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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  April 21, 2016 8:00pm-12:01am EDT

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exhausted. ... we have a very hectic schedule and i apologize. thank you very much for coming and giving me this opportunity. i think you very much. >> we will have you back again [applause]. ladies and gentlemen, please remain in your seat. [applause].
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[inaudible] [inaudible] speemac, a look at nuclear energy innovation, safety, and safety, and modernization proposals. then agriculture secretary, tom bill sack is part of a discussion on hunger and food assistance program. later, conversation with marilyn senator ben cardin. >> c-span's washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up on friday morning jeff adelstein, politics reporter for the new orleans advocate will join us by phone to discuss the debate over removal of confederate monuments in new
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orleans. the mayor has backed the city council's effort to remove number of monuments on public land. however, the city remains divided on the issue. hannah smith, senior counsel will be on to talk about the recently argued case. the case deals with religious liberty and the affordable care act contraceptive mandate. chris, author of the book of grunge in government, let's fix a broken democracy joins us for a discussion. be sure to watch washington's c-span's "washington journal". >> up next, senate panel looks at nuclear energy regulation and innovation proposals. the senate environment and public works committee is working on legislation to try to modernize the nuclear regulatory commission. this subcommittee and clean air and nuclear energy is chaired by
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senator shelley moore capital of west virginia. [inaudible] i would like to welcome all of our witnesses today. a particular welcome to the alumnus of the committee, mr. merrifield to tell me he began here 1986, i think. i appreciate you returning. as each witness knows you have five minutes for an oral statement and that we will take questions. we are here today to examine and exciting topic and that is advanced nuclear reactors.
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while nuclear issues are somewhat new to me, i am learning these technologies have the potential to make great strides in advancing nuclear technology. this is a topic that many of us are very interested in because nuclear energy is an essential component for all the above energy policy. our current nuclear plants provide clean, safe, reliable, and affordable energy to power our economy while providing thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in benefits to local communities. they made valuable contributions to our energy security for years, we look for to what comes next. advanced reactors have the potential to be cleaner, safer, more secure. one purpose of this hearing is to better understand the technologies and the barriers to their development. the other purpose of the hearing is to examine s2795, the nuclear energy modernization act which was introduced last week. s2975 directs to develop a
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regulatory framework in which license applications for a variety of technologies can be review. in keeping with with the nrc's safety and security mission. the nrc existing regulations are designed around one technology. they're not well-suited for the innovations underway. this is an issue our committee needs to address and i'm glad my colleagues have come forward with a solution. efficient and timely decision-making at the nrc is crucial for our existing plans and bridging technology. the bill modernizes the undersea's budget and fee structure to ensure funds are available to complete reviews. the existing industry needs to me remain competitive and will allow emerging technologies to grow. the nrc safety and security mission is a vital one. must be accomplished efficiently and with physical discipline. according to the nrc's principle of good regulation, the
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regulation, the american taxpayer, the right pane customer and licensee are all entitled to the best possible management at administration predatory activity. this bill aligns with the principal and i think my calyx for the hard work and bipartisanship to advance innovative new energy technologies. these are technologies where our nation should be lead the way. not just for our energy security but also in the interest of our national security. only by leading we hope to advance our nonproliferation goals. with that i'm anxious to hear senators remarks and those of our witness. >> thank you madam chairman. i'm glad to be your wing man. want to welcome to each of you, nice nice to see one of you again for many years now. and also to have a chance to welcome others back into and meet some of you for the first time. when our country began exploring nuclear power more than six
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years ago, i don't how people really had really had no idea, for this technology could be to the future of our nation's energy supply.'s energy supply. serious incidents in places like chernobyl and 3-mile island and fukushima has caused a number of people, both at home and around the world to question the liability of nuclear power. i think support support for this clean, reliable technology has begun to grow again in recent years. given that developing, congress has an important role to play in ensuring that our nation invest wisely in nuclear while at the same time maintaining our focus on safety. many americans may be unaware that nuclear technology was invented in the united states. for a number of years our nation led the world in nuclear manufacturing and construction and production. jobs in the economic benefit of the so-called state here at home, for the most part and unfortunate this is no longer the case.
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many nuclear components are now only available from our competitors including the french, south koreans, japanese, chinese. while the united. while the united states continue to have more nuclear power plants in any country, china in particular are gaining quickly. at the same time our country's nuclear reactors are getting older and need to be replaced in years to come. some people believe our nation's nuclear success story may be winding down, but i believe like a distance runner, nuclear power power in america is just getting it second went. albert einstein used to say with adversity arise opportunity and he was right then and he is right today. while this industry has faced adversity in the recent years, it appears to be a fair amount of opportunity out of it now. if we are smart we'll seize the day and begin to replace our aging nuclear reactors with new ones in the years ahead that are safer, produce less and less expensive to build and operate.
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if we are smart about it i for seen opportunity to develop and build the next generation of nuclear reactors on american soil. i for see a chance at some of our close manufacture plans will reopen, construction clues will be called back to work and colleges will face it demand from industry. in short i seen opportunity for the united states once again lead the world in nuclear technology. >> today's hearing is about how we seize the opportunity. decisions we make today will impact what types of nuclear reactors will be operating in this country ten, 20, even 50 years from now. unfortunately there has been good progress to deploy nuclear technology. several years ago the nrc of proof construction to build for new reactors in georgia and south carolina that were incorporate some of the most
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safety technology. construction of these new reactors is creating thousands of new jobs for those economists in those states. the government increasingly likely will have small moderate reactors will become a reality in this nation. the first reactors are expected to become operational in the next decade. this is encouraging start but i know we can and need to do better. i've also heard from businesses who believe that we can do better. over 50 companies are investing in the next generation of nuclear technologies. today will hear directly from a company that company that is making some of those investments. as these companies make advances in technology we need to make sure that our regulatory framework can keep pace. the nrc has considered the world's gold standard of regulatory agencies, however science and technology evolve so much with the nrc. in closing, i believe that government in this country has a number of roles to play, i'm sure you agree, among them uses important in creating job creation and job preservation.
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that includes making sure that we have affordable, dependable energy and were producing it safely in this country. in ways that diminish the threat of climate change rather than increase it. advances in nuclear energy can help us attain that environment and provide more promising future for our nation, for its people and for our planet. i hope you learn today about the rules of the nrc and other agency needs to play. and and that needs to be realized. >> thank you. with that the chairman has requested. >> i put my statement in the record,. >> without objection. >> again, i would like to thank the the witnesses and welcome you to give a five-minute statement, your full testimony has been cemented for the record. then we'll go through a round of questioning.
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>> senator booker i understand you like to make a comment about the bill in advance of the testimony. >> i'm very grateful chairman for this opportunity and thank you for giving me a chance to say a few words. i'm senator with no name today, want you to recognize that. or senator whose name shall not be mentioned. >> again, thank you and i wanted think senators in half, white house, and rakel for their partnership on this really important bill. american leadership on nuclear energy is absolutely critical, the historic paris agreement set ambitious goals to go above preindustrial levels. scientists agree that even if all countries meet their commitments under this pack we are not on track to meet the ambitious targets, not even close. meeting the rising global demand will simultaneously slamming admissions presents a very difficult challenge for this generation. think about this. by 2050 meeting the paris targets would require us to cut emissions by 70% while producing 70% more electricity.
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that's an incredibly difficult thing to do. to produce 70% more electricity than we do today what the same time emitting 70% less carbon. i'm a big believer in energy efficiency and a believer in renewable energy. i thought with other senators to expand the tax credit/for renewables. in order to avert the worst effects of climate change we do not see any way around the idea that we must substantially increase our nuclear energy capacity i am now back to normal. we have no choice but to increase nuclear capacity. nuclear nuclear energy which provides a critical baseload power currently comprises more than 60% of our nation's free electricity generation. right now in the united states
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we have five new reactors under construction. the first new commercial units in 30 years, with several existing reactors have already been shut down prematurely. many more are at risk. we need to make sure that we see dozens of more private-sector companies are beginning to move into this area and help to produce an environment where there are making their billion dollars of investment. we desperately need sound, long-term government policies that will support our existing fleet and also support a sustained commitment by the private sector to advance nuclear reactors that can be commercialized in the future. this bill, s2795 takes several positive, bipartisan steps in that direction. first, the bill would direct nrc to develop new state licensing processes for advanced nuclear reactors. second, the bill over longer terms were put in place new technology, inclusive regulatory framework that would make licensing of advanced nuclear more efficient, flexible and predictable while maintaining
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safety and security missions. there, the bill would authorize a new cost-sharing grant program that the department of energy that would help the first advanced reactive project and move forward to pay for some of the licensing costs and nrc. this would place a cap on the fees that existing reactors paid to the nrc, while this cap may never be hit, putting it in place will provide certainty and protection for existing fleet. this is a critical challenge that we have in our nation right now. making sure we are meeting our energy needs, dealing with the reality of climate change, and empowering business and innovation. i'm very happy to have and working in a bipartisan fashion in what is a solid bill helping us to take a step forward. thank you german for letting me make an introduction to the
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bill. >> just attends second response. let me show you that while we are just waiting the bill, it has nothing to do with global warming. in this disaster that you'll see tomorrow on earth day in new york is an embarrassment and the president is not even going up for. my motivation on this is, when i say all all of the above, to save this country, all energy includes nuclear. >> thank you. another bill sponsored will make an introduction to the bill. >> thank you madame chairman i appreciate the opportunity to be here today. we have introduced legislation to ensure that the nrc will be ready to license advanced reactor design as companies are ready to commercialize them. we have undertaken a deep dive into under workings of the commission. through hearings and discussions with officials and stakeholders, we have developed a plan that will help modernize the commission and enable it to stay abreast of reactive design
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in the nuclear industry. our bill, the nuclear act or luna, increases transparency and accountability in the nrc's a budget through modernizing reforms that are based on years of ep w oversight efforts. the measure also wants to develop a technology regulatory framework enabling the commission to review a diverse set of advanced reactor technologies. the improvements mean a great deal of transparency and accountability to the nrc. we want the commission to make changes that allow steak holders of various backgrounds and motivations to look at the commission's actions and understand what it is doing. in particular, the agency must be more transparent and it's a budgeting process. this is especially true regarding the commission overhead costs.
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when the inner sea talks about overhead costs, it refers to activities that may be categorized as corporate support, office support, and mission indirect. at this point, our bill only captures one portion of these overhead costs. the corporate support costs because that is the only portion of the overhead costs that we can get the nrc to clearly label and fine. the inner sea must endeavor to make its budgeting information more transparent and assessable. some amount of overhead is necessary for all organizations. nonetheless, the inner sea needs to be able to clearly account for its overhead costs and for the way it uses fees for licenses to support these costs. clear and transport budget processes are required for effective oversight. this is something i look forward to working with my fellow colleagues on both in this bill and beyond. finally, it's imperative the licensing process for advance reactors is transparent. it needs to take into account past lessons learned. luna enables the undersea to create a technology inclusive regulatory framework.
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by creating a technology inclusive framework where enabling the undersea to review and license any advanced reactor design that it considers to be safe and secure. we are not forcing the undersea's to pick winners and losers a bite we are forcing to allocate resources on one type of reactor. as a whole, luna provides important transparency and accountability improvements across the undersea. it improves the communication between various stakeholder groups in the agency. enabling better transparency, accountability, and a communication. this is critical for ensuring the undersea's remains the preeminent safety regulatory. such improvements provide stability and predictability in the industry and among stakeholder groups. increasing the nrc's ability to be transparent and accountable will increase its ability to perform its safety mission and share information with all stakeholder groups. thank you very much. >> i would like to go to the
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witnesses. [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible]
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>> a lot of the leadership design but if we can get them through process so we look forward to pursuing that. it should remain, i think a very high priority to continue to point toward to reuse spent nuclear fuel. [inaudible]
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[inaudible] >> the last thing i'll say that i think it is a tragedy that we are losing some of our nuclear facilities to in economic problem that there is no payment for their carbon free power. if a nuclear plant is not safe then i am the first person to want to shut it down, yesterday. but if the only reason it is being shut down is it because it cannot compete economically with the natural gas plant, and the only reason it can't compete economically with natural gas plant is because it gets no
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benefit for being carbon free one across the country, and our corporate world and throughout her government we recognize there's actually value of being carbon free than what we are doing is artificially damaging in industry that should be doing better. we need to figure out a way to make sure there is in fact a payment to this industry for the carbon free value of the electrons they produce. with that, i will close my comments, i think my colleagues on this bill for their leadership, i am delighted to be working with them. >> thank you. so we'll proceed with the witnesses. i will will begin on my left with doctor christina bock was the division director, general atomics and advance vision. welcome. >> thank you very much. i would i would like to thank the chairman, the ranking member for holding this hearing and chairman and senators for their legislation. of course thank thank you to my home senate state senator, my name is
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christina bock, i am the vice president nuclear technologies and material of general atomics. ga is a privately held company with over 60 years of experience in nuclear energy. one where we continuously push the technological envelope. i i was asked to describe what nuclear reactors are and what we believe it may be appropriate issues for you to consider when developing public policy for encouraging the development of new reactors. we believe advance reactors are vital for making nuclear power. economically competitive, and vital to reversing the current decline of the nuclear industry. in order to be helpful to the committee's efforts i would like to start by noting the term advance reactors is somewhat loosely used. some people consider them to be non- light water reactors while others mean new light water reactors. we believe at advanced reactor concept is one whose design is guided by the four core
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principles that help ensure economic success. these principles are, to produce significantly cheaper electricity, to be safer, to produce significantly less waste , and reduce the proliferation risk. we we believe every worthy reactor concept must address these for core principles jointly. if it is to be read advanced reactor. it it is not sufficient to excel in just one with disregard to the others. now i would like to discuss ga's reactor concept. this is one of many of the advanced reactor concepts we referred to before. ga has a concept which is energy model module or em squared. the way of illustrating what it fans can mean i would like to discuss this reactor.
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ga chose to employ innovative design and engineering materials to meet the four core principles. what makes it compelling to think about nuclear reactors and advanced reactors now is that in the past 30 years scientists have made unprecedented advances in understanding materials. we at g8 know-how to manipulate these materials, we are we are trying to revitalize the nuclear industry with them. now let's consider each of the principal i mentioned. the first is cost. the drive to make it cheaper reactor lettuce to design a much smaller reactor, one that would produce up to 60% more power than today's reactor from the same amount of heat. second second is safety. for a radical improvement in safety em squared uses engineers remic materials to hold the fuel that work in intense radiation and withstand more than two times higher temperature than current reactor materials today.
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it would not be subject to failures like those in fukushima. third, his waist. em squared will reduce the amount of waste by at least 80%, the reactor can also use reactor waste as fuel, thus turning this waste into energy. fourth is not proliferation. em square keeps a fuel in the reactor for 30 years, without the need for refueling or repositioning the fuel rods. this means we access the core once, much less than the 20 times 20 times that the current reactors need for existing refueling. we calculate that em square will produce power at approximately 40% lower cost than today's reactors. and be passably safe. that's for any new reactor design, this will require extensive interaction with the nrc, we think involving the nrc early in
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this process is important to inform the design for safer reactor. radically new concepts require upfront investments involving risk. some of these investments may not pay off and even those that are successful could take up to ten years to produce revenue. while ga has already invested warty million em squared, is hard to divert scarce dollars from r&d to nrc considerations at this early point in time. if this committee's objective is to stimulate the development of new advance reactors, hopefully as we have defined and outlined here we suggest it would be relatively inexpensive to involve nrc early in the process with high impact. we suggest the committee consider authorizing their preparation of 5,000,000 dollars at first to provide nrc services to developers every advance reactors and with the relatively low cost share of 3%. the nrc is important in necessary for ensuring nuclear
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power, therefore it plays a critical role in nuclear power innovation. in closing, i would like to say that this is a very exciting time in nuclear energy right now, i love that i get to put science and practice, and engage the next generation of scientists and engineers and help meet the nation's energy needs by creating an new, by creating a new, innovative way to produce clean and safe power. thank you for the efforts of this committee and thank you for the opportunity to speak to. i would be pleased to answer questions. >> thank you. our next witnesses that doctor ashley simon who is the project director of clean air task force. welcome. >> thank you.
