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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  February 13, 2018 10:00am-12:34pm EST

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on the immigration issue. majority leader mitch mcconnell is sticking to his pledge with an open-ended debate with all senators allowed to make amendments. all amendments will require 60 votes to be adopted. no votes currently scheduled. there could be a vote to begin the official debate after the senators return from their party lunches and it's possible the vice-president could join lawmakers for their lunch meeting. we'll take you live to the floor of the senate here on c-spa c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain
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will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. our father, you are the god of our salvation. thank you for this sacred moment of prayer. we think of your goodness even in the night seasons, for your ways are reliable and sure. remind our senators that before honor comes humility as they seek to serve you and country. give them the wisdom to put their complete trust in you, knowing that you will direct their steps. lord, use them to do your work on
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earth. keep them calm in the quiet center of their lives, so that they may experience serenity in life's swirling stresses. we pray in your merciful name. .amen. the presiding officer: 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. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c, february 13, 2018, to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable john kennedy, a senator from the state of louisiana,
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to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch, presidet pro tempore. mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i'd like to take a moment this morning to discuss events in southeast kentucky. because of heavy rainfall over the weekend residents are enduring widespread flooding in several counties. homes have been evacuated. a number of people have been forced to relocate to temporary shelters. even where the flood waters have begun to recede, a number of roads remain blocked because of water or mudslides. we're thankful that no injuries have been reported at this point. my staff in eastern kentucky is working closely with local officials, monitoring the situation and receiving updates. as always we're deeply grateful to the emergency responders who rescued a number of people from their homes or their cars, helping their fellow kentuckians
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through this hardship, they've again earned our thanks. on an entirely different matter, yesterday the senate took an initial step toward considering proposals to address daca, border security, and other immigration issues. this week's debate comes as no surprise to my colleagues. for a month now i've repeatedly stated my intention to bring these issues to the senate floor following a government funding agreement. senators have had plenty of time to prepare. there's no reason why we should not reach a bipartisan solution this week. but to do this, we need to get the debate started, look past making political points, and focus on actually making law. making law will take 60 votes in the senate, a majority in the house, and a presidential signature. yesterday a number of my colleagues announced a reasonable proposal that i believe is our best chance to
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actually make a law. it attends to our democratic colleagues stated priority, a compassionate solution for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who are brought to the united states as children. it also delivers on the president's stated conditions. the solution provides funding to secure the border, reforms extended family chain migration and recalibrates the visa lottery program. this proposal has my support, and during this week of fair debate, i believe it deserves support of every senator who's ready to move beyond making points and actually making a law. but if other proposals are to be considered, our colleagues will have to actually introduce their own amendments rather than just talk about them. i made a commitment to hold this debate and to hold it this week.
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i've lived up to my commitment. i hope everyone will cooperate so this opportunity does not go to waste. on another matter, mr. president, last week as part of our bipartisan funding agreement, the senate approved much-needed disaster relief for communities hit by last year's devastating storms. this was an important accomplishment, but it isn't the only way this congress has helped americans begin to rebuild. recently florida power and light, the state's largest utility, announced their savings from tax reform will completely cover the cost of rebuilding critical infrastructure in the wake of hurricane irma. absent tax reform, consumers would have paid for much of the repairs in the form of higher rates. now the utility can cover the cost itself, saving florida families an average of $250. and in other states, from
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montana to tphafplt to -- to massachusetts to my home state of kentucky utilities are planning to directly pass along their savings by cutting consumers' monthly bills. of course lower utility rates aren't the only way tax reform is helping middle-class americans. week after week the headlines are full of more bonuses, more pay raises, and more new benefits for hardworking americans as a direct result, a direct result of tax reform. with all this good news pouring in, it's easy to forget how hotly the debate over tax reform was contested. republicans argued that letting middle-class families keep more of their own money and giving american job creators a 21st century tax code would unleash
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more prosperity and directly help american workers. our democratic colleagues gambled on a different prediction. every single house democrat voted in lock step with their leader. she predicted tax reform would bring about, quote, armageddon. armageddon. every single democrat here in the senate rallied behind their leader, my friend from new york. he declared there was, quote, nothing about this bill that suits the needs of the american worker. well, one side would be proven wrong. either tax reform would benefit middle-class families and help reignite the economy, or it would not. well, the early results speak for themselves. in the great state of missouri, 20 companies and counting have already announced tax reform bonuses, raises or benefits. that includes $1,000 bonuses for
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2,500 workers at central bank of st. louis. and at great southern bank in springfield and more bonuses at midam medical in rogersville. one senator tried to block it. in ohio, tax reform has already led jergens to double employees annual raise. it enabled schiffer corporation to give workers bonuses. here's how the c.e.o. responded to democrats who have been trying to talk down these bonuses. some people have said it's crumbs. crumbs. but for our people, we consider that fine dining. and remember, these bonuses and pay raises are just the tip of the sphere. the tax cut and jobs act also directly helps families by cutting tax rates and expanding
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deductions. in every paycheck american workers will keep more of what they earned. but only one senator from ohio voted to put all this middle-class progress on the menu. because every single democrat in the senate and the house voted to stop tax reform. fortunately for middle-class families in missouri, in ohio, in kentucky, and across the nation, republicans overcame the obstruction and passed this historic bill. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed.
