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tv   U.S. Senate 11162017  CSPAN  November 16, 2017 9:29am-11:30am EST

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. [applause] [inaudible conversations] . >> while the hill is reporting this morning, the house republicans are poised to pass a sweeping tax reform package that if enacted would deliver the first major legislative victory of the trump era. president trump will visit capitol hill ahead of the vote. speaker paul ryan says the republicans have 217 votes needed to pass the act. and you can read more at the the house is now in session and they're debating their bill live on c-span. near on c-pan 2, the u.s.
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senate is ready to meet with executive nominations, votes coming up at noon eastern. live coverage of the senate here on c-span2. reverend brooks: let us pray. o god, we first thank thee for
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another day of life. we thank you for the chance to bring joy and opportunity to someone else's journey. lord, guide these public servants within the united states senate. please lead them as they lead us to a better and more peaceful landscape. create, o god, within all of us the zeal to make our communities around this country more stable. remove from us, o god, any personal animosity that might prevent us from acting as my brother or sister's keeper. we ask your healing on those members of this legislative body who are injured or sick. we ask, o lord, that you would extend comfort and peace to those families that have been affected by the tragedy in sutter link springs, texas, even in the midst of this tragedy. we thank you, that those 26 fellow sojourners are in your loving presence, a celestial place where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary always find rest.
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lord bless our president, give him the wisdom and insight to move us toward a more unified and loving union. may we become more united in the things that bring us together and reject the smaller things that drive us apart. help us to catch the spirit of those who wrote the declaration of independence. we knew then and we know now that this was something splendid and august and powerful. o god, you have brought us to this critical moment. let us not lean on our own understanding, but help us to let your spirit take the reigns of our hearts and minds. make us more innovative and less reactive. let the creative genius that is a part of the american fabric take over the urban and rural landscape. we pray now, o god, that the diversity and inclusion of people and ideas become our strength and not our wedge. now, lord, help us to live by our faith and not by our fears. help us to face the future with a trust in you and confidence in america's bright glad tomorrow. lord, we know that if we trust you, our best days as a nation
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are waiting on us. it is in your powerful and majestic name that we pray. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the 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. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c., november 16, 2017. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable luther strange, a senator from the state of alabama, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch, presidet pro tempore.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: during the past decade many in the middle class struggled to make ends meet. the economy was sluggish. paychecks were often stagnant. and jobs for many were too hard to find, perhaps not on the coast where the well-to-do were able to flourish under the obama economy but in middle america in states like kentucky pain was real. hardworking families across the country deserved better. they continued to deserve an economy that reaches for its true potential, one in which more americans can find a good job to support their families and achieve the american dream. so now this is our chance to set a new course. this is our opportunity to jump start the economy and to boost job growth. passing tax reform is the single
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most important thing we can do right now to support those left behind by the obama economy. though obvious, it's worth repeating, our nation's tax code is broken. first the rates are too high and americans are sending too much of their hard-earned money to uncle sam. second, the structure is too complicated for most americans to understand, and it's too easy for the wealthy and well connected to exploit. third, the incentives are often outdated or simply make no sense at all. like those that actually encourage american jobs and companies to move overseas. it's bad for our country, bad for the middle class, bad for small business. in my home state of kentucky a c.e.o. wrote an editorial about her experience with the broken
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system calling for tax reform to fix it. here's what she said. the federal government takes too much, our small businesses which according to the u.s. small business administration total 96.5% of kentucky's employers often face the greatest tax burden. this kentuckian continued, if we want better lives for the nearly 700,000 employees across the commonwealth who work for small enterprises, we must lift this weight off their backs. small businesses deserve a tax code that works for them, middle-class families and individuals deserve the same. that's why we're working so hard to enact tax reform. over in the senate finance committee, chairman hatch has laid down a tax reform proposal that is premised on a simple idea, that we should take more money out of washington's pockets and put more money in the pockets of the middle class. it cuts taxes from middle-class families, doubles the child tax credit. this plan does a lot of things
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including providing relief to businesses so they can create more jobs in america and keep them here. the nation's leading business small business advocacy organization endorses this legislation saying it will provide much-needed tax relief to enable small businesses to grow and create jobs. there's another important provision of the finance committee tax reform proposal as well, it will deliver relief to low and moderate income families. in other words, we can tkhreufrp even -- deliver more relief to the middle class by repealing an unpopular tax from an unworkable law. it just makes sense. so i'd like to once again thank chairman hatch for his commitment to an open process and regular order. the finance committee will report a bill soon. before it does, however, it will continue to consider a number of amendments from both sides of the aisle. in fact, the chairman's modified
