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tv   U.S. Senate 10252017  CSPAN  October 25, 2017 11:29am-1:30pm EDT

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that is a new insurance plan for people over the age of 29 that would have lower premiums and higher deductibles, but it would allow people to afford an insurance policy so a medical catastrophe didn't turn into a financial catastrophe. c.b.o. estimates that making catastrophic plans part of a single risk pool would slightly lower premiums for other nongroup plans because the people who enroll in catastrophic plans tend to be healthier on average than other nongroup market enrollees. so a major objective, i think, of all of us is to attract more young, healthy people into the pool as a way of lowering rates for everybody. as a result of the slightly lower estimated premiums, c.b.o. and j.c.t. expect that federal costs for subsidies purchased through marketplaces established under the affordable care act would decline by about
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$1.1 billion over 2019-2017. now, we have already said what the congressional budget office had reported earlier, that if we don't pass something like the alexander-murray proposal, this is what happens. if the if the -- if the cost-sharing payments are not made, it will go up. our proposal would take them down. the federal debt will increase by $194 billion over ten years if we don't passion our proposal -- pass our proposal due to the extra cost of higher premiums and up to 16 million americans may live in counties where they're not able to buy any insurance in individual markets. now, there are 350,000 tennesseans in individual markets in tennessee and they will be terrified by the prospect of not being able to have any insurance to buy by the skyrocketing premiums. so i thank senator cornyn follow
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allowing me to interrupt and make a brief statement. but let me go to the bottom line once more. the president has said repeatedly, senator murray has said repeatedly, i have said repeatedly the alexander-murray amendment, the short term, bipartisan plan to reduce premiums and avoid chaos must not bail out insurance companies. we've written language to make sure it does not. now the congressional budget office says it does not. it does not bail out insurance companies. it does benefit consumers. it does benefit taxpayers to the tune of $3.8 billion. that's very important information. i'm encouraged by the president's comment yesterday. he thanked me at our luncheon for working in a bipartisan way on this. encouraged senator hatch and have introduced a bill recognizing the importance of continuing cost-sharing. the ball is in the hand of the
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white house. they have our recommendation. they made some suggestions as to normal legislative process, but i'm hopeful that something that has this kind of analysis, that it doesn't bail out insurance companies, that avoids a big increase to the federal debt, that makes certain people will be able to buy insurance for the next couple of years, that begins to lower premiums, that almost all democrats want and that republicans in the house have all voted for once this year when they voted for their repeal and replace bill, something like that, mr. president, sounds like something that might become law before the end of the year. and i believe the sooner the better. i thank the president. i thank senator cornyn and senator shaheen. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: well, mr. president, i'm delighted to follow senator alexander and was very pleased to hear the news from the c.b.o. that this alexander-murray proposal not only doesn't bail out insurance
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companies as we all agree we should not do. we want to make sure savings go to consumers. but also that it will save taxpayers $3.8 billion. this is a bipartisan agreement. i applaud the work of senator alexander and senator patty murray to craft this bipartisan agreement to address the challenges we have in the short term with health carol. senators alexander and murray have given us a template for bipartisan negotiations not just on health care but on other critical matters that are going to come before the senate. tax reform, reauthorizing community health centers and the children's health insurance program, reaching an agreement on the 2018 budget. these are all major issues facing this country and issues that we should be working on in a bipartisan way because the senate is at its best when we observe regular order, when we follow the committee process, when we work across the aisle
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and make principled compromises to get things done for the american people. i believe that's exactly what this health insurance bill does. and a senate that's nearly equally divided between republicans and democrats, this is the only productive way forward for us to address the challenges that face this country. and too often we have seen people view bipartisan negotiations as a last resort, but partisanship should be the senate's first resort, not the last resort. it should be the foundation of our work in this body. this is how the great majority of americans want us to conduct the senate's business. when i travel around new hampshire, this is the consistent comment that i hear everywhere i go. why can't you all work together to get things done for this country? this is especially true on matters like health care and tax reform which affect families throughout the country.
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i'm encouraged that the alexander-murray bill has earned strong bipartisan support and has senator alexander said, it has 24 original cosponsors. that number is equally divided between republicans and democrats. and this is a balanced agreement that's been negotiated by both parties over many months, and i think it's our best bet for stabilizing marketplaces in the short run so we can continue to work on long-term issues around health care. i'm especially pleased that this agreement provides for the continuation of cost-sharing reduction payments for two years. these payments are necessary to keep premiums, deductibles, and copayments affordable for working people. without these payments the cost of coverage will skyrocket. insurers will leave the marketplaces. and millions of people will lose their health care coverage. i've been working on this issue of cost saving reduction
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payments since earlier this year when i introduced a bill that would permanently appropriate funds for the c.s.r.'s. as the c.b.o. said, the language in the alexander-murray bill ensures that these c.s.r.'s are not a bailout to insurance companies, that they are a way to help people with the cost of insurance. they are orderly payments, payments that are built into the law that would go directly to keeping premiums, copays, and deductibles affordable for lower income americans. both democrats and republicans recognize that these payments are an orderly, necessary subsidy that keeps down the cost of health coverage for everyday americans. and as senator alexander said, we saw that these payments were in the bill that the house voted
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for around health care, and they were also in the senate bill earlier this year. now, in recent months, i've heard from hundreds of people across new hampshire about the enormous difference that health care reform has made in their lives. we're a small state. we have just about 1.3 million people. and nearly 94,000 granite staters have gotten individual health coverage through the marketplaces. nearly 50,000 have gotten coverage thanks to the medicaid expansion program in new hampshire. that has been a bipartisan effort with a republican legislature and a democratic governor to get that program in place. and it continues to enjoy the support of the republican legislature and the republican governor. now, because of the affordable care act's increased access to care, we also have nearly 11,000 granite staters who have substance use disorders who have
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been able to get treatment for the first time. new hampshire has the second highest rate of overdose deaths from the heroin and opioid epidemic. having treatment available through the expanded medicaid program has made a difference for thousands of people in new hampshire and their families. hundreds of thousands of granite staters with preexisting conditions no longer face discrimination resulting in denial or sky high premiums. these are important achievements and this legislation will allow us to continue down that road to make sure people have health care coverage that they can afford. for people across new hampshire and across this country, health care coverage is often a matter of life or death. it's also about being able to take a sick family member to a
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doctor. it's about knowing that a serious illness will not leave a mountain of debt. so i am very pleased to be able to join in the bipartisan efforts led by senators alexander and murray to strengthen the parts of the health care law that are working and to fix what is not working. the other provisions in this legislation would allow states more flexibility through the 1332 waiver process. the alexander-murray agreement expedites waiver approvals so states can implement smart fixes to stabilize their marketplaces. for instance, by establishing a state-based reinsurance program. the agreement also includes a restoration of funding for open enrollment outreach and educational activities. and it protects core protections related to insurance affordability, coverage, and
