favor of the a.c.a., but she did it because she knew it was going to help her constituents get insurance coverage and health care and that it would provide protections for millions of americans. kay and i served together on the armed services committee in the senate. she fought for our service members, for their families, and for improving the defense of our nation. kay's husband, father, and brother all served their country in uniform. and the challenges that service members and military families face were always top of mind for kay. in my office here in the capitol, there is a photo of me and kay that's on our first trip to afghanistan. we had only been in the senate about five months at that point.
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we're smiling from ear to ear, even though it's over 100 degrees, we're wearing body armor, and we're in a helicopter with the doors open headed to a forward operating base. we were smiling because we were so excited and because it was always so fun to travel with kay. there wasn't a better partner than kay for these trips. she was diligent, she was inquisitive. she always held herself with grace and kindness and resolve. that was her trademark. serving her country and her beloved home state in the united states senate was a profound honor for kay, as it is for all of us. i feel fortunate to have known and worked alongside her. she will be dearly missed, not just by all of us in the senate but so many of her constituents who she represented in north carolina. i want to again extend my
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deepest condolences to the hagan family and to the state of north carolina. thank you, mr. president.
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. udall: thank you, mr. president, for the recognition, and i just want to follow on the comments by my good friend, senator shaheen, with regard to kay hagan. we came in the senate together, senator shaheen, we were all in that class of 2008. it was a big class. we traveled extensively with kay hagan. we got to know her very well. it was really good to hear. i talked to chip on the phone, her husband, we call him chip, it's charles many he told me -- charles. he told me up to the very last, she was extremely busy. they were traveling around north carolina and were busy and had a special visit with vice ve president biden before she
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passed away. our heart goes out to the family, the three children, and we very much miss her and will miss her a lot. we've missed her a lot in the senate, we're going to miss her. so at another place in the record, and i'll put in a more extensive statement about kay hagan, i'd like to do this in another place in the record, mr. president. i rise to oppose the lee amendment and efforts to undermine the land and water conservation fund. this amendment would prohibit the department of interior from using land and water conservation funds to acquire federal lands and waters. the underlying bill actually increases funding for the land and water conservation bill by $30 million, and it does so with deep bipartisan support from a majority of senators. and the crucial point here, this
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bill passed the appropriations committee 31-0. so this is -- is this a broadly supported program and a broadly supported bill. so i urge the senate to send another strong message today to support the lwcf. there are many bipartisan land acquisition land priorities that are funded by this bill, they include places like funds to improve access to the canyon in arizona, preserve wildlife habitat in the everglades, headwaters in the st. marsh refuge in florida. i would let the presiding officer know there is also money to protect the palo alto battlefield and to expand a monument in my home state of new
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mexico. these are just a few of the projects that our constituents back home are expecting the department to fund. they would all be stopped in their traction if this amendment were adopted. we need lwcf to establish better access for americans to their own public lands. this program works with private landowners and willing sellers to continue to protect special places for generations to come. i know a bipartisan majority of this body understands that, and i ask my colleagues to stand with me to defeat this amendment. and, with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: mr. president, i rise to speak in favor of the jones amendment number 1141, cosponsored by senator mcsally of arizona. i want to thank the senator from alabama for filing this important amendment to preserve transit funding at levels
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authorized by congress under the fast act. without this amendment, transit services across the country face a 12% cut, a cut of this magnitude would be devastating, particularly for smaller agencies that rely on federal funding to meet their annual operating expenses and to carry ow necessary maintenance. without this funding, communities will be forced to scale back capital projects and reduce services, eliminating a major mobility operation for many of our constituents, including seniors and persons with disabilities. at a time when the transit industry faces a $90 billion state of good repair backlog, we should be increasing transit investments in order to preserve the critical transportation options. this would reverse the progress we made due to the budget agreement for infrastructure. we must prevent any degradation for the transit system and help
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these agencies modernize their fleets. this amendment is supported by the national league of cities, the united states conference of mayors and the united states chamber of commerce. i ask that the list of supporters be included in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reed: thank you, mr. president. i ask that my colleagues join with me and senator collins in supporting this amendment. i would also at this opportunity thank the staff members that actually made this transportation housing and urban development t-hud bill possible. they did extraordinary work. as we all recognize, it is their efforts that makes these difficult legislative initiatives possible. claire dotter, gus maples, court any young and lashanda smith and
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dabney hague and elizabeth coats. but i think i speak for all of my colleagues when i salute the t-hud and all the staff that made this legislation possible. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: mr. president, there's no doubt that we're blessed with beautiful, useful, and productive lands in our nation. and there's no doubt that some of them should be preserved as what they are, which happens to be national treasures. but, unfortunately, the federal government owns far too much land. it owns far more of these federal public lands than it should own and far more of these lands that it can possibly take care of. let's take a look at this map, for example.
