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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  January 29, 2014 2:00pm-4:01pm EST

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access, and decreasing quality. and instead of saying -- a throw away line to work with others, but instead of saying we have to fix the things that are wrong in this, the fact of the matter is he's increasing the challenge for the american people, especially in the area of health care. we have asked now for -- >> mario longe. . >> good morning, everyone. , . president, mr. secretary distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it's my great pleasure to welcome you here today at the u.s. steel reserve and plant.
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steel, more than 3,000 employees, has transformed into objects which are essential to odern society. items like cars and trucks, household appliances, parts for jewelry, watches, computers, robertics, equipment and the tubular products that support a clean and efficient energy independent america. the work done here creates real and substantial economic value or all stakeholders. every steel industry job supports seven jobs in the u.s. economy. from the raw materials in the industrial supply sectors to the manufacturers, including automotives, consumer products, energy and technology, all of whom provide the products and services that enhance our standards of living. our steel jobs create
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prosperity. they are well-paying jobs, provide good benefits, offers substantial work force development opportunities and drives innovation. u.s. steel employees are some of the most highly trained and skilled workers in the world, and they operate in a high-tech environment that enhances their safety and ensures high standards. our dedicated research efforts are pushing the boundaries of this amazing material to exciting new heights. mr. president, we are developing the most advanced high-strength steels to help automakers meet the increasingly higher safety and emissions standards you spoke of last night. we're also developing new products and services to help our industry customers to extract resources in safe and environmentally response ways,
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from under thousands of feet under land and thousands of feet under water. today, we are so deeply focused on enhancing our competitiveness through a business transformation effort that we're actually calling -- and this initiative is leading the way for another 110 years of strong economic contribution by this iconic american company. at the end of the day, the u.s. remains the most attractive and open market in the world. however, market distorting practices of foreign governments are significant threats to america's steel industry, to the jobs we provide and to american prosperity. the ld like to thank united steelworkers leadership team for their commitment and partnership on efforts to enhance u.s. steel's
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competitiveness. together we keep the domestic steel industry strong and ensure our work force has access to the training and retraining that they need through initiatives like the institute for career development which has been providing personal and professional development opportunities for the last 25 years in allowing for continued outward mobility. we share the administration's goals for further investments in job training and development. we are doing our part to relink the work force supply chain to manufacturing. it is now my honor and privilege to introduce a leader whose visit here today renews his commitment to the highly skilled employees who contribute to our success every day. by your presence here today, mr. president, you've reinforced the importance of
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the steel in american manufacturing and industries and the need to ensure that innovative industries such as ours not only survives but that they thrive. -- survive but that they thrive. ladies and gentlemen, our friend and partner to american manufacturing, the president of the united states. [applause] [playing "hail to the chief"] >> hey, hello, everybody!
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well, thank you, mario, for that great introduction and your leadership. you just don't come to the steel city without coming to u.s.c. i just got a great tour and had a chance to see a little bit about how you guys build america every single day and i could not be prouder to be here . i brought a few friends with me. we got america's treasury secretary, jack lew. [applause] we got a couple of guys who wake up and go to bed for pennsylvania workers every single day, senator bob casey. [applause] nd congressman mike doyle. we got the mayor of west
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mifflin, chris kelly, in the house. pittsburgh's new mayor is here. and we got allegeny county executive rich fitzgerald. and then we got one of my good buddies who is always in my ear about working people, and i love this guy, the international president of the united steelworkers, leo gerard, is here. and i also brought along our great friend, our former ambassador to ireland and most importantly chairman of the pittsburgh steelers, dan rooney n the house. and most of all, it's great to be here with men and women of u.s. steel. this company helped build
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america, and over 100 years later you're still at it. you forged the pipes that transport cleaner burning natural gas. you manufacture the lightweight alloys that our automakers use to build fuel-efficient cars. you're part of one of the great turn-around stories of this economic recoveries, the rebound of the american steel industry. and look, just every time i go to the steel plant, i remember being a steelworker is hard work, but every single one of you is doing your part to make the country stronger. and because of your efforts, businesses like u.s. steel have now created eight million new jobs over the past four years. 9,000 new jobs in the steel industry alone. our unemployment rate is the lowest it's been in five years. our deficits have been cut in
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half. housing is rebounding. manufacturing is adding jobs, not shrinking jobs, for the first time since the 1990's. we sell more than what we make here in parts of america to the world than ever before. business leaders are starting to realize that china's no longer the best place to invest and create jobs. america is. the u.s. of a. [applause] which is why i said last night, i believe this can be a break through year for america. after five years of hard work, after everything we did to dig ourselves out of the worst recession of our lifetime, we're better positioned in this 21st century than any other country on earth. and the question i pose to congress yesterday is whether folks in washington are going
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to help or they're going to hinder the progress we've been making. whether they're going to waste time creating new crises that slows down our economy or they're going to spend time creating new jobs and new opportunities. [applause] and i don't know what their plans are, but i choose a year of action because too many americans are working harder than ever just to get by. let alone get ahead. they still have the scars of the recession, but the truth is the middle class has been taken it on the chin says way before the financial crisis hit. you know that. the economy now has been growing for four years. corporate profits, stock prices, they've gone up, but folks' wages hasn't risen in over a decade. and that's why last night i laid out new steps we can take
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right now to speed up economic growth, strengthen the middle class and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. it's an opportunity agenda, because opportunity is what america's all about. and the agenda has four parts. number one, more new jobs. jobs in american manufacturing, jobs in american energy, jobs in american innovation and technology. number two, we got to train more americans with the skills that we need to fill those jobs. number three, we got to guarantee every child in america a world-class education. [applause] and number four, we got to make sure hard work pays off. now, some of these ideas that i presented last night are going to require congress to pass
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legislation, but america doesn't stand still. u.s. steel hasn't stood still. i'm not going to stand still. so wherever i can take steps to expand opportunity for more families, regardless of what congress does, that's what i'm do.g to [applause] because i am determined to work with all of you and citizens all across this country on the defining projects of our generation and that is to restore opportunity for every single person who's willing to work hard and take responsibility in this country. that's what i'm committed to doing. [applause] now, i've come to u.s. steel today because i wanted to talk about that fourth part of that agenda, making hard work pay off for every single american, making sure jobs pay good wages, making sure affordable health care is there when you need it, making sure after a
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lifetime of hard work you can retire with some dignity. today women make up about half our work force, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. as i said last night, that's wrong. in 2014, it is an embarrassment. women deserve equal pay for equal work. they deserve to be able to have a baby without sacrificing a job. moms and dads deserve to be able to take a day off for a sick kid or a sick parent. we got to get rid of some of these workplace policies that belong back in the 1950's, back in a "mad men" episode, i said. we ought to give every opportunity she deserves because when women succeeds, america skeds. i'm proud that there is a woman heading up this plant and doing some amazing work. i was really glad to see that. but women hold the majority of
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lower wage jobs, and they're not the only ones who have been stifled by stagnant wages. the truth is wages and incomes for the average working american haven't gone up. even though the economy is more productive, even though it's grown over the last two decades, the average person's salary, what they're taking home, their paycheck, it hasn't really grown. now, americans understand, we all understand some people are going to earn more money than others. and we don't envy anybody who achieves success through their hard work. that's what we want for our kids. now, michelle and i were talking. michelle's dad was a blue-collar worker. worked at a water filtration plant in chicago. her mom was a secretary. my mom was a single mom. when we were growing up, we
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weren't worrying about what rich people were doing. we weren't going around saying, oh, man, we don't have caviar for lunch and we're not -- we're not, you know, vacationing down in some fancy place. we don't begrudge the success of other folks, but we did expect, and i think most americans still expect that if you work hard you should be able to make it. you don't have to -- you don't have to make it the way some folks make it but everybody should have enough to feel some security. and americans overwhelmingly agree that nobody who works full time should ever have to raise a family in poverty. if you're doing your responsibilities and working ard, you should be able to pay the rent, buy food, look after your family. today, the federal minimum wage doesn't go as far as it did
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even in the 1950's. that's why some states and cities are raising the minimum wage on their own and i support their efforts. as i mentioned last night, as chief executive, i'm going to lead by example. in the coming weeks, i'm issuing an executive order requiring federal contractors, folks doing business with the federal government, pay your federally funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour. because if you cook our troops' meals or you wash their dishes, you shouldn't have to live in poverty. [applause] of course, if we're going to reach millions more, then congress is going to have to get onboard. there's a bill in congress right now to raise that minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, and i told congress, say yes to that, give america a raise. but that's not all we have to do to grow our middle class.
