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tv   Politics and Public Policy Today  CSPAN  September 24, 2015 12:00pm-2:01pm EDT

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assumptions with facts. he just assumed people would buy into his analysis. and a lot of the public did. obviously the media was constantly quoting him, saying you've got a pretty smart guy here who is quoting all these facts, and he thinks this is going to drive workers out. what we did is said, okay, let's look at how many of you -- okay, what kind of engine is on the law mower? most people, it's brig briggs&stratton. we could find a very prominent local company that we said, here's what happens. this is not good. right to work states actually gain jobs. then we can bring in some statistics that these guys put together for us that showed that that's actually not the fact. but this professor tried to use this assumption that because wages were going to go down, and
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the kept going back to wages are going to decrease if you become right to work, you'll hurt the worker. we said, no, that's not true at all. we showed that wages increase at a higher rate when you're in a right to work state. the other thing we ran into was, companies want to move to right to work states because they want to pay people less. so that was interesting. so they were saying that, you know, site selectors, we know who they are, what they do, this is one of almost their standard questions is, are you a right to work state, are you not. and there's plenty of companies who have moved to states that they have specifically said we're going here because this is a key component to it. so what we did is, we said businesses don't go to right to work states because they want to pay less, because again, the
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statistics don't back that up. companies go to right to work states because there's more flexibility in the workplace, and because their workers can be more efficient. and again, we brought that back to, why is that? because the worker is empowered with personal liberty and with the ability to make more decisions on their own versus having this union contract overrule things. so that was another interesting argument. right to work states are more dangerous. that was the last big one that they threw at us. so what we did is we actually pulled all the workers' comp today from right to work states, non-right-to-work states. i created the spreadsheet myself and i had a blast doing it, but i couldn't show it to my colleagues because their eyes glaze over. we showed that the numbers prove out that actually in right to work states there were fewer incidents and accidents. i know you referenced that too in what you said. so those were the things we ran
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into. and again, we always had to bring it back to people. what does it mean for the person? we look at the democrats, speaking as a republican, the democrats are always so effective because they always take it to people. so we wanted to make sure we did the same thing. the impact on wisconsin. this is pretty new to wisconsin. but we are able to see some immediate things. it was pretty cool, the day after we passed right to work, i got a call from the cfo of a company i know, i owns a conglomeration of companies, 14, 15 companies. he said, chris, we've been waiting in the wings, but we're moving one of our manufacturing companies from minnesota to wisconsin. we just wanted to make sure you knew that so you had evidence that this is a big deal for companies. that was one thing. we had another company, badger
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meter, he said we'll look at moving a hundred employees to another state because they were a right to work state, we have more flexibility there, about we're going to keep those employees here, and they actually looked at expanding too. a constituent of mine last week said, hey, chris, wondering if next week you can come to another ribbon cutting for an expansion we're having. this guy, when i knocked his door for the first time in 2010, he chewed on me for about 45 minutes to an hour about how terrible wisconsin was, with the business climate, how we just weren't listening to business owners. i said, dig, give it some time, trust me on this one, we've got a different crop of people coming in here, we're going to make changes. instead of moving operations to kentucky, they have grown in the state of wisconsin. and i've been to two ribbon cuttings for expansions there.
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proof positive that it's working. this week i've got some legislators from missouri who are coming out to talk to me, hey, walk us through why you guys did what you did and help us understand better so that we can make an informed decision on what to do with this veto. wisconsin business environment, this is pretty cool too, we've always been ranked in the lower middle tier or the bottom tier. that's where we've been for probably the last decade. ceo magazine, we're now 14th. and the cool one for us is manpower. so manpower does a study on finding a job. we're now number 4. we're the fourth best state for finding a job. that is powerful. we don't have a jobs issue anymore in the state of wisconsin. we have a worker issue, finding workers, which is a really need transition from four or five years ago when i took office, everybody was struggling to find
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jobs. but we don't have a jobs issue anymore. we have a worker issue. that's a different subject. over the last year, this was pretty powerful too, because as you know, wisconsin is a very heavy manufacturing state. and southeastern wisconsin, which is kind of the milwaukee, waukesha, it's pretty much the milwaukee region, we were just named -- we had the highest growth in manufacturing jobs of any metro area in the united states in the last year. and it's because of things we've been doing. and we can definitely attribute that to right to work. that was a piece of the puzzle that has really helped us. so very strong evidence just from on the ground, people, businesses, and people who are getting jobs too, these are good paying jobs, that right to work is good for a state. i think it's good for the nation
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as a whole. because, again, it gets back to the individual liberty and freedom of a person to choose if they want to associate or not with us. that's what i had. we're below the national average on the u.i. rate in wisconsin. we're doing well there too. [ applause ] >> hi, i'm director of labor policy for the mackinaw center out in michigan. you've heard from the economist, you've heard from the cpa, now you'll get to hear from the lawyer. i don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. let's do a real quick definition of what is right to work. right to work simply means a union can't get a worker fired for not paying them.
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it doesn't affect collective bargaining in any other way. workers unions can still negotiate with their employer over wages, hours, working conditions. anything they could negotiate over before right to work, they can negotiate over after right to work. they simply can't say you have to pay us or you're going to lose your job. let me tell you what was going on in michigan from 2000 to 2010, give or take. it was michigan's lost decade. we had some of the highest unemployment in the country. we lost over 86,000 payroll jobs during that period. our wages were falling. between 2001 and 2012, wages in michigan fell by almost $2500 a year, inflation adjusted. the rest of the country, wages
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went up by almost 3,000. we were losing population. there is a saying in michigan, last one in michigan, turn out the lights. and some people really took that to heart. i moved in 2012, right as the unions were putting a balance on the measure on the november 2012 balance on the to amend the constitution to allow union collective bargaining agreements, government collective union bargaining agreements to have an effective veto over legislation. they were going to give government collective bargaining agreements the power of the constitution. and civics 101, you have a constitutional amendment, and then you have a piece of legislation which wins. the constitutional amendment. so it's against this backdrop that i moved. and i was an optimist, i knew michigan would be coming back. part of me was, i'm moving, i'm taking this new job, i'm moving my soon-to-be wife here, i'm
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buying a home, i hope this stuff works out, especially with this proposal. well, it did. voters took one look at that and it went down by 15 points. they said no. that eventually led to the conversation on right to work. and in december 2012, michigan, the state with the fifth highest union membership rate, the birthplace of the uaw, long considered a labor stronghold, finally gave workers the freedom to choose. and the effect was felt almost immediately. the next month, the senator was talking about site selectors. site selection magazine published, there should be a significant increase in the number of projects michigan receives because they are no longer being eliminated in the early stages of searches. now, we've heard about right to work and population growth. you have high population growth in the right to work states, you have higher wage growth, you
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have lower unemployment, more jobs. at its core, right to work is about freedom. and when job creators and workers look at states, the first thing they look at is does the state have a right to work law or not. if the state has a horrible regulatory business environment, if they have incredibly high taxes, chances are jobs probably aren't going there. but if they have a competitive tax climate, if they have competitive regulatory environment, then jobs are going to be attracted. the problem is without a right to work law, without that check box, most site selectors won't even look past do you have worker freedom or not. so what happened? michigan, unemployment went down, led the nation by almost 10 points, since june 2009. we're now at 5.3%.
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unfortunately wisconsin is still beating us. but we have a lot to offer. the next closest to us was the right to work state of indiana which had a six-point drop. in may alone, michigan added 6,000 manufacturing jobs. and up until that point it was almost 13,000 for the year. indiana, our right to work neighbor, added 2,000 that month, 5,000 for the year. you can contrast that with, you know what, i will go ahead and say, forced unionism. the forced unionism state of illinois, which lost 2,000 in the same month. right to work states are gaining these jobs, forced unionism states are losing. remember i told you i was just a little nervous about buying a home, relocating my life to michigan.
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that gamble paid off. right now michigan home values have grown the seventh highest in the country in the last five years. i'll tell you from personal experience, my home value has sky rocketed since i bought it in 2012. things are going well in michigan. wages. wages are going up. from march 2013, when the right to work law took effect, until early 2015, michigan earnings have gone up by 5.4%. compare that to the national average at 3.7. oklahoma, which passed right to work earlier, in the 2000s, the year right to work went into effect, before, $539 was the average pay per week. by the end of 2002, after right to work, it went up to $551. in 2012, it was $801.
