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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  March 6, 2018 2:15pm-7:09pm EST

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lot of things that the republicans would like to have put in are not there and a lot of the things the democrats would like to put in are not there. the things that we been able to find consensus on here as i have indicated primarily in the smaller, financial institution area are the areas where we have the most success. yes, those are relevant issues and the question is just whether we can get. >> will bring you back to the capital for lawmakers remarks can had now to the floor of the senate traveling back in. life here on c-span2.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent that riley steele, a fellow with the banking committee be granted floor privileges during the pendency of s. 2155. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. ten years ago, almost two the day, this country is on the verge of financial crisis that would wreck the lives of millions of families. the experts -- let's say the so-called experts had their heads in the sand. they shrugged off the warnings. they told the public everything was fine. jim kramer was telling hardworking americans to invest their money in bear stearns. for younger members of the senate, maybe they don't really remember who bear stearns was. jim kramer said, i'm not giving up on the thing. bank of america was putting the fifning touches on -- finishing touches on its plan to buy the subprime lender countrywide
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which she called the best domestic mortgage platform. hank fallson, the last -- paulison, the last treasury secretary who got picked from goldman sachs -- we've had at least one since -- the last treasury secretary who got plucked from goldman sachs downplayed homeowners' pain. he said, you know, the stock market goes up and down every day more than the entire value of the subprime mortgages in the country. meanwhile, advocates and communities, the people who actually deal with the consequences of the crisis were sounding the alarm. the fair lending group greenlining began meeting with federal reserve chair alan greenspan at least once a year starting in 1999. 1999, to warn about predatory mortgage lending. attorneys general across the country started to caution about troubling trends. in cleveland, in the presiding officer's home state, we saw
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home prices climb 66% in ten years with the housing market juiced by quote, flipping on mega steroids according to the government panel that investigated the crisis. city officials in cleveland began to hear reports that predatory home refinances were being pushed on borrowers regardless of whether they could afford to repay the loan. you know, those refinances mean fees to bankers. foreclosures began to shoot up in cuyahoga county. 59 -- listen to this. 5,900 filings a year in 2000 foreclosures. by 2007, 15,000. 5,900 in 2000 in cuyahoga county. 15,000 by 2007. my wife and i live in zip code 5 which includes slavic, cleveland. that zip code had more foreclosures than any zip code in the united states of america. the city of cleveland went to
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the fed and asked it to use its authority to restrain subprime lending. the fed did nothing. the people in charge in washington were too certain, too detached, perhaps too comfortable to listen to the warnings from ohioans and from people across the country. we saw what happened. all these people who had the hiewb rouse to say that the economy could keep growing and keep growing while the middle class was being looted, those people, thank you very much, weathered the crisis just fine. nobody who tanked the economy in wall street went to jail. in fact, many of these same people now have fancy jobs in fancy buildings dressed in fancy clothes with fancy titles working on wall street and in the white house. but in zip codes like 44105, slavic village, cleveland, ohio, places like it across the country, parents were sitting down at kitchen tables to have painful conversations with their
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children. think about this. think about what this means. you're -- you lose your job or you can't keep up with your mortgage payment. husband, wife, two teenage children, you've got a family pet, a dog, you realize you're falling farther and farther, you're still working, still trying. things aren't going well. the first thing you do, your dog has to go to the vet, you can't pay for that. you simply don't have the money. you take the dog to the shelter or you do what a lot of families in cleveland unfortunately do. you try to give your dog away or do something. you then face your children. you is a i to your children -- you say to your children, we're going to lose our home. we're going to have to move. we don't know where we're going to move, what school district. we don't know where your friends will be because we may have to move. i don't think people think much about what foreclosures mean to families. remember i said 5,900 in cuyahoga county. 15,000 by 2007, hundreds of those in zip code 44105.
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think about what that does to those families. think what that does to those families. my colleagues, when we vote today or today and tomorrow and thursday on whether we're going to pass this giveaway bill to wall street, just think about that. the c.e.o. and the boards of the banks, the people in washington who are supposed to be watching failed these americans. that's why congress including some republicans did something about it ten years ago, something to stop this from ever happening again. we passed a law. we created important protections for the financial system, for taxpayers, for homeowners. we held banks and watchdogs accountable to prevent another crisis. we fundamentally did it right a decade ago. but, you know, wall street never gives up that easy. they didn't like that bill. they opposed that bill, most of them. big bank lobbyists, the same ones who are so sure the 2000 crisis wasn't going to happen. those that flippantly just said things are all right. remember what hank paulison
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said, the bush secretary of the treasury said, you know, the stock market goes up and down and every day more than -- every day more than the entire value of the subprime mortgages in the country. well, hank didn't pay much of a price. none of the regulators paid much of a price. ten years ago we did it right. i said, the big banks never gave up. big bank lobbyists went to work. get this. on the day that president obama signedded dodd-frank bill implementing these safety rules and regulations, implementing the consumer protection, making sure that the government was actually on the side of consumers and people paying their mortgage and homeowners and all, that same day president obama put his barack obama signature on the dodd-frank law. the top financial service lobbyists in washington said, now it's half time. now it's half time. in other words, we may have lost the first half. they passed this bill. we didn't want it but don't worry about us in the second half. to these people the economy is a
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game. they can't tell the difference between putting millions of americans' lives and homes and savings at risk. they can't tell the difference between putting millions of americans' lives and homes and savings at risk in a game of pickup basketball. piece by piece, wall street has gone to the agencies, to the courts, to congress to dismantle the consumer protections we put in place. the drumbeat is constant, it's ongoing. it has been happening for ten years. they always want a new exemption. they always want a weaker standard. they always want a new tax break. you know what, mr. president? they can always find a whole lot of senators and house members that will write a letter to the federal reserve, that will make a call to the office of the consumers council, that will attack in public the consumer bureau. they can always find members in this body who are fueled by lots of wall street contributions and a lot of allies in new york. they can always find people to do their bidding. that's why you see this --
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that's how you hear this drumbeat. they want a new exemption, a new weaker standard, a new tax break. the last year has been a really good time to be a bank lobbyist. after the crisis, we had created the consumer protection bureau to represent the interests of regular americans who have to fight with their bank or their credit card company. now in this administration, the consumer bureau unbelievably so is run by a guy who believes, publicly said he believes it shouldn't even exist. the consumer bureau's new protections are under attack. one quick story. all democrats, even some republicans, agreed we should protect consumers' right to take their bank to court. what's more american than if you think your bank cheated you, that you should be able to go to court? but bank lobbyists convince with a lot of allies on this side of the aisle, bank lobbyists convinced the vice president of the united states to come to the chamber, late at night. you know, late at night here at 9:00 or 10:00. the public's not watching, but
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you can be damned sure the special interests are alive and well and watching in their offices and making calls and doing all that. the vice president of the united states came to this senate chamber to break a tie -- to do a tie-casting vote to vote against hardworking american families. instead of protecting these families, the vice president and his allies in the senate, they voted for wells fargo, they voted for equifax, they voted for city group. the rule is gone, that rule to protect, to ensure that consumers had their day in court if their bank cheated them, that rule is gone piece by piece by piece. the watchdogs who were supposed to be protecting main street all come to their jobs fresh from, surprise, wall street and k street. the president's cabinet, mr. president, looks like an executive retreat for wall street bankers. they have releaseed blueprint after blueprint on how to dismantle all the rules put in place after the crisis, and they
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are putting their people in place to do it. they just rammed through congress a bill to give wall street an enormous tax break that will cost american families $1.5 trillion. but it gives big bank c.e.o.'s a huge raise. that's 10,000 times more than what we spend at h.u.d. every year to protect kids from toxic lead. back to zip code 44105. the health department of the city of cleveland told me almost all those homes built before world war ii, those homes, 99% of them have levels of toxic -- have levels of toxic lead that will make children sick, 99% of those homes. yet we can do this big tax cut and not take care of those families. not long ago, another bank lobbyist told us their plan. we don't want a seat at the table, he said. we want the whole table. they are about to get rotundaer the bill the senate will consider this week. piece by piece, they tear these protections down. this bill gives them the whole table and leaves nothing for working families. if you thought, if the secretary
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of h.u.d.'s $31,000 he spent to buy that fancy table for his dining room, $31,000 taxpayer dollars, if you thought that was a bad deal for taxpayers, wait until i tell you about the billions and billions of dollars at risk that are packed into this effort. this bill puts americans at risk of another bank bailout. the congressional budget office, the independent nonpartisan scorekeeper confirmed yesterday that this bill would increase the probability of a big bank failure and a financial crisis and would add $671 million to the deficit. "the washington post" said senate bank bill likely to boost chances of bank bailout. now, it's bad enough we're going to pass after banks have been so profitable in the last decade, after they were bailed out by the public, thank you very much. they have had a really pretty darn good decade. then they get a big tax cut. now they want this and a little cherry on top. first they get the -- they get this bill, which is about to pass, which will be really good for bankers, but then they get
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$671 million extra from taxpayers. so again, thank you very much, taxpayers, for taking care of the banks. so we're going to -- we're going to weaken the rules, we're going to pay wall street for the privilege of doing it. this bill weakens stress tests for all large banks, even wall street megabanks that are designated as global, systematically important banks like j.p. morgan chase. $2.5 trillion in assets. $2.5 trillion is -- is 2,500 billion, and a billion is a thousand million. that's hard to calculate. that's a lot of money. j.p. morgan chase, they get a break. they are $2.5 trillion in assets. bank america gets a break. $2.3 trillion in assets. wells fargo who can't stay out of trouble, every week there is something new, $1.9 trillion in assets. citibang, 1.9 -- citibank,
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$1.9 trillion in assets. a bank that's always close to wall street, "the wall street journal" headlined this morning wall street banks get a big win in senate rollback bill. so don't let -- my colleagues, don't let anybody that supports this bill tell you this is all for the community banks. the community banks get some things p in this bill. i'd love to support the community banks and make this a bill about community banks, about credit unions, even about the regional banks like the ones in my state that generally do the right thing. huntington and fifth third and key bank. but this bill, listen to the "wall street journal," big banks get a big win in senate rollout. this is about those four banks i mentioned -- j.p. morgan chase, wells fargo, citigroup. these banks hold more than half of all industry assets. they are a pretty big darn part of our economy. we are doing things for them as they are profitable, as their executives make millions, excuse me, maybe tens of millions of
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dollars, as they are doing stock buybacks to make more money, we are not dealing with the infrastructure, not dealing with the opioid crisis, we are doing nothing here about guns, but we have got time, we have time to do a lot for america's largest banks. these are banks whose collapse with this deregulation, these are banks whose collapse could harm -- could cause ripples across the world. together, these countries -- the country's biggest banks took $239 billion in taxpayer bailouts, so without the rigorous annual stress test that we put in dodd-frank a decade ago and we're relaxing now, taxpayers could once again be on the hook if too big to fail banks collapse and we don't have the right tools in place to see it coming. and it opens the door. this is maybe even more unbelievable than the fact that this body's fallen all over itself to help the biggest banks. this bill also weakens the oversight for foreign megabanks operating in the united states, the same banks that repeatedly
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violate u.s. laws. let's run through the rap sheets of some of these banks. deutsche bank, big german bank. deutsche bank manipulated the benchmark interest rates used to set for mortgage. it's also known as the only large bank in the world that will finance the president's businesses. a spanish bank illegally repossessed cars from members of the military who were serving our country overseas. so we're going to give a break to a spanish bank that repossessed the cars of men and women at wright-patterson air force base and others which he they were serving overseas? they repossessed their cars, and we are going to give them, deregulate, make them more profitable with less accountability? barkley's, british bank, manipulated electric energy prices. if you live on the west coast. i don't, my constituents weren't affected, but a whole lot of people were as they manipulated energy prices. one of them illegally did business with iran. we have tried to tighten the
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sanctions on iran so iran, to get iran to behave better so they don't -- they don't continue to -- they don't continue to harass or worse israel and all the threats they make. we're going to help a bank that did business with iran? and u.b.s. sold toxic mortgage-backed securities. mr. president, it didn't have to be this way. i tried for months to work with the chairman of the committee. i like senator crapo a lot. we work together well. i tried for months to work in a commonsense package of reforms aimed at lifting up community banks and credit unions. that's what we ought to do. that's what we could do. that's what we still could do. these are the local financial institutions that fuel homeownership and small businesses. i know a lot of them. they come to see me in washington. i see them in their communities. i see them in sycamore and columbus and mansfield and tiffin and all over the state. these are not the people that caused the meltdown ten years ago. these are the ones that got dragged down when big banks crashed the economy.
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i support those regional banks that do things right and play by the rules. i want to do more to help americans who have to cope with unfair tricks and traps. that's not what this bill does. that's how it started out. that's what wall street wants you to think, this is a bill for the community banks. don't forget, they said that about the tax cut bill. it's a tax cut for the middle class. well, 81% of the benefits in the tax cut go to the richest 1%. don't always believe what they say when they talk about this. but this was a false choice. why should we have to roll back rules for the largest banks in switzerland to help out community banks or credit unions in ohio? of course we shouldn't. it's been a false choice. we could pass a bill today that helps those local banks invest more in their communities while keeping in place strict rules for wall street megabanks. but wall street and republicans don't want to do that. they want to use the little guys. the community banks we all want to help, they want to use the little guys to extract something for the big guys. it's the oldest trick in the book. we're going to cut taxes for middle class.
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really, we're kind of hoping we can give big tax breaks to the richest 1%. we're going to help the community banks. we know we're going to help wall street. wall street, -- this city, washington, this government, this senate, this senate banking committee are all suffering from collective amnesia. they just forget what happened ten years ago. maybe it's convenient, they don't want to remember what happened. thankfully, the i.m.f., international monetary fund, an agency of international financial experts has done us a favor to help jog memories. they have cataloged 300 years of history, of bank deregulation efforts all across the globe. do you know what they found? we deregulate, the economy explodes, we put in protections, the economy gets better, we deregulate again, the economy explodes, we put in protections, the economy gets better, we deregulate again. wash, rinse, repeat. we can do better. we owe it to the people we serve to do better. the senate owes it to 176,000
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kids in ohio and other kids across the country whose lives and education were disrupted by the foreclosure crisis. think how many children lived at homes when their parents were foreclosed on or their parents were evicted and everything in their lives turned upside down. we don't care about them. we're going to forget about them, this collective amnesia. we're going to forget about them because we want to help the big banks get bigger and bigger and bigger. is that what we're going to do? we owe it to the millions of people whose retirements were wiped out. millions of americans lost big chunks of their retirement when -- but we bailed out the big banks at the same time. we owe it to the students who graduate with the great recession. they may have lower earnings for the rest of their lives. the watchdogs who understand these markets are trying to warn us. paul volcker, former chair of the federal reserve, he has cautioned us about this bill. he was a fed chair for a democrat and a republican president. sheila baer who helped us put protections in place after the crisis, she is a republican, warning us about this bill.
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tom honnig, current vice chair at the fdic, selected for that passion by republicans has told us this is possible. barney frank has said he would vote no if he was here. former governor of the federal reserve dan turillo, he has outlined a number of concerns. law professors, fair housing advocates, big bank experts, people who provide legal services across this country who deal with foreclosures, and civil rights groups are telling us we can't go down that path again. we know what happens next. it's hieb rust to think we -- hubris to think we can gut the rules in these banks again but avoid the next crisis. if you strip the rules away from the big banks and you turn your back as regulators on misfeasance and malfeasance, that collective amnesia, we're going to pay for it, and we know we are. there are so many important things that we should be doing here instead.
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we should be addressing the fact, and the presiding officer and i have been working on this bill, the workers and retirees in ohio and across the country who might have their pensions, the pensions they spent a lifetime earning, they could be slashed in half if congress doesn't act. we could be doing that. we could be addressing the fact that 400,000 ohioans pay more than half their income each month on rent to keep a roof over their head. we could be creating jobs, we could be tackling the opioid epidemic, we could be fighting against high drug prices. we could be investing in our crumbling roads and bridges. instead, guess what? we're here helping the big banks. everybody's willing to work full time to help wall street. the question, mr. president, is whose side are we on? will we on the -- are we on the side of megabank lobbyists or are we on the side of american taxpayers and homeowners and students and workers? i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the
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senator from montana. mr. daines: mr. president, montanans want to access and enjoy our state's public lands, and for a very good reason. nothing beats our way of life in montana, our hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, skiing, backpacking, climbing, and all with a backdrop of breath-taking views and a very rich history of conservation. that's why congressman forte and i introduced the protect public lands act. our bill protects our pristine natural resources while also ensuring that montanans are able to recreate in u.s. forest service lands that are not wilderness, but they've been locked up in regulatory limbo for decades. congressman forte's second bill deals with similarly locked up bureau of land management lands. and here's what the protect
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public use of public lands act does. it ensures public access to land within five wilderness study areas across montana. they're also called w.s.a.'s. while there are thousands more acres of public land that are still in limbo, i put these five w.s.a.'s in my bill for two simple reasons. first, the forest service determined that these lands were not suitable for wilderness in their final plan. in fact, that was a charge given by congress back in 1977. they said go out and study these forest service lands and tell us which acres are suitable for wilderness and which are not. the acreages i'm proposing that we should release are those that were deemed not suitable for wilderness in their final plan by the forest service. but second, that there's strong
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local support for unlocking these lands from the grassroots up, including the montana state legislature, including countless local community members, dozens of sportsmen, county commissioners, wildlife groups, including the western montana fish and game association and the montana sportsmen for fish and wildlife. because unlocking these lands, w.s.a., does not automatically authorize any particular uses of the land. it's -- it simply opens up and allows for public conversation about how the lands should be used by setting up a planning process for public comment. in fact, protections like the 2001 roadless rule, the endangered species act and the existing forest and travel management plans remain intact.
