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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  January 9, 2015 11:00pm-1:01am EST

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1.2 million barrels a day, moving 700,000 by rail cars because we can't move it by pipeline, benefitting the rest of our country. with crude. they say, we can't bring the pipeline down and work with our closest friend and alleyyally, the united states if they'd rather work with opec than canada, can't figure that one out, i'm sure harper, they're saying, unbelievable. i guess what we'll have to do is build these pipelines to the west coast of canada we'll move that oil on tank andersen send it to china because china wants it. they're not only wanting to buy the oil, they're trying to buy the source of the oil. so then it gets on the pipeline and then it goes on tankers over to china. well those tankers, they produce greenhouse gas emissions to china and the china
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refineries have much more greenhouse gas emissions they're much less efficient and less environmentally sound than our refineries in our country. what do you end up with? much more greenhouse gas emissions because you didn't have the pipelines. and by the way tankers have to bring that petroleum from opec, russia, heavy crude from venezuela. creates more greenhouse gas. so the net effect is you increase the environmental impacts by not allowing the pipeline. it increases. it doesn't reduce it it increases. furthermore, canada is taking steps, and canada their laws in terms of environmental stewardship are tougher than ours, but they are continuing to work to move to what's called insitue development. what's insitue development? it's developing using steam, which is the traditional way they produced oil. so it's greenhouse gas, it's
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very similar to drilling in the united states. and in fact it's a lower foot print than the heavy crudes that come out of california. very environmentally-conscious state. so again when we talked about the environmental impacts let's talk about the facts. let's talk about reality and those are the facts. that's what it's really about. oh, safety. another one they brought up is safety. something could happen with the pipeline. that's true, and we always have to work on safety. it is very important that we always address safety in whatever we do, and the best way to have a safe infrastructure system to move it around is to have the right mix of pipelines and roads, and the right mix along with transmission lines so that we move energy as safely and effectively as possible. well there's the pipeline
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system in our country. their coal and gas is moved through millions and millions of pipelines in our country. and this pipeline is going to be the newest with the latest and the best technology. oh, and by the way if we don't have the pipeline as i mentioned a minute ago, you add 1400 rail cars a day. you do your own calculation. do you think you're safer, more likely to have less accidents with another pipeline with the latest greatest technologyies and safe guards? or would you rather have 1400 rail cars a day going through your community loaded with oil? you know, common sense again and the statistics support it. there's more. they brought up more concerns but i am getting into my time in terms of forced time right now, and i know our chairman is coming down. i'm going to have to wrap this
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up. i ran a little longer on some of these issues that they brought up. they brought up others. but here's the good news. we're going to vote on a poacher motion to proceed to the bill on monday, and i'm hopeful with our 60 sponsors on this legislation, we'll have 60 maybe 63 votes, based on what people have indicated to me as to how they'll vote right now. we're hoping to have 63 on monday. and that means that we're on the bill. and unlike the craft several years here in the senate, that means that we are on the bill and open for business. we are welcoming amendments. we're saying to republicans and democrats alike bring them on. bring on your amendments. hey, if you've got a good idea come on down. if you have a good idea come on down, let's talk about your amendment, let's debate your amendment. and you know what, you're going to get a vote. and if you get 60 votes in support of your amendment, then we'll make it part of this legislation. and we are really hopeful that
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in so doing, we can improve the legislation, we can make it more bipartisan, and we can get more supporters. so if, in fact the president does decide to veto it we have 67 votes instead of 60 or 63 votes. and that's how the process is supposed to work. you're supposed to be able to have that debate offer those amendments, produce the best product we can, and that's what we're hoping to do with this legislation, and we're hoping that will not only generate more bipartisan support on this issue, on this legislation, but on other energy legislation, and other legislation of all types, so we can get the important work of the american people done in this way. that's what it's all about, is finding a way to get things done. get the job done for the american people. mr. president, with that i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. >> mr. president yesterday morning, those of us on the energy and natural resources committee had an opportunity for
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good discussion about our nation's energy future. and more specific to the agenda of yesterday's business meeting was a bill that would allow for a much delayed project, the keystone xl pipeline allowed for that project to advance. it moved through the committee favorably. it moved through the committee with bipartisan support. and as i noted from several colleagues yesterday the discussion that we had in the committee about the significance of this pipeline, the significance of its contribution to our nation's economy, from a jobs perspective from a resource perspective, were considerable. there were debateos both sides,
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we can go to healthy debate and it's debate i hope we'll see reflected on this floor in the next week and perhaps the week following, as we have an opportunity to debate. but first, we have to get on that bill. we have that process in place. we'll have a vote a motion to proceed, the first of next week, and i am anxious as the new chair of the energy committee to be moving the debate here in the senate on issues that are so important to us in this nation. when we think about our nation's security national security and energy security when we think about our nation's economy and our prosperity so much of it comes back to energy and access to energy that is abundant affordable, clean, diverse, secure, these are principles
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that year over year laid out about my views of energy. i am hopeful that the discussion we have on this floor will advance us as a senate as a congress, as a country, in moving forward on those policies that will only make us stronger and more secure. the debate yesterday in committee i felt was kind of a precursor of some of the agenda items that we will see on this floor that will be brought forward by way of debate by way of amendments. and i would encourage colleagues, as they think about next week as they think about the debate here that we will have on energy let's stick to energy. we haven't had a good robust debate on energy in a long while. we have a lot of other concerns. we have colleagues that want to bring up the president's
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initiatives as they relate to immigration or perhaps health care. we will have plenty of opportunity here in the senate under leader mcconnell's management to hear and debate issues that are of great substance and weight. but we have waited far too long for our energy issues to be fully debated on the floor, so i'm welcoming that discussion. we heard a lot of good reasons within committee. we've heard a lot of good raendz here on the floorreasons here on the floor about why keystone pipeline is significant and important to this country but this morning, i want to take a few moments to discuss some of the arguments that have been made against it and perhaps provide some context, some rebuttal. because i think it is fair to acknowledge that the keystone xl
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invokes some strong feelings but not all of what we have heard is perhaps as factual as we would like it to be and as we know often around here people are entitled to their own opinions, but they're not entitled to their own facts. i'd like to raise some of the responses. one of the issues that we heard yesterday was that this bill is just almost too much. well if those not only on the committee and the floor would look directly to the language of the bill, it's pretty simple. the text of the full bill takes up just less than two pages. it's roughly 400 words long. doesn't take long to read or understand. it's pretty simple. it's a pretty simple measure. it approves this long delayed cross border permit that is
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needed to construct the keystone xl pipeline. all it does is it approves a permit. it doesn't give some grand sweetheart deal to a foreign company. it doesn't feather the nest of oil companies. it allows for a permit to cross the border between united states and canada to allow for a construction project. and it does this while protecting private property rights. it allows nebraska to find the best possible route for the pipeline, and it requires all state and local obligations to be fully met. this bill does not deal with routing through the state. it was suggested that somehow or other, we here in the senate and the house are kind of like the
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zoning committee here. uh-uh, that's not what's happening. it doesn't deal with the routing. that discussion as we know took place at the state level and appropriately so. so what this measure does is just allows for that cross boundary permit. and some of the other points that were raised were that somehow or other, this bill is -- provides subsidies, subsidies whether it's to transcanada or to others. it does not authorize a single taxpayer dollar for any purpose. it doesn't create any new tax credits, it doesn't reduce current tax rate. the bill is simply about
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approving the keystone xl pipeline. it's that simple. it's that simple. and those that would doubt i encourage you to read it. it's pretty brief. another thing that we heard yesterday in committee was, why the urgency? why the push right now? we are just in the first week of the 114th congress. why are we pushing so quickly to advance this? well for new members, such as the occupant of the chair the presiding officer here today, this is the first opportunity that you will have had to weigh in on the senate floor on this very important legislation, but for many of us who were here in the 113th congress, we recall that it was just about six or
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seven weeks ago that this same measure, in fact, the same language of this bill, is what we had on this floor just before we departed at the end of the 113th congress. we fell short -- fell one vote short of closure. we had 59 supporters in the senate. we had obviously a democratic majority, so coming to 59 was pretty substantive and i think folks would remember that. so in effect, this is a little bit about unfinished business. we were working it less than two months ago, a month and-a-half ago, we are now back in the 114th congress. so what's changed. well, what has changed is that the presiding officer is now a
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member of the republican party our leader senator mcconnell, is leading the senate. we are now in a new congress with new leadership, and the bill that has been introduced by my friend and colleague from north dakota has cosponsors 60 cosponsors, not people that have said, yeah i think i'm going to kind of vote for this bill. these are 60 who have committed and signed their name and we now have enough votes to cast this chamber. so i think that's a good sign. i think it's not a bad sign that what we're starting with, mr. president, is a bill that is unfinished business but also a bill that has strong bipartisan support. 60 cosponsors. you know, it's not very often in
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this body that you have legislation that has that level of support. so why not start this new congress off with something that enjoys bipartisan support. i don't think it's the intention of our leader to start off saying, by gosh it's going to be republican ideas only. we're trying to find those ideas, those issues that will advance our country. i believe that moving forward with the keystone xl pipeline is something that will advance the best interest of our country. so when we talk about timing i think it is important to note that this is not only a good time. i think it's the best time to be
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bringing up keystone xl. our colleagues on the other side of the building here are taking up the keystone xl pipeline today. we had of course good news coming out of nebraska this morning with the announcement that that litigation has been resolved, if you will with the courts effectively upholding the pipeline route and there have been some on the other side of the aisle that have suggested that we shouldn't be cutting off a process. we shouldn't be moving until things have been resolved in nebraska. and there's some that would say, well, okay, that's something that we do need to consider.
