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tv   U.S. Senate 12042017  CSPAN  December 4, 2017 2:59pm-6:42pm EST

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unless we get serious about providing funding needed to build those capabilities today weapon can't buy back time, and we don't -- if we don't invest for the future, we will be in a corner that will be tough to extract ourselves from. the bottom line, ladies and gentlemen, urgency is the battle cry. in addition to our efforts with congress, we're reaching out to our industry partners to spur innovations and efficiency. whether there's a challenge, someone else is almost certainly addressed it, whether directly or tangentially and they have insights on what works. we're looking for the best practices, the best practices of people who have gone through -- >> we'll break from the naval institute forum on security as the senate is coming in. today they work on the nomination of kristin nielsen to head up the department of homeland security. a vote to limit debate scheduled for 5:30, a confirmation vote we
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expect by wednesday. by the end of the week in the senate's expecting the house to sentenced over the short term spending bill to fund the government until december 22nd current government spending expires this friday. now live to the floor of the u.s. senate. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain dr. barry black will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. spirit of the living god, fall afresh on us this day. radiate your hope and power through our lawmakers creating in their hearts an expectation of your best for them, our nation, and our world.
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may they face their challenges with total confidence in the triumph of your unfolding providence. give our senators the wisdom to seek ways to work together to find creative solutions to the crucial issues of our time. as they seek to serve your purposes for their lives in this generation, may they remember the sacrifices of those who fought and died for the american dream. lord, change and decay surround us but you are the same yesterday, today, and forever. we praise you and pray in your
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great name. 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., december 4, 2017. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i reble joni ernst,
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a senator from the state of iowa, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the nielsen nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of homeland security, kirstjen nielsen of virginia to be secretary.
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mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: majority leader. mr. mcconnell: today the senate will continue to full fill its important responsibility to confirm critical nominees to president trump's administration. we'll do that by investigating to advance the nomination of kirstjen nielsen the president chose to serve as secretary of homeland security. as my colleagues know, this is an incredibly important position within our government with responsibilities ranging from cyber security to protecting our borders to the continued recovery efforts from the recent natural disasters. the department of homeland security requires strong leadership to get the job done. miss nielsen is a qualified candidate with the talent and experience for succeed as chief of staff to the previous d.h.s. secretary-general john kelly she
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understands the daily operations of the department and shares our goals for its future. in addition, her previous tenure with the department makes her an ideal candidate to be ready to lead the agency on day one. miss nielsen is an experienced professional who will help lead the department as it faces constantly evolving threats. i look forward to advancing her nomination later today and i urge my colleagues to join me in supporting miss nielsen for this critical national security post. now, on another matter this week congress will consider short-term funding legislation to provide resources to address many important issues facing our country. the house recently released its legislative text to fund the government through december 22. i look forward to our colleagues' consideration of that measure. this bill, one without any controversial policy riders will continue government funding and give the house and senate time to complete their work on a long-term solution.
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it will keep the government open and functional and it includes critical resources for our national defense and to give states certainty to continue the children's health insurance program while the bipartisan work on chip reauthorization continues. congressional leaders continue to work with the administration on a long-term funding proposal to help agencies accomplish their goals and to plan for the future. as we wait for the house to take the next steps, i encourage my colleagues on the senate to review the legislation. we'll pass it before the end of the week. now, one final matter. last week the senate passed a critical tax reform bill to jumpstart the american economy by putting more money into the pockets of hardworking families and small businesses, creating more jobs and economic opportunity, and taking steps to ensure that jobs and business stay right here in america. this is a once in a generation
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opportunity and we're meeting the challenge. soon the house and senate will meet in conference to produce a final bill so we can send it to the president's desk. then the american people can begin to enjoy the relief. i want to take a few minutes to thank a number of people who were key to getting us to this point. first, president trump and vice president pens who fought for the promise they made to the american people to caught their taxes. their tenacity, commitment to the effort and engagement with the senate were invaluable. i look forward to working with them on the many other priorities we plan to deliver for our country. the president and vice president are great allies and we accomplish much working together. i also want to acknowledge the efforts of secretary mnuchin, directodirector kahn, general k, mark short and many others at the white house who worked with us on this effort. speaker ryan, ways and means committee chairman brady, and our friends over in the house
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have done great work as well. we're looking forward to getting a final bill to the president's desk soon. to my leadership team who provide good counsel and good humor even in the most trying of times. thank you. most especially to majority whip jorn cornyn who is not only a valued colleague but a trustedded friend. john and his team led by monica pop helped navigate many challenges all along the way. there is no doubt we wouldn't have made it this far without them. the chairman of the finance committee orrin hatch, his many years of service in the senate have brought the expertise and steady hand we needed to get this bill written out of committee and on to the floor. not only is orrin an expert at legislating but he also is a trusted friend, and i thank him for his many years of work to get us to this point. and to the chairman of the budget committee, mike enzi. there are few people around here who understand this complicated
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process better than chairman enzi and we're grateful to him as well. and the chair of the energy committee, lisa murkowski. this is an important moment for alaska and for american energy security. to the committee staffs, finance led by j. kozlo, energy and natural resources led by bryan hughes, and budget led by betsy mcdonnell. and of course the senate dean of the tax downs, mark braider. thank you, mark. there are a number of other members critical to the process. senators thune, portman, toomey, and scott took on the work in finance committee as we worked to unite our conference on a bill that everyone could support. i'll never forget the time and energy they put into this effort and i can't thank them enough. my staff calls them the core four on tax reform. i'd also like to extend my gratitude to the senate parliamentarians who work long
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hours and weekends with republicans and democrats alike to apply the rules of the senate in a fair and unbiased manner. the floor staff, door keepers, those working for the sar jentsz at arms -- sergeant at arms, secretary of the senate, architect of the capitol, those behind the scenes that provide essential support for the senate whenever we're in session. you are the reason this institution functions so well no matter the challenges before us. we appreciate your commitment and your service. to the members of the united states scapt police who stand -- capital police who stand constant guard and protect the members and staff and millions of visitors who travel here. we're always grateful for your service. without our teams on the floor and the cloakroom, this place simply wouldn't run the way it should. secretary for the majority, laura dove, robert duncan and the whole cloakroom team are invaluable to the work we do each and every day.
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i would like to thank them for the hours they put in no matter what the issue of the day may become. and finally to my own team, first sharon who leads my staff with focus and commitment to success. i'm lucky to have her by my side every day. she makes each of us better by not letting us forget why we're here, and that is to do the right thing for the american people. we have seen a lot of debates together over the last ten years, and her counsel is always stead and straightforward. she truly is the best of the best. don stewart. stu keeps us always on our toes but always with a smile. the communications team of robert stewart and tony afario, david popp, stephanie pinn and be kevin grout and many more help to communicate in a challenging news environment every single day, and i'm so thankful for their efforts. hazen marshall who has been in
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the trenches on this every day since we started our work on this bill. hazen may be the most likable guy in the senate but with a backbone of steel. jane lee, my budget lead. smart, cheerful, and determined. my leader office policy team who get to work with the committees as well as folks outside the senate to help keep everyone informed, field questions, and address concerns. i want to thank them all. scott rabb, terry van dorn and erica swarez each played a role in this. i thank them. my personal office staff that each day helps my whole team keep kentucky at the forefront of anything we're working on. i can't thank them all enough, and to many others in both my state operation, especially terry carmac and my leader of the office team, while i can't name everyone by name, know that my appreciation goes to each of you as well.
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and of course steph macha, my director of operations, she keeps everything running and is always working, and i can't imagine this success without her. and finally, to the man who has been the steady hand in the tax reform effort in my office, brendan daugh. his leadership and counsel over the last several months has been absolutely unparalleled. brendan many days worked around the clock to hear from our constituents and help us get to the passage of this incredibly significant piece of legislation. he worked with the committees to draft language, rework ideas, present thoughts and prioritize member feedback. i couldn't be more proud of brendan and the work he has done. brendan, you have my deep gratitude and admiration for how you have helped manage this critical bill. it's an honor to call you a colleague and also a friend.