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under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to h.r. 2579, which the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to the consideration of h.r. 2579, an act to amend the internal revenue code of 1986 to allow the premium tax credit with respect to unsubsidized cobra continuation coverage. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call: mr. durbin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent to suspend the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, we're
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in the midst of a debate on the floor of the united states senate on the issue of immigration. it's the first time in five years we've taken up this issue. there are many compelling reasons for us to get this right. president trump, on september 5, announced that he was going to end the daca program, a program created by executive order by president obama which protects 780,000 young people documented in the -- who were undocumented in the united states. march 5, which is just a few weeks away, means that many people and those just like them will be subject to deportation and no longer allowed to work legally in the united states. president trump challenged congress to do something about it, to pass a law. five months have passed and we haven't done that but now we have a chance to make this work. this morning i want to come to the floor in a very brief time
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to tell the story of two young women. the first is a young woman named tereza lee. she is the reason for the dream act, legislation that i introduced 17 years ago. she was born in brazil. her parents were from korea but traveled to brazil and was brought to the united states at the age of 2 and eventually made it to chicago, illinois. her father wanted to be a protestant minister and start a church. they were a poor family, they didn't have much money to start with. he pursued his dream, gathered some people together in church settings. her mother went to work at a dry cleaner, which is not unusual. the vast majority of dry cleaners are run and owned by
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korean families. it was hard work, but she was prepared to work to take care of her family. terror reesea -- theresa banged away at a piano at the back of the church and someone gave her a piano and she spent hours practicing. she signed up for the merit music program which is available for those who can't afford lessons and developed her skill as a by ann -- by anist -- pianist. people took notice of her skill and said that you have to do something with your amazing skill and apply to the best music school and she did, jewel art -- juliart school of music.
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when it came time to go to school, there was a section where she had to declare her citizenship. she asked her mom, what do i put here? we brought you on a visa and never filed papers. technically she didn't have any legal status. she -- her mom contacted our office and asked what she could do. that was 17 years ago. we looked at the law and the law is pretty brutal for those undocumented. it basically said to this 18-year-old girl, you have to leave the united states for ten years and petition to come back in and apply for green card status. ten years. brought here at the age of 2, she was banished from our laws in the united states and given no future. that's when i introduced the dream act for her initially and many others in similar
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circumstances. kids brought to america as infants and toddlers, young kids, teenagers who had no country. they pledged allegiance to the same flag we did but there was no legal status for them. well, the story has a happy ending for tereza lee. even though the dream act is not the law of the land, benefactors paid for her school. she played piano in carnegie hall. she is now married and because of that marriage is now a legal citizen of the united states and mother of two. that is the story of tereza lee, a korean-american young woman who with her career with her musical skill makes america a better nation. there's another korean girl i
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would like to salute today. her face may be more familiar. 1982, a korean immigrant came to the united states. he didn't speak english very well. he carried an english dictionary with him. he landed in california and decided to make a go of it here. he went to school and obtained a degree of manufacturing technology and raised a family. in that family was a young girl who showed at an early age an interest in snowboarding. her father, a korean immigrant, with no measurable schools and little proficiency in english decided that he would help her, and he did. he made great sacrifices so she could develop her skills in snowboarding and ultimately she became one of the best in the world.
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as of yesterday at the olympic games in south korea, she was awarded a gold medal because of her skills in snowboarding and won the half-pipe competition against others, some of the best in the world. this is chloe kim. chloe, this korean-american girl, like tereza lee, developed an amazing skill. today across the country and acrossed world we are saluting this amazing girl and the skill she developed. let's remember chloe kim's story is a story of immigration in america, it's a story of people who come to these shores and determined to make a life. they don't bring wealth. many don't bring proficiency in english. in many cases they don't bring advanced degrees. they only come here with a determination to make a better life for themselves and a better country for all of us.
