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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  March 7, 2018 9:29am-11:30am EST

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to the applicability of enhanced standards for big banks on both the largest and in many ways because of their products, 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 100 billion and 250. i want to highlight the bill actually set a very low bar for the fed to apply enhanced standards to regional banks. under the bill the feds can apply an enhanced prudential standards for prudential reasons or promote the safety and soundness of the bank, part of their traditional prudential regulations as they stand. i don't think that every enhanced standard should apply to every bank larger than $100
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billion. there's a broad agreement that standards should be tailored for this group. >> you can see the rest of this debate from yesterday on the financial deregulation bill on our website, right now here on c-span2 we'll we will go live to the senate. the lawmakers are still working on the financial deregulation bill. the chaplain dr. barry black will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. o god our help, and ages past, our hope for years to come, help our lawmakers to honor your name. demonstrate your great power by filling them with your spirit and giving them a desire to cultivate
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spiritual discernment. lord, sustain them through the power of your prevailing providence, until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. as our senators draw near to you, experiencing your divine guidance, may they be motivated to follow your precepts as they face difficult challenges. we pray in your sovereign name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty
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and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c., march 7, 2018. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable rand paul, a senator fro the commonwealth of kentucky, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to s. 2155 which the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to
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the consideration of s. 2155, a bill to promote economic growth and so forth and for other purposes.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president?
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the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: community banks, credit unions, and other small-scale lenders play a vital role in the u.s. economy. research from harvard indicates that community banks provide more than half of all small business loans. let me repeat that. a majority of small business loans are handled by community banks. this is even more pronounced in rural areas and farming communities, like those i represent in kentucky. a whopping 77% of agriculture loans come from community banks, 77%. in this era of online banking and multinational corporations, smaller institutions remain uniquely able to build community connections. community bankers get to know their residents and business owners on a personal level.
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that perspective lets them extend credit to small-scale entrepreneur, farmers, ranchers, and other americans who might not have access otherwise. so when small lenders close their doors, the effects on communities are very real. in 2014, an economist at m.i.t. found that on average, the closing of a single bank cut the number of new small business oans -- loans in the immediate area by more than 10% for several years. the problem was extremely pronounced in low income areas where a local perspective and personal relationships matter even more. in low-income america, a physical bank closure cuts lending to local small businesses by nearly 40%. long story short, the more vulnerable a community, the more they need local lenders.
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but since the federal government implemented massive new regulations under the 2010 dodd-frank act, our community banks and credit unions have been getting squeezed. dodd-frank's imprecise, inefficient one-size-fits-all framework dropped these small institutions into the regulatory maze that was intended for wall street. for eight years, they faced a staggering compliance burden that now consumes on average 24% of their net income. this has forced many to pair down their -- pare their offerings or close their doors for sure. that leaves small businesses who want to expand left out to dry. fortunately, we have an opportunity this week to begin putting things right. today the senate continues considering a sensible solution that would streamline regulations and give smaller lenders a fighting chance.
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senator crapo's economic growth regulatory relief and consumer protection act is the product of thorough committee work. it's an important step toward unwinding the harm caused by the obama administration's knee-jerk reaction to the 2008 financial crisis. and importantly, this bill has strong bipartisan support on both sides of the aisle. members with a diversity of views on dodd-frank itself have recognized that this set of commonsense fixes deserves all of our support. i would encourage all senators to join them. now, on another matter, mr. president, just two months in, the effects of tax reform are percolating through every corner of our economy. it's made bonuses, raises, and benefits for working families, daily news and communities all across our country. automakers are planning deeper roots -- planting deeper roots
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in america. innovators like apple are bringing billions back to invest here at home. retailers from corner stores to national chains are rewarding their hardworking teams. and there's another sector in which the benefits of tax reform are flowing freely. america's growing craft beverage industry. that's because the new 21st century tax code included a provision known as the craft beverage modernization and tax reform act spearheaded by senator portman and senator blunt. among other achievements, that piece of tax reform significantly cut the excise taxes the federal government imposes on beer, wine, and spirit. this -- spirits. this was original a bipartisan bill with early support from my friend, the senior senator from oregon. it's too bad he and every democrat in congress ended up voting against this historic tax reform that included that measure. because it's proven to be good news for a host of america's small businesses, including the