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making work pay also means access to health care for you when you get sick. now the good news is, if you work at u.s. steel i know you got good benefits. and that's why i'm a strong supporter of unions because they fought for those benefits. [applause] but as everybody here knows, and i bet you got friends and family who haven't been so lucky and don't have those benefits. what the affordable care act means is that no one can ever again be dropped or denied coverage for a pre-existing condition like asthma or cancer. you can't be charged more if you're a woman. you can't be charged more just because forging steel might hurt your back, make it hurt sometimes. and if you don't have health insurance on the job, you can actually get affordable health insurance. so the days when folks are just on your own, out of luck, those
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days are over. more americans are signing up for new private health insurance plans every day. we're signing folks up for medicaid, and if you know somebody who isn't covered, call them up, sit them down, help them get covered at by march 31. we are going to get all of america covered. that's one of my commitments. [applause] and finally, and that's what this little desk here is about, there's another thing we can all agree on. if you worked hard all your life, you deserve a secure retirement. you know, some of the folks i met before i came here on the tour, some of these folks have been on the job 15 years, 20 years. i think your roller has been on the job 38 years. let me tell you something, if you worked 38 years, at the end of it you should feel like you're going to retire with
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some security. and a retirement used to be a three-legged stool. you used to have a pension. then, you had your social security. then, you had your own private savings. and you put that all together and you could retire. but today most workers don't have a pension in america. just half work for an employer that offers any kind of retirement plan. social security check is critical but oftentimes that monthly check, that's not enough. and while the stock markets doubled over the last five years, that doesn't help somebody if you don't have a 401-k. so what i've asked congress to do is work with me to give more people more retirement security. let's fix an upside down tax code that right now gives the wealthiest americans big tax
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breaks to save but does almost nothing for middle-class folks, doesn't give them the same kind of tax advantages. that's not fair. and we need to give every american access to an automatic i.r.a. on the job so they can save at work. now, i'm hoping that congress goes along with this, but i'm not going to wait for congress. i can do more with congress, but i'm not going to not do anything without congress, not when it's about the basic security and dignity of american workers. so here's what i'm going to do today. this is what this little table is set up for. i'm going to sign a presidential memorandum that directs the u.s. treasury secretary, jack lew, to create a new way for working americans to start their own retirement savings. [applause] and as soon as i sign this,
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jack lew will get the memo. he is right here. i'm going to say here, here's your memo. and we're calling it my r.a. not i.r.a. my r.a. and what it is, it's a new type of savings bond in a we can set up without legislation that encourages americans to begin to build a nest egg and it's simple. workers can contribute through automatic deductions in their paychecks, just like those of you who have an employer-sponsored pension fund can do, they can keep the same account, even if they change jobs. so they can carry it over. it's safe. these accounts balance -- these account balances will never go down in value. they're backed by the full faith and credit of the united states government. and it's affordable. so you can open an account with as little as $25. you can contribute as little as $5 at a time. but what that means is for hose of you who don't have a
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401-k on the job, don't have a pension on the job, don't have a mechanism to start saving, especially young workers, you can get started now. and in an emergency, you can withdraw contributions without paying a penalty, so it's a pretty good deal. [applause] and what i'm hoping is that working americans will take a look, because i want more people to have the chance to save for retirement through their hard work. and this is just one step that we can take to help more people do that. so this is the opportunity agenda that's going to help restore some sense of economic security in this 21st century economy. we want jobs that are more plentiful. we want skills that keep you employable. we want savings that are portable. we want health care that's yours and is not going to be canceled when you really need it. we want every american who works hard and takes
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responsibility to retire with dignity after decades of honest work. these are real practical, achievable solutions to help shift the odds back a little bit in favor of more working and middle-class americans. if they work hard, they can get ahead and they can leave something for the next generation and that's something that u.s. steel knows a little bit about. for over 100 years, people throughout the valley and throughout this country have been punching in at plants just like this one. you've been keeping the furnaces blasting, keeping the coal mill rolling, carrying on the tradition of hard work and determination. we got two, three-generation steelworkers at this plant right here. and i know for a lot of you this is more than a job. in is a team. this is a family that you're proud to be part of.
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now, robin burke is with me today. decades ago her granddad worked for union switch and signal in pittsburgh making parts for railroads. her dad worked for u.s. steel for over 30 years, rising to plant manager. robin's been a safety manager here for 23 years, and i want to share something robin said. she said, when i was growing up i would think about what my grandfather and father did for a living and i always thought my brother would be the one who got to work here. but it ended up being me. women before me maybe didn't have that opportunity. now, robin's dad, bernard, who just passed away a little more than a year ago, he was full of pride for this company. he used to say, when we bleed we bleed blue. the color of u.s. steel. so that pride has run across generations. that's the pride that built this country and that's the pride that built america. that's the spirit we all need
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today. that's the resilience, the grit, the determination and the optimism that keeps the american dream alive. not just for this generation but for future generations to come. that's what i'm going to be fighting for this year, just like i was for the last five years and for the next three years. and i expect all of you to join me in making sure that we deliver that promise to the next generation. and now i'm going to sign this bill. thank you, god bless you. god bless the united states of america. [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national able satellite corp. 2014] >> here's jack lew. i'm going to give it to him. we're going to get it started.
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thank you, everybody. ♪
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♪ i will provide for you and ♪ l stand by your side
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[playing "land of hope and dreams"] >> ♪ well, this train carries
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saints and sinners this train carries losers and winners this train carries gamblers this train carries lost souls this train, dreams will not be thwarted this train, faith will be rewarded this train, hear the steel wheels singing this train, bells of freedom ringing ♪ ♪ yes, this train carries
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saints and sinners this train carries losers and winners this train carries whores and gamblers his train carries lost souls this train carries broken-hearted this train, thieves and sweet souls departed this train carries fools, carries kings -- aboard- i said, now now this train, dreams will not be thwarted this train, faith will be rewarded this train, the steel wheels singing this train, bells of freedom inging ♪
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>> president obama wrapping up his visit in west mifflin, pennsylvania, at the u.s. steel company. on the road tomorrow, too, after the state of the union, president obama will travel to milwaukee and visit general electric's walk saw gas engine -- wakaswa gas engine. and also on the economy, senate majority leader harry reid said he's seeking for notes to extend jobless benefits for those that have been out of work the longest. the nevada democrat told reporters today he's short of the 60 votes needed to end republican-delaying tactics against the measure. but he said he has 58 or 59 votes and hope the chamber will debate that package next week. the senate finishing up work this week on the farm bill. passed the house 261-155.
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also today, politicseses from both sides of the aisle gave their reaction -- politicians from both sides of the aisle gave their reaction to the presidential state of the union address. they were at an event hosted by the "politico" and it included remarks from jennifer palmieri. it's about 2 1/2 hours. >> good morning, everybody. i'm thrilled to be joined on this early post-state of the union morning by susan brooks, congresswoman from indiana, mike pompeo, three house republicans who were obviously at the state of the union, we hope, last night. our mobile polling question for this conversation is displayed on the tv's above us so weigh in and participate in this event. so let's get started. guys, this is a question that we're asking everybody today. so you'll hear throughout the
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presentation but the biggest thing i learned about president obama last night was that he was blank. i'll start with you, congressman pompeo. >> in charge for five years but responsible for nothing. >> and congressman lankford. >> i'm not sure i learned that. i knew that side of him. i think he -- i learned he finds it very important that ou call your mother. >> obvious reference to his urging of the american people to sign up for health care. >> call your mom. >> congresswoman. >> he likes to use the word i a lot rather than we. >> on that note -- sorry. continue. >> unfortunately, i paid a lot more attention to that and rereading his remarks this morning. used the word i a lot. >> on that note, one thing that was obvious and very prominent and the white house talked a lot about was his -- he wants
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to take executive actions. unilateral actions on things like -- he's going to raise the federal minimum wage. he's talking about a whole host of executive action. congressman lankford, what do house republicans plan to do about that? >> that's the interesting part. in some ways he's going back to his base saying i'm going to stick those republicans in the eye. i'm just going to go around them. most of the proposals he's laying out he already has statutory authority to do. he's just trying to charge up his base and go after it. and some things should get pushed back on. traditionally there is' been a member of your own party in the senate that's risen up and challenged his own president when they exceeded constitutional authority. think about robert byrd challenging democratic presidents saying, mr. president, you can't do that. we have to honor the constitution. we just find that in this day and age people challenging their own president. if he pushes beyond constitutional authority, he should be held to account that, not only hearings but also supreme court, as we see in the
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supreme court case just last week where the supreme court -- the president says to the senate, i'm going to define what your schedule is. i'm going to tell the senate when you're in recess and when you're not and i think the supreme court is going to knock that back. >> congressman, you're an attorney involved in the king committees on capitol hill. what does he have the authority to do by executive order? what do you think the bounds of this are and how should house republicans respond to that? >> look, every president's issued executive orders. that's appropriate to do. but the scope of things this president has done, take major pieces of law and just because he says so choose not to enforce them, that's radically different than previous presidents' executive orders. he says we have this health care law i loved and passed without a single republican vote. i'm going to take huge pieces of it and delay it. he said that's an old fight. we don't want to refight that fight.