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in indiana, before right to work, average weekly wages was $724. by the end of 2012, after they passed right to work, average wages were $793. so much for right to work lowering wages or right to work for less. so we've heard where they got it. the senator was talking about starbucks. i grew up in new york city. do you know how much rent is for an average apartment in new york city? it's about $3400 a month. you can get a shoebox apartment, not even a one-bedroom, a studio apartment costs you $2,000 a month rent in new york city. you get a decent house in alabama, the mortgage on average, the right to work state of alabama, $800 a month. starts to put things in perspective of why those workers in new york are getting paid
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more. the dollar does not nearly go as far. well, james's nemesis, epi, just released their 2015 family budget calculator. and they went through, and according to their calculations, went through several metropolitan areas, and estimated how much a typical family would need to spend on rent, food, the bare basics. all ten of their most expensive cities are in forced unionism states. this is the group saying, well, workers aren't making more in right to work states. their own data is showing them that when you calculate it correctly, and that's because the costs are more. when you factor in that cost of living, workers in right to work states are making about 4% more. and the final thing that happens in right to work states, which
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makes the unions i'll say pause when they hear this, is that right to work can actually make unions stronger. right to work means that unions can't take their own membership for granted. they can't force them to pay, so they actually have to prove their worth to their membership. they have to compete. we know that competition can make you stronger. last year, the right to work state of indiana tied for the number one state of adding new union members. last year they added 50,000 new union members. michigan lost some, and the forced unionism states actually beat the right to work states last year in new union members. you go back a couple of years and you see that it goes back and forth. some years, right to work states actually outpace n non-right-to-work states or
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forced unionism states as far as new union members. i can spout numbers at you. i don't want you to take my word for it. i want to read you a couple of quotes. this is something i never understood, that people think right to work hurts unions. to me it helps them. you don't have to belong if you don't want to. so figure to an organizing drive, i can tell these workers, if i don't like this arrangement, you don't have to belong, versus, if we get 50% of you, then all of you have to belong whether you like it or not. i don't even like the way that sounds. anybody know who said that? gary cassteal, uaw's current secretary-treasurer. in michigan, the aflcio president, after right to work passed, said we don't know what to expect, what we can continue to do is explain to our members why membership is of value. same thing. same sentiment from the
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membership director of the state's largest union, the mea, the teachers union, how we had to increase our efforts on that, he's talking about communicating with his members but why they should support his union. sure we have, and we're stronger because of it. now, i would like to say that they're taking these sentiments to heart. i think some are, some aren't. we have run into a few speed bumps with worker freedom in michigan. the first of which of that t-- first of which was, during the period before the law went into effect, unions were able to extend contracts up to ten years, a decade of forced unionism, because the right to work law did not affect current contracts. they also established windows or said that workers could only exercise the right to work rights during certain times of
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year. for the teachers' union, it's the month of august which we just passed. and the one that sprang up on us this year that kind of boggles the mind, is we had the teachers' union again used to accept resignations in their mailbox. now they say they will no longer be accepting resignations and will now only accept it to a new mailbox. not coincidentally, the mailbox was mailbox 51, p.o. box 51 at the local office, which you can make allusions to area 51 all you want. so this is what we're seeing. but at the end of the day, even as the unions try whatever they can to get around the right to work law, we are seeing more jobs in michigan.
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we are seeing higher home values. we are seeing more population growth. and i will tell you that the attitude in the wolverine state is optimistic. we are optimistic about the future. and it's due in large part to our worker freedom. so thank you very much. [ applause ] >> we've got some time for questions. was there someone with the microphone? if you'll stand up and state your name and affiliation. >> my name is connor wolf. i'm a reporter at the daily news foundation. my question is with regards to the affirmation of all the right to work states. upon passing a right to work law, do we see wages change in that case, compared to where wages were before the right to work law was passed? could this be a control for future reports? >> it's the kind of thing that both the folks on the left and myself on the right and academic
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economists as well basically say that we expect the effect to basically take many years to play itself out. the way you would expect right to work to affect wages, on the upside, by attracting new businesses and putting upward demand for labor. alabama has more auto manufacturing plants with pretty good wages precisely because of the right to work law. but they didn't all move there as soon as the right to work law was passed, i think in alabama's case in the '40s. the union's argument is it puts downward pressure. in both cases this is something that's going to take place over a number of years. i was quite surprised to see the results out of bowling green. it's something at a statewide level that you would expect to play its out over a number of years. what the epi studies, what i did, was basically took indiana and michigan out of the data sets after the right to work law was padding, saying let's wait a
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few -- was passed, saying let's wait a few numbers. in a couple of years, you'll be able to take a look. it's not something that you would expect to have effect the next month or two months later. >> connor, i can send you some of the numbers that we ran as far as the michigan earnings growth and also some of the average weekly earnings for oklahoma and indiana. unfortunately we haven't done wisconsin yet because it is pretty new. yeah, we are seeing increases wages. we compared that to national averages. like i said, michigan is outpacing the national average for wage growth. they can go back and forth, but at the end of the day, when you looked at it, the tag line of workers will make less after right to work law is passed is simply untrue, just by looking at the last several right to work states after they passed the law.
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[ inaudible question ] >> it has been stated or i've heard, i think even once here, that a lot of large corporations, fortune 500 companies, are very lukewarm to right to work laws because they would rather negotiate with one union than with 10,000 or 20,000 employees, and that they see right to work laws as disruptive of labor and therefore are very unhelpful in getting these laws enacted in other states. is that a correct statement of fact, or is that myth? >> right to work wouldn't have any effect on the number of unions they're negotiating with. the only thing right to work affects is whether or not you're forced to pay dues. the size of the bargaining unit, whether or not you have to bargain, that's an entirely different question. i think it may be more of an issue, to the extent that you're
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correct on that, i'm not active in the lobbying campaigns, but it may be that right to work puts more pressure on the unions to deliver for their members. without right to work, basically it's a captive audience they can tax, raise the dues. uaw recently hiked their dues 25%. if you're in ohio, pennsylvania, many of these other states, basically if you aren't willing to switch jobs, they can raise your dues and you have to pay up. and they don't have a lot of pressure to deliver high quality services. i mean, in theory, union officers are elected, but they're so heavily slanted toward the incumbent states, in many the presidency is inherited from father to son, not like what we would call a democratic
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election. it may be the option of exit, where the workers can decide, if they're not seeing value, they can go elsewhere, that the unions feel more pressure to actually deliver something at the negotiating table. >> it's interesting you brought that up. we did not hear that. we had some larger corporations who are unionized. they did come to us, and they said publicly, we have to be careful here because we have our workforce, and obviously the union workforce is not in favor of right to work because of what they're told from the union bosses, it's going to decimate them. the reality was, they said, just so you know, we can't come out publicly to back this, but we think this will be good for us as a company and for our workers. that's what we heard from the large corporations. >> i'm from voice of america.
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my question is that how does the right to work law affect government employee unions, since government employee unions is now the majority of the union membership? >> sure. a typical right to work law, and wisconsin was a little bit different so i won't talk about act 10, i can let the senator speak to that much more authoritatively, but a typical right to work law for government employees, government employee unions, is the exact same as a typical right to work law for the private sector. it simply says that a union can't get a worker fired. whether it's private sector or public sector, a union can't go in and say, this person has to pay us or they lose their job. that's all right to work does, in both public and private. government workers, depending on the civil service laws or anything ancillary, can still negotiate over wages, hours, and working conditions, same as in the private sector. as far as a difference, for a
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typical right to work law, are really is none. >> now, the effect i found in my study was there were different wage effects for the government and in the private sector. i think the reason might be, the government unions are intensely political organizations. they can do something the private unions can't do. they can elect their on boss. in the private sector you have to deal with whoever your manager is. but the unions can control both sides of the negotiating table. instead of trying to get efficient services at lower cost, the politicians may be more interested in paying off someone who is a major contributor into their campaign, not necessarily in dollars but in terms of boots on the ground, activism, get out the vote and the like. if you look at the -- the department of labor puts online a lot of unions are required to file these financial disclosure forms. and the typical private sector union will spend somewhere between 5 and 15% of their
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overall budget on politics and lobbying. but if you look at the government unions, a lot of these government unions, at least those subject to these reports, are spending a quarter to a third of their budgets on politics and lobbying. if you look at the service employees international union, the teachers' unions, a huge portion of their budget goes to these politics and lobbying sectors, because it gives you something the private unions can't get. they can directly negotiate and get a sweetheart contract. right to work laws, to the extent they reduce union dues, and there appears to be pretty good evidence that a number of workers won't pay dues if they have a choice, right to work laws make it more difficult for them to put their political allies in office and get these sweet what are t sweetheart contracts. there's about 3 to 5% lower wages in the government sector. in the private sector, there's
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nothing, just nothing. the numbers were basically negative .1% to .5%. none of them statistical sittly significant. and i think we have time for one more question. or not. thank you, everyone, for coming. [ applause ] join us this afternoon when u.s. cybercommand commander, admirable michael rogers, will talk about cybersecurity threats to the nation.
