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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 12, 2013 6:30pm-8:31pm EST

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lives, and why we need to replace it with market-based reforms. a step-by-step comprehensive approach that fosters choice and competition, and we have put forward proposals to do just that. i've also used time today to talk about other issues that we need to advance on a bipartisan basis, for example the farm bill. we need a five year farm bill. we're operating under an extension that expires at the end of the year. we need to get a farm bill in place, and a farm bill is a great example of how we do things on a bipartisan basis not only in the senate, but also in the house. and so i want to talk about another subject that's vitally important to our country, to our economy, to job creation, to national security that also needs to be advanced and needs to be advanced in a bipartisan way, and that's energy. and i want to provide a specific
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example, and that's the keystone x.l. pipeline. i know you, mr. president, as the presiding member of this chamber want to see that project approved. and that's just the point. this is a project that will create jobs, create economic activity, that will create greater energy security. it's something we can work on together with our closest friend and ally in the world: canada. something that really goes to national security so we're no longer dependent on the middle east for oil and it's something supported on a bipartisan basis. bipartisan basis and strong support from the american people. the polls show somewhere between 70% and 80% of the american public supports this project and wants to see it move forward. it's now been more than five years -- five years -- since the permit applications were submitted to the state department for the keystone x.l.
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pipeline project. more than five years, and the application process, and still no decision. an exhaustive review process including five environmental impact statements showing no significant impact to the environment, the most recently issued statement, draft statement just last spring. the consent of every single state along the pipeline's route is in place. every single state on the route supports and approves the project. the backing of a majority of congress, legislation to approve the project is passed in the house, and we've passed it right here in the senate only to have the president turn it aside. as i said just a minute ago, the support of the american people, more than 70% in the most recent poll of the american people support moving forward with this
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project. despite all of this, the keystone x.l. pipeline project is still awaiting decision from the president of the united states. the long wait for approval is troubling enough but it represents a larger issue for our nation and begs a bigger question for all of us who serve our states and the american people in this institution. how will america ever build an all-of-the-above energy policy if the president takes more than five years to approve just one piece of a comprehensive plan? i know that you've seen this issue before in your state when it comes to the alaskan pipeline, how for years and years that was worked on until it was finally approved. then once approved, not only was it a vitally important -- is a
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vitally important piece of infrastructure for the state of alaska, but contrary to all the concerns that were raised in regard to the alaskan pipeline, like the environmental concerns, it's proven to work and work very well. you address the concerns, the project was approved. the same is true for the keystone x.l. pipeline. to recount briefly, this $7 billion, 1,700 mile high-tech pipeline not only from alberta, canada, to refineries to oklahoma and the texas gulf coast but will carry sweet crude from the balkan oil coast in north dakota, my state, and also montana. light, sweet balkan crude, highest quality oil produced. even by modest estimates it will create more than 40,000 jobs. there have been a lot of estimates out there, some much higher. but the state department itself,
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the administration's own state department has come out after, as i say, more than five years of study, and said that this project will create more than 40,000 jobs at a time when employment still 7%, these are good jobs, jobs that put americans back to work. so it will create more than 40,000 jobs, boost the american economy and raise much-needed revenues for states and the federal government. and it's not raising revenues by raising taxes. it's raising revenues through economic growth. that's the way to do it. not higher taxes. through economic growth. further, and perhaps most importantly, it will help put our country within striking range of a long-sought goal, a vitally important goal for our country. true energy security. for the first time in
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generations the united states, with its friend and ally, canada, will have the capacity to produce more energy than we use. truly north american energy independence. eliminating our reliance on oil from the middle east, venezuela and other volatile parts of the world. this is something americans very much want. and so when you see in the polls they support this project by more than 70%, it is with a clear recognize nation what are we doing getting oil from the middle east when we should be getting it from ourselves right here in this country and interest our closest friend and ally, canada. and that we absolutely can do it and we can do it to an extent that is beyond our needs and we can do it within short order easily within the next five years if we approve projects like this one. right now we produce about 60% of our fuel domestically. we still import 40%, much of it
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from the middle east and other areas of the world that are hostile to our interests. the question is why would we want to import oil 0 from an unstable region of the world when we can import it, when we can work with our closest friend and ally, canada, as well as move it from parts of the country that produce that oil like my state and others and transport it to refineries. so the 40% that we don't produce domestically has to come from someplace else. why not from our closest friend and ally, canada? with a true all of the above approach to energy development in this country including projects like the keystone x.l. pipeline project, i absolutely believe that we can be energy independent within five years. the arguments has been advanced that the oil sands will increase carbon emissions and that
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failing to build a keystone x.l. pipeline will somehow reduce emissions. but let's look at the facts. let's look at this claim more closely. today an ever increasing percentage of new recovery in the oil sands is being accomplished insitu. that means with technology that makes the oil sands carbon footprint comparable to conventional drilling. tph-bgt, the oil -- in fact the oil sands industry's produce greenhouse gas emissions per barrel of oil produced by an average of 26% since 1990 and with some facilities achieving reductions as high as 50%. 50% reduction in carbon emissions. today heavy crude from the middle east and even from california produces more carbon emissions over its life cycle than the canadian oil sands. also we need to factor in that
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if the pipeline is not built from alberta to the united states, a similar pipeline will be built to canada's pacific coast. what does that mean? it means that from there the oil will be shipped on tankers across the pacific ocean to much larger and more sensitive ecosystem than the sandhills which, of course, has been at issue in terms of the root of -- route of the pipeline, shipped across the ocean to be refined at facilities like china with weaker environmental standards and more emissions than our refineries in the united states. the united states, moreover, will continue to import its oil from the middle east, again on tank sores that again has to be transported across the ocean. factor in the cost of trucking and railing the product to market over land and the result, contrary to the claims of opponents, will be more emissions, more co2 emissions
