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tv   U.S. Senate 11132017  CSPAN  November 13, 2017 4:19pm-7:40pm EST

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rapacious trading practices that have stolen american jobs and depressed american wages, president trump went to china and gave them a get out of jail free card. instead of speaking sternly and truthfully to the chinese leaders about the realities of our imbalanced and unfair trade system where we play by the rules and they do not, we lose jobs, they gain them, president trump tried to appease the chinese and their leader. instead of demanding concessions on trade, instead of demanding the same equal access to markets we provide chinese firms, instead of addressing the sordid history of intellectual property theft and extortion, president trump was eager to let china off the hook to say it was, quote, not their fault, unquote, but rather the failure of american presidents. imagine blaming america for the chinese trade imbalance and
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letting china get off scot-free. is that putting america first? president xi flattered president trump, and he fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. from each of his interactions with president xi, president trump has only gotten flattery, pomp, and circumstance, but nothing for the american worker, nothing. if he keeps this approach up with a growing economic power like china, he will be the author of a second new -- sorry. if he keeps this approach up with a growing economic power like china, president trump will be the author of a new international reality, america second. concerning the situation on the korean peninsula, instead of working towards a new meaningful understanding of how to best deal with north korea, president trump traded petty barbs with the president of north korea on twitter.
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close your eyes for a moment and imagine if this was the way that roosevelt behaved towards stalin or eisenhower towards khrushchev or kennedy towards castro. this is below the dignity of the office of president of the united states, and it erodes america's power in the world, and worst of all, again president trump seems to instinctively accept the word of president putin over the judgment of 17 u.s. intelligence agencies about whether russia interfered in our election. we know that russia interfered in our elections. our entire intelligence community, 17 agencies, have concluded it. why does president trump continue to give president putin the benefit of the doubt while discrediting and demeaning american intelligence officers? it's shameful, it's unpatriotic, deeply unpatriotic. and he only halfheartedly
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brought back his comments after the fact. every american should wonder why president trump goes to such great lengths to avoid criticizing president putin. after eight years of republicans questioning obama's toughness with foreign leaders, an attack that i give no credence to by repeating, it seems that president trump, not president obama, is the one who is afraid to take on america's adversaries. he forgives china and cozies up to president putin. for the steelworker in ohio or in upstate new york whose job is on the line because china is dumping cheap steel and aluminum into our markets, that's not good enough. for every american concerned about the sanctity of our elections, that's not good enough when it comes to standing up for the needs of the american worker, for american firms and
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for american consumers, when it comes to standing up for american democracy, this president needs to wake up and toughen up. now, on taxes. today the finance committee will begin to mark up the senate republican tax plan. the bill put forward by the chairman will not contain the ideas of a single democrat here in the senate. it's the result of not a single negotiation between our two parties. it has been discussed in exactly zero hearings. its merits weighed by exactly zero expert witnesses. rather, the tax bill is one party's back-room deliberations, and although it will affect every person and industry in the country, it's being rushed through committee and may come to the floor of the senate in a matter of weeks. the republican leadership is making a mockery of the legislative process, a mockery of regular order, and the reason
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for such reckless haste is all too obvious -- the product is a wretched one. if republicans had crafted a popular bill that could get bipartisan support, they would have announced it with great fanfare, fanned out all over the country to champion it. instead, it's being rushed through with hardly any consideration because my republican friends know from their experience with health care that the longer an unpopular idea is left out in the open, the more it will fester in the public's mind. that's what will happen with this tax bill, because of one simple reason. it's focused on the wealthy to the exclusion of the middle class. while big corporations and wealthy individuals get lower rates and new permanent loopholes, the middle class gets benefits that expire. corporations will be able to continue to deduct their state and local taxes, while individual taxpayers will not.
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wealthy estates worth over $5 million with ensured a massive tax break, while millions of middle-class families lose their popular deductions like the personal exemption. that's why, according to an analysis by "the new york times" under the house republican bill, nearly a third of all middle-class taxpayers will see a tax hike next year. let me repeat that. under the house republican bill, nearly a third of all middle-class taxpayers will see a tax hike next year, and almost half of middle-class taxpayers will see a hike in ten years. and according to a j.c.t. analysis of the senate republican bill, of all the taxpayers making less than $200,000 a year, 13 million will see a tax hike next year in 2019, and nearly 20 million
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americans will see a tax hike by 2027. another 64 million americans making under $200,000 a year will see no change in their taxes. meanwhile, everyone at the very top, the top 1%, will see tax cuts of tens of thousands of dollars. 100 times more money would go to a family earning a million dollars a year than a family making between $40,000 and $50,000. now, let me ask you, madam president, who needs the tax break more, the family making $50,000 or the family making $1 million? god bless the wealthy. so many of them worked hard and achieved great wealth. good. but they don't need a tax break. middle-class people do. now president trump is suggesting republicans tip the scales even more in favor of the rich by repealing the individual mandate to pay for more tax cuts
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for the rich. here's what he tweeted. i found this hard to believe. how out of touch can the president be with the american people? here's what he said. quote -- how about ending the unfair and highly unpopular individual mandate and reducing taxes even further? cut the tax rate to 35% with all the rest going to middle-class income cuts. what does the proposal do? it sends premiums, health care premiums for millions of middle-class americans skyrocketing. also, that the wealthy, the top bracket can get even bigger -- an even bigger tax break than they get under the original republican plan. the middle class only gets the leftovers if there are any at all. sooner or later, madam president, sooner or later, even president trump's core supporters will realize that he's selling them out. that's why most polls show that less than a third of americans
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support the republican tax plan, and a majority actually oppose it. that's an astounding fact. tax cuts are historically popular. somehow, republicans have managed to make a tax cut bill politically unpopular. again, for a straightforward reason, on balance, the tax cut is for big corporations and a tiny group of americans while millions in the middle class pay more to help finance them. to make tax cuts unpopular is quite a feat. i would not urge -- i would urge my republican colleagues not to fall for the bait. there is broad agreement on the goals of tax reform between our two parties. we all want to lower middle-class taxes. we all want to reduce the burden on small businesses and encourage companies to locate jobs here in the united states instead of shipping them
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overseas. we could put a tax bill together that does those things. this bill doesn't. i know that many of my republican colleagues are concerned about the deficit. they're worried about the one-party legislative ramrodding that is eroding the grand traditions of this body, and they are afraid of passing a tax bill that raises taxes on millions of working americans in their states. so i say to them, i say to my republican friends, if the brakes -- hit the brakes on this bill. come back to the table. we can work on a real bipartisan tax reform bill that delivers middle-class tax relief but only, only if you defeat this bill first. thank you. i yield the floor, madam president, and note the -- are you going to speak? i yield the floor, madam president. mr. leahy: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont.
