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tv   Senate Democratic Leader Calls for Release of Russia Oval Office Meeting...  CSPAN  May 16, 2017 9:59am-12:30pm EDT

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[inaudible conversations] >> we have this article from politico. senator ted cruz and rand paul are pushing to test the limits of how much of obamacare can be repealed under senate rules. setting up a potential nuclear showdown. they want to overturn long-standing precedent for what can be done under reconciliation which is a fast-track budget process republicans are using to dismantle the affordable care act. they are two republicans are allowing state senate norms to tie their hands and are forfeiting a chance to completely abolish the law. many republicans say they have
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no interest in testing the senate procedural bounds are doing doing so would undermine the institution and quickly lead to the end of the legislative filibuster. you can read more about the u.s. senate is about to gavel in to continue work on the nomination of jeffrey rosen to be deputy transportation secretary, a confirmation vote is possible later today. live senate coverage here on c-span2. lead the senate in pra. the chaplain: let us pray. savior, lead us as a shepherd guides his or her sheep. we find consolation in the knowledge that you have gone before us in order to bring us to your desired destination.
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direct the steps of our lawmakers so that even when they fail to fulfill your purposes, you will continue to uphold them with the right hand of your righteousness. may they never forget that nothing can separate them from your love. as they face the heat of tough decisions provide them with the watered gardens and living springs of your presence. lord, you have begun a good work in them. carry on to completion. we pray in your holy name.
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amen. the presiding officer: 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 clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c., may 16, 2017. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable james lankford, a senator from the state of oklahoma, who will perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: the senate majority leader.
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mr. mcconnell: as obamacare continues to collapse, a new gallop poll out showed, quote, health care surges as the top problem in the u.s. it's not hard to see why so many americans feel this way. they turn on the tv and hear that there will be even fewer options on the obamacare marketplaces in state after state. they pick up the newspaper and see that even more double-digit premium increases are proposed for too many of the obamacare plan options that still remain. they know what these stories mean for their families. they'll be left to pick up the pieces as obamacare continues to crumble all across the country, that is, unless we act. obamacare will continue to increase across the nation, pushing this law on the back of hard-working americans. we saw this last year with rate
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filings, which left many states facing double-digit premium increases as more insurance companies left the market. premium price hikes reached startling levels, averaging 53% in pennsylvania, 23% in tennessee, and a shocking 116% in arizona, just to name a few. now families are again awaiting projections for this year's filings and once again bracing for the very worse. in the coming weeks and months proposed rate increases for obamacare will roll in across the nation and already obamacare customers in a handful of states have learned just how high their premiums could rise in 2018. for example, consumers in vermont just learned that premiums on the exchanges could increase by double digits next year. in connecticut requested premium
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increases are as high as 52% on the exchanges. in maryland one insurer is asking for a rate increase of nearly 60%. obamacare marketplaces that are insured are in the early stages of a death spiral. our democratic friends okay with what looks to be yet another year of massive obamacare premium increases? this news is alarming, not only for the families on the exchanges on the states i just named, but for thousands more across the nation who may be hit with similar reports in coming weeks. as one recent a.p. story titled, more price hikes observed. another round of price hikes and limited choices will greet insurance shoppers around the country when they start searching for next year's coverage on the public markets established by the affordable
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care act. moreover, as the story went on to say, over 40% of counties could have a single insurer to choose from on the exchanges next year. it's troubling news, especially given that so many states like mine have seen insurers fleeing the obamacare marketplace leaving families with limited options. let's look at the chart behind me. in kentucky, under obamacare, 49% of counties have only one insurer this year in 2017. 49% of our counties, nearly half the counties in kentucky, have only one insurer to choose from, and, of course, having one option is really no choice at all. it's a harsh reality facing more and more americans and these obamacare failures have real consequences for the men and women that we all represent.
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as one of our democratic friends commented just last week on news that his state will be left with only a single insurer next year under obamacare, this will mean that more than 12,000 delawareans will have to find a new insurance plan and hard-working families will have fewer options and harder choices to make about their health insurance coverage. can our democratic colleagues who promised more choice under obamacare really be okay -- really be okay with the continuing failures of obamacare? the status quo under obamacare is simply unsustainable and unacceptable, that's why the entire senate republican conference is working together on the best way forward to bring much-needed relief to the families who have been left behind by obamacare's continuing failures. so i hope our democratic colleagues will join us in working on this. they just sent me a letter last week where they acknowledged
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that obamacare hasn't lived up to its promises and where they effectively conceded that the status quo is unsustainable. i hope it means they are finally ready to join us in moving away from obamacare and supporting smarter health care policies. after years of defending a system that isn't working for far too many americans, it's time that the senate democrats final r- -- finally faced the reality of the flawed obamacare law. the failures of obamacare aren't just isolated to one region of the country either. they are affecting people from the east coast to the west, from the north to the south, and things are likely to get p even worse unless we work finally beyond the failures of this law. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the
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senate will proceed to executive consideration to consider the rosen nomination. which the clerk will report. the clerk: jeffrey a. rosen to be security -- to be deputy secretary. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. durbin: last week i had a meeting with hospitals, doctors, nurses, pediatricians and those in the substance abuse treatment area what they thought of the republican bill -- it was all republicans -- who passed the health care finance act -- whatever the name is, the health care system that they are calling for reform in the health care system. they are opposed to it, hospital administrators, doctors, nurses, pediatricians, across the board. why would all the medical providers in my state be opposed to the republican plan that just
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passed the house of representatives? well, because they read it and here's what they found -- it threatens the survival of hospitals. the illinois hospital association came out against a republican plan and and said that we could lose 60,000 jobs in illinois and we could see cutbacks in services in our hospitals. i know the presiding officer from the state of oklahoma knows what rural hospitals mean to these small towns. it is not only life and death to have access to quality health care, they are some of the best-paying jobs in town. the thought that those hospitals are going to see services cut back, people laid off is worth sitting up and taking notice. they are also worried because the congressional budget office never gave an analysis of the republican plan that passed the house of representatives. that is unheard of.
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when we passed the affordable care act in the united states senate, we waited week after weary week for the congressional budget office to analyze each of the major changes. we didn't want to make a mistake and we felt obligated to tell the american people what we were doing to the health care system which is one-sixth of the national economy. somehow the republican leaders in the house of representatives paid no attention to that and passed a bill without a congressional budget office analysis. possibly it's because the first version of that bill which was analyzed by the c.b.o. found that it was devastating. 24 million americans would lose their health insurance under the republican plan in its first phase. 24 million americans lose their health insurance. in illinois, in a state of 12.5 million people, one million people would have lost their health insurance coverage by the plan proposed initially about
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by -- by the republicans in the house. we know that it would also shorten the life of medicare, for one thing. and we know that it allowed for waivers by governors to eliminate what they call nonessential services in health insurance. one of them hits close to home. i can her as a -- i can remember as a new senator here coming to the floor and watching paul wellstone who used to be at that desk and pete domenici get up and argue that every health care plan in america should cover mental health care treatment. they had to fight the health care industry for years before we finally achieved it. now when you buy health insurance in america it covers mental illness. thank goodness. we need it. we desperately need it. that becomes one of the nonessential elements in the
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republican analysis of health insurance. what are they thinking? have they read about the opioid and heroin crisis in america? i sat at tables with victims, addicts who, thank goodness, had an intervention and had an opportunity and can now speak of their addiction in the past tense. these are amazing young people whose lives were compromised and threatened because of addiction. how did they turn the corner? they turned the corner because of loving families, their personal determination and the availability of medical treatment under their health insurance plans. now the republicans are arguing in the house of representatives we don't need that coverage, we don't need that protection, we do now more than ever. when i hear the republican leader come to the floor and criticize the affordable care act, i basically have to ask him -- is this a problem that is of your own creation? the republicans, including the
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leader, have refused to sit down with democrats and work on a bipartisan solution. in fact when the republican leader sat down to determine how the senate would respond to the house action, he put together a group of, i believe, republican senators, no democrats allowed, to sit down and write the alternative. that's not a good way to start this. what we ought to do is to say first, we're not going to repeal the affordable care act, we're going to improve it and we'll do it on a bipartisan basis. if the majority leader wants to suggest that, i'd like to be part of it. many democrats would like to be part of it. take repeal off the table before the conversation on repair begins. i think that's essential. let's make sure that within health insurance in america we have some basics. first, if you have a preexisting condition you shouldn't be disqualified from health insurance or you shouldn't have to pay twice the premiums. that's something that's built
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into the law now. the law that the republicans want to repeal. well, i want to make sure that preexisting conditions are protected. i've said on the floor before that a couple of weeks ago i had a heart procedure, an outpatient procedure, apparently it worked pretty well. i'm standing here talking to you today. i feel good. but a lot of people go through this. i became a statistic. i now have a preexisting condition. so be it. one out of three americans fit that category. why would we not protect them if any health insurance reform bill? that seems like the starting point in our conversation. and yet, the bill that passed the house, the republican bill that passed the house allows governors to basically ask for waivers so that health insurance plans in their state won't cover people with preexisting conditions or allow people with those conditions to have the same premiums. that is not a good starting