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that's the story of immigration. it's a story of this korean-american girl, chloe kim, it's a story of tereza lee, another korean-american girl, who was a dreamer and inspired the introduction of information we are debating. there is a difference of opinion among senators about immigration. some say there are too many immigrants. some have said we have to be careful that we only select the betion and -- best and brightest to come into this nation. i'm the son of an immigrant myself. i can tell you that my grandparents and my mother didn't come to this country with special skills or proficiency. they came here with determination to make a better life and they did for themselves and for me. that's my story. that's my family's story. that's america's story. this week as we debate immigration, let us not only
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applaud chloe kim for her achievements, the daughter of an immigrant who came here with nothing, let's applaud tereza lee who was determined, against the odds, to make a better life for herself and a better country for all of us. mr. president, i yeelted -- i yield the floor and 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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the presiding officer: the minority leader. mr. schumer: maybe one day. 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 took up a neutral bill on immigration to begin debate on legislation to protect the dreamers and provide additional border security. it's a debate upon which the lives of the dreamers depend. they were brought into this country as kids through no fault of their own. for many of them, america is the only country they remember.
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they learn in our schools. they work at our companies. they serve in our military. they're stitched into the very fabric of our nation. this week we have the opportunity to offer these dreamers protection and the chance to finally become americans. and this is supported in every state throughout the nation. 80% of americans, a majority of democrats, independents and republicans all support allowing the dreamers to stay here and become american citizens. and we have an opportunity to improve border security as well, something that also has broad support. and both democrats and republicans in large numbers have supported both. helping the dreamers become americans and protecting our borders. that should be the focus of all our energies, finding a bipartisan compromise that would achieve those things and pass the senate. now we can put together a plan here in the senate, bipartisan,
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and sell it to the nation. i know that there are other forces swirling around. that was true of the budget deal. we put together an agreement. leader mcconnell and i. the senate voted for it in large numbers, and then the house passed it with support from both parties, significant support from both parties, and the president signed it. we can do the same thing on immigration. the senate can take the lead once again in a bipartisan way that can get 60 votes and move the nation forward. we all know americans in every state -- your state, mr. president, my state and every state. why can't you work together and get something done? well, this is a very difficult issue. we're all aware of that. but we can get something done. we're on the verge. it's still hard. we're not there yet, but we can get something done. let's work towards that. infrastructure. on another matter entirely, the
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white house released its long-awaited infrastructure plan. after promising $1 trillion infrastructure plan to build, quote, gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways and waterways all across our land, president trump's plan turned out to be less than half a loaf. instead of $11 trillion of more investment -- $1 trillion it relies on state and local government and private entities to pony up the rest of the cash. there is a great irony that on the same day the president put out their $200 billion infrastructure plan, the administration's budget slashed well over $200 billion in existing infrastructure investments that we tend to make every year, that we do make every year. while the trump infrastructure plan gives with one hand, the trump budget takes more away than is given. that doesn't show much of a
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commitment to do infrastructure. that shows sort of a schizophrenic administration. and even on the side where they tried to give, the trump infrastructure plan has a lot of flaws. already cash-strapped state and local governments would likely have to raise taxes on their constituents to fund new investments. meanwhile, private entities will seek projects with the quickest return on investment. if you have a big, large resort, a lot of wealthy people going there, yeah, a private person might build a road. but if you're a bridge in shreveport or in rochester, middle-size city or anywhere else in the country, no private investor is going to invest in that. there won't be any money for it. large parts of the country will be left out. and who*l be left out -- who will be left out most? rural america, which lacks the population or investment --
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attraction for investment. they have a set-aside but it's not close to enough, not close to enough. worse, the trump infrastructure plan would mean a slew of tolls, trump tolls from one end of america to the other. large developers are going to want to make a quick buck on new investment. and who's going to pay for it? your average middle-class, working-class american who drives and pays the tolls. these companies -- let's face it, everyone knows it, they're not going to lend money to build a road and not get any return. when the federal government puts money into roads, they don't ask for return other than jobs created building the roads and jobs created because new companies, new housing, new other things will locate alongside the road. it does pay for itself through what the economists would call external costs, externalities. but the companies that invest, the big financiers that invest, they want an immediate return,
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and that means tolls. tolls, tolls and more tolls. more tolls may not sound like a big deal to the bankers and financiers who put together trump's plan, but it sure means a lot to working americans who commute on these roads every day. and i remind people that the federal government has invested in roads and infrastructure for centuries, not decades. henry clay, a whig first proposed it. dwight eisenhower expanded our federal highway system dramatically with huge positive effects in large parts of america. ronald reagan never cut infrastructure. he cut a lot of other things but not infrastructure. he knew what was important. so why are we making this 180-degree hairpin turn right now? it doesn't make sense. and there are other problems with the trump plan. what about buy america? everyone says they're for buy america. the tram infrastructure plan