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i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. schumer: madam president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: madam president, in the early hours --
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i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. the democratic leader. mr. schumer: madam president, in the early hours of saturday morning, under the cover of darkness, the republican majority rushed through one of the worst, most hastily considered pieces of major legislation i have seen in my time here in the senate. the bill will cause one of the greatest transfers of wealth to corporate america and the already wealthy, while working america picks up the tab. millions of middle-class families will pay higher taxes under the republican plan in only a few short years. because the bill is unpaid for, the deficit will skyrocket, cannibalizing resources for education, scientific research, infrastructure, and our military. endangering social security, medicare and medicaid. as i said last week, i have not seen a more aggressive piece of legislation so devoid of a rationale, so ill-suited for the
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condition of the country, so removed from the reality of what the american people need. the text of the bill itself was released in the early evening only several hours before a final vote took place. lobbyists had the chance to read and change the bill before members of the u.s. senate. when we received the bill, there were sections of text handwritten in the margins concerning some of the most complex tax ploigz. the joint committee on tax was not even able to produce an analysis of the bill until after, until after the final vote took place at around 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. amid such haste, the republican majority likely made drafting errors and inclusioning that will have unintended consequences, even severe ones. amid such secrecy, such cloak and dagger legislating, the majority slipped in several additional goodies for big corporations, the very wealthy
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that are already being uncovered. i'm sure more will come to light in the coming days. the appalling process we all witnessed led bloomberg news, a middle of the road, business-oriented publication to write the following in an editorial today. quote -- in their hush to pass something, anything, they can call tax reform congressional republicans have achieved the impossible. they have made an all of plan even worse. the end result is a sheer absurdity, bloomberg went on. a report that actually -- a reform that actually complicates the tax code further and that must partially self-destruct to attain some semblance of the fiscal discipline republicans claim to value. it is hard to imagine a more egregious waste of time and energy or a worse outcome for taxpayers and the broader economy, end quote. that's bloomberg news. it is a business publication.
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if they can say that, imagine what average americans are saying. what a condemnation from a publication that would be inclined to favor tax reform. in short, my republican friends ought to be ashamed of the process and the product that emerged from the senate last week. as the two houses of congress prepare to go to conference, i suggest my republican colleagues reconsider their efforts and think again on how much better of a product we could produce through a bipartisan, open, and transparent process. regardless, madam president, there's so much left to do before the end of the year. the republicans should not be devoting their energies towards a conference on tax reform because this bill in both the house and senate needs dramatic repair. on the year-end, madam president, the most pressing
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matter before the senate this week is not tax reform. that has no immediate deadline. it's, rather, to make sure we keep the government up and running on friday. nobody should want to see a government shutdown. we should all be working to avoid one. and i must say, i don't believe my republican friends -- leader mcconnell, speaker ryan -- want a government shutdown. the only one at the moment who's flirted with a shutdown is president trump, who tweeted earlier this year that, quote, we could use a good shutdown to fix the mess, and was quoted in last week's "washington post" suggesting to associates that a shutdown could help him politically. while congressional negotiators have tinged the hard work of hash -- have continued the hard work of hash be out a deal, the president's unproductive deal has been the only monkey wrench in the process. it is hard to find a solution when one of the people at the
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table tweets that he doesn't see a deal. the white house has reached out and asked for a second meeting with congressional leadership. we hope the president will go to this meeting with an open mind rather than deciding that an agreement can't be reached beforehand, as he did before the first meeting. we need to reach a budget agreement that equally boosts funds for our military and key priorities here at home, including the opioid crisis, pension plans, veterans health care, student loan debt relief and rural infrastructure. we have to provide funding for community health centers and chip, as well as relief for the millions of americans still reeling from the natural disasters that hit us earlier this year. and we also must come together on a bipartisan deal to pass the dream act, along with tough border security measures. there is a bipartisan path forward on every one of these items. as negotiations with our republican counterparts continue, we're hopeful the
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president will be open to an agreement to address the urgent needs of the american people and keep the government open. i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: quorum call:
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quorum call:
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vote: mr. cornyn: madam president. the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: madam president, as the world knows by now last friday night, i guess early in the morning, saturday, we passed the senate's version of the tax cuts and jobs act, the first major overhaul of our nation's tax system in more than 30 years. i wanted to express my gratitude to chairman hatch who shepherded the bill through that committee. i want to thank him for his leadership as well as that of chairman enzi, who led the reconciliation process in the budget committee. i know it's a complex and
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convoluted and arcane process, but we couldn't have done it without both of those gentlemen. i also want to commend our majority leader, senator mcconnell, and all of our colleagues who worked together for proceeding with final passage and for negotiating in good faith. i've said before, and i'll say it again, that one of the differences between this and health care reform is that everyone, i believe on our side of the aisle, wanted to get to yes, wanted to find a way to find a solution, and that goes a long way to getting a solution. last week the majority leader rightfully referred to the process as a, quote, once in a generation opportunity, and he's right. and i'm glad we got this bill across the finish line and will soon deliver to the american people the tax relief they deserve. notwithstanding some of the propaganda that's been
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disseminated on this, the fact of the matter is this bill benefits americans of all stripes, including low-income families. well, let me just start there. this bill doubles the standard deduction, which means that a married couple earning up to $24,000 will pay zero tax on that $24,000 of earnings. above that, we've raised the child tax credit to $23,000 -- $2,000 per child. the first $1,000 of that is refundable. if you don't make enough money to pay income taxes, you will still get the benefit of at least half that child tax credit. and it also reduces the tax bracket for low-income families as well. the bill lowers the current 15% rate and increases the child tax credit, which i said -- both of
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which helps persons of modest means. but this bill also helps the broad middle class. some of our colleagues ran around like chicken little during the debate on this bill saying that eliminating certain deductions will disfor portion natalie -- disproportionately hurt hard-working families. a family of four earning a median income of $70,000 will see its taxes cut $2,200. that may be chicken feed to some of the folks inside of the beltway, but that's real tax relief for hardworking, middle-class families. we also preserved the home mortgage and charitable deductions and families will enjoy a child tax credit, which i mentioned earlier, which, along with the larger standard deduction, will help them
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significantly. finally, this bill effectively repeals obamacare's individual mandate. some have called this a tax on the poor, which it is. 80% of the people that pay the tax, or the mandate penalty, earn $50,000 or less, and that's because they can't afford to buy the government-approved health insurance, and so their own government, rather than help them find affordable health coverage that suits their needs that they can afford mandates that they buy a policy they can't afford and if they don't do it, taxes them with this individual mandate. we repealed that entirely which will also ensure more take-home pay for those families. for america's job creators, this lowers taxes from 35% to a much more internationally competitive rate. what that means is rather than
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hire people overseas and keep that money overseas earned from their labor, they will now be incentivized to bring it back to the united states to build in america and to hire in america. right now we have the highest tax rate in the industrialized world, 35%, when the international average for the industrialized world is 25%. we will get a little blow that at -- below that at 20%. we believe there will be a flood of money that's repatriated to the united states, which is currently parked overseas, along with the jobs and investment that will go along with that. now that the bill has passed the senate, we'll soon begin to discuss the bill in a conference committee. of course, this is how we reconcile the differences between the house version and the senate version. i know there are a few items of
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concern, and that the two versions of the bill differ to some extent, but i feel confident with the help of speaker ryan and the chairman of the house, ways, and means committee, kevin brady, we can reach an agreement quickly. it's important that we do so, that we reconcile those differences as quickly as we can because we want to get this bill on the president's desk before christmas. so the people we targeted really for, starting from low-income americans to the middle class to america's job creators, they can begin to enjoy the benefits of these tax cuts and tax reform starting right out of the gates in 2018. it's true that our shared goals between the house and senate are much more important than the small differences in our approaches, and these goals, as always, we've agreed on were increasing paychecks of american
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workers and getting the economy working again. because, unfortunately it has become flat and stagnant. the president has called tax reform rocket fuel, and i think that's right, and our economy has already begun to take off. it's amazing what the american economy will do when it's unleashed by overtaxation and overregulation. we've already seen the consumer confidence at a 16-year high, the stock market is hitting historic highs, people are anticipating the results of the rollback of excessive regulation during the obama administration and the reduction in taxes and creating a much more competitive environment. it is exciting to see it beginning to happen. as i said, the g.d.p. grew 3% this last quarter, but over the last year it's been about 1.9%.
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so low that really it's not creating new jobs and certainly not creating new investment in the united states. this tax reform and tax cut bill will change that. it will keep the american motor running fast and smoothly. now it's my sincere hope that those in the driver's seat, the families and the companies great and small, will reach destinations that they only dreamed of. this is what this legislation is really about. it is not just about dollars and cents, it's not just about taxes, it's not just about the government's relationship with its own people, the people who are the heart and soul of this great country, this is about america's standing in the world. will we continue to be the economic leader and the envy of the rest of the world? will we continue to be table to have the strongest military and the ability to lead and keep the world safe as opposed to
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creating vacuums when we retreat and those vacuums are filled by the bullies, tyrants, and dictators who don't share those values. i'm excited about what we were able to accomplish last week, but we're not done yet. we need to get this bill reconciled with the house and get it on the president's desk so all americans can enjoy the benefits of it this tax reform, whether it's a direct reduction in their tax bill or the mandate or enjoy america's increased competitiveness in the world and incentivizing businesses to invest, hire, and improve wages here in america. i'm excited and optimistic about what the future will hold once we get this on the president's desk later this month. madam president, the next topic i'd like to address is something we refer to around here as daca.
