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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  October 30, 2015 12:00pm-2:01pm EDT

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effort to turn around our debt. on that the republican leader fights ferociously. but where are the promised fights against the obama agenda or anything? name one concession. and let's go back to the substance of this deal. one of the things this deal does is it utterly makes a mockery of the budget control act. it abrogates the caps, the budget caps. it wasn't too long ago that republican leadership was touting the budget control act as one of the greatest successes of republican leadership. indeed, when asked, why does it matter to have republicans in control, typically the answer would be, well, look at the budget control act. indeed, another quote from majority leader mitch mcconnell quo quoap politicians regularly come to washington promising fiscal responsibility. but too often they can't agree to cut spending when it counts.
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and that's why the budget control act is such a big deal. mind you, a big deal that right now the republican congress is abrogating. since congress passed the b.c.a. with overwhelming bipartisan majorities in 2011, washington has actually reduced the level of government spending for two years running. this is the first time that has happened since the korean war. leader mcconnell continued, the b.c.a. savings are such a big deal in fact that the president campaigned on it endlessly in 2012. and yet, the lone fiscal accomplishments supposedly of the republican majorities, this deal throws overboard. they didn't have much to point to but they had this one. we have the budget caps. guess what? we don't have those either. then there is the debt ceiling. you know, in 2011 then-minority
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leader mitch mcconnell talked about what the debt ceiling should be used for. thes a quote from an op-ed he wrote. what republicans want is simple. we want to cut spending now. do this is do this? no. we want to cap run-away spending in the future. does this do this? no. and we want to save our entitlements and our country from bankruptcy by requiring the nation to balance its budget. again, this does not do this. we want to get our economy growing again at a pace that will lead to significant job growth. well, surely there's some progrowth measures in this. no. that wasn't an isolated statement. earlier in 2011 leader mcconnell explained -- quote -- "no president in the near future, maybe in the distant future, is going to be able to
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get the debt ceiling increased without a reignition of the same discussion of how do we cut spending and get america ahead in the right direction?" that was four years ago. well, why is it that republican leadership is giving president obama trillions in more debt without any -- let's go back to leader mcconnell's words "reignition of the same discussion of how do we cut spending and get america headed in the right direction," a clear promise made to the american people. and this deal makes that promise a mockery. it makes it an utter mockery. instead republican leadership is taking the lead to remove the debt ceiling from barack obama. he will never have to worry about it again. you know, why do these matter?
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why do we have these fights? to understand why, you have to understand the dynamics of congress today. in congress today, there are essentially three types of spending limits. there are, number one, show votes. show votes is a particular favorite of leadership. show votes is anything, frankly, the men and women who elected us care about. we've had show votes on planned parenthood. we've had show votes on the iran nuclear deal. we've had show votes on amnesty. show votes are designed for all the republicans to vote one way, all the democrats to vote the other, and for us to lose. show votes are a game of political posturing. leadership is happy to give show votes. and, frankly, leadership is irked that the men and women who elected us are not satisfied with show votes anymore. you know, there was a time when
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politicians in washington could look down at our constituents and say they don't understand what's going on. we give them a show vote, they'll be satisfied with that. a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. the electorate has gotten much more sophisticated, much more informed with the advent of the internet, with the advent of social media, people can now tell a show vote. a vote that is designed to lose from day one, that is an exercise in political theater, in kabuki theater is not, in fact, honoring the commitments made to the men and women who elected us. there's a second type of legislation which is simply a collected spending bill that pays off the washington cartel, pays off the lobbyists and that can often get bipartisan agreement. if you're giving money to giant corporations, it is amazing how many democrats and republicans can come together to say, hey, these corporations write campaign checks. we're all for that.
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the pesky taxpayers, they don't know enough to fight against this. we can keep them in the dark, so let's keep robbing the single moms waiting tables to take her paycheck and give it to the giant corporation. mr. president, that stinks. you want to know why america's mad? that's it right there. the legalized looting that occurs in this city every day. but then there's a third type of vote and that is the must-pass legislation. i would note this year in the senate, there are a number of senate freshmen and senator leadership has done what senate leadership always done, which is wrap their arms around senate freshmen and bring them into the bosom. and one of the things i'm hoping senate freshmen observe firsthand, i have not been here much longer than the senate freshmen, but one of the things you quickly realize is the only fights that have any chance of actually changing law, the only
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fights that have any chance of actually changing policy are must-pass bills. if you want to do more than a show vote, if you want to actually fix a problem, if you want to actually address a wrong, you either fight on the must-pass votes or you do nothing. those are the choices. leadership knows that typically must-pass votes are one of three things. they are continuing resolutions. they are omnibus appropriation bills. or they are debt ceiling increases. if you look historically how has congress reigned in a recalcitrant president? it has been through continuing resolutions, omnibus appropriations or debt ceiling increases. if leadership foreswears using any of them, we will not use any must-pass legislation to do anything. well, you know what that means? that means the congress of the united states has become all but
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irrelevant. and that's what leadership has done. you know, it's all captured in one innocuous little statement. no shutdowns. that's what leadership has promised. we're going to have no shutdowns. now, listen, to most folks, that sounds like a very reasonable proposition. in the private sector, you generally don't shut a business down. saying we're not going to shut things down, that seems very commonsensical. but here's the problem. when you're dealing with zealots, when you're deal with idealogues and you tell them, if you do the following, i will surrender, if you tell them, if you say the word "zuccini" i will give in. we all know what will happen, immediately, they will begin saying, zuccini, zuccini, zuccini. that is washington today. republican leadership in both
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chambers has told president obama, we will never, ever, ever allow a shutdown. because lord knows the last time we had a shutdown, it resulted in us winning nine senate seats, taking control of the senate, retiring harry reid as majority leader and winning the largest majority in the house. and goodness gracious, we don't want that to happen again. well, once republican leadership tells obama, we will never, ever, ever allow a shutdown, then suddenly the president has a little furry rabbit's foot in his pocket. on any issue, any fight, any topic that comes up whatsoever. all the president has to do is whisper quietly in the wind, "shutdown." and republican leadership runs to the hills. it really is a wonderful negotiating tactic. why is this happening? because president obama whispered "shutdown." and leadership said, we surrender. if you are not willing to fight on any must-pass legislation, we
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will not win anything. you know, leadership responds, though, it's not reasonable. you cannot win, you can never win a fight on must-pass legislation. now, mr. president, the problem with that is history is to the contrary. you know, john adams famously said, facts are stubborn things. of the last 55 times congress has raised the debt ceiling, it has attached meaningful conditions to that 28 times. it has historically proven "the" most effective leverage congress has. so when leadership says, and, by the way, when press outlets echo leadership in saying, it's hopeless, nothing can be done, do not fight on thi these issue, they never seem to address the reality of history that's
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directly to the contrary. graham-rudman, one of the most significant spending restraints of modern times came on the debt ceiling. if congress wasn't willing to fight on the debt ceiling, you'd have no gramm-rudman. but yet, mr. president, leadership might respond, okay, fine. historically that was true but not with barack obama, not with harry reid. this current incarnation of democrats, they're too partisan, they're too extreme, they're too zealous, it will never work with them. the only problem is, that's not true either. indeed, what we are talking about right now, the budget control act, came from the debt ceiling. the newly elected republican house majority -- newly elected majority in the house of representatives used the debt ceiling to extract the budget control act from president obama, which until just recently, leadership hailed as their greatest fiscal success in
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modern times. now, why, mr. president, if the tool that yielded the greatest fiscal success was the debt ceiling, why would leadership say we'll never use it again? you know, it's like the san francisco 49ers of great saying we're never going to again allow joe montana to throw to jerry rice. that worked too well -- never again. if you discover a tool that works, who in their right mind would say, the tool that has proven most successful in reining in the president, we will take off the field forever? i don't know if anyone in their right mind would but that is, in fact, what congressional republican leadership has done. this debt ceiling is kicked down the road until the end of the obama presidency. now, i would note that when
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speaker boehner announced his resignation, on that day i predicted this outcome. on that day within minutes of speaker boehner announcing his resignation, i stated publicly what this means is that he has cut a deal with nancy pelosi to raise the debt ceiling and to fund the entirety of obama's agenda for the next two years. you know, it was interesting, mr. president, when i said that, there were those in the media who criticized me. oh, you don't know that. why are you so cynical? why would you say such a thing? i would say such a thing because i understand how the washington cartel it's not two parties but it is, in fact, one party, the party of washington. i mentioned that this deal took months to negotiate. we're seeing the fruits of it right here. this is exactly what i predicted the day john boehner resigned.
