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tv   U.S. Senate 10302017  CSPAN  October 30, 2017 2:59pm-7:40pm EDT

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products, that there are mechanisms we could use to try to get products out and be able to then use them and follow to make sure that we are adequately addressing the safety issue. but right now even though the fda has approved something like seven or eight biosimilar drugs, we only have one or two out on the market because of litigation over patents and other issues that have prevented these products are being approved. there was just a settlement. i don't know if want to call that they pay for delay settlement but a summit between humira and a bio silver manufacture that says they will not put -- biosimilar -- there were not market into 2023 even though the market will be able to market in europe in 2018 -- >> this conference with the former congressman and the entire conference on health care and prescription drugs is available to watch in its entirety anytime online. just go to and search
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laxton in a video library. going you live to the floor of the senate about to gavel in peer voting today and whether to confirm trevor mcfadden to be d.c. district judge and another debate on amy barrett to be the seventh circuit court. more work on judicial nominations are expected this week and also let you know in rush investigation, bail has been set for paul manafort and rick gates, former trump campaign staffers. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order.
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the chaplain will legal the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, we are grateful for your goodness, your faithful love endures forever. we cannot list the miracles you have done throughout our lives and history. lord, establish our lawmakers with your might. when they go through dry and barren places, become for them a stream of water in life's desert. demonstrate your mighty wisdom as they seek to solve the daunting problems of our time.
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may your promises never fail, as your will is done on earth even as it is done on heaven. eternal spirit, you are the rock of our salvation, our help in ages past and our hope for years to come. we pray in your mighty name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c, october 30, 2017, to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable todd young , a senator from the state of indiana, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g.hatch, president pro tempore. mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: for the past eight years we had a president who selected nominees for our nation's judiciary based upon what became known as the empathy standard. the empathy standard. an ideological litmus test
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designed to find judicial nominees who would favor certain groups or individuals over others. that's a great standard if you're the party in the case whom the judge has empathy for. it's not so great if you're the other person. not only does this standard deny every litigant a fair shake, it also disregards our nation's bedrock legal tradition of dispensing equal justice under the law. president trump, on the other hand, is selecting nominees who will help ensure that the judiciary is true to its role in our democracy. later today the senate will vote to confirm one of those nominees, trevor mcnad -- mcfadden as the district court judge for the district of columbia. not one vote in opposition. democrats needlessly delayed his vote here on the floor anyway.
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we've seen many delay tactics from them already this year. we pushed through every time. we're going to push through again today. we're going to confirm the impressive judicial nominee before us, and we're going to confirm more judicial nominees in the coming days as well. our effort to confirm qualified judicial nominees this year would not be possible without the tireless work and effective leadership of our judiciary committee chairman, chuck grassley. the -- i filed cloture last week on four -- four -- well-qualified circuit court nominees. these nominees understand their role as a judge is to put aside their personal preferences and instead decide cases based on what the law says. we'll confirm all of them this week no matter how long that
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takes. the first of these four circuit court nominees we'll confirm this week is professor amy barrett who was nominated by the president to serve on the u.s. court of appeals for the seventh circuit. a mother of seven, professor barrett began her legal career by clerking for judge lawrence silverman of the d.c. circuit and then for justice scalia. these prestigious clerkships gave her the opportunity to work closely with two giants of the legal field. today she's a respected professor at the university of notre dame where, by the way, she was horned -- honored as distinguished professor of the year twice. professor barrett would bring a wealth of knowledge to the bench. now, professor barrett happens to be catholic. her faith is important to her. she's spoken freely about it and
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its impact on her life. but she also understands the role of a judge, which is not to let personal beliefs dictate how cases are decided. now unbelievably some on the political left, including some of our democratic colleagues, are criticizing her because as a law student she wrote a law journal article that argued just that. her coauthor of the article, john garvey, is now president of catholic university. he recently wrote the following amy barrett, a law professor at notre dame, was grilled by democrats on the senate judiciary committee about an article we wrote together in 1998 when i was a law professor and she was my student. in that article, we argued that the death penalty was immoral, as the catholic church teaches in common with quakers,
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episcopalians, methodists and the 38 member communions in the national council of churches. we went on to say that a catholic judge who held that view might in rare cases have to recuse -- recuse herself under the federal statute that asks a federal judge to step aside when she has conscientious scruples that prevent her from deciding a case in conformity with the facts and the law. president garvey went on to write perhaps the alliance for justice which has mounted a campaign to discredit professor barrett didn't get that far in reading the article. the website says this: stunningly, barrett has asserted that judges should not follow the law or the constitution when it conflicts with their personal religious beliefs. in fact, this group claimed barrett has said that judges should be free to put their
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personal views ahead of the judicial oath to faithfully follow the law. well, president garvey noted, however, barrett said no such thing. we said no such thing. we said precisely the opposite. this opposition for barrett is so upside down which leads garvey wondering whether there is something else going on here. the case against professor barrett is so flimsy garvey concluded that you have to wonder whether there isn't some other unspoken cause for their objection. the president of notre dame also weighed in about these criticisms about professor barrett. here's some of what he said in his letter to the ranking member of the judiciary committee. your concern as you expressed it, he wrote, is that dogma lives loudly in professor barrett. that is a concern when you come to big issues that large numbers
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of people have fought for years in this country. i am one in whose heart dogma lives loudly, he continued, as it has for centuries in the lives of many americans, some of whom have given their lives in service to this nation. it is chilling to hear from a united states senator that this might now disqualify someone from service as a federal judge. i ask you and your colleagues to respect those in whom dogma lives loudly, which is a condition we call faith. a condition we call faith. or the attempt to live such faith while one upholds the law should command respect, not evoke concern. professor barrett, he wrote, has made it clear that she would follow unflinchingly all legal precedent and in rare cases in
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which her conscious would not allow her to do so, she would recuse herself. i'll say that again. in rare cases in which her conscience would not allow her to do so, she would recuse herself. i can assure you that she is a person of integrity who acts in accord with the principles she articulates. so, mr. president, let me remind colleagues that article 6 of the constitution provides that, quote, no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office. united states constitution. according to the founders, this was done to ensure that the people may employ any wise or good citizen in the execution of the various duties of the government.
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professor barrett of notre dame is just such a wise and good person. and when the senate confirms her to the seventh circuit of our judiciary and our nation will be better off. i strongly support her nomination and would urge my colleagues to do the same.