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mr. leahy: madam president, what is the parliamentary situation? the presiding officer: the senate is considering the kan nomination. mr. leahy: i thank the distinguished presiding officer. they are going to put it in place a couple of things here. mr. leahy: madam president, over the past ten months, the attorney general has testified pf the senate -- before the senate on three occasions. this is about his contact with
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russian. he has provided supplementary testimony, but no matter how much he tried, he's not getting his story straight. on numerous occasions numerous disclosures of his communications involving russia have raised serious questions about his testimony. they raised questions about his testimony, and not one of these disclosures have come -- has come from the attorney general. these disclosures were not from the attorney general correcting what he said before. all of it came from the press or court records. now, that's a problem. this started in january. at his nomination hearing, both senator franken and i asked him about contacts with russian officials. i asked him in writing whether
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he had been in contact with anyone connected to the russian government about the 2016 election. now, that's not a tricky or a surprising question. other trump officials, undisclosed contacts with russia, like those of michael flynn or jared kushner were major headlines at the time. under oath, senator sessions answered with a single, unambiguous word, no. that was soon learned that the unambiguous answer was yes, just the opposite of his answer. in march "the washington post" reported that mr. sessions met with russian ambassador on two occasions during the height of the campaign. days later, the attorney general
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was forced to recuse himself from the russia investigation. in june, though, the press reported on a third undisclosed contact. in july, despite the attorney general's previous assertions to never discuss the campaign with russian officials, u.s. intelligence intercepts reported that he had done just that, discussing the campaign, his position on russia-related issues with the russian ambassador. so the attorney general, to his credit and his duty, came before the judiciary committee last month. i asked him -- i asked him about this report. his testimony changed again. he acknowledged it was possible that he had these conversations. remember, originally he said no.
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well, it flatly contradicts his testimony in january. what makes it more troubling is that the disclosure showed no sign of stopping. two weeks ago court records revealed additional russia connections that were discussed during a trump campaign meeting in march of 2016. then-senator sessions admonished those in attendance not to discuss the issues again for fear it would like to the press. just last week another foreign policy campaign aide testified they informed mr. sessions of his planned trip to russia in july of 2016. now, once again, i mentioned all of these different testimonies an descriptions, it was impossible to reconcile with the
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attorney general's testimony in which he claimed under oath that he's not aware of any contact between the trump campaign and russian officials. it's one thing to say something casually, but these were comments he made under oath. and the nose that he's -- notion that he's simply forgetful is not believable. potential russian involvement in our elections was a major story. in july of 2016 then-candidate trump publicly at a rally encouraged russia to commit espionage against his opponent. that was such an impressive claim by any candidate ever, he said commit espionage, steal my opponent's e-mails. that same way, then-senator sessions told cnn that people
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come up to him all the time to talk about russia hacking hillary clinton's e-mails. exactly who are all these people talking to about russia hacking hillary clinton's e-mails? did he disclose these discussions with the judiciary committee? surely he hadn't forgotten them. we don't know yet. senator durbin recently asked him this in a written question, plenty of time to think about it -- not too long, but think about it and then give us a response. one other point, to be clear. i never accused the attorney general of colluding with russia. i'm not doing that now. but it is clear the kremlin tested the water with senator sessions as they did with others. keep that in mind. what is clear is that the kremlin was testing the water
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and the people in the trump campaign, including then-senator sessions. it is equally clear that the attorney general concealed his own contacts with russian officials. he failed to correct the record even when given multiple opportunities to do so. this wasn't just a little slip somewhere along the line. he's had several opportunities to correct it. i agree with senator franken, i agree with senator graham, and i agree with others, that he needs to come back once again to testify before the senate judiciary committee under oath. it's time we hear the whole story. an important part of that story is what the attorney general did on may nine. that's the day the attorney general fired comey. to justify it, the president cited a justice department memorandum signed off by attorney general sessions. the memo tried to justify firing
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comey because he treated hillary clinton unfairly during the e-mail investigation. now, i was born at night, but not last night. do you really think that trump -- that the trump organization wanted to fire director comey because he treated hillary clinton unfairly? i mean, this is the same donald trump who publicly urged the russians to hack into her e-mails. now, what we did learn -- because everybody found that incredulous -- we learned that there was an earlier unsent letter that point to president trump's true motivation for firing director comey and that was the russian investigation. the day before the dismissal, the attorney general, the deputy
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attorney general reportedly were called into the white house to discuss the earlier letter, the russian letter. the next day they delivered their own, as of may 9, they delivered their own hastily drafted memo that provided an alternative investigation for director comey being fired and not because of what was russia was doing, but because he was so mean to hillary clinton. everybody knows the may 9 memo was a facade. it was a pretext. the white house needs to point to anything other than russia to justify dismissing director comey and the attorney general obliged, but the president couldn't keep that secret. he had to brag about it. the very next month. they visited him and gave him
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great pressure off of him from the russia investigation. and two days later on national television the president made clear what we all knew, that they tried to hide -- he actually acknowledged it, he fired the lead russia investigator due to concerns of how he was handling the russia investigation. it's bad enough to do that, but then to brag to the russians that he had done this to help them. now, here's another problem. if you fire an investigator, in order to stymie a legitimate investigation, you learn about this your first year in law school. it's a crime. it's called obstruction of justice. now, whether there's sufficient evidence to merit obstruction of justice against the president will have to be decided by
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mr. mueller. if so they will have to prove that the memo was nothing but a smoke screen, an attempt to mask an uncomfortable truth and excuse the inexcusable. in my experience prosecutors don't look kindly on those who cover up a crime. for many years i sat with senator sergses on the -- sessions on the judiciary committee. we traveled together and disagreed on many policy issues, but i never questioned senator sessions' commitment to the rule of law, but i do question the president's commitment to the rule of law. this month along president trump directed the justice department to target his political opponents and chase his
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conspiracy theories. this is a president, probably more than any president since richard nixon, who needs to be told no, and may 9 was one of those moments. i am greatly disappointed that attorney general sessions wasn't up to the task. this is a solemn obligation that goes to the heart of what is -- of what it means to be attorney general. no person, not even a president, is above the law. i remember when an attorney general, under questioning before the judiciary committee, said, well, you know, as a member of the president's staff. i said, you're not a member of the president's staff. you're not a secretary of justice serving the president blindly and covering flaws. you, this attorney general, you are an attorney general of the united states. you are supposed to serve first
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and foremost the american people. we don't have a secretary of justice like we do a secretary of commerce and so on. we have an attorney general of the united states. and i fear that attorney general sessions has lost sight of this distinction. now, we are in the midst of perhaps the most serious national security investigation, certainly in the decade i've been in the senate, a foreign adversary attacked our democracy and our elections. the evidence is irrefutable that russia was trying to attack our elections. we also know that russia will be back. if we're serious about preventing the next attack, we have to know what happened in the last one. the american people, democrats and republicans alike, deserve answers. no more obfuscation.
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this starts with the attorney general returning to the senate judiciary committee to explain in person under oath why he did not provide a truthful and complete answers to some of the most pressing questions facing our nation today. madam president, as a senator who has been relentless in asking his questions is my distinguished colleague from minnesota, and i yield to him. i ask consent that he be given such time as he needs. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. franken: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: thank you, madam president. and i thank senator leahy, my good friend.
