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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  November 12, 2014 6:00pm-8:01pm EST

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the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to vote or wishing to change their vote? if not, the ayes are 53, the nays are 45. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, randolph d. moss of maryland to be united states
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district judge for the district of columbia. the presiding officer: under the previous order, there will be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to the vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the may nomination. a senator: mr. president? mr. leahy: i ask consent all time be yielded back. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection all time is yielded back. mr. leahy: i withhold that request. i yield back my time on this side. the presiding officer: the senator from georgia is recognized. mr. isakson: on behalf of myself and is senator chambliss from georgia -- the presiding officer: the chamber will come to order. mr. isakson: we would like the senate to look favorably. we could appreciate your consideration and your yes vote.
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i yield back. the presiding officer: all time is yielded back. the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the nomination of leigh martin may of georgia to be united states district judge for the northern district of georgia, signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is: is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of leigh martin may of georgia to be united states district court judge for the northern district of georgia shall be brought to a close? the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will report the. -- the clerk will call the roll.
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the presiding officer: the senator from new york.
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you vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the ayes are 67, the nays are 30.
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the motion is agreed to. nor senator mr. president? the presiding officer: the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: leigh martin may of georgia to be united states district judge for the northern district of georgia. the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. a senator: mr. president, just as -- if the senator from west virginia would yield for a question. i'm just trying to figure out what the floor process is because i follow this, what appears to be a colloquy between senator manchin, senator toomey, senator alexander, senator harkin, and i am trying to get a sense of how long this colloquy might take so i know when i should be back at the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. manchin: i can't speak for ores other senators. i'm going to be about three to five minutes. mr. harkin: about the sairnlings about three minutes. mr. toomey: a good 20 minutes.
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mr. whitehouse: a good 20 minutes. mr. alexander: mr. president, i'll have about 20 minutes. a senator: hour and a half. mr. whitehouse: all righty. now i know. the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia is recognized. mr. manchin: i want to thank my good friend, senator pat too maniy, for working with me to make sure ow kids remain safe in every single school across our country. i'm a father of a three and a grandfather of eight. there is nothing more upon than protecting my children and grandchildren. our bill is just common sense and has already passed by a voice vote with not one opposition in the house. this simple placks sure that all employees who work with our students pass a background check to make sure they have no criminal records or an abusive history. that includes everyone, from principal, teerchtion and secretaries to cafeteria workers and janitors.
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since january 1, 4010 teachers across america have been arrested for sexual misconduct. just since january 1 of this year. that is more than one teefn per day who has sexually assaulted a student. that only includes those who have been caught and detained. do we dare wonder just how many predators we could have prevented from harming stiewrntses if this bill had been passed years ago, including preventing the outcome of the rape and death of a young west virginia student named jeremy bell? 12-year-old jeremy was a fifth-grade student from fayette county, wrest virginia, who had been on an overnight fishing trip with his principal when he died from a head injury in 1997. nearly eight years later investigators discovered that jeremy was raped and murdered by edward fredericks jr., his principal and supervisor on the trip.
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thankfully, he is now serving a life sentence. although jeremy's death is in and of itself disturbing, mr. frederick's past approves to be even more troublesome. prior to working as fayette county's principle, mr. fredericks had previously been dismissed by a school in delaware county, pennsylvania, on suspicion of sexual misconduct. that school then helped him land a few teaching position in fayettes county, west virginia. he taught for 26 years in pest virginia before he was finally dismissed in 2001 when he was indicted for sexually abusing four boys, not one but four that we knew of. this story is heart breaking and simply unacceptable today. as a parent, as a grandparent, and as a representative of the great state of west virginia, insacks not an option. there are more than 4 million teachers and school staff employed by our public school
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districts across the united states. and there are millions of additional workers who have direct access to students including bus drivers, cafeteria workers and janitors and yet there is no national background check policy in place for the people who work directly with our kids every day. even worse, not all of our states require checks of child abuse and conduct. registries or sex offender registry checks. not all of them. some do. a lot don't. a recent report by the government accountability office found that five states don't require background checks at all, nothing at all for applicants seeking employment with in our schools. in addition, not all states use both state and federal sources of criminal data, like a state law enforcement database or the f.b.i.'s interstate identification index. our bill would simply require mandatory background checks of state criminal registry, state child abuse, and neglect registries, an f.b.i.
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fingerprint check and a check of the national sex offender registry for existing and prospective employees. every child deserves to have at least one place they feel saved and comfortable. for many of our kids these days, that place is at school. this is truly just a commonsense bill that aims to help protect our kids from sexual assault predators or any individual who inappropriately behaves in our schools. it only makes sense that we do everything we can to allow our children to have one safe place in their life. and, unfortunately, that is our schools. if we can even make the smallest difference in changing the outcomes of students and students' lives like jeremy bell, then we did our jobs. so i would hope that all of my colleagues would consider this when they're thinking of saying, well, we already do it in our state. well, guess what? there are many states that haven't for whatever reason. all we're saying is to make it uniform across our country. mr. president, i yield the floor.
