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tv   U.S. Senate 11092017  CSPAN  November 9, 2017 9:31am-12:07pm EST

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peace. let not one of our veterans feel forgotten, neglected, or unappreciated. may they know by experience the deep and enduring gratitude of a grateful nation. lord, you know the burdens that many of our veterans must bear. some feel isolated and alone; others feel misunderstood. bring physical, emotional, and spiritual healing to their lives, providing them with the wisdom to trust you with their future. lord, we ask your particular blessings upon the senators who
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in military service have sacrificially given their time, comfort, strength, ambition, and health. reward them one hundredfold for their sacrifice and service, blessing them more than they can ask for imagine. we pray in your merciful 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., november 9, 2017. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable dean heller, a senator from the state of nevada, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch, president pro tempore. 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, resume consideration of the wehrum knocks, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, environmental protection agency, william l. wehrum of delaware to be an assistant administrator.
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mr. mcconnell:man? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: this has been another important week here in the senate. we're moving forward on multiple aspects of the president's agenda. later today the senate finance committee will release its plan for tax reform. i'll have more to say on this in a moment. but i would once again like to
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commend chairman hatch for his leadership to get us to this point. the senate is also focusing on confirming the president's nominees so they can finally get to work. we've built strong momentum from last week when we confirmed four circuit court nominees. this week we will -- we have confirmed nominees for the department of defense, the department of justice, the national labor relations board, and soon we'll also confirm the head of a critical office at e.p.a. william wehrum will put his experience to good use in the e.p.a.'s office of air and radiation, one of the most important, but under the obama administration it was one of the offices with the most significant overreach. it was in desperate need of new leadership from someone who understands thousand implement
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clean air policies in a balanced way. that's william wehrum. i look forward to advancing his nomination shortly. confirming president trump's talented nominees to the federal government will continue to be a priority of this senate, and i look forward to working with my colleagues to get this done. now, on another matter, today chairman hatch will lay out his legislative proposal for tax reform. it's the product of a lot of hard work. dozens of hearings and member input, and i look forward to its release later today. the release of this plan is another critical step toward providing relief to the middle class. once it's unveiled, the proposal will go through regular order in the committee. senators on both sides will have the opportunity to offer amendments and work together to help hardworking families all across our country. this is our once-in-a-generation opportunity to lower taxes and
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shift the economy into high gear. in fact, tax reform represents the single most important thing we can do to spur growth and to help american families. with this tax reform plan be, the american people will know that relief is on the way for you and your family. we want to make taxes lower, simpler, and fairer. for small businesses we want to make it easier to navigate the tax code, grow and hire workers. and for all businesses, we want to make it an easy decision for them to bring investment and jobs home and to keep them here. as the finance committee continues to work on tax reform, both republicans and democrats will have the chance to offer their own ideas to make the bill better. i certainly hope they take it. the process isn't behind closed doors. it's out in the open for everyone to see, for everyone to take part. the house ways and means committee is expected to finish their work on their legislative
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proposal soon. under chairman brady's leadership, they've put a lot of good work into this. i look forward to continuing to work with colleagues in both the house and the senate, along with president trump and his team, on our mutual tax reform goals. and our main goal is this -- this is what it's all about. we want to take more money out of washington's pockets and put more in the pockets of the middle class. in addition to the great work being done by chairman hatch in finance, the senate energy and natural resources committee under the leadership of chairman murkowski is taking important steps as well. the recent budget resolution gave the committee instructions to generate $1 billion of new revenue for the federal government. the committee has now unveiled legislation to do just that by further developing the oil and gas potential in alaska in an environmentally responsible way. their good efforts can produce important benefits to both the
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people of alaska and to our entire country. so i'd like to commend chairman murkowski for her efforts to support our nation's energy security. this plan is a limited, responsible effort that can result in new jobs, a strong source of energy, and a boost to our economy -- all while being responsible stewards of alaska's environment. i look forward to the committee reporting this legislation next week as well. the senate has many important items before it. let's work together to get them done. fulfilling our commitments to the american people. i 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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mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed
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with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president, later today, the senate republicans will release their version of the tax bill. the bill will not include a single idea of democrats in the senate. not a single democrat has had any input into this bill. it was constructed entirely behind closed doors by the majority party who have no intention of negotiating with democrats because they have locked themselves into a partisan process that only requires a majority vote. and they're trying to rush it through this chamber with reckless speed. why? because my friends on the other side know the longer their bill is out there for the public to see, the less the public likes it. their only hopes of passing it are to rush it through before anyone can grapple with the stunning hypocrisy of the center of their plan. the republican majority has repeatedly promised a middle-class tax bill, but instead they have concocted a bill grounded in tax cuts for
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big corporations and the very rich. they actually hurt middle-class people because they need to give those big breaks for the wealthiest. while promising that their plan gives everyone a tax cut -- that's what speaker ryan said again today -- multiple independent analyses con clued that the republican tax -- conclude that the republican tax plan would increase taxes on millions of middle-class families, contrary to what republicans promised, what donald trump has promised. they said no middle-class people will get an increase. this is aimed at helping the middle class. but the vast majority of the help goes to the wealthiest and biggest corporations. a "new york times" analysis found that next year, the house republican plan would cause taxes to go up on one-third of middle-class families. by 2026, taxes would go up on nearly half of all middle-class families. so even if you come from a state with a lower tax rate, red state, it's probably a good bet
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that a quarter of middle-class families will get a tax break. i think the lowest i saw was 17% for west virginia. and so this hurts middle-class people, and it hurts certain middle-class people much worse than others, people who have student loans, people who have high medical expenses, people who come from states where there are large property taxes, people who have big mortgages. these are middle-class people. they should not get a tax increase. as mark mazur, the director of the independent tax policy center said, you could create a plan that just cuts taxes for middle-class people. that's not what this is. that's him. not me. but it's what republicans promised people. it's what republicans promised people. now, we'll see what the senate comes up with today, what several republican senators have already confirmed that the senate bill has the same structure as the house bill, and
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in at least one way, we'll know that it's worse for middle-class families than the house bill, because the house bill would reduce the value of stloal deductions by 70% while the senate bill eliminates it entirely. my friend from ohio, senator portman, confirmed that a few days ago on fox business. so this should be a three-alarm fire for every house republican in california, new york, new jersey, virginia, washington, illinois, colorado, minnesota. senate republicans are telling house republicans there will be no compromise on state and local deductibility. it's full repeal for bust, because senate republicans need the revenue raised by ending this popular middle-class deduction. there are several deficit hawks in the senate. we have stricter budget rules for reconciliation. if the senate tax plan includes cuts to the corporate rate, the
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pass-through rate and on upper tax brackets which dramatically increase the deficit, they will need the revenue of full repeal, state and local, to make the numbers work. so i say to every one of my republican colleagues in the house who come from a suburban district, this bill could be your political doom. don't let the special interests, don't let the party leadership push you into doing something that is bad for so many of your constituents. you'll pay a price. house republicans should kill the bill now if they want to have any hope of stopping the full repeal of state and local deduction. they can't hide behind the so-called compromise in the house bill. it's nothing more than a temporary fig leaf for full and permanent repeal. and as i said, if house republicans don't kill it now, it will come back to haunt them.
