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tv   Senate Opening of the 115th Congress  CSPAN  January 7, 2017 2:42pm-4:11pm EST

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>> more now from opening day of the 115th congress with a look at what went on in the senate. that day, vice president biden was in the chamber to swear in new members and those who one reelection -- those who won reelection. opening remarks. this is an hour and a half. >> order in the senate please. there will be order in the senate. 34 senators elected for six-year -- please, order in the senate, please. the chair lays before the senate the certificates of election of 34 senators elected for six-year terms beginning on january 3, 2017. all certificates, the chair is advised, are in the fom suggested by the senate or contain all the essential
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requirements of the form suggested by the senate. if there is no objection to the reading of the certificates, they will be waived and they will be printed in full in the record. if there is no objection, if the senators to be sworn will now present themselves at the desk in groups of four, as their names are called in alphabetical order, the chair will administer theirs oaths of office. the clerk will read the names of the first group. the clerk: mr. bennet of colorado, mr. blumenthal of connecticut, mr. blunt of missouri, mr. boozman of arkansas.
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the vice president: please raise your right hands. do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the constitution of the united states against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that you bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that you take this oath of obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to enter: so help you god? the group: i do. the vice president: congratulations.
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the vice president: the clerk will call the names of the next group. the clerk: mr. burr of north carolina, ms. cortez masto of nevada, mr. crapo of idaho, ms. duckworth of illinois. the vice president: please raise your right hands.
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do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the constitution of the united states against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that you bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that you take this oath of obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to enter: so help you god? the group: i do. the vice president: congratulations, senators.
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the vice president: the clerk will call the names of the next group. the clerk: mr. grassley of iowa iowa, ms. harris of california, ms. hassan of new hampshire, mr. hoeven of north dakota.
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the vice president: please raise your right hand. do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the constitution of the united states against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that you bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that you take this oath and obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to enter, so help you god? the group: i do. the vice president: congratulations.
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the vice president: the clerk will call the names of the next group. the clerk: mr. isakson of georgia, mr. johnson of wisconsin, mr. kennedy of louisiana, mr. lankford of oklahoma. the vice president: please raise your right hand.
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do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the constitution of the united states against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that you bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that you take this oath and obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to enter, so help you god? the group: i do. the vice president: congratulations, senators.
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the vice president: the clerk will call the names of the next group. the clerk: mr. lee of vermont, mr. lee of utah, mr. mccain of arizona, mr. moran of kansas.
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the vice president: please raise your right hands. do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the constitution of the united states against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that you bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to enter, so help you god? the group: i do. the vice president: congratulations.
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the vice president: the clerk will call the names of the next group. the clerk: ms. murkowski of alaska, mrs. murray of washington, mr. paul of kentucky, mr. portman of ohio.
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the vice president: please raise your right hands. do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the constitution of the united states against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that you bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to enter, so help you god? the group: i do. the vice president: congratulations, senators.
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the vice president: the clerk will call the names of the next group. the clerk: mr. rubio of florida, mr. schatz of hawaii, mr. schumer of new york, mr. scott of south carolina.
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the vice president: please raise your right hands. do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the constitution of the united states against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that you bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to enter, so help you god? the group: i do. the vice president: congratulations, senators.
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the vice president: the clerk will call the names of the next group. the clerk: mr. shelby of alabama, mr. thune of south dakota, mr. toomey of pennsylvania, mr. van hollen of maryland.
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the vice president: please raise your right hands. do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the constitution of the united states against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that you bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to enter, so help you god? the group: i do. the vice president: congratulations.
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the vice president: the clerk will call the names of the next group. the clerk: mr. wyden of oregon, mr. young of indiana.
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the vice president: please raise your right hands. do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the constitution of the united states against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that you bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to enter, so help you god? the group: i do. the vice president: congratulations.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the vice president: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: could we have order in the chamber. the vice president: order in the chamber, please.