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mark already incorporated amendments from both republican and democratic members of the committee. i look forward to the finance committee completing its work on this crucial legislation very soon. as it does, our colleagues in the house will continue working on their own tax reform legislation. i want to commend chairman brady and the members of the ways and means committee for their efforts and i look forward to the full house passing their bill. once both chambers pass their tax reform bills we will keep working together to get a bill to president trump's desk for his signature. i'm also grateful for chairman murkowski and members of the senate energy committee for reporting bipartisan legislation to secure our nation's energy future. by further exploring the responsible development of alaska's resources. this bill can help grow our economy, support high-paying jobs, and strengthen our national security. i look forward to promoting american energy independence through this legislation.
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now on another matter, today the senate will continue to fulfill its important responsibility of providing advice and consent on president trump's nominations. so far this week we have confirmed talented individuals to important positions in the departments of transportation, labor, and defense. yesterday the senate advanced the nomination of joseph otting to serve as comptroller of the currency. mr. otting's experience as a leader at various financial agencies has helped prepare him to serve in this new role. i look forward to voting to confirming him later today. next the senate will consider two well-qualified nominees to serve on the federal district courts, donald coggins and dabney friedrich is the experience and temperament to excel as judges. both of these individuals have stellar legal credentials. their careers demonstrate a serious commitment to the law. and by confirming them both the senate will continue to ensure that the federal judiciary
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fulfills its particular role in our constitutional system. i'd like to thank chairman grassley for his leadership of the senate judiciary committee which reported both of these nominees on a voice vote. i look forward to advancing their nominations very soon. the presiding officer: under the previous order the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the otting nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of treasury, joseph otting of nevada to be comptroller of the currency.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that not withstanding rule 22 the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of h.r. 4374 received from the house. i further consent the bill be read a third time, passed and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. further, that at a time to be determined between the majority leader and the democratic leader, the chair lay before the senate the conference report to accompany h.r. 2810, and the senate vote on the adoption of the conference report with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection.
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mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: as the senate finance committee continues to mark up the senate republican tax bill, the house will take a vote this afternoon on their version of the bill. there are plenty of reasons for house republicans to vote against this bill. for those who care about deficits, you should vote no because the bill increases deficits by over $1.5 trillion, likely more. any deficit hawk should be against this increase. any defense hawk should be wary of this bill for the same reason. high deficits make it harder to fund important priorities like the military. this morning three former defense secretaries: leon panetta, chuck hagel and ash carter penned a letter warning
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that the republican tax plan could result, in their words, a hallowed out military force. racked by cuts to training, maintenance, flight missions and other vital military programs. i spoke to general mattis yesterday. he is deathly afraid of a c.r. because a c.r. is at sequestration levels. if we pass this tax bill are its huge deficit, we will have no choice but to go back to sequestration, and the fears of our defense leaders that they cannot fund the military adequately will be very real. so by shoutout is to all of those who care about defense and particularly our defense hawks, if you vote for this bill, you're going to be voting for a hollowed out military force, as three former defense secretaries have written us this morning. and for those house republicans that represent middle and upper class suburban districts, you
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should vote no because this bill will raise taxes on a high number of your constituents. congress members from new york, new jersey, washington, pennsylvania, illinois and virginia know that the state and local deductibility is crucial to working families in their districts. today house republicans in many districts will take a vote to raise taxes on their constituents, and the compromise, first three-quarters of the break is rescinded even with the compromise over in the house, but second, the senate, so desperate for money, has not even included the compromise here. you can be sure when it comes back, that compromise will not be in the bill. certainly not as generous as it is now, and it's not very generous to begin with. according to the "new york times," the house bill would raise taxes on a third of middle-class taxpayers next year. half by -- almost half by 2027. the rich, meanwhile, would do just fine. the senate bill similarly would
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raise taxes on 20 million middle-class americans by 2027. meanwhile, folks making over a million dollars will get an average cut of $50,000. now, people say well, they have more money. they should get a bigger tax cut. no, the wealthy are doing great. they don't need any tax cut. give the money to the middle class. the number of middle-class families who would lose money from this bill may even be higher, now considering the 10% increase in premiums that will occur as a result of the republican plan to repeal the individual mandate. that 10% increase in health premiums could more than wipe out the tax cuts received by some folks in the middle. all the while, 13 million americans, fewer americans get health insurance. my friend, senator graham, recently said, quote, i hope every republican knows that when you pass a repeal of the individual mandate, health care becomes your problem.