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plan comprehensiveness. all of these changes are positive steps forward, steps that i hope will set us on a bipartisan path, strengthening elements of the affordable care act that are working well, and to fixing elements that need to be changed. i'm hopeful that the alexander-murray agreement can gain the bipartisan support it needs to pass in congress, that it can gain the president's signature, and i was encouraged by senator alexander's comments about the president's comments yesterday because we need to restore certainty and stability to the marketplaces. instead of partisan efforts to undermine the law and take health insurance away from people, we should embrace the spirit of the alexander-murray agreement. let's work together in a good-faith, bipartisan effort to build a health care system that leaves no american behind. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i know people watching and perhaps reading the newspaper and watching cable tv, listening to talk radio think that nothing ever happens here in washington, d.c., and they would be wrong. now, certainly we can always do better and i am disappointed that we haven't been more successful. but there are some measures we can make in the right direction and important pieces of legislation that make a very profound difference in people's lives. and today i want to talk about a problem that thanks to a bill passed by the senate on monday we're helping to solve. and this has to do with the untested rape kit backlog in our
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country. years ago thanks to a courageous woman named debbie smith, i became a lot better informed about the nature of this problem. rape kits, forensic evidence that was taken in sexual assault cases but which remained in evidence lockers at police stations untested or which was sent to laboratories and never processed. and at one point it was estimated there were as many as 400,000 untested rape kits in our country. now, as the presiding officer knows, this is powerful evidence because of d.n.a. testing. we can literally almost say with certainty whether there's a match between the d.n.a. of a suspect and that in a rape kit, this forensic evidence that's collected following a sexual assault. similarly, we can decide and determine whether there is no
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match whatsoever and, frankly, exclude somebody who is a potential suspect from being the guilty party by using the same powerful forensic evidence. it's also important not just to solve the crime at hand but also to get sexual predators off the streets because we know that this type of offender is likely to strike time and time and time again. and the experts tell us when opportunities don't provide themselves for sexual offenders to go after adults that frequently they will even go after children. so this is very, very important evidence. and as we know, there's typically a statute of limitations where after a period of time you can't prosecute a case, but it's really important
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for the reason i mentioned to continue to test as many rape kits as we possibly can to get serial offenders off the streets and to determine whether somebody has been charged or suspected of a crime and is in fact innocent. we have thanks to courageous people like debbie smith for whom we have named the debbie smith act as well as great bipartisan cooperation here in the senate, we have provided funding for testing of rape kits at the state and local level which has been supplemented by the texas legislature and other state legislatures. in houston, though, a few years ago our mayor felt so strongly about this, they took this on as a citywide project with incredible results. they found a number of hits of previously unsolved crimes. and they were able to, i think,
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bring peace of mind to a lot of people who had been living under a cloud of unsolved crime when they processed these unprocessed rape kits. nationally the problem is still big with as many as 175,000 rape kits that still haven't been analyzed. this is something we need to be able to continue to attack. down from 400,000 at one point was the estimate, down to 175,000 but still unacceptable. victims of sexual assault can't afford to wait and the funding is not -- for funding that is easier to come by. they need their stories to be heard and the evidence to be tested and the results expedited. federal, state, and local officials owe them those things. if we dawdle, those cases go cold and they're the ones that
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bear the scars and the pain of these had unresolved crimes. that's why the sexual assault forensic reporting act, called the safer act, is so important. that's the bill i mentioned a moment ago that we passed in the senate on monday. it reauthorizes the program created in 2013 which has helped law enforcement reduce the national rape kit backlog, and i thank my friend and colleague, representative ted poe in the house for sponsoring the house version. the original legislation increased the amount of funds spent on untested kits by 35% and allowed 5% to% of them to be used on ought -- 5% to 7% of they will to be used on audits. these audits uncovered tens of thousands of uncovered kits across the country each with evidence that could be used to bring an offender to justice. the new bill passed the senate this week and assures that pediatric forensic nurses are
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available for training so they're better equipped to respond promptly and appropriately to children suffering from abuse. finally, the bill extends the sunset provision of the safer program which will ensure the longevity of the program with a proven history of success. i'm grateful to a wide range of bipartisan support, including the senior senator from minnesota as well as the senior senators from nevada and colorado, who are original cosponsors. this is a good example of legislation that is bipartisan and that makes progress toward solving a very real problem in our country. but, as so often we find the case, there's not much reporting on it, much attention paid. but it's worth noting here on the senate floor that bipartisan progress on important legislation that helps people's lives become better is being done here in the senate.
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i also want to bring up another important piece of legislation i reintroduced this last week, the corrections oversight recidivism reduction and eliminating cost to taxpayers in our national system. let me call it the corrections act for short, because that's a mouthful. i'm grateful to my democratic cosponsor, the junior senator from rhode island, senator whitehouse, for joining me on what is is like the safer act significant bipartisan legislation. my home state of texas has a well-deserved reputation for being tough on crime, but we've also learned over time that it's important to be smart on crime, too. we've successfully implemented statewide criminal justice reforms that help low-risk offenders become productive members of society, once they reenter civil society from prison. and the state is focused on the important role that
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rehabilitation can play. i am not naive enough to think that every person who's been convicted of an offense is going to take advantage of an opportunity to right their path and get on with their life. but some will, and given the proper assessments and incentives, we found that this sort of approach works. the corrections act that senator whitehouse and i have introduced builded off of the state models that have worked in rhode island, in georgia, in texas, louisiana, and elsewhere, and it requires a bureau of prisons to provide programs and partner with faith-based and community-based organizations that better prepare these men and women to become law-abiding and active members of society. i hope the senate can follow texas' lead and implement these commonsense bipartisan reforms. this bill achieves a number of objectives which i will mention briefly. first, it requires the department of justice to develop
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risk-assessment tools to evaluate the recidivism potential of all eligible offenders. it refocuses resources on those offenders most likely to commit future crimes and allows lower-risk inmates to serve their sentences under less restrictive conditions, thus reducing prison costs so the taxpayer wins, too. the bill expands programming like substance abuse treatment and vocational training that have been proven to reduce recidivism. it requires the bureau of prisoners prisons to foster partnerships with nonprofit and community-based organizations in order to develop -- deliver a broad spectrum of programming to prisoners. it allows inmates who successfully complete recidivism reduction programs to earn credit toward time in pre--released custody -- prereleased custody.
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the bill requires the department of justice to implement pilot promises across the country and study their effects so we can gain a better understanding of what works and what doesn't work when it comes to offenders' reintegration into society. finally, the corrections act creates a commission to review every aspect of our criminal justice system. the last type of review was done in 1965, and while i think congress certainly this is within our wheelhouse, we probably don't have the bandwidth to do this which is why this national commission is so important to be able to report back to congress and make recommendations to us. we know one thing for sure, that when people serve their sentence and they're released from prison, they're going to real estate enter society. why -- they're going to reenter society. why wouldn't we want to make sure that those who are willing to deal with their addiction, to learn a skill, to get a g.e.d.