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thank you for holding the hearing and giving me the opportunity to testify. my name is ashley, i am policy director for the nuclear innovation alliance. a nonprofit organization dedicated to leading advanced nuclear energy innovation. the nia was established by a crosscutting group who believe that advanced nuclear energy is needed to ensure a better future. this group includes innovators, academics, and venerable mental organizations, organizations, district groups and other experts and stakeholders. the world will double or triple its energy demands of the next 30 years. this is driven by a growing middle class in the developing world and the need to bring electricity to 1.4 billion people who lack it today. at the same time, many analysis point to the pressing need of reducing global carbon emissions by 80% or more by 2050 before going to avoid the worst impact of climate change. a more rapid expansion of nuclear powers in a central part of the solution. in
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the united states and elsewhere, dozensf innovative startup companies and other stakeholders are pioneering design that promised lower risk, should risk and deployment barriers. both in the u.s. and globally things have been slow. current nrc regulation confronts the licensee of advanced technology with two major challenges. first, and rc design certification or approval calls for enormous frontloaded investment during a protracted development and licensing face. without a structure to provide applicants with clear, early feedback on the schedule. second, current regulation primarily evolves oversee light water technologies. must be adapted to the features of advance reactors which rely on substantially different fuels, cooling a a safety system to require operating strategies. over the past two years, the nia has been developing strategies to facilitate the efficient, cost-effective and predictable licensing of advanced nuclear power plants in the united
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states. the strategies are based on consultations with innovators, experts, regulators and investors. key stakeholders of the nuclear industry. we compiled the results of our work into a report called enabling nuclear innovation, strategy for advance reactor licensing which was issued on april 12. the report has been provided to the committee and is available to the public on the nia website. it discusses in much greater detail the topics and touching on today. to address the odor viewer centric nature of the current regulation, and more technology inclusive approach is needed. a risk informed performance-based license approach will allow the nrc to review a diverse set of advance reactor technology. this advance reactor technology. this would incorporate both modern method of risk assessment and traditional approaches to provide an exhaustive safety review. s2795 provides for the undersea to do work in this area without impacting the cost incurred through the existing plant. to illustrate the investment challenge i would like to direct your challenge to figure one.
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this shows dramatically the risk investment profile of nuclear energy projects relative to the licensing process today. the large monetary hurdle of getting design approval. figure two illustrates a staged approach that provides interim feedback and opportunity for risk reduction. it aligns better with private sector development of innovative technology by using a licensing project plan, topical reports and other mechanisms. it can provide clear and early feedback to investors and developers. this approach maintains the rigor and high standards of the nrc and facilitates the development advanced nuclear technology that produces less waste or even consumes it.
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as 2795 authorizes the nrc to do the crucial work to develop and implement this estate licensing process with dedicated funding. this is important for two reasons. it helps the undersea developer rigorous it technology inclusive regulatory infrastructure to support the review of advanced nuclear energy technologies. significantly, it does this without diluting funds used to regulate operating. it also allows for immediate adjustments that will provide a more efficient, predictable and effective process. thank you for this opportunity to testify. s27952795 is needed to enable progress and advance nuclear energy. i'm happy to answer any questions today are in the future. >> thank you. our next witnesses maria corson and who is the chief operating officer. >> thank you very much. on behalf of the commercial nuclear energy industry, i want to thank the committee for considering 2795. introduction of this bill is particularly well-timed.
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nuclear energy makes a significant contribution to our clean air quality, the reliability of our electricity supply, international security. yet, regulatory and efficiency in costs are constraining and efficiency and costs are constraining our use of this valuable national resource. it is not addressed in the very near term, these issues will impede the appointment of even more innovative reactor technology here and around the world. despite the effort to reduce budget and right size the agency, fees continue to be excessive and limitations mandate 90% the rule creates fundamental structural problems. the undersea's budget continues budget continues to hover at approximately $1 billion per year despite significant
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declines in work lotus plants have shut down. in particular, according to ernst & young, the nrc spends 37% of its budget on support costs. that is more than 10% higher than some of its agencies. because the nrc must collect 90% of its budget from licensees and the nrc budget has not correspondingly declined. remaining licensees nrc budget has not correspondingly declined. remaining licensees are responsible for paying this higher annual fees. with several recent shutdowns and additional reactors decommissioning in the coming years a current fee structure virtually guarantees that remaining licensees will continue to bear even higher annual fees. the cost of licensing actions also continues to increase well beyond cost of living. for example, since, since 2000 the nrc review fees for a license renewal have been an eightfold increase in review cost. objectively, one would expect to decrease it based on efficiencies gained in the review process. this is particularly notable as we look ahead and want second license renewable for some of her plants. these illustrate a fundamental change change to the nrc recovery structure is in
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fact needed. s2795 repeals the 90% the recovery and replaces it with a much more rational approach. it requires the nrc to expressly identify annual expenditures anticipated for licensing and other activities requested by applicants. the legislation would also help drive greater efficiency in the nrc's operation. inter-, it would drive down annual fees by limiting corporate support percentages. although we do recommend that the be lower than the 20% level proposed by this legislation. complementing the limit a corporate support, the bill would annual fees for operating power reactors at the fiscal year 2015 level. we also recommend that it apply for that it applied for all licensees, so none reactor licensees as well. s2795 also affirms congress of you that this country can, and impact should, and in fact
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should be a leader in advance reactor technology. the bill effectively directs the nrc to think differently about reactor licensing. requires the nrc's regulatory regime accommodating large reactors as it does today, small light water reactors and advanced non-light water reactors. in short, and all of the above approach. the bills call for technology inclusive licensing framework, use of a risk informed performance-based licensing technique and a stage licensing process it will in fact it be a good, helpful step forward. developers will be able to demonstrate progress to investors in this first of a kind project, kind project, thus obtaining necessary capital resources at they achieve milestones. too often we hear from our members that regulatory uncertainty is the greatest impediment to new plant deployment in the united states. s2795 tackles topline issues now
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standing in the wave of innovation. in sum, we must be thoughtful and deliberate in a way that we plan for advanced reactor technology, we must also begin today if we are to meet the potentially enormous demand by 2030 for u.s. technology not only here but in the international market. senators in half, crapo, white house, and booker, on behalf of the industry i want to thank you very much for taking a strong leadership role, and ei supports the bill and we look forward to looking working with you and your staff as it progresses through congress. i hope it isn't acted expeditiously. thank you very thank you very much. >> thank you, next witnesses doctor edwin lyman was the senior scientist of global security program. welcome. >> thank you. my name is ed, i'm a senior
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scientist and on behalf of my organization i would like to thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony on this very important subject that is nuclear energy and innovation and the critical role of regulation to ensure safety and security. ucs is neither pro-or anti-nuclear power, we are in nuclear safety watchdog and we work to ensure that u.s. reactors are adequately safe both from accidents and secure from terrorist attacks. the position on nuclear powers not ideological but pragmatic. we believe nuclear power could have a role to play in helping to mitigate the threat of climate change. but this really can only happen if it safe and secure. that that means if the nuclear power is to grow then there must be a corresponding increase in safety and security, otherwise the risk to public health and the environment will increase.
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nuclear power could take itself out of the running if there is another event like the march march 2011 fukushima disaster. just over five years ago japan was a world leader in nuclear energy and have over 50 operating nuclear power plants. it's nuclear establishment was too complacent about the danger the reactors face. today only to those reactors are running, and a battle is raging in the courts to restart just to others. the u.s. needs to do everything it can to avoid repeating japan's mistakes. therefore congress must ensure the nrc continues to serve as a thoroughly and rigorously independent regulator both overseen existing plans and licensing new ones. we believe the most efficient cost-effective way to enhance reactor safety and security in the near term is through revolutionary improvements in design and strengthening oversight. we acknowledge new and novel technologies have the potential to achieve these goals in the longer term. experience has shown there is no quick or easy fixes to make nuclear power safe. although each nuclear new
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reactor type has advocates who claim their benefits, their preferred designs have the benefits for safety, proliferation existence or economic competitiveness, they really stand up to scrutiny. the reality is a lot messier. given the proliferation of the design and the massive investment needed to commercialize a single single one of those, both private and public investment of nuclear development should be focused on concepts that have the greatest chance of meeting goals for safety and security. in cutting to the-i'd identifying best prospects as a major challenge. for this reason we do need a thorough technical peer-reviewed process to be part of any government program that is going to provide support of nuclear projects whether it's national or private sector. now, i would like to focus my remarks on s2795. fundamentally we believe that nrc's regulations are not strong
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enough today to achieve the level of safety and security we need in a post fukushima era. so we do not agree that the licensing process or advance reactors are too stringent somehow need to be weekend to facilitate deployment. some argue that nrc's regulations are impeding u.s. competitiveness allowing other countries like china to get ahead of us. we think the opposite is true. the. the reputation of the nrc for being a gold standard as senator has pointed out is a good brand and so the undersea reputation for regular safety review only and enhances that brand. we do not think we should be engaged with china and other countries on a regulatory race to the bottom just to secure -- we
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believe the focus of the bill and nrc licensee is misplaced and will do little to facilitate the deployment of advance reactors in the us. licensing process may be a convenient target but we think the nrc is being scapegoated for more formidable institutional barriers. these. these include a lack of support for government-funded energy, the enormously high cost for commercializing any. >> reporter: reactor, and the lack of interest in making those investments and the failure of the so-called nuclear power entrepreneurs to put any significant money into the projects that they talk about. we we don't think the licensing process is a significant process factor. as as a result, we don't think the prescriptions in 2795 are the problem, the problem is the cost and difficulty of obtaining analyses and experimental data sufficient to satisfy the regulatory compliance ensuring that they can be operated safely. this is the fundamental issue that congress needs to address. so in summary, we think
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legislation is premature, we would offer that the national academy of sciences first review the systemic obstacles to licensing advance reactors including all the issues mentioned and whether the prescription changing undersea regulation would be efficient and effective in these goals. in conclusion, the future of nuclear power depends on and or sees credibility and regulator. we think. we think congress should reject any attempt to short-circuit the safety reviews and help ensure oversight licensing will result in safe and secure operations. thank you for your time. >> thank you. our next witnesses mr. victor mccree. the executive director of operations and nuclear regulatory commission. welcome. >> thank you and good morning. ranking members, chairman and
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members of the subcommittee i push it up or to need to testify this morning ip before you today representing the technical staff of the u.s. nuclear regulatory commission. to briefly discuss the undersea's current and planned activities to prepare to review an application for an advanced non-light water reactor design and to offer nrc staff on senate bill 279 five, the nuclear energy and modernization act. a number advanced, non- light water reactor design that employee innovative design feature are under development. they have the authority over commercial advance reactors and is ready to work with applicants and to prepare for and review applications for these reactors. however, the undersea is also considering the extent to which enhancements to the existing licensing framework could increase the efficiency, timeliness and, timeliness and predictability of our safety and environmental reviews. our objectives for the activities i'll discuss with you today is to strategically prepare for non- light water reactor applications. commensurate with the industry
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plans. however, our overall goal is again to create a more effective, efficient, clear and predictable licensing process that we advance safety use. with this in mind, and within available resources the undersea staff within available resources the undersea staff is pursuing a multipart strategy to prepare for our review of non-light water reactive technologies. the presidents of fiscal year 2017 budget request includes $5 million in not the recoverable activities to execute the strategy. if congress appropriates this fund it will be used to facilitate the undersea's preparations and to undertake efficient and effective safety reviews of advance reactor technology. we plan to pursue activities in three primary areas, licensee infrastructure, technical preparation, and stakeholder outreach. first, within license
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and infrastructure activities we'll optimize the regulatory framework and licensing process for advance reactor safety reviews. second, advance reactor safety reviews. second, our technical preparation activities will evaluate clarify and resolve critical, technical and policy issues that need to be addressed very patient reactor safety. finally, we'll expand upon our outreach activities to proactively engage key stakeholders to ensure all parties will be ready to proceed in the development and review of new reactor designs. a strategy insights that we have game for many years of with the department of energy, we believe this strategy will enable the resolution of novel policy issues and lead to the development of design criteria, precatory guidance, and industry standards from non-light water reactive designs. by enhancing efficiency and effectiveness of non-light water reactive reviews, the strategy water reactive reviews, the strategy will reduce uncertainty and business risk. that or sees advance reactor program is one of several
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addressed in senate bill 279 five. consistent with my role of the undersea executive director for operations my comments represent the undersea staff assessment of factual issues associated with the draft version of the bill. based on our preliminary review, the bill would require the nrc to undertake a number of activities related to developing plans, strategies and rulemaking's associated rulemaking's associated with licensing advance reactors and every resource reactors and report on those to congress. significant time and resources will be required over several years to implement the full range of additional activities described in the bill. particularly with regard to the rulemaking by the bill. another area covered by the bill's performance and reporting. these provisions. these provisions would require the nrc to develop performance metrics for any activity requested by a licensee or applicant and report to congress for certain delays. this would require to develop metrics and milestone for many activities beyond those for
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which they are currently prepared. we believe we currently have metrics for the desired outcome. these measures recognize the adapt for applicant or licensee and account for emergent safety or security issues, changes in licensing plans and so forth. as written the proposed requirement may limit nrc flexibility in this area. in closing, i welcomed the commission's interest in and ideas for enhancing the nrc performance and success of our mission. this concludes my formal remarks. i think you for the opportunity to appear before you and would be pleased to respond to your questions. >> thank you, final witnesses the honorable jeffrey s merrifield chairman u.s. nic, advance advance reactor task force, welcome.
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>> chairman, thank you very much, it's indeed a pleasure to be here for the committee in which i used to work as a council and one in which i testify in many occasions as an nrc commissioner. today i'm. today i'm appearing my role as chair of the u.s. nuclear counsel and advance reactor task force. my full-time occupation is attorney with pillsbury law firm. in addition to my full testimony i would ask that letters from seven advance reactor developers supporting this legislator be included in the record. my testimony will focus on how the undersea conducts its business as well as its use regarding advance reactor portion of the bill. we applied the overhead and caps within 2795 as well as the element supporting the development and deployment of advance reactor technology. on february 22 of this year, they issued a framework for advance reactor white paper
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which outline many of the advance reactor can provisions in the bill. while we will suggest a few additional areas for improvement not included in the legislation, we are committed to working with the committee and staff to properly move this legislation forward. when i first became a commissioner 1998, and the chairman of this committee, senator in in half lead the way to oversee the nrc. consistent with maintaining and protecting environment, the commission with full support of the committee work to right size the agency, consistent the level of activities with the nrc. at that time they had approximately 3400 employees and with the next few years we are able to reduce it down to about 2800. principally through attrition yet not with any sacrifice to the safety mission of the agency. today, the, the agency faces the same challenge. i understand and sympathize with the currents voiced by this committee regarding the size of the agency, the increase in licensing review time and the growth and overhead activities at the agency.
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this is inconsistent with the current number of nrc. while they they have made great strides in rightsizing the agency, i believe further reduction can be accomplished while at the same time effectively maintaining safety and inspection activities and improving the timeliness of licensing actions. i support the provision of s2495 which would limit the overhead of the nrc in place appropriate caps on the agency. as was the case when a before the committee over 15 years ago, i believe the amount of fees placed on individual licensees is not appropriate and should not cover inherently government functions and overhead. i believe the fee provision of s2795 appropriately balance the important nonlicensed the activities which should be bored by general revenues and those license should be borne by user fees. during the past decade the u.s. has maintained its technology leadership to progressive white
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water reactive design including passive generation three plus reactors currently being deployed in georgia and south carolina. as well as small module light water reactors now heading toward deployment. if the u.s. is to be successful in maintaining its lead in developing and employing a new fleet in the late 2020s or thirties, congress congress must consider significant new policy changes. in addition to funding infrastructure a new framework is needed to enable development and deployment of advance reactor technologies. currently the licensing process of the agency is perceived as one of the largest risk factors confronting private developers of advance reactors. if proposed changes will help
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address this gap. additionally, congress should provide additional resources to both nrc and do you week, as well as direct focused mobilize resources and expertise to enable the deployment of advance reactors. we believe section seven will allow the agency to create a modern, risk and form technology neutral framework to enable the development of appropriate advance reactor without passing costs onto existing utilities. advance reactor technical performance are also critically required to finalize advance generic design criteria as well as source term emergency plan with similar requests. we believe there are two areas where further enhancements are warranted. while the undersea is not a promoter of technology it is appropriate to engage in early enhanced dialogue with advanced reactor dialogue. currently the nrc has limited communication and when it doesn't must charge hourly fees, $260 per hour per nrc staff member who attends these meetings.
