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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  April 28, 2016 4:00pm-6:01pm EDT

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qulun--young man prone to condis like consoleio circumstance ofnlg requiring surgery to correct it. as the muscle continue to deteriorate, that young man will lose lung function, which puts him at even higher risk of infection, pneumonia, eventually he'll have to use a machine to help him breathe to clear his lungs, and the muscle deterioration doesn't just occur to the skeletal muscle, the muscles of the arms and lerks it can also occur to the heart, which is itself a muscle. so when a young man with duchenne's multiple sclerosis catches a cold it could be life threatening. even when the patients get the best medical care. and so many of them do get the best medical care. they usually lose their fight against duchenne's multiple sclerosis by the time they are into their 20's. so that's the devastating reality of this disease and we cannot allow it to continue.
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so because of my experience with these patients, i've been working for years to actually help raise money for awareness for muscle disease, treatment for the disease. i served as a local host in wyoming for the multiple sclerosis association's annual labor day telethon. every year i was amazed at the dedication and the generosity of people around the country who were calling in pledges at the pledge center at the love centers in caspar, wyoming. people would call in, we'd always raise over $100,000. people were very committed to finding a cure for the muscle disease, to send young people with the disease to summer camp where they found a level of freedom and friendship that they didn't often find throughout the rest of the year. it was a great time for the young people with the disease and it gave their parents a rest as well. i think many of us in this body remember jerry lewis hosting this jerry lewis labor day telethon as it was called for more than 40 years.
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he would always end the telethon by singing the song and the song was "you'll never walk alone." so i come to the floor today to make sure that these patients, these families know that today they're not alone. congress is listening. you heard from senator rubio earlier today. you heard from senator wicker. and those families and those patients know how critically important it is and we know how critically important it is that we find a cure for this rare disease known as duchenne's multiple sclerosis. in 2012, congress passed a food and drug administration safety innovation act and one of the key parts of this law gives the f.d.a. more flexibility to prove treatments that have the potential to help people with rare diseases. it also allows the f.d.a. to do follow-up studies to confirm the clinical benefits of the treatment. well, we want to give people real hope. it's not good to give people false hope. we're interested in giving
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patients and give families a fighting chance. and i believe that the f.d.a. needs to use the tools that congress has given it so patients can come across and get access to potentially lifesaving drugs. so a couple of weeks ago i signed a letter that was written by senators wicker and senator klobuchar, a bipartisan letter. it called on the f.d.a. to take full advantage of this accelerated approval authority. so we also asked the f.d.a. to ensure that the perspective of patients is fully considered in this review process when it comes down to the regulations. more than 20 u.s. senators signed this letter because we know how important this issue is to patients as well as to their families. last friday "the wall street journal" ran an he had toerld called the -- ran an editorial called the f.d.a. versus austin
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leclaire. he is 17, has due multiple sclerosis. so does his younger brother max. this runs in family and sometimes when the diagnosis of a son in the family that there is a younger son who has not yet been diagnosed but likely will have the disease, well, back in 2011 max was able to get an experimental drug to treat his disease. austin was not eligible to get the same drug. austin is the older brother. so today max is 14 and he's still able to walk. he can still play sports, still dress himself. for most of us who have healthy children these are the things people take for granted. for a family where one of their sons has duchenne's this kind of small victory can seem like a miracle. can't even imagine how hard it must be when a mother has two or three children -- two or three sons with this disease. and especially when one of her children had access to an experimental drug and the other
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cannot. the family looks at it. one son is being helped and the other isn't being helped because they can see the difference in their sons. so how would any of us here in the senate react if we were in that same situation? how much heartbreak should one family have to bear? those are the challenges for families who live with muscle disease every day. well, the f.d.a., i believe, needs to work with patients like austin and max. we all know that this agency needs to make sure that treatments are safe and effective. that's not a question. we also know that people at the f.d.a. are caring and careful professionals. the practice of medicine relies on hard science and on following data to understand and to treat illnesses. as a doctor, i know the practice of medicine requires an equal measure of compassion. i think that the f.d.a. needs to take into account the unique needs of this patient population. we talk about double blind studies where you give one
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patient a real treatment and one patient something else, a sugar pill, something else that's not really the real treatment, the real medication. to really evaluate the impact of these medications sometimes, it involves doing muscle biopsies, putting people through painful tests. i think it's hard for a family living with a child with muscle disease to say, well, we're going to participate in the experiment. we don't know, it's a 50-50 chance if our child is even going to get the real thing, but we're going to still put them through all of these tests, it can be painful as they take muscle biopsies. i think it's unrealistic to ask a family to make that decision. i think we need to make sure that the f.d.a. and the f.d.a. needs to make sure in their compassion that they don't lose sight of these kids. these young people really don't have a moment to lose in terms of potential treatments. i think the f.d.a. needs to
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hear the cause of patients and to give these young people living with a devastating disease a chance to beat duchenne's multiple sclerosis. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. wyden: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: mr. president, i rise today to warn of a gathering threat to americans' most fundamental constitutional right, and that is the right to vote. 51 years ago president johnson urged the congress to pass the voting rights act, and in the face of implacable opposition from southern states, president johnson laid out to states, he said -- and i quote -- "every american must have an equal right to vote. there is no excuse which can excuse the denial of that right.
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there is no duty which weighs more heavily on us than the duty we have to ensure that right." sadly half a century after that law began to remove the most offensive obstacles to voting, americans now face new barriers to exercising their fundamental right to vote. across our land there are stories of long lines, inexplicable purges of voter rolls and new requirements that make it still harder for our people to vote. there is absolutely no excuse for accepting this sorry state of affairs. there is no excuse for citizens in arizona to wait five hours to cast their ballot. there is no excuse for citizens in rhode island to find two out
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of every three polling places have closed. there is no excuse whatsoever for poor communities and minority communities across america to see their polling places shuttered. seniors and disabled americans should not have to wait in long lines or struggle to reach polling places in america. working parents shouldn't have to choose between going to work or going to vote. voting should not be a test of endurance. it should not be a kafkesque experience in going through red tape. in too many experiences citizens show up at the polls on voting day only to find their name somehow magically has gone
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missing from the voter rolls or the i.d. doesn't meet some new, even more burdensome, even more restrictive requirements. there is no excuse for our government to turn away citizens to say their vote just doesn't count because of a clerical error or an unjust technicality. these grossly unfair obstacles have sprouted like weeds across our country ever since the supreme court overturned large portions of the voting rights act in 2013. according to the brennan center for justice, just this year 17 states have passed new laws or rules to make it harder for their citizens to vote. let me repeat that. 17 states in america just this year new laws, new rules, new hurdles for our people who want to vote. and thankfully there is a
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solution. my home state of oregon has led the country in making voting more accessible. in oregon, every voter receives a ballot two or three weeks before election day. ballots should be arriving in mailboxes across the state over the next few days. every other -- oregonian has ample time to research issues. rather than waiting in long lines, oregonians can mail their ballot back or drop it off at collection sites, many of which are open 24/7. nobody has got to take time off work just to exercise his or her constitutional right. so let me repeat, in our state we've made this work. every voter gets a ballot two or three weeks before an election
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day. now vote by mail is not going to stop every state legislature in america from devising new ways to suppress voter turnout. certainly some state officials in our country have worked very hard to dream up new ways to limit the franchise. but here's why the oregon antidote is so important. if there's a problem, our state gives voters more time to fight back. when americans have two or three weeks to vote, they'll have more time to challenge registration problems. there's more time for citizens to defend their rights. oregon has been voting by mail since i was first elected to the united states senate in 1996, and we went to all vote by mail in 2000.
