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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  June 11, 2014 11:00am-1:01pm EDT

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and at that point for those detainees that are being held as enemy belligerents against our enemy, the taliban, unless there is additional basis for holding them, then we would no longer have that international law basis for holding them. it has been suggested that taliban may also be -- be held as associates of al qaeda as the conflict with al qaeda continues. >> this conflict may not end in december just because the majority is that your understanding? >> that's my understanding as well, sir. >> we thought the conflict was over in iraq and we see that it is not. it continues to go on. now, second thing, i may have
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left a wrong impression when i was talking with the secretary saying if you were given the same report that that probably would have solved everything. we still have big concerns about the five, and i didn't mention that when we were briefed in november of 2011 and january of 2012 that there was real concerns of members of congress that those five would be released. in fact, there was real opposition to it, and that's why we're very concerned that we weren't told if we re-enter those negotiations, you would be told and then we weren't, so those are things that we really need to have clarified and worked through. mr. thornberry. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, i'd like to begin with a brief additional observation on the notification issue. for the past several years, this committee has worked on a bipartisan basis to establish an oversight structure for
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cyberoperations, for terrorism operations and for sensitive military operations. and an oversight structure that allows the department to have the flexibility it needs to operate in a volatile, rapidly changing world and still give us the ability to exercise our duties under the constitution. now, the basis for all of those in all three of those areas is we get timely, accurate information from the department, and this failure, even if it was ordered by the white house, undermines the ability to have that sort of oversight structure. i've been a member of the intelligence committee for 10 years. our work depends on getting accurate, timely information from the intelligence community. if the president can violate the law and say, no, in this case we're not going to give you the information, it undermines the oversight process that we have with the intelligence community.
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so my point to you is, it's not just about this incident. it's not just about somebody having their feelings hurt. this decision undermines a lot of the working relationship in all these areas of national security. i think it's important that the whole administration understands some of the ramifications of this. let me ask a specific question. press reports indicate that sergeant bergdahl was captured a network commander and was held by the hakani network. is that true? >> what i'd prefer, as i noted, in the classified session that we get in the specifics of that 156 commander report that was done on the circumstances at the time of sergeant bergdahl's capture. i believe that was done in august of 2009. that's been sent up here, unredacted, sent up here
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yesterday and i assume get in but i will assified say that, in that report that the army did, he was classified s missing/captive. >> so i wasn't -- to verify as i understand it, administration people have said clearly it was the haqqani network that kept him. >> well, the haqqani did have him through periods of time. this was the complication, over a five-year period he was moved around. we had difficulty finding him. knowing where he was. different groups held him. it's a complication of the haqqanis being part of that, it's right. > and the haqqani network is
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listed by the foreign intelligence department as a terrorist network. >> that's right. we didn't negotiate with haqqani. >> ok. i think that's a subject we'll want to discuss if we must in the classified session. >> i want to make sure the record's clear. qataris and they engaged the taliban. if the haqqanis were subcontracting with the taliban, you know the pakistan alban and the afghan taliban, there's a difference there. o we get back into definitions of who has responsibility for whom. i just want to make sure that's clear in the record and we can go into a lot more detail. >> i think you just pointed out some of the difficulty in making categorical statements, that we don't negotiate with terrorists, when at least for
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some period the haqqanis were the ones who had him. let me just ask about one other thing and that is the five etainees that were released. you said there is some risk of releasing someone from guantanamo but you also said they have not been implicated on any attacks in the united states. i have some unclassified summary of evidence before the combatant status review tribunals. for example, for mr. fasal it says the detainee engaged in hostilities against the united states or its coalition partners. maybe there is a difference between them. and another was against the coalition. at some point there was evidence they were engaged in hostilities, military operations against the coalition, weren't there?
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>> yes. there were mid to high ranking officials of the taliban. so, yes, they were part of planning. my point was, we have no direct evidence of any direct involvement in their direct attacks on the united states or any of our troops. they were part of the taliban. at the time some were given to us, we picked up two, yes, they were combatants. >> they didn't pull the trigger but they were senior commanders of the taliban military who directed operations against the united states and its coalition partners, is that a better way to do it? >> that's right. as i said in my statement, congressman, they were combatants. we were at war with the taliban. there's no getting around that. i made that point, i thought, pretty clearly. >> thank you. >> just like bin laden didn't pull a trigger, but we went
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after him because he's the one that caused 9/11. mrs. davis. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you both for being here. mr. secretary, i do think your i sentation did provide us think additional ways of really looking at the discussion. i do understand and -- how people feel in terms of notice, but i wanted to have an opportunity to just look at that issue and whether or not the circumstances under which he was captured or the fact that whether or not his life was in taker would have made any difference in terms of the 30-day notice. you know, it's difficult for me
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to imagine that members would have included that within the language of that bill. to what extent were those situations weighing on the decision of whether or not to engage in that discussion during the imminent danger period? >> well, all of those were factors that we had to consider as we were thinking through this. his deteriorating health, which was clear to us from the last proof of life video we had, the uncertainty of where he was, who exactly held him. again, i remind everybody, this service member was held in pretty difficult circumstances for almost five years. and we don't know the facts of all of that until he gets back and we were able to get the facts.
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the urgency of getting him, the fleeting opportunity that was made clear to us by the qataris in our negotiations. mr. preston was there through those. all these were factors. the concern about leaks, we were warned about. every one of these different dimensions we had to think through. and we did believe, as i said, nd we had information to support this that this effort might be the last real effort that we have to get him back. there were too many things floating around that we didn't control. we didn't know enough about. so we had to factor in all of those. >> did you have any other -- i guess -- entertain other pproaches to his rescue that you were looking at at that
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particular time? and why were any of those not followed? >> well, congresswoman, we were, as i said, in my statement, since the time he went missing, we were looking at different ways to get him back. our combatant commanders were always looking at plans, possibilities, options, rescue missions and so on. as i said in my remarks, we had to factor in the risk to our other forces to get him. if he was in pakistan, we know he was moved in and out across the border. that would also affect some different dimensions. yes, we looked at all the options, had all the possibilities, but up until this last time when we got him, this, in our opinion, our
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intelligence community's opinion, our military, everyone who was involved, this was the best possibility that we had to get him out and we were concerned we might lose it. as i gave you some dimension of the time frame, we didn't even know where we were going to pick him up. it was less than an hour. , was it detainees always this five or were there others? >> well, it actually started with six, some of you may recall. one of them died. and there have been back and forth, they wanted all of the taliban detainees at one point and we said no. so this is part of the whole engagement of what we need to do and where we do -- we draw lines and say, no, we're not going to do this. yes, there were different variations of that engagement
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over the years. >> all right. thank you. thank you, mr. secretary. >> mr. jones. >> mr. chairman, thank you very much. secretary hagel, mr. preston, it's good to see both of you. thank you for being here today. mr. secretary, on june 1, you were on "meet the press," and you expressed hope that the release of sergeant bergdahl would lead to direct u.s. talks with the taliban. mr. secretary, the taliban have stated there will be no peace with the afghan government, with the united states or any foreign presence as long as troops remain in afghanistan and prisoners are contained at guantanamo bay. they have repeated these statements time and time again and have proven they do not desire peace with the united states or its allies. with this known, why did you at at point on "meet the press"
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express hope -- i mean, we can all have hope -- that there would, the release of the sergeant would lead to some type of direct negotiations with the united states? and do you today feel that that is still a real possibility? maybe there's something you want to say in the classified setting that you can't say here today, but this to me, your statement was received by many of the people that i represent in the third district of north carolina that maybe there was in the negotiation about the sergeant that maybe there was some signals sent to you, sir, or to the administration that there might be an opportunity for direct negotiations with the taliban. knowing the history of the taliban, knowing how they fought the russians, alexander the great, the brits and their
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fighting the americans, i hope maybe you do know something you can share with us maybe not in a public setting but in a private setting. could you comment, sir? >> congressman jones, thank you. good to see you again. first, as you know, the position of the united states government regarding the taliban has always been we support reconciliation between the afghan government and the taliban. that's been a general position, as you know. as to the specific answer i gave on "meet the press," it was to a specific question when we were talking about sergeant bergdahl's release and i don't recall exactly the question, but if i could piece it together enough to respond, i think the question was set up, well, could this lead to talks with the taliban or reconciliation?