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that fight is less than a-month-old. and major players say, it's -- he's declaring this as an old fight and out of bounds of what we shouldn't discuss. those are the kinds of things that we should push back on. when he takes things outside of statutory authority, we'll have hearings. and even people like the good solid conservative ned when presidents take executive action you begin to have a country that's very different than what our founders intended. >> i want to pose this question to all of you guys. i assume that you guys have the same views. but congressman pompeo and lankford talked about oil and how oil production is up. his energy policy. i want to get your take on that. you might have a different opinion than the president, i would guess. fire off here. >> it is stunning to watch a president who is bound and
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determined, honest about his desire to stop coal-powered power plants. talk about how oil production is up on his watch. every single policy statement that he makes puts a burden on folks who are trying to produce these energies. he talks about taking away ordinary tax deductions from him that every other industry player gets, a health care bill that makes it expensive for them to operate their companies. then he talks about a transition. he didn't say how long he wanted natural gas to be a transition for. i suspect his base will be a transition for about 20 minutes. and we know that fossil fuels are going to be around for decades to come, and yet this president will wave his magic wand and pretend it's not so. >> what's fascinating to me, the president says i'm going to streamline bureaucracies. that's my favorite statement where he said i am going to streamline bureaucracies to make sure natural gas can be used in factories. well, my first thought was, if you want to streamline some bureaucracies and use your pen and your phone that you talk about, there is a keystone
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pipeline permit that's been on your desk almost 2,000 days waiting on just a permit signature on it. there's some significant things there. he talks about streamlining for factories but right now the e.p.a., if you want to actually modify your vehicle to use c.n.g., it takes six to eight months just to get that permit. the vehicle is almost out of date by the time you get certified to use it. so there are a lot of bureaucracies for the expansions of fuels. we had a major push on the export of l.n.g. the administration is slow walking all these permits for the export of l.n.g. it would be a tremendous job boost. he talks about natural gas being this clean fuel, which it is. if it is then we should be exporting that worldwide. >> congresswoman, you were shaking your head. >> well, what amazed me last night a couple of times is when he talked about cutting red pape and, you know, making the bureaucracy much easier for the companies of all sorts to operate infrastructure and so
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forth. he was talking about, again, just making things simpler and cutting red tape and lessening bureaucracy and that we shouldn't be fighting about the size of the government. i think he actually started out by that. that we should get over talking about the size of the federal government when those are exactly all of the type of policies that we continue to see from this president. and so i kind of laughed when he was talking about cutting red tape because as it's truly the growth of his bureaucracy and the government under his watch that has really made it so much more difficult for the american people to move forward. >> and one thing that the president probably can't do by executive order but would like to see you guys accomplish is immigration reform. i know this is a touchy topic and not only republican circles and obviously some democratic circles, a very tough issue to deal with in 2014. congresswoman, what is your view on the senate's immigration proposal and what will you -- what would you like to see house republicans do? >> well, we're headed today to have a really important discussion with the rest of our republican colleagues at the retreat about the principles
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that we can -- there we can stand together on with respect to immigration reform. i do believe immigration reform is necessary. i don't believe the senate's proposal in this huge massive package was the right way to go about it. it's too complex of a problem, and so i agree with our approach of taking the different problems with immigration piece by piece. and so i think we will tackle it. i hope that we jump into it because it is a problem that's not going away. and so, you know, i'm pleased that we're going to come together and come up with those principles. we know that the business community is one of their top agenda items. in my community, whether it's the chambers or the agricultural community, they want to see immigration reform happen. and for the work force of this country, we actually need to get this right. and so -- but we got to secure the border. if we don't secure the border, then we're back at the same problem that brought us this problem to begin with. so it does start with border security and then, i believe, you know, we can get into the
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other reforms that are necessary. but in a piece-by-piece fashion. it's too complicated to take it in one bill. >> vice president biden this morning on cbs this morning said that citizenship is what should be at the end of the pathway. it shouldn't only be legalization. it should be citizenship. if that's the white house's stance, is immigration reform going to happen this year? >> no. because -- and that's our biggest concern. i don't think anyone looks at our immigration system and say, wow, it's looking great. everything is working fine on immigration. it's not. legal and illegal immigration, we are not convinced that we have a willing partner, we're afraid he wants to work on the politics of it and that's a business concerning. it's not just the rhetoric. you go back to december of 2012 when we passed a bill that dealt with high-skilled workers and the president jumped out and said, i am going to veto
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it. i want to do everything. i don't want to do it piece by piece. it's not something we should be done in a comprehensive fashion. so if his focus is if you can't do everything we'll do nothing, that's really sad. because i think we can agree on many things. >> just to close it out, to bring it back to where you began, to the president with respect to immigration has taken executive action that is deeply, deeply outside of his statutory authority. right? he's chosen not to enforce major pieces of current immigration law. and so when he comes to us and say, hey, pass another statute, there's the confidence that he'll execute against the law is incredibly low with respect to immigration in particular. so what i'd love to see him do is say, watch, i'm going to implement what's out there today. you'll find a great more willingness from folks on the republican party to pass new laws and fix things that we've identified. >> and just to give the audience a sense of where the
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house republican conference is, they have a great sense of where the conference is. how deep is the distrust based on what you said? this is something i hear all the time from you and your colleagues. how deep is the distrust with the president? >> just to start -- it's not us. it's the folks we represent. it's when we go home. i was home in kansas this weekend. when you talk to folks, the distrust of this president, the promises he makes, the statements he asserts and then he walks away from them, that's a kind word to describe it, is known by them. they see it. they're living it. it's impacting their lives. this isn't about politics. this isn't about our party. this isn't about getting re-elected. this is about the lives of folks across this country who doesn't trust the president to do the things that he promises. >> due to my position in the house, i've been at some of the negotiations in the white house, i sat around the table in the roosevelt room as we worked through some of the
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issues. the president said things behind closed doors and we thought we were headed in the right direction and 12 hours later it's completely different. >> in my first year in congress, besides hearing the president at the state of the union last year we had only one other meeting with the president of the united states where he actually came to the house republicans and talked to us. one other time. and so i think the problem is in order to have trust you have to have a relationship. and there is not a solid working good relationship with the president. and so this is, you know, coming to the state of the union last night, i feel like it's the third time i'm not in those meetings. you know, at this point having those negotiations but yet we have little to know relationship with the president and actually i would think a lot of democrat members i've talked to would say the same thing. >> and so give -- so let's fill this out a little bit more then. given the entire state of the union, all -- you know, 65
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minutes or whatever it was, how many proposals that the president laid out will house republicans tackle this year? just to give a sense of where the house republican conference is. >> there are a couple of them. he turned to the vice president and said he's going to work on reforming our jobs program and the training program. i leaned over to kevin mccarthy and said, that's the skills act. we did that already. and he threatened to veto that immediately. it wasn't a, well, let's have a conversation about it. some of those things we're very supportive. we talked about the streamlining of permitting, we're very supportive of those things. we'd like to see duplication removed in government. we'd like to see more decisionmaking at the local level. he talked about the american people and the strength of their decisionmaking but then halfway through the speech he said the american people won't be successful unless we do those things. it can't be the same. >> you head to beautiful cambridge, maryland, for the house republican retreat. i heard they got three inches of snow so hopefully you bought your boots. give us -- if you could give us
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a sense of what house republicans will be tackling this year, give us a sense of what you want to see at the end of this weekend, next week what will washington be talking about and what will house republicans be doing? easy question. >> well, i'll say this. one of the things that was noticeably absent last night was any serious discussion about america's debt. he opened the speech by saying he reduced the deficit by half. right. i told my son, it's like you're going 200 miles an hour, son, you went down to 100 and told the cop, great deal, hu uh? i hope we haven't lost sight. to quote the president, that's not an old tired debate. it's what james and i and the class of 2010 and susan's class came to tackle. i hope we didn't lose the sight that we're spending $600 billion more than it's taking in. it's not sustainible. >> one of the things i was pleased that he talked about last night and so i have real hope if he chooses so lead on
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it as well is tax reform. and he did bring up tax reform last night. and he actually talked about tax reform in a way that he didn't talk about raising taxes for the first time. so he talked about actually helping businesses and lowering rates and trying to make sure that we keep jobs in this country and bring those overseas profits back to our shores. so i'm hopeful. you know, i felt like tax reform was really moving in a positive direction. and so with chairman camp leading the way, i'm hopeful we can get some tax reform done. >> congressman lankford, you're policy chair. you can actually tell us what will happen. >> oh, no. i'm not clairvoyant in that way, especially among house republicans. most of our conversations in the next three days will circle around two different sets of issues. some of the problems we want to solve that we'll try to tackle there will hopefully move through the senate and the white house and the other is, what are the big things we'll work on, tax reform is one of
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those things, immigration is one of those things. what will we try to do in energy policy, those are all big issues that will take up a lot of time. we're actually planning to do appropriations bills. since we have an agreed-upon number we can work through those appropriations bills. we'll be limited somewhat with what we can do through the summer so we have to be strategic on what we take on the schedule. >> thank you, guys. it's time to wrap you of. thank you very much for coming and sharing your thoughts and hopefully that made a lot of news. it's a lot to digest. thank you very much for your time. and now i'd like to welcome -- so i think you guys -- >> exiting. >> and we're shuffling right away. >> stage right. >> stage right, i'm sorry. >> thanks. >> i'm a reporter for a reason. thanks, guys. now i'd like to welcome congressman kevin mccarthy from california and congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz, the chair of the democratic ational committee.