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mr. toomey: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: thank you, mr. president. and i want to thank my colleague, senator manchin from west virginia, for his work on this, for being the lead democratic sponsor on this very important legislation. i also want to thank senators mcconnell and inhofe for cosponsoring the legislation. and i'd like to thank every single member of the house of representatives because every one of them voted in favor of this legislation. i've got is a number of rngs that i want to cite and develop in a series of arguments, mr. president, but i understand that the senior senator from iowa has some time constraints, and i want to be cooperative in that respect, so i will make a unanimous consent request at this time, and i think senator harkin is likely to respond to that. i will then make my arguments in favor of this legislation. so at this time, mr. president,
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i ask unanimous consent that the senate vitiate cloture on the motion to concur in the house amendment to s. 1086, the child care and development block grant bill, that following the disposition of the moss and may nominations,s senate proceed to a motion on the vote to concur in the amendment, and following the designation s. 1086,s house committee be discharged from h.r. 2038 and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration, the bill be read a third time and the senate proceed to vote on passage of h.r. 2083. the presiding officer: is there objection? the senator from i would. mr. harkin: on behalf of both senator alex archder and myself, i do object to the unanimous consent request. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. harkin: i will just take a couple, three minutes. i want to make up my friend from pennsylvania for being a gentleman and letting me have a few minutes here to express that before he gives his own expression of support for his bill. first of all, i want to say i
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appreciate both senator toomey and senator manchin's interest in this issue. we have worked on this over the months to try to accommodate this legislation, to move it, but the issues are complex, the bill would affect millions of people, members of the education and civil rights commission have raised some legitimate concerns that we need to work through. members of the help committee, which i am privileged to chair, on both sides have expressed consideration about moving this by our committee. unfortunately, the senator is asking us just to take his bill without any debate or committee consideration. now, that again is a formula for bad legislation because recent steps have been taken by states to do their own background check requirements. for example, i don't know this particularly, but pennsylvania resignationly enacted legislation to protect kids in school. we need to make sure that whatever we do here does not
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interfere with what the states themselves are doing. and i think probably my colleague, senator alexander, will address himself to that. this is the child care development and block grant bill n.a.s.ed here in the senate. the senator from pennsylvania supported that bill. it went to the howssments they changed it a little bit and passed it on a voice vote and sent it back to us. now we are concurring in that vote in the house. so again, the bill is ready to go. i would just state for the record that back in september, we had offered, both senator alexander and i offered the senator from pennsylvania a hearing on the bill and an immediate markup, and we would go to markup. what i could not guarantee the senator from pennsylvania was that his bill would come through as he wrote it. the committee sometimes makes decisions to change this or do that. i couldn't guarantee that. what i could guarantee was a hearing and an immediate markup
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on the bill, but that did not seem to be acceptable to the senator from pennsylvania. i understand that. so again, i just want the record to reflect that i am not unsympathetic to the goals of senator toomey and senator manchin on this issue, but i do believe that it should go through the committee process. and since we are so close -- we've worked on this child development block grant bill for a long time. passed 96-2. the house added one thing, fafd by a voice vote. we agreed to that. we're ready to send it to the president. we've had a great bipartisan working relationship on our committee thanks to senator alexander who will be taking over the chairmanship of this committee in january. i couldn't ask for a better partner. we have a very diverse committee, but we've passed 18 bills through our committee signed by the president in the last two years. this will be the 19th. and because we haven't had any markup on the amendment, that's why i'm objecting.
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not that i'm absolutely opposed to what the senator is trying to do, but, again, i do believe that people on my committee deserve to have some input into this. and since i'll be leaving it would then be senator alexander's committee after the first of the year. mr. president, i thank the senator from pennsylvania for allowing me to speak first. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: thank you, mr. president. i thank the senator from iowa for his comments. he cited, i think, two principal arguments of concerns of his. one, the fact that it has not -- this legislation has not yet been considered by his committee. and the second, that there are states taking action in various ways that ought to be contemplated. i'm going to address both of those but i'd like to begin at the beginning, what is for me the beginning, mr. president. let me start by stating i am a strong supporter of the child care development block grant bill. i voted for this bill in march.
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i look forward to voting for it again. one of the very reasons that i support the bill is that this bill that we're going to vote on -- the child care development block grant bill -- addresses the issue that i'm trying to address in my bill, and that is protecting our children from sexual and violent predators. i'm the father of three young kids. i can't imagine anything more important than the safety and security of my kids, and i think most americans would agree with me on that. the child care development block grant bill takes an important step in that direction. it requires criminal background checks on day care workers. and because it does, it's going to provide a level of protection for the 1.6 million comirn in federally -- children in federally subsidized day care, protection from the sexual and violent predators who might otherwise obtain jobs as child-care workers or employees of these day care centers.
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my question, mr. president, is why are we stopping there? why are we interested only in protecting the kids in federally subsidized day care, the 1.6 million children there deserve protection, but what about the 49.6 million children who are a little bit older? and they're in our nation's elementary, middle and high schools, don't they deserve the same protection from sexual and violent predators as the young kids do? i think we need to act now to protect all of our kids. that's what i'm trying to do here. and it's a very urgent matter. senator manchin talked of the absolutely horrendous case of jeremy bell. that's how i became aware of this situation. and as senator manchin pointed out, it began in my state, pennsylvania. it ended the story -- the terrible story ended in senator manchin's state when the perpetrator began molesting and
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abusing children, he was a teacher. he had molested several boys and raped one before the school figured out what was going on. unfortunately, the prosecutors never felt they had enough evidence to actually bring a case. the school dismissed the perpetrator, but then amazingly this school in pennsylvania helped this monster get a job at a school in west virginia. and as senator manchin pointed out, he worked in west virginia in exactly the same capacity that gave him an opportunity to abuse more kids, and this tragic story didn't end until he raped and murdered a 12-year-old boy. well, justice has caught up with that teacher. he's going to spend the rest of his life in jail which is, frankly, too good for him. but that's way too late for jeremy bell, his 12-year-old victim. now of course we now jeremy bell
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is certainly not alone. senator manchin pointed out already this year over 410 teachers and other school employees have been arrested across america for sexual assaults or misconduct with children. 410, that's more than one per day. let's be clear, these are the people about whom we know enough and have enough credible evidence to actually have an arrest. how many more are out there but the prosecutors aren't confident yet that they can make the case? in contrast to the 410 that have happened so far this year, back in april when senator manchin and i first came to the floor and asked the senate to pass our bipartisan bill, at the time the number of teachers arrested was only 130. and the time we've waited we've gone from 130 teachers and other school employees arrested for sexual misconduct with children
