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tv   U.S. Senate 12132017  CSPAN  December 13, 2017 11:59am-2:00pm EST

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minnesota stories. just over three years ago, we reelected senator franken with a mandate to work hard to keep minnesota moving forward, and with his decision to step down, it is the responsibility of our governor to appoint a person to fill the vacant spot. now my job will to be to go to washington d.c. to continue working on behalf of minnesota in our country and i will do this in my own way, using my own best judgment and experience, but always with the people of minnesota in mind. and it is up to minnesotans to decide for themselves who they want to complete senator franken's term. they will make this decision in the special election next november. >> in the u.s. senate will work on two nominations to the fifth circuit court of appeals. both are likely this afternoon. we just saw a minnesota governor
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mark dayton announced he chose tina smith to fill senator al franken seat until the november election to complete the final two years of senator franken's term. we will likely hear remarks about senate designate tina smith on the floor of the senate today. live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. our father in heaven, thank you that our life's pilgrimage is a process and discovery. open our eyes today
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that we may see wonderful things in your precepts, gaining wisdom from your word. help our lawmakers to strive to ensure that their thoughts, words, and deeds will please you. today, we surrender to your providence, trusting you to order our steps. lord, teach us to illuminate our world with the wisdom of your divine insights so that your will may be done on earth. transform life's deserts so that they blossom
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like roses. bring flowing springs to the parched grounds of our lives so that we may live abundantly. we pray in your loving name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: majority leader. mr. mcconnell: this week the senate is continuing to consider president trump's outstanding judicial nominees. yesterday we confirmed a talented individual to be a circuit court judge and soon we'll confirm another. next we will advance the nomination of james ho to be a judge of the fifth circuit court of appeals. mr. ho is another well qualified individual and like all of president trump's judicial nominees, he is dedicated to upholding the rule of law and serving as an impartial arbiter on the bench. similar to justice willett who i discussed yesterday, mr. ho has
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an inspirational story. immigrating to the united states from taiwan at the age of 1, he learned english by watching "sesame street." he went on to graduate from the university of chicago law school with high honors and earned a clerkship with judge smith of the fifth circuit. in 2001, mr. ho joined the department of justice as a special assistant to the assistant attorney general for civil rights and later worked in the office of legal counsel. in addition to his service in the executive branch, he worked here in the senate as chief counsel for the judiciary committee's subcommittee on the constitution. afterward he went across the street to clerk for associate justice clarence thomas. after his distinguished and successful legal career in washington, mr. ho returned to texas joining a top law firm and specializing in appellate
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litigation. he then served as the solicitor general of texas succeeding our colleague senator ted cruz. it was while he was serving in that role that he won the supreme court best brief award for the national -- from the national association of attorneys general. he went on to earn the award two more times. after his time in state government, mr. ho returned to his private practice firm and currently serves as the cochair of its appellate and constitutional law group. he's presented oral arguments in state and federal courts around the country, including the supreme court. it's clear that mr. ho possesses impressive crew den shalls with the experience necessary to excel on the fifth circuit. he also earned the praise of prominent democrats who believe he'll make an excellent addition to the federal court. ron kirk, the obama administration's trade
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representative and the former mayor of dallas supported mr. ho's nomination to the judiciary committee. he wrote, jim possesses the temperament, integrity and intellect that neighbor, republican or democrat, should insist on in a federal judge. he's wickedly smart, he continued and is among the most brilliant appellate lawyers in the united states. it is one thing that my liberal and conservative colleagues agree on is that jim just has it in his d.n.a. to be a great judge. a commissioner on the u.s. commission on civil rights appointed by president obama also recommended mr. ho in a letter to the judiciary committee. she knows him from his volunteer work with the national association, the national asian pacific american bar association. she wrote that he has strong reputation as an intelligent, reasonable, fair and principled lawyer. i'd like to commend president trump for another very strong
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nomination. i'd also like to express my gratitude to chairman grassley and the members of the judiciary committee for their work to process the president's judicial nominees. i look forward to advancing mr. ho's nomination soon. now, on another matter, one of the great advances of our time has been the development and expansion of the internet and wireless technologies. the internet connects people across the globe in an unprecedented way. it brings together producers and consumers, students and educators and even members of the senate with our constituen constituents. -- with our constituents. it's difficult to exaggerate the impact the internet has on our society and on our economy each and every day.
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even a few decades ago the technologies many of us take for granted today would have been totally unfathomable. but the success of the internet wasn't an accident. today's internet and all the innovations that utilize it aren't the product of unnecessary, unburdensome government regulations that hindered growth. instead they were the direct result of a bipartisan desire -- madam president, i'm having difficult with my voice this morning. so i'm going to ask unanimous consent that the balance of my statement appear in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following nomination
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which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, don r. willett of texas to be circuit court judge, united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit.
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mr. schumer: madam president? the presiding officer: democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: the senate is not in a quorum call. the senator is recognized. mr. schumer: well, madam president, as you know, last night a democrat won in the state of alabama for the first time in a quarter century. last night's election of doug jones was not only the repudiation of a candidate unfit
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to serve in this body, it was an affirmation of a candidate who represents the very best of public service. i read doug jones' bio. one story stands out in my mind. as a second-year law student, doug jones skipped class to attend the trial of the klansman ring leader of the 1963 bombing of the 16th street baptist church, an event as we all remember shook the coninsurance of our country and launch -- conscience of our country and helped launch a movement for civil rights. though a young doug jones was moved by the disposition of justice in that trial, he was left with the impression that other members of the conspiracy had escaped the reach of the law. so 24 years later when doug jones became the u.s. attorney in alabama, he pursued charges against two more klan members
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involved in the bombing, won their conviction, and delivered a long delayed but mighty righteous justice. doug jones deserved to win that race last night. he's a fine man, was an excellent candidate, and is going to make an outstanding senator for the people of alabama. i congratulate senator-elect jones and look forward to welcoming him to this chamber and our caucus. two additional points in regard to the election that has a link to the chamber here. first, the election of a democrat in such a conservative state that hadn't elected a democrat since 199 -- that hadn't had a democratic senator since 1996 elected one in 1990, i guess, is a clarion call for bipartisanship. the american people are clamoring for us to work together, to -- and once again conduct our politics with
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civility, decency, and an eye to compromise. that's what doug jones represented as a candidate. it's what he campaigned on, and his election should signal to all my republican colleagues that the american people from the deepest red states to the deepest blue states yearn for our politics to function again in a bipartisan way. the election of the democrat in such a conservative state is a clarion call for bipartisanship. now, so the people of alabama have spoken and they've sent a message asking both democrats and republicans to work together. that's how doug jones campaigned bringing us together to solve our greatest challenges. doug moore did not try to pursue any even scintilla of bipartisanship and it might have been one of the reasons he lost, particularly in the suburbs of birmingham and other cities.
