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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  July 24, 2014 4:00pm-6:01pm EDT

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my opinion. and congress needs to be directed by the people, i hate to say, to resist. here's what it says. "obama made it clear he would press his executive powers to the limit.. he gave quiet credence to recommendations from la raza and other immigration groups that between five million to six million adult illegal immigrants could be spared deportation under a similar form of deferred adjudication he ordered for the so-called dreamers in june 2012, the dreamers being the young people. five million to six million would be given legal status in the united states of america. when they've entered contrary to law or in the country contrary to law and are not entitled to
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work in america. the article goes on to say "obama has now ordered the homeland security and justice departments to find executive authorities that could enlarge that nonprosecutorial umbrella by a factor of ten. senior officials also tell me obama wants to see what he can do with executive power to provide temporary legal status to undocumented adults. what we know is with the children's group, they were provided with an i.d. card that at the top of it in big print says "employee authorization card," and this is exactly what's being talked about here, that the president of the united states is saying this. now remember, the united states congress has been asked by
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activist groups and certain business interests to provide an amnesty for people that are here. the united states congress has declined to do so. it has been fully and openly debated and has not passed into law. that's a decision of the united states congress. that's the decision that we have made. the duly elected body that passes laws. and as such, they not having been given amnesty, the president of the united states is not entitled to do so. by declaration of duly passed law, people aren't entitled to come to america unlawfully, come to america and stay unlawfully. they are not entitled to do that. how simple is this? and they are not entitled to take jobs if they do. they're not entitled to certain
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government benefits if they come illegally. of course they're not. of course they're not able to work and take jobs and get benefits if they came to the country illegally. so, this is -- when this first got talked about in more general terms, 22 members of the united states senate wrote president obama and questioned what we're hearing. and the senators wrote this: these policies that you have done have operated as an effective repeal of duly enacted federal immigration law and exceeds the bound of the president's prosecutorial discretion. it is not the property of the executive to nullify laws that the people of the united states through their elected representatives have chosen to enact. to the contrary, it is the duty of the executive to take care that these laws are faithfully executed.
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congress has not passed laws permitting people to illegally enter the country or to ignore their visa expiration dates so long as they do not have a felony conviction or other severe offenses on the record. your actions demonstrate an astonishing disregard for the constitution, the rule of law, and the rights of american citizens and legal residents. our entire constitutional system, the letter goes on to say, is threatened when the executive branch suspends the law at its whim and our nation's sovereignty is imperilled when the commander in chief refuses to defend the integrity of its borders. you swore an oath, the letter says to the president, to preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the united states. we, therefore, ask you to uphold that oath and carry out the duties required by the
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constitution and entrusted to you by the american people. the president is limited. he's not all powerful. he's been trustd with certain limited powers by the people of the united states of america. and now we understand he intends to go even further, and the response we got back never really addressed it at all except from his secretary of homeland security mr. jeh johnson, he announced that, yes, he is indeed at the order of the president of the united states conducting a review of how many other people he can provide this amnesty for and work authorization for. so, last week one of our able colleagues, senator ted cruz, former solicitor general for the attorney general's office in texas, argues cases in the appellate courts of the country, senator cruz identify this had problem and proposed, senator
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cruz, i think, a legislative fix that every member of this body should sign. some may say, well, the president, i don't think he's going to do this. okay, why not b him from doing it? some say i don't think we should sign it. well, why not? he's basically said it. he's already done it with the younger group. and he says it's going to be a tenfold increase and the five million to six million people that is suggested to be legalized by the president's unilateral executive order represents about ten times the number of people who have already been given lawful status in effect by the president's unlawful executive order. senator cruz, maybe it would be appropriate, and i would appreciate it, if you would explain your analysis of this issue and how your legislation
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would be effective in ensuring that we don't go down this illegal road any further. senatormr. cruz: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cruz: i thank my friend, the junior senator from alabama, for his very kind comments and for his relentless leadership in defense of rule of law and standing against amnesty. and what i'd like to speak about this afternoon are the humanitarian crisis that is playing out on other southern border right now and the abdication of responsibility that is plague out in washington, d.c. a couple of weeks ago president obama was down in my home state of texas. he found time to go to two democratic party fund-raisers, to pal around with some democratic party fat cats, to collect a whole bunch of checks.
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and yet somehow he didn't have time to make it down to our southern border. the day before he was in colorado, he found time to play a game of pool with the governor there. i'm glad he enjoyed himself playing pool. yet, somehow he didn't have time to go visit lackland air force base and see the 1,200 children being held there, who are paying the price for the failure of the obama immigration policy. in the coming weeks he's headed to martha's vineyard. he's, i'm sure, going to enjoy himself palling around with swills, and yet the people held in detention facilities up and down the border are not going to see the commander in chief because he cannot be bothered to address the human suffering. he was just in california, in
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hollywood. the producer of "scandal" hosted him. you know, that's kind of fitting, because it is scandalous that the president has more time to be fund-raiser in chief than he does to do his basic job as commander in chief and securing our borders. let me tell you, while the president was running around collecting chems -- checks from democratic party fat cats, i was back home in texas. i was on the border this weekend in mcallen. i sat down with the chief of the border patrol of mcallen, i sat down with the line officers on the border patrol in mcallen. i visited detention facilities that are being constructed to hold these children. i saw a remarkable facility. it used to be a gigantic warehouse, and in 18 days border patrol had to stand up a facility to house 1,000
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children, because that's the volume that's coming through there every couple of days. you know, the president is right in one regard. he has publicly stated we're seeing a humanitarian crisis, and that is correct, but it is a crisis of his own creation. this humanitarian crisis is the direct consequence of president obama's lawlessness. and i will note, he cannot even be bothered to cast his eyes on the people who are suffering because of it. if you want to know what's causing this crisis, a simple examination of the numbers will suffice. just three years ago, in 2011, the number of unaccompanied children entering this country was roughly 6,000. then in 2012, in june of 2012, just a few months before the election, president obama unilaterally granted amnesty to
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some 800,000 people who were here illegally in this country who entered as children. did he so presumably because he thought there would be a political benefit. it was a few months before an election and he thought there was good politics in ignoring the law and granting amnesty. but the forseeable consequence of that amnesty, the predictable and the predicted consequence of that amnesty, if you tell people across the globe if you enter as children, you get amnesty, suddenly you create an incredible incentive for more and more children to come and more and more children to come alone. this year the department of homeland security estimates that 90,000 unaccompanied children will enter this country illegally. next year they estimate 145,000. mr. president, i want to you compare those numbers for a second. three years ago it was 6,000.
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now it's 90,000. next year 145,000. the direct and proximate cause was president obama's amnesty. now, there are some in this body that might not believe what a member of the opposite party says on this. it's a whole lot of partisanship in washington. it really has shut down the ability of this body to deal with real challenges face this go country. if you don't believe what a member of the opposite party says, perhaps you will believe the border patrol. a few weeks ago the border patrol conducted a confidential study that was given to members of the senate judiciary committee by a whistle-blower in the border patrol, where they interviewed over 200 people who entered the country recently illegally and they asked them
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the question: why are you coming? 95% said we're coming because we believe we'll get amnesty. we believe we will get a permiso, that if we just get here, we'll be allowed to stay. now, the administration has been giving lots of supposed causes for this humanitarian crisis. one of their favorites is the violence in central america. and it's true, tragically there is a great deal of violence in central america, and it has been increasing. but i would note violence is not new to the human condition. there have always been countries across the globe that are racked by violence, racked by civil war and we've always seen when violence rises, immigration from a particular country go up. we see legal immigration from that country go up. we see illegal immigration from that country go up. what we haven't seen in the past is the explosion of children.
