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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  October 8, 2015 10:00am-12:01pm EDT

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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: we are in morning business? the presiding officer: in a quorum call. mrs. feinstein: mr. president, i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. feinstein: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i come to the floor as the ranking member of the energy and water subcommittee of the appropriations committee. and in that capacity, i rise to oppose consideration of the fy 2016 energy and water appropriations bill.
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now let me be clear, i really do this reluctantly. in my view, this is a very good bill. senator alexander and i have put forth a well-balanced bill within the allocation levels we were provided, which is a good level. and it's been a great pleasure for me over the years to work with senator alexander. i have the utmost respect for him and we always work things out but this year i think we have a bigger issue and i'd like to address that in my remarks. first, 6 of the 12 appropriations subcommittees received base allocations lower than last year. another four subcommittees received nominal increases but were still forced to make cuts due to rising costs beyond their control. that leaves only two subcommittees -- energy and
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water and homeland security -- that received real funding increases. that's why i believe considering energy and water in isolation, as we are now, rather than debating larger funding issues is misleading. and that's why i can't support the motion to proceed to the bill. we all know that the vote today is not just about energy and water. it's about the entire appropriations process, and that's the debate we should be having. instead of debating just the specific bill, the debate should be focused on eliminating sequestration, negotiating a budget agreement with the president and the house, and putting an end to the destructive cycle of continuing resolutions, omnibuses and threats of government shutdown. the republican leader has already initiated budget
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negotiations. three meetings i am led to believe have been held. it can be done, and it's what needs to be done. and i fully support that effort. and that's where we should focus our efforts. before i get into specifics, mr. president, of the energy and water funding issues, i want to take a step back and discuss two very disturbing issues i've seen from my seat on appropriations, and i'm not a newcomer. i've been on that committee since i came to the senate, which is more than 20 years ago. they are the negative effects of sequestration and the unraveling of the overall appropriations process. the strict budget caps put in place by the 2011 budget control act have been terrible for our country. these spending caps and the across-the-board cuts used to
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enforce them were designed to be so devastating that congress would do everything it could to avert them. the problem is the subcommittee failed to reach the agreement in 2011, so those devastating cuts took effect. these spending caps, which have essentially frozen spending levels for the last three years, do not account for the increasing requirements placed on the federal government. the cost of veterans care is rising, is insufficient, has been roundly criticized. the cost of low-income housing is rising. the cost of educating our children is rising. and the cost of fighting natural disasters like drought and wildfire are also rising. but the spending caps are not rising, meaning congress is forced to make cuts to vital
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programs. and of course you get into the battle between the national security portfolio such as defense and the domestic portfolio. my portfolio on energy and water is part national security because it's all the nuclear weapons of our country, and the domestic part is the office of science, the department of energy, the army corps of engineers, which is the only infrastructure program we actually have functioning. having a static budget like this year after year which does not even account for inflation is really no way to run a country. i'm also disappointed by the collapse of the appropriations process. at one time -- and you're a newcomer, so this would be interesting to you, i hope -- it was the norm to pass each spending bill as a stand-alone
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piece of legislation. all members could offer amendments, and each of us took ownership of the outcome. we haven't done that in a decade. it used to be that the entire appropriations committee, members of both sides, would support bills drafted by each subcommittee chairman and approved by the full committee. we haven't done that in five years. it was heresy for a bill to come out on the floor and not have members of the appropriations committee support it. that's all gone today. everything changed in 2011. my republican colleagues decided to vote against every appropriation bill to protest funding levels. the die was cast and we have had to cope with the consequences
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ever since. since fiscal year 2010, we have passed 24 short-term continuing resolutions, which do nothing but keep the government going at the funding levels of the year you were in at the time you passed the continuing resolution. that's nine more than in the preceding five-year period. it's a 60% increase. when congress can't agree on funding levels, we end up putting federal spending on auto pilot. 2011 also marked the year when congress turned over the power of the purse to the executive branch. by banning the use of congressional ads, we not only admitted that we know less about our states than executive agencies. we also removed a key reason
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many members voted for the appropriation bills. and contrary to conventional wisdom, congressional ads were not out of control. in 2010, the last year they were allowed, they totaled just .5% of spending approved by the appropriations committee. .5% were ads made by members of this body and the other body to do public projects in their districts. i believe every senator knows a great deal about his or her state, i really do, and projects that are important for their survival, and i believe they evaluate them based on the importance to the public. i believe they know vital projects that need to be funded. and removing that ability has
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removed individual members' stake in an appropriations process that functions. and so it's nonfunctional today. it's damaged our ability to govern. i deeply believe that. mr. president, that's a long way of saying we need to return the appropriation process to the way it was handled in years past, and today's political vote on this bill doesn't move us in that direction. even though i do believe the energy and water bill represents an acceptable compromise under the circumstances, there still are significant issues with the bill caused by low spending caps. the bill provides -- and this is important -- 35.4 billions -- $35.4 billion. that's an increase over f.y.
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2016 funding of $1.2 billion for defense and $8 million for nondefense. so right there, you see the problem. those national security projects get -- add $1.2 billion, and it's largely the nuclear weapons. and all of our domestic projects, the office of science, all of the energy projects, all of the innovation, the energy department, the army corps of engineers, fixing rivers, riffing dams, dredging, -- fixing dams, dredging, all of what the army corps does, $8 million as opposed to 35.4 -- excuse me, $1.2 billion added for defense and only $8 million for nondefense. but even with that increase, there are significant shortfalls.
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let me give you a few examples. for the past four years, california and the west have been suffering from an historic drought. i just came from the energy and water committee. senator boxer and i have put together a drought bill. we've worked on it for two years. we finally have a bill with some short-term fixes and some long-term projects which can increase water supply in california. our reservoirs are at historic lows. the sierra nevada snow pack, our major source of water, is at the leest it's been in 500 years. we have got millions of dead trees littering the states. increased lightning strikes. big wildfires that go up because it's so dry like explosions into the air. and the state's ag sector, which feeds the country, has been heavily affected. this is a $43 billion industry.