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as members of the advance reactor committee they lack the resources necessary to finance these activities. they support the bill regarding to the licensing cost share program. we believe this is an appropriate development. we would say we think it could be further enhanced by allowing for early-stage engagement with the engagement reactor community at no cost but perhaps a 5050/50 share. collectively we believe -- section 7b calls for the undersea to establish a reactor process we believe and generally consistent with our white paper that the bill should be strengthened by incorporating specific language requiring nrc to provide pre-licensed design review. the process requires the nrc to
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clearly and promptly articulate where advance reactor designs do into not need additional work. it would enable developers and investors to have a clear picture of where they stand in meeting requirements. finally, we support the elimination of the mandatory hearing requirement contained in section eight and would be pleased to discuss my views on this during the question and answer portion. we believe it's time to make appropriate reforms for the nrc overhead and process as well as modernize the program to spur innovation and enable advance reactor technologies to achieve their full process. we believe is 2795 make significant progress toward achieving that cold and we are committed to working with this committee toward prompt and successful passage. thank you for allowing me to testify today. >> thank you. thank you all all very much. i will begin the questioning with asking. a lot of what we heard and the testimonies really what's in the bill has to do with rightsizing
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the agency. in terms of license and support. in 2006, the nrc spent 208,000,000 dollars on corporate support spending which amounts to 28 percent, you can sit on the chart of the undersea's budgetary authority. this was nrc's budgetary authority. this was at a time of the nrc was regulating more reactors and materials, licensees with fewer people and resources. so i would say, do you recall any impairment of the nrc safety and security mission in 2006 as a result of result of this level of corporate support? >> ..
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more work and licenses in 2006, do you have any reason to believe this amount of corporate spending, 30 million less than what we expect could impair the nrc ability on safety and security. >> comparing nic now the -- nrc now ted 2006, there is additional work that we have now that we did not have been.
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overseeing the completion of oversight. the workload is different than 2006. certainly our staff sizes different. >> are you saying you think there could be some concerns over safety and security? >> that is not what i am saying, senator. i am simply saying, we are comparing different agencies now in 2016 to 2006. we are taking significant steps to right size the agency for the work we have and the work we anticipate in the future. and that includes our corporate support area where we have taken significant reductions and additionally the commission just acted on the number of recommendations under a project taking a baseline
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that will result in additional reductions in 2017. several weeks ago the chief financial officer and i assigned the task for several of our largest corporate support offices to look at additional reductions we plan to submit to the commission and planning for the fiscal budget. as the chairman noted yesterday, we are not done in the project to right size continues. i do believe the corporate support portion of our budget will continue to do that. >> you have a reaction? >> i think i included in my testimony, in, in fact, when we looked at your agencies, regulatory positions, they would like even more, quite frankly, attention paid to
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the period hebecause it appears to be even less than 28 percent. the other thing we are interested in is the fee structure, the way that the current bill is structured, it not only asks for the nrc , but that the money needs to be spent on that whereas right now there is the ability to move the money around and move it to corporate support. we would like a stronger fiscal responsibility on that. >> thank you. your testimony mentioned cost competitiveness, safety , less waste, and reducing a proliferation as your four corners of developing an advanced reactor. what i think i am hearing is , is the nrc would get its front end, raise red flags at the beginning of the licensing procedure rather than the backend where they
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can incur more expense. would that be more helpful to you. was that a correct assumption? >> yes, although not at the point where the reactor is not performing correctly. they are looking for an evaluation metrics. the reactors are different. >> at this point in your development you have had no internal conversations with the nrc? >> we have had one conversation because we are allowed one before the hourly rates come. and in our development of the reactor it is not well-suited for our particular technology. so investing research dollars versus funds to try to get input from the nrc, there has been the history
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of many white papers about a clear decision. there is an uncertainty that is very difficult to manage at this early, early stage. that is why a very small investment from nrc funds in the beginning would be very helpful. thank you. >> thank you, madam. i am happy to yield to others who may have urgent business to attend to, that would be my stipulation. is anyone in a tight squeeze? senator crapo. >> thank you very much. i would like to ask unanimous consent that we proceed -- we have received at this point 19 letters of support and that has to be included in the record.
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>> without objection. >> thank you very much.much. i would like to direct my 1st question to you. as you know, we have been working hard to understand the budget of the nrc and its inner workings. and there is consensus that the budget process was very opaque. in addition to concerns about fee structure, i am deeply concerned about lack of clarity on how the nrc budgets for overhead functions. when you commit to working with my staff and the staff of other members to provide timely and clear responses to your questions about overhead functions in your budget request. >> absolutely. >> i appreciate that. we really need that commitment to provide more detail. that way we can understand how the budget works more effectively. i want to use the rest of my time to talk to the whole panel, and i know that will be hard in four minutes, but
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the point i want to get at is, there has been testimony that raised more than two points, but one was that we should not we can the nrc regulatory structure. it is the gold standard. i do not view this legislation is weakening the regulatory structure in any way. increasing transparency and efficiency. end frankly, maybe i turn to you 1st. what is your view of that? >> thank you very much, senator. i firmly disagree in that regard. what we are really asking for with this legislation is risk informing the regulatory activities of the nrc and tailoring those activities to be appropriate for the licensing out
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advanced reactor technologies. this will in no way reduce the level of safety. in fact arguably it will allow the agency to appropriately tailored resources to make sure they are regulated in the right way. >> the understanding the more efficient and effective >> that is exactly right. >> i think the staff really needs to elevate as quickly as possible many of the generic policymaking decisions reduce the uncertainty for advanced reactor technology. secondly, it is very important to provide relief in the early stages of the program to allow active
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discussion between the developers and the nrc, as was discussed by one of the other witnesses. there is a concern right now, lack of engagement. $268 amended in our fee will start triggering, and that is not good. we should be encouraging active discussion right now. >> thank you, and iyou, and i probably only have time for one of the other witnesses. the other issue is that the problem really is in the regulatory system but the fact that we cannot get investment at the early stages of the development of new technologies, but to me that seems to be exactly the point, because of our regulatory structure, a big part of the issue is if you don't have the stage development or something
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that this bill contemplates comeau situation in which it is hard to get early investment and expensive technologies. >> thank you. that is right. i think there are a lot of other challenges to deploy an advanced reactor. our other energy options, but the investors and innovators have made it clear that their most immediate and pressing concern is regulatory uncertainty. there have been many studies on this, and i am happy to provide references, but the changes urgent. the private sector is engaged command the time to fix this is now. >> my time has expired, and it looks like i am sharing the hearing. >> then i would turn senator brooker, to you next.
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>> i want to thank you for that, mr. chairman. we were just talking about how incredible your staff has been. it is a testimony to the kind of inclusion. thank you very much. i just love your power. >> i will gladly reveal. >> moving on. >> duly noted. >> in your testimony you make the point that a reduction in the number of existing all licensees increases the fever. that would be bad for the overall energy picture. under current law that would impact the reactors that remain and whether this bill would alleviate the scenario. >> the current bill is structured to alleviate that very concerned.
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as the current structure is in place, the obligation to collect 90 percent of the budget it is 90 percent of whoever's they're. no longer part of that fee structure, the plants that are remaining, in fact, have to pay that 90 percent bill. our experience has been based upon the chart you just saw. >> besides the fact you mentioned those two words kemal forgive you for that. >> innovators. , the patent office. we do a lot to restrict innovation. critically important, and so
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you and the gal to this incredible report that looked of the challenges facing companies to apply new reactor concepts. in this report they noted the 1st of a kind technologies of the design review costs can be exceptionally higher than for subsequent projects. do you believe this is a real problem, as is noted in the report? do you think the matching grant program can help solve the problem? >> thank you, senator, and i agree. there is really a need not only to make sure the cost is under control but to make them more predictable so investors and innovators can plan accordingly. i think the matching program could certainly assist in that. >> that is great. these are innovators are critical for advancing nuclear in terms of safety
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as well as dealing with problems including proliferation of the material, is that correct? >> but today's innovators are putting a priority. >> new designers and animators will bring that to the table. >> the regulatory climate where these folks can flourish. >> absolutely. >> can you expand on your testimony? why the existing user framework is really problematic for reactors, a
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littlea little bit more about specifically what is so problematic about the framework. >> as an analogy, those are very performance-based. so they set maximum mission levels. if instead they were prescriptive and require particular catalytic converter technologies they would have to come in and seek exemptions to technology requirements. for a nuclear reactor it is much more complex and has more regulation, exemptions would be multiplied and there are issues where you need to come in and seek different treatment. that is something that is a barrier for new technologies it isit is an uncertain process that has not been done before. a great problem for investors and innovators. >> one thing i have left, obviously different directions that we do. senator whitehouse and i come at this with concerns
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about the overall climate change. massively expanding demand for energy globally. at a rate that people have visions for solar and wind. there's no way that will keep up with the demands. 60%60 percent of clean energy is being produced by nuclear. and so do you believe this is a place we have to expand innovation and deal with the overall problem of climate change? >> that is important because this is not just a political issue, not even just about climate change your energy security but it's a humanitarian issue. we need to provide that energy.
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that has to include nuclear. >> thank you very much. >> it looks like i still have it. [laughter] >> well, i confess use aa much better job of putting out something and i did. but interesting thing about this is those on your side and those on the side knows on the side who are realists. we still agree on this bill and know that it will serve everyone's best interest. i'm not sure with all this coverage. we have nine members. somehow i've never been able to convince john mccain where it is leading to.
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>> they are going to want you to look at this. they the annual fee for operating reactors. based on the recent recovery role, the level is very near the all-time highest amount. that workload is now declining. we also provide for inflation adjustment. i do believe this amount is an appropriate ceiling to ensure the nrc is adequately resourced execute. safety and security mission. >> thank you, senator. in fact,fact, as you just described, fiscal year 2015
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is a high watermark, quite frankly, for the agency and we feel it should not need to approach the ceiling as you describe some of that workload, in fact, is declining and we feel that a more efficient agency should, in fact, be able to operate with the corporate spending more in line with their peer agencies. >> whether or not you want to reach that, it is adequate. under the 2795, the amount of annual fees would collect with increase over decrease in reactors close. you believe that is an appropriate way to account for increases and decreases? >> yes, senator, we do. they work directly with workload. >> i would agree with that. when they decide to close nuclear reactors to they give adequate notice such
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that the nrc can account for the decrease in fees in their budget process? >> we believe so, senator. they need to go through a planning process. typically a 12 to 18 month timeframe that you are making these types of announcements. >> that's good. well, i think back when you 1st started, actually when i 1st chair of this committee you within the attorney on here. you're notyou're not a commissioning and at that time. >> owes a council on the committee. >> you might remember at that time this committee had had no oversight for four years. >> that's true. he did a very good job of correcting the problem. >> we got busy, set goals and priorities as to when we would be coming in and what we are supposed to be doing.
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>> new licensing. one of your recommendations was to eliminate the mandatory hearing. >> that is true. >> explain what that is all about? >> the mandatory hearing process dates back to the early days of the atomic energy commission, and when you look at the legislative history the reason was because the agency approved several reactors with no public involvement whatsoever, and the outcry caused congress to impose aa mandatory hearing requirement which was appropriate over the time. over the years, changes in the act and the wide number of opportunities for the public to be involved in many steps of the licensing process, in my view then as now is, that is an antiquated notion that is no longer necessary.
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if there are specific issues , they can be brought up in a contested proceeding that the commission can go over, but i believe it is not necessary and the requirement right now causes significant staff resources ultimately which could be borne by combination of the federal government and licensees to deal with the mandatory hearing. a significant reduction in fees, if that was eliminated >> one last question, my time has expired. >> describe the situation that was there. oversight is important. since that time we slipped a little bit back and need to become more forceful? >> overseeing the nrc. >> i welcome involvement. >> i know. >> and it was helpful have our feet held to the fire.
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the commissioners have the responsibility to oversee. i think further reductions of the staffing are appropriate, and the involvement of this committee is welcome. >> welcome. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator. >> senator whitehouse. >> let me say how happy i am the chairman had a twinkle in his eye. let me 2nd to say that it is very much not our intention to short-circuit the safety review of any nuclear facility. the concern that i have is that the review process has become so light water reactor specific that another technology looking at getting through an obstacle course is facing hazards that have nothing to do with short-circuited or
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long circuited ms. but simply not being appropriate to technology in the same way that if you had to pass a test for how solid the canvas was on the wings of your opposed aircraft when you're actually proposing an aluminum winged aircraft were aware of the pilots gardens needed to be and what they needed to be made of when you are proposing a closed cockpit aircraft, it is an issue of relevancy, not shortcuts. what i would invite you and any other member of the panel who wishes to do is to put in writing some benchmarks for us that you think would indicate the departure from moving the regulatory process more toward relevance to new technologies and into simply short-circuiting safety.
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helpful and a more specific way. red flags rather than speaking generally. i worry that we have technology that effectively is smothered in the crib because they cannot figure out what the regulatory process is going to look like and therefore they cannot raise capitol or proceed, and there is a big x factor, big ?-question-mark around the process if you are not a traditional light water reactor. that is how i think of the problem, and i am interested in not only yours but everyone's response in writing, if you would care to do so. the last point i will make is that, i think it is a tragedy. a carbon constrained environment to have nuclear
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plants closing that are producing carbon free power for no other reason than that nobody has figured out how to pay them for what we all agree, almost all agree is the value of the carbon freeness of their power. we have an administration that has an office of management and budget, $42.50, but on social cost of carbon if somebody has a suggestion as to how we can figure out a way to pay the existing nuclear fleet $42.50 per equivalent avoided ton of carbon, i am down for that. we need to find the revenues i don't think it is a good thing to run up the deficit, but they're ought to be a way to provide that revenue stream to these facilities so that artificially driven
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economic decisions that are in fact wrong from both on environmental and economic perspective are not being driven across this industry by this market failure. so, my know that is a little bit beyond the scope of this particular bill, but i would encourage if any of you have ideas to please go ahead and offer them and i will offer the solicitation to my colleagues as well. again, thank you very much. >> senator, if i may, on the 1st point you made -- >> the one about the chairman? >> not that. >> actually, i would like the opportunity to respond. >> if i may finish my thought 1st. it relates to the 1st point. >> you will have the opportunity to respond. you will have the opportunity to give that in
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writing. i want a continuing conversation make sure we stay on the right track. >> i think you are entirely correct. thecorrect. the process needs to be tailored for advanced reactor technologies. as a country we have had a leadership role historically in the nuclear energy field. it is a different world today. there are a lot of opportunities for advanced reactor directors to work with regulators around the world. if we don't maintain our lead they may well decide there are other countries to which they are better suited. >> i heard the reports on the facilities that were designed in the united states and being constructed over there. >> i tell you what, senator fisher needs to go next. i don't know if anyone else wants a 2nd round, but i have one more question.
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>> and i do look forward to working with you.you. i'm trying to open a conversation that separates what i think is a good weight point that you have indicated. >> no, i appreciate that. >> thank you, mr. chairman. nebraska hosts two nuclear reactors, and this important legislation we are discussing today will provide our nuclear innovators the transparent framework that is necessary to launch this nuclear fleet into the future. it will enable our utilities to continue to provide affordable and reliable energy, so i am appreciative of the discussion we are having today and also that we are recognizing the outstanding job our nuclear reactor utilities perform every day.
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the legislation we are considering today creates an advanced nuclear energy cost share grant program that enables the department of energy to establish a grant program. i understand that there has been criticisms regarding the doe grant program shared cost of nrc licensing as picking winners and losers. in your experience, do you believe it will be appropriate for the nrc to manage such a grant program to reduce, or would the nrc consider that promotional and in conflict with its role as a regulator? >> thank you for the question. as we, again, reiterate that the commission has not expressed his view on the bill, but i would note that has written nrc would not manage the grant program, but that the doe void. and in that sense, it is not
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too dissimilar from a grant that the doe made available for the combined operating license holders for the ap one thousands in georgia and south carolina. and to that extent, it has worked well and not impacted our fundamental safety and security mission, our independence principle which the chairman referred to earlier. >> you would not be supported of the nrc becoming involved in the grant program in any kind of promotional way, and recognize there is conflict? >> i do. although the commission has not weighed in, it would appear, i believe, to represent a conflict. again, i would feel confident the commission would away on that with a similar review. >> thank you. you stated in your testimony that the cost and duration of reviews for license
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renewal for new plants have dramatically increased? rather than decreased as the nrc and industry gains experience with processes. s 2795 directs to ensure funds are available to complete reviews at the industry needs, and the bill has provisions requiring performance metrics and reporting. ..
