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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  December 18, 2019 9:29am-11:30am EST

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university." he's interviewed by anti-poverty and robin hood ceo moore. >> we're through our work in the humanities to the sciences looking at ways for students to learn to ask the hard questions, to read critically, but to appreciate the value of evidence in a society that is bombarding us with information and different points of view with things being confused about what is truth and what is not. educated people should have the skills to ask the questions that will lead to the evidence that can determine what is therefore truth. >> watch book tv this weekend and every weekend on c-span2. >> in a moment we'll continue our commitment to live coverage of the u.s. senate as the senate gavels in this morning to work on judicial nominations. later this week, senators will take up 2020 federal spending legislation, current government funding expires on friday at
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midnight. members also expected to vote on the confirmation of the deputy secretary of state nomination. and now, to live coverage of the u.s. senate here 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, the giver of every good
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and perfect gift, help our senators to listen clearly to your sacred word and find wisdom in your guidance. may they remember your teachings and courageously follow them. as you guide them along the right path, keep them from stumbling. may they live such exemplary lives that they will be like sunlight at dawn, growing brighter with the passing hours. lord, give our lawmakers the wisdom to carefully guard their thoughts, to strive to speak truthfully, and to refuse to deviate
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from integrity. we pray in your great name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in the pledge of allegiance. 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.
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mr. grassley: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: senator wyden and i received a letter from the michael j. fox foundation for parkinson's research. their letter endorsed our bipartisan prescription drug pricing reduction act. trying to respond to what we're hearing from our constituents about the public outrage over the big increases in prescription drugs. now, it happens with par kin sons disease -- parkinson's disease, about one million americans have it. and it seems like up until now,
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there's no way to stop it or cure it. but thanks to modern medicine, the symptoms can be treated to help patients live a much better life. 90% of all individuals diagnosed with parkinson's disease are on medicare. our bill, the bill to reduce prescription drug prices would help these seniors afford their medicine with a cap on out-of-pocket expenses. in other words, they would know at the beginning of the year they only had to spend x number of dollars on drugs, no more. of course this brings me to what congress should be doing. congress needs to act not only for those with parkinson's disease but for all americans who need our help.
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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. durbin: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask consent to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. the senate is in a quorum call. mr. durbin: i ask consent to suspend the cowrk. the presiding officer: without objection -- the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator will suspend. under the previous order, the
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leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, matthew walden mcfarland of ohio to be united states district judge for the southern district of ohio. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: thank you, madam president. this week we're going to be voting on some appropriation bills. it's rather large. they call them minibuses but there will be six or eight appropriation bills bunched together and they'll include things other than strictly spending measures. one of the areas that will be addressed is the age that you must reach to purchase tobacco and vaiping materials -- and vaping materials in the united states. it's known euphemistically as
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t-21 and i supported it for years. the notion of raising the purchasing age to 21 for these products to me just makes sense. we know that they are addictive both tobacco -- cigarette tobacco and vaping materials have nicotine in them, a highly addictive chemical. so raising this age of purchase across the united states to 21 makes sense. but i'm disappointed as well. although i originally sponsored this bill, there have been several revelations in the last few months which call for us to move far beyond the idea of establishing a new age for purchasing these products. and let me be specific. one of the things we've been working on is trying to address the shocking increase in the use of vaping materials and e glets by young -- e-cigarettes by young people across america. it's been called an epidemic not
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by a politician but by the commissioner of the food and drug administration. that commissioner told us as well as the surgeon general of the united states that this is an issue that cannot be ignored. today we estimate that nearly 30% of school-age children are vaping, more than five million kids across america. a group of young high schoolers came in to see me from new york last week and said, senator, you're all wrong. in our schools it's a majority, a majority of the students are vaping not only outside of the school but even in the classro classroom. they have hooked up vaping devices to the clothing that they're wearing and when the teacher turns his or her back on the class, they're puffing on their vaping materials, their juuls and blowing the white air into the classroom. it sounds incredible but they told me it's true and happens all over the school, in the rest rooms, in the cafeteria, in the
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classrooms. the reason it's happening so many students are vaping now and it is an addiction. as the students continue to vape, their appetite for the product grows. kids are using these products for many reasons, and i can get into the psychology of it for a minute. but let me dwell on the objection. the blaifers that they -- flavors that they are being sold on these vaping materials are designed for them, to attract children to joul juuls products. unicorn, cool mint, mom's sugar cookies and yes, menthol. according to the food and drug administration, more than 80% of children who vape start with a flavored e-cigarette. the vaping industry says you've got it all wrong. you see, this is a nontobacco product which people can use to get off cigarettes. well, that sounds pretty noble,
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doesn't it? we want people to move away from something more dangerous like tobacco cigarettes but when you look at the incidence of people using this product, it is minuscule in terms of adults with a tobacco addiction moving to vaping products. and the number of children, young students moving from nonvaping to vaping is dramatic. as i mentioned the official figures are 30% of high school students. according, as i said, to the food and drug administration, one of the things that is luring young people to this behavior is the flavoring. the flavor pods. does anyone believe these flavors are intended for some 50-year-old chain smoker who wants to give up on tobacco cigarettes? flavors like farly's farly sauce, bubble purp by chubby bubbles, blue ras by candy king, cotton candy by disompg -- zonk.