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saw losses of $2.2 billion last year, 17,000 jobs lost. and on and on and on. here are some other ways the energy and water bill is weakened by low spending caps. let me talk more about the office of science. this is money used to expand research at our national laboratories. and we're $196 million below the president's budget request in this bill. energy efficiency and renewable energy. these programs see an even bigger deficit with funding levels at $773 million below the president's budget request. this delays the development of vital technologies to reduce energy consumption and slash consumer spending. and defense programs are also
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underfunded with higher spending caps, we could be putting into place strategies to keep nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists. we just heard about a cessium sale to shady people that i can't remember happening, and whether this opens the door to more, i don't know, but i do know it's a real weakness we have. if we had some money, we could secure radiological sources at medical and industrial facilities. we could install mobile and fixed radiation detectors at ports and border crossings. we could also use additional funds to modernize the nuclear reactor infrastructure that supports the navy. this includes developing more efficient reactor designs that can last 40 years without refueling. these are weaknesses that we see
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in the funding picture and in our bill, and as i said, i actually believe it's a good bill when you know the circumstances under which we are functioning. but this isn't just about energy and water, and we can't view it in isolation. as i said, energy and water had a decent allocation, even with the overall budget restrictions. the cuts made to other bills are far more dangerous, and we can't ignore these cuts. let me just highlight a few of them. the subcommittee harmed by the current spending caps are the departments of labor, health and human services and education. the subcommittee received an allocation of $3.6 billion below last year. $3.6 billion, the subcommittee on health and labor and education received cuts. these are draconian, and these
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programs affect our most vulnerable americans. that's what the presidential election is all about right now. the discontent over our inability to solve some of these problems. there is a $331 million cut to floiment and training services for youth, veterans and the unemployed. there's an $87.8 million cut to teen pregnancy prevention programs. there's a $215 million cut to the centers for disease control and prevention. disease control. you know, we've seen diseases that i haven't seen since my childhood like measles spring up all over the state of california. and we need to do these things to keep our people safe. vaccinations are important. $198 million cut to shelter and
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services for unaccompanied immigrant children. a $69 million cut to federal student aid programs. and the elimination of a $250 million program to expand access to preschool, to expand access to preschool. it's something everybody wants for low and moderate income 4-year-olds. the transportation, housing and urban development subcommittee on the other hand did receive an additional $1.9 million this year. however, the committee required a $3.4 billion increase just to maintain current services. as a result, the subcommittee was forced to cut funding for mass transit projects by more than $500 million below last
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year. affordable housing assistance is slashed by $834 million. and the community development block grant program that i used as mayor of san francisco a long time ago, which could always be counted on, was reduced by $100 million. these cuts affected millions of americans and hurt communities across the country. we should not have to choose between providing rental assistance to low-income families and providing transportation options so they can get to work. mr. president, i see you're nodding. i have about three minutes more, if i may ask unanimous consent to finish. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mrs. feinstein: thank you to my friend. i appreciate it.
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the commerce, science, justice subcommittee also received a misleading increase in its allocation. while the subcommittee received an extra $965 million on paper, it actually needed $1.1 billion just to account for last year's credit from the toyota settlement that is no longer available this year. as a result, the subcommittee was forced to cut numerous important programs below last year's levels. they include the united states marshals service that was cut by $141 million, legal representation for immigrant children reduced by $55 million, and federal assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies cut by $139 million. here's my conclusion.
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my good friend and colleague, senator alexander, is rightly proud of the work he and his staff have put into the energy and water bill, and as i said it's a good bill. i sincerely wish the circumstance we find ourselves in today were different. those of us on this side of the aisle should have a voice in what happens and how we can solve this problem. so what i plead for is these negotiations that are started by leader mcconnell to move ahead and let's get it started and let's stop the c.r.'s, let's stop the omnibuses, let's stop the fights over debt limit and shutting down the federal government. let's go back to awn appropriation process -- go back to an appropriation process that this country did well by and what worked. i thank you for your forebearance, mr. president.
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i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president, the previous president of the united states once wrote that if you could add one amendment to the constitution, twro -- it would prohibit the federal government from incurring more. more debt. that president's name was neither bush nor reagan but jefferson. the years since then have proven three things. the national debt crisis is growing and is dangerous and only the constitution can compel congress to tackle it. we must act before it's too late. the national debt was 19% of gross domestic product when thomas jefferson called for a balanced budget amendment. president george washington said the regular redemption of public debt was the most urgent fiscal priority. in his first report on the public credit in 1790, treasury secretary alexander hamilton warned continuously accruing
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national debt interest would be a signal -- quote -- "of ill faith." the commitment to fiscal balance over the next 150 years was so strong that many referred to it as our unwritten fiscal constitution. that commitment did not last. the national debt topped 40% of g.d.p. for the first time in 1934 and two years later the first balanced budget amendment was introduced in congress. 80 years ago members of congress began to realize that an unwritten constitution was no longer strong enough to limit the national debt. good intentions are not enough to balance the nation's checkbook. senator miller tidings, a maryland democrat, introduced the first balanced budget amendment to reach the senate or house floor. the 1947 appropriations committee report on his proposal, senate joint resolution 61, opened with these
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words: "in no other way except by an amendment to the constitution can congress be compelled to balance its budget in peacetime." unquote. the judiciary committee held its first balanced budget hearing in 1956 on amendments introduced by senator harry byrd, a virginia democrat, and senator carl car 'tis, a -- curtis, a nebraska republican. the national debt today is nearly five times what those distinguished senators denounsed as staggering. here's where congress has gone in its failure to propose a balanced budget. as you can see the national debt as percentage of g.d.p. is going off the charts today, the highest ever. the national debt was 32% of g.d.p. when i first introduced a balanced budget amendment in 1979. it climbed to 34% of g.d.p. in 1982 when the senate, but not
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the house, passed a b.b.a. more than 62% of g.d.p. in 1997 when we came within one vote offing priewrveg -- approving a b.b.a. i introduced and # 5% of g.d.p. when the senate voted on a b.p.a. i introduced in 2011. they say that the more things change, the more they stay the same. as the national debt continues to change in the wrong direction, b.b.a. opponents make the same arguments that they always have. first, they say that the national debt is simply not a problem that needs a solution. the evidence, however, is all around us. in a july 2010 policy paper, for example, the congressional budget office outlined what it called the significantly negative consequences of our
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rising national debt and repeated those warnings in its latest budget outlook. here's the consequences of rising national debt. this is the congressional budget office in 2005. reduced investment, resulting in lower national income and higher interest rates. federal spending on interest payments would rise. less flexibility to address financial and economic crises. increased likelihood of a fiscal crisis in the united states. well, all i can say is admiral michael mullen, former chairman of the joint chief of staffs says this national debt crisis is a serious threat to national security, a conclusion echoed by experts from the brookings institution to the heritage foundation. or we can listen to the government accountability office which warned in 2009 that every year since that -- quote -- "the
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long-term fiscal outlook is unsustainable." a recent study published in the journal of economic perspectives looked at periods in different countries over the last two centuries when national debt exceeded 90% of g.d.p. for more than five years. the authors found that these periods not only lead to -- quote -- "substantially lower" economic growth, but that -- quote -- "even if such episodes are originally caused by traumatic event such as war or financial crisis, they can take on a self-propelg character." unquote. these findings are very important to us today because national debt has been more than 90% of g.d.p. since the recession ended in 2009. in fact, we are entering the longest period in american history with the national debt level above this toxic level, with the national debt above this toxic level.