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and a less secure distribution system without the keystone x.l. pipeline than we'll have if it's built. in fact, the administration's own state department has released three draft environmental impact statements finding -- quote -- "no significant impacts" on the environment. let me read that again. in fact, the administration's own state department has released three draft environmental impact statements finding no significant impacts on the environment. so what does the administration do? they delay and ask for another environmental impact statement. what's going on? in its latest analysis in march, the state department concluded that -- quote -- "there would be no substantive change in global greenhouse gas emissions"
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associated with keystone x.l. pipeline and that raises another important point. the white house has said repeatedly that they don't want to, quote, they don't want to get ahead of the process. but the president effectively abandoned the process more than two years ago when he halted the project by executive action. had he not, the state department, in keeping with the usual process, would have issued a decision on the permit by december 2011. and that's according to a letter that was sent to me by secretary hillary clinton, secretary of state at that time, which she sent to me in august of 2011. finally, mr. president, i want to point out that this body, the u.s. senate, as well as the u.s. house of representatives, has embraced the keystone x.l. pipeline with bipartisan majorities. congress has expressed support
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for the keystone pipeline with two majority votes in the senate and several bipartisan letters to the president. the american people have also expressed overwhelming support for the project, as i've stated. in a harris poll released this summer, 82% of voting americans voiced support for the keystone x.l. pipeline project. i want to emphasize that and say it again. in a harris poll released this summer, 82% of voting americans voiced support for the keystone x.l. pipeline project. according to harris nine in ten republicans and nearly 80% of democrats and independents believe the pipeline is in our national interest. in july, senator landrieu and i led a bipartisan group of our colleagues to introduce a concurrent resolution declaring
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the keystone x.l. pipeline project in the national interest of the united states and calling on president obama to approve it. the resolution notes that every study conducted by the state department, including the department's draft environmental impact statement issued in may has found no significant impacts to the environment. here's the text of the senate concurrent resolution 21. expressing the sense of congress that the construction of the keystone x.l. pipeline and the federal approvals required for the construction of the keystone x.l. pipeline are in the national interest of the united states. in the senate of the united states, july 31, 2013. mrs. landrieu for herself, mr. hoeven, mr. pryor, mr. donnelly, mr. begich, ms. heitkamp, mr. thune, mr. risch, mr. cornyn, mr. johanns, and mr. barrasso. bipartisan group submitted the
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following concurrent resolution which was referred to the committee on energy and natural resources. concurrent resolution expressing the sense of the congress that the construction of the keystone x.l. pipeline and the federal approvals required for the construction of the keystone x.l. pipeline are in the national interest of the united states. where a safe and responsible production transportation, the use of oil and petroleum products provide the foundation of the energy economy of the united states, helping to secure and advance the economic prosperity, national security, and overall quality of life in the united states. whereas the keystone x.l. pipeline would provide short and long-term employment opportunities and related labor income benefits such as government revenues associated with taxes. whereas the state of nebraska has thoroughly approved and reviewed the proposed keystone x.l. pipeline reroute concluding
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the concerns of nebraskans have had a major influence on the pipeline reroute and that the reroute will have minimal environmental impact. whereas the department of state and other federal agencies have conducted extensive studies and analysis over a long period of time on the technical environmental, social and economic impact of the proposed keystone x.l. pipeline. whereas assessments by the department of state found that the keystone x.l. pipeline is not likely to impact the amount of crude oil produced from the oil sands and that approval or denial of the proposed project is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands. whereas the department of state found that the incremental life cycle of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the keystone x.l. project are estimated in the range of .07 to
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.83 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, equivalence with the upper end of this range representing 12/1000ths of 1% of the total metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted in the united states in 2011. whereas after extensive evaluation of potential impact to land and water resources along the 875-mile proposed route of the keystone x.l. pipeline, the department of state found the analysis of potential impacts associated with the construction and normal operation of the proposed project suggests there would be no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed project route [assuming keystone applies with all laws and required conditions and measur
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measures] whereas the department of state found that spills associated with the proposed project that enter the environment are expected to be rare and relatively small and that there's no evidence of increased corrosion or other pipeline threat due to viscosity of diluted oil that will be transported by the keystone x.l. pipeline. whereas the national research council convened a special expert panel to review the transport of diluted pichum in the pipeline and issued a report in june of 2013 to the department of transportation in which the national research council found that existing literature indicates that transportation of diluted b bichium posed no increased risk of pipeline failure where. as plans to incorporate 57 project-specific special conditions relating to the design, construction and operations of the keystone x.l. pipeline led the department of state to find that the pipeline
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will have a degree of safety over any other typically constructed domestic oil pipeline. and whereas the department of state found that oil destined to be shipped from the pipeline from the oil sand region of canada and oil shale deposits in the united states would otherwise move by modes of transportation if the keystone x.l. pipeline is not built. now, therefore, be it resolved by the senate, the house of representatives concurring, that it is the sense of congress are that, one, the construction of the keystone x.l. pipeline will promote sound investment in the infrastructure of the united states; two, construction of the keystone x.l. pipeline will promote energy security in north america and will generate an increase in private-sector jobs that will benefit both the regions surrounding the keystone x.l. pipeline and the united states as a whole, and; three, completion of the keystone x.l. pipeline is in the
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national interest of the united states. mr. president, i have worked toward approval of the keystone x.l. pipeline. first, as a governor and now -- first as a governor and now as a u.s. senator. because i believe it is just the kind of project that will grow our economy and create the jobs our country so desperately needs and it will do so with good environmental stewardship. at the same time, it will reduce our dependence on the middle east for oil, which is what the american people have sought for decades. mr. president, the keystone x.l. pipeline project is long, long overdue. for the benefit of our economy, our environment and our long-term energy security, this project needs to be approved and it needs to be approved without delay. as i said, we can do these things. we can do these things and so much more, but it takes a
