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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  April 28, 2016 10:00am-12:01pm EDT

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for energy and water projects across the country, an attempt to advance the bill failed. the white house has threatened the bill veto if the provision is at it. now live to the floor of the u.s. senate. on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain dr. barry black will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. lord, you are in the midst of us, and we are called your children. we confess that we often fail to live worthy of your great name and generous mercies. we thank you for the opportunity
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to serve you as we seek to keep america the land of the free and the home of the brave. abide with our lawmakers, be their companion as they labor to keep this nation strong. drive away all snares of the enemy, and may no weapon formed against them be able to prosper. make our senators models of excellence and integrity for our nation and world. we pray in your great name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag.
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i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senate majority leader. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, let me quote from a letter i recently received from our
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colleagues across the aisle. here's what they said -- "we're writing to reiterate our interest in working cooperatively to facilitate the fiscal year 2017 appropriations process. as we see it," our demed friends said, "restoring regular order gives us a more transparent process but also a chance for senators on both sides of the aisle to participate meaningfully in funding decisions. this is a win-win opportunity, and we should seize it together." that was a letter i received from all of our friends on the other side of the aisle. well, mr. president, that's exactly what we have been doing. exactly. the appropriations process was off to a strong start, an excellent kickoff in the words of the top appropriations committee democrat, senator mikulski. with bills passing through the committee with unanimous bipartisan votes. if this is the way it's going to
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be to move appropriations we said just a few days ago, then -- quote -- i think it's a good day. senator mikulski said i think it's a good day. democrats lauded the first bill on the floor, and in press releases for helping promote american jobs and for addressing the cleanup of radioactive and hazardous contamination across our country. they praised its key investments in research and water infrastructure. then what did they do? they filibustered. the very same people who wrote the letter. the very same people who praised the bill in press releases. the very same people who took credit for amendments to the bill. those same people. it seems democrats are more
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concerned with funding the acquisition of heavy water from iran than funding water infrastructure here in america. let me say that again, mr. president. it seems democrats are more concerned with funding the acquisition of heavy water from iran than funding water infrastructure right here in our own country. as we all know, president obama concluded a nuclear deal with iran last year. tehran is expected to reap approximately $100 billion thanks to the deal, and the obama administration itself has admitted that the iranian regime is likely to use that windfall to invest in its war economy. to defend its regime and to strengthen the hand of the revolutionary guards, a group that's been cuesed of helping shia militias attack and kill
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american soldiers in iraq. many of us, including myself, warned that this deal made little sense in terms of our regional strategy. we warned that it would enhance iran's capability and its power. and indeed since signing president obama's deal, iran has tested ballistic missiles. it's deployed forces to syria in support of the assad regime. and it's harassed american ships and those of our allies within the persian gulf. so when the administration made an announcement over this past weekend that it would be purchasing so-called heavy water from iran, a lot of us were concerned. that's right. make sure everybody understands. u.s. funds would be sent to iran nothing in the president's deal with iran required the united states to make that purchase,
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and it's likely it will effectively amount to even more money for iran to invest in military modernization. so senator cotton filed an amendment to prevent the money we are appropriating here from being used for more of these purchases in the future, in the future. his amendment does not put the secretary of energy's current heavy water purchase agreement at risk. it simply strives to keep our treasury from subsidizing the modernization of iran's military or the procurement of ballistic missiles or air defenses that may be used against america or her allies. i support his policy objective. i don't know what wouldn't be supported by every member of the senate, regardless of party. but apparently, democrats do
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not. they filibustered the overall bill, a bill that passed committee with unanimous bipartisan support, remember, to be prevent even the possibility that this amendment was not even pending, to prevent even the possibility of voting on this amendment. they couldn't wait a single week before throwing an obstructionist wrench into the appropriations process they claim to want. now, mr. president, some of us remember that the democrats didn't want to vote when they were in the majority. they also don't seem to want to vote when they're in the minority. i hope they're not dusting off the old filibuster summer playbook. especially in light of the letter they just sent to me about win-win opportunities and restoring regular order. perhaps the most galling thing about democrats again trying to blow up the appropriations process is this -- they have filibustered this appropriations bill and then walked into a
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press conference about zika funding. they filibustered this bill and they walked into a press conference about zika funding. well, the appropriations process is the path for that funding. that's the way you do it. preventing the spread of zika is something both parties agree is a priority. the administration currently has funds to address the issue but has requested additional funds by the end of next month. both republicans and democrats have been looking at different approaches to properly address the situation. the senior senator from washington, senator murray, recently characterized that bipartisan collaborative process as moving forward -- quote -- in good faith. that's especially notable when you consider how difficult it is for the committee to move forward when the administration keeps it waiting month after month after month for information it needs, as has been the case here with zika.
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but progress was being made anyway. then democrats filibustered and upended the process. so how do we move forward now, mr. president? i remember the second ranking democrat, senator durbin, once shared some wisdom that seems particularly relevant. here's what he said. if you don't want to fight fires, don't be a firefighter. if you don't want to come to congress and vote on tough issues, get another job somewhere else. so here's the message to our democratic colleagues. do your job. do your job. there are other areas where both sides have been able to find common ground. we've seen the truth of that and many important solutions passed by this republican-led senate already. permanent tax relief for
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families and small businesses. ground breaking education reform that empowers parents and prevents washington from imposing common core. the first long-term transportation solution in years, a solution that will finally allow us to address crumbling roads and infrastructure. whether it's pay raises for our troops, help for our veterans or hope for the victims of human trafficking, we got a lot done last year with hard work and with cooperation. we've gotten more done this year with hard work and cooperation, too. in the past three months, we passed a comprehensive north korea sanctions bill, a bill to permanently ban internet access taxes, a measure to give the public more access to government records, a bill to help safeguard american intellectual property from theft and critical legislation to help address our nation's prescription opioid and heroin epidemic. and just last week, we passed both the most pro-passenger, pro-security f.a.a.
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reauthorization in years and the first major energy legislation since the bush administration. so where are we? we now have a bipartisan opportunity to responsibly work through the individual funding bills. we now have a bipartisan opportunity to responsibly continue addressing funding issues like zika. what will it take? what it will take is for our democratic colleagues to end this obstruction and work cooperatively across the aisle instead. that's not too much to ask, so let's take a step back and look at the bigger picture. i believe that when you give senators and the people they represent more of a say in the legislative process, they're bound to take more of a stake in the legislative outcome. regardless of party. that's why we have empowered committees and members to take the lead in more areas.
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that's how we've gotten the senate back to work in so many ways. i think members in both parties have seen the benefits of it. so yes, some may see a short-term political benefit in biological up the appropriations process now -- in blowing up the appropriations process now, but i would also ask my friends to remember this -- restoring the appropriations process is something we all should want. democrats have said it's what they want. republicans have said it's what we want. and it's what i set out to do. i think it's the best way to give individual senators in both parties more of a voice for their constituents in the funding process. to empower them to make smarter decisions about how taxpayer dollars are spent. so we're going to give our colleagues an opportunity today to reconsider this filibuster. they don't have to block the appropriations process, which is the path for funding priorities
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like zika, and i hope they will make the right choice. we've gotten so much done already with hard work and cooperation. i know there is much more we can accomplish for our country with a little more of each. so let's keep striving to get more done for our country, and the only way to do that is together. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: mr. president, i first came to the senate when -- and i was so fortunate; i was put on the appropriations committee that very first day i was here. loved my assignment. so for many, many years i had the good fortune of either chairing or being the ranking member of that energy and water
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subcommittee, so i know a lot about that subcommittee. many, many successful bills. never an unsuccessful bill did we bring to the floor. we did them quickly. i worked most with the senator from new mexico by the name of domenici. we worked together. we got a lot done for the country. so i know of this energy and water bill. the republican leader complains about the energy and water appropriations bill and what happened yesterday. on the democratic side, there's no one -- there is no one that is more liked, appreciated, and there's no one that is more imbued with an historic figure than is dianne feinstein from california. she became involved in politics at an early age and was thrown
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into a maelstrom of violence when the mayor was murdered, and she had to step in and take over that very difficult job. as a senator, she has been valiant, and she wants to get things done. no one can call her "rank partisan" because she isn't. but she, like all of us over here wer, were -- but she, likel of us over here, were terribly disappointed yesterday when all of a sudden the energy and water bill is finished, at 12:15 tuesday, we get an amendment that is really something that is a poison pill, if there ever were one. the only thing holding up the bill is this poison pill amendment. we agreed to pass it yesterday.