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this is the deferred action for childhood arrivals. this is a program that president obama instituted because he decided to take an end-run around the congress and tried to unilaterally provide relief to these young adults who came here as children with their parents illegally, but being a recovering lawyer and judge myself, i can tell you that we don't ordinarily hold children responsible for the actions of their parents, and so i believe that the president's compassion was appropriately placed but his fidelity to the constitution and to congress's role in coming up with the solution was misplaced. and so now it's our chance to put the program where it belongs, which is pack back -- which is back in the hands of congress working with the
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administration. now, as a result of what president trump decided to do, which is to give this responsibility for a solution back to congress, some of our democratic friends are threatening to shutdown the government this month without an agreement on daca. that's simply a hysterical and cynical ploy, putting their party and agenda ahead of the nation. how can you claim to care about the 800,000 undocumented immigrants that this document protects from deportation relief, but turn your back on the 322 million who need to know that their government is still able to function. that's holding the 322 million americans hostage for their political desire to get a solution on their timetable, not on our timetable, and one that, if we're successful and are able to accomplish in january or
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february, will be done well in advance of the deadline in march of next year. let's all remember the recent course of events. president trump announced his decision to rescind daca on september 5, but delayed the decision to take effect for six months, giving us a little time to approach this problem thoughtfully and carefully. the chairman of the senate judiciary committee then convened a working group to study potential daca fixes. finally last week republicans on the senate judiciary committee offered an initial proposal which our democratic colleagues ejected -- rejected out of hand. the proposal we made included border security, interior enforcements, improvements in the e-verify system and a path to legal status for daca recipients and limits on certain types of chain migration.
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members of the republican conference, including myself, indicated a willingness to continue to negotiate and said this was our starting point. but we insisted any proposed solution include interior enforcement measures and border security. since the our democratic colleagues refused to negotiate with us, it's fair to say that those negotiations are currently at an impasse. but by threatening to shutdown the government, they are jeopardizing the future fate of those daca recipients. we've heard the senior senator from illinois, the junior senator from california, the junior senator from vermont all threaten to shut down the government unless they can get their way when they want to get their way sometime this month. perhaps they are unaware of how dire this ongoing uncertainty is, but i come from a state
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where there's some 124,000 daca beneficiaries, so i understand what's at stake and i'm committed to doing everything i can to helping provide them some relief, but it's not just my way or the highway. we're going to have to come up with a negotiated outcome that demonstrates our compassion for these young adults who came here as children, through no fault of their own, and now find themselves trapped. we need to make sure that, number one, we stop or at least limit as much as we can illegal immigration into the united states and that we enforce our laws and make sure people do it the right way. we are the most generous nation in the world when it comes to legal immigration, madam president. our country naturalizes almost a million people a year. we are a nation of immigrants, but we're also a nation of laws. that's what our colleagues across the aisle seem to have
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forgotten about. we will no longer be the great nation if we are not a nation of laws. we can't every few years come negotiate a temporary patch to what is a larger problem. among them are holes in our porous border. my own state has 2100 miles of common border with mexico. we know that our border patrol and customs officials are overwhelmed. there's outdated surveillance and detection technology and a lack heretofore of serious interior enforcement of our immigration laws and our immigration courts we know are stacked up and badly in need of additional resources. but by playing games and threatening to shut down the government unless our democratic colleagues get what they want when they want and engaging in stunts to shut down the government, they're only hurting their own cause and the very
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individuals they claim to be protecting. they're engaging in destructive identity politics and turning their back on the rest of the nation. i hope that those young adults, the dreamers they're frequently called who i described earlier aren't fooled by the thee attics of those -- theatrics of those who claim to help them. we all want a legislative solution and we can find one as long as we quit the game playing and the stunts and we sit down and negotiate seriously to try to come up with an avenue of relief, one borne by typical american compassion for these young people who find themselves at a dead end and those who believe that we need to get to the underlying causes that cause them to be in this situation in the first place. that's a lack of appropriate border security and enforcement of our immigration laws. we can do this if we quit grant
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standing and quit engaging in these sorts of stunts. and i hope we will. madam 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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mr. durbin: madam president. the presiding officer: the democratic whip. mr. durbin: i ask is the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: we had a press conference in chicago this afternoon. several young people were there. one is named norva patel. norva is a student at the loyola college of medicine. she is from a family that came to the united states from india, brought her when she was 3 years old. as she was growing up, she didn't realize that she was undocumented. she thought she was just like everybody else in her classroom, stampeding up and pledging allegiance to that flag, having the national anthem sung, the only national anthem she knew. but then come high school, she came to realize that she was
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different. she wasn't documented. she wasn't, quote, legally in america, close quote. well, she soldiered on with her life and did quite well, graduating from college with degrees in science, praying and hoping the day would come when she could go to medical school. loyola university in chicago offered her and others like her who were protected by president obama's executive order known as daca an opportunity to apply for medical school. they didn't get quotas, it wasn't any kind of affirmative action program. it just said you can compete with all the other students. the word got out around america to those who were protected by president obama's order. there was a medical school that would accept you if you were protected. the net result of that was that over 30 were admitted. they were so extraordinary, some of the best and they were admitted to medical school, and she is one of them. it's a great story, really. here she is going to realize her
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dream and become a doctor, but there is a problem. the problem is that september 5, president trump decided to abolish daca, the program that protects norva patel, and in abolishing it, announcing he would on march 5 of next year, it meant she would then lose the protection she had under the previous executive order. what difference does it make? well, it means that she is then subject to deportation but equally important in her life she loses the right to legally work in america. you say she is a student. maybe she doesn't need to work. well, as a student, she doesn't qualify for any federal assistance because he is undocumented, and as a student at a medical school, to further your education, you need a residency. a residency we know means an awful lot of hours of working in a hospital that is teaching you how to be a doctor and develop your specialty. so you can't have a residency if you can't legally work in
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america, which means after all of these years of work, it's over. she can't apply for a residency. so the senator from texas, the senior senator, came from the floor and said let's not have a hurryup approach to this issue. let's slow it down a little bit. the president announced september 5 he was going to abolish protection for norva patel and for 780,000 others just like her, and here we are three months later having done nothing, nothing. many of us feel a sense of urgency because these young people have their lives on hold, they are living with the anxiety and stress of not knowing whether they will be deported tomorrow or can work. it's a simple thing to many of us as we read about it. it is life and death in the future of these young people. so when we say to the senator from texas, we need to get this done, it isn't like the senate
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is overwhelmed with work. i didn't have to come down here and beg for an opportunity to speak on the floor. you can see it's empty, and it's been empty most of the year. we have done precious little this year. i can point to three or four things the senate's accomplished. we have had plenty of time to address this and still do, but it takes a will on the part of the majority to get this done. i want to thank several republican senators who have stepped up to try to help me get this done, especially lindsey graham, republican of south carolina, my cosponsor of the dream act, and other senators who were sponsoring it and trying to move this forward. senator jeff flake last week announced that his vote on the tax plan was contingent on a conversation he had with the white house about this issue, about daca and the dream act. the senior senator from texas comes to the floor and says i haven't really reached out to him or spoken to him about this. he must have forgotten i had this sheet of paper last week.
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this is our proposal on border security. in the hopes of this on border security, we can get republican senators to protect us in qualifying those for daca in the dream act. we have to reach the point where we realize there is a sense of urgency here. i hear the senator from texas say well, maybe next year we'll get around to it. as of march 5, this program ends, and as of march 5, 1,000 young people a day lose their protection. 1,000 a day. every single day for two years. what it means for norva patel and others is the end of a dream, the end of an opportunity to pursue an education. she is not the only one. she is one of 30 or 32 at loyola school of medicine. there are 900 of these young people who currently have volunteered to serve in the u.s.
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military under the mabney program, 900 of them. if we don't renew this program, they're gone. think of it. technically undocumented, illegal in this country. they volunteered to risk their lives for america in service to our country, and now the senator from texas says well, we're in no hurry to tell them whether they can continue to serve in our military. as we look across america, we have 20,000 teachers. i met one of those last friday in chicago. she is 24 years old, teaching in an inner city school protected by daca. the minute the daca ends on march 5 of next year, she can no longer legally work in the chicago public school system. she is finished. pack it up, clean out your desk and go home. is that what we want to see happen across america? we know what these young people are doing. they're going to school, they are working while they are going to school, they are teachers, they are nurses, they are
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involved in -- as first responders in law enforcement, they are in medical school. and the senator from texas questions why i am in such a hurry to get this done. i am in a hurry to get this done, and he should join me in understanding there is a sense of urgency here. there are a lot of rumors flying around here. i'm not going to honor any of them as to what might occur other than to say when we get senators who are willing to sit down and accept the principle of the dream act, the principle that those who were brought here as children, who have grown up in the united states, who have no serious criminal charges in their records, who have completed school have a chance to become legal and become citizens. that is the fundamental of the dream act. it's a bill i introduced 16 years ago. 16 years ago. still trying to pass it. and there are bills virtually not identical but very similar that accept that premise and
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have been offered twice by republicans as well. so if the senator from texas will start with the dream act, we can then engage additional in additional conversations about border security. he can take the draft i gave him last week which includes incidentally 12 provisions from his own bill. the senator from texas had a bill drafted on border security. we read it. we picked up 12 of the major provisions and included them in our offer to try to get this done and done in an expedited way. but i'll just tell you this. if any senators want to come to the floor and say it's not that important, it isn't timely, we need not hurry about this, we can get around to it later, i'd like them to come home with me, maybe even go home to their own states and meet with these young people and realize their lives are on hold because we have put this issue on hold. for goodness sakes, let us face our responsibility as united states senators.
