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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  January 11, 2018 9:59am-12:00pm EST

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my grand parents on my mom's side came from switzerland. on my dad's side from slovenia, worked in the mines. and worked so hard for my dad to go to college in a coffee can in the basement. i'm here with great-grandparents coming from slovenia, grandfather working in a mine and my dad growing up there and being the first one in his family going to college and getting a two-year degree and then a four-year degree and i literally stand here on the shoulders of the immigrants. on my mom side, the swiss side my grandpa came over-- >> u.s. senate is about to gavel in for the final workday of the week. lawmakers are scheduled to consider two district court nominations, the first, a noon confirmation vote on michael brown to be a judge for northern district of georgia and whether or not to limit the debate for the western district of texas if approved his confirmation vote at 1:45 this
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the afternoon. that that's it for the week as members will be out for mlk holiday lawmakers back on tuesday, january 16th. now live to the floor of the u.s. senate.
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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. almighty god, in whose hand lies the destiny of people and nations, empower our lawmakers to do your will on earth even as it is done in heaven. may their lives reflect gratitude for your merciful kindness and loving providence. lord, break the bonds of any excessive self-sufficiency by showing them what they can
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accomplish with your supernatural strength. help them to be blessings and not burdens, as they live life with the gifts of enthusiasm and expectancy. as they live at full potential according to your expectations, use them to glorify your name in the earth. we pray in your strong 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: the senate majority leader. mr. mcconnell: anyone who has read the news lately will have come across some pretty remarkable headlines about the state of the u.s. economy. on tuesday gallup announced at the close of 2017 americans optimism about the job market set a new record. the same day the s&p 500 hit an all-time high. last week "the new york times" ran a story about a, quote, wave of optimism that swept over american business leaders. this optimism is beginning to
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translate into the sort of investments in new plants, equipment, and factory upgrades that bolsters economic growth, spurs job creation, and may finally raise wages significantly. raise wages significantly. markets are optimistic, manufacturers are optimistic, and workers are optimistic. investment is ramping up, wages are growing, unemployment is low, by all accounts 2018 is off to a very bright start. of course washington is not the source of all of this. the engine of american free enterprise is not here in the nation's capital, it's in the ingenuity, talent and work ethic of workers and entrepreneurs all across our country.
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government does not create prosperity, the american people do, but the federal government can certainly get in the way. draconian tax policy, runaway regulations make it more difficult for american workers to find jobs and get pay raises. it becomes harder to start new businesses, harder to expand and invest in existing businesses, and more tempting to send more money and jobs overseas. during the obama years that is precisely what happened. for eight years his administration seized every single opportunity it could find to increase taxes, pile on more regulations, and literally micromanage the lives of the american people. many middle-class families like
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the ones i represent in kentucky were drowning in all this. now, mr. president, all of that is changing. in 2017, a republican president, republican house, republican senate brought back bedrock free market principles. tax less, regulate less, micromanage less, and empower the american people to work hard and keep more of what they earn and we're already seeing results. the most significant accomplishment was the historic tax reform law the president signed just over three weeks ago. it hadn't been done in 30 years, but in 2017 congress and the white house worked together to overhaul the tax code. we cut rates for families and businesses, expanded key deductions, closed wasteful loopholes, and repealed
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obamacare's individual mandate tax. it took a lot of money out of wesh's pockets and put -- washington's pockets and put it back in the pockets of middle-class families who, after all, earned it in the first place. earlier in the year we made major progress in rolling back the tangled web of obama era red tape using the congressional review act congress repealed 15 major federal regulations that were literally stifling american enterprise. this alone is expected to save employers up to $36 billion in compliance costs. and this was in addition to the 860 obsolete rules that the trump administration revisited in 2017. small businesses and large companies are all benefiting from these victories and so are their workers. boeing has announced plans to
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invest $100 million in developing its workforce and another $100 million to enhance its facilities and its infrastructure. at&t intends to invest $1 billion in capital upgrades. just this morning wal-mart announced it would raise starting wages for hourly associates along with bonuses and an expansion of paid family leave. that's great news for more than a million people, including the nearly 30,000 people working at nearly 100 wal-mart stores in kentucky. in -- this, in addition, to all the other employers that have passed tax savings along to their employees, and what is true for nationwide employers is proving to be true for main street as well. in new jersey, a family of car
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dealerships is giving each of its full-time employees a $500 bonus and looking to create more jobs. in florida a cookie baking company is looking to purchase new equipment earn abling them to eablize products -- enabling them to specialize products. other companies have announced pay benefits to employees as a result of tax reform. and, mr. president, this in addition to the direct savings from tax cuts thanks to lower rates and bigger deductions american workers will get to keep more of their paychecks. these are just a few of the ways a growing economy can make life better for the american people. this is what happens -- this is
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what happens when a republican president and republican majorities in congress work to get washington out of the way. it's a shame that none of our democratic colleagues in the house or the senate, not one -- not a single one -- voted for tax reform. not one. if they had their way, american businesses would have had a 21st century tax code giving them a fairer fight -- if they had their way american businesses would not have had a 21st century tax code giving them a fairer fight with overseas competitors, american workers wouldn't have the bonuses and special benefits and a typical family of four earning just over $70,000 wouldn't be on track to keep $2,000 more of their own money this year.