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you know what this means? you can't construct a new road. and that would be kept after the release of the w.s.a.'s. this has been a bottom-up approach from the get-go. here's the bottom line. montana's public lands are meant for everyone. they're meant for people who like to recreate in many different ways. for those who love to hike, of course, but also folks who enjoy recreating with mountain bikes, hunting, snowmobiling, riding a.t.v.'s. and creating access to our public lands is critical to montana's jobs and our $7 billion outdoor economy. in fact, communities in montana understand this is an important local economic driver that will strengthen local economies, that depend on outdoor jobs. in fact, just recently, the bureau of economic analysis
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agrees. in fact, they said the outdoor recreation generates $373 billion of our g.d.p. across our country. mostly from motorized vehicles, from boating, from fishing, from hunting, from shooting. our bill will help montanans recreate with all of these uses by unlocking our public lands.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from idaho. mr. crapo: thank you, mr. president. i'm going to be joined today by some of my colleagues from the banking committee who are also supporters of the economic growth regulatory relief and consumer protection act. we rise today to speak about this bipartisan legislation that advanced out of the committee last year by a vote of 16-7, a bipartisan vote. the primary purpose of this legislation is to make targeted changes to simplify and improve the regulatory regime for community banks, credit unions, mid-size banks and regional banks to promote economic
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growth. many of us represent rural states where community banks and credit unions are the primary providers of credit and financial services. these institutions hold a competitive advantage over their larger counterparts operating with a relationship-based knowledge of their customers and understanding of their unique needs. but they are decidedly disadvantaged when it comes to keeping up with the ever increasing compliance and examiner demands coming out of washington. our bill offers much needed reforms that will reduce unless burdens on smaller financial institutions so that they can use more of their capital serving customers rather than complying with federal regulations that were never intended for them. it also adds protections for consumers, veterans, senior citizens, and others against fraud and identity theft as well as those falling on hard financial times. this bill is the product of
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robust bipartisan negotiation which was years in the making. it is the outgrowth of feedback and input garnered from a process we initiated in the banking committee across all stakeholders in america as well as from previous meetings, briefings, and many, many conversations and negotiations among the members. i see senator heitkamp is here, and i'm going to ask her in just a second to talk about this process and how we reach this point today and what it means for north dakotans. senator heitkamp. ms. heitkamp: thank you. i was going to say mr. chairman but i guess at this point you're just senator crapo. mr. president, i want to just take a moment and personally thank senator crapo from idaho for his incredible leadership. frequently we ask what's wrong in the united states senate. why can't you seem to get anything done even though we all
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have common purpose here, and that is to protect the american public, to defend the american public and help the american public be prosperous. frequently my response is, many times it's a lack of leadership. it's a lack of willingness to actually sit down, listen, and prepare a product that can get results. that hasn't been our problem with senator crapo. he has been there personally every step along the way, not delegating to staff but working with us one on one. maybe sometimes four on one. it feels a little ganged up on but i think it's fair odds for him, i might say. you about i -- but i also know this would not be here without the leadership of senator crapo in the banking committee, a committee that has a reputation historically for being notoriously bipartisan. so i want to extend my great appreciation for his work and for the -- his willingness to listen and to work with all of us. so what are we celebrating
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today? we haven't quite got it over the finish line, but certainly having the vote that we just had a couple of hours ago which is a broad bipartisan vote on a cloture vote is not something we see very often in this body. i think what we have to say is this bill is a piece of almost old fashion legislating. it's a prime example of how senators can work together to effectively achieve a result and do it in a bipartisan way. despite washington gridlock partisan, a group of us on banking wrote and introduced this bipartisan bill through a good faith negotiation which lasted literally years. i've been working on this since coming to the united states senate and being assigned to the banking committee. in fact, i've been working on these reforms since 2013. the bill didn't come together overnight. it was carefully crafted and it was done not just with these regulators in discussion but also the obama era regulators as
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well. so we know that we have an opportunity here to do something that no one thought was possible. take a piece of legislation that didn't come through in rule 14, didn't come through in reconciliation, came through in the traditional way through a banking committee process where we sat -- and i will again applaud the chairman. no amendment was told was out of order. no amendment wasn't given an opportunity to be heard or voted on. in fact, we sat for seven hours and voted on amendments and listened to debate on this bill. so those people who think it came quickly, you're wrong. this did not come quickly. it came over a long period of time through extensive discussions. so i want to talk about why i care so much about this bill. when i was going around the state in 2012 talking to folks who had opinions about the federal government, one of the
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things i frequently heard was from my small credit unions and my independent community bankers and my bankers because the north dakota independent community bankers frequently tend to be members of the north dakota banking association. they said one thing to me that really resonated. and that was how is it that dodd-frank which was supposed to deal with the largest lenders in this country, the largest institutions of this country, how is it that you have this dodd-frank bill that was supposed to stop too big to fail and it has become too small to succeed? the compliance burdeners overwhelming. -- burdens are overwhelming. the confusion that we have about this, we wonder why all of this is on us when we weren't part of the problem. so we're getting punished for being a financial institution and for no good reason other than we're in a class that includes a lot bigger actors. so one of the things that i
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would tell you is this bill is critical to rural america. when you look at the challenges that rural america faces, the access to capital has to be on the top of the list. plus, i think all of us who have been to a class b basketball tournament or class b basketball game can look at the program, turn it over, and what you will see is sponsorship from your local lending institution. you will see a part of the community, whether it is helping host fund-raisers, whether it is being involved in cancer drives, that main street institution of the community bank is there every step of the way. but we are seeing more and more those institutions being challenged by things such as oveoverregulation. i want to talk a little bit about my hometown bank, the first bank i had a checking account with and a savings account. it's kind of -- it's a little bit of a funny story. my dad -- probably the statute
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of limitations probably has run but back in the day, a small town, there was illegal gambling. i know people might be shocked. my dad put my name in on a raffle that they were having and that night at the stag party i won the raffle. it was $30 which actually years ago that was a lot of money. the first thing he did, he took me down to lincoln state bank to open up a savings account and i put that $30 into a savings account. and that institution was there and from there we had our first checking account. and from there i knew that my dad had a relationship with his banker that would help him through some tough times when he needed a little bit of extra cash, help him through some times when he needed a car loan or whatever else it was. and when we lose those local lenders, when we lose the ability of those local lenders to do business, that means that the opportunity for relationship banking is gone. what do i mean by that? i've told this story many times
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in committee. you're sitting and you're the small town banker. a guy comes in and maybe he has a shoe box. that's all the receipts. he doesn't have a fancy cash flow statement. he doesn't have a fancy work plan. but you know this guy's never not paid a bill. he owes nobody any money. that's part of his character. that's who he is. and he never cheats anyone. he fixes the plumbing. he fixes the furnace and it stays fixed and he doesn't ask for a lot in return. but maybe he needs a new piece of equipment. maybe he needs a new car. he goes to the local lender. and that may not pencil out. it may not be the best loan that they're going to make. but it's who they are and it's what they contribute to that institution. and they give that guy the loan not based on any paperwork that's in that shoe box. they give that guy the loan based on who they know he is. and then there's the other guy in the small town who comes. he may have a fancy cash flow statement. and he may have a wonderful --
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you know, net worth statement that he can present to the bank. but one thing the banker knows about him is that there may be some unpaid bills. and there may be -- he may be the guy who takes out a loan but then wants to negotiate 80 cents on the dollar. we have to in america bring back relationship lending. you can say, well, none of these regulations really apply to them. why don't you go talk to these folks who are in the banking world and realize that they've retracted from mortgage lending because they're fearful that they'll do something wrong and they can't afford the fines they may be assessed. they're fearful that they can't contribute and be a part of their community effort because we have overregulated the smallest institutions to the point where they wonder if their children, who could inherit their institutions really want to stay in the business.
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and so, you know, there will be a lot of discussion about this bill. a lot of discussion already. but the one thing that i want to say is that we stand ready to defend any of these provisions. and before i close and turn this over to the senator from georgia, i want to just say that one of the things that we need to be very, very careful of here when we debate this bill is that we do not in any way misstate the effects of this bill, because that misstatement because part of the public record. and so i am going to be very, very aggressive in making sure that we push back against statements that i believe are false, statements that characterize this bill in a way that was not intended and in fact is not part of the legislative language. and so with that, i just want to thank again the chairman. mr. crapo: before you yield to
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the senator from georgia, may i make one comment? ms. heitkamp: sure. mr. crapo: i want to give appreciation for your chart. for those that can't see the chart, this is the chart that the senator from minnesota put up that shows the intersection for main street and relief for minute. the reason i wanted -- relief for main street. back when we were debating this regulatory system that was put into place that we are trying to right size and correct, i held a news conference on main street in boise, idaho. i said this legislation is being promoted as targeting wall street excesses, but the bull's eye is on main street across this country. and that's what we're trying to fix today. so i just wanted to tell you how much i love your chart. ms. heitkamp: to the senator from idaho, you can borrow it any time. i have no pride of authorship and there is no copy right on here. we'll pass it around. i yield the floor to my
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colleague from georgia. mr. perdue: thank you. i'm honored to follow my good friend from north dakota. it took courage for the senator from north dakota to be a leader on this issue in committee. the banking committee fought hard and long on this issue. i think there were 30 amendments that we discussed and voted on in coming to this bill that we're bringing to the floor today. the senator from north dakota was a shining star in that debate, one that reminded both sides what was most important, and that was the people back home. but she reminds me today of something i had not come prepared to talk about but i think it warrants merit. my hometown bank has been bought and sold a few times. but my father who was a schoolteacher, a school superintendent actually was on that board. it was my first exposure to how banking works. i remember going to my dad, who was a schoolteacher, didn't make
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a lot of money, and he wanted a loan to buy a car. at that time i was a little older. this is a 1954 ford that my dad had been driving. i'm not really that old but it was an old car. but he wanted to buy a new car. and i remember sitting off to the side and listening to the conversation. and when you talk about relationship lending, relationship lending could not go very long if that relationship lending didn't lead to a loan that got paid back. the lending officer i knew because he taught me in sunday school. we saw him every week in church. his children went to the school my dad was principal. this is a different time today. i understand that. but the factors, the facts still remain that relationship lending, as the senator from north dakota just reminded us, should be at the core of what we consider here what we're talking about. this is a lending institution making a transaction with an individual to then pay that loan back. that's what we tend to forget sometimes because of the debacle in 2008. but since dodd-frank became law,
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mr. president, over 1,700 banks have been closed. let me say that again. since the dodd-frank law became law, 1,700 banks have been shut down. most of these are community banks and regional banks, entities that had nothing whatsoever to do with the financial situation in 2008. while some in this body may see that as encouraging signs that big government now is getting more control of the lending principle and the banking industry, i think they're misguided. i think they're overlooking the real reality that these 1,700 banks aren't the massive, big banks and the very few banks that had responsibility in the 2008 financial crisis. these are local banks, credit unions, regional banks, the banks supporting our main street as the senator from north dakota just reminded us, providing small business with capital and sponsoring little league baseball games.
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i grew up in the hr*eul -- little leagues and right there in that field was a citizen bank fine where they every year was involved in that effort in that community. for nearly eight years those same small-town entities have been hammered by big government regulations enacted by the dodd-frank act. credit unions, community banks, regional banks were simply not responsible for the financial crisis in 2008. period. and none of the draconian rules put on them make them more safe today than they were in 2007, mr. president. these onerous rules subjected the same regulations to these small lenders as are now being affected on the may -- major four or five banks. compliance costs for community banks have risen by 4% or 5%. i think it's much higher than
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that. i met with a regional bank from georgia. their compliance costs have gone up $400 million because of dodd-frank. that's money that could be in the community in the form of loans. and yet, it's now coming in the form of higher compliance costs. some of those are fines, by the way, mr. president, coming to the federal government up here. that's another topic for another day that we don't address in this bill. this is eating up those small bank's bottom line and discouraging many community banks from offering services to their communities, services that small businesses and main street rely on for capital every day when they try to grow. what happens when a bank grows? lending grows. what happens then? jobs are created. compliance costs run just diametrically opposite to that and do not increase or lower the risk. the mortgage rule is a perfect
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example. this rule has driven many community banks actually out of the mortgage lending business altogether. while it was intended to protect the consumer, yeah, it protected the consumer all right. it protected them from being able to get a mortgage. government restrictions on reciprocal deposits is what's at topic here in this bill. reciprocal deposits have created uncertainty around this critical lifeline for community banks and especially minority-owned banks that have specialized in serving kufrplts with -- customers with limited discretionary access to capital. dodd-frank has crippled these banks to serve these communities. we recently heard from one community bank in georgia that has not even established a residential mortgage department to service the community because of these draconian compliance regulations. why are they not doing this? simply because the federal government, people in this room, decided a few years ago in the dodd-frank act that they knew
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more about the free enterprise system, the capital formation dynamic and the relationship between a lending entity and a borrowing entity and how all that translates into jobs and economic growth. and because of that, we ended up with this arcane dodd-frank rule that overregulates these small regional and community banks. we're not trying to blow up dodd-frank. many of us have taken a big step back in terms of what we think we need to do in terms of growing the economy in order to accommodate this bill. many people on the other side of the aisle, i think there are some 14 is cosponsors on the other side of the aisle -- and i applaud them for the courage that it's taken to work with us to get to a bill that we both give and take on. look, the number-one criticism we get in the senate back home is that why can't you guys work together to get anything done? here's a shining example if we can get it across the finish line and get a vote on this we
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may have a tremendous example that will have a dramatic impact on main street back home. small banks tend to spend too much time and resources dealing with the regulations and compliance costs that dodd-frank has created. put simply, dodd-frank is another one-size-fits-all washington bureaucratic policy that hurts the very people it claims to champion, the middle class and working poor, and those communities who have the least access to capital to borrow. fortunately we have an opportunity to do something today to fix these problems. the economic growth, regulatory relief and consumer protection act takes major steps to roll back dodd-frank's overnight -- overreach. it will bring relief to more than 5,000 community banks, free up capital for small businesses to invest in our economy and put people to work. it will help minority-owned banks provide a wider range of services. in my state, citizens trust bank is a minority-owned bank in
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atlanta. why is that important? you may have heard of that bank. martin luther king jr. was a customer of the citizens trust bank. martin luther king sr. served on its board. many distinguished atlantans and georgians have been customers and members of the board of this auspicious bank in georgia. citizens trust has been forced to drawback it's business because of the regulatory imposed by dodd-frank. this is counter intuitive. thanks to the action we're taking this week citizens trust will be able to grow their business because of safe harbor provisions in this bank. they are not alone. carver bank is a minority owned bank serving savannah, georgia, for 90 years, mr. president. the restrictions and regulatory uncertainty on reciprocal deposits have limited its resources. this bill we're voting on this week will more than remove
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government restrictions on reciprocal deposits, meaning carver bank and citizens trust and many others will have additional lending capacity. and lower compliance costs, which is another way to provide more capital to the community. this bill was written by both democrats and republicans. it's a shining example of what people back home expect us to do up here. our job. no, it's not perfect from my perspective, not perfect from the senator from north dakota's perspective. there is common ground and we found it. this bill will bring relief to communities and small businesses to grow our economy. this bill also preserves and consumes consumer credit protections. a vote on this plan is a vote for main street growth. it's a vote for rural communities and small businesses. it's a vote for people working with banks, rebuilding the american dream.
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i commend my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for coming together in support of this bipartisan effort and i encourage every member of this body to think seriously about this and to support this bill in final passage. thank you, mr. chairman. and i want to thank the chairman of the banking committee, the senator from idaho. i just, i can't tell you how much i appreciate your leadership. this has been a yoemen's effort. i'm committed to seeing this through to cross the finish line and get a vote on this this week. thank you for your leadership. mr. crapo: i thank the senator from georgia very much. i'd next like to ask senator corker if he'd like to weigh in. mr. corker: i would. i'll be very brief. i know a number of people here would like to speak to this bill which would be an accomplishment for us that we greatly appreciate your leadership on in making it happen. i'll be very brief. i was here when dodd-frank was passed. i was on the banking committee at that time. i didn't support it. and the reason i didn't support it is for the many reasons, many
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things that we're doing today to correct it. whenever regulation passes, it begins at the targeted group which was the larger institutions in our country which failed. but then over time the regulatory processes seep down to the smaller entities, the smaller banks that are housed in the communities all across our respective states. the members of the rotary club, the kiwanis club, the chamber of commerce, the people who make things happen in our communities back home. so we've ended up in a situation now where our community banks and credit unions that serve our communities, that cause economic growth to occur now have these large back office operations that are spread over a smaller asset base which has made them noncomet alternative and has -- noncompetitive and made it very difficult for them to to do the jobs that we all cherish that they do back home which is help to grow those economies. so this bill is focused on them.
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i see the senator from -- i see senator tester, who i know has been focused on this for many, many years. but what we're doing here is giving relief to those institutions. it's about time. we've had enough time to see what needs to happen. this was done in a bipartisan way, which i'm thankful of. and, senator crapo, i would like to thank you for the leadership and working with people on both sides of the aisle to create a responsible bill that's not an overreach. some of the legislation in dodd-frank is good. we are taking a constructive step to make sure the smaller institutions, which represent a small amount of assets in our nation, but has such an outsized
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impact on the communities they are in, will have the ability to flourish and do the things for our economies back home to grow. i thank you, i'm proud to be a cosponsor. i thank you for letting us be a part of it. i hope collectively we will ensure this is a very successful effort. thank you, and i yield the floor. mr. perdue: thank you, senator corker. i appreciate that. i would like to turn to another colleague on the other side of the aisle, showing the bipartisanship we swr on this -- we have on this bill, senator tester. mr. tester: thank you. i want to associate myself with the senator from tennessee. we always say good friend, but senator corker is truly a good friend. he has exhibited uncommon common sense in this body and i want to thank you, bob, for your remarks
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on this bill. mr. president, time and time again over the past year i have been on the senate floor raising my concerns about the way this body is heading, secret backroom deals, the take it or leave it tax bill that was dropped on our desk gist before the -- just before the vote, and this dysfunction has turned this dplibtive body -- deliberative body into a shell of itself. we have refused to face the tough issues facing hardworking americans every day. but this week -- this week i'm hopeful this will change. today we begin the debate on the bipartisan economic growth regulatory relief and consumer protection act. this bill is a product of years of bipartisan negotiations, hearings, and compromises. and under the leadership of
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chairman crapo and my good friends senators heitkamp, donnelly, and warner, we have struck a bipartisan agreement. folks from both parties put their differences aside. we negotiated from our points of agreement and we emphasized common ground, and we kept working toward our shared goal of strengthening america's economy by providing commonsense regulatory reform to small-and-medium sized banks and to credit unions. during the committee process, this bill was marked up and debated for seven hours. we voted on 36 amendments during an open amendment process. the chairman handled that committee process incredibly professionally. since this bill was introduced in the banking committee last year, it has been strengthened by senators who are not on this committee, and it has been
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endorsed by regulatories, veterans groups, and job creators from both parties. this bipartisan bill has the support from folks of all walks of life and it is cosponsored by more than a quarter of this body because they know that reform is desperately needed. in my home state of montana, prior to the financial crisis in 2008, there were 72 chartered banks. today that number has dropped to 49. what we have seen in montana is not unique throughout this country. across rural america, bank consolidations are leaving banks underserved. they did not cause the financial crisis in 2008, but they have suffered under a one size fits all set of regulations specifically to rein in the behavior on wall street. as a result, many of our community bankers are hanging up their hats and our local banks are being swallowed up by bigger banks and ultimately they will
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be swallowed up by the folks on wall street. when a community is bout out by a -- is bout out, it is no longer able to tailor to that community. small banks provide 48% of the loans, 43% of farmland and farm lending, 34% of commercial real estate loans. these banks are designed and built to serve their community. but since the passage of dodd-frank, the number of community banks -- the number of banks in this country has declined by 14. in our state of montana, with some quick math, it's closer to 30%. if you're a product of rural america like i am, you know full well the consequences from the community bank closes up.