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why? because that then freed the speaker to pass this through the house of representatives. how many democrats do you think voted for this? i'll tell ya -- every single one of them, 100% of the house democrats who voted, voted for this. 79 republicans voted for it. a handful, a small minority of republicans. so how did this pass the house? with all the democrats, house leadership, and a handful of republicans. how is it likely to pass this body? every democrat will vote for it. republican leadership will vote for it and they'll get some of the republicans. that pattern, a lame-duck speaker of the house cutting a deal with a lame-duck president, to add $85 billion on our national debt and to give away any and all leverage for the remainder of the obama administration. because that's what this deal means.
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it's worth understanding. this deal means that republican majorities in both congress will extract nothing of significance from president obama. this deal means that republican leadership have fully surrendered. it's interesting, they call it clearing the decks. that's a uniquely washington term. you recall back in december, the trillion-dollar cromnibus bill, very first thing we did after winning majorities in both houses, was also called clearing the decks. boy, these decks need a lot of clearing. i've got to say, these chairs get rearranged like they're on the deck of the titanic and no one addresses the fact that the ship of the united states is headed towards the iceberg. $18 trillion in that the party of washington, the washington cartel, has created, is complicit in growing. the only people losing are our kids. and their kids. and the future of this country
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and the future of the free world. that's all that's being lost. but, hey, there are cocktail parties in washington this week. lobbyists are hosting them. they're writing checks. if we actually stood up to that, that would be difficult. there's a reason so many politicians talk about standing up to washington and yet so few actually do it. because it's far easier to take the path of least resistance. it's far easier to go along to get along. it's far easier simply to agree. to be agreeable. to get along. why can't you get along with the politicians that are bankrupting your children and my children? you know what? i don't make it a habit to acquiesce in people who are doing enormous damage to this country. that's what we're seeing. now, what could have been done
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instead? imagine a hypothetical, mr. president. imagine we just had republican leadership that wanted to fight on something, on anything. for pete's sake, at this point, i think most voters would take -- give me something that matters and fight on that, whatever it is. they're so frustrated. how can it be we won majorities in both houses and there is nothing, nothing, nothing that matters to the people that you're willing to fight on? now, do i think the continuing resolution or the debt ceiling could have magically transformed this country? do i think we could have done fundamental, wholesale reforms? probably not. that would have taken truly inspired leadership and that may be asking too much. but is the alternative, if we couldn't have solved every problem, is the alternative really that we could have solved
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nothing? is the alternative really we had to give obama everything and do nothing to fix the problems? let me suggest seven things this deal could have included. number one, how about the default prevention act? it's legislation pat toomey has introduced. he also calls it the full faith and credit act. you know, every time we have a debt ceiling fight, the democrats scare monger. they say, if you don't raise the debt ceiling, america will default on its debt. now, let us be clear. that is a blatant lie. they know it's a lie. i'll note when barack obama was senator obama, he voted against george w. bush raising the debt ceiling. he said it was unpatriotic to raise the debt ceiling. that's when the debt was about half of what it is now. everyone who votes here later tonight, you should remember
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that senator obama said, if you're voting to raise this debt ceiling, what you're doing is unpatriotic. those are the words of a young barack obama. but the reason it is a lie, every month's federal revenue is about $200 billion. interest on the debt runs between $30 billion and $40 billion a month, which means in any given month, there are ample revenues to service the debt. no responsible president would ever allow a default on the de debt. and, indeed, what a responsible president should do is stand up at the very outset and say let me be clear, under no circumstances will the united states ever, ever, ever default on its debt. that's what a responsible president would do. sadly, that means that's not what president obama's done. instead, what he does consistently when we approach a debt ceiling is he threatens we will default on the debt if you don't give me a blank credit card. so what is the default
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prevention act do? it says in the event that the debt ceiling is not raised, we will always, always, always service our debt, that we will never, ever, ever default on the debt. i recognize there are some skilled demagogues in washington but, mr. president, how exactly does the democratic party demagogue republicans for risking a default on the debt in order to pass legislation preventing defaults on the debt? that's some slick talking. but you know what? the republican leadership didn't want to do that because if we did that, the next debt ceiling conservatives would expect us, okay, now let's use this leverage to fight for something, and they don't want to fight for something. the democratic scare mongering is useful because they are working to meet the same priorities. if you pass the default prevention act, then suddenly
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some spines might stiffen and people might be prepared to fight. and that is a nightmare to leadership, that we would actually fight. so no, no, no, we will not attach the default prevention act. how about another one? shutdowns? you would think senator rob portman has legislation prohibiting government shutdowns. you would think for republican leadership that has made one promise carved in stone, we will never, ever, ever allow a shutdown, if there were anything on earth to attach to this deal, it would be that. senator portman's legislation says in the event a continuing resolution isn't passed, in the event appropriations expire, funding will continue but it will gradually ratchet down slowly over time. we pass that bill, there will never ever, ever be a government shutdown. now, gosh, if i listened to the rhetoric of leadership, i would think they would want to pass that bill. why is it in this? the answer is simple.
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because if it was in this, members of this body would actually expect us to stand up and fight for something. instead leadership wants to be able to tell the freshmen, the new members of of the senate a shutdown is terrible. it's the worst thing in the world. so we can't fight for anything. so you must acquiesce in anything obama wants. if we actually passed legislation prohibiting shutdowns, that scare mongering would be taken off the table. democrats don't want that. because democrats support shutdowns. you look at the last shutdown over obamacare. revisionist history aside because the media loves doing revisionist history, republicans voted over and over and over again to fund the government, and it was harry reid and barack obama that shut the government down. now reporters scoff at that when they hear it, without ever acknowledging that harry reid
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very publicly said we think shutdowns help democrats politically. why is it a difficult proposition that if the leader of the democratic party says we think a shutdown is politically beneficial, why is it difficult to understand that they are the one forcing a shutdown? the last thing democrats want to take shutdowns off the table. but the dirty little secret, the mendacity in this body is republican leadership doesn't want that either. they don't want us standing and resisting anything because it's not two parties. it is one. what else could we have done? how about growth? you remember mitch mcconnell's comments about economic growth? why doesn't this bill have a provision lifting the ban on crude oil exports? that would produce economic growth across this country. it is a no-brainer economically. is this in there? no. did we try? no. maybe it was brought up behind
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closed doors and the democrats laughed and said, no, and we surrendered. i don't know. it doesn't matter, because leadership is not willing to fight for it. if you're not willing to fight for it, it won't happen. what else could we have done? we could have repealed the waters of the united states rule, one of the most crushing rules that is hammering farmers and ranchers that poses an immense threat to jobs across this country. by the way, you've even got some bipartisan opposition to it in this body. but fear not, mr. president, next week we've got a show vote on the waters of the united states bill scheduled. leadership is very happy, we'll have a show vote, we'll get to vote. it will fail. every farmer and rarchler that is face -- rancher that is facing hundreds and thousands of dollars in cost because of this rule should rest assured our show vote will allow us to pretend to be with them. why not attach to this a provision rescinding the waters of the united states? because that actually would prompt a fight.