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place. it's a terrible starting place. let's try to make sure that if we are going to move forward on real health care reform, we do it in a sensible fashion. let's put together a bill not like the one that passed the house but put together a bill that has the support for hospital administrators across the nation. let's put together a bill that protects the medicaid expansion that's part of the affordable care act. medicaid is an essential part of health insurance in america for tens of millions of people. medicaid, most people think, oh, that's health insurance for poor people. really, that's not an accurate description. medicaid, for example, in the state of illinois provides health coverage for half of the children who are born in my state. prenatal care, postnatal care and the actual delivery of half of the children in my state under medicaid. that's not the most expensive part of medicaid. the most expensive part in my state and across the nation is
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the fact that medicaid is there to help your mother and grandmother, your dad and your grandfather when they are in a situation in life where they need a helping hand. they may be in an assisted care facility. so a security check is not enough. medicare is not enough. medicaid steps in to make sure they have the quality care they need. are we going to eliminate that kind of coverage and protection? ask disabled people. ask the organizations that represent them what it means to have a good, strong medicaid system. these people rely on medicaid for maintaining their health through disability day in and day out. so when the republicans propose an $840 billion cut in medicaid protection across america over ten years, then sadly they are setting out on a path that could compromise the basic care we need for babies and new moms, for the elderly in assisted care
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facilities and nursing facilities, for the disabled who live in our states. we don't want to see that happen. it's interesting. my republican governor in the state of illinois seldom comments on federal legislation. he came out in opposition to the bill that passed the house of representatives. he said this is a significantly bad bill for the state of illinois, and i agree with him. i'm glad he spoke up. i don't know how the seven republican congressmen who voted for it for my state can ignore that reality. our governor, our republican governor, believes it's bad for our state in cutting back medicaid. the hospitals believe it's bad for our state and the impact it will have on down state hospitals. the doctors and the nurses and the pediatricians also oppose it. so what can we do? what should we do? well, first we ought to try to see what we can do to make the affordable care act work better. we can do that on a bipartisan basis. we want to make sure, as the senator from kentucky said earlier, that there are
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available health insurance programs in every county of every state. one thing we could do, certainly, is to make sure that a public option is there for everyone if they choose it. something that looks like medicare. people respect medicare. medicare is a great program for millions of americans who are seniors and disabled. why wouldn't we create a program like medicare, a not-for-profit, government-operated program like medicare for people who wish it? those who don't can stick with private insurance if that's their choice, but i believe you will find more and more people moving toward the medicare option. that's something i'd like to put on the table, reforming the affordable care act. secondly, we need to address the cost of pharmaceuticals and drugs in america. the cost is out of control. this week, i received a publication from the aarp, the
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american association of retired persons, and they talked about what's happening to pharmaceutical prices across america. you don't have to tell seniors and most americans who are buying prescription drugs what the reality happens to be. let me give you a few numbers to demonstrate why we need to have a new program to make sure that drug prices don't go out of control. americans spent $457 billion on prescription drugs in 2015, according to aarp. up about 8% over the previous year. $457 billion. the rise in prices for the most popular brand name drugs from 2008-2016 -- over 200%. they more than doubled in that eight-year period of time for the most popular drugs. the median salary of a pharmaceutical firm c.e.o. in 2015, $14.5 million.
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more than any other industry. $6.4 billion, that's the amount drug companies spent advertising directly to consumers in the u.s. annually. $24 billion, the amount drug companies spend per year marketing to doctors. we are one of only two nations in the world that allow direct consumer advertising. think about what that means. when you see all these ads on television for drugs with names you can't pronounce, why are they doing it? it's because the drug companies know that consumers across america will write down the name of the drug and go ask the doctor to prescribe it. and many times, the doctor, rather than debate the issue with a patient or suggest they don't need it or should use a generic, just write out the script. and what happens, expensive drugs, more expensive drugs get into the system, raising the cost of health care, raising the cost of premiums for health insurance. it doesn't make us healthier. it just means health care is
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more expensive. one of my favorite drugs, i love to listen to the warnings on these drugs that go on and on and on. one of my favorites was be sure and tell your doctor if you have had a liver transplant. i'm thinking to myself, yeah, i think i would probably mention that somewhere along the way to a doctor. but these warnings should give us fair warning that this is inflating the cost of health care across america. it's not making us healthier. and it's running up profits dramatically for pharmaceutical companies. why is it the same drugs, exactly the same drugs made in the united states sell for a fraction of their costs in america in places like canada and in europe? it's a legitimate question. we ought to address it. do we have the political nerve to do it? i hope so as part of the affordable care reform. i hope we sit down and do something on a bipartisan basis to deal with the challenges we face, but first take repeal off
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the table. let's make the affordable care act stronger. let's do it on a bipartisan basis. let's set out to come up with a solution that doesn't do what the house version did, which could eliminate health insurance for millions of people across america and a million people in my state of illinois. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. now by now, we have all had the chance to read the report in "the washington post" that alleges stunning behavior on the part of the president in a meeting with the russian ambassador and the russian foreign minister. according to the report, the president revealed classified information about a terrorist threat with the officials of a foreign government, and the president didn't share it with
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just any government, the report states. he shared it with russia's government, a global adversary that has violated the sovereignty of peaceful nations, propped up dictators and human rights abusers, including iran and syria, and has been widely proven to have interfered in our elections and the elections of our allies in europe. if this report is indeed true, it would mean that the president may have badly damaged our national security, nothing less. and in several ways. first, if accurate, a disclosure of this type could threaten the united states' relationships with allies who provide us with vital intelligence and could result in the loss of this specific intelligence source. we rely on intelligence from our allies to keep america safe. america can't have eyes and ears everywhere. if our allies abroad can't trust
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us to keep sensitive information close to the vest, they may no longer share it with us. that undermines key relationships and even more importantly makes us less safe. second, if accurate, such a disclosure could damage our interests in the middle east. we did not collaborate with russia in syria or elsewhere in the middle east for the simple fact we have diverging interests. russia, for example, has worked with iran to prop up the brutal assad regime, sharing vital intelligence with russian officials could allow the russians to pursue or even possibly eliminate the source or figure out how the ally conducts operations, including against any -- any against russia or russia's allies in the region. and third, if the report is
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true, the president's alleged carelessness with classified information will further damage the relationship between the white house and the intelligence community, an essential relationship for the security of america. the intelligence community needs to be able to trust the president, trust that he will treat classified information with caution, with care. our intelligence professionals, many of them put their lives on the line every day to inquire -- to acquire information that is critical to our national security, that is critical to keeping americans safe. they've done a very good job. if the reporting is accurate, in one fell swoop, the president could have unsettled our allies, emboldened our adversaries, endangered our military and intelligence officers world over, and exposed our nation to greater risk.
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given the gravity of the matter, we need to be able to quickly assess whether or not this report is true and what exactly was said. so i am calling on the white house to make a transcript of the meeting with the russian foreign minister and ambassador available to the congressional intelligence committees as soon as possible. the white house should make the transcript of the meeting available immediately to the congressional intelligence committees, and if the president has nothing to hide, he should direct that the transcript of the meeting be made available. members who sit on those committees have the necessary clearances to review the transcript and any related summary of the president's meeting with the russians. i agree with the senior senator from maine that this briefing should happen immediately. those committees would be able to help establish the facts
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before we grapple with the potential consequences. last night, the administration issued several overlapping denials. some questioned the overall veracity of the account. some took pains to specifically deny certain accusations, but others did not. this morning, the president tweeted a version of events that undercut his advisors' carefully worded denials and seems to confirm that the reports that he had shared -- seem to confirm the reports that he had shared the information in question. following so closely after mr. comey's firing, which was rationalized to the press and the american public in several different ways over the course of a week, this administration now faces a crisis of credibility.
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the president has told us that we cannot take at face value the explanation of some of his key advisors, but the events of the past week have taken this to an untenable extreme. the timelines and rationales in the administration contradict one another. the truth, as it were, sits atop shifting sands in this administration. we need the transcripts to see exactly what the president said, given the conflicting reports from the people in the room. producing the transcripts is the only way for this administration to categorically prove the reports untrue. mr. president, there's a crisis of credibility in this administration which will hurt us in ways almost too numerous
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to elaborate. at the top of the list are an erosion of trust in the presidency and trust in america by our friends and allies. the president owes the intelligence community, the american people and the congress a full explanation. the transcripts, in my view, are a necessary first step. until the administration provides the unedited transcript, until the administration fully explains the facts of this case, the american people will rightly doubt if their president can handle our nation's most closely kept secrets. i yield the floor.