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lindsey graham is very politically pressured. he is telling his republican colleagues if they do this, every problem in health care will be on their backs. the whole idea of taking money from the pockets of hardworking americans, of taking money out of their health care and giving it to big corporations and those at the very top is so backward, so wrong that the american people will reject it, and the blame will fall on republican shoulders. if the republican tax bill should pass, it would make our economy so unfairly tilted toward the top as it already is, even more unbalanced and more unfair. overall, the past three decades as technology has changed our economy and our world and our world has become ever more independent, our economy has grown. yes, it's grown. there is a lot of growth. but that growth more than at any time in history has been
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captured entirely, almost, by big corporations and the top 1% and particularly the top .1% of our country. we don't begrudge them. glad people work hard. people with new ideas, hard work should become wealthy. but they don't need a tax break. and at the same time middle-class families have muddled along. median income has barely nudged up in three decades. the cost of college, health care, prescription drugs, cable, the internet have skyrocketed as corporations have consolidated in their industries, reducing competition and driving up prices. for the middle-class families in the suburbs, for the working parent in the city, for the young millennials just setting off into the workforce after college, for the single mom raising two children, it's about as hard as ever to balance your income with ever-rising costs. in such an economy, tax reform could really matter to those folks, but only if it's done
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right. instead of focusing all their efforts on improving the conditions of those working americans, republicans have directed a lion's share of the benefits to the already wealthy, the already powerful corporate america and the very rich. there is perhaps no better example than president trump and his family for whom this bill would be an express mail gift from heaven. repealing the estate tax, they got a big one. repealing the alternative minimum tax, the trumps pay a lot of alternative minimum tax. dropping the rate on pass-through entities like the trump organization. a huge tax break for donald trump. so scrapping middle-class deductions while maintaining loopholes for real estate businesses, golf course owners. who do you think came up with this plan? not the average michigan middle class guy or gal. all of these things contained in the house republican bill would
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likely pile more on top of president trump's fortune while millions and millions of middle-class families end up paying more. i'm not so sure any family in america feels that it's right to subsidize tax cuts for folks like president trump and his family, and their voices will be heard. during the debate on this bill and afterwards, this bill will be a huge burden for republicans to carry on their backs over the next year, make no mistake about it. so we hope they will vote down the bill, in the house, in the senate, and i want to assure my friends here in the senate on the other side of the aisle if the bill goes down, democrats are ready, willing, able, and eager to work with republicans on bipartisan reform. now, before i yield the floor,
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seeing my friend, senator durbin here, i'd like to address one final issue to the dreamers. my dear friend, senator durbin, has an uncommon eloquence. he speaks with eloquence and yet midwestern common sense. he speaks with persuasiveness and ease on a great number of subjects. he is a great asset to our democratic caucus and to the senate as a whole. but there is no doubt that the dreamers are at the top of his list. they are near and dear to his heart, as he is one of the chief architects of daca and has labored on their behalf for as long as i can remember. every dreamer should thank senator durbin. he's their sponsor, their champion, their staunchest advocate. this morning, i'd like to join him in recognizing the contributions of a dreamer in my state, a reminder of the glaring need to pass the dream act since president trump so misguidedly terminated the program a few months ago.