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some 50-year-old is attracted to cotton candy by zonk? we know better. these are made to attract kids, get them started, get them hooked, make theme lifelong customer -- them lifelong customers. i pressed the food and drug administration and the white house for years to put an end to these kid-friendly flavored pods. well, the tobacco giant eltrio, used to be philip morris if i'm not mistaken, stepped in and bought the lion share of the stock of joule. altria knows this business and how to attract kids because they used to make marlboro cigarettes. remember the cowboy designed to appeal across the board, particularly to young smokers? now they have a new gig. it's called vaping, e-cigarettes
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and altria has bought in a big way. they have taken out ads to support raising the age to purchase tobacco products to 21. wait a minute, a tobacco company wants to raise the age for purchasing product ?s they do. they see it as inevitable but it's also part of the market strategy. it's the same policy i've supported and i thank my colleague senator schatz and senator kaine for joining in this effort along with senator romney but what we've seen is that altria has invested $13 billion to acquire a 35% stake in joule which controls more than 70% of the vaping market. tobacco is big in vaping. altria and joule together believe if the only thing we do is raise the tobacco age to 21, they'll be in the clear, that they can avoid the scrutiny for their targeted efforts to hook kids on e-cigarettes.
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i disagree. i've made clear that any t-21, tobacco 21 policy must be coupled with meaningful provisions to get rid of the e-cigarette flavors now addicting our kids. they've turned to one of their allies, senator mcconnell in this effort who was an original sponsor on t-21 but whose party resisted the effort to join the banning of flavor pods for e-cigarettes as part of the t-21 deal in our appropriation bill. i fear that the spending bill of that come before us will include just the t-21 policy, and that, of course, doesn't address what is happening with vaping among children in america. if we are serious about sparing americans, particularly our kids, from addictions to nicotine, it has to reach beyond tobacco cigarettes to vaping. it's a mistake not to do so. the public health community agrees with me on that. any serious solution to
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skyrocketing rates of youth e-cigarette use must include the removal of kid-friendly flavors, not just the tobacco industry's preferred policy, and i will continue to work with members on both sides of the aisle in pushing to do so. and finally, let me say, madam president, on this subject, on september 15, president trump held a press conference in the oval office on this subject of vaping. sitting next to him, the first lady michelle obama, melania trump. she -- first lady of the united states melania trump. she decided to speak out against vaping. i thanked her, i praised her along with the president. they did the right thing. on a bipartisan basis, we should thank them, but now we're not sure where the president is on this subject. we're not sure if he is going to continue his effort to end this scourge of e-vaping and e-cigarettes. i hope the president comes back to the position he announced in september. we need his help to ban these
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flavor pods. the recent appointee as f.d.a. commissioner, steve hahn, has told me personally and many of my colleagues, he thinks this is a serious issue. i believe he ought to be given the authority to exercise his legal right and power to stop these pods and stop these devices as quickly as possible. madam president, 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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quorum call:
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: are we're in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: well, mr. president, all eyes today are on the house of representatives. the country is waiting to see whether these house democrats will give in to the temptation that every other house in modern history has managed to resist and misuse the solemn process of impeachment to blow off partisan steam. i'll have more to say on this subject if house democrats do in fact proceed. but yesterday i came to the floor to discuss one initial aspect of this that concerns our senate process. over the weekend, my colleague, the democratic leader, began asking the senate to break from precedent, break with the unanimous template from 1999 and begin choreographing the middle of a potential trial before
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we've even heard opening arguments. back in 1999, all 1 100 senators agreed on a simple pretrial resolution that set up a briefing, opening arguments, senators questions, and a vote on a motion to dismiss. senators reserved all other questions such as witnesses until the trial was under way. that was a unanimous bipartisan precedent from 1999. put first things first, lay the bipartisan groundwork and leave midtrial questions until the middle of the trial. i'd hoped and still hope that the democratic leader and i can sit down and reproduce that unanimous, bipartisan agreement this time. his decision to try to angrily negotiate through the press is unfortunate.