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it has been suggested that until that has been resolved action on the keystone xl pipeline is somehow or other premature or untimely. but i want to speak to the aspect of timeliness and whether or not we're moving too quickly here. the presidential approval process is actually another reason why we're starting on this bill in this congress because a final yes or no decision has now been delayed by more than 2300 days. i think the exact number is like 2,303, and we are counting. that's more than six years, mr. president. not to build a pipeline. we're not talking about building a pipeline and taking six years. we're talking about six years to get a permit to cross from the canadian side to the u.s. side.
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the energy committee is on its fourth chairman since the initial cross-border permit application was filed. we've seen a lot of process, we've seen a lot of talk here in this body. literally, everything that's happened during the obama administration the legislation that has moved regulations all of the extra curricular stuff that goes on outside that's all happened, it's all happened while the keystone xl permit has been pending. and you have to look at this and you have to say, 2300 days and counting, over six years. it's pretty clear to me that the president just really doesn't want to make this decision. and so if the congress can step in and make that happen, the congress should step in and make
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that happen. i mentioned the decision coming out of nebraska this morning, and the fact that it allows that the pipeline route effectively upheld upheld. so that aspect of process that individuals were waiting for, i think we can fairly say has been resolved. in the statement of administrative -- administration policy effectively the vetoed threat that the period has issued on keystone xl that i would note he issued the day that we dabbled into the 114th congress. before we started any of our business, the president already is threatening to veto. and in his veto message, he says that the legislation would cut
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short consideration of important issues relevant to the national interest. and again, i would just ask anyone anyone, really? 2,303 days, and we think we're somehow or another cutting short a process? now, in his vet oo threat, he states further the bill would also authorize the project despite uncertainty due to ongoing litigation in nebraska. well, mr. president, it looks like that part of it has been resolved. so that can't be used as the excuse. and it's not just in that statement of administration policy. back in april the press secretary for the president,
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mr. carnie, stated that -- and i'm quoting him here absent a definite route, i understand the decision is by state and that it can't continue until the situation in nebraska is resolved. further, there was a statement that came out of the state department on april 18, where they note that a score reason for the delay is that the potential impact of the nebraska supreme court which could ultimately affect the pipeline route. state department you also have word now that there is none of that that we are waiting for, so when we talked about timeliness when we talk about why it is imperative that we begin to
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allow for this perm to proceed, it's because it's been six years. it's because the decks has been cleared, and it is because it is an issue an infrastructure that will benefit our nation as well as our friends to the northern border. i want to talk just one last segment here about the issue of job creation because we've talked a lot about the jobs that are created with a potential keystone xl project. we heard in committee yesterday, and hey, this is not advertised but only going to be about 35 to 50 permanent jobs only 4,000 construction jobs that should be created, we've been saying closer to 42,000. there's a lot of water between 4,000 and 42,000.
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who's right here? i think it's important to note that the numbers that we're talking about are drawn from the state department's final supplemental eif. and so it's one of those situations where if you're opposed to it you're going to grab low numbers. if you're supportive of it you might grab the high numbers. but i think you need to read the whole thing in context, my friends. that final supplemental eif goes on to say construction contracts, materials, and support purchased in the united states would total approximately $3.1 billion with another $233 million spent on construction camps. during construction, this spending would support a combined total of approximately 42,100 average annual jobs and approximately $2 billion in earnings throughout the united states. it goes on further to say, approximately 16,100 would be
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direct jobs at firms that are awarded contracts for goods and services including construction directly by keystone another 26,000 jobs would result in direct spending consists of goods and services purchase by the construction contractor spending by the construction projector, for goods required in the construction process. this isn't lisa murkowski's numbers drawn from the air, or senator hoeven's numbers conjuring up these numbers for the bill, these are the numbers from the state department final supplemental eif. this is what they are saying, 42,100 average annual jobs $2 billion in earnings 16,000 direct jobs 26,000 indirect and induced spending.
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state department estimates construction workers on the seasonal basis, four to eight months per period. on an annual basis, it's 1,950 jobs per year for two years. and that's where they get the 4,000 construction jobs. but think about it the nature of the construction business is not that these are jobs in perpetuity. that means that you build things and once they're built, you move on to build something else. of course they're not permanent jobs because they're not in a permanent state of construction. the key here is to approve projects in a timely manner so that workers, good, skilled, qualified workers can go from one job to the next and have permanent stable employment not necessarily on the same project for their entire lifetime but to be able as a welder as a
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skilled technician to move from one project to another. mr. president, i would support this project even if it was just 4,000 temporary jobs but it's not. what we're talking about is supporting over 42,000 workers over a two-year period. that's significant. it's significant given the unemployment levels we're at. we're at 5.6% now. isn't this what we're wanting to do, is to bring on new jobs? let me tell you, in my state right now, we are trying to figure out how we can move alaska's natural gas to market. not only to benefit our state with revenues but the benefit of the jobs. we don't have a deal yet that allows us to build that pipeline. although, our governor today and our previous governor and governors before them have been working diligently to make that
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happen, and one of these days we're going to see it. but in the meantime do you think that alaskans are saying, we're not really sure we want this because these are only going to be temporary construction jobs. absolutely not. we're building training facilities. we are getting our workforce kind of teed up for that day so that when it comes, we are ready, because we want those construction jobs. and we recognize that that will be a construction project and by its very definition it's not permanent. but don't you think that that bolsters my state's economy? don't you think we're hoping every day that we're going to get moving on this project? absolutely. absolutely. and is it going to benefit my state? yes. and is it going to benefit this country? yes. so let's get moving on it and let's get moving on keystone xl. i get a little frustrated when we talk about the job and we have those who say we should
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just kind of dismiss the fact that if you can't get to a certain number of jobs the project is not worthwhile. what we're doing here is we are approving a non-subsidized non-federally-funded project. this isn't costing us anything. this is going to be a benefit to us. it's not an entire industry, or is it multiple year funding authorization for transportation projects around the country so i think those comparisons are inaccurate and to a certain extent unfair. and i would suggest to those who criticize keystone xl's job-creating potential, to be careful here. because you don't want to put yourself in a position where you're going to wind up opposing nearly all individual projects for any purpose all across the country just because they don't create enough jobs. take the department of energy's loan guarantee program.