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the violence in central america is a reasonable cause to explain the increase in immigrants from central america, the increase in families coming up to get away from the violence. what it doesn't explain is this new phenomenon. 90,000 unaccompanied children. that's a new fen none none. there is no -- a new phenomenon. there is no reason violence would say i'm going to take my little boy, little girl and send them alone. that is a direct response to what president obama did granting amnesty that was targeted to those who entered as kids. why are kids entering? because the president has said if you enter as a kid, i will grant you amnesty. several weeks ago i visited lack lackland air force base where roughly 1,200 of these children are being held. i visited with senior officials there. and it's worth understanding that there are many victims of
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the president's refusal to enforce the law, but some of the most direct victims are these little boys and little girls because the coyotes that are bringing these children in, they're not well-meaning social workers. they don't have beards and birkenstocks and they're not there out of love. these coyotes are hardened, vicious, transnational drug cartels. and these children are being subjected to horrific physical abuse and sexual abuse. when i was at lackland air force base, a senior official there described to me how these coyotes, they get custody of these kids to smuggle them illegally into this country, and then sometimes they will decide to hold the children for random random -- ransom, to get even more money from the families. and if the families cannot or
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will not pay, horribly what these coyotes are doing is severing body parts of these children and sending them back to the families. the senior official at lackland described coyotes putting machine guns to the back of the head of a little boy or a little girl and ordering them to cut off the fingers or the ears of another little boy or little girl. and if the child refuses, they shoot that child and move on to the next one. and they described how on our end, we're seeing children come into this country, some of whom have been horribly maimed by these violent coyotes and drug cartels. other of whom have enormous psychological damage from a little boy or a little girl forced to commit such atrocities upon pain of death. i asked the officials at lackland how many of these children have been victimized? the answer -- all of them.
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that was from the senior official at lackland. by the way, one of the things we hear reports of is these families with the girls, before they send them up, they give them border birth control becaue expectations are that the risks of sexual assault and rape are so high, and that risk is being undertaken because of the promise of amnesty. when i was down at mcallen this weekend, i asked the line agents, i said listen, you guys every day, you're on the river, you're in the helicopter, you're securing the border. why are they coming? what's changed? just three years ago, it was 6,000 kids. now it's 90,000. what has changed? every single one of the border patrol agents gave the exact same answer. they said they're coming because they believe they will get
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amnesty. it's important to understand, by the way, the coyotes smuggle them across the border, and as soon as they get across the border, they actively look for the border patrol. they're not being captured. they're not being caught. they go look for someone in uniform, and they may have ragged clothes falling off their back. they may not have food or water, but they have their papers. they have their papers with them. they cross the border illegally with the coyote. they endure the physical and sexual abuse, and then they look for the border patrol to hand their papers. why? because they believe once they get here and hand their papers over, they get amnesty. mr. president, if we want to solve this crisis, there is one and only one way to solve this crisis. and that is to eliminate the promise of amnesty. i mentioned a few moments ago that i wanted to talk about this humanitarian crisis and talk about the be a did i indicating
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of responsibility -- about the abdication of responsibility, because washington has always been lousy at taking responsibility for the suffering our policies create. but the response of this president and i'm sorry to say the democratic majority in this body has been particularly callous. president obama proposed a $3.7 billion supplemental plan. mind you, he didn't have time to visit the border, to visit the children, to see the suffering, but he proposed yet more spending. now, the $3.7 billion supplemental is an h.h.s. social services bill. it's spend a whole bunch of money. to give you a sense of how much $3.7 billion is, for $3.7 billion, we could purchase a first-class airplane ticket
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for each one of these 90,000 children to return them home, first class, sitting in the front row of a commercial airline, and after doing so, we could deposit $3.6 billion back in the federal treasury. it's a massive amount of money he has asked for, and what's striking -- less than 5% goes to border security. mr. president, here's the cynical part, here's the sad part. nothing in the president's proposal does anything to solve the underlying problem. nothing does anything to eliminate the promise of amnesty. nothing does anything to solve the problem. so what the president is saying is he is perfectly content for this crisis to continue in perpetuity. under the president's bill, next year we can expect the 145,000 d.h.s. expects to come. we can expect tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of little boys and little girls to be physically assaulted and
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sexually assaulted by coyotes. mr. president, that's not humane. that's not compassionate. any system that continues to have children in the custody of these vicious drug cartels is the very opposite of humane and compassionate. but as my friend, the junior senator from alabama pointed out, the magnet of amnesty has been significantly exacerbated in recent months. why? because president obama in a very high-profile way met with far left activists and made a promise. he said i'm going to study how to expand amnesty and to grant amnesty to another five million or six million people here illegally. now, let's be clear there is nothing, zero, in u.s. immigration law that gives the president the power to grant amnesty. it is open lawlessness and contempt for rule of law.
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but yet, that promise is heard. that promise is heard throughout central america. that promise is heard by those mothers and dads who make the heart-wrenching decision to hand their sons and daughters over to these coyotes. now, they do so because they love their kids and they believe, as terrible as the journey will be, they get permiso, they get to stay in the promised land. that promise of amnesty is why this crisis is happening. so i have introduced legislation to solve the problem. last week, i introduced a very simple bill that puts into law that president obama has no authority to grant any additional amnesty. it's a very simple bill.
