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tv   U.S. Senate 12202017  CSPAN  December 20, 2017 10:59am-1:00pm EST

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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> if you missed any of that briefing on the children's health insurance program you can see it in its entirety at type chip in the search bar. now live to the use senate. we go live here on c-span2.
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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. eternal god,
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in this season of gladness and cheer when many celebrate your breakthrough at bethlehem, we pause to thank you for your mercy and grace. while we were sinners, you initiated the process of our redemption and restoration. great is your faithfulness. lord, make our lawmakers ambassadors of reconciliation for your kingdom, using them to demonstrate your precepts and represent your purposes. as they strive to bring the illumination of your wisdom to a dark world, may people see their labors
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and glorify your holy name. because of our senators' faithful service, may our nation experience the unity of your healing presence lord, let there be peace on earth and let it begin with us. we pray in your merciful 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: mr. president? the presiding officer: majority leader. mr. mcconnell: last flight the united states senate accomplished something really remarkable.
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after years of work, dozens of hearings, and an open process, we passed an historical overhaul of the nation's tax code. it will deliver real relief to families and small businesses all across our country. we passed tax reform to spur the american economy, to encourage job creation and grow economic opportunity, to bring jobs and investment home, and to put more money into the pockets of hardworking men and women that we represent. we voted to repeal obamacare's individual mandate tax so that low and middle-income families are not forced to purchase something they either don't want or can't afford. and we voted to responsibly develop more of alaska's oil and gas potential, strengthening our economy and our national security in the process. i'd like to commend my colleagues in the senate for their work to pass these
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historic reforms and bring our tax code into the 21st century. i want to extend special thanks to senate finance committee chairman orrin hatch, a skilled legislator whose expertise was essential in shepherding this legislation through the challenging process while faced with complete and total obstruction. thanks also to chairman mike enzi for his assistance and chairman lisa murkowski and senator dan sullivan who worked tirelessly to bring the people of alaska a victory on energy exploration for which they have been waiting for almost 40 years. i'm also grateful to the other senate conferees, senator cornyn, thune, portman, scott and toomey who worked day and night to get this legislation across the finish line. then of course in addition to senator hatch's colleagues on the senate finance committee deserve our gratitude as well.
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senators burr, cassidy, crapo, grassley, heller, isakson and roberts. this could not have happened without all of them. of course, a great deal of credit goes to president trump and vice president pence and their dedicated white house team. their efforts were absolutely essential to the process. and we're proud to have worked together to deliver on a key part of the president's agenda. and it goes without saying that tax reform would have been impossible without speaker ryan, chairman brady and the members of the house who share our commitment to make taxes lower, simpler, and fairer. i'm proud to call them my colleagues. when the final version of this historic law passes the house later today, it will await the president's signature. then families and small businesses like so many in my home state of kentucky can begin
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to enjoy the benefits. our constituents called out for relief from the obama economy and congress delivered. now, on a different matter the senate's work this week is not finished. before friday congress must agree on funding to sustain the necessary operations of the federal government. i know that all our colleagues on both sides of the aisle want to keep the government funded and attend to a number of other urgent priorities. i'm confident we can work together to do just that. americans are counting on us after all. to begin with our men and women in uniform are counting on us to provide them the resources they require to fulfill their missions and keep the country safe. the burden of the budget control act has fallen disproportionately on our all-volunteer military. under that law defense cuts have outpaced nondefense cuts by $85 billion since fiscal 2013.
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at the same time, the previous administration insisted that new defense spending be matched equally by new nondefense spending notwithstanding the actual needs of our military. this week let's dispense with the arbitrary standard as we did earlier this year and provide our war fighters with the funding they need to accomplish the task that we put before th them. americans whose premiums are soaring or whose coverage is in jeopardy because of the failures of obamacare are counting on us to take bipartisan steps toward stabilizing health insurance markets. the parents of nine million children enrolled in children's health insurance program are counting on us to renew the program's funding. our country's law enforcement professionals are counting on us to renew an important foreign intelligence program that helps them defend the homeland from those who wish us harm. veterans are counting on us to
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renew the popular veterans choice program and preserve their flexibility to access care outside the v.a. system. and just as we've done in the past, we need to pass a routine paygo waiver to avoid a draconian sequester that none of our colleagues want to see take ticket. americans are counting on us not to inflict harmful cuts on medicare and other essential operations. so i look forward to working together in the coming days to fund our government in a manner that does right by the american people. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order the senate will be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 277, s. res.