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the overwhelming democratic turnout in suburban districts in virginia, new jersey, pennsylvania, should send shivers down the spine of house republicans who represent those districts. voting to repeal the state and local deduction, walloping the middle-class and upper middle-class suburbs, would be political suicide, all to bow down to special wealthy interests, special big interests of large corporations. now, even with the compromise, the house numbers are devastating. representative macarthur said he was shown information that shows the compromise is good for his district. he went to a no to a lean yes, according to "politico." rep macarthur, look at the real numbers. 43% of taxpayers in representative macarthur's district take the state and local deduction for an average of $11,987 per deduction.
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over half the value of these deductions is not the property tax at all. it's state and local income, which will be taken away under the plan. and then there are a good number, according to i.r.s., where the property taxes are over 10,000, meaning the compromise still wouldn't help them. so i would not, if i were representative macarthur, listen to the numbers that the republican leadership has given, and i would do my own independent analysis, because i believe he would find them to be a lot worse than what the leadership is telling him. and i'd say to my other republican colleagues, don't fall for those quick numbers. go do your own looking at this. it's a lot worse than your leadership is telling you. yet, for some reason, -- one final point here on taxes. for some reason, the conventional wisdom on the republican side is that because of the stunning depth of their losses in the recent elections, there is an even greater need to
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pass the tax plan. we have to do this or we'll fall apart, they say. it makes no sense. they are misreading the public. ed gillespie, for all his divisive ads, also ran a traditional establishment campaign. the linchpin of his campaign was a $1,000 tax cut for everybody. got him nowhere. exit polls from the virginia election showed the number one issue on voters' minds was health care. and they voted overwhelmingly democratic. and yet, amazingly, republicans may repeal the individual mandate as part of their tax bill. how do they think that's going to fly? despite the spin from republican leaders, passing this plan won't help republicans climb out of their hole, the hole they're in. it will bury them deeper. maybe they won't be -- if they pass the bill, they won't say they are in disarray for the
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moment, but already this bill has had a miserable rollout. you know, when a party rolls out their number one legislative plan, there should be trumpets and bands. but the public knows already that the bill favors the wealthy. the public knows that middle-class people get a tax increase. so at best, the who willout of this bill has been mixed. i say it's been negative, and the american people agree, because more people, many more people are against this bill than are for it, according to all of the polls. passing a partisan tax plan that favors the wealthy, raises taxes on millions of middle-class and upper middle-class families in the suburbs is no political cure. it's political poison. the real way to win back the esteem of the american people would be to put partisanship aside, put a giant tax cut for the wealthy on the shelf, and come work with democrats on real
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bipartisan reform. now, mr. president, i'd also like to just announce my strong opposition to mr. wehrum, to the e.p.a.'s office of air and radiation. while working in senior roles at the office during the bush administration, mr. wehrum led the efforts to weaken planned air protections. during his tenure, the courts ruled the agency violated the clean air act 30 times. mr. wehrum represented industry clients 31 times. since 2008. he does not deserve to be in this position. anyone who cares about the lungs of their children should not want mr. wehrum in this position. i hope we will get some bipartisan support to reject this really awful nomination. i i yield the floor. -- i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: does the senator from illinois seek recognition? no. thank you. good morning. mr. president, i wanted to continue to share with our colleagues the reasons why i oppose the nomination of bill wehrum to be e.p.a.'s assistant administrator for air and radiation. throughout his career, mr. wehrum has clearly shown that he is dismissive of the science that is at the core of e.p.a.'s actions to protect public health. nothing during this confirmation process has convinced me that mr. wehrum's approach will
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change going forward. i have said this before, and i'll say it again because it makes mr. wehrum's priorities clear. our courts have overturned regulations that mr. wehrum helped craft while at e.p.a. a staggering 27 times. that's 27 times that the courts determined that the rules that mr. wehrum put in place did not follow the law or did not adequately protect public safety. 27 times. in one of those instances the court found e.p.a.'s lack of action to reduce mercury and air toxic pollution emissions from electric power plants. i've worked on controlling mercury pollution since i became a member of this body 17 years ago. so i'd like to spend some time talking about this issue: mercury. much of our country's ongoing efforts to clean up air pollution hinge on making sure that every state plays by the rules and does their fair share to reduce air pollution.
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that includes dangerous toxic pollution like mercury. toxic air pollution gets in the air we breathe, gets into the food we eat, builds up in our bodies without our knowledge and can lead to cancer, to mental impairment and even to death. unfortunately, mr. wehrum has spent much of his career fighting to dismantle the federal environmental protections under which any state -- my state, your state, so many states to clean up toxic air pollution. mr. president, as i mentioned before, 27 is also the number of years ago that president george herbert walker bush signed the 1990 clean air act amendments into law. nearly three decades ago, congress had enough scientific data to know that mercury and other air toxins such as lead and arsenic were hazardous air pollutants. they harmed people's health and as a result should be regulated by the e.p.a.
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the lawmakers including myself who sent the amendments to the desk of the republican president thought the nation's largest emitters would soon be required to do their part and clean up. unfortunately it took 22 additional years for the e.p.a. to issue the mercury and air toxics rule. another 22 years passed which finally five years ago finally called for reducing mercury and other air toxics from coal-fired plants, the nation's largest source of mercury emissions. e.p.a. modeled the rule after successful steps in states across our country had already taken. the agency required coal plants to install existing affordable technology that could reduce mercury and toxic emissions by 90%. today our nation's power meetings are meeting the
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standards. electricity prices have not gone up. they have gone down. some of you might find that hard to believe but it's true. they have actually gone down. mr. president, you might ask why it took the e.p.a. 22 years to address our nation's largest sources of mercury and air toxic emissions. that's a fair question. the answer in part is that mr. wehrum was working at the e.p.a. and had the responsibility to assume this life-enhancing if not lifesaving task, a responsibility sadly that he largely chose to ignore. in the early 2000's the e.p.a. decided to take a detour when it came to regulating mercury and air toxics from power plants. mr. wehrum refused to follow the recommendations from the national academy of sciences and instead reversed an earlier e.p.a. decision. he determined that it was neither appropriate nor necessary to regulate power plants under the air toxics section of the clean air act.