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madam president, new developments in the ongoing investigation into russian interference in the election has once again raised concerns about the accuracies -- the scrascy of -- accuracy of statements made by attorney general jeff sessions during his appearance before the senate. in light of the attorney general's failure to tell the truth about not just his own interactions with russian operatives but also the extent to which he knew about russian contacts by other members of the trump campaign team, i call upon attorney general sessions to return to the senate judiciary committee and provide us with a complete and accurate accounting of the facts. madam president, there is no question that russia, a hostile foreign power, meddled in our
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election. russia carried out this attack in order to undermine confidence in american democracy, to damage hillary clinton's campaign for president, and to help donald trump. our intelligence agencies have confirmed this to be true, but in order to keep our country safe and prevent an attack like this from happening again, the american people need to understand what happened, including whether members of the trump campaign either participated in the russian operation or turned a blind eye to it. we need to get to the bottom of this and to do that we need to know the truth. but, madam president, regrettably, attorney general sessions, our nation's chief law enforcement officer, seems to have a real problem telling the truth about both his own actions
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with russians and those of the larger trump campaign team. at his confirmation hearing in january when i referenced a breaking report from cnn that there had been a, quote, continuing exchange of information during the campaign between trump's surrogates and intermediaries for the russian government, unquote, i asked him, quote, if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the trump campaign communicated with the russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do? this was a simple, straightforward question, what will you do? the implication was, would you recuse yourself. but rather than answer that question, then senator sessions said, quote, i didn't have --
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did not have communications with the russians, end quote. that, of course, was not true. it was later revealed that attorney general sessions had met with the russian ambassador at least three times during the campaign. only after two of those meetings were uncovered and disclosed seven weeks later did attorney general sessions announce his recusal from the russian investigation. but after he was confronted with the truth, the attorney general began to subtly change his story. his first answer under oath before the judiciary committee in january was that he, quote, did not have communications with the russians, unquote, period.
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but after his meetings with the russian ambassador were exposed, attorney general sections began to equal -- attorney general sessions began to qualify his explanations. in a statement issued on march 2, the day after his russian contacts were revealed, he said, quote, i never met with any russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign, but in july "the washington post" published a report suggesting that the attorney general did discuss campaign issues with the russian ambassador. according to the report, american intelligence agencies intercepted communications between the russian ambassador and the kremlin in which the ambassador described his conversations with then senator sessions. the two talked about substantive
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policy matters, including campaign-related issues. in response to this report, the justice department issued a statement stating that attorney general sessions stood by his testimony and again claimed that the attorney general did not discuss, quote, interference with any campaign or election. madam president, each and every time that new information comes to light about the attorney general's contacts with the russians, he has responded not by coming clean and admitting that his initial testimony was inaccurate, but by shifting his story and moving the goal post. madam president, the truth has a nasty habit of catching up with
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attorney general sessions. recently, unsealed court documents revealed that in early october, former trump campaign foreign policy advisor pop do papadopoulos, george po communicated with russian operatives during the campaign. the unsealed documents also revealed that mr. papadopoulos didn't just meet with russian operatives in the campaign. he did so with the expressed goal of facilitating meetings between the russian government and other trump campaign officials, including the candidate himself, donald trump. according to the court documents, mr. papadopoulos made no secret of his russian
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contacts. he described his russian meetings in e-mails to senior campaign officials, and according to mr. papadopoulos, he discussed his russian contacts with then-senator sessions directly. on march 31, 2016, mr. papadopoulos attended a meeting of the trump campaign's national security advisor -- advisory committee, a group led by attorney general sessions who chaired the committee and advised the candidate on foreign policy and national security matters. the court documents reveal that after mr. papadopoulos introduced himself to the group,
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he, quote, stated in sum and substance that he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate trump and president putin. mr. papadopoulos made that speech while seated two seats to the left of attorney general sessions. we know that for a fact because then-candidate trump posted a photo of the meeting on instagram. there is then-senator sessions. there is george papadopoulos. and there is then-candidate donald trump. after the court documents were unsealed -- i think i -- yes. after the court documents were
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unsealed, reports about what happened at the march 31 meeting began to emerge. reportedly, mr. papadopoulos spoke about facilitating a meeting between the candidate and the president for a few minutes. then-candidate trump reportedly, quote, listened with interest and asked questions of mr. papadopoulos, but according to an advisor present at the meeting, then-senator sessions reacted negatively to mr. papadopoulos' idea and reportedly, quote, shut papadopoulos down. attorney general sessions is reported to have said, quote, we're not going to do it. and i prefer that nobody speak about this again. if those reports are accurate, they would signal that then
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then-senator sessions reacted quite strongly to the suggestion that then-candidate trump should meet with president putin. such a strong reaction suggests that attorney general sessions would have remembered a conversation like that. mr. papadopoulos wasn't the only member of the campaign to tell attorney general sessions about his russian contacts. earlier this month, carter page, yet another former trump campaign foreign policy advisor who is under scrutiny for his russian contacts testified to the house intelligence committee that he told then-senator sessions about a trip to russia that page was going to take in july of 2016 where he met with russian officials and state-owned businesses.
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nonetheless, madam president, time and time again attorney general sessions has claimed under oath that he ways unaware of -- that he was unaware of any communications between russians and members of the trump campaign. during his confirmation hearing in january when i mentioned reports that there was a, quote, continuing exchange of information during the campaign between trump surrogates and intermediaries for the russian government, the attorney general said that he was, quote, not aware of any of those activiti activities. my good friend pat leahy asked him in writing whether he, quote -- had, quote, been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the russian government
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about the 2016 election. the attorney general answered simply no. in june attorney general sessions appeared before the senate intelligence committee. in his opening statement he said, quote, i have never met with or had any conversations with any russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the united states. further, i have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to th -- to the trump campaign. senator risch asked him, quote, did you hear even a whisper or a suggestion or anyone making reference within that campaign
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that somehow the russians were involved in that campaign? attorney general sections replied, quote, i did not. senator joe manchin asked him, quote, are there any other meetings between russian government officials and any other trump campaign associates that have not been previously disclosed that you know of? attorney general sessions said that he did not recall any such meetings. senator kamala harris asked him, quote, are you aware of any communications with other trump campaign officials and associates that they had with russian officials or any russian nationals? attorney general sessions replied, quote, i don't recall that.