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mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, as i noted yesterday, this week we celebrate national police week, and particularly recognize and remember those law enforcement officers who have paid the ultimate price and a sack -- and sacrificed their lives to protect the communities in which they serve. yesterday he had the chance to speak about javier, jr., who was tragically killed by two illegal immigrant criminals. today i want to talk about the attack on law enforcement officers in dallas almost a year ago. last july about 800 people had gathered in downtown dallas for a peaceful march. given the size of the event, dozens of law enforcement officers were on hand to protect the protesters so they could exercise their fundamental
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constitutional right. before 9:00 p.m., the event had been going very well by any standard. there wasn't any violence reported in the crowd even though some similar events across the country hadn't been as calm, but in dallas it was clear that there existed a mutual respect between the citizens protesting and law enforcement. there were even social media posts of protesters embracing police officers in a show of solidarity and friendship. unfortunately the night would soon be robbed of any enduring image of that sort of positive scene. a man, someone who came that night explicitly to target law enforcement officers opened fire killing five officers and wounding seven more. the deadliest day for american law enforcement since 9/11. the officers who lost their lives that day, brent thompson,
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patrick zamarippa, lauren aherns, michael krol and michael smith will not be forgotten. they like the other officers on duty that night, many of whom were injured by the gunmen, didn't look the other way or run the other way when the violence erupted. like the heroes they are, they ran to the danger, not away from the gunshots and the uproar. they like law enforcement officers across the country weren't about to shy away from doing their job, even if that meant putting their lone lives on the line. so today i want to commend the men and women of the dallas police force, a group of men and women with incredible courage and unflinching valor in the face of danger. this police week i'm particularly grateful to them and to the officers and first responders all over the state of texas and all around our nation who count the costs and choose
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to serve their communities day after day often with little thanks or recognition. as i said last summer, it shouldn't take an event of this scale to jolt ourconsciences into action. as legislators we have tremendous opportunities to better support our men and women in blue who risk their lives to protect ours. and we have a duty to do all we can to keep them safe and to keep our society safe and peaceful. so as we celebrate police week, i hope we can each do our part to better support the men and women serving in law enforcement. later today i plan to introduce a piece of legislation called the back the blue act along with senator cruz and senator tillis. this is legislation that makes clear our support for these public servants who spend their lives protecting us and serving
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us. the back the blue act would create a new federal crime for killing or attempting to kill a federal judge, a law enforcement officer, or a federally funded public safety officer. it would create a new crime for assaulting a law enforcement officer as well. mr. president, there is no justification, none at all, for attacking a police officer. it is an act of anarchy to attack the very people who help keep our society safe and protected. we need to know -- need to show that we value their lives, and we need to make it absolutely clear that we will hold those who carry out crimes against our police officers accountable. the back the blue act sends that message loud and clear. i think it's important to point out that this legislation would also help make our communities stronger by allowing grant funds to be used for efforts to help
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foster more trust between police and the communities that they protect. this bill would better serve the men and women who worked tirelessly in our communities every day so i would hope our colleagues would join me in supporting it. we can do more to protect and support our law enforcement officers, and we can start with the back the blue act to do just exactly that. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. markey: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, before i begin my remark, i would like to commemorate national police week and the lives and sacrifices of two extraordinary massachusetts law enforcement officers who fell in 2016. thomas clarty, a trooper with
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the massachusetts state police, and ronald tarantino, a police officer with the auburn police department. their names will be inscribed on the national law enforcement officers memorial here in washington, d.c. in honor of their service. by the end of this year more than 21,000 names will be on that wall. we will never forget their service and sacrifice to our communities and to our country. and with the help of the national law enforcement officers memorial fund, we pledge to their families and loved ones that they will have the support and resources which they need. i rise to speak about president trump's firing of f.b.i. director james comey. in and of itself, this action by president trump is seismic and has shaken the very foundation of our government, and i dare say our democracy. just yesterday the american people were also once again
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confronted by presidential actions that raise both alarm and the need for investigation. in a news story, "the washington post" reported that president trump revealed highly sensitive classified material to senior russian officials during a meeting last week. according to the "post" story, president trump reportedly revealed information about isis that could compromise our partner countries' key intelligence sources and enable russia to, according to the story, identify our sources and techniques. for gathering intelligence there could be no greater compromise of american security. the information that president trump revealed was so sensitive that the united states had previously refrained from sharing it, even with our alli allies. president trump's decision to relay some of our most sensitive
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intelligence with representatives of the russian government betrays an astounding lack of judgment. by revealin revealing what is ce word information to russia, president trump may have compromised key intelligence sources, endangered the fight against isis, and undermined the trust of our international partners. while the president may have the authority to declassify u.s. intelligence, it is imperative to the safety of our military and intelligence personnel and those of our partners that he do so through a careful and deliberate tif process. -- deliberative process. there is no evidence that donald trump did that. congress must immediately investigate this irresponsible action and take steps to ensure that president trump does no additional damage to u.s. national security in his dealings with russia.
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this dangerous behavior comes on the heels of the president's reckless decision to fire former f.b.i. director james comey pushing our country ever closer to a constitutional crisis. president trump's firing of mr. comey is disturbingly reminiscent of watergate saturday night massacre when our constitution was last subject to an executive branch induced stress test. then president nixon fired independent prosecutor archibald cox who was leading the investigation into the watergate scandal and the nixon campaign's involvement in it. now president trump has fired his f.b.i. director who was leading the investigation into the russian interference scandal in the trump -- and the trump campaign's involvement in it. mark twain is purported to have said that history doesn't repeat itself but it does tend to
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rhyme. unfortunately, there is no humor in president trump's actions. at first we were supposed to believe that the president fired director comey because of the way he handled the investigation of hillary clinton's e-mail server which was unfair to her. that was what president trump sent his staff out to tell the press and the american people. the official white house statement from press secretary sean spicer on may 9 said that president trump acted based on the clear recommendation of both deputy attorney general rod rosenstein and attorney general jeff sessions. that was a reference to the now infamous memorandum by attorney general sessions prepared by deputy attorney general rod rosenstein which cited comey's, quote, handling of the conclusion of the investigation
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of secretary clinton's e-mails as the reason why the public purportedly had lost confidence in the f.b.i. and on which attorney general sessions based his recommendation to the president that he fire mr. comey. on may 9, counsel to the president kellyanne conway said that president trump, quote, took the recommendation of his deputy attorney general who oversees the f.b.i. then on may 10, deputy white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders said that the president, quote, took the recommendation seriously and he made a decision based on that. even vice president pence said that president trump's decision to fire comey was based on the rosenstein memo. so the american people were being told to believe that president trump took the unprecedented step of firing the f.b.i. director in the midst of
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an investigation of the trump campaign because james comey was too hard on hillary clinton. that simply didn't pass the laugh test. who can forget that candidate trump repeatedly called her crooked hillary clinton throughout the campaign. who can forget that candidate trump applauded director comey for the way he handled the clinton investigation. at the end of october of 2016, just days before the election and after comey had reopened the clinton e-mail investigation, trump said that comey had, quote, guts and had brought back his reputation. but it took only one day after mr. comey's firing for president trump to himself admit that reason was utterly, utterly false. in an interview president trump said that rosenstein made a
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recommendation, but regardless of recommendation, i was going to fire comey knowing that there was no good time to do it. so-so much for the rosenstein memo. so much for the white house press statement. so much for what kellyanne conway said. so much for the words of the vice president of the united states. and if that admission wasn't enough, president trump went on to tell everyone what was on his mind when he made that decision. here's his quote. and in fact when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made-up story. it's an excuse by the democrats for having lost an election that they should have won. president trump's statements about the russia investigation are, of course, untrue. there's nothing made up about the conclusions of the
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intelligence community that russia interfered with our election. the allegations of the trump campaign's collusion with the russians are serious. that's why the f.b.i. and the house and senate intelligence committee have been investigating them. so contrary to what the white house senior administration officials and the president in fact admitted that he fired the director of the f.b.i. precisely because he was overseeing an investigation of the trump campaign and its ties to russia. and according to all of these various reports, the president did so just after director comey had gone to deputy attorney general rosenstein and asked for more resources for the russia investigation. the firing of james comey now brings the number of law enforcement firms who -- officials who were investigating the trump campaign or his administration when they themselves were fired to three.
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first, manhattan u.s. attorney preet barara and deputy attorney general sally yates and now director comey. president trump himself in his termination letter to comey not only made no mention of the clinton e-mail investigation but instead expressly linked the firing to the russian investigation. trump claimed that he fired comey despite comey having informed the president on three separate occasions that he was not under investigation, a claim that has not been substantiated. here's the plain and simple truth. president trump feared that the f.b.i. investigation into his campaign's possible collusion was russia was getting too close for comfort so he fired director comey. comey's firing could be nothing
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less than obstruction of justice masquerading as a personnel action. it's what an assault on the rule of law looks like. if there is one lesson that president trump should have learned from watergate, it is this -- if you are under investigation, don't fire the investigator, but as disturbing as mr. comey's firing is, it gets worse. days after president trump had a veiled threat -- here is the quote, james comey hopes there are no recordings of conversations before he starts leaking to the press. are there recordings? we don't know yet. if there are, the white house and the justice department must ensure they are preserved. it is clear that president trump
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did not learn any of the lessons of watergate, which underscores the need of an independent prosecutor to get to the bottom of this. the role of a special, independent prosecutor is to follow all of the facts where -- wherever they lead. deputy attorney general rosenstein should not be the one to appoint a special prosecutor. just three weeks on the job, mry the question swirling around his role in the comey firing. did he meet with rosenstein and ask for more resources. why did rosenstein discuss the removal with attorney general sessions after sessions recused himself from the russia investigation. why didn't rosenstein question
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sessions' involvement? the magnitude of the decision to appoint a special counsel in the circumstances cannot be made by a political appointee. instead i join majority leader schumer's call that the appointment must be made by the highest ranking civil servant in the justice department. until we have an independent special prosecutor appointed, we should not move forward with the confirmation of any replacement of james comey as director of the f.b.i. additionally, director comey should come and testify before congress, which both senate intelligence committee burr and vice chairman warner have requested, clearly showing the bipartisan support for this. there are too many unanswered questions that only director comey can answer.
