tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN August 6, 2015 4:00pm-6:01pm EDT
i president obama: -- senator corker: the fact that we have concerns about trafficking, that on unanimous vote we ended slavery in this work, that -- world that somehow we would not be viewed as patriotic or unpatriotic, that somehow people are not serious on these issues. senator cardin: you have always been a thoughtful and principled person. i respect your leadership on this committee in the matter that we had been able to work together. senator corker: hopefully if i do not disagree with you once,
you will not compare me with the hardliners in iran. senator cardin: i am still going through the review process. i have not reached a decision on the vote that will take place when we return in i want to september. underscore a point that senator corker and i, working with our leadership, encouraged to -- the leadership to provide for the debate on the floor of the u.s. senate that we think would be fitting of this critical issue. yesterday without objection we moved on to the bill, so when we come back on tuesday, we will not go through a cloture vote, not go to any procedural hurdles. we will be on the bill. i expect the majority leader will put forward the bill that we will be voting on and be right on that debate when we return and use that week to debate this issue, and each member of the senate make up his
or her mind as to what he or she thinks is in the best interest of this country. i do not interpret from the president's remarks that he is challenging any of our independent judgments on this. i voted against the iraq war. i do not see a comparison between this vote and the iraq vote. the interesting thing, to make a sidebar on this, i voted against the authorization for use of military force in iraq, and in my district, a congressional district, it was overwhelmingly unpopular, overwhelmingly. it was not a close call. and it was one of the most consequential votes that i cast in my career in the house. and it was interpreted to have an impact on my reelection. this is not the case when it comes to this vote. there are divided views in this country on this issue. this is not a clear situation where the popular view is
support the president or oppose the president. there are strong views on both sides. don't get me wrong. that was a clear use. we're not authorizing the use of military force. i don't disagree with the president's interpretation. i do not disagree with the president's strong statement. he is clearly doing what we expect the president to do, show strength in his position and taking the case to the american people, as i expect he would. i do not join my good friend and principled leader in any transportation of the president's remarks. >> president obama talks about the iran and daily yesterday at american university. saying as congress considers to approve or disapprove, the choice between diplomacy and some storm -- some form of war.
[applause] president obama: thank you. thank you so much. thank you. please have a seat. i apologize for the slight delay. even presidents have problems with toner. [laughter] it is a great honor to be back at american university, it has prepared young people for service and public life. i want to thank the american university family for hosting us here today. 52 years ago, president kennedy, at the height of the cold war
addressed this same university on the subject of peace. the berlin wall had just been built. the soviet union had tested the most powerful weapons ever developed. china was on the verge of acquiring the nuclear bomb. less than 20 years after the end of world war ii, the prospect of nuclear war was all too real. with all of the threats that we face today, it is hard to appreciate how much more dangerous the world was at that time. in light of these mounting threats, a number of strategists in the united states argued we had to take military action against the soviets, to hasten what they saw as inevitable confrontation.
but the young president offered a different vision. strength, in his view, included powerful armed forces and a willingness to stand up for our values around the world. but he rejected the prevailing attitude among some foreign-policy circles that equated security with a perpetual war footing. instead, he promised strong, principled, american leadership on behalf of what he called a practical and attainable peace. a peace based a gradual evolution in human institutions, on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements.
such wisdom would help guide our ship of state through some of the most perilous moments in human history. with kennedy at the helm, the cuban missile crisis was resolved peacefully. under democratic and republican presidents, new agreements were forged. a nonproliferation treaty that prohibited nations acquiring nuclear weapons, while allowing them to access peaceful nuclear energy. the salt and start treaties that bound the united states and the soviet union to cooperation on arms control. not every conflict was averted. but the world avoided nuclear catastrophe. and we created the time and the space to win the cold war without firing a shot at the soviets. the agreement now reached between the international community and the islamic republic of iran builds on this tradition of strong, principled
diplomacy. after two years of negotiations, we have achieved a detailed arrangement that permanently prohibits iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. it cuts off all of iran's pathways to a bomb. it contains the most comprehensive inspection and verification regime ever negotiated to monitor a nuclear program. as was true in previous treaties, it does not resolve all problems. it certainly doesn't resolve all of our problems with iran. it doesn't ensure a warming between our two countries. but it achieves one of our most critical security objectives. as such, it is a very good deal. today, i want to speak to you about this deal, and the most consequential foreign-policy
debate that our country has had since the invasion of iraq. as congress decides whether to support this historic diplomatic breakthrough or instead blocks it over the objection of the vast majority of the world. between now and the congressional vote in september, you are going to hear a lot of arguments against this deal, backed by tens of millions of dollars in advertising. and if the rhetoric in these ads and the accompanying commentary sounds familiar, it should. for many of the same people who argued for the war in iraq are now making the case against the iran nuclear deal.
now when i ran for president eight years ago as a candidate who opposed the decision to go to war in iraq, i said that america did not just have to end that war. we had to end the mindset that got us there in the first place. it was a mindset characterized by a preference for military action over diplomacy. a mindset that put a premium on unilateral u.s. action over the painstaking work of building international consensus. a mindset that exaggerated threats beyond what the intelligence supported. leaders did not level with the american people about the costs of war, insisting that we could easily impose our will on a part of the world with a profoundly different culture and history.
and of course, those calling for war labeled themselves strong and decisive while dismissing those who disagreed as weak. even appeasers have a malevolent adversary. more than a decade later, we still live with the consequences of the decision to invade iraq. our troops achieved every mission they were given. but thousands of lives were lost. tens of thousands wounded. that doesn't count the lives lost among iraqis. nearly a trillion dollars was spent. today, iraq remains gripped by sectarian conflict, and the emergence of al qaeda in iraq has now evolved into isis.
and ironically, the single greatest beneficiary in the region of that war was the islamic republic of iran. which sought strategic position strengthened by the removal of its long-standing enemy, saddam hussein. i raise this recent history because, now more than ever, we need clear thinking in our foreign-policy. and i raise this history because it bears directly on how we respond directly to the iran nuclear program. that program has been around for decades, dating back to the shah's efforts, with u.s. support, in the 1960's and 1970's to develop nuclear power. the theocracy that overthrew the shah took place in the 1980's. a work in which saddam hussein
used nuclear weapons. iran's nuclear program advanced steadily through the 1990's, despite unilateral u.s. sanctions. when the bush administration took office, iran had no centrifuges. the machines necessary to produce material for a bomb. but despite repeated warnings from the united states government, by the time i took office, iran had installed several thousand centrifuges and showed no inclination to slow, much less halt, its program. among u.s. policymakers, there has never been disagreement on the danger posed by an iranian nuclear bomb. democrats and republicans alike
have recognized that it would spark an arms race in the world's most unstable region and turn every crisis into a potential nuclear showdown. it would embolden terrorist groups like hezbollah and oppose an unacceptable risk to israel which iranian leaders have repeatedly threatened to destroy. more broadly, it could unravel the global commitment to nonproliferation that the world has done so much to defend. the question then is not whether to prevent iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, but how. even before taking office, i made clear that iran would not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon on my watch. and it has been my policy throughout my presidency to keep all options, including possible military options, on the table to achieve that objective. but i have also made clear my preference for a peaceful, diplomatic resolution of the issue.
not just because of the costs of war, but also because a negotiated agreement offered a more effective, verifiable, and durable resolution. and so in 2009 we let the iranians know that a diplomatic path was available. iran failed to take that path. and our intelligence committee exposed the existence of a covert nuclear facility. now some have argued that iran's intransigence show the futility -- showed the futility of negotiations. in fact, it was our very willingness to negotiate that helped rally the world to our cause, and secured international participation in an unprecedented framework of commercial and financial sanctions. keep in mind, unilateral u.s. sanctions against iran have been in place for decades but had failed to pressure iran to the negotiating table.