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[applause] ok. so it's just me and you. >> yeah. >> congressman, how are you? >> very well. >> so we got a one-on-one. i've been asking for a one-on-one for a long time with congressman mccarthy. >> you want me to give you debbie's answers? >> you can give me her answers as well. one question we're asking everybody is the biggest thing you learned about president obama last night was what? >> he watches "mad men." >> so you're saying out of that whole 60-something speech, there was nothing new that you learned about president obama? >> no. when i listened to the speech, i was trying to look through what he talked about is what he has talked about. there wasn't something new that came out. maybe a little more humor. he watches "mad men" and
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others. i thought his ending was a very moving, compelling story. but there wasn't something new that grasped. my r.a. really wasn't the concept. it's almost as i watched it a metaphor, you watch someone going on a long trip in a car that's running out of gas. i wonder if you look at it, did the american people tune out? he seemed like he wanted the democrats to stay torget. really rally around health care. but i wonder if that split a lot of the democrats that could cost them the senate and just put them in a stronger box. >> so as everybody probably knows but i'll remind, mr. mccarthy is the number three house republican, the house majority whip, in charge of wrangling house republicans to vote for bills and initiatives, party initiatives. >> how do you get people to get up this early?
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>> we have a dedicated audience. we're very fortunate. so out of that entire speech last night, touched on a lot of things, executive orders, immigration, minimum wage, the my r.a. concept. what are some things that house republicans will take from that speech and put into legislation? >> well, one, trade. we'd love to work with him on trade. we'd love to work with him on energy. nothing in that speech said legislation. it's either do what i want or i'll go around. and i don't think that is helpful. i understand he has the phone and the pen. i always say, well, use the phone to call and work together. use the pen to sign the bills we work together on. to me that's a frustration. but remember, we make policy in the world of politics. when he talked about what i referred to about job training and others, that sounded a lot
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like the skills act that passed the house and lingers in the senate. so that's a capability. use the phone to tell harry reid, let's move that. find common ground there. there are opportunities, but it's got to be more than a speech. it's got to be worked. there seems to be a little history of that -- not that following through. >> you touched on a number of things that he discussed. the -- let's start with the job training piece. you talked about the skills act. tell our guests kind of what the contours of the skills act are? what could you work on with president obama there? >> well, in the house we passed something called the skills act. what you do, you have a lot of job training programs, a lot of duplication and others. how do you streamline that? how do you get individuals to get the training they need in a faster and working it through, eliminating duplication? these are things a lot within community and community colleges love and can be
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helpful for development. so we've passed more than 160 bills that linger in the senate. now, the challenge of what we do is -- and this is why i bring up making policy in the world of politics -- the house can pass a lot of legislation, but you have a senate that has the fear of maybe losing a majority. so you have a senate leader that doesn't want to put a lot of his members that can be vulnerable in tough races up on any votes. so you deny amendments and you deny bringing something up. that's difficult for the president if he wants to accomplish legislation as well. it's not the biggest challenge to deal with us in the house. his biggest challenge is, will the senate and can he get members within his own party or the leader in the senate to say, yes, i'm going to bring that up and we're going to have a round of amendments and some are going to be tough votes because that's not the nature the senate wants to go. the senate doesn't want anything to happen. >> so you're saying a lot of
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house bills are stuck in the senate, some of these things are things that president obama talked about. one thing that he talked about last night, the centerpiece of his speech was immigration reform. so talk about what you guys are looking at with immigration reform and will it happen in 2014, will you actually pass bills in 2014? >> well, we're going to our issues conference today, and that will be one of the topics. immigration currently is broken, and the challenges what we have -- and there's different ways to look at the immigration, but the system itself today is broken. an interesting fact that most people don't pay close attention to is 42% of everyone that is here illegally came here legally. they came on a visa and they overstayed. nobody has any checks in it, right? and today's society, we don't have that? we have a system that is a luck of a lottery and a chain migration. that's probably not the best mode for america.
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we have an idea where you come here, you become an engineer, one of the best and brightest coming out of our universities and then we tell you, oh, no, no, no. you can't stay here. you need to go to another country and compete against us. that's a backwards thought. there's a lot of places there -- first and foremost, what members, i'll tell you, really on both sides of the aisle, if you're digging yourself in a hole, the first thing is to stop digging. if you don't secure the border or you just going to perpetuate the problem? a lot of things that we asked for in the 1986 immigration reform never came to fruition. so secure first before you do anything, and then i think you'll find the way the house will go about it, issue by issue. i mean, when you deal with an issue of immigration, a lot of people have different opinions. make each issue stand on its own and have that debate. that's the way the house looks at it, and i think it's more
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important to get it right than of the timing when you do it. and every time i read about a big bill and me say, it has to get done today, that's when it gets done wrong. and how many times do you have a chance to do it right? so make sure it's right before anything moves. >> so what i hear you saying, maybe 2015 is an option? maybe doing this in 2015 is feasible at this point? >> well, the thing i will tell you is, i would not support unless it's right. so it's not -- >> that's a lot coming from the house leader. you're saying it probably won't come to the floor if you don't think that it's right? if your leadership doesn't think it's right? >> well, we're going to sit down in a conference today going through all the irch use, from health to -- issues, from health care to energy from economic, we're going to set out our issues and these are the things we'll work towards. we come to make a difference but we come to get it right. not to say we have to readdress it the next day. >> so one of the issues of
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immigration is the aspect of citizenship. what to do with the 11 or so million undocumented immigrants in the united states. you made some news last week when you were at home in bakersfield about your view on citizenship and what to do with the 11 million here. what is your view on it? >> i don't know how it's news. it's the same thing i always said. >> it was interesting. >> it was news because we were on break. well, i think first and foremost you have to change the current system. you have to secure the borders. once you have done that and you've gone through anew, then you can talk about what the others are going through. a lot of people come to me, and what the big argument is, a path to citizenship right off the bat. i don't believe that from that standpoint. i believe the idea that you can get to an earned legal status. it doesn't mean if you came here illegally and you broke the law that you can stay here.
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a felony, you got to go. i think it's different for people that came here under the age of 18. we don't hold in society you liable for items before. i think that's different. but otherwise if you came over the age of 18 -- and when you look back in 1980 provision, i mean, half of those that were illegal that they said could become citizens became citizens in the process. but we are a law -- we are a land of immigrants, a land of rule of law. and i think you have to sustain it. otherwise you'll break down society. and so i get protested because i won't support the senate version or say law does not matter and that somehow someone just becomes a citizen. that's not good for society. >> i think we'll have someone join you on stage. the chairman of the d.n.c., debbie wasserman schultz. i point out you were both at the grammys. i don't know if you hung out
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and danced like taylor swift and -- >> we were -- >> being here is enough. that's enough of an opening act. well, congresswoman, i am going to bring you into the conversation. mr. mccarthy had a lot of time to hog the stage alone. now, the question we're asking all of our participants is, the one thing you learned last night about president obama was blank, was what? >> was that he's going to reach out to congress and continue to act -- ask the republicans to find common ground but that after five years of trying to do that we have a lot of progress that we need to continue to make and he's not going to wait on them. he's going to take the actions that he needs to take to ensure we can continue to move america forward and help more people reach the middle class. the ball is in their court. >> so if you listen to mr. mccarthy and as these fine folks just did, he said there's a bunch of bills the president wants to streamline the job training programs, that's sitting in the senate.
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the skills act that house republicans passed. house republicans said they've done all this stuff and the president and harry reid have ignored it. what's your response to it? >> my response is we have to make sure that when we are trying to find common ground that we not engage in the my way or the highway politics. so with all due respect, suggesting that there is legislation that the house passed and sent to the senate and they should just take it up and pass it is not the way to approach achieving common ground. the president proposed last night we should make sure we're making a significant investment in focusing on building america's skills so they can be retrained and focus on new careers, that's obviously something that the republicans have indicated they're interested in. probably the approach of the skills act is not something that can be fully embraced by the democrats. but if we can agree on the basic premise that job training and building american skills is
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something we want to work together on, that's a starting point. >> one thing she brought up, we don't say it's our way or no way. today we're going to take up the farm bill. what did we do? we passed the bill in the house, the senate passed the bill and then we went to conference. same thing we did with the omnibus. that's the way the country was created. i'm not saying take ours up, i'm saying do something. tell us where you stand. i've got a major problem in california in when it comes to the drought. the first thing the president said to me when we went in the back for the escort, you've got a big problem in california with the drought, i'm calling the governor tomorrow. i said, thank you, mr. president. i want to work on that with you. the house took a position on the water crisis more than two years ago. the senate's never taken any position. i don't care if the senate takes a position opposite me, just tell me where you stand, the structure of our government will find a way that we have common ground and go to conference. >> i'm going to take a step
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back for a second. >> since i was running late and kevin had a lot of time on his own here, let me just jump in and suggest that the president made it very clear what he thinks we should be doing. made very concrete proposals. lots of things that the republicans should be able to embrace and work with us on. we need to make sure, for example, that when you are working, you should not have to do a tremendous amount of hand wringing about how you're going to be able to sustain yourself in retirement. so ensuring that we have an automatic enrollment process in an i.r.a., when you get it, start a job, that has been proposed in the president's budget every single year since he's been president and unfortunately the republicans have not been willing to take that up. last night he proposed in the absence of congressional action a myra program so we can have a treasury bond that people can invest in, low-wage workers can invest in, so they can eventually transition that to an i.r.a.