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eight years ago during the dark days of the financial crisis, i proudly supported dodd-frank. it was needed to crack down on risky behavior and for the most part dodd-frank has been successful. but like all major bills, dodd-frank had unintended consequences. since its passage, small business lending declined by 41%. that is why our bill is needed to bring more capital to main streets across america and to keep small banks from further consolidation. it will meet the unique needs of the communities they serve. it provides the community banks with much-needed regulatory relief and cuts the red tape. it includes critical consumer protection provisions. this bipartisan bill makes it easier for young families to purchase their first team. it helps family farmers and ranchers to survive with the
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capital they need when mother nature doesn't cooperate. it helps small businesses and startups to secure the funding they need to grow their businesses and create more jobs and it protects the small banks that serve as a corner stone of rural communities from being eaten alive by the big boys on wall street. this bill strengthens the rights of consumers and provides consumers with unlimited freezings. it helps tenants if a landlord is foreclosed on. it helps veteran, active duty service members, seniors, and children. over the course of this debate, there are going to be some folks who come to this floor and ped -- pedal misinformation. let me be clear what this bill does not do. it does not roll back the regulations on wall street's fat cats. it does not make structural changes to the consumer protection bureau, it does not weaken or repeal the rule for
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large banks, it does not change the way the federal reserve regulates foreign banks, it does not weaken efforts to combat lending discrimination. i have seen a lot of falsehoods claimed about this bill already. i hope this bill stays grounded in the facts. the fact is that folks in rural america need this bill. take, for instance, a community bank in polson, montana. the population is 5,000. the community bank faithfully served this community for decades, but the regulations with dodd-frank were so burdensome they were forced to sell out to a larger bank. here's what other folks in my state are staying about the bill. the small credit union in billings, montana, a small credit union, and i quote, as a small credit union, we spend a ridiculous amount of time complying with complex rules and
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i'm pleased to see a bill that would eliminate some of this red tape so that i can focus my resources on serving my members. that is from sidney l.bacen, manager of the homestead credit union in billings, montana. another bank, a bank in jordan, montana, dodd-frank has affected small banks like mine who have limited staff and resources. prior to dodd-frank passage, my bill was able to keep up with the compliance regulations with one staff member. now in addition to the one staff member, we have outside compliance consultants that cost us over $23,000 a year. i will get back to figure. i talked to many of my fellow bankers who decided to sell or merge with another bank. almost every one much them told me the regulatory burden was the reason for that. the loss of small community banks is not good for our
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country, consumers, or our economy. this bill provides many remedies, not all remedies, but many remedies to lessen the regulatory burden on small banks which allow us to remain competitive, viable, and able to serve our communities. the reason i bring up the $23,000, because some may say, $23,000, that's not even around here in a lot of businesses. rex fibbs is the c.e.o. of garden field county bank, their total asset is $26 million. this is a small bank getting pounded that this bill is going to help in a big way. i could go on reading words of community bankers and credit union leaders and businesses in montana who support this bill. but the bottom line is this, folks sent us to the senate to do something to help out the folks we represent. for too long this body has been dragged into the mud, and as a result, we've had partisan and
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zero sum policies and zero some politics. this congress has -- we have not been able to do our job which is to fine-tune the laws to ensure regulations that fit the risk. enough it is -- enough is enough. we must do something. i'm proud to work with 13 republicans, 12 democrats, one independent who worked so hard to compromise on this bill that i think works very well for rural america. the economic growth regulatory relief and consumer protection act is a jobs bill and it is a much-needed solution for the folks who power our local economies. you know, i look forward to this week's debate, and i -- and it is encouraging to see that the senate is back here doing its job that we were sent here to do. it is encouraging that we have a bill here this that has gone through the process to gather public input, to gather bipartisan support, and is now on the floor so we can debate
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it, and i look forward to that debate. i hope that debate is based on the facts. with that, i just want to say one more thing before i yield the floor. we would not be here today without chairman crapo. chairman crapo has done a fine job getting everybody's opinion, respecting everybody's opinion, and walking that line to allow for negotiations and having a good bill as the final product. i don't know what's going to be in the final manager's package. i hope it doesn't change this bill dramatically. because i think this bill really fits the needs of our economies, especially in rural america right now. with that, i would just say, look, we've got some work to do. hopefully we can do it in a timely fashion and get this bill off to the house. hopefully the house doesn't screw it up and we can get to the president's desk for his signature. with that, i yield the floor. mr. crapo: i thank my colleague from montana, senator tester. earlier i said this bill had
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been years in the making, and senator tester has been helping us do that. senator donnelly is on the floor and senator heitkamp, who was here earlier. i want to turn to one of our colleagues on the republican side, senator moran from kansas who is also one of those who has been with us for years working to be make sure that we get this critically needed legislation to the floor. senator moran. mr. moran: mr. president, thank you very much. i thank my colleague from idaho and i thank him for making sure we are here today. what a long time it has been in coming to get us to this point. this is important legislation, and we ought not suggest that because there's such bipartisan support that this is a minor accomplishment. we come together it seems like on the small things around here, the big things seem awfully impossible for us to bridge the
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gap. and therefore to suggest that what we're doing here today is nothing important would be a total mistake. it would be a fabrication of the facts. if we are successful in passing this legislation in the house, accepting it in its form acceptable to the senate, signed by the president, this legislation will make a significant and tremendous difference in america, and especially on main street, in farms, and in small businesseses across the country. a significant component of what i'm about in my work in the united states senate is to try to make certain that my colleagues from places that are not rural understand the rural nature of much of america and understand how we do business and how things get done. and as has been indicated by many of my colleagues in small town america nothing gets done without the support of your local financial institution. we earn a living in much of kansas by small businesses, by
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farms, and ranches. in the absence of the access to credit, the ability for us to earn a living in small town america disappears. it was a sad day when the banking committee now three years or so ago passed dodd-frank reform legislation but did so only with republican votes. the sadness is we were unable to find common ground and make a difference in a piece of legislation that was passed in years gone by, but we were unable to make the improvements that were necessary that changes the alterations that could make dodd-frank work for rural america, that could limit its scope to wall street, not main street. i think republicans were saying when dodd-frank was passed, and many of us voted against it, we were saying we are going to repeal dodd-frank. and that caused many democrats to say we are not going to let you touch dodd-frank.
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and so we've been at an impasse when both sides know, when republicans and democrats alike know that this bill is causing, this legislation, dodd-frank, is causing serious harm to places across the country. but we've gone to our corners. we've argued for full repeal and you've argued that you're not going to touch it. this is a good day in which we've decided that it's neither one of those extremes. it's the idea that we can find the solutions to problems that exist as a result of legislation that congress approved. this legislation is important and it matters. it's important because it demonstrates the united states senate can function in its proper form, that we can accomplish good commonsense things. but it's important because it will alter the landscape and the future of communities across kansas and around the country. in rural america, we need access to credit.
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and often it's too often that that access to credit is only available from that small town lender, that local bank, that credit union in which they know the community and know their borrowers. one of my colleagues earlier talked about relationship banking. it's the banking system that many of us grew up with and it's the banking system that still works for us in small town america. in the absence of the reforms included in this legislation, the ability for many of my banks in kansas to make home loans will continue to be absent. for the years that i've been on the banking committee i have questioned the examiners, the fdic, comptroller of the currencies, fdic including state banking commissioners. what are you doing to make certain the regulators don't put out of business the small town lenders that are so important to the communities that i represent? and it seems that we have gotten lip service. we have a committee.
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we have a commission. we study these things. but nothing has done -- no one, when you ask them what rule or regulation have you eliminated, there's never an answer that outlines that that's happened. and today we are altering the opportunity for the regulators to continue to overregulate financial institutions who are only important to the communities they serve. and if they have financial challenges, does not create a threat to the rest of our banking system or to our country's economy and fiscal condition. relationship banking matter. and today we have a regulatory environment in which bankers are fearful of making a home loan to a citizen within their community, somebody who wants to buy a home or build a home is told by their local bank we can't afford the costs associated with the regulations of making these loans. we can't afford the risk that if
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we make a technical error, the financial consequences to our bank are so great, we are out of the home loan business. who would ever expect to go to their hometown bank and discover they don't make home loans? and it's not because there's not the opportunity to make a loan that will be repaid and the bank will make money and the borrower will get the benefit of the loan. it's because the regulations are so onerous and so expensive upon a mistake that the business decision is made not that this person is not credit worthy, but the risk associated with the regulations is so great we can't make this loan. we need more banks, more financial institutions making home loans in more communities so that more people in rural america can access the american dream. if we create a banking system in which the rules and regulations dictate every t must be crossed, every i must be dotted and it's like you have a computer program
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to plug in the number and make a decision whether or not that local banker can make a loan, rural america will no longer be here. for much of the time that i've served in congress and trying to explain rural america to my colleagues, i've indicated that in communities that i represent it's often true that economic development can be whether or not there is a grocery store in town. most people in washington, d.c. don't understand the nature of that small town. is there a hardware store? can the newspapers continue to print newspapers and sell enough advertising and subscriptions to make ends meet? when you lose your grocery store, you begin to lose your hometown. and what i've learned over time is that it is only that local financial institution, if they're making a loan, are we going to have a grocery store in our town? that local relationship lender knows his community or her community, knows they're
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borrowers, knows whether or not they have the character to repay the loan. i saw this recently and we're experiencing this again in kansas this month in which wildfires are consuming acres of land across rural kansas. our grasslands are burning. a year ago this go month nearly 80% of clark county, kansas, was consumed in a wildfire. it's a ranching community. ashland, the county seat, has a population of 900. that's rural. that's the biggest town in the county. the result of those fires were that thousands of head of cattle were killed in the fire or had to be euthanized. what you would think is the terrible economic consequence to the community. absolutely. but you would think about how do we recover. and one of the things you would think about, i can go to my bank and borrow money to keep my farm or my cattle operation in
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business. those cattle men no longer had any collateral. there was no collateral to tell your banker, i pledge my cattle to repay the loan. if i don't repay the loan, you get my cattle. the fire consumed their opportunity to rebuild. present in the senate today is a member of the agriculture committee. he will be asked about the safety net that's in a farm bill, and that's important to us. but the safety net that many farmers and ranchers have in kansas is the relationship they have with their banker who makes a decision not based upon a computer program or that every t is crossed, every i is dotted. that banker makes a decision based upon the character, the relationship, the history. and many of our banks in kansas are owned by family, been in family for generations. the same thing is true for farmers. that relationship allows a banker to make a loan even if there is no cattle due to the effect of a natural disaster.
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the collateral is gone but the banker knows the family, knows the history, knows whether or not this potential borrower has character. knows if he or she says they will repay too often they will. too often those relationships have been taken away from lenders and resided here in washington, d.c. with a myriad of regular phraeurts who are telling our bankers through the process -- our customers this is a loan you can't make. today we take another step toward returning the ability for small town america its businesses, its farmers and its ranchers to have a future. this is important legislation that will make a significant difference in the future of communities and the people who live there in rural america and in rural kansas. this is not about taking care of bankers. it's not about taking care of credit unions. it's about taking care of the
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people they serve. their borrowers. and that means a bright future for the rest of rural america. for the other people who live in the community because access to credit determines whether or not there is a grocery store in town or a farmer or rancher can borrow money to keep their business going, keep their farm or ranch going. this is a good day. i commend my colleagues. it is a good day for the united states senate to see us working together republicans and democrats to reach a result that will make a difference. a good day for america, a good day for rural america and an opportunity for us to correct when we went too far following the financial collapse of 2008. mr. president, i thank you for the opportunity to speak, and i appreciate my colleagues, especially the chairman, the senator from from idaho, for his tremendous efforts in bringing us together and getting us to this point. mr. crapo: i thank the senator from kansas, senator moran for
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his kind comments especially for explaining the true beneficiaries of this legislation. there is a lot of talk about financial institutions and even small banks and credit unions. but the real beneficiaries are the borrowers. they are the small businesses and the individuals who live in small and rural communities across this country. and frankly, even in some of our larger communities across this country. so i thank you for explaining that so well. the first words in the name of this bill are the economic growth. then regulatory reform and consume protection bill. we have with us now, i'd like to turn to him next, senator donnelly from indiana, another one of the giants in terms of sticking to it and helping us to get this important legislation drafted and moved to the floor. senator donnelly. mr. donnelly: i want to thank chairman crapo and i want to thank my good friend from kansas whose state is so similar to mine in many, many ways. in rural indiana, you talk about relationship banking. that is in many ways the heartbeat of a community are
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small businesses, our farms that are handed down from generation to generation, where you find the grandsons of our farmers dealing with the grandsons of the person who helped develop the bank. it's a privilege to be part of this. i want to thank the chairman of the banking committee, senator crapo, for leading this deposit and for his good-faith efforts to make this a bipartisan process. as we debate the economic growth, regulatory relief and consumer protection act, the senate's on the verge of doing something significant. we're breaking through the gridlock on a bipartisan legislative package to reduce unjess regulatory burdens on main street banks and credit unions while also expanding protections for consumers, for service members, for veterans. this is an example of what we can achieve when we work together. i'm proud to have worked closely with my friend, the chairman,
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senator crapo, among others to craft this bipartisan legislation that my friend, senator tester, mentioned. 13 republicans, 12 democrats, one independent. i've worked on this issue since i came to the senate in 2013. this bill is the result of dozens of meetings. 25 banking committee hearings, a seven and a half hour committee markup where more than 100 amendments were filed from both sides and they were considered and voted on. this bill is carefully written and narrowly tailored. this commonsense legislation is intended to help main street community banks and local credit unions to focus more on traditional banking, our small businesses, our farms, our
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families, while maintaining the safety and soundness of our financial system. in rural areas and in many towns across my beloved home state of indiana, main street community banks and credit unions are the institutions that hoosiers turn to. whether it's a family seeking a mortgage to make their dreams come true to their first home, or whether it's it an entrepreneur with a dream, looking to start a small business to create more jobs and make his or her community grow. unfortunately, the 103 community banks and 154 credit unions in indiana have been unintentionally burdened by rules and regulations that were intended to hold wall street accountable, to make sure they would never damage our economy again. since 2008 the number of small business loans is down 41%
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nationally. that's according to our federal banking regulators. this package includes a number of important new consumer protections as well, including for service members, as i mentioned. for veterans, for seniors, for tenants. one provision is based on my bipartisan protecting veterans credit act. it ensures veterans are not wrongly penalized when a department of veterans affairs is late in paying a vet's medical bills. and in response to equifax's massive data breach and other data breaches as well, for the first time every american -- let me repeat that. every american will be able to freeze and unfreeze their credit, free of charge and set
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year long alerts. this bill also provides free credit monitoring for all sreuf duty service members -- all active duty service members. this makes a big difference. it helps folks like corporal logan harts of hoosier who serves proudly in the united states marine corps. when he learned his personal information may have been compromised by equifax, he was training at camp lejeune. he said it -- he said it was really stressful to try to figure out what to do and really challenging and how could he get his credit frozen. corporal hart said that would provide peace of mind to service members like him whose first focus is on protecting our country. i want to highlight another provision i authored on manufactured housing, which serves as a vital source of
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affordable housing, not only in indiana, but across our country, particularly in rural and underserved communities. this effort provides a narrow exemption to allow consumers to receive general financing informing from a manufacturer while creating new disclosures which would prohibit conflicts of interest and prohibit retailers from their financial transactions. this legislation has broad bipartisan support. it maintains strong financial oversight and it adds new consumer protections. it's reasonable, it's balanced, and the result, a very thoughtful negotiation and hard work. i'm very hopeful it will pass the senate soon. again, i want to thank our chairman, senator crapo, for his bipartisan work, for his
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willingness to be flexible, to stay with it when it looks so difficult to get done, and as a result, there are families who are going to be in homes for the first time from loans that they were able to get from a banker that knew them in town, who, when every computer program showed something different, they knew that family was worth investing in. that's what this bill is going to do. mr. chairman, thank you very much. mr. crapo: thank you very much, senator donnelly. i truly appreciate your solid, strong, and continued commitment to continue to help this bill to become a reality and get it to the floor of the senate. you are truly appreciated. i would next like to turn to my good friend and another great colleague on the democratic side of the aisle, senator warner from virginia, another one of
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those who has consistently been there for years working to help us get these solutions and get them right. senator warner. mr. warner: thank you mr. president. i thank the distinguished chair, and i thank my good friend from indiana for his great work on this and getting rid of half of my speech since you went through in very good detail a number of the consumer protections that were put into this legislation and a lot of that due to his good work. the truth is in a few days we may actually do something that hasn't been seen in a really long time, the senate producing a meaningful piece of legislation with a strong bipartisan coalition. now, neither side got everything they wanted. we're all complimenting the chairman for his good work, but, as my friend the senator from indiana knows, you should have
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seen the senator from idaho's original list of wants. the truth is we're only here because at the end of the day, we all went back and recognized the people we work for, our constituents in our respective states, and for that matter americans at large, they want to see the senate work and work in a way that affects people's lives. what this legislation will do is at the bottom line, make sure there's more access to capital on main street by cutting some of the excessive regulations on community banks and credit union as well as a number of the consumer protection items and others. it also does provide some relief for regional banks and, as mentioned, major expansion of consumer protections. our system -- let me also step back. as somebody who was here or who had gotten to the senate right after the financial crisis, we
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all know that the system needed, a decade ago, stronger financial reform. i'm proud of the role i played in some small way of the drafting of dodd-frank, chapter one and two, where chairman dodd gave me a great deal of responsibility. let me be clear that i would do nothing and support no legislation that seriously undermines or cut back on the provisions and the systemic protections that were put in by title 1 and title #, and for -- title 2, and for that matter, for all of dodd-frank. but eight years later there is widespread agreement that some of the standards we set in dodd-frank needed time for review. one of those was a standard we put in place at the $50,000 threshold for standards.
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that number is just too low now. there is debate as to where that standard should be reset. recognizing that standard was set eight years ago at $50 billion, but if you take the economy into -- the actor tech was part of this implementing dodd-frank. janet et yellen and current reserve chair jay powell also had system some say. there is some difference between the regional banks and the largest six banks of our country. they control about 60% of all total assets. so if we don't do this legislation, what we will see, and this is where, again, i have to disagree with some of my democratic colleagues, will be more pressure on consolidation, not only for community banks and credit unions, but for that
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matter more consolidation among regional banks, which will place more and more power in the largest institutions where i think we have pretty good protections and protections that we don't walk back at all in this legislation. so, again, while we're focused not on-line on community banks, credit unions, but also on some of the regional banks. so let me make clear what we've done is make no changes to the applicability of the big banks above $250 million. these are some of the riskiest financial institutions, and the full set of post-crisis regulations should apply to them. but we have required the fed to tailor those standards appropriately for banks with total assets between $10 0 billion and $250 billion.
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the bill sets a low bar for the fed to apply enhanced standards. under the bill they can apply this to a bank larger than $100 billion to promote the safety and soundness of the bank. part of the traditional regulations as they stand. i don't think every enhanced standard should apply to every bank larger than $100 million. there is a broad agreement that standards should be tailored for this group. i will cite someone, again, most folks on this side of the aisle have a great deal of respect for, former fed chair janet yellen who said this bill, a move in that direction would be good. chairman powell testified that the fed will implement this for
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banks between $200 billion and $250 billion. he said that the regional banks will continue to be subject to the most important enhanced standards, meaningful, strong, and frequent stress tests. his words, not mine. he called himself a strong believer in stress testing. let me again say so am i. critically this bill, again, does not change the existing requirement for the fed to conduct annual stress tests on banks larger than $250 billion. i know i'm getting into a lot of details, but the details in banking regulations are important, and again, unfortunately, some of my colleagues in opposition to the bill i don't think are setting out what this bill truly does and doesn't do. let me put out another point, again on stress test. the bill also does not alter the comprehensive capital analysis
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and review or what banking regulators call the c-kor process. it is not part of dodd-frank, but it is another core pillar of the fed's supervisory regime. we believe it should continue to apply as much as it does today. for banks in this $200 to $250 range, you have not only ccar, but there will also be meaningful, strong, and frequent stress tests. and, as i mentioned as well, banks above $250 billion, they should expect to have the annual stress test. let me touch on foreign banks. another thing this bill does not do is change the enhanced standards applied to the largest foreign bank operations. this, again, get pretty technical, but i think it is important for the record that it
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is reflected. all foreign g sips that have assets greater than $250 billion had enhanced financial standards and those enhanced financial standards will apply to the largest and systematically important foreign banks. the fed will continue to have the authority to apply these enhanced financial standards with banks with consolidated assets of more than $100 billion. large banks, i think deutsche bank, for example, that had problems recently, that may have only $100 or less than $250 billion of american assets, but the fact that their consolidated balance sheet has greater than $250 billion, means the fed will continue to enhance the full regulations. again, let's talk -- move to chairman powell who, by the way, was approved by 84 senators to
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this post, 40 democrats, made clear in the banking committee testimony that the fed requires establishment of intermediary institutions independent of dodd-frank. chairman powell made clear that nothing in this bill requires any change to the i.c. requirement. this is by design as we believe the ihc requirement is an important innovation that greatly helps international holding company, for those keeping track of these comments, is an important innovation that helps the federal reserve supervise and apply enhanced standards to the u.s. operations of foreign banks. as explained by the federal reserve in its final rule, applying enhanced financial standards that where unique financial stabilities associated with some of the foreign bank operations. again, it was some of the foreign banks that had operations in the u.s. that were
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part of causing the crisis in 2008 and those enhanced standards need to stay in place. in that final rule the fed and in other rules implementing requirements for the intermediate holding companies of foreign banks, the federal reserve has distinguished which standards should apply to u.s. banks and the i.h.c.'s and foreign banks and how they should apply. the federal reserve is capable of assessing the unique risks associated with large u.s. banks operations and applying enhanced standards on these institutions and the i.h.c.'s with regard to the principle of remaining focused under the mandate of this bill and under 165 of dodd-frank to protect financial stability and safety and soundness. final point i want to make. i also want to make clear that my support for section 402 of this bill, which deals, again, with a technical issue, but a
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very important issue, supplemental ratio, with excludes deposits from the supplemental ratio for custody banks. this seclusion for kusy -- custody banks for those such as the fed, while we are carving out this one seclusion, it does not mean that i support removing other assets from the calculation of that leverage ratio. again, there is widespread agreement from former governor tur reallyo -- turillo that this should not be the binding ratio on custody banks. when the leverage ratio is the binding constraint on a business, it encourages actually riskier activity and rewards making bets that tend to decrease rather than increase
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safety and soundness. that gives the wrong incentives. this bill would fix the narrow problem that exists for custody banks and goes no further. i personally would say i would have no support for any movement further than what is narrowly carved out in this bim. my friend, the senator from vermont, will have a different opinion on some of these issues. i want to thank again senator crapo. i do hope as. ms. cantwell:' have a chance to enter into further -- i do hope as well we have a chance to enter into further colloquy fn. our system is stronger. particularly for the larger institutions, nothing we're doing here will reverse. keeping american banks the strongest in the world. mr. warner: i know there are stronger opinions on the other side. i look forward to a debate. i look forward to a managers' package that will continue to
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expand certain areas around consumer protections and look forward to the conclusion of this debate and an amendment process that again allows other issues to be vetted. with that i thank the chairman and look forward to our further discussions. mr. crapo: i thank senator warner, again my good friend and colleague from virginia. and i see that senator sanders from vermont is here and that the time has arrived for his time on the floor. i will just conclude by saying i agree you, senator warner, we both support strong capital standards for our bank. i had a pretty solid long speech. if there is time, i will give it later. one thing we need to make clear is that the foreign banks with more than $250 billion in global console dated assets will -- consolidated assets will continue and still be subject to enhanced standards. nothing in our bill -- our bill does nothing to change that. mr. warner: mr. president, could i ask the senator a question.