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150. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 277, s. res. 150, resolution recognizing the threats to freedom of the press and expression and so forth. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i further ask the resolution be agreed to, the prable -- preamble be agreed to and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the committee on armed services be discharged from further consideration of s. res. 326 and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 326, recognizing the crew of the san antonio rose and so forth. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection, the committee is discharged. the senate will proceed. mr. mcconnell: i further ask the resolution be agreed to, the
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preamble be agreed to and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the judiciary committee be discharged from further consideration and the senate now proceed to s. res. 345. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 345, designating august 3, 2018, as national eastern any pile -- ernie pile day. the presiding officer: is there objection proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the resolution -- the presiding officer: the committee is discharged. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: now, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to consideration of s. res. 362 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 362 recognizing the service of the los angeles class attack submarine, the u.s.s.
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jacksonville and so forth. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the minority leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. now, last night, the senate passed an awful partisan rewrite of the tax code. i said a good l about the bill, added my concluding thoughts into the record before the final vote, but let me reiterate one point, the republican tax bill will cement the republican party as the party of the wealthy and the party of the big corporations against the middle-class. corporations get permanent tax breaks, the individual tax breaks expire. by 2025, according to joint commission on taxation, 80% of the middle class will either get
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a tax increase or tax cut of less than $100. meanwhile, according to the tax policy center, the top 1% of earners in our country will reap 83% of the benefits of the plan. the middle class, 83% get an increase or tax break of less than $100, the top 1% get 83% of the benefit. they are asking, why do i get a tax increase when so many of them get a huge decrease? and to boot, millions of middle-class americans will now go without health insurance and millions more will see their premiums rise. at the same time, multinational corporations, wealthy hedge fund managers enjoy a massive tax break. to repeat, the legacy of this bill will be to cement the
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republican party as the party of the rich and powerful against the middle class. we democrats have been saying this for years, but our republican colleagues, with this tax bill, have done us a major favor. even their republican supporters are realizing where the senate republicans and house republicans are on the side of the most wealthy, on the side of the big, powerful corporations, not on the side of the middle class. whenever we've had a republican president and republican congress, we get the same thing, a program of tax cuts for the rich, higher deficit and debt, and then threats to social security and medicare. that's what happened under president bush and we're seeing the exact same playbook today. there's nothing about this bill that's suited to the american worker or the american economy. my republican friends would propose it in a booming economy or recession whether we have
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surpluses or deficits. no matter what, it seems according to our republican friends, tax cuts to the rich and big corporations are the answers to our problems. the benefits will trickle down like magic to the rest of us. trickle down, that's the entire philosophy of this tax bill, trickle down. when they say they are helping the middle class, when they say they are creating jobs, it's because the wealthy get money and in their belief will create jobs. it hasn't happened. it hasn't happened. corporate america has more money than ever before. the stock market is higher than ever before, job creation isn't. so that's where this bill is at. there's nothing about the bill that's suited to the needs of the american worker, as i said. trickle down has been widely discredited as an economic theory. it has been discredited by
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recent history and it will be discredited again. our republican colleagues are clinging. they are saying this bill is so unpopular, but don't worry. once the economy takes off, once people see hundreds of dollars in their pockets, they'll change their minds. the economy is not going to take off. the wealthy will do better. there will be a lot of dividends, there will be a lot of stock buybacks, not too much job creation. at&t, a big american company, a fine american company, their tax rate over the last ten years was over 8% and they cut over 80,000 jobs. that statistic belies all of the bunk that our colleagues cling to even though it is outdated and disproven. the american people will have their chance in 2018 to reject this philosophy and move our country in a dramatic different direction, back towards government that works that lifts up the middle class rather than