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mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. good afternoon. this morning the former chairman of the trump campaign for president and a close associate turned themselves in to federal authorities on a dozen charges, including acting as unregistered agents of a foreign power and conspiracy against the united states. the indictments of mr. manafort and mr. gates show that the
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special counsel's probe is progressing in a very serious way. mueller is moving forward. what we know now is that an alleged unregistered foreign agent who was charged with laundering tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments on behalf of their agenda was given the chairmanship of a campaign for the presidency of the united states and with it untold influence on a future president and his party. and we know that mr. manafort has had continuing contact with the president since his resignation from the campaign. just as shocking was the admission by a trump campaign advisor that he met with a kremlin contact to discuss so-called dirt on secretary clinton. while we know that mr. popa
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mr. popadopalous had contact with others, his admission raises many more questions than it answers. mr. mueller and his team should be allowed to seek answers to those questions without interference from the president or anyone else. the stakes could not be higher. we're talking about the pride and wellspring of our grand democracy -- free and fair elections, which have been going on for more than two centuries, and we're disturbed and adult rated -- adulterated by a hostile foreign power with no good intent for the people of this country. it's critical that we need to get to the bottom of this. that is special counsel mueller's job, and he must be allowed to perform it without
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interference. the rule of law is paramount in america. we pride ourselves on it. the investigation must be allowed to proceed unimpeded. the president must not under any circumstances in any way interfere with the special counsel's work. if he does, congress must respond swiftly, unequivocally, and in a bipartisan way to ensure that the investigation continues and truth, the whole truth comes out. now, on judges. mr. president, this week, the majority leader has scheduled votes on four circuit court nominations. it's the first time in my memory that the senate is being asked to process four circuit court judges in a single week. the circuit courts have an immense influence on our country, adjudicating some of
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the thorniest of legal issues. only the rarest and most vexing circuit court decisions are appealed to and taken up by the supreme court. for this reason, we typically don't sandwich circuit court nominees back to back to back to back. only a week, only a week after they have emerged from committee because members who are not on the judiciary committee usually need time, always need time to review these candidates for such important, powerful and far-reaching positions. and why has the majority leader departed from this practice? well, one can argue it's because the republican agenda has been such a failure in this congress. the leader has chosen to try and accomplish through the courts what republicans have been unable to achieve through the legislative process. the republican agenda has been so unpopular with the american
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people that it has stalled at every juncture, so now they have made a grazen move to pack the courts with activist judges and remake them in their conservative, ideological image. why has the majority leader done it? the hard right, frustrated by the failure of repeal and replace, has for months been pressuring senator mcconnell to do something aggressive. senator mcconnell once again, despite his desire to make the senate work -- and i believe that is sincere -- is bending to the hard right of his party by jamming through these judges, breaking the norms and traditions of the senate in the process. i intend to oppose these extremist nominees. finally, mr. president, on taxes. the republicans have promised to release the details of their tax plan this week. after months of talking about a
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plan with very few specifics, we'll finally get to see how the republican leadership plans to rewrite the tax code. from all indications so far, the details of the republican tax plan will be cheered by those in the country clubs and corporate board rooms. working americans, on the other hand, might not have very much to cheer about. the top 1%, law firms, hedge fund managers can celebrate a lower top rate and an enormous new tax loophole in the form of lower rates on passthroughs. people who will most take advantage of these passthroughs are not small businesses. they can't afford all the lawyers and stuff. it will be the biggest, the most powerful, the richest. the wealthiest 5,200 families in america, those with the -- with estates over $5 million, can celebrate the absurd repeal of
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the estate tax. corporate america can celebrate hundreds of billions in tax cuts, which large corporations usually spend, not on new jobs. it's not what the history shows, but on c.e.o. bonuses, stock buybacks, dividends. so while the wealthy and well off will be busy celebrating the new tax breaks they might get if the republican plan passes, working america will be looking over their shoulder at some real tax hikes. republicans are debating how to eliminate or reduce state and local deductibility, a bedrock middle-class deduction claimed by nearly a third of all taxpayers, the vast majority of whom make less than $200,000 a year. the republican framework says they are going to eliminate the deduction, which totals tens of thousands of dollars a year for
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many working families. that's why removing state and local removes $1.3 trillion in revenue, and the g.o.p. plans to spend that tax increase that they're getting from the middle class on tax cuts for big corporations and the superrich. to be clear, it's a $1.3 trillion hike on middle-class families. now, there is a compromise on state and local deductibility that has been floated in the press. it's hardly much better. the republicans are talking about continuing to allow state and local deductibility for property taxes, but not income and sales taxes. that compromise raises $900 billion, meaning that republicans, even with the compromise, are instituting a trillion-dollar -- nearly a trillion-dollar tax hike on working families to pay for breaks at the very top.
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no matter how they construct this compromise, republicans are still socking it to the middle class and the upper middle class, but this time picking winners and losers. sales taxes hit consumers the hardest. ending the state and local deductibility for sales tax would fall on the backs of working class and middle-class americans, particularly in states like tennessee, florida, and nevada which don't have an income tax but have a large sales tax. states like chairman brady's, texas, on the other hand, which have very high property taxes, would be much better off. worse still, the tax hike from this so-called soft compromise would put huge pressure on state and local governments across the country whether to make the agonizeing decision about whether to raise taxes or cut spending for services,
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education, law enforcement, hospitals, highway building on which their constituents, their middle-class constituents rely. a warning to my republican colleagues from high sales tax states like tennessee, florida, and nevada, and high income states, a lot of republican congressmen in those states of new york, new jersey, california, minnesota, virginia, colorado, that this state and local compromise will not solve your problem. the compromise does not solve your problem. it will still hit your constituents right in their wallets. now, another debate on the other side of the aisle is how to cap americans' pretax contributions to their 401-k plans. can you believe it? here in america, we're going to help the middle class save, where we want to encourage savings, we're making it harder? in layman's terms, here is what our republican colleagues want
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to do. they want to tax your 401-k's. i can't believe my republican friends are even considering such a bad idea. we have had bipartisan support on expanding the ability to retire, particularly now that so many companies are no longer giving pensions. giving americans the ability to put away pretax dollars for their retirement is one of the few provisions in our tax code that encourages early savings. capping the amount americans can contribute pretax, or in other words turning every 401(k) into something more like a roth i.r.a. will discourage americans from savings and handicap their ability to retire with dignity and security now that defined benefits plans are declined. for years, we democrats, often
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joined by republican colleagues, have fought for policies that would make 401-k's more attractive, provide greater benefits. in other words, the exact opposite of what the republican leadership is considering. we put forward proposals on auto enrollment, increasing incentives for businesses that enroll workers and match contributions, and letting small businesses pool together to offer plans. each of these ideas would encourage more americans, particularly younger families who have great burdens on them to start saving early for retirement, which everyone agrees is essential to building up enough of a nest egg to live out your golden years in some degree of dignity and comfort. the republican proposals say to every future retiree they don't care about your ability to retire. they just want to get your tax revenue into federal coffers as soon as possible so they can
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give a tax break to the very wealthy, that top 1%. the contrast could not be clearer. democrats want to expand and enhance 401-k plans, not cut them and cap them. that's a better deal for american workers and for middle-class families. so instead of this one party's secretive approach, democrats and republicans should be meeting with each other, talking about tax reform in a bipartisan setting to forge a bipartisan proposal. that's what committees were designed to do. that's what regular order was designed to produce. just like on health care, our republican friends are straining the legislative traditions of this body and risking their ability to govern effectively -- we saw what happened with health care -- by going at it alone. the american people, mr. president, the american people expect more of their
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elected officials than that of an assembly line of partisan legislation, crafted in secret, considered with such haste. i know why our republican colleagues want to rush this through. they know the more the american people learn about this bill, the more it favors the wealthy over the middle class, the less they will like it. just like with health care, once this bill is unveiled, the american people, now only 30% of whom support it, even fewer will, and maybe our republican colleagues will see the light and work with us to get good tax reform that focuses on the middle class, not on the top 1%. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the mcfadden nomination,
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which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination. the judiciary. trevor m. mcfadden of virginia to be united states district judge for the district of columbia. mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i came to the floor to talk about judges, and i will in just a moment, because the majority leader has now filed for cloture. that is a process that will end up in a vote, up-or-down vote on four distinguished nominees for the circuit court of appeals, but coming on the tail end of the remarks of the democratic leader, i must say sometimes i feel like washington, d.c., is a parallel universe, that it bears very little relation to the rest of the country or the rest of the world.