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mr. leader. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i'm pleased to welcome back familiar faces and express warm greetings to new members. on the republican side, that includes senator young of indiana and senator kennedy of louisiana. on the democratic side, that includes senator duckworth of illinois, senator cortez masto of nevada, senator hassan of new hampshire, senator harris of california, and senator van hollen of maryland. to each of our incoming senators, i hope you enjoy these ceremonies with your families and colleagues as you embark on your new senate careers. the senate has a lot of work ahead, but for now, i would encourage each of our members who have just been sworn in to take a moment to celebrate the rich tradition of this day. for those who served last
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congress, you should be proud of what the senate was able to accomplish on behalf of the american people. there is much more to do now, and i'll have more to say on that tomorrow. we know that the coming days are going to require hard work and cooperation from both sides, but if we work together, we'll be able to continue a record of achievement for our constituents, for our states and for our country. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the vice president: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the vice president: a quorum is present.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president, could we have order in the chamber. the vice president: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res. 1 submitted earlier today. the vice president: the clerk will report the resolution. the clerk: senate resolution 1 informing the president that a quorum seamabled. the vice president: without objection, the senate will proceed to the order. mr. mcconnell: the senate not in order. the vice president: the senate will be in order. the senate will be in order. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that the resolution be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate. the vice president: without objection. pursuant to senate resolution 1, the chair appoints the senator from kentucky, mr. mcconnell,
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and the senator from new york, mr. schumer, as a committee to join the committee on the part of the house of representatives to wait upon the president of the united states and inform him that a quorum in assembled and that the congress is ready to receive any communication he may be pleased to make. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to s. res. 2, submitted earlier today. the vice president: the clerk will report. the clerk: informing the house of representatives that a quorum of the senate is assembled. the vice president: is there objection proceeding to the measure? without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table, with no ifntsvening action or debate. the presiding officer: woks. without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res. 3, smiterred earlier today.
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victhe vice president: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 3, fixing the hour of daily meeting of the senate. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the resolution be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate. the vice president: without objection. the president pro tempore: without objection. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the consideration of s. con. res. 1, submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: is there objection?
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the president pro tempore: is there objection? the clerk will report. the clerk: concurrent resolution 1, extending the life of the joint congressional committee on inaugural ceremonies. the president pro tempore: without objection you the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the concurrent resolution be agreed to, that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate. the president pro tempore: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceeds to the consideration of s. con. res. 2 submitted h earlier toda. the president pro tempore: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate conrent resolution 2 providing for the counting on january 6, 2017, of electoral votes for president and vice president of the united states. the president pro tempore: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent -- the president pro tempore: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask that the
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current resolution be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate. the president pro tempore: without objection. the senate should be order. the chair appoints the senator from missouri, mr. blunt, and the senator from minnesota, ms. klobuchar, as tellers an the part of the senate to count electoral votes. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i send to a desk 11 unanimous requests for and ask for their immediate consideration en bloc. i further ask that the requests be agreed to, en bloc, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table, and that they appear separately in the record. before the chair rules, i would like to point out that these
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requests are routine and done at the beginning of each congress. the president pro tempore: is there objection to agreeing to the unanimous consent request en bloc? without objection, senate will proceed to the measure. -- en bloc. without objection, they are agreed en bloc. mr. mcconnell: i have a resolution at the desk. the president pro tempore: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 4, to constitute the majority party's membership on certain committees for the 115th congress or until their successors are chosen. mr. mcconnell: i ask for its immediate consideration and to send the resolution over under the rule and object to my own request. the president pro tempore: objection is heard. the resolution will be over under the rule. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the sna senate mb a perd
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of morning business for debate only until 4:00 p.m. today. the president pro tempore: without objection. mr. schumer: first i want to thank my friend, the majority leader. as this is the first time offering opening remarks with the republican leader, i'll speak a little longer than he did today. after all, it is my first speech. but i want to start by extending my sincerest wish to him that we be able to work together to get things done for the american people. the republican leader is my friend. he's also a great believer and defender of the senate and the important role that must play in our national life and around the world. i look forward to working with him to preserve that legacy. now, coming from the swearing-in ceremony as we just did i want to thank the people of my home state of new york for entrusting
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me a most sacred obligation, to represent them, to be their voice here in the united states senate. it has been the horn of my life to serve them. to use what ability i have been given on their behalf to endeavor to make their lives and the lives of their fellow americans better, safer, more prosperous and more free. and i could never have done this job that i love if not for my family: my wife iris and two beautiful daughters jessica and allison. my parents 393 and 88 -- my parents 93 and 88, abe and selma, who came from new york for this occasion. and my new son-in-law. they support me. they keep me going through the good times and the bad. and maybe most importantly, they tell me when i'm wrong. they are my rock and the light of my life. mr. president, i'd also like to
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acknowledge in this my first speech as democratic leader that i'm honored and humbled by my caucus for the trust they placed in me in the new congress. we are like a second family. we watch each other's backs. we seek unity. and like a family, while we at times may have disagreements, we always move forward together. we're a big, diverse group from all walks of life and political perspectives, from all corners of this great country. but at the end of the day, we're a family. to have earned their trust and support means the world, and i will try every day to deserve it. to my staff, another second family of mine, thank you. most of them are working, i guess. they're not here anymore. there are so many hardworking, dedicated and brilliant member who over the years have put their shoulders to the wheel to help new york, this country and
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me. there are too many to name. i wish i could name them all. but i must mention two: mike lynch and martin brennan, who have been with me since the 1998 campaign. the twin pillars of my office. whatever success i've had in my campaigns and in the senate, they can be traced back to them. so i thank them and all of my staff past and present from the bottom of my heart. and finally, mr. president, though he is no longer a member of this esteemed body, i salute the outgoing leader, my predecessor, mentor, and friend for life, harry reid. mr. president, now is a time to look forward. we democrats lost the election. it's a result many of us did not expect. it was a result none of us hoped
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for. when you lose an election like this, you can't flinch. you can't blink. you have to look it right in the eye, analyze it, learn from it, and most importantly, make corrections and move forward. it's easy to blame the results of elections on outside forces, and it is true that any one of them or a few in combination could have been responsible for the outcome of an election which the democratic candidate won by nearly three million votes but lost by slim margins in a few states that decided the electoral college. it is easy to look back and place blame. but now is the time to look forward. i believe the democrats must take a hard look at what we can do better. it is clear that many americans felt the economy was rigged against them and that their government wasn't looking out for them. it was too beholden to big money and special interests.
