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tv   U.S. Senate Meets for Morning Business  CSPAN  January 24, 2017 10:44am-12:35pm EST

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>> i would look for to explain that with you to see whether that's a federal or whether that's best left to the states but i would look forward to that opportunity. >> that is a fair answer the eye the couple more i could ask but this meeting is going long. i will thank you for your answers and i will yield back. >> thank you, senator. >> the senate about to gavel and as political reports this month on the comments of one senator in particular, john mccain. and his reaction to present trump's decision to back out of the tpp. senator mccain telling cbs is concerned it will consign the asia-pacific region to china citing china's significant economic role with 60% of the worlds economy in the asia-pacific region and the u.s. is stepping back. senator mccain says he's talked to leaders of asian countries have said this will cede the field to china and that he continues, this is not good for the u.s. senator mccain and other lawmakers about to meet on the
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senate floor for general speeches with the date and votes on present trump's nominations possible this afternoon. the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. beautiful savior, you have been our dwelling place in all generations, sustaining us with your steadfast love.
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today, surround our senators with the shield of your divine favor, enabling them to obey the presiding officer: your command to be productive. teach them to obey your precepts, doing your good will, as they find joy in your presence. lord, keep them from doing those things that could bring them regret, remorse, and shame. renew their strength as you give them the courage to carry on. in these challenging days, guard them from error, save them from
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false judgments, and deliver them from evil. we pray in your holy name. amen. please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clek will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c, january 24, 2017. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable ben sasse, a senator from the state of nebraska, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g.hatch, president pro tempore.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: yesterday leaders from both parties had an opportunity to meet with president trump and vice president pence at the white house. we appreciate the time and look forward to more conversations with them in the days to come, including later today. the president has invited the democraticeade the chairman, and ranking members of the judiciary committee and myself to the white house this afternoon to meet with him regarding the supreme court vacancy as part of his ongoing consultations with members of the senate. i appreciate the president soliciting our advice on this important matter. later this week republicans in both the senate and house will have another opportunity to engage with the president as we gather for our issues conference in philadelphia. i know we're all eager to continue the dialogue about moving our legislative agenda, including priorities like
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bringing relief from the consequences of obamacare, confirming the president's nominees, enacting tax reform, easing the regulatory burden on our economy, and other key issues. we're also looking forward to hearing from another special guest, british prime minister theresa may. her visit will provide members the chance to hear from the leader of one of our closest allies and partners. we appreciate her willingness to join us, and we welcome the opportunity to discuss the ways in which we can continue to strengthen our nation's close relationship and pursue shared interests in the years ahead. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer:he clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. schumer: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. schumer: i ask consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: woiks. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. according to president trump's words yesterday, not friday were his first official day in office. it is an important distinction because throughout the campaign the president -- president trump made numerous promises about what he would do on his first day. so we went through them. it turns out he made upward of 30 promises of executive actions or plans that he would announce on day one. this didn't require any congressional approval. he could just announce them. 30. even by a generous count, the president fulfilled only two or three of them. just let me mention a few of the important omissions. the president campaigned against both establishments, promising
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to oppose the powerful in washington to drain the swamp. he campaigned against the democratic establishment, but he also campaigned against the republican establishment. and as a result, he explicitly promised to introduce an 18-point plan for ethics reform on day one. well, how did he do on that? he promised to sign a five-year ban on lobbying after officials worked in congress or the white house, but he did not deliver. he promised to institute a lifetime ban on white house officials from lobbying on behalf of a foreign government, but he did not deliver. and he promised to put in place a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for american elections, but again he did not deliver. on day one, did president trump fulfill his pledge to bring ethics reform to washington? no. in fact, looking at his swamp cabinet stacked with billionaires and bankers with myriad conflicts of interest,
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he may have already lowered the ethical standard in our government. now, mr. president, on trade, this is an issue where i'm probably closer to the views of the president than i was to either president obama or president bush. but it seems president trump is again failing to deliver on his day one promises. he promised over and over again. it was one of the few things he said in the campaign i really liked. he said he's going to label china a currency ma nip lay tor on his first day but did not deliver. instead he issued an executive action withdrawing from the t.p.p. everyone knew the t.p.p. was dead in the water a month or two ago. leader mcconnell would not bring it up on the floor of the senate because he didn't have the votes. and furthermore, saying we won'to t.p.p., which is not in effect anyway, isn't creating a single new job.
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so there's something else he could have done. his promise. on day one label china a currency manipulator. china is propping up their currency at the moment. they do whatever is best for china even if it hurts american jobs and american workers. you can be sure they'll continue manipulating their currency when it's in their best interest to do so. even when they move up the currency, they're manipulating. guess who i worked with on the issue of currency manipulation? attorney general nominee, then-senator jeff sessions. he and i were partners in this and many others. on our side senator brown and senator stabenow were allies. on their side senator graham, senator collins were allies. we were opposed frankly by both president bush and president obama. but here we have president
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trump. he's promised to label china a currency manipulator on his first day in office. we're still waiting. last night at the white house i mentioned this to the president. he didn't say no. i'm not going to say what he said. he didn't say no. maybe he'll do it. i hope and pray he does. we await real action on trade. one of the president's signature issues. so, it's another promise not fulfilled. mr. president, there are many promises that president trump made during the campaign that we're glad he's not keeping, to be honest with you. but the bottom line is there is a giant gulf between what the president says he's going to do and what he actually does. his rhetoric does not match reality. that's becoming clearer each day. just look what happened on friday, inauguration day, which perfectly sums up my point. the president gave an inaugural
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address arguing that for too long washington has reaped the rewards of government while the people have suffered. then an hour later the president took an executive action that made it harder for americans to afford a mortgage. even though washington could certainly have afforded to give them a tax break. so we're seeing a pattern erge, mr. president president trump is using populist rtoric to cover up a hard right agenda. in short, actions speak louder than words. if day one is -- actions speak louder than words. if day one is any indication, the grandiose promises this president made to the working men and women of america seem to be just a hall of mirrors. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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44444 quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: mr. president, i ask consent the quorum be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein, with senator alexander to be recognized for up to 15 minutes, followed by 30 minutes to be controlled by the democrats. mr. alexander: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, democratic senators are searching for a valid reason to oppose the president's nomination of betsy devos to be united states education secretary because they really don't want americans to know what their real reason is. here's the real reason. betsy devos has spent the last three years -- 30 years, actually, more than 30 years being dedicated to helping low-income children in america have more of the same choices of schools that wealthy americans
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already have. specifically, specifically, the democrats object to the fact that betsy devos supports the idea of tax dollars following low-income children to the school that their parents may choose, an accredited school, public, private or religious. mr. president, this is not a new or subversive idea. let's go back to 1944, the g.i. bill for veterans. the united states congress enacted probably the most successful piece of social legislation ever enacted when it passed the g.i. bill for veterans. as a result, veterans came home from world war ii and federal tax dollars followed them to the accredited college or university of their choice. they could go to notre dame, they could go to the university of arizona, they could go to nashville auto diesel college, university of tennessee, it didn't matter. it was their choice.