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he will testify before the senate intelligence committee. watch it live here on c-span 3 at 2:30 eastern time. after addressing a joint meeting of congress earlier today, the pope spoke to thousands of people gathered on the south lawn of the u.s. capitol. this picture from the senate press gallery on twitter. minority leader nancy pelosi released a statement after the speech to congress that reads in part, "pope francis spoke to the better angels of our nature and of the american people. he reminded us of our sacred and inescapable responsibility to those struggling to escape poverty, persecution, and war. he challenged us to rescue our planet from the climate crisis that threatens the future of our children and the health of god's creation." when you look at the role that the supreme court is playing in our society now, our history series have to have relevance. so as we that you be what can we do to give relevance to our
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current programming, a series on the court made all the sense in the world. >> the court is an equal branch of government. it's the third branch of government. it still has fundamental impact on americans' lives. >> inside this elegant building is a courtroom where cases are heard and decisions are made that impact all of our lives. there are so many incredibly interesting cases in the court's history. we've all heard about rowe versus wade. for so many people they're just names in a textbook. what we want to do is talk about not only the legal side of the cases but the people involved in these cases. they're human beings who felt so passionately that they were being wronged or their rights abridged that they brought their cases to the the court. >> i think what people will find most fascinating about these cases are the personal stories. one of my personal favorites is
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matt versus ohio, and the story of dollree mapp. when people hear the personal story of this woman in this situation, they will fall in love with these cases, they will feel passionate about what happens in the courts and why they matter and why you should care. >> picking the 12 cases was a really difficult and arduous task. it was a fun task because we learned a lot. but those 12 cases represent really our evolving understanding of rights in america. when you take a look from dred scott to the koramatsu case through miranda, you learn about evolving rights in america. >> landmark cases,ic. supreme court decisions, produced in cooperation with the national constitution center, delving into 12 supreme court cases that significantly influenced our nation's story and our evolving understanding of rights in america, live
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beginning on october 5th on c-span and c-span 3. as a companion to our new series, "landmark cases," the book, with an a brief introduction into the ground and highlights of each case, written by tony morrow, published by c-span, if cooperation with congressional quarterly pace, an imprint of sage publications incorporated. "landmark cases" is available for $8.95 plus shipping and handling. get your copy at c-span.org. next, interior secretary jaily jewell answers reporters' questions on a variety of environment and natural resources issues. topics include the renaming of mount mckinley, the highest peak in north america, the obama administration's policy on coal, and the future of climate change policies in the u.s. we'll show you as much of this as we can until the white house
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briefing gets underway, which is now scheduled for 1:00 p.m. eastern time. here we go, folks. i'm dave cook from the christian science monitor. our guest today is interior secretary sally jewell. this is her first visit with our group. we appreciate very much her making time in her schedule for this. our guest was born in london, grew up in washington state, and earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the university
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of washington. right after graduation, she and her husband warren, a fellow engineer, started their career at mobil oil, then moved to commercial banking. she joined the board of rei in 1996, became chief operating officer in 2000, and was named ceo in 2005. during her tenure at the company, rei tripled in size. she was sworn in as the 51st interior secretary in april of 2013, and thus ended the biographical portion of the program. now on to breakfast mechanics. as always, we're on the record here. please, no live blogging or tweeting. in short, no filing of any kind while the breakfast is underway, to actually give us time to listen to what our guest has to say. there's no embargo when the session ends promptly at 10. we will e-mail several pictures of the session to all the reporters here as soon as the
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breakfast ends. as regular attendees know, if you would like to ask a question, please do the traditional thing and send me a subtle, nonthreatening signal, and i'll happily call on one and all in the time we have available. we'll start off by offering our guest the opportunity to make some opening comments, then go to questions around the table. thanks for doing this, ma'am, we appreciate it. >> thank you, dave. it's nice to be here and see some familiar faces and meet unfamiliar faces. i'll keep my remarks very informal and hopefully short so that we can get to what you would like to talk about, which is what this is all about. i just want to say that today is september 15th, that is slightly more than two weeks away from the end of the fiscal year, september 30th, 2015, which has meaning for the department of interior and the whole government in a number of different capacities. so let me kind of walk through why september 15th and that two
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weeks away from september 30th is so important to us and i think should be so important to you. first, we inherited a number of pending lawsuits around the endangered species act when the obama administration took office. a number of species had been petitioned for listing under the endangered species act, and essentially very little work had been done on those. so my predecessors entered into a settlement which put a date certain on when the fish and wildlife service would determine whether a listing decision was warranted. a number of those had deadlines that had bee coming up over the course of time. one of the major ones that is coming up on september 30th is for the greater sage grass. that is one reason we're 15 days away from a very, very important
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milestone in our history. and i'll talk a little bit about that to begin with. i want to pause and say another specie that was a candidate for listing was the new england cotton tail rabbit. just at the end of last week, i was in new england, new hampshire specifically, to announce that the fish and wildlife service had determined that a listing of that specie was not warranted. because of collaboration of all the new england states, it is endangered on some state registers, and they have been working collectively for a number of years to reclaim habitat that was critical cal for that critter. the event took place on the lands of rick and donna ambrose. he's in the construction business, but they've got 57 acres. and he said he knew nothing about the new england cottontail, but he learned about
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habitats which are a successional forests, which means forests where the canopy has been opened up, crab apples, apple trees, fruit trees, and low lying ground brush. and that's the kind of habitat that the rabbits need to thrive. i spoke with him. we were on his property for this event. another landowner, actually a banker that retired to a hundred acres and knew nothing about habitat, clear-cut, which he said he wasn't otherwise inclined to do, and planted some of this successional growth forest. and it's those kinds of actions that have saved this particular specie, the new england cottontail, from extinction. the new england cotton jnchts ta -- cottontail, like the sage grouse, is an indicator. rick ambrose told me he has
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never seen so many birds and critters on his property since the time he moved there in 1990. that's a preview of the epic collaboration happening across 11 states. 60 million acres of sage grouse habitat on public acres aalone. i think it's about 165 acres that has been winnowed away and threatened by a variety of sources over the course of many decades. so on or before september 30th, 15 days away, the fish and wildlife service will make a determination on whether the greater sage grass should be listed under the endangered species act or whether a listing is not warneranted. i will say that seven coresta s core states in particular, the effort on behalf of states, private landowners, nonprofit
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organizations, energy companies, developers, transmission companies, grazers, ranchers, cattlemen, has been incredible. so i will remain optimistic and hopeful that we can have a similar outcome but we are all waiting for the fish and wildlife service to make their determination. that will happen before the end of this month. second, i want to talk about good legislation. legislation that has lasted the test of time. and that is the brilliant piece of legislation called the lanham water conservation fund, put in place by a visionary congress, almost unanimously, in 1984, that said as we open up the continental shelf, waters that are owned by all americans, there's t let's take a small amount of revenue and use that in a broad sense to offset that impact by investing it in public lands and
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waters onshore. that program has invested in states and public lands across every single state in nearly every single county, something like 98% of the counties. 42,000 different projects. things that people care about in every community across the country. and i've been to many of them, including a community with senator shaheen in new hampshire who is doing a connector on a green way project. in a place like that, they've got greenway connectors in pocket parks, they've got the white mountains national forest. all of these are beneficiaries of this pam. the program expires, the 50-year authorization, it expires 15 days from now if congress doesn't act. i want to acknowledge that the senate energy and natural resources committee, under the
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leadership of senators murkowski and cantwell, added a permanent reauthorization of the land and water conservation fund to a bill, an energy bill that passed their committee that has not yet had action on the senate floor. so i appreciate that. the president's budget calls for full mandatory funding at $900 million. it was a much higher proportion, as you might imagine, of offshore oil and gas revenues in 1964 than it is today, yet the number hasn't gone up. congress has appropriated less than half of that $900 million a year. so that is the second reason why we are 15 days away from a very important decision. and we were urging congress at every level, and this is bipartisan, senator burr from north carolina and i have been hiking together on the appalachian trail at a critical point where the trail could have houses right up to the edge of it on a connector piece between
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an exist state park and the appalachian trail. so senator burr, using that as an example and a backdrop, made a very powerful statement in favor of the land and water conservation fund. that was quite a while ago. and there's still no action that has been taken, which is frustrating. of course we are also 15 days away from our budget running out. very, very frustrating, as a businessperson, now two years into this job. my first year was a sequestration implementation year. and immediately following that was the government shutdown. i can't tell you how ridiculous it is to try and run an organization with 70,000 people who are very, very committed to their missions, which are of great importance to the american people, to have to work with them on shutdown planning right now because congress has not acted on a budget. very, very frustrating. obviously we are hopeful that a
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shutdown will not happen. and i think that that would be consistent with how pretty much everybody on capitol hill is feeling. but it is very frustrating to not have any certainty at all about whether the programs that you have in place will continue and whether the people that you have that are dedicated to this work at every level will be able to do the investments that they know are necessary to fulfill the mission that the american people have given them. so that's another reason. it's a bit frustrating. >> i'm going to play timekeeper. >> am i over? i'm way over. i said i was going to be short. i'm going to end just by saying one of the critical parts of the president's budget is the national parks centennial. 2016, the 100th anniversary of the national park service. >> let me pick up on that and ask you about the national parks. i was at an event where i heard the national park service director, jarvis, talk about some staggering figure, if i weren't an old man i could remember what the figure was,
