tv U.S. Senate 10032017 CSPAN October 3, 2017 2:56am-4:39am EDT
objection. mr. udall: thank you, madam president. madam president, i rise in opposition to the renomination of mr. ajit pai to the federal communications commission. mr. pai both as f.c.c. commissioner and now as chairman has not been a vigorous watchdog for free speech. he has not put the people's right to information first. in fact, he has put corporate interest first. and he has opposed policies outright that ensure underserved communities have access to essential technology. i strongly oppose his renomination to the commission. let's begin with his responsibility to guard first amendment rights. president trump has relentlessly attacked nbc, cbs, abc, cnn, "the new york times," and "the washington post." he called these established and
esteemed news outlets fake news. he even called them the enemy of the people. earlier this year in february during a senate commerce hearing, this was an oversight hearing, i asked chairman pai point blank whether he agreed with the president that these mainstream news organizations were itself enemy of the people -- were the enemy of the people. he refused to answer, refused to disagree with this patently outrageous and anti-american statement. his written answers were better, but even then chairman pai did not demonstrate that he could stand up to power and defend first amendment rights. democrats on the commerce committee sent a letter asking again whether he believed the media were the enemy of the people. and he qualified his answer in the negative by writing, and i quote here, the president has made clear that he was referring
to fake news as the enemy of the people, end quote. i wish that was true but it is not. the president referred to well respected mainstream media organizations. the f.c.c. must u unequivocally stand up for the first amendment, and the chairman needs to strongly disavow the president's unfounded attack on the media. the f.c.c. took a huge step forward in favor of consumers in 2015 when it passed the open internet order. that order known as the net neutrality order was codified. the principle underlying net neutrality is simple and fair. it means that internet service providers must treat all internet traffic equally. they cannot block access to particular websites, apps, or
services. they can't give fast lanes or special treatment to websites or apps that pay more or are naiferred by -- are favored by some company's executives. consumers benefit because internet service providers can't pick winners or losers on the online marketplace for services and ideas. those are the words of president obama. our democracy benefits because the internet lowers the barriers to communication, but not if the massive companies that control infrastructure can erect new ones. as a commissioner, mr. pai voted against that pro consumer measure and as trump's chairman, he has now moved to dismantle it. the american people are outraged with the chairman's move to undo net neutrality. the commission has received a
record 22 million comments in that regulatory proceeding. so who is against net neutrality? the mega providers, like comcast and verizon, chairman pai's old employer, who can benefit financially from giving advantage to selected websites. but chairman pai's record is that. if there is a choice between consumers and big corporations, corporations win out. let's look at what the chairman did recently to allow the biggest broadcast company in america to become even bigger. congress has put into law a limit on the market share that ultrahigh frequency or u.h.f. stations can own. that limit is 39%. the commission had considered that sinclair broadcast group, the largest broadcast company which holds 38% market share but
sinclair wants to expand its reach and merge with another big company tribune media. the $3.9 billion deal would give sinclair control over 200 more local television stations. and expand its market to 72% of the television-owning household. here's a chart that shows how expansive sinclair's proposed takeover would be. you can see here the current markets and you can see down below the proportional footprint. traditionally the f.c.c. has interpreted its rules to prohibit sinclair from making that deal but chairman pai offered -- for allow sinclair to grab almost three-quarters of
the market. and sinclair happens to be well known for its friendly coverage of president trump. it even requires local broadcasters' outlets to carry regular commentary from a former trump campaign and white house media surrogate. and its executives have been complimentary of chairman pai personally. congress intended for there to be a multiplicity and diversity of voices and opinions on the airwaves. congress explicitly wants to prevent one media organization from having an outsized influence over the nation. madam president, i have strong reservations about chairman pai's leadership and values. free speech, media ownership rules, and net neutrality are essential to a healthy democracy, and the chairman is equivocating or moving backward on all fronts. for these reasons i oppose this
nomination. nevertheless, if he's confirmed, i hope we can find common ground and work together. one area where we could do that is rural and tribal broadband in the west. in my home state of new mexico, rural areas, pueblos and tribes do not have anywhere near adequate access to the internet. approximately 63% of people living on tribal land lack access to acceptable fixed broadband speeds. compared to only 17% of the u.s. population as a whole. the gap is even higher for residents of tribal lands in rural areas with approximately 85% of tribal people lacking access. we all know that in today's world, broadband internet is essential to virtually all successful economic and
commercial activity, essential to everyday life in america. as a member of the commerce committee, i will continue to push the f.c.c. to do all it can to close the digital divide. broadband expansion is not a question of political ideology. it is a question of political will. the government, the federal government, played a big role in expanding electricity and telephone service to every american. we as a country made major investments. we must do the same for rural broadband. senate democrats have made a number of concrete proposals recently. i hope that we can work with our republican colleagues on these. i urge chairman pai to take them seriously. mr. president, -- madam president, members of the commission must be 100% committed to principles of free speech and to protecting
consumers and to the underserved. mr. pai's record does not give me sufficient confidence that he shares that commitment and, therefore, i urge all of my colleagues to reject his nomination. madam president, i call. the presiding officer: without objection. exit fit thank you, madam president. i come here today to talk about the nomination of ajit varadaraj pai. mrs. capito: before i begin, i think all of us have incredible heavy hearts in our homes, in our states, in the country, really in the world as the horrifying events of las vegas begin to really sink in. and for me, i just saw an article come across the newsline in my home state of west virginia identifying one of the first identifications of one of the victims, and her name was denise berdidas, from
hedgesville near martinsburg, west virginia. she and her husband were at the concert together. they've been married 32 years, high school sweethearts. and they were there vacationing and at the concert. tony wrote on his facebook page that his wife died in his arms. so a mother of two, soon to be a grandmother of five, was lost to this horrible tragedy. so my heart sinks for them, for everyone, and i really don't have the words to say how to comfort or how to explain or how to understand except that i feel very, very deeply sad and sorry and prayerful for them and their families. so today i wanted to talk about the nomination, reappointment of ajit pai of the federal communications commission.