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and to otherwise improve their lives, why wouldn't we want to make sure they're prepared to reenter society? otherwise they're left up with this turnstile of crime where they go from prison to the community to committing another crime to another conviction and back into prison again. our focus should be on helping individuals find a productive path as contributing members of society, and that involves making sure returning to prison doesn't happen, because there's no alternative. by implementing job training, drug rehab takers mental health treatment, we can focus and save taxpayer dollars, lower crime, and incarceration rates, decrease recidivism and most importantly help people change their own lives for the better. joining state and local officials at the forefront of this group are groups like the prison fellowship and the texas
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public policy foundation which create programs for inmates like the prison entrepreneurship program, which teaches prisoners thousand start and manage their own businesses when they begin life on the outside. you'd be amazed by individual whose started their own businesses through the program and turn their lives around in the process through the mentorship and fellowship that these programs provide. i hope that we can learn from the laboratories of democracy known as the states, where we implemented successful criminal justice reform programs, this time in our prison testimony system, where -- in our prison system, where we'll all benefit. they'll incarcerate fewer people because they won't continue this cycle of release and offending and reincarceration, at least a certain percentage of them will. we can help people whose lives are in a tailspin because of
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drug or alcohol adduction or who feel like they're in a dead-end street because they simply don't have the job skills or the education in order to compete in the economy. i hope we can follow the lead of successful experiments like our -- successful experiments like our states like texas and implement these bipartisan reforms to our federal prison system. let me say in conclusion, i know the administration is very interested in engaging in criminal justice reform. last year we worked on a sentencing and prison reform bill that unfortunately seems to not be going anywhere. while the prison reform component of it seems to have a consensus of support here in the congress -- and i think could pass and be signed into law -- the sentencing reform piece is a little more controversial, and i
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know divides even the republican conference, and i'm not sure what it does with the democratic conference, but i believe we ought to start on a step-by-step basis, get what we can get done, and get it to the president for his signature while providing these tools to i inmates who are areincarcerated through the bureau of prisons and then keep working on the other parts that we have not yet been able to build consensus on. i hope our colleagues will work with us on this important piece of legislation as we work to reform our criminal justice system in ways it makes sense and that save taxpayers dollars. -- and that save taxpayers' dollars. i have eight requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. these have been approved by the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. cornyn: i note --
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mr. blunt: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: yesterday you and i and the senator from texas had a chance to meet with the president to talk about tax relief. it seemed to me clear that the president and those of us who are advocating tax cuts right now are on the same wavelength, which is, let's have tax cuts for hardworking families and let's do the other things we need to do in the tax code to ensure that those very same families have better jobs. as i said on the floor of the senate last week, there are two ways to increase take-home pay. one is to stop taking less out of the paycheck that people are getting now and the other is to give them an even better paycheck in the future. and we need to look at both of those ways to increase the opportunity for working families, for working individuals. the we're now into the eighth
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year of almost no economic growth, and if you have no economic growth, very little incentive at work for your job to be a better-paying job than it was the previous year, no matter what's happened to your other costs. and we clearly see that happening. now we're into the first year of this new administration. we're looking at 3% annual growth, after eight years that growth didn't exceed 2%. and anytime you begin to talk like an economist, people begin to wonder, well what does that have to do with me? well, let me just say for taxpayers generally, for working families generally, that the more growth you have, one, the more revenue that comes in that takes care of problems like the deficit and the way you take care of those problems, the best way is to grow the economy. two is, people are much more focused on keeping the workforce
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they have, getting the best of the workforce that's coming on-board as their workforce moves on for retirement or relocates or does other things, and so 3% economic growth, not good enough. the average, the post world war ii average, that's more than seven decades of averages is almost 3.5%. there are very few economic problems in our country that wouldn't be made substantially better, including our own federal deficit, if we see growth exceed or even get to the 70-year average. there's no reason to believe that can't happen. so the president yesterday was talking about the two ways to immediately relieve pressures on families. one is more take-home pay. two is a better job that also increases more take-home pavement but the first step we can achieve immediately by the
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kind of tax relief we need. now, eight years of stagnant wages, half of the families in the country are living paycheck to paycheck, very few families can face an emergency that's even $500 without having to restructure what they're doing and how they're doing it. we can do a better job at this. the we need more jobs. the we need higher wages. and the two principal goals of this tax bill should be to do exactly that. create more wages now, more take-home pay now and create an environment where we're going to be more competitive. simplifying the tax code is one way to meet that first impact, to have a tax code that people understand better that they think is fairer, a tax code where people think they're being treated fairly is much more li likely to be complied with than a tax code where people see that somebody else who makes the same
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amount of money that they make is paying a lot less taxes than they're paying. you know, the american tax system is probably the greatest voluntary compliance -- sure, there are laws that allow people to comply. but most people are not impacted by those laws. they know they can be. but the american people are shown a willingness to pay their fair share if they know that they are fair share is in fact their fair share. so a simpler tax system, a more easily understood tax system, a system that has fewer than the seven different tax brackets that people pay today are things that we can and should achieve. doubling the standard deduction helps a lot when people look at the $12,000 deduction they have now and realize that for a -- a couple, $12,000, they look at
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that deduction and realize that that deduction, that standard deduction is doubled. suddenly you're not -- if you're a couple filing jointly, you're not paying any taxes on the first $24,000 that you earn. if you're a single individual, you're not paying any taxes on the first $12,000 you earn, and keeping enough of the family benefiting exemptions that help make the family do what the family would like to do, what they would like to give to church and charity. so there is no discussion in this discussion. we wouldn't keep the standard -- the charitable deduction as a deduction. no discussion that we wouldn't keep home mortgage as a deduction so that we're encouraging homeownership, looking at how we make the child
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tax credit bigger rather than smaller, and, madam president, in many of the early analysis of what this tax code would do, they say well, a family of four would pay more than they're paying now to certain income level. that generally will turn out not to be the case, certainly at the middle income levels and below if you factor in the child tax credit which hasn't been determined yet. and so our tax-writing committee will be looking at that child tax credit as an important addition to the individual exemptions because it costs money to raise kids, and the congress surely should understand that, appreciate that, and factor that into the deductions just like we're doubling the deduction for individual earners, we also have to look at how that -- what that child tax credit should look like.
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tax policies that benefit homeownership, tax policies that encourage contributing to charities and community activities and church and synagogue and mosque, your religious activities all would continue to be a part of this tax code. we also are sending kids to school. one way to not have student debt is to encourage families to have ways to better prepare for what they in most cases would hope would be a goal, an expenditure that their family would make, and we can do things like expanding the pell grants for poorer families, but for families who don't qualify for that, we can do things that add -- that allow the deduction early on of putting money in a fund that prepares people to go to school. keeping well-paying jobs at home
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and encouraging more jobs to come to be here is also an important part of the goal. you can't have the highest corporate rate in the world and expect that you're going to be as competitive as you would be with other countries. a corporate rate of 35% in 1986 was fairly near the middle when that rate was arrived at with president reagan and others working on the last time we did a tax rewrite, and right in the build is about where we should be. the situation however we see right in the middle now is no longer 35%. it's about 20%. ireland just reduced its 15% rate to 8%. great britain just is reducing their rate to a little less than 20%. they have been i think a little more than 20%. but we need to be sure that the products we make here and the
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jobs that are created here have a competitive ability to sell that same product anywhere in the world, with the advantage, obviously, being made by our great work force, but also an advantage where our tax system doesn't work us out of the marketplace, doesn't make us less competitive. a territorial tax system will be one of the things that we're going to hear talked about a lot, and for most of us, that doesn't seem to have any impact. we earn our money here. we pay our taxes here, but we also want to be sure that if american companies sell products somewhere else and earn money there, that they can, should, and would bring that money back to the united states to reinvest it in the kinds of things that create jobs here. so i think this is not -- this doesn't have to be all that complicated to my colleagues. we need to understand what the core principles are here.
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we need to get to those core principles. we need to get this done this year so that people are planning in the first months of next year on how to take advantage of a new, simpler, fairer, more competitive tax code, and this needs to be job one of this congress for the next few weeks, and to get that done so that job one for the country, beginning at the end of this debate is what we can do to create more and better jobs and create more take-home pay for hardworking families. i see i'm joined here by some of my colleagues who are going to talk about this same topic, i hope, and others, but we need to be focused. i can tell with the president's comments yesterday, he is focused on this, we are focused on this. this is a job, madam president, we need to get done, and i would yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the
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senator from alaska. mr. sullivan: madam president, i wanted to reinforce and underscore some of the comments made by my colleague, senator lankford, a few minutes ago, the senator from oklahoma, on what's happening in the senate right now, because it's actually really important for the american people to understand what's going on, and maybe we will finally get the press who set up there above your chair, madam president, to write about this topic. but so right now we're debating a very, very well-qualified district court judge, federal district court judge from oklahoma. senator lankford was down here, obviously knows the nominee, scott palk, and an extremely qualified, so qualified, madam president, that the vote for cloture to move forward on this nominee -- who, by the way, was nominated by president trump for a federal district court
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position, but previously nominated by president obama, pretty bipartisan support, 79-18. that's really strong bipartisan support. it just happened about an hour ago on the senate floor. okay. so what are we doing? well, we're still going to be debating -- we're not really debating the nominee because he is well fallified for 30 hours, 30 hours. right now, that's what we're doing in the senate. supposedly anyone watching, you know we're not debating him because he is very well qualified, but we're still going to burn 30 hours. why is this? why is this? well, madam president, this raises a much broader issue of kind of the tactics that are going on on the senate floor right now which the minority leader and his colleagues won't come down and explain what they're up to. i asked -- i gave a speech on this a couple weeks ago, and i just asked, hey, come on down. let the american people
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understand what -- why are we spending all this time on nominees who are very well qualified and have enormous bipartisan support? why are we being required to go an additional 30 hours -- that's the rules, but normally there would be unanimous consent to move forward. but what's happening now -- and it really hasn't been explained, but it definitely hurts the american people, whether you're a democrat or republican. what's happening now is every single nominee from the trump administration, whether a federal judge or an assistant secretary for health and human services, is being delayed. now, here are the numbers. eight years ago with president obama, about 66% of his nominees at this period in the fall of his first term were confirmed. 66%. okay. people were working through them. you didn't like the nominee.