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but no amount of bluster will change the simple fact that we already have a unanimous, bipartisan precedent. if 100 senators thought this approach was good enough for president clinton, it ought to be good enough for president trump. i hope house democrats see reason and pull back from the precipice, but if they proceed, i hope the democratic leader and i can sit down soon and honor the template that was unanimously agreed to the last time. now, mr. president, on another matter, in the meantime, the senate is busily completing the legislation that our country actually needs. yesterday the senate passed the ndaa conference report and put it on president trump's desk. thanks to the diligence of chairman inhofe and ranking member reed, this critical legislation to support our armed service will become law for the 59th consecutive year.
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tomorrow we'll vote on government funding bills the house passed yesterday. a lot of hard work brought this appropriations process back from the brink. here are some of the important things that will happen as a result. stable, full-year funding for our armed forces, including research and modernization. the largest pay raise for our troops in a decade. and more support for key alliances like nato, close partners like israel, and high-priority areas like hong kong. the bills also deliver on vital domestic priorities as well. it funds infrastructure and transportation projects. it repeals even more of obamacare by cutting out more harmful taxes. every single state wins in this bill. by way of example, here are a few ways my state will benefit. this bill keeps the decade-old
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promise of a new, modern v.a. medical center with a special emphasis on care for women veterans. their support for fighting invasive asian carp in west kentucky. central kentucky role in high-tech agricultural research. kentucky has a hugh stage in our nation's battle against opioid and substance abuse. i am eproud these bills fund treatment programs established by my career act and help those in long-term recovery reenter the workforce. speaking of addiction, i'm especially proud that this legislation includes my t-21 legislation to raise the nationwide age for purchasing tobacco and vaping products to 21 years old and help roll back the explosion in tobacco and nicotine use of our nation's youth. i'm proud to work with senator kaine and others on both sides to ensure that legislation was drafted and became law this
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year. senator todd young of indiana was also deeply involved in this as well. and i'm proud that these bills include direct bipartisan action that i urged to shore up the looming pension and health care crisis faced by coal communities in kentucky and across the nation. these are some examples from kentucky -- this legislation touches in fact all 50 states. this is why full-year funding bills are better than chronic c.r.'s. this is why the senate should pass these bills this week and send them to the president's desk. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. thune: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. thune: is the senate in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. thune: i would ask unanimous consent that the quorum be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: i'm looking forward toest going home to south dakota for christmas. before we leave we'll wrap up this year's spending bills including the defense spending bill. yesterday we passed the national defense authorization act to authorize funding farrow military and national defense. i'll pleased to report that this year's bill authorizes the full
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request for development of the b-21 bomber which will be coming to ellsworth in the not-too-distant future. the news that ellsworth air force base had been selected was exciting news this year. ellsworth air force base has been a priority of mine since i first came to the senate and worked with a lot of dedicated people to prevent ellsworth from being closed by the brac commission in 2005. since then i've worked with the other members of the south dakota delegation and the air force and community leaders to make sure the base never again finds itself in the same position. among other things, our efforts resulted in the expansion of the powder river training complex into the largest training airspace in the continental united states. and it's undoubtedly partly thanks to this airspace that ellsworth was chosen as the first home for the b-21. ellsworth is going from strength to strength, and i'm honored to advocate for our national security and the airmen at ellsworth in the united states senate.