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it's funded some good programs in my view over the years. we've seen some renewable energy projects in recent years i think have been beneficial to our region. but by my count, this would create more than 50 permanent jobs. we're not creating hundreds or thousands, less than 50 permanent jobs. one project created seven permanent jobs a wind project created 10. geothermal project created 13. we had a transmission line that created 15 permit jobs. so i think the question has to be asked, should we have opposed these projects based on the number of permanent jobs that are associated with them?um number of jobs that we're going to use as a benchmark for approval or
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denial or shouldn't we just be glad encouraged when any new job is created because it means that americans have found steady work? this is what i thought we were working towards. and keep in mind, keystone x.l. is one project. it's one project. it is one pipeline. it is one connector between canada and the united states to connect up with a pipeline that has already been built to the south, to feed into our existing system. this is not brand-new frontier territory. we're allowing for a connector between canada and the systems that we have in the united states. but keystone x.l. is one project. it is one small part of the employment that energy production and infrastructure development can provide for our
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nation. we already have 19, 19 cross-border oil pipelines. and this is coming down from canada in the north and coming up from mexico in the south. we're already building up our l.n.g. export capability and so much else. so again keep in mind this is not the first time that there has been a request for a cross-border pipeline. we have got 19 in place. what makes this one so special? mr. president, i have more that i intend to discuss. i know that our leaders are expected down to the floor here shortly. i look forward to good, honest debate about our energy
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resources, our energy opportunities and our energy challenges. i think the american public is -- is ready for this discussion. i don't know what happens in the -- around the dinner table in the hometowns in georgia but i can tell you in alaska we talk a lot about energy, and we don't talk about it because we're an energy-producing state. we talk about it because it costs us a lot to keep warm in a cold place. it costs us a lot because we are not part of anybody else's energy infrastructure. we don't have transmission lines that connect us from one to the other. we have what we have, and we're thankful to have it and we're ready to share it with others around the country and around the globe but we talk a lot
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about affordability of our energy resources. we talk a lot about how we can access our abundant resources. we talk a lot about how we can use our ingenuity and our technology to advance us so that we can have cleaner energy sources, so that we can move to a world of renewable energy that is so exciting for us. we have a lot of fossil fuel in alaska but let me tell you we have got a lot of everything else and we are excited to be developing our geothermal, our marine hydrokinetic, our biomass, our wind potential our solar potential. it's a little bit dark up there but our solar potential in the sunshine is second to none. we're excited about what we might be able to do in understanding how we can tap into ocean energy resources. it's exciting. we need to do more as a nation when it comes to efficiency and
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conservation. we should be leading in that way. and that's why i'm pleased that we're going to have an opportunity to again revisit the merits of the legislation that my friend, senator portman and senator shaheen have been working on so long as it relates to energy efficiency. taking that up as an opportunity for amendment. we have got such good things to be discussing, things that the american public is talking about, talking about because it impacts them, impacts their family budget, it impacts their opportunities for -- for jobs, and it impacts our nation's security. i haven't talked here today about the security aspects of it but it doesn't take a foreign policy analyst to understand that gaining the benefit from an energy resource
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from our friends in canada is better than asking for that same resource from the opec nations asking to receive from venezuela, asking to receive from others that might not really like us. so that is a debate that again is so core to what we're talking about with keystone x.l. we have a healthy relationship with canada. it's important because when you drive to my state, which is a heck of a long drive you've got to go through more of canada than anything else. i want to have a good relationship with canada, but i can tell you that our friends on the canadian border are wondering what's happening in the united states? 2,303 days, and you can't make a
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decision on whether or not you should be benefited from a jobs perspective, an economic perspective and a national security perspective. mr. president, i look forward to the discussion next week and i look forward to robust and full debate on good energy amendments that will be coming before this body and with that, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: mr. president i come to the floor this morning to talk about the proposed
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keystone pipeline. the presiding officer: i'm sorry. the senate is in a quorum call. ms. cantwell: i ask the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. cantwell: mr. president i come to the floor this morning to talk about the keystone pipeline and i see my colleague from alaska here this morning. i think she and i were thinking that we were going to be continuing this debate next monday as the senate moves forward on the motion to proceed on rule 14, a bill relating to this. obviously, we had committee action yesterday. but we're both here this morning. i should just say to my colleague before she leaves the floor, i really do look forward to the opportunity where she and i can sit down and talk about a comprehensive energy strategy and things that could go into that legislation that will really move our country forward and produce jobs. i had a chance to work with her father and work with other republicans on the energy committee when we produced some very good energy legislation in both 2005 and 2007 that really
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did result in moving our country forward. they were bipartisan and definitely not unanimous. i mean, there was a great deal of debate about them, but we got them done nonetheless. so i really am looking forward to working with the senator from alaska on that issue and it's probably safe to say the senator from alaska and i probably had other plans this morning than coming here to the senate floor but nonetheless that's what this is all about and happy to come down here and talk about the recent decision by the nebraska supreme court that just came down and how congress is going to continue to discuss this issue. many of my colleagues probably know that the house is taking up this action probably sometime today and that the president has always said that he's very interested in having a process play out in nebraska before he made any decisions about this particular issue since the president of the united states and the state department have the authority to look at this issue as it relates to what's in the national interests of the united states of america.
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so i would say that this decision by the nebraska supreme court today is a very interesting decision, a very interesting decision because the majority of the supreme court four out of the seven individuals on the court basically said that this law was unconstitutional. this attempt to circumvent what is a public interest process by the citizens of nebraska to raise concerns about a pipeline going through their community the majority of the supreme court said yes that attempt by the nebraska legislature is unconstitutional. unfortunately, for those citizens in nebraska and those citizens in the united states of america who want to make sure that the environmental security issues and economic issues are fully discussed, they are getting shut down by a supermajority of the nebraska supreme court. they failed to get five out of
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the seven supreme court justices to side with them. but nonetheless i think that there is a lot in this decision for all of us to think about and that is just how much this process has been circumvented. to me, it's very unusual that the united states senate would be asked to vote on a bill that would expedite the siting of a pipeline through the united states of america simply because a canadian company wants us to do so. it's perplexing to me because i hear a lot of people talk about our neighbors and i definitely value the relationship that the united states and canada has. we're in the process of having a major discussion with them on some very impacting issues for the pacific northwest and so we do have to work with our neighbors. but i am struck that my neighbors, my neighbors in british columbia, my neighbors just to the north of us in the pacific northwest seattle and
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vancouver enjoy a great relationship and washington and british columbia enjoy a great relationship the british columbia people, 68% of british columbia residents oppose a tar sand pipeline across their province. that's right. a canadian province definitely doesn't want a tar sand pipeline through their neighborhood. we have native americans first nation individuals all across canada, that don't want this pipeline and they don't want it in canada. we have a lot of environmental concerns being raised about the current facilities and the processing of these materials in alberta and a lot of people who are raising questions about canada's standards on producing tar sands in general. people should know that the canadians don't live to the same standards that the united states of america has on the production and the processing of these
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materials. we actually have better laws. but nonetheless bubbling up in canada is a lot of concerns about these environmental issues about the product about the left-behind product the pet coke product that as my colleague from michigan stated yesterday is causing environmental concern in michigan and illinois, and a lot of people, my colleague from california i'm sure, has been down here talking about benzine the side product, that is left behind that can affect individuals. to say that just because this court decision came down all those environmental issues and security issues have gone away is surely a misstatement. what's still being pressured here is for congress to do a sweetheart deal for a business interest that doesn't meet the standards that we would like to see in the united states of america on tar sands. first of all, i believe that
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they should pay into the oil spill liability trust fund just as u.s. companies who produce other oil products have to pay into the oil spill liability trust fund. this is a very important issue for me because oil spills are something that we in the pacific northwest cared about for a long period of time. in fact, the commandant of the coast guard appeared before the senate commerce committee last year and i had a chance to ask the commandant whether the coast guard had a way to respond to a tar sand oil spill and he basically told me that, no, they didn't. so to me, there are a bunch of environmental issues and a bunch of issues of process and a bunch of issues of paying fair taxes for helping to clean up oil spills that are part of the issues that should be discussed on this case. but my colleagues on the other side want to hurry up and give a
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special interest the certainty of the united states congress being a citing commission on a project that really needs to go through the proper processes and channels. this issue as i said, was proposed in the state of nebraska and when the state of nebraska ran into some issues where the public was saying i have concerns about the environmental issues, instead of dealing with those environmental issues basically the company and their advocates came to the united states congress and tried to get that route approved. well the long and short of it is if they had been successful in their actions in getting congress to approve that pipeline that pipeline would be approved today through the aquifer that is a major aquifer and has now been decided that that would have been the wrong route and would have caused major problems to an aquifer