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i wouldn't hear them -- i wasn't here then, but if you didn't like the nominee, you would vote against them. but you wouldn't say we'll burn half the week of the senate to debate somebody who is not even controversial. this judge, when we finally get through the 30 hours, he will pass with probably 80 senate votes, but we're burning through it anyways. that was president obama eight years ago, 66%. the number for trump eight years later, 33%. now, imagine if our friends in the media, "the new york times," if the republicans were doing this to president obama during his first few months in office, there would be front-page stories every day. the republican party trying to undermine the new president. delaying, delaying, delaying. you don't hear a peep from our national press. they just don't write about it. they don't write about it.
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but, madam president, it's a problem, because we have work to do in this country. so when i have asked the minority leader, well, just come on down and tell the american people why you're doing this, we've had numerous judges, very, very noncontroversial, very bipartisan where we have essentially spent the whole week, quote-unquote, debating them. we're not debating this judge, but we're going to spend 30 hours on it. why are they doing it and why are my colleagues on the other side of the aisle agreeing to it? i have asked them to come on down and explain to the american people. people watching right now on tv or in the gallery, why are you doing this? does it help the country? whether you're democrat or republican, it doesn't help the country. it doesn't help the country, that's the whole point. but nobody wants to come down and explain their delay tactics, and the press won't write about it, because some of them like it, i think. but here's the truth, madam president. when we're spending all this time, all week on this judge, who will get voted on and he will pass, very well
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qualified -- again, senator lankford laid out his resume, very well qualified, and previously nominated by president obama. so we're going to vote for him after this 30-hour period, and he'll pass. strong bipartisan. but what's the -- what's the challenge? what happens to the other issues that we need to address in this country, in this body? we can't get to them. so if we wanted to turn to other issues, right, to part moving them -- and, you know, my colleague from new hampshire was just on the floor. she talked about all the stuff we have to do. i agree with her 100%. tax reform, health care, budget. we never do the budget here anymore. national defense authorization act. growing the economy, as my friend from missouri just talked about. infrastructure. immigration, the dreamer issue. we have so much to do, let alone getting trump administration officials confirmed and judges confirmed.
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that's a big list. but because we're spending 30 hours on a debate, which really isn't a debate on the judge and we can't get consent from the other side to actually work on these other issues, this is what we're doing. we're just burning time. and the minority leader won't come down and explain it. i don't know if he can explain it, but that's what we're doing. again, if the shoe were on the other foot, the press would be going crazy, but right now, they just let it happen. so, madam president, my view is it would be great if one of my colleagues from the other side of the aisle would come down and say here's why we're wasting all this time. just let us know. as senator lankford mentioned, this judge was nominated by the president in may. so now we're going to spend most of the week, quote-unquote,
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debating him when that's not what's going on. it's just a delay tactic. my view is we should just say, okay, if you want to play ball like that, we'll stay here 24/7. keep the senate open seven days a week, let's get to work. let's get to work. let's stay here until christmas, see if the minority leader and his team keep doing that, keep delaying. but i think we should call the bluff. but right now, the delay tactics, which nobody on the other side wants to explain, -- because in my view, they're not defensible, and they're not helping the country, whether you're democrat or republican. you want to seat the government. you want to get people, good people working for the american people. but right now, that's not happening. i just wish, you know, the other side would either explain it or stop doing it, and let's get to work for this nation. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor.
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a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. tillis: thank you, madam president. i fully associate myself with the comments just made by the senator from the great state of alaska. we've got to get to work here, but i'm here to talk about one of the most pressing issues we have to deal with. yesterday we had lunch where the president spoke about why tax reform is so critical for healing the economy and really having our nation rise to its full capabilities in terms of economic performance and global competitiveness. you read the headlines. the headlines read like republicans are for the big guy, for the corporations, not for the little guy. you hear them talk about policies that will have us drowning in red ink. you'll hear them talk about unsustainable economic policies.
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i saw all those headlines before about six years ago in the north carolina state house. when we inherited a disaster for an economy. it was after the 2008 crisis. we had a state that was drowning in red ink. $2.5 billion structural deficit. we had a tax code that was absolutely out of sync with our competition. and we set about fixing it. and what we ended up doing, all the headlines looked exactly the way the headlines look today. but we had members on both sides of the aisle, democrats and republicans recognize that north carolina should be one of the fastest growing, most competitive states in the nation. so we went about trying to figure out how we make that happen. we determined for one thing there was an undue burden on individuals and works families. so we had to simplify the tax code and we had to reduce the tax burden on the individuals. but we also recognized that our
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corporate tax rate was preventing us from getting the job expansion opportunities that states like south carolina, tennessee, alabama, virginia were winning time after time after time. there had been a long time by the time i came in as speaker of the house before we had any major economic development opportunity in north carolina. so we were able to put together a corporate tax cut a, an individual income tax cut and in our case, a sales cut that all the pundits said was going to be a disaster. it ended up engineering and serving as the basis for one of the most significant economic turn arounds of any state over the past 30 or 40 years. going from a zero rainy day fund to a $2 billion rainy day fund. putting more money into education, putting more money into medicaid, creating the resources that allow us to do the other things that we want to do. now, when i was speaker, i had
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to go look and see what texas was doing. i see the senator from texas here -- and say what can we do to be more competitive with texas. we looked at iowa. what can we do as a matter of tax policy that would make us more competitive with iowa on, let's say, an culture. that was our -- agriculture. that was our pure competitors. as a state leader i'm looking at our pure competitors and their states. our policy is to look at china, look at europe, look at our competitors and make it very clear that we are -- we are out of step. years ago we weren't out of step but we are today. we're not competitive with people that we should be cleaning their clock in terms of economic expansion. and you only get that done if you lower the corporate tax rate. if you actually get people who will invest that capital and hire more people, provide more opportunities for working families, create more demand for jobs so that wages go up, that's how you ultimately get this
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economy moving to a point to where we create the resources to also ultimately pay down the debt, which i still consider to be the single greatest threat to our national security. now, along the way, the reason i knew our tax policy was about right where it needed to be was virtually every lobbyist in raleigh was mad at me, and i mean all of them. if you look at 1986, the last time we did meaningful tax reform, virtually every lobbyist on capitol hill was mad at the folks who voted for the bill, and that was on a bipartisan basis. so we have to have members who are willing to go big, who are willing to actually reduce the corporate tax rate, work on the tax burden for working families, recognize that it is on us, and we're in a historic opportunity to turn this economy around and take advantage of the fact that other countries are not heeding the call. they're heaping more regulations on their businesses. they're adding more taxes in some cases.