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fortunately, republican majorities passed the bill anyway and the american people are sure glad that we did. 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 democratic leader. mr. schumer: are we in a quorum, mr. president? i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president,
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we're inching ever closer to the government spending deadline of vernment speing deadline of january 19 when we will have to address a host of unresolved issues. we must lift the spending caps equally for defense and other domestic priorities like opioids, veterans, pensions. we must pass an aid package to give relief to disaster-stricken areas of our country. we must pass a health package that extends chip, and community health centers. just this week the c.b.o. projected chip would save the government money if it's extended for ten years. we could ensure kids continue to get quality health insurance for longer and save the government longer if we extend it for ten years. that's a no brainer. and, of course, we must settle the fate of the dreamers. a deal to pass daca protections alongside a package of border security measures is finally within reach. as the immigration meeting at the white house showed, almost
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everyone in this body is interested in passing daca protections into law. democrats are interested in effective practical border security measures. we want what secures the border the most, not what sounds the best, not was a political slogan in a campaign, but what actually protects our border as drugs flow in, other things come across. we are working as hard as we can to find an agreement that both sides can live with. the only folks who didn't get the memo were some house republicans who continue to push hardline immigration bills that are outside the scope of the negotiations. i'm referring representative goodlott's proposal which is counterproducter and completely unacceptable. if speaker ryan is going to listen to the hard right in the house and coalesce behind representative goodlatte's
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probably, we will have no deal. let the american people hear that. if speaker ryan is unable to resist representative goodlatte's proposal, he's never been for dream to begin with. we will have no deal. as speaker ryan bends to the hard right faction of his caucus which is way far away from what americans think, the hard right doesn't like dreamers, 70% of americans do. and if they ask for immigration measures outside the scope of our negotiations, then so will we. deal with chain migration outside the scope of dreamers? let's deal with the 11 million who need a path to citizenship, a tough but fair path. we can play that game, too. we can go beyond the confines of this deal, which has been dreamers and border security. and then the whole thing won't happen. there's people on my side who aren't going to want to make any
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compromises. i know that. there are people on both sides who won't want to make any compromises. as responsible leaders we have to come to an agreement, and we can't make everybody happy. that's why we have a house and a senate. that's why we have legislatures. the whole reason we so narrowed the scope of our negotiations is so that we can accomplish something for the dreamers rather than relitigating comp hnsive -- comprehensive immigration reform in such a confined time frame. this body passed a very fine bill in my opinion. it was tough on the border. it was tough on benefits. it was tough on the path to citizenship. for the first time, for instance, green card holders had to learn english. that was in our bill that passed this body led by senator mccain and myself and the gang of eight, 68-32. the house didn't dare take it up for the same reason they seem to
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have trouble today. the hard right said no immigration reform. and we're stuck. and that hurts everybody. i'm sure my good friend is hearing from farmers in his state as i hear from farmers in mine and business people. we have to close our borders, not close them but we have to tighten them up. we have to make sure that we have a rational system of immigration. we can't assure that every person who wants to come here comes here. we all agree with that. but that's for comprehensive immigration reform because we also believe that the 11 million here should be given a difficult but fair path to citizenship. we can't start litigating all of that. when some people say -- and some of my friends on the other side of the aisle say i have to have this provision outside of reform -- i'm sorry, outside daca and border security are hurting the cause of getting something done. if we can reach agreement by the end of this week or over the
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weekend, we can pass it into law as part of a global budget deal on the budget by a global deal on the budget by next friday. i believe that's still the best way to resolve the issue. i'm hopeful, hopeful, hopeful we can get this done. any later than that we won't have time to do it by the 19th. let me assure my colleagues except the majority leader in faith, the speaker in good faith, oh, their intention is put a bill on the floor in february or march. we heard that before and it never happens. so we feel, because we feel passionately that we should get this done, both tighten up the border and help the dreamers, that we have to do it as part of a must-pass bill. and that must-pass bill is this global spending deal. now, a word on the russian investigation. over the past weeks, several events have shaken my confidence that our republican colleagues are committed to an independent investigation in congress and at the f.b.i. a right wing smear campaign is