what made our new approach more effective was our ability to draw upon united nation's resolutions with voluntary agreements from nations like china and india, japan and south korea, to reduce their purchases of iranian oil, as well as the imposition by our european allies of a total oil embargo. winning this global buy-in was not easy. i know, i was there. [laughter] pres. obama: in some cases, our partners lost billions of dollars in trade because of their decision to cooperate. but we were able to convince them that, absent a diplomatic resolution, the result could be war with major disruptions to the global economy, and even greater instability in the middle east.
in other words, it was diplomacy, hard, painstaking diplomacy, not saber rattling, not tough talk, that ratcheted up the pressure on iran. with the world now unified beside us, iran's economy contracted severely and remains about 20% smaller today than it would have otherwise been. no doubt this hardship played a role in iran's 2013 elections when the iranian people elected a new government, the promise to improve the economy through engagement with the world. a window had cracked open. iran came back to the nuclear talks. and after a series of negotiations, iran agreed with the international community to an interim deal, a deal that
rolled back iran's stockpile of near 20% enriched uranium and froze the process. -- progress of its programs so that the united states, china, russia, united kingdom, germany, france, and the european union could negotiate a conference of -- comprehensive deal without the fear that iran might be stalling for time. let me pause here just to remind that when the interim deal was announced, critics, the same critics we are hearing from now, called it a historic mistake. they insisted iran would ignore its obligations. they warned the sanctions would unravel. they warned that iran would receive a windfall to support terrorism.
the critics were wrong. the progress of iran's nuclear program was halted for the first time in a decade. it's stockpile of dangerous materials was reduced. the deployment of its advanced centrifuges was stopped. inspections did increase. there was no flood of money into iran. and the architecture of the international sanctions remained in place. in fact, the interim deal worked so well that the same people who criticized it so fiercely now cite it as an excuse not to support the broader accord. think about that. what was once proclaimed as a historic mistake is now held up as a success and a reason to not sign the comprehensive deal. so keep that in mind when you assess the credibility of the arguments being made against diplomacy today.
despite the criticism, we moved ahead to negotiate a more lasting, comprehensive deal. our diplomats led by secretary of state john kerry kept our coalition united. our nuclear experts, including one of the best in the world secretary of energy, ernie moniz, worked tirelessly on a technical details. in july, we reached a comprehensive plan of action that met our objectives. under its terms, iran is never allowed to build a nuclear weapon. the agreement strictly defines the manner in which its nuclear program can proceed, ensuring that all pathways to a bomb are cut off. here is how. under this deal, iran cannot acquire the plutonium needed for a bomb.
the core of its heavy water reactor in iraq will be replaced with one that will not produce plutonium for a weapon. the spent fuel from that reactor will be shipped out of the country and iran will not build any new heavywater reactors for at least 15 years. iran will also not be able to acquire the enriched uranium that could be used for bomb. as soon as this deal is implemented, iran will remove two thirds of its centrifuges. for the next decade, iran will not enrich uranium with its more advanced centrifuges. iran will not enrich uranium at the previously undisclosed facility that is deep underground for at least 15 years. iran will get rid of 98% of its stockpile of enriched uranium, which is currently enough for up to 10 nuclear bombs, for the next 15 years.
even after those 15 years have passed, iran will never have the right to use a peaceful program as cover to pursue a weapon. and in fact, this deal shuts off the type of covert path iran pursued in the past. there will be 24/7 monitoring of iran's nuclear facilities. for decades, inspectors will have access to the entire nuclear supply chain. from the minds -- mines and mills to the machines. understand why this is so important, for iran to cheat, it has to build a lot more than just one building or covert facility. it would need a secret source for every single aspect of its program.
no nation in history has been able to pull off such subterfuge when subjected to such rigorous inspections. and under the terms of the deal, inspectors will have the permanent ability to inspect any suspicious sites in iran. finally, iran has powerful incentives to keep its commitments. before getting sanctions relief, iran has to take significant concrete steps, like removing centrifuges and getting rid of its stockpiles. if iran violates the agreement over the next decade, all of the sanctions can snap back into place. we won't need the support of other members of the human -- members of the security council, america can trigger snap back on our own. however, if iran abides by the deal and its economy begins to reintegrate with the world, the incentives to avoid snapback will only grow. so this deal is not just the best choice among alternatives.
this is the strongest, nonproliferation agreement ever negotiated. and because this is such a strong deal, every nation in the world that has commented publicly, with the exception of the israeli government, has expressed support. the united nations security council has unanimously supported it. the majority of arms control and nonproliferation experts support it. over 100 former ambassadors who served under republican and democratic presidents support it. i've had to make a lot of tough calls as president, but whether or not this deal is good for american security is not one of those calls. it's not even close.
unfortunately, we are living through a time in american politics where every foreign policy decision is viewed through a partisan prism evaluated by headline-grabbing soundbites. and so, before the ink was even dry on the deal, before commerce -- -- before congress even read it, a majority of republicans declared their virulent opposition. lobbyists and pundits were suddenly transformed into armchair nuclear scientists, disputing the testimony of experts like dr. moniz. challenging his findings. offering multiple, and sometimes contradicting arguments about why congress should reject this deal. but if you repeat these arguments long enough, they can
get some traction. so let me address just a few of the arguments made so far in opposition to this deal. first, there are those who say that the inspections are not strong enough because inspectors cannot go anywhere in iran at any time with no notice. here's the truth. inspectors will be allowed daily access to iran's key nuclear sites. if there is a reason for inspecting a suspicious, undeclared site anywhere in iran, inspectors will get that access, even if iran objects. in fact, it can be with as little as 24 hours notice. and while the process for resolving a dispute about access can take up to 24 days, once we see a site that is suspicious, we will be watching it continuously until inspectors get in.
by the way, nuclear material isn't something you hide in the closet. [laughter] it can leave a trace for years. the bottom line is, if iran cheats, we can catch them and we will. second, there are those who argue that the deal isn't strong enough because some of the limitations on iran's civilian nuclear programs expire in 15 years. let me repeat. the prohibition on iran having a nuclear weapon is permanent. the ban on weapons-related research is permanent. inspections are permanent. it is true that some of the limitations regarding iran's peaceful program last only 15 years. but that is how arms control agreements work. the first salt treaty with the soviet union lasted five years.