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since then we have had consistently higher voting turnout rates than other parts of the country. we've consistently had voter turnout rates that are among the highest in the nation. oregon voting rates are especially high among young people and in midterm elections. and as an added benefit, this should appeal to all senators, studies have shown that it saves money to boot. so you have a system that voters like, gives them more time to reflect, is more efficient, and it saves money, to boot. that is a pretty appealing trifecta, it seems to me, for democracy. so my proposition today is the rest of the country ought to follow oregon's lead, and all americans from one end of the country to another ought to have the chance to vote by mail.
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to me, this just is common sense. in fact, over the years there were questions about who benefited from vote by mail. and in fact oregonians put it on the ballot because they said everybody benefited from it and there was support all across the political spectrum. so today i rolled out a new proposal for national vote by mail. and it builds on the oregon system. the plan is simple. every voter in a federal election will receive a ballot in the mail. the federal government, through the postal service were to assist states with the cost of mailing ballots to registered voters. states can keep their current polling practices if they wish, but those states that choose a full vote by mail system are going to see their election costs drop and drop
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significantly. my hope is that this proposal ignites a new campaign across the country to make it easier, not harder, for americans to vote. v -- vote by mail is a first step in fighting back against those who have disenfranchised their fellow citizens to gain a political edge. for instance, in my view, it also ought to be easier for americans to register to vote. again, my home state leads the way. since january, every eligible voter is automatically registered to vote, eliminating extra trips to the motor vehicles department or the county clerk's office. our governor, governor kate brown, deserves, in my view, enormous credit for leading the effort to turn this particular idea, this particular reform into law. now, i know many of my colleagues and many voters are
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cynical about the chances of passing real reforms in this partisan day and age. my view is that voting rights are too important to abandon the field to special interests who would manipulate our government, and that's why i mention, mr. president, in oregon, there was some initial debate with respect to who might benefit, who might get a little bit of a partisan edge on the other side, and oregon voters said nothing doing. we all think this is in our interests, making it easier to vote, making it easier to correct an error, cheaper than the alternatives. so i urge my colleagues and voters this afternoon to take advantage of this opportunity to promote real reform, reform that we have hard evidence shows actually works to make sure that every citizen in america who
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wants to vote has that opportunity, and oregon once again paves the way to making sure that there are real solutions to an enormous challenge. mr. president, with that, i yield the floor. mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, after many months of discussion and debate, today we announced a bipartisan legislation to reform our criminal justice system. i have been in the senate long enough to realize that even the best ideas that don't have bipartisan support go nowhere, nowhere. the good news is this is an
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issue that enjoys broad bipartisan support and actually represents the marriage of two distinct parts, but the more i think about it, the more it represents a continuum in terms of the way we punish people who violate our criminal laws and how we treat them when they're in prison and how we prepare them or not for a life of re-entry into civil society. but it is an example even in the polarized political environment that our country represents today an opportunity to demonstrate that when enough people identify a problem and work together, we can actually come up with viable solutions. in a previous life, i served 13 years as a state district court judge and then as attorney general, and i have had an opportunity to witness some of the strengths and the weaknesses of our justice system firsthand. and although we made some
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significant progress in reducing crime across the country -- and by the way, mr. president, that ought to be the litmus test, the crime rate. if the crime rate's going down, to me it indicates we're doing something right. if the crime rate goes up, that's pretty much a litmus test that we're doing something wrong. but the truth is our criminal justice system has been plagued with inefficiencies and overcrowding and failures that are ultimately detrimental to public safety. we spend too much of our criminal justice resources locking up low-level nonviolent offenders and not enough targeting the most dangerous and violent criminals. the good news is a number of states including texas have seen the need and have implemented statewide criminal justice reforms with positive results. and you know the longer i guess i -- as i said earlier, the longer i'm here, sort of the
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more things occur to me about how we do business here, but the idea that we can somehow initiative reforms at the national level for 320 million people and then cram them down on a big and diverse country like the united states is reall. actually the federal government is rarely competent to do that sort of thing, and we saw this with the health care reforms which have resulted in prices actually going up and most people dissatisfied with the health care reforms. if we just tried things out at the local level that were successful and then scaled them up, i think we would have a much better chance for success, and that's exactly what's happened in the criminal justice area. i know most people think about texas as a state that's tough on crime, and that's true. but back in the mid -- middle of the first decade of this millennium, we saw the need to deal with overcrowding, we saw
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high recidivism or repeat offenders, and we were facing a major budget shortfall. in other words, we tried to keep building prisons to build our way out of the problem. but instead of just spending more money to build more prisons and hoping the problems would go away -- and the major problem is that we overlooked before which we finally realized is that people in prison will mostly get out of prison at some point. and the question is do they go back into prison after committing other crimes or can we help those who are willing to accept the help, turn their lives around and become productive members of society? so we opted for a different approach. we traded in our construction plans or our plans to help lower risk offenders turn their lives around and become productive members of society. that's because, as i said, most offenders will one day get out of prison. today texas has improved and
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increased programs designed to help men and women behind bars to take responsibility for their crimes and then to prepare to re-enter society's productive, law-abiding members of the community. i'm not naive enough to say this is something we're going to be able to do for 100% of the people behind bars. that's just not true. i wish the world was the kind of place where people, once they made mistakes and ended up behind bars, could transform their lives universally and then enter productive society. it's not true. but there are many who want to and who need our help and can benefit from some of these programs. this includes training that can really impact a prisoner's life. somebody with a drug problem. somebody with a mental illness. somebody who has been drinking, exacerbating their problems. those sort of things can benefit from treatment and from rehabilitation. those who are inadequately
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prepared educationally to enter the work force, we can help them through work programs and job training many of these programs have allowed local communities to get involved as well by encouraging partnerships in texas between prisons and faith-based organizations, people who believe in radical transformation of people's lives through their faith. they can focus on helping those prisoners who are willing and wanting to turn their lives around get the training and life skills they need in order to succeed. i'll never forget my visit just a few months back to the maximum security prison in east texas, the h.h.caufield unit where i saw firsthand how important some of these types of programs are. i went to one section of the prison and was introduced to the shop instructor, and he told me some of the inmates in his shop class came to him unable to read
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a simple tape measure. i think it's shocking, which it was to me. i think it's shocking to most people that anybody can reach adulthood unable to do something so basic as to read a tape measure, but yet that was an example of the type of people that were in that prison. what a remarkable example of how much opportunity there is to actually help through education, again, drug alcohol treatment, mental health treatment and to prepare people to re-enter civil society. so i'm glad that texas in addition to our well-earned reputation for being tough on crime is now known as being smart on crime, and a good example of what we could do nationally, and we're not the only state. other states have done the same thing, too, but the results in texas are remarkable. between 2007 and 2012, our
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overall rate of incarceration fell by 9.4%. the crime rate dropped, and as i said that's the gold standard. it's not the rate of incarceration. it's not how many people are in prison. it is what's happening to the crime rate. and our crime rate dropped. and not insignificantly, we saved more than $2 billion worth of taxpayer money, and we were able to close, physically close three prison facilities, the first time that's ever happened in our state. but as i said, we're not the only ones. georgia, for example, reduced its crime rate by more than 10% with similar programs. south carolina and ohio reduced theirs by 14%. this is their crime rate. and north carolina and texas have both reduced our crime rates by more than 20%.