he has been an important partner in my quest to bring rural america in much of my state online. i was really lucky to meet him several years ago. without question he has been a champion and without question high-speed internet access has allowed us to connect with one another on a scale we never could have imagine add decade ago. no other technology has become so critical to our daily lives. it is the backbone for our innovation, competition, and our economic growth, from starting a business to digital learning, broadband access is critical to the strength of our economy and our communities. unfortunately, for all the potential opportunities that broadband can offer, not having access to this important service can create insurmountable barriers. better-connecting states like mine, like west virginia, through improved broadband has become one of my top priorities. without this our rural areas
really risk being left behind. the digital divide exists in this country, and rural americans are the ones who are on the wrong side of the divide. small communities and businesses across west virginia and elsewhere in rural america lack this fundamental infrastructure, and to one understands these issues more than ajit pai. chairman pai grew up in rural kansas. he told me sometimes when he goes home to visit his panders, he cannot get connected in his own hometown. he knows the challenges facing rural communities. i have had the pleasure of hosting chairman pai and his staff multiple times in west virginia. most recently chairman pai came to war deniesville, west virginia where we have good connectivity and have been able to create nobi nobis. we traveled just 20, 30 miles
over to hampshire county where getting high-speed internet hag far more challenging. there he met eric hot who has a small chocolate business. eric has been having trouble following up with orders because he can't get consistent broadband access. last august i held a roundtable table discussion with chairman pai focusing on the digital divide and impacts on tourism. we visited adventures on the gorge and i even convinced him to join me on a bridgewalk across the beautiful new river, new river gorge. this outdoor recreation is one of west virginia's most beautiful tourist destinations. the small businesses there are hampered by the lack of connectivity. we heard firsthand from business owners who can't grow their business because of poor internet connectivity. it is hard a tract businesses to
locate in these more rural parts of our states. a restaurant owner shared their difficulty in getting online reservations. chairman pai is a great listener. he listens to what the issues are. and those are reducing barriers to investment, streamlining the regulatory environment, encouraging public-private partnerships, ensuring accountability on behalf of the taxpayer, and so following his tour across the country where he stopped in west virginia, chairman pai has proposed a digital empowerment agenda right down the alley of the issues that we've just talked about, to grant americans living in communities of all sizes, from urban cores to smaller towns with these opportunities.
l chairman pai's agenda highlight add variety of specific measures the f.c.c., congress, and state and local governments could make to simplify broadband deployment. broadband access will be the result of partnerships between private, local, state, and federal agencies and organizations. we need to have this collaboration to eliminate duplicative and out-dieted programs -- outdated programs so that states like mine can efficiently deliver broadband to our communities efficiently and cost-effectively. by listening to communities like ours -- remember, i said chairman pai is a great listener, which he is -- the chairman has built a plan for achieving widespread broadband that meets the unique demands of our rural communities. the -- the f.c.c. plays an imperative role in addressing these issues. in large and small states, particularly rural states like mine. in the 21st century economy,
robust telecommunication networks are increasingly important for today's users and the foundation of future innovation. under his leadership at the f.c.c., he has already taken steps towards modernizing the commission's role and promoting digital empowerment. since the beginning of his tenure, the commission has hit the ground running, enacting a broad strategic vision to close the digital divide, to modernize the commission's rules, promote innovation, protect consumer and public safety and improve the commission's daily operations. under his leadership, under chairman pai's leadership, the commission has made significant investments to deliver broadband service to underserved and unserved areas of the country. and i am confident that rural america will see more progress with his continued leadership, and i am very proud today to support his nomination -- his renomination to the f.c.c. as he
ascends and retakes the chairmanship of a very important part of our communications and telecommunications network. so with that, i would yield back and i notice the absence members, friends, and neighbors are okay. thoughts and prayers are good, but they are simply not enough. thoughts and prayers are not enough when more moms and dads will bury their children this week, and thoughts and prayers are not enough when sons and daughters will be forced to grow up without their parents. attacks like we have seen today have happened all too often in america. enough is enough. we have to have a conversation about how to stop gun violence in america, and we need to have that conversation right now. now, madam president, i want to take some time to discuss the vote that we will be taking shortly on the nomination of ajit pai to serve as the chair of the federal communications
commission, or the f.c.c. one thing that last night showed us is the importance of connections. every day, moms and dads pick up their phones to check in on their kids, students go online to do research on homework assignments, families sit together to watch the newest hit television show or movie. it's just a fact. media and telecommunications services play a vital role in helping american households connect with their loved ones, communities, and the world around them. the f.c.c. makes sure that those services are available and accessible to all americans, whether they live in a rural community or in a large city. at least, that's what the f.c.c. is supposed to do. but there is a lot of powerful companies that want to change that picture, companies that want to change the rules so they can line the pockets of their corporate executives and their wealthy investors. those powerful companies have launched an all-out assault on
every branch of our government, with only one goal -- to make sure that the government works for them and for their buddies. if it leaves everyone else in the dirt, they don't much care. as powerful companies know, it is good to have friends on the inside, and they have invested a lot of money in making friends. giant corporations have spent unlimited amounts of money to elect politicians who will promote their views and to flood congress with lobbyists who will work around the clock to destroy laws and rules that the industry doesn't like and to reshape those laws to suit corporate interests. but electing politicians and flooding congress with lobbyists just isn't enough. their republicans buddies in congress can only do so much. powerful corporations need weak agencies that won't hold them accountable, so they work to fill those agencies with their
allies. friends who can undo the rules that giant corporations don't like. friends who won't go after those companies when they throw the rules out the window to make an extra buck. the f.c.c. is one of the agencies that's been on their hit list for a long time, and now they see their opportunity to execute a corporate takeover of the f.c.c., and they started at the top with agent pai, president trump's pick, to chair the f.c.c. since his appointment as chair of the f.c.c., chairman pai has worked at breakneck speed to transform the f.c.c. from an agency that works in the public interest to a big business support group. chairman pai started with net neutrality protections, rules that helped keep the internet free and open by preventing giant broadband companies from discriminating against certain internet users and turning the internet into another service
that caters to those who can pay top dollar. like his big broadband buddies, chairman pai opposes net neutrality rules. once president trump was elected, chairman pai declared that the days of net neutrality protections were numbered, and now he's working hard to reverse those rules. but chairman pai has more items on his agenda. he is working to weaken the f.c.c.'s lifeline program that helps low-income households across the country pay for phone and broadband service. chairman pai has also halted the f.c.c.'s efforts to demand some accountability from private prison phone companies that charge sky-high rates to prisoners and their loved ones. chairman pai thinks it's just fine for private companies to make it harder for prisoners to stay connected to their families and their communities by charging exorbitant phone fees. chairman pai defends killing
these strong public-centered rules by repeating a version of the same old tired refrain that we have heard over and over from industry. government should stay out of the way and let big corporations do as they please because when big corporations make lots of profits, that benefits everyone. yeah, right. that wornout theory has been disproven time and time again. americans know that when government is asleep at the wheel and big companies get to make the rules, those giant companies make out like bandits while everyone else gets stuck with the bill. but that's not all. when government doesn't do its job, when it fails to protect the public interest, the big guys can grow even larger and more powerful and can translate greater economic power into greater political power, and that's where it gets really scary. just look at sinclair broadcast