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let's do what we're supposed to do, legislate solutions to problems. the president challenged us. he said i'm going to abolish this program. now, congress, you pass a law to create it. he challenged us. let us accept the challenge and do it in a bipartisan professional way. that's all i have ever asked for and all i continue to ask for. and yes, i want it done this year. this calendar year. i don't want excuses about maybe next january, maybe next february because we know on march 5 when the deadline hits, it will be a disaster for 1,000 of these young people every single day. 1,000 every single day. yes, there is a sense of urgency. yes, there is a need for us to work together. i'm going to continue to meet with the republican senators and the democrats to find a solution, to find a way through this and to get it done this month, get it done in december. how can we in good conscience pass a spending bill giving
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authority and resources to this administration to go out and arrest and deport these young people and not address the underlying issue of their legality in the future in the united states? that to me is so obvious. i hope my colleagues, those of goodwill and in good faith will join me in making sure that we don't go home for the holidays until we get this job done. madam president, i'd like to have permission, consent to speak on a separate issue, if i might. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: very briefly, madam president, the president of the united states went to utah to announce that he is -- he has done something which is going to be challenged in court and should be, but is virtually unprecedented in the history of the united states. presidents have the authority going back to president theodore roosevelt to establish monuments around this country. special land that is set aside because we believe it's important for future generations to have special access to it.
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president obama before he left office created the bears ears monument. it's in san juan county in utah. i know a little bit about it. 20 years ago, i visited this area when it was characterized as the red rocks wilderness, and i introduced a bill to protect it. over 20 years, nothing happened until president obama designated a monument. now president trump comes to basically eliminate 80% or 90% of the land that's been set aside. mr. president, it's a beautiful part of america. it's an extraordinary part of america. it's something that most of us know little about, but if you go to this southeastern corner of utah, you'll find tourists from all over the world who come to see the beauty of this region, the bears ears region, the red rocks wilderness region. and you ask local people, if you
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didn't set this aside for future generations, if you didn't protect it, what would you do with this land? the people of utah are the if irrelevance to tell me, well, there's not much you can do with it. we don't think there's oil and gas there to be drilled. the uranium efforts have petered out. there's very little of that that's left. there's not much that can be done with it, but if it is preserved, clearly people want to come visit it and be part of this unique american experience. when i was there just a few weeks ago, there was a group in moab, utah, in a gift shop, and they were all speaking french. french tourists who came to this part of utah to spend their money but to see something special. well, president obama said, let's protect t let's make sure future generations can indeed enjoy it and value it and president trump said no. for 80% or 90% of it, let's make it go away. madam president, this is a
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terrible decision. it is terrible for this section of utah. it is terrible for our country, and it is terrible for our future. if we do not protect our natural heritage for our kids, grandkids, and their kids and grandkids, then we have walked away from a fundamental responsibility that i believe we have. we have a wonderful system across america protecting national parks. if you read the history of some of these national parks, you'll see it is a battle to stop someone who wanted to create a commercial interest there and didn't want it to be protected by the government. in this case, there doesn't appear to be any other economic interest that can really lay claim to this. but there's an effort by the trump administration to remove the protection anyway. i think that's a serious mistake. america is not america without its great outdoor spaces, it's national parks, it's historic monuments that congresses and presidents of both political
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parties have used to preserve for the benefit of future generations. to diminish our commitment to protecting the natural landscapes and historic places of this country from ruin by exploitation or environmental degradation would constitute a breach of our responsibility, both to those who founded this nation and to those who will inherit it. that's why we are deeply troubled -- deeply troubled -- by president trump's announcement today which undermines the preservation of some of the country's most important national monuments and would remove protections for more than 2 million acres of public land, the largest elimination of protected land in the history of the united states of america. utah's most cherished national monuments -- bears ears, which i've menged it, and the grand staircase-escalante, will now be under threat from this new trump order. many are sacred lands to native americans and will now be put at
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risk of desecration and looting. is that what we want to leave future generations? is that the honor we are going to give to the lands that were part of the heritage of native americans? i think it is a serious mistake. i hope that some will stand up, speak up about preserving this heritage for future generations. madam president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: madam president, today -- the presiding officer: senator, the senate is in a quorum call. mr. portman: oh, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. portman: madam president, today i am proud to stand here for recognition and that's a 50th year anniversary for a great organization in ohio, alvis in columbus, ohio, formerly known as alvis house, established with a broad mission of helping people in the community through human resource programs with a focus on an individual's potential and not their past. over the years i've had the privilege of working closely with alvis as they have become a model for reentry programs, also for treatment programs, with the focus on meeting individual goals, building a successful future and implementing
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fundamental change for families and our communities. since its opening in 1967, alvis has grown from a single 15-bed home helping 60 men a year to an organization with 13 locations throughout columbus, chill consequently knee, dayton, lima and toll -- toledo. this organization helps individuals returning to their community after having spent time in the criminal justice system. alvis has been the recipient of federal grants. as the author of the second chance act when i was in the house of representatives, i have had the opportunity and the privilege to go to alvis facilities and see firsthand the good work being done, using that legislation. i'm proud to have worked with my friend and the current president and c.e.o. of alvis to assist
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them to deliver services to ohioans, to turn their lives around so that people can indeed fulfill their god-given potential in life, and they've had a lot of successes. alvis recently opened its 14th location, the alvis pages and recovery treatment center in april of this year on the south side of columbus to help provide access to treatment and recovery. alvis continues to lead its mission to turn lives around 180 degrees. in my bork with regard to -- in my work with regard to the opioid crisis in ohio, we look to this treatment center and look to their model they provide other treatment centers to turn lives around. i'm confident that alvis will continue these next 50 years to offer comprehensive services for transitioning out of the correctional system and promoting independence and accountability for those with developmental capabilities. i applaud the outstanding
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commitment of alvis, its staff and all those involved in reaching this milestone in making these first 50 years success a such in the live -- such a success in the lives of so many people. madam president, i would also like to speak today about a nomination before the senate right now. today we'll have the first vote on kirstjen nielsen, the administration's nominee to be the secretary of homeland security. i want to talk about why i believe she must be confirmed. i've had the privilege of introducing kirstjen nielsen. she received in the committee bipartisan support and i hope the senate can now come together in a bipartisan fashion to confirm her as secretary so she can get on with their critical work of leading the department of homeland security. i'm delighted we're having the cloture vote today. i wish it had been a few weeks ago. and i am looking affor forward a
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vote to confirm her. i encourage my colleagues to look closely at this nominee. we need her there. i think she is ready to hit the ground running on day one. i say this because she knows the department. she knows what the challenges are. and she knows how to address them. she will be the first department of homeland security nominee ever to have have any previous experience at the department of homeland security. she was a policy director for the transportation security administration during the george w. bush administration -- that's t.s.a. she took over that role shortly after the attacks on september 11, 2001, and later served on president bush's white house homeland security council as the senior director for prevention, preparedness, and response. i got to see her good work in that capacity. most recently, she served as the department of chief of staff for former secretary john kelly.
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she proved herself during the early stages of the administration transition and experienced firsthand the challenges of managing this diverse and sprawling agency. with her homeland security experience from those tran formative years with the department, her industry and homeland security consulting experience and her most recent efforts in this administration, i believe she will be a capable leader needed badly in this environment we find ourselves in. throughout her career in government and the in the private sector, ms. nielsen has developed an extensive experience in homeland security strategy, cybersecurity, transportation security, and emergency resilience, all critical areas for the next secretary to understand. as we have seen countless times from terror attacks and natural disasters, tragedies persist despite our preparation and we need to remain resilient and responsive to overcome new challenges and combat these evolving threats. i believe she gets that. she understands it.