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it prevents the president taking the daca program that he unilaterally and illegally implemented in 2012 and expanding it to cover any new immigrants. now, it's interesting -- representatives from the administration go on television and they say these children are not eligible for amnesty. well, if that's their position, the administration should support my bill. if that's their position, all this bill does is put into law what they say their position is, that these children are not eligible for amnesty. well, have they supported the bill? they have not. instead, the majority leader of this body took it upon himself to go out and hold a press conference. and what is the top priority for the majority leader of this body? to come after and attack the
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legislation i introduced, to personally come after the freshman senator from texas. well, the majority leader is welcome to impugn any member of this body. sadly, that happens all too often. but yet, nowhere in the majority leader's comments was a word said about solving this problem. nowhere in the majority leader's comments were a word said about changing it so little boys and little girls are not physically and sexually assaulted so we don't have tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of kids coming illegally into this country. look, we all understand politics in this town. it's an election year. the election's a few years away. scaring people and demagoguing. unfortunately, it's not new to washington. but the cynicism that is reflected in president obama and
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majority leader's approach to this issue is a new level for this town. this week, i'm introducing broader legislation that not only includes what was included last week, a prohibition on the president granting amnesty, but includes two other elements. a reform of the 2008 law to expedite the humane return of these children to their families. and a provision to reimburse the costs for the states calling up the national guard to secure their borders. now, mr. president, i'd like to say a word about the 2008 through. that has actually been discussed a lot in this body, and indeed the obama administration has two talking points. if you ask the administration what's caused this crisis, the first one is violence in central america. now, there's something convenient about that talking
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point because if it's violence in central america, it's not president obama's fault. it's not anything they have done. it's something else extrinsic. but the second talking point that sometimes the administration will say is that the cause of this crisis is the 2008 law. now, mr. president, there is a reason they point to that, because it seems there is nothing that president obama enjoys more than blaming everything bad on this planet on george w. bush. the 2008 law was signed by george w. bush. so if this crisis was caused by the 2008 law, then it's not this administration's fault. but john adams famously said facts are stubborn things. if you're going to make a claim that a crisis is caused by the 2008 law, you have to be willing to take at least a moment to look to the facts. the 2008 law was passed,
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unsurprisingly, in 2008. the number of children entering unaccompanied did not spike in 2008. it didn't spike in 2009. it didn't spike in 2010. it didn't spike in 2011. 2011, it was roughly 6,000. if the 2008 law were the cause of this crisis, we would have seen the numbers spike in 2008 or 2009 or 2010 or 2011. no, they didn't spike until 2012, june of 2012, when the president pulled out his pen and granted amnesty. that is the cause, the direct cause, the cause that the border patrol tells us these immigrants are telling us is why they are coming. now, once the crisis was created, the 2008 law has had unintended consequences. the 2008 law allowed expedited
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removal for unaccompanied children from mexico and canada or immediately contiguous countries, but created slow, delayed, bureaucratized for children from more distant countries. that didn't create significant problems in 2008 or 2009 or 2010 or 2011 because we didn't have a massive influx of kids from those countries, but once the president illegally granted amnesty and we started getting, as we are expected to this year, 90,000 unaccompanied children, most of whom are from central american countries, now we're seeing the 2008 law cause real problems because returning these children home is delayed, often delayed indefinitely. you know, when i was in mcallen meeting with the line border patrol agents, i asked them another question. i said listen, washington is dysfunctional, partisan politics rips the town apart. if you could ignore the
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politics, what do you say on the front lines? how do we actually secure the borders? how do we solve this problem? every single one of the border patrol agents answered the same way. they said we have to send them home. we treat them humanely, we treat them compassionately because that's who we are as americans, those are our values, but humanely and compassionately, we need to expeditiously return them to their families back home. why? because if the children are allowed to stay -- and mark my words, president obama wants these children to stay and he wants to grant amnesty to the next children and the next children, which means that promise of amnesty will cause tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of children to continue to be physically assaulted and sexually assaulted in perpetuity. if you grant amnesty, all it will do is incite yet more kids
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to be victimized. the only way to solve this problem -- this is coming from the border patrol agents. is to humanely and expeditiously send them home, reunite them with their families. the legislation i'm introducing this week changes the 2008 law so that the policies for sending them home are the same as the policies for mexico and canada, we treat mexico and canada with great friendship and compassion, there's no reason why the very same procedures cannot apply to children from central america. and the final element of this bill is dealing to the real security crisis that is occurring. you know, just today, the senior senator from -- the junior senator from alabama and i both heard a briefing from one of our senior military leaders on the national security threats caused by our porous borders,
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by the same avenues that are taking these kids in, that are also being useed to smuggle vast quantities of drugs. the same corridors that are taking these kids in are also being used to smuggle in thousands of aliens from special interest countries in the middle east, aliens from countries that face serious issues of radical islamic terrorism. and a number of our board of governors have stepped forward to respond to this crisis. i commend the governor of my home state of texas, rick perry, for showing leadership, calling up the national guard in texas. it was the right thing to do. he shouldn't have to do it. the constitution gives that responsibility to the federal government. the governor shouldn't have to step in and fill the breach, and they're doing so because the president and the federal government are refusing to do
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their job. but i commend the governors for doing so and the legislation i'm introducing simply provides when the state steps up and does the job that is our responsibility, that the federal government will reimburse the costs. mr. president, in all likelihood, next week we're going to have a vote on a bill that is denominated a border security bill. it's a bill, the majority leader wants us to vote on, that is a version of the president's h.h.s. social services bill. spends a whole bunch of money and does nothing, zero, mada, to solve the problem. the majority leader knows that, the president knows that. and the intention is to have it voted down. you know, one of the incredible things about where we are right
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now is this democratic senate is a do-nothing senate. mr. president, we don't pass any legislation of consequence. there's a reason for that. the majority leader has decided we're not going to pass any legislation of consequence. so instead, what do we have? we have a series of show votes. every one of which is designed to fail, every one of which the majority leader knows will fail. and every one of which is poll tested or focus group tested to allow democrats running for reelection to campaign based on those votes. but it's not legislating. it's not doing the job the senate was meant to do. this border security bill that we'll likely vote on next week will do nothing for border security. it's not designed to. even if it were to pass, it's not designed to. it's not designed to do anything to stop president obama's amnesty, it's not designed to do anything to expedite
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reuniting these kids with their families back home. it's simply designed to be a fig leaf, to say the democrats have responded to this crisis, and the evil, mean, nasty republicans didn't go along. look, that's a political narrative that is not new. it's common in partisan politics. it just happens not to be true. unfortunately, the democratic majority in this body has demonstrated no interest in actually of course solving this problem and you want to know just how cynical the majority leader's strategy is? they have added to this border bill a provision that would replenish the iron dome missiles for the nation of israel. now, i would note that has nothing to do with the crisis at our southern border. it is a policy that is
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unambiguously good. every member on the republican side of this chamber supports replenishing the iron dome missiles that are right now keeping israel safe from the hamas terrorist rocket fire. so why has the majority leader stuck that onto a bill that he knows will fail and is designed to fail? well, it's called partisan politics. because when it fails, the talking points will come out the majority leader will come out and say the republicans don't want to solve the problem on the border and the republicans are unwilling to stand with our friend and ally, israel. let me tell you right now, every republican on this side of the chamber would vote right now, this afternoon, to replenish the iron dome missiles. and to be honest, we should be voting. you know, in most parts of the country, thursday afternoon, 4:30, people who actually have
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an honest job are still at work. not in the united states senate. the united states senate, people head on home. people are out campaigning. how about we actually have a senator show up on this floor, more than one or two at a time, and debate these issues? how about we actually she senators stand up -- see senators stand up, debate the issues and resolve the problems? the majority leader went on television and said the border is secure. mr. president, i find that anistonnishing assertion. i recognize how from the perch of washington, d.c. it might seem that way. perhaps the d.c.-virginia border is secure. but i would invite the majority leader and by vite any member of this chamber, come to mcallen, visit the border. when i was in mcallen on saturday the border patrol agents told me the day before they had apprehended 622 people.
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i went to the processing center. they had 10 holding centers with 600, 700 people there. one holding room had little girls below age 14, unaccompanied. another holding room had little boys under age 14, unaccompanied. a third holding room had girls age 14-19 unaccompanied. the fourth room had boys age 14- 19 unaccompanied. the fifth and sixth rooms had family units. mothers and fathers and little bitty babies, including tiny infants, needing diapers and formulas. and the final four holding areas held adults. that was one day. that wasn't a week. that wasn't a month. that was one day. 90,000 children unaccompanied children are expected to enter
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the country this year, and the majority leader of the u.s. senate says the border is secure. i would invite the majority leader to say that to those little boys and little girls who have just been victimized that the border is secure. that sure would surprise them. i would invite the majority leader to say that to the farmers and ranchers and the citizens in south texas because that sure would surprise them. and, by the way, you get outside of washington, this issue isn't partisan. when you go down to south texas and you visit with the elected leaders there, many of whom -- most of whom are elected democrats and often hispanic democrats, and you ask what's your top priority among hispanic democrats on the border, they said border security. because the border is so far from secure their communities are paying the price. i'd invite the majority leader to come to brooks county, texas brooks county, texas, hundreds
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of men, women and children are found dead from crossing illegally. i'd invite the majority leader to look as i have at the photographs of these bodies, pregnant women abandoned and left to die. these are vicious cartels and coyotes. mr. president, this is the face of amnesty. 90,000 children being victimized, being physically assaulted and sexually assaulted. this is the face of amnesty. children held in detention centers with chain link fences going up 18 feet separating them in separate pens. this is the face of amnesty. our heart breaks for these kids. but if it really breaks for these kids, we should do something about it.