group. sinclair is the largest television station owner in america, and it's made a name for itself by aggressively promoting ultraconservative views. it is infamous for forcing its stations to regularly run right-wing segments, and it melds its radical ideology with a take-no-prisoners profit-making mission, finding more and more creative ways to reduce news coverage and instead promote its sponsors' products. being the biggest isn't enough for sinclair. it wants to become even more powerful, so it's put in a bid to purchase tribune broadcasting, another large television station owner. now, if government regulators don't stop the merger, sinclair will have access to over 70% of american households. if the alarm bells haven't already gone off, this is where
they should start ringing like crazy. during the presidential campaign, sinclair was a huge supporter of then-candidate trump, and it uses its power in local television markets to spread slanted pro-trump news stories. jared kushner, president trump's son-in-law, even bragged about reaching a deal with sinclair to get more positive news media coverage of trump. the day before trump's inauguration, sinclair's chairman met with pai who was then an f.c.c. commissioner but who was expected to be promoted to chairman. he met with him to change -- to urge him to change the rules so sinclair could grow even more powerful. when president trump nominated pai to chair the f.c.c., sinclair got exactly what it wanted. chairman pai immediately got to work changing the rules so it would be easier for sinclair to
acquire tribune. local media is sacred to many americans. it's where we catch up on what's happening in our communities from people who know and care about our communities. a merger between sinclair and tribune would allow sinclair to change that dynamic. with more local programming coming from a centralized source, there would be less information and less diversity of ideas in local reporting. that kind of concentrated power is bad for competition, and it's worse for democracy. whether the sinclair agenda was on the political right or the political left, no single centralized corporation should control access to local programming for so many households. we need a strong chair at the f.c.c., a chair who understands that the government's role is to
work for american families and to hold giant corporations accountable. we do not need a chair at the f.c.c. who is working for the most powerful communications corporations in this country, and that is why i will vote no on the nomination of chairman pai to be chairman of the f.c.c. thank you, madam president. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal lord god, we lift our hearts to you. lord, please shower your mercy
on our nation, as we seek to deal with the las vegas mass shooting. please show mercy to the victims and their families. lord, in spite of this horrific act, give us faith to believe that evil will not ultimately prevail in our world. may this tragedy motivate us to plant and water seeds of peace, as we cultivate a greater respect for the laws of seed time and harvest. cut in pieces the cords of wickedness that seek to bind us.
today, guide our senators and use them as ambassadors of reconciliation in our nation and world. eternal god, though we walk in the midst of trouble, stretch forth your hands and revive us with your might. we pray in your merciful name. amen. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the senate now observe a moment of silence for the victims of the las vegas attack. the president pro tempore: without objection, it is so ordered. the senate will now observe a moment of silence for the victims of the attack in las vegas.
shocking, it's tragic, and for those affected and their families, it's devastating. it's hard to even imagine their pain. i hope they will know that we are praying for them now. i hope they will find strength in the love and kindness of those around them in these hours of such darkness and pain. i hope they will see that our country is standing by their side today. many americans are still in shock. others have begun to wonder why someone would do something this terrible. investigators will continue their dedicated work in search of answers. but what is clear now is that this is a moment for national mourning and for prayer. just a moment ago president trump led the country in observing a moment of silence. as he noted this morning, we're all grateful for the courageous
efforts of the first responders. they always put their lives on the line to save others. they do so with selflessness. it reminds us of the inherent courage and mercy that remains possible within each of us. light amidst the dark, open times of terrible grief, the same is true of the national spirit of compassion that shines through our country in the moments when it is needed most. whether it is lining up to donate blood or signing up to volume they're their time, our fell will he americans -- our fellow americans are always there to offer what they can when others are in need. we thank these americans and law enforcement and the first responders for everything they have done. we thank them for their efforts that continue. we again send our condolences to
everyone aobjection. mr. schatz: thank you, mr. president. before my planned remarks on the federal communications commission, i want to say a few words about the awful events in las vegas. our hearts are with the families affected by the tragedy and with the city of las vegas. and we do send them our best wishes and our prayers, but we can do more than send our thoughts and prayers to the grieving. we can do more than thank the first responders. we can do more than lower the flag to half-mast. we can take a stand against gun violence by passing commonsense gun safety laws. otherwise, this just becomes a ritual of mass murder, mourning,
moving on. let's stop this awful ritual. let's stop the vio dispensed wi. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, today we mourn the loss of at least 50 lives in las vegas, victims of senseless violence at an outdoor concert near the mandalay resort and casino. the lives of our fellow americans were taken in a barbaric manner that defies all justification, excuse, or explanation. that these events have become almost commonplace makes them no less shocking. the date of location, a country music concert, makes it even more cruel. thousands were enjoying themselves with security being the furtherrest thing from their
mind until the shots rang out. as news reports indicated, the shooting is one of the deadliest mast shootings in american history. it continues to tear apart our country and the scars left by families will be painful and permanent. my prayers go out to all of those in nevada who have not slept since yesterday and still grappling with the aftermath of the shooting, the families tending to loved ones in hospitals, as well as sphroanders and -- first responders. here in washington we'll continue to monitor the situation and we'll continue to keep the president, for the recognition. madam president, today is a day of mourning for las vegas and for america.
my heart goes out to all those touched by the ruthless and cowardly shooting last night. one of the victims was lisa romero, a secretary at a lie school in new mexico. the on -- high school in new mexico. the students knew her well by miss lisa and she was adored by everyone at the school. her loss will be deeply felt. i send my condolences and prayers to her family as well as her school family and to everyone in gallop, new mexico. i also want to recognize the true bravery of first responders, the police, the firefighters, the e.m.t.'s, some of whom risked their own lives to save others. there are heroes in america and we saw them in action last evening. madam president, las vegas, nevada, and new mexico share a long kinship. nevada is a sister western
state. many new mexicans have family in las vegas. and new mexicans are reeling because of this tragedy. as westerners and as americans, we must all come together to support the victims, thank our first responders, and focus resources and policy on prhat the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. cantwell: madam president, i come to the froor to speak about the -- floor to speak about the vote that we're going to have at 5:30, but first i want to give my condolences for those impacted by the shooting in laughings. i -- las vegas. my thoughts and prayers also go out to at least one washington family that i know is one of those who have been impacted and
is at this event. we may find out that there are others, but we are thinking and praying for their recovery and i hope that everybody will take tt time to say some thoughts and prayers for those people who have been impacted by this incident. madam president, i also want to come to the floor and speak in opposition to the nomination of ajit pai to have a second term as the chairman of the f.c.c. and the reason why we're out here speaking about this vote that's going to happen in a short period of time is because we're concerned about the future of innovation, the future of where consumers plan the decision making of how they access content and the future of our economy. and what i'm worried about is in the short period of time that chairman pai has been at the f.c.c., that instead of the policies that would have been
enabling consumers, he's taken actions that i think will have consumers paying more for less access, that media concentration will be more enabled and that plans to protect net neutrality in an open universe will be worse. this, in and of itself, is the biggest issue that i and the economy of washington state could see with this renomination. that is to say that the state of washington and the internet and innovation that exists there could be greatly impacted by the rolling back of protections that we have now that says that you cannot artificially throttle or slow down internet activity or hold consumers hostage to pay more. the mission of the f.c.c. is to have the deployment is carried out.