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dianne feinstein agrees. pass it. we like it the way it is. so if they are a interested in doing their job, like the republican leader said, we're happy to vote on this bill now. but if the republicans insist on these poison pill amendments -- and there's no question that's what this is -- we're going to have to continue as we have. now, it takes a lot of gall from my friend, the republican leader, to talk about filibusters. i repeat what i've said here before, but it's worth repeating: as soon as imm was elected -- as soon as obama was elected, the republicans met hue -- met here in washington and they decided that they had come to two conclusions. number one, obama will not be reelected. they failed at that miserably.
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he got more than 5 million more votes than his opponent. but the other thing they have succeeded in most instances, and that is oppose everything that president obama wants, and that continues to today. now, as far as poison pill amendments, we're on record, mr. president -- on record numerous times -- talking about why it is wrong to have these poison pill riders. for example, i said here on the floor, "true bipartisan also requires both parties to resist the temptation to pursue poison pill riders that appeal to their own supporters but are strongly opposed by the other party, that their conclusion in appropriations bills would grind the process to a halt. no doubt there will be many opportunities next year for parties to score political points. but the appropriations process is not the place for that. and i hope members in both parties will agree that it's more important to fund the
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government than to play politics." that's what i said when we started this congress. that's what the senators who wrote the letter that my friend, the republican leader, talks about. we want to do appropriations bills. and we were on a rush to get one done, the first one. we were headed to victory, and out of nowhere comes a poison pill rider. and everyone acknowledges that's what it is. there are many deaf notions of "poison -- there are many definitions of "poison pill rider," but the president says he can't sign the bill. we should step back and figure out some other way to try to embarrass the president. this is not the way to do it. so finally, you know, my friend, the republican leader, comes to the floor and talks about what a great amount of work that we've done here in the senate. and we've done as much as we can. we have tried to support everything.
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we are a responsible minority. we have not done them what they've done to us. they opposed everything we tried to do -- everything. hundreds of motions to proceed we had to move to. so -- and we're happy we got energy legislation done. we tried for five years to get it done. we were filibustered every step of the way. we couldn't get it done. so it's brought up g.n.p. we cooperated. -- so it's brought up again. we cooperated. we got it done. so virtually everything that the republican leader talked about were things that we tried to do before and they wouldn't let us. so let's talk about p what we haven't done. he talks about they passed opioid legislation. whoops. flint, michigan. whoops, they didn't get it done. a mistake -- not by the reerntion but by us -- in drafting. a deal with renewable energy credits. not done.
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zika virus -- my friend talks about, well, we're trying to get information. that is ridiculous. ridiculous. and we'll hear more about that in a few minutes. no district court nominations, no hearings on the supreme court. so there's no need to go over what hasn't been done. imagine, though, mr. president, if you will, that this great country is facing a potential outbreak of a dangerous virus. nothing that was made up in the movies, nothing that is some special tv show. it is actually a potential outbreak of a dangerous virus. imagine mosquitoes are carrying a virus that affects pregnant women, a virus that causes birth defects in babies, not allowing their brains and consuls to develop. -- sculs to develop. -- skulls to develop.
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we don't know the full extent of this. we had a briefing down here a week ago today. the centers for disease control, national institutes of health, we had the secretary of health and human services here. they are in a state of emergency. they need to do something. they need to develop vaccines. this is on its way. it's here. it's here in puerto rico. we have cases reported in -- and my friend from florida -- in my friend from florida's state, someone who i served with in the house and served here in the senate, really one of our most outstanding members, senator nelson of florida. there are cases we already know of in florida. 30 states are going to be affected with this -- the mosquitoes, as the weather warms. i've been told that mosquitoes in the past have never caused birth defects. they've caused all kinds of problems with malaria and other things. but not birth defects. now they're here. now imagine, after what i've just laid out to you, that those
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in control of congress do nothing to address the imminent danger posed by this virus. sounds like some science fiction novel, doesn't it? but it's not. this is real life here in america. this is the reality of the republicans' refusal to respond to zika. my friend, the senior senator from washington being involved in trying to come up with something. she said yesterday that she hasn't heard a word from the republicans on this important issue. this is real life. it is a scourge, zika, that's already affected our country. it's time we passed an emergency appropriations bill to take care of it, to fight it. out of tradition, common sense, and precedent. public health is an emergency and demands a response. as i've indicated, hundreds of
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people in puerto rico quickly approaching 1,000 are infected -- in puerto rico. and as the weather warms, it's going to multiply throughout the continental united states. 30 states are going to be likely affected with this mosquito, killer mosquito. more than two months ago, my friend said, we need more from the administration. more than two months ago the administration desperately as -- desperate as they were, sent a letter to the congress saying, we need an emergency request of $1.9 billion. out of desperation, what did the white house do? two years ago we were fighting ebola, still a worldwide problem and a problem from our country. they had to take money that they were working on vaccines, now we have a situation where both mosquito-causing zika, the ebola
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scourge -- both of them are underfunded now. the republicans have done a double whammy here. we need to give the money back to the agencies that are doing something to help us on ebola and fund zika. they haven't lifted a finger that we're aware of, as is said yesterday. the distinguished senator from washington hasn't heard from the so-called negotiators in more than a week. even as the centers for disease control and the national institutes of health are pleading for us to act, they've been very clear about the funding need to fight xi kavment they've -- to fight zika. they've told us, we need more from the administration. it wasn't all that long ago that my friend, the republican leader, was singing a much different song. here's what he said about funding the outbreak of ebola two years ago. this is a direct quote. "i think they should have anything they want, whatever the
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centers for disease control and prevention think they need, they'll -- we'll give it to them." close quote. he said the same thing seven years ago when we were faced with another real problem -- the swinge flu. here's what he said then. "if the administration needs anything additionally from the congress, i know we'll be happy to provide it on a totally bipartisan basis." close quote. fast-forward seven years and the republicans now in the majority won't provide the requested funding for zika. why? we know why. they can't get through over here. they can't get it done. the centers for disease control and the national institutes of health know what they need. they've told us. they've told anyone that will listen. so why can't the republicans give it to them? they can't -- if they won't give the experts they need to combat zika, what do they propose? we could ask the zika mosquitoes carrying -- the zika-carrying
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mosquitoes. we could ask them, don't breed this year. remember, anyway, it is the last term of a two-term president. maybe we shouldn't do it this year. the senate should not leave today without addressing this serious issue. we shouldn't be taking ten days off as a dangerous virus threatens this nation. and it is threatening us. the republicans should do their jobs and pass a $1.9 million emergency spending bill to help protect americans from the zika virus. so, mr. president, based on that -- and i want -- mr. nelson: will the senator yield before he makes the request? mr. reid: yes, i will be happy to do that. i want the record to be spread with the fact that this good manage, recognizing more than any other senator, because of what he has -- is facing and will face in the very hot, humid, sometimes tropic state of
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florida, he recognized this a long time ago, and i admire his being the head of this issue. he's been out there in front and some of us have been trying to catch up with him. yes, i will be happy to yield. mr. nelson: mr. president, i thank the senator from yielding. i just want to add to his comments from this senator's personal perspective. the state of florida presently has 94 infected cases that we know of, including five pregnant women that we know of. we also have a very mobile and sizable population of puerto ricans. go to that island and lo and behold, it is estimated that 20% of the population is infected.
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and upwards of close to 100 cases -- multiple hundreds that we know of on the number -- the actual number, i think, is in the 80's of pregnant women that we know of that are infected. now, as the majority -- as the leader has already described, this has horrendous consequences, not only to the families but the cost to society because of the deformed babies that result -- and not necessarily at birth. these defects may come years later, but that is a huge cost to society, not even to speak of the human tragedy.