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being waged to discredit the investigation and the investigator. absurd attacks have been launched on special counsel mewler, one -- mueller, one of the finest men we've ever come across in this body. i remember when i was f.b.i. director. everyone loved him. he's a man of utmost integrity. a republican congressman went so far as to suggest his investigation was a coup when that member spoke on the floor of the house. here in the senate, the chairman of the judiciary committee, i have great respect for him, were the only two in the senate. referred christopher steele in the f.b.i. and recommended criminal charges, even though mr. steele was a whistle-blower, someone that our chairman of judiciary has always protected. he came to the f.b.i. with concerns that donald trump was subject to blackmail. any american would worry about that. the chairman took that action unilaterally. that is, asking for criminal
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charges without consulting with or providing notice to the minority. yet still expressed outrage at the ranking member of his committee released the transcript of his committe comm. there's a fundamental double standard here. you can't complain, mr. chairman, of judiciary, about our side doing things unilaterally if you do them unilaterally. we want to work in a bipartisan way. so i applaud my friend, the senior senator from california, for releasing that transcript. it contained information that was crucial for the american people to read and understand in order to judge for themselves the allegations my friends across the aisle have made. you make a serious allegation from someone but say no one can see the information, that's not fair. that's not how we work here in america. now, in the foreign relations committee, my friend senator cardin, was compelled to release a minority report about russia's interference in foreign
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elections because the majority would not join him. think about that. senator cardin's report showed something we already know to be true. no one disputes that. well, maybe a few. rather that russia maliciously and persistently interferes in elections around the globe and will not cease without unified and strong counter measures. senator cardin's report is another compelling reason that the senate act on election security legislation before we left for the holidays senators lankford, klobuchar, harris, and collins introduced the secure elections act. it's a good piece of legislation that would help shore up election security. mid term elections are just around the corner. and as senator cardin's report tells us, rawr will no doubt endeavor to sow confusion and chaos into our dments once again. -- democracy once again. that's what they do. that's what putin likes to do. we have to stop it and making information public about it is very important. this should be a unifying
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nonpartisan issue. so why would the republican majority on the foreign relations committee refuse to join that report? it's because in my judgment at least, for partisan reasons, republicans in congress and some in some parts of the media, the conservative parts of the media, have sought to undermine the russian investigation in countless ways. they have been hidden behind secrecy and innuendo. they have hidden behind secrecy and innuendo to cast aspersions on the investigation and erect roadblocks in its path. their goal, it seems, is to discredit the investigation so that ultimately they can discredit any findings that are detrimental to their party or their president. president trump makes this strategy manifest clear as day almost every day on his twitter feed. yesterday he tweeted that the russian investigation was, quote, the single greatest witchhunt in american history. that's sort of a little self-centered. how about salem, mr. president. those people were burnt at the stake. and that, quote, republicans
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should finally take control. that last line should send shivers down our spines that republicans should finally take control. from the very beginning, this investigation has been about an issue most sensitive to our national interest. interference in our elections, the well spring, the prield of our wonderful -- the pride of our wonderful and great democracy. if there is ever an issue that transcends party, this is it. yet here the president of the united states is imploring his party to take control of the investigation. you never thought you'd hear a president say something like this. frankly, you never thought you'd hear such silence from the other side of the aisle when he does. but that's where we're at. republican lawmakers ought to shout down that kind of appeal. we all must commit to the essential truth of the matter which is that the investigation into russian interference in our election must remain as bipartisan and as nonpartisan as
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possible. the interest of the nation is at stake. all of us, all of us must choose country over party. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. the morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, michael lawrence brown of georgia to be united states district judge for the northern district of georgia. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. a senator: mr. president, i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: there is not a quorum call at this time. a senator: thank you. today is human trafficking awareness day. the suns suffering from the rise in human trafficking. mr. daines: i'm grateful to
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montana's attorney general tim fox has taken that issue head- head-on. in fact, montana has had three times as many human trafficking cases in 2017 as we had in 2015, a three-fold increase. unfortunately this number will likely continue to rise in the coming years, and online platforms are a driving force for it. like so many things, the internet has tremendou tremendor for good as well as for evil. having spent 12 years building a start-up cloud computing business in my hometown, a business that we grew to over a thousand employees. we took the company public. this became a large global business. i understand the power of the internet for good.