undoing the existing net neutrality laws on the books is not in the public interest and won't promote the access that we need. dismantling this rule which would preserve the diversity of content i think are things that will negatively impact our marketplace for a long time. when you think about some of the issues that we've already seen and what we could see in the future is if more consumers are led to having to pay a toll. it's almost like what we see if you want to get into the fast lane, if you want to have this kind of rapid access, you have to pay more. so today consumers are using mobile apps to order coffee, get access to health care information, to work to make sure that we protect from everything from our electricity grid to people's home security systems.
so protecting people from cybersecurity, i'm worried if the internet's arteries are are slowed down or clogged our critical information could arrive too late to protect consumers. if we're listing in ale world where just the -- in a world where just the advent of more smart phones, we want to mick sure they can get access to information and are not slowed down or throttled in any way. when you think about this and the app economy in washington state, they are the fastest growing businesses. it is part of a large organization. today 1.7 million american jobs are because of these apps and nearly 92,000 are in the state of washington. they have grown at an annual rate of 30%. the annual growth rate for other jobs is 8%. why would you nominate someone
who has pledged to roll back the rules of an open internet that will create throttling and slowing down of content that will hurt the content of these businesses. no one wants to have -- whether it's in health care or protecting people in cyber or education or for that matter even the united states senator, will they have to pay a faster toll to get access to information? dismantling net neutrality puts our economy in jeopardy. it causes the issues that created an open internet to be called into question. and while i know that some would say that it is necessary for investment, i would say that we've seen in the last several years, while the rule of an open internet has been in place, much of the internet is in structure to carry on. i do not believe with my
colleagues that this is a necessary way to ground investment. i think it's a way that large cable companies would like to tell you they need so they can continue, as i said, fast and slow lanes, and charge consumers more if they want access to those fast lanes. i encourage my colleagues to vote no for ajit pai as f.c.c. commissioner and get exfolk r- -- and get focused on protecting the internet. i thank the president and yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. markey: mr. president, i would like to start my remarks with my deepest condolences and prayers for the people of las vegas and to the victims of the worst mass shooting in our nation's history. our innocent concert goers had to experience such violence, may
you are -- may you be able to overcome this. and to the medical professionals who are working tirelessly to heal wounds and save lives right now, but enough is enough. americans are tired of living in fear that their community will be the next in newtown or aurora or las vegas. we must not become number to this. -- numb to this. we can begin by banning these military style assault weapons like the ar-15, which are the guns of choice for others who seek to inflict mass casualties on victims. unfortunately the gun lobby prevailed on congress to let the assault weapons ban expire in 2004, but we need it now more
than ever. we must also pass legislation to ensure that all purchases, including -- include a background check. 92% of americans support expanded background checks. 92% of americans support expanded background checks. no one should be able to purchase a gun through facebook or i nsta -- instagram. let's close the gun show loophole that allows anyone to go into one of these k-mart killing machines without with a background check. let's close the loopholes that allows straw purchases to buy guns and flood our streets with them. let's are repeal -- take away the gun manufacturers liability.
placa should stand for protecting lives, creating arms and accountability. we must realize that the epidemic of gun violence is a public health emergency and we must treat it that way. we must fully fund this critical research agenda at the centers for disease control and give the c.d.c. the resources that it needs. you will hear lots of people say that now is not the time is politicize this tragedy, that talking about legislation is insensitive and wrong. the only thing the n.r.a. wants more than to sell lots of gun silencers is to put a silencer on the debate about gun safety legislation. the only thing the n.r.a. wants more than allowing nationwide conceal carry laws is to conceal the overwhelming support for background checks. the only thing the n.r.a. wants
more than to stifle smart gun technology is to stief debate -- stifle debate on gun violence protection. for anyone who says this debate is too soon, it's already too late for at least 58 people in las vegas and hundreds of others who were wounded. we should not wait another day. we need to compass commonsense -- we need to pass commonsense gun safety so we can hold a moment of silence for the n.r.a.'s stranglehold on american politics. we must make n.r.a. stand for not relevant anymore in american politics in our country. that should be our agenda here on the floor of the united states senate. what is wrong is leaving americans in our communities unprotected yet again from gun violence. what is wrong is not having a debate and allowing the n.r.a. to block sensible gun safety
legislation. we must act so we do not become numb to the preventable carnage for the people of las vegas, aurora, and san bernardino and every community in our country. that should be our responsibility in our country. like to turn my attention to the confirmation of ajit pai, the subject of today's vote out here on the senate floor. last week i took to the floor to explain how in his shorten your as chairman of the federal communications commission ajit pai has stood up for big corporations and ignored american consumers. under ajit pai, the f.c.c. now stands for forgetting consumers and competition. and here are the five reasons i gave. number one, on net neutrality, i explained how ajit pai wants to take a weed whacker -- his words -- to net neutrality allowing
broadband providers to serve as internet gatekeepers and pick online winners and losers. number two, on privacy. chairman pai has actively supported efforts to allow broadband providers to sell consumers sensitive information without their consent and eliminating requirements for those companies to put in place data security protections despite the obvious need to protect personal information. three, on mega mergers. mr. pai has paved the way for massive mergers which will squeeze out independent programmers and lead to higher prices for consumers. four, the e-rate. the education rate. chairman pai has refused to commit to protecting the e-rate, the most successful, educational technology program in our country's history which links up schools and libraries to the internet. and five, the lifeline program.
mr. pai has undercut the lifeline program which provides access to voice and internet service for millions of low income americans. the case against chairman pai's nomination is clear, but i want to spend a few more minutes today on the particularly critical issue of net neutrali neutrality, the chief governing principle of the internet. net neutrality ensures that all internet traffic is treated equal, requiring that internet service providers like at&t, charter, verizon and comcast do not block, slow down, censor or prioritize internet traffic. today essentially every company is an internet company. every company has to deal with the digital revolution to be relevant in the 21st century. in 2016 almost half of the venture capital funds invested in this country went towards
internet-specific and software companies. that's $25 billion worth of investment, half of all venture capital in this country. that's good. and to meet america's insatiable demand for broadband internet, u.s. broad band companies, telecommunications industry, the big companies invested more than $87 billion in capital expenditures in 2015. that's the highest rate of annual investment in the last ten years. that's good. so we've hit the sweet spot. investment in broadband and wireless technologies is very high. job creation very high. venture capital investment in online start-ups is very high. and with net neutrality rules in place, the best ideas, not merely the best funded ideas can thrive in the 21st century. now, chairman pai says that he, quote, likes net neutrality.