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and so is it any wonder that i join with the minority leader in begging for this emergency appropriations of $1.9 billion? mr. reid: the record should reflect the people of puerto rico are american citizens. i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to consideration of calendar number 157, h.r. 3038, that all after the enacting clause be stricken, a that the nelson substitute amendment to enhance the federal response on preparedness rrp to zika, which is at the desk being be agreed to, that there be up to two mors o -- two hours of de equally divided between the two leaders or their designees, athat upon the use or yeelt yielding back of time, the bill be read a third time and the senate vote on the measure, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. cornyn: applicant? the presiding officer: the
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assistant majority leader. mr. cornyn: reserving the right to object, there is bipartisan support for doing what we need to do to address the zika virus, which as the senator from florida correctly points out has affected the territory of puerto rico pretty dramatically. fortunately, according to the latest statistics from the center for disease control, there is no single case on -- in the continental united states of a mosquito-borne infection of somebody on the continental united states, but that's not to say this is not a serious matter. in fact, it is. that's why republicans were glad to see the administration use the unexpended funds for the ebola crisis, some $500 million as a down payment on what is going to be necessary to deal with this, but the fact is our friends across the aisle have requested a $1.9 billion blank check. they haven't told us what the plan for the use of the funds
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is. in the bill that senator nelson has filed, he said those funds will be spent until they're gone. and of course it's emergency spending, it's deficit spending as to the debt, but it completely lacks any sort of accountability that would only come through a regular appropriations process where we consider this in a deliberate sort of way. so i have a number of questions for the senator that i would like to ask. i would just say that i have traveled to the galveston national laboratory that's done some world-class research in this area and also on the ebola virus and also infectious diseases. last friday, i was in houston at the texas medical center talking to the experts, trying to learn more about this so i could do my job as a senator in a responsible sort of way. so we all agree that this is a serious matter and it should be negotiated on a bipartisan basis, but we should at least have a plan from the
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administration for how the money's going to be spent. there is no plan. it's a blank check. and until we get a plan and can sit down and avoid the histrionics and the gamesmanship and the partisanship on something that should be nonpartisan, we'll object to the request. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the objection is heard. mr. reid: my friend, the assistant republican leader, has a lot of nerve. there has been a lot of states affected with emergencies in the last decade, but texas had its share, and we have been willing to help them on floods and fires and all the other problems that they have had. some of them man made, some of them not so. those were emergencies, this is an emergency. and for the republicans to come to this body this morning and say there is no plan, there is a plan. of course there is $1.9 billion, pay back the money to ebola so we can continue on that.
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that's $500 million right there, $500 million right there. we also want to do something to help puerto rico, which needs to be done. that's approximately $200 million. we have some -- the rest is for some help in the countries, a minimal amount for countries outside the united states where these mosquitoes are breeding, trying to do something about that, and of course there is money, most of the money in here is for research to come up with vaccines and other programs to alleviate the disaster that's facing this country. and everybody has it. the president has outlined that, the senator from florida has outlined that. and to have them say we need to sit down and negotiate. we are not in the majority. they have an obligation to bring something to the floor. if there is bipartisan support to do something, why aren't the republicans doing something? wait, wait, while we're home gladhanding people during the next week, we should be doing
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something here to address this emergency. it's an emergency. mr. nelson: mr. president? mr. reid: yes, i would yield. mr. nelson: in answer directly to the senator from texas' question before he objected, he wanted to ask this senator a question as to what is the plan. mr. cornyn: has the democratic leader yielded the floor or is it for a question? the presiding officer: the democratic leader has yielded the floor for a question. mr. nelson: then i will put it in the form of a question. would the democratic lder believe that this senator has spoken many times on the floor laying out the specifics of the request of $1.9 billion, which includes the replenishment of $589 million back to the ebola fund which had been advanced to
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fight this emergency? would the senator believe that and would the senator further believe that i have in my hand that breakdown and at the appropriate time would ask that it be inserted in the record? mr. reid: mr. president, to my friend from florida, yes. and where did he get that information? in preparing this legislation. he got it from the administration. everybody knows what's in this legislation. what my friend, the assistant republican leader said, is nonsense. if there is -- if there is bipartisan support, and i'm confident if they would come up with something, we would do our best to support. but this is the legislation we need. this is a desperate situation, and it's going to become more desperate as each day goes by because the summer season is fast approaching. the presiding officer: the assistant majority leader. mr. cornyn: mr. president, let me just suggest contrary to what the democratic leader has said,
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the questions i've asked about where the plan is, is not nonsense, and let me demonstrate the specific questions that i have and that i think other responsible senators are going to want answers to before we write a blank check for $1.9 billion to the administration, particularly when they have already got access, as the senator from florida said, to $589 million, which are unexpended ebola funds. so my questions that i would like to get answers to and i think we can then have a meaningful discussion and act responsiblably is what specific activities are going to be funded by the $1.9 billion plan? for example, the bill from the senator from florida provides $743 million to the center for disease control. is that for domestic activities? is it focused on puerto rico? is it for c.d.c. international activities? and if so, where?
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the second question i have is what are the agency's priorities. continuing with the c.d.c. issue, will they focus on vector control activities, outreach and education? as we know, this is a mosquito-borne disease. it's not the only mosquito-borne disease, but unfortunately this mosquito has not only been present in central and south america but is now, as the democratic leader says, present in some of the more tropical climates, the warmer climates, including my state of texas, so i take this personally and seriously. but it also affects florida, no doubt about it, louisiana, and we don't know how it might spread or how this virus might morph over time. another question i have is how long does the administration expect to use the funding for? for example, we have an annual appropriation process which has
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been filibustered by our democratic colleagues starting with the energy and water bill, and now they want us to fund an emergency appropriation for an unlimited period of time without any plan to spend the money. that's irresponsible. so the request from the senator from florida in his bill says the money will be spent, quote, until expended, until it runs out and they provided no further details on what will be funded this year and future years, and the reason why i mention the appropriation process is we all know that we are in the appropriation season now, and it would be appropriate for the appropriations committee to process this request and to come up with a recommendation for the full senate, but that has not yet happened. i'm told that the discussions are ongoing, which is a good thing, and that's where the -- this ought to be resolved, not through grandstanding on the senate floor in an effort to try to make this a partisan issue. this is not a partisan or
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political issue. it should not be. there is bipartisan concern and willingness to address this issue. but how are they going -- can they spend $1.9 billion before the end of the fiscal year? when the appropriations process will start up again? in other words, it's not very -- it doesn't take a lot of thought to realize that this is a request for a blank check without regard for the accountability that comes from what we call the regular order here of the appropriation process in the senate. and then we know that the administration transferred funding from unobligated ebola funds two weeks ago. what is the administration using that $589 million for related to zika? i think we should know the answer to that. and it also demonstrates what happens when congress appropriates money on an emergency basis without knowing what the plan is because obviously the ebola crisis has
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abated to some extent. i'm not saying it's gone away completely, particularly in countries like africa, but there is a pot of money, $589 million, which suggests that maybe we inadvertently appropriated more money on an emergency basis for the ebola crisis than ultimately was necessary. now, i'm not faulting anybody for that. i'm just saying that's the way these work when you ask for the money first without a plan and there is no accountability for how the money is spent. you have pots of money that are out there that are fortunately in this case available now to deal with the zika issue. and in the health and human services request contained in the bill from the senator from florida, there are other issues. one, they ask for a governmentwide contingency fund that health and human services controls and can transfer funds elsewhere. so what they want to do is play a shell game with this money.