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because to hear the democratic leader talk about some tax plan being written in secret defies the facts, and the facts are that this is going to be done in a very public sort of way. i expect that as soon as wednesday, the house of representatives will release their proposal and then shortly thereafter the senate will likewise release its proposal that will then be amended and debated in the senate finance committee, just like the house bill will be debated and amended in the house ways and means committee. these will be very public, and indeed they should be, because they are going to touch on the ways that i believe we can unleash this sleeping giant of an economy, get the economy growing again, get businesses invested here in the united states and higher wages and jobs for american families from which
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all americans will benefit, regardless of their tax bracket. i've read that some of our democratic colleagues -- we heard a little bit of this when the president invited the bipartisan senate finance committee members over to the white house just a week or so ago. some of our democratic colleagues said, well, we haven't been included in the process. well, they have made it clear they don't want to be included, but i hope they will change their mind, and they will have that opportunity during the course of the senate finance committee debate and amendment process. no one will be prohibited from offering an idea or debating an idea as we work through the process of -- of tax reform package that will again, as i say, hopefully bring down the taxes for hardworking american families, let them keep more of what they earn, and in the process improve their standard of living, and as we reform our business tax code, which as president obama pointed out in
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2011 is literally a self-inflicted wound because we have the highest business tax rate in the world, which makes it more likely that businesses will want to invest abroad in jobs and their infrastructure rather than invest here in america, and we want to bring all of that back here so investors will invest in jobs in america and so that manufacturers can proudly stamp what they make here in america made in america. that's what we're trying to strive for. so i know my friend, the senator from new york, has a job to do on behalf of the democrats here. but it is, as i described at the outset, a parallel universe from what is actually happening. is it does not bear any relationship to the reality that we've offered our democratic colleagues to participate with us in growing the economy and giving hardworking american families the opportunity to keep
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more of what they earn and, thus, improve their standard of living. work at times this -- well, at times this chamber is marked by a spirit of hard work, cordiality and bipartisanship but this is not one of those times. since president trump's inauguration, our democratic colleagues have been needlessly obstructing the confirmation of extremely qualified nominees and lately they are their focus -- their focus has been on nominees for our federal courts but certainly their obstruction has been across the spectrum of nominees, slowing down nominees and forcing us to burn time, confirming nominees which they by and large will vote in favor of. and for what purpose other than to make it harder for the president once elected to get his team on the field and to serve the interests of the american people and the president's administration. but lately, as i pointed out, their focus has been on th the
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federal courts. the majority leader has filed on four nominations last thursday and we hope our democratic colleagues will think better of dragging out the clock on confirmation of these four nominees. if they do, no one will be surprised. this year the democrats have thrown up every obstacle they can, requiring procedural votes, needless debates and a lot of time burned here on the senate clock with no one on the floor talking about anything one way or the other. it's what we call quorum calls here, h when america tunes in, there's nothing happening other than the clerk calling the roll from time to time and that's time we could be using for bipartisan legislation. but the goal here is for our friends across the aisle to cause us to burn the time, keep us from doing the people's work,
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and obstructing the president's nominees to the federal bench and beyond. the irony here is that our democratic colleagues have even obstructed judges originally nominated by president obama. so they are not particularly picky in terms of the judges and the nominees they will obstruct. but all they've really accomplished so far wasting the senate's time and trying the patience of the american people, who know that there's more productive work to be done than simply having endless quorum calls and silence on the senate floor while we burn the time on the clock in order to get these nominees confirmed. our colleagues know their tactics won't actually stop a nomination, but they insist in gage illegalling in them any -- in engaging in them anyway.
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they forced needless cloture votes on set circuit court north more than any early presidency and they've demand a full 30 hours of floor time that senate rules allow for currently. these are partisan roadblocks that never change the outcome. they're just dillydall dillydal. they're intended to grind this body's normal procedures a sna snail's peso that nothing much else gets done. and oh, by the way, then complaining that not enough is being done. that's the tactic, that's the game plan. by way of comparison, during the first year of president obama's presidency, only once did senate republicans require a cloture vote on one of the president's nominees. in the trump administration, senate democrats have forced cloture votes on all of the president's nominees except one. this is all a game to waste time and maybe a little bit for show. but these tactics don't change
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the outcome, which is confirmation, and ironically because of the even more cynical ploy adopted by democrats under president obama. the senate used to require 60 votes for confirmation of judges. this permitted the minority to block judges who were truly out of the mainstream or who did not enjoy the support of their home state senators. senator harry reid when he was majority leader just a few years ago changed all that. but it seems like it backfired on him. he tore up the rule book when he invoked the nuclear option in 2013 and changed the senate rules to jam through three nominees to the d.c. circuit court of appeals, eliminating the so-called filibuster because democrats were upstate that the d.c. circuit was blocking regulatory overreach by the obama administration. now the filibuster is gone and i hope that going forward our
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democratic colleagues will recall their previous actions as our caucus proceeds with filling these vacancies. it's good that these outcomes are not in doubt because these positions are too crucial to be left empty any longer, even if it means we stay in session over the weekend or at night. the on appellate nominations, we're going to move forward with four, whether the democrats cooperate or not because these are nominees of highly qualified and well-respected jurists. they are amy barrett, nominated fofor the seventh circuit, joan larsen nominated for the sixth circuit, allison eid nominated to the tenth circuit -- that's the seat vacated by judge neil gorsuch elevated now to the supreme court of the united states; and university of pennsylvania law professor stefanos bibsa nominated for the
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third circuit. i look forward in talking in more detail about the high intellectual caliber of these four nominees in the coming da days. this is going to occupy the rest of this we believe and it's worth noting at the outset that the four include three of the most accomplished female lawyers in the united states. for now the important thing to note is our determination to get this done. under republican leadership we're working to deliver to the american people and confirming judicial nos nominations is just one example. today the senate is scheduled to confirm trevor mcfad ton the u.s. district court for the district of columbia. mr. mcfadden was voted out of the senate judiciary committee on which i serve unanimously in july. he's deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the department of justice, graduated from the university of virginia law school and has extensive experience in law enforcement.
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this is somebody voted unanimously out of the senate judiciary committee, yet senate democrats are denying him a voice vote or other expedited process and, again, forcing us to burn the clock just in order to get his nomination voted on. last week, though, we confirmed scott palk for the western district of oklahoma detection spite the same sort of games. mr. palk was originally nominated to the same seat by president obama in 2015, so you would have thought that our democratic colleagues would relent and ditch their procedural gimmicks, but, no, they didn't even for a judge originally nominated by president obama. fortunately it didn't matter because mr. palk ultimately was confirmed by a substantial margin of 79-16. so why the delay? why the obstruction? why the foot-dragging?
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if 79 senators on a bipartisan basis are going to confirm the nomination? i for one would like to commend the president on his sterling picks, not only for the recent district and circuit court nominees but also of a judge i mentioned a little bit earlier, now supreme court judge neil gorsuch. to date four of president trump's appellate nominees have been confirmed. this is an excellent addition to our nation's federal judiciary. all of them i believe will faithfully interpret the constitution and now their job is to say what the law is, not what they believe that it ought to be. mr. president, the majority leader has been unyielding in his goal of moving forward a productive schedule for the good of the one here in the senate and moving as swiftly as our rules alaw. -- allow. so stall tax break particulars for stall tactics alone will not
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work. mr. president, i yield the floor. and i'd note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida.