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we may come back for more formal colloquy at some point. we're working on some additional language to further reinforce this point. but i thank the chairman for his good work on this bill. i thank the fact and i hope the legislative record will reflect at least this short conversation, potential future conversations that recognizing that the consolidated balance sheets of forn r foreign -- of foreign banks, a bang that may only have a hundred billion dollars in assets in the united states but a trillion dollars in total assets will still be subject to the enhanced standards. again, i thank the chairman and look forward to continue to work with him. mr. crapo: i thank the senator from virginia and yield the floor. mr. sanders: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: may i again by asking unanimous consent consent that ari be granted floor privileges for the remainder of this congress. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: thank you. mr. president, i get around my own state of vermont a lot. in fact, i get around the country a lot.
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and i hear from a lot of people. and i talk to a lot of people about what's on their minds. and needless to say in these very complicated and difficult times, there is a lot that the american people are concerned about. they are concerned about gun violence, and they want strong legislation to be passed as soon as possible to protect their kids and the american people. they want legislation overwhelmingly, over 80% of the american people in poll after poll want legislation to protect the 1.8 million young people who are eligible for the daca program. that's what people talk about. people talk about the high cost of health care and they talk about the fact that they cannot afford prescription drugs because the drug companies are ripping us off every single day. and they talk about climate
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change and their fear about what kind of planet we could be leaving our kids and our grandchildren if we don't transform our energy system away from fossil fuel. and the people that i talk to in vermont and throughout the country talk about our crumbling infrastructure. they talk about the need for decent-paying jobs. they talk about the high cost of college education. just talked to a nurse the other day in wisconsin. tears in her eyes. i'm sorry, a teacher, not a nurse. a teacher in wisconsin with tears in her eyes, cannot afford to send her own daughter to college. and i talk every day, it seems, to young people who graduate college 30, 50, $100,000 in debt and are worried about how that debt will impact the rest of their lives. and i talk to people in vermont and around the country about the child care crisis that we have
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and about the lack of affordable housing and about a million other issues that are on the minds of people in arizona, in vermont, and all across this country. but i can honestly say that i have not heard one person come up to me and say, bernie, we have got to deregulate 25 of the largest banks in this country with cumulative assets of $3.5 trillion. no one has ever come up to me and said that that is a major priority for the american people. no one has ever suggested to me that instead of talking this week and moving forward on gun safety legislation or the daca issue or the high cost of prescription drugs that we should be down here on the floor talking about the needs of some
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of the largest banks in this country. but that is precisely what the senate will be discussing this week and probably next week as well. mr. president, if you want to know why the american people in very, very strong numbers hold the united states congress in contempt, it is precisely because we have a republican leadership that does exactly the opposite of what the american people want. and it's not just not dealing with the daca issue or dealing with the gun violence issue. over the last year despite the overwhelming objections of the american people, republican leadership tried to throw some 32 million americans off of
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health insurance. thank god we were able to beat that back. at a time of massive income and wealth and equality, the american people do not believe that the koch brothers and other otherbillionaires should receive -- and other billionaires should receive massive tax breaks. that's what the republican leadership provided. and on and on it goes. the needs of working class families are ignored while the needs of the wealthy and powerful, including wall street, are addressed. and today my republican colleagues along with some democrats tell us that what we should be doing right now is spending our time on deregulating some of the largest banks in america. how absurd is that? not gun violence, not the daca
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crisis, not the high cost of prescription drugs, not 30 million people without health insurance, but deregulating some of the largest banks in america. mr. president, are our memories so short that we have learned nothing from the 2008 wall street crash? have we learned nothing from the savings and loan disaster of the early 1990's or the thievery of wells fargo over the last couple of years. or the dishonesty of equifax. or the accounting fraud at enron and arthur anderson. or the failure of long-term capital management. or the billions of dollars in fines that financial institution after financial institution have
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paid out for their illegal deceptive activities. just ten years ago, ten years ago as a result of the greed and the recklessness and illegal behavior on wall street, this country was plunged into the worst economic crisis since the great depression. the official unemployment rate shot up to 10% and the real unemployment rate jumped to over 10%. at the height of the financial crisis, more than 27 million americans were unemployed, underemployed, or stopped working altogether because they could not find employment. 15 million families as a result of that financial crisis lost their homes to foreclosure as more and more people could not
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afford to pay their mortgages. thousands of americans set up cd's in sacramento, tampa bay, and reno because they had no place to live. as a result of the illegal behavior of wall street, american households lost over $13 trillion in savings which shattered retirement dreams, wiped out life saving, and made it impossible for kids to send their kids to college. that is what wall street did ten years ago. and against my strong oppositi opposition, then congress and the term reserve provided the largest taxpayer bailout in the history of the world to these huge banks because they were too big to fail.
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but now, ten years later, hoping that we forget all about that, these large financial institutions are back again. how pathetic is that? just yesterday the congressional budget office told us that the legislation we are debating today will -- and i quote -- increase the likelihood that a large financial firm with assets of between $100 billion and $250 billion would fail. end of quote. that's the c.b.o. in other words, this legislation makes it more likely that we will see another financial crisis, makes it more likely that there will be another huge taxpayer bailout and massive dislocation of our economy. under this bill, large banks with assets of up to $250
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billion will no longer have to submit comprehensive plans on winding down if they fail. they will no longer have to hold sufficient capital in case their loans go bad. and they may never have to undergo a stress test to find out if they are adequately prepared to withstand an economic downturn. further, this legislation makes it easier for financial institutions to offer bogus subprime mortgages that cause so many americans to suffer during the 2008 financial crisis. this legislation makes it easier for large banks to steer african americans, hispanics, and the elderly into mortgages with high interest rates and hidden fees. this legislation deregulates foreign banks like deutsche
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bank, a bank that in january of 2017 agreed to $7.2 billion settlement for selling toxic mortgages during the financial crisis. and this legislation guts the rule allowing banks all over this country to gamble with the bank deposits of their customers on risky derivative schemes that were at the heart of the financial meltdown. let us be very clear. the major banks that we are deregulating in this bill were forced to pay over $49 billion in fines for a wide variety of fraudulent and deceptive activity. these very same banks received a taxpayer bailout of $47 billion from the treasury and trillions
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of financial assistance from the federal reserve. and many of these banks, it should be pointed out, like wall street in general have enjoyed record-breaking profits over the last two years. they're not coming here because they're losing money. over the last two years most of these banks have done very, very well. so how does it happen that congress finds itself worrying about the needs of huge financial institutions but ignores the concerns of ordinary americans. and the answer is i think most americans understand has everything to do with following the money. follow the money. since the 1990's, the financial
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sector has given more than $3.2 billion in campaign contributi contributions. and last year alone spent over $200 million on lobbying. you want to hear about the corruption of the american political system, here it is. since the 1990's, the financial sector has given more than $3.2 billion in campaign contributions, and last year alone spent over $200 million on lobbying. and that is why congress will be spending day after day trying to make life easier for these large financial institutions while at the same time ignoring the needs of working families. no, we can't get a bill on the floor of the senate that will
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lower the cost of prescription drugs. we can't do that. the american people overwhelmingly want us to act on gun violence. can't do that. we're not able to protect the 1.8 million young people who are eligible for the daca program. we can't do that. but we can spend a week or two worrying about the needs of some of the largest financial institutions in this country, and that, mr. president, is why the american people are disgusted with what goes on in washington, d.c. now, i have a radical idea, and that is that maybe, just maybe, instead of listening to the lobbyists here in d.c., maybe we should listen to the american people who believe that we should strengthen, not weaken, wall street regulations. mr. president, believe it or not, -- of course we're not going to hear any discussion of
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this at all, but believe it or not, the four largest banks in america are on average 80% bigger today than they were before we bailed them out because they were too big to fail. incredibly, the six largest banks in america -- this is wealth, this is power, this is who owns america. the six largest banks in america have over $10 trillion in assets six banks, $10 trillion equivalent to 54% of the g.d.p. of this nation. the six large banks hold more than half of all credit card debt, control over 90% of all bank derivatives, underwrite a third of all mortgages, and control over 40% of all bank deposits. if any of these financial
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institutions were to get into financial trouble again, there is no doubt that in my mind once again the taxpayers of this country would be asked to bail them out, except this time the bailout might even be larger than what it was in 2008. mr. president, now is not the time to be talking about deregulating large financial institutions. quite the contrary. if a financial institution is too big to fail, in my view, it is too big to exist. now is the time to take on the greed and power of wall street and break up the largest financial institutions in this country, and i will be introducing an amendment to this bill to do just that. mr. president, i understand fully, as the american people
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do, the power of wall street and the huge amounts of money they spend on campaign contributions and lobbying. that should not, however, intimidate us. now is the time for us to have the courage to stand up to these very wealthy and powerful institutions. defeat this legislation and support the needs of the american people. thank you. mr. alexander: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: mr. president, later this week, senators blunt, cassidy, collins, roberts, and young will join me in introducing the school safety and mental health services improvement act. three weeks ago, 14 high school
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students, a teacher, a coach, an athletic director were killed at marjory stoneman douglas high school in parkland, florida. as the authorities try to get to the bottom of what will exactly what happened in this shooting, many of us in local, state, and federal government have been looking at what can be done to help keep students safe at school. we can't stand still and do nothing while our children are being killed. i'm the chairman of the senate education and health committee and sponsor with senator murray of the every student succeeds act of 2015. which reauthorized the law overseeing kindergarten, elementary, and secondary education. i also sponsored with senator murray the 21st century cures act of 2016, which made the first major mental health reforms in a decade, focusing the federal government's efforts on early intervention.
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the bill i'm introducing this week with several of my colleagues will help states use every federal dollar available to them to keep their schools safer from violence and have the mental health services they need. this is complementary to a bill senator hatch introduced last week that addresses programs in the judiciary committee to improve school safety and stop school violence. there are 100,000 public schools in the united states, mr. president. most of the responsibility for making them safer for children lies with the state and local governments and families and communities that provide 90% of school funding. what the federal government can and should help create an environment so communities, school boards, and states can
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create safer schools. under this bill, the federal government could help in the following four ways. number one, allow schools to use title two funding under the elementary and secondary education act to hire more counselors. about a fifth of all children age 9-17 have a diagnoseable mental or addictive disorder that causes at least minimal impairment. in the 2014-2015 school year, there was a counselor to student ratio of 482 to one. while the american school counselor association recommends a counselor to student ratio of 250 to one. this bill would help schools make up that difference. two, make it clear that schools can use federal funding they are already receiving through title
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two and four under the every student succeeds act. to improve the professional development of school counselors and to improve the school safety infrastructure, including installing new alarm systems, improving entrances and exits of schools, installing security cameras and other infrastructure upgrades. three, our bill renews and updates the law to expand a successful program that helped to train education personnel and ensure children have the services they need after a violent incident. this program was violated after the shooting in newtown, connecticut, and is shown to be effective. and fourth, create an interagency task force led by the secretaries of education, health and human services, justice, homeland security, interior and defense to make recommendations, not mandates,
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recommendations, on best practices, policies, and procedures to improve school safety and school safety infrastructure. so this bill would encourage and reinforce for tennessee and for all other states that federal dollars may be used to hire more counselors, psychologists and other mental health professionals at schools, to build safety infrastructures such as securing doors, automatic locks and smart entrances to be prevent intruders, and to develop mental health programs to identify children who might be dangerous to other children. while most of the responsibility for improving the safety of our schools and the environment or climate of our schools rest with local and state officials, the federal government has a role to play. in conclusion, mr. president, in addition to the policies in this bill that i described, i support
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president trump's directive to the department of justice to craft regulations to ban so-called bump stocks which have the effect of making a semiautomatic firearm function more like an automatic firearm. and i along with 49 other senators have cosponsored bipartisan legislation to have more effective background checks. this legislation sponsored by senator murphy and senator cornyn would ensure that federal agencies and states get information about individuals who should be prohibited from buying a gun on the national background check system. i hope my colleagues will cosponsor and support our legislation to help states use every federal resource available to them to keep their schools safer from violence and have the mental health services they need. i thank the president. i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. ms. warren: mr. president, this week, we're considering a bill to roll back the rules on some of the biggest banks in the country. over the course of this week, i will be spending a lot of time on the senate floor talking about the problems with this bill and how it threatens working families and american taxpayers, but i want to start by looking back to 2008. the reason that we have these rules in the first place. ten years ago next week, americans started holding our breaths. for years, financial institutions, boy, they have been riding high, selling dangerous products to consumers and making risky bets, all the while washington looked the other way, cozying up to big banks, loosening rules left and right, and shrugging off rules that they couldn't get rid of. and no wonder. the revolving door was spinning
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like crazy. bank officials became regulators and then went back to the banks, getting richer and richer. bank profits were sky high and getting higher. but business built on scams and hype can't grow forever. ten years ago this month, bear stearns, an 85-year-old institution on wall street, went belly up because of $46 billion in scam mortgages and other questionable investments on its books. the failure gave rise to the -- gave the rest of the world a glimpse of wall street's addiction to risky bets. the disease spread. it turned out that a lot of other banks had invested heavily in scam mortgages, too. investors panicked, sending the markets into a nose dive. and when the american economy fell off a cliff in 2008, american families got crushed. almost nine million people lost
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their jobs. workers lost $2.6 trillion from their retirement accounts, about 25% of their savings for someone who had been working for 20 years. in 2008 alone, foreclosures spiked 81%, and 3.1 million notices went out to homeowners across the country, telling them they would lose their homes. in a single year, one out of 54 homes in the united states was in foreclosure. now, behind those enormous numbers were real people, real families whose lives were chain up and turned upside down. little kids who worried about where they were going to live and bigger kids who worried about whether or not they would lose their chance to go to college. i know that feeling. i lived in oklahoma city, and my folks had picked out our house because it was right inside the boundary line of what my mother
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believed was the best school district in the county. our lives seemed to be on track, right up until the day my daddy had a heart attack. and then it all started sliding sideways. he was out of work for a very long time. now, my mother usually picked me up from school in our bronze two-toned station wagon. one day she showed up driving the old off-white studebaker that daddy had been driving back and forth to work. as i climbed in the car, i asked where our station wagon was. it's gone. gone where? gone. and i just kept pushing. my mother, staring straight ahead, fingers tight on the steering wheel. and after one more where from me, she answered in a low voice, we couldn't pay. they took it. the house was next in line. my family was right on the brink of foreclosure when my mom put on her best dress, walked into
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the sears, and landed a minimum wage job. but that feeling, the feeling of being on the brink, the feeling of no security, nothing under your feet, is a feeling no family in this country should have. especial -- especially not have it because congress decided it was okay to let the big banks gamble with the economy again. and yet, here we are on the verge of making the same mistake congress has made so many times before. the banks don't want you to know what's in this bill because if you did know, you'd fight back. it was written by senators in back rooms and jammed through the banking committee where its authors voted down every single amendment, every single idea to make the bill even one smidge better or to protect consumers just one tiny bit more. they voted against every
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amendment even if they agreed with it because republicans and democrats have locked arms to do the bidding of the big banks. there's a lot of dangerous stuff in this bill and today i want to focus on the harm it will do to america's consumers. but i'll start with what's not in the bill, because what's not in the bill should make congress ashamed. strong consumer protections, that's what's not in this bill. banks get their wish list, but consumers get next to nothing. this bill is called the economic growth regulatory relief and consumer protection act. but in all 148 pages, there are only a few watered-down provisions to help consumers. equifax loses data for nearly half of all adults in america, lies about it, and this congress, these senators still can't manage to pass a bill with some teeth in it to hold the company accountable. that says it all.
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this bill was written by big banks to help big banks. it is not a bill to help american families who are still getting cheated by the companies that make huge profits off them. so what's actually in this bill? start with the first part of the bill, section 101, improving consumer access to mortgage credit. now when you get a mortgage, usually your lender spends some time combing through your financial records to make sure that you can repay the loan, and that's good. american families don't want to take out loans they can't afford, and banks don't want to make loans that can't be repaid. before the financial crisis, that whole process just went hay wire. lenders were making crazy loans with balloon payments and exotic features that consumers didn't understand. and lenders didn't care if their customers could repay. why? because they got their fees up
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front, then sold the loans to distant investors. and the original lender was long gone before the homeowner got in trouble. but the families, they were stuck. eventually the payments skyrocketed and homeowners who couldn't keep up defaulted and lost their homes. after the crisis, congress changed the rules. they told lenders they had to start underwriting their loans again to protect consumers and the economy. but that takes time and money. so congress told the consumer financial protection bureau to write a rule that says there's no need to investigate if the lender knows that it is issuing a super safe, boring, plain vanilla loan. okay, that sounds reasonable. but section 101 of this bill is not reasonable. it takes the cfpb rule and it
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stretches it in all directions, tearing open big, dangerous loopholes. this bill that's on the floor says banks have some fun out there. it says bring back the greatest hits of the financial crisis, housing scams. scoop up profits on the front end and leave families holding the bag on the back end. i understand breaks for banks that make straightforward loans, but these loans in this bill are too risky. and they come at a bad time. rising interest rates mean that exotic products like adjustable rate mortgages are starting to make a come-back. bank lobbyists are dragging us back to the bad old days when banks had free rein to scam their customers. here's another section, section 104 makes it harder to enforce antidiscrimination laws by telling loads of institutions that they don't have to comply
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with a law called the home mortgage disclosure act or hmda. hmda requires most financial institutions to tell the public and tell the cfpb who they're lending to and at what rates and what terms. regulators and law enforcement then use that data to make sure that american families don't have a harder time getting one of those loans because of who they are or where they come from. now this bill takes a sledgehammer to hmda by exempting 85% of banks from reporting hmda data. if this bill passes, there will be entire communities in america where there will be no data whatsoever, which means there will be no ability to monitor whether people are getting cheated because of their race or their gender. and once again, this couldn't
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come as a worst time. lending discrimination is real. a new comprehensive report that looked at housing markets all across the country just came out from the center for investigative reporting and reveal, and its findings should make us all sick to our stomachs. in 2015 and 2016, nearly two-thirds of mortgage lenders denied loans to people of color at higher rates than for white people. according to reveal, in the washington metro area in 2016, native american applicants were 2.3 times as likely to be denied a conventional home mortgage as white applicants. for black applicants, it was 2.2 times as likely. for latino applicants, it was 1.9 times as likely. for asian applicants, it was 1.6
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times as likely. the reveal report showed that this problem happens in giant banks and also in small banks. and here's the thing: none of that analysis, none of it would have been possible without hmda data from big institutions and small ones. without the data, we'd all be sitting here in the dark wondering if maybe some mortgage lenders discriminated against african americans or women or native americans, but we wouldn't have any way to know. and that means we wouldn't have any way to change it if it was happening. gutting hmda allows us, actually forces us to look the other way when discrimination happens, and that's disgraceful. there's one more section in this bill that really hurts consumers and that's section 107, protecting access to manufacturing homes.