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this shows in red the -- the land that's owned by the federal government in parts of the united states the federal government owns most of the land. this is certainly the case in my home state of utah where the federal government owns two-thirds of the land. notice, by the way, that in every state east of colorado, the federal government owns less than 15% of the land and in most states significantly less, and that in every state west of colorado, the federal government owns more than 15% of the land, and in many cases a whole lot more than 15%. the sheer volume of land that it owns is nothing short of staggering. in fact, the federal government owns 640 million acres of land. this is a total larger than the entireties of france, spain, germany, poland, italy, the united kingdom, austria, switzerland and the nether
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lans -- netherlands combined. that's how much the federal government owns. with such a vast state there is no wonder there is a $ 338 billion backlog, with that money is owed for the park service. there are national park service backlogs in every state in the country, as this map demonstrates. you see here that the question is not whether a particular state has a national park service backlog within its state. the question is how much. in some states it's very severe. in some states it is significant, but not yet severe. but there is a national park
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service maintenance backlog in every state. many of my colleagues, especially those from the midwest, as this map shows, don't have a whole lot of federal land in their state, and so they have a lot less of a federal -- a whole lot less federal land to maintain, and therefore, they have less of a maintenance backlog. know, they should thank their lucky stars for that. and that's a position to be envied. on one end of the spectrum, there is a $1.3 million backlog on the national park properties in delaware and the backlog for the parks in rhode island is just under $1 million. but at the other end of the spectrum, california alone has a whopping $1.8 billion maintenance backlog just on the national parks alone in just one state. what does that mean? well, it means that damage from
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wildfires, ill-kept roads and trails, and neglected facilities have actually kept citizens from accessing our national treasures, national treasures likeo -- like yosimite. some are unable to see it or don't make it at all. all the way washington continues to purchase ever more land and so the maintenance backlog continues to grow. mr. president, this must not continue. this staggering, stunning maintenance backlog on the federal land that we own, the federal land that's bigger than all of the -- a long list of european countries i mentioned just a minute ago. it can't continue.
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if we continue on this path, we will only do greater disservice to our citizens and to the lands themselves. that's why i've introduced an amendment that would stop the federal government's use of taxpayer dollars to acquire more lands in the next year. specifically, it would prevent the money currently going to the land and water conservation fund, the range improvements fund, the fish and parks service from being able to acquire new lands that the federal government cannot care for. it is important when describing a piece of legislation, in this case an amendment to another piece of legislation to explain both what it does and what it does not do. let me be very clear in telling you what this amendment does not do. this amendment would not refuse the dollar amount being given to any of these programs. not one of them. not by one dollar. it would simply reauthorize the money to be ensured that it is
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being used to care for the lands that we already own, and lands that need to be cared for so desperately. well, some of my colleagues -- while some of my colleagues may disagree with me and believe we should continue growing the federal estate, i ask that at least for this year we think of our current lands and our existing national parks. we think of those states where there are a lot of them and states where the maintenance backlog is especially staggering. these lands won't be national treasures for everyone if we don't, can't, or simply won't properly care for them. if we continue in this pattern of neglect, they'll be treasures for no one. if we continue in this pattern of neglect, we will continue to inflict significant environmental harm.
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environmental harm that in addition to being stunning in and of itself, it may be difficult or impossible to reverse. if you support the environment, if you want to protect the environment and the natural wonders and beauties that this land has been blessed with, if you want to protect our national treasures, then you should vote for this amendment. voting against this amendment means that you're willing to have the glutenous federal government to continue to acquire more land, even while it refuses and professes itself utterly incapable of maintaining the land that it's got. for now at the very least, we ought to ensure that these lands are safe and accessible for generations to come. our lands, our citizens, and our environment deserve nothing less. and now, mr. president, i call up my amendment number 1209. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from utah
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mr. lee proposes an amendment number 1209 to amendment number 948. mr. lee: i ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lee: i ask unanimous consent that there now be two minutes between each vote in this series and that all votes after the first be ten minutes in length. the presiding officer: without objection. the question occurs on the amendment. mr. lee: i call for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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