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democrats did not do enough to show american workers that we are the party that has their backs. that our positions are much more in line with their needs than the republican positions. and so, as we look to this new congress and a new presidency, senate democrats will once again recommit ourselves to a set of principles that has always been at the core of our party, what my beloved friend and mentor, senator ted kennedy, called economic justice. it's what our party has stood for since the days of thomas jefferson and andrew jackson, through f.d.r. whose enduring new deal is now almost a century old. it's been reaffirmed and deepened by passionate advocates like susan b. anthony, cesar chavez and martin luther king jr. a commitment to the common man, to economic fairness for the american worker, to opportunity and prosperity for the american
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middle class and those trying to get there. what's needed from we democrats is a bigger, bolder, sharper-edged economic program that addresses how those struggling to stay until the middle class can stay there. and those struggling to make it into the middle class can get there more easily, and deals directly with the unfairness that so many see and experience in our economic system. now that's a mission that unites our caucus. from my friend from west virginia, senator manchin; to my friend from vermont, senator sanders, and one that appeals to the blue-collar worker in west virginia and michigan, just as deeply as the college student from los angeles struggling with student debt. it appeals to the factory worker in the heartland just as much to the immigrant family in new york city and the single mom in cleveland trying to make ends meet on minimum wage.
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there are a great many things that we democrats would like to do here in the senate to help these people, to ease the burden on the middle class and those struggling to make it, creating more jobs by investing in infrastructure and education and science and medicine, making college more affordable, increasing the minimum wage, changing our trade laws and so much more. and we'll be making proposals. we hope our republican colleagues will join us on. as the year wears on and it becomes clear that democratic proposals are what the american people want and need, i hope many will. but we are not in the majority. we cannot delude anyone that this congress will start tomorrow taking up priorities of the democratic minority, but we can raise our voices to present an alternative way forward and we can rally the american people to support this program. as republicans return majorities to both houses of congress and
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we prepare for a republican in the white house, the democratic minority in the senate has a very important task ahead of it. there are those who suggest that our baseline posture should be to work with the president-elect and have him pass his whole agenda. but, mr. president, it is not our job to be a rubber stamp. it's our job to do what's best for the american people, the middle class, and those struggling to get there. if the president-elect proposes legislation that on issues like infrastructure and trade and closing the carried interest loophole, for instance, we'll work in good faith to perfect and potentially enact it. but when he doesn't, we will resist. but what we will always do is hold the president-elect and his republican colleagues in congress accountable, accountable to the working
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people to whom the president-elect promised so much , accountable to the people of all colors and creeds and sexual orientations in this country for whom he is president, accountable to the millions of americans who voted for him, even though many of the republican policies he now postelection seems to be embracing are inimitable to their interests. and perhaps most importantly, mr. president, accountable to the law. the senate has a rich bipartisan tradition of being a constitutional check on presidents of both parties. many in this body have long observed that in america we are a nation of laws, not men. that sacred constitutional duty of holding the president accountable to the law must continue, and democrats will make sure of it. sometimes it will mean pointing
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out where rhetoric and reality diverge. and sometimes it will mean resisting the president and republicans in congress when they propose legislation that we believe will hurt the american people. this will be an accountability congress, and we will be a caucus that makes sure the president-elect keeps his commitment to truly make america great again in its finest sense and tradition. we know what makes america great. a fundamental optimism, a belief that the future will bring every child more opportunity than their parents, a conviction that this american dream can be shared by all of us regardless of race or gender or sexual orientation. we will hold president-elect trump accountable to the values that truly make america great, but we'll fight him tooth and nail when he appeals to the baseer instincts that diminish