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for your backlog in terms of the national parks. in 2014 there were 292.8 million visits. what do you know so far about why 2015 stands for the parks, how bad is the backlog? >> the backlog is bad. the park service alone, we estimate the backlog to be in excess of $11 billion. about half of that is in road infrastructure. so the highway bill and the ability to fund our roads, oftentimes, which comes from this transportation package, very important to the national parks. the other half is the infrastructure, the historic structures, the facilities that people rely on. as we approach the centennial, we will have more visitation from around the world. we want to drive tourism, both internal to the u.s. and around the world. and i have had conversations with director jarvis about the kind of experience people are going to have, because we have not made the investments in the
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people or the facilities needed to really put our best foot forward. >> one last one from me. i want to ask you about fires. your department runs the national interagency fire center. can you give us an update on what you've learned from the fires, the ones currently raging in northern california and others this year? how does it affect your department's budget? have we learned anything in terms of -- i know you've talked about wanting to ask congress to change how they fund firefighting. what can you tell us on the fire situation? >> it's very obvious right now to everybody watching the news that fire is capricious. you have really bad fire years, which we're having right now. you have fire years that are more benign. and you can't put in place a budget that effectively anticipates what kind of a year it's going to be. so there has been more than just talk. there's actually been bills on the floor to do this. the president's budget every
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year that i've been here has had a fire fix in it. and it's relatively simple. it says that let's budget for what we're pretty sure year in, year out, is going to be a level of fire suppression. and we calculate that by looking at our historical record, saying that 1% of the most catastrophic fires absorb 30% of the budget. so let's take that 1% and call them the disasters that they are. what you see happening in california, in my home state of washington, and i was just there on the fire line, on the colville indian reservation, which is losing a massive amount of its future income in timber that's gone up in smoke, let's take that 1% of catastrophic wildfires and call them the disasters they are and put them under the disaster cap, which is where hurricanes and earthquakes
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and tornadoes are funded. that is the disaster fund that has been authorized where the country goes when we have a catastrophe. not a catastrophe of the making of hurricane sandy, which had its own appropriations of $60 billion, but of the year-in, year-out kind of unpredictable disasters that happen like wildfires. take that 1% out, budget us in our regular budget for 70% of our ten-year average of suppression, and year-in, year-out, some years that's going to be fine. but bad years like this, we're going to go to the disaster cap, as opposed to what we're doing now, this year, which is going to the budget that reduce the risk of fire, going to do budgets that do burned area rehabilitation, so we don't end up, which we will this year, i'm sorry, rain events, flooding, damage of infrastructure, like our water systems, like our dams, like our roads, which will
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happen if we aren't stabilizing those hill sides and that top soil and silt is allowed to run downhill. so right now we are taking of f excuse me, taking money out of fire prevention, taking money out of burned area rehabilitation, taking money out of the kinds of programs that enable us to bank seeds, to replant native habitat, to go into suppression. and i will say that while the department of interior is a major player in this, the forest service a bigger play. fires this year are 52% of the entire budget of the u.s. forest service. this is the first year ever they've gone over the 50% mark and they are dipping heavily into their fire prevention account accounts this year as we speak. so taken collectively it's crazy the way we fund this. is senator wyden, senator crapo,
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congressman simpson, congressman slade schrader, their companion bills are similar in the house and senate. we have to have action by congress and if the image wes see on tv aren't enough, i don't know what is. >> okay, we're going to go to paul bedard, tommy bird, david and greg to start. kate? >>. [ inaudible question ] >> public lands, a lot of that happens under your agency. there's push back on the arctic drilling, more on atlantic coast drilling. basically pointing out this is in conflict with the administration's statements on climate change. where would you say the administration is in terms of balancing the climate concerns and fossil fuel development and how do you see that fitting under your tenure as interior
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secretary? >> i will say this, we are a nation that continues to be dependent on fossil fuels and the president in his climate action plan has said very clearly that we need to a move to a lower carbon future and i'm proud to work for a gnat has been direct and forceful in his messages as president barack obama. his climate action plan speech in june of 2013 was a call to action to do things within our power to reduce our carbon foot flint this country. we're well on our way to doing that with dramatic goals that have -- we continue to raise the bar. so that is an issue of reducing
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demand and providing other sources of energy to power our economy. but right now we are sitting under lights that are most likely powered by coal in the east. i can't imagine maybe some of you walked here but most of you probably burned fossil fuels in one way or another to get here. there are millions of jobs around the country that are dependent on these industries and you can't just cut it off overnight and expect to have an economy that is, in fact, the leader of the world. i take my job seriously which is thoughtful development, safe and responsible development on public lands, thoughtful regulations that need to be updated in some cases from some that are 30 and 40 years old but i think it is -- oversimplifies a complex situation to suggest that one could simply cut off leasing or drilling on public lands and solve the issue of
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climate change. we have the responsibility to act and there are things that we are doing and will continue to do to reduce the carbon footprint and put incentives in place for all of us to do a better job at how we use carbon than we have in the past. >> art from bloomberg. >> one of the things that's been talking about is the coal leasing program. there are listening sessions going on right now. what are you thinking in terms of what interior can do to take climate into effect. is it reducing the overall amount? charging higher fees? what's your initial think ining? >> well, there's multiple issues in play. we had our own inspector general report and one from the government accountability office that suggested that the taxpayers weren't getting a fair return on the coal that was being leased from federal public lands. so we have an evaluation under way right now with the office of
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natural resources revenue to look at that. for example, to make sure that there are -- royalties are being paid on arms-length transaction rather than non-arms length transactions. so that's one step. there are many communities dependent on coal and there are -- like this one, for example, in terms of power generation. there are also impacts that in the impact of mining, the impact on carbon as it is burned that we believe need to be highlighted and understood. so the listening session which is we've had around the country get at just that. it's bringing stakeholders to the table. many of the listening sessions we've held have been in coal country where people's jobs are affected but people's
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environments have been impacted by coal mining and we've heard in these sessions a variety of different opinions of where people are coming from. so i think it's important that we listen. we know that coal is a significant carbon emitter within this country, the new power plant rules promulgated by the epa are an effort to work with states to reduce the carbon emissions. i think you need to pull up and make sure that across the landscape how carbon is accounted for is fair and is thoughtfully treated and that's what these listening sessions are all about. >> manuel from greenwire. >> following up on that same question. some people during the listening sessions suggested some way of charging companies for climate and other costs of coal leasing and minding. is that foreseen by the interior department at this point? >> we really are in listening
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mode right now. i think some of the things we've seen from people in coal country is if we're getting hit at the power plant with the power plant rules and if we're hit at the mine site itself or the sale of coal, when does this stop and what is reasonable? so i think you need to take all of these things into account. and frankly the administration is doing the best we can to put the kinds of incentives in place for thoughtful -- more thoughtful use of carbon or reduced use of carbon but we need congress to take some action and i think that there has been talk about a cost on carbon. that's not something the administration can do. that's something that the congress would need to take up but i have spoke within a number of energy companies that don't think that's a bad idea, either. so right now we're working with the hand that we're dealt but it would be helpful to have a partnership with congress on
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getting to a reasonable point that people agree will drive the right kinds of incentives and behaviors to reduce the carbon pollution we are experiencing right now. >> jennifer louie from hearst. >> the senate energy committee passed legislation that would give the interior secretary the authority to extend arctic drilling up to ten years. what do you think of that idea and more generally when it comes to ultra deep water or arctic drilling where the technology for safe drilling may not be available today, does the interiinte interdepartmeinte interyour department have the authority to extend leases? >> i'm not familiar with all the ins and outs so i can't comment specifically on that. we do have the ability to extend leases. we have the ability to choose not to lease, we have a process thoughtful five year planning
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process that is under way for the 2017 to 2022 period where we put a draft on the table, we have a draft for that period on the table now, we take input and make decisions based on is what the final plan will be and that will say which areas could get leased and which areas will be off the table for the five year period. the length of the leases is something that we have the ability to adjust. so there have been requests made to make the leases longer in a place like the arctic because the drilling season is much shorter. in the gulf of mexico you can drill year round. clearly that's not the case in the arctic. hour job really is to make sure that whatever is done is done with abundant safety precautions where people can be reassured that the environment is protected and the impact of those activities are largely
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mitigated so we will be paying close attention to what happens in the senate energy committee. we're going to be paying close attention to the input we receive on the draft proposed plan, the five-year plan and working on what an appropriate course of action is in the future. >> on the offshore lees, you had a recent sale in the gulf of mexico that had relatively limit ed interest. are low oil prices, low bas prices sort of dampening the call from the offshore industry for additional leasing for more offshore production? >> well, given the results of our most recent sale in the western gulf of mexico, that is a reasonable conclusion to draw. you've got oil companies that v experienced significant drops in their revenues as a person person and a person that used
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knob the industry you obviously look at how much money you have available and where to spend your resources and when the money you have available drops a substantial amount you are pickier about where you make those investments and i suspect that is what has happened in the western gulf and i sthapt that will influence some of the feedback we receive on the areas that people are interested in pursuing in this draft five-year plan versus not interested in pursuing. oil prices, gas prices have a significant impact on that. >> paul bed dprard tard from th washington examiner. >> your expectation is that maybe it's going to be a listed of unwarranting and if that happens do you think you'll be able to win congressional support for the blm plants anded is there anything new on cecil the lion. >> sorry, what was the last start. >> cecil the lion.