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finetilries that contribute thousands of jobs and tourism in kentucky. one recent wave of headlines is detailed how tax reform is helping entrepreneurs in the craft brewing industry as well. across the country job creators in this popular and growing line of business are making big plans for their savings under this new 21st century tax code. a brewer owner in iowa said, quote, i'm very excited. as a small local business, those breaks help me tremendously. don martins who owns another brewery just down the road said, we hope to expand with this money. we'd like to double our production. remember, matt and don when my colleagues across the aisle say tax reform is only helping the big guys. together their two businesses employ 15 people. they expect tax reform will save them about $15,000 this year. just try telling any small business owner that's no big
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deal. larry horowitz owns four string brewing company in columbus, ohio. he expects tax reform will save his business $40,000 this year. we invest where we live and work, he said. we are the blue collar workers in the neighborhood. in kentucky, tax reform has a number of craft breweries excited about the year ahead. at country board brewing in georgetown, production manager daniel sinkhorn says the new law is helping them plan a new canning line which will add jobs, add equipment, and keep country boy growing. it's been reported that later today, my friends across the aisle will unveil a trillion-dollar spending plan and propose repealing tax reform to pay for it. repeal all these bonuses, pay raises, new jobs, and new investments? talk about a nonstarter. at the same time, vice president pence will be in central kentucky today to hear from
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small business owners and community leaders about how tax reform is helping them. daniel harrison, the coowner of country boy brewing, will be on hand to meet with the vice president. i'm glad he will be able to share how his business, like so many around the country, is tapping in to tax reform savings. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the
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democrat leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: now, mr. president, president trump's instincts on china are correct, but his execution is poor. he should stick with those instincts, not let those who label anything we do to protect america against china's rapacious policies as protectist, but at the same time he should fix his plan so it really does what he intends it to do or wants it to do. so i have been one of the chief critics of status quo on trade. americans -- and i share this -- resent all those academics who any time you try to do anything with china, they say protectionist, trade war. the bottom line is simple. china's eating our lunch. china's rapacious. china day by day gnaws away at our economy by manipulating
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currency. they sometimes do it, they sometimes don't, but they will again when they can. by having no reciprocity. they don't let good american industries in. but they want to come here and do easily. by buying our family jewels, our intellectual property, our leading companies in robotics and artificial intelligence and chips and pharmaceuticals. china has a plan to take advantage of america, to surpass us economically, and by not being fair. they keep their huge market protected. steal our stuff, learn how to do it, then try to come sell it here and gain an advantage when they can by manipulating currency. so the president should not be deterred by all of those business interests who were only interested in their profits, not in what's good for america. that's their job. they are shareholders.
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i get it. but he should not be deterred by them. but at the same time, he has to back off this plan, which doesn't do what it's supposed to do. major harm is done to allies like canada and europe, not to china. so that's the tightrope we need to walk on. and if the president walks on that tightrope carefully and well, we'll support him. the president's instincts to go after china are correct, but the policy he proposes doesn't fit the bill. it's not well targeted. it's not precise. and as a result, it could cause a mess of collateral damage that hurts america more than it helps. the sweeping nature of the tariffs has already angered key allies in canada and europe, justifiably, and could draw reciprocal tariffs on american goods, raising costs on average consumers from coast to coast. a country like canada, with
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which we have a trade surplus, could retaliate. mr. president, focus on china. go after china and do it in a smart, focused, but sharp-edged way. don't create a policy that hurts our allies more than it hurts china and causes china to sort of giggle at our ineffectiveness. a trade war is not what we want. making china play by the rules is what all americans want, except the handful of businesses that just see their interests and raising their profits, no matter where their jobs go, where they sell goods. china dumps counterfeit and artificially cheap goods into our market, denies the productive u.s. companies fair access to their markets, steals the intellectual property of american companies. mr. president, i am pained, actually pained because i love
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this country and i want to see us staying economically number one. i am pained when i go over in my mind the statement of retired four-star general keith alexander who is in charge of cybersecurity in america. he called china's theft of our intellectual property the greatest transfer of wealth in history. american health being actually stolen by china. and we sit here and shrug our shoulders or do things that are not effective. so the trump administration should rethink its approach to sweeping tariffs while there is still time and instead focus its attention on china. china is our number one trade problem, not canada, not europe, and president trump could do a much better job of tailoring his trade policy to address the real problems instead of creating new ones. now, on infrastructure. last year, a year ago, last