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bipartisan effort, it takes bipartisanship. and we've got to find a way to tackle these tough issues for the benefit of the american people and we've got to do it in the way that has always been the hallmark of this institution, of the united states senate, and that's on a bipartisan basis. earlier today i read accounts that i've received from my state of citizens who've been impacted adversely by obamacare. obamacare is an example of what i'm talking about, an example of something that was passed on a partisan basis rather than on a bipartisan basis. so when we look across this great country, it's very understandable why the public support is not there. this was a policy passed solely
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with votes from one side of the aisle, in the house and the senate. we need to pass things in a bipartisan way. we need policies for this country, particularly on these big issues, that can garner bipartisan support if we expect the american people to truly support the policies as well. i'd like to read several more accounts, true stories that we've received from people from our state in my office about the impact that obamacare is having on their lives. first one comes from crystal, north dakota. it's a frustrated senior not eligible for medicare seeking ways to cut back to afford obamacare. this individual writes, "just who is this health care reform law helping? my insurance broker, american family, is no longer carrying medical insurance so they lose. the average american that goes
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out and earns a paycheck, he loses. doctors don't like it. so how many new doctors will there be? i just got off the phone with the insurance brokerage company that has taken over my former broker's customers. i learned that if i sign up before the end of the year, i can save by not having maternity coverage. what a laugh. but after 2014, i have to have maternity coverage. can you see all of us senior citizens walking around pregnant? so with the cheapest coverage, i will be paying $473 more per month than my current coverage and my premium will be $1,288 per month. that's a 37% increase per month. next year the rate will increase to cover maternity. and if you have children under 18, you have to have dental and
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maybe vision, too. i already try to conserve on our monthly expenses. have heat set to 55 degrees. and when gusts are here, i set it to 50 degrees. i don't smoke, don't drink, even quit drinking pop. i don't even go out, don't even go out to get the mail every day and don't buy new clothes. i even don't go to visit family like i used to. what should i cut out of our monthly expenses? take weekly showers, get the mail once a week? eat once a die? hibernate? get a third job? cut out the grandkids' events? so "affordable care" -- i wonder how many heart attacks there will be after americans' open up their health insurance bills in 2014, and even more in 251 2015,
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because it will be a shocker." here's another story from an independent north dakotan in minowauken who suggests seceding from the union over obamacare. quote -- "i would like you to know what the health care reform law is doing to -- for my fami family. the insurance company we have had since 1994 is no longer going to offer health insurance starting april of 2014. when i called to get quotes to replace my current health insurance policy, i learned i would have to pay $200 more for a plan with a deductible that is twice the amount that i currently have. then when i eventually have to go on an obamacare policy, i will have to pay for maternity, which i haven't had for 17 years and have not needed. plus, i will have to pay for children's dental and vision, which my family won't be able to use because my children are 18 and 20 years old.
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the health reform insurance policy will cost me twice as much as i am paying now. so please tell me how this is going to help me. the only thing this is doing is giving another freebie to those who choose not to work. this is very frustrating and i am starting to believe that seceding from the union and making our country much better for the residents of north dakota. we certainly have enough of our own resources to take care of ourselves. i hope you're trying to change the health care reform bill." here's one from a hardware story owner who's unable to grow his business due to obamacare. quote -- "i just received my renewal from blue cross/blue shield for my five employees and the premium for the same coverage went up from $2,179.50 a month to $3,090.40 per month.
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i'm a smalltown hardware store owner. where is this money to come from? i'm so frustrated by the lack of understanding that our country's government officials have regarding the policies they create. it appears that we all need to go on welfare to survive. most people who work and generate the money are feeling helpless. i don't think you have a clue as to the frustration that is out here. i was looking to expand and grow my business, but with the drain that i believe obamacare will have on the already strained economy will be much greater than the great depression. so as a small business owner, why should i invest in the future in so our u.s. government can continue its business-as-usual? i think not." mr. president, i present these stories and others that i have presented earlier in the day, along with my colleagues, because they're real stories
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from real americans across the country that are suffering because of obamacare. we have put forward the kind of market-based solutions to replace obamacare that empower people, empower them to choose their own health care insurance and their own health care provider. and we need to go to work to provide the right kind of health care reform. we need to do that on a bipartisan basis. and i think that by presenting these stories it's not just a case of members of the senate or members of the congress saying hey, this is what i think is happening, these are real stories. these are people telling us what's happening to them in their lives. and we need to take heed and we need to address the very real and valid concerns they are
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raising. and we can do it. we absolutely can do it. and i come back to where i started my comments after our last vote. we're here today voting on nominations. due to the change in the senate rules by the majority party, advise and consent no longer requires participation or any votes whatsoever from the minority party. that creates a situation now where judges, other nominees can be approved solely by one party. we've seen what happens when one party and one party alone can confirm appointees or can pass laws like obamacare. it doesn't work. it doesn't work for our country. and that's why the senate was set up to require bipartisanship, to require consensus so that as we pass the
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important policies and laws that will help lift our country and move it forward, that we have the broad base of support from both sides of the aisle across this great nation. and that's what's required to make things work. and that's -- and that is why it's incumbent on all of us in this institution to reach out and find ways to make sure that we have that bipartisanship and so that we create the kind of policies that will truly move our country forward. that's what the american people have sent us here to do. mr. president, i see that my esteemed colleague from the great state of utah is on the senate floor, and at this time, i would yield to him. mr. hatch: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president, i've certainly enjoyed the remarks of the distinguished senator from north dakota. he's done a terrific job here in the senate. he's made a real difference.
