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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 19, 2013 3:00pm-5:01pm EST

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syria, and that if we don't -- and our actions towards we're going to use force, we're not going to use force, assad is winning, that our policies toward syria are affecting the regime's belief about what we may do about their nuclear program, and one thing that might reset our resolve as a nation is for the congress to impose additional sanctions so the ayatollahs will not be confused by our lack of will in syria when it comes to their nuclear program, that the bottom line here is that after our debacle in syria, don't you think we have a problem with the iranian regime of taking us serious? the interna -- the international regime is breaking the sanctions and if know sanctions were imposed in a bipartisan way, that is the best way to reset the debate. mr. mccain: i'd also point out if we are looking for one bright spot, i would point out that we
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see countries in the gulf in the middle east aligning with israel in a way that we have never seen before. and shouldn't we listen? shouldn't we listen to the prime minister of israel that's the first target of iran, the country that the iranians said and have not renounced their commitment to -- quote -- "wiping off the map"? you think that maybe relations between ourselves and israel are at the lowest ebb? do you think it is an accident when now saudis and leaders of other countries are outspoken in their derision of the united states lack of leadership in the middle east? isn't it interesting finally that the russians for the first time since 1973, when anwr sadat threw them out of egypt, they are now major players in the middle east? mr. graham: i think the whole middle east is going in the wrong direction at warped speed
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and congress has some obligation to speak up and do something about it and help the administration when we can. number one a new round of talks where we can muster bipartisan support would send a great message to the iranians, we don't see you the same as we do syria. there's a lot of confusion and differences in the body what to do with syria and senator mccain you've been right for three years on this topic but we are where we are. a new round of sanctions bipartisanly passed i think would tell the iranians that the american congress and people look at you differently than the problem in syria. i think it would also be a statement that -- to the international community we are resolved to get this program dismantled by using sanctions and we're not backing off, so stop this breakout. so finally to our friends, to the israelis, to the sunni arab states, wouldn't it be welcome news to be tougher on iran and to have the congress reinforce the message to the iranians that we're going to keep in place sanctions until you dismantle
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your program? don't you think that would be some welcome news in a region that is absolutely desperate for some good news from america? mr. mccain: i think so so. and i thank my colleagues for their forebearance. i agree with the senator from south carolina. i think it is imperative for the united states congress and our role in the united states government that these sanctions that be enacted. the administration has plenty of time to negotiate but we want to be prepared for failure. and there's no reason i think not to make those preparations. i began our conversation with the comments of the foreign minister of france and that concern is shared by all -- many of our friends and allies both in and out of the region. madam president, i note the presence of the senator from
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mississippi on the floor and i'm sure he has some very important words that will be translated into english. i thank you. i yield. mr. wicker: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. wicker: it would be inconceivable for the senior senator from arizona to say anything which i would find offensive or insulting and i take no offense from his remarks. i'd like to be recognized. we are -- we're in morning debate, i suppose? debate on the pending question? the presiding officer: we are postcloture, and the senator is recognized. mr. wickerer: wonderful. thank you. and i understand that soon senator levin will be coming to the floor and perhaps there will be an exchange between senator cornyn and senator levin about a matter that may be coming to --
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to a vote sometime in the next half-hour and that would be the motion to table the filling of the tree. and so i'd like to speak for a moment or two about that, madam president. and i think sometimes we talk about these things in shorthand within the senate and perhaps our constituents don't know what we're -- we are referring to when we say the majority leader has come in and filled the tree. and i know most members understand this, madam president, but what that means is the majority leader comes in and he offers all of the amendments that could possibly be ordered at one particular time and therefore doesn't give anyone else the opportunity to offer amendments. and that has really been a problem for us on the minority side. we have that situation right now and perhaps the motion that will soon be made by senator cornyn will take care of that.
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but on this important defense bill, which has been brought to the floor in a shorthand manner, the majority leader has filled the tree and there are five amendments offered. one of the amendments, amendment 2555 by senator reid of nevada, simply does this -- strike the word "three days" and put "four days." that's all the amendment does. another amendment, strike the word "four days" and insert "five days." that's all the amendment does. there's another amendment that says "the act shall be effective three days after enactment." and there's another amendment that helps fill the tree, change the word "request" to "request
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"requested." in other words, not substantive amendments, madam president, but amendments designed to simply fill up the parliamentary tree and prohibit members on our si side, or other members, from offering a substantive motion that might affect the policy -- the defense policy of the united states of america. i would simply point this out and reiterate what senator cornyn said earlier today. since becoming majority leader, our current majority leader, senator reid of nevada, has filled the tree 79 times. in other words, offered all the amendments, prohibiting us from even getting a vote, getting a debate on an idea that we might have. by contrast, his six predecessors combined filled the tree only 49 times. in other words, 79 times by this majority leader.
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40 times by the other democrat and republican majority leaders. senate majority leader bill frist filled the tree 15 times during his four years. democratic leader tom daschle filled the tree only once during his year and a half. trent lott was majority leader, he did it 11 times in five yea years. george mitchell, from maine, a very distinguished majority leader, filled the tree three times in six years. and bob dole when he was majority leader filled the tree seven times in three and a half years. point i'm making -- and then i'll sit down -- is that this majority leader, in an unprecedented manner, has filled the tree over and over and over again. why? to prevent other senators from having an opportunity, as
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representatives of the 50 states, to offer ideas and improve bills and get us on record on important issues. i hope that we can have a parliamentary motion in just a few moments to allow this tree to be taken down and to allow the elected representatives of the 50 states to come before the president of the senate and before the american people and offer different ideas. and i yield the floor. mr. cornyn: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: madam president, in a moment i will make a -- i will offer an amendment and i know the distinguished chairman of the armed services committee is here but i want to lay five minutes of groundwork. the majority leader was down here earlier today talking about all the -- quote -- "necessary votes" that we have to hold before everyone leaves town for the holidays.