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absolutely in concept having metrics and reporting is absolutely helpful and demonstrating the success quite frankly that the nrc is so successful and an opportunity to share that. how important is it that we have all the stakeholders at the table as he said it's very important and the devil is in the details. can you give me an example may be where you would be representing ideas that might not be available that other stakeholders would present? >> i think stachelberg each month would be very helpful in that way as with any performance metric you get what you measure. so he can perform in a way that makes the metric look at good but it's not satisfying if you well, the greater good in a way to avoid that is to get
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stakeholder engagement and review what the metrics would be to make sure that all of the stakeholders concerns would be reflected. >> thank you and mr. mayfield during your service as a commissioner you helped prepare the nrc to review new planned applications and this bill direct the nrc survived to be to develop a regulatory framework to review the applications. is the scope of this work, do you think it's too ambitious or do you think it's feasible? >> i think it's absolutely feasible. a credit to the nrc staff. i think they will make this work. there are talented people. i think he is very achievable for the agency to do this. if they can come up with a process that is risk informed, predictable transparent and done in a way to allow technologies to move forward. i think this bill encourages that.
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one point that i would like to mention having been on the commission i do think the oversight that this can provide on the timing of various activities of the agencies, license renewals, new license applications, those are important metrics to take a look at. the timing of those has increased since i left the commission. that is productivity that needs attention. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you senator fischer. senator markey. >> sequestration and the early closure of a number of nuclear plants have already put the nrc and a declining budget environment. at the same time the revelation that isis recorded video and belgium underscores the need or additional resources for security and safety at u.s.
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nuclear power plants. it's at the top of the terrorist list prices. instead the bill under consideration in this committee would constrain the nrc's resources by imposing a blanket on fees for operating reactor licensees. you agree that there's a possibility that such a cadet her sleeves pack safety and security by reducing resources and support for nrc staff, working to protect the actors against insider threats or physical attacks? >> thank you for your question. i would reiterate the commission has not weighed in on the proposed bill including the that are described in the bill. if they would become law of course the nrc would abide. >> your resources are not good for the agency in protecting against a potential terrorist attack. is that true?
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>> quite frankly senator where the declining budgetary environment and we are doing are due diligence to assure that our resources are appropriately allocated. >> i appreciate that now you're pulling it away from other new or air safety issues in order to deal with a terrorist attack and both are very real in our country. i just think we have to be real stake that belgium warning that they were looking at the powerplant that they were trying to attack it is clearly clearly something that could take into account united states. we are talking about then nuclear regulatory commission's budget. we might want to do a favor for the utilities and reduce their fees but where's the money going to come from in order to produce the level of safety which we are going to need in our country. now the findings and this bill states nuclear energy provides just short of 20% of electrical generation and the united states there are currently 99 reactors producing electricity in our country.
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at least we are closing very soon. fitzpatrick oyster creek and pilgrim. owing to the department of energy data for nuclear energy to stay at 20% of total energy generation by 2025 we need to bring 13 large reactors on line in the next nine years. we are currently building for and one more thoughts part two is scheduled to produce electricity this year for that leaves us at least eight are short of what the goal is. do any of you disagree that there is little or no possibility in additional new reactors that we have not even begun to build both come on line by 2025? do any of you disagree with that there won't be any new plants operating between now and 2025? do any of you disagree with that? >> no sir. >> let the record reflect that no one disagrees with that and
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remember a new nuclear reactors are what we need to maintain nuclear share of electricity generation our country. there would be a need to replace even more of that, to replace fossil fuel generation as coal plants go off-line so we need even more electrical generation capacity. it's reactors on the construction have experienced a years long delays, billions of dollars in cost overruns and it took 43 years to complete construction of watts bar two. do any of you disagree that the problems that caused the cost and schedule overruns of vocal would need to be solved before any significant number of new reactors could be built at the next 10, 15 or 20 years? do any of you disagree with that? let the record record that no one disagrees. in recent years the price of renewable energy sources has declined considerably. here is the big number.
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since 2010 the price of solar panels has declined by 80%. we are talking five years, 80%. by contrast the cost of constructing nuclear plants has remained stubbornly high. in light of these facts it simply is not realistic to expect nuclear power will continue to provide the majority of emissions free electricity in the united states let alone be part of a solution for climate change. in 2005 in the united states there were 79 total megawatts sold. this year its 16,000 new megawatts of solar in one year so you can see where the trend lines are. increased solar deployment at the price of vote declining radically and total cost where stubborn regulatory issues in terms of safety and design still plague the nuclear industry.
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this bill would scrap the requirements that the nuclear regulatory commission holds a mandatory hearing on each application for a construction permit while operating a license. instead such hearings would only occur if they are requested by a person whose interests might be objective. is there any evidence at mandatory hearings would recover weaknesses in the nrc staff of valuations of construction permits while operating license applications that otherwise would never have come into the public view? >> senator markey thank you for the question. in our view the mandatory hearing does establish a unique and important role in filling a gap in the event a contested hearing does not occur any benefit contested hearing does occur the mandatory hearing examines other issues including the adequacy of the nrc staff's review and a colleague of mine
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has compiled a number of instances where a mandatory hearing have covered -- uncover significant -- and i would offer that list for your inspection. we believe the mandatory hearing process is important is also important for transparency. we need to maintain transparency in the nrc review process and the fact of the public is nice of the resources to be able to contest a hearing, even if there are important safety issues that need adjudication soap for those reasons we think a mandatory hearing should be preserved. >> i agree with you. there are mandatory hearings if you want to build a new house next to someone else's house. they are building a nuclear power plant and mandatory hearings for construction permit would no longer be mandatory? i mean that just makes no sense whatsoever. that's an inherently dangerous
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to elegy that needs all kinds of tough questions to be asked about it. understand the wish list of industry. no more public input and no more questions asked like -- by concerned scientists questioning the underlying premise of building power plants with i don't think the public is going to be happy there are told no hearings on this dangerous technology. again it still needs insurance protection from the federal government. the private sector still is it willing to provide the insurance they need the government to intervene to provide that insurance coverage. >> thank you. senator carper. >> if i were the chairman you never would have gotten those extra three minutes and six seconds. it's safe to assume that senator markey is going to co-sponsor this legislation he one of our
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colleagues who is not here today ted kennedy used to lead the committee on health education labor and pensions for a number of years the very conservative republican and somehow or other they managed to get a huge amount done. i used to say to mike nc how can you bridge the divide and yours talked about the 80/20 rule. he said ted and i agree on 80% disagree on 20% in what we decide to do is focus on the 80% on which we agree. >> i cosponsored legislation that i used to do this on emissions reduction. we decided to focus on what we agree on and what i want to do is ask this panel in the spirit of the 80/20 rule to just -- we'll we will start with you dr. baca.
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where's the 80% for you folks are great or even 70% or even 60 what are some important issues and take no more than one minute. i'm asking you where are the points of consensus on this panel? where do you think you guys a are great? >> i believe we agree that early interaction with the nrc is help old for new technologies for reactors. we believe the states approach is also very helpful and we have some kind of cost share to change the burden of having to design certification or licensing application. >> all right thank you. dr. finding. >> thank you senator. i think there's an important area where we all agree and senator markey laid out some of the challenges faced by nuclear. this is an industry that desperately needs innovation to
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address those challenges and solar and wind have done really well and benefited from a great eel of innovation. nuclear energy is ready. there are innovators and investors were pretty to take on that innovation challenge and i think we willing to have the more efficient transparent framework to enable that work to address those challenges that senator markey outlined. >> thank you. >> i think we all agree that nuclear power is very important and very necessary for a baseload carbon free future for how we generate electricity. i think we also agree that we need a strong effective regulator. i think the industry feels pleased earlier determined gold standard and we don't want the nrc to be a week in regulator. i don't think that's helpful for the industry but we do feel that we can have an efficient and strong regulator and a regulator that's more transparent from across the perspective. >> all right thank you.
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where's the consensus? >> i would hope the consensus is that there needs to be a structured process to ensure that nrc safety reviews on new reactors are not spent, those resources are actually used to end up with a product that generates electricity and are just academic exercises so that's one concern we have with this bill i also would point out that we don't agree that the stage process is outlined in bill would necessarily be helpful. >> dr. lyman ... looking at blitzer agreement. >> commander mccree. navy commander. commander? >> commander yes sir paid.
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>> that's my favorite rank. >> let me first agree with my fellow panel member on nrc remaining a strong credible regulator is essential and we are committed to our principle of good regulation and are making strides to become more efficient in this important area. again the most important thing we do is ensure the safety and security of operating nuclear power plants and materials license holders but within that of the multipart strategy at believe that's the perfect alignment. nrc needs to approve its infrastructure to make the reviews perspective reviews of light water reactors more efficient and clear and predictable and we are committed to build a framework to have it in place by 2019, so if and/or when an application is submitted for light water reactors if we
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could conduct those reviews in a timely efficient and effective manner and we are proud to do that including stage reviews, conduct a additional outreach with folks at this table as well as other stakeholders both semantically and internationally to make sure we are ready. >> thanks very much commander. mr. merrifield. >> i think there's a consensus that we can build safer nuclear reactors. going forward i did want to mention they're all small modular reactors in the pipeline better contemplated to be built by 2023. the country we have to keep building more nuclear reactors by 2025. we can't have the building of new reactors that replicate and learn from experiences and i would make a comment, obviously
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we need to make sure the nrc has the resources necessary to protect public health safety and security. ultimately nuclear power plants have to defend against potential isis threats. i would say from my view is a former commissioner those are safest industrial facilities in the united states security standpoint and a would be able to protect for that particular adversary. >> maybe you can give me some more time. senator markey i didn't take my earlier time so i'm catching up. >> do you you have anymore questions? >> if i may would just be a comment mr. chairman. dr. lyman if i iowa -- if i may. you read granting safe the -- could lead to a net reduction in overall safety?
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>> yes, just to elaborate on that concern, the industry is pressing for generic decisions to be made on certain policy issues including the size of emergency planning zones for fans reactors and modular reactors, the level of security that is needed, whether or not the containment needs to be robust against large pressure increases and whether the number of operators needed to staff a nuclear reactor complex should be reduced. they want these decisions to be made haste on the assertion that advanced reactors are so much safer than current were actors that we don't need these extra levels of production. our concern is that assertion is
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not always on a full enough audience evidence and experimental data to justify making those decisions so the net reduction, so there could be a net reduction in safety if exemptions and other relaxations in safety procedures are granted based on our presumption that a new reactors safer without a full examination. >> so mr. chairman the bill as a distracted is an assumption that there are inherent safety features built into advanced design reactors that make it safer automatically. that's a nice assumption to make and it's a nice assertion to make but that's going to be tested. we have to make sure that anyone additional potentially successful safety feature interacts with the totality of the rest of the nuclear power
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plants in terms of assuming the plant is safe. we don't know that. it's an assumption built into the language of the bill so this just goes to the question and it is an 80-20 question. what are the issues that we have to deal with and 80% of it is going to still remain is there enough money for the nrc to do their job and have enough personnel asking all the right questions of having the right supervision and the fees are going to be reduced. are these new technologies actually inherently safer? we have to have the capacity to determine that. the public able to ask questions the industry has always tried to get the public house. after three mile island and after chernobyl and any other incidents that people don't trust the experts anymore. they want to be able to ask questions because these power plants are going into their neighborhoods. you can't block off all areas of the country so these a vice been the historically the questions,
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always been historically the questions in my perspective public input is vital and should actually be strengthened that the new reactors should not the exempted from important safety requirements as a starkly have been required and the nrc budget should not be capped. these are the central areas. but the questions that we are going to have to answer in this legislation and is going to keep coming back to the same questions we have been asking for the last 70 years on technology. the questions don't change but we will be the ones that decide and i think you mr. chairman for having this very important hearing. we know one thing, that these power plants are now 20 to 40 years old and say that you need less inspectors. you have to go to the doctor more the older you get. there are are more things that
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you can have go wrong thea lee get and to reduce the budget of aging power plants in densely populate areas we will have lower numbers of personnel, lower amounts of fees and revenues going and is totally contrary to how we think about it. there are issues in nuclear power plants that are the same as cholesterol going into the veins of older americans. they cause issues that require a lot of additional attention and to say that is not act or it, it just belies the reality of what we have learned about nuclear power plants in our country. i thank you for the courtesy mr. chairman at the additional time to question. >> think you senator markey. i will take my last round right now and you will be able to finish up senator carper. i just want to make the comment that this legislation does not make assumptions. it sets forward a new process of a more transparent and effective
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process for the decisions you are talking about to be made and it definitely does not give any exemptions to any technology that puts the nrc directly in charge of improving and strengthening our safety. i would actually like to use my time to ask mr. merrifield and maybe mrs. korsnick to respond to that very issue. >> i think the nrc is going to be able to continue to meet its mission of appropriately looking at these technologies and ensuring that they are assured that they are safe. i think we will feel up to do so in a way which is risk in form such that it will be able to judge is there a need for a large emergency planning zone where the amount of radiation that is in that reactors may be less. >> this legislation does not choose technology and it does not define standards. >> it does not set those put the nrc.
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the other point i would make its not as if these technologies are entirely new. indeed those of the advanced reactor tech knowledge these are being brought forward today were originally developed by the atomic energy commission and d.o.e. during the 50s and 60s so there's a significant amount of research information available to demonstrate the safety of these reactors today and justified the nrc making changes which would appropriately tailored their regulations for advanced reactor technologies consistent with public health and safety. >> thank you. mrs. korsnick. >> thank you senator. a couple of comments. the books representing at fans reactors none of us are injured using in -- interest in reducing safety margins. the bill that provides the licensing process informs that licensing process that the safety margins might be met in a new and different way with this innovative tech knowledge and that needs to be knowledge through the licensing process. we are not in any way of
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lowering the bar or lowering the standard. quite frankly we are meeting and maybe exceeding the standards just in a new way. the other item i want to mention and i appreciate senator markey is not here but the mandatory hearings that were mentioned earlier, these are uncontested hearings. that means the public does not participate so these hearings that are referenced in this bill and factor held between the commission and the staff on construction permitting combined license application. it's not cutting the public out of any conversation. we are interested in the public being involved in dialogue. >> if there's any public interest there can be, the bill allows for hearing to be held. >> absolutely and there are many ways at the public can request a hearing on an application being bald. this doesn't take away any of the public engagement and involvement. i just wanted to make clear because i feel a different impression was left with the committee. >> thank you very much. senator carper.
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>> thank you mr. chair previewer doing a great job by the way. i look forward to the day when you chair us more often. >> tanks for that too unless the worse i can be chairman. [laughter] >> that we would have to negotiate. >> i've got an old car. when i step down as governor became a senator i went out with my oldest son chris who was then 12 to buy a new car and we drove porsches and must thanks incorporate us. we bought a minivan. he said it was bait and switch. we usually took the trainer drove back and drove my 2001 town & country minivan and along the way the odometer crossed 419,000 miles. when i got my minivan there were warranties that needed to be fixed so we had a warranty to
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pay for that stuff. we spent no money on it. in recent years to be honest with you i spent more money on my minivan. .. that is optimism.
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i'm mr. glass halfful. if i'm a utility and paying 90% of the costs of rung nrc and i see the nrc have fewer reactors to monitor, we're not -- why does the united states need all this money? your budget is down $5 million. that not very much. maybe you can help me with this. in terms of costs, that's not cheap. you have closures, sometimes we think that -- like, if i were our ford explorer, we were going to decommission it and we took it to a place and in one minute they squashed my car, my explorer, and that was it. they gave me a check.
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doesn't work that way with these newer power plants and it's an expensive process to decommission them. so fukushima, all these recommendations that we're implementing and make something progress here but we're not there yet. we have advanced technology and people with brilliant ideas that are saying, look at my idea, and takes money to pay for all this. so after actually thinking about it, my sense is that what you're asking for in the budget is not unreasonable, not unreasonable, but i realize we're interested in how to get best results for less money. you guys have to sharpen your pencils a little more. >> senator, i appreciate the analogy to your mini van, of course. >> don't ever tell my life i bought a six-year battery.
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she would die. >> -- our plan is much more complex but to your point the nrc is reducing costs. if you look at the trend from 2014, again, we're reducing costs, our fiscal 2017 request is below our 2016 request, and we will be enabled to reduce our fiscal '17 appropriation request by at least another 31 million. so significant reductions and still not done. lowering our costs will translate to reduce fees, both the year fees and the annual fees to this industry we regulate. so while there may be a delay or reaction, there is a commitment to reducing our fees, and it is tangible and i believe the industry will recognize those reduced costs. >> thank you.