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18 million americans live in manufactured homes. many are low-income, elderly, disabled. it's a good option for many americans especially in rural areas. but it is really important to make sure that buyers don't get scammed. under today's laws, mortgage lenders cannot steer a borrower toward a higher-cost loan so that the lender can get a kickback. that's the law today. but not if this bill passes. instead, the rules for mobile home lenders will be weaker rules, and that means it will be much easier to cheat buyers of mobile homes. congress imposed strict requirements on loan originators because congress knew most of us don't buy a lot of homes in our lifetime, and we rely on the people helping us through the process to tell it straight. owners of mobile homes deserve the same protection as people who buy brick and mortar homes.
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and they need that protection. abusive lending practices are rampant in the manufactured housing industry. in 2015, the "seattle times" wrote about kindergarten and patricia akley in alfreda washington. kirk worked at a store and patricia worked at walmart. what happened at their closing? surprise, the interest rate was higher than what they had been told and the payments were larger than they could afford. the mortgage broker then convinced them to go ahead and sign up anyway, promising that they could refinance that loan later on. you'll probably guess the end of this story. the ackleys signed the lender wouldn't refinance, they lost all the money they put up up front and they lost their home. it turns out the mortgage,
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dealer, mortgage lender were owned by one company, clayton homes. all the incentives were to push the ackleys into a home they couldn't afford because clayton got the purchase price, commission and fees and they got the mobile home back again. no one was looking out for the ackleys. the backers of this bill say this provision will help small lenders, but the truth is that manufactured home lending is mostly done by giant lenders like clayton. in fact, in 2013, clayton alone, that one company, provided 39% of mobile home loans. savings from rolling back these consumer protections will go right out of the pockets of working families like the ackleys and right into the pockets of dealers like clayton. the ackleys' story isn't unique. it wish it were. these same problems happen all over the country and they are
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exacerbated by the special characteristics of mobile home. the life span of a manufactured home is shorter than a traditional home, and that means the purchaser may not be able to take out equity by reselling it. a woman from oklahoma told the cfpb, and i'm going to quote her story, i was given a loan for a single width mome -- home through a mortgage company. they switched it to dye tech. the home started to deteriorate and is now unsafe to live in as i have had electrical problems and many of the pipes are broken. it the floor under the shower -- the floor under the shower has caved in, windows are crooked and allow flies to get into the house in warm weather. most of the floors have buckled under the legs of the furniture and the rain has caused areas around the windows to buckle. walls are a little more than cardboard. the flooring is wafer board and unfit for flooring foundation.
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when i tried to trade this model, the dealer told me he couldn't because the house is worth much less than what i owe. and this sounded like a predatory mortgage loan. he said that mobile homes do not have 30-year mortgages because they don't last that long. he said that my loan should have been a 15-year loan at the most. also right before dye tech took the predatory loan over, they added about $100 to my monthly payment which went from $360 to $460 a month. dye tech claims the $100 is for insurance. however, as of yet they have repaired nothing, although i have made several claims. i was also told i should complain because when they put the mobile home on my property, they did not put it on a cement foundation. and instead put it on the ground, which has caused the home to sink. this bill is designed to make it
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easier for the lender/dealer to squeeze people like this woman from oklahoma. this bill is a punch in the gut to american consumers. if it passes, it will be harder to police banks that sell abusive mortgages, harder to police lenders who discriminate against customers and harder to police giant monopolies that build and sell and offer financing to mobile home buyers. only a bunch of bank be lobbyists and their friends in washington would call this a consumer protection bill. american families weren't in the back room when this bill was written. they don't have millions of dollars in campaign cash to get senators' attention. they don't keep an army of lobbyists on their payroll. no. american families are busy going to work, helping kids with homework and trying to catch up on 1,000 things. they're trying to save for student loans or maybe pay for
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their own kids to go to college. some are trying to put aside a few bucks for a mortgage so they can buy a home. they trust us to stand up for them and to make sure they have a fair shot at homeownership at the american dream. and they trust us to make sure we're not turning over the keys to our economy to the same people who crashed it ten years ago and ran over a bunch of american families on the way. i know we're outnumbered, but this fight isn't over. make no mistake. i'm going to do whatever i can to convince enough other senators that this is a bad deal for american families and a dangerous one. i'll push and i'll tug and i'll talk to anyone who will listen about how this bill will hurt the people we were sent here to represent. and maybe, just maybe for once the senate will start listening to voters instead of donors.
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thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. flake: mr. president, i've been in congress now for about 18 years, 12 years in the house, and now six in the senate. it's an honorable lifetime to represent arizona here. but after being here so long, i have to say i get a little defensive when i hear somebody say that congress is incapable
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of solving big problems, but it's a hard point to argue after watching the senate squander the best opportunity we've had in a long time to pass legislation to protect young immigrants impacted by an uncertain future of the daca program and in strengthening security along the border. somehow, despite sweeping public support for both of these items, we've been incapable of finding a compromise that can garner the support of 60 senators. to say this was a disappointed would be an understatement. i do appreciate majority leader mcconnell's attempt to facilitate an open debate. i truly believe he wanted this process to provide the necessary dialogue to deliver an effective bipartisan solution. i also know that i'm certainly not alone in my efforts to forge
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genuine consensus on this subject. there are a lot of members on the other side of the aisle who want to fix this problem. unfortunately, as too often happens, the siren call of politics brought too many of us back into partisan trenches and it blocked any hope of real results. there are teachers, students, and members of the military who are daca recipients. they are colleagues and friends who represent the very best ideas of america. had they are hard workers and productive members-their families and communities. they don't have the luxury of being able to admit defeat and move on to the next topic. likewise, those of us from border states like arizona know that law enforcement officers tasked with patrolling the border and protecting our neighborhoods, cannot just give up and go home. we have neighbors and family members who simply shrug off
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failure and accept the status quo when it comes to securing the border. that's why i've introduced legislation to extend daca protection for three years and provide three years of increased border funding and funding for border security. i'm the first to admit this is far from a perfect solution, but it does provide a temporary fix to these crucial problems. it begins the process of improving border security and it ensures daca recipients will not lose protections and be left to face potential deportation. we in congress have too regularly confused actions with results and too comfortable with ignoring problems when they seem too difficult to actually solve. to put it as bluntly as possible, this is simply not something that we can ignore any longer. i'd like to thank senator heitkamp for joining me as a
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cosponsor on this bill and illustrating that the drive to get something done on this issue is a bipartisan effort. she has been in support of immigration support measures. we cannot completely abdicate the responsibility of congress to solve this issue. there are many people whose lives and well-being are depending on our ability to deliver meaningful results here. therefore, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 300, h.r. 1551. i further ask that the flake substitute amendment at the desk be considered and agreed to, the bill be amended and considered read a third time and passed and that the motion -- the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: is there objection? the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: i reserve the
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right to object. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: mr. president, there's no question that i want to be able to see legislative solutions here, and i'm actually glad to be able to stand with my colleague from arizona to talk about how do we get a solution on this issue. the challenge has been all along, as we have seen from congress, especially over the last 20 years, if congress does a temporary patch once, it will do it 20 times again. my concern is for the daca kids that are in my state in oklahoma, the 7,500 of those. they are looking for an actual solution. they want a sense of permanence. their status has been in limbo since 2012. the question that we need to resolve is, can we actually resolve this for them? i put forward a presentation that senator flake has been passionate as well, for those individuals ending up toward naturalization and not a limbo status but to actually work them
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through a process to get in line, to go through that process and end up in naturalization at the end of it and at the same time do border security and other things connected to it. i would like to see us work through this process to actually get to resolution. a court now, in fact a couple of federal courts, have pushed back on the administration and bought congress a little more time to resolve this issue. i would like to use the better wisdom of that to actually get to a solution during that time period. so the goal is, how do we get this resolved? i'm pleased to say that the president has moved a long way on this issue. the president has laid out naturalization for 1.8 million, border security, has engaged in a conversation to get it resolved. we had a completely failed effort four weeks ago with four different proposals coming up, all four getting bipartisan support, but all four of them failing.
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i would love to see us get on any one of them and amend it. the senator from arizona and i have had conversations about some of what is in the bills. let's get on the bill. at the end of it, let's this body work this bill. the frustration that i've had with this body in the short three years that i've been here is, most of the time we fail to even debate an issue. when it requires 60 votes to debate on something, we simply start the process, never get 60, never debate it, never resolve it. and then this body moves on to a new topic. so i commend my colleague from arizona for reminding this body again, we have an unanswered issue sitting out there that needs to be resolved. i agree with him completely on that one. let's get on it, resolve it long term, and let's provide a sense of performcy to this -- permanency to this solution on it, not another temporary patch that will be the same temporary patch that we will do three
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years from now, three years after that, three years after that. may i remind the body that we are on our fourth continuing resolution just this year. we need to resolve this. with that, i ask unanimous consent that the senator modify the request and resume to h.r. 2599 around that the amendments be withdrawn. i ask that the grassley amendment be agreed to, the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: does the senator from arizona wish to modify his request? mr. flake: reserve the right to object. let me just say we had a debate for a week. i commend the senator from oklahoma for his hard work on this topic and constructive contribution during that entire time. we considered several proposals,
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one of which was this proposal, the grassley amendment. it did get bipartisan support, but still fell well short of the goal. i think there were 39 votes in favor. a counter measure that i supported, we had bipartisan support, but we failed to get the 60 votes as well. we only got 54. i would love to get a permanent solution -- solution. i've been working my entire 18 years in this body to get comprehensive immigration reform through. the problem is what has been proposed as an amendment here is for all intents and purposes is comprehensive immigration reform which would make changes to legal immigration. that is too much to bite off at this time. as much as i don't like to do it, i am offering something that is stop gap. at least it is three years. at least it will give those affected three years, and for us
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in congress, some time to actually come to a solution. what we cannot do is force these kids through more uncertainty. so i would love to get to a permanent solution. that's what i've tried to do for a number of years here. i know the gentleman, the senator from oklahoma, has as well. but we just can't do it right now. so i would prefer to simply go with the three for three amendment, that i'm asking for three years extended protections on daca in exchange for three years of border security funding at the president's request this year. i think that's a realistic proposal that we can get bipartisan support for here and in the house and i believe the white house can support it as well. so i would object to the modification. the presiding officer: objection to the modification is heard.
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is there objection to the original request? mr. lankford: i do object. the presiding officer: objection is heard.
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mr. rubio: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator if florida. mr. rubio: mr. president, since the tragedy three weeks ago tomorrow in parkland, florida, we all as a nation had a conversation about how did this happen, why did it happen, and what can we do to make sure something like this never happens again. and as part of that conversation, we spent a significant amount of time talking to all sorts of different groups and individuals from students and teachers impacted by this to experts
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across the can unto other communities who have put in place policies to address this. and we have learned a lot about not just this particular incident but some of the dangers around the country. it's interesting. just in the last couple of weeks since it happened, we've seen a significant increase in the number of potential shooters that have been reported to law enforcement. people have been arrested. i think one of the lessons from this terrible tragedy is that we live in a day and age when someone is out there talking about hurting people, it's got to be taken seriously. we can no longer afford to be a country in which people make these sorts of threats and they are taken lightly. and in all of this information that we've gathered, a big bit of this information, last week i came to the floor and announced a number of initiatives that i hope the senate will move forward on to make sure these things never happen again. and it's important to again by
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recognizing that those of us who serve here, we are in the business of passing laws, of making public policy. and making public policy isn't just about coming up with the best idea that you can come up with. it's also about coming up with the best idea that you can come up with that actually has a chance of being implemented into law. and what that means in order to get something done is you need 60 votes in the senate on virtually any issue. you need a majority of the votes in the house, and you need a white house that's willing to sign it. if those three things don't happen, you do not have a law. so what we spent time trying to do is identify what can we get 60 votes for in the senate, can pass in the house, and be signed by the president that will make a difference? that's been our criteria. that does not mean that there are not other important issues that deserve to be debated and they will continue to be debated. but what can we pass quickly and put in place? because unlike tax policy or some of the other issues that we talk about here, there is a time
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emergency related to this. and the time emergency is that it is fair to say that there's a high probability that somewhere in america today, there is someone like the killer in parkland who has ideas about doing something similar and we cannot -- we do not have the lux rill of waiting -- luxury of waiting until november or waiting until next year before we act, especially if there are things that we agree on. and something remarkable happened over the weekend. almost all of the 17 families impacted by this more fifing event -- this horrifying event came together and spent a significant amount of time meeting and talking because they wanted to issue a joint statement as families. and it was difficult because these families and some of the people in these families have very different views on a number of issues, including on the second amendment. but the one thing they all agreed on is that our schools should be safe places and that when we drop our children at school in the morning, they should be safe. and no one should be worried
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that there is a possibility that their children may not come home that afternoon because someone walks into the school and takes their life. and i would say that's not just true of these 17 families. i think that's true of the country. no matter where you are on the issues regarding the second amendment, how much or how little you believe our laws should govern and regulate the sale of guns and what type of guns should be sold, i cannot imagine there is anyone in this country in their right mind who does not believe there our schools should be safe. i also do not believe that there is anyone in this country in their right mind who would disagree that we have the opportunity to identify someone before they act, we should act against them and stop them. and because there is such broad consensus on those issues, those are the first steps that i believe we should try to take. now sometimes when you describe it that way, people think, well, that's all you're going to do or that's all you want to talk about and that's not true.
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that can't be true because these second amendment issues preexist parkland. we debated them in the past. we'll continue to debate them in the future. they often find their ways into court. and so those issues aren't going anywhere. and they will continue to be here for us to debate and act on if the body so chooses. but the issue i am afraid will go away, the issue that i am afraid may not be -- that may be forgotten in a number of weeks is the fact that in this case, there was the chance to stop the shooter before he acted. there were clear signs. it's one of the things you see in every single one of these events. it isn't like from one moment to the next they woke up one morning in a bad mood and do these sorts -- these sorts of t. they had been showing signs for a significant period of time in case after case after case. if we know this, should we not then create systems in this country to identify people before they act and stop them?
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on that point i believe there is broad consensus and on that point is i think where we should start. let's act. if there's a law we can pass or a program we can put in place to prevent one of these things from happening, let's do it. and then obviously we may partways on different views on the other parts of this. but at least for now, we are together to get these things done. this is the commonsense way forward. this is the way people operate in real life. in real life if you and another group of people agree on something, you do the thing you agree on first. you get that out of the way. and then you have the debate and the vote on the things that you may not have a consensus on. but we have a chance to do some things and they're meaningful. the first is a bill that senator hatch introduced yesterday. we joined him along with a broad bipartisan coalition. it's called the stop school violence act. senator hatch's bill. it is a bill that was innovated by sandy hook promise. it is their number one
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legislative priority right now and it is a bill i cannot imagine having a single no vote in the united states senate. what the bill does, it basically creates a federal grant program to the department of justice for local -- for states and through the states' local communities to create risk assessment programs. in says sense, to -- in essence to have programs in place to train administrators, teachers, students to identify the warning signs of someone who may hurt themselves or other people. it also sets up task forces to monitor these students, to identify them collectively. for example, if it had existed in broward county or something like it that was effective, you can only imagine a room where the sheriff's office and the school and the department of children and families and potentially even the f.b.i. were all there comparing notes. and if those entities had been together in one room comparing notes, the sheriff's office would have said we've been to his house 40 times for all sorts of things. the school would have said, we had to kick him out and we had
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to do all kinds of things because he had fights and he was screw lent and he -- violent and he made threats. the f.b.i. would say someone actually called their hot line and said this guy is going to shoot up a school. i cannot imagine through that collaboration there would not have been action or at least the opportunity for action. it didn't happen that way. we have a chance now to change that. by the way, i saw last week where it was described by some media outlets as modest bills. this is not modest. just because it's not controversial doesn't make it modest. preventing an attack, identifying an attacker, and stopping them before they act is the best thing that we could possibly do. and so hopefully the stop school violence act is something we'll be able to move on fairly quickly. the house announced earlier today that they will be taking that bill up next week on the floor. and i hope that we will move quickly to pass senator hatch's bill that has already over 20 other senators involved in it. another bill that's been filed that we have joined with as
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well, the senators toomey and coons, is lie and try. because another problem that we've identified in the broader scheme of things is that local law enforcement may not always have sufficient information to investigate individuals who try to buy a firearm knowing that they are prohibited from doing so. under our current law, when a person fails an f.b.i. background check, some state law enforcement authorities are not even made aware of the failed background check. individuals who are willing to lie and try to buy a gun in these situations could very well be very dangerous. and laws are only as good as our willingness and our ability to enforce them. we have to crack down on this. if someone who is ineligible to buy a firearm is trying to buy a firearm, shouldn't law enforcement already at least know that? because they may be able to take that piece of information and put it together with other pieces of information to realize this is someone we need to be looking at. they might be up to something. and so i hope we can pass that.
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again, i cannot imagine anyone not being in favor of it. this law would require federal authorities to alert state law enforcement within 24 hours when someone who is prohibited from buying a firearm lies and tries to do so. the third thing i hope we'll look at and we're working on the language now to address this is the promise initiative in schools. as i already said, improving our prevention and information sharing systems as the first two pieces of legislation would is the best thing we can do to stop school shootings before they happen. but these systems will not work if the clearest warning signs of school shootings, suspicious and violent misdelaifer r hair at the -- misbehavior at the school are not reported in the first place. any blocking of the flow of this information is very dangerous and it's a risk to our children. a directive to schools issued by the federal government during the previous administration deserves for us to look at it again. in 2014 the department of
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education working with the department of justice, they issued guidance which used the threat of reduced federal funding to encourage schools to alter how and which misconduct at schools is sororitied to law enforcement. -- is reported to law enforcement. now, the goal of this directive was to reduce the suspensions and expulsions to prevent racially biased discipline. i share them. i support that. but we have to balance that with some common sense. the failure to report violent misbehavior from students like the shooter in parkland to law enforcement can end up having some very serious repercussions as we saw. so no matter how laudable this goal is, it's not worth risking the safety of our children or losing the public's trust and the trust of our parents about sending their kids to school. this directive needs to be refined. it has to allow for schools and law enforcement to communicate when warranted for the safety of the student and the community. and furthermore, we need clear
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pathways of intervention and repercussions that need to be established and followed so that local education agencies and law enforcement are effectively able to work together to either navigate students back on the correct path, properly identify and address red flags that can lead to severe consequences, or prevent the student from being lost in the system altogether. so yesterday i wrote to the department of education and the department of justice and i asked them to immediately revise this directive from 2014 and any associated guidance to make sure that schools are appropriately reporting violence and dangerous actions to local law enforcement. in addition to asking them to do that proactively, i will be introducing legislation to make sure the federal government does not fail our children in this way. finally, i believe the parkland shooting has identified an area of law that can be improved to reduce gun violence of all kinds, particularly school
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shootings, amidst the systems we have in place, law enforcement often lacks a flexible tool they can use to prevent the sale or possession of guns to someone who should not have them based on their behavior and the behavior that they've exhibited around those who know them best. there has to be a way to identify and prevent circumstances like what occurred in parkland while also preserving the second amendment constitutional right of law-abiding americans and the right to due process. and that's why we are working to try to figure out a way to encourage states to enact policies like the gun violence restraining order so that state -- so that local law enforcement and families who have identified someone who is at risk of either taking their own life or hurting other people could petition a court to obtain a court order that allows law enforcement to temporarily either stop that person from buying a gun or possessing that
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gun and the ammunition. and this would put power back in the hands of people who see something not just to say something, but they have the opportunity to do something about it. we continue to work on what the right formulation of that is. its most effective implementation is at the state level. we're trying to figure out with our colleagues, there are different ideas floating around about the right way to structure. it has to have strong due process. ufp don't want -- you don't want courts misusing it. you don't want it used for false claims. we have to have a tool at our disposal because if the schools and local law enforcement and others identifies someone poses a threat but has yet to commit a crime, there has to be a tool available to stop them from buying guns or from using the ones they already have. the state of florida is probably going to be passing here either today or tomorrow a law that puts that in state law. other states like indiana and california have one as well. what can we do at the federal
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level to incentivize more states to do this and to have these tools? that's what we're working on and hopefully we'll have a resolution again on a bill that doesn't just work, but that can pass. we can all file the perfect bill in our own minds, but if it doesn't have 60 votes, it's nothing but a piece of paper. so that's why we need to work towards that. i want to conclude by mentioning one of the students, kyle, a junior at marjory stoneman douglas. like many students at that school he's motivated to advocate for changes in our laws to prevent something that happened at his school from ever happening to anyone again. in his advocacy he wants to make sure the second amendment is protected. he told the publication yesterday that his number one concern is to make sure the rights of innocent americans aren't infringed upon. his opinion on this issue might be different than some of his other classmates but that doesn't change their shared goal which is to stop this from happening to anyone ever again. he and house and senate
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classmates -- he and his classmates, though their opinions might vary, they still go to school together. they still root for the same sports team at their school. they still go to the same classes with the same teachers and still faced the same danger on the 14th of danger. as they advocate for change they have differences. they have differences on some issues. but they share a common goal to keep themselves and students like them safe. i think we can learn something from this example, from them and from the parents. in the lessons learned from parkland, there are changes that can be made and some of them i just mentioned action on that immediately reduce the chances of school shootings, yet do not infringe upon the second amendment right of all americans. the members elected here to the senate like the students at parkland have a wide array of opinions on many of these issues. but i think we all share a common goal.