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this is a historic opportunity for us to just blow past the competition. and ultimately create the resources to retire our debt and provide the critical resources we need for so many other things that we need to get done here, like strengthening our national defense, making sure our homeland is safe, securing the border. all of these kinds of things can be done, but they can only be done if we have the courage to move forward with tax cuts and tax reform. and i hope that all of my members before thanksgiving are in this chamber and have an opportunity to vote for that bold -- actually, a bold reform package but more importantly, the fulfillment of a promise that we made to the american people if we had majorities in the senate, in the house, and in the white house. we have it and it's time for us to act. and i will guarantee you, i don't care what the headlines read because i've seen those headlines before. i don't care what the special interests want in terms of an
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exemption because i had those meetings in my office before. and at the end of the day, every single one of those folks who wanted to pick apart one exception or an exemption have come back into my office and said, you know what? you protected us from ourselves because if you'd listened to us, we would have done far less than you were capable of doing, and there's nobody who follows state politics that questions that what was done in north carolina has been an extraordinary turn around. now it's time to do the same thing for this great nation. and i hope that all of my colleagues will set aside the distractions, mute the voices of the special interests that will want their special exemption or exception, and fulfill the promise that we made to the american people. madam president, thank you. i yield the floor. mr. cruz: madam president? the presiding officer: senator
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from texas. mr. cruz: madam president, i rise today at a time of extraordinary opportunity. the american people have entrusted us with something that historically is quite rare, a republican president, rather control of every executive agency, and republican majorities in both houses of congress. now it is incumbent on us to stand up and lead, to deliver on the promises we made to do what we told the american people we would do. we have before us right now an opportunity for historic tax cuts. just last week this body voted out a budget resolution that is the vehicle for adopting tax cuts. and i urge every member of this body to come together in support of a strong, bold tax plan that cuts taxes on every working men
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and women that brings back jobs and economic growth. you know, growth is really fundamental to every other challenge we have in this country. if you look historically since world war ii our economy has grown on average about 3.3% a year. and yet from 2008 to today, we've grown only 1.2% a year, about a third of the historic rate of growth. if we don't turn that around, none of our other problems are solvable. if you care about the national debt, if you care about the deficit, if you care about rebuilding and strengthening our military, if you care about strengthening and improving social security and medicare so that they are there for the next generations, you've got to have growth. with economic growth, every one of those is possible. without growth, if we stay mired in the stagnant obama 1% and 2% g.d.p. growth, none of those problems are solvable.
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growth is foundational. so, madam president, i'd like to lay out three principles and then seven key elements that i think should guide this body in tax reform. number one is growth. when we are adopting tax cuts, we should focus directly on jobs and economic growth, focus on the reforms that produce jobs, that expand economic growth, that grow our economy, that create more opportunity. that raise wages. working men and women in this country are hurting. we need wages going up. we need more jobs. we need young people coming out of school with two, three, four, five job opportunities. that's what tax cuts are all about. number one we start with growth. and i'll point out we can do this. from 2008 to 2012, the economy grew 0.9% a year, less than 1% a year on average.
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if you look back in history to the previous four-year period where growth average less than 1% a year, it was 1978 to 1982. it was coming out of the jimmy carter administration. it was the same failed economic policies, high tax, high regulation, high spending, high debt and in 1981, ronald reagan came into the white house. the reagan presidency focused front and center on tax cuts, major tax cuts in 1981 and then following it up in 1986 with major tax reform. and what happened? when reagan came in in 1981 with across-the-board tax cut, tax cuts for everybody, democrats screamed. the media screamed. and yet the economy took off. madam president, in 1984, fourth
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year of the reagan presidency, g.d.p. growth, it wasn't 3%. it wasn't 4%. it wasn't 5%. it wasn't even 6%. it was 7.2% in 1984. 7.2%, those are numbers you hear in the developing world. those are numbers you hear in china, in india. all of our learned economists who are so world weary, all of our media reporters who are so world weary tell us no, no, no, no, that kind of growth is not possible in america anymore except the new normal of 1% and 2% of stag nancy, of young people buried in student loans, of people hurting. accept that as the new normal. that is nonsense. if we have a -- if we want to see reagan-style growth, we need a reagan-style tax cut, an unapologetic, unabashed tax cut that focuses on jobs. second big principle, simplici
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simplicity. there's an old rule kiss, keep it simple, stupid. that is particularly powerful when it comes to tax reform. bold, simplicity has enormous power, and in particular, allowing every american to fill out your taxes on a postcard, i believe that should be an integral element of what we pass. it's what i had been pressing for for many years and what i will continue to urge my colleagues here in the senate and in the house to do. simplify the tax code so that we don't spend millions and millions of hours and paperwork wasted on compliance. make it a postcard. make it simple. and then the third objective is fairness. we want a tax system that's fair, that isn't arbitrary, that isn't washington picking winners and losers deciding okay, this industry we like so you can do okay. this industry we don't like so
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you're going to hurt. we're going to pick between we need to -- we need to cut everybody's taxes. last week i debated bernie sanders on cnn on tax reform. and bernie to his credit was very candid. he said he wanted to raise your taxes. if you're a taxpayer, your taxes are going up under bernie and the democrats' vision. my vision is every bit as simple on the other side. if you're a taxpayer, i want to cut your taxes. and that's what we need to do is cut taxes fairly across the board for every american, to reduce the burdens from washington and to create jobs and economic opportunity. you know, madam president, i will note in that debate with bernie, there was one exchange that i thought was particularly notable. bernie, as you know, when he ran in vermont did not run as a democrat. rather he ran telling the voters he was a socialist. i asked a simple question. what is the difference between a
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socialist and a democrat on taxes? and he sat there for several seconds in silence and said i don't know the answer to that. and my response was, neither do i. one side of this chamber wants to raise your taxes if you're a taxpayer. the other side of this chamber wants to cut your taxes if you're a taxpayer. that's a simple choice for the american people. what are the elements that should reflect those principles, seven critical elements? number one, i believe we should create a simple, low, flat rate. currently there's seven individual rates with the top rate nearly 40%. ideally what i believe we should have is one simple low, flat tax. when i was campaigning for president, i campaigned on a simple flat tax of 10% for every individual, every family in this country.
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16% as a business flat tax and abolish every other federal tax. abolish the corporate income tax. abolish the death tax. abolish the alternative minimum tax. abolish the payroll tax. everyone pays a simple flat 10% for individuals, 16% for businesses. simplicity has power. now, madam president, it may be the case that we don't have the votes to go to a simple flat tax today. if that is where we are, if we don't have the votes to do it today, then the closer we get to that, the better. if we can't get to a simple flat tax, then going from seven brackets to three, that's an improvement. you know what, going from three to two is even better and going from two to one would be even better than that. we need to press consistently for a low, simple flat rate that is fair for everybody. second element, and we talked about this just a minute ago, was filing your taxes on a post
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card. let me tell you the most wonderful aspect of that sim police city. -- simplicity. it's not the millions of hours and billions of dollars saved. the best aspect of filing your taxes on a post card are actually the physical administrations of the post card. it means that congress can't add a bunch of new things. even if you tried to put it in small font. the post card would impose a discipline on the government that you can't carve out something. this is simple, flat, and fair for rve. number three, allow expensing. what does it mean? if a business makes a capital expenditure, they have to amer advertise it -- amortize it over a number of years. we should allow full and
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immediate expensing. if a farmer in your home state of iowa buys a new tractor, that farmer should be able to expense it immediately that year. if a steel factory buys new equipment and hires new workers to operate that equipment, that steel factory should be able to expense that new equipment immediately. if a diner buys new kitchen equipment and hires new cooks, wait ergs, and waitresses, the owner should be able to expense that capital expenditure. why is that? it is because of the first principle i started with, growth. if you care about jobs and economic growth, expensing a powerful, powerful engine for jobs and economic growth. it creates millions knew of jobs because that capital has to be spent in the united states, it has to be spent here. that tractor is in the united states, that steel equipment is it in the united states, that diner with the cooking equipment is in the united states which
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means those jobs are in the united states. and i would note, by the way, that the people that are particularly benefited from immediate expensing are the men and women who work in this country, are the men and women, frankly, gave donald trump the victory in 2016, are the union workers who, sadly the democratic party, has abandoned. there was a time when the democratic party styled themselves as the party of the working man and woman. that time has long since forgotten. the democratic party now listens to california environmentalist billionaires and ignore the farmers, ranchers, taxicab drivers, truck drivers, of waiters, and waitresses, of the men and women working hard for their families, that's who the republican party should be fighting for, the working men and women of this country, immediate expensing impacts the
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working men and women, particularly in heavy manufacturing. the fourth element is a lower corporate rate. we're seeing, and we've seen over the last eight years, companies leaving america, leaving america and moving had their headquarters, moving their legal domicile to other countries. why is that? because the united states has the highest corporate tax rate of any other developed country in the world many we created a tax environment that tells american businesses if you get the heck out of dodge, if you move somewhere other than america, immediately your profitability will jump because our corporate tax rate is higher and in some instances more than twice as high as our competitors. if you look at ireland, ireland used to have high corporate taxes, they cut it and cut it again and are seeing businesses
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flood in ireland because of the low corporate tax rate. they bring with them jobs. our focus should be jobs. if we cut the corporate rate so it is at least as low as our competitors, and ideally lower, we will create an environment where more businesses will want to do business in america where there are more jobs. and i'm remindled during the -- i'm reminded during the presidential campaign season of hillary clinton saying, don't let anybody tell you that corporations create jobs. even in the world of politics that was a stupid statement. the last i checked, you get a job going to work for a business unless you start your own business. you either start your own business or work for another business, that's who gives you jobs. we need to create an environment -- in recent years we talked about corporate inversions, companies fleeing
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america. our democrats on the other side of the aisle, and they have ideas to punish freeing mesh. their approach is to tax them so high, and then if you try to survive, we will give you fines and remedies. it is like obamacare where they fine people who can't afford insurance after driving premiums through the roof. let's cut the corporate tax rate and create a tax and regulatory environment so businesses want to be here and create jobs. it is my hope that three, five, ten years from now, that other countries, european countries, asian countries are complaining about corporate inversions because their companies are fleeing their countries an coming to america because there's no place on earth to do business than america because we would have honored our tax reform and cut taxes and create an environment where businesses can thrive.