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they want to get the money, and if they don't need it to deal with zika, they can transfer it for other purposes, again without any transparency, without any real political accountability, and i just think responsible members of the senate -- and i would expect that all 100 of us would put ourselves in that category -- would want to know where's the transparency, where's the accountability, where's the plan, and let's sit down and do this asthma tour adults, in a nonpartisan way in order to solve the problem. but here's another thing that sort of jumps out at you. when you look at the president's request for $1.9 billion, they actually talk about funding matters unrelated to zika. they talk about funding things at the environmental protection agency. and then you look at the request to transfer funds governmentwide, basically they're requesting money, it appears, unless there is some logical explanation, which never not -- they have not yet made,
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for why we should on an emergency basis grant funds to the environmental protection agency. that's a little bit hard to -- hard to understand. and then finally, there's this. all of us are willing to deal with this in a responsible, nonpartisan way. that's the reason i have spent time at the galveston national laboratory and the texas medical center, trying to learn as much as i can about this so i can do my job, just as i'm sure every individual senator wants to do their job in a responsible way. but to come in and ask for $1.9 billion in emergency funding, that means it's not paid for, it's borrowed money, which adds to the deficits and the debt, that's a pretty serious matter, especially when our national debt is $19 trillion and has almost doubled under the obama administration. so this is a very serious matter, and i treat it seriously, and i trust that all 100 senators believe that this
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is something we ought to deal with responsibly and in a deliberate sort of way, and we will, but it's not by coming to the floor and grandstanding by asking for $1.9 billion blank checks without any plan to spend it in an appropriate sort of way. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business for one hour, with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, there are already nearly 900 cases of the zika virus in the united states and the three territories, including actually two confirmed cases in my home state of washington. a recent survey showed that 40%
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of adults in our country see this virus as a reason to delay starting families. mr. president, those are disturbing statistics. they make it clear the zika virus is a public health emergency, and there is no good reason for the delay we are seeing from our republican colleagues in addressing this. months ago, the administration months ago put forward the strong proposal that senator reid introduced today. republicans refused at the at the time to even consider it and i'm disappointed this morning that they weighed in on the side of further delay rather than acting on this. as a result of this, we are getting closer to the summer and to mosquito season. but we still here in this body have not moved on emergency supplemental funding that would put much-needed resources into preventing and treating this frightening virus. and too many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle still don't seem to see zika as
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an emergency. some republicans are insisting we shouldn't give the administration a penny in additional funding to support the response we need to make. others are saying that action on zika can wait, wait for weeks or months. mr. president, republicans in congress simply might be able to wait, but families across this country cannot. addressing this zika virus shouldn't be controversial, and with women and children's health -- women and children's health and well-being on the line, it certainly should not be a place for partisanship. i want to say, democrats are at the table. we want to get this done as soon as possible. in fact, a few days ago, as recently as a few days ago i was hopeful republicans were truly interested in working with this -- on this to get this done and to be able to find an actual path forward. we had some good conversations last week, but i'm worried that in the last few days it has
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become clear once again that the extreme right, like the heritage foundation, are in control and republican leaders have been unable to demonstrate to this point a path on how we can get a bipartisan deal signed into law. this issue is far too important to have republican infighting hold it up, so i urge my republican colleagues to join us. we are ready to be at the table, to work with them. we need to address this as an emergency, mr. president. and then i hope we can move on to work on the other really critical issues before us -- the opioid epidemic that so many have been here to talk berk the families in flint that are suffering, ensuring our supreme court nominee gets a fair hearing. i'm here to urge my colleagues on the other side. -- on the other side of the aisle to recognize that this is an emergency. families are waiting for us to act. we need to get the research. we need to have an understanding
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of what this disease is. we certainly need to put in prevention and we certainly need to work on the important path forward in making sure we have the right kinds of education out there as well as a solution to this problem that is rapidly becoming an american problem. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. schatz: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. mr. schatz: thank you, mr. president. if this isn't an emergency, then i don't know what is an emergency. zika is a public health emergency. it defines public health emergency, and we really have to act now to fund the administration's $1.9 billion supplemental request. and i want to respond to the assistant majorit majority leads concerns that there is no plan. with due respect -- and i know he is working hard on this as well -- that's just not accurate. the legislation propounded by
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senators nelson and others has a very specific plan, and i was fortunate enough to visit with the centers for disease control headquarters in atlanta, and they have a very specific plan. it is vector control, it is developing the diagnostic tests that are necessary to figure out whether or not people are carriers of the zika virus, it is working on a vaccine -- they have a high degree of confidence that they're vent lay -- vauntsly going to get a -- eventually going to get a vaccine. but this takes resources. it is public outreach regarding mosquitoes, regarding how this is transmitted. and it is ensures regarding -- and it is enssurance regarding our blood supply. $743 million for c.d.c. this money would include grants and technical assistance to puerto rico and the u.s. territories and help our international and domestic response activities. about $250 million for c.m.s. to increase the federal match rate
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to puerto rico where there have been 500 active transmission cases and unfortunately that number continues to go up. several hundred million dollars for the national institutes of health and barta to invest in vaccine research and development. now, that's the end game. but in the meantime we have to prevent the transmission as our country warms up and as the mosquitoes become more prevalent across the country. $10 million to the f.d.a., a vaccine and diagnostic development and review and $335 million to usaid abroad to help other countries' efforts on mosquito-borne diseases. we are in the middle of -- as a member of the appropriations committee, it is really important for me that we are trying to move in the regular order on each individual appropriations subcommittee. we've been working on a bipartisan basis, and so we're trying to move in the regular order. that is good news and we're
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moving a little quicker than i think has been done in many being many years. that's good news. but the practical fact of that also means that we are not in the middle of working on legislation that must be passed by today. or must be passed by next week. because whatever we do, whether it is the energy on the one hand water title, whether it is t-h.u.d. coming next, maybe milcon and v.a. are after, whatever it may be, we're going to be waiting for the house to act. we're going to be conferencing and it is not at all clear when we're going to move appropriations measures to the president's desk. but it is fair to say that those things are not exactlyologicallively on fire. -- exactly legislatively on fire. we could wait two or three legislative days or weeks. we are ahead of the game. not to say we don't have our own challenges with each of these individual appropriations measures, but this defines an emergency. this is an actual public health emergency which means the idea of a pay-for for this is and the net cal to the way -- is
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antithetical to the way government ought to work. whatever your political persuasion, whatever your ideology is about the size and scope of the federal government, i think we can all agree that the most basic responsibility of the federal government is to keep us all safe, and this is a real risk. this is not an emergency risk. this is not a trumped risk. this is not a partisan thing. this is -- if you talk to the c.d.c., if you talk to your vector controls, your mosquito control asian you talk to them, they were -- they are very, very nervous. the only reason this hasn't popped both especially deem logically and politically is because it is still cold in a lot of places and the mosquitoes are not all. there is no reason we shouldn't be taking this up as the emergency starts to happen. there is no reason we can't take a couple of legislative days to deal with that. and to address the senior senator from texas, the
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assistant majority leader's questions about whether or not the plan addresses his concerns about accountability, about the ability to move money from one account to the other, about backfilling the ebola funding, fine, those are all legitimate questions and i think they all can be addressed. but here is my question: why not get on the bill? why object to a u.c. request that we get on bill? all of those questions with be addressed on the floor or in committee or in conversations. there are many, many twice address those questions, but the refusal to even acknowledge that this is a sufficiently urgent matter, that it should be the thing we are dealing with right now, that t- hud could wait a of, that whatever we are planning to do next is not as urgent as the zika virus, that is not point we are making today, not that there isn't going to be some legislative wrangling, not that ware supposing that the president's request is perfect. it is just that this is a real
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emergency and we ought to get this thing onto the floor so we can take some action. that's what we need to do. i know the senator from missouri is working very hard on this. others are, too. but we don't want this to be a partisan issue either. but to to be a request to get on this point, i think, fails 10 acknowledge what a serious public health emergency the zika virus is. with that, i yield the floor. mr. blunt: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: i really came to the floor today to talk about another issue, which i will talk about the issue i had scheduled to talk about earlier this week. but in regard to the issue of zika, it does need to be dealt with. it is being dealt with. the good news is that there was substantial money that the various departments had that
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could be reprogrammed, and fact that they have reprogrammed it indicates to me that there is a genuine belief in the administration that i share that this is an emergency, and over half a billion dollars has already been reprogrammed to deal with that emergency. some of that reprogramming money, i believe, needs to be restored. some of it probably doesn't. the ebola crisis is not what we thought it might be in africa, but it is still in existence there. and so some of that money, i think, needs to go back into the accounts it's been reprogrammed out of. but if anybody listening to this debate believes that nothing is happening, that's not accurate. i do appreciate my friend from florida recognizing that a lot of discussions are going on. i was in several this week and some yesterday with house members and senate members. you know, the house could pass a
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bill first -- that may or may not happen -- but what really needs to happen is a bill that gets on the president's desk. i think there's almost no chance that the senate would pass a $1.9 billion bill as proposed, and the best place to debate that out could be the senate floor for several days or it could be to work on a bill that can come to the floor quickly and go to the house and be passed by the house. if there was a slim chance that the senate could pass the bill that we're -- that we have been talking about the bill that was proposed that would spend $1.9 billion in big hundred million-dollar chunks, that in all likelihood wouldn't pass the senate, and i'm absolutely sure it wouldn't pass the house. so what would we've gained?
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this is something we can work out, i believe we will work out. but the bill is not for the senate to pass a bill. the goal is for the congress to pass a bill and the president of the united states to sign that bill and i believe that will happen and many people, including me, are working to see that that happens. and the majority leader knows that. and others who have spoken today reflect the fact that they know those discussions are going on. mr. president, what i cal came o talk about today is a bill that we did pass a couple of weeks ago, as we get ready for police week early in may -- i think the week of the 9th of day. there are other people we want to recognize and do recognize and do appreciate. i'm the cochairman along with senator coons from delaware of the law enforcement caucus, and i want to speak today about something we've just done to honor our first responders.