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that is not a concept, i mean, i hope that's a concept -- let me speak optimistically, that the republicans can embrace. we should at a minimum make sure that people who have a job aren't living in poverty. the overwhelming majority of americans support a minimum wage. we should make sure that we create manufacturing opportunities so we can make things in america again. president obama's established two manufacturing hubs already and proposed four more last night. but acknowledged that we can actually kick that into even higher gear if republicans are willing to work with him on actually passing legislation to do that. but at the end of the day, we have to make sure that we're focused on working together and , kevin, i actually -- we have a good working relationship. i think there are things that we can sit down and come together on. week of talked about that privately many times. but look at what the republicans' agenda was this week. with all due respect, to suggest that your top priorities have been focusing on helping more americans join the middle class when yesterday
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the top priority for republicans, on your agenda, wases to restrict women's -- was to restrict a woman's right to make her own health care decisions through pushing through legislation h.r. 7, i mean, that's stuff that's reaching the top of the republican agenda, not economic bread and butter issues, that's why the president's speech was heavy on those and showed the contrast between the priorities of the republicans. >> let me just fill the audience in. the house voted and passed yesterday a bill that would restrict federal funding for abortions. is that right? >> which is already law. >> taxpayer money. people have a difference of opinion on it. so why do you use somebody's taxpayers -- people have religious -- >> this is far more than a difference of opinion. this is legislation that would go much further. we have federal law that already prohibits taxpayer funding of abortion. that is in statute, codified in the affordable care act. further buttressed by president obama's executive order that he
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used to make sure that it was clear that that was not allowed. and the republicans, because their top priorities unfortunately recently have been narrow social issues, and a rigged social agenda rather than making sure -- >> -- talking points -- >> no, no, no -- it's not talking points. yesterday that was the bill you put on the floor. >> number one thing here is about the economy. >> exactly. which is why we shouldn't have had a bill on the floor yesterday that focuses on restricting women's access -- >> -- farm bill. >> i'm going to try to play what side of the common ground here. >> great. [laughter] >> i try to divide them all the time. now i'm trying to bring them together. the myra concept which was new to a lot of us last night, i hasn't heard the white house, this wasn't one of the things hat the white house projected. what was the initial republican
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take on that? is that something you should be open to or are open to? >> i don't know the specifics of what he had, but i'm a big believer in allowing people to invest their own money. look, einstein said the only miracle in this world is the time value of money. compounded interest. i come from a family of not wealth. my wealth is what i put away. i started my first mutual fund putting $50 away and it built. just like with my kids' college. i love the idea of giving somebody the opportunity, tax-free, putting something away, letting them become more selfen -- self-assured in the future, that they don't have to rely on somebody else. to me that is a structural idea that we can sit down and talk about. tax reform. build it in. >> you heard it first here. the myra concept is not yet dead. [laughter] not yet. it's only 8:45. we only have a couple minutes left here. so i want to ask you both, we're now in january and
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obviously the elections are rapidly approaching. both of you have key roles. you both raise a lot of money for your party. both have key positions within the party. tell us exactly why you think each of you in 2015, your party will be in control of the house and the senate. >> i want to hear hers. >> you first. [laughter] age before beauty. [laughter] >> ow. that's probably true. >> we should create a talk show with them. >> first, within reality, i don't see democrats gaining the house. if you look at the retirement, if you look at the prospects of where the seats are, you look at the latest "the washington post" poll, just on economic voters. we're the strongest point we've been since 2002, at any time during the president's time served. i watched the other side stand up when it came to health care.
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i think obamacare comes in three waves and i think voters are going to send a real message. as of today, more people have lost their health care than actually gained. if you watch the approval -disapproval. at the end of the day the house will end up with more republicans than they currently have today. in the senate, this is a true play for the majority. it's actually expanding where it could before. for that same reason that democrats stood up for health care, as the n.c. chair -- d.n.c. chair, she says they're going to run on that. those that determine the majority of whether they keep in the senate will not. even in the questions last night, account president come into their state and campaign for them? that's a difficult part when you're running against. both parties have been in these places before. i think the senate is up for a majority as well for republicans to take over. >> will the president campaign? should he campaign with people in arkansas, alaska -- >> yes, he should. [laughter]
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>> in answer to your first question, yes, i do think that in 2015, i'm not going to confidently predict that democrats will take the house back -- >> oh, come on. >> what i will predict is we're going to pick up seats. >> where? >> because -- [laughter] down, boy. and it's because if you look at the contrast of the president's speech last night, unfortunately for the republicans, and the country, they are strangled in a civil war where the tea party has been allowed to take control of the agenda, as evidenced by the legislation that was the top of their priority list this week. restricting women's access to health care. the pew poll, we can throw out a lot of different polls, the pew poll, almost extremely credible, shows more americans want democrats to be in charge of the legislative branch in government after the election. more americans trust democrats to move our country forward when it comes to the economy. and more americans are concerned about republicans'
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ethical considerations. for lack of a better term. the stark contrast between the priorityings of democrats, who -- priorities of democrats, we are wanting to focus on more americans joining the middle class, and republicans continue to be engaged in a civil war and are focused -- i didn't interrupt you. and are focused on much more, though, on a rigged social agenda which, you know -- rig i had social agenda which, you know, doesn't even get to the top five or 10 for the majority of americans. >> we have to wrap. that was a very lively conversation. thank you very much for -- [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> the house today passed the farm bill by a vote of 251-166. we follow that vote. house republicans met for their annual retreat. we see them leaving here.
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>> it's better to program yourself to walk away. we should that make too much of this. the congressman cares about the job he's doing. he's defending his integrity. i'd say, let's let this thing die and let him go on with his job. . >> [inaudible] >> [inaudible] i think that would be way over the top. this is america. we have freedom of speech. i've been accused of some of the most disagreeble things myself and i understand the frustration. i got to go. thank you.
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[captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] >> and house republican members are spending tomorrow and friday at a retreat on maryland's eastern shore. they're going to work on developing an action plan for 2014. you'll hear from a number of people, including college football coach lou holets, conservative journalists and others. the house returns to capitol hill for legislative work on monday. we'll have it live of course here on c-span. >> this is where the clintons lived when they were professors in fateville. in fact, after hillary's first year of teaching her, bim was driving her down this road to go to the airport and they saw a house and it was for sale and hillary pointed at the house and said, that's a cute house. and bill took her to the airport and picked her up from the airport about a month later and said, i bought your dream house. you have to marry me and live there with me because i can't
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live there alone. that was the fourth time he proposed. >> it was a small, intimate ceremony. their wedding announcement made notable attention of the fact that hillary was keeping her name. bill didn't seem to be bothered by this. however when they told virginia she gasped and when they told hillary's mother, she cried. they thought they had arrived in faithville. they had goten married, bought a house. they had successful jobs as law professors and they'd finished law school. they kind of reached a plateau where they'd achieved a lot of the things that they'd set goals for in life. ch watch our program on flathe hillary clinton on our website or see it saturday at 7:00 p.m. on c-span. and live monday, our series continues with first lady laura bush. c-span launched its first c-span school bus in 1993. visiting hundreds of schools around communities nationwide and raising awareness on how c-span covers politics and
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governments with our public affairs programming. today, 20 years later, the c-span bus continues on the road. on the campaign trail and visiting book festivals, history events, education conferences and schools. look for us on the road and online on our website, you can also follow us on twitter, all brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. and this winter, university students will get their chance to visit the c-span bus and join us mornings, live on "washington journal," as we hit the road for the big 12 conference tour. >> general eric holder was on capitol hill today to talk about justice department programs. but at the outset of a three-hour hearing, judiciary committee chairman patrick leahy said the government needs to set appropriate limits on when and how it can collect vast amounts of data on americans. attorney general holder said the administration will gather a wide range of views about the controversial program before making any changes to it. we'll show that you hearing now.