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to now over 410. how much bigger does this number have to get before the senate decides this is something we should address? every one of these 410 stories represents a horrendous tragedy. one as a child whose abuse began at age 10 and only ended when at age 17 she found herself pregnant with a teacher's child. a teacher's aide who raped a mentally disabled boy in his care; a kindergarten teacher who kept a child during recess and forced her to perform sexual acts on him. one teacher after another caught with images of child pornography on their computers, child pornography involving children as young as one year old. it's unbelievable stuff. and it's important especially in my home state of pennsylvania. 25 of these arrests have been in pennsylvania. pennsylvania teachers. a recent study found pennsylvania is second in the nation for teachers who have been investigated for sexual misconduct with the children that are supposed to be in their care. so, i think we need to be
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doing -- we need to be acting now. we need to stop these tragedies. and our bipartisan bill, the protecting students from sexual and violent predators act, takes an important step toward that goal. it works to ensure that school employees we hire are not sexual or violent predators. in fact, the background check provisions in our bill are nearly identical to the background check provisions in the child care development block grant bill, the one that we're going to vote on. specifically, protecting students against the -- the protecting student act requires background checks for all existing school employees who have unsupervised access to children. the background checks must be thorough covering four data bases including national data bases. that would be the f.b.i. fingerprint check and the national crime information center data base, the national sexual offender register base, the state criminal register and state child abuse and neglect
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registries. let me give an example from the state of alaska that illustrates just how important this requirement is. on august 29, alaska state troopers arrested a middle school teacher in key i don't see in a -- in keyona, alaska. the teacher fled missouri four years earlier to escape arrest warrant. numerous teachers accused the teacher of sexual abuse of his own adopted children. this is hard to talk about because it is so disturbing but i think we have to face it. the fact is he raped and starved his children. the children literally burrowed a hole in the wall, stole food from the freezer, heat it had on a furnace in their home to survive. this monster was able to obtain a teaching certificate in alaska and teach in the state for four years. when asked how could this have happened, the alaska department of education explained that alaska only checks the state's criminal registry when running a background check on a teacher, so his name never came up.
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had alaska searched the f.b.i. criminal data base as my bill requires, the school would have learned that this monster was a fugitive in another state. the protecting student acts forbids schools from hiring a teacher who has committed certain crimes including any violent or sexual crime against a child, whether it's a misdemeanor or felony, and this is necessary because all too often the predator will plead down to a misdemeanor when in fact he or she may be guilty of something more serious. the legislation also bans the horrible practice of a school knowingly helping a child molester obtain a new teaching job somewhere else so that he becomes a problem somewhere else. this practice, it sounds outrageous, sounds incredible but it happens. in fact, it happens so frequently it's got its own name. it's called passing the trash. finally, if a state fails to comply with these requirements, then it loses a portion of its
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funds under the elementary-secondary education act. i mentioned earlier this is a bipartisan bill. it's, to say the least, bipartisan. this support is so broad in the house, it passed unanimously over a year ago, in october of 2013. it was introduced by democrat george miller of california, cosponsored by two republicans and seven democrats, including frederica wilson of florida who served as an elementary school teacher and principal, charlie rangel of new york, sheila jackson lee of texas and here in the senate it has the bipartisan support of senator manchin, senator mcconnell, senator inhofe and myself. child advocates across america have endorsed the bill. the national children's alliance which oversees national child veed kasi centers, the children's defense fund, national center for missing and exploited children, pennsylvania coalition against rape have all endorsed this bill. law enforcement and prosecutors all support this bill.
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the federal law enforcement officers association supports it. the association of prosecuting attorneys, national district attorneys association, teachers support this legislation. the american federation of teachers and the pennsylvania school board association. so why after a year, more than a year after the house passed this bill unanimously, why have we refused to act in the senate? some of us knew the federal government doesn't need to act; that we can leave it to the states and some states worked to address this problem to the extent that they can. the senator from iowa mentioned my home state of pennsylvania has recently enacted legislation that deals with it. this is true, much to the credit of state senator tony williams, a democrat and state representative dave maloney, a republican. the bill makes much-needed reforms to strengthen background checks and ban passing the trash within pennsylvania. but as my friend, pennsylvania
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state senator tony williams, explains, under the u.s. constitution, states cannot address the problem of child predators being passed across state lines. the jurisdiction of pennsylvania ends at the pennsylvania borders. there is nothing pennsylvania can do to make it illegal for someone in another state to send in to pennsylvania a predator of this sort. and of course, the example of jeremy bell is just exactly one such case. there is another example. recently in las vegas, nevada, a kindergarten teacher was arrested for kidnapping a 16-year-old girl and infecting her with a sexually transmitted disease. the same teacher molested six children, all fourth and fifth graders, several years before while working as a teacher in los angeles. the los angeles school district knew about these allegations. how do we know they knew? in 2009, the school district had recommended settling a lawsuit
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alleging the teacher molested children. the nevada school district specifically asked if there had been any criminal concerns regarding the teacher, and the los angeles school district not only hid the truth but they provided three references for the teacher. had my bill banning passing the trash been the law, maybe that 16-year-old child might have been spared. there's another fundamental reason why i think the federal government has to act, and it's the need to be accountable to the american taxpayer. when the federal government gives billions of dollars to states to help pay for the salaries of people who work with children, the federal government has a duty to make sure it's not paying the salary of child molesters. it's a basic accountability that every taxpayer, i would think, should demand. and again, in this regard, our protecting students bill is nearly identical to the child care development block grant bill that we're going to be voting on. both the child care development block grant bill and our protecting students acts, they create what is essentially a
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voluntary mechanism for states to enhance their security. both bills provide that if a state accepts federal funds, the state government must pass the laws or regulations providing for the criminal background checks of persons who work with children. both bills provide that states compliance is essentially voluntary. a state that declines to improve its background checks foregoes federal funds under the child care development block grant bill, the state loses 5% of the funds under that bill. under our bill the state loses understand under the elementary-secondary education act. thus both bills have the same worthy goal, the same principle of accountability for federal funds, they even have the same basic enforcement mechanism. both were passed unanimously by the house of representatives, the child care development block grant bill two months ago othern september 15, the protecting students bill over a year ago.