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how about another option on the spekd side. how about putting in a work requirement for welfare. in the mid-1990's welfare reform, one of the most successful public policy reforms of modern times moved millions of people off of welfare into work, out of poverty and into the middle class. lifted their spirits, their hopes, their dreams, provided the dignity of work, provided children with homes that were more stable, had more future, more opportunity. we could have added to that to that. is that here? no. why? because president obama would fight it. because it is contrary to his big-government agenda to expect anyone receiving welfare to work or look for work. and by the way, let me say as an aside, you are not helping anyone when you make them dependent on government. you're not doing them a favor when you sap them of the dignity
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and self-respect of going to work. arthur brooks has a wonderful new book out. one of the things he talks about is the happiness that comes from going to work and working hard. the dignity that comes from looking your kids in the eyes and having a job. the democrats are not helping the people they trap in dependency. they are hurting them profoundly. i said many times when my dad was a teenage immigrant in the 1950's washing dishes making 50 cents an hour when he couldn't speak english, thank god some well-meaning liberal didn't wrap his arms around him saying let me give you a check, let me sap your dig knit and self- -- dignity and self respect. one of the most self-p destructive thing you could have done to my father. what about adding a provision of internet tax freedom permanent. the internet will be tax free in
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perpetuity. i tried to by that up numerous times. the democrats routinely can be expected to block it. why? because they want to threaten taxing the internet. ain't nothing politicians like more than to get their little grubby hands on our dollar and freedom. are republicans really that lousy at political battle that we fear the president would shut the government down, blame us and we would collapse in ignimity because we fought for internet tax freedom? if we're that bad at this, why are we doing this? one other option, how about auditing the federal reserve? something else that has bipartisan support, something else that would address the effects of debasing the concurrence. one of-- currency. one of the effects of debasing
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the currency are seniors, people struggling living paycheck to paycheck. single moms are seeing it harder and harder to make ends meet. those are seven things we could have added to this. and, by the way, i would note when leadership says, gosh, you're being unrealistic to expect us to fight, i didn't say any one of those is a must have. i gave a choice of seven. is it really the case, mr. president, that we could have fought for nothing? is that really the case? that's what leadership tells us. no, nothing parole growth, nothing limit -- no progrowth, nothing limiting spending, nothing addressing any of the promise we make. that's the position of leadership. i ask my republican colleagues to name one thing president obama is unhappy with regard this deal. there is an old line, if it's a
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good negotiation, both sides are unhappy, both sides will have given something. name one thing president obama is unhappy with. what did we get in return? name one thing. the answers to both questions are exactly the same: nothing. the fact is president obama's already told us what he thinks of this deal. just this week he stated -- quote -- "i'm pretty happy about the budget deals because it reflects our values." whose values are those? he's right. this budget deal reflects the obama values. and who negotiated this budget deal? that would be republican leadership. what does it say, mr. president, that republican leadership's budget deal gives president obama everything he wants because it reflects obama's values? this is why the american people are so frustrated.
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we keep winning elections and nothing changes. in 2009 we were told if only you had a republican majority in the house of representatives, then things would be different. we rose up, millions of us in 2010. won a majority, and very little changed. then we were told the problem was the senate. harry reid in the senate, if only we had a republican majority in the senate, then things would be different. 2014, millions of americans rose up again, won another historic tidal warfare victory, won nine senate s we retired harry reid as majority leader. can you point to one single accomplishment? government has given to the minute women who elected us? we made accomplishments.
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i noticed as ags freshman was how long leadership would pat you on the head and what you son, that is tell the people back home. we don't actually do it. to your district, convene a town hall meeting, set up a white board and just ask your constituents what should be the top priorities of republican majorities in both houses of congress? and make a list. if you make a list of 20 things from your constituents, yours in nebraska, mine in texas, i guarantee you of those 20 things at least 18 of them will be nowhere on leadership's priorities. they simply are not what majorities are endeavoring to do. the second thing i suggested to the house republicans is i said go down to k street. assemble the biggest lobbyists in washington. take out that same white board, what are your top priorities. write a list of 20 things.
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18 of them will be leadership's top priorities. that is the divide. people ask me, is it that leadership is unwilling to fight? is it that they're not very good? do they not know how to fight? sadly it's worse than that. they know how to fight. they're actually quite capable of it. and they are willing to fight. it's who they are fighting for. washington is working. it's just not working for the american people. it's working for the giant corporations. it's working for the lobbyists. it's working for the rich and powerful. six of the ten wealthiest counties in america are in and around washington, d.c. that's who the washington cartel works for. that's the basic divide. and indeed as we look back over the last ten months, one is left with the conclusion that is a rather shocking conclusion, which is that majority leader
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mcconnell has proven to be the most effective democratic leader in modern times. that is in the parlance of washington a surprising statement. but let's take a moment to review the statistics. between january and september 30 of this year there have been a total of 269 roll call votes. in the same time period, in the prior congress under harry reid, there were 211 roll call votes. let's look at the differences, and in particular i want to focus on the total number of times a majority of democrats voted aye, a majority of republicans voted no, and the measure passed. now, if someone is an effective democratic leader, you would expect them to be able to pass
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legislation when a majority of democrats supported it and a majority of republicans opposed it. if you're a partisan democrat that would be almost the definition of an effective democratic leader. 19 times in the last nienl months this so so-called republican majority has passed legislation, has had a vote succeed where a majority of democrats supported it and a majority of republicans opposed it. one example: we can look to is the d.h.s. funding, funding for the department of homeland security. when president obama issued his lawless and unconstitutional executive amnesty. you know, republicans across the country campaigned promising to stop it. you and i campaigned together in your home state of nebraska. i spent two months in the year
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2014 campaigning with republican senate candidates all over this country. i think in those two months before that election i slept in my own bed about five days. over and over again republicans senate candidates said if you give us a majority in the senate, we will stop this unconstitutional amnesty. i have to tell you, i shared with republican leadership how about we honor that commitment. the response from leadership was i didn't say that. i can tell you senate candidates across this country did because i was standing next to them when they said it. what happened when we voted? when we voted for it, all 45 democrats voted aye. 100% of them. that's impressive for a leader to get 100% unanimity among his party. but notice i said "his party." there's a reason i said right now, sadly majority leader mitch mcconnell is the most effective democratic leader we've seen in modern times. 100% of the democrats are
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united. how about republicans. well, 31 voted "no" and 23 voted "yes." so under this majority leader, the democrats had their way and a majority of republicans lost. well, surely that's an outlier. yes, the president was behaving lawlessly. yes, he was behaving unconstitutionally. yes, indeed, he was behaving in his own terms like an emperor. and let me note, calling a president an emperor, that's -- that's fairly overheated rhetoric but it's not my rhetoric. it is president obama's. president obama was asked by activists, could he decree amnesty unilaterally and he sa said, i don't have the constitutional authority to do so. i am not an emperor. those are barack obama's words. i am not an emperor. then just months later, magically that same power he said he didn't have under the constitution, just months before presidential elections
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materialized. suddenly the man who said, "i am not an emperor," apparently became an emperor in his own assessment. and yet what did the republican majority in the senate do? it joined with 100% of the democrats to overrule a majority of the republicans in funding president obama's lawless amnesty acting as an emperor. you know, you and i both sat through a republican lunch a couple of weeks ago where our colleagues were quite puzzled why approval of the republican majority is at such low levels. they couldn't understand why right now republicans in congress have 10% lower approval rating than we had in the middle of the shutdown. they were utterly befuddled by. this i'm going to suggest a very easy reason. when our leader acts like an effective democratic leader, the people who elected us, their heads explode. but, surely, you might say, this is an isolated example. well, let's look at the next example.
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not that. that's not the next example. they were in a different order. yet another example, the bennett climate change amendment -- the bennet climate change amendment. a climate change amendment saying it's real, it's manmade, it's a national security threat and we need to act to stop it. now, listen, let me say something. on global warming, i am the son of two mathematicians and scientists. i believe we should be driven by the science and evidence. sadly, the far left is not interested in science or evidence. they're interested in politics and political power. so when it comes to global warming, they do not want to confront the inconvenient truth, as al gore might put it. that the satellite data demonstrate there's been no significant warming whatsoever for 18 years. they get very angry when you point that out. well, we had an amendment on that. how many democrats voted for it?
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oh, look, again, 46, 100%. every single democrat. how many republicans voted against it? 47. and just seven republicans. and yet it passed. now, that is an impressive victory for a democratic leader. you've just got 46 democrats. for a democratic leader to get a win with just 46 democrats, that's impressive. that's what current majority leader did. produced a win, ran over the wishes of 47 republicans. let's use another example. the motion to waive the budget rules on h.r. 2. now, this was the so-called doc fix. now, the doc fix, it's been a
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perennial challenge in congress. part of medicare that assumed unreasonable cuts in doctor reimbursement rates. now, for a time, it served a purpose, it actually allowed washington politicians to shake down the doctors election after election after election to write checks. so for a time, the washington cartel liked the doc fix but it came a time to get rid of it, and getting rid of it was a good thing. here's the problem. when we got rid of it, we didn't pay for it. we just put it on a credit card. we didn't actually do the hard work of finding spending cuts. we didn't do the hard work of figuring out how to pay for it. we just said, more debt. well, but at least it's not that much more debt. well, unfortunately it is. this so-called doc fix will spend more than $200 billion and add more than $140 billion to our deficits over the first 10 years and more than $500 billion to our nation's deficits over 20 years.