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and as you quoted me, i said, well, i hope. maybe, whatever. t no, that wasn't any direct hint or wink or possibility that i know something that that's going to happen. i would also remind us again, too, if you recall -- some of you do because you were in some -- hese meetings, briefings in the 2011-2012 time frame, i wasn't in this job at the time but i looked at the files on this. i've seen it all. there was a larger scope and framework of a larger reconciliation which included bergdahl's release. but the current situation that we were in was a straight get bergdahl. now, that doesn't dismiss, congressman, the hope that there can be some possibility
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of the afghan government and taliban finding a reconciliation somehow some way but in no way was i intending in that reply to the answer that something else was going on here. >> the taliban's history does not seem they want to see a foreign presence that's going to influence the future of their country. i was hopeful that maybe in the negotiations for the sergeant that maybe there have been some signal sent with the immediateary that may have been shared and, again, if there has been maybe you could through your staff or maybe in the classified setting let me know that there are some possibilities, because my marines down in camp lejeune quite frankly are tired of going to afghanistan and
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getting their legs blown off. thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> we will, congressman jones. >> thank you, mr. chairman, mr. secretary and mr. preston, i want to thank you for being here today, for your testimony. as we were reminded just yesterday with the loss of five american special operating forces, afghanistan obviously remains very dangerous and battlefield for our volunteer military. i join many of my colleagues in of course expressing gratitude of the return of the american prisoner of war and the return of any u.s. service member from enemy captivity should be a priority for his or her fellow soldiers and, of course, for our country. and sergeant bergdahl is an american soldier and we're certainly grateful that he's been freed. that said, the total situation
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raises many troubling concerns and among them, of course, this committee has significant oversight role and there are legitimate questions regarding both congressional notification as well as long-term incentives al qaeda. iban and certainly significant personnel and other resources have been expended to conduct what could result very dangerous and disturbing incentives on the battlefield. as one taliban commander said, and i quote, it has encouraged our people. now everybody will work hard to capture such an important bird, end quote. how do you ary, ? ticipate this transfer do we know any behavior?
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>> congressman, i think everyone on this committee know some more than others who served in war. war is a dangerous business. so a soldier is always, always at risk. that's number one. two, you probably know that the taliban has standing orders to capture american service members and that's been a standing order for 12 years. so there's nothing new here about where the taliban have been and where they continue to be. but i would say this also. now that we have our last very much ck, this gives us more flexibility, quite frankly, to free up resources that every day we were thinking about our commanders on the ground in that area. how, if we have the opportunity, how can we get
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bergdahl? now that he's back, that frease up that -- that frees up that obligation. i think that actually strengthens the point. and the last point i'd make, i mentioned this in my comments and, again, those who served in uniform on this committee know this, pretty basic to military. and i expressed it in different ways by quoting different senior members of our military and retired. that to have our men and women in uniform all over the world -- some at risk more than others every day -- to have them been reassured that this country will come get them or will make every effort to go get them has got to be pretty significant. i was told that by all of our commanders. it can be issues on the specifics of sergeant bergdahl but that's irrelevant, quite frankly. he was a member of our armed
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forces and we went and we got him back after five years. i think that's pretty significant. and i think it also falls into the category of your question, answering that question. thank you. >> mr. secretary, thank you for that answer. as the chairman and the ranking member have mentioned in their opening statements, questions about sergeant bergdahl's conduct should be addressed with due process at the appropriate time and such, but could you settle one conflicting report, at least, in terms of regarding the number of loss of soldiers who may have been involved in searches for sergeant bergdahl? >> first, any loss of any loss to their family, to our country. i think we should note that
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first. second, your question has been asked a number of times. i personally asked that question inside the pentagon. in the army, in all of our reports, i have seen no evidence that directly links any american combat death to or search or finding of sergeant bergdahl. i've asked the question, we've all asked the question. i have seen no evidence, no facts presented to me when i asked that question. >> mr. secretary, you did say there's nothing new here that the taliban's always out to try to capture us. but isn't it true that there is one thing new that we have now made a trade for a hostage? >> no, he was not a hostage. he was a prisoner of war. that's not new.
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>> have we made other trades with the taliban? >> with the taliban, i don't know. i don't think so. i don't think so. >> thank you. mr. forbes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, thank you for being here and for mentioning the need for transparency. as we talk about our inability to prosecute the individuals that were released, this administration exactly hasn't had a stellar record of prosecution of people at gitmo when you look at the lead prosecutor for the 9/11 terrorist had specifically said he would have had a guilty plea out of all of them within six months and this administration came in, shut down this prosecution, destroyed all his pretrial work and we have been five years and still haven't brought them to trial. secondly, i don't even think you would argue that the conversations that took place in 2011 complied with the law. and basically what we're trying to get across is we are a nation of laws.
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you can't pick and choose just because they're veept or not convenient which ones we're going to -- convenient or not convenient which ones we're going to enforce and which ones we are not. you said there are limits of trades we would make and where we draw the line. the individuals we released were essentially equivalent of releasing a deputy secretary of defense, a deputy secretary of intelligence, a deputy secretary of interior, a governor and a commander. when the president was asked if there was a possibility of them returning to activities that are detrimental to the u.s., his answer was, absolutely. our deputy director of national intelligence was even harsher. he said the latest assessment on these five terrorists said he expected four out of the five taliban leaders would return to the battlefield. and this assessment was in accord with the 2008 pentagon dossier that said all five of the individuals released were considered to be a high risk to launch attacks against the united states and its allies if
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they were liberated. now, you state in your testimony that if any of these detainees rejoin the fight they will be doing so at their own peril. so my first question to you is, does that mean you would put american lives at risk to go after them? >> congressman, we have american lives at risk every day. >> not the individuals we released, put back out there. so my question is, would we put american lives at risk to go after them if they rejoined the fight? >> depending on the threat. also, let me remind you of the other pieces you didn't mention in our analysis of these five. the intelligence community has said clearly that these five are not a threat to the homeland. >> mr. secretary, you've said it here that if they rejoined the fight they do it at their own peril. >> in afghanistan. >> my question is a pretty simple one. would we put american lives at risk to go after them?
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>> we have american lives put at risk -- >> i understand that, mr. secretary. my question is would we put american lives at risk to go after these individuals if they rejoined the fight? >> well, yes. >> ok. if that's the case, let me ask you -- >> if you use the same congressman on yemen or anywhere else. >> not because of the individuals we released. and the second question i would ask you is two parts. in the calculus you made for releasing these individuals, were you asked or did you make an assessment of the number of american lives that were lost or put at risk in capturing these individuals in the first place and did you make an assessment of the number of american lives that may be put at risk if we have to go recapture them again? >> again, i saw no evidence, no facts. i asked the question about how these five found their way to
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in front , and i have of me the facts on the five. two of them were detained by u.s. -- >> mr. secretary, i understand that. i only have 50-some seconds. >> the answer is no. >> so you didn't make a calculus. >> i said i did and i said, you asked if there were lives lost in capturing these. >> and you said no. >> i have no direct evidence that there -- >> did you make an assessment -- did you make an assessment of how many american lives may be put at risk if they have to be recaptured? >> no. there's risk we have to our country, threats to our country every day, everywhere. the other point i would make on this, we determine there was a substantial mitigation of risk for this country, for our interests, for our citizens and our service members when we made this decision.
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>> and that implies -- >> and we were satisfied that we could make that determination. >> it flies in the face of all the other evidence we have. with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> ms. bordallo. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. secretary hagual and mr. preston, thank you for -- secretary hagel and mr. preston, thank you for your testimony today. i appreciate the detailed information that you had in your statement and i support your position. i do appreciate, also, your continued commitment to our men and women in uniform and your steadfast leadership during these challenging times. my first question is for you, mr. secretary, what impact would sergeant dergdal's continued imprisonment -- sergeant bergdahl's continued imprisonment would have on the security situation in afghanistan as we drawdown forces?