but then he says he wants to take an ax to the very order that establish today's net neutrality rules. that's like saying you value democracy but don't really like the constitution. it makes no sense. net neutrality is the organizing principle of the internet. chairman pai and the i.s.p.'s, that's internet service providers, the big companies keep walking around whis perking how -- whispering how title 2 is some terrible word, some terrible thing. let's understand how we landed here. what is title 2? it gets all very mysterious until you put it into very simple language. in 2010 the federal communications commission attempted to put net neutrality rules in place without reclassifying broadband under title 2 of the communications
act. the district of columbia circuit court proceed to invalue dade -- proceeded to invalidate those rules and said to the federal communications commission, here's how you can do it and it will not be struck down. here's a smart way for you to put net neutrality on the books, that makes it legal. so the federal communications commission in correctly reading the court decision went back in 2015, adopted the open internet order, which reclassified broadband as a telecommunications service under title 2. under this ability to regulate. and they did it. and the circuit court of appeals upheld the rules in a 2016 decision. so there it is. constructed by the court how to -- instructed by the court how to do it. follow the instructions. implement. done. it is now baked into the
personality of the internet to have openness. the ap turs are there for -- aper turs are there for anybody to get on. not to be discriminated against. that's what the internet should be like in the 21st century. and title 2 is appropriate because it was congress' intent to preserve the f.c.c.'s authority to forestall threats to competition and innovation in telecommunication services, even as those technologies used to offer those services evolve over time. we're not locked in one period of technology. as it evolves, so, too, does the evolution occur in what openness means, the ability for everyone to be able to use the internet without being discriminated against. broadband has become the single most important telecommunications service americans use to transmit information to one another, and it has become clear that innovators, businesses, and consumers overwhelmingly view
broadband as a telecommunicati telecommunications service. this is common sense to americans around the country with the only exception being big telecommunications, lobbyists and lawyers who work to close this internet, who want to stop this incredible, incredible entrepreneurial democracy-enhancing of set of rules that exists to ensure that this communications mechanism is not controlled by just a small number of companies. and now ajit pai has said that he likes net neutrality but that he thinks it should be voluntary, but voluntary regulations won't work. we know that the broadband industry, your cable, your wireless, your telecommunications provider cannot regulate themselves.
they struggle to even show up on time to install or fix your service. do we really trust the broadband industry to resist leveraging their internet gatekeeper role and putting their online competitors at an unfair disadvantage? of course not. americans have made their voices heard about net neutrality. more than 22 million americans have written to the federal communications commission in the past several months sending a clear message of support for net new tralty -- net neutrality. hear that again. 22 million americans sent a message to the federal communications commission that they do not want to see a change in the net neutrality rules for our country. and yet ajit pai will not listen. his plan will allow broadband
providers to stifle innovation, stifle entrepreneurship. his plan will allow big broadband barons to crush competition, reduce choice, and then make consumers pay more. we cannot allow this to happen. that is why this vote we are about to take is so important. that's why i urge my colleagues to stand up for consumers and to vote no on ajit pai's nomination to be the chairman of the federal communications commission. mr. president, i yield back the balance of my time. andm connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i think all of us felt a familiar knot in our stomach early this morning when we received news of what may be the deadliest mass shooting in american history. the numbers are hard to
comprehend. they certainly aren't final. 58 people are dead and perhaps over 500 have been wounded either by the gunshots themselves or by the pandemonium that ensued once the thousands of concert goers in downtown las vegas figured out they were being fired upon from above. and there is nothing wrong with sending every thought and prayer, every bit of your heart to las vegas to all of the family members that lost loved ones to those that are recovering to the first responders of the community. it really does help. i lived through one of these as a witness of sandy hook. many of those parents are my
friends. many of them are the same age. while there are absolutely no words or gestures that can salve the wounds that can come with losing a child, especially a first grader, it did not hurt to know that every single person was thinking about that community, the overwhelming amount of stuff that showed up in sandy hook, the teddy bears that piled up in the days and weeks that followed. it was a reminder to that town that they weren't forgotten. it helps. but it's not enough. it's not enough. i want to spend a few moments, i know to be preceded by a few of my colleagues, to talk about the work that we have to do here. if we are to address what i would consider to be a festering lingering paradox that exists in this country.
what i mean by that is this -- this is a country that leads. almost every great magical invention in this world today whether it's open economies, par tis -- participation democracies and communication through the internet are essentially modern american inventions of the reason we were able to catapult the rest of the world in a quarter millennial is because we saw big problems and we solved them before anybody else did and then we took those solutions and we exported them to the rest of the world. that is a definitional characterrist of -- characteristic of this country is to solve this problem and giving it to others so they can use it for themselves. the paradox lies here. we solved a lot of big problems,
how to govern ourselves, how to organize our economies, how to talk to each other, how to save people from disease, and yet maybe the longest standing human concern is a very simple one, the concern for your physical safety. i can chart you a history of civilization based upon society's ability to more consistently protect your physical body. that's, in fact, one of the original reasons humans found each other, to try to protect ourselves from physical harm that comes from the outside. and the paradox lies in the fact that when it comes to this country's ability to protect its citizens from physical harm, we are not a leader, we are a lagger. we are an outlier when compared
to other industrialized first-world nations. you are much more likely to meet a violent death, especially by the hands of a firearm, in this country than you are in other first-world countries. and it's time for us to explore why this paradox exists. why are we such a leader -- why have we been such a leader over the course of 240 years on so many different concerns and yet we are a lagger when it comes to protecting ourselves and our citizens from this violence. the scope of this problem is enormous. when you look at oecd countries, there are just a handful that have a higher rate of violence, and in particular gun violence, than the united states. i've been down on this floor, as
has senator durbin, talking about the numbers over and over again. but every day approximately 80 people will lose their lives by begunfire. two -- gunfire. two-thirds of those are suicide, but still there are those who are killed by someone else and there is no other industrialized country in the world that meets that rate of gun violence. and the mass shootings which get the most attention are epidemic -- are truly epidemic. we have become normalized and regularized to 50 people losing their lives. this is a uniquely american problem. by the way, it's not just the las vegas' and the orlando's and the sandy hook's. we've had more mass shootings