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$500 billion. look, even in the world of washington, $500 billion is real money. $500 billion. but surely it is unreasonable to expect anyone to figure out thousand pay for a doc fix. well, you know, it's interesting, since 2004, congress has passed periodic doc fixes. and since 2004, doc fixes have been fully offset 94% of the time. 98% of the time if you count some of the budget gimmicks. if you count the gimmicks, 98% of the time. just this time, $500 billion, no, we're not going to offset that. we're just going to put it on the credit card. after all, obama has a diamond-encrusted glow-in-the-dark emex. we'll put it on that and the bill goes to your kids and my kids. now, what does that irresponsible profligate spending do? how many democrats voted for it. well, there's a surprise, every
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single one of them. 46 democrats. and yet republicans, 29 republicans vote "no,," $25 "yes." now, for a democratic leader, what a great victory. a democratic leader with just 46 democrats added $500 billion in spending without paying for it? holy cow. i don't recall harry reid ever being able to campaign saying give me a democratic majority, i'll add $500 billion in spending without paying for it. this is an accomplishment. the prior democratic leader harry reid was not able to achieve. and yet the current majority leader got this win for the democrats. let's look at the next example. confirmation of the attorney general, loretta lynch. now, i serve on the judiciary committee. i participated in multiple hearings where miss lynch over and over again refused to
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acknowledge any limits on president obama's authority whatsoever. when miss lynch was asked how she would differ from eric holder, who's been the most lawless and partisan attorney general this nation has ever seen, she said, no way whatsoever. when pressed repeatedly if she could articulate even a single limit on the authority of this president, who has since implicitly declared himself an emperor, she refused to articulate even a single limit. when asked if she would appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate the i.r.s. for wrongfully targeting citizens because of their free speech, because of their political view, when richard nixon tried to do it, the career professionals at the i.r.s. refused. richard nixon was rightly denounced in bipartisan terms for attempting to use the i.r.s. to target his political enemies. when the obama administration
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not only attempted but succeeded in doing so, no one has been held to account. instead, the holder justice department appointed in charge of the investigation a major democratic donor who's given over $6,000 to president obama and the democrats. you know, there's a yiddish word for that, chutzpah. when you appoint a major obama donor to be in charge of the investigation as to whether the obama administration is targeting the political opponents of the president, measure rackless -- measure mir, miraculous, everyone was exonerated. mistakes were made, we're told. it was rather classic, they used the same passive tense, passive voice that in the watergate scandal, mistakes were made. yes, mistakes were made. well, miss lynch told us, no, she would not appoint a special
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prosecutor. now, a number of members of this body, a number of republicans voted to confirm eric holder. that may or may not have been a mistake. i was not here at that time. i did not have the opportunity to examine his record prior to his being appointed attorney general. i can understand those who voted "yes." prior to becoming attorney general, eric holder had built a reputation, by and large, as a law-and-order prosecutor. and so you could understand senators who would believe that his tenure as u.s. attorney, his tenure as deputy attorney general might suggest he would not be partisan and lawless. with miss lynch, it was qualitatively different. with miss lynch, she told us she would do the very same thing. i suspect there are quite a few people on this side of the aisle have given speeches about the i.r.s. targeting. no one should be surprised the department of justice has now exonerated everyone, because you know what? we confirmed the attorney general who basically told us
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she would do that. and i would note, by the way, the majority leader had complete and unilateral authority. if we hadn't taken up this nomination, she would not have been confirmed. indeed, when president obama put in place his illegal executive amnesty, i publicly called on the soon-to-be majority leader, if the president violates the checks and balances in the constitution, if the president usurps the authority of congre congress, if the president ignores our immigration laws, then the majority leader should have responded and said the senate will not confirm any obama nominees, executive or judicial, other than vital national security positions, unless and until the president rescinds his illegal amnesty. now, that would have been strong medicine, to be sure. that's a serious pushback. it happens to be an authority directly given to the congress by the constitution as a check and balance. how do you get an imperial presidency? you get an imperial presidency
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when the other pranches of the government lay -- branches of the government lay down and hand over their authority. nothing prevented the majority leader from doing so other than that violates the norms of the washington cartel. and so instead, it was the majority leader who brought this up for a vote. and what happened? you know, sadly there's no drama or suspense anymore in look to what happened. with the democrats, all 46 democrats voted to confirm loretta lynch. all 46. 34 republicans voted "no." and yet she's confirmed. and the lawlessness continues at the department of justice. now, i've got to say, for a democratic leader, it's not clear to me harry reid could have gotten this done. harry reid in charge of this floor with just 46 democrats, it's not clear to me at all he could have gotten this done. but i've got to say, leader
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mcconnell has proven to be a very effective democratic lead leader. with just 46 democrats, the outcome is exactly what harry reid and the democrats would want. mr. president, is this not a curious state of affairs? why is a republican majority leader fighting to accomplish the priorities of the democratic minority? we'll look at one other example. the export-import bank. now, president obama, when he was senator obama, described this as a classic example of corporate welfare. over a hundred billion dollars in taxpayer-funded loan guarantees going to a handful of giant corporations, predominantly. and yet, as we talked about before, if there's one thing the washington cartel is good at, it's corporate welfare. the export-import bank, how many democrats? well, here's a shock, only 42
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democrats. not 100%. you had one, i believe it was bernie sanders. i will commend senator sanders for standing up against this corporate welfare. on that, he and i are on the exactly the same page. and yet 42 democrats, just 22 republicans in favor of this corporate welfare. 28 republicans voted "no." and yet what happens? it passes. now, it's not at all clear that harry reid as democratic leader with just 42 democrats, it's not at all clear he could have gotten this. but leader mcconnell once again is a very, very effective democratic leader. and i would note one of speaker boehner's parting farewells was to tee up the export-import bank in the house of representatives. it expired this summer. you know, we talked before about how the budget control act was
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one of the few victories republican majorities could point to. you know, actually the expiration of the ex-im bank is another one, an example of over a hundred billion dollars in taxpayer loan guarantees to a handful of giant corporations and it expired. what does it say that in a period of two weeks republican majorities in both houses are working to undo not one, but both of the only two meaningful victories the republican majorities have produced? and mind you, for the same reason. because the cartel demands it, because the giant corporations want it, and because they want checks. what does that say? what does that say indeed? well, if you want to know what it says, we can look to the previous democratic leader, harry reid. who tweeted out, "i commend
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senate majority leader for setting up a vote to authorize the export-import bank. this bill is critically important for u.s. businesses." set aside how rich it is for the democrats to be claiming to be fighting for u.s. businesses. any time they say that, what they mean is cronies. because when washington particularly under the obama administration fights for u.s. businesses, it is giant corporations and not the little guy. over and over and over again it is those who employ armies of lobbyists and lawyers and accountants that get favors from washington. because when washington is handing out favors, it empowers politicians. iran wrote in atlas about how productive members of society, business members would be forced to go to parasitical politicians although some might suggest that is a redundant phrase, to go to parasitical politicians on bended knee begging for special
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dispensations. when you're standing for business, it means giant corporations that pay little to no taxes because they have tax loopholes carved in. it never means the mom and pop. it never means the little guy. it never means the sabina lovings of the world. who is sabina loving? sabina loving is a woman who testified before the senate in a hearing i will chaired a couple of weeks ago. sabina loving is an african-american woman, a single mom who started a small tax preparation company in the south side of chicago. the obama i.r.s. put in place new rules regulating tax preparation authorities, rules for which they had no legal authority. in fact, they used a statute called the dead horse act as their justification for regulating tax preparers. the obama i.r.s. regulation exempted lawyers. it exempted high-priced
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accountants. it exempted the rich and powerful. the giant accounting firms, they didn't have to worry about it at you will a. but ms. loving who started this business on the south side of chicago, she was facing thousands in costs, costs she felt could drive her out of business. ms. loving sued the i.r.s. and ms. loving won. you want an heroic, incredible story of a single mom standing up against big government and the lawless regulations of the >> and we will leave this here and go live to today's white house briefing. here is spokesman josh earnest. secretary ernest: good morning. before we begin, let me begin with a short readout. the president met by phone to discuss the security situation in iraq against isil. the president commended recent
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progress forces have made and ined that the united states partnership with the iraqi government will intensify support in these efforts. he also commended prime minister in reforms.adership the two leaders in for size to that both the united states and iraq are fully committed to partnering with the international community to degrade and ultimately destroy isil. recommended the strategic partnership between the united states and iraq. this is part of the discussion -- part of this discussion was some of the efforts that the united states will begin to undertake to intensify those elements of the u.s. strategy and the coalition strategy
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against isil. i know there has been reporting on this already today. i think that will be the subject of some discussion with all of you today. kathleen, you can get started on whatever topic you would like. kathleen: i think we will stay there. there are 50 troops -- there are initial reactions calling this a band-aid on a gaping wound. what do you think this will accomplish? i certainlynest: would not underestimate the capability and the capacity of our u.s. special operations forces to be an important for his multiply or anywhere around the world they are deployed. the president does expect they can have an impact in intensifying our strategy for building the capacity inside the syria, taking the fight to isolate inside their own country
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. that has been the core element of our military strategy from the beginning. building the capacity of forces on the ground. that was the call that the president just completed with prime minister abadi, that u.s. and coalition partners have worked effectively with the central government of iraq. they have command and control of security forces in the country and because of training and advisement that the united states and coalition partners have been able to offer, we have been able to build up the capacity of forces on the battlefield in iraq. the situation in syria is quite different. the has lost legitimacy to lead back country for a variety of reasons. the use the military of that country to attack innocent civilians. the united states and coalition partners have been focused on ending the capacity of moderate thesition -- on aiding
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capacity of moderate opposition forces. there are number of ways that we have offered assistance to those forces. some of those have included carrying out military airstrikes in support of operations on the ground. in some cases, they have been enhanced through decisions the president has made to resupply them, offering them military equipment, and ammunition they have used, to effectively make progress against isil. when it comes to northern syria in particular, we have seen moderate opposition forces inside of syria who have driven isil out of kobani. you will recall that some of these opposition forces were under siege in kobani after being resupplied by the united states military. these forces did not just drive .he united states there is now a border between turkey and syria.
