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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  November 4, 2015 9:00pm-11:01pm EST

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dod finally they said, we're not going to do it. now they're using this word inoperable. in the 21st century it doesn't make any sense at all, even though they both are doing different things with that system, the system can be made to work like this, not like this. which is exactly, i'm afraid, what they're doing. >> because they make the argument, dod makes the argument our system has to work in a submarine in limited band with. well, if uber can come up with an app, you should be able to do their. this is more complex than a uber app. but the sentiment is decent that i do believe we have overcome this. i would make the argument that va and dod when it comes to health care and focussiixing th would be better, it would have a
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radical impact. >> on the issue of accountability, do you have legislation? >> i think they have the ability to do it and they simply aren't enforcing it. jeff does it. i don't question him. it's to get the best care possible. i think it won't have the same effe effect. and i've seen that where you couldn't get rid of a bad teacher. of c you k bcan, but you have to doe work. they want to get rid of this, and we differ there. i think jeff thinks they need more protection. >> and what i've told the secretary is that they may need to -- there's a lot of risk analysis that's done in what they do, is it less expensive to just reach a settlement with
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this individual than it would be to take them all the way through, let them appeal to the protection board and then they end up back at the va and we're paying for their attorney fees? i get that. but i think we're going to have to take one of the most egregious cases. even if it gets reversed. the american people would be able to see how difficult it appears to be able to do this. you know, if you go back to the phoenix wait list issue with sharon hellman, you know, she ended up being fired, not for the manipulation of the wait times. in fact, va almost lost that, what they ended up doing was finding out she'd been taking gifts on the side, and that's what she ended up getting fired for. so realistically you can say right now only three people have been fired as it relates to wait times. none of them, the senior folks,
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and now there are a couple other folks that are in the process, and i think there was one last week, maybe the chief medical officer out at thoma, i think they have now taken action there for overprescribing opioids. again, whether there's a problem, it takes way too long. we still have people that are on paid administrative leaves. a year and a half after, they're still on administrative the leave getting paid from phoenix. >> wait for a microphone and pose, if you would, one question so we can get to you. in the back, yes. >> hi, arthur allen from politico. you're talking about electronic health records. the defense, the department of defense has already signed an agreement to get started on
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their commercial ehr. and there was recently a report by the miter corps suggesting that the va look into getting a commercial system as well, but va says they're, have their own kind of program per developing there called evolve. this has been going on for so long. this whole process. what do you think needs to be done to just make decision, since it seems key that dod and va be on the same track, working together and coordinated, i mean, is that actually happening now? or do you feel like somebody needs to step in, the white house or someone to clarify what's going on. >> that's my answer. you're right on. i do believe that. i've been down this road. i understand technology is expensive. like everyone else, i'm frustrated when i bought a computer and three years later i feel like, $1500, you have to
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upgrade it. that is not what's at heart here. this is a culture that started with the vista system. and the mayo clinic told me they were pioneers. they said at one point, the vista system was one of the best record. but it is inexcusable that we're not working to the. it's inexcusable that we're not using the clout of these two huge medical systems to force this change into the private sector, because most people understood, and most people who are involved with health care rye form understood this electronic medical record was at the heart of reform. it was as much to do with anything to improve america's health care system. i would welcome white house intervention to drop the hammer on this one and force them to do this. >> and it really needs to be done, you know, the secretary will talk about a lot of the code that's being written cobal,
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the language being older language. congress appropriated the money for dod to do it, and dod just said forget it. and it seems that va wants to write their own, which is not necessarily the best way to go, because there may be something off the shelf that somebody can go and purchase, and i think that, again, the only leader that has jurisdiction over both of them is the president and the white house. and their involvement, i think, would be very important. because theis is a critical piee that will take it decades down the road for the young person that's enlisting today to be able to have that truly electronic health record that follows them from induction to death. basically, i mean, the only, it's amazing to me as somebody who did not wear the uniform, when i first got elected in 2001, i thought that a veteran was a veteran. then i find out, no. there's a veteran, and then
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there's retirees. and there's two different classes there. and you find out that when dod is done with you, you get your dd 214, and you are not involved with dod anymore. you are now va's problem. look, these are americans. and the federal government is supposed to be taking care of them from the beginning to the end. and va does a good job on the inside, but that middle is still very mushy. >> thank you. we'll keep working our way up. so the woman in the purple shirt right there. >> hi, i'm emory with elizabeth dole foundation, and i will a question i guess for both the congress men. i was wondering, how can congress work together to support the va and expand various programs within the va such as the caregiver program and opening that up to all areas and all veterans, because with
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the care givers will help bring the veterans to va, help reduce the homelessness, and they do a lot of the behind the scenes work in order to get the veteran to take full advantage of the programs offered. >> i think we will both readily agree that the caregiver program is one of the best things that's going out there. i mean, obviously, especially if it's a family member that's taking care of, you know, that veteran, being able to make sure that they do the things that they need to do, go where they need to go, and unfortunately, when the caregiver program was rolled out, they tried to go, i guess, as far out as they could but not, not very deep. and you talk about going back to vietnam and korea and world war ii. it's a focus of the committee. but are it's just one of the things, i guess, that's in the
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mix right now. >> i would agree to that. i know that former senator dole, elizabeth dole's working heavily on this, coming and working on this. the one thing i would say is the healthy part of this debate is, especially considering all the problems with the va, the va committee could have turned into a partisan sniping back and forth instead of driving on to fix some of these things, and there has been good legislation passed even in the midst of this. and the caregiver one is one. i don't think any of us are happy with where this has gone. >> i think the public cares deeply, but you have spouses and parents who have given up careers, and we're not paying anything for this, as the rest of the citizens of this country for that wounded warrior. it's being burdened, or that entire burden is by that family. and i think many of us have tried to push forward on that. this is a case, again, where i do not believe the va will solve this alone. it's not a choice of government versus non-government.
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it's going to be collectively to figure that out. i think there's more to do with these, and i think having natter dole involved is starting to elevate that discussion. >> and i agree. i couldn't have said it better. she has brought to the discussion credibility and certainly she has been able to do some things outside of the system. >> yes. >> that are working. and bringing it to us and really being a resource to try to resolve some of the issues that remain out there for the caregivers. >> so let's keep moving up here, i guess in the sixth row on your left, right there, yeah. >> hi, tom porter with iava. first of all, thank you, chairman miller for your va accountability bill. we were a strong supporter of that. we do need you to work with the other side to get something passed into law, though. so we appreciate you working to the. a big question, as you know, the
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clay hunt act that you passed earlier this year, that's a top priority. suicide, mental health for our members. that was beginning of the year, we strongly would like to see how va is coming along and implementing that. and would really like to see an oversight hearing on implementation, would want to know what your plans are for that. >> based on that request, we'll schedule one. that's easy enough. obviously, don't think we'll be able to do it before the end of the year, as much as i think we would all like to, especially on the senate side, there are some issues out there that they're trying to put an omnibus va bill together, which is the way they operate different than what we do. we pass individual bills, but yeah, i think, you know, a one-year check is critical, and, you know, you have my pledge that we'll have a hearing early next year. >> thank you. >> i would just say on this issue of suicides and the issue of working on bills, i'm gr a'm
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you brought this up. it's not that people don't care, it's that they move on to the next issue. on the day we passed that, in my local newspaper on the top page of the paper, it cass clay hunt bill passes congress. the bottom half was about an of veteran who walked into a university library and shot himself. the idea that we passed a bill and the situation's going to get better, we better be careful. so your request is appreciated. we look forward to that hear egg. >> yes, sir. here, on the other side. >> yes, thank you. my name's dave kitras. if the provisions of hr 1994 becomes law as they're implemented to va, do you look at that as perhaps sort of almost a pilot in which the same type of provisions could be
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spread to other agencies as a way to improve performance and address some of these problems that obviously exist in the va in a special situation, but also perhaps are are are are are are are are exist in other government agencies? >> i do. >> sit down. don't jump. because this is not just at the department of veterans affairs. throughout the federal government, there are issues out there, and you always need to keep things moving around. and don't become static. part of what has happened at the va, and this is not an obama issue. it's not a bush issue. i mean, it goes years and years. it's just the way they've always done it. and so, when you're trained, you're trained in the wrong way to do something. and from an accountability standpoint, things have gotten tougher and tougher and tougher as it relates to, in my opinion,
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holding people accountable. and that's why i contend that it still is difficult to do it. and, again, you know, when, when danny pummel came before us the other night for a hearing on monday night, he said it's virtually impossible. that's not me saying it. that's somebody at the va. and not just somebody down here, but somebody up at the very top. so yes, i would like to see if you, if va is the test case, va is the test case. i would like to see it expanded. and, again, what i talk to -- and i'll make the same offer to my friend tim. with dick blumenthal this morning, it's let's find a way to find that middle ground on this bill to get it passed. because that's what's important. you know, i don't think that there's a change in evidentiary requirements. i don't think there's a, you know, we're not taking away
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somebody's ability to appeal. you know, again, where i come from, when you're fired, you're fired. you, you walk out the door that day. you know, so what you hear from va is, well, we've given notice that somebody's going to be fired. thoma in particular. the individual's still on the payroll until november 9th. to me, that's not firing somebody. so we've got different ways and different ways that we look at it. but i think we will find a solution that we can all agree to and pass. i'm, i'm pretty stubborn, but i'm not stubborn enough to hold up a good accountability piece, even if it's not 100% of what i wanted. >> and i agree with the chairman. everybody, when you hear this, these are healthy debates going on. it starts with the premise that i do not question in one inch the purpose of what the chairman's trying to do is to hold people accountable to provide better quality health
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care for our veterans. what the second and third degree effects of doing this would happen. and i think it's fair to try and find this middle ground. i certainly don't think this is an attempt at right to work of the government, and it will be characterized that way. it's not an 800-pound gorilla in the room. it's understanding that there are problems of accountability, people that need to be fired. i would make the case that mr. pummel could have done his job better and not give bonuses to an underperforming employee and move them somewhere else under the guise that he couldn't do anything about it. i think he could have, and that's maybe where we differ, and i agree that we have to find a place where that happens, and i think that's why the va committee's the best place for this to happen. you have chairman miller leading this on the exact tone, but no daylight between what the outcome or the goal is. >> here in the row.