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if one bill has legal problems that preclude it from being passed so does the other but in fact neither bill should be blocked. they both take the same approach and they both provide an urgently needed measure of security for our kids. others have argued and we heard the senior senator from iowa make the argument that the senate, we should wait and let the committee of jurisdiction, the help committee consider the bill first. well, it's been over a year now that the help committee has chosen not to take any action on this bill. senator manchin and i have been working for months trying to pass this urgently needed legislation but we've never been able to make progress with the committee. on april 10 of this year, senator manchin and i asked unanimous consent to pass our bill. the committee chairman objected and next the committee assured senator manchin and me they'd work with our staffs and the committee would vote on the bill in july. the committee scheduled a vote on our bill in july, posted an
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announcement on its web site it was going to have a markup on this bill. then at the last minute the committee removed our bill from the agenda, had no consideration of it, denied us a vote and we never got an answer as to why. again, senator manchin and i were assured the committee would vote on this bipartisan bill. we were told the committee would work with our staffs during the five-week recess in august and provide a vote in september. but the committee ignored our staffs during the august recess and there was no such consideration in september. and now here we are seven and a half weeks after we went on recess in september and i still have no confidence that the committee is going to take this up and move this legislation. in the meantime tophic child predators have not been at rest. they've been moving on to new victims every day brings another story of a teacher arrested, another story of a childhood shattered, a family that's torn apart by grief and betrayal.
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i just think the children of america have waited long enough and i'm saying no more waiting. no more promises about jurisdiction and process and procedures that don't take place. no more passing child molesters on to new schools and new victims, no more defenseless kids like jeremy bell falling victim to other predators. no excuses for avoiding an up-or-down vote for a bill that passed the house unanimously. let's act now. let's act to protect the 1.6 million kids in the federally subsidized daycare, let's pass that. i'm for that. but let's protect the 19.6 million kids that are in our elementary, middle and high schools. if we do this, we can do this tomorrow. tomorrow we can pass them tomorrow if we'd had a vote and send two bills to the president 's desk, i'm quite confident we sign them both,
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the child development block grant bill to protect those 1.6 million kids and i'm confident he would sign the protecting students from sexual and violent predators act and we'd be protecting the 46.6 million slightly older kids. mr. president, i urge my colleagues to act now. it's long overdue. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: mr. president, i applaud the senator from pennsylvania and from west virginia for their concern. of course, every single senator would like as the senator from west virginia said, to make sure that every single child is safe in every single school. the question in my mind is how does one do that? my mind goes back to a particularly horrific shooting in a school in the early 1990's, and the country was
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revulsed by it and congress acted. going to make every single school safe. so congress passed the gun-free school zone act in about 1990. and the supreme court a few years held it unconstitutional under the commerce clause which haven't a problem here but i opposed that then, i was education secretary then, because the way to make every single child in every school safe is not to turn over the job to the united states senate and the u.s. department of education. that's not the way to do it. they have four million children, right, we have 100,000 schools, correct. we have 14,000 school boards, 100,000 principals. what this proposal would do is to put the u.s. department of education and the united states congress who currently have about a 10% approval rating in
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charge of making every single child in every school safer than the local school board can, than the local legislator can, than the local governor can, than the local community can, than the parents can. if we want safe schools, that's the job of parents, communities, school boards, states. it is not a duty to be bucked upstairs to the united states senate and the united states department of education. that doesn't make the sam houston elementary school in maryville, tennessee, any safer. i don't think many parents would go home feeling better in my hometown if they knew it was the united states senate they were counting on to make their child safe in their school. of course this is the right goal, but there's a better way to do that. there's a better way to do that. the reason that the senator from iowa and i offered to the
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senator from pennsylvania and the senator from west virginia an opportunity to have an hearing and a markup in september on this bill was we think we have a better idea and that was simply to take the well-meaning impulse that they have and change the direction in a fundamental way which was to say instead of making every one of our 100,000 schools do this, and telling them how to do it, we will enable them do it by giving -- them to do it by giving them access to the federal registries, allowing them to use title 2 money to do it, to use that title 2 money for training. we thought we had a better way to get to the same goal which is to make every single -- every single child safe. all of us are horrified by these stories. so the question is, what's the best way to deal with it? some people say let washington do it. i just went through a little
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reelection campaign in tennessee. i don't think i had one person come up to me and say why don't you let washington tell us what to do about the employment practices in our local schools? i don't think i had a single person say i think you guys in the united states senate care more and know more about how to make every single child in every tennessee school safer by your actions in washington. they know better than that. in fact, they came up to me and said tell washington to stop telling us what to do about our academic standards, common core. this is common core for employment practices. stop washington from telling us what to do about what the curriculum ought to be. stop washington from telling us what to do about -- about training our teachers, about evaluating our teachers, about how long our class sessions ought to be, about how large our classes ought to be. we have proposals that come through this same committee, the president has one involving
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preschool that would basic clip create a national school board for preschool education. class size, teacher salaries, length of school day, all those things would be decided by people with wisdom in washington. and, mr. president, i reject that. i mean i would particularly object to that when i was governor of tennessee, if there were horrific -- which i was for eight years. if there were a horrific case in tennessee of sexual predation in one of the schools, i wouldn't have flown to washington to find out what to do about it. i would have called the legislature in session and done something about it. if i were to found i didn't have access to the federal registries or any other essential reg cities then i would have said to my united states senator why don't you give us the tools to do it? which is what i would propose to do and unanimous consent to include -- i ask unanimous consent to include in the record
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following my remarks a summary of the proposal that i would make that would -- that would help every one of our 100,000 schools, enable them to do a better job of dealing with employment practices and drilling background checks. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: this is a surprising development for me. i mean, i understand the terrible nature of the crime. but i think it is so important that we not lead the american people into thinking that we can solve these community problems by asking washington to do it. now, if we have an obstacle here, if there's no access to a registry, let's change that. and i would love to have a