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that border is now secure. also, these opposition forces -- there hasress been important progress made in this area. and we have indicated the president is prepared to and they those elements progress they've made would not have been possible without our support. we also have made movements to scale back our investment imports of the strategy that have not made progress. there were discussions about a
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program that was not yielding the kind of results we would like and the president announced a significant change to our strategy. that was a long answer, but i just want to give you the full of this latest decision the president has made to intensify this element of our strategy. you think that this will have in impact? doesn't sounds like you are telling us -- [indiscernible] secretary ernest: no, i think you are astute to make that observation. i think the president has been quite clear that there is no military solution to the andlems plaguing iraq syria. there is a diplomatic one. the president has put in place and multifaceted strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy i fell and the military component of that strategy is an important part of the president's top safetyies, which is the
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and security of the american public. because of that strategy, we have taken extremist's off the battlefield in syria who were hoping to use a safe haven inside syria to attack the united states and our interest. so, we know we need a political syria in orderde to address the root causes to assimilate the problems we have inside syria. this problems range from hundreds of thousands of syrians thehave lost their lives in civil war. millions of syrians who have had to flee their homes to escape violence. some of the syrians have unfortunately died trying to flee their country. it is a tragedy. human --erms of the both in terms of the human toll it has had on his people.
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countries like turkey, lebanon, and jordan -- hundreds of thousands, if not millions of syrians have sought refuge in each of their countries. this is a significant problem. we can take military action to provide for the safety and security of the american people, but the root cause of all of these problems will only be addressed through the kind of political transition the united states believes is long overdue. >> [indiscernible] we have heard that the president has authorized fewer than 50 special operations forces. how many exactly? can you tell us the exact number of forces going into northern syria? secretary ernest: the less than 50 number is accurate. i cannot be more specific than that, primarily for reasons
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related to operational security. there are number of details about this decision i am not in a position to discuss in this public setting, primarily to ensure that our special operators can do their work is safely as possible. acknowledging that this is a very dangerous region of the world. reporter: you mentioned the call between the president and prime minister a body. -- prime minister a body. is there any talk of intensifying support through u.s. troops? not have ernest: i do any announcements along those lines to make here today. but we have already found that pairing some u.s. forces, including special operations personnel, with iraqi security trade in a strictly
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advisement role has been effective in enhancing the effectiveness of those iraqi security forces to make progress against isil. alongt have anything those lines to announce today, but i certainly would not rule out that something like that itld be a possibility if continues to be an element of our strategy that shows promise. is there a reason why the president is not publicly speaking about this move today? is it because it seems to be relatively small maneuver? [indiscernible] icretary ernest: i think would answer that question in a couple ways. first, you have heard the president on many occasions discuss our strategy in syria. the fact is, our strategy in syria has not changed. the core of our military strategy inside of syria is to build up the capacity of local forces. there are variety of ways that
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the united states and our coalition forces can offer support, whether it is conductingthem or airstrikes in support of their operations on the ground, and the president did offer to increase that support with a small group of american military is knelt to offer advice and assistance on the ground as they take the fight to isil. this is an intensification of the strategy the president announced a year ago and he has discussed it with all of you on many occasions and i suspect he will discuss it with all of you again in the future. at justin? behind --want to get [indiscernible] reasons.t for 2 the president has laid down the ground marked that he would not send combat troops into syria. i'm wondering why this does not
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qualify under that definition. also, i wonder if you could flesh out what exactly they are doing? secretary ernest: on the last question it will be hard for me to offer many specifics. primarily because there are some operational security issues that need to be protected. .here may be more details from here, i can't be more specific. those operation forces will be in and they will be offering support to moderate opposition forces in syria right now. as relates to their mission, this is important for the american people to understand -- these forces do not have a combat mission. bush orderedident a large scale, long-term combat
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mission in iraq. that is something that barack as a senator in illinois spoke out against. he disagreed with that decision. he did not at that point believe it would serve the interest of the country to impose a military solution on the problems inside of the iraq, and president barack obama has that same view. he does not believe that military option is in our best interest and he does not believe that that is something we should do again. that is why our special syriaions forces inside have a very different mission. that mission is to build the capacity of local forces so they can be even more effective than they have already been taking the fight to isil.
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justin: [indiscernible] i'm trying to figure out how we can measure that point. secretary ernest: what i am trying to do is be as specific as possible with you about the responsibilities these operation personnel have. this is not in any way an attempt to diminish the risk they will face or the bravery they will need to summon to carry out these operations. .his is dangerous and they are at risk. and there's no denying that. and once again that is a reason for us to remember the significant sacrifices our men
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and women in the military make for our safety and security and aware of more keenly that than the commander-in-chief. at the same time, the responsibilities they have there are different. i think if you were envisioning a combat operation, we probably would be contemplating more than 50 troops on the ground. but because the responsibility is not to leave the charge to take a hill, but assistance tor local forces to take the fight to isil or to take the hill inside of syria, that is the role they will be playing. again, it still means they are in a dangerous situation. it still means a will have all of the equipment they need to protect themselves if necessary. i am confident that the department of defense has contingency plans in face -- in place to make it as safe as
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possible for forces to operate there. but i do not want to diminish the significance of the risks they are taking in pursuit of the subject of the president has a dinner five. -- has identified. reporter: [indiscernible] secretary ernest: when congress agreed to pass the continuing ,esolution back in september the role along was to reach agreement among these broader cap about a month in advance of the september 11 deadline to give negotiators time to .egotiate that goal has been met. congress will have more than a put together
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appropriations bills against the december 11 deadline. thatased on the timeline congress has described they would meet, we met that timeline and they should have time based on their own descriptions to put together legislation. we are hopeful though that this progress will not get bogged down through attempts by members ideologicalto add writers that are completely unrelated to these funding bills. that is something that we have seen republicans be tempted to do in the past. they will not do that in a way that derails progress. reporter: [indiscernible] "i will not put american boots on the ground in syria." today, isannouncement he effectively breaking that promise to be met people? secretary ernest: the president
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was receiving questions about what the united states was prepared to do, given our insistence that president assad had to go. the president was a human point he was not prepared to put boots -- was making the point he was not prepared to put boots on the ground for regime change. that was precisely the mistake that the previous administration made. that did not serve the interests of the united states. in some ways we are still paying the price for that mistake. the quote that you pulled there is a very different situation. [indiscernible] secretary ernest: you read one quote, which, to be fair, is out of context. the situation is a description rolee kind of royal --
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they will have in the campaign. reporter: [indiscernible] he specifically said that. the would not be part of strategy. secretary ernest: you read to me a quote from 2013 that was a direct response to a question about what we were prepared to regime.sure the assad the fact is the president said we are not going to implement a military strategy to take down this jar al-assad -- bashar al-assad. we want to build up the capacities of local forces. that is the strategy the president has been focused on here. the president has been quite consider ahe did not
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long-term combat operation. that is our strategy today. reporter: you knowledge they could wind up in a combat role. how is that not a change in strategy? secretary ernest: because our strategy has been to build against isil and our efforts to conduct airstrikes in advance of the ground operations and in coordination with ground operations has been a important on the battlefield. that element of the strategy has yielded progress, and so the president wants to intensify that assistance we are providing and one way to intensify that assistance is to pair them up with experts, some of the smartest, bravest, most
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effective fighters in the united states military and that's exactly what we're doing and i do expect that will improve their performance on the battlefield. reporter: but their lives could be at risk. secretary ernest: there is no denying the amount of risk that they will be taking on here. they will be equipped to defend themselves if necessary. i am confident that the department of defense has measures to protect themselves. it's a good reminder of the appropriate measures we need to have for men and women in uniform. reporter: one more questions. does the president have the authority to put u.s. forces in when they are not authorized, making the point that -- [indiscernible] secretary ernest: that is a great question. here's the answer to it. 2001nswer is congress in
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did give the executive branch authorization to take this action and there's no debating that. has said hesident would welcome is congress passing an authorization to use the terry force. to be more -- use military force. it would not just be the president taking that case. the administration wrote the bill for them. we wrote our own legislation or the counter isil campaign. we did not step there. -- we did not stop there. securitydent sent top advisers to congress to testify under oath, in open hearings to inlain to congress what was legislation and why they should pass it. after all of those efforts, the president saying he would welcome congress's voice in this written theng
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legislation, sending his secretary of state, the secretary of defense, and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff to testify before congress, and what has congress done? nothing. i don't know when congress is going to meet again. they often take fridays off and mondays off. so maybe on tuesday they cannot a meeting in a discussion about what should be on their agenda. i've got an idea about what should be at the top of it. this fewer than 50 and no more? secretary ernest: the decision the president has made is to add these special operations forces to build up capacity in syria, will involve fewer than 50 special operations personnel. reporter: there won't be any escalations beyond that. is that what you're saying? secretary ernest: the decision the president has made is to send fewer than 50 special operations forces to syria to offer training, advice, and assistance to forces on the ground against ifo.