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un -- the trump infrastructure plan unwinds buy america provisions. if we're going to rebuild american infrastructure, let's do it with american steel, american concrete, and american labor. this is the kind of plan you'd expect from a president who surrounds himself with industry insiders, financiers, people from wall street who look at infrastructure as an investment to be made by corporations. but infrastructure has always been something the government invests in because the benefits aren't immediately apparent to business. a road might not generate short-term profits unless it's started with tolls. but a factory might locate nearby and bring new jobs to the area. the private sector might not build high-speed internet all the way out to the house at the end of the road if there isn't a profit, but that family is just as deserving as every other family in america to be part of the internet, which is a necessity these days, just as electricity was in the 1930's
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when franklin roosevelt proposed connected all rural homes to the electric grid. the private sector then, the private sector now should not pick and choose. it will leave large parts of america out. so that's why the trump infrastructure plan falls short. for almost our entire history, the consensus in congress and the white house was that the government should lead the way on infrastructure. as i've mentioned, republicans, henry clay, a whig, that was the predecessor party. but henry clay, dwight eisenhowers, ronald reagan believed that we needed investment in infrastructure. democrats still believe it. i hope that our mutual desire to fix the nation's crumbling infrastructure without shifting the burden on to taxpayers and local governments motivates us to put the president's proposal to the side as we did with budget and come up with one ourselves. now yesterday on the budget, the
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trump administration delivered a budget to congress that would drastically slash funding for education, environmental protection, transportation, medicare, medicaid. yes, folks, despite the president's promise he would never cut medicare, medicaid and social security, he's cutting two out of the three in this budget, or so he proposes. even with all those cuts, though, the trump budget actually increases the deficit. even in the realm of budgetary magic, the trump budget pulls a trick so absurd that it would even make hudini blush. cut medicare. cut medicaid. and yet increase the deficit. how the heck does that happen? only in the world of president trump and his budgeteers. just week after jamming through a partisan tax bill that would greatly benefit big corporations and the wealthy while adding $1.5 trillion to the deficit,
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the trump administration is now proposing a massive curtailment of the programs that help almost everyone else in america, and at the same time increase the deficit. a bad magic trick. very bad. after entire campaign's worth of promises to protect medicaid and medicare, president trump proposes to cut deeply into both of them. after calling education the civil rights issue in our time in his first address to congress, president trump proposes a 10% cut in education funding. ask your school boards throughout america how they feel about that. alongside hid long delayed -- his long delayed infrastructure plan president trump proposes to cut transportation funding by nearly a fifth, a decrease so large it would result in a net cut in infrastructure funding even if you add in the president's new infrastructure bill. so on the heels of a massive corporate tax cut, this budget is the very inverse of economic
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populism. it cuts back from nearly every program that helps the middle class and those struggling to reach it. the trump budget is the encapsulation of an administration that promises populism but delivers plutocracy where the rich and powerful get the tax cuts but everyone else just gets cut out. 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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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask that the calling of the quorum be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: i ask unanimous consent to speak for about 15 minutes as in this -- as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: i'm going to address, as i do often on the floor, problems with the false claims act. as author of the false claims act of 1986, i want to up front, before i talk about some problems, that this is a piece of legislation that is brought into the federal treasury $
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56 billion to $57 billion of fraudulently taken money. each year the department of justice updates the amount of money that comes in under the false claims act of about $3 billion to $4 billion a year. so we're talking about a piece of legislation that i got passed more than 30 years ago that had been good for the taxpayers to make sure that their money is handled the way the law requires. and obviously if it's taken fraudulently, it's not handled the way that the taxpayers would expect. so with that introduction, i want to bring up some problems with the false claims act. today there's some troubling
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developments in the court's interpretation of the false claims act. to understand these developments, i want to review a little history. in 1943, congress gutted the lincoln era law known as the false claims act. at that time, in -- during world war ii, the department of justice said that it needed no help from whistleblowers to fight fraud. the department of justice said that if the government already knows about the fraud, then no court shupped even hear a whistle -- should even hear a whistleblower's case. so congress amended in 1943 the false claims act to bar any whistleblower from bringing a claim if the government knows about the fraud. now, way back in world war ii,
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looking back, we know that was a big, big mistake what they did to the false claims act because the bar led to uncertain results that will only hurt the taxpayers. it basically meant that all whistleblower cases were blocked, even cases where the government knew about the fraud because of the whistleblowers. in other words, whistleblowers are patriotic people when they are reporting fraud, but it didn't make any difference because of the way the law was amended in 1943. in 1984, the seventh circuit barred the state of wisconsin from a whistleblower action against medicaid fraud. even today medicaid fraud is a
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major problem. we have ways of getting at it now, but in 1984 they didn't. in this case of wisconsin, that state had already told the federal government about the fraud because it was required to report that fraud under federal law. so because of the so-called government knowledge bar enacted in 1943, whistleblower cases went nowhere and neither did prosecution of wrongdoers. so getting back to what i was involved in this 1986, i worked with many of my colleagues, particularly a former congressman -- democratic congressman from california by the name of mr. burman to make it possible for whistleblowers to be heard again. in other words, these patriotic
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americans that just want the government to do what the law says it ought to be doing and money is spent the way it ought to be spent, they want -- they want people to know about it so action can be taken. so in 1986, for whistleblowers to be heard again, that included eliminating this so-called government knowledge bar. since then, what the government knows about fraud has still been used by defendants in false claims cases as a defense against their own state of mind. courts have found that what the government knows about fraud can still undercut allegations that defendants knowingly submitted false claims. the theory sounds -- goes something like this.