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>> before we start today's hearing, today's hearing deals with a serious issue. i know the public will act accordingly. i appreciate so many members of the public coming in here. we try to have these hearings as open as possible. senator grassley and i make sure there's -- they're streamed live and so anybody can watch. but i would also note at the outset the rules of the senate prohibit any outbursts or clapping or demonstrations of any kind. this of course includes blocking the view of people around you. and please be mindful of those rules. the -- restoring
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america's faith in the . partment senator grassley and i were here. the office of the attorney general has carried since its inception the responsibility to protect americans and safeguard the rights and liberties that make our country great. it's why it's the attorney general of the united states, not the secretary of justice or anything else, but the attorney general of the united states, representing all of us. for much of the past two centuries, the department has faced many challenges. combating violent crime, fraud, corruption, enforcing our nation's laws. of the last several decades, the mission of the department expands to include protecting civil rights of all americans. we have to continue this even
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today. years after the jim crow laws and poll taxes, that's why i recently joined with representative sense brenner to introduce a -- sensenbrenner to introduce a bipartisan voting rights act. we also face ever-more complicated threats to our national security. more sophisticated methods of criminal activity. the department has had to quickly develop tools and resources to respond to these threats. but along with these challenges, the challenge remains true to our core values of liberty, privacy, and a government responsible to the people. we live in a digital age. we all know that. challenges are even more acute. every day americans generate enormous amount of information about their lives from simple routine tasks like using a credit card, sending a text message, calling a friend, searching for directions on the web.
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as technology -- this technology improves our life. the vast amount of data it creates is almost remarkable vealing, vulnerable to exploitation. i'll ask at some point, is there anything the u.s. constitution that gives authority to the congress to pass a law that enables and empowers the executive agency such as the n.s.a. or the bureau of land and management, for that matter, to open, to listen, or to seize either the mail, the phone conversations, or electronic communications of u.s. citizens? simply by a blanket law. vermont we treasure our privacy. and this makes me wary of government overreach or lax protections for consumers in these laws. i think the changes show a need
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for congress and the department to act. we need to set appropriate limits of when and how the government can collect vast amounts of data on americans, assuming we even have the power to allow and to pass a law to allow any agency, any agency to do this. i'll continue to push for passage of the u.s.a. freedom act, as well as the electronics communication privacy act. i thank senators in both parties who have joined on similar legislation. we have to ensure the huge amounts of data that are collected, whether -- assuming that they have the right to collect it, which is a big assumption, that those are collected and shared and stored by businesses and kept safe from the growing threats of data breaches and identity theft. and we're going to examine this
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issue in detail in the hearing next week. but it's also important the department continue to fulfill its core criminal justice mission. i know the attorney general and i shared an unshakable commitment to keeping americans safe, supporting the men and women on the front lines of law enforcement and help victims rebuild their lives. we work closely last year and i appreciate that. after we authorized the violence against women act. trafficking victims protection act. the critical improvements to protect all victims. after a three-year effort, last year the president signed into law my public safety officers benefits improvement act. it will make significant improvement to public safety officers' benefits which is so important to our first responders. i appreciate the attorney general's strong support for and als of the justice second chance re-authorization
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act and forensics reform legislation. each of one are going to improve the effectiveness of our criminal justice system and i'd like to see them enacted this year. i know a lot of people in law enforcement would like to see them enacted. i appreciate the attorney general's recognition of the bipartisan efforts currently under way in this committee, to address the unsustainable growth of our prison population . the rate we're going, there will be no money for law enforcement, it will be just in prisons, even to the extent of having injury yacht rick units in these prisons. in a time of shrinking budgets, all levels of government, i think the problem we have in the expanding prison population presents devastating consequences for our other critical public safety priorities. if you do nothing and we just allow the federal prison population to consume more than a quarter of the department's budget, with eventually even more than that, that makes us less safe. incremental changes to mandatory minimums for
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nonviolent drug offenders is a good place to start and i'm optimistic we'll be able to pass a bipartisan bill out of this committee to do that. so, thank you, attorney general, for returning to the committee to discuss these important issues. i also want to thank the men and women of the department of justice who work hard every day to keep us safe. i met with a lot of them. you're the face of the department of justice. as you know, there are thousands of people whose faces will never be in the news but are out there every single day, throughout the country, and abroad, keeping us safe. we pray for their safety. we appreciate what they do. they deserve our gratitude and respect. senator grassley. >> before i read my statement, i'd like to say to general holder, obviously you and i were bit by different political bugs but -- and we have policy differences. maybe we got more agreement than what you and i might
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realize at a particular time. and i think those policy differences are legitimate and we can live with them. in my statement, i'm going to make some comments about some administrative action where i think there's no excuse for and congress isn't being respected by your department and whether it's you or people within your department, i think the very least we ought to have responses to things where there should be no political differences. just wanting information. so i hope you appreciate the fact that if we disagree on policy issues, that it doesn't carry over to things that, when congress simply wants administrative action on your part. i thank you, chairman leahy, for this hearing. it's a very important hearing. oversight's very, very important. and i thank the attorney general for coming here. you take some beating by coming
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here. but at least you're fulfilling a constitutional responsibility of giving us information that we need in public. i have to start by pointing out to the chairman that we still haven't received answers to our questions for the record from the last oversight hearing with the attorney general, which was almost 11 months ago. as i've indicated, i think this is unacceptable. the department should show sufficient respect for this committee to answer its questions, at least prior to the next oversight hearing. now 11 months elapsed. we also haven't received replies to questions directed to other department officials who testified at various hearings over the past year. this hearing also affords me the opportunity to call to your attention, general holder, the many letters that the
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department hasn't yet answered. it's unfortunate that we always have to start a department oversight hearing with the same request, to respond to unanswered questions from the congress. for instance, back in early november, i wrote you about the justice department consule to health and human services on the affordable care act, h.h.s. says that in consultation with your department, it decided not to apply the antikickback statute to the affordable care act. this is a clear violation of congress' move to strengthen antifraud laws and you've helped us strengthen a lot of antifraud laws. since i haven't received an answer to my letter, i'm going to ask you about that today. i've also written to you about the department's handling of cases in which the national security agency employees abuse their signals intelligence
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authority. in august after news reports about these cases, i wrote to the n.s.a. inspector general about them. in response, the inspector general indicated that since 2003, there were 12 documented instances of n.s.a. employees abusing these authorities, in many cases by spying on loved ones. it's good that the number of cases was very small. but even one case too many. according to the inspector general, at least six of these cases were referred to you -- your department for prosecution . so in october i wrote to you to request information about how the department handled these cases. i asked for a response by december 1. i haven't received one. it's important for the public to know whether the department is taking these cases seriously. we need to deter this kind of behavior in the future. given n.s.a.'s powerful
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capabilities. in addition, this committee has found a considerable amount a -- spent a considerable amount of time considering various reforms to n.s.a.. in his speech on this a few weeks ago, the president directed you as attorney general to work with the intelligence community to develop, quote, options for a new approach, end of quote, to the bulk collection of telephone metta data. i'll be interested in hearing how that is proceeding. the president has also asked you to do a review of the f.b.i. whistleblower protection and recommend changes on how to improve them. the assignment was contained in presidential policy directive 19, which claimed to create protection for whistleblowers with access to classified information. the president gave you 180 days to complete the review and it's now 10 months overdue. there's a lot of lip service to
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whistleblower protection, but this is another example of how the actions don't match rhetoric. i'm concerned about the president's directive. i recently had a whistle blower from the c.i.a. contact my office. he was seeking to report alleged violations of the whistleblower protections in the president's drectsive 19. false statements to congress and concerns related to legislation. he tried to get permission to share the classified details with me. yet a c.i.a. lawyer wrote a letter denying permission, claiming judiciary committee members aren't authorized to receive classified information from the c.i.a., which is, of course, false. but it scares whistleblowers and it intimidates them into silence. this is one of several things that suggests to me that even with the president's directive we need stronger ledge legislate -- legislative protection for national
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security whistleblowers. another topic to discuss is the department's nonenforcement of controlled substance act. in august the department announced that it wouldn't challenge laws in colorado and washington, legalizing trafficking of marijuana. the department apparently believes that so long as these states create effective regulatory schemes, key federal enforcement priorities wouldn't be undermined. those priorities include the diversion of marijuana into other states, increased use among minors, and more drug driving fatalities. however, i'm concerned that in many ways, this policy is based on willful ignorance of the realities in these states. example, as a result of failure to adequately regulate medical marijuana, colorado has been a sharp -- has seen a sharp increase in public health law
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enforcement problems related to these federal priorities in a few years. just a few weeks ago, the -- a senior drug enforcement administration official told my and senator feinstein's caucus on the international narcotics control that what was happening in these states is, quote, reckless and irresponsible. at a minimum, it is important that the department set firm iteria to meriwether or when its federal priorities are harmed, so much that the decision not to challenge these state laws is revisited. this is all the more important now that i understand you will soon announce additional guidance that will permit marijuana distributors in these states to use the banking system to engage in what is under federal law money laundering. i'm also concerned that this administration hasn't been faithful to the constitution on
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a number of areas, by unilaterally changing or ignoring laws passed by congress. in my view, many of these actions are inconsistent with the constitution's requirement that the president, quote, take care to faithfully -- that the laws be faithfully executed, end of quote. however, your department's office of legal console is involved with this because they provide an independent check on executive action. he office of league consule -- counsel is responsible for advising the executive branch on constitutional questions. moreover, it reviews the constitutionality of all proposed executive orders. last night, during the state of the union address, the president signaled that he will use executive orders aggressively to advance his agenda this year. transparency should be brought to the office of legal counsel's analysis of proposed
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executive orders so that the american people can see whether they are subject to a rigorous constitutional review. thank you very much. >> thank you. please go ahead, attorney general. >> chairman leahy, ranking member grassley, members of the committee, i want to thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the recent achievements in the ongoing priorities of the united states' department of justice. i'd like to thank the members of congress for coming together earlier this month to pass a bipartisan budget agreement that restores the department's funding to pre-sequestration levels. we are reviewing this legislation to determine its impact on specific programs and exobets. but we anticipate -- components. but we anticipate it will provide for the hiring of additional federal agents, prosecutors and other essential staff. this will allow us to invest in innovative programs, to keep supporting state and local law enforcement agencies, and to