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and, of course, he was talking about a series of votes on nominees that he himself has set up since he is the -- in essen essence, the traffic cop for the senate and he gets to set the agenda unilaterally. but we know that while the majority leader has set up this series of votes on nominations, none of which are urgent and couldn't be done in january, none of which -- and all of which are controversial, the majority leader is refusing to allow any vote on restoring pension benefits to the men and women of the united states armed services. as we've talked about repeatedly over the last couple of days, the recent budget deal cuts their pension benefits by some $6 billion over 10 years. and we've learned that this agreement slashes the pension benefits of some of our wounded warriors, people who are
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medically retired. senator murray, the senator from washington, the distinguished chairman of the senate budget committee, has called this a technical error. a technical error. and she says it needs to be fixed but we'll do this next year. merry christmas, to our wounded warriors whose pensions are by virtue of the legislation that passed yesterday, have now been cut. and you know what makes matters worse is they've been discriminated against. no other federal employees' pension benefits were cut. only those uniform military members' pensions. so she calls it a technical error. i call it a mistake that needs to be fixed. not next month, not next year but right now, today. so why is it that the majority leader won't let us fix this right now?
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why is it that he is blocking a vote on the relevant amendment? why does he want to keep our veterans and our active duty military, including our wounded warriors, in limbo during the christmas holidays? does he have a good reason for it? is it really more important to confirm some mid-level appointees than to make sure that our wounded combat veterans get the pensions that they've earned? is it really more important for the democrats to jam us with nonessential, nonurgent nominees than to take care of the people who've sacrificed so much for this country? one last question, madam president. is it really more important to approve all of these nominees than to honor the men and women who lost their lives in a homegrown terrorist attack at fort hood, texas, some four years ago, at the hands of major
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nadal hassan, a radicalized major in the united states army, who shouted the word "a allah achbar" before he proceeded to mow down 12 people that cost them to end their lives, and injury 40 more soldiers and military who were injured that day. well, the majority leader seems to think this group of nonurgent and controversial mid-level nominees, that we have to get this done. that's why he's jamming this through and refusing to allow us to amend this legislation with a fix to the military pension issue or to allow us to honor the victims at fort hood with the recognition and the benefits that they so richly deserve. unfortunately, like so much around here lately, it's all politics, all the time, even if that means sliding our wounded -- slighting our wounded warriors and refusing to honor 13 brave americans who was
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killed by a terrorist attack at a u.s. army base. so, madam president, i would ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending motion so that i may offer a motion to concur with amendment 2602 which is filed at the desk. the presiding officer: is there objection? objection is heard. mr. levin: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: i wonder if the good senator from texas would consent to my being allowed to speak for five minutes prior to the motion to table, which i understand is going to be forthcoming. mr. cornyn: madam president, responding to the distinguished senator from the chair, i'd be happy for him to take the time to make whatever comments he wishes now and then since he's made the objection, this would be a good time to do it, if he wishes. mr. levin: i very much appreciate the senator from texas. the presiding officer: without
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objection. mr. levin: let me just try to in five minutes encapsulate what is in the bill and why we are where we're at. madam president, the bill includes numerous provisions, as the presiding officer knows, to sustain the compensation and quality of life of our servicemen and women and their families. the quality of life they deserve as they face the hardships that are imposed by continuing military operations around the world. and just a few of these are bonuses and special pay, $35 million for supplement impact aid for local education, agencies with military dependent children, money to assist the department of defense and assisting veterans in their transition to civilian hreufl, provisions -- to civilian life, provisions for the special operations command $9 billion. $1 billion for counteri.e.d.
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efforts, provisions to streamline the headquarters at all levels by eliminating tiers of management, cutting functions that provide little or no added value, a new land withdrawal provision that marine corps has been working so hard on at twenty nine palms in california. this was the number-one legislative priority of the marine corps. and the commandant explained to us that for six years the marine corps has spent analyzing and preparing for this expansion so that the corps can meet its minimum training criteria. as general demsey, the chairman of the joint chief of staffs told us just a few weeks ago the authorities in this defense bill -- quote -- "are critical to the nation's defense and are urgently needed to ensure that we keep faith with the men and women, military and civilian selflessly serving in our armed forces." relative to the question of amendments which has been raised, we tried when this bill
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came to the floor to get consent to have amendments relate to the defense authorization bill. we were unable to get that consent. we tried to get consent to adopt almost 40 cleared amendments as a managers' package. we could not get consent to do that. we asked to lock in 13 additional amendments for votes. both sides of the aisle were equally divided without prejudice as to further amendments that could be brought up. but again, there was objection. now at this point, madam president, here's where we're at. with the house of representatives having left for the year, the only way we're going to get a defense bill enacted is by passing the bill before us as it stands. if it is amended, the bill would have to go back to the house of representatives and the result would be that we would get nothing enacted, killing both any amendments as well as the bill itself. it would put the defense authorization bill in limbo. we have never done that.