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number five, encourage repatriation. right now federal tax law be subjects those who bring -- u.s. companies have roughly $2.7 trillion in capital overseas and our tax system inex inexplicably incentivized them to keep the money overseas. which means, what do they do with the money overseas? they build factories in china and other countries and hire people overseas. why? if they bring the capital back here an hire americans, our tax system punishes them. that don't make any sense. i want to see that $2.7 trillion coming back to america. i want to see that money back in this country. i want to see new factories, new stores, new businesses, i want to see new jobs.
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so we need to encourage repatriation and not put a punitive tax on the money coming back. you want to talk about patriotism. there is a reason it is called repatriatation, it is patriotic to use that money to hire americans. our democratic friends want to yell, scream, an insult them had that's not the right answer. if you punish companies for bringing money back to america, they are going to respond rationally by nothing -- by not doing that. let's change the tax system so we don't punish them for bringing money and jobs back to america. sixth element, end the death tax. madam president, the death tax is one of the most unfair aspects of the federal tax system. now, the death tax also happens to be the very favorite tax our friends on the democratic side of the aisle love to demagogue. i have heard over past weeks,
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attack after attack after attack on death tax -- on the death tax that it is about the super rich. here's a secret that the democrats won't tell you. the super rich don't pay the death tax. by and large they manage to avoid the tax with remarkable success rates many they hire armies of accountants and lawyers. do you think that george sor as is -- soras is paying the death tax? the death tax creates very little revenue for the federal government. who gets hit by the death tax? it's the farmers, it's the ranchers, it's the small business owners. you know, in the debate last week with bernie sanders, he said, this doesn't affect farmers at all. you know, you and i have both spoken with an awful lot of farmers in iowa and texas.
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i've heard farmer after farmer after farmer lament the death tax because what happens when the farmer passes away and passes the farm on to the next generation, over and over again, the next generation is forced to sell the farm just to pay uncle sam. they paid taxes once. they paid the taxes when they earned their money. the death tax says that for having the temerity to die, we're going to tax you again in a punitive -- at a punitive rate. death should not be a taxable event. that's not fair. it shouldn't be the case that when you die the two people you get to see are the undertaker and the tax man and we see farms that are sold and broken up, ranches are sold and broken up, we see small businesses that are sold and broken up because the next generation that wants the run the small business wants to keep the job and suddenly has a federal tax bill. they don't have the fancy lawyers and accountants that,
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like the super rich avoid the death tax, so they get hit full force with the death tax. if you care about jobs and economic growth, why do you want a small business owner forced to sell the factory just to pay the tax bill, which means the employees get laid off. it's much better to have those small businesses growing and have the farmers prospering, have the ranchers prospering. and then the final element is we need to end the alternative minimum tax. the a.m.s. is a -- a.m.t. is growing the number of people hit by it and it adds complexity to the code. we should focus on growth, impolicety and -- simplicity and fairness. if we do that and focus on bringing back jobs, we can have a tremendous impact on our country. i want to make a plea to the
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members of our conference, to the republicans, we may get some democrats to support us on tax reform. it's possible. we may get one or two. sadly we're in a different world than we used to be. in 1981 and 1986 democrats used to be willing to work with republicans on tax cuts. tip o'neill was speaker of the house when reagan passed massive tax cuts. in are no tip o'neills and bill bradleys left. there is not a single democrat leading the fight for tax reform. not one. you may get one o'two democrats at the -- one or two democrats at the end of the day who cast a vote after everything is done because they are afraid of the electoral consequences in november. i'll make a prediction right now if we don't have 50 votes on this side of the aisle, not a
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single democrat will provide the 50th vote. we can't getting vote number 50 from that side of the aisle. which means for tax reform to happen, our conference has to get our act together. we have 52 republicans. we have to get 50 on the same page. listen, we're at a time where we're seeing personality battles, we're seeing nastiness. this is a strange time in politics. any three republicans can tornado tax reform, so i'm making a plea to all 52. don't be selfish, don't put personal animosities above the good of the country. we were elected by the vote erts to do a -- voters to do a job. let's do the job. let's honor the promises we made. let's cut taxes, bring back jobs, bring back economic growth, and demonstrate to the voters there's a reason they
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elected republican majorities. if we don't, if we can't get our act together, then i fear the consequences are catastrophic as a policy and political matter. so i urge my colleagues, let's do what we said we would do. let's cut taxes. let's bring back jobs. madam president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, madam president. i rise today to talk about the dire humanitarian situation in puerto rico and to challenge this country to end a century of discrimination against the puerto rican people. while the fleeting media attention may have waned in the
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desperation, the people there have not. it has been more than a month since the hurricane and still 80% of the island's electricity is still out. roads and bridges collapsed. of the 67 hospitals open, less than half are operating with electricity. families are searching for drinking water and some have been drinking water from wells at a super fund site. this kind of inhumane response, it would never ever be permitted in a u.s. state. but one doesn't even have to look at other states to evaluate this response. we can look abroad. within two weeks of the earthquake in haiti, there were 17,000 u.s. military personnel on the ground in that country. two weeks after hurricane maria made landfall in the united states, the united states had deployed only 10,000 troops to respond to a disaster in both
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puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands. news broke yesterday that the state-owned electric company on the island, prpa refused mutual aid agreements with companies on the mainland. that is a standard step in response. fault lies with prpa but how on earth and fema and the trump administration allow for that to happen leaving millions of puerto ricans in the dark and almost in danger. it is beyond comprehension and speaks to the failure of the u.s. government response. but, madam president, the truth is that hurricane maria exposed far more than just immediate physical damage. the hurricane also laid bare a very simple truth that is plain to every resident of the island and every puerto rican living in my state. the truth is this: the united
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states has been screwing puerto rico for over 100 years, and this is just the latest, most disgusting chapter. there is an undercurrent in the discourse about puerto rico that is as pernicious as it is a historical. you'll hear people like president trump say puerto ricans are wholly responsible for the financial mess they find themselves in and puerto rico should pull itself up by its bootstraps. it ignores the fact that the federal government, we've had our hands tied around those very bootstraps since 1898. the united states acquired puerto rico from spain through the treaty of paris since 1898. puerto rico didn't ask to be part of the united states. we acquired the island. a century ago congress extended u.s. citizenship to puerto rico.