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did his continued imprisonment create a heightened security threat to our men and women in uniform? >> well, in a sense, congresswoman, as i answered the previous question about putting at risk american lives to capture him -- not to apture him but to get him back nd to do that, if it would have taken another course of action or if we would have taken another option, that would have put our men and women at risk. our men and women are at risk carrying out this one mission but fortunately it was done the right way. i don't think, again, that effort has gotten enough attention. this was all done in less than 60 seconds. not one death, not one issue, not one problem. i've seen very little recognition of that given to
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our forces by anybody. that was a significant effort our armed forces knowing as little as they did but planning it as well as they did and having the outcome as positive as it was. >> i agree. my next question is for mr. preston. ith the heightened media attention, how was sergeant bergdahl's investigation? >> we will pursue our useful policies and practices with respect to investigations and follow on actions. a key element of that is avoid whag is referred to as unlawful or undue command influence. so you will see that the leadership, military and civilian at the department, have been entirely neutral in their discussion of this and focused on ensuring due process
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without prejudging what the outcome should be one way or the other. those dealing with sergeant bergdahl more directly and the army more generally are, i believe, sensitive to ensuring that in the process of bringing him home, restoring him to health, debriefing him for intelligence purposes an then ultimately reviewing the circumstances of his capturing that fairness be preserved and that his rights be preserved. >> thank you. thank you. and my final question is for secretary hagel. prior to securing the recovery of sergeant bergdahl, had you received correspondence from members of congress requesting that you take action to obtain sergeant bergdahl's release? >> yes. >> thank you. >> thank you. mr. miller. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. secretary, for
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being here. i'm looking at your testimony and on the first -- third page -- excuse me -- it says we implied can the national defense authorization act -- complied with the national defense authorization act of 2013. did you notify congress within the 30-daytime frame, yes or no? >> no. >> yes or no? >> no. >> does the administration intend to violate section 1035 of ndaa and section 8111 of the d.o.d. appropriation act in future transfers? >> not unless there -- not unless there's an extraordinary set of circumstances, like this one, would we be in position to make a call like that. >> would you ensure this committee that they won't have transfers without notifying congress consistent with the law? >> >> we have except in every
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circumstance except with this one. >> you were part of the member of the united states senate. we make the laws. you are now part of the executive branch which is the ability is to enforce the law. whose responsibility is it to interpret the law, is it the president's responsibility or is it the courts? >> the courts. >> then why did the president make the decision or you make the decision not to notify congress? >> we believed, justice department office of legal council -- >> part of the executive branch. >> told the president he had the constitutional authority to do that. you had under his constitutional powers the authority to make the decision that he did. >> you said that you would put american lives at risk if the taliban prisoners that were swapped in the secret deal would rejoin the fight if they rejoined the fight in afghanistan. what if they rejoined it from somewhere else?
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they don't necessarily have to be on the battlefield in afghanistan. certainly we'd pursue them everywhere they are. >> we would do everything we needed to do to, as we have said, to deal with that threat as we are doing today. >> your testimony is we're doing everything that we can -- >> to deal with the threats to the united states of america, whether they're in afghanistan, yemen or they're in homeland defense. it isn't just limited to afghanistan. the threats that face this country. >> mr. secretary, you keep saying we can't get the facts from sergeant bergdahl until he returns home. have you ever thought about -- landstahl and talking to him there? >> i don't know how much medical education you have -- >> no, mr. secretary, wait a minute. wait a minute.
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why hasn't he been returned to the united states? we have seriously wounded soldiers that have returned to the united states almost immediately after they are stabilized. how long did jessica lynch wait before she was returned to the united states? you're trying to tell me that he's been held in germany because of his medical condition? >> congressman, i hope you're not implying anything other than that. >> answer it. >> i don't like the implications. he's been held there because our medical professionals don't believe he's ready until they believe he's ready to take the next -- >> have you ever seen a traumatically injured service member brought to the united states immediately upon being stabilized at landstuhl? >> this guy was held for almost
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five years in god knows what kind of conditions. we do know some of the conditions from our intelligence community. not from, by the way, bergdahl. this is not just about can he get on his feet and walk and get to a plane. >> so you're telling me he cannot be questioned because of his condition? >> i'm telling you that the medical professionals, we rely on his judgment for his health, which i assume everybody respects, have made the determination and will make the determination when he's ready to move and move to the next step, which will most likely be in san antonio, then we can proceed. that's what i'm saying. >> one other question. why is the army just now reviewing the circumstances of sergeant bergdahl's capture? >> they're not. i said in my testimony and i said in my comments they did it back after he went missing. in 2009. that 156 report was filed, completed by the general who is now our commanding general in
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korea, in august of 2009. that 156 report, review, complete. not redacted. was sent up to the hill yesterday to the committees. >> thank you. >> you're welcome to read it. >> thank you. >> and that will be made available to all the members in the proper setting to review. mr. courtney. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank the witnesses for being here today and secretary hagel, for your powerful testimony which, again, laid out the fact that this is not every choice in your position is always black and white. you have to weigh all the factors. one of the factors that i would kind of re-emphasize, in terms of when you were deciding this back on may 27, i mean, it wasn't like you had a lot of other options. i mean, there was no plan b or plan c that was sitting on your desk in terms of how to get
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this american soldier back in our jurisdiction, isn't that correct? >> that's exactly correct. >> there was no option? >> there have been members on some of the shows that said we should have sent special forces to get in to get him. we were not totally clear about where he was. >> that's right. >> so there wasn't a place to really send special forces to recover him. you also, again -- this has been alluded to earlier -- in terms of the risk mitigation of the five transferees, taliban transferees, if they do get back into the conflict, they do so at their own peril. secretary kerry, i think in some public setting, also made the comment that it's not like we're totally without options to, you know, raise their risks in terms of getting back involved in the fight. again, they don't always involve the use of military personnel.
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i mean, we have all been in the codels over to afghanistan, most of us, and have seen the availability of unmanned assets that we have to take out targets that, again, have been identified through the chain of command, isn't that correct? >> that's correct. >> and certainly that would be available to us -- again, if a situation arose that would not put soldiers or airmen or anyone necessarily at risk? >> that's right. >> mr. preston, you know, we've been sort of talking about the legal sort of consultation that was going on with your office and the department of justice during that five or six-day period when the decisions were being made. did d.o.j. address in terms of the legal opinions that you were given the question of consultation with congress, the 30-day requirement? >> yes, sir.
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pardon me. the administration sought the guidance from the department of justice on the applicability and impact of the 30-day notice requirement under these circumstances and received guidance from the department of justice. >> and was that in writing? a it was not by means of formal memorandum opinion but rather by email exchange principally. >> i know the chairman mentioned he's got requests from the committee for documents which sounds like are going to be forthcoming. i assume that's one of the requests in terms of making any sort of legal analysis, that you requested and received or offered from d.o.j. that that would be one of the documents that you would share with us. i hope you would. >> we'll certainly take that back. i'm sure we appreciate that there's interest and we certainly want to make sure
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interested members fully understand the legal basis on which the administration acted as to the disposition of the ocument, we'll take that back. >> again, i think it is important if the department was claiming a constitutional authority, which the secretary mentioned, in terms of that issue, i think we'd like to see that analysis. and with that i'd yield back, mr. chairman. >> the gentleman yields back. r. preston, when did you consult the d.o.j. on the 30-day notification? on what date was that? >> mr. chairman, i don't remember the precise date, but it was in the time frame in ich we had completed our discussions with the qataris
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over the m.o.u. before it was signed we anticipated these issues would arise, and i engaged with my counterpart at the national security council who in turn engaged with the department of ustice to ask them to consider the legal and constitutional implications in this setting. >> you recall last week when you and other members were -- other members of the administration were briefing the staff i attended and mr. thornberry attended that briefing and i asked the question, if at anytime since the january discussions started you had talked about the 30-day requirements and nobody said at that time that there ever was a discussion about it? >> i don't recall that exchange, sir, but i can assure
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you that the 30-day requirement was discussed. part of the lawyers in this -- my part was in working with my counterpart at the n.s.c. to solicit the department of justice's guidance. that guidance was then provided to the decisionmakers who made the judgment about whether the a umstances would -- particular circumstance in this case would permit the 30-day, the formal 30-day notice? >> this is one of the things that's bothered me about reports we hear in the press and some of the briefings that we've had over a period of time that we get different answers from one time to another. and we'll go back and check our notes from that meeting, but when i asked that specific question, it was -- nobody responded. and you were one of the briefers. >> i frankly don't know whether
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the question was directed to me or whether it was properly understood. i can tell you -- >> i asked all of the briefers, i said, at anytime during any of these meetings did you discuss the law that pertained to the 30-day notice to congress and -- no can only say in uncertain terms we set in motion to get authoritative motion -- guidance from the department of justice and if that was part of decisionmakers who addressed what the administration was going to do vis-a-vis congressional notification. >> so you had time to discuss this with the department of justice, the department could have used that same time to talk to congress about it. >> i can just speak from my part of it. we foresaw the possibility that these issues would arise and wanted to have -- >> what i was trying to