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these reforms make our communities safer, which again is the first objective of criminal justice reform. it is the second objective of criminal justice reform, and it is the third objective of criminal justice reform. does it make our community safer? and the answer from the evidence is yes. so i think there is just no question but that we should consider some of these reforms at the federal level. let's take states' successes and scale them up so the rest of the country can benefit where they are not otherwise doing this and where we can do this in the federal prison system and not just in the state system. that's where the sentencing reform and corrections act comes in. this bill includes legislation that i introduced last year that takes this texas model and builds on it to help restore an important part of our criminal justice system that is too often forgotten, and that is
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rehabilitation. you know, when i went to law school more years ago than i'd like to admit, we were told that the purpose of criminal law was punishment, was deterrence to deter others from committing similar acts, and the third we were told that it was rehabilitation. we were going to help people change their lives if they made a mistake. but instead over time, our prisons have become warehouses where we just warehouse people and don't do enough to try to rehabilitate those who are willing to take the opportunity to deal with their problems in a constructive sort of way and turn their lives around. so the legislation that i have introduced along with sheldon whitehouse from rhode island, senator whitehouse is anybody who follows the senate knows we agree on very little, but we agree on this. we were both former attorney
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generals. he was former u.s. attorney. he has seen a similar experience in his state. so we encourage this legislation that would help inmates learn valuable skills they could transfer back home to their communities and help them turn from a life of crime. and it's important to note that not only does reduced recidivism impact an individual life, which is reason enough to do what we can to help, but it also helps that individual's family because the collateral damage from somebody making a mistake and ending up in prison, it does not stop with them. it stops with their families, including their children and their whole community. but as i said, it also makes financial sense, too. the justice department spends around 30% of its budget detaining federal inmates. by reinvesting more of this money in recidivism reduction
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programs, instead of building more federal prisons, we have an opportunity to save tax dollars and plow more of the money back where it could have the best impact. inmates could be rehabilitated, neighborhoods could be made safer, and tax dollars can be better put to use. we've also made other changes in the legislation that represent the give and take that usually happens when -- in the senate. legislating is a consensus-building process, and that's a good thing. initially when the corrections act was introduced, there was a separate piece of legislation called the smarter sentencing act which focused on -- as the name would suggest, sentencing, with a goal to reduce some of the mandatory minimum sentences which were a part of the 1990's effort to get tougher on crime. and this is where we have actually benefited a lot from
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the input from those who initially were unpersuaded about the merits of that part of the legislation. for example, we have categorically taken out, removed any benefit of the smarter sentencing act provisions for somebody who has committed a serious crime as defined by federal law. so somebody who is a violent offender, somebody who has committed a serious crime cannot benefit from the smarter sentencing act. we also and this is an area where i'm afraid there's some misunderstanding by some folks and there are some people actively spreading this information suggests as a result of the smarter sentencing act provisions that it's a get out of free jail card. that we're automatically going to come in and cut prison sentences and people get out on the street. that's just not true. they need to take another look at the legislation.
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under some circumstances and only if you are a low-level nonviolent offender can you ask the court, the court that actually in which you were convicted and before the judge who actually dispensed the sentence and before the prosecutor who actually put you in prison, you can ask for a reduction retroactively of long-term mandatory minimum sentences. for example, under some circumstances, somebody who's gotten a life sentence back in the days of three strikes and you're out, you could get a life sentence for three relatively minor offenses. now where appropriate, the judge could say, well, we're going to reduce that to 25 years. that's still a long, long time, particularly if you're talking about three relatively minor offenses. and there's one other example where a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence could be reduced to 15 years. so if you haven't served 15
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years, you're certainly not going to get out of prison. but the whole point is this was a negotiated piece of legislation to try to garner as much support as we could, and i'm pleased to say today we announced five new cosponsors of this legislation. now i believe there are 37 senators on a bipartisan basis who support this legislation as cosponsors. earlier this week we also had a very important endorsement from an organization for which i have tremendous respect. this is the largest organization of prosecutors in america. it's the national district attorney's association that represents about 1500 district attorneys and 30,000 assistant district attorneys across the country. they've endorsed this legislation. and yesterday at the republican lunch and conference, we had people like former attorney general michael mukasey who
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served 20 years on the federal bench in new york talk about how he thought this was a well balanced and worthwhile piece of legislation. the bottom line is we need to make sure that violent offenders and hardened criminals say in prison and away from our communities. i'm talking about people who will not take advantage of the opportunity to turn their lives around but people who must be separated from society because they'd made a decision to pursue a life of crime. but at the same time while we focus on the hardened criminals and the most violent, we've got to address our expanding prison system that too often perpetuates a life of crime. when i was a younger lawyer, i was told that often our prison system is an organization of higher education in crime because, of course, that's who's there, people who have committed crimes and people who committed rather low-level nonviolent
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offenses, particularly when they are housed with people who have chosen a more violent and life of crime, it can have a terrible detrimental impact. so the idea is let's focus on the hardened criminal, the violent criminals and let's take the low-level nonviolent offenders and see if some of them will take advantage of the opportunity to turn their lives around. local communities and conservative state, red states like texas, georgia, north carolina have already proven that it's possible to do both. and after months of discussion i'm confident we can bring this success to the rest of the country with this legislation. like every piece of legislation, though, we know that there's an arduous path forward. while this bill was voted out of the senate judiciary committee, it still needs to come to the floor of the senate where all 100 senators will have an opportunity to help improve that
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product. and then there's the house of representatives. earlier today senator grassley, the chairman of the senate judiciary committee and i met with congressman bob goodlatte, the chairman of the house judiciary committee about our ideas together how we can move this legislation forward. and i know the president is anxious to sign a criminal justice reform bill. this could actually be a good bipartisan accomplishment of the 114th congress. so i appreciate the bipartisan effort on all sides to work constructively toward a bill that can win broad bipartisan support. those who don't like parts of the bill, bring your ideas to us. that's the way this process is supposed to work. let's make it better. let's build bipartisan support and consensus. but let me just say in closing, i particularly want to thank the chairman of the senate judiciary committee, chairman gassily, for
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-- grassley, for stewarding this legislation through the process. as an experienced member of the senate, somebody who's been at this a while, he knows better than most how to shepherd legislation, particularly potentially controversial legislation through this process. and he's been masterful in bringing this this far. but i think we owe it to our constituents and to the country to take the lessons we've learned at the state and local level and let's bring them to the -- them to benefit the rest of the country and let's make our criminal justice system as the name suggests more just and at the same time more effective and let's save taxpayers a buck or two in the process. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. a senator: i ask unanimous consent that michael jetfig an
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intern in my office be granted floor privileges for the duration of today's session of the senate. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. ms. heitkamp: thank you, mr. president. across the united states, hundreds of thousands of workers and retirees, they're scared. they're scared for the future. they're scared for their families, and they're scared for themselves. these workers and retirees did everything right. they played by the rules. they worked for years if not decades, often in labor intensive jobs, and they responsibly planned for the future by putting money into their pensions only to have their retirement security ripped away. this is a story that's happening across north dakota and happening across america. harsh and senseless proposed cuts to central states pension plan, a multiemployer pension fund could rip away the