than days in the year if you categorize a mass shooting of four or more people shot at any given time. if four or more people were shot in your community, that is a cataclysmic event and it happens every day in this country. because we have become so regularized to it -- only the moments like last night where the scale is truly epic -- do we focus on it as a nation. i want my colleagues to understand the pain that comes when the victims of this kind of epidemic violence see nothing but silence from this body. the hurt is deep, the scars are wide in newtown, but they are made wider by the fact that this body in 4 and a half years has
done absolutely nothing to reduce the likelihood of another mass shooting. and, indeed, because we have done nothing, the mass shootings continue. i know these are harsh words, but i believe it in my heart i believe there's an unintentional endorsement that gets sent to these mass murders when after slaughter after slaughter congress does nothing. if the greatest deliberative body in the world doesn't act in unitsome to condemn them through policy change, it starts to look and feel like complicity. there is going to be another wave of unimaginable pain that will sweep across las vegas and the country as we learn about who these victims were and perhaps the numbers will mount. and they will become just as angry and just as furious at
this body as the parents in sandy hook are today to do nothing to reduce the likelihood of this shootings. compassion is important, but it is not enough. now, i read a little passage of the bible to my 5-year-old son every night, but i am the furthest thing from a theologian. i know sprinkled throughout the bible are references to fact that prayer has to be matched with action, with works. james says, show me your faith apart from your works and i will show you my faith by my works. thoughts and prayers need to be matched by action, and that's our job. our job, frankly, is not just to send good thoughts. the reason why we exist is to act, is to change the laws of the nation to address challenges that our constituents face, and since the beginning of time that the most important challenge
that our constituents have faced, or the human race has faced, is that of physical security. so before i turn this over to my colleagues, let me just run down very quickly the arguments that are going to be used over the next few days to continue to do nothing. now, the first is already in operation today and it's a critique that i hear very often. often lodged at me personally, which is this -- to talk about policy change in the wake of a mass shooting is to politicize it, is to cheapen it. i reject that argument in full force because the reality is every single day there's a mass shooting. every single day 80 people die from you gun violence. unfortunately the news media don't pay attention to that
regular carnage. if we aren't talking about polls country change the day after a mass shooting in this country, they you are never talking about policy change because a mass shooting happens, on a average -- on average, every day, unfortunately the ones where eight or 12 people are shot do not get national attention. second, whether we like it or not, the world's attention -- the country's attention -- is positioned on this question of how we protect our country from harm in the immediate aftermath of these mass shootings. it's an enormous gift to the gun lobby, to the forces of status quo if we cannot talk about how to change our laws to make people safer when everyone's mind is on that question. when a murder occurs, there is not a 48-hour waiting period before the police can try to investigate who did it and how to hold them accountable. so why cannot we -- can't we get
immediately to the question of why these shootings are happening and try to solve it? second, others today are saying that legislation is a pointless exercise because you can't regulate away evil. well, there is truth to that. there are evil people in the world who are regularly doing very bad things and there is no way this a set of laws can stop people from doing harm, but i would argue in some way, shape, or form at the very nature of government is an attempt to try to regulate the effect of evil on citizens. our laws against murder and askerren, rape -- askerren, rape and assault are to protect people from evil, from bad people. and so can't we have a conversation about how to make sure that people who are contemplating mass violence at
the very least do the least violence possible? it is not coincidental that these epidemic mass shootings in which 50 or 60 or 40 people are dying largely have happened after the expiration of the assault weapons ban. now that it is much easier to get your hands on a gun that is much more accurate and much more lethal, the likelihood of large numbers of people dying, like happened last night, is much greater. an ar-15 style weapon does something different to a human body than a pistol does. that's why 20 kids were shot in sandy hook and not a single one of them survived. laws do work. just look at a state like connecticut that requires universal background checks, that doesn't allow you to buy
assault weapons, that requires you to get a permit before you can carry. when we passed that set of laws, it resulted in a 40% reduction in gun violence. even when you attribute -- account for other factors that could have caused that reducti reduction. that's a johns hopkins study. in places that have universal background checks, domestic homicides are much lower by a degree of 40%. laws work. the data is irrefutable on this point. and so though you can't regulate a way evil in total -- away evil in total, you can do more to protect people, especially from this mass scope gun violence. third, people will say, well, this guy clearly was very mentally ill. you can't do anything about the fact that people are mentally ill with gun laws. well, that's true. and we should fix our broken
system of mental health treatment because it's broken, but we should also recognize that this problem of mass execution is a uniquely american problem, despite the fact there's no evidence that we have a higher rate of mental illness than any other country. there are plenty of very mentally ill people in other oecd countries. but in those countries, their mental illness is not a straight line to a gun crime. in large part because they have a different set of laws that makes it harder to get your hands on a gun and much harder if not impossible to get your hands on a weapon that does the kind of mass violence we saw last night. lastly, one of the favorite arguments is that this is just too hot an issue for the united states senate or a political body to handle, that it's
controversial. well, it is controversial but it's not as controversial as people may think. in fact, the issue of background checks which i understand may not have been dispositive on what happened in las vegas last night but might have reduced the likelihood that another 80 people died from gun violence oaf the course of sunday -- over the course of sunday, background checks are supported by 80% of americans. most polls suggest that the majority of americans support the other suite of law changes i talked about as well. in fact, many of the first steps that we would take as a body saying people on the terrorist watch lists can't buy guns, tightening up the law to make sure people who are mentally ill can't buy guns, those are supported by 80% to 90% of our constituents, no matter whether you live in the bluest state or the read estate -- red estate. the question of making sure people don't own -- why don't we start by finding the common
ground and maybe after that we can find other common ground. this is going to keep happening. this is going to keep happenin g over and over again. and i know the answer can't be that we are powerless as a body to do something about it. i just personally can't bring that answer back to the families of sandy hook for another year. and i have a feeling -- i don't want to speak for them -- but i have a feeling that the delegation from nevada is going to have a hard time bringing that answer back to the victims in las vegas as well. this is a growing fraternity. a tragic, awful fraternity. members of congress who represent states who have gone through these horrific mass executions.