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we have faced situations similar to this two years in the prior five. we've always managed to pass a national defense authorization act for 51 straight years. we followed the process in two of those last five years, which is not dissimilar to this process which we're following this year. does that make this the best way to proceed? no. it is not the best way to proceed. but that's not the choice that we face. our troops and their families and our nation's security deserve a defense bill. the bill before us is right for our troops, for their families, for our nation's security. it was produced in a bipartisan manner. senator inhofe, my ranking member, is here, and i think he will attest to the fact that we adopted dozens of amendments in our committee work on a bipartisan basis. it deserves a strong bipartisan vote in the senate today, but to
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do that the motion to table, which i understand is about to be made, needs to be defeated. and i yield the floor. mr. mccain: would the senator yield for a question? mr. levin: i'd be happy to. mr. mccain: first of all, i'd also like to thank you and the senator from oklahoma for your leadership and hard work on this legislation. and i congratulate you on the great work you have done. but could i ask you, is this the first time in 51 years that a defense authorization bill will be voted on without debate or any amendment? mr. levin: an amendment on this bill the week before thanksgiving -- mr. mccain: excuse me. without extended debate and addressing the issues of sexual assault, n.s.a., detainees. have any of those issues been addressed by debate and amendment on the floor of the senate? mr. levin: the sexual assault
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amendments which were pending, as my good friend from arizona knows, were debated. there were about 20-plus sexual assault amendments that are in the bill, so it makes major advance in that area. in terms of the two amendments that the senator, i think, is referring to, senator mccaskill's and senator gillibrand's amendment there was about a day long debate on that and an effort to vote on them, and i think everybody wanted to vote on those two amendments but there was objection to it. in terms of what the senator i believe is driving at also is that there was a time, i think it was the 2011 or 2012 defense authorization bill where in fact we adopted the bill by unanimous consent. i think there was no debate on the bill that was finally adopted. having said that, i happen to agree that this is not the ideal way to adopt a defense bill. i have said that over and over again, and i've pointed out that
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the way in which we tried to at least get some amendments adopted, including about 30 that have been agreed to, have been cleared, that we couldn't even get those added. with senator inhofe's help, we were able to get much of the material in those amendments that were worked out between us and the house leaders so that they are in this bill. not all the amendments that have been cleared, but many of them. but i happen to agree with my friends, this is not the ideal way to proceed. but we're at now where we are at. and if we simply reopen this bill and do not adopt it the way it is, it then has to go back to the house of representatives, and then there would not be a defense bill. then the problems which would be created for our troops and their families. so this is the best we can do. it's not ideal. mr. mccain: could i just finally say to the senator, i've never seen a process like this before. maybe there have been some parallels, number one.
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number two is that here we are on december 19 of 2013, i believe it is, and we passed the bill through the committee in may. so here we are many months later taking up the bill because the majority's priorities were obviously not to bring up the defense authorization bill until it was so late that we're forced into this cramped procedure. there's no doubt -- i thank the senator and my distinguished chairman -- but the fact is we haven't debated this bill. we haven't debated n.s.a.. we haven't debated this issue of sexual assault with two differing opinions, the sanctions, the detainee issue. all of those issues. i remember in the markup we said we'll wait until it's so
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important, we'll debate and amend this on the floor. i don't think we've done the men and women who are serving in the military anything but a gross disservice by december having a bill rammed through the senate of the united states of america, and that is because of a lack of priorities on the part of leadership. we could have taken this bill to the floor of the senate in june. we didn't. and it's shameful. a senator: madam president? mr. cornyn: i know the distinguished ranking member of the armed services committee is here. i would be glad to yield to him if i could retain the right to the floor. i think he has a few comments he wants to make in response to the chairman. if i can do that, i would ask unanimous consent to do so. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: let me make a couple of comments here. oddly enough, i agree with everything the senator from arizona said. it's true. and the senator from texas.
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the process was terrible. and i've been here for, well, i guess on this house committee and this committee for 22 years. and i don't think i've ever seen anything like it. but the effort was there to have a bill early on. i know working very closely with the chairman, i've never had an opportunity to work that close with someone in developing a bill. but we did. i know it was his desire to have a bill. it's still his desire to have a bill. the problem is we went through the thing of the option that everyone finds so offensive and i find so offensive and it's changed the senate and the evidence of that is what happened in this bill. we had people who wanted to have amendments. and so what i did, i went on a thursday, i recall that, to the, a republican lunch. and i went there with 25 amendments, and i said would you all agree to cut your amendment request, which was over 100,
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down to 25 if i can take it and show it to the other side and see if that's acceptable. they agreed to that. i want to repeat that. the republicans agreed to 20, actually 25 amendments. so i went over. i could not get an agreement on the other side. so that effort was there. now as far as the amendments are concerned, the chairman said several times that we consider these amendments. we did. to be specific, 79 amendments we put in this bill of which over half of them were republican amendments. and so we tried our best to put everything that was in there and it got down to the point, do we want a bill or do we not want a bill? so i want to emphasize that this is not on the merits of the bill. the bill is a good bill. we've addressed -- heard -- that's more than you want to hear us talk about what all is in this bill. it is a good bill. i think it might be better than the bill that we passed out and maybe even the house bill. but nonetheless, it's down to
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that or nothing. for that reason, i think we have to have the bill. but i agree the process we have to keep talking about how bad the process was to make sure that never happens again. we as minorities are entitled to have our amendments the same as the other side when they become minorities are going to be entitled to have their amendments. with that, i'll yield the floor. mr. cornyn: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: madam president, just to clarify, i believe the defense authorization bill will pass this evening, and that's not in any doubt. the problem is that because this isn't just about the process. this isn't just about minority rights in the senate. this is about people getting hurt. the people i'm talking about are our active duty military whose pensions have been cut by the vote we cast yesterday passing the budget deal. and all we want to do is fix it. you know there's bipartisan
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consensus that this is a big mistake. and we could pass that if the majority leader would allow us today. and we could -- it would pass through the house, as i said yesterday, like a hot knife through butter. i mean, everyone agrees this is a mistake, and that is what the process is supposed to do to fix this kind of error before it happens. and now that it has happened, to remedy it through an amendment. but this is exactly what the majority leader is denying us the opportunity to do and why this is so important. and i mentioned lest they not be forgotten, the 12 americans who were killed at fort hood some four years ago by a domestic terrorist attack along with 30 others whose lives were changed federal reserve when they were shot -- changed forever when they were shot by major nidal hasan who had become radicalized by the same cleric president obama targeted on his kill list with a drone attack in yemen and
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appropriately so. he was an agent of al qaeda. but to now call this workplace violence and to give us -- not to give us a chance to recognize the loss of lives in an act of war and to make sure that these patriots get the benefits that they're entitled to is just wrong. so it's not just about the process, not just about minority rights. it's about real people getting hurt and our ability to fix that today. but that's being denied as a result of this process. i would just conclude by saying the distinguished senator from arizona is exactly right. the average number of amendments since 1996 on the national defense authorization bill is 138 amendments. 138 amendments. the average number of recorded votes, 11 1/2. the number of days that we've been on the bill, 8.8 is the average. so this is a big, important, profoundly significant piece of
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legislation. yet it's being jammed through here in about 24 hours without any opportunity to offer amendments. madam president, parliamentary inquiry. is it correct that no senator is permitted to offer an amendment to the house-passed defense bill while the majority leader's motion to concur with a further amendment is pending? the presiding officer: the senator is correct. mr. cornyn: further parliamentary inquiry, madam president. if a motion to table the reed amendment to -- reid amendment to concur with the further amendment is successful, would there be an opportunity to offer my amendment number 2602, this is the fort hood purple heart bill? the presiding officer: the senator is correct. mr. cornyn: madam president, in order to offer that amendment and others that i believe would be in order and should be allowed to be offered, i move to table the pending reid motion to concur with the further amendment, and i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be.