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the one that gives more to those who have so much. from now until then we democrats will focus like a laser on the middle class. this contrast, which benefits the wealthy and powerful, could not be more clear. now, end of the year. as a result of the republican efforts to jam the tax bill through before the end of the year, we now have precious little time left to keep the government open and solve the legion of problems. we still haven't reached a budget deal to lift the spending caps for defense and urgent domestic priorities like combating the opioid epidemic and improving infrastructure. we have not reached a deal to reauthorize the children's health insurance program, community health centers or extend the 702 fisa court program. and two major sticking points remain in the form of disaster supplemental, which is still
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does not treat puerto rico, california, and the u.s. virgin islands as well as florida, texas, and louisiana. we have the dreamers and a moral imperative to protect them. they were brought here very young through no fault of their own. they learn in our schools, work in our companies, serve in our military and want to be americans more than anything in the world. they are americans in every single important way but one, they lack the paperwork. we have to solve that problem. so we've been negotiating with our republican counterparts for weeks in search of a deal to pair daca protections with reasonable border security. democrats have always believed in border security as a comprehensive immigration bill that we passed in the senate shows. i hope now that the tax bill is behind them my republican colleagues are finally willing
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to reach an agreement, but because of the particular importance of all of these issues, especially dreamers, we cannot do a short-term funding bill that picks and clueses -- chooses what problems to solve and not to solve. that would not be fair and will not pass. we have to do them all together instead of a piecemeal fashion. whether that global deal comes before the week is out or at a later date in january, it has to be a truly global deal. we can't leave any of the issues behind. our republican colleagues on tax and health care decided not to work with us, in this case they have to work with us, and working with us means we sit down around the a -- a table and decide there are some things you want, some things we want, and not just picking and choosing what you want. that won't work this time. i can assure my friend, the majority leader, that my caucus will be working in good faith
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with his caucus as long as they choose to work with us, and we will work with our colleagues in the house as well to reach a deal as soon as possible. i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. a senator: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be
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vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, earlier this morning, the senate voted on the tax bill. i voted against the measure. and as i have said many times, i don't think this is a bill that's going to work for my state or for america. and the house now has one more opportunity -- i don't think many people think they're going to change their vote, but i just hope instead of celebrating, what happens today they're going to step back and look at what this really means. i am in a group of people that have long called for tax reform. in fact, two weeks before this bill passed, we stood before the public and said we would like to work with the republicans on a bill to bring the business rate and to bring the money in from overseas. but a bill that didn't add this kind of weight to the debt and a bill that actually was good for all americans, not just some
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americans. we also could have done so much more. we're adding $1.5 trillion to the debt yet we are doing nothing for infrastructure. we didn't change the carried interest loophole. we did nothing to fix so many things that even the president had identified as things that needed to be fixed in the tax code. i've been kerned by this latest effort, which has not been bipartisan at all. it has resulted in a bill that will, as i said, add to the debt, create huge new loopholes, and will encourage companies to move money around and move jobs overseas to avoid taxes. it will have huge unintended consequences on the economy. why? we didn't even have a hearing over this bill, a bill that will affect every single american. over the next ten years -- and this is not disputed -- this bill will add $1.5 trillion to
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our national debt. and even the most generous estimate says that it may add $500 billion, $500 billion in economic game. if that's true, this bill would still be adding $1 trillion to the debt. and by the way, it's not the wealthiest americans that are going to have to worry about that debt. it is the kids of middle-class americans, of people that go to work every single day. what are they going to work to do now? to have a big chunk of their money that's going to pay for this interest on this debt. almost all economists agree that a deficit financed tax cut at this point in the business cycle makes no sense at all. if anything at this time of low unemployment and strong market performance, it gives us a rare opportunity to try to, one, do something about our debt and, two, while we're doing something about our debt, figure out what
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our priorities are for investment. i would say one of those top priorities is infrastructure, including broadband, including rural broadband. that wasn't in this bill. yet we accumulated $15.5 -- $1.5 trillion to the debt. adding to the debt will, of course, put pressures on programs that everyday americans rely on. this means social security, medicare, and medicaid. one of the most troubling developments in this bill was the inclusion of a provision to repeal a key part of the affordable care act that would kick 13 million people off their insurance by 2027 and increase premiums by 10% in the individual market. and that means less money in the pockets of american middle-class families. the american people want us to work forward together to make fixes to the affordable care act, like the murray-alexander bill. but instead this bill moves us backwards with a partisan