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>> joel coopersmith. i now am directing a group for veterans studies. t va has always depended on the public sector. choice has been very good. it has enabled empowerment of veterans over their own health care. and if it gets to a point where the best resources of the communities and the va are used, i think that will be a great thing. however, there are about 7 million or 8 million veterans who are eligible for veterans care in the va who do not now use it. and of those who use it, i think it's 34%, they use it for 34% of their health care.
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and to increase it by 1%, i understand, is going to cost $1.4 million for each percent. so, as you expand choice, it could get to be very expensive. i wonder how you would respond to that. >> yes, it will be expensive, but the thing is, va, i can tell you how much it costs to see a doctor in a particular community. va, up until just recently, cannot tell you how much it, now they will say what the doc's salary is and the nurse and all of those things, but you've got to factor in the hard costs, too, as you understand. there was a study that came out, and i have yet to have an opportunity to read it, but the number was like $$250 an hour o pervisity, versus in the private sector, $40 or $50 or whatever medicare rates are. there should be a correlation, as you expand the choice that,
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you know, there is a savings within the va system, but you are absolutely right. the va has used the private sector for many years. if it wasn't for omar bradley who actually made the integration between the medical schools and the va, va wouldn't be near what it is today. and they still have a huge collaborative effort in that process, but, you know, what we have promised the veteran is that we will provide them quality health care. and whether that's in the v apartment or o a or outside the va, it should the veteran's choice as to whether they go and get that health care. that's why there should be these third party administrators right now at least through the choice program so you don't have somebody going out to the doctor who advertises in every magazine and charges three times. you have to get them in at a
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certain rate, obviously, that va can budget for. >> that's a great point. i would just quickly on this, that you hit on this again. you can't talk about this outside of health care in general, how we're going to deliver it and how we're going to care. i hear this, the veterans have a card bill, but how you frame this thing is becoming more important. that's why i'm glad that it's in the presidential debate. it's kind of like single payer health care. we can't call it that. the fact of the matter is what jeff's explaining what most veterans expect is that. but you can't do that and avoid where the cost is. you can get health care in some places that the outcomes are far better, the costs are far lower, and maybe it's probingial on my part. the may yoi clo clinic is able
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deliver that but sometimes they're dealing with specialty care. your veterans are going to have some of the most expensive injuries. you're going to take in all of the agent orange claim, all the gulf war claims. that's going to factor in costs. we, as a nation, have to figure out how to do exactly what he said, deliver that health characteristic the bethe best quality, the most timely, efficient manner and at a rate and cost that is do-able. and that's our challenge. >> the other interesting thing when the choice act passed, you heard great accolades from most people. then all of a sudden you heard people in the rural communities or rural states like kansas and alaska, oh, my goodness, they were using the arch, which was the pilot program, maine had it to. the reimbursements were higher under arch than they are under the choice act. and so they're like, we want to be let out of choice and remain in arch. so we'll find it. i mean, it's there.
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again, we've been at this now for less than a year. but i think that va atruly is changing the way they think about the delivery of health care for the veterans today, and i think the veterans will be better served. >> i think that's true. this is at a point i don't think we've been at. and i think we will all, veterans, americans, those on the committee. if we miss this opportunity, my fear is that we put out some of the short-term fires. you can be certain it will come back. now is the time to deal with it. >> we've got a couple minutes. i'm going to take two questions together. and in a perfect world, one would be for each congressman. we would let them sort out how they're going to respond. >> hi. from government executive. we talked about government accountability and the
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difficulties in firing federal workers, but what about hiring and training? are there areas where they are falling short, do you have ideas how they can improve that? >> it is way too hard in the system to hire somebody, especially physicians in this process. i met yesterday with some folks that do staffing of hospitals and things, and i asked them. i said do you do things with the va? and they said oh, yeah, but we get a doctor that's ready to go, and it takes so long to go through the credentialing process and everything they have to do the doctor's going to go somewhere else. so yes, getting people into the system is very, very difficult. they've got the dollars there. we gave them $5 billion in the choice act that plus upped the dollars that they needed to hire. but oh, absolutely. i mean, both ends of the sprek
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trum need to be revamped. >> he's exactly right. we have the capacity to plul tie task while holding people accountability and firing people. we need to simultaneously figure out how to hire and retain the best possible. >> i'll ask you two gentlemen to conclude. >> thank you for being here. in my former life i was a rifleman in the marine corps. congressman you mentioned three or four firings out of 300,000 or 400,000 employees? i'm not a mathematician, but i think that's 1 thousandth of a percent. >> as a junior the rifleman i could be denied reenlistment. the reason these people are fired probably has to do an a little bit with the administration, but fundamentally the reason we have to pass legislation to get sesers out is because of the civil reform act, justify biy i
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allow it. are you looking at enabling the firing of people that are incompetent, that kill veterans, that overprescribe opioids? >> i want to be very clear that i absolutely agree with that. but and the v apartment's a's g you different numbers. nothing bothers me more than see an incompetent person. the congressman has made that overture today that we have the tools necessary to remove folks that aren't performing, and it needs to happen. so i'm open to looking. and i think maybe in that you hear the spirit of this, i think considering the way washington
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has been acting, considering some of the issues that come up, i feel very fortunate and it's a testament to what the american people want and the people we get in the committee that we still work together to find this, with a respect to get there, using and i see many of them in this room, the veterans service organizations, private providers, all of the folks that are here trying to find answer. i think it would be disingenuous. i want to turn it away from the union versus not union. there's a difference in there. whatever it takes to deliver the highest quality health care on our promises is the one we should choose. i am not, i don't have an ideological dog that i'm tied to in this fight. what i care about is that outcome. and i think this committee is still going there. i would tell the american public that if we don't do this now, it would be very difficult. this is a moment in history with
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the public focussing things that are there. we should fine that answer, and i'm certainly willing to compromise where it needs to be to make it happen. >> let me make it clear. the number the secretary would say, i think he's fired 2200 since he became the secretary. about half of those were probationary folks. so they just didn't work out. so i don't really count those as firing, although technically, they may qualify as that. absolutely. times, they are achanging. and the american public wants accountability. they want accountability from us, as members of congress. and you hear it out on the political stump right now. people are angry, because they don't think their federal government is serving them well. they think the government is taking advantage of them, and that's the problem. they want people who want to do the right thing. they want to work. they want to take care of veterans. but people who won't or can't do their job, go do something somewhere else, because there are a lot of people ready to
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come inside the va. they want to come in and go to work. so yes. >> great discussion. thank you for all your excellent questions. thanks for being here and please join me in thanking these two gentlemen. [ applause ] our c-span road to the white house 2016 bus stopped in jackson, mississippi this week. jackson mayor tony yarber speaks on the bus. here's cheer leading squad posing for a photo. to track the bus, follow us on twitter and instagram using #at the bus. the of sub committee hearing is live here on c-span 3.