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continue building upon the outstanding work that my colleagues have made possible over the past year. as i've often said, the department's top priority must always be the protection of the american people from terrorism and other national security threats. since i last appeared before this committee, we have continued to strengthen key intelligence gathering capabilities, to refine our ability to identify and to disrupt potential terrorist plots. and to ensure that those charged with terrorism-related offenses can be held accountable to the full extent of the law. as president obama noted in his speech at the jupt department, roughly two weeks -- justice department, roughly two weeks ago in carrying out this work it's imperative that we continue striving to protect our national security while upholding the civil liberties that all of us hold dear. on monday we took a significant step forward in this regard when the department acted to allow more detailed disclosures about the number of national security orders and requests that are issued to
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communications providers. the number of customer accounts targeted under those orders and requests. and the underlying legal authority. through these new reports megget odds, communication -- methods, communications providers will be permitted to disclose more information than ever before to their customers. allowing disclosure of this data will resolve an important area of concern to communications providers as well as to the public. and in the weeks ahead, as we move forward with the timely implementation of this and other reforms directed by the president, my colleagues and i will work closely with members of this committee and other congressional leaders to determine the best path forward. we also will continue enforcing essential privacy protections and other safeguards concerning data possessed by the government, as well as by the private sector. the department of justice takes very seriously reports of any data breach, particularly those involving personally identifiable or financial
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information. and looks into allegations that are brought to its attention. now, we -- while we generally do not discuss specific matters under investigation, i can confirm that the department is investigating the breach involving the united states retailer target. and we are committed to working to find not only the perpetrators of these sorts of data breach, but also any individuals and groups who exploit that data via credit card fraud. beyond this important work, the department will continue to build on the progress that we have seen in confronting really a wide variety of other threats and challenges from combating drug and human trafficking, to addressing cyberattacks, protecting americans from violent crime, and taking really commonsense steps to reduce gun violence. earlier this month the department strengthened the federal background check system by clarifying federal rules concerning mental health-based prohibitions on firearm
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purchases. under the leadership of our civil rights division, we are working diligently with our federal agency partners to implement the supreme court's ruling in united states vs. windsor, to make real the promise of equal protection under the law for all american families and to extend applicable federal benefits to married same-sex couples and we are viglouisly enforcing federal voting protections around working with congressional leaders from both parties to refine and to strengthen the proposals that congress is currently considering to help ensure that every eligible american has access to the franchise. in addition, last year as part of our ongoing efforts to hold accountable those whose conducts seeed the seeds of the mortgage crisis, we filed suits against bank of america and the ratings firm, s&p. in november the department reached a $13 billion settlement with jpmorgan chase and company. this is the largest settlement with any single entity in american history to resolve
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federal and state civil clamentes -- claims related to the company's mortgage securitization process. now, i think that these results demonstrate that no firm, no matter how profitable, is above the law. and they reinforced our commitment to integrity and equal justice in every case in every circumstance and in every community. this commitment is also reflected in the new smart on crime initiative that i announced this past august, to strengthen our federal criminal justice system, to increase our emphasis on proven diversion, rehabilitation, and re-entry programs, and to reduce unnecessary collateral consequences for those who are seeking to rejoin their communities. as part of the smart on crime approach, i mandated a significant change to the justice department's charging policies to ensure that people accused of certain low-level, federal drug crimes will face sentences that are appropriate to their individual conduct. and that stringent, mandstory minimum sentences will be
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resolved -- reserved for the most serious criminals. alongside other important reforms, this change will make our criminal justice system not only fairer, but also more efficient. and it will compliment proposals like the bipartisan smarter sentencing act, introduced by senators durbin and mike lee, which would give judges more discretion in determining appropriate sentences for people convicted of certain federal drug crimes. i look forward to working with chairman leahy, the distinguished members of this committee, and other leaders who have shown a commitment to commonsense sentencing reforms, like senator rand paul, to help advance this and other legislation. i want to thank you all once again for your continued support of the united states' department of justice and i would be happy to answer any of the questions that you might have. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. and thank you for mentioning entencing, what senator durbin and lee and paul and ryan and others, who are all working together to try to get
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something that not only makes sense but can pass. the old one-size-fits-all, we realize, one, it doesn't make us safer, two, it doesn't deter crime. but, three, it means we're spending a huge amount of money on things that don't make us better and takes money away from good law enforcement that we need. last week the privacy and civil liberties oversight board issued a report that concluded the n.s.a.'s phone records program should end and i agree with that. for the recommendations, you and the director of national intelligence will develop in the coming months, but executive action is not enough. i think congress has to act to ensure that this legal theory, that's what i consider legal theory, is not used by any
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administration to spy on its zones. -- citizens. now, d.o.j.'s current interpretation of relevance in section 215 could allow the government to acquire virtually any database that might someday down the road for some reason, somehow, find useful. first, is there anything in the constitution that allows this to pass such an overbroad law? to allow us to search anywhere we want? and is there any meaningful limiting principle for the government's of section 215? >> i think that you can look at what the government has been able to do in terms of surveillance, whether it is wiretaps, mail covers. there are a number of statutes that congress has passed that allows the government to engage in that kind of surveillance activity. i think the difference between those kinds of i think
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universally recognized programs in what we have seen under section 215, the metadata program, is that these other materials, the other programs are really kind of predicate-based. the metadata program is really an accumulation of material without necessarily a predicate. although i will say that the query database, there has to be a predicate. i think that makes it consistent with what has been passed by congress before and constitutionally upheld by the courts. >> we can pass something and stuff has been constitutionally upheld but we can also pass -- congress could pass a law, for example, that would allow any police officer to seize anybody and lock them up for five years . we can pass such a law. you're a former judge and you're attorney general of the united states. i think you'd agree with me and everybody else that would not tests at tutional
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all. so i ask again the question, does the constitution give us a right to pass a law to allow n.s.a. or bureau of land mansionment or anybody else to -- management or anybody else to collect such untraveled metadata on american citizens? >> i'd say 15 judges in the fisa court, two judges, one in california, one in new york, have looked at this question and made the determination that the 215 program is in fact constitutional. one judge in washington, d.c., has decided it is not. but i think that really only deals with one half of the question. i believe that they are correct, that it is constitutional. it is an appropriate use in a constitutional sense of the government's power. but the question is, and what the president has posed to us, just because we can do something, should we do it?
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and that's what the director and i are going to be wrestling with over the next 60 to 90 days, to modify the program in a way the president has indicated. >> another question i was going to ask, as you do that, are you going to be consulting with the privacy and civil liberties oversight board? >> yeah. we will be touching base with them. obviously they have reports that we can look at. but i think we want to make this a pretty wide-ranging interaction with those people who have been critical of section 215 and the other surveillance programs so we have as much information, both pro and con, before we make recommendations back to the president. >> there are news reports this past week that the n.s.a. and a british intelligence agency are working together to collect detailed personal information from shart phone apps -- smartphone apps. i'll have questions that i'll ask you in a classified form. what protections are in place to ensure the n.s.a. doesn't do an end run around u.s. surveillance rules, including the fourth amendment, obviously
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, by just going to another foreign agency and saying, hey, we're prohibited from collecting this information on americans, would you do it for news is >> well, under executive order 12333, the intelligence community is not permitted to ask a foreign government to collect information that we ourselves would not be allowed to collect. and so any attempt to have a foreign government acquire information that we are not permitted to gather ourselves uld be a violation of that executive order. >> recently approved six test sites of drones. the f.a.a. is developing plans to allow drones to be operated in commercial air space by next year. we've also heard, though, in this committee that drones are already being used for a number of areas, homeland security,
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law enforcement purposes, that raises significant privacy concerns. i can almost feel what my reaction would be if i saw a rone flying around over my farm house in vermont. and what i'd be inclined to do, not knowing where it's coming from or what it was. what plans does the justice department have to use drones within the u.s. for law enforcement purposes? and what kind of safeguards are being developed? the orwellian aspect of them i find very chilling. >> with regard to the use of these unmanned aerial systems, at this point the only component with the department that is using them in an
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operational way is the f.b.i.. and i think we have to understand that if used appropriately they can serve a useful purpose. i don't think we remember the young child who was held hostage in a tunnel, i think it was in georgia or alabama someplace. use was made of a drone in that case and proved decisive in resolving that situation in a good way. the inspector general and the justice department has recommended that we come up with a uniform system of rules and regulations within the department to control how these devices are used and that is something that i support and something that we will be developing. >> that i'd like to work with you on the development. i think other members of the committee on both sides of the aisle -- because simpley the fact that we have the technology, i can see it in the hands of some, boy, this is the latest and greatest thing, let's just go spy on
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everybody's backyard and everything else. and i think the reaction of the american public would be pretty significant. as compared to the very specific targeted law enforcement, the missing child thing that you mentioned. and lastly and i apologize to senator grassley, but we talked about it, the federal prison population. this is something of concern to many of us here. more than 500% it's grown in the last 30 years. that's money that -- you have money that cabinet be used to hire more prosecutors or agents or providing assistance to state and local law enforcement. in fact, the inspector general aid the bureau of prison's budget is at the top of its list of management challenges for the department. the top of the list. what is this increasing prison
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population doing to your other priorities? >> well, the budget takes up roughly 1/3 of the justice department's entire budget. and it precludes us from doing a variety of other things that i know members of this committee are interested in. and those are interests that i share. our ability to help our state and local partners similar pacted. our ability to hire more prosecutors, more agents, more support personnel is impact aed. we have to -- impacted. we have to fund the prison system to make sure that the people who are in those systems are safe, that we provide constitutional care to people who are incars ratesed. but -- incarcerated. but unless we take a fundamental look, as has been suggested by you, senator durbin, senator lee, senator paul, unless we take that fundamental look, we're going to have a prison system that impedes our ability to do the kinds of things the american people expect the justice department to do.