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reporter: it's possible there could be further diplomas -- deployments? secretary ernest: jim, i don't want to predict the future. have shown an effort to behindfy the strategy those elements that have shown the most promise. this is shown promise. this is a further intensification of those efforts. reporter: you said the special forces will be doing advising, training, assisting. to the other question, you said i cannot get into the specifics for operational security reasons. so, which is it? i they going to be involved in some way in syria potentially? the role ernest: jim, they will have will be to offer training, advice, assistance to syria takings in the fight to isolate and their own country. that is the responsibility they
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have. that is the commander-in-chief has given them. on the operational bases on terms of where they are going to be operating, with whom exactly they are going to be partnering, where the first mission will take place? i think for pretty of reasons those are not details we can get into in public. -- pretty obvious reasons those are not details we can get into in public. jim: [indiscernible] i want to save we can have a moment of clarity here. secretary ernest: that's the reason i am here. this is a basic question. a question the american people have. this president, this white house, the officials at this way , over house repeatedly and again, made it clear there would be no u.s. combat troops fighting isis. that appears to be changing. not only this announcement you're talking about today, which you say there will not be a combat role, but you are not ruling out they might be involved in some sort of combat
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operation -- but you have pentagon officials this week saying we are in combat. so, it would be great if we just had a moment of clarity and you could acknowledge that, yes, this mission is changing. it's not what it was said it was going to be at the outset. to say thatnest: would only confuse the situation. the fact of the matter is, the given thein-chief has military personnel in iraq and syria a train, advise, and this mission. we have gone to great lengths to make clear that that i no means diminishes the amount of risk that our men and women in uniform will be facing. we also have been quite clear that there have been situations where combat boots have been on the ground inside syria. we have been quite candid about that. the president put boots on the ground to rescue hostages kept by isil.
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that happened more than a year ago. earlier this year, the president issued special operations personnel to conduct a raid against a high-value isil target inside syria. that raid was successful in taking that issa leader of the battlefield and recovering significant troves of intelligence. the department of defense has had contingency plans in place for search and rescue operations. fortunately, the united states is not been in a situation in which one of our pilots has been shot down or crashed in the skies over syria, despite the fact that they have conducted thousands of flights over syria. this is a testament to the professionalism of our armed forces. but there were contingency plans for search and rescue that would have been u.s. military treats on the ground to potentially rescue american military pilots. we have been forthright about this rid this is not the first time we are discussing this information. in fact, we discussed this at
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some length. the desire here is to be a specific and clear as possible about what it is they are doing. their mission is to train -- are you denying that at the onset of the military operation against isis, the impression was given to the american people that there would not be -- i think there are potential double negatives in their. theimpression was given to mayor can people there would not be a combat mission. it now appears that there will be occasions from time to time where there will be a combat element. so, you are saying that's not the case? i'metary ernest: what saying is the impression that the president led to great lengths to leave with the american people -- the president one a national address september 10, 20 14 and the president did go to great links to make it clear that our counter isil strategy in iraq and syria would be substantially
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different great a difference in night and day between the strategy president obama would be implementing and the long-term, ground combat operation the bush administration pursued in 2003. the president did go out of his way to be quite clear the strategy is different. that difference existed then. that difference exists today. what the president did in the context of that speech and numerous other times -- it you him about it. he has been quite clear. they did not have a combat mission. it does mean our men and women in uniform will be in harm's way. it means they will be taking risks. they will be in a dangerous part of the world. we all them a debt of gratitude. jim: what about the raid
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wearing u.s. soldier died last week? secretary ernest: that was in iraq. the u.s. forces there were in advise role. but when those kurdish security forces -- in an advisory role, there is the potential for something like this to occur, where they may have to engage, be in harms way? that's real? secretary ernest: [indiscernible] ok, major. major: how long will they stay in syria? secretary ernest: we have been quite candid. continue tooing to continually assess our toategy and look for ways intensify those elements of the strategy showing the most promise. than 50, to 50, less they will stay there for an
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extended time? secretary ernest: i do not have a specific date to give you when they will come in. major: [indiscernible] think he would've knowledge between raids and the permanent positioning of u.s. special forces. there is a difference? secretary ernest: i certainly would not describe it is permanent. major: it is not an in and out operation? secretary ernest: i would acknowledge there is a difference and it reflects those elements that show promise. specialf you have operators in any place for a given time, to the questions -- will they have air cover if they are engaged in assistance operations that take them close to the fighting, yes or no? anretary ernest: this is operational question. i will do for you to the department of defense. however, you have already seen -- major: [indiscernible]
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every contingency operation with special operators carries with it the implied support. secretary ernest: what has been underway for more than a year, u.s. and coalition military pilots in coordination with forces on the ground. that kind of air cover is something that the local opposition forces have already benefited from. but in terms of -- major: [indiscernible] secretary ernest: for specific operational question, i refer you to the department of defense. major: you know that's true. you're not going to put u.s. special operators out there without air cover. confidenternest: i am that the department of defense has a contingency plan, for what those contingency plans are, you should check with them. special operators are not only generally at risk, but because they represent the united states government, because they not been in syria for any length of time, they
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will have a target on their back. and if they are in some ways in circled or in jeopardy, they will have military extraction operations to support them, if in fact they get into a dicey circumstance? also true? these securityt: risk is elevated because they wear the uniform of the united states of america -- i would allow that is probably the case. major: i am trying to establish that they are combat forces, they are -- as you just said -- the best fighters we have. [indiscernible] three levels of combat withtions are implied their continued stay in operations in syria, correct? secretary ernest: again, major, we are focused on what is not a combat mission are. but those elements have
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always supported them. so we have three layers of potential combat operations inside syria that we did not have when they were in and out. so the placement of them in syria for any length of time implies these other levels of protection, correct? i think whatest: you have primarily described our air combat operations. these are military pilots taking military strikes against enemy targets. they have been underway for more than a year. i'm not sure that this represents a dramatic change in terms of our military air presents. nce.rese but the idea of our military pilots using weapons to protect fighters on the ground is not new. that is something that they have been doing for more than a year now.