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that's what americans experience with -- that's when americans' experience with education vouchers began. now, i've always wondered, why would an idea that helped to create the greatest generation, which is what we call the world war ii generation, that helped create the best colleges and universities in the world, why would that be such a dangerous idea to use for our schools? the idea of education vouchers following students to the college of their choice has been continued in higher education. pell grants, we spend about $30 billion in pell grants every year. up to $6,000 to follow lower income students to the community college or college of their choice. those are education vouchers. we have about $100 billion of new student loans every year. how do we spend that money? we allow that money to follow
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the college students to the college of their choice. those are education vouchers. so starting with the g.i. bill for veterans, all the way through pell grants, all the way through student loans, we all endorse those ideas, saying it creates great opportunity for children. it has been so successful, i haven't heard any senator in this body stand up and say well, let's cancel the pell grants because it's tax money following students to a college. let's cancel $100 billion in student loans this year because it means tax dollars following someone to harvard or to notre dame or to yushiba. no one is going to say that. then why do they get so exercised about that when it has to do with our schools? in additio to that, mrs. devos has testified before our committee that she does not favor, as much as she supports the idea of giving parents choices of schools, she does not favor washington, d.c., telling arizona or tennessee or any
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other state that they must do that. even though her critics, those who are opposing her now, delight in the idea of a national school board and in imposing their pet ideas on states such as the common core academic standards. fortunately, we agreed december of 2015 to prohibit that. but here we have a lady who has spent her time helping low-income children have more choices of schools, and it was said i respect your right to make that decision for yourself. i don't believe washington should tell you to do that, and, yes, they are really upset with her. so who's in the mainstream, i would ask? the g.i. bill for veterans, pell grants, $30 million worth, $100 billion of student loans this year. president george h.w. bush, president george w. bush, the 25 states that have state choice
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programs. congress with its passage of the washington, d.c., voucher program, which has a thousand students standing in line, hoping to get a chance to go to a better school. 45 united states senators who voted on this floor in 2015 for the scholarship for kids legislation that i propose that would allow states to pay $24 billion in federal dollars, turn them into $2,100 scholarships and let them follow the children, the low-income children to the school that the state believes they should go to. or betsy devos. we're all -- that's all on one side, or her critics. i think betsy devos is in the mainstream. the second reason the democrats on the committee are opposing betsy devos is because she supports charter schools. now, mr. president, i know a little bit about charter schools. my last month as u.s. education secretary in january, 1993, i wrote a letter to every school
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superintendent in america and said why don't you try this new idea that the minnesota democratic former labor party has invented called charter schools. there were only 12 charter schools then. the first president bush, with my help, had been working for two years to create what we called new american schools, start from the scratch schools. the idea of giving teachers more freedom, parents more choices. that seemed to us like a good idea in a country that values opportunity and competition. well, not only did we think so, over the last 30 years or so, a lot of people have thought so. today there are 6,800 public charter schools in america. these are public schools. these are schools that have fewer union rules and fewer government rules so that teachers have more freedom to teach and parents have more freedom to choose the school that's appropriate for their child. boy, that's really a subversive idea, isn't it?
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no, it's not subversive because the last six presidents of the united states have supported charter schools. not just president bush, but also the last four presidents of the united states, president bush and president obama and president trump, president clinton, that's five. the last six u.s. secretaries of education have supported charter schools, including both of president obama's education secretaries, arne duncan and john king. john king w founder of a charter school systen new york. 43 state have authorized charter schools. that's where the 6800 charter schools are. 2.7 million children go to those charter schools. that's more than 5% of all the children in public schools in america. so, mr. president, i would ask the question again, who's in the mainstream? the last five presidents, the last six education secretaries, 43 states, the united states senate, betsy devos or her
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critics, or her critics? now, the third reason her critics don't like her is because she is wealthy. no question about that. all of her information is public for everybody to see. she has agreed to divest herself of 102 investments that the office of government ethics has identified as possibly causing a conflict of interest, so when those are gone, she has no conflict of interest, and her investments are public. but they don't like the fact that she has money. would they have been happier if she had spent the last 30 years trying to deny low-income children an opportunity to go to a better school? no. she spent her money and her time trying to help children from low-income families go to a better school. her opponents are really grasping for straws, and i'm very disappointed in them. we didn't have time to question her, they say, at our committee
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hearing. well, let's go over the facts. number one, she visited everyone in their offices individually, so they had a chance to ask her questions then. then she appeared at a hearing for about three and a half hours, or nearly 90 minutes more for questions than either of president obama's education secretaries. and now we have follow-up questions coming from the democratic senators, and let me tell you what they're doing. they have asked her 1,397 follow-up questions after the hearing. remember, this is a hearing when she spent more time than either of president obama's secretaries answering questions, after she had been to their office for questions, and by comparison, republicans asked president obama's first secretary 53 follow-up questions. and his second secretary 56 follow-up questions. the democrats have asked 1,397 follow-up questions.