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instead he chose a different path, helping to write a rule allowing power plants to pollute more and for a longer time under a mercury cap and trade program. in his push to make regulations on mercury emissions less protective, mr. wehrum promulgated a rule that industry not only supported but helped to write. mr. president, in january 2004, "the washington post" reported that language written for industry by mr. wehrum's old law firm -- latham and watkins -- appeared word for word in the proposed rule push lished in the -- published in the federal register. word for word. the story reported, and i quote, a side by side comparison of one of the three proceed to the measure rules in a memorandum prepared by latham and watkins shows that at least a dozen paragraphs were listed, sometimes verbatim, from the industry's suggestion. close quote.
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after mr. wehrum's mercury rule was finalized, the federal courts found that e.p.a. had exaggerated the rule's benefits. as a result, the rule was overturned. in fact, the e.p.a. lost so badly that the deciding judge said that the agency deployed, and i'm quoting the judge. the agency deployed under the leadership of mr. wehrum, the logic of the queen of hearts, substitute e.p.a.'s desire for the plain text of the law. close quote. so e.p.a. had to start all over again because mr. wehrum ignored science and deferred to industry. what makes that delay process so egregious is that our nation's children were exposed to toxic air emissions from power plants for an additional decade for no good reason. in 2011 the obama administration finally issued a new rule, america and air toxics standard rule, that protects our children, protects our health and protects our lakes and our
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rivers. what's more, industry is easily able to meet the rule's targets and our nation is already seeing the benefits. but these health benefits do not seem to matter to mr. wehrum. we are still fighting for delays in mercury and air toxic emission reductions. in fact, while representing his industry clients, he has supported a lawsuit against the mercury and air toxics rule. under his leadership, mr. wehrum's law firm has been arguing that it is not, quote, appropriate and necessary, and i quote, for the e.p.a. to regulate mercury and other air toxic emissions. not appropriate and necessary? it's what he says. when i asked mr. wehrum about his time at the e.p.a. and his work to delay mercury regulations, he was elusive. he seemed to have a selective memory with respect to the actions he did or did not take when he last served at the e.p.a. when i asked him if he would commit not to weaken the mercury and air toxics rule if
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confirmed, he basically refused to answer. however, to his colleagues, he's very clear regarding his thoughts on the mercury and air toxics rule. in a trade press article published one year ago, mr. wehrum said, and i quote, from our perspective, it's a regulation that made no sense and wasn't justified. end of his quote. mr. wehrum believes there is no justification for e.p.a. to regulate the largest source of mercury and air toxic pollution, pollution that pediatricians tell us damage children's brains and could affect up to 600,000 newborns every year. 600,000 new p -- newborns every year. mr. wehrum believes there is no justification for e.p.a. to regulate the largest source of mercury and air toxic pollution. pollution that settles in our lakes, rivers and streams,
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accumulates in our fish, makes it too dangerous to eat. mr. wehrum believes there is no justification for e.p.a. to regulate the largest source of mercury and air toxic pollution, even though power companies have already bought, paid for and installed the control technology in all power plants without hiking electricity rates. mr. president, this information should be quite concerning to all of us, to all of our colleagues. i don't care where we come from. especially those who have supported the mercury and air toxics rules as many of us have. confirming mr. wehrum would be part of review of the mercury and air toxics rule that mr. pruitt promises to undertake. think about that. this is just one of the many clear examples in which mr. wehrum continues to support polluters over science and doctors, even going so far as to give polluters the pen to write the regulations they would have to follow. unfortunately, there are many more.
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mr. wehrum also spearheaded regulations when he was last at e.p.a. that weakened air pollution protection for national parks. weaken the haze rule compelling the obama administration to clean up his mess and provide this protection for iconic parks like the grand canyon and great smoky mountains national park because, again, mr. wehrum did not follow science or the law. nonetheless, mr. wehrum continues to pursue ongoing litigation against e.p.a.'s efforts to reduce national park pollution. last year mr. wehrum declared in an article, and i quote him again, e.p.a. used the regional haze program to impose very stringent and from our perspective, unwarranted emissions requirements. end of quote. mr. president, mr. wehrum also has a long history of ignoring climate change science and the laws that regulate carbon emissions. while at the e.p.a., mr. wehrum
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is vilt of -- l critical of the agency's decision california's effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as costs for consumers. mr. wehrum personally pushed for this action against the recommendations of the career staff who did not believe the george w. bush administration political appointee had a legal basis to deny california's request. i'm here today to remind mr. wehrum and all those who continue to delay action to control greenhouse gas emissions under the premise that more information about how the climate is changing or whether or not human beings are exacerbating this effective climate change, the facts are in. science is clear. but even if he doesn't want to believe the numbers and the data, mr. wehrum lives in delaware, as do i. we run races together, sometimes ride the same trains back and forth between
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wilmington and washington. the state in which we both reside, for us the effects of climate change are evident in our state. we are the nation's lowest-lying state. parts of our state are sinking while at the same time the waters are rising along our shores. by his own admission, while at e.p.a. mr. wehrum provided support to the government litigation in a famous case, massachusetts vs. e.p.a. that team argued that greenhouse gases are not pollutants that can be regulated under the clean air act. it's not just me who disagreed with mr. wehrum in this instance. the supreme court of the united states disagreed as well. unfortunately, mr. wehrum's views on climate change seem to be the same as they were 15 years ago. despite the supreme court's ruling in massachusetts vs. e.p.a., which affirmed e.p.a.'s authority to regulate greenhouse
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gases under the clean air act, mr. wehrum insisted in 2013 that he, and i quote him again, continues to believe that congress never intended for the e.p.a. to address an issue such as climate change under the clean air act. close quote. his nomination hearing before the e.p.w. committee, mr. wehrum claimed that the climate is changing but much is enknown. much is unknown about why and how fast those changes are occurring. mr. president, i could go on for awhile, as you can imagine. but suffice it to say that these views, his views, those of mr. t curious, they're dangerous. they are dangerous. ignoring environmental health science just because you'd rather not put those in place hurts all of us in the end. mr. wehrum's time at e.p.a. is at odds with the public health mission of that agency. all the failed regulations that
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mr. wehrum worked on created greater uncertainty for business and left the lives of most vulnerable populations at risk. mr. president, i'd like to close by reflecting on why i think today's vote is so important. my wife and i go to church, a presbyterian church in wilmington most sundays. early this year, an especially lovely springer morning, a morning -- spring morning, we joined our congregation for a hymn and one of them began with these words: for the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies, for the love which from our birth, over and around us lies. lord of all to thee we raise this our hymn oh grateful praise. it's a powerful passage and we
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should not let these -- we should let these words really and truly resonate, especially on this morning. scripture reminds us repeatedly to love our neighbors as ourselves, and we call that the golden rule. it appears every major religion in the world, i don't care if you're christian, jew, muslim, buddhist, i don't care what your faith is there is a golden rule. in our faith we call it the golden rule. also found in those pages is another sacred obligation that we're to serve as stewards to this planet to which we've been entrusted and have a moral obligation to do so. i know a great many of our colleagues mere in the senate agree that we have a responsibility to care for the world around us and the people who live on it. most americans believe that. we all have an obligation to protect the health of our children and our families in the world in which we live. we have an obligation to ensure that we have clean air to
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breathe. perhaps the most basic, most important right of all. for me, this is not only my responsibility as a parent and as an official elected to serve the people of delaware, it is a moral imperative, a moral calling. americans deserve e.p.a. leadership believes in sound science. americans need e.p.a. that will listen to medical experts when it comes to our health and who will be able to strike a balance that ensures both a are cleaner environment and a stronger economy, something we have done for the past 27 years since the adoption of the clean air act amendments of 1990. moving forward with this nominee and thus allowing him to execute his extreme agenda once again at the e.p.a., especially when we have seen how poorly he handled that authority before, would be, in my mind, simply irresponsible. i do not believe mr. wehrum is the right fit for this position.