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i hope we in this body will take this election in earnest and pursue a course of bipartisanship. now, the election of doug jones should have another effect on this chamber as well. it would be unseemly and imper tent to rush a massive piece of partisan legislation in this chamber before doug jones is seated. to rush suj a -- such a huge piece of legislation when the people of alabama have sent us a new senator and try to jam it through before he gets here would be so wrong. doug jones would be the duly elected senator from the state of alabama in a few short weeks. the governor didn't appoint him. the people chose him. it would be wrong for senate republicans, it would be wrong for senate republicans to jam through this tax bill without giving the newly elected senator from alabama the opportunity to
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cast his vote. the people of alabama deserve to have their representative in the senate to debate the biggest issues of the day, and the tax bill certainly falls under that category. so today we senate democrats are calling on leader mcconnell to hit pause on his tax bill and not hold a final vote on it until doug jones is sworn into the senate. now, that's exactly what republicans argued when scott brown was elected in 2010. referring to health care, leader mcconnell said -- here is what he said -- it would be gamesmanship, he said, to pursue big-ticket legislation before scott brown was seated. he asked us to, quote, honor the wishes of the people of massachusetts. leader reid, in fact, acceded to that wish and waited until scott brown was a senator before any further votes on health care. quote -- we are going to wait until the new senator arrives
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until we do anything more on health care, he said. but as so too often has happened, senator mcconnell does one thing when republicans are in charge and a different thing when democrats are in charge. here's another example. mcconnell says, new senator, in that case, scott brown, slow down work on major legislation, and reid acceded. we are calling on senator mcconnell to do simply the same thing today. let's see if he does. we're calling on senator mcconnell to do just as senator reid did -- honor the wishes of the people of a state that has newly elected a senator and wait to move forward on the tax bill until senator jones arrives. now, if republicans insist on barreling ahead -- and i understand the pressure is on them from their hard right
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multibillionaire paymasters, they will be pouring gasoline on the fire. their tax bill, written in back rooms, rushed through this chamber with such recklessness, which gives enormous breaks to the wealthy and corporations while it raises the taxes on millions, many of them in the middle class, is being roundly rejected by the american people. poll after poll shows by ratios equal to, a little less than, a little more than 2-2 that the american people reject this bill. they don't know what's in it, they don't know all the details, but they know it favors the wealthy and powerful over them, over the middle class. they know that even if they are getting a small tax break, the vast majority of the tax breaks go to the most wealthy and the most powerful, and they don't like it. and, above all, they know this tax bill will clobber the suburbs, drastically cutting
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back on the state and local deduction and other deductions that they cut back on will be a gut punch to millions of middle-class and upper middle-class americans who live in the suburbs. the very same people who are turning away from president trump, who helped propel doug jones to victory last night and helped propel mr. northham to be governor of virginia when his opponent gillespie was calling for a $10,000 tax break for the middle class. the longer this bill sits behind closed doors, the worse it's getting. rather than improving it for the middle class, they are cutting the rate further on the wealthiest of americans, according to all reports, to reduce the top rate another 2.5%, only going to people who make over $300,000 a year while raising taxes on the middle class, what is going on in the heads of our republican colleagues? why would they do something that
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seems so wrong for america and so against what the american people want? we know why. the koch brothers. the club for growth funded largely by billionaires and millionaires. and all these other groups are fanatic. just cut taxes on the rich. i don't even hear them arguing for helping the middle class, except in tv ads that are deceptive, in my judgment. but they're doing it for that reason. our republican colleagues, by trying to appease these very wealthy small number of greedy people are writing their political doom, in my opinion. the longer this bill sits behind closed doors, the worse it's getting. it's not improving things for the middle class. it's making it worse. so instead of learning from their mistakes, instead of heeding a lesson, one of the lessons of the election last
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night, republicans are doubling down on helping the wealthy and powerful and doing nothing if not harming the middle class. in 2010, leader mcconnell said on the floor of the senate, quote, we need to move in a new direction, a dramatically new direction. he said that is the message of virginia. that is the message of new jersey. that is the message of massachusetts. you could replace massachusetts with alabama and say the exact same thing today. so, madam president, in sum, on process, on policy, and on politics, pausing this tax bill and going back to the drawing board is the right thing for republicans to do. i hope for the sake of this country they'll do just that. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. ms. cantwell: i ask the tworl be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. cantwell: today we are closing in on a critical decision that will have a lasting impact on innovation and the innovation-driven economy of the united states. the fairm of the f.c.c. has decided to repeal a critical consumer protection known as net neutrality. this is a wrong-headed move, it's misguided and being driven by big cable interests that want to continue to gouge consumers and charge them more as they charge for slowly making sure that consumers either pay or have their internet lines slowed down. this decision turns the success of what has been an essential 21st century innovation over to those in big corporations instead of making sure that main street innovators continue to do what they do best. i don't think the american people want cable companies to be the gatekeeper on the
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internet. they want to have the f.c.c. continue to play a role in making sure that an open internet is there for all so that small businesses that entrepreneurs, that innovators can continue to build on the success of communicating with their consumers and their business partners without having artificially slowed down lines. who would this impact if the f.c.c. moves forward? seniors would be impacted on telehealth medicines. families accessing educational tools for their children could also see charges. and the highway that has been so important to making sure that new internet businesses are started could be impacted. the number-one reason we have to fight this and to make sure that we do everything we can to stop the f. c.c. from implementing this rule and making sure we give consumers the protection of net neutrality is that it will
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harm our internet economy. last summer we had a town meeting about this and heard from many of my constituents about this, incenting business cases to chairman pai so he would understand why this impacts us so much. but let me make sure that we understand what's happening. the f.c.c. has -- had rules that prevented companies from throttling or blocking, and they have paved the way to many great successes. we have in the united states fortune 500 companies and a tech industry that is responsible for 7% of our nation's g.d.p. and 6.9 million jobs in the united states of america. why would you change the rules now? why would you leave making sure critical protections are in place and instead replace them with the ability for certain companies, cable specifically, to wreak havoc on this economy? 13% of washington state's
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economy depends on a healthy internet sector. the internet economy for our state supports 250,000 jobs and is a time when the nation is looking to see that they haven't had enough wage growth and enough growth in the middle class earning more, these tech jobs have been a bedrock for the middle class. chairman pie is not focused on the 13,000 tech companies in the state of washington, the 250,000 jobs, and the 13% of our state's economy. just this past weekend my colleague, congresswoman dell benny and i met with many of these small businesses and their message was loud and clear. please stop chairman pai from ruining the internet by taking away key protections that make sure that our businesses run successful. chairman pai is abdicating his role, he's abandoning the consumers he swore an oath to
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serve, he's turning his back on innovators and he has really changed the direction for us in our innovation economy. i know he thinks this is a light touch, but i guarantee you it's no touch. and what we need is to make sure that these companies do not artificially charge consumers, small businesses, main street more for what they already are doing now and doing successful successfully. obviously an open internet rule and the rules that we are living under now have fueled an innovation economy. every business plan, every start-up relies on the ability to contact their consumers. and with this much of our economy at stake, let's not continue to make mistakes. let's continue to fight here in the united states senate to make sure that we stop chairman pai and the f.c.c. from having the resources to implement this rule. it is important so much now that we continue to fight for small businesses, for main street
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entrepreneurs, for the innovation economy, and say that we deserve to have an open internet, and we should not have, as the small businesses and innovators just said to me this past weekend in seattle, this really is a -- like siding with the big companies saying they are the ones who are going to be in control and not be for competition. they are not going to be for innovation and they are going to slow down what is the best parts of our economy. i hope our colleagues will join the fight and stop the f.c.c. in any manner possible from implementing what is literally a very, very anticompetitive strategy and very, very focused on big corporations instead of the innovation economy of the future. i thank the president. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts.