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the only way to stop this humanitarian crisis is to stop president obama's amnesty. as long as the president continues to promise amnesty, these children will keep coming and they'll keep being victimized. and sadly, as long as senate democrats are unwilling to stand up to their president and say let's actually show some leadership to fix this problem, then the senate will continue to be the democratic do-nothing senate. we won't solve these problems, and we will fail in the fundamental obligation all of us owe to the men and women who elected us. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: i would just thank the senator from texas, because
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it, indeed, is the face of amnesty and he has documented for us, i think indisputably, that this surge of immigration was a result of the amnesty provided for these children by the president of the united states. i think that's been known, but i think we've never had a clearer analysis of it. senator cruz, the president -- i'm reading now further in the national journal article about what the president is planning to do next, the concern we have about the future. i'm not making this up, colleagues. this is a very real action that the president is considering, as i read from that chart, on amnesty, that he would execute, contrary to law, that would give legal status and work status to five million to 6 six
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million people, ten times the number he's been provided in this action. and what did the national journal report? i'm quoting here. quote -- "the of the also told the group -- this is la raza and other activists groups demanding amnesty and really open borders. he told them that boehner, the speaker of the house, urged him not to press ahead with executive action because that would make legislating more difficult next year. in other words, speaker boehner says don't use this executive amnesty in the future, mr. president. so now the president is talking to the group, senator cruz. these activists that have been pushing him and demanding things, and this is what the article says. "obama told the group according to those present, apparently more than one told the reporter this -- his response to boehner
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was, quote, sorry about that, i'm going to keep my promise and move forward with executive action soon." makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck as a former federal prosecutor in federal court for almost 15 years to have the president do this. and he went on to say, the article does, in the room there was something of a collective electric gasp. the assembled immigration rights groups had been leaning hard on obama for months to use executive action to side step congress and privately mocked what they regarded as pollyanna hopes that house republicans would budge. obama told the groups that what they had been dying to hear, that he was going to condemn house republicans for inaction and provide legal status to millions of undocumented workers all by himself.
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a senator: would the senator yield for a question? mr. sessions: i would be pleased. mr. cruz: the junior senator from alabama has just described president obama's stated intention, to grant amnesty to an additional five in million to six million people here illegally in the months prepreceding this next election. as the junior senator from alabama is certainly aware, there are a number of senators up for reelection, including a number of democrats in bright red states where the constituents of those states, whether in louisiana or arkansas or north carolina or many other states don't support amnesty for another five million or six million people here illegally. and the question i would ask my friend from alabama, is he aware of any democrat in this chamber, including those democrats running for reelection in conservative states where the citizens strongly oppose amnesty, is he aware of any
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democrat in this chamber who has had the courage to stand with him in standing up to president obama and saying do not grant amnesty illegally, he is aware of any democrat who has joined the two of us in our legislation to prohibit president obama from illegally granting amnesty to five million to six million people? mr. sessions: well, i don't, and one of the things i think the american people do need to understand, when majority leader reid, in conjunction with the president of the united states, blocks even amendments up for a vote, where does he get his power, senator cruz? he gets his power from every member of his conference. and none of them are breaking in that and saying, this is not right. and, senator cruz, your amendment would deal with this future danger, that the
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president might do this again. i think -- and we've looked at it hard. my judiciary staff -- we both serve on that committee -- have said that this would actually work to ensure that we don't have another rogue action, unlawful, by the president of the united states. districtldirectly contrary to td will of the american people and congressional action. so the president's not happy that congress doesn't pass his law and he says, they won't act so i will. but, colleagues, when we don't act, we act. that is an act. it's a decision, as sure as if we'd passed a law. a decision not to act is a decision. the president of the united states can't simply go around and say, i can do anything i want because congress won't act. how ridiculous is that?
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so "national journal" article calls this policy explosive, and i believe that's a direct action. and one more thing, senator cruz. i know you are a student of the constitution and professor turley at george washington university has testified numerous times before congress. i think he considers himself a democrat, a liberal. but he is deeply concerned of the future of our republic because of the president's overreach and exceeding the lawful powers given to the president. is some other president going to expand it further and pretty soon congress becomes nothing? so i'd ask you if you share this concern, because you were very active as the top lawyer in the attorney general's office in texas, in litigating these kind of issues. so this is what professor turley
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says, "the president's pledge to effectively govern alone is alarming, and what is most alarming is his ability to fulfill that pledge. when a president can govern alone, he can become a government unto himself, which is precisely the danger the framers sought to avoid." professor turley goes on -- quote -- "what we're witnessing today is one of the greatest crises that members of this body will face. it has reached a constitutional tipping point that threatens a fundamental change in how our country is governed." senator cruz, does that cause you concern and do you have any thoughts about that? mr. cruz: well, senator sessions, it causes me great concern. and one of "the" most troubling aspects of the obama presidency has been the persistent pattern
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of lawlessness from this president. we've never seen a president who if he disagrees with a particular law so frequently and so brazenly refuses to enforce it, refuses to comply with it and asserts the power to unilaterally change it. the president famously said, "i have a pen and i have a phone," and he seems to confuse his pen and his phone for the constitutional process of lawmaking that our country was built on. rule of law does not mean you have a country with a whole lot of laws. most countries have laws and many totalitarian countries have a whole lot of laws. rule of law means that no man is above the law. it means that everyone, everyone, everyone, and especially the president, is bound by the law.
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president obama openly defies his constitutional obligation under article 2 of the constitution to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. i would note professor turley, whom the junior senator from alabama quoted, he is a liberal democrat who in 2008 voted for president obama. professor turley also testified before the house that president obama has become the embodiment of the imperial president. barack obama has become the president richard nixon always wished he could be. those are the words of a liberal democratic constitutional law professor who voted for barack obama. but my friend, the junior senator from alabama, is learned and experienced in the ways of the senate. you have seen lions of the senate walk this floor.
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it is unprecedented to have a president so brazenly defy the rule of law. but i'll tell you what is equally unprecedented. to have the senate lie down and meow like kitty cats. abuse of power by the president is not a new phenomenon. presidents of both parties have abused their power. that is a job sadly where that tendency has been significant. but in the past when presidents have abused their power, members of their own party stood up and called them to account for it. when richard nixon abused his power, members of both parties rightfully decried his abuse of power so much so that he was forced to resign. i can tell you, when george w. bush was president, he signed a
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two-paragraph order that purported to order the state courts to obey the world court. i know this because i was at the time serving as the solicitor general of texas and it was our state courts that the president's order purported to bind. now, george w. bush is a good man. he's a former governor of texas. he's a republican. and he was a friend. and is a friend. and yet i was proud that the state of texas did not hesitate to stand up to that abuse of power. i went before the u.s. supreme court on behalf of the state of texas and argued that president george w. bush's order was unconstitutional, that no president has the authority to
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give up u.s. sovereignty. and i'm pleased to say the u.s. supreme court agreed and struck down the president's order by a vote of 6-3. what is unprecedented today is that on the left side of the chamber, it is both literally and figuratively empty. we had not too long ago the president abuse his power with recess appointments. one of the important checks and balances the constitution creates on presidential authority is it gives this body, the u.s. senate, the power of confirmation. well, president obama apparently didn't like any checks and balances on his power and so he made a series of recess appointments when the senate wasn't in recess. it was brazen. it was naked.