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in 1950 puerto rico became formally known as the commonwealth of puerto rico. being a commonwealth or a territory is permanent second-class status. without access to the same health care reimbursement, the same infrastructure funding, the same education dollars as other states, puerto rico starts every single race 50 feet behind the rest of america. these built-in disadvantages are designed to hold puerto rico back. they have been in place for 100 years to keep puerto rico from being a true economic competitor with the mainland. and believe me, the puerto rican people have done everything they can to overcome this discriminatory treatment. there is an entrepreneurial, never-say-die spirit in puerto rico. i know this because no state has a greater percentage of its residents with puerto rican roots than connecticut. but despite the strength of the puerto rican people, they're
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stuck because washington has tied their hands behind their backs by taking away the right to vote in federal elections. virtually guaranteeing puerto rico's economic disadvantage will never ever be remedied. it's a black hole from which puerto rico and the other four u.s. territories can never escape. puerto ricans are u.s. citizens, despite the fact that recent polling suggests that like half of americans don't know this. but they can't vote for president. they have no voting representation in congress. think about it this way. americans with a mainland address can vote if they move to mongolia or sierra leone. but if they temporarily take up residence in a u.s. territory like puerto rico, they miraculously lose their right to vote. and there are real practical consequences to this lack of representation. we're watching the most egregious example right now.
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do you really think that if puerto rico had two united states senators, 80% of the island would still be without power a month after the hurricane? and, by the way, puerto rico has more citizens than 21 states that have a total of 42 senators in this body. you think a president would denigrate, insult puerto rico the way that president trump has if it had electoral votes? but the botched response to maria is just the latest attack on the island perpetuated by a congress that can afford to ignore a big part of the united states that has no voice in congress to object. for over six decades the united states navy pummeled the island of vieques off puerto rico's coast with ordinance using it as a bombing range for military exercises. those weapons allegedly contain uranium, napalm and agent orange. people who live on vieques are
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eight times more likely to die of cardio vascular diseases. cancer rates are much higher. if you want to know why puerto rico has been in a decades long recession, more than 50 years ago the u.s. government launched economic initiatives to help spur economic growth on the island. it was a good thing. ironically the initiatives were collectively called operation bootstrap. one of the tools that was used to spur economic growth was a tax break to allow u.s. manufacturing companies to avoid corporate income taxes on profits that were made in puerto rico. manufacturers descended on the island in droves and the entire economy in puerto rico became oriented around those companies. but what congress gives congress can take away especially if the entity you're taking from has no meaningful representation in congress. in 1996, congress phased out the tax breaks and guess what? it sucked the island's tax base
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away cratering puerto rico's economy for the next two decades. now listen, it's worth noting that puerto rico is not blameless for the financial situation that it's in. there have definitely been a fair share of mismanagement on the island, bad decisions that have been made, saying that puerto rico's only a victim of schemes of the mainland. that's not true. but the same can be said of fiscal machine -- fiscal mismanagement and other u.s. states. a century of bad investment in puerto rico has been a big part of the story as to how they arrived at this situation and unlike all those other u.s. states, puerto rico has no way of rectifying the past misdeeds because its toolbox to reckon with the past is limited to what congress sticks in the toolbox and that toolbox doesn't provide access to the bankruptcy code. so as a result congress passes a financial oversight board on the
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island. puerto rican bondholders on wall street who bought the bonds for pennies on the dollar are now challenging the current oversight and the board's legitimacy with the hope of being paid before the island gets relief. these practices of the bondholders who have been circling the island for years, they are made more menacing because they're spending boatloads of money lobbying congress. just watch the tv at night here in washington, d.c. and see their ads. they know that the people of puerto rico have no voice here, have no votes here. and now it looks like other predators are circling. news came out this week that a small two-person company in whitefish, montana, somehow, some way got a no-bid $300 million contract to restore power in puerto rico from the island's power authority, the same thorough authority that
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refused the help of experienced electric companies who actually know how to turn back on the power. so how does something like this happen? well, it turns out that that little town in montana is the home to the new secretary of interior. and get ready because this isn't just the start. president trump and his billionaire cronies are going to use this disaster to enrich themselves. the whitefish power contract given to a friend of the secretary of interior, with two people employed at that company, it is just a scratch on the surface of what's to come. puerto rico has been getting screwed for decades. none of this is new. none of this is unpredictable. and if you want to think of this as just one centurylong string of rough luck, you're ignoring the last critical aspect of puerto rican history.
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back in 1901 when the u.s. supreme court decided that the residents of the territories, they lived in the united states, they shouldn't be able to enjoy full constitutional protections, the supreme court was pretty explicit about why these citizens in places like puerto rico deserved this second-class treatment. just as henry brown, who by the way authored the separate but equal doctrine held that puerto rico and the other territories didn't need to be afforded full rights under the constitution because the islands were, quote, inhabited by alien races differing from us in religion, customs, laws, methods of taxation and modes of thought. that, my friends, is racism defined, and it is both past and present when it comes to the
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rationale for the historical and continued mistreatment of the people of puerto rico. it's time for that mistreatment to change. not just by doing right by puerto rico at this moment, at their hour of need. yes, it is time for president trump to command that fema and the u.s. military and the powers that be in puerto rico turn back on the lights right now. congress should give puerto rico every cent that they need. and i'm glad that we came together this week to approve the latest round of emergency aid. but it's long past time that we address the second-class treatment that we have given the people of puerto rico for decades. even that racist 1901 supreme court decision contemplated that the territory's unequal status could only be justified temporarily. and so it's time to untie the
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hands of the puerto rican people and ensure that they have full economic and political rights. and i hope that my colleagues will join me in this conversation in the coming months. it is just as important as the one that we are having on emergency response. because if anything good can come from the disaster of hurricane maria, maybe it's that. i yield the floor.
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a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. udall: thank you, madam president for the recognition. madam president, republicans have spent months trying to repeal the affordable care act. they knew tens of millions of americans would lose their care. they knew it would betray our federal trust responsibility to native americans. and they knew twho throw one -- it would throw one-fifth of our economy into chaos. trumpcare failed because the american people opposed it. americans spoke out against it in record numbers. trumpcare failed to pass four times. we hope now we've put that to bed and we can move on. but rather than listening to
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millions of americans, president trump has responded by sabotaging the affordable care act. his reckless behavior is already causing chaos in the marketplace. his actions have hiked up the cost of premiums, he has sent out-of-pocket costs through the roof. and instead of helping americans get better health care, he has put it out of reach for millions. i commend my colleagues, senator alexander and senator murray. they have found a bipartisan solution to this new health care crisis caused by our president. i urge leader mcconnell to put it on to the floor. but the affordable care act isn't the only health care program at risk. the president and republicans are letting funds run dry for other critical health programs. last month the children's health insurance program expired.
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chip insures almost nine million children across the country, including over 11,000 kids in my home state of new mexico. the community health centers program also expired last month. repu -- early childhood home visiting services. that is one of the most effective health programs we have. without it, more than 1,000 new mexico parents could miss out on home visits. they won't get crucial information about how to nurse their newborns and teach basic skills to their children. and the special diabetes program for indians is set to expire in december. i rise today to urge republicans to work with us to reauthorize these critical health care programs. we need to act urgently.