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zelana dominigez is a zac recipient who lives in the bronx. she was brought to the united states when she was 7 years old from mexico. she has grown up in the u.s., gone to school here, went to her first dance in the united states and knows no other country as her home. and like so many other americans, zelana is working her way through college. hunter college, part of city university on the upper east side. but because of her legal status, she has been unable to access enough help to afford her tuition. so what does zelana do? she works 45 hours a week at a homeless shelter, giving back to her fellow new yorkers while saving up for her next semester. she is studying to be a social worker. isn't zelana what we hope an american citizen would be like? wouldn't we all be proud to call her our neighbor, our friend, our daughter, someone who works hard, feels a calling to give
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back to her community? zelana has the quintessential american spirit, as have had millions who have come to this country before her through the centuries. she is part of that long and grand tradition of immigration in this country, of folks coming from all over the world here to find a better life, build strong families and communities and make intelible contributions to our society, our economy, and our culture. zelana and her two children are part of that american tradition. they, with all of us, are what makes america great. and there are many more dreamers just like zelana who came to this country through no fault of their own as very young kids. they study in our schools, they works at our companies, they serve in our military. they are american in every single way but one -- their paperwork. we must now fix that, now and forever, by passing the dream act through congress and giving
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folks like zelana and her kids a chance to live and thrive in the only country they have ever known. i know my entire caucus supports the bill. i know how many of my friends on the other side of the aisle support it as well. so what are we waiting for? let's put the bill on the floor and pass it. i yield to my friend and colleague from illinois, senator durbin. mr. durbin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: mr. president, i want to thank the democratic leader. his strong support of the dream act encourages me but more importantly gives hope to the dreamers across america, young men and women just like the one he described who are living in fear, fear that their time in america is coming to an end. it's the only country they have ever known. they have stood in classroom after classroom and pledged allegiance to the american flag, the only flag they have ever known. they sing the national anthem.
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they believe they are part of america, but as senator schumer has reminded us, they are missing their paperwork. their parents brought them here as infants, toddlers, children, and never filed the paperwork and never made them legal, and here they are. in this country, searching for an answer, searching for some hope. my basic question to the united states senate and to my colleagues is why do we make this so hard? why is this so difficult? don't we all fundamentally agree on the premise that no young person should be held responsible for the actions or decisions of their parents? that's what's happening here. these young people didn't make the key decisions in their lives. their parents did. now, let me quickly add because many of the dreamers say senator durbin, understand, our parents were doing everything they could to help us. i couldn't agree more. from a moral viewpoint, their
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parents were determined to help their children and were prepared to incur great risk, even legal risk, to do it. i understand that. i would do the same thing, and i am not being critical or negative. but the simple fact and reality is that these young people, because they don't have the paperwork, don't have a future in america. the circumstances they face are bleak. imagine, if you will, the challenge of college, the challenge of going from high school on to an education at a university with no help whatsoever from the federal government. you don't qualify for a penny in pell grants. you don't qualify for any help when it comes to government loans. think about the challenge of college and higher education without that help, without that fundamental assistance that millions of young americans count on. dreamers get none, no help. they have to fight their way forward on their own, and they
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do it in remarkable and heroic ways. over the last break, i was down at southern illinois university in carbondale, deep southern illinois, 300 miles or more away from the city of chicago, and i sat down with a group of these dreamers who were at the university. one young woman had worked so hard to get through community college and now through the university of carbondale and still had just two smessters left before -- semihe is terse left before graduation. she was telling me about the struggles, taking time off to work a job, save the money, go back to school. here she was where she could see the finish line. as she sat there and described it to me, she stopped and broke down in tears and said to me why am i doing this? because of the announcement by president trump, i don't have any future in this country. after all these years and all this effort, i really don't have a future here. i don't believe that. and i begged her not to believe it either. she has a future, an important