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the president simply asserted, i say the president -- i say the senate, rather, is in recess. mind you, the senate didn't say we were in recess but the president claimed the power to declare us in recess when we weren't. and you want to know how extreme that was? you want to know how brazen that was? you want to know how extraordinary that was? just a few weeks ago, the u.s. supreme court unanimously struck it down as unconstitutional. mr. president, it's important to underscore that. there are a lot of coverage in the newspaper that suggest you've got liberal justices and conservative justices and on any close issues, it's going to be 5-4. this wasn't 5-4. it wasn't 6-3. it wasn't 7-2. it wasn't even 8-1. it was 9-0. all the appointees on the court, both of president obama's appointees on the court, they looked at the substantive issue
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and said, this ain't hard. the president doesn't get to say when the senate's in recess. the senate gets to say when the senate's in recess. and if the senate isn't in recess, the president has to respect the checks and balances of confirmation. so you've got an easy, no-brainer, layup of a constitutional law question about the president usurping the constitutional progressives of the senate and how many senate democrats stood up to their party's president. not a single one. not the majority leader of the senate, who you might think would have some interest in the institutional credibility of this institution. and i'm sorry to say, not a lone democratic senator. it wasn't that long ago there were lions of the senate on the democratic side who prided themselves on defending this institution. robert byrd, who stood for years
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defending this institution. ted kennedy. and i would say to my friend, the junior senator from alabama, what is truly unprecedented is that there are no senate democrats who say enough is enough. i am hopeful at some point you will see a senate democrat listen to their constituents, listen to the constitution, listen to the rule of law. and let me note, by the way -- look, i can assume the reason why senate democrats don't do it -- and, by the way, the reason why our friends in the press often don't report on th this -- i could assume their reasoning goes something like this. well, i basically agree with the policies of president obama. i like the policies. i agree with what he's doing.
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and he's our guy. we kind of got to back our guy. i'm guessing that's a reason but i will note to you, as the scriptures say, there came a pharaoh who knew not joseph and his children. president barack obama will not always be president of the united states. there will be another president, and even to my friends on the democratic side of the aisle, i'm going to say something shocking and terrifying to you, there will come another republican president. and if the president has the authority to do what president obama is claiming, with obamacare 28 times he simply unilaterally changed the text of the law, said it doesn't matter what the law says, i say it's something different. if the president has that power, you know what, a republican president has that power too. so i would encourage all of my friends on the left who say, i like these policy issues, well, imagine some of the policy issues you don't like, whether
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on labor law or environmental law or tort reform. or let's take tax law. let me give you an example. imagine a subsequent republican president who stood up and stated quite sensibly, the economy would do much better if we moved to a flat tax. so i am, therefore, instructing the i.r.s., do not collect any tax above 20%. now, you might say, well, that sounds extreme, that sounds radical. as a policy matter, that would be a terrific policy. but could the president instruct the i.r.s. not to enforce tax laws? well, mr. president, 55 members of this body are already on record saying yes. you know why? because when the president suspended the individual mandate for big business, the text of obamacare says -- rather, the employer mandate for big
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business, the text of obamacare says the employer mandate kicked in on january 1, 2014. the president said, i'm suspending that provision of l law. i'm granting my buddies in big business a waiver. that was a tax law. the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: i thank the senator from texas. and i think what he's saying is reflected in what professor turley said. it's almost like a plea to his colleagues, maybe his democratic colleagues, his friends. he said this, "the president's pledge to effectively govern alone is alarming." and what is most alarming is his ability to fulfill that pledge." in other words, his ability to get away with it? his congress acquiesces in it. let me just say right now. this president is not going to get away with a unilateral amnesty. we're going to take this to the
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american people. at some point the american people will be held to account. if he does so, every member is going to have to vote and be responsible for allowing a president to run roughshod over the law of this country and the people's representatives and, in effect, the people of the united states. his plan for amnesty under the circumstances he advocated them has been rejected. congress is always available to consider any issue and make any decision it chooses, but it has, under the circumstances, driven in this body, it's been rejected. he has no power to go forward beyond that and we're not going to allow it to happen. it's wrong, whether you agree or disagree about how amnesty should be given. it is wrong for the president to unilaterally execute such a policy, as professor turley said and as the senator from texas
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has said, the former solicitor of the state of texas. he understands the law, and this matter is not over. we'll continue to advocate. i thank the chair and would yield the floor. mr. harkin: thank you. mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that chris rashare, and kylely noble be granted floor privileges for the duration of today's session. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: mr. president, last year, 2013, marked the 10-year verges oyear anniversare completion of the funding for the national institutes of health. i worked with congressman john porter and senator arle arlen sr in our roles on the committee. in that year, 1998, funding for n.i.h. was $^13 billion. by fiscal year 20 -- by fiscal
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year 2003, we had increased n.i.h. funding to $27 billion. we doubled funding in five years. we said we were. we laid out a plan under both republican and democratic administrations, and we got it done. that was an historic milestone for biomedical in the united states. increasing our nation's investment in n.i.h. was a bolt statement of our nation's commitment to retaining our standing as the undisdisputed world leader in biomedical research. and we've reaped extraordinary benefits from that. we've reaped benefits in terms of new diagnostic and jobs and economic growth. but, mr. president, where do we stand today with n.i.h.? ten years are after the historic doubling of funding for biomedical research, where are we today?
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well, sadly, as this chairlt straights, we're falling behind. so here we are. we got back up to where we should be by doubling the funding, and since that time it's basically leveled off. and we're now short about $8 billion, below where we would be if we had just kept up with inflation. so n.i.h. has lost about 20% of its purchasing power at that time. success rates for applicants fell from the traditional 25% to 35% range to just 16% last year, 201367813. promising research is not funded. many young scientists had no choice but to find other occupations and this has had profunprofoundly negative consequences. so today i am naffing a bill that allows us to find common
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ground on a bipartisan basis to juch start our reinjevment in the national institutes of health and ensure america's leadership in biomedical research. republicans and democrats may disagree on what level of revenue is appropriate. we disagree about the value of investing in education in order to build a stronger workforce. but i have yet to hear a senator, any senator, who disagrees with my view that federal investments in biomedical research are good for the economy and good for the country. as the chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that funds n.i.h., i get letters from senators every year requesting support for research grants, for research programs. so i can speak with authority when i say that the majority of senators from both parties believe we should be investing more strongly in n.i.h. and that's exactly the aim of the bill i'm introducing today, the accelerating biomedical research act makes n.i.h. a priority in our natural budget
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process by creating a budget cap adjustment just for the national institutes of health. this bill would put a plan in place for the appropriations committee to reverse the ten-year retrenchment in biomedical research funding for the remaining years of the budget control act. now, importantly, the accelerating biomedical research act is not an appropriation. i.t. not a mandatory trust -- it's not ad mandatory trust fund. it is not a tax credit. the bill does not score for c.b.o. purposes because it does not spend any money now. i'm also hearing always that we should have a robust debate on the budget and our spending priorities as a country, so this bill starts that debate. so i invite senators to cosponsor this bill, if you believe, as i do, that we should change our budget to allow for biomedical research to grow in the united states. madam president, i ask that a list of the organizations who
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have endorsed this bill be entered into the record at the end of my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: madam president, we must do this. i believe we dmows this to save lives and to improve the health of the american people. i also believe we must do it because we knee investing in biomedical research creates jobs and spurs the economy. some may say that changing the budget allows for more spending show that it should be offset by cuts to other programs. well, to that, i can say there can be little doubt n.i.h. funding abundantly pays for itself in expanding economic activity. we expect that economists have studied this. we estimate that for each dollar of investment in the national institutes of health generates anywhere from $1.08 to $3.20 in economic output. let me just take one vivid example of the payoffs from our
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federal investment in biomedical research. in the year 2003, n.i.h. completed the human genome project which started about 1 years earlier. -- 13 years earlier. in total, the federal government invested $3.4 billion of taxpayers' money in sequencing the human gene. that project has had a truly staggering economic impact. as of 2012, it had generated $965 billion in economic activity, personal income exceeding $293 billion, and more than 4.3 million job years of imhoimenemployment. america has reaped $178 for every dollar spent. for every dollar we invested. and this is just the economic
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impact. the positive impact in terms of cures discovered and lives saved is incalculable. but research doesn't have to launch an entire industry to contribute significantly to our economy, as the human genome project did. i'll give you an example from my home state. dr. joseph walder, a researcher at the university of iowa, received $5.7 million research grant many years ago from the national heart, lung, and blood institute. in the course of his research, he developed synthetic d.n.a. technology. realizing this was a valuable research toocialg he launch add company called integrated d.n.a. technologies in 1987. out of a $5.7 million federal investment came a company with $100 million in annual sales employing 650 people.