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but i also believe we must and can have better safeguards to protect our children, our family, our neighbors from sex trafficking while at the same time protecting innovation on the internet. unfortunately, a start-up business, your business has the potential to be used for terrible reasons without your awareness. even more upsetting, it's also possible that online platforms do know that bad actors are using that platform, and they do nothing about it. during my first hearing on the homeland security and governmental affairs committee, we investigated one of these platforms, backpage.com. bad actors like backpage.com must be held accountable. and that is why today on human trafficking awareness day, i will be joining the stop
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enabling sex traffickers act. this act strips protections for platforms that knowingly assist, support, or facilitate sex trafficking. we must take steps now to stop human trafficking and protect vulnerable members of our community. the stop enabling sex traffickers act moves us closer to that goal. i tip my hat and i'm thankful to senator portman for introducing this bill and i'm thankful for the work of the senate commerce committee to ensure this legislation protects the millions of companies on the internet that are building our economy and creating high-paying jobs and doing so in good faith. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to be added as a
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cosponsor to senate bill 1693, the stop enabling sex traffickers act. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. daines: i ask that the senate be placed back in a quorum call. 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 kansas. mr. moran: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. moran: i ask unanimous consent that i be able to address the senate as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. moran: thank you, mr. president. on tuesday of this week, i regained my previous-held seat on the senate banking committee, a committee i served on from 2011 until the beginning of this congress. while this committee sometimes goes under the radar for many americans, the oversight it conducts and the issues it considers under its substantial jurisdiction is of great consequence to america and to the american people. the owners and employees of institutions have experienced success when their communities experience success. what i'm saying here is that how
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we lend money matters to every kind of person every day, and so what we have across kansas in many instances is a difficulty in really hard times. what i want to talk about is community. there are -- these community financial institutions are of great importance to the folks that i represent in kansas. what i want to do in part with my opportunity to serve on the banking committee is to make sure that those financial institutions have the regulatory environment in which they can benefit their communities and benefit the citizens who live there. communities in kansas are losing their hometown banks to consolidation and sales, and some of these banks that are moving in that direction have been family owned for generations. in order to better understand why these lenders were consolidating or selling, i
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sought out the nature of this decline by speaking with the financial leaders from across the country. the overwhelming response i received is that the costs associated with complying with new federal regulations are simply too much to absorb in their business model. in the aftermath of our country's significant financial downturn, a new regulatory framework was put in place to rein in those bad actors and punish bad behavior that led us down that path in 2007 and 2008. while we have had more than seven years to determine what the effects are of this new regulatory environment, dodd-frank, what has it meant to our community banks, our community financial institutions? the most glaring aspect of these new regulations is the disproportionate burden placed upon those smaller institutions seeking to comply with these new responsibilities. rather than extending credit to
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best fit the needs of their customers, banks are exiting entire lines of business because the penalties for making a mistake far outweigh the economic benefits derived from extending a loan. i experienced this damaging news and reality during the senate banking committee's consideration of legislation to reform the secondary mortgage markets in 2014. i was attempting to solicit feedback from kansas lenders on the potential impact of some of these proposed changes would have on their communities, and what i learned unfortunately was this response. jerry, we don't make home loans anymore. when pressed for a reason, they responded that it just didn't make business sense for them to do that any longer due to the increased federal regulators' crackdown on mortgage lending. as a member of the senate who cares deeply about rural america and the special way of life we enjoy in kansas, this is a very damaging occurrence.