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approach that kicks people off their health care. this bill in the end is really a bait and switch. millions of middle-class americans will end up paying more in taxes in the long run since many of the tax cuts that they receive, if they receive a tax cut at all, would only be temporary. in ten years most americans earning $75,000 or less will pay more in taxes while people earning more than $100,000 a year will continue to pay less. ing according to -- according to the analysis on the institute of taxation and economic policy, 644,000 people in my state with incomes below $153,800 would see a tax hike in 2027. meanwhile, a huge majority of the tax cuts in 2027 and after will benefit only the top 1% of
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americans. the bill creates a new and complicated system of taxing the income of companies, especially with regard to their international income. the practical effect of this systemic change is entirely untested. while the bill seeks to impose a minimum tax on overseas earning, it i lous companies -- it allows companies to blend the tax rate for income overseas. this seemingly minor detail opens a big loophole that can give companies incentives to move jobs to foreign countries and may create a whole new tax-avoidance scheme. while i heard celebration in this chamber last night, i can tell you who are really celebrating. the tax accountants, the lawyers as people are going to pay them millions and millions of dollars to look for new loopholes in a scheme that again didn't even get a hearing. i support bringing down the rate on foreign earnings held overseas and to make sure that the money, though, is invested
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here and invested in infrastructure. the former chairman of the oldest mutual fund company in the united states has said that the new system in this bill which includes a new minimum u.s. tax is like swiss cheese. it has so many holes, that it would really be paid -- would rarely be paid by u.s. firms. he goes on to say in fact that this proposal would encourage u.s. companies to relocate to foreign countries more of their u.s. factories and u.s. intellectual property, such as patents and trademarks. a minimum tax would be effective only if it applied to the foreign taxes paid by u.s. companies on a country-by-country basis rather than on an aggregate basis across all foreign countries. again, we haven't had one hearing to understand the impact of this bill. this bill would allow a one-time opportunity to bring back some of the trillions of dollars of
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earnings overseas. again, i've long supported this. but i would also like to see at least part of this money be used on infrastructure. that was our original plan. our original plan was we were going to create incentives to bring the money in from overseas, bipartisan plan, and then put a chunk of it if the money was voluntarily brought back into infrastructure. why? well, the american society of civil engineers' 2017 report card gave our nation's infrastructure an overall d-plus grade. there is an economic imperative to fixing our infrastructure. the future of our markets are exporting the 90% of those who live outside of our shores, yet this bill with accumulating $1.5 trillion in debt doesn't put the money into the infrastructure that will allow us to have that kind of an export economy. true comprehensive tax reform requires closing loopholes, yet
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this bill does almost nothing to close the worst loopholes in our current tax code. the carried interest loophole that president trump promised over and over again that he would close, still there. the loopholes that benefit big oil, still there. the buffett rule that would make sure the wealthiest americans pay the same tax as their employees, nowhere to be found. i've already mentioned the new opportunities for tax avoidance created by the new system of international taxation. that's just one of them. this bill contains vast new loopholes for hedge fund managers, real estate investment companies, and anyone who can take a few minutes to reorganize as a pass-through business to take advantage of a lower rate. if you have the money to pay for a lawyer or pay for an accountant to do it. by taxing wage and salary income at a higher rate than so-called pass-through income, this bill creates opportunities for tax avoidance that are virtually
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unprecedented. given the speed with which this bill was rushed through, enterprising attorneys and accountants are going to find dozens of new loopholes in the coming years. if done right, we could have closed loopholes, we could have brought back money u.s. companies are holding overseas to fund infrastructure projects here at home. we could have given local businesses the ability to compete against out-of-state internet retailers, support our rural communities, and provide incentives to keep jobs in america. i have always wanted to bring that corporate tax rate down. i have so many successful businesses in my state, but not like this. not with $1.5 trillion in debt that's going to be put on the people that i represent in my state that just go to work every day. they don't have holdings overseas. they don't have a hedge fund manager. they don't have people that are investing money in all kinds of ventures all over the world.