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a a defense spokesman briefed reporters from baghdad on u.s. military operations against isis. colonel steve warren told reporters that the recent announcement bit u.s. to send special forces to syria would not change the coalition's efforts. this is about 45 minutes. good morning, and thank you for coming out at the earlier time. sorry for the technical delay. as you know, we fall back and the folks in baghdad do not. we've moved the time back on our end to accommodate steve. steve, can you hear us okay? >> i canla larhear you loud and clear, thanks. >> i will turn it over to you. >> thanks, jeff. and pentagon press corps, it's
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good to be with you. i can't sigh you today, which normally, i can. if i look down more than usual, that's why. so i've got a few prepared comments i'll start with. we'll go to questioning. today i'd like to start with an overview of the battlefield. i'm going to start west in syria and move to the east. so i'll jump right into it. on october 31st, along the so-called marra line, north of alip boy, forces of the syrian opposition resumed the offense, this is north of aleppo. vetted syrian opposition groups along with syrian forces that we trained in turkey participated in this effort to pressure the isil along the turkish/syrian border. of note, turkey provided synchronized air support for this mission, using f-16s, the turks conducted several strikes which destroyed enemy fighting
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positions and killed over a score of enemy fighters. further east in syria, in the vicinity of al hal, the syrian democratic forces conducted an attack from the northeast to the southwest. of driving isil back and reclaiming approximately 255 square kilometers of ground. of note, because we supplied the vetted syrian arab coalition, what we're calling the sac with ammunition on october 12th, that force was able to conduct this afault as part of the sdf. this is important because al hal is predominantly an arab area, and the zasac is the arab component. they had 17 airstrikes, destroyed isil vehicles, fighting positions, weapons systems and killed 79 enemy
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fighters. while this was not a loorge tactical operation, we believe that it demonstrates the viability of our program to provide support to these forces and further demonstrates our operational effort to pressure isil from multiple directions at the same time. both of these actions also tie into the accelerant that we announced on friday. if you recall, friday's announcement mentioned deploying a-10s and f-15s. those a-10s were among the platforms that provided the air power for this action. continuing east into iraq, kurdish forces are massing near mt. sinjar. the city of sinjar sits astride highway 47, which is one of isil's primary routes for funneling equipment and fighters between mosul and raqqah. i'm not going to get into the specifics of our operational
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plan, but i can tell you that since october 1st, the coalition has conducted 104 airstrikes as part of the shaping fires. 48 of those strikes just since october 21st. continuing east to ramadi, after several days of bad weather, iraq ei forces have restarted there. of forces have advanced several kilometers. and, as we speak, they are fighting inside camp warar. all forces continue to encounter small arms fires and ied clusters. coalition forces have conducted 18 strikes in ramadi since we last spoke on the 28th. in beiji, isf and federal police continue to enforce their positions. the beiji oil refinery and sanaa. the of of iraqi air force
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continues to fly in beiji and continues to fly throughout iraq, striking isil targets as they're able to develop the intelligence picture. so to finish you up, i know there's been a lot of discussion about the accelerant announced on friday. from our perspective here in baghdad, the coalition strategy has not changed. this tour of the battlefield i just gave you is in our view ill str illustra illustra illustrative. the coalition provides devastating air power all along the way. this week isil lost ground. we're going to continue to operate this way as long as it works well. if needed, we'll adjust. we've demonstrated we are able to recognize when our approach
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needs improvement or where we need to am aplify an approach wn it's working well. this is awkward for me, because unlike normal, i can't see you, but i guess bob or whoever's there, let's start with you. >> hi, steve. it's leta. thanks for doing this. does this success you're talking about in terms of the air coalition suggest that there will be another drop of weapons of ammunition soon and/or is there more consideration to providing them actual weaponry? and then, could you just give us a quick update on russian airstrike activity, please, in syria. >> sure. on the weapons resupply, yes, the answer is yes.
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in fact, this al hal operation really was the validate irfor that program, right. >> i think i told you when we first did this airdrop that we were going to keep an eye on this initial 50 tons of ammunition that was dropped. we were going to validate that it was distributed and used properly. we have seen that. we believe that this success, this 200-plus kilometers of ground that the syrian arab coalition has managed to take, to some extent validates this program. it's not a complete validation. i want to be clear about that. but we're encouraged by what we see, and, as i said earlier, we intend to reenforce success. on russia, there has been an increase in russian air activity this week. they are supporting forces that have initiated offensive operations. i think probably most notably in
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aleppo, and that has met with mixed success. the regime forces in some areas have managed to gain a little bit of ground. in other areas they gained ground, they were counterattacked and lost the ground that they gained. so it's a tough fight in aleppo and in other areas where the russians are operating. and, you know, it really bee lays the point that we believe that the russian decision to double down on their support of the assad regime is, you know, strategically short-sighted. we've seen reckless use of munitions, primarily dumb bombs, dropped without precision. and, you know, this is concerning to us. we've long asked, we've long called on the russians to do what they originally said that they would do, which is to fight isil. we have not seen that.
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>> just to follow up, will we see another ammunition drop in the near future, and has there been a decision to definitely provide small arms to the arab coalition? >> right. sorry about that. so i think you will see continued resupply of these forces. i don't want to telegraph times, obviously or even approximate them. but i am comfortable saying that you'll see us continue to reenforce the system you've already seen. i don't have a good edge on weapons. my understanding is that weapons are in the decision matrix, but frankly, i don't know if we've made that final decision yet. >> steve, i would ask you about the ypg. we told by a senior official that the ypg would not be getting any ammunition or weapons, and if that were to
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happen, you'd work something out with turkey. where are you on that? presumably, the kurds would like, the ypg would like weapons and ammunition, so where does that stand? >> yeah, as of now, we're not providing weapons or ammunition to the ypg, the weapons that weave provideds through far or the ammunition that we've provided in our one airdrop that we've executed was for the syrian air coalition. as of now. future resupplies will also go to vetted syrian opposition members. so, you know, as of now, that's where our policy stands. >> what about talking with tur sdm key? that's what the official suggested. is that going to happen or not happen? >> the turks are both a nato ally and a close partner here in this fight. so we're going to continue
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discussions with the turks. i'm not going to get into the details of our diplomatic discussions, but yeah, we're in very close contact with them. i'm not going to telegraph what decisions that we've made. obviously, the turks, you know, obviously, the turks have concerns. they're our partners and allies. we're going to work with them to achieve our common goal, which is to defeat isil, right? and, again, the turks showed tremendous work from the turks up along the mara line up in northern syria. very pleased that they were able to provide close air support to vetted syrian forces. these are the very forces that we trained in turkey, infiltrated back into the class one and class two that we talked about over the summer. so, you know, and i'm highlighting that, because, you
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know, we keep, you know, we've heard so much discussion of how this was a failed program, and et cetera. yeah. it's a program that we've discontinued. butt resu but the results of that program are out there on the battlefield right now. >> hi, steve, quick follow up on al hal. can you give us a sense of how big this town is or village is that was cleared by theis group and how the operation went? and the other question i would ask on special operations forces, has there been any additional activity in iraq by u.s. special operations forces accompanying iraqis? can you give us any sense of how far beyond the kind of training activities they've been doing, what kind of activities they've been doing outside the wire in general and especially since, if there's been any activity since the new decision on friday?
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>> phil, i'll start with the second part of that question, and then you'll have to ask the first part again because you broke up a little bit. so the second part of your question just to review. you asked about soft accompaniment, the soft advising the mission here in iraq and what they're doing. so from the beginning these sop accompaniment missions they've been adjustable based on conditions on the battlefield. what we've seen up north in the kurdish area is that we have a static or a well-held line of troops. there's a clear line between friendly forces and enemy forces. so that allows our sop partners to or our sop forces to be able to partner more closely with the kurds that they're supporting.
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so they are linked up with units. they are providing advice, assist. and they are willing to move around outside of the wire when the conditions are right. and the conditions really have to be that we don't believe there's imminent threat of enemy contact. and in all cases, the sop portions need to stay back from the front lines. so i don't want to get any more detail than that for i think obvious protection reasons, but our advise and assisting personnel are actively advising and assisting. and we've seen that takely nopay notable in the north where there's more freedom of movement. so we're able to move more in accordance with our own preestablished standards, which is the threat of enemy contact as well. so reask your first question. you broke up on me. >> the first part of the question was on the initial operation.
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you said that the sac had helped clear this village. i think it was al hal. can you give us a little more detail on that operation, how big is this place that they took? how long did the operation take? can you give us any kind of die ta -- detail so we request bette understand it. can you put up the slide. >> since i can't see it, you'll have to tell me when the slide's up. >> we got you up. you're good to go. >> okay. great. so, of course i can't see it, so i'm going off of memory lehere. you see al hal there.