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if the government knows about the defendant's bad behavior and the defendant knows that the government knows, then the defendant did not knowingly commit fraud. now, that doesn't make sense, does it? once you wrap your head around that logic puzzle, i've got another one for you. in 2016, the question of what the government knows about fraud and false claims act cases began to take center stage once again. necessary khobar -- in escob ar, the supreme court rightly affirmed that a contractor can be liable under the implied false certification theory. implied false certification, quotation marks around that. that just means a contractor can be in trouble when it doesn't make good on its bargain.
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and it doesn't matter whether the contractor outright lies a misleading omission of its failures is enough. unfortunately, parts of the court's ruling are getting some defendants and judges tied in knots. justice thomas wrote that the false or misleading aspect of the claim has to be material to the government's decision whether the government paid it. thomas said that one of several ways that you can tell whether something misleading is also material is if the government knows what the contractor's up to and pays the claim anyway. now, that's a good way for people just to commit fraud and commit fraud. at first glance i suppose that kind of makes sense. if someone gives you something
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substantially different in value or quality than what you asked for, why would you pay for it? but if the difference really isn't that important, you still might accept it. even if that is true, the problem here is that courts are reacting the way they always have. they're trying to outdo each other and applying justice thomas' analysis inappropriately or as strictly as possible to the point of absurdity. in doing so, they're starting to resurrect el mfntses of that -- elements of that old government knowledge bar that i worked so hard to get rid of in 1986. and remember that government knowledge bar goes back to the big, big mistake that congress made in 1943 by eliminating it
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from the false claims act. this is what justice thomas actually wrote. quote, if the government pays a particular claim in full despite its actual knowledge that certain requirements were violated, this is a very strong evidence that those requirements are not material. or if the government regularly pays a particular type of claim in full despite actual knowledge that certain requirements were violated and has signaled no change in position, that is strong evidence that the requirements are not material. end of quote. now, justice thomas did not say that in every case if government pays a claim despite the fact that someone somewhere in the
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bowels of the bureaucracy might have heard allegations that the contractor might have done something wrong, the contractor is automatically off the hook. think about that. why should the taxpayer pay the price for bureaucrats who fail to expose fraud against the government? that's why the false claims act exists, to protect taxpayers by rewarding whistle-blowers for exposing fraud. justice thomas said that the government's actions when it has actual knowledge that certain requirements were violated are evidence of whether those requirements are material or not. what does it mean for the government to have actual knowledge? would it include one bureaucrat who suspected a violation but looked the other way? would that prove the requirement
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was material? courts need to be careful here. first, this statement about government knowledge is not the standard for materiality. the standard for materiality is actually the same as it has always been. the court did not change that definition necessar in escobar. materiality means, quote, having a natural tendency to influence or being capable of influencing the payment or receipt of money or property. end of quote. the question of the government's behavior in response to fraud is one of multiple factors for courts to weigh nm applying the -- in -- weigh in applying the standard. second, courts and defendants should be mindful that justice
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thomas' limited the relevance here to actual knowledge of things that actually happened. there are all sorts of situations where the government could have doubts, but no actual knowledge of fraud. maybe the government has only heard vague allegations but has no facts. maybe the rumors are about something that may be happening in an industry but nothing about a particular false claims by a particular defendant. maybe an agency has started an inquiry but still has a long ways to go before that inquiry is finished. maybe someone with real agency authority or responsibility hasn't learned of it yet. there are a lot of situations where the government might not have actual knowledge of the fraud. third, even if the government does pay false claim, that is
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not the end of the matter. courts have long recognized there are a lot of reasons why the government might not intervene in a whistle-blower case. and there are a lot of reasons why the government might still pay a false claim. maybe declining to pay the claim would leave the patients without prescriptions or life-saving medical care. paying the claims in that case does not mean that fraud is unimportant. it means that in that moment, the government wants to ensure access to critical care. that payment cannot and does not deprive the government of the right to recover the payment obtained through fraud. can you imagine if that were the rule? can you imagine if providers
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could avoid all accountability because the government decided not to let someone suffer? then fosters could hold the government hostage. they could submit bogus claims all the time with no consequences because they know the government is not going to deny treatment to the sick and the vulnerable. that is just not what the false claims act says. courts should not read such a ridiculous rule into that statute. fourth, courts should take care in reading into the act a requirement for the government to immediately stop paying claims or first pursue some other remedy. there could be many important reasons to pay a claim that have nothing to do with whether the fraud is material. further, there is no exhaustion requirement.