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and i personally appreciate him very much. we all know we're here for one basic reason. i believe our friends on the other side believe that by creating this kind of a fuss and problem, that they can get off of the issue of obamacare, which is a disaster and everybody knows it, including them. the the fact of the matter is that they have gone from one extreme debacle to another in their, i think, desecration of this body by getting rid of a rule that is absolutely critical to this body. the rule of protection to the minority, i can hardly wait for those on this side of the aisle, the other side of the aisle who have never been in the minority for them to get in the minority and realize what they have done
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is basically destroy the thing that has made the senate the greatest deliberative body in the world. there was a filibuster rule 22 that you could end filibusters. in the early days, back in the early part of the last century, they couldn't get anything done. they said they came up with rule 22 so that they could invoke cloture and end the debate and get back to whatever they -- the senate decided was the appropriate business. it has worked amazingly well, and it would continue to work amazingly well, except for the fact that our colleagues on the other side have made the senate no better than the house of representatives. and the senate was always supposed to be different from the house of representatives. it was supposed to be the body that would be more deliberative.
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it was jefferson who said it's the saucer that cools the tea. something that -- president washington has said that. whoever said it, they were right. the senate is the body that should cool the tea. the saucer that should cool the tea. it should cool debates around here, but now it's just whatever the majority wants, and they vote in unison and they vote in unison because they are supported in unison by a number of very, very well-heeled groups, basically including the unions especially that basically democrats are afraid of crossing. it's a pitiful shame. well, this filibuster, i'd like to chat just a little bit about
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this because it is a time-honored instrument that both sides have used, that there have been, i think, gross misrepresentations of what the filibuster is by the leadership of the other side, and this gross set of misrepresentations should never have been spoken here on the floor. i don't know how they keep a straight face when they do it. mr. president, on november 21, 2013, the majority used a premeditated parliament gimmick to charge more than two centuries a set of confirmation practice, to change it. as a result for the first time since 1806, the minority cannot extend debate on any nominations except for those that go to the supreme court. democrats accomplished this on a purely party-line vote and by a maneuver designed to avoid
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scrutiny. it would be hard to imagine a crisis so grave, a conflict so intractable that the only option was to fundamentally alter the very nature of this institution and further politicize the very confirmation process. i'm here to say that the crisis that the majority said can only be solved that way never existed. the majority leader claimed on november 21 that this crisis was, as he put it, caused by -- quote -- "unprecedented obstruction" -- unquote -- of nominations to both the judicial and executive branches. more specifically, he said there had been 163 filibusters of judicial and executive branch nominations, half of them during the obama administration. by the way, that's totally false, and they know it. i don't know how they can stand on the floor and make these bald-faced assertions. the only solution to the problem, the leader said, was to
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ban nomination filibusters. i notice that the majority leader made no attempt to either define the filibusters he was counting on -- or he was counting or to identify the nominations on his filibuster list. that was a nod of omission because doing so would surely have proved his point, wouldn't it? no. there was a very good reason that the majority leader simply threw out a big number and did identify the filibusters that he claimed justified rigging the confirmation process. if he had simply listed those filibusters, we all would have seen dozens and dozens and dozens of nominations that the senate had confirmed, many without opposition at all. since i first took my oath of office on january 3, 1977, the united states senate has confirmed more than 1,700 nominations to the u.s. district courts, the u.s. courts
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of appeal and the u.s. supreme court, and they have defeated two, two in all of that time the last 37 years. we confirmed 78% by unanimous consent, without any rock vote at all, and two-thirds of the roll call votes we did take were unanimous. think about that. where's the problem? no president gets every single appointment he or she wants, but every president gets the vast majority. during his first term, for example, president obama was 30% behind his pedestrian -- predecessor in nominations. they were sloppy in putting forth nominations, but he ended up only 10% behind in confirmations. that could only mean that the
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senate handled his additional nominations efficiently. during a second term so far the senate has confirmed more than twice, more than twice as many judicial nominees as it had by this point in president bush's second term. the congressional research service says that the senate is confirming president obama's appeals court nominees faster than the senate confirmed president bush's. in fact, president obama has already appointed 1/4 of the entire federal judiciary. i can also comment on how executive branch nominations referred to the finance committee have been handled. nearly 80% of the nominations sent to the committee during the 112th congress have so far been confirmed. looking at executive branch filibusters overall, the same democratic leaders who last month voted to abolish nomination filibusters voted to filibuster president bush's nominees to be assistant
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secretary of defense and e.p.a. administrators, and twice voted to filibuster his nominee to be a united nations ambassador. they must have thought very different back then about whether the president deserves his team. we have heard a lot about that from the current democrats. their actions then spoke more loudly than their words do today about whether they think all nominees really do deserve an up-or-down vote. look at the past. look at what they have done. it's hypocritical. however, the majority will not acknowledge those facts and others like them because those facts do not fit the spin that they're putting on this. it's hard, after all, to claim an obstruction crisis when so many nominees are confirmed and