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it's in the vicinity of al hal. what we have here is the syrian arab coalition, armed with the ammunition that we provided on october 12th. on the upper right hand corner of the map. they pushed toward the lower left hand corner of the map. sow siee al hal outlined in blu. and you move from the upper right hand corner down toward the lower left hand corner of the map. it was a fairly straightforward conventional operation. we estimated the enemy situation to be several hundred enemy located in that vicinity, there was a substantial friendly force, well over 1,000 participated in the offensive part of this operation. and they were able to very deliberately executing the plan that they had made themselves
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and supported by, by coalition air power, they were able to take over 200 kilometers worth of territory. i think it's notable. and i said this in the opener, but i want to reemphasize it. as we talk about the accelerants, we talk about the importance of repositioning or being able to position more assets. and what that does and, again, it shortens our legs, right? so the aircraft, because they're only flying from interlick into the battlefield, they're able to do more turns quicker, they're able to loiter longer, and we saw that make a difference here where we're able to bring a-10s and specter gunship. and what can only be described as a devastating manner, we killed nearly 80 enemy fighters and the syrian arab coalition fought with valor.
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they showed us something here. and we're pleased by that. >> steve, hey, it's andrew tillman. i want to ask you a little bit more detail about ramadi. specifically, is isil still able to get supplies in and out of the city? or have the iraqi forces been able to fully isolate and essentially put the city under siege? and also, a few weeks ago you told us that you felt that the iraqis were ready to make a final, full-scale assault on the city. are you, are you sighing that? you indicated that it stopped for a few days because of weather. but are the iraqis mounting the kind of full-scale attack on the city that hundred hoped to see a few weeks ago? >> hey, go ahead and throw the ramadi slide up.
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we believe the conditions were set for the iraqis. we have been encouraging them to do so. that said, it remains a tough fight. so they have not completed the encirclement of the city. the enemy is able -- is the slide up? >> you said they have now completed or they have not? >> not. >> go ahead. we've got ramadi up. >> okay. ramadi's up, good, so yeah, what we've, what we're seeing is, again, a tough fight. the enemy has established complex and in many cases sophisticated defensive barriers along the various avenues of approach into ramadi. so isil's primary line of communication right now is the euphrates river.
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so we have not been able to cut the euphrates river yet. so we have forces along the north. they're moving sort of south and west. on the western access they're moving east. so the western access is to the left hand of this slide. and they're moving towards the right hand of it. in the south, off the southern edge of this map, you have the southern access, which is fairly well-established in the vicinity of anbar university. and to the east, we have federal police, primarily, which is established the blocking position to prevent any enemy from moving east into fallujah. of so that's kind of what the battlefield looks like. and, again, the key part here is at the upper portion of the map where you see, one, it crosses the euphrates river.
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that's the palestine bridge. they've been able to cut the u flat ease river, which will substantially, significantly constrict significantly constrict isil's ability to resupply itself. isil knows that. that's their primary line of communication. so they're defending it fiercely. this fight is going to continue and it's going to continue for as long as it takes to get it done. >> hi, steve. it's carla. last week you had said that ramadi was surrounded on four sides and that they were squeezing in. so what's the difference now? is it just that they're squeezing but they haven't squeezed in enough to shut off the euphrates? is that how i should interpret this? >> yeah, that's exactly right. this encirclement that the iraqi
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security forces are attempting to complete, they've got the south and west essentially locked up, the east is blocked, to the north there's movement, you know, south and west. but you've still got a space towards the top of your map there that remains open. so when they're able to complete this encirclement, they will have been able to reduce the enemy's ability to resupply it. that doesn't mean there's in way to create an impeer meebl barrier around a city. the enemy will have the ability to resupply itself to come extent. but once that euphrates river line of communication is cut. we'll see, i think, a significant reduction in isis's ability to reply itself with weapons and fighters. and then, you know, it's on to the hard part, which is urban
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fight. our enemy here has had months to prepare complex depences inside the urban area of the city. and that is going to be a difficult, hot, dangerous, scary fight. and it will take a while. >> hi, it's andrew again. when you say that the river is their primary line of communication, are they bringing supplies in by boat? is that what you're saying, that the river is navigatable and that's how they're bringing supplies in? >> yes. that's exactly what i'm saying. we do our best to keep an eye on. ef once in a while you'll see that we struck a boat. but that river is full of traffic. it's a hoo, highway, a water born highway. we have to have the proper
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intelligence. we use very stringent civilian casualty reduction measures. we're not in this to accidentally strike civilians. so we go to great length to ensure that we don't do that. but yeah, that's the primary line of communication right now. >> colonel warren can we go back to syria for a moment. do you see any indications that russian forces are moving further to the east with their helicopter or other forces closer to palmyra, closer to isis strongholds that they might plan to increase their actual isis strikes? >> jeff, can you repeat this question? i didn't get a word of it. >> russian movements toward the east toward palmyra. >> the russians are all the way
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to the east, or to the west. they're moving east, right. i don't know that they're moving toward palmyra. i've seen reporting that there bes been some strikes in the vicinity. u the regime forces aren't conducting an operation, at least not a significant one. palmyra is a fairly major and fairly significant feature. you know, the regime wants it back badly. i certainly wouldn't be surprised to see that. but i have not seen anything to indicate significant activity there. their focus right now is in aleppo. >> and gary, i got you. >> hi steve. back on the force and the syrian coalition, i know it has been discuss a lot but yesterday there was an article in "the new
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york times" saying that while -- after ten days of interview with the commanders and fighters on the ground, it found out that actually the syrian force is just existing by name and a defense official told the same newspaper that syrian coalition actually is an american invention to cover up the supply to the kurdish forces. could you comment on this or identify the differences between the groups, the relations between the two groups? that's it. thank you. >> i barely heard a word of that. we're definitely suffering from some technical problems. i think what you asked is who are the difference between the syrian democratic force and the coalition? >> he was asking you about the "the new york times" article yesterday, syrian arab
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coalition, u.s. invention to cover up u.s. supply to kurds. >> yeah. we're not trying to cover anything up. we're providing weapons, or in this case ammunition to the syrian arab coalition. that's what we said we're doing and that's what we're doing. it's a larger force made up of syrian arabs, christians, and kurds as well. it's a larger kind of force that's, again, sort of a team of teams or a group of groups. these are various groups from various sects and religions were various groups that have come together to defeat isil. we're supported them. the air power that we brought to bear along the turkish border since the beginning of the operation has been significant and it's allowed the primary
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kurdish forces to regain territory all the way from the syrian iraq border in the east all the way to the border. we've not tried to hide that. we've been very open about that. that said, we understand that there are -- there's a limit to how far kurdish forces can push south because of the mixes there. so that's why we see the syrian arab coalition come into play and that's why we're providing them with the support that need so they can can't pushing south. >> do you deny the "the new york times" article? >> well, it was a long article. you got to be a little more specific. >> i'm going to take gary. >> steve, hi. two things i wanted to ask you
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about. first of all, you'll know that britain is now much less likely in the future to supply any air power to assist in syria and also we know, of course, the canadians with their new leader are planning to withdraw that facilities for air strikes too. is that going to have an impact on what you do over syria? and secondly, were there any prisoners taken? were there any senior ranks taken? what happens to the prisoners that are taken in those circumstances? who intergatro gates them, whero they go? >> again, we right now don't have any personnel in syria whatsoever. so i don't have an answer for you frankly.
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we expect -- when we removed the leadership of the syrian arab coalition off the battlefield to spend some time with them, giving them briefings and training, part of that training focused on law of the line warfare. part of that is to appropriate treatment of prisoners. we have trained these personnel or the leadership of these personnel in the appropriate use of prisoner procedures. and of course with the convention and the established international norms. so, you know, and of course we expect them to follow that training and to, you know, force follow the geneva convention law of ware fair. we do not have eyes on the ground.
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prisoners are taken by the coalition forces on the ground are a mat are for the air coalition forces on the ground to speak to and to handle. going back to your -- i couldn't quite get it. you were asking something about air strikes in syria and the british participation. i didn't quite get it. >> following up on what you just said first of all, you did say when you had the raid that you captured significant intelligence as part of that. you were interested in intelligence that was available in that operation. why wouldn't you be interested in getting the intelligence from the capture of prisoners in syria. and you know now that britain is less likely to conduct british air strikes. and you know of course the canadians are planning to withdraw their support for air strikes inside syria. is that going to have an effect
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on your operational capacity at all? >> well, i'm not going to get involved in national politics of the coalition partners. we appreciate the contribution of every single one 0 our international partners and we understand that every one of our international partners have to contribute in accordance with their own national security objectives and national policies. every time we lose impact, there's some impact. but we have other coalition partners, so we make it work. on intelligence and prisoners, of course we would like intelligence. we want intelligence from anywhere we can get it. that sad, we don't have personnel on the ground if syria right now and therefore we're not interacting with any of the prisoners that are taken. >> lucas, let us know, steve if you're having a hard time hearing lucas. >> hey, colonel warren. it's lucas.