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if a community banker can no longer extend credit to what would have otherwise been a creditworthy borrower, the fear of making a mistake, the repercussions of that that follow, then they have decided not to make the loan at all, not even to be in the business line. what community would expect their financial institutions in their community to refuse to make a home loan? it's the american dream. while community banks have been consolidating for a number of years due to shifting demographics and market conditions, we cannot nor should we attempt to discount the role of post-dodd-frank regulatory environment has played in that acceleration that harms our community banking structure. i'm not opposed to regulations and neither are the community bankers working to serve their communities, but there has got to be prioritization on the part of congress to create an environment where local lenders can succeed, because the success of these institutions mean the success of their communities and
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the people who live there. during the fall of 2015, i worked alongside a number of committee colleagues, both republicans and democrats, to see if we could bridge the divide and bring relief to our community letteredders across the -- lenders across the country. while these efforts did not then produce a result, these discussions demonstrated that the issues facing the financial service world need not be partisan, and they sowed the seeds for what has now resulted in legislation moving its way through the legislative process today. i'm happy to support senate resolution 2155, the economic growth regulatory relief and consumer protection act recently reported out of the banking committee on a bipartisan vote. many of the provisions in this bill originated in legislation i promoted since i came to the senate, first as the community's first care act and most recently as the care relief act. and while this legislation will not solve every issue that needs to be solved, it is a meaningful
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progress that will make a difference in congress' responsibility to ensure that economic growth is not needlessly impeded. it is our duty to ensure that economic opportunities flourish and that americans have success to the tools necessary to pursue the american dream. the banking committee can and will play an important role in providing these tools, and i feel fortunate to have the opportunity to lend the voice of kansans to that effort. i look forward to working with chairman mike crapo, the senator from idaho, and ranking member sherrod brown, senator brown from ohio, and we will work together to make sure that good things happen in kansas and across the country. i look forward to working with my colleagues in the banking committee and on the senate floor to see that all americans have the opportunity to have access to credit so that we can continue to pursue a growing economic opportunity for all americans and the american dream is alive and well. mr. president, i notice the
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absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. blunt: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: i move we suspend the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blunt: i'm here today with my colleague, senator capito, to talk about something that is getting a lot of discussion but needs even more attention from this congress and has been getting attention, but it's the opioid epidemic, the epidemic that the president has rightly called a crisis and then turn to the congress and said find the money to solve the problem. and we've been doing a substantial amount of that. but i think we see a clear desire here and in all of our states to find a better
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solution. this is an issue that's hit every town in america, small and large, i believe. according to the center for disease control and prevention, over 40,000 people died from opioid overdose. this is just a fraction of the people that had an opioid overdose. these are the people that died from an opioid overdose in 2016. 40,000 people. over 90 americans every single day. it was a 28% increase over 2015 and a dramatic increase over where we were just ten years before. opioid overdoses now surpass car accidents as the number-one accidental cause of death in the country. both of our states and our surrounding states, i think almost every one of them have had more overdose deaths in 2016
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and increasing in number, i think, in 2017, than car accident deaths. the centers for disease control estimates that the economic burden of this epidemic is almost $80 billion a year. we've just gone through a tax discussion, an economic growth discussion, when we've been talking about billions of dollars, seldom were we talking about $80 billion to do something with or to stop doing something with. but the economic cost of all of this -- lost productivity, addiction, the crime related to that addiction, c.d.c. says $78.5 billion a year is now the cost. the members of our committee -- we're both appropriators -- the members of the appropriating committee have looked at this carefully. our colleagues have had a chance
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to confront this issue in our committee head on. we brought bills to the floor that have passed, that have made a big difference in a short period of time over the past two years, not counting what we hope to do this year, the committee increased opioid funding by over $900 million, a 200% increase from the department of health and human services more money for justice, more money for the department of veterans affairs. this funding has worked to focus on things like developing alternatives for pain management, giving our state, federal and local law enforcement partners the tools they need to combat opioid trafficking, ensuring that first responders that are working to see there are better ways to respond in opioid reversal.