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just last month during the attorney general's most recent appearance before the judiciary committee, senator lindsey graham asked him, quote, did anybody in the campaign, did you ever overhear a conversation between you and anybody on the campaign who talked about meeting with the russians? this time attorney general sessions replied quite carefully. he said, quote, i have not seen anything that would indicate collusion with russians to impact the campaign. but when i asked him to clarify his shifting explanations for his own interactions with russian ambassador, attorney general sections said that when he first -- general sections
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said that when he first heard of reports of, quote, continuing information between russians and the campaign, he was taken aback by this dramatic statement that i never heard before and knew nothing about. he said that, quote, a continuing exchange of information between trump's surrogates and intermediaries for the russian government did not happen, at least not to my knowledge and not with me. describing his january testimony, he said, quote, and i said, i am not aware of those activities, and i wasn't. and am not and don't believe they occurred. madam president, setting aside the convenient amnesia that attorney general sessions seems to experience when asked about his own interactions with
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russians or those that he witnessed, i find it disturbing that he went so far as to claim, as recently as october of this year, that he didn't believe that any meetings between trump associates and russians ever occurred. just think about the campaign -- the trump campaign members we know to have met with russians from publicly available information. carter page, former campaign advisor; paul manafort, former campaign manager and chief strategist; michael flynn, the disgraced former national security advisor who in 2015 spoke at a party honoring russian state-owned television
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network where he sat next to vladimir putin; jared kushner, white house advisor and son-in-law; and donald trump jr., the president's son. each and every one of these former members of the trump campaign have had unusual contacts with the russians. nonetheless, just last month the attorney general said -- and i quote -- i'm not aware of those activities, and i wasn't and am not and don't believe they occurred. unquote. you know, i wanted to say to attorney general sessions, listen, i understand that you're recused from the russia
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investigation, but do you think that means you're not allowed to watch the news or read a newspaper? my god, what is going on here? madam president, it is clear that attorney general sessions has an ongoing difficulty remembering his own interactions with russians and the extent to which he knew about russian contacts with other members of the trump campaign. and as the record demonstrates, attorney general sessions has misrepresented the truth about those contacts to members of this body time and time again. the interference by a hostile power in our nation's elections represents an attack on democracy itself, and the
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inability of our nation's top law enforcement official to speak with a clear and consistent voice about what he knows of the russian operation is disturbing. tomorrow morning the attorney general will appear before the house judiciary committee, where i am confident that he will once again face questions about this issue. it is my hope that this time attorney general sessions will answer those questions honestly. but in light of his misrepresentations to members of this body, attorney general sessions has an obligation to return to the senate and explain himself. getting to the bottom of russia's interference in the
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2016 election is a matter of national security. and attorney general sessions owes the american people an explanation about what he knows. he needs to return to the senate judiciary committee to set the record straight. thank you, madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: before i speak, i have a unanimous consent request for committees to meet. this one request is for a committee to meet during today's session of the senate. it has the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly
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noted. mr. grassley: madam president, in the last several weeks, there's been a lot of discussion regarding the blue slip courtesy that applies to judicial nominations. so i want to take a moment to clarify a few things. my position hasn't changed. like i said in november of last year, i intend to honor the blue slip courtesy, but there have always been exceptions. first, the blue slip has always been a senatorial courtesy. it's promised on the idea of -- it's premised on the idea that home state senators are in a very good position to provide insights into a nominee from their state for the federal judiciary. it's meant to encourage
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consultation between the white house and home state senators about judicial nominations. that's why i value the blue slip tradition and ask for the views of senators on all nominees to courts from their respective states. throughout its history, the many chairmen of the senate judiciary committee have applied this blue slip courtesy differently. that is a chairman's prerogative. the chairman has the authority to decide how to apply the courtesy. over the past 100 years, there have been 18 chairmen of the senate judiciary committee who recognized the value of the blue slip courtesy, but only two out of these 18 chairmen required
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both senators to return positive blue slips before scheduling a hearing. the practice of sending out blue slips to home state senators started, like i said, 100 years ago -- 1970. chairman charles culverson, stated -- and started the blue slip practice to solicit the opinion of home state senators. but he did not require the return of two positive blue slips before the committee would proceed on a nominee. in fact, in the blue slip's very first year, chairman culverson called a hearing an a vote for a -- and a vote for a nominee who
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received a negative blue clip. his suck successors over the next -- his successors over the next years -- it was not until 1956 that the blue slip policy changed under chairman james eastland, a democrat from the state of mississippi. chairman eastland began to require both home state senators to return positive blue slips before holding a hearing and a vote. chairman eastland, has history tells us, was well-known for his segregationist views. unfortunately, it's likely that he adopted a strict blue slip policy to veto judicial nominees who favored school desegregati desegregation. this is what villanova law school professor samahan
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explained. quote, when segregationist dix dixiecat senator john eastland chaired the committee, he endowed the blue slip with veto power to, among other things, keep mississippi federal judicial branch free of sympathizers with brown v. board of education. end of quote from the professor. now, after chairman eastland retires in 1979, senator kennedy became chairman and he got rid of senator eastland's policy. he didn't want a single senator to be able to unilaterally veto a judicial nominee. senator kennedy's policy was that an unreturned or negative
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blue slip wouldn't prevent the committee from conducting a hearing on a nominee. then comes along senator strom thurmond, continuing this policy when he became chairman. so did senator joe biden. so did senator orrin hatch. each of those chairmen allowed hearings for nominees who had negative or unreturned blue slips. in 1989, chairman biden sent a letter to the white house articulating his blue slip policy. this is what chairman biden wrote. quote, the return of a negative blue slip will be a significant factor to be weighed by the committee in the evaluation of the judicial nominee, but it will not preclude consideration of that nominee unless the
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administration has not consulted with both home state senators prior to submitting nomination to the senate. end of biden quote. obviously, chairmen from both parties saw the danger of allowing one or two senators to visa though a nominee for a political or ideological reasons. my predecessor, chairman leahy, reinstated chairman eastland's strict blue slip policy. some believe he did so in order to exert firmer control over the new bush administration nominees. but even he said he wouldn't stand for senators abusing the blue slip to delay or block nominees. chairman leahy said the blue slip courtesy was, quote, meant to ensure that the home state senators, who know the needs of
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the courts in their state best, are consulted and have the opportunities to make sure -- and have the too under the to make sure that the -- and have the opportunity to make sure that the nominees are callified. end of quote. and then further, and should not be continuing to quote, be abused simply to delay the committee's ability to make progress filling vacancies, end of quote. chairman leahy also said, quote, i assume no one will abuse the blue slip process, like some have abused the use of the filibuster to block judicial nominees on the floor of the senate. as long as the blue slip process is not being abused by home state senators, then i will see no reason to change that tradition, end of quote. as i've said all along, i won't allow the blue slip to be abused. i won't allow senators to block
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nominees for political or ideological reasons. this position is consistent with the historical role of the blue slip courtesy. it also matches my personal experience with the blue slip. so i'm going to tell you about a personal experience i had when i first came to the united states senate. in my first year in the senate, a vacancy arose on the eighth circuit. at the time, i served with a republican, my senior senator from iowa, roger jepsen, and we had a republican president, ronald reagan. senator jepsen and i thought the nominee should be a state judge from des moines, so we recommended his name to the white house. not like we do now from iowa, submit two or three names, four names sometimes for the president to pick from. the white house decided back in
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1981 that they'd like to consider another name for the vacancy. the other individual, judge fag, was a state court judge in iowa. the white house interviewed judge fag -- well, no, the white house interviewed the judge supported by both senator grassley and senator jepsen, along with interviewing this other nominee. president reagan ultimately nominated the other nominee for the vacancy. he wasn't the person that the senator and i recommended but the white house thought he was better suited for the circuit court and that ended up being the very correct decision. judge fage served with great distinction for more than two decades. even though he wasn't our pick,