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retirement of workers and retirees in the trucking, u.p.s. package and delivery and grocery supply industries. these cuts could impact more than 2,000 north dakota families and across the country 400,000 retirees who could see their pensions slashed up to 60%. many of these workers have been forced to retire because of decades of lifting packages over a hundred pounds every day. these jobs took hard tolls on their bodies, but they were able to earn a living, support their families, and put food on the table each night. they knew that because they were saving for retirement through their pensions they would be taken care of in later years. they would be able to enjoy their later years hunting and fishing with their grandchildren. they would be able to enjoy
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their later years by taking care of their family and their loved ones. unfortunately that's -- unfortunately that security is evaporating. i recently met with teamsters and union workers and retirees in bismarck and in fargo. their stories quite honestly were heartbreaking. they couldn't understand how if they did everything right why was their retirement being taken away from them. they can't live in a country that just enables these workers and retirees to be left behind. they can't understand who is fighting for them. they and we must stand up and say this is wrong. we must stand up for hard work. and we must protect their pensions and make sure all north dakotaians have a secure retirement. so i want to tell just a few of their stories today. i'm going to start with dennis
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gainsforth from jamestown. he worked for u.s.p. for 31 years -- unchtsz p.s. for 31 years. he needs surgery on one of his knees because ever decades as a night mechanic. he's also helping financially to take care of his son who had a stroke and his wife who needs back surgery. under the proposed cuts, his pension would be slashed by 50% as a result dennis who is 72 years old is now back at work driving a public bus in jamestown. tina kramer from manden was a member of the teamsters working as a secretary for the local union for 25 years through which all of that she earned a pension. her husband was a member of the steelworkers and worked for bobcat for about 30 years as a forklift driver, and he also was earning a pension. several years ago both of them retired and soon after tina's
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husband suddenly passed away. tina lost her husband's pension and now has to rely solely on her pension. but under these proposed cuts, tina's pension would be cut by almost 60%. tina has just a little bit of savings which she has already had to dip into every month to pay her bills for groceries and to pay her property taxes. under the proposed pension cuts, it could only get worse for tina. bob burg from north defargo worked for u.p.s. over 30 years delivering packages, many of which could way up to a 150 pounds. because of the hard labor of his job, he had surgery on both knees, his hands, five hernia operations and back problems forcing him into early retirement, and now his medical bills are skyrocketing. he receives $2200 a month under the pension plan but with the
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cuts he would just receive $1,150, a 50% reduction. mark rosschilder from manden worked as a u.p.s. driver for 20 years delivering packages in north dakota. he had five back surgeries and two rotator cuff surgeries. after the last surgery mark's doctor told him to stop working or he might lose his ability to walk. he now walks with a cane and he relies on his pension, the pension that he earned to help pay his medical bills. under the proposed cuts, mark's pension would be cut by more than 50%. you hear these stories, you hear stories about men and women who worked hard all their life, and they did the right thing. they bargained for a pension
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because they knew that the work that they did was not work you could do your entire life. they knew that they wanted time in retirement to enjoy their golden years but yet today that benefit and that security is threatened. i had a man approach me after one of the meetings where i asked people to tell me what the impacts were on the cuts, and many were able to give public testimonials. and this man came up to me afterwards. i won't use his name because quite privately he wanted to tell me that he was going to lose his house, that he was getting to lose all the security that he had in the world, and that he was a grandfather helping take care of his grandchildren because his daughter couldn't afford day care. these pension cuts don't just affect the worker. they affect the worker's family. they affect the extended family and quite honestly they affect
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our communities. but more than that, they affect our general sense of security. our general sense that you ought to be able to rely on the goodness of your hard work, on the rewards of your hard work, but yet today all of this is being threatened. now, when you say well, you know, that's just the way it is, you know, pension funds are in trouble, i want everyone to remember for very many of these workers, they were basically prevented from managing their pension fund. in fact, the federal government took it away, took that pension fund away and gave it to private investment firms who squandered and wasted the principal. and they wondered why in the world in a country where we would bail out wall street bankers who made bad decisions,
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they never get listened to. we cannot let this happen. i have been pressing secretary -- treasury secretary lew about this issue and i recently met with ken feinberg, the treasury official overseeing the reconstruction of this pension fund. we have to reinforce this point. we had a good conversation and i hope the treasury department does the right thing by rejecting this devastating proposal and seeking a fairer option. we can and must find a solution that doesn't jeopardize retirement security or present long-term insolvency issues to the central states' fund. this deal, this deal that has threatened the livelihood of so many of my fellow north dakotans, people who work hard for a living, the kind of people we brag about on the floor of
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the senate, we're here to represent the hardworking, good americans who build our country, but yet when this happens, they won derks who is listening to -- they wonder, who is listening to them? who do we really represent here? so this deal has to be rejected and we have to create an opportunity that enables all north dakotans and american families to have the secure retirement that they earned. dennis, tina, bob, and mark and so many other north dakotans that i have met deserve as much. they deserve the same kind of consideration and interest that we gave to a.i.g., that we gave to all of the organizations that we bailed out during the 2008 crisis bailed out at a time when we saw record bonuses for wall street executives. you know, we wonder all the time why people are mad.
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we don't need to look any further than this example to know that sometimes the priorities are just plain wrong. so i urge all of my colleagues to become aware of this problem, to become invested in this problem, and work with us to solve this problem. and the first and most significant and important step we can take is urge the department of treasury to reject the current plan and take this back to the drawing board. mr. president, with that, i yield the floor. mr. lee: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: one of the words that the american people frequently use to describe congress today -- at least one of the words that is appropriate to repeat on the senate floor, on one of the most common and accurate is
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"unaccountable." year after year, mr. president, hardworking men and women across this great country bristle under dysfunctional, costly, and burdensome laws made right here in washington, d.c. and day after day, many of them do it what americans have always done when faced with an out-of-touch government: they contact their elected lawmakers to voice their concerns about those laws and to push for change to those laws and the process by which they're made. but ask anyone who has ever called or written or e-mailed their member of congress what happens next. it's consistent. it's predictable. blame is shifted. fingers are pointed. scapegoats of every variety imaginable are brought forth to defend those who are charged with making the laws from the consequences of their own handiwork. this is the very definition of
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"unaccountability." and it pervades the culture of washington, d.c., because congress has allowed it to infect our laws and our institutions, the very institutions by which those laws are made. many americans assume that they're being lied to when their elected lawmakers blame someone else for the laws that are raising the cost of living, eating away at their paychecks, and generally making it harder for individual americans, individual families to realize the american dream. but the truth is actually more troubling, even more troubling than that. most of the items on the federal government's interminable list of do's and don't's governing nearly every activity of human life are not in fact written, debated, discussed, and passed by congress. rather, they're imposed unilaterally by unelected
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bureaucrats in one of the executive branch's administrative agencies. this is true even for what are called major rules, which are regulations that cost the american people more than $100 million each year in compliance costs. for instance, look at the department of energy, whose appropriations we're currently considering. in a single year, 2015, the cost of the regulations issued by the department of energy exceeded $15 billion. $15 billion, mr. president. in one year it cost the american people $15 billion to comply with the regulations issued by this single bureaucratic entity, by this single federal department, the u.s. department of energy. now, even if you agree with every cent of that very onerous regulatory burden, we should all be able to recognize the danger of allowing one group of people
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consisting of individuals who never have to stand for election to squeeze $15 billion out of the american people's pocketbooks. that's why i'm introducing this amendment, number 3856, which would restrict the department of energy from spending any funds to implement or enforce regulations whose compliance costs exceed $100 million unless specifically approved by congress. unfortunately, regrettably, tragically, this amendment was blocked, it was blocked by consideration by unof my colleagues on the -- by one of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle completely unrelated to the merits of this amendment of i'd like to take a moment to explain how my amendment works. mr. president, this amendment would have provided immediate, much-needed financial relief to the budgets of hardworking families and businesses all across this country.