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>> [ laughter ] okay, the decision rests with the fish and wildlife service. i remain optimistic that a not-warranted listing is possible. but i have stayed come letly m arm's length from them in terms of that decision. i will say there have been all kinds of riders on various bills working their way through congress that deal with critters, most particularly the greater sage grouse. has has happened in this collaborative work is really the way i think the endangered species act should work which is people recognizing that it's about hat at the. and if we work together and collaborate we can find common ground that will protect these landscapes for the things that the residents of the landscapes, the visitors to the landscapes,
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the hunters and fishermen enjoy as well as having thoughtful development of whether it's energy, human expansion, roads, transmission lines, mine, all of the above are impactful. i do believe that there will be support for the blm to do its work and support for the fish and wildlife service to do its work. if we are able to actually get a budget out of congress. the discussions that took place in the house and the senate on both sides of the aisle generally showed support for the kinds of land management requests that we had relating to the greater sage grouse. so i think there is an understanding that with 60 million acres on public lands and a relatively limited budget we have to do the job that people expect us to do and one of the key things to tie it back to the fire question, cheat grass is an invasive species
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from asia. it is -- it will take off after a fire and basically repopulate otherwise mature sagebrush landscape with cheat grass and it will exacerbate that fire cycle. to replace cheat grass with native bunch grasses requires a lot of work. a lot of native seeds, a lot of effort on planting. these are things that western states, elected officials no matter what party want to see happen. so i believe we will have the kind of support we need in our plans, in our budgets if we get the budgets passed. with regard to cecil the lion. it's a very, very complicated issue. i think in that case the country, zimbabwe, is not a place where the fish and wildlife service has approved of the importation of trophies
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from -- i don't know specifically about lions but certainly rhinos and elephants because it's not a country that has demonstrated that the funding that a hunter might use to invest in a hunt there will go to conservation there's just two count these the fish and wild life service will allow import because they have a demonstrated track record of investing in conservation. it's obviously a very emotional issue, a very difficult issue, i think the incident around the famous lion reps raise everybody's awareness about the challenge of species of wildlife trafficking and that has been our primary area of focus is how do we reduce the illegal trade of poached species, particularly african elephants and rhinos,
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pangolin, a species you may not have heard of, but is in real trouble. there's a silver lining to the situation with the lion. it's actually raised awareness of these issues and given us a platform to make the case for wildlife trafficking in general. >> salt lake tribune? >> as you know, the utah governor and the sell negotiation have sent a letter to you and the president begging there's no national monuments named in the state of utah. my question is whether the president will after if the public lands initiative does not happen. and secondly 15 days away from a shutdown, is there any agreement with the states -- western states, other state, to keep parks open if there is a government shutdown as we saw a couple years ago? there were states that acted to help keep them hope. is there anything in place to keep them open?
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>> so for those of you that aren't aware, there is a very comprehensive everyday going on by a couple of congressmen in utah, rob bishop who chairs house natural resources committee and jason chaffetz whose district a lot of really spectacular landscapes exist. we have a lot of people in are interested in some of those landscapes being preserved. i've heard from a number of tribal communities who don't often times agree on things and they are united in agreeing that there are lands in southern utah that warrant protection and those are lands that congressman bishop and chaffetz are working to protect in some ways. i haven't seen the public lands initiative in any detail. i've seen a very small map that does an overlay thing so i
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appreciate the fact that they've worked closely with local communities, making sure they are working closely with tribal communities will be essential. there's certainly an effort on their part to push this through and that's what we are working with them on at this point in time so i'm not going to suggest that there's any kind of firm plan if their plan doesn't work. we need to see a plan. we need to react to that and we look forward to seeing it at their earliest convenience because i know a lot of work has been done on that. as you know, in the southern part of your state, there are some amazing cultural resources and nachd ral resources that right now have little or no protection. >> if there is a government shutdown, is there anything in place? >> well, we profoundly hope there is no government shutdown. and that is the basis on which we're operating, we have to do
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shutdown planning. we're getting pretty good at that, unfortunately. i do not believe there will be a shutdown and i haven't put anything in place that addresses that if there is other than two years ago i did work with a number of governors who recognized that national parks and public lands were critical to their economies and the economies of a number of their communities and should there be another shutdown, that situation will not change. we had 15 weddings on the national mall that had to be canceled. we had a bride that spent $20,000 on a wedding in shenandoah national park that had to be canceled. but these are things the governors get called about. they don't see the hidden catastrophe of a shutdown in terms of losing, for example, a year's worth of scientific data because there is a three-week-long gab in that
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data. they lose the ability to make sure our satellite data is well interpreted for things that people rely on like google earth. so there are many, many things that aren't as visible as national parks impacted by a shutdown and i would say it's very, very important that congress not go down that path again. if they do certainly the national parks will be visible but there's so much more than is not visible in these shutdowns that they need to pay attention to that i just hope we don't get there again. >> you spoke a lot about president obama's efforts to address climate change. we have blm now trying to come up with a rule to prevent flaring and venting on public lands. will the president -- assuming he goes to the u.n. climate talks in paris, will he be able to take a new blm rule with him when he goes there?