i had too many phone calls from senators and representatives who are already part of that club when sandy hook happened, and i got to make that call this morning as well to offer whatever advice i could on how to help a community heal. but this silence has become an unintentional endorsement, a sick simplicity. i hope in the coming days we can come together, republicans and democrat, to start talking about at the very least some baby steps to show the people of las vegas, to show the people of orlando, to show my constituents, my friends in sandy hook, that silence is no longer an option. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: mr. president, let me thank my colleague from connecticut. he sponsored a filibuster or at least long -- last year i
believe it was. i participated in it as did many members of our caucus. both he and senator blumenthal bring a special perspective to this issue of gun violence representing the state of connecticut and many of the families who lost their first graders -- i believe they were first graders who were shot down, 20 of them killed in their classroom. i remember when i heard that story and how those children died and their teachers died, i thought to myself, this must be the moment -- this must be the moment that will motivate america to finally do something if innocent first grade children can be shot down in their classrooms in this fashion. the honest answer is, we've spoken a lot about the issue, but we've done little or nothing to change the circumstances which led to their death. if that were the only case, it would be bad enough, but the
orlando nightclub, i believe 49 were killed there. some crazed person went there and killed innocent people gathered at that nightclub. as senator murphy has said, when you go through the litany, it is an endless litany of victims of gun violence. and now last night in las vegas, nevada, the worst gun crime in the history of the united states of america, the worst. estimates as i saw as i came to the floor, 58 have died and over 500 seriously injured. i don't know what the ultimate numbers will be, but those numbers in and of themselves are incredible. mr. president, last night we witnessed what was the worst mass shooting to date in the
nation. this gunman supposedly at 10:00 m&p.m. last night in las vegas local time began firing from a room on the 32nd floor of a hotel down into a crowd of people gathered for a country music festival. he supposedly was hold up in his hotel room with ten guns and obviously fired hundreds of rounds of ammunition. as i mentioned, 58 people have been reported to have died and over 515 injured. those are staggering and horrifying numbers. there are literally hundreds of families tonight and communities who have been changed forever by this horrendous crime. our prayers obviously, naturally go out to them in this moment of loss of uncertainty.
during the -- law enforcement and first responders acted like the heroes that they are, working to stop the shooter, securing the scene, helping the victims, saving lives. we are grateful to these first responders who so often are called to run to the south of gunfire to keep us safe, not to run away. it's unthinkable that this type of shooting tragedy could happen in the united states of america, but i'm sorry to say it's becoming a regular occurrence. this was the worst, but yesterday, october 1 was also the two-year anniversary of the mass shooting in roseberg, oregon, when a gunman killed eight students and a professor at a community college. also this past weekend, at least 33 people were shot in the city
of chicago. at least four died. the relentless toll of gun violence never seems to stop. the american medical association has declared that gun violence is a public health crisis in america. on an average day -- on an average day, 300 americans are shot. on an average day 300 americans are shot. about a third of them will die from that gunshot. mass shootings, as senator murphy said earlier, have become a daily occurrence. if our critics would say please don't exploit the event of a mass shooting by speaking on the floor as senator murphy has made clear, then we wouldn't be able to speak any day of the year because they are so common. we can't let this become the new american normal. we can't just shrug our shoulders when we see over
30,000 americans shot and killed year after year after year. we can't sit back and do nothing while hundreds of our fellow americans are shot in one night simply because they went out to hear a music concert. just last week i was at a concert in nashville, tennessee, at the riman, the site of the grand old op provide. 2,000 people gathered there -- opry. 2,000 people gathered there. they love country music, many of them retired. when i heard about what happened in las vegas, i thought what if someone walked into that theater and opened fire? it could have happened. sadly it could have happened. what are we going to do about it? certainly there will be outrage at the death. there will be grief over the loss. but then what? that's what senator murphy
challenges us to think about. we serve in the united states senate. we are not just casual observers of this violence. we're supposed to pass laws to make america safer. what will we do because of what happened in las vegas last night? that's the question that brings me to the floor of this evening. if we have a responsibility to keep our families in america safe, what are we prepared to do? for the gun deaths in chicago, there's some things which i would do instantly. background checks. i don't believe you should be able to walk into a gun show and buy a firearm or more than one, incidentally, and take them out the back door without somebody asking who are you, do you have a criminal record? would you be disqualified from buying these same guns at a licensed gun dealer? currently the law is riddled with loopholes, and those loopholes lead to death, death on the streets of chicago.
and we also have these purchases being made by straw purchasers. in other words, the girlfriend who has no criminal record who walks into the gun shop in the suburbs of chicago and buys the gun for her boyfriend outside in the car who is going to use it that night to shoot up a rival gang member or some other criminal activity. those are two very obvious things i would push for instantly. close the gun show loophole. make sure that we do something about straw purchasers so that the penalties are serious enough that they'll never do it again. and there's more. this morning i was on a radio show in chicago, one of the most famous ones, i guess, and listened to. a fellow named steve cochran celebrating his 1,000th show on the air. and this was a topic that we talked about. and steve asked me, well, what happens -- what can we do? i said steve, we have to rely on
people who honor the second amendment and believe it's an important part of our constitution to stand up and lead. i'm talking about members of my family who are hunters and sportsmen. i've been out hunting myself. we have to have people who are concerned about guns for self-defense to stand up and say we have to draw a reasonable line. there is no reasonable line under the second amendment which would allow what happened in las vegas last night. to think that someone could injure, shoot over 500 people and kill 58, what kind of weaponry did he use? we'll know. we'll find out the details, but it certainly goes beyond any reasonable weapon needed for self-defense, sport, or hunting purposes. can we not at least appeal to those who honor the second amendment to join us in drawing a reasonable line so that combat
and military-style weapons that can lead to such carnage are not considered to be normal or acceptable? decades ago, we did when it came to machine guns. decades ago, we said this is a weapon no one should have, period, except for the military, and perhaps law enforcement. can we return to that conversation? we're going to need the leadership from people who believe in the second amendment to make it happen. we have seen democrats and republicans join together and pass meaningful laws to deal with public health crises like opioid addiction. we have to do the same for this public health crisis, and i'm sorry to report to you that a recent nominee for surgeon general of the united states was almost denied that opportunity because he was bold enough to say that this is a public health crisis. gun violence is a public health crisis.
it certainly is. there is no single law or policy that would prevent every tragic shooting, as there is no single law or policy that would end a heroin overdose, but let's start working together to do something. we can't stop the shootings that have already happened in las vegas, chicago, roseburg, oregon, and across the nation. we failed to respond in time for those victims and their families. but if we work together, we can stop shootings in the future. that is something we should all strive to do. we must do all that we can to spare families the unimaginable pain that so many in las vegas are feeling today in the aftermath of this horrible tragedy. i hope we will. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. casey: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: thank you, mr. president. i want to commend the words and the determination for action that were expressed by the senator from connecticut and the senator from illinois.