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c.b.o. projects exactly what this study predicts, that the national debt will remain above 100% of g.d.p. and the g.d.p. will grow at a rate -- quote -- "notably less" than in the past. our own actual experience already proves the same thing. in the six years since the recession ended, debt has been twice as high and g.d.p. has grown at half the rate as during the same period after previous recessions. this really does look like a self-propelling crisis. the second argument by b.b.a. opponents is that even if the national debt is a problem, congress can solve it by will power. that will power once existed, but it is long gone. the federal government -- the federal budget has been balanced in only 7 of the 80 years since a balanced budget amendment was first introduced in congress and total deficits over those years
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dwarf surpluses by 23 to 1. the third argument by balanced budget opponents is that even if congress won't solve the national debt by will power, it can do so by legislation. in 1985 we enacted the balanced budget and emergency deficit control act of 1985, when the national debt was 42% of g.d.p. we've enacted one law after another as the national debt has continued to climb. most recently we enacted the budget control act of 2011, when the national debt had swollen to 95% of g.d.p., but it failed like all the others. will power and legislation have both failed to tackle this crisis. the national debt today stands at nearly $18.2 trillion. in its most recent budget outlook, c.b.o. projects that under current law, the national debt will swell to more than $25
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trillion in the next decade. g.a.o. issued its latest federal fiscal outlook report in august. without significant action by congress, g.a.o. says, federal debt as a percent of g.d.p. could be, could in the next 25 years climb to four times its historical average. new data show that the deficit for fiscal year 2015 will likely be lower than expected. if the best thing to say about our current fiscal condition is that it could be worse, we are really in trouble. in its june long-term budget outlook, c.b.o. says that after a few years at a more modest level, deficits will once again increase, especially when interest rates start to rise. since president obama took office, we have seen both the greatest build-up of debt and the lowest interest rates in history. this is the perfect fiscal
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storm. even a small rise in interest rates will explode the cost of servicing this massive debt and contribute to higher deficits and greater debt. c.b.o. projects that interest rates will indeed rise and as a result -- quote -- "the government's net interest costs are projected to more than double relative to the size of the economy over the next decade ." unquote. both c.b.o. and the concord coalition anticipate that over the next decade interest costs alone will approach $1 trillion a year. that's with a "t." $1 trillion a year. the fourth argument by b.b.a. opponents, balanced budget act opponents, really amounts to plain old scare tactics. they figure that americans may want a balanced budget but only if their own favorite spending continues. so b.b.a. opponents claim that a
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b.b.a. will automatically mean cutting this or that program. not only is this a cynical approach to a very serious problem, but it's not true. the balanced budget amendment will require that congress finally get serious about priorities and decide which spending is the most important and the most cost effective. long-term fiscal responsibility is more important than any one spending item in the budget. i introduced my first balanced budget constitutional amendment in june 1979. i said then and i repeat today, that a balanced budget amendment -- quote -- "requires that congress think in order of budget priorities." unquote. nothing short of the constitution will make that happen. mr. president, one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. neither will power nor legislation can tackle the growing national debt crisis.
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it has been nearly 70 years and more than $15 trillion of debt since the appropriations committee declared in 1947 that only a constitutional amendment can compel congress to balance its budget. that is the only option left. the last gasp of b.b.a. opponents really isn't really an argument at all. they say that adopting a balanced budget amendment will not by itself solve the debt crisis. mr. president, i've introduced seven and cosponsored 20 billion-dollar budget amendments since i was first elected. in all this time, during all the hearings and floor debates, i have never once heard anyone claim that adopting a balanced budget amendment will by itself magically make the debt disappear. of course it won't. neither did enacting all those so called budget control acts. congress will still have to make the decisions to determine
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whether we continue drowning in debt or chart a different course. congress cannot amend the constitution by itself. article 5 of the constitution provides constitutional amendments may be proposed by either two-thirds of congress or by a convention called at the request of two thirds of the states. in either case, a proposed amendment does not become part of the constitution until it -- at least three-quarters of the states ratify it. congress can do nothing more than propose a balanced budget amendment so that the american people may decide whether they want to add it to their constitution. government does not get to set its own rules. the constitution is the law that governs government, and it belongs to the american people. it is the primary way that the american people set rules for how their government must operate. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that i be permitted to
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finish these remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: it is the primary way the american people set rules for how their government must operate. congress has proven over decades of failure resulting in trillions of dollars of debt that it will not exercise its fiscal authority properly. the american people must be given a chance to decide whether to make fiscal responsibility mandatory. it's the american people that have to decide this. the only way they can is to propose a balanced budget amendment and send it to the states for consideration. i looked at dozens of national polls since i was first elected to the senate conducted by major polling firms or national news organizations. three-quarters of americans supported a balanced budget amendment in 1976, and three-quarters supported it last year. is it possible, however, that all those polls over all those years are actually wrong? the american people might be content with the national debt
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swallowing the economy. they may not be bothered by being on an unsustainable fiscal path. who knows, that they might welcome soaring national debt interest payments crowding out other budget priorities. they might be okay with slower economic growth and a greater threat to national security. the american people might believe with balanced budget amendment proponents huer in washington that the national debt is no big deal or that congress can solve it on its own. if so, then the american people would decline to ratify a balanced budget amendment. but the choice has to be threarstheirs,not ours. the peter g. peterson foundation does polling each month compiling the fiscal index confidence of americans about the national debt. the results are both clear and consistent. this -- "americans' concerns about national debt." as you can see, it just keeps -- it just -- well, let me just -- let me just define it here a
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little bit. 71% say that their concern about the national debt has increased. 63% say addressing the national debt is on the wrong track. 81% say that addressing the national debt should be among congress' top three priorities. 83% say congress should spend more time addressing the national debt. 62% expect the national debt crisis to get worse in the next few years. now, some of my colleagues may believe that we have no obligation to handle the american people's montana responsiblebly. they may claim that congress can get its act together on its own or they may deny that the american people should be able to set the fiscal rules for the government they elect using the is that you belongs to them. those colleagues should remember what the american people think about congress. this approval of this institution is 83%, higher than 98% of the time since the early
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1970's. the percentage of americans with very little or no confidence at all in congress is the highest since gallon u gallup started an 173. i am continued to be amazed at the wisdom and foresight of america's founders. thomas jefferson would write that one of the most effective ways of keeping the federal government within constitutional principles is to require a balanced budget. the appropriations committee was right in 1947 that congress will not balance its budget unless congress requires it. after seven more decades of attempting to tackle the debt by will power or legislation, the crisis is worse than ever. continued failure is not an option, and there is only one solution. we must act before it's too late. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. no, i yield the floor,
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mr. president. the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to h.r. 2028, which the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to the consideration of h.r. 2028, an act making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2016, and for other purposes. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until 11:30 will be controlled by the majority. mrs. capito: mr. president, i i ask unanimoui ask unanimous ct sharon hagertty have the privileges of the floor forte's duration of the senate. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. capito: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, yesterday the senate came together in a bipartisan way to pass the national defense authorization act in the conference report. this important legislation
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authorizes vital resources for our nation's troops, wounded warriors and their families. this ndaa provides for our national security needs and will meet our commitments to our allies. the defense funding bill also includes programs that will directly benefit the west virginia national guard, including our partnership with peru and the drug interdiction and counter-drug program to fight this wave of prescription drug abuse that is all over our states and our state in particular. this bill provides funding for star base. i visit add star base just recently, an innovative program that provides hands-on learning opportunities for students in stem programs and helps spur them in stem. they were really excited that day. i visited an airlift wing in martinsburg and enjoyed the opportunity to thank our service members and learn about the challenges they face. these brave men and women deserve our unified support and
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should not be subject to the gridlock that's been o so common here in washington. unbelievably to me, the president has threatened to visa they this legislation, even though it authorizes the same amount of spending for national defense that he asked for in his budget submission. just recently the administration authorized tens of billions of dollars for iran through sanctions relief including money that will be used admittedly to further destabilize the middle east. and now the president is threatening to veto funding authorization for our own troops? we face great and growing threats to our national security. isis continues to advance, syr syria's ongoing civil war is creating a flood of refugees in europe, and russia is increasing its influence in the middle east. and iran will gain strength due to the sanctions relief granted in the nuclear agreement. it would be a mistake -- a mistake -- for the president to
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veto this funding for our national defense. as "the washington post" editorialized this weekend, "american presidents rarely veto national defense authorization bills since they are, well, vital to national security." it continued, "refusing to sign this bill would make history but not in a good way." this is not the legacy i don't believe that the president wants to leave behind. he should reconsider his position and follow the lead of the 70 senators that voted yesterday, including 21 democrats, who voted to put our national security before politics. the senate is now considering another bipartisan bill that has important implications to our national security. the energy and water appropriations bill funds programs that help us use our energy resources in the most efficient way possible. i serve on the appropriations committee. i saw the bipartisan work that occurred between the chair and the ranking member.