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it would protect them from the costs of two major rules recently proposed by the department of energy, rules that impose new energy efficiency standards on ceiling fans and commercial-packaged boilers. just like the department of energy's ban on incandescent light bulbs, under these rules, americans would no longer be able to buy ceiling fans or commercial boilers that do not adhere to the government's strict new standards. proponents of the rules think this is a good thing, as former energy secretary steven chu said about the light bulb ban in 2011, "we are taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money." cloture vote quote. -- close quote. this government-knows-best approach to regulation is not only arrogant, it is not only offputtingly paternalistic, it is detached from the economic realities of american life
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today. most americans may buy less energy-efficient ceiling fans, not because they're less intelligent or less concerned about saving energy or less concerned about protecting the environment but because it's what they can afford. the additional costs of these energy efficiency standards are not insignificant. in fact, it's estimated that these two rules would cost american families and businesses more than $3 billion. today the department of energy has the power to impose rules -- these rules on the public, and there's very little congress can do about it. but under my amendment, the two rules would not go into effect unless or until congress voted to approve them, unless or until congress affirmative enacted them into law allowed them to be signinged into law by the president. this simple, commonsense reform
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is on a smaller scale, something that's modeled on the so-called reigns act -- reins -- it stands for regulations from the executive in need of scrutiny. it is a bill that requires congressional approval for all major rules issued by all executive agencies across the entire federal government. last july the house of representatives passed the reins act by a strong vote of 243-165, and it currently has 37 cosponsors in the senate. support for the legislation is growing because it's becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the moral and material problems of hiding the regulatory process in the nameless, faceless bureaucracy. everyone here knows the regulatory burden in america has become untenable. every single day, each of us hears from our constituents about how stifling government
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regulations have become. the data tell the same story. just today we saw that the first quarter of 2016 was the third in a row in which private domestic investment has shrunk. this is disappointing, but it's not surprising. according to a recent study by the mercata center, the economy was $4 trillion smaller than it would have been in the absence of regulatory growth since 1980. that works out to about $13,000 of lost earnings for every man, woman, and child in america. now, some of my colleagues may think the costs of our regulatory system are defensible. i certainly don't. but i know that there are different opinions out there, and that is exactly the point of the reins act. that is exactly the point of this amendment, this amendment which has been improperly logged. under the broken status quo,
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members of congress can claim innocence -- and they regularly do claim innocence -- when an executive agency imposes a costly and controversial regulation on the country. and in fact many members of the congress not only claim innocence, but they claim almost victim status. they behave almost as if we were a victim, we were someone being acted upon. we don't even have to debate it. it just kicks into law by itself. it's self-executing. now, this may be convenient for those of us in washington, but it's fundamentally and unacceptably of the american people. we don't -- we don't make law this way in this country. that's not how our system was set up, and it's thyme that we -- time that we change it. if congress is ever going to win back the trust of the american people, we must prove that we're in fact trustworthy, trustworthy to do what we're supposed to do. trustworthy to make law because
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that's why we exist as a part of our government. and the best way to do that is to make ourselves once again accountable for making the laws, passing the laws, and standing accountable for the laws of this country. this amendment would be a significant step forward toward making congress accountable again. i regret -- i deeply regret that it was blocked, but i look forward to advancing similar reforms in the future. you see, mr. president, because the idea of making congress accountable isn't just a good idea, it's burned deeply, indelibly within our constitutional system. it's no accident, mr. president, the very first clause of the first section of the first article of the constitution says, "all legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a congress of the united states which shall consist of a senate and a house of representatives." all legislative powers. that ma means the power to make all law, all federal law. that's vested in a kofnlgt we're
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not supposed to delegate that to someone else. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. lee: thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: mr. president, in many places around the world, april is a month where we celebrate rebirth and renewal. but april has too often been in t.s. elliott's words, "the cruelest month, the month where some of the world's darkes darkt moments have cast shod dose." it was a step that led to the extermination of more than a million armenians. it was april 1933 that the nazis issued a degree paving the way for the annihilation of 6 million jews of europe. it was april 1975 that the khmer rouge entered cambodia's capital
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city launching a four-year wave of violence kill being 2 million people. in april 1992, the siege of sarajevo began in bosnia, the longest siege in modern history where more than 10,000 people perished, including 1,500 children. in april 1994, the plane carrying the president of rwanda crashed triggering the beginning of a genocide that killed more than 00,000 people in -- 800,000 people in 100 days. when we talk about what happened in rwanda, it's easy to begin to think that genocide is a single, undifferential act of barbarism. in reality, it was made of many individual atrocities that took place over 100 days. in april 2003, innocent civilians in sudan's darfur region were attacked, killing more than 400,000 and displacing 2.5 million in a conflict that continues to this day. this past month the state
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department announced that the united states has determined that isis actions against the shiite muslims constitute genocide. secretary kerry noted that in 2014 isis-trapped yazidis dndz killed thousands of yazidi women and girls destroying the communities in which they lived for countless generations.. i rise here today in april not only to commemorate international genocide awareness and prevention month and pay respect to the innocents who were slaughtered but also to speak about what the united states can and must do to prevent atrocities and genocide. the commitment to prevent acts of genocide and mass atrocities has been a centerpiece of policy by consecutive administrations of the united states government. the united states was the first country in the world to sign the convention on the prevention and
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punishment of crimes of genocide signed at paris in december 9, 1948, and president ronald reagan signed implementing legislation allowing the united states to become a party to the convention on november 25, 1988. in 2006, national security strategy president george w. bush highlighted the moral imperative that states take against, to prevent and punish genocide. i firmly believe that the united states leadership can make a difference in preventing future genocides and mass atrocities. u.s. leadership can save lives by bringing the power and resources of the united states to bear on atrocity prevention, accountability and justice. on april 10, 2014, i spwraoursed the syrian war crime accountability act in this chamber. three days earlier the world had mark the 20th anniversary of the genocide of rwanda, one of the most horrific events in modern history that unfolded as
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the world stood back and watched. at that time i noted that unfortunately we have not learned the lessons of the past. we must do better to not only see that sort of atrocities never again occur under our watch. that statement was not only a reflection of my belief but a promise to keep the issue of atrocity prevention in front of the senate and the american people. so today under the heavy cloud of atrocities occurring in syria, south sudan and elsewhere, i come to address this body again. i'm here today not to look backward about actions not taken. i am here today to stress that our job, our responsibility is to make sure the united states has the tools, diplomatic, political, economic and legal, to take effective action before atrocities occur. essential to this is authorizing the atrocities prevention board and ensuring that the united states government has structures in place and the mechanisms at
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hand to better prevent and respond to potential atrocities. president obama when he established the atrocities prevention board in 2012 said that preventing atrocity -- preventing genocide is an achievable goal but one that requires a degree of governmental organization that matches the kind of methodical organizations that accomplish mass killings. earlier this year i introduced the genocide and atrocities prevention act of 2016 to ensure that we do just that. i'm joined in this effort by senator tillis, murphy, menendez, shaheen, brown, gillibrand, blumenthal, coons, mikulski, marky, merkley, boxer, casey, warren, whitehouse, murkowski, burr and bennet. this bill authorizes the board which is transparent, accountable, high-level, interagency board that includes representatives at the assistant secretary level or higher from
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departments and agencies across u.s. government. the board will meet monthly to oversee the development and implementation of atrocity prevention and response policy and additionally address over the horizon potential atrocities through the use of a wide variety of tools so that we can take effective action to prevent atrocities from occurring. this bill gives our foreign service officers the training they need to recognize patterns of escalation and early warning signs of potential atrocities and conflict. with this that i think we will overtime -- with this training we will build it into the skill set of the people on the ground. they will be equipped to see the warning signs, analyze the events and engage early. the bill codifies the complex crisis line which has been a critical tool in our ability to quickly respond to an emergency crisis overseas, including potential mass atrocities and conflict. with use of the complex crisis
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fund in tunesia during the arab spring and sri lanka, we used it to respond quickly in kenya and other countries where we helped save lives. importantly, this bill builds greater transpaeurpbs -- transparence into the structure of atrocity prevention board. civil society will have a say and congress will have a greater oversight role to make sure we are getting this done right. mr. president, this is a good bill. it does good things and places the united states on a solid moral ground. but the moral argument alone is not enough. we must also remember that america's security and that of our allies is effective when civilians are slaughtered. our security is impacted when desperate refugees stream across borders. our security is affected when perpetrators of extraordinary violence wreak havoc on regional stability, destroying communities, families and livelihoods. we have seen groups like isis