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senator jepsen and i returned our blue slips on the nominee. that wasn't unusual. more deference has always been given to the white house, particularly for circuit court nominees as different from district court nominees. when judge fage was nominated to the eighth circuit, both senators from iowa were republicans, and the blue slip practice didn't change when senator harkin, a democrat, was elected to the senate succeeding senator jepsen. when senator harkin and i served together for 30 years, we didn't have any problems with judicial nominees. generally when there was a republican president, i sent a list of names to the president, and when there was a democratic president senator harkin sent a list of names to the white house. we served together for those 30
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years and never had any problems with blue slips. not once. during the clinton administration there was a vacancy arising on the eighth circuit, a vacancy arose on the eighth circuit. the white house nominated bonnie campbell for the court. ms. campbell was originally from new york, previously served for two democratic senators. for six years she served as chairwoman of the iowa democratic party. ms. campbell was elected as iowa's attorney general, defeating a republican incumben. she defeated a republican who was elected attorney general. she also ran for governor against governor terry branstad. after she lost that election,
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she was appointed by president clinton to a position within the department of justice. now it happens that i like ms. campbell very much, but she wasn't the type of nominee that i would pick for the court. but that didn't stop me from returning my blue slip. ms. campbell was a controversial nominee. during her campaign for governor, she was quoted discussing christian conservatives, she said, quote, i hate to call them christians because i am a christian. and i hate to call them religious, because they're not. so i'll call them the radical right. end of quote. ms. campbell had a very liberal record and spent most of her career as a politician. a lot of people didn't want me to return her blue slip, so why did i return her blue slip? and in the process, i was criticized extensively by the
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conservative base of my state of iowa. but i did that because a blue slip isn't supposed to allow the unilateral veto of a nominee. a senator can't use a blue slip to block a nominee simply because he or she doesn't like the nominee's politics or ideology. a senator can't use a blue slip to block a nominee because it's not the person's -- it's not the person the senator would have picked. the president gets to nominate judges. the white house should consult home state senators. and it's important that they do so in a meaningful way. but the white house may disagree with senators and may determine that a different individual is more suited to serve on the
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circuit court, so long as there is consultation the president generally gets to make that call. so i won't let senators abuse the blue slip to block qualified nominees for political or ideological reasons. i yield the floor 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 tennessee. without objection. the question occurs on the nomination. the yeas and nays. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: the yeas are 90 -- has everyone voted? does anyone wish to change their vote? if not, the votes are 90 in
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favor, seven opposed. the nomination is confirmed. the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: i ask unanimous consent that with respect to the kan nomination the motion to reconsider be made and laid upon the table and that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. 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, do hereby bring to a close debate on -- the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the clerk may continue. the clerk: debate on the nomination of steven gill bradbury to be general counsel of the department of transportation. the presiding officer: by i ask unanimous consent the mandatory quorum call has been waived.
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is it the sense of the senate that debate on steven gill bradbury to be general counsel of the department of transportation 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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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the yeas are 50, the nays are 47. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the n.o.m. nomination. the clerk: department of transportation, steve steven gil bradbury to be general counsel. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that 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 ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 223, h.r. 1679. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 223, h.r. 1679, an act to ensure that the federal emergency management agency's current efforts to modernize its grant management system includes applicant accessibility and
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transparency a understand for other purposes. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the bill be considered read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 010:00 a.m. tuesday, november 146789 following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, 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 bradbury nomination. further, that the senate recess from 12:30 to 2:15 to allow for the weekly caucus meetings. finally, that all time during recess, adjournment, morning business, and leader remarks count postcloture on the bradbury nomination. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent
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to resume executive session and the bradbury nomination. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, i rise to speak on the nomination of steven bradbury, but first i want to speak on a much lighter subject, the reason that i wore this orange tie. the university of miami football team has a perfect record, and this is hearkening back to the glory days. and i'll tell you why i do this, mr. president. because my neighbor and one of my best friends was the defensive player of the year for the national championship team in 1989, cortez kennedy, originally from arkansas, university of miami, then ten years with the seattle seahawks, nfl hall of famer.
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i'm doing this for my friend cortez kennedy that we lost six months ago to a heart attack, much too early, at the age of 48. what a miami fan he was and how proud he would be now of his cherished university of miami football team and the perfect record that they have thus far. mr. president, now to speak to steven bradbury, we've seen real trouble signs lately in the transportation safety area. last year was the most deadly year on the highways in nearly a decade. over 37,000 people were killed in highway accidents in 2016, an increase of 5.6% over the previous year. many of those fatalities were
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preventable and caused by people not wearing seat belts or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or distracted drivers. we need leaders in the department of transportation who are willing to speak up and take action to reduce these highway deaths. we also need leaders that embrace a safety culture and ensure that defects in automobiles are quickly addressed. now, let me tell you about something that is one of the most egregious defects that we've heard about. the takata air bag fiasco. it's caused 16 deaths and 180 injuries worldwide. this came to my attention several years ago when the
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orlando mr. president, what was thought to be a fender bender in the middle of a traffic intersection, by the time they got to the driver of the car, they thought it was a homicide. her throat had been split, slit, and she had bled to death. they thought well, it must be a homicide. but indeed, what it was, the takata air bag exploding, defective air bag. all the metal surrounding the housing of the air bag, because the material that explodes was defective, it exploded with such force that metal as if in a grenade exploded right in the
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face of the driver. now, 16 deaths this way worldwide and 180 injuries. it happened to a firefighter near orlando as well. that lady in the middle of the intersection, just a fender bender, the air bag exploded, but it sent these metal shards in this case into her neck and cut her jugular. in the case of a firefighter, big, strapping, very muscular firefighter, he had a takata air bag explode in his face, and he doesn't have a left eye anymore. he can't be a twiert anymore. and thus, this is just -- he can't be a firefighter anymore. and thus, this is just two that happened in my hometown of
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orlando. now, many of the deaths that we have seen in the takata air bags are pure neglect, but it's also true that takata covered up critical defect information, information that's come to light that the engineers in takata hid it becoming public, this defective takata air bag when, in fact, they knew it was defective. and then on top of that, the regulator, the national highway traffic safety administration did not react quickly enough. and so this all brings us to the fact in the department of transportation, we need people who will take a strong stand for safety, and that brings me to the nomination of steven brad bury -- bradbury, because even
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though he is up for general counsel, well, indeed, he has had a lengthy legal career, but far too much of his legal career has been involved in working against the interests of safety. for almost two years, mr. mr. bradbury represented takata in its response to our senate commerce committee and in the nhtsa investigations. so naturally i asked him if he would recuse himself in all matters involving takata if he's confirmed in the position when he came in front of our committee because he had represented takata as their lawyer for two years. but listen to what he said. he said that while he will recuse himself from takata air
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bag matters, he has not agreed to recuse himself from all takata matters. such as their pending bankruptcy. well, wait a minute. are you going to recuse yourself from the client that you used to represent or not? and he in essence said he's not. so mr. bradbury in his legal career has also represented several airlines in antitrust and consumer proceedings, and i emphasize consumer proceedings. and so it's hard for me to see how he will put that past representation aside and work for airline consumer protections
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such as, for example, if you check a bag and it gets to you late, you at least ought to get your bag fee refunded to you. we were able in the commerce committee to get that into last year's f.a.a. reauthorization bill. well, it's another potential conflict. drivers and consumers need champions at the department of transportation. and unfortunately, i believe that mr. bradbury has not demonstrated the ability to put the consumers first, and therefore i will oppose his nomination. mr. president, i yield the floor.