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and i'm very concerned about that and that's why i announced that smart on crime initiative back in august, and i think what i announced is consistent with what members of this committee have suggested as well. and that's why i want to work with you, to try to get a handle on what is, i think, a growing and potentially very dangerous problem. >> please do. because you have broad bipartisan support across the political spectrum to find our way out of this. and we need the advice. senator grassley. >> before my time starts, could i follow up on -- i have the same concern you do about privacy being violated by drones. but i want to point out that with ampes -- airplanes in iowa and nebraska, e.p.a. has some authority to spy on certain animal feeding operations. but they were spying on people they didn't have the right to regulate with airplanes. we're going to have a bigger problem with the government
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abuse of privacy, with drones now. so i just raise that as an issue. not for you to comment on or not for you to comment on. general, in my opening statement, a couple of questions on something i've already discussed with you. i mentioned that i wrote you back in october, concurring -- concerning the department's andling of cases referred to in which the national security agency employees intentionally or willfully abused surveillance authority. but i never received a response. we need to know whether the justice department is taking any action or even whether you consider the cases serious. can you tell me whether anyone at the n.s.a. has been prosecuted for this conduct? and if they haven't, why maybe they haven't been prosecuted. >> i think the concern that you raise is a very legitimate one.
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and we will get a response to you in greater detail. but the fact that -- and there were those referrals. but the fact that members of the n.s.a. who have access to this information, access to these techniques, these capabilities would misuse them for -- and i think you're right, as you said in your statement, for essentialy personal use, to spy on people with whom they had relationships, is totally inappropriate. we will get you a fullsome response to indicate how those cases were dealt with by the justice department. i share the concern. >> is it possible you could do that soon? >> yes. we will do that soon. rial write that one down and make sure we get back to you on that. >> i referred to a presidential policy director 19, released 15 months ago. this follows up on my interest of making sure whistleblowers have protection. it mandates that you deliver a report to the president within 180 days. that would be april of last
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year. to assess the effectiveness of f.b.i.'s procedure of handling whistleblowers. why i raise this issue, because we've had whistleblowers' rights violated like robert kolbus, jane turner, getting a run-around for years. even after the inspector general has found in their favor. however, to date there's been no public announcement that your review has been completed. why you have not issued the report nearly 10 months after deadline? what you have learned from your review? will you provide a copy to the committee of the review? >> ill i'll have to check on the statutes that have review. i'm not sure -- status of that review. i'm not sure what shape it is in and whether it is ready for dissemination. but i will look at. that again, i share the concerns you have about whistleblowers. i think people who have
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concerns about the way in which government is conducting itself have to have the feeling that they have places that they can go. and report these things in a way that does not do damage to the government itself. and so if there is not that feeling that they have meck miss it muches, established means to share those concerns, we then end up with people sharing things and i think in an inappropriate way, perhaps with newspapers, owe other media. so the concern you have is a very legitimate one and this is another one where i will have to get back to you and let you know where we stand. >> when you mentioned the concerns of the government, i appreciate that. because government's got certain responsibilities. but when you got one individual against the government, it seems to me it's pretty easy to see how that one individual's going to be run over if we don't see that they get their constitutional rights protected. i had a question on drones but
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i think you've answered that. i'll go to the office of legal counsel's review of executive orders that i spoke about. i mentioned my concern that the president's been using executive orders to circumvent the will of congress and the american people. i'm sure he doesn't feel that way. you probably feel he hasn't either. but i'll tell you, it's a big concern for people that come to my town meetings. it appears that he may continue to do this. he said so last night. in the interest of transparency and with transparency account comes accountability, would you disclose to the public the legal counsel's analysis of all proposed executive orders so that the american people can see whether they are subjected to rigorous constitutional review? it seems to me that would be one of your responsibilities. it seems to me you would want the president to only do those things that rleal and constitutional. and -- that rleal and constitutional. and if you wouldn't make these
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public, would you tell me why? >> first, let me say that with regard to the use of executive authorities, what the president has talked about was a desire in the first instance to work with congress, to try to pass legislation, but in the absence of that, to use the power that he has as president in the way that he described. what he has described is consistent with what other presidents have done over the years. i think if one looks at a various number of studies that i have seen, this president has used far fewer executive orders than his predecessors. >> i'm not questioning whether or not he can do it. i might have some question about the legality and constitutionality of it. and if he's got the constitutional authority, if he's got the legal authority, we can't do it. we're just trying to determine whether or not he's exceeded that authority. and your people making that determination, is there anything wrong with the public saying what the basis of it is? >> i think we can certainly look at the requests that are made. we'll have to see exactly how
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the president proposes to use these executive authorities and to the extent that we can share the o.l.c. determinations or whoever in the justice department is looking at and making these determinations. i would be inclined to try to share that with congress in an appropriate way. >> will you at least, if you can't share it with me, will you tell me why you can't share it we me? because i just don't want a big black hole here. >> the concern we generally have with regard to the dissemination of o.l.c. opinions is that we want to have full conversations, fullsome discussions about these matters where o.l.c. lawyers write both pros and ons about a particular issue -- >> we're probably only interested in the outcome, not the debate within your agency. just what's the outcome. >> yeah, well, the memos will contain all of the arguments with a con cluesry couple of pages or whatever.
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we'll try to find ways in which we can share this information with you so that you and other members distribute american people feel that the president is acting in an appropriate way. to the extent that he makes use of this authority at all. as i said, his primary inclination and desire is to work with congress to pass necessary legislation that i think all the american people want to see happen. >> i think the chairman would give me a couple of minutes because he took 2 1/2 minutes. [laughter] >> i'm not sure about that. [laughter] >> the last question or maybe a half a question after this one would be this simple. this is a discussion i had with the secretary of health and human services in another committee. they announced that it does not consider affordable care act
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plans to be, quote, federal health care programs, unquote. that exempts them from the antikickback laws and undermines the clear intent of congress and the health reform law to make tickbacks a violation of the false claims act. so you got my interest in the false claims act as well. secretary sebelius said that she maid this decision after consulting with your department. i asked secretary sebelius why these plans are any different than medicare advantage. she claimed advantage plans are different because payments are made directly from the medicare trust fund. so, i wrote to you about this last november. i'd like to know when i might be able to expect a response. and -- but more importantly, whether you agree with secretary sebelius that the affordable care act plans should be exempt from the
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antikickback laws. it doesn't seem to me like you'd want to exempt anything from antikickback laws. and was the department -- what's the department's advice to the h.h.s. documented in writing? if it was, i'd like to have a copy of that. >> that's something i'll have to examine and see what we have there. but i will say that we have been very aggressive in enforcing the antikickback laws and recovered record amounts of money over the last few years. i'd have to look at the particulars with regard to the affordable care act. >> i can understand that. >> see the applicability of those provisions. >> but presumably this is action, according to the secretary, that your department's already taken. there should be some sheet of paper around there that you can give to us. the half question i was going to ask you, you have one more day to decide whether or not the boston bomber's goesing to -- going to be subject to the death penalty. what's your decision >> sn >> we'll be announcing that by the
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we'll bh announcing that by the deadline. >> the department of justice has anti-kickbacks an audit, i believe it's a record, i congratulate you on that. >> it was the grassley amendment that brought us into this world in terms of bringing members of congress and their staff into the affordable care act which we are now under and if it was not complete when it came to anti-kickback and such, we want to make sure that it is. >> i didn't know -- they tnt know that why did you have to tell them? ini think every staff member the congress who are now paying more for their health care know it is the grassley amendment that did it. >> mr. chairman, if i can address two questions related to the wheels of justice. each year when you appear, mr. attorney general, i ask you the same


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