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now, if the creation of all these qups and products and jobs -- companies and products and jobs isn't enough of a reason to expect that this bill will boost the economy and lower the federal deficit, i have another reason: one of the principal missions of bioresearch is to reduce health conditions that are a major driving force in our deficits. in 2006, economists found that a future 1% reduction in mortality rates from cancer would save $500 billion in current and future americans. a cure for cancer, they estimated, would save $50 trillion in future expenditures. recent estimates indicate that the economic costs of alzheimer's disease is over $200 billion a year. that's going to rise to over $1 trillion a year by 2050, unless a prevention or a cure is found.
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the centers for disease control and prevention reports that annual costs from undiagnosed diabetes are about $245 billion a year. a recent study projects that by 2030, nearly 45% of the united states population will face some form of cardiovascular disease, costing a total of $1.2 trillion between now and 2030. so i could go on and on with examples, but no matter what i say, some will say, we can't afford this bill. but, madam president, we can't afford not to do this. the status quo confronts our nation with what those in the military call a clear and present danger. the united states has been the global leader in research, but that stand something now in jeopardy. while the united states has been retrenching in biomedical research, other countries, including china, india, and singapore, have been redoubling
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their investments and surging forward. of the ten leading countries in the field of scientific research, the united states is the only one that has reduced its investment in scientific research. let me repeat that. of the ten leading countries in the world in the field of scientific research, the united states is the only one that has reduced its investment in scientific research. according to an n.i.h. study, other countries are investing more in biomedical research relative to the size of their economies. when it comes to government funding for pharmaceutical industry-performed research, korea's government provides seven times more funding as a shaver g.d.p. than does the -- as a share of g.d.p. than does the united states, while singapore -- small singapore and taiwan provide five times and three times as much, respectively, as what we do in
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america. france and the united kingdom also provide more than the u.s.' share of their economies. this chart here i think vividly shows kind of what's happening in research investment just since 2011, as a project of g.d.p. -- as a percent of g.d.p. here's china, brazil, south korea, india, u.k., france, japan, germ and russia have stayed even. the united states, we're going in the wrong direction. dr. frances collins, director of n.i.h., testified before my subcommittee about the ambitious investments of america'srrivals. he said this, and i quote, "china has made policy changes to invest heavily in the life sciences industry, moving them closer to becoming a world leader in science and technology by the end of the decade. over the past decade, singapore has also pursued a prominent role as a global leader in life sciences.
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for example, their pharmaceutical industry r&d funding was five times greater than that of the u.s. in 2009 on the share of g.d.p. basis." end quote. madam president, let me say just one more thing about china's ambitious plans. china has identified biotechnology as one of the seven key strategic and emerging pillar industries. they have pledged to invest $308.5 billion in biotechnology over the next five years. $308.5 billion in the next five years in china. by contrast, the u.s. investment over the same period of time will be roughly $160 billion, just about half of what china is doing. it is a shock and disturbing enact if current trends -- fact that if current trends continue, the investment in life sciences research as a share of g.d.p.
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will soon be about one-quarter of what china is doing. according to n.i.h., china already has more gene sequencing capacity than the entire united states, and they have about a third of the global capacity. imagine that. we are the ones that mapped and sequenced the entire human genome. we're the ones that put the $3.6 billion into that. yeah, we've reaped some rewards and benefits, as i just said about that. but right now china has more gene sequencing capacity than we do. again, illustrating my point that they're moving ahead and we have sort of slowed down and stopped. resting sort of on our laurels, so to speak. the budget caps enacted by congress are forcing dis-investments in a whole range of priorities key to our nation's prosperity. these dis-investments are having devastating impacts across our country: lower growth, fewer
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jobs. again, i appreciate that there are honest disagreements about the appropriate levels of investment in education or job training and other domestic priorities. but from countless conversations with senators from both parties, there seems to be one area of broad agreement. that that we should invest robustly in the national institutes of health. that's why i've introĆ· -- that's why i've introduced this bill today. it is time for us on a bipartisan basis for congress to reverse this erosion of support for biomedical research to ensure america's standing in this field. this is what we're talking about, a discretionary cap adjustment. it would allow n.i.h. to make up for lost ground. here's what happened since. we've doubled, some say we've kept even. we're about $8 billion behind. by providing a budget cap adjustment, we can close this
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gap by 2021 and bring us up to where we should be if we could just allow for increases due to inflation. quite frankly, i guess i could argue that we had to do even more than that, but this is the minimum that we ought to do. the minimum to close the gap to biomedical research. so, madam president, we have to do this for the health of our people, our economy and our federal budget. so i urge my colleagues to join in supporting the accelerating biomedical research act. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: thank you, madam president. this is my 75th time to wake up speech, something of a minor benchmark, i suppose. i come here urging my colleagues to wake up to the threat of climate change. i do this every week that we are
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in session, hoping that someday spark will hit tinder. but even as the evidence of climate change deepens, the dialogue here in washington remains one-sided. climate change was once a bipartisan concern. in recent years something changed. i think i know what changed, and i will get to that. but first, let's reminisce about the bipartisanship. if we take a look back in this body, we have republican colleagues who once openly acknowledged the existence of carbon driven-climate change
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and -- and who called for real legislative action to cut carbon emissions. imagine that. it wasn't that long ago. we have a former republican presidential nominee amongst us who campaigned for the prison addressing climate change -- who caned for the prison on addressing climate change. we have republicans who have spoken about a fee on carbon including an original republican sponsor on a bipartisan senate carbon fee bill. we have a republican colleague who cosponsored carbon fee legislation in the house and another who voted for the waxman-markey cap-and-trade bill when he was in the house. for years, for years there was a
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steady, healthy heartbeat of republican support for major u.s. legislation to address carbon pollution. let me be specific. in 2003, senator john mccain was the lead cosponsor of democrat joe lieberman's climate stewardship act which would have created a market-based emissions cap and trading program to reduce carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollutants from the biggest u.s. sources. here is what senator mccain said at the time. i'll quote him. "while we cannot say with 100% confidence what will happen in the future, we do know the emission of greenhouse gases is
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not healthy for the environment, as many of the top scientists through the world have stated, the sooner we start to reduce these emissions, the better off we will be in the future." end quote. his climate stewardship act actually got a vote. imagine that. and when it did not prevail, senator mccain reintroduced the measure himself in the following congress. republican senators olympia snowe of maine and lincoln chafee of rhode island, my predecessor, were among that bill's cosponsors. other republicans got behind other cap-and-trade proposals. senator tom carper's clean air planning act at one time or another counted senator lamar alexander of tennessee, senator
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lindsey graham of south carolina and senator susan collins of maine among its supporters. in 2007, republican senator olympia snowe was a lead cosponsor of then-senator kerry's global warming reduction act. senators murkowski and stevens from alaska and senator specter of pennsylvania, then a republican, were original cosponsors of the bingaman low carbon economy act. and that same year senator alexander introduced the clean air/climate change act. each of these bills sought to reduce carbon emissions through a cap-and-trade mechanism. said senator alexander -- and i'll quote him -- "it is also time to acknowledge that climate change is real.