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i think what they're doing says more about them than it does about her. in other words, they have asked 25 times as many follow-up questions of miss devos as republicans asked of either of president obama's education secretaries. finally, they are throwing around conflict of interest accusations. but as i just mentioned -- and let me mention it again -- mrs. devos last week signed an agreement with the independent office of government ethics. the job of that office is to review the financial holdings of any cabinet nominee and identify any conflicts of interest. they identified 102, because the devoss have a lot of money -- devoses have a lot of money. mrs. devos agreed to sell all 102 of those assets. so according to the letter of agreement between the office of government ethics and the
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independent ethics officer in the education department, who's already in the department, mrs. devos is not, after she divests herself of those items, which she has 90 days to do, she has no conflict of interest. she has also filled out the same financial disclosure forms that are fundamentally like the ones we united states senators fill out. people know where we get our money, they know what we own, they know what we owe. we know that about her. we also know the independent office of ethics has said she will have no conflicts and that she has agreed to that. we also know that she supports giving low-income children more choices of schools, which most americans support. 73% of the american people told a public opinion survey that they supported more choices of schools. and then tax returns. some have mentioned tax returns. well, federal law doesn't require cabinet nominees to produce tax returns. our education committee does not
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require nominees to produce tax returns. the united states senators aren't required to produce tax returns. and why? because we fill out extensive financial disclosure forms so that the public knows what we own, what we owe, and they can make an evaluation about that. they also know whether we have a conflict of interest in the case of the cabinet members because the independent office of government ethics decides that and they know we paid our taxes because we have to declare that under oath and there's and f.b.i. investigation on top of that, which ms. devos, like every other cabinet nominee has gone through. mr. president, one year ago, the office of education secretary was vacant. i talked to president obama about it and i said, i don't think it's appropriate for that office to be vacant. we need the institutional responsibility of having a
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confirmed united states education secretary responsive to the senate. and i said, mr. president, if you appoint someone -- i knew very well he intended to tphopl nominate john king, i will make sure he has a prompt hearing in our committee and is confirmed on the floor of the senate. president obama appointed john king, he had a prompt hearing, and he was confirmed within three weeks. as i said, we asked him 56 questions, republicans did, compared with the 1400 questions that docrats are asking ms. devos. i ask the american people, compare this for a minute. look at the reasons they really don't want to confirm betsy devos. number one, she spent 30 years to help low-income children attend a he better school, number two, she supported
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charter schools, number three, she spent her career helping low-income children have a better school instead of denying a better school, and number four beings she has disclosed everything there is to disclose and divested herle self of every --er is shelf of -- herself of every conflict that the government of etdzics says -- ethics says there is. i scheduled the hearing to next tuesday so members of the committee would have a chance to review all of this information. next tuesday, we will vote on whether to approve betsy devos' nomination to the office of united states education secretary and will send that to the floor of the full senate. i'm confident we will do that. i'm confident the senate will approve her even though they may disagree with her, democrats should give the new president a chance to have his own education
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secretary just as we did -- just as we republicans did for president obama. few americans have done as much as betsy devos has to help low-income children have a choice of a better school. the democrats' opposition to her says more about them than it does about her. mr. president, i ask consent to include in the record a letter, which i have written to my distinguished ranking member, senator murray, declining to have a second hearing on ms. devos. i won't read the letter, but i will point out, again, that i see no reason why we should treat a republican president's nominee so differently than a democrat president's nominee was treated. she visited every office of the democratic senators. she testified for up to 90 heupbs
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longer -- minutes longer than president obama's sects. she answered 1400 followup questions when president obama's secretaries answered 53 and 56. and the reasons for opposing are reasons that are not valid. how can you turn down a woman for united states secretary when she spent 30 years of her life trying to help low-income children find a better school? so we've had our hearing, we'll answer the questions, next tuesday we'll have a vote. she'll be -- it should be sent to the senate and hopefully the senate will confirm her and i look forward to working with her as united states secretary. i thank the president and yield the floor.
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mr. alexander: mr. president, i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: i came to the floor to talk about women's health, but before i do, i want to address an issue, my colleague, the senator from tennessee, just talked about, the nominee for secretary of education, betsy devos. this is a nominee that democrats have a significant number of concerns about. in her hearing where republicans blocked us from asking questions in an unprecedented and disappointing way, mrs. devos
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gave what has been widely seen as an ill informed, and cuesed answers to -- confused answers. she refused to rule out privatizing public education. she was confused that federal law provides protections for students with disabilities. she actually argued that guns needed to be allowed in our schools across the country to, quote, "protect from grizzlies. even though she was willing to say that president trump's behavior toward women should be considered sexual assault, she would not support federal laws protecting women and girls in our schools. so, mr. president, that nominee is absolutely not, quote, "in the mainstream." far from it.