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major: [indiscernible] secretary ernest: four operational-- for security reasons, i can't. major: [indiscernible] secretary ernest: somebody does, but i can't say. major: will they be near the hill? they were near the operations losecause josh wheeler to his life in northern iraq. this is a relevant question about proximity. secretary ernest: our military personnel will be in a train, advise, and assist mission. it will not be their primary responsibility to lead the charge of the hill. that is a rather antiquated, hypothetical analogy i am drawing her, but i'm joined to illustrate what their role is. will they be in the vicinity, offering advice and assistance? yeah, i would not be surprised that is the case.
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in fact, the situation you just described, where u.s. special operations forces a company iraqi security forces on a raid, that is precisely b scenario. you saw iraqi security forces conduct the incursion to try to and the u.s.stages military personnel were in the vicinity, but they were not leaving the charge. the iraqi security forces got pinned down, they sought assistance from the u.s. military personnel that were , and in the context of that engagement, master sergeant wheeler lost his life. major: if this into his vocation works and the military commanders say to the president, mr. president, we are gaining traction for the first time. we need more people to achieve greater success, the president will say what? secretary ernest: first he will say -- things happen in
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these scenarios. you either have problems any need forces to reinforce or you have success and you need more forces to achieve more. in both in areas, the american secretary ernest: let me say, we have artie seem progress. that is the reason why the president is seeking to increase support for them. sayould not be accurate to we are seeing progress for the first time. we have already seen progress, and that is why the president has made the decision -- reporter: more professional operators will achieve greater success. what would the president say? good, let's put more in their? secretary ernest: that is a hypothetical situation. we will see. the president has repeatedly told his team, including military supervisors, that he
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wants them to continually evaluate their strategy. the president is prepared to intensify those elements of strategy that are showing support. [indiscernible] handshey strengthen the to show that they are willing to step up? secretary ernest: it is certainly an ironic argument for the russians, who have committed so much military equipment and personnel on the ground in syria to make the suggestion that the united states should refrain from doing so. russia claims that they are doing so to fight isil, the we know that they are focusing their efforts on regions where they are not present.
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we have made clear, for months now, that russia doubling down on their support for assad is a losing bet. doesn't make our campaign against isil more likely to be successful? if anything, it undermines it. alll being said, -- that being said, our focus on diplomacy is acknowledgment of the fact that the problems plaguing syria do not have a military solution. it only have a diplomatic and political one. we would like to see a political transition inside syria. the russians themselves having knowledge that this is necessary. it also highlights the contradiction in their strategy that they are carrying out a military strategy that makes the successful completion of their political strategy less likely. fore are tough questions
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them to answer. what the united states has been doing is build up the capacity islocal forces so that there actually a political opposition that can engage in conversations about a political transition. what secretary kerry is doing in vienna right now is trying to bring around the table all of and awho have influence stake in syria, to find some common ground for the need for a political transition about how to affect that transition. that has been hard work getting russia, saudi arabia, and iran in the same room. it is not something that has happened recently. we believe is necessary for us to try to make some progress in pursuit of the only solution that addresses all of the root causes of the problems we are seeing in syria right now. [indiscernible]
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achieve -- hope to the iraqi trained army that you do not have in syria, as you mentioned now, it does not exist. how can you do the job better than what you have done in iraq with thousands of troops? the forces inst: syria been different because of the conditions in syria and
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iraq have been different. in iraq, one of the biggest challenges is ensuring that they are under the command of a unified government. that is not something that had been in place until relatively recently went the prime minister governr and sought to that country in a much more inclusive way. that more effective and inclusive leadership have made the security forces more effective. is a lottion in syria different. opposition forces there are not affiliated with the central government. they are more loosely organized. yet, despite the loose organization, the united states and coalition partners have been them.o effectively help kobani is an in
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good example of this. this war between turkey and syria that is almost completely secure. the advances made have left them 35 kilometers of the self-declared capital of the islamic state. the shows they have made progress. a lot of the progress is due to their efforts to courtney with tor counter isil -- coordinate with our counter isil cooperation. we would anticipate that there performance would improve even more when paired with the force multipliers that are this several dozen united states special operators. reporter: [indiscernible] secretary ernest: this is a
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mission to support the efforts of moderate opposition fighters on the ground as they take to fight isil in their own country. that is what they are trying to do. to offer training, advice, and assistance to those local forces inside syria there fighting isil. hazel? reporter: i want to go back to something -- are the forces combat ready if that needs to happen? secretary ernest: i made allusion to the fact that the special operations forces will have equipment to protect themselves, if necessary. they will certainly be equipped to defend themselves. reporter: if something were to happen, they would be considered boots on the ground, correct? secretary ernest: there are boots on the ground now. reporter: you are not looking for any kind of military action now? training, advising, and assistance? secretary ernest: that is the military mission that they have been given.
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reporter: no combat at this point? secretary ernest: they are not being deployed to syria with a combat mission. they are being deployed with eight training, advising, and .ssistance position it is an effort to be as specific and clear as possible about what exactly there being asked to do. with the fight against al qaeda, no military solution. now, the same thing. no military solution. now, we are hearing the same thing. we never really saw the complete the bush years. what would a systematic win look like during this administration? theetary ernest: i think
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reason for that -- this question actually goes to the core of our military strategy, ironically enough. the reason the president feels is important to build the capacity of local forces, to take that fight isil in their own country is because we want to enhance the ability of iraqis thesyrians to provide for security of their own country. united states to go in there and prepare that for them in perpetuity. we tried that. it didn't work. ultimately, local security forces, local government officials, and local citizens need to demonstrate the wherewithal to govern and secure their own country. with united states goes into try to impose that security, and solution, military that can temporarily have the effect of pacifying the situation. united states military is
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extraordinarily effective. where also has the effect of doing is not forcing iraqi security forces and iraqi political figures in the situation in iraq of stepping up and fulfilling the responsibility's they have to secure the country and govern the country in an inclusive, unified way. once the united states military left iraq, we did see a situation where the iraqi central government, because they did not have the commitment to unify the country and govern it in a exclusive way, we saw the nation of iraq breakdown along sectarian lines. that was for the world to see when isil made its events against -- made its advance across iraq. reflective as
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a failure from the iraqis central government to unite the country and put in place security forces that were prepared to defend the entire country. that is why our strategy is not predicated on opposing our own solutions, but build up the capacity of iraqis and syrians to secure and govern their own countries. in syria, are we expected to mirror the same time period? we could be there for a while? secretary ernest: we have been clear that countering isil and completing our efforts to destroy that tears organization is not a short-term proposition. the president acknowledged this as well. reporter: could it be another 14 years? when you say it is not a short-term proposition, why rush, you are seeing already the situation in iraq, i see it
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seems like we have to stand there and stay with them because it is not ending right now. secretary ernest: i think the important thing to understand, and the lesson that hopefully we would have all learned about these are problems that cannot be -- these are solutions that cannot be imposed by the united states using our military might. that is just not the way it is going to work. , it hasous attempts been unsuccessful and did not at all serve well the interests of the united states. r thaner: are these fewe 50 on the ground now in syria? secretary ernest: you would have to check with the department of defense on that. i would not be surprised if they were reluctant to say one way or the other. reporter: you cannot say today, if they are there or not? secretary ernest: you will have to check with the department of defense. reporter: what include airstrikes -- will it include
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airstrikes? secretary ernest: i think chairman dempsey said this is an option on the table. i do not think chairman dempsey, while he was in office, ever recommended that to the president. he always noted that was an option that he could recommend to the president. you would have to check with the torment of defense for an answer on whether or not that is part of the training that we provide. reporter: you have a knowledge previously that the russian airstrikes over syria have targeted u.s. backed opposition groups, and now the president is sending in these forces on the ground to help training and assist these groups. is there any concern that the u.s. troops could now become targets of these russian strikes? let me say aest: couple of things about this. the focus of russia's
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military activity inside syria has been in those areas where isil fighters are not frequently present. there have been, as we have acknowledged, some strikes in other areas. that is the first thing. the second thing is of course the president is concerned, and i think the department of defense is concerned, about the safety of these americans operating in a very dangerous country, and a very dangerous part of the world. that is why they will be prepared with the equipment necessary to defend themselves. there are contingency plans in place to try to mitigate the risk that they face. when it comes to the russians, the united states military has engaged in a handful of , practicalactical conversations with the russians to the conflate our activities. i do not anticipate a scenario where the united states is coordinating our efforts with the russians, unless and until