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mr. markey: thank you, thank you, madam president. madam president, i want to thank all of my colleagues, senator cantwell, for joining me on the floor this afternoon. we are speaking on behalf of millions of our constituents and the tens of millions of americans who support a free and open internet. i am proud to come to the floor to discuss an issue of national importance to both our economy and our democracy: net neutrality. now a lot of people have recently stopped and asked me what exactly is net neutrality? well, the technical answer is that network neutrality or net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers -- you know their names: verizon, at&t, comcast, the people you
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pay by check each mont to make sure you have broadband service, so you know who they are, that those internet providers cannot discriminate against content providers, against websites. but the simple explanation is this, no one owns the internet. everyone can use the internet. anyone can improve the internet. but that will not be the case if the trump administration, ajit pai, the chairman, and republicans get their way. they want to get rid of the federal communications commissions net neutrality rule so that the i.s.p.'s, the internet service providers, can indiscriminately charge more for internet fast lanes, slow down websites, block websites, make it harder and maybe even impossible for inventors, entrepreneurs, and small businesses, the lifeblood of
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the american economy, to connect to the internet. that is why we are here this afternoon on the floor, and it's why supporters of a free and open internet are vigorously opposed to this politically craven attempt to weaken the principle of net neutrality that has allowed the internet to flourish. tomorrow the federal communications commission is voting on a proposal that cuts at the very heart of a free and open internet. they are voting to roll back net neutrality protections and send a love letter to the big broadband companies that stand to make huge profits without these rules. so what are chairman pai and his broadband buddies really trying to do? well, the first thing they would do is gut the rule against glocking. what does that mean?
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it means that an internet service provider could block any website it wants. that includes a website of a competing service or a website with a contrary political view, whatever they want. second, chairman pai would gut the rule against throttling. so what does that mean? well, it means that the internet service provider could slow down any website it wants. and, third, chairman pai would gut the rule banning paid prioritization. so what does that mean? well, it means that the internet service provider could charge websites for an internet fast lane, meaning those websites would load quicker, while websites that can't afford the internet ez-pass would be stuck on a gravel path taking more time to load and frustrating consumers with long buffering times.
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and, fourth, chairman pai would gut the forward-looking general conduct rule. what does that mean? well, the general conduct rule would protect consumers from harm such as data caps and other discriminatory behavior that i.s.p.'s think of in the coming months or years ahead. and fifth, chairman pai would create an unregulated interconnection market. and what does that mean? well, it means the federal communications commission would lose authority to oversee places where i.s.p.'s connect to the internet and extract fees. and finally, chairman pai wants to prevent states and localities from adopting their own net neutrality protections. so what will the, be the replacement for these enforceable net neutrality rules today? what will replace them? absolutely nothing.
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chairman pai will leave it to the internet service providers to simply regulate themselves in this unpoliced internet wild west. now chairman pai claims that the federal trade commission -- not the federal communications commission -- the commission of expertise over telecommunications, but the federal trade commission somehow provides a sufficient back stop to bad behavior by the i.s.p.'s. but that is simply not true. under the federal trade commission, the big broadband barons would establish their own net neutrality policies. that's like letting the bullies develop their own playground rules. and if the i.s.p. wants to block websites, slow down competitors' websites, charge innovators and entrepreneurs to reach their customers, they
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will be free to do so. and that's because the federal trade commission can only step in if a broadband provider violates its own net neutrality policies. that is a policy created by the broadband company itself. but if an internet service provider has a written policy that charges websites for internet fast lanes, there's nothing the federal trade commission can do about it. that is ridiculous, and it is wrong. allowing the broadband industry to set their own net neutrality protections is like letting the fox guard the henhouse. okay, so the federal trade commission oversight will not work. chairman pai also claims that he has another solution. it's called transparency. he argues that if i.s.p.'s are transparent about their net neutrality practices, consumers
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and businesses can simply choose to use a broadband provider with the net neutrality practices that best suits them. but what good is transparency when most americans have little or no choice for high-speed broadband access? consider this. 62% of americans have only one choice for high-speed fixed broadband. nearly two-thirds of the country has only one choice who they can purchase broadband from. so that means that if a household's only choice for high-speed broadband isn't transparent about its plans to set up internet fast and slow lanes, the consumer has two choices. one, accept the internet service provider's terms. or two, live without the internet. that is a false choice. people do not want to live without the internet in the
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21st century. so now chairman pai also claims internet service providers actually support net neutrality. but just not the open internet order under which we're living today. that's like saying you support democracy but not the constitution. it's like saying you like math but you hate numbers. it makes no sense. the broadband barons have been fighting for years both at the federal communications commission and in the courts to block net neutrality rules. it is crystal clear and has been for years. the broadband companies are deeply opposed to net neutrality because they want to drive up their profits by setting up internet fast and slow lanes and charging consumers more for less. it's a simple formula. chairman pai also claims that broadband investment has been discouraged by the open internet order.
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that is false. investment in our broadband infrastructure is stronger than ever, and with the deployment of technologies on the horizon, we can expect this strong investment to continue. broadband investment on the aggregate has increased in the two years since the f.c.c. passed the open internet order. but beyond just measuring dollars spent, broadband speeds have also increased after the 2015 order meaning that i.s.p.'s are improving the services they offer to their consumers. and consider this, that in 2016, almost half -- almost half of the venture capital funds invested in this country went towards internet specific and software companies. that's $25 billion worth of investments. we have picked the sweet spot, investment in broadband and wireless technologies is high. job creation is high.
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venture capital investment and online start-ups is high. chairman pai threatens to disrupt this appropriate balance and squash innovation online. it is clear that americans do not want what the f.c.c. is proposing. it seems like the only supporters of this plan is the broadband industry. if chairman pai and his republican colleagues turn a deaf ear to millions of americans standing up for net neutrality and approve their plan tomorrow, we will continue this fight elsewhere. on the -- when the obama era rules were challenged, i led a congressional am cuss brief in -- amicus brief and we plan to do it again this time. i also intend to file a congressional review act, or
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c.r.a., resolution of disapproval with a number of my colleagues so that the united states senate can vote to undo chairman pai's proposal and restore the 2015 open internet order. the trump administration is waging an all-out assault on our core protections, daca, the clean power plan, the paris climate accord and now net neutrality is in its sights. all of those who rely on the free and open internet, whether it's for commerce, education, health care, or entertainment, i urge you to join in this fight to create a firestorm of opposition to this assault on net neutrality. this is a fundamental attack upon the openness of the
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internet that must be beaten and we must now form that army of ordinary americans as the voices that will fight the lobbyists and the sperl interests in this city -- special interests in the city that wants to shut down net neutrality forever. thank you, madam president. i yield back. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. peters: madam president, there are a handful of innovations over the years that have redefined the united states and the entire world, the couldn gin, railroads are a couple of examples. broadband is one of the defining innovations of our time.