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mr. president, agriculture is the lifeblood of our economy in south dakota, and our farmers and ranchers are always at the top of my priority list here in the senate. thanks to natural disasters, protracted trade disputes and several years now of low commodity prices, farmers and ranchers have had a tough few years. this spring farmers and ranchers were hit with heavy rainfall and flooding. by the time the soil dried out, it was too late for many farmers to plant their normal crops and many had to resort to cover crops. the farmers in south dakota and other northern states faced a problem. the department of agriculture had set november 1 as the first date on which farmers could harvest these cover crops for feed or use them for pass tour without have their crop insurance indemnity reduced. farmers or ranchers who -- featured a reduction in their
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indemnity payments. while november 1 is a reasonable date for farmers in southern states, for farmers in northern states like south dakota, november is too late thanks to -- it is too late to maximize the use of cover crops for pasteur since the killing frost is liable to kill crops before they are grazed. so beginning in early may, i started pressing the department of agriculture to change the date. in june, the department of agriculture announced that it would move up the november 1 date for 2019 by two months to september 1, a significant amount of time that allowed south dakota farmers to plant cover crops without worrying about whether they would be able to successfully harvest or graze them. a year ago this week, the president signed into law the farm bill which contained provisions i authored based on input from south dakota farmers and rages.
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this year i've closely monitored the implementation of the bill. in particular, i pressed the agricultural department of the conservation reserve program and to hold sign-ups. i'm pleased that the administration opened a c.r.p. sign-up this month. the farmers and ranchers emphasize that the most important thing that washington can do is to take action on trade agreements. farmers and ranchers need access to new and expanded markets for their products. just as importantly, they need certainty about what innocent markets are going to look like going forward. i spent a lot of time this year pushing for congress to approve the united states-mexico-canada free trade agreement. i'm pleased that this agreement is now moving forward. i'm hopeful that the senate will pass it in january. one piece of good news for corn farmers came this year with the administration's announcement that it would permit the
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year-round sale of e-15, which is 15% ethanol-blended fuel. i've spent over a decade advocating for the year-round sale of e-15 and i was very pleased about the announcement. however, for corn farmers to see the full benefit of year-round e-15 sales, the environmental protection agency needs to start accounting for its unprecedented use of small refinery exemptions. these so-called hardship waivers should be limited only to instances where small refiners would no longer be profitable or competitive by complying with their blending obligation under the renewable fuels standard. on friday, the e.p.a. is poised to finalize a supplemental rule that assures us will deliver on the president's commitments to account for waivers and to truly blend 15 billion gallons of ethanol each year. however, based on this e.p.a.'s track record, it is difficult to trust it will retreat from the aggressive issuance of small-refinery exemptions. i hope the e.p.a. proves me
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wrong, but i think i speak for most of farm country when i say i'll believe it when i see it. i am happy to be able to say that the biodiesel tax credit will be extended as part of this year ago's tax extender deal. biodiesel is a good deal. it makes use of the oil from bean processing. and it is a good deal for our environment because the use of this fuel lowers emissions. mr. president, as a former chairman of the senate commerce committee and current chair of the commerce committee on technologies, innovation ant internet, i have spent a lot of time over the years focusing on internet, communication, and data privacy issues. one big priority of mine has been paving the way for 5g, the next generation of wireless technology, ensuring that rural areas and not just big cities, get this technology. last year the president signed into law my bipartisan mobile
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now act, which is legislation i introduced to help secure quote spectrum for 5g technology. earlier in year, senator schatz and i introduced the streamline small cell deployment act to address the other part of the 5g equation. that's infrastructure. i was thrilled to be in sue falls to mark a milestone for the city and south dakota. the unveiling of sue falls first 5g small cells which are small antennas that will join traditional cell towers to support 5g technology. mr. president, 5g has tremendous promise for rural areas but it will only deliver on that promise if we ensure that 5g cells are actually deployed in these areas. i'm proud that we've made a good start in south dakota. sue falls mayor has worked aggressively to remove barriers to telecommunications investments in sue falls. advancing 5g will continue to be a priority of mine in the senate. we want the united states and not china or south korea to win