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they just go to work and get an hourly wage. or maybe they get a salary. and they just get enough money so that they hope they can have a house and send their kids to college. this bill, it doesn't make it easier on them. it does not simplify the tax code. if anything, it makes it more complicated. it does not close loopholes. it's a huge missed opportunity. a few weeks ago, i joined 17 of my democratic colleagues in calling on our republican colleagues to join us in a bipartisan approach to tax reform. unfortunately, the bill that we voted on early this morning and the bill that the house still has an opportunity to look at once more only involve negotiations on one side of the aisle. when that happens, bad things happen, and we can do better. i will continue to work across the aisle on bipartisan solutions. we have to make changes to this bill going forward.
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we know that, and the american people will depend on it. madam president, i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. casey: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: thank you, madam president. i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: thank you. i rise this afternoon to talk about the children's health insurance program, and in particular the reauthorization of that program, reauthorization meaning taking action to continue a program that shnot just worthy but battle tested now -- that is not just worthy but battle tested for almost a quarter of a century, for 20 years, and in states like
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pennsylvania more than 20 years, more like 25 years. this isn't done. this program should have been reauthorized at the end of september and it hasn't been done yet. it has gone from unacceptable to inexcusable. we should not leave this week without either having it reauthorized or having a game plan that will guarantee that it will be reauthorized in the very early days of 2018, meaning, literally, the early days of january. in just the last two weeks i've met with families across pennsylvania and even families that came from beyond pennsylvania here to washington to talk about what the children's health insurance program means to them. chip provides health insurance to some nine million american children each year, including over 342,000 children in
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pennsylvania, if you look at it over the course of a year. as you might recall, when the chip program expired on the 30th of september, there were a lot of indications, or promises made, that it would be reauthorized rather soon, but that was 81 days ago. so whether you want to express it in days or months, 81 days or two and a half months or more now, that is inexcusable. we have to get this done for these families. i saw a report this morning on nbc news that profiled a family talking to a mom and talking to her children, and it was a very moving story about the importance of the chip.
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this was a bipartisan program. it was bipartisan in its inception in the mid-1990's and it remains bipartisan, but now there's only one party that runs the house, the senate, and the administration. i hope that one party in this case the republican party, could get the -- you don't even have to talk about votes, it's really just talking about floor time and working to make sure that there's an agreement on a pay-for. the most recent action by the finance committee on chip was in the kids -- i should say keep kids insurance dependable and insure act, known as the kids act. it came through the finance committee by a voice vote. that almost never happens, even on a reauthorization. it came through on a voice vote on october 4. it seems like a long time ago.
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it's ready to go now. we could pass it here. i have to ask, why isn't that happening? maybe the better person to ask that person would be a family whose being benefited and could be harmed if it's not reauthorized. i'm thinking about connie, a woman i met here in washington just last week and saw her again on monday in pittsburgh -- at children's hospital in pittsburgh, one of those great institutions across the country. she was with two of her children, carmen and deeggo who are -- diego who are both on the chip program. i had a picture with connie's daughter carmen, and she dutifully handed a copy of the picture when i saw her at the children's hospital in pittsburgh. carmen and diego might lose
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their health insurance all because there's a lot of activity here and focus and result when it comes to a big tax bill, in this case a tax bill that gives permanent corporate tax cuts to multinational profitable corporations at the same time where there's almost no action or any sense of momentum right now to get the children's health insurance program in place again or reauthorized as we call it. we were at an event here in washington yesterday where not only were there child advocates but so many others coming together to talk about this program. make the most important thing we did yesterday in addition to the mechanics was to talk about the children in the room. here's the -- here are the children in the states that they came from. i'll just read through them quickly. jason and kelsey from utah. deanna came from new york.