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the false claims act does not require the government to jump through administrative hoops or give up its rights. and that would be an unreasonable burden on the government in any event. we have decades of data showing that the government cannot stop fraud by itself. hence, the importance of whistle-blowers. hence, the importance of the false claims act. i also know for many years of oversight, that purely administrative remedies are not very time consuming and often toothless. the government should be able to decide how best to protect the taxpayers from fraud. the false claims act is the most effective tool the government has. the government should be able to use it without the courts piling on bogus restrictions that are
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just not law. where i started, the importance of the false claims act. it's brought in 50 -- $56 billion to $57 billion into the federal treasury since its enactment in 1986. each year the department of justice updates the law with usually reporting three or four -- $3 billion or $4 billion coming in under that act in the previous year. i hope the courts understand that every bureaucrat in government has to have the opportunity to report what's wrong so that we make sure that the taxpayers' money are properly spent. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
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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. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent
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that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: now, mr. president, for months senators have been clamoring for a floor debate on daca. border security and other urgent issues pertaining to immigration. we certainly had ample time to prepare. now the week we set aside for this debate has arrived. the week my democratic colleagues insisted that we dedicate to this issue. the clock is ticking but the debate has yet to begin. that's because our democratic colleagues have yet to yield back any of their postcloture time so we can begin this important debate. if we're going to resolve these matters this week, we need to get moving. in my view, the proposal unveiled yesterday by senator grassley and a number of other senators offers our best chance to find a solution.
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i've committed that an amendment process will be fair and both sides will have the opportunity to submit ideas for debate, for votes. but for that to happen, our colleagues will have to actually introduce their own amendments rather than just talk about them. my colleague, senator toomey, for example, had done just that. he's put forward an amendment to address one of the most glaring aspects of our nation's broken immigration system, sanctuary cities. i see no reason to further delay consideration of this and other substantive proposals. so let's start by setting up a vote on his amendment and an amendment for my democratic colleagues, an amendment of their choosing, not mine. with their consent we can start the debate and have the first two amendment votes. so, mr. president, consistent with that, i would ask consent that at 2:15 today, the motion
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to proceed to h.r. 2579 be agreed to. i ask unanimous consent that senator toomey or his designee be recognized to offer amendment 1948, and that the democratic leader or his designee be recognized to offer an amendment. further, that the time until 3:30 p.m. be equally divided between the leaders or their designees and that following the use or yielding back of that time, the senate vote on the amendments in the order listed with 60 affirmative votes required for adoption and that no second-degree amendments be in order prior to the votes. finally, that if any of the amendments are adopted, they become original text for purpose of further amendment. mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. schumer: reserving the right to object. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: mr. president, i appreciate the process the majority leader agreed to this week, but the proposal he just offered does not address the underlying issues of this debate, why we're here. it doesn't address dreamers nor
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does it address border security. as i said this morning, the senate must focus on finding a bipartisan solution that addresses those two issues, dreamers and border security. rather than the partisan proposal offered by the republican leader, i suggest we consider two proposals inside the scope of debate. one for each side. let the republicans offer the president's plan in the form of legislation carried by the senators from iowa and arkansas, which the leader supports, and the democrats will offer the bipartisan coons-mccain bill, narrow legislation that protects the dreamers, boosts border security, and adds resources for immigration courts. each is the opening foray, one for can't dids, one for -- democrats, one for republicans, and can start the process and let us know where we stand. our legislation is ready to go and we'd be happy to vote as soon as the republicans have
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their proposal drafted and ready for an amendment vote. to begin this debate as the republican leader suggests would be getting off on the wrong foot, unrelated to daca, very partisan. respectfully, i suggest we move to the bills offered by senators grassley and senator coons instead. let's get this debate started on the right foot. so i object total leader's request. the presiding officer: the objection is heard.