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january, guided by what president trump had said, he wants to work with democrats on infrastructure, senate democrats unveiled our trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. it was an outline. sent it to the president. we said it was one of the areas where we could work with the president to get something done. then we waited, and we waited, and we waited. a full year after we made our proposal, the trump administration finally released one of its own. frankly, president trump's plan, to put it kindly, president trump's plan on infrastructure was underwhelming. it's gone over like a lead balloon. and it's very simple why. after a year of bold promises about trillion-dollar infrastructure, a plan to build, quote, gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways and waterways across our land, president trump's infrastructure plan proposed no new net increase in infrastructure
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funding. it put in $200 billion and then took it away by cutting the existing programs of infrastructure. it won't get the job done. robbing peter to pay paul a pittance won't do nearly enough to rebuild our infrastructure. and because so much of the funding is not from the federal government, which has traditionally funded the lion's share of infrastructure, highways, water, and sewer, the money's going to have to come from two places, neither of which is a good outcome -- localities, which are starved for cash already. they're not going to build much. or the private sector, which will, of course, quite naturally want a payback. that's how the private sector works. they're not going to put money up unless they are paid back. they are not going to lend money unless they are paid back. you know what that will mean. tolls, tolls, and more tolls. trump tolls from one end of the
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nation to the other. that's not what america wants. trump's plan is already a huge flop. hardly anyone's paying attention to it. so we democrats have a better deal to offer the american people. rather than cutting existing infrastructure projects to pay for a paltry program that won't work, we want to roll back the republican tax giveaways to big corporations and the very wealthy and invest that money instead in job-creating infrastructure. the overwhelming majority of americans would say they would rather see millions -- our plan could create up to 15 million good-paying jobs for the middle class -- than give tax breaks to the wealthiest. we have already seen, by the way, those tax breaks are not creating many jobs. instead they are going to stock buybacks, which is a way for corporate executives to take that money, raise their own salaries, and raise the salaries of shareholders, the vast
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majority of whom are in the top 10% of america. so we are proposing something new and different. we propose to put the top rate back to 39.6%. the wealthy are doing great in america. they didn't need a tax cut. it's the middle class that needed more of one. we proposed restoring the a.m.t. that a.m.t. prevented the wealthiest of americans from evading taxes. it's a, it's a tax expert's way on restoring the buffett rule which says that a rich corporate executive shouldn't pay a lower rate of taxes than his or her secretary. we restore the estate tax. after all, that benefits 5,000 wealthy families. we close the carried interest loophole and we raised the corporate tax rate to 25%. that's what the business roundtable called for. but our republican friends and president trump in a mania, cut,
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cut, cut corporate taxes even when a time when corporations are doing well moved it to 21. we go back up to the 25 that the business roundtable suggested. and with all that money, what do we invest it in? a modern infrastructure plan that would build everything from roads and bridges to schools and airports, to high-speed internet and more, with a focus, by the way, on rural internet, because a third of rural america doesn't have it. in addition to the traditional types of projects we've long built in this country, we're building 21st century infrastructure. as i mentioned, rural internet, high-speed. in the 1930's, franklin roosevelt said every home in america should have electricity. it was aimed at rural homes which didn't. today we democrats believe that every home should have high-speed internet, and that's too aimed at rural america where
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close to a third of the homes don't have high-speed internet and in our inner cities as well. only with real investment of federal dollars will we built the transformational projects that need to be built. only with real investment will we create millions p-f good-paying -- create millions of good-paying jobs. you say where's the money going to come from? we don't want to increase our deficit. the tax bill has done that enough. we say take some of those tax breaks from the wealthiest of americans and put them into middle-class jobs. plain and simple. americans are realizing now where that money's going. the tax bill, before it came out, was unpopular. it had an initial splurge of popularity. and now what americans learn what it's actually doing it will become less popular again. it will go back to where it was, i believe, which more americans will dislike it than like it.
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but when they thaer that we can -- when they hear that we can take some of that money, put it into infrastructure and create millions of middle-class jobs, i think americans of all stripes will embrace that policy. so we democrats want to work with the president and our republican colleagues on infrastructure, but we want to do it in a way that produces real results, not this numerical proposal the president made that will produce very little infrastructure, almost no jobs, and put tolls all across america. trump tolls. we hope the president will move away from his plan and come much further in our direction so we can get something done for the american people, and particularly the american working and middle classes. i yield the floor.