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i believe she's well-qualified to lead the department of homeland security as a result. from our conversations that we've had, both before and during her nomination hearing, i can say confidently that ms. nielsen is committed to addressing the most pressing issues facing our country, and she's signaled that she has a full commitment to working with the united states congress on both sits of the aisle to get this done. -- on both sides of the aisle to get this done. there's so many issues this department faces. for a moment i would like to talk about one of those issues that is critically important to me and every member in this body that she has made a commitment to addressing and will be able, i think, to make a big difference. this is the scourge of deadly synthetic forms of heroin being shipped into our communities. synthetic heroin, usually fentanyl, sometimes carfentanil, is one of the great new threats we face in our communities. it is an example of one of the emerging threats that the department of homeland security and its agency, the customs and
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border protection, must address. fentanyl is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin. carfentanil is even stronger than that. these drugs are increasingly taking people's lives in my home state of ohio and around the country. fentanyl is so deadly that as little as three milligrams can be lethal to an adult male. by initial stems estimates of 2016 statistics, fentanyl deaths increased by 500%. tragically my home state of ohio is at the center of this epidemic. in 2015 fentanyl was involved in slightly more than 38% of the state's overdose deaths. last year that number increased to more than 58%. 58% of our drug overdose deaths in ohio last year involved fentanyl. in the first two months of this
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year, 2017, fentanyl was involved in approximately 90% of drug overdoses. so this is an emerging threat to all of our communities. fentanyl is a threat to every state represented in this chamber and every community. while overdose victims are most often the drug users themselves it's also become a great threat to law enforcement and to children who have been inadvertently exposed, tragically exposed to this substance. for example, chris green is an officer in east liverpool, ohio, exposed while doing a routine car search this year. he pulled guys over. he noticed a white powdery substance in the car. and being alert to that, he put on his gloves, he put on a mask, and he proceeded to determine that it was fentanyl that they had spread around the car to try to hide the fact that they were moving drugs.
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when he got back to the police station after the search to book these individuals, officer green noticed that there was something on his shirt, and he did what any of us would do. he reached down to brush it off of his shirt. unfortunately it was fentanyl, and the fentanyl became exposed to his fingers. just that small amount absorbing through his skin caused him to have an overdose. this is a big guy, 6'2", great shape. and he fell to the ground unconscious. he he was able to get assistance but it took four doses of narcan to revive officer green. he would have died had he been alone. think if he had gone home to his family and hugged one of his kids and his kids had been disposed to that fentanyl -- exposed to that fentanyl. this is a great danger obviously to our communities generally, to individuals, but also to our first responders who are unfortunately finding out that
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these dangerous poisons are more and more of a danger. children are also being exposed. a 12-year-old columbus boy died as a result of fentanyls exposure. he was at a sleepover when he came in contact with fentanyl someone left lying around. he died two days later. these synthetic forms of heroin created a new challenge for law enforcement as they increasingly account for more and more of our overdose deaths. combatting this threat requires solutions from across the federal government with local, state initiatives. we talked about an organization in ohio dealing with this threat that's coming into our community and the private sector and nonprofits have a huge role to play, but so does the federal government and so does the department of homeland security. and again, kirstjen nielsen understands that need. the department of homeland security plays a critical role in countering the significant threat because it comes through the u.s. mail system and it's
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customs and border protection officers who are meant to screen those packages who come in through the mail. unlike heroin which enters through the land championshipically from mexico -- typically from mexico, manufacturers from china ship it in the mail directly into our communities. the federal government is responsible. we're supposed to combat the threat of illegal drugs coming through the mail system but in the case of fentanyl coming from china the u.s. postal service is often used as a conduit without any check. drugs should not be as easy to send as a postcard and the u.s. mail service should not be able to be exploited as a drug trafficking service. this is why we've introduced here in the congress legislation called the stop act. it's bipartisan. it's sensible. if enacted it would give customs and border protection officers along with partners the tools they need to identify suspicious packages. by requiring the u.s. postal service to provide electronic
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data on all the package and mail entering the u.s. already this information as to what's in the package, where it's from, where it's going, the name of the sender is required if you send it through one of the private carrier systems. ups, fedex, d.h.l. and others. unfortunately the postal service is not required to do that, and as a result traffickers do what you would think they would do. they choose our u.s. postal service to send this poison into our communities, to a post office box, maybe to an abandoned warehouse address. this fentanyl is then being spread throughout our communities. we need to hold the postal service to that same standard. at a recent senate hearing on this issuing acting customers and border protection agent kevin mckeelen said advanced electronic data would advance their efforts. i've seen this firsthand in sites in ohio where customs border protection is asked to screen this these packages. when they're with private
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carriers they can p find packages, take them off-line and carefully because it requires a lot of care given the poisonous nature of these packages, deal with it. president trump's opioid commission recently issued its recommendations. they endorsed the stop act and called for it to be enacted and implemented in the commission's final report a month ago. at her confirmation hearing last month, ms. nielsen voiced her support for the stop act. i was pleased to have her commitment to getting this bill into law and implemented by customs border protection so we can keep more of these deadly poisons off our streets. there is no one solution to the opioid epidemic but the stop act will give law enforcement the tools they need to help stop this synthetic form from entering our communities in the first place and also raise the cost of this synthetic heroin. the end result, we'll be saving countless lives. back to ms. nielsen, again, she is eminently qualified for this post and able to address so many of the tough issues we face
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as a country, the evolving threats like the fentanyl issue, the terrorism issues we talked about today. we need her at the department of homeland security. we need her now. shoos the leader we -- she is the leader we need at this department at a time when our h homeland security has never been more critical. i hope my colleagues will vote ms. nielsen out this week as the next secretary of the department of homeland security. thank you, mr. president. i yield my time. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. mr. schatz: --. mr. sullivan: i want to complement the senator from ohio for his leadership in this body, the united states senate. no where more important than what he's been doing on the opioid epidemic raging through
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ohio, alaska, almost every state in the country, and the stop act is something i've cosponsored. he's leading on it. it's one of the many things we need to do to really get a handle on this. this should be a bipartisan issue, but the opioid epidemic is ravaging through states, families, communities, and there's been no better leader in the senate than senator portman on these issues. so i just want to thank him for that and commend him for his leadership. i also want to express appreciation to a number of my colleagues, senator portman one of them certainly, but we had an important night the other night, mr. president, with regard to the critical passage of the tax cuts and jobs act. i think it's going to be very important legislation to help grow our economy finally, get money in the hands of middle-class families, small businesses so we can finally,
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finally start growing this economy nationally and back home in alaska get my state out of a deep recession that it's in. there's a lot of senators who played a critical role. senators hatch, portman, toomey, scott, so many others. but, mr. president, in particular i want to, i want to thank the majority leader. there was a provision in the tax cuts and jobs act which i think is going to be critical for america and certainly critical for my state, which was to help unlock more of the vast energy resources we have in alaska. , particularly on the coastal plain of the north slope, what we call the 1002 area of alaska. and that passed as part of this bill, something in alaska we've been working on in a bipartisan
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manner. over 70% of alaskans want to get this done. we've been working on alaska for over 40 years to get this done. and i really want to commend and thank the majority leader, mitch mcconnell. over a year ago he and i sat down to talk about doing this, and every step of the way his commitment to me and the people of alaska to make this happen for my state but also for our great country, he was there for us. so i want to thank the majority leader for that firm commitment and helping on an issue that's been critical to alaskans for decades but never realized it. we have a lot more work to do before we get there both on the tax bill and the 1002 area provision in it. but we're closer. and we're closer in large
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measure because of the leadership of the majority leader. and i want to thank him. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the following remarks i make appear at a separate place in the "congressional record." the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sullivan: mr. president, i've been coming on the floor, many of us have been actually for the last several weeks to talk about a really important issue for the country, and that is getting administration officials in the trump administration confirmed by this body. there has been a resistance, a desire to not want to move very, very qualified people, unfortunately by my colleagues on the other side, and it's just not helping the country. it's just not helping the country. with each new administration, our great nation sees a peaceful transition of power.
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it's a remarkable pillar of american democracy, and this doesn't include just the transition with regard to the president and vice president, but also the team of officials in the federal government at senior levels that are required to run this country, in both, whether it's a democrat or republican administration, republican administration, it's not always easy to serve. and what we've been trying to do is help this administration find, get nominated by the president and confirm high-quality american people in these jobs to serve their country. as alaska senator, i've had a particular focus on alaskans to serve in key positions in the federal government. and i will say that the trump administration has been very
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receptive, very receptive to a number of these high-qualified alaskans who want to serve their country. but, mr. president, unfortunately, what we're seeing on the other side is just obstruction. they don't want to move people. they never explain it. i've come down here and given this speech several times, and i've asked for the minority leader, come on down. explain why you're delaying all these very well-qualified americans who want to serve their government. come on down. explain it. tell the american people why assistant secretaries across federal agencies who have been waiting months to be confirmed by this body, who have been voted out of committee with big bipartisan numbers sit and wait and wait and wait. what good is that doing for the country? come on down and explain it.