like them and like so many people across the country, i start with both condolence and prayers and commendation. condolence for the families. the names of the families we don't know yet of this most recent tragedy, but we do know that they are not only worthy of our expression of condolence but will be in need of our prayers. and commendation, of course, for the first responders and the law enforcement officials who responded like they always do, running towards the danger, running to help. we can't say enough about the work that they do. if we stop at expressing condolence and offering prayers and commending those who take action like first responders and
law enforcement, if we stop there, i don't think that's an adequate response to this tragedy, just like it wasn't an adequate response in connection with the pulse nightclub or the tragedy in december of 2012 in newtown, connecticut. it's nowhere near an adequate response when you consider the enormity of this problem. so i believe we have got to take action. i'll talk about that in a moment. but action must start with what happens on this floor. it's difficult to take action necessarily if there isn't time for debate, time for collaboration on legislation, and ultimately consideration of legislation here on the floor of the senate, and i would hope in the united states house of representatives. the enormity of this tragedy is almost hard to comprehend when you think about it not just in
terms of the number, which at last count was 58 killed and over 500 -- over 500 injured. those numbers are almost too large to comprehend. that one person with one weapon or maybe several weapons was able to inflict that kind of carnage in one place at one time. i don't know how long it took, but he wasn't shooting for many hours to kill that many people. he did it in a short time frame. but when you consider those numbers, i have to ask, i don't know if we went back and compared a similar day or a similar time frame and the loss of life in the context of war, but i'm sure there were plenty of days of conflict where americans were on foreign soil
in a battle, in a war, where we would have lost even less lives on a particular day or a portion of a particular day. so the scale of this is almost unimaginable. and then when you consider what's been happening on our street. every state, every community has their own numbers. i can point to pennsylvania just since 2014. thousands of shootings -- by one estimate, i think over 7,700. but then, of course, the more ominous number is the number of people killed as a result of those shootings. in pennsylvania since 2014, some 2,072 people have died in our state as a result of that -- that larger number of shootings. i think for the nation, and certainly undoubtedly for me,
maybe the most important or the most seminal day in this debate was december, 2012, sandy hook elementary school in newtown, connecticut. the distinguished senator from connecticut who joins us on the floor and started the night with his remarks remembers it better than probably any other member of the senate other than his colleague in connecticut and others who lived through it. one of the -- one of the questions i asked myself at the end of that weekend, after watching hours and hours of television coverage and reading a lot about it, and then watching a news report on sunday evening which tracked the pathway of the killer going to one classroom and killing 20 children. 6-year-olds, 7-year-olds, first
graders. after he had done that, he was on his way to another classroom. so i concluded from that that if he had more time, we would have been reading about in addition to the 20 killed in one classroom and the adults who were killed, we would have been reading about potentially hundreds of children killed in one school in even less -- a lot less than a day. maybe an hour or two or three. but that didn't happen. he took his own life. so i began to ask myself, not only what should we do in response to this -- and i had concluded at that point to support legislation, but a larger question kept coming to mind, if one person with one weapon or a few weapons and
unlimited ammunition, if one person can not only kill 20 people in connecticut, i guess almost 50 people in florida and now that we know from las vegas, at least 58. i'm sure some who were injured will die. but if one person can do that, we have to ask ourselves is there nothing, is there nothing we can do? because that becomes part of the debate, right? one side says let's take action by way of legislation, or take some action that would reduce the likelihood that you have more tragedies like this, more mass shootings, but the response immediately comes back that the other side says, well, we agree that it's tragic, we agree we want to prevent it, we agree we want to reduce the likelihood, but there is nothing we can do
legislatively to reduce the likelihood or prevent it. i don't think anyone would argue that the law that passes in the aftermath of this las vegas tragedy or a law that passes even in the aftermath of sandy hook elementary school, if that -- if the law -- the proposals -- bills, really, that were voted on here in the senate in 2013, if they had passed, no one can argue with certitude or scientific precision that if you pass this law, this many lives will be saved. but after -- after newtown and after this tragedy, i come back to the same question. is there nothing we can do legislatively, the most powerful country in the world that led the world in winning world war ii, a war that was not on its way to winning until we got
involved, until we were forced to respond because we were attacked, the country that has cured disease and built the strongest republic in the history of the human race, that has the strongest military, without a doubt. has the strongest economy, without a doubt. has so much in ways that we can point to of american exceptional ism and strength and achievement, achievements that are unmatched anywhere in the world, in almost any part of american life that you can point to. is that same country completely disabled from taking an action that would reduce the likelihood and we would hope substantially reduce the likelihood that we won't have another las vegas or another orlando or another
newtown. i could go on and on from there, all these tragedies in all these places. is that really what our answer's going to be? we take action when we're attacked to fight back and to prevent it from happening again. we take action when there is an epidemic. we take action when there is a crisis. we take action when there is a disaster, a natural disaster. we're seeing some of that most recently. we take action as a government, the congress takes action, the executive takes action. and yet, in this circumstance, what could only be described as an epidemic, that might be an understatement. we're losing more than 30,000 people a year. are we saying that there is nothing that we can do legislatively to reduce that likelihood? i just don't think that's the -- i just don't think any american,
if they think about it, would conclude there's nothing we can do. so when i consider that in the context of sandy hook, i had to ask myself, are you saying to yourself that you're going to vote no on what became three bills, vote no on them because you believe that, that there's nothing we can do? that's what your vote is going to be? that's going to be your response as a legislator with -- with the opportunity to cast a vote in a body of 100 people. you're going to say no three times, as it turned out, in 2013 to legislation because you believe that there's nothing your vote and nothing this legislative body can do. well, i decided to vote yes at least, but even that's not enough. we haven't had votes in years on these issues, and here we are
almost five years later. in december, it will be five years, half a decade since newtown, connecticut, since the massacre at sandy hook. i have a page from the "wall street journal" that was principled -- printed within a couple days of that tragedy. it has very small color pictures and very small biographies of those very small people, those 6-year-olds and 7-year-olds. and it was -- it's been on my desk all these years, and it's a very yellowed copy of a newspaper article. and i often think about what those families have gone through all these years. the great recording artist bruce springsteen had a song after september 11. the name of the congress was
"you're missing." the refrain in that song, of course, is you're missing, talking about someone who lost a loved one at 9/11. he says at one point, "you're missing when i turn out the lights, you're missing when i close my eyes, and you're missing when i see the sunrise." the same could be said of those newtown families. the same could be said of those families in orlando. and you, unfortunately and tragically, the families in las vegas area, maybe well beyond las vegas who were there for that concert. so i hope that this will be an occasion not just for speeches and expressions of condolence, commendation for those who showed such bravery in this tragedy or prayers and solidarity, but this will be a time for action, meaning action
in the context of debate, action in the context of legislation. i think there are a number of steps we can take. i won't outline them all now. a number of commonsense steps we can take that are entirely consistent with the second amendment but would reduce the likelihood over time that we have more and more of these tragedies. or maybe, just maybe taking action that will reduce the number of deaths. even that would be substantial progress. but i just cannot abide or accept the idea that there is absolutely nothing we can do legislatively to reduce the likelihood, and i would hope substantially reduce the likelihood that we can prevent tragedies, or at least reduce the number of tragedies.