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is there any information that they're going beyond aleppo and striking isis targets? >> didn't get it, jeff. what did he say? >> any indication that the russians are going beyond aleppo and striking isis targets. >> yeah. the russians have only struck -- they've been hundreds of air strikes at this point. i'm not putting out the count anymore. but you know, they're continuing to conduct air strikes but only a fraction of them have been against isil targets. when i'm saying a fraction, i'm talking under 10%. a number of their strikes have been using dumb bombs, gravity bombs unguided and very unsophisticated. they've hit a smattering of isil targets, some in aleppo to answer your question, but their focus has been in support of the assad regime and whatever the
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assad regime's objectives are. so if the assad regime's objectives are in a location of isil, isil will achieve the attention. but the majority of the regions that assad has been interested in are syrian regime that are not isil. >> we're going to do the phil don hugh method. >> is the announced deployment, does that have anything to do with the type of aircraft that the russians have deployed to syria? >> well, you know, i wouldn't get specifically into those details. we've said we're going to have a mix of c and d models. anything researched with the specific models. but we position platforms at various locations based on where we expect the mission
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requirement to be. >> have anything to do with keeping russian air superiority fighters in check? >> you know, again, i'm not going to get into specific details. i want to assure that we've always got the appropriate mix of air to air capability and air to ground capability and direct ground strike capability. we're always adjusting and we're going to assure that whatever aircraft we have operating in the skies in syria is appropriately supported. >> back to the boats on the euphrates river. does isis have a navy or a gun boat navy and are they capable marine mariners? and that's all. >> to my knowledge, isil does not have a navy. what they do have is the ability to get in barges, float down the
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euphrates river. that's what we're seeing. again, when our intelligence picks up, you know, homemade explosives or foreign fighters or some type of war making material, sometimes we can see it getting loaded on to a barge. sometimes we catch it at that time and we're going to sink the ship or the barge or the boat. but there is a lot of civilian traffic along that river. so we are going to be careful. just like ever highway. we're not going to hit every single vehicle. we have to be confident that we know what we're striking is the enemy. so, you know, that's our standard. it's a golden standard unmatched throughout the world and in the history of aviation. but when we do see an isil barge floating down the euphrates river, we'll sink it rapidly. >> steve, this is mic. could you describe for us, please, the level, the content
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and frequency of communications between the russian and u.s. militari militaries? so, you know, we established this memorandum of understanding with the russians. it was signed several weeks ago. it established some protocols for how we interact with the russians over this skies of syria. one of the provisions of that mou is that we wouldn't make it public. so we haven't. what i'll tell you is that, you know, we are in contact with the russians regularly to ensure that we all understand kind of the rules of the sky. as you know, we executed or we conducted, you know, a radio check last night. this was, you know, u.s. fighter aircraft and a russian fighter aircraft. it was preplanned that these two
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aircraft would come together in the skies over south western syria and establish radio communications along a preestablished radio frequency. so we executed that test, only took about three minutes to get it all done. afterwards there was a phone call between the russians, to kind of go over what happened. we're going to continue that because, you know, as we've always said, safety of our forces is one of our primary concerns. and in this case establishing these safety protocols is key and critical to ensuring the safety of our personnel. but i want to be very clear with you, mic, that's all it is. we are not conducting any type of coordination on strikes. we are certainly not running our strikes past them. we're not asking their permission to do anything. all we're doing is establishing
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an open line of communication to ensure that if there is a midair emergency or a midair encounter of some sort that we've got established line of communication to enable us to quickly mitt gate that. >> steve, it's phil again. just to clarify. you said one of the provisions of the mou is that the u.s. and russia won't make the publications public. can you clarify what that is and did russian violate that by putting out a statement about those communications yesterday? >> no. i don't believe they violated it. although i'm not in the legal community, i'm certainly no international lawyer. but the sense is no. they didn't tell us they were going to issue out the release. but so no, we don't believe they violated it. the first part of your question,
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what was it again? >> you said the mou, one of the provisions of the mou is that such communications wouldn't be made public. can you collar fie what you meant by that? >> jeff, can you repeat that question? you just broke up completely. >> steve, you said one of the provisions of the mou is that the u.s. and russia would not make such communications public. i thought that's what you said. could you clarify what you meant by that? that's it. >> now, okay. i got it. no what we said is we would not like the mou public. we would not make the mou public. i'm sorry, would not make the provisions of the mou. that might have been where you didn't hear me. we agloed not to make the specific provisions of the mou public. from where i sit, i don't believe the russians violated anything. if you want i can find a lawyer
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and figure out if they did. this is a small thing, right? it was a communications test. the communications test was conducted successfully. and we're all moving on with our d day. >> hello, colonel. i would like to come back to the question of did "the new york times" article about the syrian arab coalition, it was -- someone is quoted in the article saying that it is an invention, this syrian arab coalition is an american invention. what element consist you give to explain that the syrian arab coalition does exist and it is active. what can you give us to understand that? >> sure.
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that's easy. the syrian arab coalition seized over 200 square kilometer of terrain over the last couple of days. so i don't care who invented it. it's a fighting force on the ground in syria. it's been supplied 50 tons of ammunition by, you know, an american air drop executed on 12 october. and now they're battling isil and seizing and holding ground. i'm not sure who cares who invented them. what they are is a fighting force in syria that's aligned with us that's in the process of killing peterrorists. >> why was the operation chosen for the area around al has wall. what's the significance of that ar area? >> that's where they wanted to fight. that's where their forces already kind of were located.
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there's an enemy force position there. i don't want to get into the specific details of what other operations that may not have happened yet that it's tied into. but what i'll tell you is it was a good -- it was a well-planned, well-executed operation that in fact in some ways is still on a much smaller level, they're conducting their consolidation of reorganization. they'll reset and be prepared for further offensive operations. >> all right. we got nancy. does she have her voice back? tom is going to ask a question on behalf of nancy. imagine nancy's voice. >> just imagine this is nancy and not me, all right? nancy would like to know in the area around there, how populous is that area? are we talking desert? and i actually had my own question. we keep hearing the term thicken the air strikes. we heard that from a senior
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defense official on friday. i think ash carter mentioned that as well. the air strikes will now thicken. why are you doing it snow? why didn't you do it many months ago when everyone was complaining that these air strikes were too little and too late? and lastly from nancy, how many fighters there? >> nancy, great question. tom's question, not so much. but nancy, your question your question was good. i don't have the statistics. the enemy strength in that area was several hundred fighters. i don't have a good answer for you unfortunately. you know, you can see where -- i don't know if you pulled the map up. i'm looking at the map right now. you can see where it is in relation to sinjar and hasaka. so you know, it's not a densely
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populated area but certainly it's a town in syria occupied by isil fighters. and again several hundred isil fighters in this case. on the thickening piece, that -- the reason we're able -- that i guess -- i don't know that thicken is necessary a term. it's descriptive. what we're looking at doing is not necessarily -- it's related or linked to the opening of the air base. now that we've got the ability to fly out of turkey, like i said earlier, our flight legs are shorter. our loiter time is longer, our response time is shorter. so what that does, you know, the impact of that down the road, so we haven't made a substantial shift. we haven't committed a higher number of resources. what we've done is because of
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the turks allowing us this access, what we've done is be able to have more air presence in the battle space when we need it. does that make sense? so it's kind of a cause and effect. it's open to more of the combat aircraft and other locations throughout turkey have become available. what that does is allow us to reposition so that an aircraft doesn't have to fly 1,000 miles before it has the opportunity to release its bomb. but that crushes the young crew. has all sorts of these second and third order effects when you have two midair refuelings on the way out, two on the way back. there's all sorts of different factors that cause the opening or -- or the availability of ramp space in turkey to allow us to thicken our presence in the skies over syria and iraq. does that make sense? does that answer your question? >> hi, it's jacqueline.
