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tv   U.S. Senate 10182017  CSPAN  October 18, 2017 3:30pm-5:31pm EDT

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vote:
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proom are there any senators wish -- the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, theas are 89 -- the yeas
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are 89, the nays are 9, and the amendment is agreed to. the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: unanimous consent that the votes following this vote, the one we just finished, be 10 minutes in length for all of the rest of them. there was a request for five minutes in length, but a unanimous consent request for ten minutes in length. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. under the previous order, there will be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote in relation to amendment number 1119, offered by the senator from wyoming, mr. enzi, offered for the senator from vermont, mr. sanders. mr. sanders: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that senator cantwell be added as a
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cosponsor to amendment number 1119. i ask unanimous consent that senator stabenow be added to amendment number 1120 as a cosponsor. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: mr. president, this amendment says no to the cutting of $1 trillion to medicaid and forcing 15 million americans often the health insurance they currently have while at the same time providing a $1.9 trillion tax break to the top 1%. this is not what the american people want. it's what the billionaire class wants and i make the radical suggestion that maybe we listen to ordinary americans and not just wealthy campaign contributors. mr. enzi: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i urge my colleagues
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to oppose this amendment. this amendment would increase mandatory spending and taxes each by more than $1 trillion. i understand my colleagues are concerned about medicaid and this budget is focused on preserving medicaid for those who need it most. in order to preserve medicaid, we must be honest about its fiscal trajectory. the status quo is not possible, it is on a path toward bankrupting our states. the budget before us puts medicaid on a more sustainable path. i want to clarify what has been said. this budget does not rely on savings from medicaid to achieve tax reform. in fact, the economic growth attached attributed to reforming the tax code will improve medicaid's fiscal health. i urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment and i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be.
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the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to
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vote or wishing to change their vote? if not, the yeas are 47. the nays are 51. the amendment is not agreed to. under the previous order, there will now be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote in relation to amendment 1150 offered by the senator if wyoming mr. enzi for the senator for florida, mr. nelson. mr. nelson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, before medicare, one half of senior citizens did not have any health care. the presiding officer: the senate is not in order. the senate will come to order. mr. nelson: if i may repeat that. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: before medicare, one half of senior citizens in this country did not have health care
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health insurance. medicare changed that. why in the world would we want to cut $473 billion from medicare? it doesn't make sense. so my amendment simply restores that cut and replaces it with eliminating a number of the tax loopholes. it's a simple amendment. save medicare. mr. enzi: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment. it sounds like something simple. it's aimed at ending the budget resolution. and this budget does not cut medicare. it does not provide tax breaks for the wealthy. it does not protect special interest tax loopholes. and anything that we do here has to be completed in other committees in order to ever happen. but this budget does slow medicare's projected annual rate
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of you growth by approximately 1% compared to c.b.o.'s baseline. c.b.o. estimates that medicare's hospital insurance trust fund will become exhausted prior to the end of the budget window in 2025 at which point it will no longer be able to pay full benefits for seniors. this budget resolution protects medicare by extending the life of the trust fund. it also establishes a path toward pro-growth tax reform which will generate additional economic growth in medicare. so i urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment. and i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: have all members voted? on this vote the yeas are 47, the nays are 51. the amendment is not agreed to. under the previous order, there will now be ten minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote in relation to amendment number 1146 offered by the senator from wyoming, mr. enzi, for the senator from nevada, mr. the senator from nevada. the senate will be in order. the senator from nevada. mr. helper: -- mr. heller: i
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rise to speak about amendment 46. it provides tax relief for children. one of my top priorities here in the senate is to bring tax relief to american families. for decades nevada's been waiting for an affordable and fair tax code that they can understand and i've long said that the tax code is too costly and too complex. we need to simplify our code in a way that creates jobs and allows nevadans keep more of their hard-earned tax dollars. with this budget we are taking a first step in providing meaningful relief to middle-class families. thanks to the good work of the chairman of the budget committee, we are finding a place where we can find meaningful tax relief for all of america. as a member of the senate finance committee, i've been working with my colleagues to craft a tax bill that
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accomplishes three major goals, first, to create more jobs, two, increase wages, and, finally, number 3, is to boost american competitiveness. what does it mean to the average nevadan who works hard and provide a better life for himself and their children. it will be easier for you to file your taxes, less paperwork, more money, lower rates for businesses means more jobs, it means higher wages and growth in our communities, all of which will benefit you. as a son of a school cook and auto mechanic, i understand discipline, hard work, all of it goes into every dollar and every paycheck. i'm working to see that we have more of it in your back pocket. that's why my amendment is absolutely critical. it delivers a desperately needed relief and let's the middle-class families keep more of their hard-earned paychecks