the first start treaty lasted 15 years. and in our current situation, if 15 or 20 years from now iran tries to build a bomb, this deal ensures that the united states will have better tools to detect it, and the same options available to stop a weapons program as we have today including if necessary military options. on the other hand, without this deal, the scenarios the critics warn about happening in 15 years could happen six months from now. by killing this deal, congress would not merely pave iran's pathway to a bomb. it would accelerate it. third, a number of critics say the deal isn't worth it because
iran will get billions of dollars in sanctions relief. now let's be clear. the international sanctions were put in place to get iran to agree to constraints on its program. that's the point of sanctions. any negotiated agreement with iran would involve sanctions relief. so an argument against sanctions relief is effectively an argument against any diplomatic resolution of this issue. it is true that, if iran lives up to its commitments, it will gain access to roughly $56 billion of its own money, money frozen overseas by other countries. but the notion that this will be a game changer, with all this money funneled into iran's pernicious activities, misses the reality of iran's current situation. partly because of our sanctions,
the iranian government has over $500 billion in urgent requirements from funding pensions and salaries to paying for crumbling infrastructure. iran's leaders have raised expectations of their people that sanctions relief will improve their lives. even a repressive regime like iran's cannot completely ignore those expectations. and that's why our best analysts expect the bulk of this revenue to go into spending that improves the economy and benefits the lives of the iranian people. now this is not to say the sanctions relief will provide no benefit to iran's military. let's stipulate that some of that money will flow to activities that we object to. we have no illusions about the iranian government or the significance of the revolutionary guard and the quds
force. iran supports terrorist organizations like hezbollah. it supports proxy groups that threaten our interests and interests of our allies, including proxy groups who killed our troops in iraq. they try to destabilize our gulf partners. but iran has been engaged in these activities for decades. they engaged in them before sanctions and while sanctions were in place. in fact, iran engaged in these sanctions in the middle of the iran-iraq war, a war that cost them nearly a million lives and hundreds of billions of dollars. the truth is that iran has always found a way to fund these efforts. what ever benefit iran may claim
from sanctions relief pales in comparison to the danger it could pose with a nuclear weapon. moreover, there is no scenario where sanctions relief turns iran into the region's dominant power. iran's defense budget is eight times smaller than the combined budget of our gulf allies. their conventional capabilities will never compare to israel's. and our commitment to israel's military edge helps to guarantee that. over the last several years, iran has had to spend billions of dollars to support its only ally in the arab world, bashar al-assad. and iran, like the rest of the region, is being forced to respond to the threat of isil in
iraq. so, contrary to the alarmists who claim iran is on the brink of taking over the middle east or even the world, iran will remain a regional power with its own set of challenges. the ruling regime is dangerous and it is repressive. we will continue to have sanctions in place on iran's support for terrorism and violation of human rights. we will continue to insist upon the release of americans detained unjustly. we will have a lot of differences with the iranian regime. but if we are serious about confronting iran's destabilizing activities, it is hard to imagine a worse approach than blocking this deal. instead, we need to check the behavior that we are concerned about directly, by helping our
allies in the region strengthen their own ability to counter a cyber attack or a ballistic missile, by improving the introduction of weapons shipments that go to groups like hezbollah, by training our allies' special forces so they can more effectively respond to situations like yemen. all these capabilities will make a difference. we will be in a stronger position to implement them with this deal. and by the way, such a strategy also helps us effectively confront the immediate and lethal threat posed by isil. now the final criticism, the sort of catchall that you may hear, is the notion that there is a better deal to be had. we should get a better deal. that is repeated over and over
again. it's a bad deal. we need a better deal. [laughter] one that relies on vague promises of toughness and, more recently, the argument that we can apply a broader and in -- indefinite set of sanctions to squeeze the iranian regime harder. those making this argument are either ignorant of iranian society or just not being straight with the american people. sanctions alone are not going to force iran to completely dismantle its nuclear infrastructure, even aspects consistent with these programs. that is what the critics are calling a better deal. neither of the iranian government or the iranian
opposition or the iranian people would agree to what they would view as a total surrender of their sovereignty. moreover, our closest allies in europe or in asia, much less china or russia, certainly are not going to agree to enforce existing sanctions for another 5, 10, 15 years, according to the dictates of the u.s. congress, because their willingness to support sanctions in the first place was based on iran ending its pursuit of nuclear weapons. it was not based on the belief that they cannot have peaceful nuclear power. it certainly wasn't based on a desire for regime change in iran.
as a result, those who say we can just walk away from this deal and maintain sanctions are selling a fantasy. instead of strengthening our position, as some have suggested, congress's rejection would almost surely result in multilateral sanctions unraveling. if, as has also been suggested we try to maintain unilateral sanctions, beef and -- beefen them up, we would be standing alone. we cannot dictate the foreign, economic, and energy policies of every major power in the world. in order to even try do that, we would have to sanction, for example, some of the world's largest banks.
we would have to cut off countries like china from the american financial system, and since they happen to be major purchasers of our debt, such actions could trigger severe disruptions in our own economy and raise questions internationally about the dollar's role as a reserve currency. that is part of the reason why many of the previous unilateral sanctions were waived. what is more likely to happen should congress reject this deal is that iran would end up with some form of sanctions relief without having to accept any of the restraints required by this deal. walk away from this agreement, and you will get a better deal for iran. [applause]
because sanctions will produce the results critics want, we have to be honest. congressional rejection of this deal leaves any u.s. administration that is absolutely committed to preventing iran from getting a nuclear weapon with one option another war in the middle east. i say this not to be provocative. i am stating a fact. without this deal, iran will be in a position, however tough our rhetoric may be, to steadily advance its capabilities, its breakout time, which is already fairly small, could shrink to near zero. does anyone really doubt that the same voices now raised against this deal will be
demanding that whoever is president bomb those nuclear facilities? as someone who does firmly believe that iran must not get a nuclear weapon and has wrestled with this issue since the beginning of my presidency, i can tell you that alternatives to military actions will have been exhausted once we reject a hard one diplomatic solution that the world almost unanimously supports. so let's not mince words. the choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war, maybe not tomorrow maybe not three months from now, but soon. here is the irony. as i said before, military action would be far less effective than this deal in preventing iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
that is not just my supposition, every estimate, including those from israeli analysts, suggests that military action would only set back iran's program from -- for a few years at best, which is a fraction of the limitations imposed by this deal. it would likely guarantee that inspectors are kicked out of iran. it is probable that it would drive iran's program deeper underground. it would certainly destroy the international unity that we spent so many years building. now, there are some opponents, i have to give them credit. there are opponents of this deal who accept the choice of war. in fact, they argue that surgical strikes against iran's facilities will be quick and painless.
if we have learned anything from the last decade, it is that wars in general and wars in the middle east of particular are anything but simple. [applause] the only certainty in war is human suffering, uncertain costs, unintended consequences. we can also be sure that the americans who bear the heaviest burden are less than 1% of us, the outstanding men and women who serve in uniform, and not those of us who send them to war. as commander in chief, i have not shied away from using force when necessary. i have ordered tens of thousands of young americans in the combat.
i have sat by their bedside sometimes when they come home. i have ordered military action in seven countries. there are times when force is necessary, and if iran does not abide by this deal, it's possible that we don't have an alternative. how can we in good conscience justify war before we tested a diplomatic agreement that achieves our objectives, that has been agreed to by iran, that is supported by the rest of the world, and that preserves our options if the deal falls short. how can we justify that to our troops? how could we justify that to the world? or to future generations?
in the end, that should be a lesson that we have learned from over a decade of war. on the front end, ask tough questions, subject our own assumptions to evidence and analysis, resist the conventional wisdom and the drumbeat of war. worry less about being labeled weak. worry more about getting it right. i recognize that resulting to force may be tempting in the face of rhetoric and the behavior that imitates from parts of iran. it is offensive. it is incendiary. we do take it seriously. but superpowers should not act impulsively in response to talk. or even provocations that can be addressed short of war. just because iranian hardliners
chant, "death to america" -- it does not believe that that's what all iranians believe. [applause] in fact, it is those hardliners who are most comfortable with the status quo. it is those hardliners chanting " death to america" who have been opposed to the deal. [applause] [laughter] the majority the iranian people have powerful incentives to urge their government and a different, less provocative, direction. incentives that are strengthened by this deal. we should offer them that chance. we should give them that opportunity.
it is not guaranteed to succeed, but if they take it, that would be good for iran, the united states. it would be good for a region that has known too much conflict. it would be good for the world. if iran does not move in that direction, if iran violates this deal, we will have ample ability to respond. you know, the agreements pursued by kennedy and reagan with the soviet union -- those treaties involved america accepting significant constraints on our arsenal. as such, they were riskier. this agreement involves no such constraints.