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determine when i asked the question last week was, if you had just forgotten the law or if you had purposely decided not to address it. it sounds like what you are saying right now is you thought about it, you were aware of it and you had a discussion about it and decided that the law didn't apply. >> we certainly thought about it. we did not ignore the law, and we solicited legal guidance on the legal issues that would apply in application in this extraordinary set of circumstances in which the president was seeking to repatriate a service member who was in captivity and in peril. whether in these extraordinary circumstances and -- >> so if the circumstances are extraordinary, you don't have to follow the law? >> no. the way i would put it, if the constitution vests in the
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president certain authorize and responsibilities to include -- >> as it does to the congress. >> it does indeed. protecting americans abroad and protecting service members in particular, and to the extent that the application of the 30-day notice in this application would interfere with or undermine the president's efforts to seek or secure the recovery of this service member, then in the exercise of his constitutional authority, the statutory notice -- >> that was your interpretation. i think somebody talked earlier about the interpretation should be made by the courts, not by a couple of attorneys talking about the law. >> the courts certainly have a role, but the president has the responsibility to execute his authority. and seek counsel of the department of justice. >> thank you. mr. wilson. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for your strong efforts to uncover the truth of what's occurring
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before us today. mr. secretary, i appreciate you being here today. yesterday, i had the opportunity to stand in front of polling locations during a primary where hundreds of concerned citizens, both political parties, expressed to me their shock and outrage that the president would release five terrorists who they believe will have a background of having been facilitators of the attacks of september 11, 2001. we know the taliban allowed the al qaeda to operate from safe havens in afghanistan to attack the united states. and for the top leadership of this terrorist regime, for the president to release them is just incredible to the president i represent because -- to the people i represent because the terrorists have a goal in mind and the goal is very clear, death to america, death to israel. and the thought that people like this would be released was
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just inconceivable to the people that i spoke with yesterday. additionally, putting this in the context of this week, al qaeda or taliban terrorists have attacked karachi twice. dozens of citizens have been murdered by the taliban. it's not just americans at risk. additionally in baghdad, there have been car bombings with, again, dozens of people being murdered. this week we had the circumstance of mosul now possibly coming under al qaeda control. again, creating a safe haven which will affect american families and the homeland because the safe havens will be used for attacks on america. the safe havens are growing across north africa, the middle east, central asia. i believe it's dangerous to provide more terrorist leadership as this is occurring. the president was wrong. last year he announced that terrorism was being diminished around the world. in fact, it's growing and the
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growing exponentially. and with that in mind on june 5, "time" magazine, of all people, reported in an nterview they had with the taliban in afghanistan, if this deal were inspired to capture other military personnel, the taliban commander replied, quote, definitely. it's better to kidnap one person like bergdahl than capturing or kidnapping hundreds of useless people. it's encouraged our people. now everybody will work hard to capture such an important bird, end of quote. can you now recognize there is an increased risk to our service members because of this outrageous deal? > first, let me note, again, taliban policy for 12 years has been to do exactly what that taliban representative told "time" mag -- magazine and that
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is to capture american servicemen. that is not new. i go back again to the factors that we all looked at to be able to substantially mitigate the risk to this country, to our allies, to our interests. and we believe the analysis -- the intelligence community, all who had a role in this that we could substantially mitt the gait the risks -- mitigate the risks through the 12-month memorandum of under unsing, qatar provided the enforcement of the security there, the other follow-on dynamics and threats and realities, which we factored in we believe were mitigated enough. these are five individuals who have been off the battlefield for 12, 13 years. doesn't mean they won't go back. this is a different world. different world for us as well.
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so i would give you those answers. again, i know you don't agree with them. i also remind all of us, there's risk to all this. this is not a perfect situation. i know that. we all know that and that's why we spend an awful lot of time. >> we really should look at what our enemies say. in the "augusta chronicle" on tuesday, june 3, reported that e of the five, mohammed fazl, according to taliban commander kahn, fazl's return is like pouring 10,000 taliban fighters into the battle on the side of jihad, end of quote. mr. secretary, our country's at risk. you identified the homeland as if it was far away. it's not. the safe havens are being created to attack the american people here and actions should be taken and that would not include releasing terrorist leaders. thank you. >> congressman, i can assure
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you there's nobody more aware of this than this secretary of defense. there's no one -- >> please act that way. my goodness. >> thank you. >> ms. tsongas. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and welcome, secretary hagel and mr. preston. it's great to have you here today. i think the issues we've been talking about today really do merit the serious discussion that we've been having here. but i'd like to begin by reiterating the point that we as a nation have a solemn responsibility to bring home every service man or woman who volunteers to put on the uniform and places themselves in harm's way on behalf of the values our nation holds dear. and on behalf of each and every one of us, it's the abiding promise we make. it was the underlying motivator in the actions that our president has taken with your guidance and advice and consent. just briefly like to address the issue of notice that's
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received so much discussion. it's clear that as we look at the actions that took place in 2011, 2012 in the context of a possible reconciliation process , there was indeed generallyized notice. i -- generalized notice. i think there would be five taliban that would be exchanged for sergeant bergdahl in an effort to bring him home. on that front, i don't think there's deep surprise that this has -- this is actually a possible -- would possibly take place. but a lot of the concern has been on the issue of specific notice, and i think it troubles .ll of us given the 2014 ndaa i do think the exigent circumstances you described, the events that necessitated quick action that made the 30-day notice a tough one. but i think a little heads up,
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a couple hours' call to the leaders of congress might have served you all very well. and that being said, i'd also note that what you have said was not a simple transfer but a military action and conducted very well by our military who was put in harm's way and i commend those soldiers for pulling this off as they did without incident. but i'd actually like to address another aspect of section 1035 of the ndaa and that is the need to put in place mitigating circumstances that do have a level of comfort, that these released detainees will be held, as promised, and not quickly put back in the battlefield. can you talk about that a bit? i know some of it you'll revisit in a classified setting but i'd like to hear as much as you can talk about in this context. >> congresswoman, thank you. you note, i mentioned about
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four general areas that are included in the specifics of the memorandum of understanding on the enforcement commitments made by the government of qatar. personally made in a telephone conversation with president obama. i can't get into the specifics until we get into this closed session on the real most significant parts of that o.u. assurance, which we all assessed. every agency in the government who signed off on this decision all agreed that those were -- those were strong enforcement mechanisms that would give us some significant reassurance that those five individuals would be kept in qatar and all
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the other assurances as to their activity. again, we can go into specifics of that. >> the track record hasn't been great. what do you have up your sleeve that you feel comfortable, are allow you to carefully monitor the situation? >> recognizing what you said, the dimensions now we are looking at, too, that have changed a bit in qatar. ou have a new leader in qatar. over the last year. we have a significant united states force presence in qatar. many of you visited our base there. we have thousands of people there. we have some significant relationship with the government of qatar. they've had difficulties with their neighbors. i think the geopolitical arrangements that they would like to see change.
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i can't speak for them but you asked me some of my thoughts. i think put a different face on this as well. and there are some other assurances that i don't want to address here in an open session. they ffice it to say, were all strong enough to get the commitments that we individually of each agency came to the conclusion, as did the president, that it in fact was in the best interest of our country. in fact, did substantially mitigate the risks. >> thank you. this is a legitimate and real concern i know of my constituents. >> well, it's a concern of ours. >> and the memo of understanding will be made available. again, it got to us last evening and that will be made available to all members of the committee in the proper setting. mr. turner. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, we've had very important issues to discuss
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here. obviously one the notice of congress. two, the issue of judgment, was this a good idea? third, the issue of policy, whether or not this is a shift from our policy of not negotiating with terrorists? we had a briefing on monday from mr. tony blinkan, deputy national security advisor of the president, mr. work, department of defense, vice chief, deputy director for intelligence on monday. i asked them this question. can you cite any precedent for this nape of a swap where we have swapped with a nonnation state within the last 40 years? mr. preston, you were asked this same question by our ranking member and you cited the exchange -- >> we will leave this hearing at thintpofment you can continue to watch live on c-span3 or online at or you can listen to the rest of the testimony on c-span radio. after the hearing we do expect
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to open our phone lines, take your calls and also offer comments using the #cspanchat. the u.s. house is about to gavel back in. members will start work on debate rules for three upcoming bills. also, we are learning this afternoon house republicans have scheduled a closed door conference today, starting at 4:00 p.m. eastern. if any news comes out of that, we'll have it for you here on c-span. this is live coverage of the house on c-span. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014]
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the speaker: the house will be in order. prayer will be offered today by r guest chaplain, rabbi eton hammerman, temple beth shalom, new york. the chaplain: our god and god our -- of our ancestors, we rise in prayer in one of the world's
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most sacred spaces. this hallowed hall combines enormous power with awesome responsibility. we pray that you, o god, inspire those who stand before you today, mere mortals, women and men, young and old, the many races, colors and ancestries that make up our blessed country. in the jewish calendar we have just concluded the feast of weeks, marks, we are taught, the receipt of the bible at mount sinai. this was the culmination of a march from bondage and slavery toward freedom and responsibility. we ask that you bless the members of the august body as they work to guarantee freedom in our day so that we may all live long lives, peaceful lives of goodness and blessing, lives free from shame, lives filled with abundance and honor, lives in which our hearts' desire for goodness for one and all will be fulfilled. amen.