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continued innervation -- innovation in our energy resources, whether it be coal, natural gas, oil, is absolutely a strategic access to our national energy independence. the benefit of innovation in our energy sector is reflected in the vast reserves of shale gas that are now being produced in west virginia and elsewhere across the country. it was less than a decade -- when i came to congress, many of us were worried about a shortage of natural gas. today natural gas production is surging. in west virginia alone, production has increased by over 500% in the last decade. it's h exciting to watch. an energy economy is a jobs economy. not only does shale gas help us meet our domestic energy needs, we have the opportunity to expand our l.n.g. exports, creating more jobs here while helping to meet the energy and security needs of our allies in europe and japan.
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innovation and investment in clean coaltecnologies, not only across-had the of board regulation, should be our focus. the energy and water appropriations bill includes $610 million for fossil energy research and development. this is a necessary investment in entities like the national energy technology lab in morgantown so they can use these dollars to develop the technologies to make coal, oil, and natural gas production cleaner and more efficient. i strongly disagree with e.p.a. regulations that require the use of technology that is not commercially available. they increase the cost of energy and they decrease the reliability of our electric grid. the best way that -- the best way to provide that energy and improve our environment is to invest in the technologies that will help us and keep those coal reserves -- use those coal
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reserves in the most efficient way possible. this bill also provides important funding for the appalachian regional commission. west virginia is the only state that is completely within the boundaries of the a.r.c., the appalachian regional commission. and the a.r.c. plays an important role in helping west virginians meet our economic challenges. the funding found in this bill can help a.r.c. promote rural broadband, something i have talk add lot about on the floor in the senate; expand world health care services and offer opportunity to yo our state's workers. investments in the army corps of engineers will help provide the infrastructure we need to make sure american products can move to markets across the country appeared around the world. the energy and water appropriations bill impacts every american. it was carefully crafted, robustly debated in committee, and passed the full appropriations committee with bipartisan support. mr. president and my fellow
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members of the senate, the appropriations committee did its part. we passed all 12 government funding bill for the first time since 2009. nine of these bills -- nine -- had bipartisan support. so far the democrats have chosen twice to block debate on the department of defense appropriations and last week the democrats blocked debate on the military construction and veterans affairs appropriations bill. that obstruction is the reason why our government is continuing to operate on a continuing resolution. let's get the bills on the floor. let's debate them, make changes, and then vote again. that's what we're supposed to be doing. none of us was sent here to pass short-term continuing resolutions and allow the government to operate on autopilot. let's do our job. that's what we're sent here for. we're here to advocate for our state and national priorities and this energy and water bull reflects those -- water bill
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fleectds those priorities. the senate should have a opportunity to debate this bill, offer amendments, approve it and pass the bill that will lead to energy security and improve our infrastructure. by contrast, voting to filibuster this and other appropriations bills will make the threat of a government shutdown more likely. americans deserve a government that makes wise and strategic investments to best meet our needs. endless continuing resolutions are not the most effective way to meet those needs and can prove wasteful in dollars and time. i ask my colleagues to allow debate on this important legislation to move forward and to support the investments in our energy and infrastructure policies. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. isakson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. isakson: mr. president, i rise reluctantly to acknowledge that i'm going to vote in opposition to moving to cloture on this energy and water appropriations bill. reluctant because i have
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supported every single movement to go to appropriations acts because that's what the united states senate should be doing. but i will not reluctantly but will passionately forbe the following reason: including in this energy and water report is language that was to take place in the bill that would disadvantage my state of georgia and show a preference to other states that surround us. it is not our job as members of the senate to write language into a bill that directs what policy in country's agencies should follow. my state, florida, and alabama have been in litigation for 30 years over what's called the water wars in the a.c.f. and a.t.c. basin. they have been litigated in the courts. we have settled law with respect to the corps of engineers. it is my responsibility as a representative of my state to do what's right, but it is also my responsibility to ask you the rhetorical question as follows: should any member of the senate be able in any way possible to secure the language into a bill that would disadvantage one
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state or advantage another without debate or direction? if we do, we're no longer the most deliberative, we're the most punitive body in the world. so i appreciate the work the committee has done on this bill. but i do not appreciate the use of an appropriations bill to direct the actions of the corps of engineers to disadvantage my state and advantage another state without debate, without any degree of direction, and in total conflict with the court's decision of the past. so i will vote "no" on moving afford on cloture until we remove this language from the underlying bill. and i yield to the senator from georgia, senator perdue. mr. perdue: thank you, senator. the bill before success an important bill and, senator, i appreciate your leadership in this matter. i hope that this bill can be considered again in the near future but under different circumstances, madam president. this bill currently contains language, as you just heard, that would prevent the army
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corps of engineers from updating the water control manual for the alabama river system. by blocking updates to the water control manual, this bill would give alabama the power to vote any plan by the army corps of engineers to veto any plan that they would come up with to use federal projects to accommodate both states' water supply needs. when we look at what's really happening here, though, it should concern every member of this body, as well as every person of the united states. for the last 30 years the states of georgia and alabama have been in litigation about the use of water in the a.t.c. river system. it is time we stopped that. the in ink substances like this the court system is the best way to row solve these issues before the state, not the body that we're in today. instead, the senior senator from alabama has chosen to insert specific language in this bill to litigate this issue in the senate instead of the courts. as anyone can imagine, with nearly 30 years of court cases and 60 years of water rights issues, the line between who is right and who is wrong can
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sometimes get blurry. but the fact is, the senate should not be intervening in disputes between the states. this is an issue that should be decided by the courts. and the senate should not allow one senator to invalidate progress on a multistate water issue problem. several attempts have been made to get the governors of alabama, georgia, and florida to get together and once and for all solve this issue. i want to applaud today georgia's governor for his recent attempts to solve this issue and hope that one day we will reach a resolution of this problem that meets needs. but it seems for now incredibly shortsighted to force any party in the negotiating process to give in and to tip the scales in one state's favor. i've had my fair share of negotiations in my clear just as the senior senator from georgia has in his business career, and i can tell you that forced negotiations never end well for anybody. i also know that the citizens of
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georgia aren't in favor of prolonging this issue any further and i know, senator, that many of our colleagues in georgia and many of our colleagues here don't like to be forced to decide issues between the states they don't represent. with that, senator, it seems to me, it appears that it's greatly innocent -- this bill incentivizes the state of alabama to not negotiate and calls on our colleagues to adjudicate this matter. can you give us your interpretation of this language. and i appreciate your leadership on this. mr. isakson: isakson: without reservation, the language benefits one state to the detriment of the other. it's not the business of the united states senate to do that. if we became a body with equal representation, and a bill that