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broadband connects rural and urban communities with educational resources and international commerce. broadband is essential for communications in the modern era. it let's us keep in touch with our loved ones no matter where they live, and it has boasted pro -- boasted -- boasted productivity. broadband has led to millions of new jobs. the ability to instantly reach consumers wherenever they live has allowed american small businesses and startups to compete with large and global corporations in a way that would have been simply unimaginable a couple of decades ago. michigan is home to over 850,000 small businesses and growing startups. this puts america on the cutting
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edge of a global and inner connected economy. michigan small businesses are able to compete and innovate because of a free and open structure of the internet, but unfortunately these opportunities are at risk. tomorrow the f.c.c. will vote to eliminate current net neutrality to stop corporations from stifling small businesses and harming the american people. i think the facts are very straightforward and the f.c.c. is wrong. they should stop what they are doing and keep the current protections in place. the current rules that i have consistently supported prevent internet service providers from blocking, slowing, or prioritizing traffic for their own financial gain at the expense of small businesses and every day internet users. the f.c.c.'s actions to roll back these protections could
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roll back an era of a two-tier internet, one for those who can pay the fast lane and the slow lane for the rest of us. this would be unfair for startups, slowing down their traffic and playing gatekeeper to potential customers. repealing net tiewrlt is anti- -- net neutrality is anti-competition, repealing net neutrality is anticonsumer. the f.c.c. should not consider this proposal tomorrow to degrade internet service especially during a time when over 20 million households in rural america, including far too many in my home state of michigan, still lack access to high-speed broadband internet. the f.c.c. has a lot of work to do to close the digital divide
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and repealing net neutrality is taking our country backwards, not forward. if the internet doesn't work for a growing number of small businesses and startups, our economy will be hurt for generations to come. high-speed broadband and net neutrality in the 21st century is every bit as vital as electricity was in the 20th century. all americans deserve access regardless of their income or their zip code. we accomplish the goal of bringing electricity to every part of this country, even the most rural areas, by making it a national priority. we need to make access to broadband internet with strong net neutrality a national priority today. by preserving net neutrality we put students, artists, advocates and other visionaries who are
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creating the next big thing ahead of a handful of multinational corporations. the f.c.c. should call off this dangerous vote and instead work to ensure the internet remains a hub of entrepreneurship, create activity and -- creativity and competition. madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the remainder of my remarks appear elsewhere in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. peters: madam president, over two months ago i stood here in this chamber urging my colleagues to pass legislation that will prevent kids enrolled in the children's health insurance program from losing their health care. the children's health insurance program, or chip, provides health care coverage to over 100,000 children in my state of michigan and over nine million
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children nationwide. i recall welcoming the news that the senate finance chairman hatch and ranking member wyden had extended the bill and went through regular order. the finance committee held a hearing and a markup on the bill in october. we all know that regular order has become a very rare event in the senate today, and i appreciated the bipartisan effort to have a senate vote on a bill that is absolutely critical to our nation's children. i certainly expected that this bipartisan bill would come to the floor and pass with broad bipartisan support, thus bringing relief to families across the country who are wondering if their children will have health care in 2018. unfortunately, in the months since the good-faith efforts, we still have not seen a vote on this important legislation. madam president, this is
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inexcusable. we must take action now. states are already beginning to notify families that their children's health care plans may be canceled -- yes, canceled -- if congress does not act. states like louisiana, texas, virginia, and others have announced that they may run out of funds within weeks. in my home state of michigan, i heard from parents who are worried about whether their children will still be table to see their pediatrician next year. i also heard from pediatricians who take care of these children and how children will be hurt if their health care is taken away. it would be unconscionable to rip health care services away from children during the most formative years of their life. it would be unconscionable to put new roadblocks up for families whose children need annual physicals and vaccines before they can go to school, and it would be unconscionable to increase health care costs for working families who are just trying to keep their
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children healthy and give them the opportunity to prosper. this is not a partisan issue. in 1997 president bill clinton worked with a republican majority in the senate and house of representatives to successfully pass the children's health insurance program into law. that legislation passed with 85 votes in the senate because providing needed health services to children should never, ever be a partisan issue. the chip program has been reauthorized on a bipartisan basis since its inception because it is effective. chip is working for our nation's children and we should be too. madam president, i urge my colleagues across the aisle to call for a vote on this legislation to extend chip and pass it without delay. let's do what's right for our country's children and families and pass this bipartisan
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legislation now. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. mr. leahy: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: madam president, before i begin, i ask unanimous consent that nemaapn -- be granted floor privileges. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: i thank the distinguished presiding officer. madam president, this week the federal communications commission, the f.c.c., is preparing a giant, early christmas present to telecommunication companies to repeal net neutrality. net neutrality is a simple principle that the internet
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should be kept free and open by preventing the corporations from controlling connections to throttle or block certain content, especially that of competitors. repealing net neutrality rules will benefit just a few powerful corporations. it ignores all the rest of us. it will do so at the expense of small businesses, consumers, hardworking americans whose persistent and passionate voices on this issue have been completely ignored by the f.c.c.'s republican majority. everybody has been calling for public hearings on the current net neutrality protections were developed. chairman pai has failed to heed his on advice now that he is in charge of the f.c.c. he wanted public hearings before he was in charge, but now we don't need any public hearings.
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basically, the chairman knows better, the heck with you taxpayers. it seems the only people he listened to are those with deep enough pockets. if you're a concerned citizen or small business own her, -- owner, your voice doesn't matter to this f.c.c. as someone who held hearings on this issue in 2014, i can tell you there is overwhelming support for net neutrality just about everywhere except the f.c.c. itself. if the chairman took the time to listen, as i did, he would hear from small business owners like cabbot port smith. he said we are not looking for special treatment. we ask that they preserve and protect internet commerce as it exists today which have served all businesses remarkably well.
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now, i'm hearing this from small and big businesses. they are saying that they should all be protected for the competition. just today i received a letter from businesses in northern new england, including vermont's own ben & jerry's ice cream, cabbot creamery cooperative, and king arthur flour discussing the crippling effect that net neutrality rules would have on rural businesses. madam president, i ask unanimous consent that a copy of this letter be placed in the record at the conclusion of my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: we have heard from lie -- he didn't bother to hear from libraries, which for some communities is the only way to access the internet. every single senator here has rural areas in their states, and those rural areas have libraries
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and they need to be able to access the internet. as vermont's state librarian martha reed told me, all americans, including the most disenfranchised citizens, those who have no way to access the internet without the library need to be able to use internet resources on an equal footing. he heard from content creators whose voices are not too often heard. as actress writer, producer told me if the unprecedented world of an open, non -- in the unprecedented world of an open, nondiscriminatory internet no longer did low budget and low connections means there's no way in. never again can we be disregarded when someone asks, who are you to have your story be told? of course, the answer if you
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have net neutrality, you are whoever wants to tell you a story. now, these are the voices being ignored. they're the people america is going to stand to lose the most, the chairman's misguided plan. now, this is not about partisanship. republicans and democrats join in calling for an open net internet. republicans and democrats in my state and every other state benefit from the power of an open internet. but they also, republican, and democrats -- republicans and democrats, are going to be equally harmed if the rules of the road -- none of us should support a process that willfully dismisses the voices of our constituents. i hope that all senators would join me in calling on the f.c.c. to ban this reckless vote to repeal net neutrality. i might add in conclusion that i
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know there are some with a lot of money who want to do away with net neutrality. even filing thousands of fake comments for the f.c.c. saying that they want to do away with net neutrality. one of those comments came to my attention. it had my name and my home address on it. those people, they just laughed. they knew it was fake. i worry about who's spending money to make these fake comments. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: i rise today to join with the senator from vermont in opposition to the f.c.c.'s planned vote to end net neutrality protections. tomorrow, as he noted, the f.c.c. will hold a vote on their plan to eliminate net neutrality
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on chairman pai's plan. these rules have kept the internet free and open. and in a day where a lot of things aren't working, this was something that was actually working. people were able to access the internet. people in my state that maybe didn't have a lot of resources, kids were able to access the internet to do their homework. it was working. but if the f.c.c. votes to abandon net neutrality, it will put internet service providers, not consumers, in charge of determining the future of the internet. net neutrality holds internet service providers big, mega internet service providers accountable for providing the internet access consumers expect while protecting innovation and competition. it is the bedrock of a fast, free, and open internet. net neutrality has allowed the internet to become one of the great american success stories, transforming not only how we communicate with our friends and
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our family but the way we do business, how consumers buy goods, how we educate our kids. these protections have worked. we have rural kids that couldn't access classes before who are able to get these classes on the internet. we have small businesses that are able to advertise their services in a way that no one would have known that they existed. one of my favorite ones is a company called weave' got mail -- werve' -- we've got mail. they do jewelry. it's about ten or 15 employees starting with one chain and they came up with a cool nickname. then they were able to advertise on the internet directly to consumers and now they're one of the biggest employers in the town right on the canadian border. these internet protections that have allowed small businesses to blossom have allowed consumers to access the internet like everyone else. they've worked. but with the f.c.c.'s vote tomorrow, the internet may soon
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be changing. earlier this year when chairman pai announced his proposal to eliminate net neutrality protections, americans took the opportunity to make their voices heard during the public comment period and the proposal received a record 23 million comments. while many of these comments were written by consumers worried about the future of the internet, there is reason to be concerned about that process. approximately one million fraudulent comments were filed with the f.c.c. and an additional half a million comments were filed with russian e-mail addresses. sound familiar? i think so. i think everyone in this chamber knows that russia has been trying to influence our democracy in every way they can from hacking to putting out propaganda to now trying to insert itself in a comment process for our free and open internet, something that has been the hallmark of american society, something that they don't have in russia.