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mr. nelson: mr. president, i ask consent that the quorum call be set aside. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president, everybody now in washington knows that the special counsel has announced charges against two of president trump's former campaign aides in connection with the ongoing investigation into whether or not russia interfered with the 2016 election. we know now after painstaking investigations in the intelligence community that in fact russia did interfere in the election and what many of us are concerned about, since they have continued this pattern in other countries' elections, we are concerned about the fact that they will interfere in the next
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elections coming up. we've already seen attempts in this special election down in alabama that they have been trying to increase the number of hits going to a facebook or twitter account. so they interfered. well, we learned also this morning that a third former trump campaign aide has pled guilty to lying to the f.b.i. in january when he was asked about his inner actions while he was with the trump campaign. mr. president, these are very serious charges, and we should be united against any individual who helped further russia's interference in our elections.
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yet, sadly, the response to these indictments has been seemingly split along partisan lines. that doesn't make sense. defending america isn't a partisan issue. in fact, everyone in the senate, all of our democrats, republicans, our two independents, they have sworn an oath to do exactly that, to defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. and so charging these individuals shouldn't be seen as a victory for one party or another or it shouldn't be seen as a defeat for a party. these individuals are charged
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with crimes against the u.s., crimes against all of us americans. and the fact is that russian president vladimir putin interfered in our election, and in so doing he has attacked the very foundation of our constitutional democracy. we know that, and we also know that we are not the only country that he has attacked. and according to the u.s. intelligence community, he will continue this type of behavior unless he is stopped. and that's why we have such a heavy responsibility to defend america from these kind of attacks. and to defend our american constitutional foundations built on a process of free and fair
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and unfettered elections. it doesn't matter whether you are a democrat or a republican. it should be clear, if you help an enemy of the united states meddle in our democracy, you will be held accountable. too often here in this senate and throughout the country as a whole, we find ourselves suddenly divided on issues because of party politics. but that shouldn't be the case. there should be no disagreement when it comes to protecting america because we should be americans first, not democrats or republicans first. we should be americans first. we must continue to be patient with the mueller investigation
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and allow it to follow the facts wherever they may lead because finding out what happened is the only way we're going to be able to prevent this from happening again. and it's the only way that we're going to be able to keep our country safe. madam president, i yield the floor. i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, all past-cloture time is expired. the question occurs on the mcfadden nomination. the yeas and nays are requested. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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is vote:
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the presiding officer: on this vote, the vote is 84 yeas, 10 nays. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table, and the president will be immediately -- and the president will be immediately
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notified of the senate's action. the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of amy coney barrett of indiana to be united states circuit judge for the seventh circuit signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate the debate on the nomination of amy coney barrett of into be united states circuit judge for the seventh circuit shall be brought to a close? the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote: vote:
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vote: the presiding officer: any senator in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the ayes are 54, the noes are 42. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the
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nomination. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary: amy coney barrett to be united states circuit judge for the ninth circuit. the presiding officer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: mr. president, when the 18 million americans in the individual insurance market, those are americans, shop keepers, strong writers, farmers, men and women who don't get their health insurance from the government or on the job. when they begin enrolling on wednesday, they'll discover something very strange. the "wall street journal" weekend story explained how strange this phenomenon will be. some of these 18 million americans will be able to get their insurance for free. they will pay absolutely nothing for their premium but others -- others will see their premiums skyrocket far beyond the increases they've seen in recent
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years. here's what "the wall street journal" says, quote, in nearly all of the 2,700 counties included in the data, some consumers will be able to obtain free health insurance because they qualify for the larger federal premium subsidies that cover the full cost of the plan, according to the new analysis. in the coming weeks insurers are gearing up to promote the no-premium option. on the flip side, those who don't get premium subsidies under the 2010 law may be responsible for the full brunt of steep rate increases. though they may be able to mitigate the impact by staying away from silver plans. insurers are gearing up to shepherd americans into plans that will cost zero because taxpayers will be paying much higher subsidies.
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meanwhile, mr. president, the nine million americans in the individual health insurance market who do not have subsidies may be responsible for what "the wall street journal" calls, quote, the full brunt of steep rate increases, unquote. so what's causing this strange phenomenon? it's happening because congress, us, has not funded cost-sharing reduction subsidies, or c.s.r., for the 2018 plan year. cost-sharing reduction dubs sis are payments in the affordable care act that the government makes to insurance companies to reimburse them for deductibles and -- and copays for many low-income americans. according to the united states district court for the district
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of columbia, the president of the united states can no longer make these payments himself without approval of congress, so president trump ended those payments this month. insurance companies have raised premiums to make up the difference, loading most of the increase on to the silver plan premiums. they did that because under the affordable care act subsidies are based on silver plan premiums. so as premiums go up subsidies go up. if silver plan premiums skyrocket, then the subsidies skyrocket and then you can use your giant subsidy to go buy a bronze plan and pay nothing in premium. in california alone, according to "the wall street journal" article, about half the 1.1 million who buy health insurance with subsidies can get their insurance for free next year. to be clear, because congress
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didn't provide temporary funding for the cost-sharing reductions for 2018, more than half the californians on the a.c.a. exchange can get free government-paid health care. i've been saying for the last few weeks that the chaos we're going to see if we don't continue the cost-sharing payments will provide a four-lane highway to single-payer insurance, now we see why. premium-free private insurance for millions funded by the taxpayer. i'm not sure what's conservative about that, mr. president. now, we don't need to worry about the insurance companies. they obviously know how to take care of themselves. as the article details, if the cost-sharing payments aren't made over two years, insurance companies shouldn't lose a penny. they have to pay, under law, the copays and deductibles because they already secured permission
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to raise premiums for 2018 to cover that because courts have said the payments are illegal, they secured approval of rates that are 20% higher in 2018 just for this purpose. so the insurance companies are not hurt by stopping the cost-sharing reduction payments. so if subsidized americans aren't hurt by stopping the payments, and insurance companies aren't hurt by stopping the payments, then, mr. president, who is hurt by stopping the payments? hardworking, low-income americans making less than $11,000 a year who don't qualify for medicaid and americans who make more than $47,000 a year and who therefore have no government subsidy to help buy insurance. they must face these premium increases on their own. a hardworking tennessean in the
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individual market, let's take a look at her hment she's already -- at her had she's already seen her premiums increase 176% over the last four years. for 2018 it's going to be up another 36% in tennessee, on average. she will pay the whole bill, no government help. then take the american taxpayers. the congressional budget office tells us that failure to continue the cost-sharing reduction payments, increased premiums, and therefore the subsidies to pay for those premiums by $194 billion over ten years added to the federal debt because we don't continue the cost-sharing subsidies. how do we avoid this? believe it or not we can avoid this situation by enacting a bill that will both prevent this strange phenomenon and reduce the federal deficit by
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$3.8 billion. senator murray, the senator from washington, the ranking democrat on the senate help committee and i introduced this bill. we were among 12 republicans and 12 democrats last week who proposed built and recommended it to the senate and the president and the house of representatives after we conducted four hearings in the senate health committee. in addition, we invited senators not on the senate health committee to join us in the development of this bill and 37 showed up so we had about 60 of us who had some participation in the development of this proposal that senator murray and i recommended. we presented it -- to the senate our recommendation for continuing cost-sharing as well as to give more states and flexibility in approving premiums so people would have more choices and lower prices.