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i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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ms. klobuchar: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, last month, president trump said that pharmaceutical companies are, quote, getting away with murder. those were his words, not mine. it's not the first time that he's said it, and there is some truth to it, so it's time to get specific and then question why
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he just announced that the person who will be running the health department for the united states of america has spent ten years running a pharmaceutical company. look at what's happening. when a company hikes the price of a lifesaving drug by 5,000% overnight, he's right. that's getting away with murder. when the prices of four out of the top ten drugs in this country, the top ten best-selling drugs go up by 100% in the last few years, we're not talking about one specific drug or rare drug. no, we're talking about the top ten best-selling drugs, four of them going up 100% in just the last few years, that is getting away with murder. when americans are forced to skip doses or split pills because they can't afford their prescription, that is getting away with murder. when the administration repeatedly delays penalties for drug companies that
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intentionally overcharge hospitals for prescription drugs, that is getting away with murder. and so then what do we find out today? after the president has said that these companies are getting away with murder, we find out that he has nominated the former president of one of the country's biggest drug companies as a secretary of health and human services. someone that has been in that industry for ten years running the biggest company. it's happening again. they're getting away with murder. in the united states, the biggest economy in the world, the frontier for capitalism, drug prices are higher than any other developed nation. that is outrageous. so yes, they are getting away with a lot. so here's my question, mr. president. why are we legislate them? -- letting them? why are we literally putting former pharma executives in charge of our health care policy for our country? why can't we get anything done
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to actually lower drug prices for america? i have often said that the pharmaceutical industry owns washington. well, now with this announcement today, they are actually running it. lowering prescription drug costs is my top priority. health care is one-sixth of our economy, and prescription drug costs account for over 15% of all health care spending, so this has a big impact on families, on communities, on our economy, on our country. and for most americans, this is deeply personal. everyone has their own story. my daughter has a severe nut allergy. she keeps an epipen with her all the time. so when the price of that particular prescription drug went up and up and up, like parents across the country, i noticed. i took action. i spoke out. moms and dads all across the country spoke out, and we saw some reduction in those prices. that happened, but you shouldn't have to have a social media
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campaign and a write-in campaign and members of congress giving speeches on the floor for every single drug to see a reduction in prices. abigail just graduated from college. i don't want her to have to think about this for the rest of her life when she is filling a prescription, but what about the thousands of others like her? young people just starting their careers who can't afford to pay these skyrocketing prices? i don't want parents to worry about how they will afford the inhaler that their kid relies on to get through the day. i don't want seniors to worry about how they will be able to put food on the table and pay for the insulin they need. but that concern for so many, for too many is constant, and as prescription drugs keep rising, so does the worrying. so does the concerns. over and over again, that's what i hear from my constituents, and i don't think one of them would tell me that they think the solution is to do nothing
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legislatively and then put the head of one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in our country into the job of running health care policy. no, i don't think they would think that that's going to fix everything. it's not fair. it's not right, and we need to do something about it. look at the numbers. why is it happening? last year the drug companies spent $152 million lobbying congress. it is getting worse many they are doubling down on their bets by betting on an administration with big ties to pharma. there are more than 100 lobbyists working for the pharmaceutical industry. it means that every member of congress, when you look at the registration has two lobbyists assigned to them from pharma. is it no surprise that now we're going to have the nominee as head of the h.h.s., health and human services, someone right directly out of pharma? i don't think so.
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in my first run for the senate, way back in 2006, i talked about how medicare should be able to negotiate drug prices on behalf of millions of seniors. it was such common sense and in each congress since 2011 i've introduced bills to allow medicare to do just that. right now medicare is barred by law from negotiating directly with the drug companies. that seems pretty crazy to me. i think 41 million seniors would have a lot of power. they are good at getting bargains. they want to get bargains on the prescription drugs. you harness the bargaining power and allow the united states government to negotiate on their behalf with the pharmaceutical companies. by the way, that would not just bring drug prices down under medicare for seniors, it would bring drug prices down for everyone because that is such a large chunk of the people that are using prescription drugs. now this bill has not passed year after year after year.
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so why? is it because the people don't want it? no, a recent poll found that 92% of people want the federal government to negotiate drug prices for medicare beneficiaries -- 92% of the public supports the bill. and we have a growing number of sponsors. right now they are just on my side of the aisle, but we have over 30 sponsors on that bill. we want to bring that bill up to a vote. my bill to allow medicare negotiate for prescription drugs, however, has never been brought up for a vote. i've introduced these bills in 2011, 2013, and 2015, and in 2017 and each time there was not a vote. president trump says he's a good negotiator. he says he's in favor of this negotiation. he says it not just once, not just twice on the campaign trail, but many, many times. so i thought this is great. he's coming in, we're
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immediately going to see support for my bill and support for negotiation prices under medicare part d. no, we did not see that. we have seen no action at all. what did we find out when i wake up this morning that he's putting the head of a big pharmaceutical company in charge of health and human services. for those of us who have been doing this work for a long time, though, it's unsettling, but it's not that surprising, and it's not just the president literally nominating the head of a big drug company to be the head of health and human services. we've seen this all the time. since 2000, at least 56 officials from the d.e.a. and justice department have gone to work for the pharmaceutical industry. basically the industry buys the expertise that they need to then gum up the works so that we can't get anything done. former lobbyists and executives
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are popping up all over the administration. joe groggen led a group on pharmaceuticals. the catch, until march of this year, he was a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry. what does it mean? what does all of this mean that you have this revolving door, that you have two lobbyists for every member of congress. what does it really mean? let me tell you what it really means? insulin. the price of insulin has tripled in the past decade. a form of insulin listed at $17 per vial in 1997 costs nearly $108 in 2016. that's a #07 -- 17% increase. in nova log increased to
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$236.70, within 14 days humalog jumped to $237. eli lilly and nortis has raised their prices even more and one of those companies is a company that h.h.s. ran in north america. healthy competition usually doesn't involve price increases in almost perfect sync from these competitors. i demanded answers on behalf of people like kim from plymouth, minnesota. she just retired. she has diabetes. she keeps the pen injectors after she uses them because they have small amounts of insulin left and it is too precious to throw them out. this is in america in 2017, older people keeping their insulin injectors because