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one more last quick question. talking about work force and that sort of thing. as the budget is reduced in the future to reflect reduced work load, can you talk about the ramifications of cutting nuclear engineers today which might be needed for tomorrow's nuclear -- advanced nuclear applications? >> senator, thank you. one of the more significant challenges any organization experiences, one that is human capital dependent, dependent on people to get work done and that's nrc. is to manage cost reductions, reductions in staffing in a way that you retain your core capability to fulfill your mission. of course, ours is safety and security. so we're working very closely as a leadership team, using a strategic work force plan to make sure the work we have now, the work we predict in the future will have the right people, in the right place, at the right time, with the right skills, and again, that is what our commitment is, and we're
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working very closely to get that done. including nuclear engineers who are just one competence that we need within the nrc. >> thank you. >> senator kelly, can i make a comment about plant aging? >> really sort. >> 73 of the nuclear power plants in the united states have sought and received an extension to run for 60 years. that allowed the utilities invest larges amounts of money to make shower the planes are up to date and fully meet safety requirements imlike your minivan they have been making investments look the way to make sure -- just like the air force's planes are in the right shape to do their mission. nuclear power plants are doing the same here in the u.s. >> mr. chairman, want to make sure i get my six years worth out of that battery i just bought. >> that would be 83 licenses. >> thank you very much.
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>> 11 under review and six expected to come in. >> thank you. >> the nrc is a bit more successful than that. >> thank you for that clarification, thank you for being with us. let's continue to look at the 80% and see if we can build on that. >> thank you, senator. appreciate your constant focus on trying to find solutions and get to that 80%. i agree with that. dr. lymon do you feel you have made your comments. >> i think we have heard enough from him. >> actually -- >> go ahead. >> very short time to explain why we think some of the language in the bill could potentially be interpreted as a reduction in safety standards. that primarily has to do with the language, risk and foreign performance based, and my experience with the nrc and its attempts to implement what it
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calls risk informed regulation often implies trying to justify what is called a reduction of unnecessary conservativism, and unnecessary conservativism means different things to different people. so our concern is that this bill would put pressure on the nrc to develop processes that would essentially force them to accept lesser standards for the experimental data for the analytical work needed to support an advanced reactor application in particular if you have designs based just on paper studies, the risk analyses do not have operational data to support the -- to actually validate those studies, and so there's a concern that overreliance or -- or overconfidence in paper studies that are insufficiently validated to meet, let's say,
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less restrictive safety criteria, could lead to an overall reduction in safety. so that's our concern. also on the question of innovation, mr. murray just behindded out that many of the racketer types that have been -- that are currently being considered were developed by the atomic energy commission decades ago. we agree with that. i would submit that the argument could also be used, say, at the nrc, has considerable expertise and experience in those reactor types and we think the concern that the nrc is not ready to license nonlight water reactors irbadge rated for that reason because the are all technologies -- >> if i may respond just quickly. when i was on the commission, we did create about five million in funding to better understand pebble bed reactors, but molten
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salt reactors and others are significantly different from what the nrc has experienced so they need additional funding and resources to bridge the gap. >> thank you. nope we opened up some issues that everybody would like to jump into more and i would, too but i believe we just had a vote called or will shortly have a vote called, and so we're going to have to wrap this up. do want to remind all of the witnesses that senator whitehead asked you to each -- whitehouse asked you to respond in writing to the question about the safety implications of the legislation on the nrc's capacity to protect safety and its regulatory structure, and i encourage you to respond. each of the senators may have further questions and it's customary for them to smidt those in writing, and since this legislative hearing -- this is a legislative hearing and we expect committee action on
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senate bills 2795 next week, i'm asking our senator and committee staff to provide those questions regarding the bill to the majority office by 4:00 p.m. tomorrow on friday, and i'm asking the witnesses to be sure to respond in writing by 5:00 p.m. on april 25th. monday, april 25th. i know that's right short time but wore going we moving ahead so if you can respond to those questions quickly, we would appreciate it. all questions for the record regarding the general topic of advanced reactors will be due win the usual two-week deadline. to our witness is want to thank you all for coming and sharing your views, and this hearing is adjourned. >> thank you, senator.
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] next, agriculture secretary tom vilsack is part of a discussion on hucker and food assistance programs. then a conversation with maryland senator ben cardin about president obama's trip to saudi arabia, the u.k. and germany. panel of military and foreign policy analysts we talk about the challenges and benefits of integrating women into the armed forces. you'll hear from author of
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"ashley's war" a tome of women's special ons battlefield. live coverage tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. eastern here on c-span2. later in the morning the republican national committee's spring meeting continues. thursday, the rnc decided not to change the rules on how their presidential nominee will be chosen if there's a contested convention. we'll have live coverage at 10:00 eastern time. >> madam secretary, we proudly give 72 of our delegate votes to the next president of the united states, [applause] ♪ ♪
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>> agriculture secretary tom vilsack is part of a discussion on hunger and food assistant programs. you'll hear about changes to the supplemental nutrition program known as s.n.a.p. this is an hour and 20 minute eventhold be the brookings institute. [inaudible conversations] >> good morning. i'm bob reuben, and my sole assignment is to welcome all of to today's hamilton discussion of food security. having said that let me make two comments.
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number one, the hamilton project began about ten years ago, and our purposes from the beginning would support policy development around the country and promote seriousness of purpose in policy dialogue, and i think those purposes, policy development and most particularly seriousness of purpose in policy dialogue have become every more important as what goes for policy dialogue in our country has descended into insidology and politics and partisanship, and our commitment is to try to do our little part in keeping alive that seriousness of purpose. from the beginning our bedrock objectives with respect to economic policy have been growth, broad-based for tis pacing in benefits of growth and economic security, and it's our view they are interdependent and they can reinforce each other.
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in that context, food insecurity in this the richest country in the world, is not only morally wrong, but it is also a serious impediment economic growth. when food insecurity affects children, which as you'll see in the hamilton project's facts which we hand out is happening far too frequently in this country. we're reducing the prospects for our economy for decades head as will as being involved in a morally outrageous situation for this the richest country in the world. today's discussion is about the startling number of people who
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are still experiencing food insecurity in america today. the supplemental nutrition assistance program, s.n.a.p., which is designed, as you well know to address this issue, and recommend that policy changes to make the program more effective. let me recognize dianne, the director of the hamilton project, on leave from northwestern university, to head our project to direct our project. christian mcintosh, the managing director of the hamilton project, and ryan nunn, the policy director of the hamilton project for the work they've done in creating the intellectual construct for the meeting and also developing low jess sticks -- logistics for our meeting. we'll begin with dianne framing the discussion also discussing the hamilton fact sheet, which i mentioned before, which i think you'll find both interesting and deeply trouble until terms of
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the magnitude of the problem this country is experiencing in terms terms of food insecurity. then we'll turn to an exchange between the two distinguished panelist, tom, the outstanding secretary of agriculture in president obama's administration, and the former governor state of ohio -- of iowa, rather. ohio is a nice state, too -- well, used to think so. iowa is a nice state, too. governor of the state of ohio, and bob grinstein, founder and president of the -- and bob is the unusual person who is both a fervent advocate for policies to help the poor, and also a very serious budget analyst, and when i first got to know bob in the beginning of the clinton administration, when they said this is a man who cares enormously about the -- and understand the practicingmatics
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of the put and is serious about dealing with both. thank them for join us greatly look forward to this discussion. dianne, the program is yours. >> thank you, i'd also like welcome you to you hamilton's discussion on food insecurity. i'm going to described the extent of the problem and potential solutions and this comes from our document they we released today. 12 facted about food insecurity and s.n.a.p., released today by the hamilton project. in 2014, one in seven households were food insecure, meaning at some point during the year, they had difficulty providing enough food for all of their members, due to a lock of resources -- lack of resources, 15 million children, or one in five children in the united states, live in food insecure households. even more troubling in 2014, one in 20 households experienced very low food security, meaning they suffered one or more
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periods during the year in which food intake of household members was reduced and normal eat can pattern were disrupted because of lack of money for food. as you can see own the chart the rate of food insecurity across children adulted or the elderly, all three spiked during the great recession and remain elevated today. in every state, higher share of children than adults live in food entour households. as you can see from the map in every state, more than one in ten children lives in a food entour household in nine states the share is one in four children living in a food insecure household. let me tell you mow about the characteristics characteristics characteristics of the food insecure households the vast majority or working household. 85% of householdded with food insecurity report at least one earner in 2014. also note that these food entour
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households are slightly more likely to be headed bay married couple than by a single mother. another fact about food insecure households is that household with a teenager are more likely to suffer food insecurity. what many parents know from their own experience is also true empirically. teenages eat more and cost more to feed. it's true. spending on food increases when there's a teenager in the house. unfortunately, food assistance benefit does not increase commensurately. s.n.a.p. benefits don't change and in fact teenagers are less likely to participate in school meals programs. this arched add up to higher rates of both food insecurity and very low food security status among household withteenagers. furthermore, the s.n.a.p. view that annual rate of food insecurity i started with masks the extent of the problem because many families cycle in and out of food insecurity across consecutive years. when we compare households that are food insecure this year to
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the share that were food insecures this year or last year then, project calculate 40% more households were food insecure at one point across a two-year period than were food insecure this year. please note that even temporary periods of food insecurity may cause lasting negative impacts on children. furthermore troublingly, the greatest food insecurity extended even higher up in income distribution. full lay third of feuden secures household have annual incomes more than twice the poverty line, more than $48,000 a year for a family of four. this is generally above the reach of social safety net programs like s.n.a.p., subsidized school meals and earned income tax credit. another third of insecure loud host are one and to times the poverty line. notice that when families experience hunger or things related to that, showing in the
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light green here, it's much more concentrated among the very poor. fortunately a robust social safety net can help alleviate these problems. 2012, the most recent year available, after adjusting for survey underreporting we fine that s.n.a.p. lifts 10 million people out of poverty, including nearly five million children. this impact is nearly equivalent to the impact of the epc and the child tax credit. researchers are just start took understand the magnitude of the importance of these programs. especially on the long-term well-being of children. in a study published this month in the american economic review, my co-authors and i followed the cohorts that were children when s.n.a.p., then called the food stamp program, was originally introduced as part of the war port bathroom us the program was rolled houston our county by county we compare eyes ohio similar children living in neighboring counties in the same state and different ages who
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differed in their access to the program. and then we can trace the impact of access to the program across the children's lifespan now that they're adults. we find children had access to then food snatch program, today s.n.a.p., were 18 percentage points more likely to graduate from high school in adulthood those with childhood access were healthier, as measured be the likelihood of being obese, having diabetes and heart disease or related measures. women in particular saw improvements from the program with increase in their adult economic outcomes including employment, earnings, and related measures. as a result we argue nat s.n.a.p. should be thought 60 as an investment in children and not merely charity. there are many things we can do to improve the reach of our existing food support program. and i look forward to the conversation between bob and secretary vilsack that will explore these. therer many children who are food insecure and el available for programs like school meals,
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wic and s.n.a.p. but for some reason are not participating he also has evidence that increases in benefits, substantially impact food security. for example, it's long been more than that children's food instituter and very low food security status spikes when school is not session. the department of agriculture fielded pilot program with an exceptionally strong research design component to test how additional summer feeding benefits. a 60-monthly food voucher of the summer reduced food insecurity in children to 20%, and very low food insecurity status by 35%. finally, evidence shows that s.n.a.p. improve this broader financial well-being of householdes, not only reducing food insecurity but by shoring up resources available for food, also reduces the likelihood that the household will fall behind
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on major exposes like housing and utility and are less likely to skip an a needed trip to the doctor. now that the stage is set, i'm going to invite bob and secretary vilsack to stage for their important conversation on policies to alleviate foot insecurity. a quick housekeeping note. under your chairs you'll find note cards and at the end we'll open it up for questions and answer but the we'll have people walking up and down the aisle. you can write your question down on a note card, preferably legibly, and then we'll hand them to the moderator and he'll ask questiones. so secretary and bob? welcome. [applause]
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[inaudible conversations] >> good morning, everybody. i want to thank hamilton for having a forum on this very important topic, and there's so many interesting aspects of this that, mr. secretary, want it to dig right in. i would like to start by asking you a little bit about what you see as the role of the secretary of agriculture with respect to these programs and these issues. let me give a little preface. i remember when i came to washington in the early '70s the secretary of agriculture was earl butts. some people in the room obviously remember him.
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had the honor in serve neglect food nutrition service in the carter administration, but during the 40-plus years if have followed this the pattern has been with the secretary is a immorsed in agriculture policy and for most secretaries the food assistance programs are off to the side, they're secondary, tertiary. bob bergland was different in that regard. but you, mr. secretary, for me you have broken the mold. i've never seen a secretary of agriculture for whom food assistance, hunger, food security, insecurity, has been a central as it's been for you. could you talk a little bit about how you see within the department, for you as the secretary, the importance of these programs and the issue of food insecurity. >> i think there's personal reason for this and then there's
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a policy reason. the personal reason is when you start out life as i did in an orphanage, the one thing that you know about yourself is that you are either well fed or not well fed and i can tell you i have a picture when i was adopted of a very well-fed child. so i know that in the orphanage i was taken care of and i think we have lot of kids out there who are struggling in families, especially in rural areas. rural poverty among children is higher than you expect. one out of rural kid lives in an impoverished home and it's part of the responsibility thereof at the department offing a call too toy cake of folk with accomplish and folkness rural america. as a large part of our budget so we want to make sure it's operating properly and functioning the way it should, and unfortunately, in today's world, these programs come under attack. they get mischaracterized. people who are taking advantage and are benefited from these programs are often demonized,
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and i see it also my responsibility to make sure the american public understands precisely who it is that's getting these benefits and why. and how it benefits not just the families receiving s.n.a.p., but all of us. i think bob ruben eluded to the fact this is building an economy. hung kids noter prepared for the competitive environment they'll grow up in. the reality is families struggling with food insecurity have to make very difficult choices and impacts the future of kids and the future of the country. so when you combine that aspect with our school lunch program, where we're trying to improve the quad and knew television central value of the program where the kids are well-fed, not just fed, and it's an important responsibility for the department of agriculture and the persons in charge of that department. so from a personal reason, from a policy reason, a budget reason, it makes sense to pay
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attention to this, and in this climate in particular, it does require a series of champions to make sure the person public understands precisely how they benefits' and why we have these programs. >> you have particular my been a champion of improving access to the programs by poor people who are eligible for them, that have been left out of them. under your tenure as secretary, the percentage of people eligible for s.n.a.p. who actually receive it, is at its highest level in the program's history. think over 80% of the people -- >> 85%. >> 85%, and in the child nutrition flint with community eligibility, you're latest innovation is working with states to use medicaid data to -- as well as s.n.a.p. data to identify children eligible for free oar reduced price school meals who aren't getting it. can you talk about the emphasis
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you have placed on improving access? >> well, when we first started the process we took a look at how the states were administering the s.n.a.p. program. the reality is this is a partnership between the federal government and state governments. the states have the responsibility to administer the program. some states dade better job than others and we saw some states where at the participation rate was in the low 50%. which meant that nearly 50% of eligible people in a state were not getting the benefits they were entitled to receive, and the con against their families were pretty dire. so we started a concerted effort to make sure people understand at the state level their responsibility to make it easy for people to apply, make it easy for people to understand their benefits. we started to provide information in spanish, multiple language, and we saw over time, with some pressure on some individual governors, that we saw a spike from 72% overall participation to 85.