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one of the things we've seen recently, mr. president, is that the opioid is now -- opioids of all kinds are now laced with new drugs like fentanyl that you don't even know what you're taking. and the former, the narcan, the former way to deal with this, and still the most effective way to deal with this, you think you've dealt with the problem, and the dose is so strong that that same person in just a few minutes lapses back into another seizure, attack that has often been fatal even though people were there and the traditional way to respond was there. it wasn't enough for what's going on now. one thing you'd have to tell anybody doing this is it is unlikely that you have any real idea what you're putting into your system. what you think was a, was a narcotic high the day before
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could easily kill you the next day. we've been looking for better ways to monitor programs so that prescriptions in west virginia and missouri are both states that in some counties, some areas the numbers are just ridiculous, prescriptions that people have been walking in to the pharmacist with. the committee on the department of health and human services, that funds that department -- that would be the committee we're both on -- in the last two years we've increased funding by 1,300%. $745 million, 13 times more than we were spending just two years ago. we've given grants to states in ways that they haven't before to look at specific state needs and ideas they have to deal with this and then share. we've looked at increasing federal surveillance of how
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prescriptions are being written, how drugstore are becoming the conduit, how many things are coming through the mail to find new ways to determine whether this is a reasonable thing in the area that these drugs are going into. we've looked at ways to increase the tools necessary to communities and first responders, talking right now to the national institutes of health about what they can do on a number of fronts. one is to work with the pharmaceutical companies themselves to develop alternatives to the kind of pain management we've had. and also let me say on that front, we've gone through a period where actually doctors and hospitals were too often graded on whether people had any pain or not as opposed to whether they had pain that they didn't understand, pain that was unacceptable. more and more people ought to be saying, okay, as opposed to
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taking this potentially addictive drug, give me a dose that's not as addictive, and maybe i'm still more achey than i would be otherwise, more pain than i'd have otherwise, but i understand it and i'm aware of it, and i'm not out there in some cloud of no pain but not much of anything else in terms of real quality of life. looking how we can work with these companies for pain management, i think it's time -- and i've talked to them -- i think the pharmaceutical companies, it's time for them to step up maybe in partnership with tpheufplt -- n.i.h., where there is money out there to find alternatives that are less addictive and better understood, to find more effective and affordable ways to respond. just the amount of money in the first responders' kits around the country and local governments paying for the narcan, the more expensive,
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injectable treatment, we need to look for ways where that can be more available and a way that local governments have a better way to deal with this. this needs to be dealt with locally. the first responder is going to be a local person. if you're a first responder in a fire department, if you're a fire department that also has first responders, your department is three times more likely, your fire department three times more likely to go to an overdose than they are to go to a fire. that's where we are in this situation today. the -- you know, in trying to figure out at home, as we all are trying to do, what the impact really is, i had a meeting not too long ago with medical professionals, with state officials, with emergency responders in springfield, missouri, to talk about how we deal with prevention and treatment and recovery. you know, we talked about the critical partnership between
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local, state, and federal law enforcement and the dangers that the first responders themselves face. sometimes this, what people are putting in their system is so powerful and so addictive that walking into the room or touching the clothing becomes a potentially great danger for the person who's there to help you. talked to doctors and hospitals about the challenges they face in prescribing less habit-forming pain medications and how patients still are not fully aware of the danger of dealing with pain if you overdo it as you're dealing with pain. talking to one person there who talked about his daughter who had just gone to the dentist and got pain medicine with no sense that that pain medicine could be addictive, that you should stop taking it when it's done its job
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rather than when the last pill is gone. then of course the other new issue of underprescribing. nobody likes to go back to the pharmacy twice to get the same thing that they just got a few days ago. but getting people -- giving people more of these pills than they need to take themselves or sit in the medicine cabinet, mr. president, doesn't make any sense. in our state, has large urban areas and rural communities. frankly, rural communities have been hit particularly hard by this crisis. certainly west virginia is a state that understands this. there have been no more vigorous advocate for funding and new ways to solve this problem than senator capito. and i'm glad to be here with her today as we talk about this. but i can assure the people we work for that this is a top
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priority. it's been a top priority for over three years now. the first two years showed dramatic increases in the willingness that we have to deal with this and the breadth of how we deal with it. that's one reason, mr. president, we need to move on and get this funding bill that should have been done by october 1, done right now. as we get a new number to deal with, one of our priorities will clearly be the opioid epidemic, and one of the leaders in that discussion will clearly be the senator from west virginia, senator capito. mrs. capito: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mrs. capito: thank you, mr. president. and i'd like to thank senator blunt from the great state of missouri for his leadership on this issue. he chairs the subcommittee that is very, very pivotal, the labor-h.h.s. subcommittee on appropriations, that has moved forward so aggressively to up the funding in this area.