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are being confirmed, so the majority instead makes a claim about what they call filibusters because that sounds bad to most people, and most people will not know whether the claim is even true. calling something a filibuster does not make it so. a filibuster occurs when the senate cannot vote on passage of legislation or confirmation of a nomination because an attempt to end debate on it fails. that is why filibuster reform always focuses on making it easier to end debate. the filibuster rule 22 came about after the turn of the last century because they couldn't get anything done in the senate and they needed a way of bringing things to cloture. so they could vote. we're headed into the same kind
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of a disaster without this really important rule. it takes two steps to detect a filibuster, a cloture motion, and a cloture vote. you can't have a filibuster without both. and as you can see, a vast majority of what our leader here has claimed are filibusters are not. because they have had a cloture vote. the culture -- they haven't had a cloture vote, excuse me. the cloture motion is a request to end debate, and a cloture vote answers that request. the filibuster occurs when a cloture vote fails and debate cannot be ended. that's what a definition of a filibuster is. some people listening to this might already be wondering whether these details really matter, whether the difference between a cloture motion and a cloture vote or the definition of a filibuster are really all that important after all.
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i'm here today to say that these details do matter, mr. president, because the truth matters, the truth matters when senators claim that there is a crisis that needs a solution when there really isn't. the truth matters when the majority prohibits the very tool that they used so successfully in the past against republican nominees. the truth matters when the entire confirmation process is going to be rigged and the judiciary further politicized, like the d.c. circuit court of appeals. i have been on the judiciary committee 37 years. i chaired that committee. i was ranking on that committee. and i can tell you, never in the history of that committee has it
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been so brazenly ignored. the truth matters because the american people need to know what their senators are really doing. the truth was in short supply on november 21, the majority leader claimed 168 filibusters, but he was not counting filibusters at all. the majority leader was counting cloture motions, not filibusters. and he had the habit of calling up a bill and almost immediately filing cloture, as though there was a filibuster when nobody intended the filibuster, and then in prior years he would fill up the parliament tree, so in the greatest deliberative body in the world, you couldn't -- you could not have amendments. the minority could not have amendments. there's a time to fill up the tree, but it's only after there has been a full and fair debate
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and amendments have had their opportunity to be brought forward. they do it to cut off amendments, unless the majority leader approved of whatever the amendments were. now, i think it's nice to protect your fellow senators on the majority side with legitimate ways of doing it, but this isn't one of them. that alone was causing a lot of discontent on our side because the majority leader was counting cloture motions, not filibusters, and claiming there were filibusters when there weren't. he was counting requests to end debate, not the answers to those requests. most people probably do not know that the majority leader files nearly all cloture motions, as he did just a few days ago, by adding ten more to the list. so if the majority leader claims that there are too many cloture motions filed on nominations, he has only himself to blame. under president obama, half of the cloture motions filed on
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nominations do not result in a cloture vote at all. the rest just vanish into thin air. obviously, because they never should have been filed in the first place, yet that's a scheme that is used by the other side and then they claim this side as being obstructionists. two-thirds of the cloture votes that do occur on nominations pass. there has been no discussion of that by the other side. two-thirds of them pass. preventing filibusters altogether. here's the filibuster fraud, mr. president. the majority leader has been using the cloture rule more effectively than in the past -- or should i say more obnoxiously in the past to prevent filibusters of president obama's nominations while telling us about unprecedented obstruction. the truth is exactly the opposite of what he has claimed and other democrats on the other
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side of the aisle have claimed. perhaps the most astounding fact of all is that nearly 90% of obama nominees to the executive or the judicial branch on whom cloture motions were filed have been confirmed. the majority told us that this was about obstruction, about how the minority was using the filibuster to prevent president obama from appointing people. it's no wonder that the majority leader did not show us the list of the nominations he claims have been filibustered. the claims are a fraud. the majority created this crisis and damaged this institution by claiming that ending debate is really a filibuster and that confirming nominations is really obstructing them. up is down, left is right, and confirmations are filibusters. uh-huh. all of this is more than a
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little ironic since the democrats were the ones who with pioneered using the filibuster to defeat majority-supported judicial nominations. the first judicial nominee with clear majority support to be defeated by a filibuster was miguel estrada in 2003, one of the finest lawyers in the country. they didn't want him on the d.c. circuit court of appeals because they knew getting on that court is a fast track to the united states supreme court. in fact, democrats were so intent on keeping him off the d.c. circuit that they filibustered miguel estrada. this latino man, seven times, a record that stands to this day. i know. i was there. i was fighting for miguel estrada, as were all republicans.