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just think an additional half a million comments were filed from russian e-mail addresses. this is troubling because in america the public comment process matters. it was -- it is one of the few opportunities americans have to weigh in directly with the f.c.c. that is why i joined several of my colleagues in calling on chairman pai to delay the vote until the f.c.c. fully investigated these fake and foreign comments. despite our calls, the f.c.c. is still moving ahead with its vote. despite 23 million comments, they are still moving ahead with their vote. under chairman pai's plan, the f.c.c. gives internet service providers the ability to significantly change consumers' experience online. internet service providers may soon be able to block, slow, and prioritize web traffic for their own financial gain, not for the average citizen's gain, for their game. this means that internet sf
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provide -- service providers could begin sorting online traffic into fast or slow lanes and charging consumers extra for high-peed broadband. they would -- high-speed broadband. they would also be able to slow consumerses' connections once they hit a certain data line. internet service providers may even block content they don't want their subscribers to access. so much for an open internet. the only protections maintained under the proposed order are requirements for service providers to disclose their internet traffic policies. however, for consumers with only one choice for internet service, like many in my state, like many in rural areas, there is no real opportunity to comparison shop or find a new provider if they are unhappy with their service. this means that even though consumers may be aware that their internet service provider is blocking or slowing their connection, they actually don't have a choice. so what does that information matter to them anyway?
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this proposal will harm consumers, particularly in rural areas. it will limit competition, and it will hurt small business entrepreneurship and innovation. what i've seen around this place is everyone is talking about rural broadband. they want to expand broadband. i want to expand broadband. you can expand broadband all you want, but it's not going to matter if people aren't able to afford to access it. a truly open internet encourages economic growth and provides opportunities for business, to reach new markets -- businesses to reach new markets, drive innovation and create jobs. small businesses remain engines of job creation and net neutrality levels the playing field allowing the small companies to compete with more established brands. that's what america is about, allowing more innovation and small companies to come up and compete. unfortunately, for small businesses and start-ups across the country, the net neutrality repeal may mean new barriers
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when competing online. without unrestricted access to the internet, entrepreneurs may be forced to pay for equal footing to compete online rather than focus on expanding their business. small businesses unable to pay for access to faster internet service may soon find themselves struggling to compete from the slow lane, not the fast lane. this proposal will hurt the very people creating jobs and keeping our economy competitive. as a strong supporter of a free and open internet, it is clear that repealing net neutrality is a step in the wrong direction. we are facing an increasingly global and interconnected economy, and it is critical that the internet remain a hub of entrepreneurship, creativity, and fair competition. the fight to protection net neutrality is far from over and we need to keep the pressure on. we have seen merger after merger after merger. we have seen console dated
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businesses, bigger and bigger and bigger. so now what is the next step here? to limit net neutrality, to make it harder for the small guys, for the ones that are trying to get in the market to compete. it is not just an isolated philosophy here. it is actually part of a larger philosophy which means that smaller companies, that individuals are going to have a hard time getting in the market and getting free access like the big guys. that is why we asked chairman pai to reconsider this vote on thursday and to come up with a new policy that doesn't hurt the people of america. it is no surprise today that poll that i saw that it said the vast majority of americans don't favor getting rid of net neutrality. in fact, it showed the vast majority of republicans don't favor getting rid of net neutrality. so we asked chairman pai who was appointed by a republican president as chairman to reconsider this decision. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr.ms. warren: thank you, mr. president. we're in the middle of a historical debate here in washington. republicans have hatched a partisan proposal behind closed doors that would shovel a trillion dollars in tax giveaways to giant corporations and the wealthy while undermining the health care and raising taxes for millions of middle-class families. ms. warren: if it passes, it could affect the lives of every single american for an entire generation. now, last night, the people of alabama elected a new senator to represent them here in washington. so now republicans who control the senate face a choice.
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will they allow senator-elect doug jones to take his seat among his colleagues before a final vote on their tax plan? we actually know something about that kind of choice in my home state of massachusetts. on january 19, 2010, massachusetts elected a new senator to represent them here in washington. the result was just as shocking to democrats as last night's result was to republicans. it also came when we were in the middle of another historically important policy debate here in washington, health care. a lot of people thought that democrats should ram through the final version of their bill in congress before brown could be seated. now, i could stand here and read you quote after quote after quote from republicans who now control the senate talking about how unfair that would be, how
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corrupt that would be, and how anti-democratic that would be. i could go on and on about how today's senate majority leader mitch mcconnell said this would be gamesmanship. but i want to talk about what democrat, actually did. democrats rejected the idea of ramming through the bill before brown could take his seat in the senate. almost immediately jim webb, a democratic senator from virginia, called for a suspension of any health care vote until after brown arrived. the day after the massachusetts election, senate majority leader harry reid said publicly, we're going to wait til the new senator arrives until we do anything more on health care. massachusetts democratic senator john kerry held a joint press conference with republican scott brown that same week where he
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said, quote, seating scott brown as expeditiously as possible is important. we want to respect the election results and nobody wants to delay this process. and president obama whose entire health care agenda was on the line said this. here's one thing i know, and i just want to make sure that this is off the table. the senate certainly shouldn't try to jam anything through until scott brown is seated. people in massachusetts spoke. he's got to be part of that process. now this wasn't an easy decision. waiting for brown slowed down the adoption of health care for two additional months. more importantly, it meant that democrats lost their filibuster proof majority and as a consequence, the final bill couldn't achieve nearly as much as democrats had hoped for.