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we would all agree that our schools should be safe. so i'm here to urge our colleagues to remember that we have to share a country. we all do. no matter what your views may be on any political issue. we have to find a way not just to live together but to thrive as a nation. we have to find a way to keep our children safe. if we keep that in mind, i am sure that we can work together to create real, enduring consensus on solutions on things we can agree on to stop this from happening again and we can have productive debates on the issues on which this nation and this body are still divided on. but let us first come together and do the things we agree on so that we will have the time to argue and debate and solve the things that we may not agree on. this is the opportunity before us, and we should not let it pass us by. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, i will be joined by a series of my colleagues who are coming to the floor this afternoon to talk about the november 2018 elections coming up and the steps that we need to take to make sure that the russian influence effort that bedeviled our 2016 election is not represent -- replicated in the 2018 election. i guess the first question to answer is, is this a realistic prospect? is this something we should concern ourselves with, that the russians would come back again in 2018 and try to meddle in our
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elections? everybody in the trump administration who has been asked about this perhaps outside of the oval office itself has said yes, absolutely, they're coming. the director of the c.i.a., the director of national intelligence, the head of the f.b.i., the attorney general, the department of justice. there is no contest, there is no disagreement, there is no doubt even among the president's senior national security and law enforcement team that they're coming back, that they're going to do this again. so that leads us to the question of what we're doing about it. and it seems that, a, the silence from the oval office on this subject is deafening. the white house doesn't ever want to talk about do anything
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about this. and to the extent that we get signals from tweets and things like that, they're usually nonfactual and highly politicized challenges to the basic facts that all of the president's senior staff seem to agree with, senior cabinet staff. i don't know why they haven't sorted out, why the president says one thing and all his cabinet officials say something else. but that's for them. what's for us is to review this in congress, to do oversight and to do what legislation might be necessary to raise our defenses, to make sure that we can effectively counter what we have been warned is coming at us. we have no proposal from the administration. you would think with something like this that we have an election that has been attacked
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by a hostile foreign country, you'd think that would be the kind of thing that would bring our country together, that would get the president's attention. he swore an -l oath to protect and defend the constitution. the last i heard, the elections are a part of our constitution. and yet, nothing. crickets. where's the proposal? where are the congressional hearings on our proposals? where are the markups? where are the bills? we're seeing an extraordinary lack of interest and initiative on something about which we have been very, very forcefully warned. the failure at the white house is very profound. over and over again we have heard senior trump officials sat they have not been instructed by the president to take this
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seriously. my senior colleague, senator jack reed asked director chris wray of the f.b.i. about whether the f.b.i. had taken specific actions to confront and blunt russian influence and disinformation activities. and on february 13 in the senate intelligence committee, he said not as specifically directed by the president. no. read the transcript more completely, senator reed asked let me begin with mr. p wray and asked has the president directed you and your agency to take specific actions to confront and
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blunt russian activities that are ongoing? ray: we're taking a lot of activities to prevent russia directed by the president. the director said not as specifically directed by the president. no. similarly two weeks later in testimony before the committee the n.s.a.'s director, admiral mike rogers, said that he had not been granted new authority nor directed specifically by the president to take action to disrupt russian election hacking operations. again senator reed asked you would be asked by the department of defense -- mr. wray interrupted senator reed: have you been directed to do so given the strategic defenses by the united states? admiral rogers: no, i have not.
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so, there is a lot of of room for improvement here. you can add also to this list failures of activity the state department which was allocated $120 million to counter foreign efforts to meddle in elections or so distressed in democracy. according to a march 4 story in "the new york times," and i'm quoting here, there has been no effort -- well, here's the quote. not one of the 23 analysts working the department's global engagement center which has been tasked with moscow's disinformation campaign speaks russian. and a department hiring freeze has hindered efforts to recruit the computer experts needed to track the russian efforts. so when congress provides $120 million to the state department
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to take steps to protect against russian election interference, what we get back is none of that money gets spent, and a hiring freeze prevents the people with the necessary qualifications from even coming in to do the job. that is not taking the problem seriously, not at the f.b.i., not at the n.s.a., not at the state department. as far as i can tell there actually is no executive branch interagency process that is designed to examine what the russians did and put together legislative recommendations for congress to follow up on. in national security matters, that's the president's role. that's the executive branch's role. we have the authority to make the laws. but because they are doing the day-to-day work, we count on the executive branch to put the proposals together for us. and again, nothing.
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there is one thing that we did do. there is one thing that we did do. we wanted to send a strong signal to vladimir putin that there is a price to be paid for this kind of misbehavior manipulating our elections. and virtually unanimously, in this chamber 98-2 -- i don't know the numbers on the house side but it was equally, virtually unanimous on the house side. but it was 98-2 here in the senate. we passed tough sanctions to hit vladimir putin where it hurts, which is right in the oligarchs. that's what he cares about, the oligarchs that support him, the oligarchs who has enterprises he has corruptly engaged with. that whole racketeering enterprise that runs the russian government is what the sanctions would go after.
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well, the administration has refused to implement them. the state department has said they're not needed. not needed? we're hearing from all the trump administration's own senior executive agencies that they're going to come and do this again in 2018. how are they not needed if this is not deterrence for what they did in 2016? it would be one thing to say they were not needed if the evidence was, okay, they got the message being they are not -- message, they are not going to do this again, we're fine in 2018. but that's not what the officials are telling us. they are telling us they are needed because they are coming at us again. so this added bit of deterrence would be really important. when it came to something as simple as putting together the list of targeted oligarchs to
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put maximum pressure on president putin, they didn't even put a list together on their own. they went to forbes magazine and took the list out of a public magazine. thap doesn't look like a serious -- that doesn't look like a serious or conscious effort. right up and down the administration you see failure to take this seriously traceable directly to the white house, and that is very, very regrettable. the other a thing we don't know is what the white house has been up to with respect to congress. there was a lot of talk early on about how we needed to have a independent -- an independent committee to take a look at this, to be independent, to be put a package of reforms and
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observations and recommendations together, and we had no support for doing that. what we were told is, don't worry, work through the committees. well, the committees aren't doing much. it's like the gavels are made out of foam rubber around here. we could do a lot better, and there is no independent commission, and it raises the question, what was the role of the white house? what was the role of the president in stopping an independent commission? how active were they in doing that? those are questions that need answers, but obviously if there aren't serious investigative processes going on in our committee, it's hard to get those answers. here's another question. what was the role of the white house in coordinating or colluding with the house
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intelligence committee with representative nunes and or his staff in the preparation of the so-called nunes memo? we've learned a lot about that memo since it came out. we've learned that it was essentially phony. and then a couple of basic accusations, one that the f.b.i. misled the fisa court. they hadn't disclosed to them that one of the sources that support the affidavit that got the fisa warrant for the surveillance of carter page, that one of those sources had been in touch with or been funded by a political campaign.
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that this was a phony effort cooked up on behalf of the clinton campaign and run before the foreign intelligence surveillance court. well, as it turns out the fisa application stated specifically, the f.b.i.'s speculation, that steele had been hired, the source had been hired to, quote, find information that could be used to discredit candidate number one's campaign, trump's campaign. as someone who has pursued affidavits and search warrants before, i can tell you it is standard f.b.i. and department of justice standard to leave out unnecessary names. so the fact that mrs. clinton wasn't mentioned is perfectly consistent with longstanding department practice. the other thing that omitted was that the steele information was actually corroborating
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information for a lot of other information that had begun this information beforehand. so that theory that this all depended on this particular source and that this source had an undisclosed relationship with a political opponent was simply baloney. the fact of the matter was that was disclosed in the warrant and there were additional sources. so that takes you to the question of why. why would a legislative committee apparently deliberately put together a report that contained misleading or false statements, that tried to create an erroneous and false impression about something that had taken place? well, did the white house have
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any connections in that process? that's the question that we're entitled to answers on because if this was just a botched job by a partisan crew in a legislative committee, that's one set of problems. if this is the congress of the united states taking its oversight authority and handing it over to the executive branch of government, handing it over to white house operatives when the white house itself is the subject of the inquiry, that is a very different problem and we are owed an answer as to what the communications were between the white house and the trump legal team and the staff at the house intelligence committee who prepared the nunes report. i've been joined by the distinguished senator from connecticut, so i will leave my
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remarks there and yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: because our country is under attack. in fact, we are here because russia is attacking our democracy as part of a campaign of informational warfare. that term is not mine, it is russia's. it is quoted in an indictment that was handed down by the special counsel less than a
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month ago against 13 individuals and three entities. that document is absolutely stunning. it is chilling in its detail and breadth, in its revelation about the apparatus, the personnel, the skill and expertise that russia brought to bear me thoddicly and re -- methodically in its 2016 attack on our election and our democracy. that began in 2014. it was not a few hackers in the basement of some moscow apt -- apartment. it was literally thousands of people divided into different departments with different skills pursuing disinformation,
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cyber attack, misinformation, propaganda directed at undermining our democracy, and, in fact, our elections. let's remember, constitutionally elections are foundational to our democracy, and russia sought, not just to sow discord and dissension, but to affect the outcome. according to the indictment, its effort to affect the outcome was to assist then-candidate donald trump and to disparage and damage hillary clinton. we will never know how much it affected the outcome, but it certainly impacted the views and the votes of some people in the
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united states of america. that attack now is continuing. our intelligence community is unanimous in the view that russia interfered in our last election and that effort is continuing. indeed, all of the intelligence community that has come before the armed services committee in the last two weeks has been unanimous in that view. russia is continuing its attack and admiral rogers in his testimony was very clear that they will continue that attack because they are paying no price for it. the cost to them is minimal, if any, and the benefit is highly
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asettlement cal. they pay little to see our democracy and they pay little of the concern. that's because this doing absolutely nothing to make russia pay a price, and that is the testimony, in effect, from representatives of the intelligence community, including most recently today, the director of national intelligence, dan coats, and general robert ashley. when i asked what was being done to deter counter or retaliate against the russians, director coats said, in effect, it is
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everyone's responsibility, which means, in effect, it is no one's responsibility that it was -- responsibility, that it was the whole of government responding, which means no single agency, and there is no plan and no action under way. there is, at most, perhaps some kind of study of what should be done. but the denial of meddling is really the reason why nothing has been done and why no action is under way, and that denial comes from one person, the president of the united states. he has refused to acknowledge that the russians interfered on the scale, with the scope that they did, and that denial, or
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refusal to acknowledge, is itself a tremendous boon to the russians in continuing to attack our democracy. as recently as this afternoon at his press conference with the swedish prime minister, the president said, in effect, well, perhaps russia might have meddled, other countries might have meddled, other individuals might have meddled, but he has refused to acknowledge the extent and the depth and breadth of past and continuing russian interference in our democracy. make no mistake, others of us on both sides of the aisle have said it. the russians will escalate in the sophistication of their attacks, in the depth of their
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interference, in the type of tools used through cyber and social media, and platforms as yet being developed, and they will use american voices, no longer the broken english, no longer the payment in rubles, they will become ever more astute and adroit in this attack on our democracy. so the question is -- so the question is why? why has the president declined to acknowledge this attack, a continuing assault on our democratic institutions, particularly on our elections foundational to our democracy? some had put it, what do the russians have on him?
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but my view is that we need to look back at the knowledge that the trump campaign had of that attack in 2016 as it was proceeding. and to take one example, the stolen or hacked e-mails. clearly trump campaign contacts with wikileaks and russia show that the campaign knew about those stolen or hacked e-mails which were then used to attack the clinton campaign. and if those members of the trump campaign knew about it in responsible positions, the question is, how could the president not have known? in april of 2016, george pop dop lass -lass -- owe pop dop lass,a
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member of the trump team for a substantial period of time was able to communicate with senior staff of the trump campaign that he knew that the russians had hacked e-mails. and that those e-mails could help the campaign. he was anxious to ingratiate himself with his connections to make himself more valuable in their eyes. so he boasted, in effect, about his contacts with russians and with russian officials. papapadopoulos was already workg overtime to ingratiate himself with the trump campaign leadership and he certainly was not likely to keep valuable information about stolen e-mails
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possessed by the russians to himself. remember, when the trump campaign, specifically donald trump, jr., was offered dirt on hillary clinton, he replied, i love it. from everything we know about donald trump, jr.'s relationship to his father, he is unlikely to have kept that information to himself. george papadopoulos is one of several trump associates who seemed to know that russia was trying to help the trump campaign win the 2017 election. donald trump, jr., again was in contact with wikileaks beginning in september of 2016 and we know this communication continued at least through july of 2017.
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we know that donald trump, jr., turned over these messages to investigators. when trump, jr., received the first message from wikileaks, he e-mailed other senior officers with the frump campaign. and those officers included steve bannon, kelly anne conway, brad parcel and trump's son-in-law jared kushner. how would that information not have been transmitted to donald trump himself? donald trump, jr., received an e-mail in which wikileaks offered to provide the trump campaign with some official documents that would supposedly incriminate hillary clinton. we know now that donald trump, jr., jumped at the chance to receive this information, responding to wikileaks with the famous if it's what you say, i
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love it. and that then led to the meeting involving trump, jr., jared kushner, and paul manafort at trump tower. there is more here which is the likelihood of conclusion. there is an incredible case of obstruction of justice against the president of the united states. there is solid factual basis to believe that the trump campaign not only knew but encouraged and cooperated and even colluded with the russians in this effort. and if motive is necessary for the trump campaign to have done this kind of conclusion, certainly it was -- collusion, certainly it was in the prospect
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of impacting the outcome. and if motive is necessary for president trump now refusing to acknowledge russian meddling during the election campaign and now continuing meddling, it is that collusion as well. so we are in a dangerous time because in fact russia will continue to interfere and undermine our democracy if it pays no price for it. and the only way to make sure that russia will pay a price to counter, deter, or retaliate is for the president of the united states to demonstrate leadership. and to put aside whatever concern about legitimacy there may be.
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no one is relitigating the 2016 election as to what the outcome was in fact. we have a president in office. but that president now must act to protect our democracies and our elections going forward from this day into the future. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor to my distinguished colleague from illinois. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: i thank my colleague from connecticut as well as my colleague from rhode island for calling us together on the floor of the senate today to discuss a timely and important topic. mr. president, we know that vladimir putin and russia attacked america's democracy in 2016. and it's clear that vladimir putin will try again. c.i.a. director pompeo recently said he had, quote, every expectation russia would try to influence our 2018 mid-term
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election. we've been warned. we can expect russia to continue to use the tactics they've used before and to come up with new ones. we can expect them to hack and leak sensitive information. we can expect these russians to use social media and propaganda to spread false information. we see it almost every week. we can expect them to try to hack into state election systems and more. mr. president, i was home over the weekend in sprin springfiel, illinois, of course the state capital, and ransom into a fella who works for the state board of elections. we talked for a few minutes about the experience we had in our state in the last election cycle when the russians hacked into the computer network of the illinois state board of elections. we were the only state of those that were hacked to come forward and identify the culprit. it was russia. we also came forward and notified hundreds of thousands of our voters that their identity, at least in terms of
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the state election agent is concerned -- agency is concerned, had been compromised by the russians. we were open about it. i asked the individual what was being done for the next election cycle, and he said we've patched the problem that gave the russians entry into the system in 2016 and we spent over $100,000 as a state to put in new security, new cyber protection. we're taking it seriously in illinois because we know what the russians tried to do to us. we don't believe that they changed a vote or changed a ballot, but we're not sure they won't try in the future. that's the reality of what we face in illinois. that's the reality of what america faces. just last week, n.s. anchtsz mike rogers bluntly acknowledged what most of us already know. president trump is doing nothing, nothing to protect illinois or any other state against russia's ongoing and
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future attacks on our election process. in fact, president trump reportedly refuses to talk about the issue. admiral rogers told the armed services committee that vladimir putin has paid, quote, little price for his previous and ongoing attacks and, therefore, hasn't been stopped. incredibly, the admiral said president trump has not granted him any new authorities to strike at russian cyber operations. can anyone here imagine what president ronald reagan would have said at this stunning abdication of responsibility in addressing this russian threat to america? in the face of this fundamental threat of russian attack on our democracy, we should have spent the last year coming together on a bipartisan basis establishing a sound national defense when it comes to the exercise of our democracy. we should be working, republicans and democrats,
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together to hold anyone accountable who participated in this russian effort. we should be strengthening our laws against foreign election interference, a responsibility of the senate judiciary committee which has never even taken up that issue. and we should punish and deter russia and other nations from ever attacking our democratic process again. instead, we've seen the trump administration consistently refuse to hold the russians accountable for their election interference or impose meaningful sanctions. president trump has even gone out of his way to invite top russian officials to the oval office and to call russian's election interference a, quote, hoax. despite the fact that all of our intelligence agencies say that he is wrong, president trump calls russian election interference a hoax. so what are republicans in
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congress doing about this? with a few exceptions like senator john mccain, they most lie tried to change the subject. -- mostly tried to change the subject. in fact, instead of getting a full accounting of what russia did to us, republicans have focused far more on scrutinizing and criticizing anyone who suggests that the russians interfered. mr. president, we need to take a step back and remember what this is all about. specifically, that a foreign adversary of the united states interfered in america's election. they continue to use weaponnized cyber campaigns against us and our allies and most in the majority party of congress and the president seem not to care at all. how have we let it get to this point? have we forgotten our obligation to our constitution and to this country? for those who watched the devastating two-part episode of the pps documentary "front line" last year entitled "putin's
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revenge ," there was a telling moment. months before the 2016 election, our nation's top intelligence officials came and told key congressional leaders about russia's efforts. these intelligence officials were deeply concerned about what russia was trying to do to the 2016 election. president owe boom ma -- owe president obama had wanted a bipartisan message for condemning putin's for his efforts so that we could put a common face on this commonsense of unity on this effort. what was the response of the republican party leadership after hearing this bombshell revelation by our intelligence agencies that this threat from vladimir putin would actually -- which actually goes to the heart of our democracy, the election process? the response of the republican leader was no thanks. we don't want to get involved. and they didn't.