the budget of the united states is more than $600 billion -- iran's is about $15 billion. our military is the ultimate backstop to any agreement we make. i have stated that iran will never be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon. i have done what is necessary to make sure our military options are real. i have no doubt that any president who follows me will take the same position. so, let me sum up here. when we carefully examine the arguments against this deal, none of them stand up to scrutiny. that may be why the rhetoric on the other side is so strident. i suppose some of it can be ascribed to knee-jerk partisanship that has become all too familiar, rhetoric that renders every decision made a
disaster, a surrender, aiding terrorists, endangering freedom. on the other hand, i do think it is important to acknowledge another more understandable motivation behind the opposition to this deal, or at least skepticism to this deal. that is a sincere affinity for our friend and ally israel, and affinity that, as somebody who has been a stalwart friend to israel throughout my career, i deeply share. when the israeli government is opposed to something, people in the united states take notice. they should. no one can blame israelis for having a deep skepticism about any dealings with the government like iran, which includes
leaders who deny the holocaust embraced an ideology of anti-semitism, facilitated the flow of rockets that are arrayed on israelis borders, appointed -- or pointed at tel aviv. in such a dangerous neighborhood, israel has to be vigilant, and it rightly insists that it cannot depend on any other country, even its great friend the united states, for its own security. so we have to take seriously concerns in israel. but the fact is that partly due to american military and intelligence assistance, which my administration has provided at unprecedented levels, israel can defend it self against any
conventional danger, whether from iran directly or from its proxies. on the other hand, a nuclear weapon changes that equation. that is why this deal ultimately must be judged by what it achieves on the central goal of preventing iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. this deal does exactly that. i say this as someone who has done more than any other president to strengthen israel's security. i have made it clear that we are prepared to discuss how we can deepen that cooperation even further. already we have held talks on israel with concluding another ten-year plan for u.s. security assistance to israel. we can enhance, support, areas like interdiction all to help israel's security needs, and to
provide a hedge against any additional activities that iran may engage in as a consequence of sanctions relief. but i have also listened to the israeli security establishment which warned of the danger posed by a nuclear armed iran, for decades. in fact, they help to develop many of the ideas that ultimately led to this deal. so to friends of israel, and to the israeli people, i say this a nuclear armed iran is far more dangerous to israel, to america, and to the world, than an iran that benefits from sanctions relief. i recognize that prime minister netanyahu disagrees, disagree strongly. i do not doubt his sincerity.
i believe he is wrong. i believe the facts support this deal. i believe they are in america's interest and israel's interest and as president of the united states, it would be an obligation of my constitutional duty to act against my best judgment simply because it causes temporary friction with a dear friend and ally. i do not believe that would be the right thing to do for the united states. i do not leave it would be the right thing to do for israel. [applause] pres. obama: over the last couple of weeks, i have repeatedly challenged anyone opposed to this deal to put forward a better, plausible,
alternative. i have yet to hear one. what i have heard instead are the same types of arguments that we have heard in the run-up to the iraq war. iran cannot be dealt with diplomatically. we can take military strikes without significant consequences. we shouldn't worry about what the rest of the world thinks, because once we act, everyone will fall in line. tougher talk, more military threats, will force iran into submission. we can get a better deal. i know it is easy to play on people's fears. to magnify threats, to compare any attempt at diplomacy to munich, but none of these
arguments hold up. they did not back in 2002 and 2003. they should not now. [applause] the same mindset come in many cases offered by the same people, who seem to have no compunction with being repeatedly wrong -- [laughter] -- led to a war that strengthen iran than anything we have done in the decade before or since. it is a mindset out of step with the tradition of american foreign-policy, where we exhaust diplomacy before war and debate matters of war and peace in the cold light of truth.
peace is not the absence of conflict, president reagan once said. it is the ability to cope with conflict by peaceful means. president kennedy warned americans not to see conflict as inevitable, accommodation as impossible, and communication as nothing more than the exchange of threats. it is time to apply such wisdom. the deal before us does not bet on iran changing. it doesn't require trust. it verifies. it requires. iran to forsake a nuclear weapon. just as we struck agreements with the soviet union at a time when they were threatening our allies, arming proxies against
us, proclaiming their commitment to destroy our way of life, and had nuclear weapons pointed at all of our major cities, a genuine existential threat. you know, we live in a complicated world, a world in which the forces unleashed by human innovation are creating opportunities for our children that were unimaginable for most of human history. it is also a world of persistent threats, a world in which massive violence and cruelty is all too common, and human innovation risk the destruction of all we hold dear. in this world, the united states of america remains the most powerful nation on earth, and i believe that we will remain such
for decades to come. but we are one nation among many. what separates us from the empires of old, what has made us exceptional, is not the mere fact of our military might. since world war ii, the deadliest war in human history we have used our power to try to bind nations together in a system of international law. we have led an evolution of those human institutions that president kennedy spoke about. to prevent the spread of deadly weapons, to uphold peace and security and promote human progress. we now have the opportunity to build on the progress.
we built a coalition and held it together through sanctions and negotiations, and now we have before us a solution that prevents iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon without resorting to war. as americans, we should be proud of this achievement. as members of congress reflect on the pending decision, i urge them to set aside political concerns, shut out the noise consider the stakes involved with the vote that you will cast. if congress kills that deal, we will lose more than constraints on iran's nuclear program or the sanctions we have painstakingly built, we will have lost something precious, america's
credibility as a leader of diplomacy, america's credibility as the anchor of the international system. john f. kennedy cautioned more than 50 years ago at this university that the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war. it is so very important. it is surely the pursuit of peace that is most needed in this world full of strife. contact your representatives in congress. remind them of who we are. remind them of what is best in us and what we stand for. so we can leave behind a world that is more secure and more peaceful for our children. thank you very much. [applause]
[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> senate majority leader mitch mcconnell spoke about the iran nuclear agreement during his press conference today. the senate is adjourned for the august recess. the kentucky republican spoke for about half an hour. senator mcconnell: good morning, everyone. the day after the election when -- at a similar press conference, i said the american people have expressed their opinion in the election, and there were two things on their minds. one was, and it was very helpful to us, obviously, that the president is not popular.
the other issue we heard in kentucky and other parts of the country was dysfunction, this sends that -- sincesense nothing gets accomplished here. to casual observers, they were not sure what that dysfunction was, but you knew it was in the senate. the senate was basically shut down for literally years. how do you measure dysfunction? one way is do you vote on amendments. we had 15 roll call votes on amendments in all of 2014. so far, this year we have had over 160, more than the last two years combined. four of the the last five years, the senate did not pass a budget. the law requires us to pass a budget not when we feel like it, but every year. we have done that. that is not enough. my goal looking at the government the american people gave us, a divided government,
which is not unusual, we have had divided government more often than not since world war ii -- what are the american people saying when they give you a divided government? they are saying, why don't you look for things you can agree on and make progress for the country? and so, what i have tried to do is emphasize things upon which there was some bipartisan agreement and bills that were big enough to be worth doing. we led off with the keystone pipeline, and although the most important democrat in the country did not sign it, it passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority. we passed a budget. that is not a bipartisan exercise, and it was not this year, but we have also done the iran nuclear review act, a rewrite of no child left behind, a multiyear highway bill. clearly, the senate is up and running and trying to focus on things where we can make progress. what is not helpful is rhetoric like the president has been
using as recently as this morning, comparing republicans in congress who have legitimate concerns over the iran nuclear agreement to those in tehran yelling "death to america." my view of this is, rather than this kind of craft political rhetoric -- of crass political rhetoric we ought to treat this , issue with the dignity it deserves. what i have said to the senate is we will handle this debate in the following way. we will try to reach an agreement to have a specified amount of time to talk about it. i will ask every senator to be at their desk, actually listening to what others are saying. each senator will get an opportunity to speak and be listened to by other senators. this is an extraordinarily important issue for our country, not only now, but in the future.