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you may have noticed, mr. president, that a growing number of republicans and conservatives are recommending that congress act to continue for two years the so-called cost-sharing reduction payments as copays and deductibles for low-income americans. the head of the two tax-writing committees, senator hatch, and representative kevin brady, introduced legislation that would continue cost-sharing in 2018 and 2019. in fact, earlier this year almost all house republicans voted to continue cost-sharing for two years as part of their repeal and replace obamacare bill. and senators bill cassidy and lindsey graham said that to continue the cost-sharing temporarily would have been part of their replace and repeal bill
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but senate reconciliation didn't allow it. president trump recognized this. he asked for a short-term bill to prevent this kind of chaos. he encouraged me to talk to senator murray about this and he -- to use cost-sharing reduction to negotiate with states so they can approve lower prices, which is exactly what senator murray and i dd. that's what we recommended, the 24 of us, 12 republicans and 12 democrats, to the full senate last week. some people still worry that continuing the cost-sharing payments is the same thing as propping up obamacare. those are the words we hear or bailing out insurance companies. we hear those words too. in fact, just the reverse is true. as the article explains in "the wall street journal," cutting off the cost-sharing payments in the current circumstances would
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increase insurance premiums on hardworking americans who have no government subsidies. it would increase the federal debt by nearly $200 billion over ten years and spend billions more in taxpayer dollars funding obamacare subsidies. let me say that again, mr. president. as "the wall street journal" krl explains, cutting off the cost-sharing payments would increase insurance premiums on hardworking americans who receive no government subsidies. up 36% in tennessee, mr. president. increase the federal debt by nearly $200 billion over ten years and spend billions more in taxpayer dollars funding obamacare subsidies. now, there are two groups of people who would be basically held harmless if congress does not approve the cost-sharing
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payments. one, americans with obamacare subsidies, and, two, insurance companies. on the other hand, according to the c.b.o. report last week, continuing the cost-sharing subsidies, as part of the alexander-murray agreement, would actually save taxpayers $4 billion by reducing premiums and therefore obamacare premium subsidies. during 2018, it would provide rebate to consumers state by state to hardworking americans with no government subsidies and it would begin to lower premiums in 2019. it would also give all americans the opportunity to buy a new cat imri of -- category of policy, catastrophic, so that a medical catastrophe doesn't turn into a financial catastrophe. and it would give more states to write policies with more choices
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and more prices. many states want to do that, mr. president. they need these types of flexibilities to stabilize the markets because problems with the individual market did not start with the uncertainty over the cost-sharing payments. we need to return power to to the states. the president, and many others have said, they don't want to bail out insurance companies. i don't want to bail out insurance, senator murray doesn't want to bail out insurance companies. i don't think i have run into anybody in the united states senate who wants to bail out insurance companies, and our agreement doesn't bail out insurance companies. in fact, it does just the reverse. if president trump is looking for his majority, he might find it in americans who don't like higher taxes and who don't like more government funding for obamacare subsidies. somewhere the idea got started that continuing cost-sharing
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payments bails out insurance companies, but insurance companies are big boys and girls. they know how to take care of themselves and they proved it once again. failure to continue the cost-sharing subsidies is going to hurt taxpayers and it's going to hurt unsubsidized americans who have no -- who -- americans who have no subsidy to help buy their insurance. mr. president, there's nothing conservative about that. i thank the president. before i yield the floor, i would like to ask consent to include following my remarks an article from "the wall street journal" weekend edition entitled "more a.c.a. plans to come with no premiums in 2018." the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: i thank the
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president and yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: mr. president, i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to legislative session for a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i have two requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of calendar number 243, s. res. 211. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 243, senate resolution 211 condemning the violence and persecution in chechnya. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent the committee reported amendment to the resolution be agreed to. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i know of no further debate on the measure.
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the presiding officer: is there further debate on the measure? if not the question on the measure. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the resolution is agreed to. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the committee-reported amendment to the preamble be agreed to, the preamble as amended be agreed to and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the agriculture committee be discharged from further consideration of and the senate proceed to s. res. 75. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 75 recognizing the 100th anniversary of the academy of nutrition and dietetics, the largest organization of food and nutritional organization in the world. the presiding officer: without objection the committee is discharged. the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be
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considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the senate now proceed to the en bloc consideration of following senate resolutions which were submitted earlier today: s. res. 312, 313, and 314. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measures en bloc? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the resolutions be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table all en bloc. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. tuesday, october 31. further that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day and morning business be closed. further, following leader remarks the senate proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the barrett
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nomination post-cloture. senate that the senate recess from 12:30 until 2:15 to allow for weekly conference meetings. finally that all time during morning business, recess, adjournment and leader remarks count postcloture on the barrett nomination. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: if there is no further business to come before the senate i ask it stand adjourned under the previous order following the remarks of senator reed. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reed: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: mr. president, a few weeks ago i traveled to south korea to better understand the
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threat posed by north korea. i would like to share my impressions from the trip and how i believe we should be positioning ourselves to better deal with this current crisis. i want to recommend to my colleagues and the administration that the time for debate on this issue is now. before the crisis comes to a head. we need to have a clear strategy and increased cooperation with south korea, japan, china, and russia to contain and deter the nuclear threat posed by north korea. i have significant concerns that we are not doing everything we can right now to improve our bargaining position with north korea. i am convinced that we must try to find a diplomatic solution to this problem because the alternatives are extraordinarily costly. while we should always remain prepared to go to war and never take that option off the table,
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i believe that as long as there is a possible diplomatic solution to this crisis, we must make every effort to make it a reality. i would like to spend some time talking about the threats posed by north korea and then review the history of our diplomatic negotiations since the early 1990's. north korea voluntarily joined the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, the n.p.t., in 1985. it was clear only a few years later that it was in voolings of the n.p.t. our -- in voolings of -- violation of the nonpartisan -- n.p.t. the first violation occurred in 1993. since then north korea has engaged in the illegal production of fiscal sewell material and nuclear -- fissile material and conducted six
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nuclear weapons tests, the latest occurred last month on september 3. the threat we face from north korea is not just the nuclear weapon aimed at new york city or washington, d.c. this regime has proven over and over again that it will not hesitate to proliferate weapons of mass destruction for financial gain. the proliferation threat is a global one. we can all imagine the consequences of a nuclear weapon in the hands of al qaeda or isis that can be deployed anywhere in the world. north korea possesses not only a nuclear threat to the globe, but also a conventional one. in 2010, the regime torpedoed and sank a south korean warship and 46 south korean sailors lost their lives. later that year the regime killed four south korean citizens when it shelled pyongyang island. once this regime achieved its
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goal of developing a nuclear weapon that can hit the continental united states, we may see increased kinetic attacks against south korea and japan and possibly other countries in the region. north korea has repeatedly engaged in cyber attacks in the last decade and uses them as an asymmetric weapons against companies. it has been attributed with sweeping attacks against the financial industries, society for worldwide interbank financial telecommunications or swift protocol, to enrich itself to the tune of millions of dollars. and this swift protocol is the backbone of the world financial system. it orchestrated the dark seoul cyber attacks in 2013 attacking south korean news stations and financial institutions, and it was responsible for the destructive and coercive attack