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you had said that part of the reason the u.s. couldn't collect any intel from the operation in al hal was there were no u.s. forces in syria. do you expect the 50 special operators will be able to increase the u.s. ability to collect intelligence from things like that? >> well, everyone, you know, in uniform is a collector. we always collecting intelligence no matter where with reand what we're doing. that goes without saying, i think. but the purpose of these forces is to advice and assist our friendly forces there. >> all right. anyone else? last call, going once, going twice. steve, thank you very much for your time. we look forward to seeing you next week, if not sooner. rchlts thank very much. sorry to bring you guys in an
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hour earlier. but if we had done this at 1900, we would have missed dinner here. thanks for letting me get dinner. we'll see everybody next week. every weekend the c-span networks feature programs on politics, nonfiction books and american history. as the nation commemorates veteran's day, saturday starting at ra history will be live from the national world war ii museum in new orleans as we look back 70 years to the war's end and legacy. we'll take your calls and tweets. and starting this week and every sunday morning at 10:00, our new program takes a look at the past presidential campaigns. this sunday will feature ronald reagan's 1979 presidential campaign announcement. and on c-span saturday night at 8:30, the debates of the effects
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of legalized marijuana in colorado and other states around the country. and our road to white house coverage continues with maryland governor and democrat presidential candidate martin o'malley who will speak at a town hall meeting in durham. and saturday afternoon on c-span 2 book's tv, it's the boston book festival, including jessica stern on the terrorist group isis, joe cline and his book about two iraq and afghanistan war veterans who use their military discipline and value to help others. and james wood and his book on the connections between fictional writing and life. and sunday night at 11:00, a book discussion with ann romney on her book "in this together" about her journey with multiple sclerosis. get your complete schedule at
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c-span.org. british prime minister david cameron answered questions from members of the house of commons on the military and veterans. the uk observes remembrance day on november 11th. he also answered questions on tax credits and longer waiting sometimes in the national health service. this is about 35 minutes. >> order. questions to the prime minister, mr. craig tracy. question number one, mr. speaker. >> thank you, mr. speaker. at the last prime minister's questions i know the whole house will join me in paying tribute to all of those who have fallen serving our country. they gave their lives so we could live ours in freedom and it's right to pause and reflect every year on ar mists day. mr. speaker, this morning i had meetings with ministerial clegg colleague and others and i should have further meetings
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later on today. >> craig tracy. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i would like to associate myself with the prime minister's comments. i look forward to joining the parade in any constituency which has been in existence since 1921. speaking to constituents, the government commitment of 2% gdp spending spending was welcome. given the volatile states of the world, it's more important than ever that we maintain the commitment and give our brave troops the support and resources, equipment available. >> i think my honorable friend is right. we live in a dangerous uncertain world. and the key commitments that we've made, the 2% on defense spending, the aid spending which helps our security as well as making sure we are a generous and moral nation and also crucially having the ultimate insurance policy of a
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replacement for our submarines. >> jeremy corbyn. >> thank you. thank you, mr. speaker. i concur with the prime minister's -- i concur with the prime minister's remarks concerning remembrance sunday and remembrance weekend. we mourn all of those that are died in all wars and surely realso resolve to try to build a peaceful future where the next generation doesn't suffer from the wars of past generations. last week i asked the prime minister the same question six times, mr. speaker and he couldn't answer. he's now had a week to think about it. i want to ask him one more time, can he guarantee that next april nobody is going to be worse off as a result of cuts to working tax credits? >> let me be absolutely clear with the honorable gentleman.
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what i can guarantee next april is there will be an 11,000 personal allowance so you can earn 11,000 pounds before you pay tax. what i can guarantee is there will be a national living wage at 7 pounds 20 giving the lowest paid in our country a 20 pound a week pay rise compared with election next year. on the issue of tax credits, we suffered the defeat in the house of lords. we've taken the proposals away. we're looking a at them. we'll come forward with new proposals. and at that point in exactly three weeks time i'll be able to answer his question. now, if we wants to spend the next five questions asking it all over again, i'm sure he'll find that it is very entertaining and interesting. how it fits with the new politics, i'm not quite sure. but over to you. mr. speaker, this isn't about entertainment.
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this is about -- this -- this is not funny for people who are desperately worried about what's going to happen next april. if the prime minister won't listen to the questions i put, won't listen to the questions that are put by the public, then perhaps the prime minister will listen to a question that was raised by his honorable friend who last week concerning tax credit changes said, and i quote, that changes cannot go ahead next april and that any mitigation should be full mitigation. what's the prim's answprime minister's answer to his friend? >> it's very much the same answer that i gave to him. in three weeks time we will announce our proposals and he will be able to see what we'll do to deliver the high pay low
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tax lower welfare economy we want to see. that's what we need in our country. we're cutting people's taxes, we're increasing people's pay but we also believe it's right to reform welfare. he'll have his answer in three weeks' time. but in the meantime he has to think about this. if we don't reform welfare, how are we going to fund the police service that we're talking about today? how are we going to fund the health service that we're talking about today? how are we going to pay for the defense forces that we're talking about today? the honorable gentleman has been completely consistent. he's opposed every single reform to welfare that has ever come forward. if we listen to him, you'd still have families in london getting 100,000 pounds a year in housing benefit. the answer to the question is you'll find out in three weeks' time. carry on. >> thank you, mr. speaker. the reality is that the prime
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minister makes choices and he's made a choice concerning working tax credits which hasn't worked very well so far. but he must be aware -- i'll give you an example. a serving soldier, a private in the army with two children and a partner would lose over 2,000 pounds next april. i ask a question -- >> the questions will be heard and the answers will be heard. simple as that. mr. jeremy corbyn >> thank you, mr. speaker. surely that is the whole point of our parliament, that we're able to put questions to those in authority. and so i have a question from -- i have a question from karen, a
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veteran of the first gulf war. his family is set to lose out and he writes, it's a worry to the family, this fear and trepidation about whether we're going to be able to get by. and he asks, is this how the government treats veterans of the armed services. >> first of all, let me take the case of the ser ving soldier. first of all many soldiers, indeed all soldier wills benefit from the 11,000 pound personal allowance that comes in next year. that means they'll be able to earn more money before they start paying taxes. serving soldiers with children will benefit from the 30 hours of childcare. and serving soldiers and other wills be able to see the proposals in tax credits in exactly three weeks' time. but what i would say to sterveing soldier is he's dealing with an opposition party the leader of which said he couldn't see any need for uq
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forces anywhere in the world at any time. that serving soldier wouldn't have a job if the honorable gentleman ever got anywhere near power. jeremy corbyn! >> thank you, mr. speaker. can i invite the prime minister to cast his mind to another area of public service that's causing acute concern at the present time. i note he's trying to dig himself out of a hole with the offer this morning, which we await the detail of. but there is a question i want to put to him, and i quote mr. cliff man, the president of the royal college of emergency medicine who said, this winter will be worse than last winter. and last winter was the worst winter we've ever had in the nhs. can the prime minister guarantee there will be no winter crisis in the nhs this year?
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>> first of all, when it comes to the royal college of emergency medicine, they actually support what we're saying about a seven-day nhs and the junior doctor's contract. he says wait for the detail. i would urge everyone in the house and all junior doctors who with watching this to go on the department of health website and look at the pay calculator. because you'll be able to see that tl that no one working legal hours will lose out in any way at all. this is an 11% basic pay rise and what it will deliver is a stronger and safer nhs. as for the state of our nhs more generally, it is benefitting from 10 billion pounds that we put in, money that the labor party at the last election said they did not support. so i believe the nhs has the resources that it needs and that's why we're seeing it treat more patients with more treatments, more drugs being delivered, more tests being
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carried out. it's a much stronger nhs and the reason is simple. because we have a strong economy supporting our nhs. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i note that the prime minister has not offered any comment whatsoever about the winter crisis of last year or what will happen this year. now, there is -- there is -- mr. speaker. >> order. order. the leader of the opposition is entitled to ask questions without a barrage of noise and the prime minister is entitled to answer questions without a barrage of noise. that is what the public is entitled to expect. mr. jeremy corbyn.