remember the president will be gone in a year and a half, and the rest of us will be living with the consequences of this extraordinary agreement, which certainly has transformed the middle east. it certainly has. we are now entering into an agreement in which we are basically being asked to trust the biggest funder of terrorism in the world today, so it is appropriate to have some skepticism about the debate of this magnitude. regardless of how the president talks about it, regardless of what his incendiary rhetoric is, we are going to deal with this in a respectful way, dealing with the facts surrounding the issue, and treat it with the
dignity and respect that it deserves here in the senate. with that, i will be happy to throw it open to what you would like to talk about. yeah. reporter: another thing you said right after you got reelected was we are going to avoid government shutdown. you repeated that yesterday. senator mcconnell: we're not doing government shutdowns or threatening to default on the national debt. reporter: there has been a debate of those who are using -- those in your own party, many of whom who have challenged you saying very loudly that the only way for that bill to go forward is to defund planned parenthood. senator mcconnell: you may have heard me before. one of my favorite kentucky sayings is there is no education like the second kick of a mule. we've been down this path before. this is a tactic that has been
tried going back to the 1990's that republican majorities have always had a focus that the government is shut down, not looking at the underlying issue that is being protested. look, what planned parenthood is engaged is in truly outrageous. the videos are beyond disturbing. the question is, what is the best way to go forward. we had an opportunity monday of this week to put senators on record about how they felt on going forward with a bill that would have taken that funding currently going to planned parenthood and used it for women's health, not a penny less, under the proposal that the senators were proposing. and that presumably would have gone to community health centers. in my state, there are 134 committee health centers and 2 planned parenthood clinics. not a penny less for women's health, but spent in a way that
actually is consistent with the law. any water back here? anybody? so, senator grassley is going to be investigating. as you know, he has a record as a very thorough and tough investigator, the author of the whistleblower law. we intend to continue to pursue the facts, and nobody is better at doing that than senator grassley, and we will look at -- for other opportunities to make our voices heard on planned parenthood. reporter: senator, i'm wondering what you expect from the pope's visit here in september. i am wondering if you would welcome any comments from him given the dispute over planned parenthood. senator mcconnell: gosh, i do not know what his address will
be but we are honored to have him of the capital. we have more requests for his appearance than anything i can recall. it's a big event. i have no idea what he will say, but we are happy to have him. i will come to you next. reporter: today is the 50th anniversary of the signing of the voter -- voting rights act. a lot of democrats feel that republicans have gutted some of the main protections of the act. do you feel the voting rights act needs to be updated or fixed, and, if so, what will happen? any advice for the candidates against trump tonight? senator mcconnell: regarding the voting rights act, i was actually here that day. i hade been an intern for a senator in 1964 who was involved in breaking the filibuster in -- on the civil rights bill in 1964.
i made friends, like a lot of interns do. i came back the next summer to visit him, and just happened to be here on this day 50 years ago. i was waiting in his outer office in hopes of talking to him for a few minutes. he walked out and said i have something important you should see. he brought me over here to the rotunda, and i actually stood in the back of the room and watched lyndon johnson sign the voting rights act of 1965. it's been a big success. the supreme court did not strike down the voting rights act. racial discrimination in voting remains the law of the land. i think it's also important to understand how different the south is now. haley barbour, who used to be governor of mississippi, pointed out there are more african-american elected officials in mississippi than in -- any other state in america. america has come a long way, and
the voting rights act is intact. it was not struck down. you were next. i am sorry, that is all i have to say. you are next. reporter: i have a question regarding the international treaties. backed by your fellow kentucky senator, rand paul. what are you planning to make him change his mind? senator mcconnell: candidly, i have not given a moment's thought about that, and we have a lot of things going on, and i do not know how. reporter: immigration will be a big topic tonight. it was on -- at tuesday's forum in new hampshire. what is your thought about chances for any bipartisan immigration reform in congress before the next election? senator mcconnell: not in this congress. i think when the president took the action he did after the 2014 election, he made it impossible
for us to go forward with immigration reform in this congress. the concern we expressed about that was validated by the fact that he is currently under a court order not to go forward with what he decided to do. and so the atmosphere for dealing with that issue in the wake of what he did is not appropriate to get the kind of immigration reform we probably need to address. hopefully in the next congress -- where we will for sure have a different president. reporter: you said no defaulting on the debt. you have also said earlier that this would be a good chance to seek some sort of concession. will you be keeping it dollar for dollar on spending increase? senator mcconnell: this will create a discussion and negotiation. that is what we do here.
and both of these issues will generate a discussion about spending in the fall. i am not opposed to negotiation. i would remind you, when i was the leader of the minority, joe biden and i did three deals together, so we will try to figure out the way forward, and each side will have to give some things they do not want to give, and we will get to an agreement. reporter: on iran, the president's national security advisor said yesterday that he was very confident congress would uphold the president's veto. senator mcconnell: i don't want to handicap the outcome. this is a really the issue. -- really big issue, as i said earlier. we intend to debate this with dignity and respect, and we will see.
the president strikes me, at least so far, as treating this like a political campaign, demonize your opponents, gin up the base, get the democrats all angry, and rally around the president. to me, it is a different kind of an issue. this is not your typical political debate. this is an enormous national security debate. that the president will leave behind under the constitution in a year and a half from now and the rest of us will be dealing with the consequences of it. i wish he would tone down the rhetoric, and let's talk about the facts. i can't handicap the outcome, but i think my members are going to delve into the details and make a decision based upon what they think is in the best long-term interest of our country. reporter: do you see the senate
taking other votes or action in september? senator mcconnell: this has been an incredibly productive first six months of the new majority. for americans who are paying attention, there was a difference between this majority and the last. we will continue to the four -- continue to look for things that we can make progress on. let me give you some examples. i would love to finish cyber security this week, but we have now an agreement that will allow us to finish it in september. highways, trade promotion authority, rewrite of no child left behind, defense authorization, justice for victims of trafficking, the doc fix. we have been wrestling with that for 17 years -- fixed. this is going to be an extraordinarily productive congress, and even though we are in the negotiations we are discussing over here, much of that will not take floor time.
we will move things like cyber security. that legislation is another example of something important that enjoys bipartisan support. and i'm going to continue to look for things that make a difference for the country that can clear the senate, a body that requires 60 votes to do most things. reporter: leader mcconnell you've spoken a lot about how the bca cut spending for the first time since the 1950's. as you know, democrats will only agree to move these appropriation bills if you work on the nondefense side. what sort of concessions will they have to make? is it mandatory spending cuts? it seems like this is something that is pretty important to you. senator mcconnell: it won't surprise you to know -- i can't enter into the negotiation pursuing all of the hypotheticals. what i can say is we will talk about this. we have divided government. we have to talk with each
each other -- with each other and figure out the way forward. reporter: senator ted cruz has been somewhat of a thorn in your side when it comes to these bigger negotiations, bigger issues. how do you plan on dealing him -- with him when it comes to government funding, the debt ceiling, when he said he will use everything possible to get at his specific priorities? senator mcconnell: for any of our members, there are a lot of procedural tools available to slow things down, and they have been used frequently. we have worked our way through every one of them. we worked our way through it on the highway bill, on the justice for victims of trafficking bill. it is easy for any senator to make it more difficult to pass bills. it's routine around here, which is why the senate doesn't do things as quickly as the house but we been able to surmount those kinds of challenges on your long that have been thrown
out by one senator orator or another -- those challenges all year long that have been thrown out by one senator or another, on one side or another, and we still have an extraordinary record of accomplishment. reporter: on the issue of budget reconciliation, are you considering letting the senate consider and pass a budget reconciliation bill that would be put together and passed by the house, as opposed to the senate putting together some -- together its own reconciliation bill? senator mcconnell: the use of reconciliation is an active discussion by the senate, and you know that anything done through reconciliation is like to be a republicans-only exercise and unlikely to be signed by the president. so, we are looking at ways in which we would deploy budget reconciliation in a way that he might not agree with, but it is still important to us. the biggest candidate for that
-- not surprising to you -- would be to try to repeal as much of obamacare at his -- is reconcilable. the entire law, we believe based on discussions of the parliamentarian, is not reconcilable, but much of it is. so, if you are looking for candidates for the reconciliation process, i would put that one on the top the list. reporter: when do you expect to see tangible movement towards customs reauthorization? do you think that debate on that legislation could threaten congressional reception of the broader trade agenda? senator mcconnell: i do not think so. we have two bills in conference that i expect to get out of conference here sometime soon defense authorization and customs. so i do not think so.