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human activity is a big part of the problem, and it is up to us to act. 2007. that bipartisan heartbeat remains strong in 2009. senator mark kirk of illinois, while he served in the house of representatives, was one of eight republicans to vote for the waxman-markey cap-and-trade proposal. in that same year, 2009, senator jeff flake of arizona, then representing arizona in the house, was an original cosponsor of the raise wages, cut carbon act to reduce payroll taxes for employers and employees in exchange for equal revenue from
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a carbon tax. on the house floor then-representative flake argued the virtues of this approach. here is what he said. "if we want to be honest about helping the environment, then just impose a carbon tax and make it revenue neutral. give commensurate tax relief on the other side. myself and another republican colleague have introduced that legislation to do just that. let's have an honest debate about whether or not we want to help the environment by actually having something that is revenue neutral where you tax consumption as opposed to income." it was a good idea then and it's still a good idea now. senator flake's words were echoed that year in the senate by senator collins, a lead cosponsor of the carbon limits
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and energy for america's renewal act. senator cantwell's carbon fee bill. in the united states alone, said senator collins, emissions of the primary greenhouse gas carbon dioxide have risen more than 20% since 1990. clearly climate change is a daunting environmental challenge, she said. but we must develop solutions that do not impose a heavy burden on our economy, particularly during these difficult economic times." end quote. 2009, think of it. there was once not too long ago a clear and forceful acknowledgement from leading republican voices of the real danger posed by climate change. and of congress's responsibility
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to act. so what happened? why did this steady heartbeat of republican climate action suddenly flat line? madam president, i believe we lost the ability to address climate change in a bipartisan way because of the evils of the supreme court's citizens united decision. our present failure to address climate change is a symptom of things gone awry in our democracy due to citizens united. that decision did not enhance speech in our democracy. it has allowed bullying, wealthy special interests to suppress real debate.
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i've spoken before on the senate floor about the supreme court's citizens united decision, one of the most disgraceful decisions by any supreme court destined ultimately, i believe, to follow cases like lochner vs. new york on to the ash heap of judicial infamy, but we're stuck with it for now. in a nutshell the senior citizens united decision says this: corporations are people. money is speech. so there can be no limit to corporate money influencing american elections. if that doesn't seem right, it's because it's not. phony and improper fact finding by the five conservative
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activists on the supreme court concluded that corporate spending could not ever corrupt elections. just couldn't do it. by some magic, it's pure. that's a bad enough finding on its face, but they also didn't get that limitless, untraceable political money. it doesn't have to be spent to damage our democracy. unlimited corporate spending in politics can corrupt not just through floods of anonymous attack advertisements, it can corrupt secretly and more dangerously through the mere threat of that spending through
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private threats and promises. the presiding officer was the attorney general of her state, and she well knows how much mischief can be done in back rooms by threats and promises. that's what attorney generals see when they go out and investigate. and after evaluating the effect of citizens united on our climate change debate, let's remember one thing. a lot of this special interest money has been spent against republicans. i've had republican friends tell me what are you complaining about? they're spending more against us than against you. and there have been times when that has been true. when the koch brothers' polluter money can come in and bombard you in a small primary election,
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that's pretty scary. and when the paid-for right-wing attack machine can be cranked up against you in your republican primary, that's pretty scary too. and what the polluters can do with political spending, they can threaten or promise to do in ways that the public will never see or know. but the candidate will know. the candidate will know for sure. so i wrote a friend of the court brief to the supreme court with senator john mccain to highlight for the justices some of the failings and pitfalls of their shameful citizens united decision. the dominating influence of superpacs, we wrote, makes it all the easier for those seeking
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legislative favors and results to discreetly threaten such expenditures. if members of congress do not accede to their demands. i think we were right. so how does this bear on climate change? all that bipartisan activity i talked about preceded citizens united. after that, polluter attacks funded by citizens united money and the threat of those polluter attacks, perhaps promises not to make those attacks if you behave, cast a dark shadow over republicans who might work with democrats on curbing carbon pollution. tens, perhaps even hundreds of
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millions of dark money dollars are being spent by polluters and their front organizations, and god only knows what private threats and promises have been made. the timing is telling. before citizens united, there was an active heart beat of republican activity on climate change. since then, the evidence has only become stronger but after citizens united uncorked all that big dark money and allowed it to cast its bullying shadow of intimidation over our democracy, republicans other than those few who parrot the polluter party line that climate change is just a big old hoax, they have all walked back from any major climate legislation.
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we have senators here who represent historic native villages now washing into the sea and needing relocation because of climate change and sea level rise. we have senators here who represent great american coastal cities now overwashed by high tides because of climate change. we have senators representing states swept by drought and wildfire. we have senators whose home state forests by the hundreds of square miles are being killed by the marauding pine beetle. we have senators whose home states glaciers are disappearing
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before their very eyes. we have senators whose states are having to raise offshore bridges and highways before rising seas. we have senators whose emblematic home state species are dying off like the new hampshire moose, for instance, swarmed by ticks by the tens of thousands that snows no longer kill. yet none will work on a major climate bill. it's not safe to. ever since citizens united allowed the bullying, polluting special interests to bombard our elections and to threaten and promise to bombard our elections
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with their attack ads. well, despite all the dark money , despite the threats and intimidation, i still believe this can be a courageous time. we simply need conscientious republicans and democrats to work together in good faith on a common platform of facts and common sense to protect the american people and the american economy from the looming effects of climate change, in our atmosphere, on our lands, in our oceans. we simply need to shed the shackles of corrupting influence and rise to our duty.