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i've been asking them to come down and explain it, and they never take me up on the offer. so, mr. president, unfortunately we know the numbers. at this point eight years ago in the obama presidency, almost 70%, almost 70% of the nominees by president obama, who won his election, were confirmed by the senate. now i wasn't in the senate then, but i know my colleagues on this side of the aisle, if they didn't like someone, you could vote against them. you could put a hold on them for awhile, get your questions answered. so that's the way it worked. and that's normal. those numbers are about normal. at the same time now, under the trump administration's presidency, the senate has only confirmed 40%. 40%. now is that helping the country? no. it's not helping the country. do they ever come down and
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explain why they're resisting? no. so it's a frustration. it's a frustration, and it's not helping the country. we need good people in government. if this trend continues, if the number of people we need to confirm for presidential appointed positions, it will take us more than 11 years to confirm the remaining presidential appointments. let me repeat that. more than 11 years. we all know a presidential term lasts four years. so this is unprecedented. it's unprecedented. go take a look, and yet the other side doesn't want to explain why they are so focused on obstruction. it's certainly not helping the people. because the vast majority of these nominees are really well qualified.
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mr. president, i want to talk about one who i know really well whose part of this partisan logjam. he's an alaskan. his name is joe balash. i'm a little bias here. he was my former chief of staff in the enter, but joe was also the former commissioner of the committee of national resources and the deputy commissioner. what's the position he's been nominated for? to be the next secretary of interior for lands and mineral. essentially the federal official who would be working with secretary zinke at the department of interior to oversee federal lands, minerals, mines, oil, gas, on shore, off shore for the country. really important for alaska. 66% of our lands are federal.
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this is an important job for the country and a really important for -- are really important job. it is great for energy and energy security. mr. president, joe balash comes super well qualified. the d.r. commissioner in alaska manages one of the largest portfolios of oil, gas, water, minerals, timber of any place in the world -- in the world. so nobody -- nobody doubts that joe is very well qualified for this position. as a matter of fact, on september 19, joe's nomination was voted out of the energy and natural resources committee by a voice vote. that means unanimously, with the
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exception of one senator who said he wanted to be voted no. every other senator -- so very bipartisan. so -- they all knew, hey, we might fully agree with all of the policies he wants. i was talking earlier about opening the coastal region of the arctic slope, north slope in alaska that we voted on last week in the senate. certainly joe balash is supportive of that as an alaskan. if somebody doesn't like that, they should come down and vote against him. but he's been put on hold. so i've been trying for weeks now to figure out why. whose got a hold on him? and i want to compliment the democratic whip from illinois, senator durbin. i reached out to him several weeks ago. he mentioned to me that he -- he
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had a hold on him and he said there were certain things that he wanted to get from the secretary of interior, meetings, so i worked with senator durbin and secretary zinke, and after those meetings, it looked like it was all good and the senator from illinois said to me, hey, we're ready to move forward with it. i appreciated that. that was very constructive, and as i mentioned, i'm not opposed to holds. sometimes it's important to put holds on administrative officials. i did it in the obama administration and i have done it for some trump administration nominees. but what's going on here, mr. president, after working with the democratic whip, seemingly clearing owl everything -- out everything, and he thought we were too, getting ready to move joe
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balash, all of a sudden there's a quote, unquote, secret hold on joe balash. super qualified for the job, but somebody has a secret hold. i know my colleagues on the other side talk a lot about transparency, but this is months now and working with the democratic whip, again in good faith, and he worked hard, and i'm complimenting him as much as i can on this, someone else decides, no, i'm going to just keep holding him, but i'm not going to come down here and say who it is or why or how long they want or what else they want out out of the administration or maybe a question for mr. balash. so my point is if senators want to vote down or oppose a nominee, they should make their opposition known and
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transparent. so we're going to have a vote here in a couple of minutes. after the vote, mr. president, i'm going to come back to the floor, and i could do it right now, but i could be -- i will be respectful to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. i will come back down and unanimous consent to move joe balash forward. we've been waiting months. i'm really hopeful that my colleagues -- maybe they don't want to show who the secret holder is -- but i'm hopeful that my colleagues will come down and not object. i'm going to try to free joe balash, essentially. i'm hopeful that we can agree on that and move this very well-qualified candidate forward, but maybe there'sing going to be an objection. we'll see. i'll ask about this in about a half-hour.
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if there's an objection, i hop that the secret holder will come down to the senate floor, speak to the american people, and say, here's why i'm secretly holding this guy even though he's super well qualified, even though unleashing the energy renaissance for the country is great for everybody. so i'm hopeful that whoever it is can show a little transparency -- hopefully they'll agree, but if they don't, come on down, tell us who you are, tell us what the problem is, but we need to put good people in government, whether you're a democrat or republican. keeping people out of the government is not helping the american people, and that's what's happening here. unfortunately the other side is getting away with it. the media won't write about it, but it's a big problem and people should be concerned. finally, mr. president, speaking of nominees, we're going to be voting here in a couple of
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minutes on kirstjen nielsen for a really, really important job, the secretary of homeland security. it goes without saying how important this job is. every day, every minute of the day, that department is treeing to protect the american -- is there to protect the american people. i believe she is very well qualified. a number of people have spoken about her qualifications. i had a very good meeting with her on a whole host of issues, but i certainly hope that my colleagues will vote to move her nomination forward. and if they don't like her, if they want to vote against her, great, vote against her, but what we need is we need people, good people, in government, and there is no more important position right now in america
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than the secretary of homeland security. so i want to encourage my colleagues to please vote to move her nomination and confirmation forward, but no more secret holds. if you have a problem, let us know what it is. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin. mr. johnson: mr. president, i ask consent to finish my remarks before the vote begins. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. johnson: i am pleased to speak about kirstjen nielsen and her nomination to be secretary
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of homeland security. the challenges are daunting. our national debt exceeds $20 trillion. there is, unfortunately, no serious effort to reduce the 30-year deficits that are expected to exceed more than $100 trillion. in the last few months, we've experienced unprecedented destruction from natural disasters, stretching both d.h.s. and fema. our borders are not secure, allowing illegal immigration to persist and making us vulnerable to external forces. meanwhile, our enemies are emboldened. the threlt of islamist tress has -- the threat of islamist terrorists has spread. we have seen hacking and cyberattacks. we faced perhaps the greatest
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danger from enemies within, with the past five years 262 americans killed and over 1,000 injured from acts of evil committed here at home. had these are some of the challenges awaiting the next secretary of homeland security. the secretary oversees the department that is composed of 22 separate agencies, each with a diverse mission. it employs 240,000 people, with a budget of $66 billion. it faces challenges with unity of effort and habitually low morale. president trump nominated ms. nielsen to lead d.h.s. and she is ready for the call of duty. she has worked in around around the department -- in and around the department since it was developed. she has a focus on cybersecurity, emergency management, and critical
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infrastructure. in the aftermath of aisle in, she served at t.s.a., then moved to the white house security council and was the senior director for prevention, preparedness and response. before rejoining d.h.s. earlier this year, ms. nielsen founded a risk and management security firm. she served as d.h.s. chief of staff witnessing firsthand how the right leadership can improve agency morale. general kelly calls ms. nielsen a super star. in a letter supporting her confirmation he quo, quote, what sets her apart is her integrity and dedication to the men and women who risk their lives serving our great country every day. unquote. former secretaries tom ridge and
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tom cherdof also support her nomination. secretaries ridge and chertoff said that she is a leader for our times. she understands the 21st century challenges of the borderless cyber domain and has addressed this consequential risk to america's national security and economic stability. they continue, she offers our nation the credentials required of a secretary of homeland security in today's environment. expertise in policy and operations, national and international perspective and private and public sector experience. mr. president, i do want to thank my colleagues on the committee in homeland committee and government affairs for their support and cooperation moving this quickly through the committee and to the floor vote we're about to undertake.
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to my colleagues, we are fortunate to have a nominee who is dedicated to the mission of the department of homeland security and i urge all of you to support her confirmation. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call: a senator: mr. president? i ask consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion, we the underch undersigned senators do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of kirstjen nielsen to be secretary of homeland security signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is it the sense of the senate that the debate on the nomination of kirstjen nielsen of virginia to be secretary of homeland security shall be brought to a close.