however on the trade issue, we , are watching carefully what is going on in the negotiation of the tpp, and we have given the president an extraordinary grant of authority, which i enthusiastically am in favor of, not only for him, but for the next president as well, since it is a six-year bill, but we are certainly interested in what comes out of it. i would remind the president and this administration that, given the politics of trade on the democratic side, they will need virtually all republicans to pass whatever they do negotiate and many of us are taking the opportunity to convey that to them. so we will see. , reporter: any timeline on customs? senator mcconnell: as soon as they finish. reporter: ok, thank you. senator mcconnell: you. reporter: oh, thank you. regardless of what procedural
tactic senator cruz and others pursue, do you think you have the votes today to pass a bill without language defunding planned parenthood? senator mcconnell: you all keep trying, don't you? [laughter] senator mcconnell: i don't blame you. it's your job. yeah we will fund the , government. i cannot tell you what will finally end up in or out of any government funding resolution. i can tell you there will be no government shutdown. reporter: you told us recently you would like to see abortion legislation on the floor. there is not a lot of time left, and there is a lot of must-pass legislation. do you expect to see that by the end of the year? senator mcconnell: as we know, it takes 60 votes to do everything except the budget process. we anticipate having a vote to proceed to the 20-week pain-c apable bill sometime by the end
of the year as well. reporter: on iran, could you respond to the president's contention that the alternative around this or if congress -- around this is war if congress rejects the deal? senator mcconnell: that is an absurd argument and one he made from the beginning, that it is what the president negotiates or it is war. that's never been the alternative. let me suggest that, had the president and his team spent as much time trying to ratchet up the sanctions on the iranians over the last two years as they have entering into an agreement which most of us are highly skeptical of, as to having any positive impact at all, we would have ended up in a better place. but it's not this deal versus war. that's the argument they've been making during this whole negotiation. it's either this deal or a better deal, or more sanctions.
i think that's been a huge mistake on his part. i mean, he is gambling that this is going to completely transform the middle east. it probably will. you've got sunni-arab allies who, except for their public statements, are scared to death that america is no longer a dependable ally. you've got the israeli government overwhelmingly opposed to the agreement. it has the potential to transform the middle east, all right, but it strikes me not into a safer middle east but one more racked with discord. and, you know, i think jimmy carter summed it up best. i can't recall ever quoting jimmy carter in my political career. we can probably stipulate that
has not been routine on my part. you may have seen what he said three or four weeks ago about the president's foreign-policy. i'm paraphrasing him, but i'm totally accurate. jimmy carter said he could not think of a single place in the world where we were better off today than we were when the president took office. that is jimmy carter. i rest my case. reporter: it sounds like you view this negotiation in the fall as sort of a global negotiation involving appropriations, debt limit, tax extenders, highway, with only a limited number of offsets. do you view it as one sort of big, global negotiation in which the democrats might do better on one facet of it and he would do better on another? secondly would you characterize any discussions you have had with the white house as well as laying the framework? senator mcconnell: let me tell you how we ended up where we are. for the first time in six years,
the senate appropriations committee reported all 12 bills. for the first time in six years. the democrats quite publicly have said we want pass -- we will not pass any of them because we want to ball the process up and force you into a negotiation in the fall. so, that is how we got to where we are. excuse me a second. i would have devoted weeks to passing appropriation bills at -- bills, had we been able to bring them up. they wouldn't even allow us to proceed to the bills. so, they want to force the negotiation that we will inevitably have, and they wanted
to force it sooner rather than later. my view was we had other business to do, and i listed repeatedly the things we've been doing to try to improve our country. so yeah, we will have a discussion in the fall. they forced it, and we will have it but i can't handicap the outcome. reporter: your former campaign manager was indicted yesterday. do you have any regrets? senator mcconnell: we put out a statement yesterday about that and i will refer you to that. reporter: leader mcconnell, i was curious, do you plan to watch the debate tonight? senator mcconnell: i do. reporter: what are you looking for? senator mcconnell: i am hoping to see a two-hour debate. it should be a lot of fun. reporter: about the highway bill, you talked about
conference. i know the current goal is to do international tax reform. if they are able to pass a bill like that, isn't it -- is it something that can be resolved in conference? it does not seem like there is a lot of middle ground. senator mcconnell: let me tell you how i look at it. two separate issues. two separate issues. senator boxer and i put together a multiyear highway thatbill and passed it. the speaker has asked the chairman to come up with a multi-year highway bill and pass -- and pay for it and pass it in september and go to conference with us. that is one issue. a separate issue is the issue of tax reform, and there's been a lot of focus on the territorial -- going to a territorial system. i might well be enthusiastic about that, but i view it as a
totally separate track unrelated to the highway issue. reporter: the second part of the question was, do you see ex tenders getting wrapped up in the highway debate? senator cowan: -- senator mcconnell: you are getting back to the multiple things that will be in the fall. i do not blame you for bringing it up, but i do not know the answer. we will do an extender package. i hope we do not do it at the end of the year like we did last year, because then taxpayers have to go through the tax year not knowing the tax implications of decisions they are making and then you drop the extender package on them to cover the year you have just been in. i do not like that. hopefully we will not do that. have you already had one? reporter: nope. senator mcconnell: you're up. reporter: speaker boehner -- is the approach going to work when it comes to raising the
debt ceiling? do you think enough republican's understand to get a bill through the senate? senator mcconnell: all of your questions on this type of thing are good, but we do not know the answer to them. i can only say that we have divided government. the house and senate do not always see things exactly the same. i'm reminded of that old story that tom foley, the former speaker, used to tell, that i'm sure some of you heard. he was asked by some of his young members, who is the opposition? he said, well, the opposition, that the republicans, but the enemy, that's the senate. there are always institutional differences. i think the speaker and i have worked very hard to minimize those and have had a very open and respectful relationship which we have -- intend to continue. but, sure, there are going to be
challenges. any time you ball up the appropriations process like the minority did in the senate this year, it creates the big negotiation. and that is regretful, but that's where we are. reporter: leader mcconnell, you have already addressed this on your on the past couple of days, but i want to talk about the message with which it was conveyed yesterday. he responded directly to you on twitter. do you have any thoughts about him using that method of communication to make his point, that republicans are heading towards war? senator mcconnell: i think the president ought to treat this like a serious national security debate, rather than a political campaign, and tone down the rhetoric and talk about the
facts. i think that would be beneficial for all of us. regardless of what rhetoric he uses, that's how i choose to try to conduct this debate in the senate, and i assure you that's what we're going to do. thanks a lot, everybody. >> a look at the top tinkling republican presidential candidates who are meeting tonight to debate in cleveland. gun-control advocates want the candidates to be asked about gun issues, but they will be asked questions from the host from fox. the discussion is underway now and runs until 6:00 p.m. eastern. and like on c-span, the canadian prime minister's debate starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern.
it is kicking off one of the longest campaign in modern canadian history. watch that life on c-span -- watch that live on c-span. and tuning for a tour of fort lauderdale, florida, to learn about the early settlers of this the, the past and present seminole tribe, and the planes that have gone missing in nearby beer meetup -- bermuda triangle. attorney general loretta lynch received an award from the national black prosecutors association recently, where she said she would continue pressing for greater community involvement with police departments and against minimum mandatory sentences. her remarks for about half an hour.