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finally, while it has been announced that deputy attorney general rosenstein will brief all senators and answer their questions, we must still hear from attorney general sessions. we must not lose sight of the fact that a foreign power interfered in our last presidential election and that the trump campaign may have colluded with it to win the white house. this strikes at the heart of our government and our very democracy. our elections must be fair and free of foreign interference. it is time for both democrats and republicans to put love of country ahead of party, to come together and demand the appointment of a special prosecutor who will investigate and follow the facts no matter where they lead. i would like to conclude my remarks today by expressing my opposition to the nomination of jeffrey rosen to be deputy secretary of transportation. mr. rosen has a long history
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both in government and in the private sector of defending private industry against regulation designed to protect the american public. when he first worked for the department of transportation, he touted the fact that he was involved in ending or withdrawing 180 potential transporataion department rule makings. he has also been hostile to environmental regulations designed to protect our air and water, he has opposed to greenhouse gas emission regulations in his role at the office of management and budget and he attempted to undermine climate change science in order to fend off potential regulations. he had an alliance with automobile manufacturers against rules to increase nonpolluting vehicles. i will vote no on mr. rosen's
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nomination because our clean energy future is just too important and i urge my colleagues to join me. thank you and i yield back, mr. president. mr. durbin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: the american people were stunned by what we learned what happened in the white house. we saw an alarming set of circumstances of what happened with russia interfering with our democracy. last week the senate judiciary committee heard from sally yates who president trump asked to serve as acting attorney general when he was first sworn into office. ms.ates its fied that --ates said that she had warned done mcgahn about general flynn, that he had been -- that general
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flynn could be blackmailed. ms. yates first visited the white house on january 26 and invited back to answer followup questions on january 27. those followups include questions about general flynn's potential criminal exposure. what else happened on january 27? the president of the united states brought in f.b.i. director james comey for a one-on-one dinner where he reportedly asked director comey for loyalty. is the timing of this comey dinner curious? you bet it is. according to press secretary sean spicer, president trump was briefed by white house counsel mcgahn after ms. yates' warning. that means they knew about the justice department concerns with flynn when he met director comey for dinner.
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was the president's request for loyalty from director comey an attempt to impeat the investigation into -- impede the investigation into general flynn? was it to eye knock late himself from -- when director comey did not -- last tuesday evening president trump fired director comey while comey was giving a speech to f.b.i. agents in los angeles. the reason, well, on thursday, the president made clear that the russian investigation was on his mind when he fired director comey. he said that lester holt of nbc, and i quote, when i decided to do it, i said to myself, you know, this russian thing with trump and russia is a madeup story. end of quote. president trump later said that the russia investigation was, quote, should be over with in my
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opinion. it should have been over a long time ago. end of quote. on friday the president found time to threaten mr. comey on twitter, implying that he had taped their conversations and that he would release the tapes if comey disclosed what he knew. let's be clear, the president is in dangerous territory here. what the president is doing when it comes to potential obstruction of justice is similar to a chapter in history many of us remember. president nixon, on october 20, 1973, fired the special prosecutor when the investigation got too close to the white house. that sparked a constitutional crisis in america. now we've learned that president trump has disclosed highly classified information to the russian foreign minister and that same ambassador.
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"the washington post" reported that the president specifically revealed extremely sensitive intelligence, considered to sensitive that details were withheld from america's allies and titlely restricted even within our own -- and strictly -- and tightly restricted even with our own government. this kind of disclosure is what former director comey and just about every other congressional government official said was extreme -- it jeopardizes the fight against isil and the broader fight by america against terrorism. this are morning, european officials reacted, told the associated press that at least one european country might stop sharing intelligence with the united states if this is how it is going to be treated. that is not, as the majority
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leader described it this morning, drama, close quote. this is a real consequence of a dangerous president putting american lives at risk. this is truly incredible and historic. it is a national security breach by the president of incredible proportions. how in the world can we trust the president to put the national security needs of the american people ahead of his own? there are a lot of parallels between the watergate era and what we see today, but one major difference from the noings era and the trump era is the willingness of republicans to speak out against the abuse of power and to actually serve as a check on the presidency. back in nixon's day there were republicans in congress who were willing to speak truth to power, to say enough of the lies and damage to our democratic institutions and to put the country ahead of party. listen, in november of 1973,
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just a few weeks after the saturday night massacre, senator edward brooke of massachusetts was one of the first republicans to stand up saying he did not feel the country could, quote, stand the drama it has been through for the past few months. close quote. in july of 1974, republican congressman laurence hogan of maryland said, quote, the evidence convinced me that my president has lied repeatedly, deceiving public officials and american people, do we want to condemn the wrongdoings of the democratic party and excuse them when they are done by republicans? on the same day republican congressman william cohen of maine said, quote, i've been faced with the terrible responsibility of assessing the conduct of a president that i voted for, believed to be the best man to lead the country, who has made significant and lasting contributions toward
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securing peace in this country and throughout the world. but a president, who in the process by or acquiescence, allowed the rule of law and constitution to slip under the boots of indifference aand a -- and abuse. republican congressman from virginia said, quote, for years we republicans have campaigned against corruption and misconduct, but watergate is our shame. end of quote. and republican congressman paul finley of illinois, who i ran against when i first served in the -- in the house, hearings of the judiciary committee and developments of the court have, i believe, demonstrated moral insensitivity on the part of the president. end of quote. that same month, republican senator barry goldwater said,
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there are only so man lies i can take and now there has been one too many. at the same time goldwater was nominated to deliver a direct message to president nixon. goldwater, along with senate republican leader hugh scott, went to the white house, sat directly in front of president nixon's desk, and explained that enough was enough. mr. president, these courageous republicans were, of course, talking about lies, corruption, or instruction of justice and danger to our democratic system of government emanating from the nixon white house. they took our oath of office to protect the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic and certainly above a party or short-term policy gain, they took it seriously. and to their courage, we in history owe them a debt of gratitude. so i ask today, amid a swirling of a deeply troubling mix of lies, nearly 500 in the first
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100 days of this new presidency, obfuscation, withholding of information, attempts to interfere with federal investigations regarding possible collusion with a foreign adversary, thinly veiled threats against those involved in such investigations by our current president, where are the many republican patriots who are ready to stand up against these troubling abuses and threats? mr. president, it's now been more than seven months since 17 of our intelligence agencies provided overwhelming evidence of a russian attack on our democracy and an attempt to help elect someone seen as more favorable to their interests, not our interests. the evidence was damming and -- damning and continues to emerge, and yet what has this congress done during the same seventh-month period to uphold our oath to, quote, support and defend the constitution of the united states against all enemies foreign and domestic. have congressional republicans
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launched an independent investigation into this historic cyber act of war, as we did after 9/11? unfortunately, no. have congressional republicans retaliated against russia for its actions by imposing sanctions or taking other actions, making sure its leadership knows it will pay a price for such attacks and think twice before doing it again in the united states? or at the expense of our allies? no. have republicans in congress passed meaningful cybersecurity negligence to help protect america against future attacks and help any states that request help? no. have republicans demanded the appointment of the special prosecutor and insisted that the white house turn over all documents regarding the trump campaign and ties with russia, including potentially russian intelligence? no. have republicans demanded that the president explain why he keeps denying russia's attack on our election in the face of
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overwhelming evidence? no. in fact, has the majority party done anything to respond to, protect against or even address these troubling attacks and refusals by -- to cooperation from the white house? sadly, no. but let me tell you what the majority party has found time to pursue during the seven months after an attack on our nation. a cyber act of war that will live in cyber infamy. some of this you simply can't make up. the republican majority in the house and in the senate passed legislation making it easier to kill baby bear cubs and their mothers in their dens, making it easier to work with corrupt regimes overseas, making it harder for americans to save for their retirement and are trying to strip health care away from millions of americans in order to pay tax cuts for the wealthiest people in america.
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mr. president, this is quite simply an abdication of the majority party's responsibility in congress to address an attack by a foreign power on our nation and investigate possible collusion by an erratic and sometimes deceptive white house. so, mr. president, let me close again by asking my republican colleagues whom i know care very deeply about the senate and our nation -- when will you speak up about the travesty unfolding? when will you take even a fraction of the action that will most certainly occur if these outrages had occurred under a democratic president? we need republicans in congress to stand up and protect our democratic institutions and support a special prosecutor and an independent investigation into the russian election interference now. i am hopeful that republican senators, some will have the courage to join us in calling for a special prosecutor. we need someone above politics
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and above the current controversy whom we can trust to really pursue the facts and the evidence wherever they may lead, to determine what we can do to protect america from another russian attack in our next election and to hold russia accountable for what we have been through. it is time to do this on a bipartisan basis. america's waiting. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: if no one
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seeks recognition, time will be charged equally to both sides.