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helping to make ends meet and invest in their families. for too long american families have been struggling with stagnant wages and incomes as well as slow economic growth made worse by the policies of the obama administration. in inflation adjusted terms -- the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. the senator from nevada. mr. heller: in inflation adjusted terms, nationwide median household incomes stayed below what it was in 2007 to 2015. last year it was only $890 more than it was in 2007. in my home state of nevada, the situation is worse. median household income has not recovered and $7,000 lower today than it was in 2007. tax relief for families with children, through enhance the child tax credit, for example,
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will address the financial insecurities facing american families to help families confront the rising costs of raising children. this will help hardworking middle-class families in many ways allowing them to keep more of their hard-earned income to use for the needs of their family and their children. so, mr. president, i urge everyone in this chamber to support children. i urge them to support middle-class families and i urge them to support my amendment. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: if we support children and we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country on earth. i have no problems with senator heller's amendment, but what i do want to do is spend a moment on the amendment that will come up next and that is it would establish a 60-vote budget point
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of order to prevent the top 1% of americans, people who are doing phenomenally well, from receiving any future tax cuts. it's not a radical idea to suggest that at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, when the people on top are doing unbelievably well, at a time when the middle class is shrinking, now is not the time to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the very wealthiest families in this country. under the republican proposal with the repeal of the estate tax, the walton family, wealthiest family in america, would get up to a $50 billion tax break. does anybody think that is vaguely sane? the koch brothers, who have enough money to spend hundreds of millions of dollars electing
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right-wing candidates were getting $30 billion tax breaks. i thri -- i think the american people have been very clear in poll after poll in saying not only do they not want to give tax breaks to billionaires, but they correctly believe that the wealthiest people in this country should start paying their fair share of taxes. mr. chairman, today the united states has more income and wealth inequality than in -- at any time since the 1920's. today the top one-tenth of 1% owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%. 20 people in america own as much wealth as the bottom half of our country. according to a recent study -- according to a recent study by
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the federal reserve, the top 1% now own 39% of the nation's wealth while the bottom 60% own just 3%. and since the wall street crash a decade ago, 52% of all new income has gone to the top 1%. mr. president, if there was ever a time in american history not to be cutting medicaid and medicare and giving huge tax breaks to the 1%, this is that moment. i ask support for this amendment and i think senator wyden are wanted to say a word. mr. wyden: mr. president, very briefly. i strongly support this amendment, colleagues. the point of this is that this is an amendment that does what the president says he wants to do which is to not give relief to the people at the top, but the reality is when you look at their proposal, it really does drive much of the wealth in america to the top.
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the sanders amendment is to ensure that people at the top of the top don't get relief. i urge colleagues to support this amendment. mr. enzi: i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there further debate? is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the yeas and nays are ordered. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: have all members voted? on this vote the yeas are 98. the nays are zero. the amendment is agreed to. under the previous order, there will now be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote in relation to amendment number 1120 offered by the senator from wyoming, mr. enzi, for the senator from vermont, mr. sanders. the senate will be in order. the senate will be in order. mr. sanders: thank you, mr. president. this is a very simple and straightforward amendment. it would establish a 60-vote budget point of order to prevent the top 1% of americans, people who are doing phenomenally well, from receiving any future tax cuts. at a time of massive income and wealth inequality in this country, when the very rich are
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becoming richer while most americans are seeing a decline in their standard of living, this is not the time to give tax praiks to people who don't need them. i would urge a yes vote on the sanders-wyden amendment. mr. enzi: mr. president, for the benefit of my colleagues, this next vote will be the last roll call vote of the day. senator collins has graciously agreed to do a voice vote on her amendment. on this amendment, though, i'm going to urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment. we should not prejudge the finance committee's consideration of tax reform but allow the bill to go through regular order where it will be open to amendment. this amendment sl corrosive to the -- is corrosive to the budget resolution privilege, so it falls outside the scope of what's appropriate for inclusion. adoption of corrosive amendments could be fatal to the resolution's privilege and loss of privilege could compromise our ability to pass tax reform
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and enforce the budget spending limits. further, this amendment is also nongermane. the congressional budget act requires that amendments to a budget resolution be germane. a statutory requirement we can't ignore. so i raise a point of order against this amendment under the budget act section 305-b-2. mr. sanders: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: pursuant to section 904 of the congressional budget act of 1994 i move to waive section 305-b-2 of that act for purposes of the pending amendment and i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. vote: vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, on this vote, the yeas are 46, nays 52, senators actually sworn and having not voted affirmative, there will be -- prior to a vote 1151 offered by the senator from wyoming mr. enzi for the senator from maine, ms. kol -- collins.