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that reaches about eight states in the midwest. it would have caused major problems. thank god congress, who tried to act and give a sweetheart deal to the company at that time was thwarted by the president of the united states who said i'm not making this decision now. i'm going to consider all of the issues of national interest. and because of all of that guess what happened? the company said yeah, that's right. we should go back and really figure out a better place because we haven't considered all of the environmental issues. okay now this decision today still does not mean that the normal process that most states go through, which is called, in our state a utility and transportation commission; in the state of nebraska i think it's called a public service commission. but most u.s. companies when they want to cite something like this go through the state's utility and transportation commission and that commission has a public process and answers
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all the questions that the public raises, debates the issues that are before the public and makes sure that those issues -- i know many of my colleagues probably can relate to this more from a transmission lines or grid system. i'm sure people have always saw a neighborhood complaining about a transmission line going through their neighborhood. this is a pipeline. and for us, pipelines are very important in the pacific northwest. we had a natural gas pipeline that blew up killing young children in the bellingham area. for me, pipelines and where they go and the process and safety and security of them are things that should be in the broad daylight of public discussion by the proper channels. so in this case people circumvented that public commission process in nebraska, circumvented what would have been a utilities and transportation process let the
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governor decide that, and then sent it to the nebraska supreme court to determine whether in fact the governor had the authority to do that. so four of those seven justices said it was unconstitutional. not the supermajority for sure, but four of them said it was unconstitutional. but nothing in that decision corrected the original problem of them circumventing the environmental and economic and security issues that a public commission is supposed to go through in this process. so i ask my colleagues, why are we in such a big hurry to make this decision on behalf of a utility commission and on behalf of of the president of the united states when there are real issues of safety and security that need to be discussed? my colleagues here next week are going to have a lot of discussion on a lot of different amendments but i still advocate that congress has no business citing for a special interest where a pipeline should go
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without the due process of citizens who are affected by that having input to the decision. so i hope my colleagues will continue to let a process play out. i hope my colleagues will care more about finding out. i would just point out that there is a great article i will submit for the record, mr. president, that is about business week citing the current keystone pipeline failure on wells to be securely in place. it really did discover the fact that those wells were not being done properly. you know, we in the pacific northwest do celebrate that we are a gateway to asia. we celebrate the fact that a lot of people would want to use that gateway. but we are very concerned about all of our processes as we see an increase by other countries
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wanting to move product through our gateway when safety, security environmental and public issues are not being fully addressed. so i hope my colleagues will continue to make sure due process is given and that we will continue to make sure that all these environmental issues are >> we spoke with a reporter on capitol hill. >> you tweeted about the nebraska decision. it is time for the president to put an end to this dammed thing. how does that change the dynamic
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of the president's decision? they say they can move forward. what is next? >> with the decision coming out means it takes away one of the reasons why the white house says it is not making a decision yet. there was no legal roots. the state department can ask federal agencies to submit their comments on the national interest determination to them. we are expecting that process to get back underway. >> lauren gardner staying with us for a bit. james, thank you for waiting. caller: i was watching the proceedings on your show. i find it hilarious republicans are talking about how they are in agreement with certain
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unions. everyone knows they are not for the union. will they still be in support of the unions? >> i'm sorry. the labor argument has been a big argument i business groups are why they should go forward. labor unions tend to have a lot of support for democrats. that is something they should take into account considering their position on this issue. >> wreck in oregon. what do you -- here is rick and oregon. what do you think? caller: i support the pipeline. they should put an amendment in there to contribute to the disaster fund such as it is with the eight cents per barrel. admit my living off of working -- i made my living off of working for the alaska pipeline. it amazes me how these people can spat out there's only 35
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possible jobs that are long term . the people who have retired just on that one project. seems they do not have any actual ideas of how many people imitate to run a pipe life that long. it is not like you put oil in one end and out the other. there are compensations -- there are pump stations. there are good long-term jobs there. it is safer to put oil in a pipeline then to get it from across the sea who do not care for our western lifestyle. >> your comments get to another major argument that has come up here. they say the oil will get to market anyway. it will just find another
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pipeline or it will move on barge down a river. that is an issue that supporters have definitely seized upon in this debate. >> in west virginia, richard on the independent line. go ahead. caller: i just want to add my contents to what your former independent caller had stated. i talked with my own senator. basically i am in favor of the pipeline that they do pay into the disaster fund. i suggested the idea of a transport tax that is a small tax based on the number of units you move through the pipeline.
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that off to soften the idea. >> on the disaster fund, talk about that. what is involved? >> the oil spill liability trust fund is a fund that helps pay for spill cleanups. oil spill still don't fall under that definition of crude oil. that is an issue democrats have used in this debate for a long time that they think they should pay into it. if this were to come up in the senate debate, you run into the issue of tax legislation not originating in the house as is required to do. we'll see how that plays out. >> it go to new york. rockland.
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democrat line. -- brooklyn. democrat line. caller: thank you. the senator put a map of the oil distribution of the united states. now we're going to be adding this xo pipeline for the oil distribution. i'm sure that it defines different kinds of crude oil. used to be the only pipeline and hearing that will be refining costs which is i guess 20 times more emissions. if we don't do this pipeline -- when they can refine this oil is it that other countries do not have the same refining capabilities that the united states has? i note transportation is an -- i
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know transportation is an important issue. who is refining it other than the united states? the whole picture globally adding carbon emissions to the world amount we have right now. that is where the complexity is to me to picture the -- compared to the distribution. >> thank you. the response? >> it depends on the region in terms of what type of oil they are most equipped to refine. in the southern united states, many refineries are best equipped to handle a heavy and viscous crude. also heavy crudes that are found in countries like venice will. that is where a lot of the oil has come from.
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supplies from those countries have gone down in recent years. that is one of the arguments keystone supporters have made. >> a tweet. unusual the u.s. senate has been asked to vote on a bill sitting a pipeline through u.s. simply because canadian company wants us to do so. how much different will it be? how much different could it be? >> the senate debate will be different. they will be considering amendments. that promised an amendment process. could expect to see supporters try to garner up support for amendments that are seen as having a lot of bipartisan backing. anything from energy efficiency to maybe even liquefied natural gas exports.
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democrats bring forward ideas for trying to get republicans on the record on how they think human activity impacts climate change. >> friends, colleagues countrymen, especially the people of ohio state congressional district, thank you for sending me here. let's welcome all of the new members and all of their families to what we'll known could be a historic day. [applause] >> today's an important day for our country. any senators to vote this afternoon. 13 for the first time. a new republican majority accepted its new responsibility. we recognize the enormity of the task before us. we know a lot of hard work awaits. we know many important opportunities await as well. >> followed the gop led congress
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and see the new members. new congress >> chris van hollen will discuss efforts to repeal the health care law. you can watch it live, sunday, at 10 a.m. eastern. >> a look now at the republican agenda moving forward. from washington journal, this is 35 minutes. host: congressman tom cole of oklahoma is our guest for the next segment of "washington journal."
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congressman cole, we are hearing of a meeting midmorning of the republican conference, probably talking about how to move forward on the spending on homeland security. what is the situation on that spending? can you clue us in on possible proposals? guest: i can tell you a little bit. the only part of the spending budget that hasn't been approved through september of this year is the department of homeland security section and that runs through the end of february in what is called a continuing resolution -- basically, status quo funding. i think what will happen is we will present a bill to extend the funding through september 30, and there will probably be an amendment made or placed inside the bill. there was a procedural discussion on what is best there. that amendment, which i suspect will be by representative mulvaney in south carolina, will
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basically say that no money in this bill will be expended to execute the president's executive order issued in november of last year. that will set up a showdown. it will set up a spending showdown. there is no question that we have the votes to get that to the senate. that may actually become the main theater of battle, if you will, because democrats will have the ability to control the filibuster in the senate. they may block it, they may not. if it gets to the president's desk, we will see what he does. host: you are a member of the appropriations committee and the budget committee. this language you are talking about, likely by mick mulvaney of south carolina, is that going to pass -- can you finally slice this and say we cannot use this money for implement that? guest: it is going to be more difficult than people might think because what actually funds the part of the immigration system that the
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president is dealing with is largely run by fees. so it is not money that we normally appropriate. the appropriations committee does not have jurisdiction over all government spending. it has about a third. host: so those are continuing -- guest: they come right in and they continue to operate. the second thing that people sometimes forget about that makes this very tricky is denying funding for inaction. inaction is not an expensive thing. the president tells people don't enforce this part of the law. doesn't cost a lot of money. we will have to wait and see. other ideas have been put on the table and i think this is to acquaint the broader conference about what those might be. there is still a chance that this could change a little bit. what i'm telling you is what i think is going to happen, but there will be other things considered. host: you anticipate some action on this next week? guest: i do. we said we would act once there was a republican majority in the senate.