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toomey-manchin bill with their names on it that gave every single principal, every single school board in 100,000 schools the tools they need to do the job but they should be accountable for it. not the united states senator from tennessee. they should be accountable for it. admiral hyman rickover was the leader and inventor of our nuclear navy, and our nuclear navy has never had a problem, never had a dif, i should say from the reactors on our nuclear submarines. i think the reason is because admiral rickover hired every one of the captains and he told them you have two responsibilities. one is the ship, and one is the reactor. and if something happens to the reactor, your career is over. i think that putting the captain on the flagpole and making it clear whose job it is to be
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accountable for safe school is a big part of it. if we make it look like that somehow the united states senate takes care of making a school in pennsylvania or west virginia or tennessee safe because we've passed some bill, and written some regulation and caused everybody to fill out a lot of forms in the 46 states that already have criminal background checks laws of their own, i think we've done a disservice. i think we've done a disservice. we had a recent example in legislation through our committee on compounding farmers as. -- pharmacies. where a compounding pharmacy in massachusetts acting like a manufacturer produced sterile products that weren't sterile and as a result in tennessee and many other states people were injected with unsterile drugs and they caught fungal meningitis and they died. an awful thing to happen and part of the problem, mr. president, it wasn't clear
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who was on the flagpole, who was in charge, was it the food and drug administration or the state control board in massachusetts. our legislation sought to clean that up and make it clear that someone was accountable. i think the persons accountable for safe school are the principal of the school, the local school board, the parents and the students in that community. and the rest of us can give them tools and remove obstacles and get out of the way but the idea that we should pass a law, tell them how to 0 do it, tell them how to do it and inevitably write these complicated regulations they have to fill out that is not going to make every single child in every single school safer. so, mr. president, as i said when i began, the senators' passion is evident. i respect that and i respect him as a senator. we don't really -- we don't have two better senators in our
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body, in -- too many west virginia and the senator from pennsylvania. they know i fee feel that way but i have a profound difference of opinion about that. i will say that if they wanted to consider this with the child care development block grant, they had plenty of opportunity to do that. we've had a lot of complaining on our side of the aisle about the lack of what we call a regular order. we say we haven't been allowed to offer amendments and that's been true. been a record number of -- a low number of amendments in this session, this session of congress and the distinguished senator in the chair has been among those who has pointed that out. but in this case this was a model of how we should consider legislation. it was considered in the committees, in the house and the senate. this amendment was not offered in if committees in the the house and the senate. it then passed the senate committee and came to the floor
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and in march we had an open amendment process for anything that had to do with the bill. 50 amendments were filed, 18 amendments were considered, and agreed to, there was no filling of the tree. there was no motion for cloture. there was simply an open amendment process and a vote. and this amendment could have been offered then. but put that to the side. put that to the side. i think the more important discussion that we need to have is, who's in charge of these schools? who should create the academic standards f. the u.s. department of education -- standards. if the u.s. department of education should be responsible for determining what the employment practices are in 100,000 public schools, then there should be no objection to the u.s. department of education ordering every school in america to adopt the common core or ordering every school in america to have a class size of "x." or ordering every school in america to pay teachers this
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much. or determining, as this current department of education tries to do, how you should evaluate teachers in pennsylvania, new mexico or tennessee. i don't think that's the way our country was set up. i don't think that respects our constitutional framework. i don't think it's consistent with the spirit, at least, of the 10th amendment to the discussion. i do not think the american people, and i know tennesseans don't, want washington telling them how to run their schools and there's nothing more fundamental about running schools than telling 100,000 schools and their school boards and their governors and their legislators and their parents what their employment practices ought to be. plus, i don't think it will make the school safer. i think what will make it safer is courageous attention, as the senator from pennsylvania and west virginia have given to the problem, a bill that would give all those -- all those organizations -- all those local organizations an opportunity to access the registries that are available to deal with people who go across state lines, give
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them access to title 2 funding so they would have money for that and money for training. so it's a choice between mandating and enabling and i'm on the side of local school boards not a national school board. so, mr. president, while i respect the effort of the senators and i believe the subject is urgently important for our country, i would prefer to see this matter considered well elementary and secondary education act which will be the first order of business in the new session of congress if i'm chairman of that committee. and let's have a discussion about the best way to do that. do a majority of the senators on the committee really think washington can do a better job of making every single child and every single school safe by mandating and ordering and regulating? or does a majority of the committee in the senate think that the senators have called to us an important need where we
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might step in and make it easier for local school boards and state department of educations to update their programs. 46 states already have them. and use federal dollars to implement those programs. i prefer the latter. these senators prefer the former. that's well worth discuss not guilty the committee -- that's well worth discussing in the committee and i would look forward to doing that. so i came to the floor tonight to make clear that i see this as a fundamental difference of opinion, one that deserves attention. to show my respect for the senators from pennsylvania and west virginia. and to offer the framework for what i think is a better idea for making every single child and every single school safe. i thank the president. i yield the floor. mr. toomey: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: thank you, mr. president. let me just -- this is -- i find myself in the unusual position of disagreeing with the senior senator from tennessee because i have so much respect for him and
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find that we are in agreement far more than we disagree but we do disagree about this. and i feel compelled to address several of the issues that the senator from tennessee raised and then i'll be finished. i know there are other people who would like to speak. but i've -- first of all, i think it's very clear that my bill no more creates a national school board than the child care development block grant creates a national school board for child care centers. it's the exact same set of circumstances. it's the exact same protections. it is provided by the federal government. and i don't understand why if it's okay for the senate and the federal government of the united states to ensure greater security for children in day cares why somehow it is not acceptable to provide that same level of security to kids who happen to be a little older. that's what we're talking about here. so i don't understand that. the other point i would make is that, in fact, both bills, the child care development block