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future in the united states and in the state of illinois. she has proven through her determination and hard work she is an extraordinary young woman. she is going to get that bachelor's degree, and i pray that we in the senate, the house, with the president, will give her her chance to be part of america. president obama did. he created daca. i had introduced the dream act years and years ago, 16 years ago when president obama was my colleague in the ?at from illinois, he was a cosponsor, and i joined with senator lugar, a republican senator from indiana, writing to president obama, saying find a way if you can, find a way to protect these dreamers from deportation until we pass the law that needs to be passed, and he did it. he created the daca program where young people could come forward, pay the filing fee of almost $500 or $600, submit themselves to a criminal background check to make sure
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there were no problems in their background, so proof that they had graduated from high school, and then, only then would they be allowed to stay in the united states for two years and not be deported and legally be allowed to work. well president obama created that by executive order, the daca program. at the end of the day 780,000 of these young people stepped forward. it was a leap of faith on their part. each and every one of them had been raised in america by their parents and carefully schooled in this belief, don't raise your head. don't let this government see us. as long as we can live in the shadows, as long as we're not confronted with the legal system, we have a chance to stay. they lived with that looming over their heads every single day, and then when president obama said to them, come forward, tell us who you are, where you live, tell us about your family, and we'll give you a chance to stay here legally
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under this executive order. they did it. they trusted in their leaders, they trusted in their government. they were prepared to make that leap of faith, that great risk on the chance that this might be the ticket that they were looking for to a life in america, to be part of america's dream and america's future. then on september 5, president trump came forward and announced he would abolish this program created by president obama and it would end on march 5, 2018. he established a standard and said, we will allow those who have to renew during this period of time their two-year daca protection that would expire. we'll give them until november 5 to file and to qualify for a renewal period. he picked november 5. for many of them it was a surprise and a challenge to come
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up with the filing fee and get the papers in on time so that their protection would continue until march 5, 2018 or beyond. some of them did everything they could think of. some went to attorneys, for example, to make sure they got this right in their renewal of daca. now we learned that something terrible happened in the meantime. they relied on the federal government, particularly relied on our postal service to mail in their applications for renewal. who would have argued that that was not a responsible thing to do? i can tell you practicing attorneys across the united states use our postal service regularly. one attorney sent the renewal to washington by certified mail where you have proof that it was mailed. he mailed it on september 21 -- pardon me -- october 21. the problem was the postal service lost the application.
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it didn't arrive until a day later -- a day past the deadline established by the president. that young person has lost the right to renew unless the department of homeland security comes up with a new ruling on the subject. that's the complexity of the life of these young people who are simply asking for a chance to be a part of america's future. that's what that young applicant faced, that's what hundreds of others face, and we believe some 8,000 were not able to renew in time and lost their protective status. i can't tell you what their future is, but i pray that the senate, before we leave this year, will decide the right thing for their future. i've come to the floor over 100 times to tell the personal stories of these young people who are asking for a chance to have the dream act become the law of the land. they know that some republican senators have joined me in this
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effort, notably, lindsey graham, the republican from south carolina is the cosponsor. three other republicans have joined us in sponsoring the dream act. the conversations on the floor give me some hope that at the end of the day we will do the right thing before the end of this year. having served in the senate, it's been my honor to be here for some years, i know the calendar determines your fate many times in the senate, and the calendar we face could determine the fate of these dreamers. here's what it boils down to. if we don't renew the dream act before the end of this year, then it has to be done in january or february. january and february are well known to be months of little activity in the senate and the house so if we wait until then, it's not likely it's going to happen. that's why i'm pleading with my colleagues and the leadership in the senate. we can't go home for the
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holidays until we do this. we can't dream about a white christmas until we help the dreamers and the bleak christmas they face if we fail to act. i beg my colleagues to join me, sit at the table, let's get the job done. there are specific reasons why we shouldn't i want to tell you one of those stories today as i have more than 100 times in the past. this young lady's name is priscilla argula. she was 6 when her family brought her to the united states from mexico. she grew up in brownsville, texas. in high school she joined a medical magnet program and graduated in the top 10% of her class. priscilla was a member of the health occupation students of america where she participated in regional and state competitions in the biomedical debate and medical reading. this experience sparked her love for science.