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the one place where we have not yet figured out how to crack the nut is with senior citizens, and the reality is that participation rate there is only 41%, i think lot of it has to do with how seniors perceive the program and how difficult we have made it for seniors. the reality is we don't really need to be checking income levels of seniors on a regular basis because the fact is, if you're 85 years old, your income is pretty set. you're probably living on a social security check, maybe small retirement income. that's not going to change. so we're look new england at ways in which we can make it a little easier for seniors to get into the program and stay in the program to get that number up. and i think we'll have some success of the course of the next nine months and hopefully the next administration will see the importance of this. on the school lunch program, a the reality is a lot of the school districts have kids coming from impoverished
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neighborhoods and we require quite an administrative burden for the schools to get kids free and reduced lunch etch we expect a second greater will take an application home with them in their backpack and they'll tomorrow take it out. give is it to their parents, their parents disclose information they may be -- it may be hard for them to disclose, how low income. it has to then be returned with the second grater, the student had to give it to the teacher, at the teacher had to gift to that administrative folks. the reality is that doesn't happen as frick live as it should and kids are left out. if you have a disproportionate number of poor families, wife go through the process? the reality is most kid bill we eligible for lunch. so we're now seeing over 18,000 schools, millions of kids who otherwise would not have received assistance, are now receive assistance, and not just
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in schools. it's also in child care centers. 90,000 child care centers are benefiting. so it's an important program and an important tool to make sure kid get the food they need to be as successful as their talents take them. >> i'd like to us get back to community eligibility, but turning back for a little bit to s.n.a.p., so, you and i have been talking a little bit just a few minutes ago before the event started berth in degree of cynicism in the country about among other things government and its ability to help. i remember back in the late '60s when teams of doctors went into a appalachia and the deep south and found rates of child hunger, malnutrition and
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nutrition related conditions akin to those in some third-world countries, and then the medical researchers went back in the late '70s, after in the intervening decade we had a national food stamp program implemented. president nixon helped lead the way nor national benefit standards, and the researchers said something to the effect of, where before we saw large numbers of children with sunken eyes, swollen bellies, we don't see them anymore and the main reason is the food program. they had a sign that says flood stamps does more to lengthening and strengthen the lives of people than any other program. when we look at the data today, diane -- it's fact number night your report -- you talk bet the long-term effects, even among some -- improvements not just in education but employment and earnings, in adulthood, and the
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latest data, i think, show that s.n.a.p. lifts about 10 million people out of poverty, about five million children, each year. that's tied with the been earned income credit and the child credit. it's more than anything else except social security for the population in children and more children lifted out, even nonsocial security, and i think no program does as much to reduce deep poverty among children, and those'll half the poverty line, is s.n.a.p. so, how do we -- i don't think this is widely understood. the still hear the attacks, the program. is a hammock. whereas dianne, your work, as reflected in fact number eight, indicates really the reverse. it improves kids' life chance rather than trapping them in a hammock. not widely understood. what do we do to better
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communicate these important findings? >> well, i think first of all it's making sure that americans understand precisely who is receiving s.n.a.p. i think there's a tendency to think most of the people receiving s.n.a.p. are gaming the system, but when you explain to people, is a do often, that 85 parts of s.n.a.p. by-riz are either children -- by-riz are children, center citizens, people with severe working disability's working with children, they have different attitude about the program. so first educating people on who actually receives s.n.a.p. secondly, making sure they understand this asupplementat nutrition assistance program. nobody can survive on s.n.a.p. benefits. the reality is they're not that much in the benefit that would allow a family of four buy all their groceries for a month, and we taught look at how we calculate the benefits for s.n.a.p. we base it on a food plan.
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that food plan hasn't been adjusted or examined for quite some time, and i think if we did examine it we would find that the benefit is probably inadequate for the purpose of the program. so, i think we also need to point out that the benefits that this program has to people outside of the program. so, as we look at, for example, agriculture, and we look at low prices, the reality if more people can go into a grocery store and buy more foods that mean is they're going to buy more food. over 90 parts of s.n.a.p. benefits are redeemed within 30 days. so the reality is people are able to buy more, which means that folks have to produce more, have to process more, have to truck more, have to ship more, have to package more, have to shelf more, have to sell more. all of those are jobs. we need make sure that people understand the economic benefits to the community as a whole by having these programs. one of the things i often to say to people in this country we take our stability for granted
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in this country. yes, we have partisan differences in the sometimes get pretty passionate but the reality is we're a relatively stable nation. one of the reason s we are is because we don't have many, many, many hungry people. we have food insecure folks which means at some point in time in that month they may be hungry but we don't have anywhere near the level of deep hungerow see in countries with great dissatisfaction. so this provides, i think, stability in our society. so, marketing these programs. talking about it. not being defensive about it. and basically going into farm bureau meetings, into business meetings and explain to business leaders, agricultural leaders the benefits the programs to the country and to themselves, as a way of making sure the understand that there is a significant benefit. now, recent research also shows that kids on s.n.a.p. have better health outcomes.
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so we're all concerned about healthcare costs. we want to see a transition from a sick care system to wellness system. wow can't get to a wellness system unless you have adequate nutrition so there's an tint to talk about the impact that s.n.a.p. has on improved halve outcomes, reducing healthcare costs. so there are multiple ways of marketing the program and making sure people understand it's not really a welfare program per se. it's really a program that makes sure that every one of our kids, every one of our seniors, every one of our folks who are working hard but just having a hard time making it, have enough to basically keep themselves going, and this issue of senior citizens, i want to make sure everyone understands this. it's in our best interests for the senior to be well fed, because if they they're going to go to the doctor fewer times and not have the healthcare consequences either.
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but all of us benefit from the program and i think it's important for progressives to be a bit more vocal about this, and a bit more willing to inform people about what this program is and isn't. also an issue of fraud. oh, my, driveouts crazy. people say there's a lot of fraud in this program. the fraud rate is 1.3%. one of the lowest of any federal program, the fraud and error rate combined is less than five percent, which is the lowest it's ever been, ever. so this is not a situation where this program is being taken advantage of. there are from time to time situations but most often those situations are dealt with. so, it's a good program, and we need to be proud of it. we ought not to be defensive about it. >> a much dramatically smaller rate of fraud than the statistics show we have in the tax code with respect to people -- people don't like to
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talk about this -- but business income, the degree of business income that's never reported. you compare it to the degree of income in the s.n.a.p. program, this is a night okay comparison. >> i like to talk to our farm plans about the fact they s.n.a.p. fraud rate is lower than in the crop insurance fraud >> i'm sure that's popular. >> it makes a point is that we have to be careful about generalizing about a program based on one or two news broadcasts about an eagreous situation, bus are eagreous situations in at love 0 federal programs. >> i want to pick up on something you said. you were talking about how the benefit levels really based on a formula set many years ago. as i recall it goes back to the
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'60s we had something called the economy food plan, then it was sort of renamed the thrifty food plan, but for people who don't know, the maximum food stamp benefit level for people with no other disposable income equals the cost of that thrifty food plan in the previous june, i think it is, and then if you have some income the benefit is reduced. so, that food plan was designed many decade ago when the norm was that mothers stayed at home. it's based on buying a lot of raw ingredients and cooking food from scratch. today, we expect mothers, poor mothers with children, we expect them to work. what we still have a food plan in place that kind of assumes they don't dianne, i think you have a paper looking at this
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that you'll be releasing may 23rd? >> that's right. >> so i'm putting in a plug r this event on may 23rd. hamilton is going to come back to this issue and look at it. when we look at the s.n.a.p. program, i think you and i and many others were struck at how enormously responsive it was in the great recession. i was startled when i looked at the figures on how much less poverty -- the measures that count s.n.a.p. -- how much less it was in the deepest recession since the great depression than one would have otherwise realized and you dig into the numbers. the enormous responsiveness of s.n.a.p. had to lot to do with that and of course, as we mentioned earlier, we have national benefits standards but before they came into effect, around 1971, we had some states that were cutting people off the
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program who -- people who worked when their incomes reached 50% of the poverty line. so this is a leadin to something i want to ask you about. ever increasing debate on poverty. the speaker of the house, paul ryan, is elevating poverty, which i think is really welcome. we ought to have a vigorous debate. but in the summer of 2014 he rolled out a plan called an opportunity grant, that would take 11 programs, including s.n.a.p., and allow states to kind of merge them into one big funding stream. we used to call this a block grant. think the speaker qualifies it's merged spending dream. it's the same thing but a state gets a fixed dollar amount and could -- money wouldn't have to be used on food assistance. it could be. it would be up to the state. it could be used for any of a broad array purposes. there would no longer be a
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national benefit standard or structure there wouldn't be automatic responsiveness in recession. you were a governor for two terms. i'd be interested in your sense. would this be a good move for the s.n.a.p. program are and for in particular its purposes, helping all families or is it a step back? >> do you have respect to speaker he has never been a governor to doesn't know how governors think. the reality is that when you have a block grant, it basically will fund your priorities, not necessarily the nation residents needs. -- the nation's needs, and part of my skepticism about this is -- emanates from the program that we have with employment and training and s.n.a.p. that's another thing that people don't realize. there are limitations on how much people -- how long people can receive s.n.a.p. if they're able bodied without dependents. and these limitations are quite
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severe. you're able bodied you have to be work organize receiving training edded of indication for a certain period of time each among or your limited to three months of benefits every 36 months. we give states 100% federal momentum. last year it was $320 million. we say to states here's $32 million. your job is to take that money and connect the work opportunities that are being created in an improved economy because unemployment is coming down, jobs created you. link the jobsout know are being created in your tsay state with the s.n.a.p. beneficiaries and give them an opportunity to work their way out of s.n.a.p. you would thick that every governor, every conservative governor, would say this is great. last year, $92 million was unspent by governors. this is 100% money. this is not requiring a match. on the part of states. this is 100% money.
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and 92 million of is was unspent. and yet you have governors at the same time saying, we need reduce s.n.a.p., we need to get these people working. so when i hear people talk about block grants if a have concerns what is going to happen with the resource, how they're going to be utilized and what the oversight is going to be and i honestly will tell you, if you or two block grant this program, you would have nowhere near the satisfaction in terms of the ability to get money to people quickly, the ability to administer this program fairly easily, and 85% participation rate, would guarantee you, you would not have 85% participation rate and you would have some serious consequences from a block grant it would not be used nor purposes f which it was intended. it would be used for the pet project, the pet idea. i'm all for innovation. i'm all for tryings new things. that's why we put $200 million in the farm bill to say to governors, hey, if you
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want to be innovative about connecting people with employment and training, here's an opportunity. apply for this money, let's see what you can come up with, and if you come up with a great idea we'll be happy to put more money behind it. we'll see. we have ten states participating in this effort. we'll see what they come up with. but i will tell you that i think block granting the programs -- my governor colleagues probably not be happy with this answer -- but do not, do not tell me that states are going too use every dime of that appropriately. talk about states being the laboratories of democracy. they're the laboratories of democracy with federal money. people forget that. it's not state money that goes into these great experiments. it's federal dollars. and there's often not the credit that the federal government should get for investing in these innovations. so i'm leery about the block
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grants, just simply because i haven't seen governors step up. i alluded earlier when we came into 2009 there were states -- a little over 50% of eligible people were actually receiving s.n.a.p. because that governor, that particular administration, did not care enough to make sure that people knew about these benefited. did not care enough to make sure the bureaucracy was getting information out in language that people could understand. did not care enough to sim police identify the process. so, -- simply identify the place so i'm skeptical. >> one little fact that is consistent with your observations. if you tech at the block grant established in 1996 under the welfare law, in the law, its core passport are employment, child care and cash assistance for poor families. if you look at the latest data the states have provided to hhs, only 50% of tanf dollars go for
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the three core purposes. the other 50% have been dissipated all over state budgets. sometimes hard to find out where it's going in some indicates states were able to take the federal dollars dollars and sube them for state dollars previously being spent on a low income service and then the freed up dollars can go wherever you want. >> that's the game that's played. or you disproportionately provide administrative expenses out of these programs. there are a mustitude of budget games you -- multitude of budget games to play and that's why it's important for the be a partnership between the federal government and states because frequently we come in and view what the states are doing, and if they're not doing what they're supposed to do be doing, we make them pay the money back, adjust and change their programs. if you have block grant this money, you're going to lose control of it and you're not going to see the benefits from it. >> a minute ago you actually anticipated my next question.
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can we talk fore just a moment about the work demonstrations and in particular the requirement that you mentioned for people aged 18 to 50, who aren't disabled and who aren't raising dependents. so, interesting history here that it find most people don't remember. when the 1996 welfare law, which is where this requirement comes from, was being written, and the final bill had been put together by republican congress at the time, and it was going through the final time. when it got to the house floor owl of a sudden an amendment was off everrerred not anticipated by the bill's authors and the amendment was one to say, for these people age 18 50, they could only get snap for three months while unemployed out off every three years and the amendment's lead sponsor stayed this night harsh provision.
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every one of these people will be offered a work slot. a place in a work program or an annual job, and only those who don't take it will be limited to three months out of every three years. now, i was watching this occur and scratching my head. you look at the amendment, there were no work slots in it. think the sincere live thought they program a already had work slots. if never did. possible bay remember that when the bill got -- i remember leon panetta, president clinton's cleave of staff, saying to me, bob, i think this -- leon had been mr. food stamps in the house, on the budget committee, and i remember leon saying i thinking this is the most troubling provision in the entire welfare law because it means that people who want to work, search for a job and can't find one, are cut off after three months, and we see that the people who are cut off,
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their average income is 20% of the poverty line. so, i guess our task is, how do we actually have work opportunities for people, not just cut offs and that what you're trying to find working in parter inship with the states in these demonstration projects cycle guess there's just ten states -- >> reflects that fact that it's all well and good to suggest that you're going to find work slots for folks and find work, but what if you live in a rural community that is isolated, you don't have any public transportation system to larger communities, and you don't have a functioning automobile or vehicle. and there are no jobs being created in your small town. they may be created 50 miles away from where you are. how to you help that center or you're a returning veteran and dealing with the consequences of having experienced the horrors of war and you're having a hard time adjusting.
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how do you work through that and still be able to be employed? or you're a single mom and you've got child cair issues and you can't find decent child care. you want to work, you'd love to work. you want to be self-dependent, but the reality is you can't find decent child care and you can't afford it for a multitude ofitude of reasons. so, what we're trying to do with this project is to figure out what the barriers are, and how we can creatively work around them or through them so we actually too what we all want done is which is to link people with jobs. providing skills. making sure they actually have skilled that are marketable, which is a training and education component. so we're looking at ways which states want to be thoughtful, innovative, try something different. we're willing to let them try something different. maybe cash assistance, maybe
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paying for child care, maybe providing transportation, whatever. some process by which we are helping them overcome the barrier. then we'll determine what -- there's a very serious component, evaluation.com opinion next of this that will be used in informing the future direction of that program. >> there's a really bright note here. so, the 200 million you're mentioning came out of the farm bill that was developed in the 2013, i think finely signed into law in 2014. in the house there was a very intense and at times partisan debate over these work issues in the s.n.a.p. program, but the bright note was that ultimately in conference, there was bipartisan agreement and support for the $200 million demonstration project, and then after it was enacted before the demo started,
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mr. secretary, i remember a conversation you and i had, and you said, bob, we're going to let flowers bloom. we're going to let conservative states test conservative solutions, progressive states test progressive solutions. the issue isn't the ideology, the issue is what works. and we want to find out what works and have it inform future policy. >> we took an additional step after that, which was to establish a center of excellence in washington. the state of washington does a particularly good job of linking these folks with employment opportunities. and we took another nine states and linked them up with the center of excellence, and we actually have 19 states that are working collaboratively on trying to figure out innovative and creative ways to do this better so we can give states direction and then we should say we're happy to give you've this money and continue to give you the 50-50 money but we want you
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too use these resources to connect people with job opportunities. that's the right way to deal with reducing s.n.a.p. numbers. seriously, if people were genuinely interested in reducing s.n.a.p. numbers the simplest and easiest way would be to increase the minimum wage. you'll take millions of people who are currently in s.n.a.p. and you'll put them in david category. they're going to need less s.n.a.p. or no s.n.a.p. at all. so i always say if you are truly interested in reducing the s.n.a.p. numbers why aren't we debating in the aisles of congress an increase in minimum wage and depending on individual cities, counties, and states, to have that conversation? >> this isn't the s.n.a.p. issue but it relates. would like to see us at some point look more at subsidized jobs. we had a subdiced program but mostly in the private sector as part of the recovery act, and within a year there were 50 thune job slots for -- 250,000
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job slots for people who cooped be hired. rub run governors were as enthusiastic as democratic ones. and in the aer brookings report on confident that came out in december there was partisan recommendation to look at a subsidized probables -- subdiced jobs program. >> we should be looking at unemployment compensation to courses is that the right model for the 21st century? could that be modernized? ways to try something different and at the end of the day, summarily reducing s.n.a.p. numbers by creating impossible goal -- standards and terms of people's access to jobs, when you aren't providing -- not taking full advantage of the resources, the states are, and states on another nutrition issue, when we set up the school lunch program we provided states with resources to administer that program.