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maliky from colorado. addyi and kaelin from kentucky. patience, serenity, tyler and harmony all from the state of texas. jaradin, kendra and mckayla from the state of wisconsin. another mckayla spelled a different way and grace came from the state of west virginia. they and their parents, these children and their parents spoke about what chip means to their families. several of the parents said chip means their children can get the prescription ey eyeglasses they need. so i have to ask, how is a child supposed to learn and succeed in school without eyeglasses? chip provides that. so while these kids don't know if they're going to be able to get the glasses they need to be able to read and to learn, the senate is busy passing a tax bill. well, that's okay to pass a tax
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bill, even if i didn't agree with it, but we should find the time in the remaining hours of this year to get chip done. we saw a tweet just two days ago that said the following: congress -- quote, congress must renew funding for the children's health insurance program so the parents of the nine million children who are covered by chip can know that their children's health care is secure. unquote. mr. casey: the good news about that tweet is it was a member of congress. the even better news, it was a senator. better news even than that, it was -- the senator happened to be the senate majority leader, senator mcconnell. i asked senator mcconnell, please allow floor time and please obtain the consensus you need in your own party to get this on to the floor, get it passed. as i said, the kids act, the finance committee bill, is ready
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to go. so i asked for the majority leader's help, because i know he cares about this program as well. but we've got to get this done. just a final note before i yield the floor. i wanted to note several other health care priorities that congress must address. community health centers are facing a funding cliff that will hurt millions of people around the country and over 800,000 in pennsylvania whom they serve. another priority community health centers. medicare extenders, meaning tax provisions that are extended from one year to the next or from one -- from one year into the future. medicare extenders including support for rural hospitals and lifting the so-called therapy cap to ensure seniors and people with disabilities have access to physical and occupational therapy services have also expired, just like the chip program.
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or will expire at the end of this calendar year. failing to address these extensions is also unacceptable and will harm our children, our seniors, and our communities. so, madam president, we've got a lot of work to do in a short apartment of time on all of these -- amount of time on all of these health care issues, and i think we should vote with voting on and reauthorizing the children's health insurance program for nine million american children. thank you, madam president. i would yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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ms. murkowski: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. ms. murkowski: i request the proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. murkowski: thank you, madam president. last night was a -- last night -- i guess it was actually early this morning, a pretty historic time for us. our final vote to approve the tax cut and jobs act, i believe, was a historic moment for america, and it was clearly an
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historic moment for my state of alaska. for the first time in 31 years, since president reagan was in office, we passed tax reform that will make our tax code work better for american families and businesses, but after 37 long years -- yesterday i said it was 38. i stand corrected. it was 37 years. that's been a long time. a long time that we have been working to advance the opportunity to open a small portion of the nonwilderness 1002 area in northeast alaska, up on our north slope, to open it to responsible energy development. many of us in the state believed that this would happen in the early 1980's. back when congress specifically set aside this 1002 area, set it
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aside specifically for exploration, and we have been fighting for it ever since. it's a long time to be working on an issue. it's decades, it's generations in many cases. through this bill, we voted to let americans keep more of their hard-earned dollars. we voted to make our businesses more competitive on a global scale. we voted to strengthen our nation's energy security. we voted to create new jobs, new wealth, and new prosperity for a generation to come. one thing that we know for sure around here is legislation like this doesn't happen by accident, that it doesn't happen with the sleight of hand or quickly. it happens with a lot of work, a lot of considered work. and so i'd like to take just a few moments this afternoon to just simply say thank you, thank you to those who have worked so hard and for so long to -- to
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help us reach this point, and i want to start by -- by personally acknowledging our majority leader, senator mcconnell. he was the first one that i went to back in january, early january, to ask about how we might be able to proceed with including the opening of the 1002 area, and we discussed avenues and opportunities. he told me he thought that he could make it work, and he committed to me that we would work to do just that, and i thank him for his considered effort and his belief, his belief in the cause. i also want to thank and recognize our budget committee chairman, senator enzi. he was the second person that i went to early this year, and he
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agreed to provide an instruction in the reconciliation bill and to allow us to effectively run with this opportunity. he, too, recognized the significance of this as a policy initiative and how it dovetailed with -- with what he was seeking to achieve through the budget committee. the work of the many within the energy and natural resources committee is -- is significant, and the members of that committee, excellent group of senators who worked with me to craft our energy title and to report out of the committee. we reported it on a bipartisan basis. not as strong as i would like on that, but we did have support from our colleague from west virginia. but again, an effort out of the committee that was solid and a good part of the process, an