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america and its greatness, instincts that have too often plagued this country and his campaign. we'll have benchmarks. throughout the campaign the president-elect said he could push g.d.p. to 5% or 6%. he complained the real unemployment rate was too high and would bring it down. we'll hold him accountable to that. what does he think he can achieve in a year or two or four? what policies does he propose to achieve those goals? he promised to be much tougher on china, even though many republicans for years have resisted legislation here in congress to do that. we'll hold him accountable for it and demand he keep his promise. he promised to protect social security and medicare, but tapped an avowed critic of medicare, a man who has spent his career advocating for its demise is his secretary of health and human services. we demand that he keep his
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promise not to cut social security or medicare. he says he wants to build a strong america and earn respect around the world but seems to be marching in lock step with a bullying, dissembling autocrat who has caused a great deal of trouble around the globe and here in america, vladimir putin. we're going to hold him accountable to that. we will hold the president accountable if he doesn't nominate a mainstream supreme court justice. president obama nominated a mainstream candidate in merrick garland. president-elect trump should do the same. and the president-elect said many great things about build -- many things, rather, about building our infrastructure. democrats welcome that discussion, but how is he going to do it? we have thousands of bridges and tunnels and highways and schools, wastewater systems, airports in need of repair not only in our big cities but in
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rural and suburban communities throughout america. a program of tax credits isn't going to get the job done, no matter how large. we need significant, direct spending. how does the president-elect plan to get that done? the president-elect has said that there are several parts of the affordable care act he favors. we'll hold him accountable to that. the a.c.a. extended affordable health care to 30 million americans. we ask the president-elect, if you repeal the a.c.a., what are you going to do to protect these 30 million people? and how are you going to ensure that a kid right out of college can stay on his parents' plan, that the mother with a child who has a preexisting condition can get health care for her child, that women everywhere are not charged more for their care simply because they're a woman? it is not acceptable to repeal
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the law, throw our health care system into chaos, and then leave the hard work for another day. mr. president-elect, what is your plan to make sure all americans can get affordable health care? so, we will hold the president-elect accountable for actually creating jobs and raising incomes, for growing our economy and lowering our trade deficit, for protecting voting rights and civil rights, for safeguarding our clean air and clean water, for maintaining our commitment to our nation's veterans and troops and their families, for giving that worker in michigan, that college student in l.a., that single mother in cleveland a real opportunity and a ladder up. what could be fairer? after all, his biggest and most consistent pledge was that he would -- quote -- "make america
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great. make the lives of america better." we, democrats of this senate, will hold him accountable to that, and we will resist him if he breaks that promise. and while we respect the office of the presidency, we won't hesitate for a moment to call out the person occupying that office if he demeans women or muslims or latinos or our friends in the lgbt community. and if allies or aides to the president demean a group of americans, we won't hesitate for a moment to demand that our new president condemn these comments, not sidestep them, not simply distance himself from them. condemn them pointedly and roundly, as presidents of both parties, every president of both parties has done throughout the decades. we will hoed president-elect
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trump -- hold president-elect trump accountable to the finest instincts of what america has always stood for -- e pluribus unum. the bottom line is the president-elect ran as a change agent. he ran n against the establishments of both parties. he promised to change the way america operates, to oppose the leaks, drain the swamp, pay attention to working families. but my friends, since the election, he seems to have forgotten that. looking at the cabinet, which is staffed with billionaires, corporate executives, titans of wall street and those deeply embedded in washington's corridors of power, it seems that many of his campaign themes are quickly being abandoned. he said he was going to unrig the system. so far, it still looks rigged.