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mr. cassidy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. cassidy: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we're not. mr. cassidy: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i think it's fair to say americans are sick of partisanship when it comes to issues of greatest concern. they are asking, if you will, that we in the senate will put party behind us, behind the needs of the people. now, this is especially true when we're speaking of those issues of greatest importance, and i would argue that the replacement of the affordable care act is one of those issues of greatest importance. and whatever the excuse, no senator of either party should sit on the sidelines. this is such an important issue that every senator, whatever her or his personal views, should be engaged. mr. president, we know president
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trump's principles, if you will. he laid them out time and time again on the campaign trail. he wants to maintain coverage, lower premiums, caring for those with preexisting conditions and eliminate the obamacare mandates upon individuals and businesses. and in his inauguration speech, he spoke of the forgotten man and the forgotten woman. in fact, you can see just before his inauguration, he emphasized that which he said during the campaign. we're going to have insurance for everyone. there is a philosophy in some circles that if you cannot pay for it, you do not get it. that is not going to happen with us. and he also emphasized the quality of the care saying that people covered under the law that he would propose to replace can expect to have the greatest health care. it will be in a much simplified form, less expensive, much better, said to "the washington post" just before he was sworn in. these are his principles. and so when he was sworn in and
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gave his inaugural address, speaking of the forgotten man and forgotten woman, i cannot help but think he was influenced as he went through counties seeing folks with terrible tales of their child dying from opioid addiction or their spouse unable to afford the insurance under obamacare. i will point out there is a human dimension to this that we sometimes forget, but we should not. senator moran from kansas made the point that health care is like no other issue. it is an issue which touches us most personally. i think president trump saw that on itself campaign trail. he saw the parent of an adult child with mental illness, and she could not get a psychiatric bed for her child. and we know the fate of that child if he does not have that care he needs. he will end up either in a homeless shelter, a jail cell, or the morgue. that is the human dimension to
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this, and that is why we need to help president trump fulfill his pledge. now, voters understand what we're speaking of. they understand the importance of it. but let me speak just a little bit more to the politics of this. because we cannot separate what we do here in washington, d.c. from politics. there is -- there are researchers from princeton who recently published a report. if you look at white males and females between 18 and 54 who lack a college education, their life span is decreasing. now, for hispanic, african americans or minorities, it's improving but for this group it is decreasing. and i've seen data which shows that in the counties in the population centers of the united states in which this phenomena is being most seen, these whites from age 18 to 54, noncollege educated, their life span is
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decreasing. the counties in which this effect is most seen or most likely to vote for donald trump. think about the politics of this, mr. president. the politics are that a group of folks who understand that their life is materially, physically declining with higher rates of suicide, addiction, liver disease, and other chronic illness ending in premature death voted significantly more for the president who swore that he would remember them, who spoke of the forgotten man and the forgotten woman. his pledge to them was a lifeline. their vote for him was a cry for help. mr. president, that is not just a human dimension. it is a political dimension leading to a policy necessity.
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now, let's stop for a second. here is a key issue of cost. we understand that the affordable care act was too expensive. we can save money. but let's not fool ourselves. it is still going to cost. we can save the $150 billion or so that the house suggests we have to say. we know the rules by which the senate has to save at least that much money. on the other hand we know that congress has mandated people can get care and so, therefore, if congressman dates that folks get care, then congress should help provide the means for which to pay for it. there are some who think, oh, my gosh, congress does not need to provide for the money to care and everything will be good. i am a physician. i have been in the emergency room at 2:00 in the morning. and at 2:00 in the morning when those emergency room doors are open, mr. president, whoever comes in is treated. and she may have heart failure. he may be a droag overdose. it -- drug overdose. it might be a disiz friendic or
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someone vomiting blood. he or she receives the care to stabilize their emergency condition. if they have to be hospitalized, think of a car wreck with multiple trauma, and they're in the hospital for four month, mr. president, they still get that care because congressman dates that. but if congress does not provide the means to pay for it, the cost of that care is shifted not to government. the cost of that care is shifted to the privately insured. all of those getting insurance through their employer begin to pay higher premiums, much higher premiums. somebody pays, mr. president. and if we do not fulfill our obligation after mandating that those patients get cared for, we being congress, then society pays. and society is the person struggling to make ends meet and now finds out from her employer that her premium has increased 20%, 30%, sometimes 50% all because of the cost shifting that occurs.
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now, it's not just the group market, mr. president. under obamacare, we can see that in the individual market, premiums have skyrocketed. it is not that the affordable care act is working so well. last week i communicated with someone who lives in san francisco, and she and her young family are paying $20,000 a year for a premium, $6,000 deductibles. none of them are sick. none of them will meet their deductibles, but living in a very expensive city, having to struggle to pay their mortgage, their groceries or transportation. now they have to come up with $20,000 to pay for their health insurance. that's all because of the affordable care act. then i spoke with a person in washington, d.c. the person is a consultant on insurance issues. knows insurance backwards and forwards. he says for his family the premium is $24,000 a year with a $13,000 family deductible. he says the insurance expert
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says, i will be out $37,000 in a single year before my insurance kicks in. families cannot afford that. i'll finish up lastly with a story from louisiana. folks would never believe this because it seems so crazy. but i put it on my facebook page. there is a couple back home 60 and 61. they were quoted a premium of $39,000 for a premium of one year with a deductible on top of that. $39,000. mr. president, we can see that in the individual market, the affordable care act is not working. it's become the unaffordable care act. we have to address this. but let me say we have to address it whether we are a democrat or a republican. we must respond to the cries for help coming from those folks suffering from addiction, mental illness, heart failure, any other chronic disease for which they do not have coverage.
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but also for the cries of help from middle-class families that cannot afford these premiums and if they don't, sacrifice something in the budget to pay for it unde, under the affordabe care act they will be fined. now, let's return to the political. the political is i have voters back home asking why republican senators are not helping a republican president fulfill his pledge, a pledge to all voters but one which certain republican voters specifically took to heart. and that is, to fulfill his pledge of caring for those with preexisting conditions, continuing coverage, lowering premiums and eliminating mandates. if you're a democratic senator, the forgotten woman and the forgotten man is in your state, too. i can promise you even if you are not a republican but you're a democrat, you have an opioid crisis in your state. and so if we're now looking at
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addressing medicaid expansion or the affordability of the individual market, and you're a democratic senator and you decided to sit on the sideline, if you're a voter in that state you should be asking why. now, some of -- let's face it. let's face it. speaking to my democratic colleagues, many of you do not like president trump. some of you hate president trump. some of you like him but you have to pretend that you hate him. now, even though this is president trump's pledge, this is not about president trump. these are about the voters, the patients, the people in our state who either cannot afford their insurance or who have an addiction or some mental illness or some other critical health care need that if this obamacare replacement is not done well will leave them far worse off. now, i've heard some of the excuses from my democratic colleagues as to why they cannot participate. they say, oh, we're using the word repeal. oh, we're not going through the normal committee process.