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important part of the process. and along similar lines, i want to thank all of the members of this chamber who supported our work here on the senate floor. first to protect the institution of the senate and then to protect our good work to meet it, and i recognize that for some, anwr has been an issue that they haven't had an opportunity to weigh in and vote on for many years. this was not new. this was not a new matter that we needed to educate on. on others, for others, it was important to be able to update them, to let them know that -- that many of the -- many of the issues that they may have heard over the years were either outdated, the arguments were stale, needed to be refleshed, allowing them to understand what we're doing with the
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technologies that are helping us to facilitate development in a way that allows us to access more resource with less footprint, with less land, with less intrusion on the surface, working more to ensure that we're not only protecting the wildlife that are there, whether it's caribou or polar bear, but also ensuring the people who live in the region, people who live in the 1002, the children that are going to school there, those who have called this place home for -- for decades if not centuries will have an opportunity there, not only for the potential for jobs but for what the resources will bring to them. so i thank my colleagues for -- for being open to the new reality of what we have been developing in alaska's north slope as we have been seeking to provide a resource that the country needs, jobs that my
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state and the country needs and truly to help us from an energy security and a national security perspective. so i thank the members of the senate here. i do want to thank the members of the finance committee, led by chairman hatch, for their excellent work and for legislate us ride shotgun when it came to tax reform. we knew we had to make it to the finish line together, and that's exactly where we are right now. i'd like to thank the president. i'd like to thank secretary zinke, among others in this administration who have been working with us, fighting for alaska as we have moved forward. and, of course, we recognize that this is not just -- not just a members-led effort. we could not have done it without the men and women who work for us and who we work for in many ways but who were at the very core of the effort. and as usual, within the energy
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committee, certainly, it's always a team effort. everyone on that committee contributing and contributeing in just a rock-solid way. my team was very ably led by brian hughes, supported by kelly donnelly, lucy murphett, chuck kashulty, annie hefler. there were so many on that committee that came together in a host of different ways. some of them, they were working the issue knew. others like chuck kashulty, 27 years working here in the united states senate, and prior to that working for the state of alaska. if there is anyone that has a collective history and wisdom about the background of an an an anwr and the -- of an anwr and
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the battles we have endured, it's chuck. he is looking forward to retirement. he knows that we have successfully moved this opportunity forward for alaskans and the nation. i also want to thank those in my personal office to helped not only with an anwr but with the tax provisions as well. my chief of staff, mike pelowski, has done an extraordinary job for me. my assistant kristen daimler-northduf has done amazing things, garrett boyle, madeleine lift, among others. you really recognize the team when you reflect on how so many have given in so many different ways. it's not just within my own office or the energy office. it is those that run the operations here. specifically, i want to thank leader mcconnell's staff, sharon soderstrom, hazel
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marshall, terry van donor, and especially the outstanding floor staff here that was led -- is led by laura dove. i know that for many of them, certainly laura and sharon, they have been around for their fair share of the an anwr debates and fights. this is no new issue for them, but i appreciate their help and their support a great deal. from budget, i thank betsy mcdonald, eric euland, alison mcgwire. from finance, i want to thank and congratulate jay costla, and mark prader. i had the added benefit of going to law school with mark prader. brilliant guy then, and even more brilliant now. i greatly appreciate all that they did on the tax reform bill. and i also want to give a shout out to tara shaw who is now with
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nor enzi and -- senator enzi and who has been a good friend and help to me. lastly and certainly not least, i want to thank all of the alaskans who have contributed to this effort over the years. we had a group of about two dozen alaskans that had traveled all the way from alaska's north slope, some 5,000 miles, to be here last night for this vote. these are men and women who for decades now have fought to open up this 1002 area for the opportunity that it presents to them and to their families, and for them to see this -- this advance is as significant and as historic as most anything that they have seen in a considerable
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period of time. people like oliver leavitt. oliver is an elder. he is certainly a legend in my time, but to have oliver here last night was extraordinarily significant. matthew rexford who lives in kaptovik. we had fenton, also from kaptovik. four or five individuals from that village. again, those who reside actually in the 1002 area. we had crawford puckatok and his wife laura also with us. richard glenn. not only here to -- to be part of -- of the -- again the culmination of this effort, but men and women who have been part of this battle for, again, decades. truly, truly decades.


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