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the speaker: the chair has examined the journal of the last day's proceedings and announces hot taos his approval thereof. pursuant to clause 1 of rule 1, the journal stands approve the pledge of allegiance will be led by the gentleman from pennsylvania, mr. meehan. mr. meehan: i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the speaker: without objection, the gentleman from new york, mr. mahoney, is recognized for one minute. mr. mahoney: mr. speaker, it's with great honor that i welcome abbi eytan hammerman, temple beth shalom and serving as guest chaplain. he leads the temple at beth halom and serves his people in
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mahopac, new york. new york b.a. at the seminary and degree in political science. he served small and large congregations in baltimore, maryland, white plains, new york, and northern new jersey. in addition to serving as director of the jewish youth philanthropy institute in washington, d.c. rabbi hammerman has served the mahopac area and his leadership has united the community, no matter what their beliefs or background. not only a religious leader, he's long been a political leadership for justice and equality and especially for a reduction to the horrible plague of gun violence we see in our country. he's joined here today by his wife, rebecca, and his three beautiful daughters, ari, reena and lani, as well as his father
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and mother-in-law, margey and dr. steve hoffman. not only a religious leader, he's also my friend. and i am proud to call him my friend and i hope you will join e in welcoming rabbi hammerman mr. speaker, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the chair will entertain up to 15 further requests for one-minute speeches on each side of the aisle. for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania eek recognition? does the gentleman ask for unanimous consent? the gentleman is recognized. mr. meehan: mr. speaker, last week i attended the transportation management association of chester county for its annual legislative breakfast. at the breakfast, the association posthumously honored james f. kilker as its
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executive director emeritus. it's a very special recognition by his colleagues within the transportation industry, and i can't think of anybody more deserving of this distunks than jim, and -- distinction than jim and i join the association in honoring jim. jim kilker died on wednesday, february 19, 2014. born in northeast philadelphia, jim was a proud philadelphia may tiff and a pillar of his community. he was a labor lawyer, respected by all for his ability to get a to fair resolution of any matter. and at the transportation authority as general counsel for nearly a decade. then, just as now, everybody respected jim. i had the pleasure to work with jim during his time there. he was a competent, intelligent man, and was steadfast in his
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own position. he was decisive and there was no waffling or ambiguity in his thinking. jim was the chairman of the board of trustees at his alma mater, de salles university. i'd like to commend jim on his devoted service to his community, to his church and his impressive career history. his life, love and devotion to his family and his wife. let me remember jim with this legacy. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. for what purpose does the gentleman from new york seek recognition? the gentleman from new york is recognized. mr. higgins: i'm grateful that the house adopted my amendment to prevent communities that experienced recent population loss from being excluded from the community block grant program. since the development of the program in 1974, h.u.d. has designated entitlement communities, which included
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cities of a population of at least 50,000. for 40 years, h.u.d. has allowed cities that have had their populations fall below 50,000 to continue to participate in the program. unfortunately, h.u.d.'s signal desire to change course, this would have devastated 127 cities and 31 states, including the city of niagara falls in my district. the community block grant program has been a foundation for community and economic development across the nation and in western new york. i'm pleased the communities who rely on this funding will continue to have access to this critical resource. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentlelady from west virginia seek recognition? mrs. capito: to address the house for one minute and to revise and extend my remarks. the speaker pro tempore: does the gentlelady ask unanimous consent? mrs. capito: today, along with my colleague, congresswoman donna edwards, who is with me today, is introduce a legislation to help heart
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disease in women. women have died more than men of heart disease. it has claimed 100,000 people since 2010. screening can make a huge difference in helping women learn the risk of heart disease and reduce that risk. women rely on their ob-gyn and their community health centers for primary care. and our resolution seeks to educate women of all ages on the need of the heart health and -- as an important part of their screening, wherever and whoever they are seeing. women spend so much time taking care of others, spouses, children, aging parents and the responsibilities of work. it's time to encourage all women to take better care of themselves. learn your risk factors. learn how to be healthier. learn how to live longer and healthier for yourself and for those that you love. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady yields back her time. for what purpose does the
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gentleman from florida seek recognition? the gentleman from florida is recognized. mr. deutch: there have been 74 school shootings since the sandy hook tragedy. apostolic high school, stevens institute of business, hazard community college, chicago state university, lone star college, indian river, hillside elementary school, henry grady high school, the university of central florida, davidson middle school, new river community college, grambling state college, smonesmon college, alexander dreyfuss school of the arts, northwest high school, west seidel, carver high school, savannah state university, agape university, agona high school, stevenson high school, south dakota school of technology, west orange high school,
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arapaho high school, liberty technology high school, martin luther king elementary school, delaware charter high school, widener university, tennessee state, grambling state, eastern florida state college, cesar chavez, bent high school, brush high school, union university, raytown community, wisconsin, delaware, savannah state, kent state, east english prep, st. mary's, iowa west, horizon elementary, georgetown college -- the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman will suspend. the gentleman is no longer recognized. the gentleman is no longer recognized. mr. deutch: not one more. the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentleman from texas seek recognition? the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. marchant: mr. speaker, i rise today to celebrate the launch of two new flagship routes at dallas-fort worth
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international airport which i respect. today american airlines opens direct service from d.f.w. to both hong kong and shanghai. these new flights are the latest additions to the growing international hub at the dallas-fort worth airport. hong kong and shanghai enjoy an impressive list of newly launched international flights from d.f.w. including bogota, ubai, lima, sowell and sidney. many -- seoul and sidney. this is because of the easiest access of the flights from d.f.w. these flights will promote further business development and make it easier for my constituents to travel to asia and across the world. more good news will come next month as d.f.w. will soon add a direct flight to doha. my sincere congratulations to everybody at the dallas-fort worth international airport, and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. for what purpose does the gentleman from new jersey seek
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recognition? the gentleman from new jersey is recognized. mr. sires: mr. speaker, i rise today in support of the united states postal service six-day mail delivery. the most recent proposal offered by the republican leadership to pay for the highway trust fund by reducing mail service is unprecedented and irresponsible. the elimination of six-day mail delivery would have a negative affect on postal service and could result in a loss of up to 80,000 jobs. for decades, the postal service has sustained and created american jobs in every corner of the country, eliminating six-day delivery service will not only -- would not only slow the delivery of mail and harm small businesses across america, but it will impose the hardship on the elderly who rely on mail delivery. the republican leadership proposal po eliminate six-day mail service will take 10 years to generate enough money to fund the highway spending for just one year. oposals like these are
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illogical short-term fixes. come on, guys. put on your thinking caps and come up with a better proposal for america, and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. for what purpose does the gentleman from california seek recognition? >> i ask unanimous consent to address the house for one minute and to revise and extend my remarks. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california is recognized. mr. mcnerney: i call on my republican colleagues to focus on the things that the american people sent us here to do. today, i want to talk about protecting our veterans. we owe it to our veterans to do everything we can to restore their confidence in the v.a. health care system. the plan announced monday by the v.a. is a step in the right direction, but we must do much more. i stand on behalf of the veterans in my district. they're still waiting too long and driving too far to see a doctor and waiting far too long for their claims and appeals to be processed. we need to see congress spend its time getting to the bottom of the v.a.'s dysfunction and getting the v.a. leadership the tools they need to fix these
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problems. this is something we should do right now. instead of spending time on yet another series of politically motivated hearings on benghazi. i call on the republican leadership to use our house resources to investigate the real cause of the delays and work to find real solutions that will serve our veterans. that's a plan the whole house can get behind. mr. speaker, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentlelady from california seek ecognition? the gentlelady from california is recognized. mrs. capps: i rise in support of smart and sustainable use of our ocean resources. we depend on a healthy ocean for so much, for food, livelihood, recreation and more. that's why scientists, managers and entrepreneurs from across the country are currently in washington, d.c. to discuss critical marine policy issues as part of capitol hill ocean week.
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a key issue on the agenda is the responsible management of our nation's fisheries. america's fisheries are rich, both economically and culturally, because we have smart laws that prioritize sustainable resource use. under these laws, our fishing industry alone contributed $199 billion in sales and 1.7 million jobs and that's just in 2012. these laws, however, are being threatened by partisan legislation recently passed by the natural resources committee. this bill, which i call the empty oceans act, would override key environmental laws, erode fisheries and hurt our coastal economies. it's no way to manage our ocean resources. i murge my colleagues to oppose the empty oceans act. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady's time has expired. from you were d -- for what purpose does the gentleman from california seek recognition? the gentleman from california is
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recognized. >> thank you, mr. speaker. two weeks ago, the house natural resources committee marked up amendments to the magnusson stevens fishery conservation act that manage ours nation's fisheries. mr. lowenthal: unfortunately the bill that passed out of committee was not a bipartisan effort. among its many concerning provision the bill supersedes long standing protections for endangered species and our national marine landmarks. that's why i offered an amendment in committee that would have kept the marine sanctuaries act, the antiquities being other acts from overrid bin magnusson-stevens act. it's nonet manage fisheries, not natural treasures.