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when it comes to policy many of us have serious concerns as to whether she would stand with students and parents for strong education for all or with billionaires and millionaires. mr. president, that doesn't even touch on the serious questions that remain regarding her ethics paperwork, her tangled finances, and her potential conflicts of interest, questions democrats have continued to demand answers to. after her first hearing, ms. devos announced she would have to divest 102 separate assets, many of them investments in education companies that democrats were unable to ask her about. so, mr. president, democrats have requested another hearing to get information on those issues and to do our job scrutinizing this nominee. and i'm hopeful that my colleague, the senator from
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tennessee, does allow that to happen because we owe it -- here in the senate we owe it to our constituents to scrutinize these nominees. that's our job. it's not our job to protect them from tough questions. it is our job to ask them tough questions. so while i suspect my colleague, the senator from tennessee supports mrs. devos, and i respect that he is chairman of the committee, i am hopeful that he does not simply jam this nominee through without allowing us to do our job. now, having said that, mr. president, i am here on the floor today with a number of my colleagues who will be joining me throughout the time here today to stand up and to be a voice for women here in the senate. mr. president, i was so proud to march this weekend with millions of women and men in a clear rejection of the hate and division that president trump campaigned on, and in strong
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support of every woman's rights. this past waoebd we also -- past weekend we recognized the historic ruling of rowe v. wade that has expanded economic opportunities for families for more than four decades. i have heard story after story from washington state and across the country about what roe v. wade means for women. it means being able to plan your family, to be able to pursue your dreams and give back to your community, but perhaps most importantly, the decision in roe v. wade sent a clear -- a woman's right to make the most personal of all decisions herself is fundamental to her freedom and her ability to chart her own path. now, waoef already seen -- we've already seen extreme politicians in state after state do everything they can to undermine access to abortion, but today,
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mr. president, the constitutionality protective rights women have had now for 44 years are, unfortunately, more at risk than ever as a result of president trump's extreme and deeply harmful agenda. he has promised to pick supreme court nominees whose beliefs about women's productive rights simply could not be more backwards or more damaging. and what looks unfortunately like a sign of things to come, the president yesterday signed an executive order liting access to safe abortion and other family planning services on women worldwide by reinstituting the global gag rule. mr. president, i want to be very clear, if the president continues down this path, women will be hurt. their lives will be put at risk, and so goes the same for women around the world. so i am very concerned and i'm
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angry. but i'll tell you, if saturday's march proved anything, it proved that women and men across this country are more motivated than ever -- and frankly, so am i. now, i can understand why president trump may not have wanted to hear from the hundreds of thousands of marchers who completely filled the national mall on saturday, or the millions more nationwide who marched as well in every state from coast to coast and on every continent. but if he didn't dependent -- if he didn't get the message, this is just the beginning. the millions of women and people who care about women's rights and their access to health care are going to keep standing up, and we here in the senate are going to continue to stand with them and fight back every step of the way and do everything in our power to make sure that our country does not go backward. it will not be easy, but i know we can do it if we keep marching
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together. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. let's keep up this fight. and, mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. this past sunday we celebrated the 44th anniversary of the supreme court decision in roe v.
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wade, a ruling that assured every woman of her constitutional right to make her own decision about whether and when to have a child. th fundamental constitutional right is theight to privacy, which all of us should cherish and protect. this weekend in fact many of us in washington, d.c. and around the country marched in the streets of our home states or here, as i did, in support of ideals and values, including that right to privacy, and other civil rights and liberties, economic opportunity and women's access to health care that truly make america great. fundamental principle of women's access to health care is the roe v. wade decision that reaffirms
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the constitutional right to reproductive decisions made by women individually on their own in consultation with their health care providers, their families, their clergy. i was a law clerk for justice blackmun in the term after roe v. wade was decided, and i can tell you that we all believed then, we all believed very strongly that that supreme court decision would put to rest the question of legal access to abortion in this great country. in fact, it did not. despite seven in ten americans opposing the potential overturning of roe v. wade, according to a recent survey by pew research center, the
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outliers and extremists still seek to eliminate the right to legal abortion. that broad public support was embodied in the spirit and dedication shown over this past weekend by protesters across the world, and i was reminded yet again that we must continue to fight for what we believe, particularly in light of the ongoing threats and attack on women's health care. efforts to undermine those rights have redoubled in recent years and throughout the past decade we've seen unprecedented attacks through state efforts to chip away at that vitally protected constitutional right. from 2001 to 2016, there were 334 restrictions enacted by states that would cut back on roe v. wade rights, accounting for 30% of all abortion restrictions since the united
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states supreme court decided that case. the force dedicated to enacting these restrictions, which are designed to undermine the right to reproductive and health care, can be particularly disheartening as they disregard the health needs of the most vulnerable populations of women who are most often impacted by also seeking and at least claiming to seek to advance women's health care. in fact, many of those restrictions are a ruse. they are enacted in the name of health care, but are a disguise for restrictions on health care. and they've left many women, particularly in rural and underserved locations, with little access to health care. including basic care such as cancer screenings, s.t.d.
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testing and preventive health care. clearly improving women's health care has failed to be the focus of state legislatures in these instances as they have actively worked to restrict access to care and chip away a constitutional protection provided in roe v. wade. i joined with senator murray in leading a total of 163 members of the senate and house in filing an amicus brief in the case of whole women's health vs. holstead. last summer the supreme court overturned the issue in that case clarifying the, quote, unquote, the undue standard in roe and debunking the lie that anti-choice extremists have been pushing for years that onerous
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restrictions on clinics and clinicians do not make women safer. in fact, they simply constrain access. i am hopeful that this decision will help stop the assault on women's health care taking place in so many states and communities around the country. so i am joining with my colleague, senator murray, who was here just minutes ago, a wonderful champion of this cause, as well as senator jean shaheen who i believe will be speaking later today on the roe v. wade anniversary, pushing back on this policy and introducing to permanently repeal the global gag rule the trump administration as one of its first acts has announced
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that it will reverse much of the progress that president obama made in relation to international family planning and this legislation will seek to move that progress forward again and forestall the effort to roll back that progress and turn back the clock. i will oppose any and all efforts by the trump administration to move our country backwds, iding yesterday's reversion to the global gag rule. this 44th anniversary of roe v. wade should be a reminder about the importance of fighting for the right to privacy, the right to live life free of governmental interference, as one of our supreme court justice said, the right to be let alone, in effect, let alone from government interference. it is a right that i have fought