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oh this or oh that. i concede it all. if you're a voter and your child is addicted to opioids, do you really care that there's a sim mantsic issue -- semantic issue regards whether we say repeal or repair. do you care that after a few hearings we don't have a few hearings more? do you understand the difference between reconciliation versus normal process? i would say no because the principle thing that concerns you is that your child is desperate for help and you're not sure that that help will continue. so i say to my democratic colleagues whatever the excuse, ignore the excuse. please engage. let me finish where i started. i think the average american right now wants every senator whether republican or a democrat to help president trump fulfill his pledge, to fulfill his
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pledge of maintaining coverage, lowering premiums, caring for those with preexisting conditions without mandates. every senator should listen to the american people as they ask us to put patients over party, to put our american people over partisanship. mr. president, i yield back. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the time during quorum calls till 12:340 today be -- 12:30 today be equally divided. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cassidy: mr. president, i now note 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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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blunt: mr. president, all
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across -- mr. president, i would also like permission to engage in a colloquy with my colleagues on the floor to talk about police week. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blunt: mr. president, all across the country people are honoring the men and women who serve as law enforcement officials during this week. clearly they deserve and receive recognition every day for what they do, but this is an incredibly difficult job. i was with some of our officers last night from missouri and with family members, and i said, you know, a lot of times it is easier for you to walk out the door than it is for your family to see you walk out the door, not knowing what you're going to face every day. when senator coons and i came to the congress seven years ago, came to the senate seven years ago, we created and cochaired the senate law enforcement caucus. it's really a privilege for me to be able to be part of that and also to speak today on
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behalf of those who serve us so well. this is a week in which we take a moment to recognize the law enforcement officers who've lost their lives in the line of duty. today i want to pay tribute to three missouri law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty in this past year. master sergeant carl t. cosper of the barry county sheriff's office, and officer snyder, and deputy sheriff paul alan clark of the st. francis sheriff's office. just last month master sergeant cosper was called while responding to a domestic violence call. he had served for ten years before that fatal accident. in october of 2016, officer blake snyder was shot and killed while responding to a
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disturbance. he had served the st. louis county police department for four years. he is survived by his wife and their 2-year-old son. i had a chance last night to visit with his wife again, elizabeth, and his brother justin, also a police officer in st. louis county. they were here earlier this year to talk about police and families and what we need to do to really express our understanding of what those families go through. their strength and their reliance both humbling and inspiring, and i'm sure that they're passing along those very values to blake's 2-year-old son. in july of 2016, deputy sheriff paul clark died from complications related to injuries he sustained in october of 2015 when he was
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intentionally struck by a stolen vehicle near belose, missouri. he had served the st. francis sheriff's department for 13 years and had previously served in another police department for five years. he is survived by his wide and two children and by their -- by his wife and two children and by their grandchildren. our prayers remain with their families. let me now turn to senator coons. he and i founded the law enforcement caucus when we came to the senate. we try on a regular basis to have opportunities to talk about policing practices, family challenges, mental health issues that police deal with every day. and, senator coons, i would like to turn to you for some comments. mr. coons: thank you. i would like to thank my colleague from the state of missouri. having the opportunity to work with senator blunt has been a
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terrific experience and an opportunity over several years and several congresses now for more than a dozen conversations where we invite law enforcement leaders from around the country, folks to talk about partnership between federal, state, and local law enforcement, eequipment issues and policy and operational issues that allow us to provide needed support for the men and women of law enforcement. it is my honor to join with several of my colleagues today to recognize the men and women of law enforcement as part of national police week. together we offer our gratitude, our support to the men and women of law enforcement and their families, who together support our communities. it is only may, yet my home state of delaware has already been reminded of the tremendous risks and great sacrifices made by law enforcement officers and their families. in february of this year lieutenant steven floyd of the delaware department of corrections was killed on the job in a prison riot in smyrna
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delaware correctional center. he was a 16-year veteran of the department and left behind his wife sandra andies children and -- and his children and two grandsons. just last month corporal steven ballard was senselessly gunned down investigating a suspicious vehicle. corporal ballard had served with the delaware state police for eight and a half years and left behind his wife louise and daughter abigail. we recognize the entire law enforcement community from across our country during national police week and we should honor their sacrifice by serving them as well as they serve us. this week and every week we must do everything we can to honor our obligations to fallen heroes and their families. in the wake of these losses in delaware, i'm committed to continuing to work with my colleagues across the aisle and across the country, like
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senators klobuchar and blunt to make sure that our officers have the resources to do their jobs and to come home safely tend of every shift. that means continuing to champion programs like the bulletproof vest. delaware knows the importance of this long-running program all too well. two of our delaware capital police officers died due to bulletproof vests provided through this partnership. i'll also continue towork here in the senate with colleagues to -- i'll also continue to work in the senate with colleagues to make sure that the families of officers who lose their lives or who are permanently disabled in the line of duty receive the benefits they grief. senator grassley is one of the lead cosponsors of the bill along with senators hatch, klobuchar and gillibrand, several of many cosponsors. this bill is just one step away from passing the senate and my
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understanding is could head to the house of representatives as recallly as later today. -- as early as later today. our support has to extend beyond the police car and police station. building trust between the law enforcement and communities they serve is essential to keeping officers safe. that's why officer blunt and i have both taken steps to encourage the strategy of community policing that helps officers do their job more effectively in partnership with local communities. we've also continued to support local officials who are working to bring federal resources, expertise, and convening party to help strengthen the bonds between police and the communities they serve. in light of all these efforts, we can't let ideology or partisan politics in this chamber prevent us from doing our jobs in support of of law enforcement. we will have failed those who serve us if we do so. we have to move forward in a bipartisan way to improve and invest in officer safety. that's why i'm proud to stand with my colleague and partner
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from missouri as cochairs of the law enforcement cow -- caucus. the mission is to bring experts, republicans and democrats, together to generate idea ideaso the challenges. mr. president, we're on the floor today to honor women and men like corporal ballard and lieutenant floyd from delaware who put on the uniform and the badge every day not knowing whether they'll come home at the end of their shift. we're here today for their families who sack -- whose sacrifice and burden is heavy. when i attended corporal ballard's memorial service, the most powerful speaker among many was his widow louise. she changed the 3,000 officers from 36 states across the country who'd come to stand in
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solemn procession and honor corporal ballard's sacrifice and pay their respects. louise ballard said, this is my steven's victory. when i get to see men and women from all over the country who every single day get up and do a job, a job that's hard, a job that requires heart. few jobs, mr. president, are as hard or require as much heart as patrolling our streets and protecting our communities. this week together we honor the service and sacrifice of those law enforcement officers whose names have beened ad to the national law enforcement -- have been added to the nationaller law enforcement memorial this year and the hundreds of thousands, even millions, who even today, even tonight will be on patrol keeping our communities and families safe. with that, mr. president, i'd like to yield to the chairman of the senate judiciary committee, my colleague from iowa and partner in legislating in the interest of law enforcement. mr. grassley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa.
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mr. grassley: i very much thank my colleagues from missouri and delaware for leading this effort to honor our law enforcement officers and particularly those who have been killed in the line of duty. in 1962, congress passed the joint resolution proclaiming the week of may 15 as national police week. the national law enforcement officers memorial located here in washington, d.c., is our country's monument to these fallen officers. carved into the marble walls of the memorial are the names of more than 20,000 officers killed in the line of duty throughout our nation's history. every year tens of thousands of fellow officers from around the world come to washington, d.c., as part of police week to pay tribute to the men and women whose names are inscribed on this wall. the planned events surrounding police week began were the
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36th annual national peace officers' memorial service held on the west front of the u.s. capitol. the president of the united states was the keynote speaker and his presence was a testament to the fraternity of this noble profession. immediately following the service, there was a wreath laid at the national law enforcement officers' memorial. the annual memorial service is an opportunity for all americans to reflect on the dedication of these public servants and the ultimate sacrifice they have paid for this great nation. we should also acknowledge the families of the fallen, whose lives have been forever changed by the loss of their loved ones. during the memorial service, there was a roll call of heroes for the 143 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty during last year. their names will adorn the
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memorial walls in perpetuity. the list of the fallen include five of my fellow iowans, sergeant anthony davis bemineal of the des moines police department, officer sue an louise ferrell, justin scott martin of urbandale patrol man police department, sergeant sean glenn miller of west des moines police department, and officers karla bernab y morales of the des moines police department. we honor these great officers senator laying down their lives to protect their communities in iowa. there is no year in recent memory in which so many iowans have lost their lives in the line of duty. i would like to specifically address the ambush-style killing for senator burnineo and officer
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martin. these officers were heinously murdered by the same perpetrator on the same night while they sat in their patrol cars. while the exact motive of the killer is unknown, he nevertheless sought out these brave men and gunned them down in cold blood. these ambush-style attacks have become more prevalent since the incidents in dallas, texas; baton rouge, louisiana, spanning ten days last july. according to a report by the national law enforcement officers memorial fund, there were a total of 21 officers killed in ambush-style attacks just last year, the highest total in two decades. there's been much vitriol written and directed towards law enforcement over the last few years. the notion that the actions of a few bad individuals implicate the entire profession may
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unfortunately endanger public service still in the area of law enforcement. this sort of rush to judgment against all law enforcement officers ought to end and end right now. the men and women of law enforcement made great sacrifices every day to protect our families and of course all of our fellow citizens. they do so freely, not out of a sense of obligation; but because they are dedicated to the cause of justice. nature devotion merits our -- nature devotion merits our attention, admiration and we're indebted to them. this is why i introduced a bipartisan resolution to commemorate police week and honor those who have given their lives in this pursuit. i want to thank colleagues in the senate who have cosponsored this resolution with me. i call on all americans to remember the fallen and pay tribute to the sacrifices they have made. to quote the motto of the if a
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a -- fraternal order of police facility, never let them walk alone. i hope that during police week the senate will pass my legislation to reform the operations of the public safety officers benefit program. the awards benefits the families of fallen officers have become -- the delays in the awards have become intolerable and those families deserve to know the status of their application during the process. in addition, the judiciary committee has reported two other bills that i hope the senate will take up during police week, one bill sets standards for the use of a new form of d.n.a. evidence. the second makes an allowable use of cops grants for recruiting and promoting of military veterans as police officers. finally, during police week, my judiciary committee will report a bill that is designed to
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provide mental health services to police officers who live through and with enormous stress as they work to protect us. so, mr. president, i'm pleased to join with my colleagues in saluting the service of our law enforcement officers during police week. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president, before we turn to senator cornyn, i want to mention his leadership in the national criminal justice commission act. mr. blunt: and also thank senator grassley for moving the law enforcement to mental health and wellness act out of his committee this week, two of the things we can do to make a difference to people in law enforcement and their families. and there's been no more strident advocate to families or those who serve in law enforcement than the gentleman from texas, mr. cornyn. mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i'm delighted to be here during police week along with our colleagues from missouri and
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delaware, minnesota, and iowa, to celebrate the men and women in blue who put their lives at risk so that our communities can be safer, more stable, more prosperous places. i'm reflecting this week on the terrible experience in dallas, texas, about a year ago, when chief david brown inspired the nation by his response to the terrible tragedy there that took the lives of five dallas police officers and injured seven more. following the attack, chief brown made clear that if you want to see change or if you want to protest law enforcement, why not instead join their ranks and be part of the solution. i'm grateful to him for his encouragement of the young men and women who have many opportunities to serve their communities, many in uniform.