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>> mr. speaker. if the prime minister won't answer questions that i put, then i quote to him the renowned king's fund which has enormous expertise in nhs funding and nhs administration and i quote, the national health service cannot continue to maintain standards of care and balance the books. a rapid and serious decline in patient care is inevitable unless something is done. could i ask the prime minister which is rising faster, nhs waiting lists or nhs deficits? >> well, first of all, let me deal directly with the king's fund. what we've done on this side of the house is appoint a new chief executive to the nhs, mr. simon stephens who work under the last labor government and did a very good job for them. he produced the stephens plan that required 8 billion pounds of goff funding and we're putting in 10 billion pounds
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behind that plan. and the results you can see is that we've got 1.3 million more operation, 7.8 million more outpatient outlets. what is going up is the nhs is the number of treatments, the number of successful outcomes. if he wants to know who is heading for a winter crisis, i would predict that it's the labor party that is heading for a winter crisis. look at his appointments. look at his appointments. his adviser is a stalinist. and his economic adviser is a communist. if he's trying to move the labor party to the left, i'd give him full marks. >> mr. speaker, the issue that i raise with the prime minister was the national health service, in case he had forgotten. i'd just like to remind him that
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since he took office in 2010 the english waiting list is up by a third, there are now 3.5 -- 3.5 million people, 3.5 million people waiting for treatment in the nhs. if his party can't match its actions by its words, then i put this to him. will he just get real? the nhs is in a problem. it niece a problem of deficits in many hospitals. it's in a problem of waiting lists. it's in a problem of the financial crisis it's been faced with. can he now address that issue and ensure that everyone in this country can rely on the nhs which is surely the jewel in all of our crowns? >> your talks about the health service since i became prime minister. let me tell him what has happened in the nhs since i
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became prime minister. the number of doctors up by 10.5 thousand, the number of nurses up by 5,800. fewer patients waiting 52 weeks to start treem. we've introduced the cancer fund. we've seen rates of mrsa and hospital acquired infection come plummeting down. that's what's happened. but it's happened for a reason. because we've had a strong economy. because we've got some of the strongest growth anywhere in the world. because we've got unemployment coming down. because we've got inflation on the floor, we're able to fund an nhs. whereas the countries he admires all over the world with their crazy socialist plans cut the health service and hurt the people that need the help the most. >> thank you. thank you, mr. speaker. the uk's internet economy is by far the largest of the g 20
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nations, 12.4% of the gdp. but as the consumers move online, so do criminals. does the prime minister agree that the investigative power bill must give tus security mesh power that they need to keep us safe while ensuring that proper control exist on how we use those powers. >> i think it's one of the most important bills that this house will discuss. it's obviously going through prelegislative scrutiny first. the home second tritoday will set out very clearly what the bill is about, why it's necessary. let me make one simple point. communications data, the who called who and when of telecommunications is absolutely vital in catching rapists and child abductors and solving other crimes. the question before us is do we need that data when people are using social media to commit
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those crimes. my answer is yes, we must help the police and security and intelligence services to help keep us safe. >> thank you very much, mr. speaker. at this week's remembrance events we remember all of the sacrifices from past and present conflicts. we also show your respect to veterans and to service families. does the prime minister agree that everything, everything must be done to deliver on the military covenant, both the spirit and the letter? >> i certainly agree with both parts of his question. these remembrance services are very important, right up and down our country. and the military covenant i think is one of the most important things that we have where we make a promise to our military that because of the sacrifices they make on our behalf they should not have less good treatment than other good people in our country. and indeed where we can, we should provide extra support. this is the first government to put the covenant properly into
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law and to deliver almost every year big improvements in the military agreement, whether it's free transport, cancel tax discount and so many other things and we report on it every year. >> robertson. >> however is the prime minister aware that many, many service widows continue to be deprived of their force's pensions if there is a change in their personal circumstances? does he agree that this is a clear breach in the spirit of the military covenant and what will he do to rectify this wrong? >> well we made a big change, i think it was last year at around the time of arm cyst day to make sure that many people who had remarried were able to get their pensions. and that was a very big step forward welcomed by the british legion. if there are further steps we need to take or look at, i'm happy to look at them and see what could be done. i also remember in the last budget, i think it was we looked to the case f police widow open we tried to put right their
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situation as well. >> dr. james davis. >> thank you, mr. speaker. will the prime minister join me in congratulating the town in my constituency which is a finalist in the great british high streets awards? and will he confirm whether the uk government will be holding discussions with the welsh assembly government about the def lugs of business rates to councils in wales so that others have a better opportunity to regenerate? >> i certainly join him in congratulating him. i don't know whether he's in the same category for this prize as my town which has also been nominated. i might have some conflicts of interest. but what i would say to him is obviously in wales, it is open to the welsh government if they're wanting to make the
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approach we're taking so that local councils have a better connection between the money that they raise and the decisions that they make to attract businesses to sar area. >> both schools which invest heavily in intel lent teaching, dance, arts drama, yet while he has been prime minister, the schools which educate 93% of our pupils have cut teachers in those subjects. will his legacy be that britain stopped being a world leader in creative industries? >> i don't accept that. actually if you look at what's happened with school funding, it's actually been protected under this government and we want to continue protecting school funding. what i would make no apology for is the very clear focus we have on getting the basics right in
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our schools. i think it's essential that we get more children learning the basic subjects, getting the basic qualifications and then on top of that, it's then more possible, i would argue, to put in place, the arts, the dance and drama that i want my children to have as they go to their schools. >> damien collins. >> the port of dover is major piece of national infrastructure. but then there are disruption to service it creates chaos. will the prime minister give special consideration to need for an urgent and long term fix to operation tack? >> when it becomes necessary to put in place operation stack. we've implemented short term measures including the availability of the manton airfield. i know he met this morning and
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we're happy to build on this work. i understand the pressures and we'll do everything we can to relieve them. >> thank you very much, mr. speaker. can i associate myself with the comments the prime minister made about what will happen. weekend and the comments he made of the s&p. can i agree with me about the issue the fact that thousands 0 people who served our nation would serve before 1987 not entitled to full compensation. this means that people wo have been exposed and have contracted the disease compared to civilian life. to the extent that someone exposed to the industry could get the 150,000 pound compensation. and it's probable that a service person could get only 31,000 pound. it's a clear breach. >> well i'm grateful to the
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honorable gentleman for raising this issue. i understand the defense secretary is looking at it. since putting in place the military covenant into law we've tried every year to try to make progress whether on the issue of widows, whether on the issue of particular groups that have been disadvantaged in some way and i'm happy to go away and look at the points that he's made. >> thank you, mr. speaker. at the royal society have identified the need for 1 million scientists, engineers and tech professionals by 2020. one way to bridge this skill gap is a high quality apprenticeship. however, for every one place available, 20 people apply. will my friend double his efforts to meet the commitment for 3 million apprenticeships. >> the three million figure is essential. one of the ways we will achieve
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it is by making sure that more of our young people have the qualifications necessary to apply for an apprenticeship. lots of people apply pu when you knock out the people who haven't got a qualification in english and math, the number comes down. i'm delighted to announce today to try to make sure that we really work with businesses to get this 3 million. the honorable member is going to take the place of the member of wattford who has moved on to other things. and he's going to help me, the member of stratford, to make sure we get businesses to move on this agenda. >> does the prime minister realize my constituents face a double whammy on police cuts from the spending view but al. so i ask him with a cross party letter, one from my neighborhood watch group, one from the police
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commissioner and six others, mostly tourists and our chief constable all saying that this process is flawed. how many blue lights must he have before we hit meltdown. >> first of all, the reform to the police funding formula is a consultation on which no decisions have been taken. can i congratulate this police because crime is down by 5% over the parliament. funding for lancaster police is 180 million pounds which is the same in cash terms as 2003. and i record to him that her imagine industry's inspection found that it's exceptionally well-prepared to face its future financial requirements. that's the view of hmic. and in a country where crime, however you measure it, has fallen significantly since this government took office. >> thank you, mr. speaker.
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my constituent, dr. sara pate, one of the uk's leading burn specialists went out on monday to help the romanian medical teams dealing with the nightclub fire snafr. there are 150 patients in needs of critical burn care. sara pate asked if the prime minister will consider offering medical assistance to these burn vooims by allowing the use of the burn facilities for their treatment. >> first of all, i think my honorable friend is absolutely right to raise this tragic event that took place in bucharest last friday. i'm pleased to hear about dr. pate's visit and her help. i'll take that away and see what can be done. >> the prime minister will understand the heartbreak of the death of a child. for parents they're not to know what happened to the ashes of that child. as is the case with families up
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andown the country. will the prime minister agree to meet and discuss while we need national and a local inquiry as to what happened in that case around baby ashes? >> well, of course i completely understand how her constituents feel. this must have been a tragic eve event. i'm happy to arrange that meeting. i'm not aware of this case. i haven't heard of it before. let me look at it carefully and see what i can do. >> i was delighted that the cans lore chose our county city of york to launch the new infrastructure commission. can the prime minister confirm this is a start of a new era for important investment decisions, roads and railways between the great cities of the north will help bring growth and prosperity to our region?