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priscilla went off to the university of texas at brownsville. she graduated with honors in the winter of 2012 with a bachelor's degree in biological science. as a dreamer she didn't qualify for any federal assistance. she had to work jobs and borrow money from others to finish her education. after graduation, she was accepted into teach for america, a national nonprofit organization that places talented college graduates in urban and rural schools where there are special challenges and shortages of teachers. interesting, isn't it that this young woman who was brought here at the age of 5 not only worked to get her own education, but worked to give her life in the schools of america to help less fortunate students. do you think have -- you have an insight into her values?
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she is not alone. 20,000 daca dreamers are currently teaching across the united states of america, including 190 in the teach for america program. priscilla now teaches biological at mercedes high school in mercedes, texas. she is the head of the science department. she efer -- she oversees the other teachers and coaches the school debate team. the team won the district championship last year and participated in state championship. in 2013 a tragedy struck priscilla's family. her mother died unexpectedly. currently priscilla is caring for her three younger siblings, all of whom were born in the united states and are united states citizens. in fact, almost 75% of dreamers have a u.s. citizen spouse,
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child, or sibling. priscilla wrote me a leader which i want to read into the congressional record. science and learning are my biggest passions and i want to keep pushing myself forward so i can be better quipped -- equipped to serve my community and students. i want to encourage all students to pursue careers in science. i want to be a role model and mentor the students by succeeding in a science career myself. if i can do it, so can they. but without daca and without the dream act priscilla and 20,000 other teamers -- teachers just like her will lose their jobs in america. i'm not exaggerating. daca status gives priscilla the legal right to work in america. if she loses that daca protection on the march 5 deadline, or whenever her renewal comes up, at that point
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she can no longer work in the united states. that's not an isolated case. i told the story many times about 28 students at the loyola school of medicine in chicago. they are all protected by daca. they came to that medical school in open competition, no quotas or special slots. they are the best and brightest. they came from all over the united states because loyola university decided they deserved a chance, and young people like them who had given up on a medical education. they can't borrow money from the federal government. the state of illinois under a democratic and republican governor has created loan programs for them in medical school with one condition. for every year the state of illinois pays for their medical education, they have to pledge one year when they finish their
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medical degrees in service to our states in areas where there is not enough, where we have shortages of doctors, medley underserved -- medically underserved areas. many of them have their fates on the dream act. why? to become a doctor, you have to have a residency. if these young people lose the daca and dreamer protection, they have to drop out of medical school. they cannot continue their residency and pursue a specialty that they've had their hearts set on. that's the reality of our failure to act. that's the reality of losing priscilla argular as an inspiring science teacher in texas, of losing 28 doctors who are on their way to graduation at loyola university, of lily --
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of literally thousands of others who can make america a better, more prosperous, more just nation. mr. president, why do we make this so hard? why do we make it so difficult for these young people? they've overcome the odds, they've shown their determination, and their love for this country. many of these daca dreamers are begging to serve in the military and risk their lives for america and yet we here fail to act. the president draws a deadline and says that after this point there will be no more protection for these young people. that isn't what america stands for. that does not reflect our values. i stand here stood honored to be the son of an immigrant to this country. my mother was brought here at the age of 2 from lithuania. that immigrant family fought hard when they arrived, as most immigrant families do, she became a united states citizen
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and her son became a united states senator. that's my story, but it's america's story. it has been repeated over and over again where people come here begging for a chance, a chance for a better life, a chance to make this a better nation. these young people, and their parents i might add, deserve that consideration. what we're considering doesn't consider the parents and the dream act, but certainly we should give these young people a chance. i think their parents deserve it too. perhaps that's a debate for another day. in the meantime i beg our colleagues to join us. let's do something right this year before the end of the year that reflects our values and who we are. let's acknowledge the obvious. justice demands us to step up and stand behind these deerms. -- dreamers. the moment is about to arrive.