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as of november 21 when the majority said there was an unprecedented filibuster crisis, there had been 12 cloture votes. 12 on obama judicial nominations, and six of them had failed. there was no obstruction. at that same point in the bush administration there had been 26 cloture votes on judicial nominations, and 20 of them had failed. democrats use the filibuster to defeat republican nominees to the fifth circuit, the sixth circuit and the ninth circuit. three quarters of all votes for judicial nomination filibusters in history have been cast by democrats. three-quarters. and they have the gall to stand on this floor and suggest that republicans are using the filibuster to stop nominees.
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the majority leader alone, at least before complaining of too many filibusters, voted no less than 26 times to filibuster republican judicial nominees. 26 times. like i said, the same democratic leaders abolishing nomination filibusters today voted to filibuster president bush's nominees to be assistant secretary of defense and e.p.a. administrator and twice voted to filibuster his nominee as the united states -- united nations ambassador. i don't understand -- or should i say i don't know what the majority understands the word -- quote -- "unprecedented" to mean, but this certainly isn't it. this, mr. president, is why the truth matters. as of november 21, when the majority leader claimed that there had been 168 nominations
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filibustered, only 56 cloture votes on executive or judicial nominations had ever failed, and only 17 of those filibustered nominees have not been confirmed. the crisis that the majority claimed turns out to be a myth, a tale for the fiction section of the newspaper. this is why the truth matters, and let's not forget what the majority did on november 21. rule 22, the one that provides a way to end debate, is a written rule, a time-honored rule. it says what it says. and it says that ending debate on any matter before the senate with the exception of rules changes requires three-fifths of all senators. it said that on november 21, and it says that today. the technical term for what the majority leader did that day was to raise a point of order. but in practical terms, the majority leader asked the
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presiding officer to say that three-fifths actually means a majority vote. he might just as well have asked the presiding officer to say that christmas is on december 29 or that the nation's capital is in salt lake city, utah. the presiding officer stated the obvious that three-fifths means three-fifths because that is what the rule says. that is what the presiding officer advised by the parliamentarian of the senate said. three-fifths means what it says. three-fifths because that is what the rule says. by a purely party line vote, the majority said otherwise, that three-fifths is actually a majority, by overruling their own colleague in the chair. this sounds absurd because it is. now we are forced to act like we can't read to suspend the most basic ability to understand the
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english language and set aside our common sense. we are forced to pretend that the rules of this body say what they don't mean and mean what they don't say. it frankly reminds me of the wizard of oz when dorothy and her friends went before the image they thought was the great and powerful oz. their dog toto pulls down the curtain to reveal a little man speaking into a microphone. the image commands pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. on november 21 the majority told each of us to pay no attention to the three-fifths in the cloture rule. that was quite a trick. the real question is why the majority would concoct such a fraud in order to rig the confirmation process. what could be so important that the majority would go through such contortions, peddle such myths and play such word games.
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it certainly want to solve a filibuster crisis; that's for sure. no, it was for a much more base political reason. the president of the majority here in the senate deliberately set up this political confrontation in order to implement a political agenda that cannot get through congress. that agenda requires actions and decisions by the two groups of federal officials who are not directly accountable to the american people. bureaucrats and the executive branch and judges in the judicial branch. the president appoints these categories of officials but only with the senate's consent. for more than 200 years the process of deciding whether to give that consent, including the right of the minority to slow things down, and, yes, even block the most controversial nominees. i've given you the numbers. only 17 executive or judicial nominees who were filibustered
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were not eventually confirmed. but the majority wants it all. they want a clear path to stacking the executive branch with officials who will issue the rules and stacking the judicial branch with judges who will approve those rules. the d.c. circuit court of appeals is a perfect illustration where much of the regulations are decided by the courts. and they want them decided in favor of president obama. they want the courts to legislate from the bench that which they could never get through the united states senate or the house of representatives. this is a power grab. nothing more, nothing less. and it appears that the ends justifies the means, that short-term political gains justify long-term institutional damage. i urge my colleagues from the freshmen to the senior members to take some guidance from our own predecessors.
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senator mike mansfield, a leading democrat, majority leader of the senate, he served in the minority and later became majority leader. in 1975 when senators also proposed forcing a rules change by a simple majority, he said that this tactic would, let me quote him -- "destroy the very uniqueness of this body and diminish the senate as an institution of this government." it would he said -- quote -- "alter the concept of the senate so drastically that i cannot under any circumstances find any justification for it." that was the democrat leader in the united states senate, a man of unquestionable integrity. as i've explained here today the majority has certainly not provided any justification for doing away with the filibuster rule either. there is no filibuster crisis. i think i've made that case. there is only a desire by the majority to win every time, to
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have everything they want when and how they want it. most of the executive and judicial branch nominations that the majority claims were filibustered were actually confirmed, even in this town known famously for masterful spin, that would surely go down as legendary. the majority have abolished nomination filibusters by claiming nominations that were confirmed were actually obstructed. when they were confirmed. this amounts to filibuster fraud. that is why we're here today, mr. president, because the truth matters. the integrity of the united states senate matters. and i can only hope that there is time for those two concepts to still prevail. mr. president, what the democrats have done here is not on the extremely -- not only
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extremely dangerous, it's outrageous. they've taken one of the things that really makes the united states senate the great body that it is and have desecrated it. and they've done it because a number of the democrats over here have never been in the minority. they don't realize how awful that rule is. they don't realize that the filibuster is a rule of freedom. it protects the minority. it makes the senate debate on these matters. it's what makes the united states senate different from the house of representatives. the house of representatives is a people's body. they can do anything once they get a rule and get 51% of the votes. anything.