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the race to 5g and to seize the economic benefits the 5g will bring. another thing i spent a lot of time working on in the commerce committee this year is data privacy. in october i introduced the filter bubble transparency act which is designed to address one aspect of the data privacy problem. the issues that arise from internet companies he use of consumers data will shape what they see on their platforms. i also introduced legislation that year with senator ed markey to address the problem of annoying and illegal robocalls and i'm hopeful that our legislation, the telephone robocall abuse criminal enforcement and deterrence act or the traced act will pass the senate soon and beyond the president's desk before christmas. mr. president, i've worked on a lot of other bills this year to make life better for south dakotans and for american families. i've introduced tax reform bills to help businesses, update the tax code for the 21st century economy, encourage charitable
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giving and protect family farms from the death tax. i introduced legislation to promote access to health care in rural areas, help americans repay their student loans, and much more. and, mr. president, i will continue to work on these issues in the new year. as always, my priority will be ensuring that congress is addressing the challenges facing south dakota families. the holidays are a time to reflect on the blessings that we've received and i feel truly blessed to call the great state of south dakota home. it is an honor and a privilege to represent the people of south dakota here in the united states senate. to all south dakotans, i hope that you have a wonderful christmas and a joyous holiday season. i look forward to continuing to represent your priorities here in washington in the coming new year. mr. 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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the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire hax has i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. hassan: on roll call vote 380, i was recorded as yes. it was my intention to be recorded as no. therefore, i ask unanimous consent that i be permitted to
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change my vote since it will not affect the outcome. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. hassan: thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. ms. hassan: mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed
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with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: now, mr. president, in response to the limited set of relevant witnesses i proposed for a potential senate trial earlier this week, the republican leader gave a lengthy speech on the floor yesterday and another speech today. in neither of those speeches could the republican leader offer one salient argument as to why the witness i proposed, the witnesses i proposed, all senior trump administration officials, shouldn't be allowed to testify. instead he made what are in my view irrelevant and incomplete comparisons to the 1999 clinton trial. when faced with the fact that it's only fair to have these witnesses who were eyewitnesses to the major, major allegations against the president and who have not testified before come, the leader can't talk about 2019. he has to go back to 1999
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because he has no good argument as to why they shouldn't testify. we're not asking to be dilatory. we're not asking for a list of 4,000 witnesses. we are simply asking that those who know best the truth come and talk to us in the senate and to the american people. there is one fact that is impossible for the senate to ignore. in the two presidential impeachment trials in the history of this body, the senate heard from witnesses. but leader mcconnell continues to push for no witnesses in the senate trial. i have yet to hear an explanation why less evidence is better than more evidence, particularly when it comes to something as somber, as serious, as important as impeachment of the president of the united states of america. leader mcconnell keeps talking about 1999 because he doesn't want to talk about 2019.
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the two situations are not analogous. rather than focus on the past, the republican leader should focus on the present and offer one good reason why relevant witnesses shouldn't testify in an impeachment trial of president trump. particularly in light of the fact we have not heard from them, and they probably have better evidence than anybody, even though the evidence that the house has prepared in the eyes of so many is overwhelming. i was disappointed to hear yesterday that leader mcconnell declared that he would not be an impartial juror when it comes to the serious charges against president trump. he said it proudly. what kind of example does that set for the country who is looking for fairness and impartiality? in the event of a trial, every senator will swear an oath
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differing from our standard oath of office to do impartial justice, but yesterday, mcconnell told reporters i'm not an impartial juror. this is a political process. i'm not impartial about this at all. let me repeat that. let the american people hear it loud and clear. the republican leader said proudly, quote, i'm not an impartial juror. i'm not impartial about this at all. this is an astonishing admission of partisanship. the president may demand these public displays of fealty, but they are troubling for the leader of an independent branch of our government. i hope all senators will take seriously the oath to do impartial justice that we seem likely to take in the near future. now, the house of representatives, of course, will take a historic vote today on the impeachment of president
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donald j. trump. if the articles of impeachment are passed, the focus will quickly move to the senate where our chamber will serve as a court of impeachment. we must very soon figure out the rules and procedures that will allow the senate to rise to this occasion. despite our disagreements, i do expect to sit down with leader mcconnell in the near future to discuss these matters. i have proposed a very reasonable structure for a trial based on grand american tradition of, quote, a fair and speedy trial, unquote. we have proposed four witnesses. only those with direct knowledge of the charges made by the house. only those who could provide new, relevant, and potentially illuminating testimony, and placed strict time limits on each stage of the process to prevent the trial from dragging out too long. no one is interested in delaying. the senate's goal, above all,