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does not represent all states equally. i appreciate the committee. but i don't appreciate a body or the attempt to make this body a court of arbitration between somebody with seniority or somebody with cash versus somebody without or somebody with a preference verse somebody without. we -- versus somebody without. we need to get back to the business of debating and do what's right for america and not disadvantaging our neighbors over someone else other than to negotiate what's right for our country and what's right for the people we represent. and i commend the senator from georgia and i appreciate his whole hearted support. and i would urge everybody in the senate on voting no until this language advantaging one state over the other is removed. and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that i be permitted to speak as in morning
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business for up to 10 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. collins: thank you, madam president. madam president, i am deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy that occurred in roseburg, oregon, last week, that resulted in the loss of nine lives and injured many more. my heart goes out to the victims and their families who are struggling to understand this senseless act of violence and are shouldering incomprehensible greep. -- grief. roseburg, the navy yard, newtown, aurora, these are examples of tragedies that our county has experienced far too
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often. madam president, the common thread that runs through all of these acts of violence is untreated or undertreated severe mental illness. the shootings in roseburg should serve as a wake-up call that it is time -- indeed, it is past time -- for a comprehensive overhaul of america's mental health system. madam president, a serious flaw in our current system is that it is simply far too difficult for families to get help for their adult children who are suffering from severe mental illness. over the past several months, it has been my privilege to get to know joe bruce from kerritunk, maine. motivated by his own family's
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tragic experience, joe has become a powerful advocate for mental health reform. let me share with you and with my other colleagues joe's tragic story. in 2006, joe's 24-year-old son will, who had a history of severe and persistent mental illness, was discharged from a psychiatric hospital and returned home without the benefits of any medication. will had been advised that without his consent, his parents had no right to participate in his treatment or to have access to his medical records. will believed that there was nothing wrong with him and that he was not mentally ill, which can be characteristic of some
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individuals with severe bipolar disorder or paranoid schizophrenia. will would not consent to his parent's involvement with his treatment and because he was an adult, his father, joe, and his wife, amy, were barred from all access to his treatment or his medical records. tragically, the fears that amy and joe had voiced to will's doctors that will would hurt or kill someone came true. on june 20, 2006, joe returned home to find the body of his wife amy. his son will was in a deep state of psychosis and believing his mother to be involved with
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al qaeda, murdered her with a hatchet. because of that tragedy, will was committed to the same psychiatric hospital that had previously discharged him by a criminal court. he is now doing well because he is getting the treatment and care he should have had before. as his father says, ironically and horribly, will was only able to get treatment by killing his mother. joe also introduced me to a group of families from maine who are part of a group known as the families of the four percent, a reference to the segment of our population that suffers from severe mental illness.
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all of them spoke of similar difficulties in getting needed treatment and care for their adult children suffering from severe mental illness. madam president, this group of parents were distressed, exhausted and so worried about their loved ones. one mother told me that she had made more than 60 calls seeking help for her son whom she believed was dangerous. another mother described her son , chasing her around the kitchen table with a butcher knife. a few of these families had more uplifting stories because they had finally been able to get needed help for their children.
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one mother told me about her son, who is currently receiving treatment and is in stable condition after being hospitalized more than 30 times in 10 years and spending time homeless and in jail. another father told me about his son who had been hospitalized more than a dozen times but is now living in an apartment and able to hold a part-time job because he, too, is finally receiving the care he needs. madam president, while millions of americans suffer from mental illness, only a very small number engage in unspeakable acts of violence against themselves or others, yet many of the tragedies that we have witnessed in recent years, these
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mass shootings, might have been prevented had the proper resources been in place to support a timely diagnosis, early intervention and effective treatment for those struggling with severe mental illness. and that is why i have joined with my colleagues, senator and dr. cassidy and senator murphy in sponsoring the mental health reform act of 2015. this bill is patterned on a bill that has been introduced by senate -- by congressman tim murphy, a clinical psychologist in the house of representatives. it will make critical reforms to address a lack of resources, to enhance coordination and develop real solutions to improve
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outcomes for families dealing with mental illness. my hope is that this most recent tragedy in oregon will provide an impetus for the senate to consider our bipartisan bill, which has been endorsed by so many mental health groups, including the national alliance on mental illness, the american psychological association, and the national association of psychiatric health systems. passage of this comprehensive bipartisan legislation would help to jump-start the much-needed conversation in this country about how to better care for people living with severe mental illness and to help their loved ones. madam president, this bill addresses one facet but a
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significant and ignored one of the problem of mass shootings. i will continue to support other actions, such as the gun purchase background checks proposed by senator manchin and senator toomey. i hope that we can come together to pass both bills to help lessen the chance that other families will have to endure the loss of a loved one to a mass shooting. madam president, i urge all of our colleagues to join senator cassidy, senator murphy and me in cosponsoring this important legislation to strengthen our mental health system, to help ensure that others in this
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country do not suffer as far too many families have done because of adult children suffering from severe mental illness. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. mr. cornyn: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: madam president, i know there's -- the president's traveling to oregon tomorrow and there's a lot of focus and appropriately so on the tragedy that occurred last thursday afternoon in oregon. and i want to start out my remarks this morning by offering again our deepest condolences and heartfelt prayers to the family and friends who've suffered so much in a
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senseless -- what seems like a senseless act of violence. and perhaps stating the obvious, that it's terrible for our nation to experience yet another tragedy like this. and what i hope is that we don't become numb to hearing these reports and so we end up, we're frozen into inaction or dysfunction, but that we actually look for ways to try to work together to try to make some progress to deal with the root causes of incidents like this. for the family and friends of those who lost loved ones last week, like so many others who have lost their children and their friends and their siblings to one of these shootings, we know the emotions are still raw and real. so it is with great deference to those who have suffered this loss, i want to discuss what i believe to be one of the major contributing factors to these
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seemingly senseless acts of violence that have occurred across the county. and i want to -- country. and i want to talk a little bit about some legislation that i've introduced which i think actually will help us address one of those root causes. the legislation i've introduced is called the mental health and safe communities act, and i believe it would bring real change to our nation and provide help to those struggling with mental illness. this bill would empower families with more options for their loved ones. i think, for example, about the mother of adam lanza, the shooter at sandy hook, and how she knew her son was suffering from mental illness but basically she didn't have any options other than to let him continue to descend into sicker -- and become sicker and sicker or to go to court and seek an involuntary commitment for a temporary period of time.