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but we've got the peddle to the medal now -- pedal to the medal now, as he said when we're moving and coming to a final spending bill, this has to be a top priority for us. it is absolutely critical. i'm pleased to be on this subcommittee. i want to thank him. i know he works diligently with n.i.h. which holds great promise, i think for -- we're always looking for solutions. can we treat ourselves out of this? can we law enforce ourselves out of this? can we prevent ourselves out of this? i think we can do all of those, but we have to have a component of research that looks at the alternatives to pain medications and pain management. so the current bill that we've looked at is $816 for programs to combat opioid abuse issues, and that is a 440% increase from the previous year. i'm going to go through -- this might sound a little mundane and
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detail oriented, but i think people say that's great to up the amount of money that you're spending, but where are you really spending this money? and the senator from missouri, senator blunt mentioned this has to be done locally, and there's a lot of emphasis on where these dollars are going. some of it of course is going to c.d.c. for preventive issues. centers for disease control critical. $50 million is going to community health centers. state like alaska, west virginia, missouri, community health centers are seeing hundreds of thousands, millions of people every day, and many, many more that are dealing with mental health and substance abuse. samsa, $15 million for a new program. we have a grassroots up, bottom up where you get everybody in the room from your local county
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to try to solve this issue, and then again block grant programs to our community health centers along with the funding to n.i.h. it's a broad based look at where the funding is going. we have an opportunity here in the next several weeks to -- to up that funding, to make sure that -- that the national priority that we feel, as senators from states that are highly affected, is reflected in our funding, and i believe with senator blunt's leadership in the subcommittee and other members in the subcommittee that is something we are going to be doing. i happened -- i happen to chair the general government subcommittee which appropriates the -- our state has over 22 counties in that. is that a branding that you want, a high intensity drug trafficking area? not really. that coordinates federal, state, and local resources to help meet
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the challenge and facing what a difficult, difficult problem you have. so not only do i work with funding on that, the drug-free communities, and also the president's office of drug control policy. so we've done a lot. we pushed. we pushed for resources. the senator mentioned resources for first responders many we had local stories talking about first responders who had just been touched with fentanyl and had gone into an overdose situation. we were at the white house yesterday talking. the president mentioned drug-sniffing drugs that have had reactions to fentanyl. so this is a very lethal subject. i saw on the statistics for west virginia where the recent overdose deaths, more of them are attributable to fentanyl than heroin itself, than is rising. we need the money for enforcement, preventation, treatment, recovery, and more
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resources for the research. i mentioned how critical that research will be. nationwide we had over 63,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016, and a number of these were contributed to heroin and fentanyl. in my state of west virginia, we had the highest death per 100,000 for overdose. i'd like to say it's happening somewhere that maybe we would have predicted that it happened. it's happening everywhere. it's happening to friends of mine children. ryan brown, a young man in west virginia, lost his life and he had a loving home, loving parents, had been through treatment, just don't fight it. he went back and injected himself with a lethal dose and died in a very public place. very tragic. to his credit, his parents have taken up the mantle for ryan to
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try to get more treatment centers in the state of west virginia. i thank them for that. we were in the white house for the president to sign the interdict act, i cosponsored that bill with senator rubio, senator markey, and senator brown. what that toes is give our cuss tom and -- cuss tom and -- -- maybe china through mexico, we need to equip our border control agents to be able to stop that, interdict the flow of that lethal substance. just this week, the "hill" had an op-ed about martinsburg. they have a community school partnership, it is with berkeley county schools and shepherd
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university along with the washington-baltimore hida. it is intervention and treatment for families to help prevent the gimtion of -- beginnings of addictions to opioids. i want to highlight what some of the local communities are doing in my state to try to get to comprehensive spectrum of solutions. so this is a new scholarship program that was developed by fruth pharmacy, that will allow people who have completed addiction recovery programs to get a jump-start on the college, education, and career training. the founders of the program started because they wanted to encourage people who had been successful to get back into the mainstream. we know one of the roadblocks to recovery is getting back into
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the work environment to be able to get a job. many of these young folks who are in this position have already burned through their education grants and availability of pell grants. this bridge of hope scholarship, again, an organic, from the ground up, for those who have been through treatment. we had a young man talk about his road to recovery and how important it was to get back on his feet. we need more everywhere. i think that's essential to all of us. we have to prioritize our federal funding for states like mine that have been the hardest hit by opioid yipped. i -- epidemic. i see my colleague from new hampshire. we have gotten together on the opioid -- where those with greater need have funds more squarely targeted towards that. there are a lot of good ideas, a