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too many of his cabinet picks support the same hard right, doctrinaire positions that many in the republican party have held for years, policies that the american people have repeatedly rejected. if president-elect trump lets the hard right members of congress and the cabinet run the show, if he attempts to adopt their time-worn policies which benefit the elites, the special interests, corporate america, not the working man and woman, his presidency will not succeed. maybe not in the first 90 days, but certainly in the first two years. unfortunately, that seems to be the path he is following throughout the transition. so, mr. president-elect, if there is one part of my speech that i hope you listen to and take to heart, it's this one -- and i mean it with the best of
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intentions -- if you abandon change and simply embrace the shop-worn, hard right, pro-corporate, pro-elite policies diametrically opposed to the many campaign themes that helped you win working class votes and get you elected, your presidency will not succeed. we democrats will hold you accountable. to the working people of america, not to the conservative ideologues in washington who seem to have great number in your cabinet. we will hold your feet to the fire every time you abandon your pledge and work instead as an ally of the hard right. so, mr. president, the issues facing this country are many. we have a lot of work to do -- creating jobs, raising incomes, making college and health care affordable, rebuilding our infrastructure, making trade laws work for the american worker, keeping americans safe from threats of violence and
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terrorism, taking care of our bets. now, each one takes serious thought and action. these issues are too important for mere words. our challenges too entrenched for mere tweeting. making america great again requires more than 140 characters perish. with all due respect, america cannot afford a twitter presidency. we have real challenges and we have real needs to get things done, and many americans are afraid, mr. president-elect, that instead of rolling up your sleeves and forging serious policies, for you, twitter suffices. there's nothing wrong with using twitter to speak to the american people. it's a good use of modern media. but these issues are complex and
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demand both careful consideration and action. we cannot tweet them away. for instance, a tweet bragging about the 800 jobs that were saved at the carrier plant doesn't solve the underlying problem. while it's good the 800 jobs were saved, even at carrier, 1,300 jobs are still leaving. hundreds more jobs are leaving it from the nearby rexnorth plant down the road. they're going overseas. and most importantly, thousands of jobs more each month leave our shore from every part of america. tweeting about 800 jobs you saved is not a remanufacturing policy. that's not an economic policy. we're going to hold the president-elect accountable for real policy to stop jobs from leaving this country, not just one half of one plant. not just one tweet, even if
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republicans in congress oppose it. similarly, tweeting -- quote -- very smart to vladimir putin for ignoring american sanctions is no foreign policy. america doesn't conduct foreign policy by tweet, least of all by flattering putin after our intelligence agencies have confirmed that russia interfered in our election. conducting foreign policy by tweet while spurning vital intelligence briefings that lay out the real emerging threats around the world, that should alarm democrats and republicans alike. it is utterly amazing that our republican colleagues who have spent years lambasting president obama for not being tough enough on putin are now, with a few rare exceptions, utterly silent. on this and so many other
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issues, the president-elect must be held accountable. on both sides of the aisle. on january 20, we won't be in reality tv. we'll be in reality. we democrats will make sure government works for every american in reality, not just on tv and on twitter. so to those who wonder what the democratic minority will do in the 115th congress, the answer is simple. we'll fight for our principles, we'll fight for our values, and we shall fulfill our solemn constitutional duty to hold the other branches of congress -- of government accountable. to the extent that the president-elect and the republican majority pursue policies that help america and are consistent with our values, we stand ready and willing to
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work with them, but if they propose policies that will hurt americans, deny health care, cut their benefits, unleash irresponsible wall street risk taking at the expense of consumers, their efforts will crash and break apart like waves upon the rock of the senate minority. that is our challenge. that is our charge. and we rise to meet it. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: there will be order in the senate. expressions of approval or disapproval are not der mitted. mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, let
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me start by offering my congratulations to my friend and colleague, senator schumer, the senator from new york. he is a worthy adversary when we see things differently, as we frequently do, but he's also somebody who i've found that you can work productively with. and i understand he's got a new role to play as the democratic leader, and i am sure we will see a lot of that worthy adversary part of his character in the forefront, but i do hope that we can in this new year, with the new congress work together. i'm a little -- i'm a little concerned, though, as i heard him go on, he had already declared the trump presidency over, and it hadn't -- he's not going to even be sworn in until 17 days from now by my calculation, and of course we just swore in the new members of the 115th congress. so let me also congratulate my colleagues across the aisle who were elected to join us here in
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what historically has been known as the world's greatest deliberative body. but if there's anything any one of us who have been here a while has learned, it is that neither party gets everything they want. it just wasn't designed that way. and when, for example, in 2009, when one party controls the white house, has 60 votes in the senate and has a majority in the house of representatives, ostensibly you can get what you want since you don't need to rely on any votes from the opposing party. but if there is one great example, historic example of why it's a mistake to try to do things alone or with -- without bipartisan support, it is the example of obamacare, which we will be talking more about in
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coming days. the media, of course, is still trying to figure out what happened on november 8, how the pundits, all the experts, all the pollsters got it wrong, and it's still not hard to find articles from those pundits in the mainstream media giving their diagnosis on exactly what the american voter was saying to us on november 8. i personally don't think it's all that complicated. i think it's pretty straightforward. after eight years of an obama white house, the american people wanted a change, and they spoke up loud and clear, demanding a new direction that would actually deliver results for the american people. and i think we ought to have enough humility, those of us on both sides of the aisle, to say it wasn't exactly a ringing affirmation of either political