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and we basically teed it up to work as it is. it is important for us to keep the commitment we made and move ahead. host: let's move to the setup of leadership in the house, particularly the speaker election. the watchers of the house seeing something they have not seen in a while, a number of votes, 25 or so votes against the speaker from republicans. how did all of this develop? guest: i think largely because the people who wanted to oppose the speaker did not do it at the appropriate time in the appropriate way. we hold conference elections in november to decide who our nominee for speakers are going to be. the speakers vote ought to be largely ceremonial. the three people who opposed it decided to literally in the last 72 hours or so to do this so they never had a chance to succeed. frankly, they would have done much better in terms of votes and in terms of the appreciation of their colleagues had they simply operated by normal procedure. there's nothing wrong with opposing the speaker for election.
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we have very robust leadership elections. but there is a time and a place to do it. you don't do it on opening day and you don't do it by running against a person that the republican conference has already nominated. that is like tackling your own quarterback in the first play of the new game. host: you were quoted this week on that election as the saying "if you go against your own colleagues by opposing the speaker on the floor, you will embarrass house republicans and disrupt our team. it would be unforgivable political behavior." guest: oh, absolutely, i certainly stand by that. again, people know how this works and they have every opportunity to run. i encourage people to run. there is nothing wrong with that. but doing it this way on this day is just, i think, symbolic it puts your own colleagues in a difficult spot, and you are not really attacking the speaker. you are attacking the decision of the republican conference.
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you are attacking your colleagues, not the person they selected. again, i just think it is not the way to operate. host: some of the obvious casualties, at least, early on were congressman webster of florida -- rich nugent and webster of florida, the rules committee assignments. what is the latest? guest: well, the speaker has not made final decisions on that. he said he would talk to the members in question. again, you have a very sophisticated viewing audience but just to make a point, this is the speakers committee. other committees are normally chosen by the conference. this is specifically the speaker's committee. and it is used to advance the republican agenda in the house. by the way, it is used that way by democrats as well when they are in the majority. it is just the way the institution works. to run against the speaker when you have been personally appointed by him to his most important committee and not inform him that you are going to do it or vote against him, that is just, again, not done.
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host: the speaker is said several times to reporters afterwards that we will have a family conversation. guest: [laughter] host: what does that mean? guest: well, john boehner is a much more tolerant person -- he and i have disagreed on multiple occasions and i was in his leadership team at one point. we had serious disagreements. but there is a way to handle that. there is certainly nothing wrong with people having different points of view. but you are on the rules committee you vote for the republican rule, just as the democrats vote for the democratic role, the democratic alternative. certainly when they are in the majority you can dissent and disagree, but when it comes time for the vote you accept the will of the majority to advance legislation to the floor. on the floor, you are free to do what ever you want to do. on the issue you vote however you want to vote. but to surrender control of the rule in a legislative sense is to surrender control of the floor. it is just not done. host: we saw a side of the speaker yesterday in his
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briefing with reporters of how he felt on some of the things are never too opposed him. i want to show you that and get your reaction. [video clip] >> during my years here i had the eighth most conservative voting record in the congress. it does pain me to be described as spineless or a squish -- [laughter] i will tell you what pains me the most, when they described me as the establishment. i am the most antiestablishment speaker we have ever had. who is the guy who believes in regular order? me. who believes in allowing more members to participate in the process from both sides of the aisle? me. i am pretty comfortable in my own skin, and i am going to do my best to show all of our members, democrats and republicans, and those members who voted against me, that i am up to the job that i was given. host: what did you think when you heard the speaker's comments?
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guest: that is the john boehner i know and, frankly, respect and admire and love. i met him when he was a freshman and my job was to help elect these guys. most people won't know this, but he is also the guy as a freshman -- there was a notorious group of antiestablishment rebels called the gang of seven that resulted in shutting down the bank and the post office. that was john boehner. i suppose he looks at some of these people -- you know, i was pretty difficult in my own leadership back then. and he was. but he played within the rules and he got things done. he has the eighth most conservative voting record in congress over a 20-plus year career. the idea that he is somehow not conservative enough -- most of these debates are debates over tactics. they are not debates over differences of issues. and they are debates over calculations. john boehner is smart enough to know that shutting down the government is not a smart way of doing business because it
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doesn't work in the end, he doesn't achieve its objective. and he recognizes that there is a division of power in this town. we have a democratic president through january 2017. we have the senate now but it is not as if the democratic minority over there is powerless. it has control of the filibuster process. and democrats have the ability to sustain a presidential veto in both houses of congress. this is a game where, to use a football analogy -- from oklahoma, you always do that -- you have to think in terms of first downs. you move the ball in increments. you don't throw the ball into the end zone every play. you have people who want to go for best every time and it won't work. the american people did not send you up here to make life worse for them. i believe that when you shut down the government, don't pay federal workers who are performing important services, make it hard for people to get a
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visa or passport to travel, you are making life more difficult for the average american. we should be here trying to make them freer, more secure, and make their lives a little bit better where we can. host: congressman tom cole our guest on "washington journal." host: let's go to pat in south carolina. thanks for waiting. caller: good morning. thank you for taking my call. representative cole, i would like to start seeing people we elect to start using common sense in washington. i understand that you are on the budget committee. every department of our federal government should be submitting a budget and when you all look at it, the first thing you do is
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cut it 10%, but they should submit you a line item budget so we stop paying for rattlesnakes and all this other garbage we are paying for with our money. the oversight committee is like opening the barn door and letting the horse out. your committee should be the one holding these departments -- the money line. the other thing i would like to discuss with you is our money that we are sending overseas to build schools and all this stuff. these people don't even like us and don't tell me it is 1% of gdp. spend it in america. thank you. guest: thanks very much for the call. couple things -- first of all, i agree with you in terms of how you are to operate and be tough on spending.
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you would be surprised to know that when republicans took over that some of the deficit ever you -- every year was $1.5 trillion. it will be under $1.4 trillion dollars next year. it is the most rapid decline of the deficit -- still too high but it has moved down dramatically. you would be surprised to know that what is in the discretionary budget, what most people think of as the government -- the military, the national institutes of health, those sorts of things. we are spending $165 billion a year less than when george bush was president. what drives spending now is mostly things people like like social security, medicare, medicaid, those types of things. you put them together, that is almost 70% of the total federal budget these days. the spending reductions have indeed occurred, and honestly will probably continue to occur, so this is one where i think we have not done a very good job of patting ourselves on the back. all of the groups getting less money are aware that they are
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getting less money. none of the people concerned about spending are aware of how much we have cut it and will continue to do so. on the second part of foreign aid, i will not tell you that foreign aid is 1% of the gdp because it is not. it is probably .1% of the gdp. i used to sit on the foreign operations subcommittee, and that spending has been reduced but i will also tell you it is pretty important for the united states be engaged in some of these things. you can deal with ebola in africa or you can deal with it in the united states, and these are tools that help us to build relationships with us. we do not give money just to "people who don't like us." we mostly give money to people who do like us. most of the people i know think israel is a pretty good friends to the united states of america. the longest single recipient of american aid is israel. it is for security purposes. again, a lot of the stuff, what
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is called for in a, i do not -- foreign aid, i do not think taking a small measure and using it strategically in our own interest is a bad angle of -- egypt is another historically large recipient, and that has kept peace in the middle east. that helps keep energy prices down. it gives us preferred access to the suez, education intelligence is cooperative with us and foiling attack. they allow us to fly thousands of flights over there air space to support american troops when they were in iraq and afghanistan, so there is a sense that we just willy-nilly give money away around the world. that is simply not the case. host: next up is in missouri kimberly is on, make sure you mute your television.