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there's a few drops in them, a drug that has historically been inexpensive and cheap. there's not new developments with this drug, it's insulin. there's no lean to see this dramatic price increase except that it's price gouging. it -- it doesn't have to be this way. pharma argues that these high prices are necessary for research and development. as i mentioned, insulin is an old drug, it's cheap to make and has been around for years. when insulin was discovered in 1921, it was sold for $20. they wanted to make sure -- are you ready for this -- that no one else would turn its production into a profitable monopoly. so those researchers, knowing they had an incredible lifesaving drug wanted to keep
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the price down and sold the patent for $3. so then what happens? well, they jack up the prices over and over and over again. over and over and over again. as i mentioned, $17 per vial in 1997 to $138 in 2016, a 700% increase for insulin. they didn't need to jack up those prices to develop a new form of insulin. it's the same insulin. they did it to make money. this isn't just a hit on consumers' pocketbooks, it's also becoming a threat to public safety. one drug company, kaleo, increased the price of a two-pack of a pack of naloxone, we passed a bill, strong bipartisan support to be able toll have a blueprint for this
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country to deal with opioid overdose, the president just declared this a public health emergency, but what's going on with the one drug that we know that's saves people from overdoses? well, guess what. the drug company said more people are using this drug, so let's jack up the prices. this form of naloxone has gone up to $4,500 during the last three years. that's what they did for the opioid addicts. the drug companies get these people hooked to begin with, and we you a know those stories are coming out now, and then when people get hooked and overdose, then they increase the price of the drug that you use to help them. what are racket. all of us know that the opioid yipped is becoming -- epidemic is becoming a bigger and bigger safety issue. in other words, there isn't a worse time to hike the price up on a drug that helps first
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responders to deal with a national public health crisis. when i called the drug company out on this earlier this year, that company used the same old playbook. sure as clock work, they claimed that the prices you and i see might be high, but they have special programs to ensure that people don't pay these absurdly he high -- absurdly high rates for this medicine. i heard from sheriffs and police chiefs who are shocked because the price of naloxone increased 60% in a single year. doctors have said that their patients can't afford the medication. the special discount programs and rebaits don't apply -- rebates don't apply to everyone. the role they are playing doesn't end with naloxone. we have seen report after report
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about how the pharmaceutical companies and how it led to the rise of the epidemic to begin with. in minnesota 670 people died from opioid and other overdoses last year alone. that's more than homicide and car crashes behind. by the way, it's not just our state, it's states all over the country. 91 people die from this overdose each day in our country. that is the reality of this crisis. getting away with murder? well, now, it's actually truly. the "new yorker" and "esquirer" pulled back the curtain on this. they are -- this drug company is known for its donations to -- spread in the spread of oxycontin and opioid addiction. oxycontin at heart of the u.s.
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opioid epidemic is regarded as one of the most dangerous products ever sold on a mass scale. if people have not read this article in "the new yorker" get it online and you will understand why i'm so mad giving this speech and why i'm so angry that the administration put a pharma executive in charge of h.h.s. it's not a pharma executive, let me say from perdue pharma, but this whole culture where they can do whatever they want and no one is holding them accountable is what let us to where we are today. perdue pharma marketed oxycontin as a painkiller and said that it would limit the risk of addiction. instead oxycontin led to many new addictions and, as we all know, many addicted patients eventually turned to heroin. here is what is so stunning.
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the company knew that oxycontin was addictive all along. it knew that its marketing campaign was misleading people. steven may starred at perdue pharma as a sales represent in 1999 and went on to allege fraud against perdue in a whistleblower lawsuit. he was trained to market it as a drug to start with and to stay with despite knowledge of its addictive potential. and the hits just keep coming. but thap happened. -- that happened. and when you read that article you find out there were so many signs this was addictive, that they were seeing it all over the country and they kept selling it and telling people it was good for them and you should have no pain and it was fine, even if you get one wisdom tooth pulled. that's how people got addicted.
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now we see lawsuits, yes. that will hold them accountable a -- to a certain degree. but do we see any action from congress at all to reduce this -- the pharmaceutical prices or to do anything about this? are there any votes in this chamber? no, there are not. cnn released an investigation on endo-pharmaceuticals prioritize profits over people's lives. one of their best-selling drugs was an opioid called opanaer. it was often abused, addicts would crush and snort the pills which could increase an overdose so they had to pull the drug off the market. but that's not the whole story. endo made a into your, more addictive version of the drug which president trump has called truly evil. so the f.d.a. got involved for one of the first times ever to force endo to stop selling the new truly evil drug earlier this
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year. what did endo then do? the company cut a deal with a generic drug company to split the profits on the sales of the original version of the drug, you know, the one with the history of abuse. it is unbelievable. the company will profit off a highly dangerous opioid it pulled off the market for being unsafe. the f.d.a. linked endo to serious drug problems like outbreaks of h.i.v. and hepatitis-c, but the company doesn't think those risks are good enough reasons to stop selling the opioids. i don't think there are better examples of how greed trumps everything else. that is what we are talking about here. there are good people that work in the pharmaceutical industry. we have always been proud to have innovation in america, but innovation is great but greed unchecked is not.
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and you can literally trace this opioid epidemic where now four out of five of those people that originally got hooked on legal pharmaceuticals are now turning to heroin. you can literally trace it back to these very companies. that happened. then just when the epidemic gets bad and we figure out you can stop krug over-- drug overdoses, those companies jacked up those prices. this is not a free market right now. this is a monopoly market that is getting people sucked into their products whether with advertising on tv or whether with addiction for drugs like opioids and then getting them into their net and then charging them enormous amounts of money. that's what's happening right now. the examples don't end. the price of daroprine, a drug that treats infections an infecp
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5,000 overnight. the price of a multiple sclerosis drug went up 20 times in a decade. and ariad pharmaceutical raised the price for a huge keep ya drug four times in a year alone. now it costs nearly $199,000 a year. the only people who can afford that drug are the executives at the company. so it's no wonder that people like president trump are starting to say a little bit more about the rising costs of prescription drugs. okay, that's good. that's a start to talk about it. but we need action. for years the pharmaceutical lobby bought washington silence. but now faced with a nationwide crisis brought on by that silence, confronted by constituents who all agree this is a problem, many are feeling they have to do more than just talk about it. but talking and tweeting are different than doing. and actions speak louder than words. there's a saying, you can't just
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talk the talk. you need to walk the walk. well, it is time to walk the walk. and by the way, putting someone in charge of the h.h.s., the nation's health care department for the entire united states of america who ran a pharmaceutical for ten years is not called walking that walk. so there are actions that we can take right here right now. because the solutions are right here on the table. here we go. first and foremost, let's finally take up that bill that would harness the negotiating power of 41 million seniors on medicare to bring drug prices down. my bill would repeal the law that bans medicare from using that market power to negotiate prices. literally medicare is banned by law for negotiating prices. 33 senators have joined me on this bill. we can pass this. if we could just get a vote.