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the russians are willing to make a constructive graduation to our counter isil coalition. reporter: these forces could be struck i russian airstrikes? again, theseest: forces are at risk in a very dangerous part of the world and in a dangerous country. the president has also made sure that he wants to make these special operators have the equipment they need to defend themselves and that is what they ask. scott. reporter: the scale of the the deployment -- can you talk about the decision-making process? secretary ernest: i think what the president -- let me step back. i said a little bit of this before, but i think it is
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important that this is exhibit a of how the president has been making these kinds of decisions. the president and his team are routinely accepting counter isil -- a counter isil strategy to look specifically at the areas that are not performing up to expectations. the president has made decisions to curtail investments in those efforts. the train and equip operation is the best example of that. at the same time, they have been conducting assessments of the counter isil strategy to look for those areas that are showing some promise. areas where the strategy is yielding some progress. to effort to offer support opposition fighters in northern pro have showed some promise. those fighters have made some progress. those fighters have benefited from resupply missions where the
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united states military and coalition partners have been able to provide them with equipment and ammunition that they have used in their fight against isil. they have also benefited from our coalition's efforts to coordinate military airstrikes in support of their operations on the ground. the president asked his military , for intoome options the fighting -- intensifying further our support for those fighters. one option that they came back with was putting a small number, fewer than 50, special operation forces on the ground in syria in the train and advise role to make those fighters even more effective and serve as force advice,ers by offering and using their expertise to enhance operations and enhance
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the success of the opposition forces on the ground. this is probably the best example that you will hear me refer to in future briefings president's strategy in syria. looking for opportunities to intensify those elements of the strategy there are showing some promise. in some cases, that means actually asking the team to come back with recommendations on how to intensify their efforts. this is a good example of that. reporter: you are really trying to minimize [indiscernible] secretary ernest: i think we are cognizant of the discussion the april and i were having that the united states cannot have a situation in which we are imposing a military solution on this problem. i think the president is mindful of that. our goal here is not -- our goal here is to build up the capacity of local forces to fight this
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fight on the ground in their own country for themselves. we want to enhance their performance on the battlefield. we have much for of -- looked to do thatf ways here the president is mindful that we cannot do that for them. have to do it for themselves with the expertise that the united states military and our coalition partners have to offer. heaven. -- kevin. reporter: would you acknowledge or reject the mission that this the mission creed. secretary ernest: the mission has not changed. the president delivered a television address on september 10, 2014, in which he made clear that there would be u.s. military personnel on the ground to build up local forces, who could then take the fight on the ground against isil in their own
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country. that mission has not changed. reporter: and yet, we are adding people, special operations forces. if you continue to add forces, is that mission not free? secretary ernest: i just made clear that the mission from september's, 2014 was the mission that the department of defense implemented, and the mission that remains in place today. reporter: so, nothing is different? i'm just trying to understand -- secretary ernest: i'm trying to explain to you. i have made quite clear what we're doing to further intensify the elements of our strategy that have shown progress. it, wrappingifying of the support that we are m.ving to the the mission has not changed. reporter: u.s. forces that may come under assault by the
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russians -- if american special operations forces are eliminated by russian airstrikes, is that or is that not an act of war? secretary ernest: right now that is a hypothetical situation primarily because we have seen that russian military activity has been focused almost exclusively on those areas of syria where isil fighters are not present. u.s. special operations personnel will be operating in a train, advise, and assist role alongside opposition forces that are fighting isil. that is why there is a low likelihood that they would come into conflict. we have engaged in low-level, tactical talks with russian military to the conflict -- dec onflict our activities. we would welcome russia making a more constructive contribution
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to our broader counter isil coalition so we could more effectively coordinate with them. right now, russia's military efforts are not focused on isil, they are focused on propping up the assad regime. that is a problem for many reason, but it is a problem for russia because they are being drawn into the sectarian quagmire that has consequences for the national security of russia back home, and the national security focus is inside syria. reporter: an american iranian has apparently been kidnapped in iran. have we reached out to get of arts in tehran about this? secretary ernest: we are aware that an american has potentially been detained in iran. withny of our interactions
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iranians about this, i refer you to the state department. they can give you an update on the efforts. as you know, the president has made a priority securing the release of americans who are unjustly detained in iran. that has been a priority for quite some time. secretary kerry talked about it in the context of a nuclear talks, when he was meeting frequently with our counterparts , that he would raise the cases of these unjustly detained americans in every conversation. securingtinues to be -- the release of americans unjustly detained in iran continues to be a parody of the obama administration and the american people. reporter: do you know if there was any prior consultation with congressional leaders on this deployment? secretary ernest: there was. [laughter] secretary ernest: i will not get
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into the details, but there were a number of conversations with congressional leaders. reporter: including speaker ryan? secretary ernest: again, i'm not aware of all the conversations that took place, but presumably that is the case. there were a number of telephone calls that have taken place recently to assure appropriate congressional leaders were aware of this decision that the president made to further intensify our efforts in syria. reporter: do you know if this deployment triggers a notification under the war powers resolution? not,tary ernest: it does principally because the united states congress has already authorized this, dated back to 2001. reporter: could you take a question or two about the budget bill? secretary ernest: sure. reporter: when will it be signed? secretary ernest: argumentation is the white house will receive the budget bill on monday. i would expect the president would find it shortly thereafter, probably on monday. : [indiscernible]
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secretary ernest: congress typically does not work on mondays. i do not know how many members of congress -- i think our intention right now -- reporter: [indiscernible] secretary ernest: maybe that would entice them. we are still working through that, by does the we will give you a chance to see it. reporter: could you say why president obama believes it is prudent to commit future administrations to selling oil from the strategic petroleum reserve as a way of offsetting increased spending in the bill? secretary ernest: typically these budget agreements cover a broader period of time. some would suggest that when you largescussing a budget as as the budget of the united states of america, making decisions on a year-to-year
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basis, without looking at the what impact the budget would have on those out years, is unwise. makings sort of -- decisions on the budget over a 10 year window is what our accountants tell us is the most prudent thing to do. i would be the first to agree with you that sometimes it seems unrealistic to say exactly what the country will look like and what decisions are being made 10 years from now. this is the way that our budget experts say it should be done. reporter: is that the oil marketplace sufficiently volatile that you would not want to commit to selling 10 million barrels of oil and out years? secretary ernest: presumably. how those decisions would eventually be made -- reporter: 8 million barrels. secretary ernest: how exactly
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ist sale would take place not something i have been briefed on, but we can try to get you some details on that. reporter: what is the international legality, or lack there of, of putting u.s. boots on the ground in a country that has not agreed to it? secretary ernest: the case that the united states has made is the united states and our coalition partners are responding to a specific request from iraq, and the concern that they have expressed about isil. our primary response was to assist the iraqi government. what is also clear is the national security threat actually e emanated from syria. because the central government of syria was either unable or unwilling to take the necessary actions to mitigate that national security threat that was being experienced by iraq, the united states and our coalition partners have taken
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action out of the concern that we have for iraqi national security, and the available evidence that indicates that the central government in syria is actble or unwilling to on it themselves. be hostingho will the special forces in syria? you mentioned the moderate syrian opposition. is that the kurds -- is it the kurds, or a mix of different parties? will be bases, safe houses? foretary ernest: operational security reasons, i'm not going to be able to get into the details of where exactly these military personnel will be, or precisely with whom they will be working. i can tell you that they will be train, will have a
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advice, and assist mission, and the role where they will be partnering with those local forces, as they take the fight to isil on the ground in their own country. i cannot be more specific than that in terms of where they will be doing this, or who precisely they will be working with. reporter: you mentioned over the last few days of will to of airstrikes on behalf of the u.s. coalition over syria. according to what the special command sends out every day, there have been almost none in syria over the last two, whereas they do continual over iraq. why have airstrikes come to a minimum over syria over the last few weeks? secretary ernest: i would direct the question to central command. they're making the day-to-day decisions about what strikes should be carried out. scenariosa variety of to describe this. there could be bad weather, or it could be based on intelligence on the ground.
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i would encourage you to touch base with central command. richard. reporter: i don't want you to get into details, is this train, advice, and assist mission, is it similar to what the u.s. forces are doing with the afghan forces against the taliban? secretary ernest: it is always hard to draw comparisons because the situations and each country are so different. i think, generally speaking, that would be a fair comparison to make. it does effectively differentiate between the combat role that the american troops previously had in afghanistan. they no longer have that combat role. they're trying to make afghan security forces more effective. they benefit from the training, advice, and assistance thaey


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