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the standards and many states left money on the table in terms of that program as well. so goes back to the block grant issue. they've interior not utilizing the resources beau to don't agree with the programment how can you trust them with a block grants. >> let's turn to child nutrition. disappointing development theirs morning. yesterday the chair of the subcommittee on the house that has jurisdiction over the child nutrition programs. ... we are not yet at the bipartisan stage, but the bill we propose yesterday, just looking at it this morning, you talked earlier
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about community eligibility. people on my staff who really know these numbers look at it and tell me that the draft bill, the bill just introduced will take community eligibility, a program under which schools in high poverty areas can serve breakfast and lunch is free, save money on paperwork and applications and reach all the kids. this bill would reduce from 18,000 to 11,000, take 7,000 schools already doing community eligibility and bar them from doing it in the future. i was disappointed to see that provision, but i don't know if you have had a chance to look at the bill. >> you should feel better about the fact that
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virtually everyone paying attention to this issue does not like that provision, from the school nutrition association to the folks at usda to advocates for better child nutrition. no one likes the provision because everyone sees the wisdom of having a community eligibility program that reduces the burden of schools at a time when they would like to redirect those resources into improving quality of meals for expanding a breakfast program that did not exist before or providing healthier snacks. at the end of the day, that is not a good provision and can't imagine it will be part of a final bill. if it were, i stronglywere, i strongly encourage the president to take a serious look at that bill. i do not think the president is interested in having hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of kids disenfranchised from a
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program that is designed to help them make sure they have adequate nutrition during the day. >> we all hope ultimately we get a bipartisan bill. i can recommend a signature, but we have a processa process to go through to get there. >> we are not there yet. the senate worked hard, listened to one another, found a way to increase our summer feeding program. that is a program i think it is equally important and needs focus because the reality is kids are only in school for hundred 80 days. during that period of time unless we have more aggressive programs there are many kids who are very food insecure. >> we should vote. sites really, if you look at it, the results are dramatic.
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the degree to which what is called summer edt come and has nutrition benefits: they don't get the data on the degree to which it helps on the food security front is quite dramatic. maybe you could say a word. you have a terrific provision and thein the president's budget. >> first off, given the current state of the program i am proud of the factory improve the number of meals served from the summer 2009 to last summer. we arewe are serving another half a million more kids than we did in 2009. the difficulties is roughly 20 to 21,000,000 kids currently participate in free and reduced months. we are probably feeding about 4 million people, 4 million children.
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there is a significant delta between what we do during the school day in the summer months. one way to address that delta would be to provide parents and children this ebt card, similar to a s.n.a.p. card. >> kind of a debit card. >> which they could use to purchase additional food. why is it important? because there are many people who do not live near a summer feeding site. these are congregant sites. they may be living in a remote rural area. this would give families the ability to purchase additional food so that kids would be better fed. that would allow us with the pres.'spresident's proposal over the next ten years to gradually increase the number of children that we
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would be covering to get to the entire 20 to 21,000,000 kids having access to food throughout the entire year. the president's budget proposes this ramp up, were it to be passed by congress we would see an additional million kids next summer receiving the benefits of the presidents program. >> something i have set on other occasions. yes, this is the final budget of president obama. and a proposal like your robust summary would not happen this year, but i cannot remember -- it has been a long time since i've seen a budget from a president that has this many interesting, innovative, i think important new proposals to deal with poverty is this budget does. and from a poverty standpoint i am hoping people see it as a vision for the future. to look at a number of your proposals, including the starting point: they talk
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about developing the 1st budget. >> this is a president who grew up relying in part on some of these very same programs. the question you would have to have, what future president are you going to limit today, living in rural areas today, president 25 to 30 years from now. they need the benefit of these programs. the reality is, there are millions of kids. we know if they don't eat right over the summer they are not as well prepared to begin school in august and september which means they will be a step or two behind. fs the case at the beginning maybe they won't do very well. maybe they a disinterested in school, dropout, and we
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end up in many cases unfortunately feeding these people three meals a day and i can find facility call the prison. it makes no sense to shortchange the children. it is in our long-term best interest to invest in them and make sure they are well fed uneducated and prepared. if they are more times than not they will succeed. the fact that we have 16, 17 million kids today when the summer struggle to find adequate nutrition is unacceptable. >> we are going to go in just a 2nd to questions and answers from the audience. >> that's great. >> fabulous. >> i like this. [laughter] >> before we do comeau one more question. clearly these programs are critically important, and by the same token we cannot, not only not totally
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eliminate poverty but eliminate food insecurity just for food assistance programs. you mentioned employment, minimum wage, childcare. you are the head of -- i think you are the chair of the white house rural council. you look at issues affecting particularly low income families in rural areas across the country. could you talk to us a little bit about food insecurity and poverty from a larger, rural perspective and how you think about that in the kinds of things you would like to see the nation and policymakers moved toward from that perspective. >> look, 85% of the
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persistently poor counties were poverty rates are in excess of 20, 25, 30% are rural. add that to the fact one out of every four rural kids lives in poverty, and it is a compelling case to focus and it is a compelling case to focus on trying to make those numbers improve. i advise the president of these numbers, and he suggested the council would be an appropriate place for us to look at innovative and creative ways to do this. we have a rural impact effort focusing on child poverty and then identified ten communities in the country that are looking at what is referred to as a two generation approach, not just focusing employment and training programs in one place and early childhood preschool opportunities for four kids in another place but taking all the programs and focusing them on the family, dealing simultaneously with mom and dad and child and doing this in ten different communities in ten different ways to see how we might learn better how to utilize programs. this program is also designed to make sure we do
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aa better job of educating people about the availability of programs. they find they may not be fully aware of the programs that are in fact in place, nor do they have necessarily the sophistication of working through the federal maze to be able to take advantage of those programs. we are focusing on a seriesa series of place -based initiatives, the department of agriculture start of the strikeforce brawl we are taking all mission areas, put a team together, go, go down, link up with the community building organization and say how can we help. we have made over 190,000 in investments in the communities, over $26 billion, and we will see them to begin to understand how to play the game and access these programs. one thing this program is to do is have a separate strategy for rebuilding and revitalizing the rural economy.
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>> agriculture has been effective and innovative. what i was born in 1950 there were 25 million farmers. 5 million farmers. today they're less than 3 million. if you look at the folks who produce 85% of85 percent of our food, it's 250 to 300,000 people. we did not complement that economy am agricultural economy with other natural resource-based economy that would allow for opportunities for people to do well. we are doing this now. the regional food system, confirmation food system, confirmation markets, trying to rebuild the economy in rural areas. if you rebuild it and create better paying jobs, more market opportunities come up more opportunities for small and midsized operations. you will see a decline in poverty, and incline opportunity, less pressure on cities command you will
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see less need for the programs we are talking about here. but you must build the economy, have a strategy, and direct resources in support of the strategy. until this administration i'm not sure we had a defined, focused, comprehensive strategy focused on an important part, a place called rural america. it is 15% of america's population, 35 to 40% of to 40 percent of america's military. if you want young men and women willing to serve the country that you better be paying attention to this part of the country because a disproportionate number command if there is no economic opportunity there is no hope. if there is no brighter tomorrow, these kids will move and may or may not be willing to serve the country and defend us. it is a value system that is important, and frankly i will say people in my party have not spoken as effectively as i think they need to folks in rural areas.
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>> we are going to go now to questions. we havequestions. we have a number of interesting questions from the audience. first, how have you worked to reduce the historic stigma associated with s.n.a.p.? >> a couplea couple of ways. i mentioned earlier advising and educating people through a variety of methods. who is receiving s.n.a.p. and talking about the economic benefits in a recessionary time is connected, but we have tried to integrate the families into the sort of general flow of the economy. this is allowed us to move away from the food stamp motion, allows folks to be in a grocery line.
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and lie with somebody who is a snap beneficiaries. they have tried to create opportunities for folks to participate in other venues, expanded the ept access to farmers markets. over 6400 can take the ebt card working with foundations to increase the availability of healthy food festivals. andfestivals. and so part of it is better integration and better education about who is receiving teefor. >> i must say, i think the ebt card is important. for decades and decades when you went through the checkout line you had to pull out your coupon book and rip out your food stamps. everyone can see you doing it. the ebt card looks like any other debit card. it is hard for me to imagine that if the level of stigma had stayed the same as it
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was, particularly back home we have food stamp coupons, if that were the case we would not have an 85% participation rate with 45 million people benefiting. that is million people benefiting. that is prima fascia evidence. not that we are all the way there, but there has been a significant reduction. >> i think so and if we do a better job with senior citizens, i think thati think that we will see better understandings of precisely who is benefiting from this program which will help reduce. >> the next question is really interesting. do you think that s.n.a.p. results and low income wage suppression, that it leads to employers paying workers lower wages? >> i am not willing to believe that there are a significant number of people who sit in the back of their operation and to sort of do the calculation, but i do
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not think -- i think if there is any wage suppression is primarily unintentional, not an intentional decision-making process. you know, i cannot imagine -- i would hope that is not how people think. >> this is something i have been quite interested in. to the best of my knowledge i am not aware of a single peer-reviewed academic study that finds such an effect. and there are reasons for this. if you are an employer and have a worker, you know the wage you are paying network. but you do not necessarily know, is there a spouse, cohabitant in the household who has a well-paying job, you don't know. which employee is receiving s.n.a.p. and which are not. no employer could run operation where they paid to employees doing the exact
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same job a different ways level because one is getting s.n.a.p. and one is not. it does not work that way. the only evidence i am aware of is not in the s.n.a.p. program. there are one or two studies that find that because the earned income tax credit has a really positive effect, we are inducing more people to enter the labor market, thereby increasing the supply of workers looking for jobs, it may have some modest moderating effect, small on wages. the overall effect of the aei tc workers incomes is a huge positive, but this is also one of the reasons the minimum wage and aei tc complement each other. they bring more people into the labor market.
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but i have never seen any evidence that the s.n.a.p. program, unlike aei tc, it does not have effects on the supply. >> an interesting question. is s.n.a.p. being ignored in the presidential election? if so why? >> i do not think it is being ignored in the sense that i think there has been a good deal of conversation about poverty, income inequality. i know coming from iowa obviously i watch the presidential campaign begin
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another was a greata great deal of conversation about economic opportunity, support for programs that would provide people a chance to make it, so i am not sure it is being ignored by the candidates. it may very well be not something that the media is focused on. because they are more interested in the theatrics of the campaign. i guess that is a polite way. it is not as -- not as much advertising is some of the stuff that is being reported. honestly, i think we really should demand more from our presidential campaigns. not from the candidates, but the campaign in the campaign coverage because there are
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issues that are not necessarily being discussed as they ought to be for in a serious manner, like the conversation we are having today. rural poverty, i think there are couple candidates have fairly detailed plans of our rural poverty, but there has not been a conversation about it and it frankly is a fairly important topic. >> i wouldi would suspect, it would not surprise me if we see more focus, but we are now in the primary stage. it is not as though there is a burning issue that divides donald trump and ted crews, nor similarly hillary clinton or bernie sanders. it could be that are bigger differences in that one of the other party's candidate collates. >> there will be an effort as in 2012 and references were made to president obama
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it is not a discussion with an effort to demonize not just s.n.a.p. but the candidate who believes that there is a reason and appropriate place for the program. ifprogram. if that occurs, they're should be serious pushback by not just the candidate that must deal with this but those of us who understand what this program is and is not. we should not let anyone suggest that there are people, rampant fraud, waste, and abuse. which one of those do not want to help. i want seniors to be help. that's the kind of debate.
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>> next question, i'm going to ask the question and then give context. has usda considered eliminating the five-year residency requirement for recent immigrants to receive s.n.a.p.? when the 96 welfare law came out of congress it had really severe restrictions on illegal, not talking about undocumented immigrants, legal immigrants, ls receiving snap for those benefits. i remember that when the pres. signed the law he singled out to areas that he said in his view went much too far. one with the immigrant restrictions and the other the sum of the snap cuts.
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and this regard to the immigrant restrictions on 1997 budget act, as i recall , the restrictions on illegal immigrants were removed. a five-year restriction. not something you is a secretary of authority on. >> our focus obviously is on things that we can't control. we can control encouraging states to do a better job of outreach to make sure eligible people sign up. we can control encouraging opportunities for s.n.a.p. beneficiaries to take their kids to a farmers market and enjoy that experience.
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we can control reducing error and fraud rates. we can control helping states to a better job of connecting people with work opportunities. the focus opportunities. the focus is on things we can control. i don't know we necessarily have been in the vanguard at this point of figuring out what the policy changes ought to be. as we began preparing for the next farm bill, that is when that conversation would be appropriate, so the next secretary will obviously be engaged. to the extent i had a conversation about s.n.a.p., it was in connection with employment and training suggesting the $200 million fund to create new innovative ways to find out how we could link people with employment. >> as we know, when you take on hot button issues to some degree you have to pick your spots. i remember back in 1996 i
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thought that the immigrant provisions were without close compare, the most unsavory provisions in the law and was very glad that they were substantially altered, although not totally altered and 97. but in terms of the obama administration, obviously the immigrant related issue is elevated, theelevated, the executive order to bring four to 5 million people out of the shadows. i have to say,say, much as i would like to see the five-year restriction eased, i think the president got it exactly right. the top priority in this area is to bring people who have been here, working, playing by the rules, to bring them out of the shadows. we areshadows. we are waiting to hear where the supreme court will come down on it. >> the next time any of you put a fork into a fruit or vegetable, understand that
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the likelihood is that fruit investable was touched at some point in time by evergreen hands, probably 70 hands, probably 70 to 75 percent of farm workers are probably not in this country legally but do backbreaking work in order to provide us incredible diversity. take sure you understand part of it was brought to you the folks who are 12 and 14 hour days without much protection because they are here just trying to take care of the family. we don't havewe don't have the courage at this point in time in the congress to fix it. [applause] >> we have been talking about the issues. an argument can be made, i would agree, that the biggest issue of all for the future of the planet's climate change.
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how will food insecurity be affected by climate change if we do not address it? >> i have to say, not something i really know about. >> the 1st thing we can do if we are interested in climate and food insecurity is eliminate food waste. waste. 30 percent of all food grown in this country and globally is wasted. in the united states it is a large amount of the solid waste they goes and our landfills, in fact the single biggest solid waste component of landfills and a producer of methane. if we were able to reduce and eliminate global loss and waste have enough food to feed millions of people. the 2nd thing is to work with agriculture to make sure that we are adapting and mitigating to the impacts of climate because
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there is no question it will impact and effect. .. we believe there is an opportunity for collaboration on agriculture and the caribbean. we are actually taken a look at every region of the country and the caribbean to figure out precisely the impact of climate change and what we think vulnerabilities are in terms of agricultural production and produce a series of suggestions in terms of adaptation strategies, using extension to get our producers aware of steps they can take and we have linked
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that effort with a climate smart agricultural alliance which is 100 organizations in countries working collaborative lead to figure out best practices. there is an eight aggressive action here. were opening up data so it's easier for people to do research. there is a significant focus on this at usda. we will continue to focus on it but each one of us can start today by trying to avoid woodway. >> we are now at the end of our hour. for for people in the audience and people watching, you have just releasing the seriousness and the words that come to my mind are the quiet but very real passion of thomasville sick, secretary of agriculture. the people were cynical about
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our political system that our leaders, i think you just seen over the past hour an illustration that our system can and does produce leaders who really dedicate themselves to making our country and our world a better place. we really thank thank you mr. secretary. both are being here for the hour, making the time but more broadly, for everything you're doing on these issues. i want to think that hamilton project for putting this together and for all of you for coming here this morning. thank you [applause]. [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation]
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[inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation]
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[inaudible conversation] >> connecticut, delaware, maryland, pennsylvania, and rhode island hold residential primaries next tuesday. donald trump will be in harrington, delaware at the state fairgrounds tomorrow. will have live road to the white house coverage at 4:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. democratic candidates, hillary clinton will hold a campaign rally in dunmore, pennsylvania outside of scranton. that is. that is life starting at 7:30 p.m. eastern on c-span2. >> saturday night at 10:00 p.m. eastern that will take a look at some of the speeches by president obama during his two terms, one of washington's premier events. this year will mark his final attendance at the dinner. >> it turns out jeb bush
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identified himself as hispanic in 2009. but you know, look i understand. it's an innocent mistake. it reminds me of when identified myself reminds me of when identified myself as american back in 1961. >> join us saturday night at ten eastern. be sure to tune into the live coverage of the white house correspondent dinner at saturday, april 30 on c-span. b. speemac, maryland senator ben cardin talks about president obama's trip to saudi arabia. next week's. next week's presidential primary in maryland. from "washington journal", this is 45 minutes. >> back at her table this morning, senator ben karn, democrat of maryland, use it on the environmental and public works committee also. also the top democrat, i wantedg
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to begin with the news out of flint, the washington times says three are charged in the flint water crisis. the attorney general says they're more charges to come. no one is off the table. what is your reaction to this it and about future charges. >> guest: i think there needs to be accountability. there's clearly actions not taken that could have been taken that could have saved children from the exposure to lead. i'm not familiar with this specifics but it seems to me those that were in charge took action, or didn't take action they should have to protect children for $100 per day. the bottom line problem is here to make sure we have the resources in the country for safe drinkinr water, if we don't do that today this is a national problem. it is not not just flints. my city of baltimore, the water fountains in our schools have not been operating for a long time because of lead exposure. we need a stronger effort come a yesterday introduced legislation with my colleagues in the senate, comprehensive bill, true leadership that will provide the resources and provide modernizing our laws on lead so
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that we can make a major change in what our infrastructure in america. >> host: what will those laws change. how will it it be a that children are dr >> guest: it's providingin resources to local governments for clean water and safe drinking water. it triples the dollars available in revolving funds. it provides grants to low-income families to provide pipes that lead into their homes that contain lead. it providessa help taurus cool o they can make sure the water that children are drinking is safe. it updates the laws of the environment protection agency as to the rights of the standards for lead'm and public notice. so it is a comprehensive bill that deals with water infrastructure and lead poisoning. >> is it bipartisan? spee2. >> guest: i'm confident it will be.the ap senator in how has been a strong champion of increased resources for water infrastructure. were working withh him.dget.