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but we did it anyway. we did it because dps matters -- democracy matters even when it means it might slow down a president's agenda. democracy matters even when a senate seat held for decades by a liberal lion is taken over by a conservative. democracy matters, especially when it is inconvenient. if we're honest, we know that there hasn't been a lot of democracy around this tax bill. this is a bill that was written and rewritten in the dead of night behind closed doors. it's filled with errors and unintended consequences. it's animated by a rotten wealth transfer from millions of hardworking americans to a handful of corporations and billionaires. but up until now, we have at least respected the principle that each state gets to pick its senators, and those senators get to vote for or against the final
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product. this afternoon, we're being told that republicans have a final tax deal. nobody's seen it, but we could be voting on it in the next couple of days. there is no reason to ram through that kind of massive restructuring of our economic system before alabama gets its new senator. unless republicans are concerned that their deal won't withstand a couple more weeks of public scrutiny. the election of doug jones will not change which party controls the senate. the election of doug jones will not give him or democrats the power to block a tax bill or any other piece of legislation. but it will respect the people of alabama and their choice. it should happen before any more tax votes take place in the senate. mr. president, i'd like to speak on another matter now, and i ask consent that my speech appear in
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the appropriate place in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. warren: mr. president, years ago, america entered the space age. whoops. let me start over. mr. president, almost 60 years ago, america entered the space age. we pushed the bounds of human knowledge to do, see, and create things that fundamentally change the way we live our lives, and the government was right smack at the center of all of it, dedicating resources and manpower to explorations of science, medicine, engineering, and technology. the defense advance research projects agency or darpa, was a product of that commitment. it was there at darpa that a bunch of government and government-funded researchers created the internet. in the intervening decades, what
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started in that government agency provided the building blocks for what we experience as the internet today. creative minds in government, at colleges and universities, in business and in homes and garages all across the country toyed and tinkered and pushed us into the digital age. today, internet use is nearly universal. although internet access remains limited in many rural and low-income areas, students of all ages go online to access educational tools and conduct research for many school assignments. entrepreneurs and small businesses sell goods and transact business online. families come together to watch their favorite movies or shows. the internet and broadband services have become an important part of our lives. and government is just as important now as it was back when the internet was created. by enforcing and implementing
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america's communications, laws, and rules, the federal communications commission, the f.c.c., plays a critical role in making sure that the internet remains fair and open. in 2015, the f.c.c. enshrined that commitment in an open internet order, establishing net neutrality rules, strong public interest rules that prevented big companies from deciding how or when we use the internet, rules that had the overwhelming support of the vast majority of americans, republican or democrat. but big internet companies don't want the f.c.c. to work in the public interest. they want the internet to work for them. long before the f.c.c. passed net neutrality rules, those giants were working to establish control over the open internet, and after net neutrality rules were passed, they stepped up their attack, deploying armies
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of lobbyists and lawyers and investing massive amounts of money to bury net neutrality rules. and now they got the champagne chilled and ready to pop open. they have a president in a g.o.p.-controlled -- and a g.o.p.-controlled congress that's more interested in stuffing the pockets of the rich and powerful than taking care of the workers, small businesses, and entrepreneurs, students, children, the sick, the elderly, and just about everybody else. and president trump's choice to lead the f.c.c., ajit pai, is dedicated to transforming the f.c.c. from an agency that works in the public interest into a big business giveaway group. pai has been a vocal opponent of net neutrality rules for a very long time. after president trump won the election, pai gleefully declared that net neutrality's days were numbered. pai claims that
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nondiscrimination rules harm giant internet companies by making it more difficult for them to create new and better products. he thinks that if these giants can discriminate against small businesses or individuals, then these giants can pick who gets the fast lane into your television set and who is stuck off on the dirt roads. if these giants can dictate which start-ups get a foothold and which ones are left on the ground, then the giants will be better off. of course he's right. the giants will be better off, but everyone else will be worse off, a lot worse off. chairman pai is so committed to these internet giants that he's willing to rewrite the federal rules in order to help them out, and he's even willing to rewrite the rules so that state and local governments won't be allowed to pass any consumer protection laws to protect their own citizen.
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chairman pai's notion of a fair and open internet is one that works for the highest bidder, and it just leaves everyone else behind. tomorrow, the f.c.c. will vote on whether to eliminate the protections that ensure that the internet remains fair and open to all americans. protections that the vast majority of americans support. pai has barreled full speed ahead despite disturbing reports that potentially hundreds of thousands of comments submitted during the public comment period were fake, and he has ignored the f.c.c.'s responsibility to turn over documents of consumer complaints about discriminatory behavior by internet providers. if the f.c.c. eliminates net neutrality protections, giant internet companies will pop open those champagne bottles. they will have the power to block access, to filter content,
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to charge more. three powerful ways that they will pick the next round of america's winners and losers. that's just not the way it should work in america. the internet doesn't belong to big internet companies. it belongs to all of us, and all of us should be part of this fight. net neutrality matters. for the entrepreneur working round the clock on a shoestring budget to build an invention that can change the world, net neutrality matters. for the small family business that depends on online customers to keep its lights open and its doors open, net neutrality matters. for the blog writer or local journalist who works each day to bring us important news about our communities, our government, and our world, net neutrality matters. for every american who uses the internet for any reason, net neutrality matters.
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ingenuity is america's d.n.a. it is that spirit of curiosity and adventure that has put us at the forefront of the search for what's next. government works best when it makes sure that everyone has equal access to the resources that make that possible. in massachusetts, free press, the massachusetts chapter of the aclu, fight for the future, and countless other groups have led the fight to defend net neutrality and help citizens make their voices heard. i urge every american to speak out about why net neutrality matters, and i urge the f.c.c. to abandon its plan to kill net neutrality rules and instead ask our f.c.c. to defend an internet that is fair and open to all. thank you, mr. president. i yield. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon.
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mr. wyden: mr. president, i introduced the senate's first strong net neutrality bill back in 2006, and i rise today to give my strongest possible condemnation of what the federal communications commission's head, mr. pai, is seeking to do, which is to roll back protections thatten sure a truly free and open internet for our people. this is, colleagues, a handout. it is a holiday gift to a collection of giant internet companies to increase their profits at the expense of the consumer. and, mr. president, before i actually begin my remarks, senator franken, i see, is on the floor as well, and i would just like the public to know how important his leadership has
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been on these issues. he and i have partnered on these issues ever since he came to the senate, and he was on the key committee, the judiciary committee. he has been a go-to figure in a key spot on this issue. i just want as we continue this discussion and it warrants terrific presentations, i know my colleagues are going to speak on this as well, i just want the public to know that senator franken has made a big, big difference for the consumer on these issues and those of us who have been toiling in these precincts are very appreciative of what he's done. mr. president, i want, first of all, for people to even understand what net neutrality is, because i think senator franken and i have talked about this over the years, a little confusion about what it is. net neutrality means that after you pay your internet access fee, you get to go where you want, when you want, and how you
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want. it is the essence of ensuring that everybody gets a fair shake, that all bits are created equal. it is the foundation of what has kept the internet free and open, and i think before i get into my kind of prepared remarks, i want people to understand what happens if you don't have net neutrality. if you don't have net neutrality, in effect, big companies can manipulate who is going to win and who is going to lose in the marketplace, and they will continue to manipulate who wins and who loses until and after we get both fewer services and the consumer gets higher prices. so this is not some kind of
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abstract discussion. and let me just flesh out some of these remarks for a few minutes, because i know my colleagues have been waiting as well. since the origins of the internet, the defining feature has been that all information, all bits as we know it get the same fair shake. if you're a big company or a mom and pop ice cream shop with a website, your content gets to everybody's home at the same speed. that's what net neutrality is all about. net neutrality keeps internet service providers from favoring one type of content over another. now, the market has changed since 2006 because the market for access to the internet has changed. where once there were legions of dialup providers and d.s.l.
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resellers, we were seeing a few monopolies and duopolies dominating neighborhoods across the country, with their power to dictate where you could go and what you could see on the net, they had and continue to have the power to suppress those sites and those services that you would have chosen yourself in a fee marketplace, driving them out of business. and i thought again to lay out what this means for people who are following this. that means instead of netflix, youtube or amazon, you could be forced to get your video content from something called go 90, whatever the heck that is. it certainly isn't a service that has been able to compete in a free internet market, but all
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that changes when verizon can charge you more to get to youtube or facebook than it costs to reach their own services. without strong net neutrality protections, at&t might provide -- and we always put it in quotes -- free data, free data for customers streaming hbo. pretty good if you watch hbo, but it could, without net neutrality, starve other creators and subscribers necessary to survive until soon enough, as senator franken has pointed out in some of our discussions, free data's gone. that's it. free data goes away, and the american consumer -- which is my fear -- when you think about what it really means to somebody sitting in minnesota at home. i see my colleague, senator merkley, from oregon, as
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well, the free data goes away under what i describe, and the consumer at home in minneapolis or oregon is stuck with fewer choices at higher prices than they have today. that is what the loss of net neutrality means. i care deeply, as my colleagues do, about innovation and start-ups and small businesses. senator warren was eloquent on this point. there's going to be a lot of people who aren't a start-up. they're going to say what does it mean to me? what it means is i have just kind of walked people through an example, is that that typical person is going to be stuck with fewer choices and higher prices. two years ago tom wheeler, then the head of the federal communications commission, put in place a strong framework, something with teeth that is enforceable, called title 2 of the communications act, to make sure that the government, the f.c.c. had the tools to protect net neutrality.