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really i want to start by recognizing the first responders from my state, from missouri, who died, lost their lives in the line of duty last year in missouri for law enforcement officers died in the line of duty, deputy sheriff steven brent hawkins of the harris son county sheriff's office, trooper james matthew bava of the missouri state highway patrol, sergeant peggy ma rhode island e velaso, and officer ronald eugene strickmatter of the lakeshire police department. deputy sheriff hawkins suffered a fatal heart attack on september 13 following an emergency response. he was 34 years old. deputy sheriff hawkins suffered that attack after returning home from his shift that including a search for -- of a residence and
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a surrounding property. he had served as a deputy sheriff for three years. he is survived, mr. president, by his wife, by his daughter, and by three sons. trooper james bava of mexico, missouri, was involved in a fatal vehicle crash while pursuing a motorcyclist from a traffic stop on august 28. trooper bava served in the poo trail for 20 years. he is survived by his parents, by his brother, by three sisters, by his fe fiance. sergeant peggy salo of the belfont police department was struck by a vehicle while rendering aid to another driver after being involved in an accident on -- en route to work. sergeant salo had served in the
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police department for 15 years. she had previously served in the st. louis county police department for over 13 years, almost 30 years of service. she's survived by her husband, by a san and by two grandchildren. officer ronald strictmanner suffered a heart attack after attempting to help an older person who had fallen. officer strictmanner had previously served in the st. louis metropolitan police department for 24 years. he is survived by his wife and a son. in missouri, we also lost five firefighters and first responders in the line of duty last year. battalion chief chris tindell of raymore, missouri, died shortly after responding to an emergency incident in january, 2015. he was a 19-year veteran of the
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south metro fire department. larry lawhorn, a volunteer firefighter with the orchard farm fire protection district, suffered an emergency medical and fatal medical emergency in may of last year while driving the first responder vehicle en route to a structure fire. he had been a volunteer with the department for 20 years and had previously served 15 years with the st. charles county fire district. in october, 2015, two firefighters were killed in kansas city in the line of duty. larry laggio, a 17-year veteran of the kansas city fire department, and john mesh, a 13-year veteran of the kansas city fire department were able to save two residents from a burning apartment complex before a wall collapsed on them after they had evacuated other people
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from the building. e.m.s. pilot ronald ricter of lynn, missouri, was killed during a flight operation in march, 2014. he was inbound to pick up additional crew members at st. louis university hospital in a medical helicopter when his helicopter crashed. this month, early this month, i introduced the fallen heroes flag act which creates a program to provide a flag flown over the capitol to the family of firefighters, law enforcement officers, members of rescue squads or ambulance crews and public safety officers who lose their life in the line of duty. i want to thank my colleagues for unanimously passing that bill last week. the house had already passed a similar measure introduced by congressman peter king, and i hope to get a final bill on the president's desk in very short order. our nation's first responders
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put themselves in harm's way to keep us safe, and we mourn the loss of all those who give their lives in the line of duty. we can never in any way fully repay the debt that we owe them or that we owe their families. these are people who go to work every day with the greatest goal for their family being that they come home safely that day with more reason to worry about that than most of us have. all we can offer instead is just our gratitude. my hope is that each flag that's flown over the capitol and provided to these families will be a lasting symbol of our appreciation and a sitting honor to those who really embody the very best of what we stand for as a nation. one other thing i want to mention as i conclude the silver star service banner day, i want to thank my colleagues also for unanimously passing that resolution which i introduced with senator mccaskill last
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week to designate may 1 as the silver star service banner day, a day we honor our nation's service members who have been injured or become ill while serving, and we also honor their families on that day. i'm grateful to work for this cause and for the work that the silver star families of america do. it's a nonprofit organization headquartered in clever, missouri. in '04, that group began its work to remember, to honor and to assist members of the armed forces from every branch of the military and from every war. this organization assists veterans who have suffered physical or emotional trauma from war and distributes silver star flags and care packages to wounded veterans and their families. our military men and women put their lives on the line to defend our nation, and many have
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done so in ways that really result in tremendous personal cost for them and their families, from loss of life to injury to trauma of all kinds. on silver star service banner day, i hope all americans will take a moment to reflect on the countless sacrifices and appreciate the blessings of freedom that this service has provided. we absolute our -- salute our former and current service members and encourage all americans to do the same as we see the presence of the silver star service banner in the window or a silver star flag flying in the front yard. those who serve us deserve and should receive the gratitude of the nation, whether they serve us in the military or first responders, and the congress in the last few days has been able
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to step forward and recognize those who serve in unique ways. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. lankford: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: mr. president, talk of our debt in our nation seems to have diminished. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. lankford: i would ask unanimous consent the quorum
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call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lankford: mr. president, the talk of the debt in our nation has been diminishing. unfortunately, debt itself has not also diminished. while the deficit has reduced significantly over the last several years, the debt continues to grow. now crossing well over $19 trillion. and it is my concern that we as a body continue to get distracted with other things and lose track of the looming debt issues that we will still continue to face, and we will be held to account for and rightfully so. the american people expect us to come here and solve a lot of issues, some not only issues of how we're going to handle crisis areas like zika and what we're going to handle in different areas around the country, what we're going to do with national defense and security. there is an expectation that we'll be able to do multiple things, but over all of that, there is an expectation that we will balance the nation's checkbook and find a way to be able to solve these issues.
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i don't think that's an unreasonable request. when we crossed over $19 trillion, at what point do we as a body decide this is enough and that we need to actually work together to be able to actually solve the issues that we face? the congressional budget office continues to challenge us and to he will us -- tell us that this is an unsustainable pace and the nation as a whole continue to push back. i think we should pay attention to it. i want to speak briefly today and to be able to thank gene dedarro and the good folks from the government accountability office for putting out their latest reports on what they define as opportunities to reduce fragmentation, overlap, duplication and achieve other financial benefits. it's the report that g.a.o. puts out every year that often we call just the duplication report. here are the problems, here are the unresolved issues. last year i asked gene dedarro and g.a.o. to specifically break it up and make it very, very clear, not just to say where is
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it in government but whose responsibility is it, who can actually fix this? and they broke it up this year into two different segments, saying this is the administration, the agencies, they already have the authority to fix this and these are the issues they face. they also identified 63 areas that specifically only congress could fix. it is a to-do list for us, things that we need to either vote on and discuss or we need to disagree with g.a.o. and to be able to push back on but we shouldn't just ignore and say we're going to do nothing on it. we deal with this every single year for the last several years, we all face the duplication, we all hear the stories about it. my challenge is how do we actually bring this to this floor, vote on it, solve it and move forward from here? it will leave some things actually addressed. part of the issue that we face every year with duplication is that duplication is buried into the governmental system. and it takes a g.a.o. report to be able to pull it out. i have proposed a bill for several years now, did in the house, brought it over to the
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senate, called the taxpayers right to know. the taxpayers right to know has already passed the house this year and has not cleared the senate yet. the taxpayers right to know is a very clear transparency piece. it just says shouldn't we have a list of every program in the federal government, how much we spend on that program, how much staff are committed to it, what that program does and specifically how it's evaluated. i.t. a very strait forward transparence piece. everybody continues to talk about duplication and say we should do something about it. g.a.o. highlights it to us, but the challenge is, you can't easily identify it until do you this very deep search on it. i think we should be a i believe to have a level of transparency that you can see from one program to another, where is the duplication, and we can all address it and talk about it. yesterday in the indian affairs hearing, we were doing a markup, and in that markup the conversation was about several programs that seem to be very good idea certaining indian country. the problem is, many of them already exist in another agency,
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and they're already done by that agency not very well. and so the challenge is, can we get rid of it in another agency, not just start it in a second, third, or fourth agency, and continue to say i.t. not working over there, so let's just do it somewhere else. the issue when i bring it up every time is, we don't know what agency it exists in. the taxpayers' right know is a very simple list that should be searchable, that should be public, that everyone can see it. it's being held up currently right now back and forth in this on-going conversation about something as simple as how many programs should you see? o.m.b. has pushed back on us and has said, we'll have program transparency but only for the big of the programs. we've said basically, if you spend $1 million on this program, shoe have transparency. they say, no, let's do $10 million or cor more. we asked gene dodaro, if we drop
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it from $10 million to $1 million? how many programs is that? he said it's literally in the thousands. then we're in the same spot. you can't eliminate duplication you can't see. to quote muhammad ali, float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. the hands can hit what the eyes can't see. let's actually expose the duplication. let's get it out there so everyone can see it and we can clear this. let's just solve this very simple issue. let's make it transparent. and then let's work together. senator tester and i had a great conversation after the indian affairs hearing yesterday agreeing together that we're going to look for areas of duplication in indian country. we're not looking for more programs. we're looking for the programs that actually work and actually make those actuallyaccomplish what they should accomplish.