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i encourage my colleagues, democrat and republican, to vote no on his nomination to be e.p.a.'s assistant administrator for air. mr. president, i reserve the balance of my time. i ask unanimous consent that prior to the vote on confirmation of the wehrum nomination, there be an additional 2 minutes of debate equally divided. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. carper: thank you. ms. warren: mr. president, i rise today to oppose the nomination of william wehrum to be the next assistant administrator for air and radiation at the environmental protection agency. you know, this job is really pretty straightforward. the person in this job must fight for the right of every american to breathe clean air. but here's the problem -- mr. wehrum has dedicated his career to the service of corporate polluters. like president trump and administrator pruitt, in a fight between hardworking families and
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well-paying corporate polluters, mr. wehrum sides with the corporate polluters every single time. president trump promised to drain the swamp in d.c., but seemingly, with every week, this republican-controlled senate approves yet another one of the president's corporate insiders to advance big oil and big coal's dirty wish list. the decision to nominate mr. wehrum is no exception. he is another conflict-ridden, climate-dismissing trump nominee who has made a career of putting corporate profits ahead of hardworking families who depend on the e.p.a. to have their backs. some of my republican colleagues have argued that mr. wehrum has extensive experience serving at the e.p.a. under the bush administration. hey, and that is true. let's take a look at his experience.
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mr. wehrum fought to keep states from setting their own higher vehicle emissions standards in order to try to keep the air cleaner. he played a key role in the bush administration's insince tense that the -- insistence that the e.p.a. has no responsibility to combat climate change, a view that the supreme court rejected in 2007 in massachusetts v. e.p.a. and when the bush e.p.a. was required by law to propose a rule limiting mercury emissions from power plants, mr. wehrum's influence helped tilt the rule to benefit big coal. in fact, several paragraphs of the proposed rule were lifted verbatim from memos provided by the same pro-coal lobby firm that mr. wehrum had worked at before joining the e.p.a. the egregious inadequacy of the proposed rule and its play tant
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-- blatant disregard for rule making processes, led to eight additional years of air pollution, leading to more asthma attacks. eight years of 11,000 premature deaths, all potentially avoidable if mr. wehrum and his colleagues had just listened to the science and made the protection of human life more important than the protection of corporate interests. during his tenure at the e.p.a., lookinlooking out for big corpoe interests was standard practice for him. in 27 separate cases, 27 cases, federal courts found that the regulations that mr. wehrum helped write contradicted or violated the clean air act and failed to protect public health.
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mr. wehrum has a lot of experience, the week-kneed experience of someone kissing up to big corporate interests. in reflecting on his time at the e.p.a., mr. wehrum said, quote, i am a much better lawyer now than when i first joined the agency. to really get to know how the agency works and how it ticks, i think is very valuable. yeah, valuable, sure, but valuable for whom? valuable for small towns across america that desperately need more champions fighting in their corner? valuable for our coastal communities and farmers dealing with the tangible effects of climate change? no, he meant valuable for his own bank account. mr. wehrum describes his time working at the e.p.a. as being, quote, very valuable, because it allowed him to, quote, be
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effective in generating business and clients, close quote. i guess he thinks this latest trip through the revolving door will be even better for helping him drum up business from future polluters. and why wouldn't he? since leaving the e.p.a. in 2007, mr. wehrum has been one of the go-to lawyers for big corporate polluters looking to get off easy or to save a buck at the public's expense. in at least 31 lawsuits against the e.p.a., mr. wehrum has fought to diminish federal climate policy, to roll back limits on toxic mercury emissions, and to undermine public health protections. you know, from what i can tell, not once has he chosen to use his valuable experience at the e.p.a. to fight for stronger clean air protections that benefit our children and our seniors who suffer the most from toxic emissions.
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when deciding whether someone is qualified for public service, sure, experience matters, but it matters who you fight for, whether as a lawyer before the courts or as a senior appointee in the administration. it matters whether you have a demonstrated commitment to serving the public interest or the narrow corporate interests of rich companies. mr. wehrum is not a person who fights for the moms and dads who know the terror of a child having an asthma attack. he is not a person who fights for the low-income and often minority communities that are literally choking under a cloud of industry toxins. he is not a person who fights for our communities that are suffering from the growing impact of climate change. no, he is a person who does the lucrative bidding of corporate d.c. insiders, both in
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government and outside government, and then he leaves american families to just suffer the consequences. this administration, this republican congress, and nominees like mr. wehrum are experts at ignoring the facts, but they can't change those facts. our planet is getting hotter. our sea are rising at an alarming rate. our coasts and islands are threatened by devastating storms. our farms and forests are threatened by droughts and wildfires that are becoming so common across this country that they barely even make the evening news. the effects of man-made climate change are all around us. things will only get worse if we don't do something about it. we should never hand our government over to wealthy and powerful companies who put their own profits ahead of people. we certainly shouldn't put
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someone in charge of our clean air program that won't put the health, the safety, and the future of the american people ahead of short-term corporate profits. make no mistake, president trump wants a fight. administrator pruitt wants a fight. and william wehrum wants a fight. and we will give them that fight because the american people will fight to protect the health of our children and our grandchildren, to build clean energy economy and to safeguard the future of our planet. the american people deserve someone who will fight in their corner, and that is not william wehrum. mr. president, i yield. and i 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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the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: is the senate presently in a quorum call? the presiding officer: that is correct. mr. whitehouse: i would like to ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. it has been a sorry spectacle for americans to witness what the polluting industries are doing with the full connivance of the trump administration to the environmental protection
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agency. an agency that enjoys broad popularity among the american people but is obviously a thorn in the side of big polluters who make very big campaign contributions and therefore have inordinately big influence here in congress. the creep show parade of nominees to the offices responsible for protecting the public's health at e.p.a. is nothing short of astounding. it is an array of cranks, charlatans, hacks, lobbyists, toadies, in really unprecedented
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measure in the history of our country. it seems that at this point the key and only credential for appointment to the environmental protection agency is that you are reliably pro-industry and reliably anti-public health. we are facing a nomination for one of these characters. his name is william wehrum. he was previously nominated to the e.p.a. office of air and radiation in 2006. but even back then, his record was such a scandal that the white house withdrew his nomination.