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mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, listening to my friend from new york -- and he is my friend. we've worked together on a number of projects, even though we have many diametrically opposed views on many policy prescription, to listen to him talk the tax cuts and jobs act was a bad thing because it took money from the federal government and let the people who earn it keep it and spend it the way they see fit. i know they made a bad bet. they bet that it would fail. they bet that we would not get the votes to pass the tax cuts and jobs act. but we did, and the american people and american families are the beneficiaries of that. and i've come to this floor here time and time again telling those stories, most recently about a plumbing company in cleburn, texas, who has seen the
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benefit in terms of bonuses and increased pay, more take-home pay, along with the lowest claims for jobless benefits since 1969. 1969, the lowest claim for jobless benefits since 1969. but when we come to the floor, our democratic colleagues who bet against the american economy and this resurgence, the reawakening of this great economic engine known as the american economy, they bet against it. they're still sticking with the same old story regardless of the facts. but i know the american people know better. they noticed in their paychecks starting in february, because the tax tables were rewritten by the i.r.s., that they actually had more take-home pay. i have family members who are ecstatic about that. one of my daughters called, just couldn't be more excited. and i know that's happening to
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families all across the country. so i guess it's just one reason we have two political parties -- democrats and republicans -- because while we may agree in some sense on the outcome, we certainly don't agree on the means to achieve that outcome. they are the party of big government and higher taxes and more spending. we're the party of smaller government, effective government, one that provides essential services to the american people, like defending our nation and maintaining the peace around the world. but we believe in the individual. we believe the people who earn the money ought to be able to keep more of it and spend it as they see fit. and they believe that government ought to keep more of that and spend it as washington sees fit. and that's the reason we have two political parties and people have to make their choices, and they do each election. yesterday, though, mr. president, we voted to proceed to a very important
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bipartisan bill that would provide relief for small and mid-size banks and credit unions across the country. this is an important step in what has been a long time coming. and you might ask, well, why do we care about providing regulatory relief for banks and credit unions, especially the smaller ones that are in our communities. that's where people go when they want to buy a house and they need a mortgage, when they need some start-up money for a new business, where they need to go borrow money, for example, to buy seed and equipment to plant a crop if you're in the agriculture sector. that's where they get access to credit, and that's why it's so important. and unfortunately, since the dodd-frank law passed in 2010, we've seen a lot of that access to credit, particularly among small and medium size banks and credit unions dry up, because what they had to do is they had
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to hire more people but not for the purpose of making more loans. they hired more people because they needed to comply with the red tape and the regulatory burden imposed by washington. and we're peeling that back. we're reversing that, not for the big banks. the regulations stay in place. but for community banks and small credit unions, we are peeling that back so that it is more rational and reasonable regulatory regime. ever since the law known as dodd-frank was passed in 2010, community and regional banks have been trying to get their voices heard. they have been clamoring to get lawmakers to understand that their businesses are much different from the titans of wall street. the dodd-frank came after, during the financial crisis. usually when i'm talking to community bankers and credit
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unions from my state, i say you didn't cause the great recession of 2008. you didn't cause the great financial crisis, but you are the collateral damage. and they nod their heads sadly. these banks want us to know that they are from main street, not from wall street. and they want the rules to reflect that fact. and after yesterday's vote, we finally started on a pathway to not only listening to their concerns, but acting on them. dodd-frank, the regulatory legislation that was passed in 2010, was almost 850 pages long. it required more than ten federal agencies to write more than 400 new rules, imposing some 27,000 mandates on financial institutions of every size, from large to small.