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the truth is we can do a lot of good by inspiring confidence in law enforcement and showing our support for them. we saw what was referred to by the former director of the f.b.i. as the ferguson effect, where in fact he said it was his view that many police officers were afraid of being criticized unjustly, and so they withheld, or were reticent in acting in the face of a criminal, criminal activity. we need to make sure that our law enforcement personnel know that we are pharmacily behind them and -- that we are firmly behind them and that we will always support them. as chief brown liked to point out, if senior -- if somebody crossed a line they should not cross that is an appropriate subject for disciplinary action on a police force. there is never any excuse for assaulting a police officer. that is really the thin blue line between us and
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anarchy in our society. i want to thank the senator from minnesota for working with me on the american law enforcement heroes act that the chairman of the judiciary committee just mentioned. this bill will help state and local law enforcement hire more veterans into their ranks. obviously that's relevant experience and training that can help our law enforcement departments across the country be better and take advantage of that, these great patriots who have now taken off one uniform to put on another. we know that there are places in the country where despite the best efforts of law enforcement, danger is spiking. violent crime rates in some parts of the country due to dangerous criminals like the ms-13 gang, a vicious gang from central america wreaking havoc in some
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parts of the country. we can't let these officers not know we have their back. i'm delighted to be here with my colleagues celebrating national police week and making it clear to the men and women in blue that we unequivocally support them and stand by them, and need to let all of our country men and women know that these are true american heroes who deserve our respect and support every day, not just during police week. i would yield to our friend and our colleague from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: i rise with my colleagues today in recognition of police week. i want to thank senator blunt and senator coons for bringing us together, as well as senator grassley and cornyn. law enforcement officers play a critical role in keeping our communities safe, and police week is all about honoring their dedication and sacrifice. and sadly, for so many families, those officers that made the ultimate
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sacrifice. our officers are on the front lines of public safety. and while most people run away from crime scenes or run away from disaster, they run bravely toward it. in my state, we were reminded all too well of the courageous dedication of law enforcement just this last year when jason faulkner, an off-duty police officer just at a shopping mall, spending his free time on his own, encountered a horrific scene of a man unhinged who was stabbing people in the st. cloud shopping mall. faulkner didn't even pause. he made sure that he saved the people that were wounded -- ten wounded that day. so many would have been killed if he had not intervened. an off-duty officer. or i think about officer sean snyder who is no longer with us, in lake city, minnesota.
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i met with his family several times. this was a brave officer, a popular officer in a small community. and one night he was called to the scene of a domestic abuse case. a young woman scared, calling. he shows up at the door. and a man unhinged opens the door and shoots and kills that officer. the story behind that officer and the people behind that officer are the ones that carry on his memory. his fellow officers like we see this week at police week and his family, his widow and his three children. i will never forget sitting in the puce of that church -- pew yous of that church as his three hill kids walked -- three little kids walked down the aisle. the story was that the last time the family had been in that church and the last time that those children had been in that church was for the church nativity play.
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and their dad, officer snyder, was sitting there watching them with such pride. and a few weeks later there they were at his funeral. those are the people that we remember during this important week. and our job, our job as u.s. senators is to treat them in the way that they treat their jobs. they go to their work every day without fear or favor. that's what we have to do when we think about police officers. there are issues, as senator coons mentioned, that we need to work on. policies and the relationship between officers and our communities. we have to promote more community policing, more training, more recruiting. and that's why i'm very positive about these bills, the cops bill that i have with senator murkowski, where we finally have a bipartisan sponsorship for grants that have now helped to place approximately 129,000 police officers on the beat in more than 13,000 state, local,
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and tribal law enforcement agencies. the community i mentioned, st. cloud, they are the recipient of some of the grants that we're talking about here. that's why senator murkowski and i are taking on this issue to make sure this program continues to be funded and that in fact we should reinforce the program. or the bill senator cornyn just mentioned that we are leading together to promote the hiring of veterans as law enforcement officers. this bill would encourage local police departments to hire and train veterans as cops while providing our veterans with the opportunity to continue to serve their communities. yes, we can do all we can to have the backs of our officers and to work with them and our communities. but what we're doing this week is something a little different. we honor them. we recognize their sacrifices. and whether it is taking dangerous criminals off the street, whether it is preventing
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extremist groups from recruiting people in our neighborhoods, whether it is fighting the opioid abuse epidemic. whether it is simply giving a kid a second chance. and they do those kind of kind things all the time. law enforcement officers are doing some of the hardest and most important work out there. we owe our safety to them, and we thank them for their remarkable service. thank you. mr. coons: mr. president, i want to in conclusion thank my colleagues, senators klobuchar, grassley, cornyn, and blunt, for joining us today in a colloquy here on the floor. it is a small but important gesture of bipartisan support, sustained and long lasting bipartisan support for the community of law enforcement that serves each of us and our communities every day. i'd like to yield to my friend, senator blunt, for his closing remarks. mr. blunt: thank you,
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mr. president, senator coons. i think you could by listening today, the pieces of legislation that are wide-ranging that try to support officers and their families, even legislation to be voted out of the judiciary committee today. it was one year ago today that president obama signed the fallen heroes flag act into law. this is a bill that i introduced along with you that provides that american flags be flown over the united states capitol and given to the families of firefighters, law enforcement officers, and other first responders who lose their lives in the line of duty. as senator klobuchar so well pointed out, these are the people who run to danger when the rest of us are able to head the other way. we are grateful to them and grateful for them. and, mr. president, i think we would yield the floor with great appreciation for the law enforcement officers that are being recognized this week and
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the still too many names that senator grassley mentioned that will be added. over 20,000 officers have lost their lives in the line of duty since the country was founded. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the time from 2:15 until 5:15 today be equally divided in the usual form and that at 5:15 all postcloture time be expired and the senate vote on the rosen nomination. if the nomination is confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, and the senate resume consideration of the brand nomination. further, that notwithstanding rule 22, the cloture vote on the brand nomination occur at 12:00 noon on wednesday, may 17, and that if cloture is invoked, the time count as if it were invoked
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as 1:00 a.m. on wednesday. finally, that if cloture is invoked on the brand nomination, the cloture vote on the brand nomination occur on -- on the brand stade nomination occur following the vote on the brand nomination. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i have five 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.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. udall: thank you very much, mr. president. and it is an honor to join my colleagues -- i know senator coons is here and others -- that have come to talk about fallen police officers. mr. president, it is with my greatest respect and deepest sympathy that today i honor five fallen new mexico heroes on the floor of the united states senate. these five brave men were police officers who died in the line of duty. police officers who sacrificed their lives in service of the people of their communities and
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our state. police officer jose ismael chavez was a member of the hatch police department while conducting a traffic stop in hatch on august 12, 2016, one passenger exited and opened fire on officer chavez. officer chaffs is survived by his wife officer chaff he is -- officer chavez is survived by his wife and two children. officer corviss, part of the alamagordo police department, shot while pursuing a suspected phelonion foot on september -- suspected felon in september. officer gorsky was responding to a call for service in 2016 when when his car left the roadway and overturned and he was
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ejected from his car. he is survived by his wife, daughter, and a baby boy. sheriff steven lawrence ackerman was killed in a single accident crash near ensee know on january -- near encino. sheriff ackerman had served with the sheriff department for 14 years and previously with the lee county detention center. he is you are side of by his wife, daughter, and grandson. a navajo police officer was shot while responding to a domestic violence call near pruitt. he passed away the next day on march 12, 2016. he was only 27 years old. there are no words to express the sadness or the gratitude that we all feel towards these new mexico officers and their
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families. and toward all police officers who are killed in the line of duty. we honor them all this police week. and by legislation we introduced last week in the senate to extend flying the flag half-staff to first responders. we will push to give first responders the respect they are owed by passing honoring hometown heroes act. every day tens of thousands of policemen and policewomen serve our communities can in myriad ways, from tracking down violent criminals to finding shelter for homeless persons. the police and their families deserve our respect, gratitude, and support every day. and so i thank you officer chaff he is, officer corvines, deputy sheriff thomas, sheriff adderman and officer largo from the bottom of my heart.