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against sony pictures, a successful american entertainment company, because it didn't like a movie's depiction of the current leader. let us not forget that north korea engages in horrific human rights violations against its own people. it maintains a system of brutal be prison camps that incarcerates thousands of men, women, and children who live in atrocious living conditions under constant fear of rape, torture, and arbitrary execution. it keeps its civilian population isolated from the rest of the world, while it accesses the current news and information that would undermine its propaganda to brainwash its population into believing their leader and reveering their leader and demonizing the western ideals of freedom and democracy. i think it is important for us to remember the long and torturous diplomatic path we
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have walked with north korea for the last 25 years and recognize the wasted opportunities by past administrations that could have prevented or reduced the threat that we face today. after we realized that north korea had failed to meet its obligation under the n.p.t. in the mid 1990's, we almost reached a crisis point in the late spring of 1994 as the clint administration considered striking the yong byong nuclear facility. the crisis would resolve when former president carter traveled to pyongyang later that summer and brokered a deal. north korea would freeze its plutonium program in exchange for a lightwater nuclear reactor. a final deal was agreed later that year called the agreed framework under which north korea agreed to freeze its plutonium production programs and eventually dismantle them in
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exchange for two nuclear reactors and the prospect of normalization of economic and diplomatic relations. so how do we get from that agreement to today? for starters, in 1998, north korea tested its first long-range ballistic missile, and that began to unravel the deal. the clinton administration attempted to salvage the agreed framework by negotiation of additional terms to stop its missile program, but was unable to conclude the arrangements before president clinton left office. after president bush took office in 2001, the new administration wanted to distance itself from clinton's policies and stop negotiating the agreed framework in earnest. north korea, reacting to the bush administration's new hostile tone, also stepped away from the talks. for example, in january, twoot,
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president bush delivers his axis of evil speech at the state of the union that identified north korea as a regime, quote, arming itself with missiles and weapons of mass destruction while starving its citizens. in april of that year, president bush issued a memorandum stating he would not certify north korea's compliance with the agreed framework. rumors also abounded at this time about north korea's pursuit of a uranium-based nuclear weapon which were confirmed in october, 2002. by the end of 2002, diplomatic efforts having stalled, north korea expelled inspectors from the country, withdrew from the n.p.t. in early 2003, and turned fuel rods that the u.s. had helped to store safely under the agreed framework into weapons-grade plutonium. it was lost opportunity to go back to the drawing board, reengage the north korean
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regime, and attempt to find a comprehensive deal that would include both its plutonium and uranium programs, as well as the missile program. after north korea admitted in april, 2003, that it possessed nuclear weapons but was willing to get rid of its program in exchange for something considerable from the united states, the so-called six-party talks started in august of that year, and eventually reached an agreement in september, 2005, in which north korea committed to the other five parties that it would abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs. at this point, north korea's nuclear program had made significant progress, and forcing the north korean regime to implement the agreement and stop its program would have required a significant diplomatic investment by the united states, but at that time we were fighting two wars in iraq and afghanistan and did not see north korea as the highest
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priority. after north korea tested a nuclear device in 2006, we had a moment when the other parties of the six-party talks were even more resolved or together. the six-party talks did produce two additional agreements in which north korea froze the plutonium program, turned over operating records, and dismantled the cooling tower, but they again faltered and then failed over a verification -- over verification measures. it's possible that with consistent pressure and cooperation with the other parties, we could have convinced north korea to follow through on its verification commitments. then the north korean leader suffered a stroke in 2008, and president bush left office in january, 2009, complicating matters even worse. north korea greeted the newly elected obama administration with a political test in april, 2009, and a nuclear test in may.
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after kim jong-un, the current leader, took control of north korea in 2011, the situation became even more challenging. when it became clear that there was a new and concerted effort to advance their nuclear program, the obama administration struck the so-called leap day deal. both countries separately announced an agreement to suspend operations at its enrichment plant, invite international atomic energy agency or iaea inspectors to monitor the suspension and implement a moratorium for nuclear long-range missiles. in exchange, we offered a generous food aid package. it was an attempt to begin the process of denuclearization but was short-lived, since north korea announced its plan to launch a satellite in violation of u.n. resolutions only two weeks after the agreement was
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announced. yet again, it was a lost opportunity to really challenge the current leader before he had consolidated power with north korea over a provocation that did not need to derail negotiations. my purpose in reviewing this history is to note that there were opportunities, especially especially under the iaea framework and later six-party talks to reengage the government and find a comprehensive diplomatic solution. we missed those opportunities and deferred this problem, and we are now in a much worse negotiating position than at any time in history. of course, we cannot ignore that the biggest problem has always been north korea's failure to stand by its commitments and its covert development programs despite repeated assurances during negotiations. that is why i believe we need to make sure that any deal includes
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stringent verification measures with snapback sanctions and economic measures that will cripple the north korean economy and starve it of any resources it can use for its nuclear program. while i understand the risks inherent in any deal with north korea, i believe the throorns are much riskier. i would like to be very, very clear. while we will prevail in a war against north korea, it will not look like winning. i want to paint for you the very stark and grim ally we will be facing in a conflict against korea, north korea. first, it would and should not be lost on anyone that the united states has never fought against a nuclear-armed state. even if we were to engage in a preemptive far with north korea now, it currently has the
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capability to hit both south korea and japan, our main staging areas, and where the majority of our troops would be located with a nuclear weapon. the irony is that by striking first to prevent a nuclear strike against the united states, we would be significantly increasing the likelihood of the nuclear strike against ourselves or our allies. even if north korea does not hit south korea or japan with a nuclear weapon, a conventional war would be devastating. within the first weeks, we would see tens if not hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, from the long-range artillery strategically aimed at the 25 million citizens of seoul. there are some 250,000 american citizens living in south korea who would need to be evacuated, mostly from seoul, while the city is under siege. the united states has never conducted a noncombatant
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evacuation operation of this scale. it is likely that most u.s. citizens would not be able to be evacuated within the first week of hostilities, resulting in massive u.s. civilian casualties, in addition to the thousands of our korean friends who will also lose their lives. moreover, either in anticipation of hostilities or in response to a preemptive attack, north korea will engage in significant cyber operations that will strike at infrastructure throughout the world, including the united states. further complicating the scenario is the fact that north korean cyber operations are conducted outside of its territory, principally in china, and without any prior agreement with these countries, we would be faced with the difficult decision of how to stop these remote north korean operations. and let us also not discount the cascading economic effects of war. the south korean economy would be in ruins, and shortly
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thereafter the asian markets and the global market would begin to see the effects. as noted in recent analysis of the potential economic impacts of such a war, south korea accounts for around 2% of global economic output. if south korea's g.d.p. fell only by half, that would result in a 1% decrease in global g.d.p., not to mention a huge disruption to global supply chains. u.s. federal debt would go up considerably. collectively, this war could cost us billions in addition to the actual financial and military resources that we would need to expend. and to those who think we will have a quick and certain military victory, i say our assumptions of a vic victory -- quick victory have been proven wrong many times in our history. we will not be viewed as liberators by the majority of
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the north korean population who have been taught from birth that the united states initiated the hostilities that led to the korean war, and are determined to destroy their country. the korean war, during which the north koreans suffered massive casualties and a constant bombing campaign that reportedly killed almost 20% of its population is within the living memory of older north koreans. add to that the incredibly risky missions of locating, isolating, and neutralizing nuclear, chemical, and biological weapon sites and the thousands of underground facilities in north korea, and we are looking at a month-long campaign with a year-long stabilization effort, not to mention the decades it will take not only to reconstruct north korea but to bring its infrastructure and population forward to the 21st century. we also cannot underestimate the reactions of the global community, especially china, if we act prematurely.