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in courageous times, americans have done far more than that. it's not asking much to ask this generation to stand up to a pack of polluters just because they have big checkbooks. in previous generations, americans have put at risk their very lives, fortunes and sacred honor to serve the higher interests of this great republic. we know it can be done because it's being done. we do not have to be the generation that failed at our duty. we're headed down a road to infamy now, but it doesn't have to be that way. we can leave a legacy that will
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echo down the corridors of history so that those who follow us will be proud of our efforts, but sitting here, doing nothing, yielding to the special interest bullies and their citizens united money, pretending that the problem isn't real, that won't accomplish that. as i have said before, 74 times, and as i say tonight for the 75th time, it is time for us to wake up. i yield the floor. i thank the presiding officer. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: yesterday secretary of defense chuck hagel wrote to the majority leader seeking $225 million in additional u.s. funding for production of iron dome components in israel, so that it can -- so they can maintain adequate stockpiles and defend their population. republicans are united in our support of our ally, israel. we have legislation that would allow congress to meet the secretary's request, and we hope our friends on the other side will join us in coming to a sensible, bipartisan solution that can be passed quickly. as most senators know, the iron dome missile defense system has played a critical role in defending israel's population
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from rocket attacks launched by hamas from within the gaza strip. while our friends in egypt are working to bring hamas to a cease-fire and end this barrage of rocket attacks, attacks that indiscriminately target the civilian population of israel, the iron dome system will remain critical to israel's security until a true cease-fire is achieved. it will remain vital afterwards as well because this defensive system helps blunt the impact of one of hamas' preferred tools of terror. by passing a bipartisan measure to meet the secretary's request, we can send a message to hamas that its terrorist tactics and attempts to terrorize israel's populace will not succeed. and we can help israel defend its population against indiscriminate attacks as it continues its campaign,
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operation protective edge, to destroy the often iranian supplied weapons stockpile within gaza as well as to eliminate the tunnels that allow terrorists to infiltrate into israel and smuggle arms into gaza. now, madam president, on a different matter, a different part of the world, for more than two decades i've been coming to the senate floor to discuss the latest events in burma. typically in the spring i would introduce legislation to renew the import sanctions on the then burmese junta contained in the burmese freedom and democracy act. in addition to pressuring the junta it provided a useful forum to focus public attention on
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burma. after much deliberation last summer members of congress chose not to renew these sanctions for another year as burma had demonstrated progress toward implementing governmental reform. that said, burma's path to reform is far from complete. much work remains to be done. and as such, it is important to continue focusing attention on the country in a regular fashion. and that is what i'd like to do today. to highlight an important, immediate, intuitive step the country can take to reassure those who wish the country well that it remains on the path to reform. in many ways, the burma of 2014 scarcely resembles the nation that existed in 2003 when congress first enacted the bfda
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against the burmese junta. beginning about three years ago, burma began to make significant strides forward in several key areas. under president u tan san the government government began to institute reforms. in the following years the government granted amnesties and partners to political prisoners and has released more than 1,100 political prisoners to date. as a result of the new government's actions, aung san suu kyi, the nobel peace prize laureate was relisad from house arrest after spending 15 of the previous 21 years in detention the. since her release, she has been permitted to travel abroad. moreover, a bye election was held in 2012 and she was elected
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as a member of parliament along with a number of her national league for democracy colleagues. in fact, when she did travel a broad back in 2012 at my invitation she came to louisville, kentucky. it was an incredible experience to have her in our state and in our country. in light of these democratic reforms, many of which i witnessed firsthand when i visited the country in january of 2012, i believe that to no small degree burma has been a remarkable story among many dark developments in the world today. however, even though the country has made commendable progress in a relatively short period of time, to many, burma of late appears stalled asubmitted -- amidst a score of pressing challenges. these include continued conflict between the government and ethnic minorities, governmental
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restrictions on civil liberties and ongoing humanitarian issues in rakeen state. all are serious concerns that command close attention and related to all these issues is the need for burma to continue to bring the military under civilian control if it is to evolve into a more representative government. with a by election in burma scheduled for this year and a parliamentary election scheduled for late 2015, reformers in the burmese government have an opportunity to regain their momentum. to my view, the time between now and the end of 2015 is pivotal, pivotal for burma. the elections will help demonstrate whether the country will continue on the reformist path. with that in mind, the burmese government should understand that the united states and the senate specifically will watch very closely how burmese
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authorities conduct the 2015 parliamentary elections as a critical marker of the sincerity and the sustainability of democratic reform in burma. president u tan san has made assurances the elections will be free and transparent. however, his pledge has already been challenged by several campaign restrictions. one of those restrictions is a simple one. it involves who can be chosen for the most important civilian office in burma. the presidency. burma has several requirements govern hog can hold its highest office. some of them make sense. for instance, like the united states burma has a minimum age requirement for its highest office. its president must be at least 45 years old. i suppose that helps assure that only someone with a fair amount
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of life experience can be president. in addition the burmese constitution stipulates that the president must be a citizen who is well acquainted with the country's political, administrative, economic, and military affairs, and is loyal to the union and its citizens. this requirement helps ensure that a president is knowledgeable about public affairs and has a vested interest in serving in burma's executive office. however, burma's constitution also includes a deeply disconcerting limitation on presidential eligibility. section 59 stipulates that the burmese president may not be a foreign national, and may not have any immediate family members who are foreign nationals.
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this limitation on the home nation of a candidate's immediate family has no bearing on an individual's fitness for office. this restricts -- this restriction prevents vane including aung san suu kyi herself from even being considered for burma's highest office. she would not be permitted to run because her deceased husband was and her two sons are british nationals. to think that the nationalities of family members have relevance for fitness to hold office or allegiance to burma is dubious at best. not only is dal suu discriminated against but so are the burmese who fled or were exiled from the country during the hunte' a -- junta's rule. many of them were out of burma for years.
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not by choice, i would add. and during this time many became naturalized citizens in another country out of necessity. these men and women are also ineligible to be president. deciding who will be the next burmese president is obviously up to the people of burma through their elected representatives, and not up to the international community. but at a minimum, i believe that otherwise qualified candidates should be permitted to stand for office. more important, than the provision's unfairness for certain presidential candidates is is this provision restricts the ability of people of burma through their representatives to have a choice in who can hold their highest office. this is profoundly undemocratic. and it is profoundly undemocratic at a time when burma's commitment to democracy is actually open to question.
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it is notable that one apparent roadblock to amending presidential eligibility requirement is the fact that the military holds de facto veto power over constitutional amendments. under the constitution, the military controls a bloc of 25% of the parliamentary seats, and in excess of a 75% vote is required for a constitutional amendment to go forward. the military controls 25% of the parliament, you need over 75% of the parliament to change the constitution. it becomes clear what this is about. now, i understand the burmese parliamentary committees and the process of finalizing plans for the implementation of constitutional reform, but i'm concerned that eligibility changes will apparently not -- not -- include amending the
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narrow restrictions of the constitution that limit who can run for president. to me, it will be a missed opportunity if this provision is not revisited before the 2015 parliamentary elections. modifying this provision is one way the burmese government can display to the world in an immediate and clearly recognizable way that it remains fully committed to reform. permitting a broad array of candidates to run for president is an unmistakable symbol to the world, even to those who do not follow burma closely, that burmese reformers actually mean business. otherwise, such a restriction will quite simply cast a pall over the legitimacy of the election in the eyes of the international community and certainly the members of the united states senate. while congress did not renew the
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bfda's import ban last year, and there is little appetite to renew the measure this year, several u.s. sanctions towards burma remain on the books. they include restrictions on the importation of jade and rubies, into the united states and sanctions on individuals who continue to hinder reform efforts. it is hard to see how those provisions get lifted without their there being progress on the constitutional eligibility issue and the closely related issue of the legitimacy of the 2015 elections. as the 2015 elections approach i urge the president's leadership, its president, parliament and military to remain resolute in confronting the considerable obstacles to a more representative government that burma faces. this is the only way that the existing sanctions are going to get removed, the only way.
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i wanted to highlight the eligibility issue as an example of an important step burma could take to continue its reformist momentum. such a step is of course necessary but not sufficient. as i noted, undergirding many of burma's problems is the need to enhance civilian control over the military. this concern manifests itself in many ways. including the need to clarify that the commander in chief serves under the president, and the importance of removing the military's de facto veto authority over constitutional amendments. now, one tool the united states can use to help reform burma's armed forces is through military-to-military contacts. i believe that exposure to the most professional military in the world, our own, will help burma develop a force that is
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responsive to civilian control and to professional standards. security assistance and proficient professional military education are not simply rewards to partner countries, as some view such programs. they are tools with which we advance our foreign policy objectives. helping the burmese military to reform is in our interest, but it cannot be done through mere exhortation, it needs to be done through training and regular contact with the highest professional military standards. only then i believe will the burmese military see that being under civilian control is not inemmiccable to its interests. this realization coupled with a successful 2015 election that is open to all otherwise qualified presidential

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