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second, as the ranking member of the judiciary committee subcommittee on competition, i can't stress enough that competition is the best way to ensure that prescription drugs are affordable. where there's a lack of competition, price increases often follow. a recent poll found that 87% of the public agrees that we need to increase competition. senator grassley and i, republican of iowa, have a bill that for years we have tried to push ahead. it calls for a stop to this outrageous play called pay for delay where big pharmaceutical companies actually pay off generic companies, their competitors, to keep their products off the market. so the pharma companies go to a generic and say hey, i know you're going to compete with me. i'll give you a little money. you can keep the product off the market a while. that would be better for both of
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us. we'll give you more money than you would make off the product. according to the nonpartisan congressional budget office, putting an end to this ridiculous practice would save taxpayers $2.9 billion over ten years. and guess what? that's just the government piece of it. it would also save consumers because they're paying the copays money as well. once again i can't imagine any of my colleagues voting against this legislation if it actually came to a vote on the senate floor. so let's let it come for a vote and see how people vote. i also have a bipartisan bill with senators grassley, leahy, feinstein, and lee and several others called the creates act. it would put a stop to other pharmaceutical company tactics, like refusing to provide samples or to share important information about how to distribute a drug safely that delay more affordable generic drugs from getting to the market. the f.d.a. has received over a hundred complaints about these
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tactics, and according to the congressional budget office, this legislation would save $3.6 billion. even if the drug companies aren't headline grabbers like martin sklari, many are using tactics to create competition. it's not just one bad guy that goes to jail. it's common practice. in fact, it's legally allowed right now for them not to share their samples, for them to make payments to their competitors to keep the products off the market. we need to end those practices, and we do it by having a vote on these bills. finally, we should look beyond our borders. we should know that our friends right across the border in canada often pay less, much less for prescription drugs than we do. for example, in the u.s. a 09-day -- 90--day supply of an antiinflammatory drug called celebrex can cost $1,000.
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canadian farm suit -- pharmacies sell it for only $220. that's just one example. i can give you -- spend all night giving you examples where prices are more than double than they are in canada. senator mccain and i have a bill to allow americans to bring in safe -- and they have to be safe -- less expensive prescription drugs from canada. our neighbors to the north have similar quality and safety standards than the u.s. our bill has strong safety measures, too, to make sure we protect american consumers from scammers or counterfeit drugs. senator sanders has also been a leader on this issue. why do we care about this? senator mccain, senator sanders and myself coming from such different perspectives? well, we know that we only allow importation from pharmacies that have existed for five years so it's safe and have a brick and mortar star, not just some fly by night website. just like medicare negotiation,
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the mus public is overwhelmingln our side. 72% of people support allowing americans to buy prescription drugs imported from canada, including 66% of democrats, 77% of independents, and 75% of republicans. that's 66% of democrats, 77% of independents, and 75% of republicans. so why can't we get it passed? well, we need to. beyond canada, senator lee and i have a bill, another bipartisan bill, that would allow temporary importation of safe drugs that have been on the market in another country for at least ten years where there isn't healthy competition for that drug in this country. we've all heard the drug companies and others say that the f.d.a. approval process can take a long time and that results in a lack of options in
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the marketplace and higher prices. well, when it comes to drugs that have already been sold safely in other countries for years, why should we force american consumers to wait for the same options? it doesn't make sense. this bill would let patients access these safe, less expensive drugs at the same time that they are going through the full f.d.a. approval process. the idea is this. one, allow negotiation for our biggest negotiating block, 41 million seniors. that will bring prices down. the president says he is the art of the deal. he's the negotiator. well, then let's get that negotiation in place and get some big-time lobbying for this bill instead of putting pharmaceutical executives in charge of health and human services. the second set of ideas is about bringing in more competition. you can do it with safe drugs from overseas. i think if some of the drug companies that have a monopoly on our consumers' drugs knew that competition might come in,
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maybe they would want to bring those drug prices down. in fact, i know they would because that is how capitalism works. a high school economics class could tell you that. the other idea? more generics. keep competition going by making it easier for generics get their products off the market and, please, stop the practice where the big pharma companies are paying their chief competitors, the generics. great for both of them to keep their products off the market. who's the loser? americans are the loser. the administration actually has the authority to take action now. under current law, we could allow temporary importation of less expensive drugs from canada tomorrow. so what are we waiting for? i urge the administration to act now. and if the administration won't act, congress must. we need to have those medicare negotiations. there is so much we can do here in we just could get a vote. and we need to stop -- we can't
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stop with just passing the legislation to lower pharmaceutical prices. we have to start pharmaceutical -- stop pharmaceutical companies from rigging the system in the first place or else we're just going to get back to where we started. ethics watchdogs in washington, like the office of government ethics, we have to give them real teeth. we need to overturn citizens united and undo the outside influence of special interests on our elections. we have given them this cart blanche to come in and influence people. and look at what's happening. opioid epidemic, insulin up multiple times, the price, a simple drug like insulin for the top selling drugs in america, up a hundred percent in the last ten years. all of that has happened because we said come on in with all your special money, influence people, hire two lobby is for each member of congress. guess what we got? that's what we got. and i just remind my colleagues
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to talk to their constituents because i can tell you what you'll find. you'll find what i find. a woman in deluth. she chose not to fill her last prescription because that one medicine would cost a full 25% of her income. someone in st. paul who even with medicare can't afford $663 a month for the drug. a woman from crystal, minnesota, who told me, quote, i am practically going without food, end quote, to pay for her prescriptions. it's heartbreaking that this is happening in america. washington has to stand up to the pharmaceutical industry. it took a while and a lot of lawsuits and some brave people coming forward, but eventually washington stood up to big tobacco. states stood up to big tobacco. they started suing. they started requiring labels. they started doing more no kids not getting hooked. it made a difference. so it is time to take this on.
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there are a lot of good things that pharmaceuticals can do to save people's lives. we know that. that's important. but what we can't do is let them wreak havoc on people's budgets. what we can't do is give them unfettered monopoly power to jerk us around with prices, to start an opioid epidemic, and then increases the prices for the very drug that can help us prevent people from dying. if we work together, we can get this done. most of the bills i've mentioned are bipartisan. in fact, every one i mentioned on the senate floor is bipartisan except for the negotiation of medicare part d and that's one the president says he wants to see. that's what he says he wants to see happen. so i don't understand. this isn't just me standing alone on this side of the aisle. there are people of good faith that want to move on this, but i can tell you, you don't move on it by putting a pharmaceutical executive in charge of the biggest health department in the
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united states of america. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. and 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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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: i ask unanimous consent we dispense with the quorum call. i ask the unanimous consent proceed to legislative session and be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each, after which the senate stand adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, the senate stands adjourned until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow. adjourn:
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>> the senate has finished thew. continuing work on presidential nominations. the back tomorrow for more executive branch. live coverage is on c-span2. we'll go live to georgetown university for a discussion on racism in america. we'll hear from john lewis, the archbishop of atlanta and jamaal is the founder of the religious magazine, sojourners. this is live from georgetown. >> in april 1864 in support of the civil rights act.


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