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should be to conduct a trial with dignity, fairness to both sides, and one that examines all the relevant facts. there are large partisan divisions these days, but i suspect most senate republicans would agree with these goals. i suspect that even president trump would agree with these goals or at least say that he did. the president repeatedly has complained about a lack of due process and said he would love -- his words -- would love witnesses like mr. mulvaney to testify in the senate. setting aside for the moment that the president has refused to participate in the house process, despite multiple invitations, setting aside for the moment that he has blocked witnesses from appearing and documents from being produced. mr. president, we are offering you the due process you sought in your letter last night. allow your current and former
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aides, mulvaney, blair, duffy, bolton, to testify on your behalf. turn over all the requested documents and show that you and your ides didn't try to use taxpayer money to force a foreign government to announce an investigation against your political opponent. let the truth come out. mr. president, we're offering you due process. due process means the right to be heard. please take it. don't ask for it and then refuse to take advantage of it. mr. president, president trump, you have a habit of accusing others of the offenses that you have, in fact, committed. you accuse the house of affording no due process while obstructing the process every step of the way. if you truly want due process to present your side of the case, president trump, let your aides testify and turn over the
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documents we have requested. we want to conduct a fair trial. fair to both sides. we don't know whether the witnesses we have proposed will incriminate the president or exonerate them. they are the appointees of president donald j. trump. they are hardly biased. we don't know what their testimony will be, but we do know one thing -- we should hear from them. we just want the facts. just the facts, ma'am, as detective friday says. facts that will allow senators to make fully informed decisions about something as serious, so serious as the conviction or acquittal of an impeached president. each individual senator will have the power, will have the responsibility to help shape what an impeachment trial looks like. do my republican colleagues want a fair, honest trial that examines all the facts or do
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they want to participate in the cover-up? now, on appropriations, before the week concludes, we must pass legislation to keep the government open and provide appropriations for the following year. luckily, over the weekend, an agreement was reached between appropriators, house and senate, democrat and republican, that would see us achieve that goal. i'm proud to report that the final appropriations agreements include several important democratic priorities to help american families, to help american security. democrats have secured more than $425 million in election security grants. nearly double the amount senate republicans reluctantly supported in earlier legislation. democrats have secured an increase of $550 million in grants to help offset the cost of child care for low-income families. democrats have made progress on several fronts to combat climate
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change, record level funding for clean energy and energy-efficient programs, record level funding to provide clean electric buses and increased funding for climate change science and research. and for the first time in decades, democrats have secured $25 million in gun violence research at c.d.c. and n.i.h., breaking through what had been a ridiculous ban on fact. another ban on fact now broken because we can do gun violence research. and medical research, scientific research, environmental protection, education and housing programs will see increases, significant increases in federal support. of course, we did not achieve everything we wanted. i am particularly and strongly disappointed, for one, that the tax agreement included in the second package omits critical clean energy tax incentives to fight climate change, including
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incentives for electric vehicles, battery storage, offshore wind and solar energy. this is a fight we have been waging, and we will continue to wage. it's a fight democrats intend to return to in 2020 when we negotiate the next tax agreement. i'm also sorely and deeply disappointed that we were unable to reach an agreement on a drinking water standard and more resources to clean up p-fas contamination, toxic chemicals that have plagued too many communities in new york and across the country. people on the other side of the aisle should look at these. the president, who was against many of these proposals, should reexamine. we need them. senate democrats, senator leahy, the appropriators, have done a lot of hard work on this issue. our disappointment today will in no way diminish our resolve to
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force congress to take further actions next year, particularly on p-fas and on clean energy. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion, we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of medaller walden mcfarland of ohio to be united states district judge for the southern district of ohio. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of matthew walden mcfarland of ohio to be united states district judge for the southern district of ohio shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll.