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and those that don't work, eliminate them. take the money to an area where it does actually work. we have got to bet back to balance. we can't keep funding programs that don't work and are duplicative and we should be able to accomplish this together. last year i put out a report called "federal fumbles." two-thirds of that book identified duplication and waste in government. some of those we've made some progress on this year already. we've multiples -- we have multiples to go. the key is we actually get busy working on it instead of just talking about it. gene dodaro also mentioned a bill called the new-hire data piece. senator s.a.s. is tryin sassa se able to see the employment records. right now g.a.o. and other
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groups do not have access to the new-hairs hires database so there is he no way to see if the means-tested programs are going to people and people self-report income and flows way to verify that. when we should be a i believe to verify that, shouldn't we? when they continue to bring up obvious things year after year like the same person can be eligible for disability insurance and unemployment insurance at the same time and tullly receive unemployment benefits and disability benefits simultaneously. disability benefits by definition means you cannot work anywhere in the economy. that's why you get disability benefits. unemployment benefits, by definition, means you can work in the economy but you're currently not employed. why should you be eligible for both? g.a.o. has brought that up to us. that's not a partisan issue. that should be a solvable issue, and it's billions of dollars. it's one of the things that we've got to be able to work on
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together to actually bring some solution those. this is not too hard for us and the american people expect us to get it done. so my only challenge is, let's actually get it done. with that, mr. president, i'd yield back. the presiding officer: the assistant democratic. -- the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: thank you. i'd like to address two issues this this morning. they're different but i think both are timely and important. the first issue aid he luke to address is a telephone conversation i had just a few minutes ago. it was with dr. thomas frieden. dr. frieden heads up the center for disease control and prevention in atlanta, georgia. most americans don't know much about the agency. the title speaks for itself. but the c.d.c., as we call it, is america's first line of defense in a public health crisis. when we think that american
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individuals and families are in danger or vulnerable, we call the center for disease control and ask them to first analyze the challenge and then give us the right public health response to that challenge. a few months ago i went to their campus in atlanta, georgia. i.t. very impressive, not just for the building but also for the people who are there. we have some of the best health researchers in the world working for our federal government at c.d.c., most of them at financial sacrifice. they want to be part of solving problems and protecting america. just as the folks in the pentagon are across the river believe in the protection of america, so do the people at the center for disease control. that c.d.c. is our first line of defense again public health attacks. so this morning i called dr. frieden. i've come to know him and have worked with him over the years -- to talk about the zika virus. most people have heard about it
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now. we're learning more about it every single day. we kind of trace its origin to south america, and now it's moving north. it's moving north into puerto rico in a big way, and, mr. president, florida is likely to be the next state to witness the zika virus being transmitted by mosquitoes. and then frankly the whole united states is vulnerable, because, you see, this virus can be transmitted to an individual if they're bit by a mosquito but also by sexual contact of a person already infected by the virus and if you have the virus and a mosquito bites you and then bites your wife, you may have just transmitted the virus to her through that mosquito. we're learning. and the reason why this is more than just a mosquito bite and an irritation is this virus can
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cause serious health problems, serious public health problems. we know that pregnant women with this virus run the risk of giving birth to babies with difficulties and serious, serious problems. and so we're monitoring it very closely. how many employees at c.d.c. are working on the zika virus threat to america? 1,000. 1,000. when you think of all the things that we need to worry about, they believe -- and i think rightly so -- this is the imminent public health threat to our country. there are a lot of unanswered questions about the zika virus. how long it stays in an individual, how long it can be transmitted to another person, and those who are carrying the virus, what impact does it have on their health, what impact does it have on a pregnant woman carrying this virus? it turns out that there are literally hundreds now in the
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united states who've been infected with the zika virus. we expect some lull in the number of cases and then they're going to pick up in intensity and number come this summer. we also know -- the announcement will be made soon -- that there are pregnant women in the united states who have been inbe effected by the zika virus. so the obvious question is are we doing everything we should be doing protect america? sadly, the answer is "no." we're not. two months ago, president obama said to the united states congress, i need a supplemental emergency appropriation to deal with this threat. two months ago he asked for $1.9 million. they want to monitor this zika virus and how it's traveling across the united states. they want to monitor those who have already been infected. and they want to develop a vaccine that we can take that will protect us in the future. from where i'm standing, i can't
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think of a single public health challenge in america as great as this zika virus at this moment. you would think that the united states congress, now that they know the facts, would have moved instantly to provide the money to the president, this emergency supplemental appropriation of $1.9 billion. and the answer is, they have done nothing. the leaders in the house and the senate have done nothing to provide emergency funds to this administration to deal with this public health mnl. -- public health emergency. it is so bad that this week a republican leader in the house announced publicly he didn't see any emergency here. he thinks we may get around to an appropriation for this in october. well, i don't know what his lifestyle is like, but in the midwest, we have a ten dennedy 10 get -- we have a tendency to get out on the pa patio, inviter friends and neighbors overed and
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worry about the mosquitoes. and it doesn't start in october. it starts now. i don't know if this republican congressman plans on sending a memo to the mosquitoes across america, a no buzzing and biting until october when we're going to get around to this, but it won't work. this is an emergency -- declared such, not just by the president but by the head for the centers for disease control. why aren't we doing? we should be. we're going to to leave today. this afternoon we'll vote and go home. we'll be back in probably 10 or 11 days. and maybe then the republican leadership in the house will decide this is an emergency that needs a response. the numbers are going to start coming in, the number of people across america who are facing this virus, and the concern among american families is going to grow. this is not just an irritation. this is a danger, a danger to
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many people and certainly to women who could be pregnant. this is something we ought to be taking extremely seriously. two months we've been waiting for this congress to respond with an emergency appropriation to do something. i've called on the leadership in the senate here this week -- and i'll continue today and when we return. there is no excuse. god forbid this gets worse and we look back and say, we waited too long. we didn't respond. oh, and let me add one other thing. the only suggestion we've heard from the republican side is, well, let's take some of the money we set aside to fight ebola in africa and use it for this purpose. i talked to dr. frieden about that. he said, it is true, there's been a real drop in the number of ebola cases. ebola is a deadly disease in west africa and other places, and we've worried about it coming to the united states. but, he said, we're still learning about how this disease
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travels. there was a man who was cured, who was diagnosed with ebola in africa and was cured, and they've just learned that a year after he was cured, he transmitted the disease by sexual contact to another person. so even when we think we've cured it and solved it, there is still a danger. well, let's make sure we treat all of these public health hazards for what they are: dangers to the united states, dangers to our families. god forbid something terrible happens. i hope it doesn't. but let's do our job here on capital hill. when the president says we need sources to fight this, we do. i hope we move on it very quickly when we return. mr. president, i ask the following statement i'm about to make be placed in a separate part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, immigration is an issue which divides america.
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you only have to turn into the presidential debate to hear it. most everyone would agree that the immigration system in america is broken. i believe it is. i was part of an effort with some colleagues to try to come up with a comprehensive immigration reform bill which passed the senate three years ago by a vote of 68-22. we worked long and hard on that bill, brought it to the senate, a bipartisan bill. it passed with an overwhelming majority. the house refused to consider the measure. speaker boehner, john boehner, never would call it to the floor. the bill we passed never, ever got a vote on the floor of the house of representatives. and here we sit today with the same broken immigration system. leet me tell you -- let me tell you one part of it that is very important to me and of my colleagues. 15 years ago i introduced a bill called the dream act -- 15 years now. the genesis of that bill i've said on the floor many times and i'll repeat very quickly, we got
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a call in my chicago office from a korean-american woman who had a daughter who was a musical prodigy, an amazing pianist who had been accepted at two of the best music schools in america. she was filling out her application and she said to her mom what do i put down for my nationality, her citizenship. her mom says i don't know. when we brought you here, teresa, you were 2 years old. you came here on a visitor's visa. i never filed any more papers so i don't know. the daughter said what are we going to do? the mom said we're going to call durbin's office. she called our office and we said let us check the law. the law was very clear. this 18-year-old girl brought here at the age of 2 under american law had to leave the united states for ten years and apply to come back in. does that sound right? when she was 2 years old, she had no voice in the decision to come to america, no voice in the decision on filing papers, and
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yet our law basically told her leave. that's when i introduced the dream act, and i said if you are brought here under the age of 16, complete high school, no serious criminal issues in your background, we'll give you a chance, give you a path to become legal and ultimately become a citizen. that's what the dream act is. we haven't passed that bill. we passed it maybe once in the senate, once in the house. never brought it together to be sent to the president. but this president, barack obama, was my fellow senator from illinois for two years, and he cosponsored the dream act, so a few years ago, i joined in a letter to the president with senator dick lugar, republican of indiana, and said to him help us protect these young people from being deported until we can finally pass comprehensive immigration reform or the dream act. the president listened and did it. he created what's known as daca. what daca says is if you are
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such a young person, you may step forward, register with the government, submit yourself to a criminal background check, pay a several hundred dollar filing fee, and then we will give you temporary protection from deportation. two years later, three years later, you have to reapply, go through the same process, pay the fee and do it again. well, as it turned out 700,000 young people who were in the same situation as the korean girl that i mentioned to you in chicago have applied for this daca protection so that they can stay here on a temporary basis, go to school, work and be part of the united states. there is no guarantee they will ever become permanently legal or citizens. i hope they will. but at least they are protected on a temporary basis. the president a year later said if you are in a family where one of the kids in the house is an american citizen or are here
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illegally in the united states, we're going to -- here legally in the united states, we will give the parents the same opportunity, to go through a background check, to pay their fee to the government, then to be given a temporary work permit to work in the united states. that's known as dapa. daca and dapa. it is currently being challenged in the supreme court. i went over for the argument before the supreme court last week. the state of texas and 23 other states -- i believe it's 23 -- have challenged this saying it will create benefits on these individuals under daca and dapa that will cost the states money. turns out the whole story is that once these people are working in the united states and paying taxes, the state of texas and all the other states with state income taxes are going to make quite a bit more money off these workers when they actually are required to pay taxes, as they should. so that this economic argument doesn't go too far.