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systematically targeting communities on the basis of ethnicity, religious belief and practices. we still, after 60 years, still do not have a comprehensive framework to prevent and respond to mass atrocities and genocide. let this bill act as a framework. and also our call to action so that when we use the phrase "never again" we know that we are taking meaningful action to make that a reality. mr. president, i would ask consent that my following remarks be separated in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: i would ask consent to speak for an additional ten minutes. the presiding officer: is there objection? seeing none, so ordered. mr. cardin: thank you, mr. president. the death of freddie gray was a national tragedy deserving a national conversation. a year after the death of freddie gray, the glare of television cameras covering the ensuing unrest has faded in baltimore, but the hurt and the continuing effort to heal remain. in the 12 months since freddie gray's death, americans have
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long overdue conversations about racially biased policing, poverty in cities across america, the lack of access to quality education, scarcity to safe and affordable housing. these conversations have been translated into meaningful action by baltimore city residents, community leaders and lawmakers at every level. faith groups, community organizations, the business community and many other groups who love and understand the limitless potential of our city have stood up and articulated their vision on how to build a stronger baltimore. the death of freddie gray was another painful reminder of the problems we have in our criminal justice system. i'm a strong supporter of the independence of our judicial branch of government and the grand jury system, but i think all of us understand the frustration when there were no criminal indictments brought in the trayvon martin case, the michael brown case, the eric
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garner case and far too many examples across america. i've been working for years to address problems in our criminal justice system. in the days following the death of freddie gray i called on the justice department to open criminal and civil investigations into freddie gray's death. on april 21, 2015, i was joined by representative john conyers in reintroducing the end racial profiling legislation i originally introduced before the death of trayvon martin. as baltimore emerged from the unrest i met with community hrerdz to discuss -- leaders to discuss legislative responses to help heal baltimore's physical wounds and how to address many of the core problems that underpin the unrest. i met with a pharmacy owner whose store had been looted. i spoke with residents in east and west baltimore. i visited freddie gray's elementary school to hear from teachers and community leaders about what tools they require for the federal government to better meet the needs of
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students. in the weeks following the unrest, i went back and forth from baltimore city to the senate and the white house relaying the needs of baltimoreans to my colleagues and top obama administration officials. i was joined by the maryland congressional delegation, my colleague and friends, senator senator mikulski, and members of our city delegation, congressman cummings and congressman sarbanes. i welcomed the announcement that the department justice civil rights division will open a pattern or practice investigation of the baltimore police department. this was just one way to help restore the eroded trust between communities and police. to further this effort, i introduced the baltimore act. the baltimore act is comprised of four titles. title 1 deals with law enforcement reform. baltimore act places bans on racial profiling by state and local law enforcement, mandatory data collection and reporting
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and available grants. it requires local law enforcement officials receiving byrne, jag and cops hiring program funds to submit officer training information in the department of justice including how their officers are trained and the use of force countering racial and ethnic bias and constructive engagement with the public. it requires the department of justice report on a plan to assist state and local law enforcement agencies to improve training in use of force, identifying racial and ethnic bias and conflict resolution through course of officers career. the department of justice shall develop field training program policies and examine ways to partner with national law enforcement organizations to promote consistent standards for high-quality training and assessment. the department shall also file a report that contains best practices, model policies and training tool kits. the department of justice will derive action plans for helping
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law enforcement agencies upgrade i.t. systems. and lastly, under title 1, it establishes a pilot program to assist local law enforcement in purchasing or leasing body worn cameras which requires privacy study. so we have a comprehensive section that deals with law enforcement. title 2 deals with voting right. the baltimore act restores the vote for all citizens after prison sentence is stefrbd. it restores the ability to sit on federal juries after prison sentences have been served. in title 3 we deal with sentencing law reform with many colleagues in the chamber have been championing. it reclassifies low-level nonviolent drug possession felonies as misdemeanors eliminating the distinction between crack and powder cocaine
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and require fair weight for food products. in title 4 we deal with reentry in employment law reform. it is critically important that people have an opportunity once they come out of incarceration. i don't think there's a member of this chamber who hasn't had a second chance. well this provides, allows nonprofits to apply for second chance grants. it authorizes $200 million annually for the labor department's reentry employment opportunities program. it's a sense of congress that the administration should be in the box for hiring on federal contractors. baltimore's congressional delegation has been fighting to ensure federal resources are made available to help the city residents prosper in the days following the unrest, the small business administration established disaster loan outreach centers in baltimore to help local owners who had been impacted by the unrest. the justice department has also provided assistance in the form of the edward byrne memorial justice assistance grants to
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help defray the cost of policing during the unrest and to help local law enforcement better safeguard communities from violent crime. the department of education projects school emergency -- department of education's project school emergency response to violence serve program has given resources to the baltimore city public schools to help students recover from the trauma associated with the unrest. the environmental protection agency pledged funding to help convert vacant lots into gardens that foster a sense of community and increase public and environmental health. other obama administration initiatives like my brother's keeper continue to give communities the tools they need to foster long-term positive change. these are a small portion of the federal government's ongoing commitments to the people of baltimore city. i'm proud of the federal government stepping up to help baltimore so that baltimore can reach its full potential. baltimore is my home. what followed the death of
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freddie gray was one of the most difficult days in the city's history. one year later baltimore is transforming with the help of ordinary citizens, the business community and a slew of nonprofits making measurable impact. i've always been honored to represent the people of baltimore. as long as i still have that honor, i will continue to make sure that the federal government is an active partner in empowering the city of baltimore to reach its full potential. in the year since the death of freddie gray, we've made progress in building a more just america by investing in baltimore. let us continue to build upon that progress. mr. president, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. on tuesday the world lost a courageous activist for
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international workers rights, harry wu. harry wu spent 19 years in one of china's prison labor camps. that word is pretty much unknown in english, laogai. it's the word that the chinese made famous at least in its part of the world as the terribly brutal labor camps where they sent political prisoners. mr. wu was imprisoned in 1960 at age 23 because he spoke out against communist china's ally in that year in 1960. the soviet union after its invasion of hungary. over those 19 years from 1960- 1979, mr. wu was brutalized. he was sent to work on farms and mines and prison camps. he was beaten. he was forced into concrete cases. he survived on food, as he has written and told us, he survived on food foraged in rats' nests.
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after his release, following mao's death, harry wu dedicated the rest of his life to exposing the horrors in his -- that his homeland leaders inflicted on its own citizens. he risked haste life to return to china under cover and gather secret footage of the abuses in these laogai, in these prison camps. he wouldn't let the world ignore chinese atrocities. he wouldn't let us forget that opening our doors to china, demanded by u.s. corporations with few strings attached, came at a steep price. through the footage he collected, he helped show the world that products like cheap wrenches and artificial flowers sold in the united states were made with forced labor. now, you think about this, mr. president. what this was about. u.s. companies would shut down production in mansfield, my hometown, or maybe in baton rouge or maybe in cleveland and move their production to china and then sell those products back to the united states and at
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the same time think through these companies in the u.s. that move to china, never addressing the moral issues of what it did to our communities, at the same time never addressing the moral issues of using in some cases chinese forced labor. also these companies could sell the products a little bit cheaper in the united states, and these companies could reap much bigger profits. the moral question of u.s. trade relations with china has rarely been touched in this body. it's just inconvenient for us to think about. well, mr. wu never let it be inconvenient. as we approach the 15th anniversary this year of china's entry into the world trade organization and we review china's nonmarket economy status, we should not forget the lessons of harry wu. we have seen over the past decade that prosperity in china does not lead to more political freedom. i knew harry wu. he testified before the congressional executive
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commission on china when i was chairman. he has testified several times. as recently as 2012, mr. wu warned congress that the laogai, the prison -- the forced labor prison camp system, the laogai system is deeply routed and intertwined in china's economic structure. china's working class is different from that of modern democratic countries. it includes not only workers that work for pay, even low pay, but workers that work for pay in the ordinary sense but also, as mr. wu writes, workers of the prison enterprises. those would be slaves. he warned that prisoners in laogai are more like state slaves than enterprise workers, provide the state with endless sources of cheap and payless labor force. end quote. this system a an egregious human rights abuse against hundreds of thousands of chinese people. it hurts american workers who are then forced to compete. so these american companies movt
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this whole system that is one of the reasons that people are really upset about what's happening in this country. countries in my state of ohio, in lima, zanesville, chilicothe shut down production. they get a tax break, they move overseas to china. chinese workers, some of them slave labor for some of the component manufacturing, some of them just low-paid labor. then make these products, it's a totalitarian system and sell them back to the united states. american companies never talk about the world dimension in that. i interviewed harry wu -- i wrote a book a dozen or so years ago, mr. president, called "the myths of free trade." i interviewed harry wu about this book. he told me capitalism must never be equated with democracy. we think in this country because we're capitalists and democracy, that they always go together. they don't. capitalism, according to harry wu, must never be equated with democracy. don't believe it about china.