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china has a defense treaty with north korea, and although it has publicly stated that it will not aid north korea if north korea attacks first, we cannot gauge what china's reaction will be if it determines that we were the initial aggressors. again, we will prevail after a long, bloody, and costly fight, but it will not look like winning. we must do everything we can now to set the theater to win the war, and then do everything in our power to avoid it. to that end, we should exhaust every single diplomatic avenue for peace before considering other options. we have an obligation to our men and women in uniform to vigorously seek a diplomatic solution before using military force. we also need to convince our allies, especially south korea and japan, that we are serious about their security and have
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made every effort to avoid conflict. we will undermine our own credibility and our standing in the world if we rush to war without demonstrating our commitment to peace. finally, even if diplomacy failr likelihood of success is low, given the history i have laid out above -- there are certain advantages to be secured solely through the process of negotiating that will be significant achievements in their own right. first, we will have a much better sense of what the current regime's strategic interests are. it was clear under kim il-sung, the present leader's grandfather, that he had three strategic priorities. to use the nuclear program to blackmail the rest of the world for economic concessions. to appeal to the north korean populace who have been told that
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nuclear weapons were a mantle of legitimacy. and to scapegoat the united states with north korea's economic problems, arguing that the sacrifices made by the north korean people were necessary to fend off u.s. imperial aggression. it is less clear where the current regime's interests lie. it is possible that kim jong-un is interested only in regime survival and will be willing to agree to a deal that will freeze its program and instead focuses attention on developing its infrastructure and improving its economic growth in exchange for guarantees that will not seek regime change. despite our strongest sanctions program to date, the north korean economy is growing, albeit from a remarkably low starting point. kim jong-un has taken a page from the chinese economic plan of the 1980's and 1990's and significantly increased the economic prosperity of his people while maintaining strict
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social and political control. he has opened the economy through decollectization, the reduction of market restrictions and allowing small private enterprises to flourish. the north korean economy grew more than 3% last year. it is clear that kim jong-un is interested in allowing his economy to develop and providing greater economic opportunities to his people. but it is also possible that kim jong-un has more aggressive ambitions and seeks to finish his grandfather's goal -- reuniting the peninsula under north korean rule. i believe we should spend the time to try to understand kim jong-un's ultimate goals and whether peace is really on the table. second, we will have the moral authority to go to war, having demonstrated to the world that we negotiate in good faith and that the north korean regime is not interested in peace.
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it will also give us an opportunity to better understand and coordinate on china's strategic interests. while china is also quite concerned and alarmed by the nuclear programs, it has a considerable interest in maintaining stability on the peninsula to avoid regime collapse, to avoid also humanitarian crisis triggered by millions of refugees flowing across its southern border, and to avoid the possibility of a biological or chemical weapons attack or nuclear attack so close to its territory. diplomacy may offer the opportunity to find common ground with china on these issues, issues that could concern us as well and should concern us, and to coordinate our responses in the event of contingency. we should discuss end states with china that take into account their vital national interests. finally, we should be able to
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receive some commitments from other countries, especially china, with regard to the enforcement of sanctions as an aid to the diplomatic process. to date, china has been unwilling to exert the type of pressure necessary to cause real economic pressure on the north korean regime. i believe we should push for an agreement with china and russia on even stronger sanctions that will be immediately enforced during the negotiation process and will continue to be enforced if the negotiations fail. we should be expending every possible resource now to set the right conditions for diplomacy and to improve our negotiation position. this administration has not created the right conditions to date, and there are four areas that i believe we need to focus on today. consistent and clear messaging to north korea and the world, increasing our diplomatic and
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military capacity, improving international cooperation and coordination, and increasing pressure on the north korean regime through better sanction enforcement, military pressure, and information operations. there has been a marked failure to consistently message to the north currency our allies i in e region, other global players like russia and china, and the rest of the world. secretary tillerson has repeatedly made public statements regarding our intentions to pursue a diplomatic solution with north korea and has been consistently undercut by the president's commentary that we are not really interested in diplomacy. while i understand the president's intent might be to demonstrate that we can and will use military force, if necessary, there are certainly more artful ways of making that message clear than tweeting that the secretary of state is,
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quote, wasting his time trying to negotiate with rocketman. this is not a time for incoherence or confusion. we need to be as precise and clear as possible with regard to the administration's avowed strong preference for diplomacy. likewise, president trump's speech at the united nations general asystemmably said exactly -- assembly sent exactly the wrong message. threatening to destroy north korea may send a deterrence message, but it also plays into the regime's narrative that we are out to destroy them. we should not be feeding into kim jong-un's propaganda machine by reaffirming their mistaken belief that we're interested in annihilating their country. and we should not be signaling to south korea that this administration does not take its security seriously. i sincerely hope that the
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president does not repeat his tone-deaf messaging during his upcoming speech to the korean national asystemmably. the government of korea needs to hear a clear commitment to diplomacy and a clear commitment to protect the republic of korea as required by our alliance. in this regard, it is disturbing to hear reports that official responsible for executing our diplomacy with regard to north korea are, quote, frustrated by inability to communicate the urgency of the situation to the white house. unless there is consistency in our message and constant and acute attention from the white house, we are on a path to disaster. in addition to consistent messaging, we need to drastically improve our capacity, both diplomatic on the one hand militarily, to position ourselves for any negotiation with north korea. it is diplomatic malpractice
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that there is no u.s. ambassador to south korea. the president is heading there in a few days, and there is insufficient time, even if an ambassador were to be named tomorrow, to confirm that individual before the president's trip. we have a key diplomatic post that has been empty for eight months. there is also no assistant secretary of state for asia in the state department or the department of defense. while we have acting assistant secretaries, there is no substitute for the political appointees who will be able to operate with far greater freedom and support from the administration. i urge this administration to fill these positions immediately. since sanctions are most important diplomatic tool, it is also astounding that secretary
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tillerson is eliminating the state department's coordinated sanctions for policy of course, which has been led by a veteran ambassador-ranked diplomat with at least five staff. he will entrust this critical task to one individual in his policy planning office. one of the most important elements to strengthening our bargaining position is demonstrating that we are prepared to fight, if necessary. when i was in korea, i spoke at great length with our military command,including general brooks, about our readiness. i was very impressed by not only how prepared we are to go to war but also how integrated our operations are with the republic of korea. even so, i believe there are some additional measures that should be taken now. specifically, i believe we need
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to increase our intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance operations, our strike capabilities, and strengthen our missile defense capabilities in the region with more patriot, thaad and ms-3 missiles as well as to increase our stocks to ensure we are providing credible options o on the korean peninsu. we should be providing every tool needed for a war. however, even this increased readiness would not overcome the massive casualties and possible use of nuclear weapons that i outlined before. as we have learned time and time again, the multilateral approach is the combest path to -- is the best path to a successful outcome, whether in diplomacy or war. there are a number of countries whose national security interests are touched by the
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north korean threat. although i would submit that north korea poses a global challenge because of the risk created by nuclear weapons and its human rights violations. first and foremost, we need to better coordinate our messaging and strategy with our allies south korea and japan. it will be nearly impossible to initiative any unilateral action against north korea without the commitment and cooperation of south korea and japan. the majority of our forces are either stationed or will be flowing through these two countries. they are indispensable, equal partners in the crisis and should be treated as such. we cannot assume that south korea and japan have identical interests to ours or that they are in complete agreement on all aspects of our strategy. through constant diplomacy, we can ensure that we enter into negotiations with the same objectives and understand our