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grant bill and my bill, protecting students from sexual and violent predators act, they're both voluntary. neither one has the power or attempts to compel a state to do a thing. it says, this is what we want you to do. if you don't, you're going to lose some funding but that's it. and so there's a mechanism that creates an incentive, absolute absolutely. but there -- we don't have the power, we don't have the constitutional power to actually force it. neither bill does. both bills use the exact same mechanism to encourage compliance with a standard that will ensure greater safety and security for our kids. furthermore, i would suggest that we absolutely have a responsibility to be concerned about how the money that we choose to spend, the taxpayers that we represent expect us to provide some oversight to insist that there are some standards in the way that the moneys that we spend are, in fact, spent. that is a reasonable expectation
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for the federal government. in addition, there's an element of this problem that can't be solved by any given state and that is the cross-border nature of -- of the problem. specifically in the case of jeremy bell illustrates this perfectly. tragically but perfectly. and that is when a teacher leaves one state and goes to another state to commit the atrocities on a new set of victims. there is nothing that the commonwealth of pennsylvania can do to make it illegal for another state to have a school that sends a letter of recommendation. the powers of pennsylvania end at the borders of pennsylvania, and that's the case with all 50 states. so this, like other -- like other circumstances, simply requires a federal solution, it seems to me. and finally, let me just say that my constituents are in many ways very skeptical of the federal government. no -- no doubt, as senator alexander observed about his
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constituents, but i will tell you, many of them are shocked to learn that we don't have background checks -- requirements such as what my bill contemplates and what the child care development block grant bill does. they're shocked this isn't already in the law. and, yes, i think they would feeling safer if they knew it were the law. i yield the floor. mr. alexander: mr. president, the senator from rhode island is here. it's his turn. if i could just make -- the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: there are a couple of differences. under the parliamentarian's ruling, the -- this amendment isn't germane to the community -- the block grant bill. number two, the -- all the funding for the vouchers that go to mothers who may use the block grants for day care while they go to work, which is what our bill is about, all of that comes from the federal government. and the whole principle of that
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bill -- it's a pretty good republican bill, in my view -- is a lot of flexibility. in fact, in -- we had a pretty good debate about the criminal background checks in -- in -- in our bill. i would have preferred to give the states more flexibility for the reasons i've stated today, but i agreed to what was done. but it's 100% federal funding, where the federal government only funds 10% of our -- of our schools. and the penalties for not taking the federal orders for what your personnel practices ought to be are much more severe in the senator from pennsylvania's bill. he causes you to lose 10% of your -- of your school funding under th.under the child care dt block grant, you'd lose 5% of the federal funding. but the issue remains the same and it's a good issue. i mean, i hear it on our
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committee. the senator from rhode island is on that committee and he's heard senator harkin and me argue about this. you can make a very good argument to say, we provide some money; therefore, we ought to write some rules. so we're going to write the rules for personnel practices. we're going to write the rules for academic standards. that's called common core. we're going to write the rules for qualifying how teachers should be evaluated. we're -- even in our preschool programs, we're going to say what the rules are for class size and length of the school day. and that all sounds very good here. but then when you get down to trying to actually operate a school, you're saying, who are these people? they might give me some tools which we could do, and i would propose we do, they might allow us to use some federal money so we can have a better personnel practice, but we really don't think works. every time there's a horrific problem in our community, for the federal government to step in and tell us how to fix it. that's a really big difference and it's particularly a big difference with schools and it's
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a debate that's likely to go on for some time. i thank the president. i yield the floor. and i thank the senator from rhode island for his patience. mr. whitehouse: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: i found the discussion edifying and it was time well spent. mr. president, let me -- first i ask unanimous consent that joseph micutt, who is an american association for the advancement of sciences fellow in my office, be granted floor privileges for the remainder of this congress. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you. mr. president, we are now reconvened from the election recess and i am back on the senate floor for the 79th consecutive week of senate session to draw the attention of this body to the growing threat of global climate change. let me first congratulate my republican colleagues on
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achieving a majority in the senate in the coming congress. with control of the house and a majority in the senate, republicans now have great power in congress. as the well-known saying goes, however, "with great power comes great responsibility." the hallmark of the republican minority was obstruction, often pointless obstruction, obstruction for obstruction's sake. a rational and fact-based focus on the issues has not been, to put it mildly, their hallmark. that was their choice and it is
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the privilege of the minority party in the senate to behave that way. the minority party in the senate can choose to simply make themselves antagonists, with no policy responsibility. and i have to say, they did an amazing job of that but no. but now my colleagues have a majority, and they have the power and the responsibility that comes with that beginning in january. mr. president, the touchstone of responsibility is to be responsible and i'll concede this senate actually could become a better place if the new majority when it comes in chooses to be responsible and the uniquely partisan
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obstruction that characterized their role as the senate minority passes away as they move into the majority. a key test of this, however, will be whether the republicans here in the senate choose to become responsible about climate change. about what carbon pollution is doing all around us to our atmosphere and to our oceans. about what happens when carbon concentrations in the atmosphere that have varied between 170 and 300 parts per million for as long as we have been a species on this planet, suddenly surged to 400 and beyond. about what happens when scientific laws that have been
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understood since abraham lincoln was riding around washington, d.c., in his top hat begin to impose their inexorable effects upon this world. in the minority, they pretended it wasn't real. some even said climate change was a hoax. many said they were not scientists and so couldn't do anything about it. i'd note that they're not gynecologists either but many have no hesitation about trying to regulate that area. no one would work on doing anything serious about carbon dioxide emissions. it was not always like this republican senator john warner was the lead sponsor of the warner-lieberman climate bill.