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the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: have all senators voted? any senator wish to change their vote 1234 on this motions to reconsider the yeas are 59, the nays are 33. the motion is agreed to. the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. mr. sullivan: mr. president, i was on the floor about a half-hour ago talking about a very well-qualified candidate for the assistant secretary of interior position for lands and minerals, joe balish, who i happen to know very well, was my former chief of staff. he is the former commissioner of natural resources in alaska, very well-qualified, got out of
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committee -- the committee with only one vote against him. he has been waiting on the floor for several, several weeks now, and -- but i just had a constructive conversation with members on the other side of the aisle, so what we intend to do is revisit mr. balish's nomination in the next 24 hours and hopefully we will free joe balash to go serve the people of america and the people of alaska in a way i know he will do in terms after very good job. i yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader of the senate. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to legislative session for a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask the chair lay before the senate the hedge to ak.s.371. the presiding officer: the chair lays before the senate message from the house. the clerk: resolve that the bill from the senate, s. 371 to
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make technical changes and other improvements to the department of state authorities act fiscal year 2017 do pass with an amendment of. mr. mcconnell: i move to coninquire the house amendment and ask that the motions be agreed to and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: now, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. tuesday, december 5. 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. final will following leader remarks, the senate proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the nielsen nomination. at 12:30 the senate stand in recess subject to the call of the chair. finally you that all time during recess,djournment, morning business, and leader remarks count postcloture on the nielsen nomination. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. mcconnell: for the information of all senators, the official senate photograph will be taken tomorrow immediately following the conference lunches. if there is no further business to come before the senate, ask it stand adjourned under the previous order following the remarks of senator brown. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. brown: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. i thank the majority leader for recognizing me. last week, mr. president, last week the senate gave tax handouts to millionaires and billionaires and multinational corporations that ship jobs overseas. the middle class got almost nothing. this week it's the bank's turn and just like last week working people get ignored again. the bill the senate banking committee will take up tomorrow, s. 2155, puts taxpayers at risk of another bank bailout and puts homeowners at risk of the same traps, the same traps that led to the foreclosure crisis all while again doing virtually nothing for hardworking americans. while congress has been preoccupied doing the bidding of special interest lobbyists, american families started getting notices in the mail that
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their children's chip, children's health insurance program, that their chip insurance will be yanked away. 209,000 children in my state, the sons and daughters of low-income workers making $8, $10, $12, $15 an hour who don't have insurance, the chip program started bipartisanly and always having been bipartisanly enacted and renutted over -- renewed over thraft 20 years will be yanked away. l virginia will be next, then ohio and other states where parents will go to their mailbox, open up a letter from the government saying sorry, your children's health insurance is gone. the senate is doing nothing to stop it. instead this body made up of senators who have insurance paid for by taxpayers, this body devotes its energy to helping banks of all sizes, of all sizes that are making record profits. the third quarter of this year, the five largest u.s. banks,
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just the five largest u.s. banks raked in a combined $21 billion in profits. five banks, the third quarter only, $21 billion in profits. in fact, profits at the five biggest banks are even higher than they were before the crisis. meanwhile working americans haven't gotten a raise in 16 years. i sat at my high school reunion in mansfield, ohio, about a year ago with a woman who has been a teller in a large bank for 30 years. her income after 30 years at this bank is $30,000 a year. working for one of those largest five banks. yet those banks, as i said, $21 billion in profit in the third quarter. 44 million americans are saddled with student loan debt, yet this bill has no help for americans burdened with student loan debt, no help for homeowners still under water, no help for workers who haven't
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had a raise in years. congress, especially the banking committee have a collective amnesia about the financial crisis. it's like it didn't happen ten years ago and a collective amnesia about the housing crisis and the devastation it brought to families across the country. we know how many people lost jobs ten years ago because of wall street overreach. we know how many people lost their savings. we know how many people lost their homes. families in ohio don't have the luxury of this collective amnesia. families don't have the luxury. in my neighborhood of forgetting what happened ten years ago because so many of them are still digging out. we passed dodd-frank wall street reform legislation to protect those families, make sure a crisis like we saw nine years ago doesn't happen again. stress tests were put in place to ensure that banks can weather the next downturn without putting the economy at risk. stress tests, according to the president's designee to be chair of the federal reserve, and
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according to so many others who understand these issues and understand banking, stress tests are one of the most effective tools we have to prevent taxpayers from being asked once again to bail out the banks. this bill, mr. president, weakens stress tests for all large banks, banks that together took $239 billion, that's239 thousand million dollars in taxpayer bailouts last time. banks like j.p. morgan and other megabanks that are designated as global systemicically banks, meaning their collapse could cause harm that ripples throughout the world. not just the damage it does to main street in oklahoma oklahomr tulsa or cleveland or toledo but would do damage to the economy all over the world. without rigorous annual stress tests, taxpayers could once again be on the hook if those
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too big to fail banks collapse and we don't have the right tools in place to see it coming. so i ask my fellow senators are you willing to go back to your homes, are you willing to go back to your states and tell taxpayers you work for that you're willing to gamble another $240 billion of their money on a bill like this? for some other large banks, those stress tests could be even easier under this bill. make no mistake, these aren't small banks we're talking about. together, and i'm not talking about the largest ten banks here. i'm talking about the banks, the banks in more detail affected by this bill, together these banks, about 30 of them, hold $4 trillion in combined assets. that's four thousand billion dollars in combined assets. that's more than a quarter of all assets across the entire banking industry. would you trust your family's health to a doctor who only passed a dumbed-down version of
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the board exams? why would we trust the health of our economy to banks that only pass diluted, weakened stress tests? this bill doesn't stop at stress tests. it allows these same large banks to once again borrow more money they can afford by weakening capital requirements, exempts dozens of the largest banks from making plans called living wills. these are plans that make sure that if a bank fails taxpayers won't be paying the bills once again. it weakens oversight of foreign megabanks operating in the u.s., the same banks that have repeatedly violated u.s. laws. let's run a few of their rap sheets. santana, i believe is a spanish bank. it illegally repossessed cars from members of the military, our military. it repossessed cars from our service men and women who were serving our country overseas. we're giving them a break? we're going to deregulate them? deutsche bank manipulated the benchmark interest rates used to
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set borrowers mortgages. credit swit illegally did business about with iran. u.b.s. sold toxic mortgage backed securities. so we're going to give these banks a break? they've repeatedly violated u.s. law. these are banks we want to help, mr. president? the bill also puts american homeowners at risk of the same sorts of mortgage abuses that brought the foreclosure. my wife and i live in cleveland, ohio. in the first half of 2007 my zip code had more foreclosures than anyplace in america. it is tough for us to imagine what it's like to be kicked out of our homes. i ask my colleagues to try for a minute to put yourself in the shoes of one of these families. pope francis exhorted his fleet to smell like the flock. talk to people, ask them
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questions about the kinds of lives they live. what happens when a family is thrown out of its house? before you are thrown out you give up the family pet to try to save money,. my grandson and granddaughter got a stray that their father had been out jogging and picked up a dog. it's only been a week and a half and they love this beautiful little dog. families give up the pet to try to save money. that's not enough, you sit the kids down, you have to tell them you're moving. they'll have to change schools. mom won't be around as much because mom has got a second job. these are the impossible decisions and painful conversations millions of americans were forced to have in 2007. in 2008, in 2009 because of bank greed, the big banks' greed and their, in some cases illegal activity. trillions of dollars of housing wealth were destroyed. african american, hispanic families lost more than half of their accumulated wealth,
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wealth that they still have not fully recovered. we can't go back there. these stakes are too high. that's why some of the provisions in this bill are so troubling. let me run through a few of them. this bill permits mortgages for homes up to $400,000 in some areas to be offered without an appraisal to verify the home is worth what you're paying. without an appraisal you know what would happen, mr. president. you could end up in an underwater mortgage on day one. it no longer requires banks to set up accounts that help you budget for your property tax and homeowners insurance. instead of manageable payments built into your monthly mortgage you could end up with an unexpected tax bill at the end of the year. you could end up with an unexpected insurance bill at the end of the year you can't pay and then the foreclosure proceedings starts. it allows some banks to sell you an adjustable rate mortgage without the bank assuming responsibility for whether you can afford your payments once the initial rate expires. people don't always know what it means with an adjustable rate
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mortgage. it might be in the small print. we know forced arbitration is in the small print too. we know how that works out. say you're a customer in youngstown. you can take out a mortgage at 4%. say your payment is $400 a month. after three years your interest rate jumps to 9%. your monthly payment is all of a sudden almost $700. your bank knows you can't afford that. the bank knew when it sold the mortgage or it should have known. that's the bank's job. that's the law today. not the law under this bill. under this bill when your mortgage spikes, when you have to have tough conversations around the dinner table with your partner, with your children, the bank that sold you the mortgage is protected. it gets off scot-free. today you could go to a judge and fight to stay in your home. you might not be able to under this bill. what's fair about that? because this bill blocks some homeowners from going to court to stop banks that foreclosed on them. sound familiar? not that long ago vice president pence came to the senate floor
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to sit in the chair that the senator from oklahoma is sitting in, came to the floor late at night to stop customers like those 140 million cheated by -- i'm sorry, like those 140 million cheated by equifax and several million cheated by wells fargo, came to the floor late at night to stop customers from having their day in court. you know when the vice president shows up in this body to break a tie, wall street wins every single time. now this bill blocks homeowners from having their day in court, the context under which we will consider this bill. american families, american taxpayers who stand to lose the most get almost nothing, no help with student debt, no help with underwater mortgages. but they're being told, we're hearing consumers being told don't worry, trust us. trust us. the trump administration regulators will make sure everything is just fine. trust us. trust people like vice president pence who cast a tie-breaking
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vote to strip consumers from their day in court. trust treasury secretary mnuchin whose former bank made a fortune kicking families, including veterans, including people in the army, in the marines, and seniors out of their homes, is now merged into a new bank that gets relief under this bill. and trust secretary mnuchin's colleague at that same foreclosure machine leading the office of the comptroller of the currency, the financial watchdog in charge of oversikh financial banks. trust mick mulvaney, the new part time head of the consumer financial protection bureau, despite what the law says, whose first action on the job was to stop payments to veterans, to seniors, to consumers, to stop payments to people who had been cheated by banks. these payments were on their way. the banks had been found guilty of cheating their customers.