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vote: vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or to change their vote? if not, the yeas are 55. the nays are 38. the nomination -- the motion is agreed to.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cruz: mr. president, i rise today to talk about one of the most complicated areas where our diplomats have to engage. when brutal regimes and terrorist groups seize americans and use them as hostages hoping to extract concessions from our government. these are situations that are infuriating and they're heartbreaking. and at the same time they're immensely complicated. there are no easy solutions when dealing with hostage takers. we know what doesn't work. we know that paying ransom for hostages as the obama administration did with iran to the tune of billions of dollars only incentivizes more hostage taking. it's exactly the behavior you would expect from hostage
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takers, and it's exactly the behavior that we've seen play out over and over again. my colleagues and i along with the trump administration have sought other ways of securing the release of american hostages. sometimes what's called for is diplomatic pressure and so early in my tenure in the senate, the very first bill that i passed into law was legislation that kept iranian regime figures who had seized american hostages in 1979 from receiving diplomatic visas to come into the united states. i also recently joined with senator cotton to introduce the global hostage act, a bill that would require the president to impose sanctions on foreign government officials responsible for taking americans hostage. the trump administration recently secured the release of americans held hostage in iran without the need for palates of cash flown in in the darkness of
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night. nevertheless, all of these solutions are imperfect. and so it is no surprise that even in countries where we enjoy successes, those successes are often heartbreakingly partial with hostages left behind. dal i want to talk about -- today i want to talk about two countries specifically where americans from my home state of texas are languishing today. in syria we've seen some americans released while others remain away from their families. this summer american sam good win and canadian christian baxter were released by captors in syria which were joyful developments on their own and encouraging signs of progress. but austin tice remains in captivity after more than seven agonizing years.
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austin is a texan and a veteran marine corps captain who served our country in iraq and afghanistan, and he was working as a freelance journalist to inform americans about the horror of the syrian conflict when he was captured. i've repeatedly had the opportunity to sit down and visit with austin's parents, mark and deborah. austin's picture sits on my desk here in my senate office. and i remain committed to working with president trump, with the trump administration, with my colleagues here in congress to bring austin home. i join with 51 senators, 120 representatives to write a letter to president trump
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affirming that the tice family and your own administration are confident that austin is alive and calling on president trump to redouble our country's efforts to bring him home. no one should doubt the entire u.s. government's commitment to this task. secondly, in venezuela, we have also seen partial progress, but partial progress of a different sort. in the case of the citgo six, five american citizens and one permanent american resident, they had been released from jail, which is a good thing, but they remain under house arrest. so while jose luis zombrano, tamul videl and jose angel
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periva and others are no longer under the constant threat of dying from abuse and neglect, they are still very much held captive and away from their loved ones. today here in the gallery, gabriellela and alira rafael, the father and brother of zambrano. these are now two years into their nightmarish journey. upon their arrival at carey act as, they were summarily detained and remain in jail on orders of the venezuelan military. they would go days without food and months without sunlight. but the random punishments were nothing if not persistent. i have met members of the citgo
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six families many times. alexandra forseth, a daughter, shared stories from her father. he described exactly how harrowing the experience has been and the physical toll it's taken. these families have left no stones unturned in their efforts to bring back their loved ones. they have hired lawyers who grappled with the shifting and inadequate legal institutions in venezuela, and they found little recourse. after years of this literal darkness, just last week, the citgo six were released to house arrest. this is progress. this is undeniable progress. but it's far from enough. and here, too, we must redouble our efforts to ensure their full
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release to ensure that they can come home to america. every effort must be made to bring them back to the united states to their families, to their children, to their homes. sergio cardenas, the son of gustavo cardenas, was born with a rare disease. at the age of 17, he is battling chronic congestive heart failure. the doctors and his family are gravely concerned that he will never see his father. who are say toledo's mother is severely handicapped and requires constant medical attention and care. jose and alirio have teenaged
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sons. venezuela has a seat on the united nations human rights council. if human rights means anything, it is that citizens of all countries are entitled to speedy due process and that human rights violations must have human rights remedies. the citgo six have suffered enough. it is past time for them to be released back to their families. let me finally say i believe that the light of truth calling attention to these human rights atrocities can overcome the darkness of imprisonment. the voices of the families and the voices of those who speak out on their behalf resonate and resonate loudly. and those who are keeping americans wrongfully imprisoned, who are committing evil should know that we will not give up. we will not rest until these
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americans are set free. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: mr. president, two weeks ago today, the state of hawaii was in shock as an active shooter took the lives of two workers at pearl harbor naval shipyard and wounded a third worker. located on joint base pearl harbor hickham, the shipyard is a pillar of our community. it employees over 6,400 workers who labor every day to keep our pacific fleet fit to fight. hawaii is a small place where we have deep connections to one
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another. almost everyone in hawaii either is related to or knows someone who works on base or in the shipyard. in my state office in honolulu, a member of my staff has a son who is an apprentice at the shipyard and who was there that day. these connections are part of the reason why the shooting has impacted our state so deeply. too many families were waiting that day for news of their loved ones in harm's way. the investigation into what happened is ongoing, and there is no easy dmangs for what happened and why. it's clear that no community in our country is immune from the tragedy of gun violence. today, mr. president, i rise to honor the lives of those we lost. roland a. augustism n and vincent j.capoi jr. they were both dedicated
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department of defense department of defense, department of defense civilian and shipyard workers and members of the international federation of professional and technical engineers local 121. augustin was 39 years old. he was adored by his family who described him as a true american fate who dedicated his career to his country. after serving honorably in the u.s. navy, mr. augustin also served in the army national guard, retiring as a staff sergeant, having deployed to afghanistan and kuwait. at pearl harbor naval shipyard, he served as a department of defense civilian employee, working as a shop planner in nondestructive testing and a metals inspector. in paying tribute to their lost loved one, mr. augustin's family said in a statement, quote, he was a loving son, brother, uncle and friend to many.