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the clerk will call the roll. vote: vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the yeas are 45, the nays are 55. the motion to table is not agreed to. the presidin the senator from michigan -- without objection.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: i would ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. if the senator will hold for one moment. the senate will be in order. the senate will be in order. please take your conversations outside the chamber. the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: thank you, mr. president. i ask to speak as if in morning
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business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. franken: mr. president, i rise today to speak about some of the important things we can be doing to help strengthen our economic recovery and to get more minnesotans and more americans across the country into jobs. during the government shutdown in october, i came to the floor to talk about how the shutdown was preventing us from doing the work that people sent us here to do. every day we spent on the shutdown was a day we weren't working together to create jobs and to rebuild the middle class. well, the budget deal we passed this week is far from perfect but it is my hope that it will enable us to stop lurching from crisis to crisis and to focus on the work that we were sent here to do. this agreement means that businesses will have the stability and certainty that they need to create jobs and
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strengthen our economy and allows us to focus on educating our kids, creating a 21st century work force, and putting people back to work. like i said, this budget deal is far from perfect, it's a compromise and like any compromise, it has elements that i like and elements that i don't like, and elements that others like and don't like that may be different. in addition to providing some budgetary certainty for the next two years, the budget deal undoes -- undoes some of the extreme across-the-board cuts of the sequester that will enable us to make more of the critical investments we need to make in education, research and development, and infrastructure. and we will make those investments while we're placing the irrational cuts of the sequester with more responsible debt -- deficit reduction. in fact, the bill ultimately
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reduces the debt by about $20 million more than than under the previous budget that included the full sequester. at the same time, i'm very troubled by the fact that the bill pays for undoing some of the extreme across-the-board cuts of the sequester in part by reducing some military pensions,. that was something pushed for by the lead republican negotiator and i'm not happy about it. i believe there are cuts that we can make to defense spending but cutting military pensions isn't one of them. that's why i'm cosponsoring a bill by senator jeanne shaheen of new hampshire that would replace those cuts to military pensions by closing an indefensible and wasteful corporate tax loophole and i hope we can get that done before the cut to military pensions goes into effect. i'm also very troubled that the budget deal does not include an
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extension of critical emergency unemployment insurance. extending this unemployment insurance is one of the things we need to be doing for the economy. too many americans remain unemployed and those who have been employed the long -- unemployed the longest are facing the expiration of their unemployment insurance when they need it the most. 65,000 workers in minnesota, and millions throughout our country, may need this extended unemployment insurance in 2014 p. these folks are struggling, they're struggling to find jobs and to support their families. not extending unemployment insurance will also put the brakes on our economic recovery. in 2011, the c.b.o. wrote that aid to the unemployed is among the policies with -- quote -- "the largest effects on output and employment per dollar of budgetary cost." and without an extension, the
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council of economic advisors estimates that the economy will generate 240,000 fewer jobs by the end of 2014. that's why i've been working to continue the extension of unemployment insurance and i will keep pushing for the senate to take up and pass extension when we return in the new year. another thing we should do to strengthen the economy and help working americans is to raise the minimum wage. we established a minimum wage because we believe that no one should work full time, contributing to society, and live in poverty. americans value work. we work more hours on average than citizens in other developed countries. the minimum wage is supposed to help guarantee if you work hard and play by the rules, you will at least have a roof over your head and you'll be able to put food on the table.
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this year marks 75 years with the federal minimum wage. however, today because the minimum wage is too low, it is not doing what it's supposed to do. today a minimum wage worker making $7.25 an hour or about $15,000 per year falls below the poverty line. even though they work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. and inflation has eroded the value of the minimum wage. if the minimum wage had simply kept pace with inflation since 1968, not raised in real terms but just kept place with inflation, kept pace with it. it would be a $10.75 an hour today. that is a wage that would at least keep a family of three above the poverty line. what has happened to the minimum wage is part of a larger trend
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for american workers. over the past 50 years, american workers have increased their productivity by 135%. 135% increase. but, but the value of their wages has not changed. and the real value of the minimum wage has dropped by 33% over that same time. over just the past two years, costs have climbed, americans are paying more for electricity, rent, auto repair, food, and childcare, and many other things, and yet wages for most workers have stagnated and the minimum wage has fallen. that's why i think one of the most important ways we can boost our economy and help workers and families is to increase the minimum wage. and americans agree. americans strongly favor boosting the federal minimum
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wage to $10.10 an hour. in a recent survey, 63% supported raising the minimum wage to $10.10 from the current $7.25 rate. moreover, the support for increasing the minimum wage is broad based. the rich, the poor, republicans and democrats all believe that we should raise the minimum wage. increasing the minimum wage would be good for minnesota and there is is a parallel effort at the state level to increase the state minimum wage. if we increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10, it will affect 462,000 minnesota workers over three years. that's 18% of minnesota's work force. and it will increase our state's g.d.p. by almost $400 million. this is something that we must fight for.