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caller: my television is muted. mr. cole, i do not understand -- y'all are holding up the defense department, but yet you say the borders are not secure. tell me why you are holding it up. guest: we are not holding it up. congress passed both the defense authorization, that is the plan by which has been in november, and passed the normal budget as well as part of the overall spending omnibus bill. we have never stopped funding the military. neither party has done that. again, i am not sure exactly where you are getting your information, but the defense department is indeed operating. host: she may have mentioned homeland security --
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guest: homeland security is a different thing. the defense department is a larger part of the budget. it is funded through the end of february. we will have a discussion obviously about whether or not the president was the executive order, which we think is beyond the scope -- we think this is beyond normal executive discretion. he is literally taking whole sections of the law and saying that simply is not going to fly anymore. i am going to refuse to enforce the law. that is our disagreement. we may end up in court over this longer-term because this may be another one where president overreaches, for instance, and so-called recess appointments. he says he can appoint even when the senate is not in recess, made those arguments, made those appointments, the senate took into supreme court, and he lost 9-0. it is not as if this is an it does not have a history of overreach and it is not as if he's not been pulled back on occasion. host: given the big omnibus in december and delayed funding of homeland security or the suspended funding, whatever you want to collect, how likely is it you think that in 2016, for fiscal year 2016 budget for the next upcoming budget, the house at least will be able to pass
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its appropriation bill on time and the senate as well? guest: i think there is a much better chance than there has been. last year, the house was passing an appropriation bill. it actually past seven of them -- there are 12 normally. it could have kept doing that, but the senate did not pass a single bill, so at some point your leadership says, "why should we keep passing bills? we are wasting time, the senate is not going to pick up any appropriations bill." if you have a republican senate and a mitch mcconnell person committed to regular order, a member of the appropriations committee in the senate, a believer in moving these bills i think we have a much better chance of doing that. i hope we do. congress has not done normal -- the house -- since 2006. and it was under republican control, i will point out. the democrats have never moved 12 appropriations bill across the floor when they were in control.
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host: chris, good morning, come in michigan on the independent line. caller: good morning. thank you for taking my call. congressman cole, i have a couple different comments. one, i respectfully disagree -- you make the analogy of a football game. i do not believe it is a football game. congressmen are elected to office, and i believe you have to look at what is in the best interest of our country. regarding the immigration bill -- the comment was made well, we have got to win, we do not want to lose. no, it is not a football game. you have to take a negotiates, send it back to committee, negotiate with the democrats republicans, independents, come out of committee, vote on it and send it back to our president. what is good for our country? that is what we need to have. again, this is not a football game.
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guest: i appreciate that, and forgive me for my regional labs -- lapse and using the analogy but i agree with the basic point that you are making, frankly and i have tried to always do that in my time in congress will stop i do not believe in shutdowns. i do believe in compromises. if you look at my record or talk to my colleagues, you will see that i try to do exactly the kind of things you suggest. even when there are disagreements, i do not doubt anybody cares within the commerce of the united states, they care about the country. i do not have any doubts. i know these men and women, and even some that i disagree with very strongly are patriots. they want what is best for america. they disagree about what that is. we are a pretty amazing country, 315 million pretty independent folks spread across a vast continent living in different circumstances. i am not surprised we have disagreements, but a lot of these discussions and
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disagreements are exactly what the founders intended. there would be debate, discussion that we would have disagreement, that mostly it would be difficult to get things done in government. madison actually thought that would be the best defense of freedom, competing interests checking one another and allowing individuals to go about their business. i think sometimes if he could come by today and watch this, he would say, this is working exactly the way i planned it because they are not getting much done and the american people are going about their business and running the country pretty well. but i take your point well, and if i inadvertently sounded like i trivialize what i do, i did not mean to do that. i was just using an analogy that to me is pretty traditional. host: you mentioned the house today reading the constitution. will you be part of that? guest: if my schedule permits, i will. this will be the third time in the history of the united states of the constitution is readily house of representatives.
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we'll assume that everybody has read it, and i am sure that everybody who is serving have, but it is something that the republicans started, and i hope democrats when a takeover well that we reflect on what unites us. we do not take an oath to the country, we take an oath to defend the constitution. this is a really remarkableplace place. it is founded on ideas and values, and that is what our constitution and our declaration of independence both represent. i think it is the appropriate thing to do, and i'm proud that we are doing it, and i hope that our democratic friends do it and maybe in the republican senate they will start thinking about doing it that over there. host: let's go to to have on our democrats line, allen, hello. tampa, florida, good morning. caller: good morning. mr. cole, you seem to me to be a pretty reasonable guy from what i have seen on tv when i have
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seen you interviewed on these various stations. that said, what are your plans for fixing this looney tunes tax system we have, specifically the income tax. guest: i do not sit on the committee that deals with the tax system. you are 100% right that you imply that our tax system is complex, and extraordinarily difficult for the average american to understand. generally speaking, i would like talk about paul ryan.
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i know that is what paul ryan wants to do. it is pretty hard to do. anytime you touch the tax code there are winners and losers. some will pay more, others will say thank goodness they got rid of that, so there is a lot of governing going on, but i think a flatter, fairer system, and one that contribute to economic growth and set of hinders it is -- instead of hinders it, is where we want to go. we actually outlined a pretty good start with that with dave camp who was the chairman of ways and means last year. he put out an entire plan for study can look it up. that will probably be the base bill where paul ryan starts. he will change it in some ways. it will obviously have to go through the senate, and when it does, it will require a presidential signature. so there will be ground for disagreement. host: will changing the taxes and be high on the priority list.
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guest: without a doubt. a better tax system usually means faster economic growth. faster economic growth generates more tax revenue even though individuals are paying less for the government. that lets you do things like six -- six the roads do infrastructure, so i think you may see this as a way of dealing with bigger problems and again we saw this in the 1990's. the difference between the parties got a lot less when the economy was growing faster and there was enough government income to both lower the deficit and do a lot of important things for the country. host: you mentioned the roads. a lot of people talking about the drop in the gas price, the added gas tax for infrastructure. would you support it? guest: most of my constituents would say do not take away the benefit of lower prices. i do think you will have to find a way to get more revenue into the transportation system. i think a gas tax is probably not the way to go, but what is happening right now, people just
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-- people reflect on their own experience, that tax is not changed in 20 years, but automobiles and transportation has changed. still the same amount of tonnage over the roads, so to speak, but you are probably getting double the gas mileage you were getting 20 years ago. plus we have a whole new fleet of vehicles coming on, electric cars, compress natural gas, that do not pay gas tax at all, but they are so using the road. we may have to do something -- you could maybe eliminate the gas tax, which now only covers part of the vehicles and a shrinking number, and go to a more baseline tax. my colleague from oklahoma markwayne mullin, has done some interesting work on this, let's just go back to a very low energy tax that covers all energy and dedicated to the -- dedicate that to the transportation fund, eliminating some of these things that no longer make a lot of sense .
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because again, we are devising new ways to drive cars, and we are making the vehicle itself ever more efficient. host: here is stanley, new york -- linda on our republican line. caller: good morning, mr. cole. guest: good morning. caller: i am just wondering about some of this republican -- obamacare stuff. what are americans going to do when they cannot get a job or they lose a job because of this illegal immigration? these people were told they will not be covered under obamacare so our companies going to be hiring them so they do not have huge fines? guest: a couple of things -- first of all, in terms of obamacare, you saw congress trying to restore the standard 40 hour of the normal workweek so the workers who are part-time workers are not covered by obamacare, which has a 30-hour standard.
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what we have seen as a lot of companies have loweredthe numbers of hours those people work into the 20's so they do not have to pick up the extra expense. the house passed that, i think the senate may well pass it. the president has threatened to veto it. in all of the discussion over obamacare and the multiple votes we have had, people forget eight things have actually come law that have lower the overall cost of the system by over $60 billion, so businesses were going to have to file 1099's on essentially every transaction. we looked at that and got rid of it. there was an extended living clause that was not appropriately funded. we moved legislation to get rid of it. you will continue to see us work in this area, but people who are opposed to it -- and i him -- i am certainly one of them --
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who voted against the appeal but the president of the united states is still the president of the united states. you will probably not get a full repeal of obamacare when a guy named obama is still president of the united states. in terms of illegal workers, look, the law in terms of if you are not here in this country legally, these laws are still in effect. if employers are knowingly hiring people illegally they are , subject and should be subject prosecution. a lot of people look the other way. that is one of the things we are concerned about what the president's executive action. what he did basically was legalized people that are here before, that have been here illegally. he can only do that -- if he can do it all -- and we do not think he can -- through the end of his presidency. i think you will see other areas of immigration law.