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we can get this done by thanksgiving or earlier if we work together. madam president, i want to talk about chip first. chip provides comprehensive health insurance for kids whose families don't quite qualify for medicaid but can't afford private insurance. chip covers basic medical care like immunizations and prescriptions and routine checkup and dental visits. thanks to chip, the rate of uninsured kids in america has dropped from 14 important to 4.5%. chip has been a lifesaver for some families. this is colton. he is from the small town of anthony, new mexico. colton was eight years old when he was diagnosed with cancer. fortunately the cancer was
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treatable and he was insured by chip so the costs of his medication and treatments were covered. without chip, colton's family would have had to pay hundreds of dollars a month for his treatment. the cost of a month's rent. families should not have to choose between lifesaving care for their children and a roof over their heads. colton's father wrote to the " santa fe new mexican" and said watching my son battle for his life was almost more than i could bear. i couldn't imagine dealing with the threat scraping everything that we had to cover the medical bills if we didn't have coverage. having chip allowed us to focus on what was truly important, colton's future and being there for my family as we went through this life-changing experience.
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but now states are looking at contingency plans. new mexico has reserves but only until next spring. some states will be forced to cover all of the costs in just a few months and others are preparing to send notices to families that their coverage will end. no parent, who is also in -- already in crisis because of a sick child, should have no go through that. chip was a bipartisan success story. i hope we can get back to working together on this. madam president, the 50-year-old community health care program delivers health care services to some of our nation's most vulnerable people, school children, agricultural workers, and our veterans. in new mexico 17 of these clinics serve 333,000 patients
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in 90 underserved and rural communities. the community health centers are important to the economy in rural communities. in new mexico they employ almost 3,000 people across the state. these clinics cannot sustain a 70% funding cut. many would be forced to shut their doors. i recently visited one of these clinic, the debaca clinic. over one-fifths of its patients are children and another one-fifth are seniors. if funding runs out, they will have to lay off essential medical staff and reduce its hours. clinic director lisa walraven told me, you simply cannot
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reduce funding by 70% for a small frontier health care facility and expect anything other than a significant loss of access to care. well, chip and community health centers provide preventive care to underserved communities throughout new mexico. they are supplementing our health care system to ensure that we don't let any families fall through the cracks. indian country also depends on these programs and others like them to provide vital care to their communities. the federal government has a trust and treaty obligation to provide health care to native americans. and yet the indian health service is severely underfunded. chip and similar programs help supplement care that the indian health service can't provide. chip covers 4,200 native american children in new mexico.
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allowing this to expire would be ignoring our treaty obligations. another program cited that is critical to indian country is the special diabetes program for indians. it provides grants for diabetes treatment and prevention. without proper treatment, diabetes can lead to limb am amputation. this program is making real progress. it helps fund over 300 native health programs in 35 states, including 29 programs in new mexico. they help educate communities about how to prevent diabetes and provide care so they can manage their diabetes. it is one of the most effective
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health initiatives ever undertaken by the federal government. diabetes has dropped 54% among native americans. and some states, like alaska, leg amputations has decreased more than 68%. this program literally saves life and limb. program directors across indian country tell me that without this funding, they will have to start laying off staff and limiting their diabetes program. we need to provide funding to tribal communities so they can invest in projects that will be more effective in preventing diabetes over time. congress must act to allow this successful program to reach its full potential. we cannot allow diabetes to become a death sentence in indian country once again. mr. president, the failure to
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fund chip, failure to fund community health centers, home visiting services, and the special diabetes program will force families into another health crisis. every day we neglect these programs more people will suffer. these programs have years, sometimes decades, of proven success. the american people want congress to work together to come with up with bipartisan solutions. most of these programs were created through bipartisan cooperation. let's get back to that spirit and work together for the american people again. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call: mr. barrasso: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: president trump has been in office for nine months. for the entire time senate democrats have been trying to obstruct him from doing the very
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job that he was elected by the american people to do. the president has laid out his agenda to create jobs, grow the economy, and help hardworking american taxpayers. yet democrats will do anything they can to stop the president from putting his team in place to accomplish these goals. they tried to stop the president's legislative agenda because they know that president trump's policies will actually work. when republican policies become law, democrats know that the american people will see how successful these republican policies are. i think that democrats are worried they will never win another election again once we get the policies in place. that's why we have seen record amounts of delay and obstruction from the democrats in the senate. they have done it on legislation and they even blocked the president from filling some of the most basic jobs within his
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administration. and, you know, mr. president, it started on day one. normally on inauguration day the president gets a substantial number of people confirmed to his cabinet. the idea is to let the president get his team in place so they can hit the ground running. president obama had six on inauguration day, president bush, seven on inauguration, in terms of secretaries confirmed. these confirmations were by voice vote. that wasn't the case with president trump. just two rollcall votes on -- roll call votes on inauguration day. they didn't do anything to try to -- republicans didn't try to block cabinet sects for president obama. we knew it was important to give them a chance to let it work. george w. bush was given seven. not anymore, not with this group
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of democrats in the senate. they were never really interested in giving president trump a chance. they really don't seem to be interested in working together. last january president trump had two people confirmed to the cabinet on inauguration day, secretary of defense and secretary of homeland security, the only two jobs that the democrats allow the president to fill. in president trump's first nine months in office, democrats have continued to block the way. they allowed 185 nominees to take their jobs. that's how ridiculous the democrats have been in preventing president trump from putting his team in place. by this time president obama had 364 nominees in place. the democrats have blocked judges and cabinet secretaries and other high-ranking officials. it is interesting, mr. president, as you have seen
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this, many of these nominees had democrat support and got controversial at all, but democrats are doing everything they can to slow down the process. so president obama's first nine months 364, and president obama had two for every one president trump has been confirmed. there have been 81 who have come through committee, that's 81 people nominated by the president for positions in the government that are waiting right now on the senate floor for a vote. these are people, many of them got through the nomination process in june who are still waiting and being blocked by democrats in the senate. it's outrageous. do democrats really think these aren't important jobs, that they don't need people in those jobs to do the important work that they've been assigned to do? i believe we should confirm as many of these as possible today. there are 13 junction waiting
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confirmation -- judges waiting confirmation, including 18 in my home state of wyoming. we all understand that there's a process that we need to go through to in make sure they are vetted and they are the right people for the job. they have followed the process, they filled out the paperwork, disclosures, gone through the committee, and now it's time for the senate to get its work done. i'd say let's do it today. interestingly enough in august democrats finally allowed a significant number of people to be confirmed. more than 60 people were confirmed by voice vote on one day. that's the kind of thing that used to be very routine in the senate, letting a large number of noncontroversial nominees to be approve all at once. it is now time to do it again. there's a significant backlog. i want to get these votes cleared now. it's time to clear the deck and let these people who have been
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nominated and gone through committee and vetted let them get to work. we have more nominations on the way. we're going to have to deal with nominations of two cabinet sects the currently -- secretaries currently vacant. it is an important job. democrats plan to vote her confirmation to be secretary of homeland security. the democrats plan to obstruct this qualified woman from doing the important job to which she's been nominated by president trump. the president deserves to have his team in place. the senate has an obligation to get that work done. and the department of homeland security deserves to have a secretary in place to keep us safe. so, how it worked in the past is how it should be working now. these are people who manage major departments. they manage many career workers.
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because we know that the washington bureaucracy has grown tremendously over the years. it's very difficult to eliminate people who aren't doing their jobs properly. we've seen it in scandals over the years. you remember the gold king mine disaster? president obama's e.p.a., the group that is supposed to protect the environment actually dumped three million gallons of toxic wastewater into a river in colorado. remember the scandals involving bureaucrats at the department of veterans affairs and the i.r.s. and the general services administration during the obama administration? we need presidential appointees in place overseeing these federal workers to make sure that the government of the people is accountable to the american people. this senate needs to be involved in providing oversight through our power of advice and consent. democrats don't want that to happen. they have been keeping the senate from providing that oversight and making sure that dragging out the process,
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making sure that the bureaucrats whom they seem to have more faith in, that the bureaucrats are accountable to the american people rather than those that the american people voted for on election day. mr. president, these are important jobs. we have qualified people ready to do their work. democrats have delayed for nine months. it is time to break that logjam today. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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