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i urge my colleagues to work across party lines to build a bipartisan fisheries bill. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentlelady from maryland seek recognition? >> i ask unanimous consent to address the house for one minute and revise and extend my remarks. the speaker pro tempore: the entlelady is recognized. ms. edwards: i rise today a a -- as a co-sponsor of a resolution that provides basic health screenings for women wherever they seek primary care. i want to thank my colleague from west virginia, mrs. shelley moore capito, for co-sponsoring this legislation. heart disease causes one in four deaths among women each year. for the past three decades, the numb of de-s from heart disease for women have exceeded those of men. i'm concerned that heart disease claims the lives of more than 400,000 women each year and nearly half of all african-american women have some form of cardioclass var --
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vascular disease. -- cardiovascular disease. mr. speaker, it's time for us to bring awareness to the burden of heart disease so that we can reduce heart disease among women in the united states by ensuring that wherever women seek care, they get basic, preventive heart health screen frgs heart diseasism uverage my colleagues on both sides of -- urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this timely resolution and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentleman from kentucky seek recognition? mr. yarmuth: i ask unanimous consent to address the house for one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. yarmuth: yesterday's one ng in oregon was the many of since the tragedy at sandy hook elementary in 2012, nearly one school shooting a week. these shootings are becoming so
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frequent that one company saw a business opportunity and is marketing bulletproof blankets to elementary school students. but the reaction of our friend and neighbors have been silence, moments of silence on this floor amplified by the cowardice of those in this body who refuse to stand up for public safety. 86 americans lose their lives to guns every day and americans are 20 times more likely to be murdered with guns than the rest of the developed world. the american people want us to act. in support closing loopholes the gun. enough with the moments of silence, it's time for a moment of action from congress to prevent gun violence. i yold back. the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentlelady from illinois seek recognition? >> i ask unanimous consent to address the house for one minute and revise and extend my rashes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized. >> thank you, mr. speaker, i rise to speak in opposition of
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the misguided proposal to fund the highway trust fund by eliminating saturday mail delivery. time and again i've heard from people across my region that saturday mail service is crucially important to them and their communities. ms. bustos: i had the opportunity earlier this year to partner with a letter carrier in the city of guilford, illinois. as i have met folks along the delivery routes of the vast district, 7,000 square mile, that i serve, it is clear how important six-day delivery is to them. i've met seniors who depend on mail on saturday for prescription drugs. i've met small business owners who depend on saturday delivery to manage their inventory and i've met folks who talk about eliminating saturday mail as a blow to the communities across our region of illinois and across our country. our transportation infrastructure projects are critically important to our nation and we seek bipartisan support to make sure that that
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happens. but not in a way that threatens the livelihood of so many people. i stand ready to roll up my sleeves and to work with -- across the aisle on practical solutions for our country. thank you, mr. speaker, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady's time has expired. for what purpose does the gentlelady from new york seek recognition? the gentlelady is recognized. mrs. maloney: thank you, mr. speaker. i rise in strong support of the re-authorization of tria, the anti-terrorism risk insurance program. this is a vitally needed program that helps the economy of our country that was put in place after the 9/11 attacks and has helped our country rebuild. after 9/11, you could not get an insurance policy for even a hot dog stand in new york. you had to go to lloyd's of london, tremendously expensive, to get any insurance. but this program did exactly what it was expected to do. it allowed taos rebuild and --
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it allowed us to rebuild, it had a government backstop and did not cost the taxpayer one penny, yet it helped us build jobs and rebuild our economy. we have so many government programs that don't work, this is one that did exactly what it was supposed to do. and at no additional cost. we need to have a plan in place, god forbid if we're attacked again, we have a plan of how to respond and thousand rebuild. this is a program that's worked, we need to re-authorize it. thank you. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady yields back. for what purpose does the gentleman from texas seek recognition? the gentleman from texas is ecognized. >> mr. speaker, i rise today to congratulate and honor the mariachi students at fort worth's northside high school who were chose ton perform at carnegie hall on june 22. mr. veasey: this will be the
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first carnegie hall concert by any mariachi band in seven years. with an outpouring of support from the school district and local community, the 23-member group has successfully raised partial funds for the trip. these hardworking students continue to rally the community for support and have played for coe nations at a host of metroplex area restaurants to raise the remaining difference. this is a great opportunity for these young people to step onto the national stage and proudly represent not only their school, but the fort worth community and the great state of texas. i'm proud to represent this caring community and school and such talented constituents. i wish them a safe journey to the big apple and congratulations on this outstanding achievement. go steers! i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. for what purpose does the gentleman from florida seek recognition? the gentleman from florida is ecognized.
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mr. hastings: thank you, mr. speaker. yesterday's shooting was the 74th shooting since the shooting at newtown, connecticut, in december of 2012. the list of shootings which includes 13 school shoots -- shootings in the first six weeks of this year, was compiled and demandhe website of moms action for guns in america. earlier my colleague, ted deutch, revited -- recited all 74 of them. yesterday and two other times in the last two week thecks house, rightly, held moments of silent. i and two of my colleagues did not stand. not because of disrespect for those who lost their lives, we abhor the los of life. and we are for the house of representatives taking moments
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of violence and then returning to the -- to business as usual and we absolutely -- abhor the house of representatives taking moments of silence and then returning to business as usual and doing absolutely nothing. the speaker pro tempore: the chair lays before the house a mune case. the clerk: the honorable the speaker, house of representatives, sir, pursuant to the permission granted in clause 2-h of rule 2 of the rules of the u.s. house of representatives, the clerk received the following message from the secretary of the senate on june 11, 2014, at 9:28 a.m., that the senate agreed to, without amendment, house concurrent resolution 100. signed sincerely, karen l. haas. the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentleman from texas seek recognition? >> mr. speakering by direction of the committee on rules i call up house resolution 616 and ask for its immediate consideration.
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the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the resolution. the clerk: house calendar number 111, house resolution 616. resofted, that a, at any time after the adoption of this resolution the speaker may, pursuant to clause 2-b of rule 18, declare the house resolved into the committee of the whole house on the state of the union for consideration of the bill h.r. 4800. making appropriations for agriculture, rural development, food and drug administration, and related agencies programs for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2015, and for other purposes. the first reading of the bill shall be dispensed with. all points of order against consideration of the bill are waived. general debate shall be confined to the bill and shall not exceed one hour equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the committee on appropriations. after general debate the bill shall be considered for amendment under the five-minute rule. points of order against provisions in the bill for failure to comply with clause 2
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of rule 21 are waived. b, during consideration of the bill for amendment, 1, each amendment other than amendmented provided for in paragraph 2 shall be debatable for 10 minutes equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent, shall not be subject to amendment except as provided in paragraph 2. 2, no pro forma amendments shall be in order except that the chair and ranking member of the committee on appropriations or their respective designees may offer up to 10 pro forma amendments each at any point for the purpose of debate and 3, the chair of the committee of the whole may afford priority and recognition on the basis of whether the member offering an amendment has caused it to be printed in the portion of the record for that purpose under rule 18. amendments so printed shall be considered as read. c, when the committee rises and reports the bill back to the house with the recommendation
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-- it do pass, it shall shall be considered without intervening motion except one motion to recommit. section 2, it shall be in order to consider the house the bill h.r. 4457, to amend the internal revenue code of 1986 to perm neptly extend increase expenses, limit nations and for other purposes. all points of order against consideration of the bill are waive the amendment in the nature of a substitute recommended by the committee on ways and means now printed in the bill modified by the amendment in the report accompanying this resolution shall be adopted. the bill as amended shall be considered as read. all points of order against provisions in the bill as amended are twhavepled previous question shall be -- are waived. all previous questions on the bill shall be considered as amened and without intervening motion except, one, one hour of
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debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the committee on ways and means and two, one motion to recommit with or without instructions. section 3. upon adoption of this resolution, it shall be in order to consider in the house the bill h.r. 4453, to amend the internal revenue code of 1986 to make permanent the reduced ecognition period for gains of s-corporations. all points of order against consideration of the bill are waive. in the lue of the amendment -- in lieu of the amendment in the nature of a substitute printed in the bill, an amendment in the nature of a substitute in rules committee print 113-166 shall be adopted. all points of order against provisions in the bill as amended are waive the previous question shall be considered as ordered on the bill as amended and on any further amendment thereto to final passage without intervening motion except, one, one hour of debate equally
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divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member on the committee on ways and means, and two, one motion to recommit with or without instructions. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas is recognized for one hour. mr. burgess: thank you, mr. speaker. for the purposes of debate only i yield the customary 30 minutes to the gentleman from florida, mr. hastings, pending which i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for as much time as he wishes to use. mr. burgess: during consideration of this resolution, all time is yielded for the purposes of debate only. mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks . the speaker pro tempore: without objection, so ordered. mr. burgess: mr. speaker, house resolution 616 provides for consideration of three important bills. the first, h.r. 4800, the agriculture appropriations act for fiscal year 2015 will
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ensure continued operations for those federal agencies responsible for monitoring the health and safety of our food and drug supplies. h.r. 4457, america's small business tax relief act of 2014, and h.r. 4453, the permanent s corporation built-in gains recognition period act of 2014, are two critical pieces of tax legislation that will give certainty to the small business community, making permanent two pieces of our tax code which congress has had to continually renew annually for decades. making these tax credits permanent will allow businesses to look out for more than a year ahead and to actually evaluate their economic situations, allowing for those businesses to make staffing and investment decisions for the
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long term rather than just the short term. the rule before us today provides for a modified open rule for h.r. 4800. this allows all members to offer any amendments to the bill that they may choose. the speaker is committed to completing as many appropriations bills under regular order as possible. the rule before us formalizes the same unanimous consent agreement that was entered into during the consideration of the c.j.s. appropriations bill, which streamlines the debate, providing for 10 minutes of debate on every amendment offered on the bill. however, in no way does this rule restrict members from offering any and all amendments to the underlying bill. the rule further provides for 4457, sideration of h.r. america's small business tax relief act of 2014, and h.r.