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for, so many others have fought for throughout my career and throughout my time as a senator and attorney general of the state of connecticut. and it is a right that we all should continue to keep at the forefront of our work here in the united states senate, all of us in this country. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from west swra v.a. mrs. capito: mr. president, i ask that we vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without
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objection. mrs. capito: i rise today to talk about an issue important to all of us. we're obviously a nation in transition. recently we took the first steps to appeal obamacare and begin a transition towards policies that will ensure continued access to health care with more affordability and flexibility for all. a stable transition. we need a stable transition that will empower americans to make the best health decisions for their families. in my home state of west virginia, obamacare has been very, very difficult for many. it has meant skyrocketing premiums, skyrocketing copays and deductibles for families and small businesses. it has meant little if any choice in insurers. as a matter of fact for the first several years, we had no choice. we do have two insurers in several counties but in the beginning, the entire state had no choice. and it has meant fewer choices
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in doctors and hospitals assonet works shrink and plans become more restrictive. now we must repair what can be fixed. scrap what's not working and create a better health care reality for all americans. i've spoken with small business owners who have absorbed the cost of increased insurance but their employees are getting less coverage. i've spoken to families who may have health insurance but due to the high deductibles and copays, they don't use t. they can't afford to -- use it. they can't afford to even go. i also heard from those in my state who have real concerns about what this transition will mean to them. this is especially true for those who receive coverage through medicaid. my state is one of the states that did an expanded medicaid for all of these west virginians and there's somewhere between 177,000 new folks who are on medicaid, for all of these west virginians whether they'red medicaid recipients, the
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business owners and families who are currently struggling, we need to have health insurance that works for everybody. so i wanted to know and many of them have called my office and i've talked with them a lot in our state, but i'm listening and hear your concerns. so as we move forward, i'm working to balance each of these needs and ensure access in west virginia and across the nation to affordable, quality health care. to achieve this goal, i am joining senators cassidy, collins and isakson to introduce an alternative to obamacare which was introduced yesterday. it's called the patient freedom act. it sounds good. we're really good about making names that sound good but the patient freedom act lives up to its name. the patient freedom act of 2017 removes obamacare's most burdensome regulations. it provides our states, the ones closest to the people who are accessing health care the opportunity and funding to ensure those currently covered by the medicaid expansion are
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protected and retain their health coverage. it returns authority to the states and provides more health care choices and better insurance options to individuals and families. it keeps important consumer protections, such as coverage for preexisting conditions and extends coverage to children and dependents through the age of 26, very popular parts of the a.c.a. it protects the federal black lung benefits program which is especially important in my state of west virginia and the surrounding areas. in addition to all of those important changes, it gives states a pathway forward for replacing obamacare. specifically, following repeal which we know we are going to do, states would have three options. first, a state if so chooses could choose to reinstate obamacare or a state could go without federal assistance and opt not to receive any federal funding for tax credits or
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medicaid expansion. finally, a state could choose an innovative replacement plan where the state determines its own insurance regulations. in this scenario, the state would be eligible for 95% of the funds it would have received under obamacare and the are medicaid expansion would be fully funded. for a state like west virginia that has already expanded medicaid, as i said, the state could either keep its medicaid expansion as is or they could convert it to subsidies to help individuals purchase private insurance. under this plan, individuals would use a roth health savings account to purchase health care. this would enable uninsured individuals to purchase health insurance that meets their specific needs. states would have the option to auto enroll uninsured individuals into a standard health care plan with individuals -- where individuals would be easily able to opt out if they didn't want it.
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auto enrollment would ensure stability to our insurance markets. the patient freedom act is a smart, innovative way forward and meets the very needs of people in my state of wester wet virginia and across the country. the legislation reflects senator cassidy's experience as a physician. he's worked with patients who are uninsured, and i appreciate his leadership so much. -- as i do senator collins' in particular and senator isakson as another cosponsor. as other replacement plans are drafted and introduced in the senate, i will evaluate them to make sure they meet west virginia's health care needs. i am committed to replacing obamacare with a system that offers us more choice, lears costs and gives patients and families more control. because together we can achieve a health care system that works for everybody. so thank you very much, mr. president. and i yield the floor.
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mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: mr. president, i was listening carefully to the comeetion made -- to the comments made by my colleague from wesginia. it is truly an article of political faith on the republican side that we must repeal obamacare. we've heard that for six years, maybe longer, and each and every time democrats have said, and then what? we've asked republicans, what would you replace obamacare with? and until some of the most recent moments, there was never an answer. now they are starting to put at least some ideas forward. but i will tell you, repealing obamacare and then talking about the possibility of replacement is a disaster. it is an invitation to uncertainty and chaos. you might expect that from a democratic senator who voted for the affordable care act, but when i asked my -- but what i
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ask my colleagues in the senate is, please go home, go back to your states, do as i did yesterday. i called together the administrators of hospitals in central illinois, small-town rural hospitals and larger hospitals such as memorial hospital center in my hometown of springfield. i asked them in a non-pressurized setting, what would you do? what's wrong with the affordable care act? how would you change it? what would be the impact of repeal? i knew -- and they did as well -- that there'd been some reports from the congressional budget office. just last week the nonpartisan congressional budget office told us exactly what repeal without replace would look like. 18 million americans would lose health insurance in 12 months. 32 million within ten years. premiums in the individual health insurance market, according to the congressional
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budget office, if you went through with the republican repeal plan, premiums in the individual health insurance market would increase by 20% to 25% in the first year and double within ten years. despite this, on his first day in office, president trump signed an executive order that began to dismantle our health care system. we still haven't seen the president's secret replacement plan, even though he's repeatedly said that he wants to replace the law at the same time he repeals it, and we're going to be so proud of what he does. well, let's talk about what repeal without replace means in illinois. now that i've taken it home and asked the people who are actually running the hospitals, more than 90,000 with repeal -- with repeal, 90,000 young people in illinois would be thrown off their parents' health plans. more than 7 million illinoisans with health insurance through their employer would once again be subject to discriminatory
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health insurance practices like discrimination based on preexisting conditions. annual and lifetime cap on coverage, and discrimination against women. in my state, the republican repeal plan would have an impact statewide because insurance plans statewide could once again decide not to cover maternity or newborn care, mental health or substance abuse. those things are required under the affordable care act. that would be removed with its repeal. in my state, more than a million people would lose their health insurance. in fact, 1.2 million, to be exact. and according to the illinois hospital association, my state would lose $11 billion to $13 billion in annual economic activity with republican repeal, translating to the loss of up to 95,000 jobs. and let me tell you about those jobs, in towns like taylorville and pena, illinois, near my