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republican senators john -- republican senator john mccain ran for president on a solid climate change platform. republican senator susan collins coauthored an important cab-and-dividend climate bill with senator cantwell. republican senator mark kirk voted for the waxman markey cap-and-trade bill in the house of representatives. republican senator jeff flake was an original cosponsor of a carbon fee bill led by former republican congressman bob inglis that would have placed a $15 per ton, more than $20 per ton in 2015 and $100 per ton in 2040. well, all of that ended. that and more -- ended shortly
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after the citizens united decision when our elections were for the first time flooded with polluter money and flooded with dark money, which is probably polluter money, but because it's dark and anonymous, you don't really know. so, say you're not a scientist. isn't the responsible thing to sound out scientific opinion? scientific opinion about climate change is now firmly settled. climate change is caused by the massive carbon pollution we have unleashed. every major scientific society in our country knows this and has said so. here's a list, if you want to check in with them yourself.
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this is a list from a letter dated october 21, 2009, more than five years ago. we've been fiddling around on this since the science was so clear. i ask unanimous consent that this letter be made an addendum to my remarks in the "congressional record." the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: i could start with the body that is chartered 150 years ago actually to provide us independent, objective scientific advice: the national academy of sciences. if that doesn't suit you, try the american association for the advancement of science or the american fiscal society or the american meteorological society or the american geophysical union or the american medical association or the american chemical society or the geological society of america.
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if you're not a scientist, check it out. ask the responsible scientists. ask the leading scientific societies. if you don't believe the -- if you don't believe them, measurements confirm what the scientists know. sea level is rising and the rise is accelerating. you measure that with a glorified yardstick. it's already up nearly 10 inches at the newport naval station since the 1930's when we in rhode island had the devastating hurricane of 1938. it's similar at fort pulaski in georgia. and go visit miami beach, where they just spent hundreds of millions of dollars installing huge 14,000-gallon-per-minute pumps to keep the city dry as
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the rising tides flood in. the ocean is warming. you measure that with a thermometer. narragansett bay is nearly 4 degrees fahrenheit warmer mean winter water temperature than 50 years ago. that is an ecosystem shift, and it has wreaked havoc with our winter flounder catch, for instance. warmer waters aren't just in rhode island. they've brought the schnook, a game fish from the florida keys, up into georgia waters. the ocean is more acidic, and it's getting more acidic at the fastest rate measured looking back millions of years in the geologic record. if you doubt that the ocean is acidifying, ask the oyster growers in the pacific northwest
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and maine. ask the scientists who study alaska's salmon fishery about what's happening to the tera pod, a key food source for species of salmon. here is my challenge to my republican colleagues who say they're not scientists. ask the scientists. ask the scientists at your own home state universities, and ask the folks, by the way, employed by your outdoor industries, the people who seat changes happening around them. ask your park rangers, ask your forest rangers. if you're from north carolina, ask the scientists at the university of north carolina institute of marine sciences. if you're from colorado, ask the scientists at the national center for atmospheric research
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in boulder. if you're from iowa, ask the scientists at the center for global and regional environmental research at the university of iowa. if you're from arizona, ask the scientists at the university of arizona, which hosts the climate assessment for the southwest program. if you're from florida, ask the scientists at the university of florida's climate institute. if you're from texas, ask the scientists at the texas center for climate studies at the texas a&m. the aggies get climate change. check it out. if you're from rhode island, ask biologist eric orf, who worked for the new hampshire fish and game department for 30 years. what's happening to your moose? and ask mike bartlett of the new
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hampshire audubon society, what's happening to your purple finch, your state bird? if you're from utah, ask the park city foundation. and while you're at it, employees at alta ski area, canyon's resort, dea deer crestd deer valley what they foresee for that industry. you're from idaho, ask jeffrey hickey how rising temperatures let loose the bark beetle and decimated almost 1,000 square miles of your iconic mountain pine forests. if you like big business, if you think that only the private sector knows anything, then ask the big property casualty
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reinsurers like munich re or swiss re who will billions of dollars at stake and have to get this right. if you're from georgia, ask the folks from coca-cola. if you're from arkansas, ask the folks from wal-mart. if you're from north carolina, ask the folks at $30 billion clothing maker v.f. corporation. they all have a lot of money riding on getting this right, and they're making decisions based on business not on ideology. so ask them. if you trust the military, ask admiral samuel locklear, commander of u.s. pacific command who says climate risk is the most dangerous long-term challenge we face in the pacific.
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and if you're looking for some pretty good high-level scientists, you might want to ask nasa and noaa. remember nasa? they put a rover safely on the surface of mars, and they're driving it around on mars. you think they might know what they're talking about? and if you need to hear it from republicans, ask former republican treasury secretaries like george schultz and hank paulson. ask bill ruckelshaus, christine todd whitman, william reilly and lee thomas. ask jim brainard, the republican mayor of carmel, indiana. ask bob dickson, the republican mayor of greensburg, kansas. ask betty price, the republican
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mayor of fort worth, texas. ask republican mayor sylvia murphy and county commissioner george nugent of monroe county, florida. if you're not a scientist, just ask. do your homework. exercise this new great responsibility that will come with the great power you have won, but don't pretend that climate change isn't real. even your own young voters know better than that. a majority of republican voters under age 35 think a politician who denies climate change is ignorant, out of touch, or crazy. those were the words checked off in the poll.
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to paraphrase michael correspondenmike coraleonefrom t tell me it isn't real because it insults my intelligence and it makes me really angry. to our republicans, i say, i want to be your best friend from all of this. the kind of best friend who tells you when you're in no shape to drive and should hand over the keys, until you're sober enough to drive safely, even if it makes you mad to hear it. the kind of friend who will tell you the truth you need to hear but don't want to hear. and let me say, friends don't let friends deny climate change. i know the big carbon polluters want this issue to be ignored,
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but responsibility is knowing when to tell even your friends "no." responsibility is doing what is factual and is based in real science and measurement. responsibility is doing what is right for your state and for your country in the long run, not just what rewards your supporters, even those really, really big supporters, in the short run. maybe, as their friends, you might even want to have a little conversation with them because this is only going one way. as pope francis just said, god is not a magician with a magic
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wand. he put laws of the universe, laws of nature in place, and we don't get a pass on them just because it's politically convenient. how long does exxonmobil think it can pursue unsustainable fossil fuel goals by fixing the politics? laws of nature can't be bought or repealed. the koch brothers are rich enough to buy virtually anything, but even they can't buy new laws of nature. b.p. went and quietly shut down its solar and wind programs, but carbon still does what carbon does. as your friends, they might need a little intervention from you.