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the appropriations process were working with republicans. we hope that we'll be able to move significant parts of this bill, this year. it was a wake-up call. it was a tragedy in michigan, but it's a problem nationwide. >> host: with this legislation then deal with the aging water infrastructure nationwide? if so, what is the cost and how many years? >> it how many years? >> it would deal with the national problem, the cost of this would be within the budget. we are not going to add it to the overall budget agreements that we may. we believe this must be a priority. the problem is it's out of sighe out of mind. you don't see the eroding pipes on our street. until they break. then what we saw on this region when you see a river becomes a row. we need to make sure we modernize our infrastructure. w >> host: when do you suspect this could actually get to the floor and gets a vote? >> guest: we expect to take it
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up in the next few weeks the water resource development acts, we hope parts of that will be included in the water resources development act. we are considering the appropriations for next year. we hope part of it will be in theco appropriations. >> host: let's go to public relations. president obama and saudi arabia had a two-hour median with the king there.mpaign against isi some say this is on precedent for him to sit down and talk for that long. why do you think he did? what's going on with u.s. saudi arabia relations. >> guest: i think the relationship between saudi arabia and the united states is important for both countries. the gulf countries are critically important in our campaign against isil, against supreme's forces. i forces. i was in saudi arabia a few weeks ago with some of my colleagues. i met with the king. we had a chance to chance to talk. we have had our differences.whe- on syria, on iran, but we share a common mission and that is to prevent iran from destabilizing the neighboring states, whether
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syria, yemen, libya. when they create a vacuum isil comes in and causes huge problems for the region. saudi arabia understands that, they understand the relationship with the united states is important in order to stop that. >> host: president obama called saudi arabia, free riders. why did he do that and your group that? >> guest: i think all of the countries can do more. the united states obviously has been a major commitment of resources in order to fight extremists in the middle east. united states leadership is indispensable. there's no question about it.the countrie but the countries in the middle east need to do more themselvess including saudi arabia. we would like to see country step up and provide more soldiers, more resources, in our campaign against isil. >> host: what are they not doing? >> guest: it's a question of a coordinated plan. providi the saudis have been focused more on yemen which is their
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neighbor. they have been providing considerable military operations in that region. that region now has a cease-fire. we are now in the process, we, we hope of getting a peace process between them and the government. if we can do that, we would expect the saudis could take some of their military commitments they have used in yemen and focus more on the problems with isil in syria. i think that is what we like to see. >> host: yesterday in the paper it said the administration goal is to convince saudi arabia there could be a cold peacetr between then and iran. do you think that's achievable and what would that mean? >> guest: i think iran is a dangerous country. it is naïve to think they will adhere to some type of cold peace. they are aggressive today in interfering in other countries. iran is clearly involved in syria, they are clearly clearly
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involved in yemen, and in libya. i think it is naïve to think they are all of a sudden going to change their ways. they have supported extremists. they have supported terrorist. o they don't care whether a government is stable or not in t the neighboring countries. the i think you can't be naïve and think that iran is just going to be quiet. >> host: this is the washingtong post notes this morningat for about the next two days will be an ongoing effort with theook is saudis on solid ground and emphasize their common interests. the obama administration has sold the saudi's more than 95,000,000,000 in military hardware over the last several years. saudi intelligence has been essential to the counterterrorism fight against al qaeda and isdd the ii islamic state. take a look at this headline. president obama looks to reassure allies in the middle east and the graphic below it. the top. the top of u.s. arms in 2015.ra
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saudi arabia followed by australia, new yet united arab emirates, qatar, mexico, indonesia, these are the top suppliers of u.s. crude oil. canada, and the saudi arabia. talk about that relationship. >> guest: we have a very broad relationship with the gulf countries including the saudis. they like our weapons, remember there are other sources they can get weapons from. they can get weapons fromrer c, from china, russia, europe, there are other sources available to them in order to an arms. there'd rather deal with the united states for two reasons. one, we have we have the best weapons.ar secondly, we have the best training and they know that we are reliable. we also shared the same mission as far as stability in the middle east. they recognize their differences between our countries. we have major problems with the saudis as they relate to human rights, as they relate to women's issues.
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as it deals with foreign labor. we have to make sure we do not recite of the fact that we have a strategic partnership with these countries, we have to make sure that whatever we do, it furthers our interest. >> host: with those issues on the table and take calls. crystal in nebraska, republican. >> caller: yes.st i live in hastings, nebraska. several years ago, or last year actually the epa came to test the water. back in 1994, a woman passed away at the age of 50 from though water as well as others do here. her husband opened up a clean water place for people to get free, clean water. this was dedicated to his wife. well, how can it be that the epa of adams county would not allow them to test it in hastings,
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nebraska said they would test it themselves.at i don't understand how they can not have epa test the water?. >> guest: i'm not familiar with the specific circumstances but i agree to be. epa has the responsibility and obligation to make sure that our water supplies are safe. not only are safe drinking water but also clean water they are responsible for the implementation of the clean water act that was passed in 1970s. that includes testing.colleagueo part of the legislation that i filed yesterday along with my a colleagues would provide a broader testing to make sure our children are safe in regards to greater immediate if there is any problems at all there is immediate public notification. it also provides for a greater immediate response including the use of fema if we have a major problem.m.clea so i agree with you that epa needs to know, they need to know
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the status in order to ensure that we have clean and safe water, they need to know and be able to test. they are not getting that access, that's wrong and they need to have that authority. >> caller: my question is, simple. i'm just curious as to why i hear no one speaking about the long-term effects to the children that has been tricking this water. who is going to pay for it and it's not a call for reparations but african-americans know that's not going to happen because anytime that comes up they say where were going to get the money, who do you blame. but when they needed 700,000,000,000 dollars to bill at the banks, it is no problem. thank you. >> guest: you raise a valid point. no no lead is acceptable level in children today. it robs them of their full is an potential.
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it is tragic. the cost of this is astronomical. let. let me give you one example that is pretty personal to those of us in maryland. that's the case of freddie gray. i think people know about the tragic circumstances that happen one year ago this month. poiso in which we had on rest in baltimore. freddie gray was robbed of his full potential because of the engagement with law enforcement. also because the as a youngster he had blood poisoning. it's a nine him his full opportunity and caused him problems throughout his life. we risk at our own parol the and right cost if we do not deal with the lead issue. it is not only the humanitariant right thing to do, to make sure everyone is safe, it's also tremendous cost to society. d the obligation that the federal government to make sure children are safe. >> host: three have been charged in the fleet water crisis does
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anyone serious believe that governor rick snyder will be indicted by republican attorney general? >> guest: i know there's an int independent investigation be done. we we know the u.s. attorney is looking into criminal matters. i'm not up-to-date on the specifics of a criminal investigation. i do know their investigation is ongoing. >> host: in maryland, john, republican. >> caller: good morning. were you the guy that sponsored this treaty, or i guess iranian arrangement where we gave them back money that was in escrow? and now you're talking about iran being involved in all kinds of terrorism sponsors of terrorism. why why did you makes that available for the president to force this agreement? >> host: okay will get his response.roval hang up and listen on your tv. >> guest: i'm not sure which legislation you're referring to.
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the iran agreement, was subject to approval was subject to review by congress. there is a resolution ofin disapproval. i voted against the resolution. against approving the iran agreement. and i were it is now the law and i will make sure that iran never becomes a nuclear weapon state. what i was able to get done as a ranking democrat on the senate foreign relations committee working with senator corker, the chairman was to make congress engage in this so we had a review process. we have more transparency, more more transparency, more committee hearings, more public knowledge. i think as a result of what senator corker and i were able to do there is a closer review during the negotiation process. i i think we actually got a stronger agreement, better ways tete of enforcing an agreement andre will continue to do that in
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congress. i think the congressional role is the right role in oversight as theis agreements are being negotiated. the president acted under his authority per there's not enough votes in congress to override what he had done. i do not think that was the best agreement moving for. it's done, now it's time to insurance in force. now it's time for congress to work with the administration and international community to make sure that only iran doesn't become a nuclear weapon state but to take action against iran for its other the various actions such as a ballistic missile ballistic missile testing, supportive terrorism, violation of human rights. we have to be very strong in our campaign to make sure iran is held accountable for these actions. >> host: has this iran nuclear deal changed our relationship with saudi arabia in a negative way?une the headline it is that saudi's deliver snub to president obama on the tarmac. stepping up air force one at the airport in the saudi capital mr. obama was greeted by a lower ranking royal.he ahead of his arrival.
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they showed the king personally greeting senior officials from k other nations arriving at an airbase. unlike some visits mr. obama's arrival was not shown live on television. >> guest: i think you read too much into those issues. i think saudi arabia understande its most important alliancesey with the united states from the point of view of having a majort power that shares their same security interest in the middle east. they understand how important that relationship is. past there were disagreements on some of what we did in syria. there is a disagreements on how we handle some of the iranian disagreements. i think the saudis understand that the relationship with the unitedlong states is critically important. it will be long-lasting beyond one administration and they recognize the importance of thit visit of the present to saudi arabia. >> host: to the victims of families of 911 attack be able to hold the saudi government accountable and sue them for their role in september 11 and
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did they have a role in the september 11 attack? >> guest: the victim should have compensation. that we those were victimized, there should be accountability and they should be able to get relief. the issue as to how that can be done is a matter that we have a bill pending in the united states senate, the administration has voiced a strong objection to it. the. the saudis have a voice a strong objection to it. it has to do with the issues of sovereign immunity and 1 accountability. we are trying to understand the administration's concern to see whether there is a pay it forward to accomplish our objective of what were trying to do and that is to give away in which the victims can become sated. >> what about the 20 pages the 20 pages of the reports of the investigation into what happenee what let up in what happened on
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september 11 that people have called for the release of them to the public. >> guest: is part of a reportl issued after 911. it's been reviewed now by the administration to see whether it will be released to the public, parts of it may be reductive. i i don't think all of it will be released. as a senior democrat had reviewed those 20 pages in the classified setting.ve my it so i cannot comment on it under my oath of office. i connected my view on it. just generally, i support as much transparency as we can make. i think the. i think the more we can make public the better off we are. >> host: what you think the public would learn from those 20 pages and i can't talk specifics can you talk in general, i don't want want to get you in trouble. >> guest: i don't think i can go down that path to comment as well be in the reports. >> host: does the decision by the supreme court yesterday, this is front page of the washington post this morning,
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terrorism survivors get assets, so the supreme court cleared the way for american victims of terrorism to collect nearly 2,000,000,000 and sees iranian assets but not without a warning from the chief justice that the court was undermining its authority. the justice ruled six - two that congress had not violated the separation of powers when it passed a bill bill making it easier for about 1300 people to collect money on behalf of those killed or injured in the 19 a three bombing of a marine corps barrick in beirut.th >> guest: have not read the specifics. i have read the news accounts of the supreme court decision. i think it's good news. i think it's in the congress is the legislative branch of government and within certain parameters they are permitted to act on issues of compensation. in this regard, congress passed a a law to provide relief in regards to a certain issue involving iran. could
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the supreme court by a six - two vote upheld the congressional power to provide that type of apple ever relieve. >> host: cited that that set precedent to the 911 biller does not related? >> guest: it could be related. e the concern being raised i think by the administration, by the saudis may not necessarily be the constitutional power of the congress. i'm not sure about that. there is comedy between countries as it relates to immunity issues which are long-standing. one of the peers that has been , breast if congress does this will the saudis take action to compromise action and saudibl arabia. but. it happened in 9/11, those responsible need to be held accountable. i think congress has a right to move in that direction. we will work with administration to figure out a way to get this done. >> host: will go to st. louis missouri. >> caller: good morning. you? arm
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i was just wondering. i am watching your program this morning and you listed the number of countries in the middle east that were receiving american arms and how much they would receive. you left off one person, one country. that received the majority ofhot military hardware and that was israel. i was was just curious why wasn't israel mentioned?r y. >> host: this is the list put together by the wall street journal. top buyers of u.s. arm in 2015 by the millions. you can see the list there for yourself. can you explain senator? >> guest: were talking here about arms sales. arms sales are the saudis are the number one, they purchased united states of weapons and it goes through a notification process there is involvement to make sure it is acceptable. not a a nato country. it goes through different
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scrutinies. that is the arms deal. there's also a foreign military's assistance military assistance budget that involve israel and other countries in which the united states is providing help. >> host: rock falls, illinois. >> caller: senator, do you feel: there something going on with the sunnis and shiites working together in iran and how does russia fit into that? >> guest: it's very interesting. when i was in saudi arabia i asked the king and i asked the crown prince of the deputy crown prince. the question was asked, now if there is a leader elected in ses syria from one of the religious parties, could that person represent all of the religioustd parties? were set, the answers, we don't care. we have shiites in our country that are part of our society and government.
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not a matter of whether as a senior shiite, it's someone who will represent all of the people of that country. so what were looking at in syria is a leader that will represent all of the ethnic communities of syria and has the confidence of the people that they will defend their communities. so, we have to stop the battling that is going on and on secretary reasons. that's the key to stability in the region. that is the type of leadership we need in syria and iraq. that's the type of leadership we want to see iran stopped interfere with countries in an effort to get the minority in countries to cause military problems or stability problems leading to isil's ability to attract and recruit players. >> host: does that leader exist in syria? >> guest: i dot know. i know know it's not a side. i know there's no way and i'm sure the president is hearingpln
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pretty clearly there can be no peace in syria with a leader who has killed so many people and has dislocated so many people. assad has no credibility in that region. we we need a new person to head syria. but a person, it could be a shiite, could be a sunni. that's not the issue. the issue. the question is is the person that represents. >> host: what credibility does president obama has. >> it's the united states. i think they look at the united states is the most important signal player of leadership in that region. under president obama the united states has strengthened its ties to that region from our involvement. we have been been directly involved in syria and iraq.as a key partr we have been engaged in libya,a, they look at the united states as a key partner in their desirn to create stable regimes representing all of their citizens not creating voids for
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extremists. they want to get rid of extremists. they look at the united states and president obama is a a key partner in accomplishing those objectives. >> host: does that mean having a presence at all times in theseth regions so that extremists, as we have seen when americans withdraw and extremists command? >> guest: let me define that. the united states must be engaged in the middle east, there's no question about it. we. we do not want to see american boots on the ground. that would be counterproductiv' i remember the conversation of king abdullah of jordan and what was said we do not wanted to be a western crusade. the people of the region mustal defend themselves. the challenge that we see today in iraq and syria is whether the sunni tribes can be protected by governments that has had itsts challenges in getting government
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forces to protect sunni communities. the sunni militias not going to be accepted. is going to have to be a national force. i think the challenges develop that type of security in the region. the united states is critically important. yes, it's our military, our air support, our our air support, our technical training that can help provide that climate. it will be for an extended. ofca time. ultimately, it will be up to the syrians, iraqis, the syrians, iraqis, saudis to defend themselves. >> dave in massachusetts, good morning. >> caller: high. senator, i'm a fan. the senator in half on your committee. >> guest: he is the chairman yes >> caller: what about environmental.ni >> guest: yes that's what it is. are you in climate change

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