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mr. thune: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: i have five requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. thune: mr. president, when we set out to do tax reform, we had two big goals we wanted to achieve for the american people. first, we wanted to provide them with immediate relief on their tax bills, which we did by lowering tax rates across the board, gublg the child tax credit, and nearly doubling the standard deduction -- doubling the child tax credit, and nearly doubling the standard deduction. thanks to new rates, americans
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across the nation will start seeing bigger paychecks this month. but our objective went beyond tax cuts, as important as that relief is to the american people. we wanted to create an economy that would produce the jobs and opportunities that would provide americans with security and prosperity for the long term. before the tax cuts and jobs act, our tax code wasn't helping to create that kind of an economy. in fact, it was working against it. businesses large and small were weighed down by high tax rates and growth-killing tax provisions in all of the regulatory and compliance burdens that came along with it. and our outdated international tax rules left america's global businesses at a competitive disadvantage in the global economy. that had real consequences for american workers. a small business owner struggling to afford the annual tax bill for her business was highly unlikely to be able to hire a new worker or to raise
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wages. a larger business struggling to stay competitive in the global marketplace while paying substantially higher tax rates than its foreign competitors too often had limited funds to expand or increase investment in the united states. and so when it came time for tax reform, we set out to reform the business side of the tax code to benefit american workers. we knew that for american workers to have access to good jobs and opportunities, the american economy had to thrive. and that means that american businesses have to thrive. and so we took action to lessen the challenges facing american businesses. we lowered tax rates across the board for owners of small and medium-sized businesses, farms, and ranches. we expanded business owners' ability to recover investments that they make in their businesses, which will free up cash that they can reinvest in
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their operations and their workers. we lowered our nation's massive corporate tax rate, which up until january 1 was the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. and we brought the u.s. international tax system into the 21st century by replacing our outdated worldwide system with a modernized territorial tax system so that american businesses are not operating at disadvantage next to their foreign competitors. the goal in all of this, mr. president, was to free up businesses to increase investments in the u.s. economy, to hire new workers, and to increase wages and benefits. well, i'm happy to report, mr. president, that that's exactly what they are doing. even though tax reform has been the law of the land for less than two months, businesses are already announcing new investment, new jobs, better wages, and better benefits for
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workers. tech giant apple announced that thanks to tax reform, it will bring home almost $250 billion in cash that it has been keeping overseas and invest it here in the united states. it also announced that it will create 20,000 new jobs. fiat chrysler announced that it will be adding 2,500 jobs at a michigan factory to produce pickups that it had been making in mexico. nexus services is hiring 200 more workers. j.p. morgan chase is adding 4,000 new jobs and opening 400 new branches. boeing is investing an additional $100 million in infrastructure and facilities and an additional $100 million in workforce development. regions financial corporation is investing an additional $100 million in capital expenditures. fedex is investing $1.5 billion
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to expand its fedex express hub in indianapolis. exxonmobil is investing an additional $35 billion in the u.s. economy over the next five years. and on and on. mr. president, we are starting to see similar results, not just from larger and medium-sized companies, but from small companies, too. for example, jones auto and toeing in riverview, florida, is putting two new tow trucks into service which means new jobs for workers. and then there are all the companies boosting their wage base -- bank of hawaii, charter communications, incorporated, berkshire hills bancop, rod's foods in montana, walmart, cigna corporation, great western bancorp in my home state of
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south dakota, webster corporation, capital one, huma, and the list keeps going and going. and there are companies increasing their 401(k) matches, boosting wages, creating or expanding parental leave benefits, improving health benefits. mr. president, tax reform is already working for american workers, and as the benefits of tax reform accrue, we can expect more jobs, more benefits, higher wages, and more opportunities for american workers in the future. mr. president, that is what tax reform was designed to do. unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit in this country, providing incentives for american businesses to expand and grow their businesses, and in doing that to create those better-paying jobs, those higher wages, and that better standard of living for american workers and american families. it is having the desired effect.
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we are seeing it every single day in this country. mr. president, this is not only a short-term thing, this is a long-term effect and change that will be good for the american economy and for american workers. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: about 20 minutes ago, our majority leader, senator mcconnell, tried to move debate along on an immigration bill, and i'm puzzled that the minority leader, senator schumer, objected, and the reason i'm puzzled is because for a long period of time, maybe for some of the members on the other side of the aisle and even some people on our side of the aisle, for a long period of time, maybe ten years, people have been advocating for certainty for the young people brought here by
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their parents that we call either dreamers or daca people. to give them certainty. to give them legalization. and so the majority leader two weeks ago promised the minority an opportunity to have a debate on that issue. the first debate on immigration since 2013, i believe. and so the majority leader today tries to carry out that promise and get this bill moving, and we have this objection. very puzzling. so i think it's legitimate to ask the minority leader, objecting to a unanimous consent agreement, why the objection is coming for the very debate that he has and his side of the aisle has been demanding from the majority for a long, long period of time.