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it was structured that way. the senate was structured another way. and our young new senators on the other side don't seem to understand that. i've chatted with a number of more senior senators who have been through being in the minority, who have been through some of the battles here, and let me tell you, there -- they s concerned as i am that this body is totally damaged by this breaking of the rules, destroying the rules for purely partisan purposes. they can talk about how they just want the senate to work all they want to. the senate's never going to work as well without this rule. and the minority will never be protected as well without this rule. and i've got to tell you, i hope we can get this rule put back in
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place. even though it's a disadvantage to republicans right now because they now have three more liberal senators on the d.c. circuit court of appeals that was divided four to four, republican nominees to democrat nominees -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. hatch: i ask for another 90 seconds. the presiding officer: is there objection? hatch four to four -- hatch hatch four to four -- mr. hatch: i'll try to make it shorter than that. farce administrative -- as far as administrative law is concerned they can pass through that court the obama administration's claims and desires without having to face
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real debate. there was a reason why the founding fathers had three separated powers, because each of those powers is to protect our country. they're making it so on regulatory matters, administrative court matters, there is really only one-sixth power for republicans. mr. president, there was an incorrect, an incorrect reference to the house bill number in a consent agreement earlier today with respect to the following firefighters assistance tax clarification act. i ask unanimous consent that the previous order be modified to reflect the correct house bill number, h.r. 3458. the presiding officer: is there objection? seeing and hearing none, without objection. mr. hatch: mr. president, i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: all postcloture time is expired. the question occurs on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. there is. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, this nominee nag is confirmed 75 yeas, 20 nays. the clerk will report to invoke cloture.
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the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of susan p. waters of montana to be united states district judge for the district of montana. signed by 19 senators. the presiding officer: pursuant rule 22, the chair directs the clerk to call the roll to assert the presence of a quorum. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: is quorum is present. the question is, is it the sense that saw soon b. waters shall be district judge for the state of montana shall be brought to are a close. the yeas and nays are ordered under the rule. the clerk will call the roll.
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the presiding officer: is there any senator wishing to vote or change their vote? seeing and hearing none, on this vote the yeas are 58, the nays are 39. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, susan p. watters of montana to be united states district judge for the district of montana. the presiding officer: pursuant to the provisions of s. resolution 15 of the 113th congress there will be -- now be up to two hours of postcloture consideration of the nomination equally divided in the usual form. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: if i yield back one
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hour of the majority's time, what time would the next vote occur? the presiding officer: 9:15 p.m. mr. reid: i yield back that one hour. the presiding officer: time is yielded back. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator idaho. sorry, i'm sorry. the senator from mississippi. i was looking elsewhere. sorry. mr. wicker: thank you. i was a bit perplexed there for a minute. it was not the first time, mr. president. mr. president, we are now on calendar number 349, message 462, susan p. waters of montana to be united states district judge for the district of montana. i note on the executive calend calendar, this nomination came before the senate from the committee on september 19. it is my understanding that this nominee was cleared by our side
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of the aisle and could have been brought up on any monday afternoon by a voice vote. and i think members might be wondering -- and certainly people within the sound of my voice tonight might be wondering -- why we are spending time tonight in a protracted debate on three district court nominees -- mccafferty, brian morris of montana, and sow susan p. watters of montana. it me, we've gotten to this point mr. president, because of the heavy-mannehanded overreachf the majority in trasming on the
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rights of folks on our side of the aisle who find ourselves temporarily, i hope, in the minority. that has a wait of changing from time to time, but it's the sort of overreach that i'm r reminded of from 2009 when a supermajority in both houses rammed through obamacare and caused all of the grief that we currently are facing and that real, live americans are having with the so-called affordable health care act. you know, it -- it actually might be in one way beneficial that we're spending this time on something that could have been done so quickly, because it gives us an opportunity to point out that we should be right now at this moment working on the national defense reauthorization act. and also on the budget, two matters that are pending that really must be addressed by this
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senate before we can go home and take a day or two with our constituents and loved ones for the christmas who will dais chr. but it gives me an opportunity, as the budget comes over from the house of representatives tonight, mr. president, to point out one of the most onerous provisions in the budget, which has just passed with sweeping, bipartisan support in the house of representatives. i will stand before this body tonight and say that i cannot vote and will not vote for this budget, and i hope that even yet members of the congress and the american public will listen to the broken promise that is contained in this budget that will be coming afford, and we'll
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perhaps get back to the nomination in a moment. but we should note two things about this budget: it asks an additional contribution for pensions for federal employees, but it doesn't do it to current federal employees. if you enter the federal service after the beginning of the year, you pay an additional amount that is withheld from your paycheck for your pension. now, that's a hard thing to do. it is distasteful to do, but at least it's fair to the people who joined the federal service under one set of rules. on the other hand, the budget that comes over to us from the house of representatives and that i will oppose when it eventually does come up for a vote hopefully next week does to retired servicemen what we were
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persuade the not to do on federal employees; it breaks a promise to retired service people who've already served their time and it does this, mr. president: it says to every retired service member under the age of 62, you're not going to get your cola anymore. each year until you get to be 62, you're going to get your cola, less 1%. and i can tell you that this is not a matter of nickles and dimes to the people who have stepped afford, joined the military, volunteered for a career in the military, done their 20, and now are going to be told, if this resolution -- if this budget passes next week, we're sorry, we're changing the rules way after the game has begun. i want to submit at this point, mr. president, for the record a letter to me from vice admiral
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norb ryan, united states navy retired, president of the military officers association of america. may i snait for the record at this point, mr. president? the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wicker: and let me just point out what the retired vice admiral says. "on behalf of the 380,000 members of the military officers association of america, i am writing to express our strong opposition to the proposal within the bipartisan budget act of 2013 which penalizes future uniformed retirees and current retirees -- current retirees -- under the age of 62 even though the budget deal would help ease the harmful effects of sequestration for two years for the department of defense, something we support. doing so on the backs of service members who serve our nation for over 20 years is just shameful."