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extending unemployment benefits and increasing the minimum wage are crucial things that we can be doing to support the american value that if you work hard, you should be able to support yourself and your family. there is more that we can be doing. i am part of the manufacturing jobs for america initiative that several of my colleagues in the senate and headed up by the presiding officer have undertaken. as part of that initiative, i want to talk about an issue that i've spoken about on the floor before and that i hear about from manufacturers all over minnesota, the skills gap. why is the skills gap? well, recent studies have shown that between one-third and and a half of manufacturers in my state of minnesota have one job
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that they can't fill because they can't find a worker with the right skills to fill that job. that is the skills gap in minnesota. but it isn't just minnesota. this is a nationwide phenomenon. as i roam this floor to talk to my colleagues, every one of them knows this phenomenon in their state. a 2011 survey by deloit found there were 600,000 manufacturing jobs nationwide that were unfilled because of a skills shortage. and it's not just manufacturers either. there's a skill gaps gaap in information technology and health care and other sectors, they have jobs waiting for skilled workers to fill them. there are more than three million jobs in this country that could be filled today if there were workers who had the right skills. with too many americans unemployed we have to find a way to fill those jobs. and the thing is, we know how to solve this.
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we're taking steps to solve it in communities in minnesota and around the country through partnerships between businesses and community and technical colleges that are training up workers and getting them into high-demand jobs right away. let me talk briefly about an innovative program to bridge the skills gap in minnesota. i recently voted program at dun witty college of technology in minneapolis. the south central community and technical college in mankato. those two institutions working on this together. at south central i sat with about eight to ten manufacturers who had helped fund and designed their program that gives workers the skills they need to operate a computer numerical control system, or c.n.c. machine. they told me that th that betwee eight or continuing of them,
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they had more than -- the eight or ten of them they had more than 50 job openings that they could fill that instawnts. at dunwoody, their placement rate is 1%. you'll have a hard time find ago more effective pravment dunwoody likes to emphasize that its students come into the program after having just been laid off. and after going through the program, they're place being 91% of them into good jobs in a growing industry here in this country. they told me about a student who had a successful career as a massage therapist. he was doing just fine until he began to experience pain from prearthritic symptoms. that special trouble for a massage therapist. so he researched technical programs and joined right skills now and relaunched his career as a machinist. careers are different from what
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they were a generation ago. very few people stay working in one job for one company their entire life anymore. whether it is because of changing life circumstances like the massage therapist turned machinist or because of new technologies, most workers have many different jobs over the course of their work being life now. and those jobs require many different skills. we need a workforce development system that is agile enough to keep up with those changing demands. that is essential not just so workers will be able to get the different skills they need over the course of their working lives. it's also going to be one of the keys to the united states remaining globally competitive. if our workers can't adapt to the new industries that are constantly forming, we will lose those jobs to our global competitors. there's no better way to
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anticipate and to react to these changes than to connect businesses directly with our schools to get workers exactly what they need. this is also about college affordability. the i've talked before about eric ajax, a coe o c.e.o. of a t metal company in minnesota that was founded by eric's gran grandfather in 1945. air ricks and other manufacturers partnered with hennepin technical college to set up mpower, a fast-track training program to get workers what they needed for entry-level advance manufacturing jobs. eric gave me an example of one of his workers that i found just he exciting. this is what excites me -- and not because of -- that it's extraordinary. it is because it's something that we can duplicate over and over and over again in this
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country. when he hires employees from these business technical college partnerships, the way he looks at it is that they are on a career ladder that would otherwise not be available. he told me about one such hire who was really good at his job. so eric sengts him back to school to get his associate's degree. the guy came back to work, continued to be a star and a few years later eric paid for him to go to the university of minnesota, where he got his bachelor's degree, and the guy is now head of quality control for e.j. ajoosm, an incredibl incredibleically high-skilled job. now, understand this guy graduated from college with no debt -- zero debt, with a great job. when i think about college affordability, i think about
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that story. now, as i've said, we have a skills gap problem in manufacturing and in other industries. and we have these partnerships that are successfully working to close that gap. so where do we come -- where do we come in here in congress? well, i've gone around to minnesota communities and technical colleges and talked to businesses and had round tables and i've talked to national experts in our state and from around the country, and the fact is we are not doing this fast enough. and sometimes these partnerships could do a lot more, train up a lot more people with some extra funding. maybe to buy a really sophisticated machine or to hire an instructor with very specialized skills. so what i'm proposing is a competitive grant program in a bill called the community college to career fund act.