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my homeland is mired in thousands of years of rule by one bully at a time. it wasn't new with communism. it's what china has done. he says my homeland is mired in thousands of years of rule by one bully at a time. whether you call him emperor or whether you call him chairman, don't be fooled by electronics or air conditioning, unquote. right now it seems, i think mr. wu before his death would have said yes, the united states has been fooled. maybe we choose to be fooled. maybe we choose not to know what these products that we hold in our hands, how they remain by what oppressive government using blunt force labor workers. we have been on a continuous march toward more trade with china, and we have demanded far little in return. we have turned a blind eye for too long towards china's labor practices. our complaints, when you hear presidential candidates and others complain about china, it's always about putting american workers out of work, which it should be, but the other part of that moral question is we are using slave
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laborers in china to undercut american workers. how possibly would an american worker or an american company compete with slave labor in china? obviously, you can't, but we leave that moral question because u.s. corporations don't want to acknowledge, want to turn a blind eye towards the slave labor. it reminds me a few years ago when an american drug company making a -- making a blood thinner, much of the production of that blood thinner came from china, and there were contaminated ingredients, and a number of people in toledo, ohio, died. well, the drug company didn't know where these products came from. they knew they came from china, but they didn't know where their supply chain ingredients came from. think about that. you should be liable for that, you would think, but they just kind of didn't -- didn't think about the moral question there. a year and a half ago, i gave a speech to the council on foreign relations warning that before we sign any bilateral investment treaty with china, we need to demand that china comply with
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existing international obligations and domestic laws. we give china chance after chance pushing for increased engagement even though china we know plays by its own rules. the past year and a half nothing has changed. we need to make clear that international obligations we expect china to meet on cybersecurity, on human rights, on forced labor, on slaves making products that american children use, on international trade, on workers' rights, on other issues. we need to demand that china meet these standards now. increased engagement by the u.s. may have led to more ingredients on paper, that's fine, but in reality, the only thing it's achieved is our ongoing tolerance of chinese transgression. maybe tolerance, maybe ignoring, maybe shrugging our shoulders, maybe burying our heads in the sand. i don't think we want to think much about slave labor in china. i don't think when we buy these products at walmart, specializing in chinese products, that we want to think much about where these products were made. we know they are often made in china, but we don't really want
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to think about how those workers produced these products. henry wu's passing is a reminder that this needs to end. his legacy includes the laogai museum here in washington. i encourage my colleagues to visit the museum, pay their respects to harry wu and the best way to pay their respects to harry wu is changing our policies. the thousands upon thousands of thousands of other nameless prisoners who suffered in these chinese prison camps should be honored equally. we can't forget this tragic legacy. we can't forget the human rights abuses that continue to this day as they continue to make these same products in these same working conditions with these same slave laborers. mr. president, it's shameful. it should not continue. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk shall call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: mr. president, good afternoon. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. carper: i would ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. carper: mr. president, good afternoon. for more than a year now, as you know, because you have had the good fortune or bad fortune of drawing the short straw and sitting here when i come -- come to the senate just about every month to highlight the extraordinary work that's being done by the men and women of the department of homeland security security, and i'm here to do that again, too, today. the agency has so many talented folks and they do incredibly important work, so there is no shortage of material. as you know, mr. president, the department of homeland security is made up of 22, 22 component agencies and employs over 200,000 people.
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these men and women work around the clock to do the work they do and is designed to protect us all, protect our families and protect our country. we are reminded just last month how crucial the work that they do is. when terrorists attack a train station, an airport check-in area in brussels, belgium, setting up bombs that killed 32 people and wounded hundreds more, our thoughts and prayers have been and remain with the victims of these horrible attacks, with the families, with their loved ones who continue to recover and to mourn. just six days before these tragic attacks, i spoke on the floor about the difficult work performed by the 59,000 employees of the transportation security administration, affectionately known as t.s.a. these men and women work every day. they do so to ensure that all of us americans and tourist visitors to our country may
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travel around our country, in the airways of our country and around the world, and when they do so they are safe from harm. the attack in brussels shows us once again just how important these efforts performed day in and day out by the men and women at t.s.a. are to every single american and to our visitors. it also reminds us just how important it is that t.s.a. has the tools and the resources needed to effectively carry out their mission. to help ensure that t.s.a. is well equipped to protect the public, i worked with a number of our senate colleagues last week, democrats and republicans alike, to include amendments to a bill reauthorizing the federal aviation administration. and our amendments will help make airports and transit hubs across our country safer for travelers by doubling the number of teams -- we call them viper teams, teams of federal agents and bomb-sniffing dogs who patrol our airports and subways
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to deter and to identify potential attackers. these teams also make security improvements -- these amendments will also make security improvements to public areas and airports and train stations, and they seek to ensure that the men and women patrolling those areas can effectively respond to the type of active shooter incidents which we have unfortunately seen more frequently in recent months. our commonsense amendments are one of the many ways we can support the men and women at t.s.a. and throughout the department of homeland security who work on the front lines every day screening passengers, guarding our ports of entry, patrolling our transit hubs. one part of the support we need to extend to these brave public servants, world class training in education, by expanding and improving training opportunities for our laws and law enforcement, we personnel, we cn make sure they have the knowledge, make sure they have
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the capability to respond to any situation that may arise. that's why one of the best tools in our homeland security arsenal is the federal law enforcement training center. i don't like, as my staff knows, i don't like acronyms very much. this is a pretty good one. it's called the federal law enforcement training center located down in glenn cogeorgia and goes by the acronym fletc. i'm not crazy about acronyms. we'll call them fletc. the task is teaching the men and women who are deployed at the front lines how to best utilize the technologies and techniques needed to protect americans here at home and around the world. they provide training to dozens, literally dozens of federal agencies, state and law enforcement personnel from across our country and our international partners who travel from all over the world to learn from the best right here in america.
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from active shooter training to advanced forensic techniques to methods to counter human trafficking, fletc instructors provide training in nearly 100 courses. they host the training academies for a number of other agencies including customs and border protection, immigration and customs enforcement and the u.s. coast guard. recently t.s.a. announced that they would be establishing a new permanent academy for transportation security officers at fletc's main facility in glennco, georgia. having the training centralized will allow t.s.a. better uniformed training for all officers and better collaborate with other officers, other components of the department of homeland security. providing world class training and instruction to tens of thousands of law enforcement officers each year requires bringing together some of the most highly qualified professional instructors from across our country.