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party. i am grateful for one thing, though, and that is that the american people decided they didn't want to change the republican majority in the house and the senate, and we do take the responsibility of being in the majority seriously, and we believe it is our duty to bring real help to the american people. i would just digress for a moment and say to my colleague from new york, the democratic leader, i remember when i came to the senate, mike enzi, a conservative republican from wyoming, and teddy kennedy, who you identified as your mentor, the liberal lion of the senate, they worked so productively together on the help committee, the health, education, labor and pensions committee, i remember one time asking senator enzi how is it that somebody as conservative as you are can work with somebody as liberal as
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teddy kennedy is and do so in good faith, good spirits and so productively. senator enzi said it's easy. it's the 80-20 rule. the 80% that we can agree on, we do. the 20% we will never agree on, we simply leave for another fight another day. and actually, i think that's a pretty good rule of thumb. but, mr. president, the first job the new congress will have is to repeal obamacare. i alluded to that earlier. it's simply -- i think if history teaches us anything about taking advantage of a supermajority of the senate, it is that you should not do that because if we did that with social security or medicare, other programs widely supported by the american people, it simply would not be sustainable, and that is the case with obamacare. voted through the senate, jammed
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through with 60 votes on the other side in the senate, and then a majority in the house signed by president obama, and actually after republicans picked up a vacant senate seat in massachusetts, causing our democratic colleagues to have to use the budget reconciliation process to pass it. but we know the broken promises of obamacare, we'll revisit those more and more in coming days. higher premiums are less coverage. many lost their insurance altogether after being promised by the president himself if you like what you have, you can keep it. we know that many folks no longer have access to the doctor and health care plan of their choice because their doctors either quit accepting that insurance or retired or health plans have simply pulled up stakes because they can't compete under the provisions of obamacare. i believe the verdict of the
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american people has been that obamacare has failed the american people. i would just ask our democratic colleagues to look at the fact that they passed it originally with 60 votes. now they are at 48. now, we have all been in the majority and the minority if you have been around here for very long, but i think there are -- there is -- obamacare is one of the big reasons our democratic colleagues find themselves currently in the minority. as one of our colleagues put it this morning, if we can't do better than obamacare, we might as well look for another line of work. what we owe the american people, i believe, is coverage that they choose at a price they can afford. and of course that's just the beginning. under president obama's leadership, his administration has imposed thousands of rules and regulations running up the price tag of hundreds of billions of dollars that have
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put a stranglehold on the american economy. many of these are job-killing regulations that make it harder for small businesses, which are the very life is abou is lifebl- lifeblood of our economy to make a profit, to hire an additional employee, things that we desperately need in this country. more well-paying jobs. i look forward to working with the new administration to roll back those regulations and rules that don't make sense. with obamacare repealed and replaced, with coverage you can afford, from a providing that you choose and with a better economic climate for the country, we can help more americans achieve their dreams. that should be the top priority for every one of us here in this chamber. finally, i look forward to working with the incoming
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administration to consider president-elect trump's nominees to fill his posts in his cabinet. if i'm not mistaken, on the day that president obama was sworn into office, january 20, 2009, there were seven cabinet members of his incoming cabinet that were confirmed that day -- seven. to me, that demonstrates the sort of good faith and accommodation that this senate should continue, because we understand the importance of making sure that the president's cabinet members, whenl it is the secretary of defense -- whether it is the secretary of defense or the secretary of state or the attorney general -- they hold critical positions, not only in terms of national security but in terms of making sure that the government works for the american people. i've already spoken about senator sessions, the
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president-elect's nominee to be the chief law enforcement officer for the country. i think that senator sessions is an excellent choice. our colleagues will have chance to ask all the questions that they want, but there's one thing i can be sure of with attorney general nominee jeff sessions, and that is he will remove the political orientation of the department of justice and make sure that it's not just another political branch of the white house. i look forward to confirming him as attorney general, and i'm confident he will be prepared to answer the questions from our colleagues. as we've seen over the last few days, president-elect trump continues to announce the nominations of many other qualified candidates who i'm confident will serve the american people, including people like my friend, the former governor of texas, governor perry, as energy secretary, and rex tillerson as secretary of state. i hope all of our colleagues will understand how integral it
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is to the administration and to the administration's ability to govern to get well-qualified people confirmed to the president's cabinet. they, of course, have a responsibility to be forthcoming and to answer questions and cooperate with the process here in the senate. but i look forward to working with our colleagues to getting the president's nominees confirmed. and i know we have a lot of work ahead of us, and i don't have any doubt that with a little cooperation we can make the 115th congress a productive one that meets the needs of the american people. and i would just conclude, perhaps as i started, mr. president, by saying, all of us who've worked here in the senate for a while know senator schumer. we also understands a taken on a -- he's taken on a new and more challenging more because frankly the democratic conference is a lot more left-leaning than it's
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ever been since i've been here, and he's got to work with all of his members. but i hope if there's one thing we can all agree with it's that we have an obstacles beyond party -- an obligation beyond party. that is to the people who sent us here. it is a unique institution and it's our obligation and duty to try to find areas we can agree on and to move consensus and move the country forward for the american people while surely we will have our fights, and they will be glorious fights, and we shouldn't shy away from those differences. but let's not let our desire just to fight for fighting's sake get in the way of our ability to work together and find consensus where we can. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. durbin: mr. president, i thank the senator from texas, and i think the closing remarks really were spot on.