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the point i'm trying to make to my colleagues in the senate, as long as i have been here and as long as i have had this opportunity to talk about the dream act, is that they ought to take a moment and stop listening to the presidential debates and just pay attention to the lives that are at stake in this conversation. i have come to the floor quite a few times to talk about young people who would be helped if the dream act became the law of the land. mr. president, this morning, i'm going to introduce those who are watching this to cynthia sanchez. cynthia sanchez is another young person who is living in the united states and is undocumented. she was brought here at the age of 7 from mexico. she grew up in denver, colorado. she was an excellent student. in high school, cynthia was a member of the national honor society and made the president's
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honor roll every semester with a 4.0 grade point average. i wish i could say the same about my high school experience. cynthia was vice president, copresident of the student council. she volunteered as a peer mediator and volunteered at the local library. she went on to attend the university of denver where she received numerous awards and scholarships and was an active volunteer. for the record, undocumented young people like cynthia receive no federal assistance to go to college. no pell grants, no government loans. they have got to find a way to pay for it. they can't use any government benefits to go forward with their education. she was a member of a student organization called the pioneer leadership program. she developed the denver university senior connect to help raise awareness about the needs of senior citizens. as a member of the volunteers in partnership program, she organized workshops at high schools and middle schools with low-income and minority student
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populations. she helped the students fill out their college applications and write scholarship essays, and she brought the students to visit her campus at the university of denver. she graduated in 2010 with a degree in cognitive neuroscience, which is a double major in psychology and biology, and then she minored in chemistry on top of it. because of her immigration status, despite the fact that she had this amazing college experience, was academically successful and had this important degree, she couldn't find a job. she wasn't even able to volunteer at a local hospital because she lacked the social security number, being undocumented. i would ask unanimous consent for two additional minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: thank you. cynthia's dream to become a doctor was on hold because of her immigration status. only nine schools told her that she might be able to apply and be considered as an undocumented
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student. two years after graduating, cynthia was working as a nanny and questioning whether all the hard work and time in school was wasted. she cried as president obama made the announcement about creating daca. she realized she was going to be given her chance. she applied for it immediately. she was approved in the summer of 2013. by september, cynthia was working at northwestern university in chicago doing clinical research in the department of medicine's division of cardiology. her research focuses on improving treatment options for patients facing heart failure. she sent me a letter, and this is what cynthia said. daca has meant a new realm of opportunities for me. it has opened new doors for me and yowpped me once again to believe my dream can become a reality. i truly believe that if those opposed to daca or the dream act had the chance to sit down and meet undocumented students, their opinions might change. they would see capable, smart, hardworking people who are
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americans in every sense of the word, love this country and want to contribute to its prosperity. after all, this is our home. cynthia and the other dreamers have a lot to give to america. like many immigrants who have come to this country, they are willing to sacrifice, they are willing to go to the back of the line. all they are asking for is a chance. i urge my colleagues, particularly my republican colleagues, join us in doing the right thing for these dreamers, doing the right thing for cynthia and thousands of others who are just asking for a chance to make america a better nation. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. wicker: thank you, mr. president. the fit against muscular dystrophy is a cause i have championed since my days in the house of representatives. my fight against deshens muscular dystrophy began when a parent told me about his son's
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diagnosis with the disease. this parent refused to accept that there was no hope. the house and senate agreed with the m.d. care act, and since that time, mr. president, the life expectancy of the average deshens muscular dystrophy patient has increased by a full decade. this is progress we have made on behalf of sick people whose lives were threatened, and this is an example of government at its best. on monday of this week, i saw the same devotion in the hundreds of duchenne families who attended a meeting of the advisors of the food and drug administration. the meeting's attendance broke records, and i want to thank f.d.a. for making the appropriate accommodations to handle a crowd of this size, some 11,000 people also tuned in remotely watching the media via
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live stream. monday's gathering was about what could be the first disease-modifying therapy for duchenne muscular dystrophy. for more than three hours, the advisory committee heard from parents, doctors and patients about the drug's impact on their lives. the stories were heartfelt and hopeful, reinforcing the importance of patient engagement in the drug approval process. the dedication of the duchenne community continues to set an example for advocates of other rare diseases. patient voices should be part of the drug review process, and i'm glad to see the f.d.a. is implementing greater stakeholder involvement in this process. this is one of the goals of the food and drug administration's safety and innovation act which congress passed in 2012. it continues to be a goal of my patient-focused impact assess
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ment act introduced last year which would require f.d.a. to share how they use feedback from patients and advocates in the drug approval process. unfortunately, the advisory committee decided this week not to recommend the approval of the first duchenne drug. this is disappointing news for me and for thousands of duchenne families, even those who might not benefit directly from this drug but from other advancements that could stem from it. before a final decision is made next month, i hope f.d.a. will take into consideration the perspectives of duchenne patients and parents. the individuals fighting the good fight every day are the real experts. to quote austin leclaire who
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suffers from duchenne and has experienced increased mobility because of the drug, people like austin have a life-threatening disease now. they don't have much time. no matter the outcome of the f.d.a.'s decision next month, i will continue to fight the good fight on behalf of those with duchenne muscular dystrophy. in the 15 years since i introduced the m.d. care act, i have learned that small wins can lead to big victories. m.d. care was the first federal law to focus on muscular dystrophy. it helped set in motion the research and trials that have produced ground-breaking therapies. the life of muscular dystrophy patients now is an average of it 12 years longer. i think i earlier said a decade. it's actually 12 years longer than it was in 2001. a wonderful achievement. there are more trial
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participants needed today than there are duchenne patients. young adults with duchenne were a popular that did not exist when we first funded research for the disease. they never got to adulthood. today they're getting to adulthood because congress acted. because of the m.d. care amendments that became law last congress, research at the national institutes of health has been updated in ways that could help patients lead even longer, healthier lives. we want this research to continue. we want companies to continue to invest in drugs and therapies that could change the lives of those with rare diseases. mr. president, duchenne is still a fatal disease, affecting one out of every 3,500 boys, mostly boys. most young men with duchenne live only to their mid to late
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20's. we should take every opportunity to find a breakthrough. we should take every opportunity to improve quality of life. this is about the futures of young people who face this disease every day and the families who refuse to give up hope. i look forward to the f.d.a.'s full and final decision on this matter next month, and i certainly am hoping for a positive answer from f.d.a. thank you, and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. rounds: mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent to be allowed to display this terry redland picture during my speech. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rounds: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise today to pay tribute to terry redland, a
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citizen of south dakota who rose to fame in the 1970's as an artist known for his vivid and vibrant outdoor paintings. on sunday, april 24, terry passed away at the age of 78 in watertown where he was born and raised. her entire state was saddened to hear of his passing. terry spent his life promoting south dakota and shared his appreciation for our great state with the entire world through his paintings. he will be missed deeply not only by his family and loved ones but by all who admired his work throughout his very distinguished career. growing up, terry liked to draw. he didn't think he would become an artist, though. as an avid outdoorsman he wanted to be a forest ranger so there would be plenty of opportunities to hunt and fish when he wasn't working. thepblg tragically at the -- then tragically at the age of 15 his life was changed forever.