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>> we will not have a final rule by december, there's no way. we are working hard on releasing rules on venting and flaring of methane. blake, have we put a draft rule out yet? >> it should be going over soon. >> okay, so we are in the process -- the process of rule making is cumbersome and probably should be. you don't want this to be easy or without input or without thought. our team is finalizing a rule. it will go to omb through oira. they will review it when it comes out from that there will be a public comment period. once that public comment period closes if it's not extended then we can do a final rule so definitely not between now and the paris talks. but i will say that it's crazy to vent natural gas into the
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atmosphere when natural gas is a fuel that can predeuoduce electricity at a much lower carbon footprint at other sources like coal. it's economical in some cases for some companies to flare or vent natural gas, typically flaring, meaning burning it at the well head, because their target is oil. that's not okay. there will be emergency situations where you have to shut in a rig, you have to vent the gas from a pressure standpoint or you have to plaer it. but there is no reason that we shouldn't be looking at capturing that valuable public resource, getting a royalty on that resource and using in the a more productive way than just either blowing it up into the atmosphere or burning it. so those are the things our rule will address, the epa is also addressing a new source performance standards for new well activities venting their
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flaring. so we are working on those. that's been a transparent process, we'll continue to be transparent but we won't have it finalized? >> greg court from "usa today" on the other end of the table. >> you mentioned a couple of anniversaries happening in interior this year, one of them is actually this week, the board of geographic names is celebrating its 125th anniversary. two weeks ago you intervened and ordered that mount mckinley be renamed denali which was celebrated by a lot of alaskan native group bus there's also a number of other naming controversies. one is harney peak in south dakota which indian groups find offensive because it's named after a brutal general who slaughtered women and children and indians in the 19th centuries. a number of features named squaw this or negro that. and your predecessor in the johnson administration, stewart uda udall, had an 0rd in 1962 that
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ordered the blanket renaming of any feature named for another if "n" word epithet. so i'm wondering what circumstances would you consider using that power that you used a couple weeks ago to order other features to be renamed? >> i didn't realize that i had the ability in the case of denali to make that change. i will say as a climber and as a northwesterner i have always called the mountain denali as most people do from that region. the alaska state legislature in 1975 under the leadership of governor jay ham momond request that the board of geographic names change the name of mount mckinley to denali. after that time, the park service changed the name i think with the support of congress of the national park to denali park
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and preserve. but there was legislation filed by members of the ohio delegation at that time to continue the name mount mckinley and the board of geographic names has a provision is says if you -- if a name is -- there's existing legislation regarding the name then they will not act -- this is the new part -- until a reasonable period of time has passed at which point the secretary of the interior may act. i consider 40 years to actually be an unreasonable period of time. every year the ohio delegation has just put legislation out there, i don't believe it's been heard. i don't believe it's been voted on, it's just out there and the board of geographic names had not acted but i have the ability to act after a reasonable period of time. i am not aware of any other circumstances like denali where
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there is legislative support from a state and a counterproposal as was the case in the mckinley/denali situation that would trigger the secretary stepping up and saying a reasonable period of time has passed and we should look at a change. i think the board of geographic names would welcome input from local communities and elected officials on what they believe sites in their states should be named and that would be taken under consideration but in the examples that you referenced, none of them have been brought to my attention as those that would trigger potentially a secretarial action or that are under consideration by the board of geographic names. i haven't met with the board of geographic names but denali specifically was a very obvious case. >> mike doyle from mcclatchy. >> the water district on
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irrigation greenage, an issue that's very controversial. critics of the settlement call it a sweetheart deer for westlands, the largest water district in the country. have you been personally involved with this case and how do you respond to those who say it is a sweetheart deal. >> the short answer is no i have not been personally involved in the case. deputy secretary mike connor was the commissioner of the bureau of reclamation. he is a water rights expert. he knows the situation in california inside and out and so on issues relative to water i really defer to him. but i will say that we have a water catastrophe in california. i know in this morning's "washington post" we talked about a drought that hasn't been seen 235r 00 years based on tree ring records. that's consistent with the kind of data we've been looking at in the whole colorado river basin drainage and going west. so we have a lot of very, very
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difficult circumstances between agricultural users, water contractors and those who want to see appropriate flows for ongoing environmental health, whether it's the bay delta or the rivers and the salmon that depend on them. so i'm not familiar with the west land situation. mike connor is more familiar that specifically but i do know we are being very thoughtful in trying to strike a reasonable pathway recognizing that water rights typically are the purview of the states and our role generally is as a provider of water, as a seller of water working closely with the states and their interests on a reasonable path forward at a time when there's just not enough water to go around. >> amy harder from the "wall street journal." >> so as you know a judge in wyoming is going to rule soon on whether he's going to block the
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blm fracking rule. can you -- are you confident that the rule will stand legal scrutiny and why are you? and what action will you take? >> well, let me stewart the last question. the judge in wyoming has basically stayed the rule pending us providing additional information is i believe we've provided by all the additional information required and the judge is assessing that. we have stayed our rule going into effect while that legal action is pending. so that will continue, we're continuing with the old rules. the blm rules are over 30 years old. i've fracked wells before. i started my career in oil and gas. i understand the process and the rules that the blm currently has in place were the rules that were in place when i was in petroleum engineering. i'm 59 years eelold. there has been a lot of change
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that's happened in the industry technologically since that time and yet our regulations have not kept pace. you've got now directional drilling which we didn't have to any significant degree now. so you can go vertically and drill hosrizontally for two miles. you have staged fracking over a very narrow band. you have far more fluid than was ever used back in the days the rules were created and you've got a different mix of chemicals that have evolved over time are used in the process. so blm's rules modernize our fracking regulations. and you've seen a lot of controversy around trafracking, fear on the part of the communities. what communities expect of their regulat regulator, whether it's the federal government or state governments is that whatever practices are being done in their communities on their lands in their states is something that's not going to dodge their
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heal -- damage their health or their environment. that's what people respect. >> watch this event in its entirety at cspan.org. we leave you to take you live to the white house and today's briefing with fresh secretary josh earnest. >> i wanted to start with the meeting in new york with putin next week. can you give us context for what we should be expecting. does the president see it as a meeting that could result in agreements between he and putin on syria and ukraine or does he see it as an opportunity to take putin's temperature on these issues? >> julie, the -- president obama does look forward to meeting with president putin at his request, at president putin's request, next week. both presidents will be attending the u.n. . the precise date of their meeting is something we're hoping to resolve before the end of the day today. >> the russians said monday.
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>> okay. i'll let you know whether or not we can confirm that on our end. but this -- when the president sits down with president putin, the top item on his agenda will be ukraine and president obama will once again use this occasion to reinforce to president putin the importance of russia keeping the commitments they've made in the context of the minsk agreements. this is a message that president putin has heard from some of our european allies who have raised concerns with the way that combined russian separatist forces in eastern youk continuk continue to destabilize that country and they continue to receive important military support from the russian government. that is a clear violation of the territorial integrity of that sovereign nation and the impact
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of the coordinated action of the united states and our allies on russia as a result of those activities are not insignificant. they have contributed to a significant weakening of the russian economy just over the last couple years since those sanctions were put in place. the imf projects that russia's economy will contract 3% to 4% this year and will stay in a recession next year. the russian economy in 2013 was measured at one-eighth the size of the united states, the ninth-largest economy in the world. in 2015 the russian economy is just one sixteenth of the size of the u.s. economy and is now just the 15th largest economy in the world, one run below spain on the ladder. the russian central bank since the start of the crisis in eastern ukraine has lost around $150 billion in reserves and both s&p and moody's have
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downgraded russia's credit rating to junk status. so it's clear russia's international isolation and their continued refusal to abide by basic international norms, particularly when it comes to these combined russian separatist forces has taken a significant toll on their economy and this this will be at the top of the president's agenda when they sit down next week. >> despite everything you listed there, they're not changing their behavior in ukraine nor has hue pin been deterred from bringing military personnel and weaponry into syria. so as it relates to syria your public stance has been you don't know what he's doing there. when the president meets with putin privately where do we stand in terms of possible russian u.s. military cooperation in syria? >> in this regard the president's private message will be quite similar to the message that you've heard him deliver publicly which is president obama will make it clear once again that russia doubling down
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on their support for the assad regime is a losing bet. for them to do so will deepen and expand the ongoing crisis. president obama will encourage president president to consider constructive contribution to the on going counter isil effort to the more than 60 nations will be involved to degrade and ultimately destroy isil and we'd like to see the russians make a constructive contribution to that ongoing effort: these kinds of concerns about russia's stepped up military involvement in syria are not inconsistent with the concerns that i know prime minister netanyahu had the
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opportunity to raise. >> do you worry or was it considered at all that by having this meeting which seems like it will be in a much more formal way than the sideline conversations they've had over the last year or two this that weakens your argument that you are isolating putin on the world stage? >> you do raise an important point about the length of time it's been since the two leaders sat down. the president sat down to discuss the completion of the p5+1 agreement with iran and in that call the president acknowledged the constructive way russia participated in those multilateral talks. they spoke a month earlier than that in june to discuss the situation in ukraine in which the president raised some of the
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concerns i outlined and they had face to face interactions last fall. i believe both at the g-20 and aipac. but this is the first le opportunity the leaders will have had to sit down and discuss these issues. president putin requested the meeting and at this point considering the significant concerns that i've just raised it makes sense for president obama to sit down with his counterpart and see if we can get clarity to at least consider president obama's advice when it comes to reinforcing military support for the assad regime. >> you're not concerned by giving him the meeting he's requesting and the photo-op portion of it, i assume, that
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you're weakening this isolation aspect of what is supposed to be punishment for ukraine? >> not at all. and there will be -- the fact i chronicled the toll russia's d isolation has taken becauon the economy over there. but a meeting like this has potential for the united states getting greater insight into what russia's intentions are. that won't be gleaned based on one conversation but it could potentially lay the ground work for better coordination. i think that remains to be seen but at least it's a proposition worth testing. >> you've emphasized in your remarks that president putin requested the meeting. i'm wondering if in the long period of time between the two,
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president putin requested other meetings the white house had turned down? >> i probably won't chronicle the meetings that didn't occur but but in the june call that president obama placed with president putin, we note in the readout that husband that that was a call that president putin requested. so it's clear he's interested in the attention of the leader of the united states of america and given the lengthy list of concerns that we have about russia's conduct in a couple of these international hot spots, a face-to-face sit down team is appropriate at this juncture. >> there's about a week to go before a potential government shutdown and we saw the threat this morning. i'm wondering if you could update us on what efforts the white house has been making in the past day or so, if any, to avert the shutdown.
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is there something that is white house is doing to move things forward? >> well, i can't detail all of the conversations that may have taken place between the white house and capitol hill but i can confirm that there were -- there have been conversations between white house officials and members of congress on capitol hill to discuss the need to avoid a government shutdown and to ensure that the sequester is not locked in. and that there's eventual bipartisan agreement around an effort to adequately fund both our national security and economic priorities. >> and i'm wondering whether the white house is worried at all or concerned about the optics of the pope's visit overshadowing the president of cloyhina's vis tomorrow. are you worried about that having an impact on the diplomatic goals that you hope to achieve?