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and i would interject at this point, mr. president, i have to gray witagree with sthaivment "g working-age retiree annual cost-of-living until think reach the age of 62 is simply a tax. service members who retire at the 20-year point would feel the full negative financial effects of the proposal by reducing their retired pay by nearly 20% by the time they reach the age of 62." and this is the pertinent part, mr. president, of the letter which i am inserting into the record at this point. for example -- and my colleagues should hear me on this, mr. president. "an army sergeant first class e-7 retiring this year with 20 years 6 service woul of servicen annual loss of $2,700 per year
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by the age they reach the age 62, a cumulative loss of nearly d 83,000. that's what this budget, bipartisan budget resolution does to the retired military enlisted people who have volunteered to serve our country for 20 years and who joined under one set of rules. $83,000 lifetime taken from this retired e-7. for a lieutenant colonel 0-5, the average annual loss would be over $6,200 annually, a cumulative loss of over $124,0 $124,000. this -- i'll yield on this, absolutely. the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. isakson: i know the senator from mississippi was on active duty in the air force for several years, and he has state stayed in contact with many
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members of the military, not just as a result of your service on the armed services committee but just because you're very keenly interested in the welfare of the men and women in our military. and if i'm hearing the senator from mississippi correctly on this particular issue, what you're saying is that an e-7 who served in iraq, served in afghanistan, conceivably served multiple tours in iraq and afghanistan, maybe even was awarded major meritorious recognition, is now gone t goino have the promise that was made to him about his rea retirement reduced retroactively. did i understand that correctly? mr. wicker: if this budget passes and is signed in to law by president obama, it will be changed on this individual retroactively. the result will be instead of
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the retirement pay he signed up for and agreed to under the law when he did his duty, an $83,000 loss lifetime. mr. isakson: mr. president, again, if i can inquire of the senator. you, as i say, have been very close to any number of military person l through the years that you have served in this body as well as your service in the mississippi legislature and just by virtue of the fact of practicing law in tupelo, mississippi. mr. chambliss: what is the opinion of the senator from mississippi as to the morale influence that a provision like this is going to have on our men and women in the military but not just those that are retired but active duty military today? mr. wicker: you know, i can only imagine that it's a severe
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blow to mor morale and also it s to make people who are willing to step afford and rick their lived, be separated for months and years from their loved ones, has to make them wonder what else is being promised to me that's going to be taken away? mr. chambliss: and i mention also the reduction in federal retirement pay, which we've got to figure out way to save money. we all know and understand that. and there is a change in the pension for federal retirees, but it's all prospective. mr. wicker: right. we don't do anything to any other federal employees retroactively. only the military. in this budget. i can't imagine how the public could think that is faimplet. mr. chambliss: i'm very sympathetic, even though i never served on active duty in the military, as you did. but this is very, very strange,
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and i.t. very difficul it's vero understand why we would penalize the men and women who have worn or do wear the uniform of the united states versus a very similar provision for men and women who serve the government of the united states in a very honorable way, but we're treating them very, very differently, and it seam seems t discriminate in atorial. -- discriminate in aer toly. -- disdiscriminate in a forly. mr. wicker: i have a list of the members of military coalition listed in a letter to the honorable harass rei honorad mitch mcconnell. skilled that it be inserted into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wicker: and i will say in answer to the distinguished senator from georgia, here are
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the groups that are expressing outrage, dismay, and strong opposition to this provision: the air force sergeants association, air force women officers associated, m vets, amsis association of the united states navy, and warrant officers association, u.s. coast guard, commissioned officers association of the u.s. public health service incorporated, enlisted association of the national guard of the united states, fleet reserve association, goldstar wives, iraq and afghanistan veterans of america, jewish war veterans of the united states of america, marine corps league, marine corps reserve association, military officers association of america, military order of the purple heart, national association for uniformed services, national guard association of the united states, national military family association, naval enlisted
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reserve association society of medical consultants to the armed forces, the military chaplains association of the united states of america, the retired enlisted association, united states army war rant officers association, utah united states colt guard association, chief petty officers association, veterans of foreign wars of the united states, and vietnam veterans of america. this distinguished list of organizations consisting of members and former members of the united states military have registered their opposition. i can only hope at this point that members of the senate will listen to this. this is a so-called savings of $6 billion out of an $80 billion package. surely we can find $6 billion without putting an $80,000
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penalty on the back of an e-7 retired enlisted person who is not rich, who served honorably under one set offer rules and who he's been now told, sorry. and i have to say this. when people see the government not keeping their promises, i think it's destructive to our system of government. and it's exactly the sort of thing we're seeing with obamacare. it's not being overly repetitive to remind my colleagues that the president of the united states, barack obama, repeatedly, over and over, promised the american people they could keep their insurance. for example in his speech at the american medical association on june 15, 2009, president obama stated "no matter how we reform


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