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lot of things going on, but there's a lot of tragedy around all of us. i would say to the folks in the gallery and everyone on the floor, you probably know a family, probably know a community, probably know somebody who has been hard hit by this. it is absolutely crushingly sad -- crushingly sad, heart broken because it is preventible. it is something that we can make an impact on. if we don't, we will lose another generation. i have great fears that we will look back on this moment in time and think we didn't do enough. i think with senator blunt's help and others, this is the direction we need to go. we need to have more targeted funding so those local resources can be creative to stop the scourge, to handle the scourge, and to educate the next jean rigs of -- generation of how devastating this could be if you were to begin to go down this
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road. thank you, mr. president. mrs. shaheen: mr. president, i ask permission to speak for up to ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. shaheen: let me applaud my colleague from west virginia, senator capito, for addressing the opioid epidemic. it is one place where i think we could come to some agreement around increasing resources as we come to an agreement on budget for the upcoming year. so thank you for your comments. mr. president, i came to the floor this morning because i believe the united states is a nation of laws. the bedrock of our democracy is the rule of law. we are blessed with a judicial system and federal law enforcement agencies that are respected worldwide for their integrity, impartiality. as lead democrat on the appropriations subcommittee on
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commerce, justice, and science. i have a responsibility, along with my chamber senator shelby, to ensure that the federal law enforcement, including federal prosecutors, have the resources they need to do their jobs. i also have the responsibility to ensure they are -- i am deeply troubled about the attacks on the integrity of the department of justice, federal bureau of investigation, and in particular special counsel robert mueller who is investigating russian interference in the 2016 elections. this, actually is the cover of the report from our intelligence agencies on that interference in the 2016 elections. i believe these attacks are part of a broader campaign, these attacks against special counselor mueller. they are part of a broader
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campaign orchestrated by the white house to undermine the investigation into the russian interference in the 2016 campaign, including possible collusion by the trump campaigning. this has profound national security implications for the united states. yesterday senator ben cardin, the top democrat on the foreign relations committee, released a report on behalf of the minority of the foreign relations committee that documents vladimir putin two-year decade assault on democratic institutions, western values and the rule of law. this report complements a finding by the u.s. intelligence community issued last january that russia interfered in the 2016 election and will continue to interfere in our elections if not deterred. this was the unanimous conclusion of all 17 u.s. intelligence agencies, and yet
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president trump continues to be dismissive of claims that russia interfered. and this is not about partisanship. this is not about who won the election. this is it about whether russia is trying to disrupt our democracy. president trump's comments about what happened here is an extraordinary abdication of the president's duty to defend the country and safeguard our democracy. as our foreign relations committee reported concludes, and i quote, never before in american history has so clear a threat to national security been so clearly ignored by a u.s. president and without a strong u.s. response institutions and elections here and throughout europe will remain vulnerable to the kremlin's aggressive and sophisticated malign operations. end quote. meanwhile, the campaign by the white house and certain republicans in congress to
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discredit and deflect the investigation continues. indeed, it's a campaign that's become even more bizarre. republicans on the judiciary committee refuse to release testimony by the cofounder of fusion g.p.s., testimony about russian efforts to collude with the trump campaign. senators grassley and graham, last week, called on the justice department to investigate former british mi-6 officer. think about that. instead of calling about the investigation of the serious charges in the so-called dossier, they had an investigation of the author of the report. the president is becoming increasingly aggressive in attacking the investigations. he again called them a witch-hunt and demanded, and i
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quote, republicans should finally take control. well, the partisan attacks on special counselor robert mueller are especially shameful. he is a decorated marine, vietnam veteran, was nominated as f.b.i. director by president george w. bush and approved by the senate 98-0. when his term was up, president obama asked the senate to extend his term for an additional two years and that request was granted by unanimous consent. director mueller was confirmed for another two-year term by a unanimous vote of 100-0. and when mr. mueller was appointed special counsel in may, he was greeted with bipartisan praise for his integrity and professionalism. here are some of the quotes that we heard at the time. majority leader mitch mcconnell said, i have a lot of confidence in bob mueller.
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i think it was a good choice. senator rubio said, i think he will conduct a full, fair, and thorough investigation that we can have confidence in. senator isakson said, mueller has been appoint for a -- appointed for a purpose. let him carry out that purpose. yet today some republicans in congress are joining with voices in the conservative media and smearing robert mueller as corrupt and dishonest. those are quotes. in early december former house speaker knew the gingrich said, and i quote, mueller is corrupt, the system is corrupt. the day after christmas, a prominent house republican called for top officials in the f.b.i. to be purged. it is unfortunate that many republicans appear to believe that in order to support the president they must attack and discredit not only special

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