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he was badly hurt in a motorcycle accident and his leg had to be amputated. becoming a forest ranger was now impossible for terry. but terry didn't let that stop him from pursuing greatness. after graduating high school, terry received a disability scholarship to help further his education. using it, he earned a -- degree from the st. paul school of associated art and spent 25 successful years working in commercial art as a layout artist, graphic designer, i will straighter and art director. in his spare time he enjoyed photography, particularly of the outdoors and wildlife. then he started painting from his photographs and from his memories. in 1977, at the age of 40, redland's painting "winter snows" appeared on the cover of "the farmer" magazine. he rose to prominence as an
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exceptional artist and started painting full time. from 1990 to 1998, each year's poll of national art galleries by "u.s. art magazine" selected terry redland as america's most popular artist. over the years many people have tried to describe the effect of terry's paintings and what it had on them. people connect with his paintings. they inspire us to remember personal memories of past times, places and experiences. your heart is tugged when you look at them. there is a peacefulness and a warmth. terry used to call it romantic realism, but mere words simply can't describe it. as you can see from this redland painting beside me entitled "america, america" which i brought with me from my front office where it normally hangs, the beauty of his paintings are truly indescribable. his son convinced him to stop
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selling his original paintings and just sell prints. someday, he said, they would build a beautiful art gallery to display all of the originals. and they did. it could have been built in the twin cities where he lived for a time or another large metropolitan area because terry's paintings are loved everywhere. terry chose his hometown of water town, south dakota, for the construction of the redland art center. it was a gift to his home state and hometown for that $1,500 scholarship he was given all those years ago which created a wonderful life for him and his family. three million visitors came to the redland art center in the first three years and many more millions since then. terry would sometimes walk into the galleries unannounced and visit with guests who would then ask the front desk who's that nice guy?
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when told it was terry, they were shocked and delighted. once terry was seen driving slowly through the parking lot. when asked what he was doing, he said he was looking at all the different license plates and what they were doing there. he said he was amazed that people would travel so far just to see his paintings. terry was also generous to the subjects of many of his creations. his paintings and prints have been used by various wildlife and conservation groups to raise more than $40 million to benefit their causes. for those of us who were blessed with the opportunity to meet and know terry redland, we always came away feeling like, like he was our friend, so wonderful, so kind, and so humble. for those who know him through his paintings, his spirit shown brightly in all of his work.
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as we mourn his deaths and pray for his loved ones during this difficult time, may we find comfort knowing that the legacy which he leaves behind through his paintings will be enjoyed and appreciated for generations to come. he was a great painter, but an even greater human being. terry once said he wanted to paint forever, that he had to paint. terry said it was like breathing to him. unfortunately illness forced him into retirement in 2007 and in 2016 the lord brought terry up to heaven. now, now he can breathe again. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: morning business is now closed. under the previous order the senate will resume consideration of h.r. 2028 which the clerk
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will report. the clerk: calendar number 96, h.r. 2028, an act making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2016, and for other purposes. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: mr. president, i want to start by expressing my appreciation to all of my colleagues who are joining me here on the floor today and thank them for all the work they do every day for women and their health care. mr. president, as of last week the c.d.c. reported nearly 900 cases of zika here in the united states and through u.s. territories, including actually two confirmed in my home state of washington. a recent survey showed that 40% of adults in the united states see the zika virus as a reason
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to delay starting a family. and like so many of my colleagues, i'm hearing from women across my state who are very frightened about this virus. they want to know how to travel safely in light of zika. they want to know whether they should wait to start their families and tragically i am hearing from expecting mothers who are concerned about what this virus could mean for the babies they have on the way. mr. president, women and families at home and abroad need congress to take action against this virus to help raise awareness about its impacts, to expand access to contraception and family planning, to improve vector control and to accelerate our efforts to find a vaccine. that is why for months democrats have urged republicans come to the table, work with us on making sure we put the needed
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resources into this fight against zika. now the administration put forward a strong proposal, but republicans refuse to even consider it. and while some in the republican party indicated last week they wanted to work with us on an emergency supplemental funding, it has become pretty clear that unfortunately they have been beaten back by the extreme right wing who doesn't want to do anything at all. these extreme conservatives do not recognize that zika is an emergency. they don't want to give our administration a penny more. and as a result of that delay, we are behind the eight ball as mosquito season comes this summer. that is why we have come to the floor together today to send a very clear message to republicans today: we need action now. women simply cannot afford to wait, and they should not have to. mr. president, democrats are ready to get this done as soon
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as possible. and for families and communities who are looking here to congress for action, i hope republicans join us now so that we can deliver what families are asking for in our country. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. ms. warren: i want to start by thanking senator heitkamp for pulling us in here today to talk about this emergency, and senator murray for her strong voice on this, and many others who will be speaking today. in 2014 ebola broke out in west africa. as it advanced the international community came together to combat the outbreak. doctors from around the world traveled to west africa to set up emergency hospital units to help the sick and to attempt to contain the virus. president obama deployed thousands of troops to support the effort. with the media focused on the outbreak right in the middle of the 2014 elections, republican
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senators and republican candidates across the country seized on this global health crisis. no, they didn't swoop in to the rescue. in fact, republicans did nothing to support the actual ebola response before the elections. instead they terrified the american people with totally made-up stories of ebola-infected immigrants coming across our southern border. they loudly trumpeted a number of dangerous and irresponsible solutions like travel bans that would actually make dealing with the problem more difficult. ebola ravaged west africa, but only four cases were ever diagnosed here in the united states. republican politicians didn't care. they had found something to blame on president obama and the democrats, and they were happy to do it. they exploited the situation to help win an election. and it worked.
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not all of the fearmongering candidates won, but most of them did. and they won in part because they promised to protect the american people from these horrible contagious diseases. today republicans run the senate, and we face a terrible threat right here in america: the rapidly spreading zika virus. so i come to the floor to ask a simple question. why haven't republicans lifted a single finger to stop it? unlike ebola, zika isn't confined to one small region of the world. it has already spread across most of south america and through mexico. unlike ebola, which can be transmitted only by direct contact with bodily fluids, zika can spread rapidly across distances by transmission through mosquitoes. unlike ebola, our leaders at the n.i.h. and c.d.c. are raising the alarm that zika is an imminent threat to americans.
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nearly 900 cases of zika have already been reported on american soil. zika can be devastating. most people who come -- who contract zika show no symptoms or only very mild symptoms, but zika infections can trigger a sindom, a condition in which the body attacks its own nervous system which can cause permanent and severe damage, hospitalizing some people for weeks and killing others. in addition, babies born to mothers who were infected with zika may suffer severe and permanent brain damage. the world health organization estimates that four million people -- four million -- could be infected with zika by the end of the year. the threat is real, but where are the republicans? for weeks senate democrats have called for emergency supplemental funding support public health efforts both in
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research and prevention. republicans have done nothing. for weeks the president has called for emergency supplemental funding to protect the american people. republicans have done nothing. for weeks leaders at the w.h.o., n.i.h. and c.d.c. have begged congress for resources to fight this disease. republicans have done nothing. the president has been forced to divert funds intended for work on ebola over to work on zika. that's a very short-term strategy. ebola has dropped out of the news, but the threat has not ended. we need funding for work on both, but still the republicans have done nothing. and now senate republicans are taking us on a week-long recess. where is the republican plan to fund the zika response? where is the republican plan to
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replenish the ebola funds? apparently when there's no immediate political benefit, the republicans can't be bothered to act. forget ebola. forget zika. they want to go on vacation. well, i have news for my republican colleagues. that's not good enough. you won the election by telling americans you would protect them from scenarios just like this. you run the senate now, so it's time to govern. there is a public health crisis bearing down on this country. babies will be born permanently disabled and families will be devastated if you keep blocking funding to deal with this problem. it is up to you to act. this is what government is for, to help protect the people of the united states from serious threats, from real threats. the republicans are failing the people of the united states.
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thank you, madam president. i yield. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. height -- ms. heitkamp: least anyone think they are immune or this is only in the tropics, i don't think anyone would think they are from the tropics. i hold up the first noted case of an american woman infected by zika. she was traveling, probably bitten by a mosquito, somehow with contracted the zika virus. she will now live in fear that the baby she is carrying will suffer the birth defects that we know are associated with this potential pandemic. where's the answer for her? the answer that the north dakota epidemiologist gave for her, which is good advice, is don't travel anywhere where we have zika virus infections.


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