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we will have before the president is out a very long enforcement. will he will probably get a lot of things he likes, high-tech we have some cases where farmers end up leaving up to 40% of their crops in the field because they don't have the labor to get it picked. i think there is an appropriate balance here. if we move piece by piece, we could find some consistent -- consensus on the issue between republicans and democrats and obviously things that the president would be comfortable signing. host: this headline says premiums in new jersey spike after passage of obamacare. what has been the effect in oklahoma? guest: the same. the spiking in cost. when you bring a huge portion of the population into the health care system that was getting health care, but not getting full insurance coverage, then the people who are paying
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usually end up paying more. it is a transference. chuck schumer made this point indirectly recently. 80% or 85% of the american people were satisfied with their health care. maybe we walked down the wrong road. we should have been focused on jobs, economy, and growth, then we could deal with this a little bit easier. i think that is a fairly astute critique from a person who voted for obamacare. i think you are going to see the inevitable results of this are going to be higher rates for people that pay it and for businesses that have been traditionally ensuring their population anyway. -- traditionally insuring their population anyway. caller: how are you doing, c-span? guest: good to hear you. caller: i am an independent now.
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paul ryan has been working on taxes since 2011. i want to oppose the tax. he ran with the 100% tax by the numbers i gave him. wall street pays 0% to 12% tax. if everybody paid that, it could make the country run. if not, it is just a game. guest: philosophically, we are close together. i would prefer a lower number and equal tax across the board. you are correct when you say we provide different tax rates for different things. income is income.
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in the past, we have argued to encourage investment. we have lowered capital gains tax for when you sell a stock when you get a salary, for example. the idea of trying to equalize the tax system and lower it is i think an extremely important one. we will wait and see what mr. ryan actually proposes. he is a very good friend of mine. i sat on the budget committee that he chaired for four years. i think extremely highly of him. i suspect that when he has a tax proposal he is willing to unveil , i will probably be pretty enthusiastic about it. host: one more call for you. kansas city is next. welcome. caller: my question is this. president obama is giving away all these freebies to everyone. john kennedy said, "don't ask what your country can give you but ask what you can give to your country."
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my question is, why aren't we looking at older people as resources of this country, good resources to get jobs? we tend to look at the young people and middle aged people, but we never look at people who are in their 60's or even in their 50's. i was just wondering why don't we look at them as resources and if they have degrees, use those degrees. guest: i think you are right. since i am in my 60's, i obviously agree with you very much. i think the work life has been expanding in this country. the reality is people live longer and more people want to work for a variety of reasons. many people have to work for a variety of reasons. i think your point is well made. we have a variety of programs to both retrain people, help people , there are senior executive course -- corps where people can
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make their expertise available. society is pushing us in the direction you are saying. i will say this as somebody who has a 30-year-old son. that generation is actually contributing more to older people than any previous generation, because their social security tax is higher, their medicare taxes higher than any previous -- their medicare tax is higher than any previous generation. they have accumulated more wealth -- people over 60-year-olds have acumen and more wealth. they have worked over a lifetime, and that is absolutely true, although people that are considerably younger are paying more today because folks are living a lot longer. there is a generational imbalance in wealth. poverty is lower among people 65 and older than it is among children under 18. 10% versus about 22% or 23%.
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this discussion of how we distribute resources is one that is going to stay with us for a long time. host: >> "washington journal" continues. host: congressman keith ellison represents minnesota in the u.s. house and cochairs the congressional progressive caucus for the 114th. welcome to "washington journal." guest: glad to be here again. host: democrats are in a smaller position in the 114th in the house. what do progressives in particular hope to get done? guest: we hope to achieve progress in the area of wages and economic justice.
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we want to make sure that the recovery begins to include more americans. we do know there has been a lot of progress in terms of reducing the unemployment rate. there has been progress in terms of job growth. we know that the dow jones has been going to new heights. still, many americans are -- have the same kind of money they had in 2006, or maybe a lot less. a lot of people lost their jobs and got reemployed at lower wages. we are very concerned about this. we would like to see the minimum wage go up. i think there is a bipartisan bill to be had there. i think we need to work on overtime. not everybody who is struggling economically is a low-wage worker. they are middle-class, but they haven't seen a raise in years. they are working more and more overtime every year. these are things that concern us. host: how do you feel about the progressive' position --
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progressives' [pposition? are there larger numbers in the caucus this time around? guest: yes, i think there are. it is an ascending infection. there are a lot of people who hold progressive views on economics, but may also be very strong advocates of gun rights too or might have some views that are different from the mainstream of progressives. we take them. we believe that unity is strength. we expect and hope for diversity of views even with the progressive caucus. host: president obama has been out touting the -- or previewing the themes for the state of the union coming up in 10 days or so . speaking today, he will be in tennessee, speaking about community colleges and college education.
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by the way, we will cover that on our companion network c-span3. how much do you think that your view as the progressive caucus are beginning to diversion from the president's view of the economy? guest: based on the president's recent announcement that he would like to see nearly free or very much cheaper community college expenses, that is the very heart and soul of what we believe in. we think that college affordability is a key piece of how to help people escape poverty and improve their skills and upgrades so they can go from a decent wage to a very decent wage. the president's announcement about community colleges just last night was incredibly exciting. very happy to hear that. we have asked the president to stay within his procurement power. people who want to do business
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with the federal government have to pay a livable wage. we are on the same page with the president yet again. we think that immigration reform is something that will help our economy. the things he has taken within his legal authority, we agree with those things. his defense of the affordable care act, we are in agreement with that. we are glad to see more and more people insured. of course, we don't agree on everything. i don't overemphasize the differences. we have a lot of views we share and some we don't. we are going to work on all of them. host: democrats 202-748-8000. republicans, 202-748-8001. you held a conference about
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opposing the president on these fast-track laws. they argued that president obama is asking for carte blanche to secretly negotiate a trade deal that will cost american jobs. what is the president asking for? guest: there is a trade bill called the transpacific partnership. it involves about 11 countries maybe more, and we have trade deficits with six of them already. it is called a trade agreement. it has more to do with intellectual property and things like that. that deal is looming in the background. fast-track is the legislative authority, which we would confer upon the president to negotiate the trade deal, and then when the trade deal comes to congress, we would either vote it up or down without any amendments.
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the trade deal has been negotiated for quite a while now. members of congress can see pieces of it, but not the whole bill. if my constituents wanted to see a copy of the transpacific partnership vote -- proposal, i couldn't do that. i don't get to see the whole thing. i don't get to have staff in there, i don't get to take notes. there are about 500 to 600 experts who do get to be in these negotiations and know what is in there, but members of congress do not have free reign on that bill. if the fast-track passes, which confers authority on the president and we get up or down votes, there will be a timeline set where we can review the whole bill. but at the end of the time it is either up or down, and no amendments. host: the trade issues has seemed to press some conservative republican buttons as well.
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is this the sort of issue you would get republican support? guest: we certainly hope so. part of what we are concerned about with the transpacific partnership is it would confer national sovereignty outside of the united states. this is something a lot of conservatives are concerned about. there was a situation in canada, in québec, where there was a company, there was a big, -- big industrial accident. québec wanted to put a moratorium on that activity. the trade bill was invoked as a reason why they could not take local authority to try to protect their citizens. conservatives have every reason to be concerned about this, as all legislators do. they told us we would gain jobs with nafta. we have a bigger trade deficit with mexico now that we've seen in such a long time. it seems to get bigger all the time.
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in my state of minnesota, we've lost 13,000 jobs due to nafta. some people have gained jobs and some people have lost, but the net is lost for my state. host: that you can pin on nafta. guest: yes. this is a brookings institute study. i would be happy to support a trade deal that actually enhanced both sides of the equation, but the ones we've been negotiating do not we have poor enforcement mechanisms with regard -- the ones we've been negotiating do not. we have poor enforcement mechanisms with regard to these. i am no protectionist. we live in a globalized world. we are going to have to trade stuff here and there. i think the terms of the agreement have to be beneficial to the united states, too. and i don't mean just to rich business owners, i mean to the average worker. host: jackson michigan. this is eugene. welcome.
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caller: yes, sir. good morning, mr. ellison. i've got three things that i want to make comments on. one is -- treating social security as an entitlement. i paid into social security since 1950. our national debt is $18 trillion. 49$9 trillion is taken from social security. and this keystone pipeline, the canadians want a warm water port . it is not going to lower our prices at all. when that oil gets to louisiana, it will go on the world market. anyone that wants to pay the price can buy it. i think you democrats -- republicans have the house and the senate now. the people that voted them in, just let them do whatever they want to. they voted them in, now let them
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live under what they asked for. host: will get a reaction. -- we will get a reaction. guest: i am very concerned about social security. it is one of the most important things when it comes to making sure americans can have a good decent lifestyle, particularly when they reach the age of retirement or they have a disability. eugene has earned the right. to curtail, cut, or diminish it in any way i am against it we should be trying to increase social security. i think we need to have something called the consumer price index -- it would be a measure of the -- of inflation to enhance payout. i think he is right on that. he can trust me to stand up for social security. the progressive caucus has been at the head of the fight fighting against cuts.