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we will disagree, and we will debate. we will have our differences, but we need to strive for common ground. that's what the american people sent us to do. i hope we can find that common ground in this chairnlings with the house and with our diminish this chamber, with the house and with the new president after january 20. it is a challenge. it is troughing listen to the remarks from the republican -- it is interesting to listen to the remarks from the republican side of the aisle. there has been this pee tight for so -- this appetite for so long to repeal obamacare. i lost track of how many times the house of representatives voted to repeal obamacare. over the last six years i believe it's over 60 times voted to repeal it. wouldn't you think that over a spanning of six years with 60 different votes they would have in their back pocket an alternative, a replacement? they don't. they still don't today. all the speeches on the floor that have been given by my i
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will uillustrious colleagues asg for a second opinion, most second opinions are something tangible that you can read, understand. but when it comes to a second opinion on obamacare, they have nothing -- nothing to offer. and why is it? why is it if they're so focused on this one issue, barac obamace that the republicans have not come up with an alternative? it's hard. it's hard work. tough, difficult choices. and if you want to stick to the basic principles of the affordable care act or obamacare, you run into some flobs a hurry. first basic principle accepted by president-elect trump: we want to make sure that no health insurance company can ever discriminate against you or your family because of a preexisting condition. a baby born with cancer, a child
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with diabetes, a spouse who survives a cancer scare. in the old days before obamacare, that meant that you either were disqualified from insurance for your family or you couldn't afford it. so we set as part of the affordable care act, no more. you cannot discriminate against those who are less than perfect when it comes to health, because so many of us are less than perfect. okay, my friends in the grand ol' party, how are you going to deal with that -- how are you going to make sure every family is protected with their health insurance plan? haven't heard a word. president-elect trump said, i'm going to stick by that basic principle. but there comes with that principle a requirement as well that you have a large pool of insured people that include those who are healthy and those who may be less than healthy. if you are going to have a large pool of people, we make insurance mandatory for many
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americans. the republicans have said they want to eliminate that requirement automatically, first issue. preexisting condition -- a republican problem, one they can't answer and one that they've refused to respond to. well, what about lifetime limits on health insurance policies? what if you have a policy that you buy for $100,000 and then you get the cancer diagnosis and you know the treatment is going to cost $1 million? what then? we say that you can't have a lifetime limit on a health insurance policy, and the republicans want to repeal that. what would they replace that with? no suggestion. the list goes on and on. you have a child just graduated from college looking for a job, maybe has a part-time job, doesn't have benefits, doesn't have health insurance. keep them under the family health insurance plan until they're 26. peace of mind for thousands of families across illinois and america. the republicans want to repeal that. what will you replace that with?
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and i say to those who are receiving medicare today -- 40 million plus in america -- we closed the prescription drug loophole, the loob hole that said -- the loophole that said you had to start paying out of pocket for your prescriptions during the course of the year, the so-called doughnut hole. the republicans want to repeal that. will that make millions of illinois seniors and those across the country vulinerm to higher prescription drug prices? you see when you get beyond 140 characters of a tweet and you get beyond a political speech, you get into real policy, it gets exceedingly difficult. the bottom line is this: 20 million americans now have health insurance because of the affordable care act. we have the lowest rate of uninsured americans in modern history. and now the republicans want to repeal this. they say they're going to replace it. i think it's not repeal and
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aplace they're looking for. it is repeal and retreat. they don't know where to turn. they're running away from the mess they'll create b repealing obamacare. we have a right to demand that if they have a better way, present it, bring it up for a vote. let's have some certainty about our future. already i have a been warned by hospitals all across illinois that repealing obamacare, repealing the affordable care act, will be devastating, particularly to rural areas in my state and inner city hospitals. what are you going to do about that in the republican party? special funds to help those hospitals stay in business? they'll need it. it isn't the only issue. it's the first one we'll take up. there's another issue equally compelling, and that's the issue of immigration. i remember the speeches, and you do, too, the excerpts at night on the news as the president-elect trump talked about building that wall to the high heavens and making the mexicans pay for t and he talked about all those who were coming
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across the border and the dangers they presented to america. well, when it comes to immigration, there are 11 million people living in this country. the overwhelming majority of them are law-abiding. they're working. they want to be part of america's future. the group that i've tried to focus on is a group we call the dreamers. 15 years ago i introduced the first dream act. it was a bill that was addressing the following situation: a child, an infant brought to the united states by an undocumented family who grew up here, literally have no home, no country. they're undocumented in america, brought here as babies, infanted, ta toddleers, teenages and now they're graduating and don't know where to it un. the laud the law in america is graphic and grim. it says if you're found in that position you are required to leave america for ten years and petition to return.