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now chairman wheeler, like chairman pai, worked for industry for much of his career in washington, but rather than serve his former employers, tom wheeler said i'm going to use my experience in how companies operate, how they treat consumers. tom wheeler said i'm going to use the experience i have working in the private sector to design and implement constructive and effective consumer protections. what a contrast between the two chairs of the federal communications commission. both of them from industry, both of them did well in industry. and we consider that a good thing in america, that you have a prospering private economy. tom wheeler used it and that expertise to help the public. that's not what we're seeing today. now, mr. president, there isn't any need to fix what isn't
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broken. there's strong net neutrality protections in place right now. since the 2015 rules went into place, our economy has grown up around this leading principle of equal access to information and customers. the day before thanksgiving, chairman pai released his proposal to strike down the 2015 rules that ensure real net neutrality. it would also prevent states from introducing their own approach to net neutrality. rather than listening to the millions of voices that spoke up on behalf of real net neutrality and against his proposal to allow pay for play, or what i really call trickle down telecommunications policy. just let the big guys make as much money as they want, and maybe something eventually trickles down to rural minnesota or rural oregon. chairman pai is going to keep pushing pay for play and is expected to ignore the will of
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the public and demolish net neutrality rules. the first key vote tomorrow, december 14, and what i've been doing sl spending a good chunk of my waking hours -- obviously we've got the tax issue, enormously. this is enormously important to -- to tell the american people this is a time to make their voices heard. my message to the american people on net neutrality is get loud. this debate is far from over. we know chairman pai plays a strong hand tomorrow. there's no question about that. but then it goes to the courts. a number of our colleagues are looking at approaches here on the floor. so i want as much as anything to make sure that the american people know that we understand. senator franken, senator merkley, political change
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doesn't start in government buildings in washington, d.c. and trickle down. it's bottoms up. and if ever there was an issue for bottoms, up, it's net neutrality. not only are the majority of americans opposed to mr. pai's proposal, many of the comments he solicited for input are fake. these fake comments have been atributed to false identities or limpinged with russian i.p. addresses. any argument that this agency, the federal communications commission had a transparent process with comments from the american people is not true. this is not government for the people. this is government for the special interests. now just a couple of other points, and let me wrap this up for my colleagues to be able to have the floor. the chairman, chairman pai, has been out there arguing falsely, in my view, that without title 2 protections, big cable will make more money
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and use those profits to invest in infrastructure. this is what i call the trickle-down theory about telecommunications. first of all, the existing regime was called title 2. tough rules. it's not been a roadblock to investment in broadband. in fact cable giants have continued to invest in their broadband infrastructure, even when strong net neutrality protections were put in place in 2015. publicly available documents show that investment by internet service providers was 5% higher during the two years after strong net neutrality rules were adopted than for the two years prior. comcast, for example, has increased its investment by 25% since 2013. big cable and -- in their own statements show that none of the major internet service providers told their investors that net neutrality protections negatively impact their
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investments. that is based on publicly verifiable documents. so what we have is chairman pai making this case that oh my goodness, western civilization is going to end if we don't get -- without getting rid -- chairman pai is making the argument that net neutrality provisions with teeth are going to be pretty much the end of the investment and sort of western civilization as we know it. public documents show otherwise. publicly available documents show otherwise. now the f.c.c. chairman once claimed that a policy of voluntary net neutrality would be another way to go. any talk of a voluntary solution to net neutrality is just nonsense. allowing a net neutrality provider to follow net neutrality, that has got about
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as much chance of working -- there's about as much chance that the big cable companies will honor voluntary net neutrality as there is to get ava and william wyden, my ten-year-old twins, to voluntarily limit the number of desserts they have at dinner. not going to happen. not going to happen, folks. not going to work for open and fair access to the internet. it wouldn't work with ava and will wyden. on the same exact day the federal communications commission produced the roll back of title 2 comcast said it does not prioritize internet traffic or create paid fast lanes. so much for voluntary policy. in my view, the only way that the potential of the internet can be fully tapped is by insuring that one form of
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content is not provided a preference over another form of content by their internet service provider. the trump federal communications commission is barreling ahead to blow up this level playing field that is so crucial to innovation and free speech. and i close only by way of saying that this is also a lifeline for the start-ups. those start-ups are dreaming of being the next youtube, google or e-bay. this is not about google or e-bay. this is about the start-ups. and i would be staying to hear my colleague, senator franken, make his remarks on net neutrality on the other than tht we're about to start the tax conference. but i close my remarks the way i open them. senator franken has been our go-to person on these issues since he came to the person. we are so grateful that he
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looked at this issue through the prism of what it means for the person without power and clout. and i want to thank him for his leadership. mr. franken: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: i would thank the senator from oregon, my friend, for his extraordinarily kind words. you too have been a leader introducing the first net neutrality case in 2006 before i came here. mr. president, i rise today to talk about tomorrow's vote at the f.c.c. on a proposal that would throw out the strong net neutrality rules that americans have fought so hard for, rules that ensure that all content on the internet receives equal treatment. from broadband providers regardless of who owns it or how deep their pockets are.