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now, that was 2006. that was before citizens united. that was before the flood of political power to the big polluting industries, and now on this new political field, he's back, he's just as bad, and there is no hint that the trump administration has any indication of withdrawing his nomination. he has a real problem dealing with environmental issues. and it relates, i think, to his record. mr. wehrum in recent years has represented industry in 39 federal appellate cases opposing cleaner air protection. 39-0 in terms of taking the side
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of industry against clean air protections. 31 of those cases involved lawsuits against e.p.a., so he will now be defending and judging cases of the type that he brought against the e.p.a. on behalf of industry. again, not one of these cases argued for better clean air protections. many of them questioned air toxic standards that had been established by e.p.a., and some of the lawsuits were against rules that had had to be rewritten by the obama administration when e.p.a. failed to follow the clean air act, when a rule was thrown out by the courts for failing to be true to the law.
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so this is not a great moment for the integrity of government in this particular case. when you ask mr. wehrum questions, -- for instance, i asked him about carbon dioxide's role in the observable effects of climate change, and he replied this. the degree to which man made greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to climate change has not been conclusively determined. well, that entire sentence hangs on one word, the word conclusively. so if 999 scientists said this is indeed conclusive but you had one outlier, one against 999,
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then you could argue that the degree to which man made greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to climate change has not been conclusively determined. but in the world in which mr. wehrum is going to be making decisions, that's not a relevant standard. that is a standard that comes from the climate denial talking points. it is not a standard that arises from the law or from the way administrative agencies are required to review scientific evidence. the distinguished presiding officer was an attorney general and knows very well that the standard for getting scientific evidence admitted in a court proceeding is whether it is accurate to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty.
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there is no standard that has to be conclusive. that is an imaginary prop of the fossil fuel industry to be able to address the fact that it's virtually unanimous science against them, and there are only a few payroll scientists floating around to keep it from being conclusive. but to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, our man-made greenhouse gases contributing to climbing? without a doubt. indeed, noaa and e.p.a. have concluded, and i quote, carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change. that's it. and rules at an administrative agency have to pass the test of being based on substantial evidence, as the presiding officer snows, and not being
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arbitrary orca parishious. -- ashery or capricious. it would in any rational world be arbitrary or capricious to deny the vast weight of science because it is not 100% conclusive. nobody makes decisions on that basis in real life. this right in this individual's testimony is a direct echo of fossil fuel industry talking points, fossil fuel industry propaganda, and it is a preview of coming attractions as to whose message he will be mouthing in a position of public responsibility. similarly, i asked him about ozone. now, one of the goals of the clean air act itself is to set standards for how much ozone
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there can be in the air. this makes a big difference to rhode island because rhode island is a downwind state from most of the industrial and power plant emissions through the ohio valley and in the midwest and through west virginia, and so we actually have had ozone alert days in rhode island. ozone alert days when you drive in in the morning and the drive time radio is warning you that this is not a good day to be outside. it looks sunny. ozone is transparent. it looks fine. it's usually warm because ozone is propagated in warm air. so on a warm, sunny day, you're driving in, it looks like everything is fine, and we are warned that the elderly, that small children and the people who have breathing difficulties or disabilities should stay indoors. should stay indoors.
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that's the price rhode islanders are asked to pay for this ozone pollution that we have to live with, to stay indoors. well, ozone standards have been in place at e.p.a. for 45 years, for 45 years, reap has regulated ozone. what did wehrum answer when i asked him about ozone? i am not familiar with the current science on the health effect of ozone, so i cannot comment on your question as to the appropriate level of the standard. really. he wants to run this office. the office has been handling ozone regulation for 45 years, and he is not familiar with the current science on the health effects of ozone? i think he's quite familiar with the current science on ozone, and in this position, he's going
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to be looking for ways to get around that science, to help his ozone-emitting clients of his private practice. the last thing he said that i will raise here is -- i asked him about the endangerment finding. now, the background of the endangerment finding is this -- in massachusetts versus environmental protection agency, the supreme court of the united states decided that carbon pollution was, in fact, a pollutant under the clean air act. they decided that in the supreme court, that is now the law of the land. and then pursuant to that supreme court determination, the e.p.a. had to take a look at was it a dangerous pollutant? and they did. and their determination as to whether it's a dangerous pollutant is called an
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endangerment finding. and sure enough, e.p.a. found that carbon dioxide being emitted by these fossil fuel plants is, in fact, a danger to present and future americans. to this generation and to generations to come. mr. prewitt -- pruitt, who is one of the sly eras cals around out there, said in the environment and public works committee that he would not contest or seek to review the endangerment finding. well, there is an obvious reason why somebody who is completely in tow to the fossil fuel industry would not wish to revisit the endangerment finding, and that is because you would drop an avalanche of scientific fact on your own head. you would be obliged to put the phony little scrapes of climate
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denial that the fossil fuel industry funds and propagates through a whole bunch of front groups up against the real science that is agreed to by essentially every legitimate scientific organization in america that is taught at every american state university and all 50 of our states that has formed the basis of our defense department's quadrennial defense review, pointing out that climate change is a catalyst of conflict and a national security risk, and that it's recognized and tracked by the national laboratories of the united states that we fund. up against the phony baloney nonsense propagated by the fossil fuel industry, that is a rout. and of course the last thing the fossil fuel industry wants is a
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fair contest in a fair and factual forum between the real science and their phony science denial. so of course pruitt doesn't want to kick that fight off. and, therefore, he is now stuck with the endangerment finding. so i asked mr. wehrum about the endangerment finding since it is a finding related to greenhouse gases which are subject to the clean air act which would be his responsibility in this position at e.p.a. he said, i currently do not have a view on the endangerment finding. well, i bet he had a view when he was being paid by the rubber manufacturers association to consider emissions of carbon dioxide. i bet he had a view when he was being paid by the american forests and paper association and i'm pretty sure he had a view when he was being paid by
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the american petroleum institute. so this new sudden absence of a view seems improbable in the extreme. it looks like the best thing he can say to not have to admit the real science, knowing perfectly well that if he actually tried to deny it, that same avalanche of real science would fall around his head. it is in some respects tragic that we are now in a situation in which an agency of the united states government has been handed over to the polluters lock, stock, and barrel. and they have been given absolute sway to drive an industry agenda through the agency that is supposed to be protecting us. in the balance of pruitt and all of his little minions and this