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under this program, businesses and community colleges would apply for grants based on how many jobs their partnership would create, what the value of those jobs would be those hired, to their company, to the community, and how much skin dot businesses have -- and how much skin do the businesses have in the game or how much do the community colleges have in the game? we have millions of jobs that can't be filled because of a skills shortage. we in that thes -- we know thate partnerships are the direct way to fill these jobs. we know that existing partnerships around doing nufd and can't do enough and they need more resourcesources in oro truly meet the need that exists. the so that's exactly what my bill would address. so as we move afford with this budget deal, let's build on the
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progress that it represents. and set our sights a little higher. let's support working families and help people who are struggling to find a job in today's slowly recovering economy. let's help students and young people who have been held back by slow job growth to get a foothold in the economy. and let's support partnerships between businesses and the community and technical colleges to fill the jobs that are out there. let's make this coming year the year that congress works for americans and puts americans back to wonch than work. thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the assistant majority leader. mr. durbin: first let me commend my colleague and tell him that i proudly cosponsor his legislation. i watched this work, where they
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literally bring employers and future employees together at a community college, an affordable community college, get the very best training, really focused on the job opening, and when it is finished, they go right to work and they make a good salary. and i tell you, i think this is the future. this is really an excellent idea. i was happy to support it. i have shamelessly stolen it and said it was my idea in a few places, but -- frank it is an honor for you to acknowledge that you to admit that you have stolen my idea. mr. durbin: i would be happy to join new this effort. mr. franken: thank you. in illinois, you're free to say it is your idea. mr. durbin: thank you very much. let me ask consent to speak and ask my remarks be placed in a separate part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: maybe we'll be in session 24 hours, 48 hours, and
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then we're finished. the year comes to a close. the unfortunate thing is that we've missed an opportunity. about six amongsts ago we passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill. it's been 25 years in the making. we know our immigration system is broken. we know that it's unfair. we know that people are suffering because of it. and we know we can do better. so we came together and 68 of us voted on the floor of the senate about six months ago to pass comprehensive immigration reform. i worked on that bill with seven colleagues -- four democrats, four republicans -- and we came up with a good bill, not a bill i agree with in all of its specifics but one that i think is a good, fair compromise. we sent it to the house of representatives. they've done nothing, nothing. they made some statements, some encourage, some discourage. but the fact is, they never called this bill. 2014 is another opportunity for the house of representatives to rise to this chavmen challenge.
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and i hope they will. there are many parts of that bill that are so essential -- strengthening our border -- a very important issue to all americans, particularly on the other side of the aisle. a pathway to citizen, just a matter of elemental justice, which is passion on our side of the aisle. we brought those two concepts together to make the bill work. included in those concepts is an idea which i introduced into legislation about 13 years ago. it was called the dream act and it basically said if you came to the united states as a child, brought here in undocumented status or overstayed a visa and were here undocumented, finished high school had no serious criminal background, we'd give you a chance, a chance to earn your way to citizenship. legality an in citizenship. last week i visited a group on the mall who were fighting for immigration reform. since the middle of november, these immigration, faith, and labor leaders have been fasting
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and urging the house of representatives to take up this responsibility and pass the immigration bill. their commitment to fighting for immigration reform has inspired people all across this nation to join the movement and to tell stories about families torn apart by the broken immigration law in america. we can't ignore the injustice of this system and the suffering that millions of people in our own country are living with. i want to urge speaker boehner to move afford on immigration reform in 2014. i understand there is a small, very vocal, very negative minority of his caucus that fries to support any -- that refuses to support any change in immigration law. that's nothing new. in our nation there's always been that force at work, an. in the time of abraham lincoln's president circumstance they had the no-nothing party. they opposed catholics, they were virtually against
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everything. lincoln campaigned against them. eventually, they disappeared from the american political scene. but their sentiments can always be found. one part of this immigration bill that's near and dear to me is the dream act. i fought to as if for 12 years. mr. president, there were times when we called the dream act on the floor of the united states senate and i would look up in the gallery and it would be filled with young people, men and women, wearing graduation gowns to remind people that they were undocumented, officially unwelcome in america, and yet their heart was heard and their lives had been -- their heart was here and their lives had been spent here. and they were asking to be a part of our future. some heartbreaking moments when the amendment was defeated on the floor of the senate and i met with them. some encouraging moments when the comprehensive bill passed and included the strongest dream act language that we've ever written. for most of their lives these
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young people have been trapped in the shadows, fearing they could be deported at any moment, and facing obstacles to developing their talents in this country. isn't it ironic that we've invested so much already in their lives, educating them, giving them an opportunity to thrive in this nation and then right at that moment when they're ready to go to college or to go into a job we tell them, leave, we don't want you? that's not right. that's not fair. it doesn't make any sense. last year president obama did something that was significant. he announced his administration would grant temporary legal status to these immigrant student whose grew up in the u.s. this historic program is known as daca, deferred action for childhood arrivals. it gave the dream areas chance to come out of the shadows and be part of america. in the last year more than 567,000 people have applied for this daca status.
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460,000 have received it. later today or tomorrow the senate will vote on the nomination of alejandro mayorkas to be deputy secretary of the department of homeland security, which i will support. as director of the u.s. citizenship and immigration services, mr. mayorkas has been charged with implementing did a carks the president's executive order -- with implementing daca, the president's executive order. it was a complicated job, but he did it in an outstanding way. earlier this week, my colleague and friend, senator grassley from iowa, spoke about mr. mayorkas and the daca program. i want to responding to some of the things he said in the "congressional record." senator grassley initially questioned the legality of this daca program. i want to be clear. daca is entirely appropriate and legal. throughout our history, our government has decided which person should be prosecuted and who would not be prosecuted based on law enforcement priority and available
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resources. past administrations of both political parties have stopped deportations of low-priority cases and courts have long recognized their authority to do that. in a decision last year striking down arizona immigration laws, the court reaffirmed that the federal government has broad authority over who is going to be deported. republican-appointed justice anthony kennedy who wrote the win said -- opinion said and i quote a principle special is the discretion exercised by immigration officials." the president's action was not just legal, it's smart, it's realistic. today there are millions of undocumented immigrants in the united states. the government has set priorities. those with criminal records, serious criminal records, should leave, they should be deported, no excuses. under the obama administration's policy that's a high priority. and that's the way it should be.