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so to make sure that families like adam lanza's, like the mother of the oregon shooter, who said that her son seemed to be doing fine as long as he took his medications but when he quit taking his medication, he would become a real problem because he would get sicker and sicker and act out. so the legislation i've introduced attempts to strengthen the safety of our communities by providing families with more options when it comes to treating people with mental illness and to treat them differently than just common criminals. we know that the majority of inmates in our jails in america are people with mental illness. they may have committed some petty crime because of their mental illness and frequencily because of their -- and frequently because of their attempts to self-medicate with
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drugs or alcohol that get them in trouble with the law. but rather than just lock them up, wouldn't it be so much better if we could divert them by getting at the root causes of their mental illness and the reason they show up there in the first place? so this is actually the goal of some very innovative programs that i'll meption in a moment. the goal of my program is to support families before it is too late and to provide a path to healing for the mentally el -- mentally ill. treating those that are mentally ill is a vital component in towns and cities across the country. this bill would help the whole community, includes families, as i mentioned, schools, certainly teachers and administrators at schools are privy to information, who know things or suspect things that could be very helpful in providing assistance to those families and
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those suffering from mental illness. and then law enforcement, providing them training to support the warning signs of individual whose could become a danger to themselves and others. many of the provisions of this legislation are based on policies that have already proven effective in state and local jurisdictions around the country. just recently i was in a san antonio, my hometown, and where -- and where i first served as a district judge. in august i had an opportunity to visit with those in the area who had taken a leading role in coming up with new and innovative ways t to approach ts issue, including sheriff susan parmelo, who provided families terns to aalternatives to an e
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cycle. the mental health program in bexar county, the county where san antonio is located, is now -- help those suffering from mental illness in our criminal justice system. the legislation i have a introduced will help institute some of these best practices at the national level. this legislation would empower families that struggle to help -- to help find help for their mentally ill loved ones and helps educators identify students with mental illness and provides them with the resources and treatment that they need. but it also includes specialized training for those on the front lines like law enforcement. i heard in san antonio recently because of the training law enforcement gets, they've been able to reduce if not almost completely eliminate the violence that occurs when a police officer arrives at a call
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and encounters somebody who's mentally ill. by providing the specialized training, you can deescalate the violence and allow the officer to direct this person to a place where he can actually get some help. this legislation would also encourage state and local governments to create pretrial screening and assessment programs to identify the mentally ill offenders and provide need-based treatment and develop post-release supervision plans so they don't become a danger to themselves and others. this bill also strength ngs the current background check system by incentivizing information-sharing among the states so that law enforcement has appropriate information regarding individuals with adjudicated mental illness in the criminal justice system. one example that's pretty close to washington, d.c., was the virginia tech shooter, who
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actually had been adjudicated mentally ill but the state of virginia will not uploaded that information on the national instant criminal background check system maintained by the f.b.i. and so when he prfd purchased a firearm, it did not show that he would be disqualified, as it would have been if it had been uploaded on the background check system. so trying to make it easier for the states to put information into the system is one of the goals of this legislation. so i hope my colleagues would view this as a commonsense attempt to try to make a significant step forward that will help not only those with mental illness et g get the hely need but also equip our law enforcement officers to perform their jobs. last week more than 20 mental health organizations sent willer to members of the house advocating for mental health
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reform, calling the need -- quote -- "urgent to improve the lives of tens of millions of americans, their families, and communities." we need to listen to them and we need to act. now, i know that from reports that some of our democratic colleagues have said that they're going to introduce some gun control legislation that we all know has been tried before and cannot pass this chamber what we need instead is a broad consensus to try to get something done that can bring people together, and i believe my legislation can do that, by addressing the root cause of some of these horrific events. again, mental illness. so instead of calling each other names, as the minority leader did on the floor last week, i would invite our colleagues across the aisle to do something constructive and to work
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together on this legislation. the mental health and safe communities act is, i believe, a serious proposal and will take important steps toward preventing additional tragedies across the country. i think many of us understand that mental health reform generally speaking is long overdue, and this is an issue that many groups in the mental health community support. i should point out that there are many other organizations that support this legislation as well, and just to make my point about this being consensus legislation, let me just mention some of the organizations that are supporting the mental health and safety communities act. the national alliance on mental illness, the national association of police organizations, the american correctional association, the american jail association, the council of state governments, the treatment advocacy center,
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the national association of social workers, and the national rifle association. i dare say, madam president, that you won't find a group like that coming together on many issues, but on this legislation, which woul we worked very closey with them on, they've actually been able to meet each other on common ground in way that gives us hope that we can actually get some legislation passed and send to to the president and that will actually provide help to people like adam lanza's mother or the mother of the shooter in oregon, who had nowhere else to turn under the current state of the law, in order to get her son to comply with his doctor's orders to take his medication, and that medication, thanks to the miracle of modern medical science, there are miraculous medications that can help people suffering from mental illness
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lead productive and relatively normal lives. so i encourage my colleagues to consider how we can move this conversation forward in a way that results in real positive change fou for our country, aboe the political gamesmanship that tends to characterize too much of what we do here in washington and certainly on this topic. president obama last week addressed the nation after this horrific incident in oregon, and i believe his emotions were real, but, unfortunately, he didn't offer any concrete solutions to the problem. he said, among other things, that making our communities safer will require changing our laws. and he went on to say that congress needs to put forward such legislation. and that's what i've tried to do. i'm glad the president indicated his interest and concerns, but the real question is, will the president work with us on
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legislation that actually offers solutions or will it just be a matter of grandstanding? will our senate colleagues offer legislation that previously has shown it can't move in the senate and render us dysfunctional, or will they work together on a bipartisan way to try to find common ground and real solutions? i think that's the question. and i would ask our colleagues who are offering legislation, sort of relitigating some of these issues, which we've proven we haven't been able to find consensus on, which of these proposals would have actually gone on to address the root causes of some of these incidents in the past? i think that's a really important question, because if you're interested in demagoguing on issue, you can talk about that and offer purported
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solutions which can't pass and which actually would not have changed the outcome. what i've tried to do is figure a way that, okay, given our differences on this issue, how can we find that common ground and offer solutions? so through this legislation, we would give families a way to help their mentally ill family members, we would help schools aproptly identify an respond to someone with mental illness, we would improve the response of law enforcement and the criminal justice system to make sure that mentally ill individuals do not become dangerous to themselves and others. we would work to help the states fix the national instant background check system and we would reduce the sigmassociateed with maintain tail illness by protecting due process rights of the mentally ill. madam president, i was somewhat taken aback and disturbed when i
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saw this morning in "politico" a story reported "dems ready sweeping new guns bill." and one of the statements in the legislation jumped out -- in the bill -- excuse me, in the articledjournearticle jumped oue it says that democratic leaders are wary that their rank-and-file will de-effect and begin supporting the cornyn -- defect and begin supporting the cornyn bill. what is occurring is rather than looking to find consensus or to join together to support legislation that might actually help solve the problem, some of the democratic leadership are actively lobbying their own members not to get on legislation or support legislation that might actually pass and might actually work. that strikes me as incredibly cynical and not -- and doesn't demonstrate an interest in actually solving the problem but, rather, political grandstanding.