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>> i have not heard anybody raise that concern. i think the sense is that this is a week we have long identified as being one filled with intensive diplomacy and that includes not just welcoming the pope to the white house or hosting president xi for a state dinner but also the important work that will be done in new york early next week in the context of the united nations general assembly. it's how the president will use our international influence to advance our interests around the globe. i'm confident we'll have ample opportunity over the course of this afternoon but also tomorrow in the context of the formal visit to discuss somewhat interest the united states and china share in common and how
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talks can be productive even on those issues where they might be characterized by what you can describe as competition. chris the kristen? >> josh, thank you. keeping on president xi's visit that there is a deal coming together on cyber security. can you update us on that given the fact that they will be having dinner tonight? >> well, tonight's dinner is essentially the same kind of engagement that was plan when president obama visited china last fall. you will recall that china hosted apec, the apec conference where nations from around the asia-pacific traveled to beijing for a set of multilateral meetings. at the end of apec, president obama remained in china for another day or two to engage in a series of meetings with his counterpart and he kicked off those series of bilateral meetings with a private dinner
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that president xi hosted for him in beijing. i know outside of the glare of the klieg lights and away from the formality and pomp and circumstance to be pretty inciteful and i think president -- despite the language barrier and some obvious stylistic differences, the president found that to be a useful format for talking about issues that were important to both leaders and countries. and so the idea here is trying to reciprocate that invitation with one of his own and so the president and -- president obama and president xi will be having dinner tonight in blair house.
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there will be other senior u.s. officials there and other chinese officials there but not very many. i wouldn't anticipate a readout, but the two leaders will do a news conference tomorrow and maybe one of you will choose to ask the presidents about their private meal but our hope is that it can be a good way to begin what will be a day-long set of meetings to advance the interests of the united states. >> is the ultimate goal to get a deal in cyber security in has that happened? v we reached a deal? >> well, there's no agreement i'm prepared to talk about at this point. but we have made clear to the chinese both publicly and privately that issues related to cyber security and our concerns with china's conduct inn cyberspace will feature prominently on the agenda and
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that will start tonight at the dinner and i think that it's clear -- i've said this before -- president xi a couple of weeks ago dispatched a senior chinese official secretary mong, to travel to the united states and meet with a variety of u.s. officials including law enforcement, intelligence community and here at the white house specifically to address the concerns we've raised related to cyber security. >> and president xi made comments in seattle saying "the chinese government will not in whatever form engage in commercial theft, hacking against government networks, crimes that must be punished in accordance with the law and relevant international treaties. does the president feel like president xi is someone who he can trust and if there is any type of agreement does he trust he will stick to it? the chinese will stick to it? >> this will be a situation where we will pay particular attention to china's behavior
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and conduct. we put more stock in their actions than their words. those kinds of comments are at least consistent with what we have urged the chinese to do when it comes to their policies but it certainly is not going to eliminate the concerns that we have and it certainly is not going to reduce the priority that we place on trying to make progress on those issues in the context of the meetings coming up in the next 36 hours. in the refugee crisis, the e.u. summit seems to be devolving. is there more the united states can be and should be doing to help europe with this crisis and is there any conversation about increasing the number of syrian refugees that might be let in from the current 10,000 figure? >> at this point there is no -- well, let's go back to what we said. a couple weeks ago we made clear
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that the united states based on a decision made by the president is prepared to accept at least 10,000 refugees in the next fiscal year. that reflects a significant scaling up of our response and you've heard announcements over the course of this week from secretary kerry indicating that the overall level -- overall number of refugees that we intend to try to move through the process and bring in to the united states will increase in the next fiscal year and the one after that. >> but just in terms of the syrians, josh. right now it seems like the urgency is there. why not increase that number? >> there is a sense of urgency and that's why this week i announced the united states would be committing more than $400 million in additional humanitarian asis took place this ongoing effort. as long as we're talking about the most effective way to meet the urgent need of those syrians in such a desperate situation, beefing up that humanitarian
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response is the most effective way to meet those needs in the near term but certainly over the longer term we're going to need to see a couple things, the first is a continued commitment on the part of european nations to confront the channels that they face together and not just rely on contributions and generosity from one or two countries on the continent. but ultimately the situation will only be resolved when we can affect the kind of political transition in syria that's long overdue. >> i want to ask you about the president's morning. did he get a chance to see the pope's speech and his remarks on capitol hill and what did he think about that the? >> the president did have the opportunity to see at least part of pope francis's remarks to congress today. i didn't get to talk to him about his specific reaction but i know that he would have been struck by the kind of message
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that pope francis had to deliver not just to the leaders of this country but to the citizens of this country and pope francis made the appropriate observation, i believe, that it's important for the united states to live up to the high standard that we've set for ourselves and that was met by those who came before us. he cited the examples of people like dr. king and president lincoln for the role they played in shaping our country and the values that guide the leaders of this country. and i thought it was a powerful speech. >> reporter: let me also can ask you a bit about china. is it the white house's sense that china is helping russia economically and in doing so blunting any potential punishment, for example, economically? you listed the number of ways that the u.s. economically has been able to sort of sanction the russians for their
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misbehavior in places like ukraine but it seems like china may be girding them up a bit. is that your sense? if so, what does that say about china's respect for our wishes and the wishes for many in the international community that the russians be punished for what they've done in ukraine? >> i'm no expert on relations between russia and china. i made note that there was an energy contract between russia and china that would have yielded a significant economic benefit for russia, but that was canceled. so to the extent that there's cooperation that's ongoing it doesn't seem to have been flawless and to the extent that there may have been efforts by the chinese to strengthen the russian economy, based on the statistics i read earlier, it doesn't appear their efforts were successful. the fact is russia is isolated and their economy has taken a hit as a result of it and as julie pointed out, rightly, and we've admitted this on previous
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occasions, it's not resulted in the kind of change of behavior we would like to see from the russians. they continue to offer support to these combined russian separatist forces inside of eastern ukraine and that continues to be a source of concern not just to the united states but in particular to france and germany, ultimately what we'd like to see is russia live up to the commitments they made in the context of the minsk agreement and the president has been clear since the first day these sanctions were imposed that the united states would be prepared to offer relief from those sanctions seasons there is evidence that russia was following through on what they said they were going do. but we haven't seen that so far and that's why those sanctions remain in place and that's contributing to the kind of economic weakness we're seeing in russia right now. >> is there any way to further drive down the value of oil? at least domestically in terms of international supply to further weaken the russian economy? >> well, the global price of
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energy is one that we have -- for a variety of reasons, usually in a much different context, have acknowledged that we here in the u.s. government don't have a lot of control over. the fact is, it's influenced by such a wide variety of things but there's no denying that the low price of energy in the global markets has also had a negative impact on the russian economy and those who know more about the energy markets than i do have observed that the increased supply in the united states along with the reduced consumption in the united states have at least been one factor in the declining price. i don't think i can stand here and say that our efforts to promote energy fibtsy and the production of oil and gas in the united states is directly related to our russia policy. i don't think it is.