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senator grassley also claimed on the floor that the immigration service has not released adequate information about the daca program. i disagree with my colleague and friend. uscis has been transparent about this process, publishing data on its web site showing the number of applicants who applied, those accepted and rejected. for the past few years, i've come to the floor of the senate regularly to tell stories, real-life stories of these dreamers. done it over 50 times. we actually had a reunion of all the dreamers whom i had spoken of on the floor of the senate. i want to take some time to update the story on one of those dreamers. this photograph of these brothers show carlos and rafael, this is carlos, and rafael. they were siblings brought to the united states by their parents when they were kids. carlos grew up in suburban chicago, graduated from
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palatine middle school where he was an honors student. in high school he was captain of the tennis team and a member of the varsity swim team. he volunteered with palatine's physically challenged program where he helped feed special needs students. listen to what one of his high school teachers said about him. carlos is the kind of person we want among us because he makes the community better. this is the kind of kid you want as a student, the kind of kid you want as a neighbor, the kind of kid you want as a friend to your child and most germane to his present circumstance, the kind of person you want as an american. good news, mr. president. last week, carlos graduated from loyola university in chicago, majoring in education. his lifelong dream was to be a teacher. it almost didn't come true. last year, carlos and brother rafael were placed in deportation proceedings. they were going to be expelled from the united states. i asked the obama administration
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to reconsider. and they decided to suspend the deportations and that was the right thing to do. now after graduating from loyola university, carlos was offered a teaching position starting in just a few weeks. carlos will be teaching at a chicago public school on the northwest side. in dngs, carlos will be helping with the school's dreamers organization and the tennis team, a sport he knew well from high school. there's no question that we need the best and brightest to teach in our schools. we need people like carlos committed to the next generation of tomorrow's leaders. teach for america knows the great teachers can come from all walks of life from graduating seniors in our nation's most elite colleges to former investment bankers and veterans. last week teach for america announced it plans to actively recruit dreamers who have received daca deferment. so more dreamers like carlos will be able to give back to the
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country they know. they'll be in classrooms not only teaching the important subjects but request with their very lives they will be teaching the next generation of americans what immigration has always meant to this country. i ask my colleagues who stand on the floor critical of the administration's deportation policies, would america be better if carlos had been deported last year? would chicago be better if this bright idealistic young teacher was not headed to the classrooms in just a few weeks to try to help educate the next generation of leaders in this country? of course not. to hear carlos' story is to realize the benefits immigration reform will bring to america. imagine what's going to happen when 11 million undocumented immigrants have the opportunity to step out of the shadows like these dreamers and contribute fully to america. imagine what it means to them to no longer live in fear of a knock on the door, to be able to declare who they are, where
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they live, who's in their family, to be able to work without any fear and to be able to travel, to go back to important family events in other countries and return to the united states. legalization will unleash the earning potential of millions of people. they'll be able to pursue jobs that match their skills instead of working in the underground economy. it's the right thing to do and it will make america stronger. i'm confident wiser voices will prevail in the house of representatives just the other day i had a conference call with the catholic bishops. they have made this a special effort on their part to support comprehensive immigration reform. they were from all over the united states. in addition to their prayers i asked them to reach out to their congress re devastations --, congregations are, tell stories like carlos and rafael's stories and tell people this is fundamental and basic when it comes to chutes of justice. -- issues of justice. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent my next statement be placed in a separate part in the record. the presiding officer: without
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objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, i've come to this floor i can't tell you how many times to talk about an industry in america, the for-profit college and university industry. i've talked about the basics, most people couldn't fell you what are the for-profit colleges? which ones are for-profit procht. the major colleges start with the schools, the university of phoenix, it's the biggest, devry out of illinois is second, kaplan that used to own "the washington post" is third and there are lots of other ones. the interesting thing about these colleges and universities they could not exist without generous subsidies from the federal government. here's what happens. they lure students into enrolling in their schools and the students because they're low-income qualify for pell grants and student loans. the pell grants and student loans flow from the government through the student into the for-profit schools. it turns out there's a 90-10
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rule. imagine this. these for-profit schools can't take more than 90% of their revenue from the federal government. 90%. they're 10% away from being a total federal agency. but they make amazing amounts of money, huge amounts of money. they pay their c.e.o.'s millions of dollars because this is a very lucrative undertaking. but there are three things you should remember about for-profit schools, three numbers and if you remember these three numbers you'll know what the challenge is. 12. 12% of all the graduates of high school go to for-profit schools. 25. 25% of all the federal aid to education goes to these schools. 47. 47% of all the student loan defaults are with students who have enrolled in these for-profit schools. 12% of the students, 25% of the federal aid to education, 47%
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of the student loan defaults. why are these students defaulting? there are several reasons. one reason is the diploma from these schools isn't worth much. i'll tell you stories in just a moment. the other thing, once the school enrolls the students and brings in their student loans, they really don't care that much as to whether they finish. it's not that important. the money has already flowed to the school. and a third thing, of course, is many of these students finish school with a questionable or worthless diploma and can't find a job. what happens then? they can't make their student loan payments. i'll tell you when i talk about one of these operations. it's called core interestian colleges. -- christianityian colleges. -- crintian colleges, it's now in the spotlight for engaging in manipulating and deceptive job 34r5eu6789 projects. yesterday a "huffington post" article called attention to these abuses entitled "how a for-profit college created fake
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taxpayer jobs to get money." the headline says the whole story. the orl reports that corinthian have been manipulate manipulating job placements rates to avoid the scrutiny of the government and the creditors. subsidiaries, everest is one of them, have been criticized for having high dropout rates and some of the highest three-year loan default rates in america. even while its higher tuition rates are higher than community colleges or even flagship state schools for an equivalent degree, in spite of the bad press, corinthian colleges like everest have managed to come out on top, increasing profit margins and payment for their executives. it would appear they're at least in part due to the manipulative marketing practices and deceit towards the students. according to this article, eric