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4453, the permanent s corp built-in gains recognition period act of 2014, both under a closed rule. by bringing these two bills here today, members will be allowed to debate the policy of each of these tax provisions individually rather than as a single omnibus tax extender legislation currently passed at the end of the year that would not allow members to weigh in individually on each extender. h.r. 4800, the agriculture and related agencieses appropriations act of 2015 provides almost $24 billion for the department agencies in the bill. this is funded at the same evel as fiscal year 2014 and $457 million above the president's request. the bill provides critical funding for agricultural research, animal and plant health, conservation programs,
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the farm service agency, rural development, including infrastructure and food safety inspection, the food and drug administration, the commodities future trading commission and the food and nutrition programs, including child nutrition, supplemental nutrition assistance program and w.i.c., the program for women, infants and children. of particular importance of the work i've been involved with on the energy and commerce committee, the agricultural appropriations bill provides over $2.5 million for funding for the food and drug administration. in addition, the bill provides for the collection of user fees cupola tiffly amounting to over-- cumulatively amounting to $4.5 billion in the f.d.a. these dollars serve an important mission. from drug and device approval to food safety, the food and drug administration is at the regulatory forefront of protecting the nation's health,
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but it also acts as a doorway for new treatments and cures. from basic research to cutting edge treatments, america has led the way in opening new fields of discovery and taking medicine to boundaries that i could not have imagined during my medical training or career. yet, we have barely scratched the surface of medical breakthroughs that are over the horizon. and believe it or not, there are only hundreds of treatments for diseases that afflict us and thousands still without any treatment at all, let alone a cure. will the united states continue to be the home for latest inventions? if the answer to that is yes, the food and drug administration will be a key part of the future. patients and innovators are on the front lines in the fight against diseases like alzheimer's and cancer, yet, their choice -- voices are not always heard. bureaucratic rules have stood in the way of innovation.
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some estimates show that medical devices may be approved four years earlier in europe than in the u.s. in 2012, the president's council of advisors on science and technology recommended, quote, encouraging innovation, closed quote, as part of the f.d.a.'s mission statement in order to ensure that the f.d.a. understood its role in helping new innovative treatments for patients. however, the true impact of the medical device, pharmaceutical, bilogic, engineering, drug -- iologic, engineering, they need the tools they need to prevent disease and alleviate human suffering. the food and drug administration must have the infrastructure and programs in place to ensure all innovations are dealt with in a fashion that ensures safety for the patient as well as a straightforward and predictable
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and streamlined approval process. the food and drug administration can continue to streamline the approval process of single molecule drugs with which they have the most regulatory experience, but if we can't handle the fundamentals, then we've got a big problem. congress has taken several bipartisan actions in the last few years to break down the barriers to health innovation and the food and drug administration will and has seen changes as a result. the funding provided will continue to move these reforms along, but as report language notes, there is a great deal of work that remains to be done. for the good of patients and to retain our global leadership and the economic benefits that come with it, it's time to breathe new life into the life sciences sector. as a physician, i understand the importance of ensuring that the government has the next ces to lead to the generation of treatments in the
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21st century while also ensuring that those treatments are safe and effective. the bill will ensure that the food and drug administration has the scientific and medical expertise that they need when reviewing products utilizing emerging science by providing adequate resources in a challenging fiscal environment. after the successful passage of the farm bill this year, the next step in that process is to fund those programs. h.r. 4800 achieves that goal, and i will add i was disappointed to see that the healthy foods financing initiative to bring grocery stores and fresh food to underserved communities was not funded in this appropriations bill. even after the house resoundingly defeated an amendment to strip the program from the farm bill, showing this body overwhelmingly supports this initiative. i understand an amendment to fix this oversight will be offered during consideration of the bill, and i hope that something can be worked out.
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the two tax bills before us today are, again, critical to give small businesses stability and the ability to look beyond the end of each calendar year in making decisions for their companies. extending these provisions today will be a boost to our economy. h.r. 4457, america's small business tax relief act of 2014, will make permanent within the provision in the tax code that will allow annual benefits up to $500,000 to be expensed. further, computer software and rules for the expensing of qualified real property, leasehold improvement, restaurant and retail improvement property can also be written off as well. the present tax system harms investment in many ways. one of the most important is that unlike other expenses, businesses must deduct capital expenses, such as for business
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equipment over many years rather than the year the expense is incurred. this raises the cost of capital and reduces investment. h.r. 4457 would go a long way to reverse this trend. likewise, the other two tax extenders that we are dealing with today would deal with s corpses or pass-through corporations. -- corporations or pass-three corporations. deductions, losses and credits will be through to their shareholders. 4453 makes r. permanent expired tax break that would enable businesses set up as s corporations to shrink the window that they have to hold built-in gains from 10 years to five. 4, the charitable
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contributions act of 2014, would require an adjustment to the basis of a shareholder's stock in an s corp if the corporation makes tax deductible charitable donations. recently, the house passed a permanent tax credit for corporate research and development. 62 democrats voted against the measure. their reasoning as far as i can tell was not against the policy but it was the fact that the measure was not offset. however, offsets are something in congress that we need when we are creating new programs or allocating money not previously appropriated, essentially making the american people pay more in taxes. offsets are unnecessary and not needed when in fact we are shielding the american people from being taxed. moreover, we heard last night in the rules committee, and i suspect we will hear it again today on the floor, about the fact that the two tax-related bills before us today in this rule are not offset.