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freak show array of appointees, all you can expect from them is the industry point of view as close as they can deliver it without stepping on any of factual or legal traps that will snap shut on them if they go a little bit too far and actually step into a forum like a courtroom or a contested proceeding where they're obliged to be under oath, where there's the prospect of scroifer and where you have to -- discovery and where you have to meet the proper standards for administrative rule making like based on substantial evidence or not arbitrary and capricious. there have been two recent descriptions that have come out that put the climate change problem into perspective. the first is the u.s. global change research program,
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climate science special report which is part of the national climate assessment that congress mandated some years ago. so the best scientists from 13 different agencies got together, and over many, many, many months they put together a comprehensive review of the science and of what is going on. the opening sentence is that the climate of the united states is strongly connected to the changing global climate. a little side bar on that, what is happening on climate change in the united states is strongly connected to the change in global climate. when you dump carbon emissions into the atmosphere, it's not just our atmosphere, it's everybody's atmosphere. when china, russia dump carbon
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into the atmosphere they're not just hurting their atmosphere. they're hurting the common atmosphere of the planet. a little trick that administrator pruitt has developed is in calculating the harms of climate change to look only at u.s. emissions and only look at u.s. effects, well, if you have an international problem, as our scientists say, strongly connected to the changing global climate, what happens when you only look at the american effects and only look at the american emissions. what that means is that when you're scoring the harm of climate change, you are cutting it down to a mere fraction of what actually exists. you're cutting out the harm that other nations cause to us with their emissions, scrubbing it right off the books. and you're scrubbing off the harm that our emissions do to other nations, scrubbing it right off the books. it doesn't change the harm, of
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course. it just tweaks the accounting with a piece of rhetorical trickery to help the fossil fuel industry not have to be accountable for the actual harm that it causes. that's the kind of stuff we've learned to expect from e.p.a. nothing about the actual harm that climate change causes. accounting trickery to try to dial the number down so that a huge majority fraction of the harm never even gets counted. this assessment concludes, the scientists say, based on extensive evidence that it is extremely likely, which is the highest level of scientific certainty -- extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid 20th
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century. period. are the dominant cause. it goes on. it's not only that the evidence entirely shows that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases are the dominant cause, but when you look at what the alternatives might be, here's what the next sentence says: for the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence. so not only is there an avalanche of evidence supporting the determination that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are causing the climate change we've observed. but when you look to see, well, maybe there's another explanation. none. zero. does not exist. why not? because it's never been real, the phony science on the other side. it's always been propaganda.
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that's why it's featured on talk shows instead of peer-reviewed publications. that's why it comes through phony interest groups like the george c. marshall institute rather than real science organizations. we have known that for a long time. i see that another speaker has come to the floor, so let me conclude with the recent statement just in the last few days of the pontifical academy of sciences, one of the strongest voices for addressing climate change has been pope francis. pope francis not only sees it as a real problem for our planet and for our care of god's creation, but he also sees it as a justice issue, as a moral issue that the wealthier societies are degrading the quality of life and poorer
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societies, shifting costs and harm to them that they are much more vulnerable to than we are in a cocoon of wealth and air conditioning and supermarkets and all of that and he has been a remarkable voice for this. and one of the things he did was to set up this panel to take a look at climate change and what it means for the planet. the document is called declaration of the health of people, health of planet, and our responsibility of climate change air pollution and health workshop. and here is its opening statement, what it calls the statement of the problem. with unchecked climate change and air pollution, the very fabric of life on earth, including that of humans, is at grave risk.
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you align the science that comes through the national climate assessment, you align the universities of our great country, the national labs of our great country, the military experts in this area in our great country, and now this international body pulled together by pope francis, and they all come to the same place. it's just here in congress where the fossil fuel industry, through massive amounts of political spending, has shut down responsible conversation about this problem that there is any window for the climate denial to creep back in. and of course the ability of this administration in tow to the fossil fuel industry to stick climate-denying fossil fuel operatives into positions of public responsibility. it is a disgrace.
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and the fact that this body cannot stand up to them, cannot find patently conflicted, patently unqualified nominations to be beyond the pale for us is a terrible testament as to how the power of the fossil fuel industry has corrupted our ability to perform our function in the senate. with that, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i want to thank my colleague from rhode island, senator whitehouse, for his leadership. he has never given up on this, and he will never give up. and we have many important issues ahead, one of which i'm going to address, climate change, about this nominee. the fact that every country in the world now, including nicarauga and syria, have
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pledged to be part of this international climate change agreement which is so important for reducing greenhouse gases. and i want to thank senator whitehouse for carrying the torch on this for so long. and i join him today in rising to speak about the nominee that the senate is currently considering to lead the environmental protection agency's office of air and radiation. if confirmed, mr. william wehrum will be tasked with carrying out and managing critical agency functions related to controlling airborne pollution, improving air quality, monitoring greenhouse gases and overseeing energy efficiency standards. by the way, i was always proud -- the first bill that i introduced in the united states senate when i got here was a bill with olympia snowe, who is my republican mentor. and that bill required the agencies to start collecting data on greenhouse gas emissions. so i take this very personally. the agency ended up deciding to do it itself, as senator
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whitehouse is aware. but it was my first bill, and i decided that was a good first bill. it was bipartisan and it got to the core of this issue that our country needs to take responsibility, that we need to work with the rest of the world. but most importantly, this is a long-term issue shared by my businesses in minnesota, shared by everyone from hunters to snowmobilers, to ice skaters in our state, the concern of our changing climate and the effect it will have on our way of life. throor two specific issues that there wehrum will be involved in directing from the e.p.a. that i'd like to discuss. first of all, with the renewable fuels standard and then circle back to this issue of climate change. minnesota's ag is very important to me. we're the the fifth-biggest ag state in the country. it's why i sought a seat on the senate agriculture committee and why i've consistently pushed for a strong renewable fuel standard. i basically believe that we should be working in this body to help the farmers and the
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workers of the midwest and not the oil she sheikhs of the mide. i led a letter with senator grassley calling on administrator pruitt to ensure that the final rule for 2018 and 2019 sets blending target that promote growth in the biofuels sector and in our economy. the final rule for 2017 followed congressional intent and required a record amount of biofuel to be mixed into our transportation fuel supply. the final rule this year should do the same. reducing the blend targets of advanced biofuels could shortchange the growth of clean energy innovation and stifle the growth of the market for new biofuels. so far the response from the administration in backing off these plans thinks senator grassley's leadership has been encouraging. but the proof will be in the pudding when the rule is released before the end of the month.