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parms enrolled in a heating ventilation repair ram in 2011. he was laid off, was attracted to everest because of the promise from its advertisements and recruiters that their hvac program would lead to a good job and a decent living. so he picked up his wife and sons and moved 0 from ohio to georgia to enroll in this everest college program. he was a good student. eric received all a's, only missing one class on the day his 7-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia. after completing the nine-month program, eric parms was left with a $17,000 student loan debt and couldn't find a job. now, what eric didn't know was everest college was paying more than a dozen local employers what they called an onboarding allowance of $2,000 a head to
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secure 30 days of employment for their graduates. these were not real jobs. these were jobs which corinthian colleges were, frankly, bank rolling so it looked like their graduates were going to work. it was purportedly for training and uniforms. but in reality the everest college was able to boost its official job placement rate unrealistically. this helped everest college fly under the radar of its creditors. however, they paid for jobs without considering the long-term effects on students, the fact they would sign them up for 30 days and then turn them loose didn't mean that much to corecipientian -- corintian. after he graduated he had to beg the career service counselors to set up interviews and then he would arrive at interviews set
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up for him and the potential employers would say they'd never heard of everest college. remember, eric was on the hook for $17,000 in loans for this course he took. finally he was set up to work in a contract position with a.d.g. enterprises laying electrical wire. after less than two months object the job he was laid off and cut off from career services from everest. everest had used him to get $17,000 in student loans and turned him loose without a job, without a future. in fact, managers discovered -- managers discourage clear counselors from placing people who have already been placed in the job. they are instead encouraged to send graduates to student loans to companies with high turnover rates. the school had effectively placed eric in a short-term internship program once it was over there was no incentive for
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them to keep him and they turned him loose to vacate a space for another graduate and another $2,000 check. and then everest would shuffle another graduate into the same position to artificially maintain they were creating jobs. this was a fraud. not just a fraud on the public, not just a fraud on the students but a fraud on american taxpayers by corinthian colleges. eric lost out, a $17,000 debt for a training degree he couldn't use. to get a georgia hvac license he needed references and no one would hire him because they didn't take his degree from everest seriously. the practice of paying employers to hire graduates from this everest campus ended in 2011 but it was not the only corinthian school engaging in these practices. the california attorney general filed a suit against them for
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paying companies to hire graduates and using other tactics to meet job placement rates. they included paying temporary agencies, counting a one-day volunteer event as a quote job placement. and worse yet, placing graduates at nonexistent businesses, they created as part of a class project to design business cards. it was a big game for corinthian and got paid off handsomely by taxpayers and these unsuspecting students. they are also outright miss represented job placement rates to students by advertising numbers higher than their actual rates. these practices give the illusion that this is a successful undertaking, go to everest and get a job. it turns out it's a charade. in addition to manipulation of job placement rates, recruiters
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for the schools withhold pertinent information to get students to enroll. lindsey ryan, another student who contacted my office studied criminal justice on line, was 12 weeks from graduation when she learned that everest was not regionally accredited and she wouldn't be table to find a job in her field in the state of illinois. you wou÷ -- you would think, wouldn't you, that a college offering courses to people in illinois would have some obstacles to --e obligation to tell them whether a degree or certificate from that school could thread a job in that state? in lindsey's case, it didn't. soy you know what everest college suggested to lindsey after she had been duped in this so-called education? they suggested she move to florida where she might be able to use an everest college degree. that wasn't an option for lindsey and her family, so now she sits unemployed, supporting three children and her husband and a $24,000 student loan debt
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to this corinthian college, everest college, for a worthless degree. over the past decade, listen to this, corinthian colleges have received from the federal government nearly $10 billion in student aid. $10 billion. that makes up more than 80% of the total revenue of this college. these schools, these for-profit schools are sucking on the federal treasury to come up with billions of dollars to get rich at the expense of taxpayers and these poor exploited students. corinthian grew during our recession, reaching a peak enrollment of 93,000 students, doubling revenue up to $1.7 billion in 2011. this is in part due a persuasive but deceptive marketing plan promising a better career to people like eric and lindsey, who were looking for a way out during difficult times.
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toya smith, the former everest career counselor, was interviewed by "huffington post." she recognized that the for-profit colleges burdened students with large debts while the company was profiting. "you are sale ago dream to a student that you know in reality they're never going to realize." did i mention toya was a former counselor at everest? she told the truth. how many more times will corinthian end up in the news for deplorable stories like these? i've asked the c.e.o. of corinthian to explain these practices. his name is macamino. who was made $2.3 million as his salary the last year that was reported by this corporation. and i've asked him not to engage in this conduct again. i've also written to the everest college national creditors, the crediting counsel for independent colleges and schools, asking what steps they're going to take to
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sanction everest for these egregious abuses in the public trust. finally, i've asked the secretary of education, arnie duncan to look into these allegations and use whatever authority the department has to hold everest and its parent company corinthian accountable. if no authority exists, i've asked him to work with me in congress to give the department more power to respooned to these abuses like the ones outlined for corinthian. it is time to put an end to the corporate culture of manipulation and data manipulation. they're wasting taxpayers' dollars. many they're abusing stiewntsdzs and their families and we in congress are not doing what we should. we've got to protect these students and america's taxpayers from for-profit schools that are taking advantage of a law today. mr. president, i yield the floor. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from georgia.
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mr. isakson: mr. president, i'd ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. officer sphe without objection. mr. isakson: i ask that i be allowed to address the senate as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. isakson: and merry christmas, mr. president. we're getting close to the big who will daindz it iholiday andi pay ateption to paul yates, with fox 5 in atlanta, has served for 35 years at the same station. when i ran for governor in 1990 in georgia, he covered my races. when we were in the legislate toured and in session he covered every day of the georgia legislate tiewnders has for a over two decades. hayes made a tremendous -- he has made a tremendous contribution to our state. as pauliates retires from his -- as paul yates retires, as one who he's covered both good and
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bad, i wanted to pay tribute to a great journalist, a great friend and a a man who's done a great service to the people of my state of georgia. i yield back and neat the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:


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