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having grown up in waipahu, he enjoyed working on cars with his friends and speck spending time with his -- spending time with his family and adored his nieces. he will forever remember him to be humble and honest and a generous and patient man. end quote. vincent capoi was 30 years old and lived in honolulu. he grew up in wainai and graduated from kamehameha schools. his father, brother, sister, and sister-in-law are also civilian employees at the shipyard where he served as a metals inspector apprentice. he was dearly loved by his family which includes his wife, parents, siblings, aunties, uncles, grandmothers, cousins, and friends. his wife offered these loving words -- quote -- i have been through a lot of tragedy in my life, but nothing compares to losing the love of your life.
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i will miss you truly, and i will always love you, vincent j.capoi, jr., end quote. his sister theona said in a family statement, quote, he will always be that easy-going, fun-loving, let's do this man that will remain in our hearts. there are so many unanswered questions. we all have to be honest. the -- it changes nothing because we can't bring him back. what we must do is honor his memory to keep him alive in our hearts, end quote. i also want to honor roger nakamini who was wounded in the attack. he was working as a civilian apprentice at the shipyard when he was wounded. upon leaving the hospital about a week after the attack, mr. nakamini said, quote, my family and i would like to express our gratitude to the first responders and the expert medical staff at queens, as well as to all the friends and extended ohana who have been
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reaching out to offer their support physically, emotionally, and spiritually. our deepest condolences go out to the friends and family of vincent capoi jr. and rodan augustin, end quote. mr. president, these men, like thousands of their fellow workers, dedicated themselves to the shipyard's critically important mission of repairing, maintaining, and modernizing the u.s. pacific fleet in defense of our country. in recognition of their service and in keeping with the words of their families, i ask all my colleagues to join me in honoring the lives of those we lost, rodan augustin and vincent capoi jr. this is a photograph that depicts the memorial that was set up the day after this tragedy where friends and family brought leis to honor their fallen heroes.
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their loved ones. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. kennedy: thank you, mr. president. i rise briefly today to thank a number of my colleagues. the first, the senior senator from mississippi, senator wicker, who has offered a bill called the 5g spectrum act. i have offered a bill pertaining to the 5g spectrum as well, and my two democratic friends, senator schatz and senator cantwell, have offered a bill on that subject as well. we have been working enthusiastically and in good faith for some time to try to work out our differences on this legislation so we could pass it
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this calendar year. i regret that we're not going to be able to work out our differences for the moment, but we're going to continue our efforts in good faith. the good news about all this legislation is that we all agree that the f.c.c. should conduct a public auction of the 5g spectrum. now, what does that mean? we all heard about 5g. it's extraordinary fast internet, 100 times faster than we have right now, but in order for 5g to work, there is a certain part of our spectrum or our radio waives, if -- waves, if you will, that the telecommunications have to use to deliver the 5g service. it's called the c band.
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of course, when we communicate between and among each other on the internet or by cell phones through wireless technology, all we're doing is sending electromagnetic radiation or radio waves from my device to your device. it's obviously more complicated than that. at its fundamental level, that's what it is. these radio waves and the airwaves through which those radio waves travel, this electromagnetic radiation, belong to the american people. it's called spectrum, and that's what we mean when we talk about 5g spectrum. we can't lose sight of that fact. the wireless communication companies provide an extraordinary service. they're going to make 5g possible with the help of the united states government and our


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