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congress only needs to pay for tax credits if one subscribes to the belief that all money in the country, all money in the country belongs first to the government rather than the people. i reject this mindset. congress does not need to justify or offset not taking more money from the american people. congress needs to justify and pay for policies that take money from the american people. indeed, every member of the rules committee on the minority side has voted at least three times to extend these very provisions without having any sort of offset. president obama himself signed those three extensions of these provisions into law, all done without offsets. senator wyden, who's been working on a larger tax extender bill in the senate, has included the same pay-go language that's included in these bills before us in this
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legislation. to make hay about this issue, which is much to do about nothing, is to play politics with our taxpayers and our economy, and the republican majority in this house will not play along. in the absence of a larger comprehensive tax reform package, permanent extenders like these are common sense. they bring back stability and certainty to businesses. they are constantly waiting at the end of every calendar year to see if congress will retroactively act to provide that tax relief. i'd encourage my colleagues to vote yes on the rule and yes on the underlying bill. and i will reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas reserves the balance of his time. the chair will receive a message. the messenger: mr. speaker, a message from the senate. the secretary: mr. speaker. the speaker pro tempore: madam secretary. the secretary: i have been directed by the senate to inform the house that the senate has agreed to s.con.res. 37, authorizing the use of the
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rotunda in the united states capitol in commemoration of the congressional gold medal ceremony. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from florida is recognized. mr. hastings: thank you very much, mr. speaker. and i thank the gentleman from texas for yielding to me the customary 30 minutes. mr. speaker, today the house will adopt yet another closed ule for these two tax extender measures which will cross a new rube con, a new threshold. -- rubicon, a new threshold. we'll break the record for the most closed rules considered by congress ever. and we still have seven months to go. the graphic i'm holding illustrates that, that we have the most closed congress ever, which allows, among other
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things, we don't deal with immigration reform, we don't deal with the minimum wage, we don't deal with unemployment insurance, we don't deal with unyears -- universal gun background checks, this is a closed congress. this may sound like inside baseball, but it's much more than just a procedural agreement. i've seen a lot of rules, serving nearly 10 years now on the rules committee, but this is a new one. this rule limits debate during the appropriations process. it deems passage of a provision to ignore the deficit that this legislation will create. and it sets an all-time record, as i have shown, for closed rules. we manage to do this -- we managed to do this yesterday and now have it on the floor, all in one rule. congress has, as i said, many
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important issues it needs to take up, including the things i've shown and reiterate now, immigration reform and raising the minimum wage and extending unemployment insurance. 2.5 million people in this country are without unemployment insurance and if we were to pass it, it would create 200,000 jobs. we stand around here and talk about creating jobs all the time. closed rules prevent the house from working its will on these measures and that's the way it appears that leadership, what's left of it, wants it to be. my friends do make some democratic amendments in order at times. and both parties have used closed rules. when they've been in control. and that's true. that's the prerogative of the party controlling the house. but you can read these closed rules like a road map of my
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friends' priorities. in general, the only amendments made in order are those that are expected either to pass or fail along party lines. over 30 house republicans and 64% of republican voters polled support immigration reform. but we can't get a vote. where is the immigration reform bill? where is the measure that will allow for us to answer many of the problems that this country is confronted with with reference to immigration reform. this week, as i have indicated, nearly three million americans have lost emergency unemployment insurance since it expired in december. but we can't get a vote here on the house of representatives floor. the voting rights act needs to be reformed in order to protect american voters but we can't get a vote in the people's house.
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leadership uses closed rules to prevent the house from working its will because they're worried about undermining their message, more worried about it than actually legislate. today's tax extenders are perfect examples of how these heavy handed tactics help the chosen few but leave everyone else without recourse. there are at least 50 other tax extenders that we could have taken into consideration but no, we choose these six because that's your agenda. dozens of other provisions that expired at the end of this 2017 and several others scheduled to expire at the end of this year have been skipped over in favor of these six extenders favored by businesses that are pretty substantial and not necessarily the big corporations of many of
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the large s-corporations. my friends across the aisle have passed up the chance, would you believe this? to renew the work opportunity tax credit which helps veterans get back to work. as well as the new markets tax credit which helps revitalize communities. how do you do that? they've chosen to ignore renewable energy tax credits and tax credits to help working parents pay for child care. how about that? they decided there's no reason to extend deductions for teachers out of -- for teachers' out of pocket expenses, qualified tuition, mortgage insurance premiums or state and local taxes, deduction that is critical for floridians and the people that i represent. these six extenders will be the only extenders that the house
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votes on because these are the priorities of my friends across the aisle. priorities that may solidify your message, my friends, particularly your message with your base and evidently you're confused about that particular matter. but you're more interested in them, in ensuring that you do nothing to help hard working americans. you're going to use the power of the closed rule to ensure that no other provisions gets a vote. and you're going to become the most closed congress ever. this a-- disallowing immigration reform, disallowing a minimum wage increase. there are states that are giving
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a realistic minimum wage increase to people. you tell me how it is that people live on $7.35 an hour. many of us have been to food shelters and seen people that are working, many of us have seen people that are living in shelters, working families, living in shelters, and we won't even bring a measure here, are you afraid to just say yes or no, whether or not americans ought to have an increase in their minimum wage at the federal level? million people don't have unemployment insurance, can't meat their obligations, we're not willing to help them, and you're telling me, you're going to increase, you talk all the time about the deficit, you're going to increase the deficit with some mumbo jumbo about money if it's not in the hands of, and disallow people that we know if they were to receive unemployment insurance
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compensation, that they would spend all of that money and that it would, in fact, create jobs, and it would sustain small businesses, if we were to do hat. a friend on the other side pointed out yesterday he had come from a hardscrabble life and his father one time had been on unemployment insurance. i said to him, and i believe it to be true, that you just proved my point. and i asked him, did his daddy get a job after he was on unemployment insurance and his answer was yes, i knew that's what it would be, and many of the people on unemployment insurance today, if we were to give them a chance, they'd get a job. get a life, republicans. give people a chance -- i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas is recognized.
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mr. burgess: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself some minutes for -- a minute for the purposes of response. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. burgess: in the 111th congress, the final two years of representative pe low cease time as speaker, 2009 and 20 10, this house never considered a single bell under an open rule. let me state that again. 2009 to 201240erk111th congress, speaker pelosi was speaker, the house never considered a single bill under an open rule. mr. speaker, i would submit that's the definition of a closed process. i reserve. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from florida is recognized. mr. hastings: mr. speaker, my friend on the other side of the aisle may try to change the subject, do that if you like, but i ask the gentleman, is this a new record for closed rules or not? and i answer rhetorically because it is. i don't deny that democrats have
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used closed rules, i said it in my opening remarks. mr. speaker, i yield five minutes to my good friend the distinguished gentleman from texas, lloyd doggett. judge lloyd doggett. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. doggett: thank you so much. across america, for 30 million schoolchildren, implementation of the healthy, hunger-free kids act is working. schools are literally stepping up to the plate with a plate of healthier food. indeed, for school lunches in texas, 99% of texas school districts are successfully serving meals that meet strong nutritional standards. in most of the schools i visit, 99% is an a-plus. first lady michelle obama has provided impressive leadership in getting students, families, all of taos pay a little more attention -- all of us to pay a little more attention to food quality, to encourage kids to be
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more physically active, to get moving and grow up healthy. active, healthy kids do bet for the school and grow up to be more productive citizens who can help in moving our country forward. today's bill presents the question of whether we are to wave good-bye with a waiver to healthy school lunch standards. and this bill that we are about to consider is not the only place where unhealthy congressional action lurks. at the very same moment that the agriculture appropriations subcommittee was weakening school nutrition standards with a waiver, the house ways and means committee, on which i serve, approved a bill to expand a tax subsidy for, quote, apparently wholesome food. sounds good. the only problem is that the statutory definition of apparently wholesome food does not actually limit itself to the
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wholesome. it includes halloween candy, twinkies, pop rocks, stale potato chips and other expired junk food. all of which receive a taxpayer subsidy. and i think that's a little hard to stomach in a nation where one third of our children are overweight or obese, we should neither be subsidizing junk food nor repackaging healthy school meal standards into less healthy meals. we're already spending in $245 a an estimated billion every year on diabetes. rates of dietary-related type ii diabetes are skyrocketing among children and young adults. since many of our children consume up to half of their daily calories at school through the school lunch and school breakfast programs, their health
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depends upon the nutritional quality of the food they are served. today, we should not take a giant step backwards. let's join against this push to lower standards for our nation's children. they deserve the healthiest future possible. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from florida reserves. the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. burgess: i reserve my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from florida. mr. hastings: mr. speaker, returning briefly, before i yield to my good friend, to the subject of open and or closed rules, this is what speaker boehner promised right here in this chamber in his own words. i offer, quoting him, a commitment, openness, once a tradition of this institution but increasingly scarce in recent decades, will be the new
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standard. you will always have the right to a robust debate and an open process that allows you to represent your constituents, to make your case, offer alternatives, and be heard. it's unfortunate that my friends on the other side of the aisle campaigned telling the country how open and transparent they were going to be and then when they do the opposite and are called out on it, it's just more excuses. mr. speaker, if we defeat the previous question, i'm going to offer an amendment to the rule the bank p h.r. 4582, on students emergency refinancing act. mr. tierney, my good friend, authored that bill to help millions of people lower their student loan debt. the bill would allow borrowers to refinance federal and private
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student loans to the lowest rates that are currently available to new borrowers. to discuss this proposal, i yield two minutes to the distinguished gentleman, my friend and colleague from massachusetts, mr. tierney. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. tierney: thank you, mr. speaker. i thank my colleague for yielding the time. mr. speaker, i rise to urge the house to act on responsible legislation that i've introduced that would help tens of millions of college students and graduates and parents, middle class families across the country to be able to refinance their existing loans to the same low rate offered to new borrowers in the student loan program. . as the president said earlier, this should be a no-brainer. small businesses are so often able to refine their debt, there's no reason parents can't do the same. refinancing would be a significant financial help to


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