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is there anybody in the senate, anybody who took the oath to protect the nation against enemies foreign and domestic who thinks that any of us regardless of political party should get help from a foreign adversary to be elected? yet here we are with aggressive efforts to discredit investigations into this threat, with a white house that ignores russian sanctions, with the majority party blocking legislation that offers aid to our states that requested to secure their elections systems, with the failure of this congress or this white house to do anything to protect against the next such threat all the while russia continues to conduct disinformation campaigns right under our noses. on february 14, the tragedy in parkland, florida, invited comments of those who wanted more gun safety and those who opposed it. and when we traced the source of many of the comments, we found out they were russians. russians preaching to the united states on both sides of the
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issues trying to rile us up at this moment of great human tragedy. that is now commonplace. we need to wake up. russian cyber campaigns were pushing for the release of the discredited nunez memo from the house of representatives. they have tried to undermine the f.b.i.'s credibility. they are at work every single day trying to undermine our democracy. russian cyber campaigns have attacked even republican senators who have been critical of president trump. so i say to my republican friends, not one of us is immune from these threats, and it's long overdue that we put nation before party in this extremely important matter. next time it might be china or north korea taking different sides or pushing different agenda when it comes to the american political process. but of course it doesn't matter who a foreign adversary is trying to help. an attack on any american political party or democratic institution by any nation is an
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attack on all of us. at least it should be. this can't be tolerated. we don't want to make america great by letting foreign powers undermine it. so i ask my republican friends, in fact i invite them, join us to get to the bottom of this. let's pass legislation together that helps request these states secure their election systems. let's pass legislation together that forces the administration, this one and future administrations, to protect our national infrastructure against these cyber threats. let's work together on a bipartisan basis to ensure that russia and others are genuinely deterred from such actions. let's use sanctions when necessary and other measures, and let's work together to denounce the russian disinformation campaign, regardless of who it might help on any given day. we have a lot of work to do, and we're only months away from this
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november election. in just six months or so, there will be early voting in this election. are the russians going to get the vote? maybe not directly, but indirectly? will they be able to invade america's political machinery, election machinery? will they make a difference in this next election campaign? shame on us if we can't answer those questions, and shame on us if we do nothing to stop them. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. mr. menendez: mr. president, i am stunned by president trump's willful paralysis when it comes to holding russia accountable about threats made crystal clear by our intelligence community. indeed, it's been more than a year since 17 u.s. intelligence agencies issued their report on
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how the kremlin sought to, and i quote, blend covert intelligence operations such as cyber activity with overt efforts by the russian government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries and paid social media users or trolls in order to undermine our 2016 elections. today even the administration's own national security strategy warns that russia will continue to challenge american power, influence, and security interests at home and abroad. these threats are precisely why congress imposed a mandate on president trump to act, yet time and again, this president has refused to hold russia accountable and refuses to take steps to defend our democracy and our national security. it's alarming, it's reckless,
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and it's absolutely unacceptable, and to be honest, i also find it baffling. here's why. pick any policy issue. chances are since taking office president trump has changed his mind about it at least once. last week, he changed his positions on gun safety so many times in 24 hours, it could make your head spin. a few weeks before that, he rejected a bipartisan deal to protect dreamers that met the very specifications he outlined to my colleagues and me just days before. and throughout the past year, the president's remarks with respect to nato's article 5, the alliance's bedrock principle which guarantees mutual defense, have been wholly inconsistent. but there is one thing that president trump has shown rock-solid consistency on since taking office, and that is his shameful embrace of russian president vladimir putin and his refusal to protect american
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democratic institutions. president trump's embrace of putin has put a straitjacket on u.s. policy towards russia. in many ways, we are more vulnerable today than we were in 2016. think about it. mr. putin made a serious gamble when he decided to interfere in our election, a gamble that would normally draw the ire of any american president, regardless of their political party. but as we know, nothing about this administration is normal, and the truth is we are in far greater peril today because mr. putin knows that he has a friend in the white house, a friend who won't do anything to stop him from interfering in our democracy nor those of our allies, a friend who won't even issue a statement condemning putin's nuclear sabre rattling last week when he proudly showed a video simulating a nuclear attack on florida.
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it's time for the president to recognize that mr. putin's intentions are not up for debate. from the spread of extremist propaganda across europe to russia's continued attack on ukrainian sovereignty to the latest revelations made public by special counsel mueller's investigation, the kremlin is orchestrating a systemic and ongoing -- systematic and ongoing campaign to undermine democracies at the heart of the post-world war ii international order. consider president trump's response to the revelations made public by special counsel mueller when he indicted 13 russians for interfering in our democracy three weeks ago. the special counsel's findings left many americans shocked by russia's outstanding, sophisticated evident to defraud american voters, stoke division on facebook, and sow doubt in our electoral process in 2016.
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and yet, president trump's only response to these stunning revelations of foreign interference? nothing, nothing. not a word from the president beyond a victorious tweet once again proclaiming no collusion. at every turn, president trump has dismissed the significance of russia's interference in our elections, and his willful paralysis on russia is in full display to the white house's refusal to impose sanctions under catsa as well as the unacceptable delays in establishing a strategy for countering the kremlin's propaganda and disinformation. let's remember why congress passed catsa in the first place, why the senate voted 98-2 in the house of representatives -- and the house of representatives voted 419-3, despite overwhelming opposition from the trump administration.
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we voted to hold russia accountable for its assault on our democracy, and we voted to increase pressure on the kremlin to stop its illegal war against our friends in ukraine and its aiding and abetting of war crimes in syria. but apparently, president trump fails to see these are real threats from a real foreign adversary, real threats that undermine the integrity of our elections and therefore the security of our country. real threats from a brutal leader who seeks the erosion of western democracy as a strategic imperative for russia's future. we saw it in march of 2014 when russia authorized the use of military force to illegally occupy crimea, violating the sovereignty of the ukrainian people, violence that continues in ukraine to this day. we saw it in 2016 when the
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kremlin's disinformation campaign targeted american voters on facebook. we see it today as russia continues to spread propaganda throughout western europe. meanwhile, in the middle east, russia continues to prop up assad's brutal dictatorship, propping bombs on hospitals and homes and humanitarian aid convoys working to help the syrian people under siege. this president's school yard swagger stops cold when it comes to confronting the world's biggest bully, piewn putin. it's been seven months, seven months since congress passed the catsa sanctions law. while the administration has upheld some sanctions imposed by obama-era executive orders, it's appalling to see this white house refuse to implement sanctions that congress made
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mandatory, mandatory. let me say that again. provisions that were made mandatory. so let me tell you what i have learned about catsa's recent implementation in the recent briefings i have received as a ranking member on the foreign relations committee and on the banking committee. president trump has imposed no sanctions in response to russia's cyber aggression, as required by section 224. president trump has imposed no sanctions related to russian crude oil products as required by section 225. president trump has imposed no sanctions on serious human rights abuses in the russian federation, as required by section 228. president trump has imposed no sanctions on those facilitating the transfers of assets owned by the russian people to oligarchs handpicked by putin. as required, under section 233.
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president trump has imposed no sanctions punishing russia for its transfer of arms to syria as required under section 234. and i could go on, but you get the picture. the trump administration has refused to implement the law despite the overwhelming bipartisan will of congress, a congress that decided to put shall in that legislation versus may, which made it mandatory. the constitution made congress a co-equal branch of government for a reason, and i take very seriously our responsibility to hold the executive branch accountable. given what we know about russia's interference in european elections over the last year alone, i'm especially disappointed in the white house's failure to implement sanctions under section 224. that section targets anyone
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knowingly undermining the cybersecurity of an individual or a democratic institution on behalf of the russian government. i find it hard to believe this administration has yet to identify one single sanctionable offense. but in case they need some tips, in november, spain's government discovered russia's state-sponsored groups using social media to spread disinformation and influence political events in cat loan yeah. -- in catalonia. and just last week, the german government pointed to a massive cyber attack against its foreign ministry allegedly carried out by a state-sponsored group called snake. meanwhile, our intelligence leaders, including many who were appointed by president trump himself, have testified that russia continues to interfere here in the united states and
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looks forward to doing so during the midterm elections. now, i have cosponsored a resolution calling upon president trump to implement these sanctions, and while we shouldn't have to pass a resolution calling on the administration to enforce the law we passed which was mandatory, we clearly do. fortunately, we have the opportunity to do so next week when the foreign relations committee meets to mark up legislation, and i urge the chairman of the foreign relations committee to take up this important resolution. let's remember that congress also gave the administration additional tools to thwart russia's disinformation campaigns, an essential priority if we want to protect the integrity of our democracy. yet it seems that russia's disinformation campaigns continue to sow chaos online unabated. every day that ticks by is one that the russian government
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continues to sharpen its tools and go on the attack. every day that ticks by, the russian government has further encroached on sovereign democracies. we saw it most recently when russian trolls amplified right-wing hysteria over congressman devin nunes' memo with the twitter hashtag release the memo. according to "politico," and i quote, russian bots and their american allies gamed social media to put a flawed intelligence document atop the political agenda. and just this week, "the new york times" reported on, quote, an american strategic void in response to russian threats, highlighting the administration's inability to spend even one dollar, even one dollar of the $120 million that congress authorized over a year ago to counter the kremlin's information warfare. the defense department last week
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transferred $40 million, a third of what was authorized to the state department's global engagement center. although not a penny's worth of action has been taken. why the ridiculous delay? why not the full amount? any responsible president would be vigorously working to protect americans from foreign interference aimed at undermining our democracy. any responsible president would have communicated to the american people the seriousness of the threat and rallied our citizens to respond with classic american resilience and courage. any responsible president would have worked with congress on a robust strategy and secure funding for it. and once he got the resources, any responsible president would have moved swiftly to spend it, to empower all the relevant security agencies to mobilize a collective effort to protect the integrity of our democracy. we don't have a responsible
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president. we have a president asleep at the wheel or maybe even too scared to get into the car at all. we cannot afford further delays that only cede more ground to putin on the battlefield of information. our global engagement center must immediately put these funds to use blunting the effects of russian government disinformation, and most urgently, we need the trump administration to finally develop a comprehensive strategy to shore up american democracy against russian maligned influence and implementing it without delay. so i'll close with this, every day that ticks by the russian government burrows deeper into our society cultivating extremists and sewing discord. consider alexander tortion.
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npr said he traveled throughout the u.s. to deepen friendships with the n.r.a. he cultivated his leadership meeting with them in moscow. and now the f.b.i. is reportedly investigating whether he funneled money through the n.r.a. to support trump's campaign. it's disturbing to think the n.r.a. is so eager to cultivate ties with putin's inner circle. as we all know, this organization's efforts has left our country a more dangerous place from our schools to our movie theaters to our concerts to our churches. the american people overwhelmingly want congress to uphold its solemn responsibility to keep our families safe. yet the n.r.a.'s opposition to commonsense gun safety laws have made this congress more dysfunctional and less responsive to the needs of our citizens. that to me, mr. president, sounds right in line with kremlin policy.
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more than anything, i hope that president trump and our secretary of state will start treating this threat with the seriousness it deserves. they should appreciate the level of careful planning, resources, and energy the russian government invests in destabilizing american democracy. it's time to protect the integrity of our elections and secure our democracy against the cyber threats of the 21st century whether they come in the form of election machine tampering or paid propaganda on social media or targeted hacks on public officials. but in the meantime, president trump's inaction speaks louder than his words. and his willful paralysis only serves to embolden our adversaries and weaken democratic institutions at home and abroad. that simply cannot stand and it cannot stand with the silence we hear from too many of our colleagues on this issue. we need to speak up.
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we need to act. we need to make sure that the law that we pass gets enforced. otherwise, we neuter the very essence of this institution. with that, i yield the floor. mr. wyden: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: mr. president, as i was walking into the chamber tonight, the press outside was telling me that they had just been told -- and i hope to hear otherwise tomorrow -- that the senate select committee on intelligence, on which the distinguished president of the senate and i both serve, would not be holding any public hearings on the financial issues so central to holding the president of the united states accountable. so what i'm going to describe for a few minutes is how the executive branch, particularly
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officials such as secretary mnuchin, are ducking these issues. and now it appears the president's republican allies on the hill are ducking the issues as well. i especially believe that it is a great mistake for the senate select committee on intelligence, on which the distinguished president of the senate and i both serve, to fail to follow up on the follow-the-money questions. following the money, as the president of the body knows, is counter intelligence 101. right at the heart of our duties on the intelligence committee is our mandate to vigorously pursue issues relating to counterintelligence. and the reason that that is so
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extraordinarily important, it's money which is one of the best and easiest tools to compromise people to take advantage of counterintelligence measures that, for example, would compromise american public officials. so i believe it is a great mistake for the executive branch, particularly treasury secretary mnuchin and as ranking democrat on the finance committee, we have jurisdiction over his agency, and the senate select committee on intelligence to just punt on these issues that are central to the question tonight that senator whitehouse deserves great credit in terms of pursuing, which is holding the president accountable. now the public in particular
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deserves the full story about financial entanglements between russia and the president and his associates. obviously the american people are constantly reading stories in the press about these connections. the special counsel's indictments of trump's campaign manager paul manafort and campaign aide richard gates contain voluminous information about money laundering and tax evasion intended to hide money from pro-russian ukrainian entities. the distinguished president of the senate and i know a bit about money laundering because we have introduced bipartisan legislation to deal with shell companies and money laundering. and it's clear that this is a serious matter because when you're talking about money laundering and tax evasion, particularly as it relates to
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national security and american sovereignty, it has great implications. but donald trump and his administration have consistently tried to prevent the american people from seeing not only his finances, but the activities of russian oligarchs. and the president's allies both here in the senate and elsewhere in washington are just going along with it. americans need to see both sides of this. they need to understand the corruption in both russia and in the united states in order to determine how they may be connected. that, mr. president, is why the congress required the administration to provide -- and i want to emphasize this -- a public report on the russian
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oligarchs, their relationship with president putin, and indications of corruption. secretary mnuchin released nothing other than a list of rich russians taken from public sources. so i have wanted to know if the intelligence community had warned the secretary of treasury against releasing what they saw as sensitive sources of methods. sensitive sources or methods. but when i asked the leaders of the intelligence community whether they had weighed in, they all said no. so what you have in effect is a whitewashing of the responsibilities of the secretary of treasury, possibly the white house, and possibly senior republicans in the congress on this issue. i then asked secretary mnuchin
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why the russian oligarch report was covered up. i've gotten no answer to that either. this is just part of the stonewalling that is preventing the public and the congress from following the money. now in addition, i have inquired through secretary mnuchin about treasury documents associated with a suspicious real estate transaction in which a russian oligarch bought an estate in florida from donald trump for more than twice what the president paid for it. i've gotten no response from the secretary on this matter either. so what you have is a period of time -- and i just speak from popular news accounts, mr. president, when president
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trump bought this property, essentially did nothing with it. it was a time when it was very hard in our country to get access to money. and the president sold it to a russian oligarch for tens of millions of dollars beyond what he paid for it. and i was particularly concerned when i read the press accounts of florida newspapers with accountants and lawyers and others there in the palm beach area saying they just thought this transaction smelled. they thought it was suspicious. they thought it was questionable. they couldn't see why anybody would pay that amount on top of the purchase price without there being some more sinister kind of motive. now in addition to getting no response from secretary mnuchin
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on that, i have also written to secretary mnuchin about press reports regarding connections between the national rifle association and yet another russian oligarch. and i wanted to know if there were records held by the department of treasury that would shine light on these reported connections. now, mr. president, as the ranking democrat on the senate finance committee, we have jurisdiction over the department of treasury and the work done by the secretary and his associates. you would think that just as a matter of courtesy, secretary mnuchin would respond, but received no response on that matter as well. mr. president, i intend to pursue this matter until we get
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some answers. if the president, his associates were powerful political entities like the n.r.a. have been corrupted by russian money, the congress and the public need the full story. there needs to be open hearings and they need to be in the senate intelligence committee. the president's associates have not been shy about releasing their side of the story, and they ought to face questions from members of congress and secretary mnuchin needs to testify about whether the department of treasury knows about these financial entanglements. i'd like to close simply by saying that these questions of following the money, which i have made my top priority since the period in which the intelligence committee began to dig into these issues are central to holding the president
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accountable. the executive branch and their allies in the congress simply cannot justify ducking these questions as apparently the press was about to report on the basis of conversations that i had walking into the chamber. the american people deserve to know the extent to which russian money has corrupted their leaders and their democracy. -l it is long past time to open this up and for the sake of american national security and sovereignty, get this information out. and i intend, as the ranking democrat on the senate finance committee and a member of the intelligence committee, to stay with it until the issue of how this administration and its financial entanglements may have affected policies important to all americans. and with that, mr. president, i
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yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, as we turn to senator klobuchar, i ask unanimous consent that senator blumenthal's legislative fellow mary miller flowers be granted floor privileges until the end of june 2018. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. klobuchar: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i rise tonight to join my colleagues to address the need to immediately respond to russians' interference. i'd like to thank senator whitehouse for bringing us together. this evening many of my colleagues have spoken about how russian aggression affects americans and our allies across the world. some have discussed the need for sanctions to deter russia and the fact that the administration has not yet imposed sanctions, the same sanctions that were passed by the senate 98-2 and
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419-3 in the house of representatives. those were the additional sanctions that were directly related to the interference in the elections and what we saw take place over the last year. they sit -- they sit dormant. others talked about special counsel mueller's investigation and the fact that it must move forward without interference. nearly a dozen senators have come to the floor to highlight the need to stand up against russia. i am here to safeguard the most fundamental part of our democracy, and that is the united states elections. i heard today the prime minister of sweden address our nation, standing next to the president, and he was asked a question about this. he put it simply. he believed the people, the citizens of his country, are the
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ones should make the decisions about the elections, that they should be able to make their own opinions, not influenced by foreign countries acting like they are people in this country. it is you, mr. president, that made the statement that i have quoted so many times, that in the last election it was one candidate and one party and in the next election it could be the other candidate in the other party. we do not come here in a partisan way. we come here because the clock is ticking. today marks an important day in the 2018 election cycle. texas is holding the first state primary and others begin in the coming weeks, including illinois. illinois, which was one of 21 states that the russians attempted to hack in, illinois where they actually hacked into the voter data, the personal information about their voters. those elections are coming. we are glad that we have a
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decentralized system so it is harder to hack into one centralized system, but it also means they have many things to choose from and we have 40 states that haven't updated their equipment in ten years. we have ten states that don't have backup paper ballots and we sit here doing nothing when the solution is in front of us. over the course of the last year, i have come to the floor a number of times to urge this body to take immediate action to beef up our election cybersecure. there is no longer any doubt that our elections have been and will continue to be a target for foreign adversaries. intelligence reports make it clear that russia used covert cyber attacks and espionage to attack our political system. i mentioned our attacks on 21 state election systems. you know when the general election is? it is 245 days away with
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primaries beginning today. we have not imposed the sanctions. the administration hasn't, despite this body taking firm action that we wanted to see the actions -- sanctions. we had security heads talk about this, the head of the c.i.a., the national director of intelligence, the head of the f.b.i., they all testified before the united states senate committees that, in fact, this is happening now. and it was director coats who was once a senator here who said, in effect, he believes the russians are getting bolder -- getting bolder. these are not the words of the obama security people. these are the words of the trump security people. last week, n.s.a. director rogers said this about russia, they haven't paid a price, at least sufficient that gets them to change their behavior. earlier this year, c.i.a.