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and i appreciate the work of senator grassley and senator ernst and senator thune, senator durbin, who's here with us right now in the chamber, and others who have worked on this renewable fuel standard, as well as my colleague, senator franken. renewable fuels reduce the environmental impact of our transportation and energy sectors and cut our reliance on foreign oim. every time a new -- oil. every time a new study is released, i become more convinced that investment in the renewable fuels is an investment in rural america. last year a study by a.b.f. economics showed that ethanol had $17.3 billion in sales for minnesota businesses. and here's a big one -- the ethanol industry also supports over 18,000 full-time jobs in minnesota. as i see the president is from
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the state of alaska, the presiding officer, just as he knows the oil industry is important in our state, the ethanol industry is it important in the midwest. i believe they can both coexist. last weekend i visited the great plains ethanol plant in minnesota to see the impressive figures and meet firsthand with some of the 60 people employed there. one of the things i heard was how policy instability and delays, it has undercut great plains ability to acquire necessary investments and create new employment opportunities. the need for stable policy and forward-looking administration of the r.f.s. is key to providing certainty for producers and manufacturers while unlocking billions of dollars of investment. we have to continue to build on
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the progress we made of expanding energy production capacity more than three fold since 2005 with biodiesel, cellulosic, recycled waste and other biofuels. this is no longer a niche industry. this is 10% of our fuel supply. that's why i'm concerned about some of the statements that mr. wehrum has made and some of the clients he represented against the e.p.a., many of which sought to undermine the r.f.s. he had several challenges of the r.f.s. including the e-15 waiver which allows ethanol in gasoline. but most concerning was his role in 2015 challenging the requirement that diesel fuel sold in my state of minnesota contained at least 10% biodiesel otherwise known as the minnesota mandate or b-10. let me say that this kind of principle and policy was
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supported by democratic, independent, and republicans. from tim palenty to jesse ventura to mark dayton. my state has been a leader when it comes to renewable fuels. we pass the first state to pass a bioblending law. we continue to be a national leader in the use of e-85. in 2008 the state legislator mandated to step up the required biodiesel blend from 2% to 5% and eventually to 20% from 2012 to 2018. now according to the statute the b-10 mandate will double starting on may 1, 2018, individual state flexibility, something our state did because we knew it could work.
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despite mr. wehrum's best efforts, our state upheld the biodiesel. these advances are going to help a agriculture producers do more for the regional economy. the further ethanol and biodiesel takes us, the less dependent we'll be on foreign oil and. i have already discussed the climate change issue and i see that senator durbin is here. but, again, i reiterate i'm a former prosecutor. i believe in evidence. every week seems to bring fresh evidence of the damage that climate change is causing. minnesota may be miles away from the rising oceans, but the impacts are not less of a real threat to my state. i did not like mr. wehrum's answers that he gave during his hearing before the environment and public works committee on these questions, especially when he asked if he believed that
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human activities are the main driver of climate change and his response was, i believe it's an open question. i don't think this nominee should be running this part of the agency and we cannot sit back and ignore the evidence. we need to wake up, take action, and turn the corner on the devastating effects of climate change before it is too late. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. durbin: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak in morning business until 11:15. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: i ask that three statements on a variety of topics be end into the congressional record separately. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, i would like to speak a moment about veterans day which is two days away on saturday, november is 11, america will honor america's veterans they have served from bunker hill to
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baghdad and beyond. i have been thinking about the worts of one of the brave patriots. he is the son and grandson of military leaders. when his time came, he too went to war and suffered excruciating injuries. he said when wars are fought, quote, a million tragedies ensue. war is retch retched -- retched beyond description. those are the words of a man i'm privileged to call a colleague and friend, the senior senator from arizona, john mccain. we owe him and all of our nation's veterans and their families our respect for their courage, sacrifice and hardships that they endured for all of us. senator mccain endured more than 5 naf naf years as torture as a prisoner of war during the vietnam conflict.
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he when -- when he finally came whom he found another way to serve our nation with honor. we thank him for that. this week the united states congress dedicated a chair to honor all americans held as prisoners of war and those who remain in missing in action. that will stand as a solemn reminder of the service members who were miss pg for years in -- missing for years in captivity. as we prepare to celebrate veterans day, i want to tell you about another veteran, another patriot who was a prisoner of war. his war was world war ii. like senator mccain, he survived, came home, married, raised a family. his name is richard lockhart. everybody calls him dick lockhart. he's 93 years old. almost 94. he's a lobbyist in springfield, illinois. he doesn't represent the big moneyed interests. he represents the little guys,
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the nonprofit groups, the public workers, mental health providers and the families who need him, among others. he is the senior practicing lobbyist in illinois, maybe all of america. he will give up that title soon because on december 31, dick lockhart is requiring at this age of 93 from the firm he founded 60 years ago. he's not stepping down because he's tired. he still works seven days a week, most weeks. he's still physically strong and sharp as a tack mentally. he says he wants to travel more and write the book he's always wanted to write, explaining to ordinary citizens how to make the government work better. his life would make a fascinating book. born in ohio as an only child his family moved to indiana when he was young. the great depression hit his family hard, his dad lost his
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job, the family never owned a car, never took a vacation, never ate a meal in a restaurant. dick delivered newspapers an worked as a soda jerk during high school to pay for expenses. he was a student at purdue when japan bombed pearl harbor, one year he enlisted in the u.s. army. he was assigned to the army's 1 off 6th division, the golden lions in october they shipped out to england. they arrived in a quiet area of southeastern belgium near the military border. military higher ups said that germany would probably surrender before christmas. history had another plan. in the predawn hours of decembes launched their last major offenses of the war, the battle of the bulge. the u.s. forces were outnumbed.
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lockhart's rej imrment fought for days. finally, out of food, water, ammunition, they surrendered. some 8,000 soldiers were capture at the battle of the bulge. packed into railroad box cars, soldiers had to take turns sitting and standing. they were in the box cars two days traveling to a prisoner war camp in germany. medical care was nonexistent, men dying every day, meals consisted only of thin grass soup. on one bitterly cold day dick lockhart was beaten savagely by a prison guard, he still experiences pain from the beating. one memory haunts him. one day the prison guards asked if in were any jewish prisoners of war and asked them to identify themselves. for several hours no one stepped forward.
