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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  March 8, 2018 9:29am-11:30am EST

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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> live now to the u.s. senate as lawmakers continue with debate on financial
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deregulation legislation that would exempt back some requirements from the dodd-frank act. live coverage here of the senate here on c-span2. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, we find rest in the shadow of your protection and providence. shield our lawmakers in their labors with your divine favor, so that they may grow in wisdom. lord, show them how to use today's fleeting minutes for your glory, becoming your instruments to permit your kingdom
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to thrive on earth. sanctify their thoughts, words, and deeds, as they remember that because of you they live and move and breathe and have their being. we praise you this day, o god, for you are the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. we pray in your strong 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 and justice for all.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c., march 8, 2018. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable dean heller, a senator from the state of nevada, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: ird the previous -- under the proaf order, the senate will resume consideration of s. 2155 which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 287, s. 2155, a bill to promote economic growth and so forth and for other purposes.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: majority leader. mr. mcconnell: first this morning, i'd like to recognize a remarkable senate career that is drawing to a close. gary endicoch has served for 37 years. since his appointment as legislative counsel of the
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senate in 2015, he's directed that office and has done so with distinction. now he's embarking on a well earned retirement after nearly four decades of service to this body. tomorrow is gary's last day. much has changed during the time gary has been with us. over the years senators and staff have asked for more and more of the legislative counsel's office. but thanks in large part to gary's hard work and then to his leadership, we could always rely on his team for meticulous professionalism and expertise. i understand gary is headed back to his native midwest. he departs with our gratitude and our best wishes for him and for his family. now on another matter, mr. president, the dodd-frank law became effective in 2010. it ostensibly targeted banks too
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big to fail but seven and a half years later dodd-frank has proved to be far too blunt an instrument. for one thing it's imposed a crushing regulatory burden on small community banks and credit unions. rather than fixing too big to fail, dodd-frank has threatened to make many of these main street, mainstays too small to succeed. this is especially problematic because of the central role that local financial institutions play in each of their communities. local lenders provide a majority of small business loans and nearly three-quarters of agricultural loans and in low-income communities, when a local bank closes, research suggests that loans to nearby small businesses plummet by 40%. farmers, ranchers, small business, vulnerable communities, americans need community banks and they need credit unions. but dodd-frank is making it harder for these institutions to survive.
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millions of americans from rural areas to inner cities now find themselves in what researchers call banking deserts. fortunately, help is on the way. thanks to the leadership of senator crapo, democrats and republicans have joined together to cosponsor a modest but important bill that would streamline the obstacles tripping up these smaller institutions. it's a commonsense compromise measure and senators do not need to resolve all of our differences on dodd-frank in order to unite behind it. i look forward to voting to pass these reforms very soon. now, on a final matter, as i've discussed, a number of america's largest employers are already reinvesting their tax reform savings in bonus, pay raises, and new benefits for their employees. higher take-home pay, lower tax rates are helping families cover today's expenses and save for the future. in nebraska the lincoln journal star reports that hometown companies, nailnet and pinnacle
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bank have awarded tax reform bonuses to thousands of workers. nm ie warks the des moines -- in iowa, the des moines register utilities will pass along $170 million in tax reform savings to their customers. and acadia health care with operation fls my home state of kentucky announced tax reform will enable it to build additional facilities on the front lines of the opioid epidemic. this week vice president pence has been on the road hearing how tax reform is changing america's lives and livelihoods for the better. he visited all three of those states listening to workers and small business owners. it's interesting, though, the huge number of early tax reform success stories aren't getting the applause they deserve from over here on the other side of the aisle. every one of my democratic colleagues in the house and in the senate made the political calculation to vote along party lines and try to sink tax
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reform. every single one of them in the house and the senate. fortunately, those efforts failed, but even with tax reform now, the law of the land, it seems my democratic friends are so unwilling to admit their mistake that they'd rather try to sabotage the law that is already helping families and making american job creators more competitive. just yesterday, for example, senate democrats announced they'd like to spend a trillion dollars -- a trillion dollars of taxpayer money and they want to roll back america's brand new tax cuts while they're at it. this popular new tax bill has been in effect for a couple of months. they want to roll it back already, take the money and spend it. there they go again. just can't help themselves. tax more, spend more, take money away from american families, give it to the federal government. this is a familiar refrain from
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our democratic friends. even amidst this tidal wave of good news from tax reform, even in the face of higher take-home pay, new jobs, new investments, raises, worker bonuses, and foreign competitors like china getting nervous, democrats just can't help themselves. must be in their d.n.a. they can't resist turning back their old top-down tax and spend playbook. by lowering the tax burden on companies large and small, america turned on a bright neon sign that's telling the world we're open for business. democrats want to unplug it. by lowering middle class rates and expanding deductions, we gave families all across the family more breathing room to save or pay their bills. democrats want to claw that money back. fortunately for the american people, republicans in the
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house, the senate, and the white house won't let them take your tax relief, your lower utility rate, your bonuses, or your new opportunities. they're not going to be able to take them back. we're proud that we took money out of washington's pocket and put it back in the pockets of hardworking americans, and that, mr. president, is exactly where it's going to stay. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: first, let me thank my good friend from the
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increasingly purple state of texas for yielding time. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president, later this afternoon, president trump plans to announce sweeping steel and aluminum tariffs. let me say once again, i believe the president's instincts on china are correct. all those who were trying to push him away from his instincts will allow china other the -- over the next decade to become the next dominant economic power and greatly hurt american jobs and american prosperity and wealth. so i would say to mr. president stick to your instincts, but while the president's instincts are correct, the execution on these tariffs is poor. that's the difference here. not the -- not that we shouldn't go after china, and not that we
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have to do more to bolster american wealth and american workers against rapacious policies of china, which will stop at nothing, nothing, nothing to steal our intellectual property, to manipulate their currency, to exclude american companies from being there. china has been rapacious about trade. i have spoken about this problem for years. early on, -- i think it was 2004 or 2005 -- senator graham and i discovered that china was manipulating its currency. i heard it from crucible steel up in syracuse, new york. the great thinkers said they don't manipulate their currency. this is protectionist. in the same week, i was quite proud of this, "the new york times" editorial board, liberal, "the wall street journal" editorial board, conservative, both said there is no such thing as manipulation, and schumer and graham ought to back off. of course, we proved to be right on that and other issues.