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it's more influenced by the u.s. economy and our needs here but there's no doubt that it has hat an impact. >> last night i asked you about an interesting piece in the "times" about intelligence assessments and you and i have talked about this previously. if you're getting bad information, if you can't rely on the information, then the veracity of that information, how do you make good decisions? how concerned is the president that some of the assessments of not just iraq but syria in particular has been faulty and therefore the policies haven't been shaped by the right type of information. >> kevin, i think as that story pointed out, there's an on going independent review of some of these intelligence processes but what i have said essentially echos the point you have made which is the president seeks accurate up-to-date timely robust information about what is
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exactly happening on the ground in places like iraq and in syria. the kinds of policy decisions the commander-in-chief needs to make are more effective when they are informed by accurate, timely, intelligence. and the president is deeply appreciative of the work of our intelligence agencies and the intelligence community for the work that they have done to try to bring that information to him and provide him the kind of keen analysis he relies on everyday and there should be no doubt about the appreciation he has for our intelligence officials but also the kind of task that he sets before them to bring forward the most accurate timely information that even if that information yields to bad conclusions. even if that is -- even if it's bad news, the president wants to know about it so we can confront it and figure out how to adjust our policy to make sure we're
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maximizing the impact and benefitting from the desired effect. >> what should be the punishment, if you will, and what should be the result if the investigations reveal that a particular person or persons did try to shade or cook the books? what does the president believe should happen to them? >> well, i don't want to comment on the specific investigation or what could potentially arise from it but as a general matter the president holds the intelligence community to a high standard because of the importanceover their work but i can also say that the work that is done by the intelligence community is work that the president deeply appreciates and has confidence in. >> josh, good to see you. >> nice to see you, too. >> could you describe what the administration would accept in terms of a cr? >> well, what the administration has -- what the president has made clear that he believes it's important for congress to take
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action before september 30 to avoid a government shutdown. and he has made clear that he does not want to see the congress pass legislation that includes ideological riders like the one included in this senate bill. and that's why we've been clear we would veto this one. >> i understand. >> the president has also said that the only way that we're going to resolve this budget disagreement that exists on capitol hill is for republicans and democrats to sit down together and to resolve it. >> would a clean cr be a bridge to that? accept to believe the president? >> it certainly could be and we have in the last couple of -- i mean, the last week or so made clear that the president would be willing to sign a cc that did not include ideological riders for a relatively short period of time. >> to essentially maintain the status quo? >> for a short period of time to
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allow members of congress to come together and try to reach a bipartisan agreement. the reason that we would not like to see a cr for a long period of time is that it would have the effect of locking in the sequester which would badly underfund our national security priorities and some of our economic priorities. but the president has indicated a willingness to tolerate that for a short period of time. >> zbla >>. [ inaudible question ] >> not specifically, no. >> considering negotiations haven't gelled in any way that i can tell -- >> they haven't gelled in any way we can tell, either. >> so it would take a couple of weeks, it would seem. >> yes. >> so a month? >> well, i don't want to set a deadline at this point. but what we have made leer is that we're not looking at locking in a quester and, in fact, we'd be willing to agree to a short-term extension at
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current funding levels in order for congress to reach an agreement that would not lock in the sequester. >> that's a pre-condition? >> well, i'm not setting pre-conditions here. you asked what we're interested in and we're interested in the kind of agreement that would ensure that the national security and economic priorities of this country are adequately funded? >> to put a fine point on it, the president would therefore not sign a cr to keep the government open if it wasn't -- included with that was a pledge from republicans to engage in negotiations that would lift the sequester or in some ways give more room for defense and domestic spending than the current sequester limits allow. >> i'm not prepared to offer up any ultimatums from the podium today other than sort of the outlines of what we've already established about preventing a government shutdown, funding our national security priorities, making sure this is not clouded by ideological riders and the
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good news with all of that is i think that those are broad outlines, i would readily concede that, but there is bipartisan agreement about that. there is a sufficient bipartisan majority that generally supports that stuff. i would concede the devil is in the details in these things so that's why the president would be willing to sign a short term cr to give democrats and republicans on capitol hill the opportunity to work through those details and arrive at the bipartisan budget agreement that would certainly not be perfect in the eyes of anybody but would fulfill that criteria that i think most members of congress agree is important. >> on syria you said that notion of russia doubling down on behalf of assad is a losing bet. you also said the president wants to obtain clarity on what russia is doing there. it sounds like you already decided what russia is doing there -- doubling down on behalf of assad. i'm trying to regular'll those
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two things. >> and i think what we have acknowledged is i think a lot of people have said, well, the fact that russia is committing these additional military resources into syria is an indication tha just going to do more of what they have already been doing. and what we have said is that there actually does continue to be the potential for russia to not do that and actually find a way to use their resources to constructively contribute to the ongoing efforts of our counter isis coalition. >> is it also possible that in case there is a transition of a government, they can be there militarily to influence the new government and play a role on the ground that the united states can play? >> what is also clear and the or observati observation -- what is possible is that russia is growing increasingly concerned about the
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fact that their sole remaining client state in the middle east is descending further and further into chaos. and the autocratic leader that they have propped up in that country for a number of years now is on a downward trajectory, you might say. so they might be concerned that the investment they have made over the years is something that they're not prepared to lose. and so they are scrambling to try to shore up that investment and they could be doing that with an eye toward the future. there is no denying that. but i would quibble with the suggestion that they may be doing that to -- from a position of strength. i think the fact is that these kinds of decisions are decisions that are being made because their hand is being forced and because they're concerned about ultimately losing a significant bet that they have already placed. >> on cyber, in the conference
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call earlier this week, it was suggested that the administration draw as very sharp distinction between espionage in the cyber world and private companies being infiltrated by state or nonstate actors. is that true? >> yes. >> with regards to china. >> and this is a distinction that we've drawn previously. >> so in the context of those conversations, there is a sense from the administration that if you're conducting espionage, it's not nearly as bad as if you're going after private intellectual property or other cyber crimes, correct? >> i don't think i would characterize one as not bad or worse than the other. i think what we would merely -- >> the higher priority is the private sector. >> what we would want the chinese to do is to acknowledge the difference between the two. >> and work out an agreement on the private side? >> we certainly recognize the difference between the two. and we have raised significant
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public concerns that have been echoed in private conversations about the continued government enabled cyber theft that is used for financial gain or at least financial advantage by a bunch of chinese companies. again, this is a concern that we've raised many times with them. it even resulted in some chinese military officials being indicted by the justice department because of it. >> and what you're trying to get at in terms of an arms control agreement on cyber is the priority on the private side and less on the espionage side because that will be something that states will do no matter what and the biggest priority for the president is to try to lock something down on the private side of this equation? >> i think what you could -- i would say we're concerned by all of china's behavior in cyberspace. i wouldn't want anybody to misunderstand that. the concerns that we have raised most loudly are those concerns
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centered around government enabled cyber theft for financial gain. this is something china has been engaged in for quite some time and it has drawn significant rebukes from the administration. these are concerns that president obama has raised directly with his counterpart on previous engagements. and, yes, the possibility of using sanctions against any country or any actor that engages in this kind of behavior or benefits from it is a tool that continues to be at the president's disposal. jim. >> how do you think pope francis has changed the debate on immigration? >> well, i think it remains to be seen. i think the outlines of the debate are quite clear based on the degree to which we've engaged in this debate over the last couple of years. i think it is quite clear right now that there is strong bipartisan support across the country for common sense comprehensive immigration reform
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because of the kind of economic and fiscal benefits that are associated with it. to say nothing of the moral component of this policy initiative. that's why you've seen leaders in the catholic church, other religious leaders across the country, business interests, law enforcement leader, all come forward in support of that -- of a comprehensive common sense approach to immigration reform. that kind of support was effectively mobilized to advance legislation in a bipartisan fashion through the united states senate in 2013. and that bipartisan support across the country actually mobilized what we believe would have been a majority of votes in the united states house of representatives had that legislation been not been balked by republicans in the house. and we've lamented this drought come for quite some time now.
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but the president wasn't satisfied with just lamenting the outcome. he was determined to act. and he set out to initiate a whole series of executive actions to it as much as he possibly could to try to address some of the flaws. but we've never viewed that as a substitute for legislative action. the president has promised that he would actually repeal all those executive actions if congress were to take action. but i think ultimately -- >> is there a remote possibility that this could resurface before the president's time is up? >> the president's commitment to this issue has not waned. if anything, his commitment to this issue has only strengthened. but ultimately i think that the person who needs to answer this question is the speaker of the house. >> during the pope's speech, he called for the abolition of the death penalty. and i know the president has called for review of executions in federal prison system in the
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past. and he's obviously called for criminal justice reform. would the president like to see the death penalty abolished in this country? >> well, jim, you've heard the president speak about this a couple of times. and in the context of answering this question in the past, the president has noted his concerns with the way that the death penalty has been applied. there is all kinds of data to indicate that there may be some racial disparities associated with the death penalty. there are a variety of concerns that have been raised by some charitable organizations that have taken up the cause of those on death row who have mobilized enough evidence to actually have those individuals exonerated. and serious questions raised about those who have already been put to death.
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so certainly those kinds of results are troubling. and i think it's fair to say that the president's views are influenced by statements that are made by the pope most recently, but by the catholic bishops previously. but i don't have a new policy position to mention this morning. >> and on china, getting back to china, is the administration aware just getting back to the opm data of any of that data being improperly used at this point, has that surfaced? >> i think for that question i'd refer you to the department of homeland security. let me check on that. i have not heard that. >> a few weeks ago, and i don't know if you've gotten an update -- >> i haven't gotten an update. i'll see which government agency
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can get you -- >> lastly, the pope visited little sisters yesterday evening. did the white house take that as a message from the pope about i guess the difference that the catholic church has with the administration over this contraception mandate in the affordable care act? it seemed to be intended as a message. is that how it was received? >> well, i guess you'd have to talk to the vatican for what was intended pby the visit. as it relates to the specific case that has been brought to the courts by this particular organization, i believe that now seven appellate courts have considered the steps that theed a administration has taken to both protect access to health care for women and also protecting the rerenligious liby
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of the members of this particular organization. seven of those appeals courts have found that our efforts to strike that balance was effectively reached. there is one appellate court that concluded that it had not and it may mean that there will end up being additional legal action in this area. but i think if anything, this particular case does illustrate the lengths to which this administration has gone to protect religious liberty, while at the same time protecting access to health care that millions of women rely upon. >> just to pinpoint, you were talking to major about the cra stuff. is it safe to say this idea of a continuing resolution that wld

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