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hometown of springfield. those are good-paying jobs. sometimes they are the best-paying jobs in the community. those would be the jobs lost by the republican repeal of obamacare. for years, we've been hitting back against misguided and misleading claims about the affordable care act. you know who's hitting back now? hospitals, and not just hospitals -- health care providers across the board are pleading with the republicans, we know you have some campaign promise that you want to keep, but keep first your promise to the people you represent. to provide quality, affordable health care. senator tammy duckworth and i have sent letters to every single illinois hospital, over 200 of them, askin about the impact of repealing the affordable care act without enacting a replacement to prevent total chaos. just this morning -- just yesterday morning, when i met with these hospital administrators, i heard firs
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firsthand. i met at memorial medical center in springfield, illinois. representatives fromhope dale, pena community hospital, carli carlindale area hospital. memorial health care system is a nonprofit community-owned health care organization. when i asked about the impact of repealing the affordable care act, here is what they told me. repeal without replacing the a.c.a. would adversely impact patient access to care and our hospital and health system's ability to continue to provide services as well as potentially result in job losses. they went on to say that memorial medical center in springfield, with the republican repeal of obamacare, could lose over $140 million over the next six years, and that uncompensated care cost would -- quote -- "rise dramatically due to both a rise in charity care
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and decline in medicaid coverage and reimbursement." they cautioned me, quote, we would be forced to cut spending by relosing services, reducing staff, and delaying investment in new technology and facility improvement. losses of this magnitude with repeal of the affordable care act coverage simply cannot be sustained and would adversely impact patient access to care and our hospitals and health system's ability to continue to provide services." this is not the only hospital that's telling me this in our state. i'm from downstate illinois, proud to represent chicago, but i've represented in congress and in the senate small-tow town, rl america. communities where a hospital makes a difference. if you don't have a hospital nearby, it could be an hour's drive if you're lucky from quality medical care, not to mention the impact that hospital has on the local economy,
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keeping and attracting new businesses. according to the illinois hospital association, the 15th congressional district in illinois stands to lose $470 million under republican repeal of the affordable care act. that means 3,400 jobs lost in that congressional district in central illinois with repeal of affordable care. now, we talk about good jobs and creating them in the state. the president goes and makes trips, as he should, to try to save american jobs, and yet the first congressional action by the republican majority this year is to threaten 3,400 jobs in the 15th congressional district. washington county hospital in nashville, illinois, is a 22-bed critical access hospital 50 miles from st. louis. they provide acute care, surgical service, gynecological services. when i asked them what republican repeal of the affordable care act would mean
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to washington county hospital in my downstate area, and they said, quote, "to eliminate the a.c.a. would be detrimental to the thousands of people in our county that were previously uninsured, either because of part-time work or serious health problems." they won't on to say, "i guarantee that repealing the affordable care act without a strategic health care replacement plan will result in more downsizing and staff reductions at washington county hospital. our community cannot continue to lose these good-paying jobs, and i believe our county residents will continue to move to neighboring states with more favorable job markets, better job security, and stable benefits." they understanded their response with this warning, and i quote, "i truly fear that many illinois communities will lose their critical access hospitals, the only srces of health care in many of our rural counties and avite a part of infrastructure."
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as you know, our rural areas have vulnerable populations of elderly folks that have have chronic health care needs, limited ability to travel long distances for emergency care. i sincerely hope that you heed the warnings of our physicians and hospitals. do not repeal the affordable care act in a hurried political rush." washington county is not a blue county. it is not a democratic koingts. it is a -- it is not a democratic county. it is a county that votes regularly for the other party. it is a conservative voting populous representing a lot of farmers and small businesses, and this is their hospital administrator warning the republicans here in the senate and the house, be careful what you do in eliminating the affordable care act. according to the illinois hospital association, the 16th congressional district in illinois stands to lose $453 million under republican repeal
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of obamacare, and that means a loss of 3,300 jobs. swedish american hospital in belvedere, illinois -- that's in the northern part of my state -- that medical center provides health care to belvedere, boon, western mckenry and northern mccalb counties. the administrator of swedish american said, "the passage of the affordable care act has afforded our health system with significant benefit related to mpention of patients with uncompensated care." swedish american experienced an annual average increase of $43 million in medicaid payments and a $10 million reduction in uncompensated care. when asked about the impact of the republican repeal of the affordable care act, swedish american hospital of belvedere, illinois, said, "the impact would be significant. it would create an unsustainable
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financial result and we would be forced to make significant reductions in staff and curtail future plans for capital expenditures." yesterday at my round table in springfield, i asked some of these hospital administrators, well, what's wrong with affordable care? and they told me. let me add quukly, i believe as they do, there are things we need to be changed in that law. it is not perfect by any means. they talked about the cost of care. and they should. in some areas premiums have gone up too quickly. and the availability of insurance is not as it should be. i've talked to the health insurance companies, including the big companies like bluecross blueshield. they've told me specifically the method of enrollment now under the affordable care act leaves loopholes for people to jump in and out of coverage as they need it. you can't run a viable insurance risk pool if people are only forced to sign up when they're facing a health care crisis. you have to have healthy people
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paying premiums to cover those who get sick and need to be compensated. so there are things certainly within the affordable care act which need to be changed, and these administrators toldous. i said to them, well, i hear commonly from my republican friend, if we would just allow people to buy health insurance over state lines there would be more competition. they laughed. they said, you mean to say, if you heard that there was a health insurance plan in alabama and you lived in illinois that you would buy health insurance there? is that the idea? i said, i suppose. i hear it over and over again, if we could just buy policies across state lines. and they laughed at t they said, you know what's going to happen? you know when you buy insurance in illinois and they tell you the hospitals an hospitals avai? you want to have doctors eligible who m an alabama plan. makes sense. and secondly, they said if people ands the state start
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buying into alabama, who are truly sick to get lower premiums, the premiums are going to go up. they're going to engineer the risk pool to make sure that it's viable. so that is a notion which they rejected out of hand. and i asked them about health savings accounts. another thing you hear over and over again. if people could just set aside nontaxable income and leave that in a pool of money to pay their co-payments and other expenses, then there would be a disincentive to overutilize health care. well, these administrators said but people who are living paycheck to paycheck don't have money to set aside, even enough taxable money to set aside at that point, and ultimately many of them would put off care that they desperately need until they become even sicker. so each one of these approaches has its critics. there are people who think we ought to look at it more carefully. i think that ought to be the bottom line.