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director pompeo said that he has seen no signs that russia decreased its activity and that russia is currently working to disrupt the 2018 elections. it is the policy of the united states of america to defend against and responds to threats to our nation. this is a cyber attack, it is not with bullets, it is not with tanks, it is not with aircraft, but it is an attack. it is simply using the computer system, and in every briefing that i have gone to, this is always listed as one of the major ways that foreign adversaries are going to use to attack our nation. that is they are going to use the internet. and here we have it happening right here on our very democracy itself. in order to protect our election system, we need to do three key things. first, we must give state and local officials the tools and resources they need to prevent
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hacks and safeguard election infrastructure from foreign interference, and they need those resources now, not after the election, not after the primaries. today more than 40 states, as i mentioned, rely on electronic voting systems that are at least 10 years old. do you think the russians don't know that? you don't think -- you think it is a state secret? of course they know that. february 6, 2008 was super tuesday for the 2008 president election. a lot has changed in the last ten years, but not our voting equipment. it has remained the same. that is why i'm leading bipartisan legislation with senator lankford. this is a bipartisan effort. we also appreciate our cosponsors senators graham and heinrich. this would provide $386 million for grant funding for states.
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it is paid for. we found a paid for. we have a similar bill led by congressman meadows in the house, the head of the freedom caucus, because they understand that freedom isn't cheap. that to guarantee freedom, that you must have a secure democracy. $386 million, that is 3% of the cost of one aircraft carrier. i think most americans would agree that as we see more and more sophisticated types of warfare happening to not even pay attention to helping the states to fund this election equipment that has been woefully underfunded is a huge mistake. the second thing that we need to do -- and by the way, we can do this now. we can do this on the omnibus bill. the second thing we can do is improve information sharing so local election officials know when he they are -- when they attacked and how to respond. it taxes nearly -- it took
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nearly a year before they found out about the russian hackers. finally, we need a reliable backup system, and i am talking about paper backup ballots. 10 states don't have them. this is a cornerstone of our democracy. we have fought for our democracy since this country was found and we must guarantee that democracy continues. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the senate be in pa period of morning business -- in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 9:30 a.m., finally, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, and morning business be closed. finally, i ask that following
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leader remarks the senate proceed to move to s. 2155. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: if there is no business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order following the remarks of senator port mand our -- portman and our democratic colleagues. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. president, i want to join our colleagues that have spoken about the concern of the russian cyber attacks on this country. since every day that passes we gather new information about how russia, at vladimir putin's direction, went about interfering with using cyber
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attacks into this country, not only stealing names and personal information but now about interfering in our elections. in a long, long indictment, the special counsel robert mueller spelled out how the so-called internet research agency, which is a front in russia, created fake accounts on social media and other internet platforms. it spread divisive consent and it even organized political rallies in the u.s. with the help of unwitting americans all backed by one of putin's cronies through a so-called catering company. this indictment tells a pretty
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remarkable and alarming story. and if you're still not sure just what this was all about, just read the front, the internet research agency's own words. quote, information warfare against the united states of america. end of quote. that says it call. i know there's been a lot of discussion about russian interference in our election, and there should be. we've got to get to the bottom of this. it's coming fast and furious and it's going to be happening in the elections of this year. we know what russia did in the last election, and just as the c.i.a. director and the director of national intelligence told us, we know, in their words,
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that russia will do it again. the more we learn though the more it becomes clear that we're not doing enough to protect ourselves from further attacks. this is not a partisan issue. it's an attack on the very foundation of our democracy, and at a time when it's getting heard -- harder and harder to come together as a country, when polarization is so rampant, when excessive partisanship is so evident, what russia is doing is particularly sinister, they are trying to exacerbate our divisions and undermine americans faith in our institutions. so months away from an election, the question is, what are we going to do about it? just months away.
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days away from an election in texas, about eight months away from a november general election. what are we going to do? well, one thing that we ought to do is we ought to start defending ourselves. last month senator shaheen, senator blumenthal, and i wrote to the secretary of defense urging him to use our cyber forces, u.s. cyber command, which is the one instructed with protecting us, to disrupt russian cyber operations targeting our elections. and we urged the secretary of defense to implement the recommendations of the department's own task force to deter these cyber operations. that was the department of
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defense's own task force recommendations. but just a few days ago the commander, four star admiral rogers, commander of cyber command told our armed services committee he had still not been directed to counter these cyber operations. he needs approval from the white house, and the white house, unbelievably, hasn't authorized him to act. until the trump administration starts cracking down on russia, vladimir putin is going to continue to get away with his cyber attacks on our elections and all of his other cyber
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attacks on our country. admiral rogers also told the committee that russia has not paid the price for what they've done to us. that is sufficient, admiral rogers said, to get him to change his behavior. so this is the kind of thing, defending the nation, that our cyber forces were created for, and this senator is the ranking member of the cyber subcommittee of the armed services committee, can i tell you that our cyber forces are growing and they are getting better and better but they are only as good if they are put to work and given the task to go and defend ourselves. and so, mr. president of the
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senate, i want to ask unanimous consent that this letter that several of us sent to the secretary of defense be made a part of this record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: and i want to take this opportunity to say that all of us have to get to work. the white house, our cyber forces, and the whole of government. when it comes to defending our democracy, many of us have taken up arms, many of us have warned the uniform of this country to defend it, many of us in civilian performance of the duties of this government have likewise performed duties to defend this nation.
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we now have to defend this nation against cyber attack and more immediately we have to defend against the cyber attacks to undo and undermine our democratic institutions by attacking our elections. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. portman: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: mr. president, i rise tonight to talk about the bipartisan legislation that's before the body. it is an opportunity to provide significant needed regulatory relief, primarily to smaller financial institutions like community banks and credit unions. the economic growth regulatory relief and consumer protection act will modernize the federal dodd-frank regulations to ensure
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that small and medium-sized banks, as well as credit unions, can lower their compliance costs, which will mean more loans to small businesses and better deals for their customers. for years, dodd-frank has hurt these smaller community banks and credit unions who have been caught up in this broader effort to rein in a select few larger financial institutions. primarily financial institutions on wall street. in effect, these smaller banks were caught in the web. last week i met with some of ohio's community banks. i meet with them regularly and they tell me their stories. their view is that dodd-frank targeted to big banks is actually hurting the little guys. over the past several years, they have told me story and story about how their compliance cost has increased. the small bank will say we used to have one person doing compliance, now we have three people doing compliance. those costs get passed along to our consumers. they also say that with the red tape and regulations and rules they live under, it makes it harder for them to lend to small
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businesses, which is one of the problems we have today in our economy as it is beginning to grow. we need to ensure that start-ups and people that are interested in taking a risk, who may not have a lot of business experience, are able to get that loan to get started. what's happened is there has been a consolidation of these community banks because of these costs. in fact, they say one community bank is becoming insolvent every day in this country because of these big compliance costs, but others are consolidating into larger banks. that may be fine in some cases, but you know what? i like these community banks. i like the fact that they are close to the people in the neighborhood. they know the businesses that are coming to them for loans. again, it's easier for small businesses to get loans when you actually have a relationship, a banking relationship. they also are very involved in our communities. so these community banks, which are really the backbone of america's financial sector, are what this bill is primarily about. the bill on the floor this week makes it easier for them to extend credit, loans, and mortgages, and provide other
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products and services to working families in ohio and around the country. the legislation does more than that, though. it also focuses on the regional banks in ohio. these are banks that were not part of the financial crisis. they had nothing to do with it. but despite that, they have been required to live under the onerous, systematically important financial institution rules and regulations. that's the sifi designation. it's caused higher compliance costs for them. again, it's hurt lending to ohio businesses. in ohio, we happen to have three very big employers in the state. they are regional banks. fifth third bank, huntington bank, and key bank. they are all examples of well-capitalized ohio regional banks that will benefit from this legislation, and the benefit will go to their thousands of employees, but it will also go to their many thousands of customers.
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this legislation also increases important consumer protections for veterans, senior citizens, victims of fraud, and those who fall on tough financial times. another thing i like about the legislation that is particularly important to me is it includes a specific piece of legislation i authored to make it easier for a group called habitat for humanity to carry out their mission of providing safe and affordable housing to those in need. habitat's a great organization. i volunteer at habitat regularly. i see firsthand the great work they are doing back in my home state of ohio. the legislation is called the housing opportunity made easier act, or home act. it simply ensures that habitat affiliates and other organizations, nonprofits, can receive donated appraisals of the homes they built. this is a really important issue for habitat because dodd-frank disallows this donated appraisal and the affiliates have traditionally accepted the donations. that has allowed them to have lower costs where they have to pay the appraisal fees, it
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increases the costs of the homes to families that are so badly in need of affordable housing. so getting rid of this red tape is something that should be bipartisan, even nonpartisan. it's been tough for us to get this legislation moving because people have wanted to block anything that has to do with dodd-frank, but this obviously, i hope, was inadvertent. so in this legislation, we had the ability again for habitat and other nonprofits to take advantage of these donated appraisals, getting rid of that red tape is going to help create more affordable housing for families in need. i want to thank chairman crapo for including that legislation. i also want to congratulate him and his colleagues on the banking committee for their bipartisan work on this legislation. dealing with the very real problem we have, which is the burdens, the red tape, the compliance costs in coming up with a balanced product that can be supported on both sides of the aisle, get through the house, get through the senate, get to the president for signature and begin to improve this economy even more. another economic issue, mr. president, i want to talk for a minute about the good news
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coming out of my state of ohio with regard to the tax reform legislation. in just the past few weeks, i visited eight separate businesses across the state talking about this issue, asking them what's been the impact of the tax reform bill, what are you doing with your savings? three of these i want to talk about tonight briefly. one is the small auto parts manufacturing business in zanesville, ohio. they have three auto parts stores. one is a multinational credit card processing company headquartered in cincinnati, ohio. one is a premier medical center in cleveland, ohio, all very different businesses in different sectors of our economy, but all benefiting from the tax legislation. j.k.m. is the small auto parts company in zanesville. they are reinstating health care benefits to their employees directly as a result of this tax reform bill. under the affordable care act, the company's health care costs increase dramatically, like other small businesses. double digits. they had a 22% increase in their costs in 2016.
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the company went to its employees and said we simply cannot afford to pay for this 22% increase on top of other double-digit increases. we don't know what to do. we're going to have you go out and get your own health care, including the schaiption. now that the money that j.k.m. auto parts is saving as a result of this tax reform, all of their full-time employees are once again able to get health care through the company, and they are grateful. having talked to some of the employees who had to go out to the exchanges. others chose to pay the penalty. they are really happy to have their health care back. these kinds of real, tangible benefits are exactly what we intended to accomplish in developing tax reform. but businesses small and large are benefiting from these pro-growth changes to the tax code. the second company i want to talk about is a big c corporation, world pay, inc. it's the largest credit card processing company in the world now, by volume. about 2,000 employees in ohio, their headquarters. i recently went to their headquarters to talk about what they were doing. they announced when i was there cash bonuses of $1,000 up to
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$2,000 for all their hourly employees, higher wages for their front-line positions, and increased 401(k) match, greater company investment in employee wellness and recognition programs, and significantly more charitable giving. as world pay's executive chair said tax reform is, and i quote, ensuring ohio companies like world pay can remain competitive and recruit the region's top talent. they have merged recently with a foreign company. thank goodness they stayed in ohio. now they are rewarded for that, because although they were punished for being a u.s. company before, now with our tax code changes in place, they are actually benefiting from being an american company, where it's more beneficial to make the investment here rather than in their case in the united kingdom. a more competitive business tax code, international code that encourages investments in this country rather than overseas, and incentives like immediate expensing that's in the tax code now are helping to create jobs in my home state of ohio.
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it's helping world pay to continue to be an american company and to be strong. it also is helping foreign direct investment in my home state because companies that are not american companies but foreign companies invested in ohio are more likely to increase that investment rather than investment somewhere else in the world because of the tax reform legislation. immediate expensing, lower tax rates. this all helps to create good american jobs. the most recent federal jobs report shows strong jobs gain and the fastest wage growth since 2009. and according to a recent national federation of independent businesses survey, that's the nfib which represents a lot of small businesses in ohio, according to the recent splay, 32% of their companies now say that they are going to expand. by the way, that's the highest level in the survey's history. the highest level of optimism also in their survey about the future among these small businesses. a lot of that is from the increased opportunity and the optimism that comes from this tax reform legislation.
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one website that i saw here in washington tells us that across the country, more than 400 businesses have now announced bonuses, higher wages, increased benefits, or a combination of these things as a result of the tax reform law. 400 is impressive, but i got to tell you, it's a lot more businesses than that. i have been to small business roundtable discussions, individual businesses over the past several weeks in ohio, and talked to over two dozen individual companies, none of whom were on this list of 400, because they are not big companies that made a big public announcement, but every single one of them are taking this tax reform and the benefits they are getting from that, and they are reinvesting that into their people, into their workers, into their companies, plant, equipment, technology, making their workers more productive. so 400 is impressive, but i know it's much larger than that. thousands of businesses are taking advantage of this, and therefore their employees are, and therefore you're seeing this
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increased optimism. the final example i want to talk about is one that has to do with our communities. i recently visited the u.h. university hospital rainbow center for women and children in cleveland, ohio. really impressive new facility that they are building. this is a new $26 million medical facility. i learned during this visit that it was the new market's tax credit that was key to making this possible. new market is a tax incentive for economic growth and community projects. it helped to spur private investment, as it did in this case. in this cleveland case, it spawned significant private investment from foundations, from individuals. this is something that has worked in the cities i represent in ohio. we have fought to preserve the new markets tax credit in the senate's version of the tax legislation, and the final agreement that became law has the new markets tax credit made permanent. that's critical for economic development opportunities like this new university hospital
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medical center i talked about. so these benefits from tax reform are not abstract. they are very real. they are extra money in your paycheck. they are more affordable health care coverage. they are increased investments in emerging communities and much, much more. as the good news continues to roll in from tax reform, i will keep traveling ohio, meeting with businesses, families, and workers to discuss ways tax reform can help them achieve a better economic future, a brighter future is really what our tax reform and tax cut legislation was all about. mr. president, finally, i want to talk about something else we are using on -- working on here in congress to create a brighter future for many americans. i'm talking about our efforts to provide justice for victims of sex trafficking and to hold accountable those online entities, those websites that knowingly facilitate these evil crimes. i'm talking about this because although this week we're focused on these reforms to dodd-frank to help our smaller banks to be
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able to make the economy stronger, help individuals and small companies, but next week we hope to take up this issue of sex trafficking. we're closer than ever to getting this legislation passed. and just recently had some good news in our bipartisan effort. the stop enabling sex traffickers act or sesta, a bill i introduced with 24 senators back in august, is gaining momentum here in august. last week, the house of representatives actually offered the sesta legislation as an amendment on the floor to a broader bill, and it passed by an overwhelming vote, over 300 votes. just a couple days later, the white house expressed their support for this legislation. it is now the senate's turn to act on this critically important issue. leader mcconnell here, the leadership in the senate, again has made a commitment to me and my colleagues that we will hold a vote on this sex outrage legislation, the sesta legislation in the next couple of weeks. we now have 67 senate cosponsors
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for sesta. that's not typical around here. it's a majority of democrats, it's a majority of republicans. two-thirds of the senators in this body. and by the way, this is a diverse group, wide-ranging political, ideological backgrounds. they have all signed onto this legislation because they want to be part of the solution. it's a commonsense solution to what is unfortunately a growing problem here in our country and in every state represented here in this body. unbelievably sex trafficking is increasing in this country right now. in this century in this country sex trafficking is actually increasing. how could that be? the experts tell us it's because of the online presence, again, these evil websites that are selling women and children online. the ruthless efficiency of social media, of the online presence of these websites is what's causing this increase. as victims of sex trafficking in
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ohio told me as i have met them, rob, this has moved from the street corner to the smartphone. one website called is the industry leader in online sex trafficking. they are involved in nearly 75% of all child trafficking reports that the national center for missing and exploited children receives from the public. so 75% of the reports that this great organization receives to try to stop sex trafficking relates to this one site. the permanent subcommittee on investigations here in the senate which i chair conducted an 18-month investigation into this issue. we looked at what the online presence was, why it was happening. we learned of course that was by far the biggest problem. we found that backpage not only had the vast majority of the sex trafficking on that site but they knowingly facilitated criminal sex trafficking and covered up these crimes in order
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to increase their own profits. and for years unbelievably we've allowed them to get away with it. i think it's a stain on our national character. i think we need to address it particularly because we have the opportunity here in the united states senate to change a federal law to help stop this. courts have consistently ruled that and these other websites are protected by a federal law, a law that we passed over two decades ago called the communications decency act that protects websites from liability for crimes users committee through their site no matter how complicit they are in those crimes. it was certainly not the intent of congress to permit this, but that's how the courts have interpreted it. prosecutors in courts from across the country including 50 state attorneys general have called on congress to fix this injustice. in one of the most direct calls that i've seen, a sacramento judge last year dropped pimping
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charges against stating if and until when congress sees fit to rescind the indecency law, it applies to those who attempt to support exploitation of others by human trafficking. in other words, this judge is saying there is now an immunity, a protection under federal law that allows these people, even when they are knowingly involved with sex trafficking, to continue to do what they're doing. so our legislation makes two very simple changes to the federal law that kurpbltsly protects -- that protects websites like backpage in an effort to help restore justice. first sesta says if you're violating a federal law, a federal law on trafficking, and that's a law that was in existence long before we started this investigation, a law that's well established if if you're violating that federal law on trafficking, assisting, supporting or facilitating sex
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trafficking and doing it knowingly, you can be held liable and held to account. again, very narrowly targeted legislation to deal with this specific problem. second the legislation will allow state attorneys general who can't now but would be able under this legislation to prosecute websites that violate federal sex trafficking laws. that's where you're going to see most of the action at the state level with the state prosecutors. we've tailored this legislation narrowly to ensure no threat to the freedom of the internet but to ensure we're getting at this problem and actually dealing with this immunity in federal law. sex trafficking survivors, families and advocates have shown great courage by their stories at the hands of online sex traffickers as we work with them. in testimony before the permanent subcommittee on investigations and in testimony before the commerce committee which unanimously endorsed this legislation, we heard from
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victims, heard from their families. we heard from moms who told us about their teenage daughters having been trafficked online. one mom talked about her daughter at 14 being trafficked. she had been missing for ten weeks. she finally found a photograph of her daughter on backpage. she calls backpage and says i found my daughter. she's on your website. thank you for taking her off your website. she's 14 years old. the person on the other end of the line said, from backpage, did you pay for the ad? the mom said no, i didn't pay for the ad. that's my daughter. they said then we can't take down the ad. these are who these people are. they have shown great courage by coming forward with their stories. now it's our turn to show courage by coming together and voting on this bill, sending it to the president's desk and fixing this problem, fixing the federal law to allow justice for the trafficking victims and to hold accountable those who knowingly facilitate these crimes. we've got an opportunity to do
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something important here, to create a better, safer and more just society. i'm hopeful next week we'll have that legislation before this body, we'll have the debate, we'll pass the legislation and begin to provide for these victims of trafficking for the justice they deserve. and most importantly, to stop women and children from being exploited online. thank you, mr. president. i yield back my time. i yield back my time. >> members voted on a bill that killed part of the dodd frank financial law. it also exempt banks with under $250 billion in assets from heightened regulations of the federal reserve.
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you can watch the senate live on c-span2 when members gamble back in. >> wednesday morning, we are live in phoenix, arizona for the next up on the c-span bus 50 capital store. michelle reagan will be our guest during "washington journal" starting at 9:30 a.m. eastern. >> tomorrow the senate intelligence committee holds a hearing on security clearances for government officials. industry and executive ranch of officials will testify. later, the chief economist will look at the annual report outlining the domestic and international domestic policies. life wednesday at 2:00 p.m. eastern on c-span three monday
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on c-span's landmark cases, will explore the 1886 case where the san francisco city ordinance discriminated against an ordinance it found in favor of the laundromat owner and establish that equal protection applies to immigrants and citizens. examine the case in the high court's ruling at columbia university and author of the lucky one, one family and the invention of chinese america. the founder and president of the heartland institute. watch landmark cases on c-span, or listen with the free app. for background or to your cap be the companion book available freight 95 plus shipping


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