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in doing so, dodd-frank's rules imposed billions of dollars in new costs. much of the weight fell on the backed of banks and credit unions that posed little systemic risk to the overall economy and have had a much harder time than wall street firms complying with excessive and complex reporting requirements. here's the irony. it's actually the big banks and big financial institutions that have the heft and the money to be able to comply with all this new spider's web of regulations. and it's the smaller community banks and credit unions that can't afford it, so they have been going out of business, or being gobbled up in mergers by the big banks. this isn't what congress intended in 2010. that wasn't the focus, but that's the consequence. as the senate majority leader said yesterday, based on one
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survey, compliance costs -- that is the cost of dealing with the red tape in the financial secto. what's happened as compliance costs increased? well, banks closed in small towns, in rural america, for one, which led to a growing number of places with no bank branches at all. in texas, for example, we lost about 165 bank charters, a 26% reduction. in smaller rural areas that lack multiple options to access credit, this is a serious problem. it's one of the many issues that this bill we're voting on this week attempts to solve. as "the wall street journal" noted, the bill mainly eases administrative burdens on community banks. these banks incredibly make up about 98% of financial
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institutions, but only hold about 15% of u.s. banks total assets. my colleague -- our colleague, the senior senator from idaho, the chairman of the banking committee, has spearheaded this effort which is called the economic growth, regulatory relief and consumer protection act. and i heard him say yesterday it does all three of those things. it helps stimulate economic growth. it provides regulatory relief. and it protects consumers. and we all appreciate the tremendous amount of hard work he has poured in to the difficult and elaborate negotiations. his leadership has been indispensable. as senator crapo has pointed out, the reforms in the bill were right sized, existing regulations on community and regional banks and credit unions while ensuring consumer safety at the same time. anyone that lives and works in
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the real world knows that a one-size-fits-all approach just about never works. and banking and the financial sector is no exception. dodd-frank never worked as intended, but it was especially disastrous to smaller financial institutions. that shouldn't be subject to many of its provisions and which weren't meant for them in the first place. the bill, therefore, will relieve the burden on small and mid-sized businesses that are being treated unfairly. again, it's not so much the banks and the credit unions that we're worried about. it's the people they lend money to, who need access to credit to live their lives, to build their business. that's who we're mainly concerned about. surprisingly and gratefully, this bill is supported by
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democrats who passed dodd-frank in the first place. but democrats and republicans, as well as the trump administration and top federal reserve officials, this is actually a little bit of a bright light in otherwise sometimes a dark atmosphere here in washington, d.c. when it comes to dealing with some of these problems. this actually will help solve some real world problems and it's supported by republicans and democrats. one specific objective is to raise the threshold on the dodd-frank oversight. but it will also, and i want to emphasize this, keep in place regulations for larger financial institutions like rigorous stress testing, for example. as i said, negotiations have been going on in this legislation for years. i think it's four years, to be exact. because of the resistance of the former administration, the obama
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administration, as well as the former senate majority leader, senator reid, we couldn't get these reforms passed before this week and next week, if necessary. but this is a new day, a new administration, new leadership, and we're making progress. in the meantime, though, american families and businesses lost out. some farmers and ranchers looking to actually buy what they needed to bring in a crop so they could earn a living couldn't get the loans that they needed. young people couldn't find a mortgage at the price they could afford and purchase their first or starter home. in texas, independent bankers have confirmed that these reported difficulties are real. they recently signed a letter that urged the senate to seize this opportunity to pass this bill as quickly as possible. as the independent bankers association of texas points out,
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community banks neither participated in nor profited from the excesses and bad behavior that precipitated the financial crisis. yet they're paying a disproportionately high price in attempting to deal with the aftermath. and that just about sums it up. another group from my state, the texas bankers association, said they're pleased to see that this bill has finally been brought to the floor for a vote. that group represents about 450 banks institutions in my state. and credit unions, sometimes we see the credit unions and the banks as rivals. they see themselves as rivals for the same line of business often. but the banks and the credit unions agree, the credit unions in my state say passing this bill will allow them to more fully serve their members' needs, whether that be providing mortgages or small business
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loans. instead of spending so many hours and so much money just trying to deal with the red tape and to what purpose? it doesn't help grow the economy. it doesn't help access to credit. it's really regulatory overkill that we're trying to deal with here. as the majority leader said yesterday, there's a wide diversity of views on dodd-frank but there's widespread agreement that we should not continue allowing unintended consequences to wreak havoc on community banks and small credit unions. so i hope all of our colleagues will join me in supporting the economic growth regulatory relief and consumer protection act. it's good for american families. it's good for communities across our country that are underserved and people who lack access to credit. and it just makes sense.