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keystone -- i agree again. why should we do favors for canada? i'm an american congressman. i'm going to stand up for my own country. i do believe that friends in the labor movement are right to say we need more infrastructure investment. i'm going to fight for that, too. i agree with that 100%. but i'm not sure the transcanada idea of building a route through the united states is the right thing. what about the spills? is transcanada going to pay for the spills? these are all very serious questions, and i'm going to keep asking. host: employment numbers are up for december. the unemployment rate dropped to 5.6%. the economy added 252,000 jobs in december. what does the president have to do to keep that number growing or shrinking in the case of unemployment? guest: i want to apply the numbers.
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it is good news. i think we need to make sure we seek increases in wages. people are working more, but what are they making? in many cases, they are not making more. we did see some slight upticks in wages late last year, but this remains a concern of mine. i think this labor market has tightened. we will see wages go up. this is not going to be inflationary, because american workers are more productive than ever. if we have higher productivity we can increase wages and not have inflation. i think we need to do infrastructure investment, roads, bridges broadband. we need this anyway. we saw the i-35 plunged into the mississippi river. it is not just a national safety problem, it is a productivity problem. it slows our whole country down. i would like to see us invest their. -- there. i would like to see us
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strengthen the right to organize, increase the minimum wage, raise the overtime threshold, so that it is more consistent with the reality of today's work. i think all these things will help our economy. i would like to see comprehensive migration reform. -- comprehensive immigration reform. host: sharon on the democrats line, good morning. caller: good morning. representative ellison, i like your ideas. guest: thank you ma'am. caller: pardon me? guest: i said thank you, ma'am. caller: thank you. i like the progressive ideas the previous color touched on -- i like the progressive ideas. the previous caller touched on social security, which sets off great alarm. how can you mount a defense against that republican group to fight back these cuts?
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i know personally people with mental disabilities to simply cannot hold a job. they cannot do it. so please muster a good defense and stop this insanity. that goes for retirees, too, many of whom depend on social security to survive. and keystone also, big no. it is hideous. it is horrible. let's put an end to this. thank you. guest: thank you. i want to add that i think social security is perhaps one of the best programs the federal government has ever done. it has lifted seniors out of poverty. it has lifted people with disabilities out of poverty. it is a great program. it is not insolvent. it is not about to be. people threatening this and making these claims are wrong. i will pledge my efforts and
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those of the progressive caucus to fight for social security because i believe it is key. when you think about how 401k's have shrunk and so many people are not ready for retirement, we need social security met -- more than ever. we are not about to backtrack on social security. it's a nonstarter for us. host: the republican congress came in looking to roll back obamacare and also the. frank regulations -- the. frank -- the dodd-frank regulations. this was a bill that failed to roll back some of the dodd-frank and the volcker rule. what did that will save you? -- what did that vote say to you? guest: there are at least 147 members of congress who believe the massive concentration of wealth at the very tip top of
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our economy and the flattening and stagnation of pay at the bottom of our economy is on acceptable. what it said to me -- is on acceptable -- is unacceptable. what is said to me, the second day back, we are already giving them gifts. i don't think it is the right thing to do. folks out there might not know what the volcker rule is. it is an idea proposed that the former head of the federal reserve. he is a very well accomplished economist, who said, look, if a bank that takes deposits that are insured by the fdic wants to buy risky bonds and other sorts of assets, then they should use their own money to do it. and they should not use taxpayer-guaranteed money, fdic money, depositor money.
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host: this was the view of jeb hensarling, the finance chair. he said, "it is disappointing that so many democrats voted for these provisions just four months ago suddenly switched their votes in a transparent ploy to appease their far left wing base." what is he talking about? guest: the bill was 11 bills compiled into one bill. some of them were not particularly offensive. some of them have passed. what he does not tell you is what he really did is put a bowl of sugar with a little bit of arsenic in it. that's the problem with the bill. that's the problem when we conglomerate all of these bills into one bill. they did not vote for this delay of the implementation of the volcker rule. that had not been before anyone ever before. there are at least 50 two members of congress who absolutely have never voted for these bills because they are new
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to caucus -- at least 52 members of congress who absolutely have never voted for these bills because they are new to conquer -- congress. we get a chance to amend them. they come to the floor and we debate them again. we have a new congress. we just finished one and started another. every one of these 11 bills ought to go back to committee. chairman penciling -- chairman hensarling did not want to do it that way. the ones that are inoffensive, you could probably put those on suspension. but if he wants to put a controversial bill on suspension, we are going to fight it. i personally like him, but i disagree with his philosophy of legislation and economics. host: let's get to the republican line, south carolina. good morning. you are on with congressman ellison. caller: i have to do quick points.
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i hope you're having a good day. anything to do with the vocal and bank regulation, -- the volcker rule and bank regulation, if you don't do glass-steagall, it is a band-aid. replacing glass-steagall would solve a lot of problems. i have heard you talk about income and wealth redistribution but i haven't heard you say one concrete idea on it, other than the minimum wage increase. can you give us an idea of how you would redistribute income or make with earning more fair? can you be specific? guest: i think i've named a lot of ideas, infrastructure redevelopment. i've named overtime adjustment. i've named a lot of things, but if you want to go into more things i would do, i would take away the subsidies that the federal government confers upon companies that do fossil fuel
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exploration and production. bernie sanders and i have had a bill called -- we have identified over $110 billion worth of subsidies over the course of 10 years that go to the fossil fuel industry. i think that exxon mobil, chevron, vp -- bp, the most successful companies from profit standpoint, i don't know why the american government needs to subsidize them. i think that would do a lot of good. i think we should change the rules on appreciation from a tax standpoint. i think we should change the earned income tax credit. i have a lot of ideas on what we need to do to make sure our economy fits a broader cross-section of americans. i guess that's my answer to the caller. host: back to new hampshire, on the independent line. hello. caller: i have followed your
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career. i have followed you quite well. i appreciate you. i just read a report i only found one news report, which makes me skeptical. i read a report that, on the first day of congress, there was a vote or rule change that now prohibits the federal government from rezoning social security, disability from the social security trust act. as a disabled american who worked my entire life as a historical restoration is, which means -- historical restorationist which means i'm qualified to work on buildings like the white house, i paid into this. to sit down and read a news article that i'm going to take a 25% haircut next january has me concerned. because of my concern -- i don't know your background. i know a lot of congresspeople are lawyers. host: he talked about the rules. is he correct on that? guest: the is right.
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i'm not sure his conclusions are right, but his analysis that there was a rule change that significantly will affect social security is right. that does not affect the senate. i can assure you this is something we are very concerned about, argued against, and will continue to push back. at the end of the day, we have to get the majority back that respects social security and thinks it is essential to continue to fund it in the proper way. he is right that this issue came up in the rules package and it was on the first day. here's my question to everyone listening. if on the first day republicans are back they take action on the way we fund social security. on the second day, they want to give back to big companies who benefit from the volcker rule. on the third day they want to push through and do favors for transcanada. doesn't that tell you all you need to know? my point is, we had an election
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where 36% of the electorate not out to vote. this is -- 36% of the electorate got out to vote. this is unacceptable. as the electorate numbers go down, the chances that the special interests can manipulate things goes up. please folks, we need a renaissance in citizenship in the united states. i really strongly believe that. host: the headline in "national journal." house democrats hope to make life tougher for the gop. butler, new jersey, republican line. welcome to the conversation. caller: good morning. i would like to commend the "wall street journal" forgiving us a voice -- for giving us a
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voice in politics. the next thing i would like to say, my concern these days in politics is illegal immigration and how the economics and the politics of it and how it is playing out from reagan to obama, making the political analogy of football. first, it is the republicans with it. they take advantage of it. they twist the rules to benefit a certain sector of our economic society. then it goes over to the democrats to do the same. all the time it is helping the latino faction to bring in more illegal immigrants, which of course is impinging on the rights of young americans and older americans when they are going out there looking for work. for those looking for a job, for those who want to work,


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