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to my republican majority, look at this carefully. it isn't a matter of keeping a campaign promise. it's a matter of keeping a promise to the people you represent not to leave our health care system in chaos. i hope president trump and my congressional republican colleagues are listening to what my constituents back home told me yesterday, things that they will hear themselves, if they'll go back home and listen to people who run the hospitals in the communities where the voters that they represent live. i'd like to conclude with a quote fm dr. william gorsky, president and c.e.o. of swedish american on the subject who wrote to me. he said i also must speak forcefully as a former practicing physician, irrespective of any financial impact of repeal, lives are at stake here. president trump's vision recognizes the great understanding of the importance of health care access to quality and outcomes of care. any diminishment of this access threatens the health and well-being of millions of our fellow citizens.
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my strong view is that rather than repealing the a.c.a., we should be looking for ways to refine and expand it. that comes from a doctor, i solicited his view, i don't know him personally, but it represents the feelings of many. i ask unanimous consent that the "state general register" article from springfield, illinois, on my meeting from yesterday be placed in the record after my statement. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, i ask that my following statement be placed in a separate part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, it was 16 years ago when i introduced the dream act. the dream act was a response to a call i received in my office. a young woman had been brought to the united states as an infant at the age of 2 from korea. she lived in the united states and grew up there. she became an accomplished pianist, who was accepted at some of the best musical schools in the nation. she started to apply but didn't know what to put down in terms of her citizenship, so she called and asked, and it turned
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out her mom and dad had never filed the papers that would have allowed her to become a citizen of the united states. he was undocumented. through no fault of her own, brought to the united states, papers weren't filed. she grew up in chicago, went to school, did well despite having a family of modest means. as i said, developed a skill as a pianist and now had an opportunity of a lifetime and wanted to know what her legal status was. well, we checked the law. it was pretty clear. she was undocumented and the laws of america said you have to leave for ten years outside the united states and petition to come back. it didn't seem fair or reasonable that a child, an infant of 2 would be held responsible for mistakes made by their parents. and so i introduced the dream act. the dream act said if you are one of those kids and you finish school and you don't have a serious criminal record, we'll give you a chance, a chance to
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become legal in america, a chance to become a citizen. those kids grew up going to school in our classrooms, pledging allegiance to that same flag we pledge allegiance to. they believed they were americans. not so in the eyes of american law. so i introduced this bill 16 years ago. it's passed the senate in one form, the house in another. it's never become the law of the land. and a few years ago, i wrote to president obama and said as president, can you find a way to protect these young people until we do what we're supposed to do in congress? he did. he created something called daca. by executive order, these young people could apply, pay about $500 and a filing fee, go through a criminal background check, and if they had no problems, no threat to this country, be allowed to stay here on a temporary two-year basis. they could go to school but no federal help, no federal assistance for their education. they could work and renew it every two years.
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that's daca. over 750,000 kids signed up, kids just like the one i described earlier. now young people who are going to college and doing things, important things with their lives. i've come to the floor over 100 times to tell their stories because political speeches, as inspiring as they are, usually don't move people, but when you hear about these people and who they are, it can make a difference. i want to introduce one today. it will just take a few minutes. i see a couple of my colleagues on the floor. this is belsey garcia enrique. belsey, when she was 7 years old, was brought to the united states by her family from guatemala. she grew up in a small town in georgia, became an extraordinary student. she graduated third in her high school class with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. during high school, she was a member of the national honor society, on the tennis team and a member of the mock trial team. she even earned a black belt in
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tae kwon do. she went on to attend mercer university in may con, georgia -- in macon, georgia, where she was a presidential scholar for four years. this is an award given to the top 10% of the class. she worked as a researcher in their biology department. she was a leader of the college's habitat for humanity chapter and worked as a resident assistant in the student dorms and a tutor for high school students. in 2013, belsey graduated from mercer university with a bachelor of science degree in biology with minors in chemistry and math. she is now in her second year at loyola university of chicago school of medicine. that's where i met her. like many states across the country, my home state of illinois faces a shortage of physicians in the inner city and in the down state rural communities. as a daca student at loyola medical school, belsey has
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promised that after she graduates and becomes a doctor, she will work for several years in underserved areas in my home state of illinois. even with her busy medical school schedule, belsey volunteers as a translator at loyola medical clinic. she's a member of viva la familia, a group which educates families on healthy lifestyles, and she mentors undergraduate students who are interested in medical school. she wrote me a letter and said this -- daca means the world to me. it has allowed me to continue the arduous journey of becoming a physician, and without it, i would not be where i am today. all i've ever wanted was the opportunity to prove myself and to further my education so that i can give back to those who need it the most. i am close to achieving my dreams and finally making a difference in the community, but if daca is repealed, those dreams might never become reality. so if daca is eliminated, what
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happens to belsey? if it's eliminated, she loses her right to legally work in the united states and may have to drop out of medical school, and that alone clinical experience in medical school requires actually working. and if she can't work, she can't pay for education. aside from state of illinois financing students, belsey doesn't qualify for a penny in federal assistance to go to medical school. it's an extraordinary hardship on these students, but they're so darned determined, they do it anyway. i have been encouraged, mr. president, recently by statements made by president trump as well as yesterday his press secretary and earlier in the day his chief of staff lead me to believe that he understands the seriousness of this problem. young people like belsey, thousands of them across the united states, are simply asking for a chance to have a good life, to make this a better nation. we could use her. we could use her medical service and talents as a doctor, in my state of illinois, in the state
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of texas, in the state of north dakota, virtually every state in the union. why would we want to lose a great potential doctor like her? we need her, and we need people like her. i hope my colleagues will join me, and president trump will join me as well to continue the daca program. i hope this administration will work with congress to pass the bridge act, a bipartisan bill i've introduced with senator lindsey graham to create a transition for those like belsey, protected by daca, so that until this congress, as it should, passes comprehensive immigration reform, we would protect these young people from deportation. and, mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. hoeven: mr. president, i would ask that i be allowed five minutes to make comments, but