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and just so you know, i'm not going anywhere. i've got homes and businesses being swept into the ocean in my state. i've got fishermen who tell me that it's getting weird out there in rhode island sound. that the lobsters and fish aren't where they're supposed to be when they're supposed to be there, that they're catching kinds of fish that their fathers and grandfathers never saw in their nets. it's getting weird out there. i'm not going anywhere. my state is small and coastal, and worse, bigger storms put us in serious danger. i'm not ever going to ignore that. i'm never going to walk away from tha this issue.
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i will never deny what rhode islanders see right in front of their faces and what all our expert warnings tell us are only going to get worse. and if you e responsible and not just powerful, you won't deny this issue and walk away either. i promise you this, one way or another we are going to get this done. i yield the floor. i'll note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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s. quorum call:
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mr. whitehouse: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: i ask unanimous consent that the pending quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: and unanimous consent that the senate proceed to a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the consideration of senate resolution 576, which was submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 576, expressing support for the designation of october 20, 2014,
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as the national day on writing. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. whitehouse: i ask unanimous consent that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table with no intervening or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, i understand that h.r. 4 has been received from the house and is at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill for the first time. the clerk: h.r. 4, an act to make revisions to federal law to improve the conditions necessary for economic growth and job creation and for other purposes. mr. whitehouse: i would ask for its second reading and object to my own request. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the bill will be read for the second time on the next legislative day. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, i finally ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today it adjourn until 2:15 p.m. on thursday,
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november 13, 2014. that following the prayer and pledge the morning hour deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day. and that following any leader remarks the senate proceed to executive session as provided for under the previous order. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: for the information of all our colleagues, there will be three roll call votes at approximately 2:30 p.m. those votes will be on confirmation of the moss and may nominations and cloture regarding the child-care and development block grant bill. additional votes remain possible during thursday's session beyond those three. if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it adjourn under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until senate stands adjourned until
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[inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> let me just say this is a lot happier occasion then for example in the 2006 election when we had president secretary and treasurer bob corker. we are really excited about having a great new bunch here and we hope they are going to be joined by dan sullivan and bill cassidy shortly. we are here to make the place function again by the progress
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of the american people. >> you said you are ready to work with the president if he moves forward a bill. does that mean you are prepared to move toward the middle too? >> the problem is the president continues to send signals that he has no intention of moving toward the middle. i was particularly distressed by the deal apparently he was reached with the chinese on his current trip which as i read the agreement requires the chinese to do nothing at all for 16 years while these carbon emission regulations are creating havoc in my state and other states around the country. i would welcome the president moving to the middle. i said before a hope we can do some birds -- business on trade and maybe tax reform. the first indications have not been helpful. >> how do you expect to deal with china? do you going to try to roll back. >> we will be discussing all that with their colleagues in
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the next few days before we get ready to take over the new majority. >> thanks very much. >> thank you. thank you. thank you everybody. thank you everybody. >> how does it feel to be here? >> great. >> all right, thank you very much. let's go. thank you. thank you everybody. you did a great job. >> when the sun all-caps old and early this afternoon leaders harry reid mitch mcconnell and
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john cornyn discussed the recent 2014 election results and what's ahead for the senate during the lame-duck session. here is more now. >> mr. president i have always believed it wise to follow will rodgers admonition. don't let yesterday use up too much of today. we have a lot of work to do in no time to linger on the past. with just a few weeks left in this congress, the 113 fair number of important legislative matters before this body that must be finished. i congratulate republican leader who will soon become the new majority leader. the senior senator from kentucky and i have known one another for a long. of time. we have been with together. he was minority leader and i was majority leader going back and forth so we understand these jobs. i appreciate his devotion to the state of kentucky, to our
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country, to the united states senate. he knows i hold him in the highest regard. i am ready mr. president to work with him in good faith to make this institution function again for the american people. i saw first-hand how a strategy of destruction was debilitating to our system and i have no desire to engage in that manner. i have been as i mentioned before and i mention again minority leader. i've been able to strike a compromise with my republican colleagues and i'm ready to do it again. regardless how you may interpret lasix adults is clear the american people want us to join together to get things done for the middle class and all americans. we should be able to do that. after all helping working families is not a partisan issue. just last week we saw for a very red states, alaska, arkansas nebraska and south dakota vote to increase minimum wages. clearly mr. president
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republicans outside this building don't object to giving american workers a livable wage. the minimum wage is just one example. there are other issues like student debt relief for borrowers pay equity for women and a number of other issues that need to be addressed as well. there is absolutely no reason we can't work together on these issues and all issues, democrats and republicans to land americans a helping hand that they so desperately need. .. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the president pro tempore: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: last week, the american people sent a strong message to washington. they voted for a new direction.
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they called for a change in the way we do things here in the senate. and they sent a new team to washington to carry their wishes forward. we plan to do just that. but several items remain for the outgoing congress to consider, and that's our immediate focus. in the weeks that remain in this congress, we should work to accomplish the essential task of funding the government and preventing retroactive tax increases. we must address the expiring authority that passed this session from the department of defense to train and equip a defense to train and equip a >> we must moderate the syrian opposition and we must address the ebola crisis. all this require cooperation from both sides of the aisle and both sides of the rotunda and from both ends of pennsylvania avenue. actions of the next few weeks could help to set apart a posi t


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