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so i would encourage all of our colleagues, regardless of where you stand on this issue, let's try to figure a way to move forward. we have a real opportunity to address the common element found in most of these mass shootings and we don't have any time to waste. we can do better for the american people and get the mental health and safe communities act done. madam president, i -- on another matter, i have 11 unanimous consent requests toker committees to meet during today's session of the senate. these have been approved by the majority and minority leaders. i'd ask consent that these requests be agreed to and be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: madam president, i'd ask further consent that notwithstanding the provisions of rule 22, following the
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cloture vote on the motion to proceed to h.r. 2028 on thursday, october 8, the senate proceed to executive session to consider the following fume nations en bloc: calendar number 123, 266, 267, 300, 325 through 328, 330, 331, and 335. that the senate vote on the nominations en bloc without intervening action or debate, that following disposition of the nominations, the motions to reconsider be laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate. that no further motions be in order to the nominations, that any statements related to the nominations be printed in the record. that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, and the senate then resume legislative session. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: madam president, i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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mrs. murray: madam president, i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mrs. murray: madam president, i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: madam president, i ask to speak as if in morning business.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: madam president, i ask that during the democratic controlled time that democratic senators be allowed to speak for up to three minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: madam president, i come to the floor today to speak on an issue that hits far too close to home for far too many families in washington state and across the country. in roseburg, oregon, in blacks burg, virginia, in newtown connecticut, in seattle, washington, where a student opened fire just a year ago. in mariesville, washington, where a teenager killed four students? -- students in a high school cafeteria. far too many to list. after the shootings in my state, the communities showed resilience and strength. but i can tell you, anyone who's been affected by gun violence
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understands all too well that all the strength in the world will never erase the pain of the parents who lost a child or the students who lost friends and teachers. so, madam president, today i echo the questions i've heard from so many people in washington state -- what will it take for this congress to adopt simple, commonsense reforms? why would this congress hesitate at taking even the most basic steps to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals? why do we fail to act when children at school and young adults on campus and women in abusive relationships and so many others are so vulnerable to the threat of gun violence? i know this is a complex issue but that doesn't mean we should do nothing. it's long past time for us to improve background checks. it's long past time for us to end the illegal pipeline of guns
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that contribute to crime. and, madam president, i think it's also important to note that too often those who commit terrible acts of violence needed help and intervention they did not get. to be clear, they represent a very small minority of the many people in our country who struggle with mental illness. but when so many lives are truly on the line, we need a comprehensive approach. and that should include strengthening our mental health care system that it is available to anyone who needs it. madam president, this issue isn't going to go away. i wish it would. i wish we never had to have this conversation again. i wish we never had to hear about the latest child killed, the latest school up ended. i think we all wish that. wishing will not make it happen. it is time for congress to listen to the american people and act.
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thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. markey: thank you, madam president. madam president, congress has failed to protect the american people from the tragic gun violence that is plaguing our nation. the mass shooting in roseburg, oregon, was the 297th in the united states this year alone. that's more than one mass shooting per day so far this year in our country. in fact, every year more than 30,000 americans are killed by guns, yet the republicans have blocked any legislation to prevent future tragedies. it is past time for us to act. it is time for us to listen to the american people who overwhelmingly support commonsense legislation on guns.
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90% of americans background checks before someone can buy a gun. 90% of americans support background checks before someone can buy a gun. 90% of americans. so let's close the loopholes that allow on-line gun sales and sales at gun shows without a background check. 90% of americans want background checks. let's close the loophole that allows already proven domestic abusers to buy guns. that is overwhelmingly supported by the american people. let's close the loophole that allows straw purchasers to buy guns and flood our streets with them.
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overwhelmingly americans don't want this kind of illicit sales with no background checks to be conducted across our country. and let's close the loophole that allows a gun sale before a background check is completed. at least let's complete it. and let's take our heads out of the sands on the causes of gun violence and how to prevent it. we have, ladies and gentlemen, the power here on the floor of the united states national to pass legislation that pretty much all of america expects us to pass. it is time to end the n.r.a.'s vice-like control of this chamber. the n.r.a. says it's the national rifle association.