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german american soldiers began to step forward apparently thinking that their citizenship would protect them. they were wrong. they were shipped off to a notoriously hard-labor camp. when dick lockhart turned 21 while a prisoner of war. american soldiers liberated the camp and dick lockhart was sent home on on a 60-day furlough. he arrived at home in fort wayne, knocked on the door and was stunned to see a stranger open the door. months before his parents received a cable saying that their only child was missing in war and presumed dead. his mother moved to ohio, his father moved away to look for another factory job. fortunately dick found them soon and reunited with his parents.
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a month later while still on leave, germany finally surrendered. the war was finally over. dick always loved chicago, decided to use his g.i. bill to go to northwest. he married two children a, a son and daughter. in 1958 he founded this lobbying firm to try to advance democracy through good policy and war rather than tanks and bomb. he is honest, hardworking, modest, empathetic, always an optimist. he's earned the respect of both sides of the aisle for decades of ethical and professional service in the general assembly. laws he helped to pass has made life better for countless people in my state. in recognition of that fact the illinois general assembly voted december 31, dick's last day onn the job, as richard lockhart day in the state of illinois. five days after dick lockhart and others were captured,
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americans won the battle of the bulge. two years ago as part of the 70th anniversary of that event, dick lockhart returned to belgium. the children and grandchildren-those who were liberated greeted their american hero. he was given royal treatment he and all the american soldiers richly deserved. when dick speaks about his experience as a soldier, he is never a hero of any story. he row reserves -- he reserves that for the young men who didn't come home. he said there is an inscription that reads, when you go home, tell them about us and for your tomorrow we gave them today. i have to say that dick lockhart is an american hero. this veterans day we say to him and all the american veterans, thank you for your service. thank you for our freedom.
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thank you for all the tomorrows you purchased for us with your courage and sacrifice. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. durbin: i 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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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: majority leader. mr. mcconnell: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i yield back all time on this side and reserve one minute for senator carper. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. carper: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are not. the senator is recognized. mr. carper: as we prepare to vote on this nominee, i want to implore my colleagues to take one last minute to think about this decision before us. i ask them to recall the words i said just a bit earlier this morning. martha and i heard at our church not far from our home in wilmington, delaware. a beautiful spring morning, a hymn we all know, for the beauty
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of the earth, for the glory of the skies, for the love from which our birth over and around us, lives lord of all to thee we raise, this hymn of grateful praise. a powerful message reminds me of the incredible responsibility we have in this body, in this body, to serve and protect the people who sent us here. we must serve as stewards also of this planet which has been entrusted to us, the most vulnerable among us. for me that's not just my responsibility as a parent who has an , as an official elected. it is a moral imperative, a sacred obligation. there's perhaps no more basic human need than having clean air to breathe. i implore our colleagues -- we've also seen mr. wehrum's extreme agenda at the e.p.a. before. it would be at the height of the responsibility in shirking our moral obligation to confirm him here today. i implore you to join me in voting no on bill wehrum.
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thank you very much. the presiding officer: all time has expired. the question occurs on the wehrum nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the yeas are 49. the nays are 47. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table and the president will immediately be notified of the senate's actions. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: i ask unanimous consent to speak for five minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. cantwell: thank you, mr. president. i come to the floor to speak right now because i know that
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our colleagues are trying to move forward next week on some various proposals that are part of the tax package. i'm very concerned and remain very concerned about the measures within the policy that raise taxes on middle-class families because i don't think we should be passing a tax bill that raises taxes on middle-class families. and for me in washington, obviously it's a big concern. the fact that we don't have an income tax, they're getting riffed our local deductions that are so meaningful to us. literally we've done calculations, and i know there will be calculations in other states, that show that you are literally raising taxes on middle-class familiars to give a -- families to give a tax break to corporations that in some cases aren't asking for them or certainly not paying that corporate rate today. so i think we can do better than these policies, and i certainly think we can do better than the policies that are going to be
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before the energy committee next week, if the information that we're hearing now or getting word of is that our colleagues on the energy committee, my colleague from alaska, is going to propose literally getting rid of the wildlife refuge as a refuge and basically the purposes for the refuge and instead saying that drilling would happen and thereby destroy the refuge. so i know today that there are going to be scientists from across otocountry that are going to -- from across the country that are going to give word and testament to the fact that it is to dangerous to have drilling in the same place as a wildlife refuge, that they cannot coexist, that it will destroy the refuge. but partnersly that's what my -- but apparently that's what my colleague from alaska already believes because she is now going to say that to do drilling that you have to change the status of the refuge. so, mr. president, i definitely believe that there are much better ways in america to get
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revenue than basically destroying the wildlife habitat of caribou and of arctic wildlife that is so treasured in the united states of america. i certainly think there's better ways to do it than raising taxes on middle-class families in both my state and your state that don't have an income tax and would rather continue to have the deductibility. so that i hope our colleagues will look at both of these ideas and go back to the drawing board. it is not where we need to be. we need to be protecting things that are so dear and near to us and that we definitely don't need to fund tax breaks for millionaires by destroying wildlife habitat. instead we should be going back to the drawing board on things that are going to help our economy grow in the future. so i hope our colleagues also dish hope the public is well aware that this is kind of dark-and-night tactics that they
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want us to leave town on thursday night only to come back on monday and start in on a tax policy that we haven't even seen, that we haven't even seen the language yet. i think we can do better than to have a rush-rush approach to give tax breaks to corporations, certainly not going do it on the backs of working-class families in america, taking away from viable deductions for education, for housing, for tax -- property taxes, for expenditures that they make. we can do better than to leave here, coming back on monday to rush-rush a tax break for corporations while raising taxes on middle-class families and destroying a wildlife refuge that scientists say are so important to our ecology to keep. i thank the president, and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands in recess until 1:45 p.m.
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post" reporting would delay a.m. cut in the corporate tax rate until 2019 where people briefed on the planning said a major departure from president trump's insistence that he needed changes are necessary to spur the economy. both the house and senate republicans plans would drop the corporate rate from 35 to 20% by
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the house bill in keeping with president trump's which would lower the rate immediately. senate majority whip john cornyn announcing today the senate would hold off the start of debate on their version until after thanksgiving. i live picture of the ways and means committee where a look on the bill continues that the fourth day work on the plane pic you can watch this life on our companion c-span3 and or listen at the c-span3 c-span radio app. we have the complete original bill for you to read. you go to and that will get you to our congressional chronicle page. you can read all 429 pages of the proposal. any changes to the measure made in the market session will not be reflected online just yet. we will have updated language for you.
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>> c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979 c-span was created as a public service by america's cable-television companies and is brought you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> president trump continues his asia trip. earlier the president and first lady attended a welcoming ceremony hosted by the chinese president at the great hall of the people in beijing. then gave a a joint statement h his chinese counterpart. here's what those events looked like. ♪ ♪


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