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the more than 1,000 men and women from our law enforcement that serve at fletc utilize their personal experience in the field to create and to lead effective training that helps law enforcement professionals keep us americans and our guests safe and secure each day. one of fletc's world class strurbgss is greg king. greg king, pictured right here to my left. and for nearly ten years mr. king, greg king, has been an instructor at fletc utilizing his own experience to train federal officers deployed around the world. before coming to fletc, greg served his hometown of cleveland, ohio, working for the cleveland police department for 28 years. and if he's listening, i would suggest that i'm thinking that greg may have started when he was about 10. that's an impressive. he looks pretty good for a guy
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that's been doing this for this long. greg has a career spanning nearly three decades. he did everything from working undercover as a street crimes unit detective to investigating financial crimes, murders, and crimes against children. for those 28 years, greg has dedicated his life to protecting the community of cleveland and giving back to the town in which he grew up. today greg serves as a senior instructor at fletc and working as a program coordinator for the case organization presentation training program. the internet investigations training program. and as assistant program coordinator for the intelligence analysts training program. greg has a wealth of knowledge in these areas. his colleagues call him a -- this is a quote, their words, not mine: "real subject matter expert." with the kpaoeufpbd expertise -- kind of expertise that can only
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come from real world experience. from the lesson plans, greg strives to impart firsthand knowledge he gained on the force to his students so that when they leave his class, they are able to build effective cases, conduct investigations, analyze information and ultimately catch the bad guys. at fletc, greg's colleagues also refer to him as an energizer bunny, and greg, some of my colleagues have referred to me in those same terms. i think it's a compliment. i hope so. in your case i'm sure that it is. but his energy and his passion or his work inspire other instructors and keep his students engaged. and given his dedication to those students and the fletc mission, greg has earned the respect of his peers and fletc's leadership. no wonder greg king was named fletc instructor of the year for
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2015. instructor of the year for the entire school. it's clearly a well deserved honor. and when greg isn't training law enforcement professionals, he's spending time with his family, his wife shelly, their two daughters layla and shayla and their son roshon. i want to give a special thanks to them for sharing agreeing with us, the people of cleveland now and the people of the united states for not just 28 years but 38 years in all. he's dedicated countless of hours, i'm told as well, to his community and to his country in addition to that. in his ten years at fletc, greg king has helped train countless law enforcement officers who have used the available lessons from his course every single day to arrest criminals, to protect our fellow citizens, and to help keep americans safe around the
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world. mr. president, fletc has four core values that the agency and their employees attempt to abide by. i'm going to mention those today. number one, respect. number two, integrity. one of our former colleagues, alan simpson, the senator from wyoming, used to say about integrity, if you have it nothing else matters. if you don't have it, nothing else matters. and eupbl tegt is the second -- and integrity is the second value. respect, integrity, service and excellence. i like to say one of the things we need to focus on is to have excellence in everything we do in the country, here in the senate and across the country. if it isn't perfect, make it better. that's one of the core values for fletc: respect, integrity, service and excellence. and i mention those values look like some of the values that we
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embrace in the office from the state i'm privileged to represent. greg has lived this one, using his own experience, to make the generation of -- the generation of law enforcement officers in our country even better prepared to face the threats of tomorrow. greg is one shining example of the critical work being done by more than 1,000 instructors at fletc. these instructors make it their mission to ensure that law enforcement personnel across our country are well prepared for whatever they might face on the job. so to greg, to all the men and women at fletc, to everyone at the department of homeland security, i want to thank you for your hard work day in and day out. we want to thank you for your service to the people of our country and urge you to keep up the good work. i want to close, before i do, by taking a drink of water.
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some of us travel on trains. some of us travel on buses. some of us travel on airplanes and helicopters, in our own cars, trucks and vans. i do a combination of those, but i do a fair amount of travel in the air. i used to be a naval flight officer for many years. i spent a lot of time in navy airplanes. i love the navy, loved serving in the navy. now they don't let me -- they let me ride in a commercial plane. sometimes i get to fly in a military plane too, which is a kick. when you fly commercial aviation, you're at an airport, you generally go through the check-in, security check-in and they want to make sure that you're not carrying anything in your luggage or in your purse that's inappropriate or illegal. and you have to be confronted by, it's usually a series of
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t.s.a. officers. i just want to remind us all, they're there to protect us. that's their job, to make sure that the planes that we get on, whether they're going 200, 300, 400 miles or 2,000 or 3,000 miles to go from one side of our country to the other side or one side of the world to another, the jobs of the t.s.a. officers is to protect us. they have a very tough job, and there's actually a tension in the job just with the work that they do. on the one hand, you have every day tens of thousands of travelers, maybe hundreds of thousands of travelers pulsing through our airports trying to get from a terminal, from a gate on to a plane in time to catch their flights. they have had to in some cases recheck their bags. they have had to go through unloading maybe their suitcases
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and showing what they have in their suitcases is not inappropriate or illegal. there's a rush to get through to try to catch their flights. and t.s.a. is there, in some cases they slow that traffic, that flow down, and they slow that flow of traffic down in order to make sure that what all those passengers every day are carrying in their suitcases or briefcases, their purses or on their body, that it's not inappropriate and it's not illegal. and they do it to protect all of us. sometimes they get a little bit -- t.s.a. folks get a little bit tpraz stkeld. i would -- tpraz zelled. we would to if we had to do the work they do. i've taken myself a lot of flights, a lot of times i'm flying commercial, when i go through the check-in, just to say after they check my i.d. or whatever, to say to the t.s.a. officers, tell them who i am,
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i'm a senior democrat on the senate committee for government affairs and thank them for what they do. say we value your work and appreciate it. just want you to know that. i can't tell you how many times the officers of t.s.a. have said to me nobody has ever thanked me before. nobody has ever thanked me before. sometimes we can't pay people enough for the work that they do. they work hard for our money, but i would ask others of us when you see somebody, especially t.s.a. officers, somebody who goes out of their way, who actually in spite of all the hustle and bustle and pressure on them, they manage to still be polite, courteous, helpful, thank them. thank them. you might be the first person who has ever said thank you to them. at the end of the day, one of the things that means a lot to me is whenever people thank me for my service to our country,
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whether in uniform or as governor, senator or here today. i urge you go to do -- i urge you to do that. when i do that, it makes me feel better. and you know what? it makes them feel better too. and mr. president, i think i'm going -- i'm looking around the senate chamber here. i'm looking for democrats or republicans that are rushing to get to the podium to say something. i don't see anybody rushing, and with that in mind, i will note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk should call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. carper: mr. president, i would ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. carper: mr. president, i failed to mention a short news item that's important, especially important to those of us who are privileged to fiscal cliff the first state, the first state to ratify the constitution. delaware ratified the constitution december 7, 1787, before any other state did so, for one whole week delaware was the entire united states of america and we opened it up to let in pennsylvania, maryland, and new jersey, louisiana, and others. it turned out pretty well. it was a great week, and you thinker a state that is that remarkable in starting a whole country, you'd have ships and
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air craft carriers named after them. for decades, there is not been an aircraft vessel named after the first state. a couple years ago joe biden joined the navy secretary to announce that work would begin in a few years from then at that point, but work would begin building a fast-attack nuclear submarine. it was be called the u.s.s. delaware. and the number on the ship would be s.s.n.-791, ssn-791. and this saturday in newport news, virginia, dr. jill biden, wife of our vice president, who is the sponsor -- officially the sponsor of the submarine, will be there to join secretary ray mabus, and i'll have the good fortune of joining them for the
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first step in the construction of a new vessel, a brand-new vessel. the u.s.s. delaware, ssn-791. these submarines are not built in a day. for this project, it'll take a couple of years. but a very good thing for our state and i hope for our country is about to begin. and that is the adventure of building a ship, a submarine that will help defend our country and help keep the seaways open and ensure that we remain a nation that's brave and free. so i just wanted to share that with everybody today. i mentioned earlier in my brief remarks that i spent some years of my life in the navy, five years in a hot war in southeast shaish as a p-3 aircraft mission commander and toward the end of
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those five years a p-3 aircraft mission commander, naval flight officer, and then for another 18 years as a p-3 aircraft commission commander in the reserve, chasing soviet subs all over the world. we would train with american-made nuclear submarines and we would track fast-attack boats -- a fast-attack boat is going to be named after delaware. and we would track ballistic missile submarines. we'd also track those from other countries, especially the soviet union. and it wasn't that hard to find and to track -- to know the location of soviet nuclear submarines that were on deployment. they weren't easy to find, to locate, to track, but they were a whole lot easier than tracking our own. and silent, deep. that's exactly what our submarines did and still do. we have the best submarine force in the world. very proud of all of them.
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delighted they can be joined by ssn-791 in a couple of years. and we get to kick it off in a couple of days in newport news, virginia. i just wanted to sthair that, mr. presidentment. and i still don't see anybody struggling to get to a microphone, so i'll note the absence of a quorum and wish everybody a good recess. the paibltion are going to be in charge until we get back in eight or nine days. i'm sure they'll do a good job. thanks so much. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk should call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:


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