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senator lindy graham said, a moment of reckoning is coming. he's right. it's a moment of reckoning as to who we are in the senate, in the congress, and in the white house. it's a reflection on our view of america as a nation, a nation of immigrants, that has embraced diversity and become all the stronger because of it. mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call: quorum quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: i ask that the mandatory quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. unlike past occasions when i have spoken here on the topic of gun violence prevention, i'm actually pleased to talk about some good news. a powerful alliance across the aisle has enabled us to introduce this morning a measure
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that will be a modest but significant breakthrough. it is a breakthrough in hopefully providing better data, more complete information for the database that provides for background checks. it is essential that more accurate and thorough data be provided in the database because background checks are no better than the information provided to them, as we have seen again and again and again in sutherland springs most recently but also charleston and blacksburg where individuals legally barred from accessing pharma were permitted to do so because of gaps in the nics system. each of those killers walked out of a gun store having purchased
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firearms from a federally licensed dealer, even though they should have been ineligible because of gaps in the reporting system. that is, the information reported to the national system that collects that data and provides the underpinning for this program. we are a bipartisan group that says in effect enforcement must be rigorous, as complete and effective as possible. new laws may be sought, and we will continue to seek a broader background check law as well as a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. we in this coalition may be divided on those issues, but at
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the very least, we can join arms and link together in this measure. these provisions will help enforce public safety protections that could mean a difference between life and death. none reporting now puts people athletal risk, riddling a system that should keep guns away from killers with gaping holes. the federal background check system is only as good as the information provided to it. i'm proud to be part of this alliance. i look forward to the next step, the passage of this legislation promptly and other measures that perhaps will evoke the same kind of bipartisan spirit across the aisle, and i am working with a number of my republican colleagues on a measure relating to military reporting, particularly as it concerns domestic violence. all of us who have been
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attorneys general, as the presiding officer has been, know the scourge of domestic violence and how much more dangerous it is, five times more lethal when there is a gun in the house. more than half of the homicides in this country occur as a result of domestic violence. and more effective enforcement requires steps that enable resources as well as awareness in the military as well as in our civilian courts. on the topic of effective enforcement of the law, i rise today as well on a related topic, which is the quality of our judiciary. again, our laws are only as effective as the judges who implement them. and here i rise with regret because the administration is attempting to radically reshape
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our judiciary, to remake the bench in the image of a far-right dogma that basically couldn't -- contravenes what we are and where we are as a nation. this administration has proposed an extreme nominee who will seek to undo decades of critically important progress in recognizing and protecting reproductive rights, lgbt rights, voting rights, workers' rights, environmental protections, and more. for the last ten months, this administration has tried its level best to move our country backward by implementing its destructive, deeply unpopular agenda. i want to -- they don't want to dismantle the affordable care act. they want to abandon lgbt american. they want to make it harder to vote, harder to organize, harder to breathe clean air and drink
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clean water. and if they fall short in carrying out this cruel agenda through executive action and legislation, this administration has looked to the courts to do its dirty work. the trump administration seeks to flood the federal judiciary with judges appointed for life who will defend their indefensible goals. this plot is not hidden. it's not secret. it's out in the open. president trump has made it clear. he claims to have a litmus test for supreme court nominees. he will nominate someone who will, quote, automatically, end quote, overturn roe v. wade. just last month, the senate voted to confirm two circuit nominees -- allison iad and joan larsen, who had been listed by then-candidate trump as
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potential supreme court nominees, indicating that they have passed that litmus test. when i asked both of these nominees whether their record would lead someone to believe that they would, quote, automatically, end quote, reverse roe v. wade, they both demurred. they said they didn't know why they were selected for president trump's supreme court short list, no idea. i don't believe it. then candidate trump laid out his supreme court ideas in unambiguous are terms. yesterday we heard testimony from a circuit court nominee, justice don willett of the texas supreme court who proudly described himself in 2012 as, quote, the consensus conservative choice from every corner of the conservative