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plain and simple, these rules are about ensuring that the internet remains the platform for innovation, economic growth, and freedom of expression that it has always been. as i reflect on my time in the senate, there are, of course, moments that stand out as particularly significant. one such moment came in february 2015 when american consumers and businesses celebrated the f.c.c.'s landmark vote to preserve a free and open internet by reclassifying broadband providers as common carriers under title 2 of the communications act. while i had long urged the f.c.c. to round net neutrality
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rules in the agency's authority under title 2, it wasn't just the outcome of this vote that made such an impression on me then or now, as i'm looking back. the f.c.c.'s 2015 vote came after the agency received nearly four million public comments making it the then-most commented on f.c.c. issue by a factor of three. and the vast majority of these comments urged the agency to enact strong rules protecting net neutrality, protecting the equal treatment of all content on the internet, which has been the architecture of the internet since the very beginning. americans from across the
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political spectrum organized to ensure that their voices were heard, and they were. this was democracy in action. and now as chairman pai pushes forward to undo the open internet order, we've seen another awe inspiring demonstration of grassroots advocacy. millions of americans from every corner of the nation and background imaginable are joining the movement online and in the streets to ask the chairman to rethink his dangerous proposal and to preserve net neutrality. when things get tough, as they have time and time again in the last year, americans have resisted and protested. and it's these movements that
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make the difference. just look at the republicans' failed attempt to repeal and replace the affordable care act. but ironically, the kind of civic participation that has inspired so many of us in recent months and has effected real change, depends in no small part on an open internet. if the chairman ultimately has his way, we'll be entering a world where every voice might not matter, a world where a handful of multibillion-dollar companies have the power to bury sites offering alternative viewpoints or control how users get their information. a world where the deepest pockets can pay for a fast lane while their competitors stall in
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the pace slow lane. see, it is because of net neutrality that people from across the nation can connect with each other, share their ideas on the internet, and organize a community effort just like the project net neutrality protests we've seen at verizon stores across the country. i have spent nearly the entirety of my time in the senate pushing for strong net neutrality rules, and i have always called it the free speech issue of our time because it embraces our most basic constitutional freedoms. because unrestricted public debate is vital to the functioning of our democracy, now perhaps more than of the need -- ever, the need is
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abundantly clear, so we can't give up now. three years ago the f.c.c. established strong net neutrality rules and millions of americans voiced their support for them. the f.c.c. must maintain and fully enforce the important court-tested rules that are already in place, and perhaps more importantly, the f.c.c. must respect the democratic voices and the voices that made them so clear in 2014 and over the course of the last few months. there's just too much at stake. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: i thank my colleague from minnesota for being such a champion on this issue and many others who are
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concerned about whether we have government by and for the people of the united states of america. we have seen issue after issue after issue on health care, on taxes, and now on net neutrality. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that my intern alicia bie be granted privileges of the floor for the balance of the day. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: i thank you very much. last night we had an election, and i heard many of my colleagues on the republican side say that elections have consequences, but now they are slowing down the opportunity for the newly elected senator from alabama to come and serve here in the senate. they had a different view when a
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massachusetts senator took a seat once held by ted kennedy. president obama concurred that he should be seated and nothing should be jammed through and nothing should bypass the weight and opinion of the people of massachusetts. but this chamber seems ready to trample the people of alabama who said where they stand last night, but this chamber wants to deny them that voice here on the floor of the senate. now, back a few years ago in june of 2013, there was a house election in missouri, and a republican was elected to that empty seat and jason cap-and-trader, -- jason canter said absolutely he should be seated in missouri's eighth
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district and jason smith, the candidate chosen by missouri was seated in the house of representatives within 18 hours -- within 18 hours. so the people of missouri could have fair representation. the democratic senators, democratic president, and democratic secretary of state said honor the people of the united states. so i call upon the majority leader to defend the people of alabama and seat their senator and do it under the same 18-hour standard. now, we're here to talk today about another issue of powerful versus the people. we have seen time and time again over the course of the last few months the president of the united states standing up for the powerful, trying to crush
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the people of the united states, trying to rip health care from 30 million americans in order to give special benefits to the richest americans. we have seen the president of the united states sign in the oval office a measure which would enable a powerful company, when in a dispute with a consumer, enable that powerful company to choose the judge, to pay the judge, to promise a judge future business. what kind of fairness is that for an ordinary american up against a powerful company where a powerful company gets to choose a judge? yet, my republican colleagues voted overwhelmingly to crush the opportunity of an ordinary citizen versus a powerful company in a consumer dispute. and then we have the tax bill. the tax bill says that if you earn less than $30,000 you get a
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tax increase, and if you're in the middle class, 87 million will get an increase in your taxes, and by the way we will give tax cuts to the richest americans and largest corporations, another example of a bank heist on the national treasury, our treasury to deliver benefits to the best off and the richest in america. oregon has about 1% of the national pop lailings, -- population, and if you take 1% of that it is about $10 billion. if we had that money we could invest in needed infrastructure and have a stronger economy and put a lot of people to work. we could add teamers to our public school classrooms so our classrooms are a better opportunity for our children to learn and thrive. we could make college more affordable.
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we could improve our community health clinics, make sure health care is available to all, which is so critical to quality of life. but, no, my republican colleagues say: let's give this money to the richest americans. let's raid the national treasury. that's because we have a fundamental cycle of campaigns that has allowed such an inappropriate bill to get to the floor. i say bizarrely inappropriate because our government wasn't founded to mimic powerful kingdoms of europe that govern by and for the richest. we had a vision of government of, by, and for the people. and now we have this issue of knelt neutral. -- net neutrality. once again president trump is weighing in to crush the american people in favor of a
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powerful corporation. now, the internet has become essential to all of us in our daily lives. we consult it to find out where to go for a restaurant or what movies are playing or we check the internet to find out what the sports scores are, what's the latest news, check airline tickets and so many things in our ordinary lives, and yet here is president trump saying: we want to take that level-playing field of fairness for consumers across america and let some powerful companies decide who gets to this information, which websites are allowed to have information and which ones are going to slow down, who we're going to put in the fast lane and who we're going to put in the slow lane. the internet is so critical to freedom of information. this is really an assault on freedom of information.
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it was james madison who said that the advancement of freedom and knowledge is the only guarantee of true liberty. the advancement and fusion of knowledge. yet president trump and my colleagues want to give powerful companies control of what information is shared on the internet. think of a highway and everyone gets to use it, and you can be in the slow lane if you choose because you want to save fuel or be in the fast lane and pass somebody who is going more slowly, but you don't have someone saying, hey, you know what, we are only going to allow the richest americans to drive in the fast lane. we're going to allow the most powerful corporations to be in the fast lane. the rest of you can go in the slow lane. i don't care if there is a truck going 25 miles per hour, you will be stuck behind it unless you pay me a whole lot of money to get out of that lane. the internet for the rich and
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powerful is wrong and we have to stop it. and if the federal communications commission doesn't get the message this thursday, we need to overturn their rule here on the floor of the senate. now i get a chart each day showing me the calls from yesterday, and here i have a bar saying how many people called about net neutrality and which side of the issue did they weigh in on. 544 people called in favor of net neutrality and according to this chart zero people called in favor of powerful corporations instead controlling the internet. i've since been informed we did get one call. let's make it 544-1 instead of 544-0. have you ever seen anything with that kind of ratio of people
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weighing in? we need a level playing field for distributing knowledge and entrepreneurs so that the new startup can compete with the googles and amazons of our country. if you had a choice between two websites and one was in the fast lane and one was so slow your numbers would take five minutes to get posted, which side would you have gone to? of course you would have gone to the site that would have updated quickly. we shouldn't allow powerful companies to distort americans over information on the internet. it is not fair to american citizens, not fair to the distribution of knowledge and we must defeat it. thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: mr. president, the good news about the tax bill that i believe we'll pass in the
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next few days is that will go into effect the first day of january and people will quickly see no matter how loud others were talking the exact facts. for work done in january, people who get that check in january, february, whenever you get paid for your january work, there's going to be a substantial tax decrease for working families at all levels, and our friends want to talk about what happens after 2025 or 2027. surely the congress can do its job between now and then. but this is a pro-growth policy. this is a way to increase people's take-home pay. we will have two of them. one is to take less pay out of your paycheck. that will not happen not a -- that will not happen a year from now, it will happen next month. next month it will be clear to
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the people as to who had the facts and didn't have the facts. the second way to increase people's pay is to have better jobs to start with. hundreds of economists who looked at this bill say it will make the united states of america the best place to invest in america and create jobs, and i think we'll know sooner rather than later when that happens. good tax policy and commonsense regulations and judges, another thing we're working on this week, make a difference in how people look at an economy that they want to invest in and they want to grow. why would judges make a difference? judges make a difference because judges create a sense of fairness in the court, create a sense of ability to get your case heard, and create a sense that what the law says, hopefully, is what the judge will decide rather than what the judge thought the law should say, and we're making great
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progress on all of those areas if we add good tax policy to what's been happening, but right now, mr. president, we're talking about judges. president trump has a unique opportunity to shape the long-term view of the judiciary. this week we're going to confirm three circuit judges. i want to talk in just a little bit about what that means, but at the start of president trump's term, 12% of all the federal judiciary seats were vacancy -- vacant. no president has had that kind of opportunity since president clinton had that opportunity now almost 25 years ago when he started his first year, and the president will have the opportunity and is making the most of it to fill those vacancies. i believe president trump made the right choice when he selected justice gorsuch to serve on the supreme

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