>> our attorney general has dedicated her life to public service. two presidential appointments for the eastern district of new york. she received her jd from harvard law in 1984. she served with distinction, first on the front lines, and then while running a branch office to her two terms as united states attorney. as united states attorney for the eastern district of new york, general lynch oversaw one of the nation's premier litigation offices, representing the united states and three of the five boroughs of new york city, including both suburban -- brooklyn,'s queens -- brooklyn queens, and that island, and including both suburban counties on long island. her district at the time
encompassed 8 million people of diverse backgrounds. as the top law enforcement officer in new york, she oversaw all criminal investigations and prosecuted virtually every type of crime. she made community outreach a priority. she brings this background to benefit our nation. general lynch is the 83rd attorney general sworn in in 2015 and is the first african-american woman to hold this position. [applause] ms. pearson: the presidents award of excellence is awarded to an individual organization that has demonstrated outstanding achievement in service and commitment to furthering the overall objectives of the national black prosecutors association, which is the advancement and education, recruitment retention of african-american
prosecutors, upholding the honor and dignity of the bar cultivating relationships among the nations, prosecutors -- among the nations prosecutors, perpetuating the history of the profession and providing service to the community. to me, it is simple. i along with the other members watch with pride as attorney general lynch took on drug dealers and terrorists in new york. we cheered when the nomination was announced because we knew it was well deserved. we marveled as she handled question after question that was thrown at her with cool, calm, and the collected manner we had expected from her. and we cheered on confirmation day. this is the pride of the ascent of a fellow member who supported
-- who has been with us from the beginning and supported us all the way. as the president of the national black prosecutors association, it is the greatest honor in my career to be able to present the attorney general with this award, because she has been a role model to me as an african-american female prosecutor, and to so many others. general lynch, the words he -- you spoke three so true. -- that you spoke rang so true. we do not look to revenge and retribution. we look to the law. thank you for being the epitome of what we strive to be as prosecutors. the 2015 presidents award of excellence is presented to our attorney general, loretta lynch. [applause]
i want to wish all of you a good afternoon. i have seen the agenda and i have been here before. it is such a pleasure to see everyone. i want to thank you for that gracious and kind introduction. thank you so much. and also for your leadership of this outstanding organization that i know means so much to so many. and in fact, has meant so much to me. former president, where is bruce? how are you doing? you served again with pride and distinction. thank you for your service, as well. [applause] ms. lynch: both your current and former president have been on the front lines that every lack prosecutor faces each day. -- that every black prosecutor faces every day. sometimes the fight to win for your place. in the courtroom. i think -- tyhhank both of them
for their efforts and inspiration to all of you and to me. i think this organization. national black prosecutors has been a stalwart to this cause. i am so happy to see you all. it is a pleasure to stand with you as you move forward in the work. there is nothing more humbling than to receive an award from your peers. this means the world to me, this award of excellence. that you thought of me this here and gifted me this. it has been -- i will treasure this because i treasure all of you, and i want you to know that. so thank you so much. for more than three decades, nbpa has provided the encouragement that i have received from this organization. you have always been looking outward to the countless individuals who want to
contribute to law enforcement and public safety. that is not always an easy road. depending upon where you are from. this organization has focused on training, on increasing the ability of our law enforcement personnel to perform their duties with professionalism and excellence. and more to the point, ever since i have known this organization, you have focused on supporting our young people. our young mothers and sisters -- our young brothers and sisters who were searching for a way to join the ranks of prosecutors, to find their way in this great profession of hours. -- of ours. by building that pipeline and by supporting our younger lawyers you are ensuring the viability for years to come, the viability of our ideals, our vision, and our sense of justice, for years to come.
i thank you so much for those efforts over the years. they are truly needed and important and so singular. this is a particularly significant moment for law enforcement across the country. in recent years, this nation has begun to question a whole host of things, things that nbpa have long had on their radar. we have begun to question a wide range of law enforcement functions, starting at the charging phase, prevention reentry. all of these things are part of the national debate. all to the good. we have begun to question our reliance on incarceration. is it really appropriate? does it really work? when you begun to make our criminal justice system more
efficient and more fair. -- we have begun to search for ways to make our justice system more efficient and more fair. but this is nothing new for national black prosecutors. nbpa has been at the forefront of all of these issues. i have heard these themes resounded helplessly -- helplessly -- countlessly through my meetings and interactions over the years. you have been the voice of lawful consideration, the voice of inclusion. you are the voice that speaks for all who are impacted by our criminal justice system. at no time is your voice more needed and more necessary than now. we need you to stay involved in all of these issues and to continue to lead the way and to be the voice for change, reason, and fairness in our system. i am proud to say the department of justice is committed to these efforts.
two years ago my predecessor and your friend, eric holder launched the initiative, a -- launched the smart on crime initiative. this was a groundbreaking endeavor designed to rethink the way we thought about these criminal justice issues from the beginning, from the inception of a case, to keep the focus on individualized justice that every defendant deserves few get, at the forefront of all of our decisions. through that program the justice , department modified its charging policies for certain low-level -- this is done to -- low-level narcotics offenses. this is done to ensure the individuals convicted of a crime would face sentences that not reflected their liability, but they would be commensurate with their conduct and it would enable us to direct our resources where they belong, toward the, drug kingpin's the
-- toward the violent criminals, the drug kingpin's and the leaders, the organizers, the people who pull in the -- into the system. we have refocused attention on a range of= evidence-based diversion programs like drug rehabilitation, trying to reduce recidivism, and to lessen the burden on officers. we have improved our focus on reentry and on prevention. but in particular i want to talk , about reentry. so many people in this room have been a leader in this field. they of the leaders of the state level and at the u.s. attorney level. we have an obligation to help our formally incarcerated individuals return as productive citizens. not just because it reduces crime, but because once they come back, they are under our care, too. they are under our charge. we have an obligation to protect them.