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mick mulvaney's first action, stop those payments. trust randy quarles, the head of bank supervision at the federal reserve board who was a treasury official in the years leading up to the crisis and who said on the eve of the financial crisis, fundamentally the economy is strong. the financial sector is healthy. our future looks bright. he was in the treasury department in a highly placed job, in the bush administration. as the economy started to implode that was his observation of the state of housing. that was his observation of the state of the economy. he's now head of bank supervision at the federal reserve. this track record is what taxpayers and homeowners are supposed to trust? this is the track record that gives senators the confidence to take a gamble with taxpayer dollars? these guys are going to protect us from another crisis or prevent another bailout? i don't know about my colleagues. i'll tell you when i'm home in ohio, when my friend from delaware is at home in wilmington, i meet a lot of people who feel invisible. entire communities feel
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invisible. they feel used, abused, they feel some other things i can't say on the senate floor by banks, by megacorporations by wall street and yes by washington and by this u.s. senate. too often they are right. they are being abused and used by banks and megacorporations and by wall street and by people in this body. we have a chance to show these people that we hear them and will fight for them. we do that by blocking this bill. mr. president, as i conclude, i want to say something about some people that are affected by this bill that makes sense. regional community banks provide critical services to homeowners. i support efforts to help community and regional banks support regional needs. i don't support them to -- nothing to help hardworking americans who have the most to lose. it's this simple. if we want to help the middle
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class, let's help the middle class. we sat here -- we sat here -- well, the last couple of weeks, both in the finance committee and on the floor on the tax bill, and i heard just ad nauseam my colleagues say, this bill is for the middle class, well, it wasn't really for the middle class. if you want to cut taxes for the middle class, you cut tax for the middle class. if we want to help the middle class, let's help the middle class. you don't grow the economy by handing out more money to people at the top, whether it's wall street banks or large corporations that outsource jobs. you don't give handouts to the big corporations. if you want -- want to help the middle class, help the middle class, don't filter it through the largest banks hoping it will trickle down. we grow our economy by putting money directly in the pockets of middle-class families. let's cut the corporate middle man, throw out the wall street
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lobbyists, and provide relief for student loan debts, let's help workers who haven't seen a raise in over a decade. let's show people in this country that we actually do, in fact, work for them. the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. coons: mr. president, i rise this evening to the tax bill that passed this chamber -- mr. president, can i ask consent to speak for up to ten minutes? the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from delaware is recognized. mr. coons: mr. president, when we were last here together, it was roughly 2:00 a.m. saturday morning as this chamber took up and passed by a very narrow margin, i believe 51-49, one of the biggest, broadest, most comprehensive pieces of financial legislation likely in our lifetime. the last time this congress took
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up and passed comprehensive tax reform, i was 21 years old. it has been a long time since a bill of this scope and region and impact has been considered, debated, and passed in this chamber. and i wanted to give some reflection this evening on what happened very early saturday morning and what it means. first, it did not have to be this way. that bill passed on a straight party-line vote. not one democrat voted for it and all but one republican senator voted for it. i joined more than a dozen of my colleagues in a press conference, i think two weeks ago, saying we wanted to are work across the aisle and we were trying, yet, getting no opportunity to do so. weeks and weeks ago a group of us put out a letter to our colleague saying, we wanted to work together on tax reform that would make our country more competitive, that would deal with some of the long,
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unaddressed issues in our tax code yet be fiscally responsible. right up until saturday, i was working with a group of republicans and democrats to try and find a way to move forward on tax reform that would not blow up our deficit and debt, give real tax relief to middle-class americans and significantly reduce the corporate tax rate. alas, we came up short. i wanted to give just a few moments of reflection on how i see the tax bill that ultimately moved through this chamber last week. first, on the -- first on the process. the idea that you do your best work at something like 2:00 a.m. in the morning, adopting a nearly 500-page piece of legislation without anyone having had the chance to really read it and understand it i think defies commonsense -- common sense. second, the idea that the best legislating is done by one party
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only i think has been proven to be incorrect. whether it's big pieces of legislation done only by democrats or big pieces only done by republicans, part of the point of this chamber and the balance and separation of powers that our founders crafted into the constitution was the idea that when we listened to each other and compromised we produce better legislation, better laws, better justice. but last i just wanted to talk for a moment about the values that underlie not just this process, but this outcome. but in speeches and conferences and in materials put out over the last two weeks, there's been lots and lots of talk about financial matters, about percentages, about numbers, about the joint commission on taxation or the congressional budget office. there's been lots of jargon and
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insider talk that has made a -- left a cloud for most individuals to understand what was at stake and what was at work to the partisan passage of the tax bill so early on saturday morning. let's talk for a moment, if we could, about the human values implicated by this bill. let's talk less about fiscal jarron and -- jargon and financial details and more about where it will land. i'm sure, mr. president, it comes as no surprise to you that ultimately i voted against the bill. i was willing to do bipartisan tax reform that would allow president trump to meet his express goal of delivering a christmas gift to the american people, in particular to the american middle class, yet, i wasn't willing to sign off on -- off on a bill that would give us more than $1 trillion in debt, to slash medicare and comait and -- medicaid, and once this
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christmas package is open, americans will notice the steady increase of the tax burden on them and a decrease in medicare and medicaid that has made a difference to so many in need for so long. for reasons that elude me, most of us country was not engaged in the tax debate. i had 220 calls, 200 opposed, 20 in favor. i didn't hear from folks who might have understood and might have spoken up about long term, grinding impact this tax bill will have on those in real need in our country. i wanted to take a moment here on the floor and reflect on something that happened late last week on the budget committee as they were markupping -- marking up the bill, as semple different
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colleger are -- as several different clergy men gathered outside in a moment of civil disobedience. some were arrested. arrested in a cry they hoped would be heard about the impact of this tax bill on the poor and needy in our nation. i stand tonight as a senator, i stand tonight as someone who represents delaware, i stand tonight as someone who is not elected to serve one particular faith or tradition, but who is informed by my faith an tradition. the gospel i read and the gospel according to luke, jesus said that he has anoined -- anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. while the gospel is good news to the poor, this tax bill surely is not. some of the best known simple passages in the new testament or
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the christian bible say you cannot serve both god and wealth and in matthew 25, in as much as you did it to the least of these, you did it unto me. but this focus on the least among us is not new to the so-called new testament. it is deeply rooted in tora and the christian values that underlies all of christian value. the prof eshes -- in diutronomy, it teaches you should open your hand to the poor in meeting the neighbor in your land. last, it seems to me that while the bible, the new testament, and the tora teach these things about god's deep preference that we would be kind to one another,
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care for one another, support those around us, that doesn't lead to one party's position or another, it doesn't lead to one clear economic theory or policy than another, but it does say that before we take dramatic action that will a vote the ground for a generation that i believe will inevitably thread a -- to a loss of security, stability and opportunity for those in need in our country, we should have reflected. we should have listened to each other. we should have respected the greatest traditions of this country that say we are most america -- we are most american when we open the doors of opportunity to all, when we create chances for those who are struggling amongst us to have a brighter future. as i searched through what i understood of this 500 page bill
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thrust upon us late on a friday night, marked up and voted on early saturday morning, i found none of that. i found an incredibly expensive bill that even some types of industry have said will add little to the growth of this economy and much to the burden of debt in this country. i know people of good faith on both sides have differing views about the impact of this bill, but i, for one, felt called tonight to come to this floor and say, i think we have made not just a mistake of fiscal policy, but i think in moving this bill forward, we have failed in our most fundamental call to hear each other, to work together, and to be mindful that we do not cause harm to those in our society who look to us to make the future brighter, to open the doors of opportunity wider, and to listen to some of the most ancient and profound
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voices in the traditions that lay the foundation of this free society that we legislate worst when we legislate against the least. thank you. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senate


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