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also that my colleague from north dakota would be allowed to make comments as well, and that we be allowed to complete those comments prior to the afternoon recess. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hoeven: mr. president, i rise today to honor the service and sacrifice of colt eugene allory, a sheriff's deputy in rulette county, north dakota, who was killed in the line of duty on january 18. deputy allory was just 29 years old and leaves behind his fiancee, alexandria, his four children, his stepdaughter, along with many family and many friends. deputy allory was dedicated to serving the public and spent the last five years working in law enforcement. he started his career as a corrections officer, serving as a police officer in roland, north dakota, and as a tribal police officer for the turtle mountain band of chip with a
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indians. -- of chippewa indians, a tribe of which he was a member. he became a deputy with the rulette county sheriff's office just three months ago. his colleagues remember him for his friendly and positive disposition and his commitment to making his community and our state safer. he was also well known in st. john, a tight-knit community where he was raised by his grandparents. he was known for always serving his friends and his family. they say colt was happiest when he was doing things for others, which is why he chose law enforcement as his career. deputy allory's life is a reminder to each of us of the enormous debt we owe to all the men and women in law enforcement. they leave home every day and go to work to protect us and help make our communities and our states safer places, places that we're proud to call home. my wife and i extend our deepest
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condolences to deputy allery's family and friends during this difficult time. our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones, and his law enforcement colleagues in the coming days and months, and especially today as deputy allery is laid to rest. may god bless him and his family. and with that, mr. president, i yield the floor and turn to my colleague from north dakota. ms. heitkamp: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. ms. heitkamp: i come here today again on what is a sad day and really a sad week for law enforcement in north dakota, for the community of turtle mountain band of kilpatrickpewa -- chippewa and certainly the family of colt eugene allery. colt was a deputy in the rolette county sheriff's office who lost
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his life last week in the line of duty. colt joined in a high-speed chase with several fellow officers wednesday evening after a report of an identification of a stolen vehicle. as the stolen vehicle was coming to a forced stop, shots were fired and the call came over the radio that shakes all of north dakota law enforcement and our entire state to the core, officer down. colt never got back up that evening, succumbing to his injuries not very far from the small community where he grew up. he leaves behind five beautiful young children, including his stepdaughter, his fiancee alexandria and his grandparents gene and rita allery who raised him, his family, his friends and a community that will miss his constant smile and playful attitude. he also leaves behind his fellow deputies and colleagues in the
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rolette county sheriff's office. i know this is an incredibly tough time for the rolette county sheriff, mel grude and his sheriff's deputies as well, and i know that i and the people across the state of north dakota have your back during this difficult time. this is now the second time in less than a year that i've come to the floor of the united states senate to talk about the heroism and service of one of north dakota's peace officers. one of those peace officers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. it's heart breaking to have to stand here yet again to make one of these speeches in recognition of a north dakota peace officer. in fact, during my eight years as n general, those eight years i saw two deaths, two violent deaths of peace officers in my state. here in less than a year, we have two. and talking to many of my friends in law enforcement in my state, they will tell you that
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the business of law enforcement and the work of law enforcement in our state has become more and more dangerous and more and more challenging. as i've said many times, north dakota has the finest peace officers in the entire country, and colt allery personified that dedication of peace officers to protect and serve our communities. losing an officer in the line of duty is always devastating, but in states in north dakota where we often say we know everyone, colt's loss is being felt in communities across the state. colt and his family will know that the entire state mourns his loss, and that we had his back and his life and we'll have theirs as they struggle with this unimaginable loss. growing up in st. john, north dakota, and as an enrolled
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member of the chip with aians, he never strayed away from home. he made a commitment to protect his community as a peace officer. colt start out as a corrections officer for rolette county and after graduating from law enforcement training academy, he started work on the rolette police department. he then went to serve his fellow tribal members as a tribal police officer of turtle mountain. we have a proud history of peace officers like colt in north dakota serving their state and local communities with distinction. i have the privilege over my years of public service to work with law enforcement officials, from highway patrol to state and local officers to various federal officers to our tribal police, and i wl tell you again, these are some of the
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finest men and women i have ever worked with. these are the men and women, just like colt, who have chosen a different path. instead they chose to take the oath to protect and serve. they chose to selflessly put members in harm's way so they could make north dakota a safer place for each and every person who lives there or who may by chance passing through. they chose to put the needs of others before their own needs and in fact before their own family's needs. they chose a more difficult path to tread than most of us would be willing to follow. putting that uniform on each and every day places you in a unique and special group, a tight-knit community that very few people could understand what it takes to get the job done. all taop often it takes a -- all too often it takes a tragedy like this one. last week -- to recognize and appreciate our peace officers
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and the sacrifice that they and their families make every day so that we can feel safe and secure in our daily lives. i stand here this morning, not only to celebrate the life of colt allery, but to celebrate and thank each an every peace officer -- and every peace officer working in the state of north dakota and across the country and know that will although senator hoeven and i cannot be at the ceremony and at the celebration of colt's life today, we stand today with the community and with the state in appreciation and we stand today in mourning for the loss of colt allery and for the terrible sacrifice that his fiance, his children, and his family have made in service to our country and our state and their community. so deputy allery, i thank you for your service and your
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sacrifice on behalf of the people of north dakota. may god bless you and welcome you and may he bless your family. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. hoeven: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. hoeven: on behalf of myself and senator heitkamp, we ask that god bless colt allery and his entire family. with that, mr. president, i have 10 requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and the minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. hoeven: with that, mr. president, we yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands in recess


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