many of these efforts include directing every u.s. attorneys office to designate a reentry coordinator in his or her district, as well as working with our law enforcement partners to examine the ways in which states can assist us to mitigate the consequences of incarceration. it is as simple as let them vote. let them vote. [applause] ms. lynch: when people have paid their debt to society, let them vote. we have pushed back against these owner rents zero-tolerance school discipline policies. -- these onerous zero-tolerance
school discipline policies. we know that discipline is important in schools and educators have to have a way to manage their classrooms. too often what starts out as a way to manage our children turns into a system that sends our young people, particularly our young boys of color, into the criminal justice system rather than the principal's office. into the criminal justice system rather than a disciplinary system that can deal with their behavior, but let them stay in school. we all know when we interrupt education, particularly at those early stages, and we are talking very often about elementary school children, they often never get back on track. what is our role in that? we have to be involved in that debate, as well. this is an area in which i call for nbpa's voice to the loud and strong. -- to be loud and strong as
well. these are very important steps the department is taking. they are having significant effects. we have been relying upon our prosecutors across the country who are using their discretion thoughtfully, with a great appreciation for the role that prosecutors play. we are also looking throughout the system, as well, in terms of our clemency, looking at offenders who have served much more time than they would have under our current sentencing regime and trying to find a way to make sure that while they have paid their debt to society, they still have a chance to reenter it, as well. president obama spoke at the naacp last night and he noted we -- last week and he noted that we are pursuing mandatory sentences about 20% less often than before. some people were concerned about this. these are people who had valid concerns about the safety of our
our streets and the safety of all of our community. we are solving as many cases as before. we are achieving as many pleas in these cases as before. and in fact, just last year, with the evidence we have, our country's crime rate and incarceration rate declined for the first time in four decades. the first time in four decades. they declined simultaneously. [applause] ms. lynch: we can do this. we are doing this. but we need everybody's voice to continue this effort. we are going to build on this progress. at the president's direction, i will be examining the use of solitary confinement in our prison system, as a federal and the state levels. [applause]
ms. lynch: we are working closely with supporters of criminal justice in congress to achieve much-needed legislation. i'll bet you never thought congress would get anything done. [laughter] ms. lynch: but this has a chance of working. we are committed to this effort. i plan to strengthen the way we carry a justice at a local level in our towns neighborhoods and city streets, by beginning with a priority, focusing on the -- with one of my main priorities, focusing on the relationship between officers and the communities that we all serve. you know better how important these relationships are. you recognize that for far too many and for far too long, and
-- we know all communities deserve better. they deserve the full protection of the law. they deserve to know that law enforcement is looking out for them, protecting them as opposed to trying to break them. they deserve this commitment. we know the benefits of a positive relationship between law enforcement and the community, because we have seen that. we know that when officers and residents share this connection, the residents are more likely to
help out with investigations. victims and witnesses feel safer coming forward. all of us can better protect everyone in those communities. we also know repairing the divide we have seen across this nation will take all of our best efforts, from those of us charged with prosecuting misconduct to the members who -- to the community members also who understand the neighborhoods the best and can give us much-needed insight. one of the ways i'm working on this priority is i have begun a six-city tour, a community-policing tour to highlight new practices that are focused on strengthening these connections. i have seen important signs of progress. we have selected six cities
specifically because they have had challenging relationships between law enforcement and the community. a shooting, violence between residents and law enforcement, and we're looking for communities that have found a way out. sometimes with the department help or even a could cut -- a consent degree. -- a consent decree. sometimes through close working relationships that they have set up. we're looking to highlight the ways in which they had been effective and use them as a model for communities across the nation who see these problems on the horizon or who are enmeshed in them themselves. i've been to cincinnati, birmingham, east haven connecticut. in cincinnati, i spoke with citizen public safety leaders from all backgrounds who talk about their collaboration as one that required constant engagement to transform the police department and it nation -- and its relationships with its citizens. cincinnati is now facing another challenge.
with a life lost just yesterday. our hope is that the relationships that have been forged will work together to produce an informed citizenry, a responsive police force, and an open and transparent process towards justice in that case. that is our hope there. in birmingham, carter from -- i heard from community members who praised police leadership and from young people whose new friendships with police officer's have possibly change their perceptions of those who wear the badge. just yesterday in east haven connecticut, a community still under a consent decree because of discriminatory fleecing -- policing toward the latino residents, we met with the victims in that case as well as the current police officers on the force. i heard those victims talk about not just the fear and suffering they used to endure, but the
respect they now receive from the police department. i heard them give concrete examples of how things have improved. i heard police officers talked about a cultural shift that they want to institutionalize. they do not want to go back. this is what we are trying to achieve and to get, to have happen in every community across this country. it takes the work of law enforcement, faith leaders, all community leaders as well as young people. but it can be done. i'll be continuing this tour in pittsburgh, seattle, richmond, california, and i looking forward to see how the collaborations in those jurisdictions have come up with are also working toward these goals. but this tour has highlighted one thing, which is the vital role that the legal profession has to play in advancing the
cause. we can make profound and lasting changes in the well-being of our neighborhoods, as well as the standing of our profession. organizations like national black prosecutors has always been at the forefront of this. we have embraced new leadership and new ideas and progressive ideas that focus on how do we make the system better? we have always worked to replace these assumptions with contemporary insights. i have police offer saying what they like best about their jobs is that years ago, it used to be about running around and arresting people now it is about solving problems. this is something that nbpa has championed for years, as part of its training efforts, and as part of its discussion that we have always had members of the law enforcement community. we can fulfill essential responsibility of prosecutors at
all levels throughout this nation, not only to apply the law but to do justice. i think that mission is meaningful for all of us here in this room today. as w.e.b. dubois said so eloquently about black experience in america one never feels his twoness, two souls two thoughts, two strivings, two warring ideals in one dark bodies and keeps it from being torn asunder. i think it is fair to say that those of us who have chosen law enforcement as a career feel that, too, probably most of all. -- we probably feel that two
-ness probably most of all. i have always believed that it is our presence within law enforcement that is vital, precisely because we understand the tensions that are inherent within a diverse community and we understand the value of diversity, the value of having all voices at the table. we recognize the struggles to make harmony from discord, but we know it can be done. and through our will and history and shared goals and experience and determination, we are determined to reconcile the two-ness of our own society, the greater world in which we live in and to bring our own strength to the challenges of our time. my friends, we have a responsibility, but we also have a wonderful opportunity to ensure that law enforcement officers serve as -- in every -- serve as partners and citizens in every community, no matter who the residents are. we have a duty to insist that the law is a to the values that
-- the law lives up to the enduring values that make this nation exceptional, not only in its word or intent, but in its execution. we know when we lose sight of that goal, we know that feels like, and we will never condemn another to feel that fate. we know that we have an obligation to extend our hand to those who have been let down and left behind in order to help build the more inclusive and more united and more just society that all americans deserve. we also know this work is difficult. it is always difficult. we note it is not easy, but it -- we know it is not easy, but it never has been. that has never stop a determined group of black prosecutors's from getting the job done. and in a country created by the people, for the people, it is incumbent on all of us to consider how we can bring our common society closer to the goals of its founding, how we can forge a more perfect union
that our founders promised, and how we can create the more beloved community that all of our generations have fought to build. i know that not only am i committed to this fight, but all of you are as well. i pledge to you the full resources of the department of justice in this ongoing struggle. as i look around at this group of people, friends, colleagues all keepers of the peace as you are, guardians of all of those who the law protects and empowers, i know that we will win. i know that we will achieve this goal, because i know this group. i know your strength, your determination, and i want to thank you once again for your leadership, for your history for your dedication to your promise. but in particular, i want to thank this group for reaching out to a young narcotics prosecutor out of rockland so -- brooklyn so many years ago first
heard about this group from sterling johnson. [applause] ms. lynch: i want to thank you for reaching out to that young prosecutor and always supporting her, no matter what she did, for always staying connected to her even when she left the halls of the department of justice. and i want to thank you not only for this award but for always being there throughout all of my endeavors. and i pledge to be there throughout all of yours. thank you again so much not just for this award, but for your help and support and love over the years. thank you again. [cheers and applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> live here on c-span, the canadian prime ministers debate.
starting at 8:00 eastern, the four major parties, kicking off the longest canadian campaign in election history. elections are october 19. you can tune in right here on c-span at a clock p.m. or on c-span radio. >> the c-span cities tour visit literary -- visits literary and historic sites across the nation. every other week and on c-span2's book tv and c-span3's american history tv. the city's tour is on each day at 6:00 p.m. eastern. >> welcome to fort lauderdale, florida, on american history tv. known as the venice