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so here you have 15, 16, 17-year-old whose know no other country, who get up in the classroom every morning and pledge allegiance to the flag just as the members of the senate did and who believe in their heart of hearts this is home and yet they're undocumented. so we groove flowferred the dret -- so we introduced the dream act. never could quite reach the supermajority we needed to pass it at the right moment. so president obama stepped up and created daca, the dwrers action for childhood arrivals, which under executive order allowed those who believed eligible for the dream act to apply, pay a fee of almost $5 00, go through criminal background check and if they were approved receive a temporary authority to stay in the united states without fear of deportation and to work in this country. ave-- as of today, over 750,000 have done that. during the campaign, president-elect trump said he
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would bollish this program. fortunately, after the election, he had a more moderate position which i'd like to quote from "time" magazine. he said, "we're going to work something out that's going to make people happy and proud." this is president-elect trump speaking. "they got brought here at a very youngagers they worked here, gone to school here. some were good stawnts students, some have wonderful jocks and they are a in never, never land because they don't know what's going to havment" that is very thoughtful, sensitive and promising staivment i appreciate it. so i hope that the president-elect will keep daca in place until we have something that can work to succeed it. i with a nts to slaught my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, republican lindsey graham of south carolina. he and i have joined in introducing the bridge act which would give president-elect trump an opportunity to allow these young people to stay subject to the same aer approval, the same criminal background check, the same filing fee, the same tax
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liability, stay on a temporary basis until we do our work in the senate and house on the issue of immigration. the bridge act is also cosponsored by senators lisa murkowski and jeff flake, republicans from alaska and arizona, as well as my colleague senator shiewrnlg the leader on the democratic 150eud, and senator dianne feinstein. other democrats want to join as well. we hope to have a very strong bipartisan bill. in my view, daca is a lawful exercise for the president. in the view of many reerntion it is not. the bridge act is the answer to both points of view. this is a fairks reasonable way to protect these young people until congress comes up with better, more comprehensive answers when it comes to immigration reform. over the years i've come to the floor telling the story of the dreamers. it is one thing for a senator to give a speech, put it in athe "congressional record," but it really doesn't come home until
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you see and meet the young people i'm talking about. let me introduce one today. this is fernando espino brought to the united states at the age of 18 months. he grew up in the city of milwaukee, wisconsin. he became an excellent student. at the catholic high school he received many academic awards, many of the national honor society, received first honors all four years of high school. fernando was involved in many volunteer activities: the latin club, math club, track and field, instructor for class preparing his classmates to take college entrance exams. he volunteered with the youth leadership ministry. he volunteered with the school's key club and big brother mentoring program and middle school soccer and basketball coach. in high school graduation, fernando espino of milwaukee, wisconsin, a dreamer brought here from mexico at the age of
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18 months, received the jesuit secondary education association award, the highest award given by a jesuit high school, which is presented to one graduate who, in their words, is intellectual competent, open to growth, religious, loving and committed to justice. this amazing student was then accepted at harvard university. he continued to give back to the community there, volunteered as a tutor for kids in elementary schools, peer advisor, freshman student at harvard. he became a competitive ballroom dancer and worked on the harvard school newspaper. thanks to daca, fernando was able to support himself. you see, these students, these dreamers don't qualify for a penny of federal assistance for education. they've got to pay for it, so they've got to come up with the money. so with daca, he can work. he worked as a bartender. in may 2015, he graduated from
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harvard magna cum laude, the highest honors, with a degree in economics and sociology. he worked for an investment management firm in los angeles and then as a market research consultant in chicago. he's now preparing to pursue an m.b.a. in business school. he wants to be a leader in a major corporation and start his own company. he sent me a letter. fernando said optimistic hope is ultimately what i believe makes this country so great. living as an undocumented immigrant, it is easy to lose that motivating influence. daca was a refreshing influx of that very same hope. daca allows me to look forward not with doubt but with confidence the future's bright. if daca is eliminated, fernando espino may lose his hope. the day after daca, fernando espino will no longer have official legal status. he will not be able to get his master's in business
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administration, and he could be deported at any moment back to mexico where he hasn't lived since he was 18 months old. fernando and so many other dreams could help america be a greater nation. that talent, that determination that he brought to his young life is a talent and determination america needs in its future. i hope president-elect trump will understand this and continue the daca program. but if he decides to end it, then his administration can work with congress and make sure the bridge act is there as a protection. i want to close by saluting my colleague, the new democratic leader, senator schumer. he and i have been roommates for a long, long time before we had our separate apartments, got our own places. i've come to know him and his family and his political career. i'm looking forward to working with his leadership team here in the united states senate. i think his statement today speaks for all the members of the democratic senate caucus.

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