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the senator from maine. ms. collins: mr. president, there has been a great deal of discussion about what the appropriate tax rate should be for large corporations, so-called c-corps, and that certainly is important because we want to make sure that -- the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. ms. collins: that certainly is important because we want to make sure that those large businesses are creating jobs here in the united states, not overseas in order to take advantage of lower tax rates. but let us not forget the importance of providing tax relief for our small businesses. it is our small businesses that create the majority of new jobs in this country and that are really the economic engines for
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so many of our communities. small businesses make an outside contribution to our nation's economy. according to the small business administration, they employ nearly half of all workers and generate two out of three new jobs each year. nationwide, small businesses generate nearly half of our private nonfarm g.d.p. and one-third of our nation's export value. in my state, the state of maine, is truly a state of small businesses. 60% of our workforce, that's nearly 300,000 of our residents, are employed by our more than 141,000 small businesses. mr. president, i spoke at length earlier about the amendment, and i know that the chairman of the
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budget committee has a lot of work to do tonight so i won't repeat the comments that i made earlier. let me just say that my amendment would create a deficit-neutral reserve fund to support small business tax relief while preventing wealthy taxpayers from sheltering income from taxation at the appropriate rates. we would want to have some guide rails, but it is important that we recognize that it is the small businesses of america that are the true job creators in so many of our communities. mr. president, i urge our colleagues to support the amendment and i would request a voice vote. the presiding officer: is there further debate on the amendment? if not, all in favor say aye.
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those opposed, nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the amendment is agreed to. ms. collins: thank you. i thank the chairman of the budget committee for his cooperation and support as well. thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: democrats have shown little disposition to work with republicans on tax reform legislation despite the fact that parts of our plan, like lowering corporate tax rates and switching to a territorial tax system, have been supported by democrats as well as republicans. one particular aspect of the republican plan that democrats have been taking aim at lately is our plan to repeal the death tax. they claim it is not something to worry about since relatively few estates have to pay the tax.