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hasn't the minority leader and the entire democratic water been asking for this debate? yes, they have been. leader mcconnell has honored his commitment and allowed us to have an open, fair immigration debate this week. the key word here is an immigration debate, not a daca-only debate, not an amnesty-only debate. an immigration debate. an immigration debate has to include a discussion about enforcement measures, and the immigration debate has to include a discussion about how to remove dangerous criminal aliens from our country, and a real immigration debate has to include discussions about how to protect the american people. the leader has asked for unanimous consent to allow us to start debating these issues, and
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the democrats are refusing. puzzling as i say it is because they have been the ones to demand to have this debate, why don't they want to debate things like sanctuary cities, as one example that was asked for? are they unprepared to discuss the vital public safety issues, or is it more likely that they are worried that some bills on enforcement on this side of the aisle could actually pass? maybe that's the case, but it's no reason not to allow this body to start debate on this very important issue. the american people deserve a real immigration debate about the four pillars that we agreed to at the white house, and not just debate about the democrats' preferred policy preferences. yes, daca is an important part
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of that discussion, but it's only one part. if the democrats are insisting that we debate their preferred policies only, well, that's not a real debate at all. we have filed an amendment that takes into consideration the four pillars that was agreed to at a bicameral, bipartisan meeting at the white house with the president presiding january 9. those four pillars include legalization and a path to citizenship, border security, elimination of chain migration, and forthly, elimination of the diversity visa lottery. those all fit in, maybe not in detail exactly the way the
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president might want it, but they fit into the four pillars that he said he would sign a piece of legislation, so i suggest to my other 99 colleagues that there is a provision that can pass the united states senate, pass the house of representatives, and be signed by the president of the united states, because he has said that he agrees with those principles. other people have bills, but not something that can become law based upon what the president will sign or not sign. so i think that it's kind of, again, very puzzling why the democrat leadership will not allow this debate to go forward, something that they have been asking for. more importantly, maybe quite to their surprise that the majority leader would allow this debate to move forward, but that's how a consensus was met about two
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weeks ago on the issue of opening government and having this debate and moving forward to a budget agreement. those things have been done. now the leader is carrying out his promise. i hope the other side will agree to move ahead. i yield the floor. mr. president, i have -- i ask unanimous consent that the senate stand in recess as if under the previous order. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, the under the previous order, the
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>> a c-span bus is traveling across the country and our capitals to her. we recently stopped in montgomery, alabama asking the most important issue in their state.
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>> being here, montgomery, alabama, the worst and pertinent issues to me our equality, freedom and equal justice for all people. we can't just talk about this every february in black history month, but we have to live it every day of the year. so we have to do more to build bridges. a famous educator in alabama, booker t. washington one world there's two ways to exert one's power. one is pushing down and one is pulling a. let's start pulling people out. >> one issue is the lack of jobs here in alabama but especially in montgomery. people graduated from different colleges whether it be in montgomery or the surrounding areas and they are looking for a job and there's no job here. you need more than just a college degree to get a job and
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i think that's hindering a lot of people because a lot of people don't have the financial aid or higher learning education, so they all have the money to get the higher education and they can't find a job with the average college degree. >> we've been fighting common core for seven, eight years now and we have it in alabama. we want to get rid of it. >> the state of alabama is racial inequalities and justice reform. here in the state, we still have rhetoric in our constitution that is representative of a time that is long past and having discriminatory language in a document that outlines a diverse group of people is very outdated and that limits people's powers. the disenfranchisement, the way that law enforcement interacts with the citizens across the
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state, i think that those things need to be addressed so that we can have that gap within the disparity is in the inequalities within the justice system here in alabama. those kids clothes and eventually not even exist. >> the issue for me is the cost of college education. i want everyone to have equal opportunity to go to college with a fair amount of money because some people may go to college, maybe the first people in our family and the government should really take on responsibility and giving us more money than the lack of money they've been giving us for years. >> the senate now on its second day of work on immigration
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policy. in the past hour, and the majority leader tended to move things forward by suggesting a parent amendment speaking entered and voted on this afternoon. minority leader chuck schumer jack did. we will show their exchange in just a moment. they are making their way through the halls of congress including one offered by republican senator chuck grassley and john korn and, which includes most of a president trump is looking for an agreement including a path to citizenship for dreamers, limits on family migration also known as chain migration and into the visa lottery program and $25 billion for a border wall. after the leader's remarks show what it looks like when they brought their plan upje yesterd. >> mr. president, for months, senators have been clamoring for debate on daca, border security and other urgent issues pertaining too immigration. we certainly have ample time to prepare. now we set aside for this debate

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