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>> my honorable friend is right to raise this. people have long felt that there hasn't been a fair enough deal in terms of transport funding on roads and rail and i think people can now see that there are 13 billion pounds being spent on transport in the north as part of our plan to rebalance brit fan's economy. we're continuing to invest in improving the a 64 which is absolutely vital for the people of york. and we'll go on looking at what more we can do to make sure this vital economy has the transport links it needs. >> john nicholson. >> thank you, mr. speaker. on the 9th of september the secretary of state for culture, media and sports said to the committee, and i quote, there are no plans to sell channel 4. can the prime minister confirm that remains the government's position, that no discussions are underway to privatize and thus imperil this much loved and important public institution?
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>> well, first of all, let me -- i'm a huge fan of channel 4 and channel 4 was a great conservative innovation. i think it was a combination of willie white law and margaret thatcher that helped bring channel 4 to our screens. i'm a huge fan. i want to make sure that channel 4 has a strong secure future. i think it's right to look at all of the options including to see whether private investment into channel 4 could safeguard it for the future. let's have a look at the options. let's not close our minds like some on the opposition front bench who think that, you know, private is bad and public is good. let's have a proper look at how we can make sure this great channel goes on being great for many years to come. >> thank you, mr. speaker. everybody who has had any contact with the adoption
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process will be familiar with the frustration that unnecessary delays cause to prospective parents. will the prime minister take action to speed up the adoption process so that more children can be put with the right families much more quickly? >> my old friend is absolutely right to raise this. we've seen a 72% increase in the number of children adopt. the average waiting time has come down something like five months. but if you look across the 150 different councils responsible for adoption, you can see that around 68 of them don't have any mechanisms for what we call early placement where you actually run fostering an adoption alongside each other. if we can introduce that at least through the regional adoption agencies, we'll see many more children get the warm and loving home that we want them to have. >> will he spare a thought on arm cysts day for 633 of our
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bravest and bests who died as a result of two political mistakes? 179 in per suit of nonexistent weapons of mass instruction in iraq and 454 who died in the incursion that promised that no shot would be fired. will he rethink his own plan to order more of our brave soldier to put their lives on the line in the chaos and confusion of a four-sided civil war in syria? >> i have great respect for the honorable gentleman. but with respect i would suggest that on this day we should put aside political questions about conflicts and decisions that were made and we should simply remember the men and women who put on a uniform, go and serve and risk their lives on our behalf. let's make this day about that and not about other questions.
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>> thank you, mr. speaker. >> mr. speaker, the last week has been scrapping of the airport development fee, which was an additional tax on passengers and a barrier to growth. the announcement of new air links that link to mainland europe and the gap link with the support of the cso. will the prime minister join me in congratulating the team at the airport for their excellent work in supporting the cornish economy? >> i'm a huge fan. and we made promise to make sure that the vital connectivity between corn wall and the rest of europe is there. >> can i thank the prime
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minister for his welcome to this -- >> order. i want to hear this question. mr. lamb? >> thank you, mr. speaker. can i thank the prime minister for his welcome for the campaign launched this week where over 200 leaders from across society joined the right honorable gentleman cofield and me in calling for equality for those who suffer for mental health. those who suffer from mental ill health do not have the same access treatment as others who enjoy in our nhs. the moral and economic case for ending this injustice is overwhelming. will the prime minister deliver the investment in mental health to deliver genuine equality? >> well, let me say to the honorable gentleman who did a lot of work on this in the last parliament. i very much welcome the campaign that has been launched and what they want to achieve.
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we set out in the nhs constitution parity between mental and physical health, and we've taken steps toward that by introducing waiting times and proper targets for talking therapies, and i think there are now twice as many people undergoing those talking therapies as there were five years ago. but i completely accept it has more to do in healing this divide between mental and physical health and this government has committed to do that. >> thank you, mr. speaker. further to the question from the gentleman from norfolk north. may i thank the prime minister for his support and say that this is an all-party campaign. does he agree with me now that there's an opportunity now to build on the work of the coalition over the last five years and with widespread support over all parts of society and historic injustice between the treatment between mental health and the physical illness? >> well, i think my honorable friend is absolutely right.
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let me tell him what we're actually doing. we're spending $11.4 billion this year. and we have asked every group to ensure real increases in their investment services so. it can't be treated as a cinderella service that has sometimes been the case in the past. i think if we do that and also deal with some of the other issues, such as mental health patients being held in police cells we have a far better system for mental health in our country. >> with the announcement yesterday ever the loss of 860 manufacturing jobs at the mit michelin plant, will you address the short term and long-term issues and people who are currently in work in northern ireland who are woryed about
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cutting tax credits. will the prime minister reverse the thrust of that policy? and remove the burden and threat against working families in northern ireland across the country? >> well, first of all, on the issue of industries, if a company qualifies as part of the energy-intensive industries it will see a reduction in its bill because of the action i announced from this dispatch box last week. the second thing is we have passed legislation to allow ireland to set its own tax. the sooner northern ireland will be able to take action to try and build a stronger private sector in northern ireland which is exactly what i want to see. on the issue of tax credits, i give him the same answer. he'll know in three weeks time,
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but he also knows that people work in that business or in other businesses will be able to earn 11,000 pounds before they start paying taxes. let's build an economy where you earn more, pay less taxes and keep welfare costs under control so we can build great public services. >> order! i have learned that you request do anything to you want to. they used to ask me if i thought the first lady ought to be paid. if you get paid then i have to do what first lady's supposed to do. but you can do anything you want to, and it's such a great soapbox. i mean, it's just such a great opportunity. so i would advise any first lady to do what she wanted to do. if she doesn't want -- and another thing i learned is you're going to be criticized about it no matter what you do. i could have stayed at the white
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house, poured tea, had receptions and i would have been criticized as much as i was criticized outside for what i did. and i lot a lot of criticism. but you learn to live with it. as i said earlier. you just live with it. expect it and you live with it. and never let it influence me. >> she was her husband's political partner from their first campaign. as first lady, she attended president jimmy carter's cabinet meetings. even testifying before congress. their partnership on health and peacekeeping issues has spanned four decades since leaving the white house. rosalynn carter, this sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's original series, first ladies of the influence and image, examining the public and private lives of the women who fulfilled the role of first lady. from martha washington to michelle obama. sunday at 8:00 eastern on c-span
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3. the heritage foundation and the angelo sphere society co-hosted an event honoring the career of the late prime minister margaret thatcher. october 13th would have marked her 90th birthday. panelists discussed her relationship with president reagan. their approach when it came to dealing with the soviet union and her views on the u.k.'s membership in the european union. their is just over an hour. >> good afternoon. thank you for joining us here at the heritage foundation in our douglas and sara allison auditorium. we, of course, welcome those who join us on our heritage.org website on all of these occasions, those who will be joining us on c-span. we remind our internet viewers that questions or comments can always be sent simply e-mailing speaker@heritage.org. and we have all, of course, posted today's program on our home page for everyone's future reference as well. we're pleased today that our program is cohosted by the
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anglosphere society. it was formed in 2012. it is an independent educational nonprofit tax-exempt membership organization and focuses on promoting the special relationship between the united states and the united kingdom, free market economies, and cultural events for english-speaking peoples. in pursuing its mission, the anglosphere society holds cultural events for sharing ideas based on the historic values of the english-speaking peoples, encourages the anglosphere alliance through the arts, literature, music and historic travel, acts as a forum to promote and publicize ideas grounded in the values of freedom and democracy, and fosters networks and personal bonds to stimulate discussions on key issues. we are pleased that opening our program today, the founder of the anglosphere society, amanda bowman, will lead us. she previously served as the new
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york director of the center for security policy for eight years, focusing there on policing terrorism and the home-grown threat posed by radical islam. this allowed her to work collaboratively with policy organizations and law enforcement on both sides of the pond. ms. bowman has over 20 years experience in corporate, philanthropic and consumer public relations on both sides of the atlantic. she also serves as a board member of the intrepid fallen heroes fund. please join me in welcoming amanda bowman. amanda? >> thank you so much, john, and my deepest gratitude to the heritage organization for cohosting this event and their generosity in making it all possible. today we are celebrating the life of margaret thatcher who
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would have been 90 years old today. the -- in april of 2013, the senate passed a resolution to recognize the life legacy and example of british prime minister barroness margaret thatcher. and i'd like to quote from the -- those -- that resolution because i think it sets the stage for this discussion tonight. resolved that the senate hobers the legacy of barroness margaret thatcher for her lifelong commitment to advancing freedom, liberty and democracy throughout the world. recognizes that margaret thatcher, working with president ronald reagan, helped bring a peaceful end to the cold war. reiterates its continued support for the close tie and the special relationship between the

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