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well, our goal should be on this floor to say that the n.r.a. stands for "not relevant anymore anymore" in american politics. we should do this now. it is an emdemocrattic of gun violence in our -- it is an epidemic of gun violence in our country. it is preventable. and i am proud to join with my colleagues in support of these commonsense gun safety measures. i thaipg everyone ani thank evek to the senator. ms. mccaskill: mr. president, i was born in a small rural community where deer season was as much of fall as football and falling leaves. i was raised in a household where dad taught us that hunting was part of our culture in missouri. but i don't know any of m.i.a. my dad's friend -- but i don't
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know any of my dad's friends. i certainly know that my father, were he still alive, would be shaking his head about the massacres. about school shootings -- 45 of them this year -- school shootings, 45 in one year. innocent children, innocent college students being mowed down. it's horrific, and it's tragic, and the american people want us to respect gun rights but they want us to use common sense. they don't want terrorists to be able to buy a gun at a gun show. we should not be selling ak-47's to terrorists at gun shows. we should not be allowing someone who is convicted of
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stalking the ability to buy a gun. and that's the only thing we're talking about. the principles of common sense that run deep in my state. close the gun show loophole, make background checks more effective to keep guns out of those hands that should never hold them. no one is trying to do anything other than protect the innocents. no one is trying to remove a gun from lawful citizens of the united states. but if we do nothing, if we shrug our shoulders and do nothing when an overwhelming majority of our country want us to try to close these loopholes and make background checks more effective, then we are part of the problem, and we really need
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to look in the mirror of the billions we're spending to fight terrorists who are not mowing down our citizens, our innocent children sitting in classrooms, and the billions of dollars we're spending to try to make sure illegal immigrants don't come in this country, when among us we allow terrorists to buy guns at gun shows and we allow convicted stalkers to get a weapon. 50% of the victims -- murder victims in domestic violence have been stalked. so i hope that america rises up and calls their congressman, calls their congress wornlings calls their senator, gets busy. because we have to take action. thank you, madam president. ms. klobuchar: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: madam president, i rise today to join my colleagues in calling for
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commonsense actions to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, people who should not have the guns, including domestic abusers, and to close loopholes in existing laws that are now being exploited by criminals who are prohibited by law from possessing guns. like your state, madam president, my state is a big hunting state. we are proud of that tradition. so whenever i look at any of these proposals, i think, would this somehow hurt my uncle dick and his deer stand? would it take away the right of legal gun owners? and that's how i look at each proposal. and the proposals we are talking about today, madam president, would not do that. and i wouldn't be supporting them if i thought that they did. we know that no single policy can prevent every tragedy that has been caused by gun violence, but there is one area -- what i call the silent victims, the women and the children who are killed in their homes every
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single day due to acts of domestic violence. according to domestic violence experts, more than three women per day lose their lives to their partners. more than half of those are killed are shot with a gun. this means that thousands of women, thousands and thousands of women in the united states were murdered by an intimate partner using a gun between 2001 and 2012 alone. these crimes don't discriminate. they impact people across our backgrounds, ethnicities, income levels. they are crimes, serious crime, and the numbers tell the story of the work left to do. i'm a former prosecutor. before i came to the senate, i spent eight years running an office of 400 people. and we made prosecuting felons and possession of guns one of our top priorities. the i will tell you that some of the disturbing cases that came in our door that were murders
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and shootings did not always involve felons. but they involved criminals. they involved people who over a series of time, series of crimes had racked up a number of convictions. maybe in the misdemeanor area, maybe for re-strang for restraid other things. i remember one case where a woman was shot to death by her boyfriend. he killed her and then killed himself while both children were still in the house. it was the 12-year-old doter daughter that went to the neighbor for help. it could have been prevented. in the two years leading up to the murder-suicide, the police had been called to the residence at least five times. yet somehow this man managed to have a gun in his hand this day and kill his girlfriend. or the police officer who is called to a domestic scene. the guy there, mental health problems. in between -- thank you, i ask for 30 more seconds. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. klobuchar: the man there
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shot the police officer in the head. ho shot him in the -- shot him in the head. i will never forget the three little kids going down the aisle of that church after having been in that church a week before for a nativity play with her father. that's what the we're talking a. we are very glad that this proposal will be in the package of proposals along with the background check bills. thank you, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator michigan. ms. stabenow: i would appreciate knowing when three minutes havminutes has been use. i am very proud to stand up and say it is sometime time to act. enough is enough. close loopholes that are being used by people who are not following the law, that are resulting, unfortunately, in deaths and injury to children and families across the country. now, like a lot of my colleagues, i grew up in a small
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rural town in northern michigan. my femm family are all hunters. we enjoy the outdoors and gun ownership. i have prfd and owned guns -- i have purchased and own guns myself. my family goes through background checks. we don't want people being able to use loopholes, not to have to follow the law. so this is simply about making sure the law makes sense and that we are enforcing it. i also think it's very important to stress the fact that we know there are tremendous mental health needs in this country. and, in fact, senator blunt and i offered legislation, the excellent in mental health act, before this body that was passed as a pilot project to get started about 18 months ago. if we had the full support of our republican colleagues in the house and the senate, we could make comprehensive, quality mental health services available
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all across the country quickly. instead, because we've not -- and i hope we can get that support. i would love to see that support. if we had that support, we would have more than eight states that are going to have emergency mental health services available. 24-hour services available. so families or law enforcement or individuals have a place to take someone or someone can go in themselves and ask for help. 24-hour psychiatric services available on an emergency basis. that's what's in the excellence in mental health act. we have now begun the process of making sure it's available in eight states. it needs to be available in 50 states. we need to make sure comprehensive services are available in the community for behavioral health, just like we have for federally qualified
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health centers. we came together in a bipartisan basis to extend funding for federally qualified health centers. we now have a new category called federally qualified behavioral health clinics, and funding will be available to comprehensively provide those services in eight states under our pilot project. it needs to be in 50 states. so i welcome colleagues coming to the floor and talking about what we need to do in mental health. we have colleagues on both sides of the aisle -- if i may take 15 more h seconds. we have colleagues on both sides of the aisle who are working together on bipartisan proposals on a number of different issues. let's get that done, too. let's fully fund comprehensive community mental health services. let's work together on the other issues and it's time to pass commonsense gun safety laws. thank you, madam president.
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: madam president, today democrats from the most moderate, conservative members of our kaw caus caucus to the mt liberal unielted around a series of principles overwhelmingly supported by the american people. over 90% universal background checks. it's principles that are supported according to pew by 85% of gun owners. and it will save tens of thousands of lives without impinging on the right of any legitimate gun owner. the gun owners know it. that's why 85% of them support it. gun owners don't want felons to get guns. gun owners don't want people who have been convicted of stalking and abuse to get guns. we know that.
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and yet our colleagues on the other side of the aisle refuse to move on anything. senator cornyn -- i know senator stabenow and senator murphy and others have done great work on mental health. senator cornyn came to the floor tad and talked about mental health. first, we want to do things on mental health. we should. it is a huge problem. i'd like to see my good friend interest texas support the money that's needed. not a pilot program but the money that's needed. but the more important point is this: doing things on mental health, which we should, is not a substitute for closing the gun show loophole. some of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle are feeling the heat. but instead of taking the action they should, supporting closing the gun show loophole, they say, let's knock on mental health,
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without giving any good reason why we shouldn't close the gun show loophole. so let's do both. now today, madam president, we are calling on the american people to create a groundswell. president obama was exactly correct. the gridlock on congress on guns which beif you hadless almost all american de--- befuddles almost all american people, purple, red, blue, is because the overwhelming support of the american people is not translated into action here. we're calling on the american people to raise their voices. in the next few months. we are calling on the american people to write, we are calling on the american people to call, we are calling on the american people to tweet, we are calling on the american people to post on facebook, we are calling on the american people to march and tell washington, enough -- enough of these terrible
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shootings that we all grieve over, all of us grieve over. and, madam president -- i ask unanimous consent for an additional minute. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: and lelt us put the other side on notice, we will get a vote on this legislation. we will get a vote on this legislation. we will use all of the procedural means and our ability, once the groundswell occurs and people on both sides of the aisle have to study the issue, they will have to vote on it. we will do it either towards the end of this term or early in the next term of this congress. and we believe we've chance to win. the american people have said, enough. a small group in the house and senate who are so unrepresentative of the views of their constituents will not hold things up. any longer. that is my belief.


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