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mr. president, i would ask that my next statement be put in a different -- consent that my next staple be put in a different place in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. udall: thank you, mr. president. the white house and president trump face yet another crisis, perhaps the biggest in his chaotic term so far. according to the "washington post" and other outlets, president trump disclosed highly classified information to the russian foreign minister and russian ambassador to the u.s. in the oval office. -- last week. this is utterly stunning. congress needs to find out exactly what happened on a bipartisan basis, but we can tell already that president trump's behavior in this incident is very dangerous, dangerous to our national security institutions, dangero s to the men and women overseas
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who are serving their country and risking their lives. many other outlets have confirmed "the washington post" article, and they have cited several sources. assuming it is true the president has endanger the our rip a partner who gave our security -- our relationship with a partner who gave our security agencies this information. that has ripple effects that will risk similar relationships with other countries. it also could put our sources at risk. while his national security team denied the news reports this morning, the president is on twitter contradicting them. he claims he has the right to tell the russian foreign minister anything he wants. mr. president, i can't think of any parallel in history for the president's dangerous lack of discretion or his dangerous misunderstanding of how to handle classified national
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security information. as the chair of the senate foreign relations committee, senator corker put it this way: the white house is in -- and i quote -- a downward spiral, is what senator corker said. and he said it needs to get under control. senator corker is a senior republican. i know the presiding officer and i serve him on the foreign relations committee he is a man i respect very much, and i hope the white house will listen to chairman corker. it's very strange that the president chooses to meet with the russian ambassador at the center of the trump campaign's contacts to russia or to allow the russian press with their electronic equipment into the meeting at the oval office. but let's put these strange and dangerous events in the context of the last several weeks and
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months. america's intelligence agencies have concluded that russia interfered in the u.s. election and that they favored the trump campaign. now the president is hosting senior russian officials in the oval office and disclosing highly classified information, information that puts future intelligence and maybe lives at risk. the day after he fired the f.b.i. director, president trump admitted on camera to nbc news that he did so in part because he is frustrated at the f.b.i.'s investigation into russian interference and potential trump campaign contacts. congress must get to the bottom of this. republicans and democrats must come together for real oversight. based on what i see now, president trump's actions call into question his fitness for office and further underscore the imperative for independent
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investigations. it is not an exaggeration to say that our nation faces a constitutional crisis. our constitution is based on rule of law. in the united states, no man or woman is above the law, not even the president of the united states. our constitutional democracy is remarkable for many reasons. one is that presidential action is threatened -- has threatened the fabric of our democracy only a few times in our history. president nixon's watergate scandal was one of them, and i believe we face another one today. president trump's firing of the f.b.i. director in the middle of an investigation into the campaign that put him in office and the president's bizarre behavior since should concern all americans regardless of party. the only rational explanation is that he has something to hide, that he wants to disrupt the
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investigation into russia's interference in our election. what possible reason could the president have for wanting to hinder this investigation? it should be his highest priority to ensure it never happens again. instead he calls it fake news. now here's what we know. early in the new administration, the white house chief of staff asked the f.b.i. to publicly disavow reports that the f.b.i. was investigating the trump campaign ties to russia. this attempted political interference was wrong. the white house next set its sights on house intelligence committee chair devin nunes who was investigating russian interference in the election. representative nunes made midnight runs to the white house to view documents that he said validated the president's claims that he was wiretapped.
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while the information did not ultimately prove that, representative nunes still chose to go public with classified information before discussing it with his committee. this was circus-like behavior which ultimately forced representative nunes to recuse himself from the committee's investigation. but it was also serious. it showed that the white house was willing to go to great lengths to interfere with the house investigation into the president. next the president fired acting attorney general sally yates. at the time he claimed it was for refusing to defend his executive order barring muslims from the country. in the end, her analysis was correct. the federal courts found the order to be unconstitutional. we now know that ms. yates was fired just days after notifying the white house that then-national security advisor flynn had lied about his
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conversations with the russian ambassador. she had told the white house that flynn's own conduct -- and i quote here -- in and of itself was concerning. end quote. she warned that the president's chief advisor on matters of national security was susceptible to blackmail by russia. it still took the president 18 days to fire flynn. as ms. yates put it -- and i quote again -- to state the obvious, you don't want your national security advisor exriemsed with the russian -- advisor compromised with the russians. en end quote. and now the president has fired f.b.i. director james comey. it defies reason to believe that mr. trump fired mr. comey because he was too hard on secretary clinton. we give the f.b.i. director a ten-year term so that he or she
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can do the job free from political interference and follow any investigation wherever it may lead, even into the oval office. a deluge of evidence has pointed to the conclusion that the president fired director comey for similar reasons as sally yates, because he was unhappy with the f.b.i. probe of russian election interference and possible ties to the trump campaign. it's been reported that director comey had sought additional resources for the investigation and was receiving daily briefings on the investigation days before he was fired. the u.s. attorney's office in virginia had also issued grand jury subpoenas to persons with knowledge of flynn's ties with russia and turkey. well-sourced media reports say the president had become increasingly angry with director comey's public statements about the f.b.i.'s investigation of him.
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and because mr. comey would not confirm the president's baseless claim that the obama administration wiretapped trump tower. the president understood that director comey would not do his bidding, and so he fired him. and still the white house has flatly lied about the circumstances of mr. comey's dismissal. numerous white house officials, including the vice president himself, said the decision was at the recommendation of deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. they have said this publicly on the record and on camera. but president trump himself contradicted them. he said again on camera that he had already decided to fire director comey before receiving the deputy attorney general's recommendation. he made clear that he was
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frustrated with the continuing counterintelligence probe into russian election influence, and he was upset with mr. comey's testimony before congress. the white house also claimed that director comey had lost confidence at the f.b.i. but in a public hearing last week, my colleague and senator in new mexico, senator heinrich, asked the f.b.i.'s acting director if that was true, and the acting director strongly denied it. it has been well reported that the deputy attorney general threatened to resign based on the white house claims that mr. mr. rosenstein advocated for firing director comey. it seemed clear that he was told to draft a cover story for the real reason. his memo was short and is dated the same day as the firing. now and what may be the worst
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development so far, the president of the united states is threatening on twitter to release, quote, tapes of mr. mr. comey. he's implying, not confirming, that he has tapes of their conversations and that he will release them if mr. comey talks to the press and the public. mr. comey knows he is well within his rights to speak publicly as long as he does not reveal classified information. the president's comment is another example of interference. a sitting president is seeking to pressure a fired f.b.i. director against speaking out publicly, a man who is likely to be a witness before congress. mr. comey reportedly would like to testify in an open hearing. apparently he doesn't have anything to hide. we need to hear his testimony as
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soon as possible. let's find out if president trump demanded the f.b.i. director's loyalty, and if the president does have tapes of their conversations, he should release them. or we need to subpoena them, but let's get to the bottom of this. at this point there is more than probable cause to believe that the president is attempting to obstruct the f.b.i. and congressional investigations. president trump seems to put himself above the law. firing the f.b.i. director and acting attorney general and interfering with the congressional investigation, these are actions of an autocrat. as former assistant u.s. attorney and attorney general for new mexico i have experience with investigations. when someone interferes with ongoing investigations, it seems clear they have something to
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hide. that's not the behavior of an innocent person. make no mistake, russia's interference in our democratic process is an attack upon our nation. if the president or his associates colluded in any way with russia and this attack, it would represent the most serious betrayal of our nation by a president. while there are rarely exact parallels in history, the parallel between nixon's saturday night massacre and president trump's tuesday night massacre is hard to ignore. nixon's firing of the man heading the investigation into his actions led to his impeachment and resignation. recall that the first article of impeachment was obstruction of justice. at that point in our history, both congress and the supreme court stood resolute that the president was not above the law. congress must again stand
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resolute that the president is not above the law. it is well past time for congress to appoint an independent commission like the 9/11 commission. it must investigate every aspect of russia's interference with our election and recommend steps to ensure it never happens again. and it must investigate whether candidate trump or his associates colluded with russia to interfere with our presidential election. congress must do so swiftly and must give the commission sufficient resources to do the job. the attorney general is compromised. he has recused himself from any investigation into the trump campaign, but i believe he violented the terms of his recusal when he weighed in on director comey's termination. several of us will be sending a letter this week to the justice
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department inspector general asking him to investigate this specific issue. and now the president is about to nominate a new f.b.i. director, presumably one he believes will be less independent than director comey, one who won't pursue the russian investigation if it points to his campaign. given these circumstances, deputy attorney general rosenstein must appoint a special counsel to conduct a counterintelligence investigation into russia's role in our election. and if necessary, a criminal investigation into the conduct of the trump campaign and the administration. a special counsel must be appointed before we consider a new nominee for f.b.i. director, and that nominee needs to be closely scrutinized by the senate. we need a director who is nonpartisan and has a law enforcement background. this person will be responsible for restoring americans'
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confidence in the f.b.i. and ensuring that he or she does not pledge loyalty to the president, but pledges loyalty to the constitution. the majority in congress must listen to the american public, must follow the lessons of history, and must protect the rule of law and our constitution. in the united states, no person is above the law, not even and especially the president of the united states. in my career in congress, i've always believed you put the country first. party comes last. in their hearts, i know my republican friends and colleagues feel the same. congress and the senate need to fulfill the roles the founding fathers envisioned. when the executive branch is moving outside the bound of the rule of law, we must rein it in.
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it is well past time for action. and i would yield the floor. i will take the floor again. i would ask unanimous consent that the senate recess until 2:15 today. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, the senate stands in recess until 2:15 p.m.
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and intelligence information. we will have that for you in just a moment. and this is a live picture outside the white house were president donald trump is expected to meet with president of turkey, and at meetings going to take place today. there are remarks afterward and we will have them for you on the c-span networks. [background sounds]
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