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one of my colleagues detailed some of the ways that people tried to avoid the death tax. from the tone of the press release, you would think that anybody who did this was a multibillionaire and a tax cheat and greedy to boot. i can tell you, mr. president, the actual situation is very different. of course there are wealthy individuals would try to limit their debt tax liability. who wants to be taxed a second and third time on money you earned in your lifetime that you could be passing down to your children and grandchildren. but there are also a lot of small business owners and owners of family farms and ranches who have to spend tens of thousands of dollars a year trying to avoid the death tax in order to preserve their family business for another generation. many of the farmers and ranchers in my state know that without careful and costly planning, the federal government will come
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around after their death, demanding a staggering 40% of their estate and their children won't have the money to pay without risking the farm or ranch. how does that work, mr. president? well, farming and rampling is a cash -- ranching is a cash poor business. farmers and ranchers may own valuable land but they're only earning cash on the crops they grow or the livestock they raise on that land. thus, while their overall farm or ranch may have substantial value, the amount of money they have coming in is relatively small. and subject to the swings in the market from year to year. frequently when farmers and ranchers die, the vast portion of their estate is made up of their land while actual cash or liquid assets are a very small part of it. if they don't take measures to avoid having their family hit by the death tax, the family will have no choice but to sell the land to pay the government which
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means losing income-generating property or the family's farm or ranch overall. in the same situation faces other businesses across the country where the value of the estate is tied up in the business. the threat of a death tax is a constant burden hanging over the heads of farmers and ranchers in my state who want nothing more than to be able to pass on the family farm or ranch to the next generation. which brings me to the larger point. the need to simplify our current tax code which is one of the five principles guiding republicans' tax reform effortses. our tax code is long. and it's complicated. it's almost twice as long as it was in 1985, and nearly six times as long as it was in 1955. the instructions for the basic 1040 form alone are more than a hundred pages long, and it's no
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surprise the tax code is full of deductions, exemptions and special rules all of which amount to unnecessary complication and too often confusion. take education tax benefit, an area of concern for middle-class families. currently there are more than a dozen separate tax provisions relating to education from the american opportunity tax credit to 529 savings accounts. and of course, these provisions come with approximately a hundred pages of i.r.s. instructions, special forms and schedules, not to mention the professional tax preparer that too many families have to hire to figure it all out. then there are the small businesses which have to navigate a bewildering mass of tax provisions and regulations but often don't have the money to hire the professional help that they need. i think it's fair to say, mr. president, that a big reason that some small businesses fail
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to get off the ground is because they lack the resources that would enable them to deal with the tax code. and then of course, mr. president, as i emotionalled before, there's that -- i mentioned before, there's that other bane of small businesses and family farms and ranches and that's again the death tax. the death tax forces farmers and ranchers to invest a significant amount of time and money in complex estate plans, insurance, and expensive tax professionals so that they can preserve their farm or ranch for their children. according to a recent survey by family enterprise u.s.a. of those indicating that they undertoo estate -- undertook escape planning efforts the average cost in 2016 was more than $170,000. and that doesn't include the average cost of insurance to pay for death taxes which was $75,000 a year. those are simply wasted resources that could be used to reinvest back into the business,
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create new jobs, and increase wages, all of which would help us achieve the kind of economic growth we've been lacking for the past eight years. mr. president, republicans don't think that farmers and ranchers should have to spend tens of thousands of dollars a year to preserve their farm or ranch for their children. we don't think families should have to hire a tax preparer to file a basic income tax form. we don't think it should cost small businesses between $15 billion and $16 billion each year to comply with the tax code. we don't think you should have to be an accountant to figure out what tax deductions, exemptions or credits you qualify for, and we don't think the tax code should prevent americans from starting a small business or expanding an existing business to provide more jobs or higher wages for their employees. so the comprehensive tax reform
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bill that we're currently drafting will simplify the tax code. it will eliminate loopholes and special rules and dedicate those savings to easing the tax burden on hardworking families and small businesses. it will drastically ease the tax return process with the hope of making it as easy for americans to file their taxes as it is to fill out a postcard. it will eliminate the death tax so that family-owned businesses, farms and ranches in my home state of south dakota and around the country can focus their dollars on growing their businesses, not paying for tax professionals to preserve it. and our bill will simplify and streamline tax benefits so that you don't need to hire a tax professional to figure out what education or homeownership or other tax benefits that you qualify for. so, mr. president, it's
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disappointing that our democrat colleagues are so hostile to the idea of working with republicans that they're passing on the chance to join us to provide the american people with unprecedented relief from our antiquated and overgrown tax code. mr. president, the single most important thing that we can do for americans struggling with stagnant wages and a dearth ever opportunities is to pass comprehensive tax reform by reforming our tax code we can provide the american people with more, better-paying jobs, fairer taxes, and bigger paychecks. and most importantly, we can do this for the long term. and so i hope that democrats will rethink their opposition and join us as we work to provide the american people with the relief that they have been waiting for and that they deserve. mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the
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clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. heller: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise today still in shock, still in mourning over the events of october 1. when 58 people, some of them nevadans, many of them visitors to our state, were brutally gunned down by a mad man on a las vegas strip. in addition to those horrible deaths, almost 500 people were injured. many of them face long roads to physical recovery and even longer and more painful road to emotional recovery. i know i speak for all of my senate colleagues in praying for

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