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partners' interests and their tolerance for risk. we also need to push our partners to work better together. for example, at the end of last year, south korea and japan entered into a general security military information agreement to share sensitive information on north korea's missile and nuclear activities. however, this agreement is yet to be implemented, to the detriment of the security of south korea, japan, and the united states. our allies must learn to work in concert to ensure we are in the best position to deal with the threat we all face. second, we should be seriously considering some combination of multiparty talks with the relevant stakeholders, including china and russia, to first establish some basic gridlines that can be conveyed to the north korean government. no atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons, no electromagnet
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particular pulse attacks and no missile attacks on the united states, its allies or any country. these talks should be also geared towards getting additional commitments on sanctions, especially from china and russia, that have to date failed to fully implement sanctions against north korea. if we can come to some agreement among ourselves about the path forward and sow a unified diplomatic effort and front to north korea, i believe we will be much more successful in any negotiation. it is also critical that we increase the pressure on north korea and create less operating space for the regime to pursue its ballistic missile and nuclear ambitions. we are not at the maximum level of sanctions that can be imposed on north korea. there are financial institutions that are conducting transactions with north korea that have not yet been subjected to sanctions. we should be pursuing sanctions
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against every institution, no matter how large or small, that conducts even a single transaction with this regime. there are significant authorities that have been created both through the united nations and by other authorities to go after companies and individuals who are doing business with north korea. the issue, as i see it, is enforcement. our treasury department, in cooperation with the state department, must act faster to target these bad actors. time is not on our side. every day that passes is a day that kim jong-un is close to the goal of achieving an intercontinental ballistic missile that can hit the eastern seaboard of the united states with a nuclear weapon. in addition to financial institutions, we must starve the regime of the resources it needs to support its elites and the
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military, whether through overseas labor, every avenue of revenue must be cut off. we need to make a concerted effort through our diplomatic channels to cut off north korea's access to hard currency. every country that continues to employ north korean labor and allow north korean business to operate within their borders needs to know that there will be economic and diplomatic consequences for their behavior. and to those who argue that we'll be punishing everyday north koreans with these measures, i would note that the vast majority of these funds are admitted to the regime to use for its nefarious purposes. we should be engaging every single country with the north korean embassy that has not yet been closed to follow spain and mexico's example and order them closed. it has been reported for years that these embassies operate as
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fronts for north korea's illicit activities including trading in counter-currency, arms smuggling and circumventing sanctions by selling prohibited goods. china needs to be convinced not only to cut off fuel supply to north korea but also to clamp down on the regime's use of its financial institutions. russia employs thousands of workers and stands ready to sell fuel to north korea acting opportunistically, instead of as the global leader it makes itself out to be. the united states withheld assistance to egypt after we discovered that the country purchased 33,000 rocket-propelled grenades. i think that we need -- that allowed the regime to spread its workers and exports across the globe and reap billions of dollars from the global economy. north korea needs to realize
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that its reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons has left it with no allies, no friends, and no financial resources. this is one reason why the devastating cuts at the state department and the failure to adequately staff our diplomatic corps is such a wasted opportunity to increase our diplomatic capacity and spread this message to all countries that work with north korea. we need to increase the military pressure on north korea. this requires flying close surveillance missions and continuing our fers -- our exercises on the peninsula. we need to make it clear to pyongyang that while we prefer diplomacy, we will not hesitate to use military force. to that end we should do everything to set the military theater on the peninsula in our favor. finally, we have not sufficiently countered the
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propaganda that has brainwashed the north korean people that we are their enemies and that we seek to destroy their country. we should increase the budget for radio-free asia and other organizations that every day north koreans can access. we should expose the north koreans to every avenue available about the dmorrable conditions -- deplorable conditions in their country. i believe it was -- we need more diplomats fully engaged and working on improving the human rights conditions for millions of north korean citizens, helping north korean refugees and to increase efforts to educate them. we should be as concerned with internal pressure on the regime as we are on the external
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pressure. the soviet union collapsed because every day they saw how far their policies -- how far behind their policies left them. they need the ability to educate their children and to have peace and prosperity. that is the message we should promote in north korea. now, i wish i could stand here and say i am confident we can negotiate a deal with the north koreans to denuclearize the north peninsula. this may have been possible in the 1990's, but it will be challenging now. the price of peace has risen dramatically since that time. administration after administration kicked the can down the road and now we're left with a north korean regime that is capable of launching an
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i.b.m. that can hit the united states and that his regime will survive if he has a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the united states. we may need to be willing to accept the deal short of denuclearization that includes a verifiable freeze on the development and testing of nuclear weapons and missile programs. we will likely need to have some confidence-building agreements over a period of months and years to build momentum. obtaining the necessary grants for inspections will be the most challenging aspects of the deal and i worry may derail our best efforts of negotiations. there may likely be discussion of reducing military presence on the peninsula and curtailing military exercises. i agree we should not agree to reduction of military exercises
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in exchange for a freeze, but i think we should carefully consider whether there should be a step down of military exercises on both sides to reduce tensions and build confidence. any agreement will need to contain strict pro hiations on proliferation and to ensure that north korea is not selling its nuclear technology to other countries. it is important that we all recognize also that we are not faced with the option that's many people -- options that many people are found of promoting, denuclearization or war. there are other option that's we may be forced to consider. if diplomacy fails, our only alternative is not a can he nettic one -- kinetic one.
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accept the risks and mitigate it through isolation, containment, and deterrence. i would like to note the costs associated with this path are very high, but still slightly less than the cost of war, likely much less than the cost of war. there is, in one point, a significantly lower risk of the loss of life. for example, we will need to invest in -- even more heavily in our missile defense. even after investing millions of dollars, we will be left in a position where we won't have confidence to shoot down every missile pointed at washington, d.c., and new york. that's where we were with the soviet union and still are with russians today. we need to make sure that we have the most accurate information minute by minute about developments in north
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korea. additionally we will need to have a strictly enforced sanctions regime and we will need to work diligently to overcome the sanctions fatigue. we will need to invest more heavily on the agencies that prosecute sanctions. we will need a nimble treasury that can target bad actors, along with our intelligence community. the north korean regime has proven itself able to engage in illegal and illicit activity such as arm sales, counterfeiting, narcotics, and wild life trafficking. the state department needs to target these activities and schemes will be expensive in manpower and with negotiations with countries that stand to
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profit from these negotiations. i am concerned that our countries will race to develop their own nuclear weapons, leading to a nuclear arms race in the asia-pacific region. there are some who arage -- as north korea's program grows more robust. this will only get stronger. even nuclear add ver japan may reconsider as it feels more pressure from its neighbor from the west. let us remember proliferation is not the solution, it is the problem. mr. president, we need to be clear-eyed about the threat we face from north korea. years of indecision has left us with expensive options. north korea's behavior has led
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us to the brink of war. i urge in administration and my colleagues to consider the costs of war that i have outlined and for all of us, republican and democrats, to work toward a peaceful and diplomatic solution to this crisis now. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. the presiding officer: the mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: for the past eight years we had a president eight years we had a president


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