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mr. president, i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. barrasso: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, over the next couple of weeks congress is going to need to finalize government appropriations for the remainder of this year. among the things that some people are talking about is including money for a couple of obamacare programs. one of them is money for the so-called cost-sharing reduction payments. funding for these payments was never appropriated by congress. the obama administration paid the insurance companies anyway. president trump stopped these illegal payments last october. now some people in congress are talking about funding them again. well, we all know that obamacare has been a disaster for millions and millions of families all across the country. you know, the people who live in states that use the, for those folks premiums have doubled
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since the law took effect. wyoming is one of those states that saw it. i heard it in park county last week. we know it, we hear from people, people in letters, no matter where they live in the state of wyoming we continue to hear about the costs going up. i'm sure, mr. president, in your state, a similar situation in arkansas as well. according to gallup, the number of uninsured people actually increased, increased last year by three million. many people are finding that they just can't afford to have obamacare insurance. it's especially hard for hardworking families who don't qualify for subsidies under the health care law. so we know that there's a problem. and we know that we have to do something to help people who are struggling in obamacare markets. if people are going to discuss using this government spending law to spend more money on this collapsing obamacare market, mr. president, there are other things we should be discussing as well. we should discuss finding a real solution, a real solution to
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rising health care costs, one that doesn't just continue the unworkable, unaffordable and, frankly, unfair system that obamacare created. we should discuss actually giving people more freedom, more flexibility to choose a health care plan that is right for them. i'm introducing a bill today to do just that, mr. president. my legislation will build on a step that president trump and the trump administration took last month. the administration reversed a last-minute obama-era policy that had all but killed short-term health plans. these are less expensive health plans that are free from the expensive and intrusive and burdensome regulations that obamacare placed on other insurance. so there are much more more affordable options for many americans who have been priced out of obamacare. president trump is on the right path with his new rule.
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it is absolutely the right decision. he's giving people back an option so that they can decide for themselves if it's a right choice for them or not. i think we should go a step further, and that's why i'm introducing this legislation. we should go a step further in the omnibus spending bill. we should make this more affordable choice permanent. making it permanent protects people. it protects people so that a future administration doesn't do what president obama did and try to wipe out choices for americans. so this legislation i'm introducing today gives people a choice to have these plans for not just 90 days which was allowed at the end of the obama administration, but for a full 346 days. so it's up to a year. it will also make sure people can renew these plans if they want to so it can become their permanent insurance, free from
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the mandates of the obama health care law. protection from being dropped if they were sick. remember, that was one of the biggest promises of the obamacare time that was broken. president obama said if you like your plan you can keep your plan. almost immediately people found out it wasn't true at all. in fact, it was called by some of the press the lie of the year. in 2013 there were 2.7 million americans who got letters from their insurance companies telling them their insurance was canceled. under my proposal, people with short-term plans wouldn't have to worry about getting a cancellation letter. they would be protected from their insurance company and they would be protected from washington, d.c. mr. president, states are much better suited than washington to regulate their insurance markets in ways that work best for the
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citizens of their states. these simple changes in my legislation help give people back, help give it to them, the freedom that obamacare took away. that's what we're looking at, the need for freedom for the american people. we can essentially give people an escape hatch to get out of the obamacare plan entirely. we can give them the ability to choose the plan that works best for them and their families. that's the best thing for americans, give themselves options and freedom, not a one-size-fits-all government plan. people who live in all of half of american counties have one choice of obamacare. only one. it's not a choice. they don't have options, it's a monopoly. the left leaning urban institute estimates that 2.3 million
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americans would enroll in plans last year if they -- this year if they would let them keep the plan. that -- my plans will have much more freedom. just the one change could make a difference in the lives of four million americans. my legislation does just that, and it has other benefits as well. now, i think it would be an attractive option for many more americans, but democrats in washington don't want to talk about options. they know obamacare markets are collapsing, they don't seem to care, they know that costs are soaring out of control, they are not concerned, they know the middle-class families are being squeezed the hardest by the rising obamacare premiums. their answer, and we heard it, we heard it here on the floor of the senate, try to push everyone, whether they want it or not, everyone in america into a single government-run
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insurance plan that looks a lot like medicaid. that's exactly the opposite of what we should be doing and what i am proposing today. what the democrats are proposing is more of the same failed idea that caused americans so many problems under obamacare, government control. you know, if there's going to be talk about propping up the obamacare market during the omnibus spending bill, then we should also be talking about helping people get out of the obamacare markets, give them the freedom, give them this escape hatch. we should protect people with one health insurance but who don't want obamacare health insurance. they know what works best for them and their families and we should trust the american people to know what is best for their and their families. we should give people the freedom and the flexibility to make those decisions for themselves. and we should give them more opportunities to escape from the disastrous, destructive, and extremely expensive obamacare
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markets. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. i sut sut the be a -- i suggeste absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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