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movement, pro-life, pro-faith, pro-family, pro-liberty, pro-second amendment, pro-private property rights, and pro-government. end quote. that's how he described himself. what i asked him what he meant by tying himself to these labels, he refused to give me a straight answer. in fact, he said, in effect, he was just pandering to the public for votes. that was part of his reelection bid. maybe he didn't believe it, but we've all been around long enough to know what these terms mean to voters and what they mean to the president of the united states. they aren't dog whistles literally, but they represent specific ideologies. they are shorthand for specific dog ma. i have -- dogma. i have no confidence that justice willett will be an
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impartial implementer of the law and enforcer of the measures that we pass here. just last week the senate judiciary committee voted to advance brett talley. he is someone who wrote that the solution to the nowtown -- newtown shooting -- he wrote it three days after that massacre -- is to, quote, stop being a society of pansies and man up. end quote. he is someone who has written that the country, quote, over reacted, end quote, and, quote, the second amendment suffered, end quote, after the murder of 20 children and six adults in newtown. one of the great tragedies in this country in recent years and his reaction was that the second amendment suffered. someone who has disingenuously
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written that the democrats want to take away everyone's guns, even setting aside the fact that he has never carried, never tried a case in his career is someone who should be nowhere near the bench, at least as a judge. i hope my republican colleagues will revisit their decision to support him. and i want to emphasize, the compromise that we have reached today and we are introducing in this ambassador group takes away no one's guns if they are law abiding and otherwise comply with the law. in fact, it provides incentives and rewards to states that do report. it makes sure that a robust reporting system, preventing the sale of firearms to people who
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are dangerous to themselves or others, including domestic abusers, never takes place. and so this exaggeration, distortion, misinformation from mr. talley, i think, is emblematic of what kind of judge he would be. let's not forget we are judged by the company we keep. president trump is nominating him to the eastern district of texas. he wasn't on the docket this week but he could come before the senate judiciary for a hearing in coming weeks. this is someone who has called transgender children, quote, satan's plan. he has proudly said, quote, on the basis of sexual orientation, we discriminate. end quote. he has advocated conversion
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therapy for lgbt children. with these nominations, president trump has shown the type of person he is willing to propose for lifetime appointments on the district as well as the court of appeals. and as someone who has practiced in the district courts of connecticut and others around the country as well as courts of appeals in the second circuit and elsewhere, these appointments have special meaning to me and to others who are well versed in the way our justice system works. for many people in this country the united states district court is the fers place they seek -- is the first place they seek
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justice. they rely on federal judges to be above politics, to be above personal ideology and dogma of the right or left wing. the united states district courthouse is the first place they seek justice and for many it is the last place. an adverse ruling for them is often the end of the line because they lack the resources to pursue an appeal to the executive order court -- to the circuit court. our district court judges are often the voices and face of justice that the people of the united states most trust and rely on. what we see in these nominees is a pattern. they have clearly demonstrated through their actions, their statements, their temperament, their charkt r -- character,
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that they are simply unfit and unable to serve as an impartial judge, especially when it comes to our nation's most vulnerable communities. our nation's most vulnerable communities are the ones who often rely the most on those federal courts. there can be no benefit of the doubt for nominees when they articulate the kinds of beliefs and dogma that these individuals have in their pasts and refuse to disavow many of them in the present. i will oppose them. i hope my colleagues will join me. i believe that on the other side of the aisle -- i believe that on both sides of the aisle we share a commitment to the creditability and trust of our
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judiciary. as i said before on the floor, our judges don't have armies, they don't have police forces. the enforce ability of their -- enforceability of these rulings depend on the creditability and trust that the people of our nation has on them as individuals who put on robes because they are supposed to put aside their personal prejudices and beliefs and fairly and impartially and objectively enforce the law. i fear these nominees lack those qualities, and that is a tragedy for our nation, whatever your politic, some day you will be before a judge, likely, maybe not all, but many of you will, and you will want that judge to
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look at both sides of the courtroom and say they both have an equal chance to make their case, not to lean one way or the other because of personal belief. i hope my colleagues will send a message to the president of the united states, you cannot politicize the american judiciary. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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