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china is rapacious. if we don't stop china, america will be a weaker place with fewer good-paying jobs, with less wealth, less strength, and we probably won't stay the greatest country in the world, although we deserve to because we play by the rules. so president trump has identified the right opponent, china. much better than both the obama and bush administrations did. both democrats and republicans have been blind to this issue, and trump isn't. good. but i would say to you, mr. president, don't swing blindly and wildly at our foe, china. establish a well-placed jab at china. set them back. let them know we mean business. president trump ought to rethink his plan so it actually achieves what he says he wants it to achieve. u.s. steel and aluminum workers
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have been battle be heavily subsidized products from china for decades. i know. i have newcorp in my state in auburn and chimung county. inial aluminum, i have alcoa in my state. our steel and aluminum workers deserve a more level playing field against these countries like china that heavily subsidize its products or other countries who purchase chinese steel at artificially low prices and ship it to the u.s. a targeted trade action against china would be very helpful, not only in providing relief for the steel and aluminum workers in new york and around the country, but it would send a strong shot across the bow to china for the first time in decades -- we mean business. we'll not let you prey on us any longer. targeted trade against china and against countries that allow
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china to sell them artificially steel at low prices and then send it here, go after them. but instead of getting right at china, the president's across-the-board tariffs will cause more damage to key allies and other -- in other domestic industries. i not only have steelworkers in upstate new york, i have a lot of auto workers. we are so proud, for instance, of the g.m. plant near buffalo, or the ford stamping plant, also in western new york. we're so proud of our agriculture. and incidentally, the president is right, canada has put in certain restrictions on american dairy going to canada. that's hurt companies like the cuyago cooperative in central new york and in genesee county.
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we've got to the protect and help our workers in manufacturing and our farmers who do export and who do good things. china doesn't let our auto products in in a fair way, but other countries do. canada does. so the president's proposal does more harm to europe and other allies like canada than it does to china. that's what's wrong with it. it's so typical of this white house. even when they have a good idea, they mess it up because they don't think it through. when -- and the president acts y by his instincts. you've got to act by your instincts and put a thought process on top. so the goal of the president to go after china was not really achieved very well in his proposal. the haphazard way these tariffs were put together has caused
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policy to miss the mark. it seems no one's at home in the white house right now. president trump makes up his mind one day, changes it the next, and meanwhile trade policies, foreign policies, all other gun policies, immigration policies are all in chaos because he says one thing one day and one thing the next. so we need the president to follow his instincts but then allow the people who know this issue to craft something smart. the president and i may agree on trade. as i said, we're closer on this issue than i've been with either the bush or obama administrations. but the slap dash way these tariffs were constructed has few of us cheering, even those who really wanted to go after china long before politics was a glean in president trump's eye. well, maybe that's not true. it may have been a gleam in his eye but before he ran for anything. i strongly urge the president to
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rethink these tariffs and focus his policy more directly at china and companies that ship cheap steel to the u.s. the chamber of commerce, they're interested in the bottom line profits of their big companies, and they don't care if they make those profits at the expense of american workers. they are not a barometer here, and president trump is right to ignore it. but, we've got to be smart about this. not just tough, but tough and smart. we need to get tough and smart on china, and the right approach is targeted action against china's most flagrant abuses. now on tax, since the republican tax bill passed last year, nearly every day there's been a new story about a corporation choosing to pass along the savings from the tax law to wealthy shareholders and
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corporate executives. as they buy back their stocks they use this new tax money not to help their workers but to buy back their stocks. in january there was an initial flurry, oh, these bonuses. they have been totally overwhelmed by stock buybacks. what democrats said is proving to be true. the vast majority of this tax break is for the wealthy, by the wealthy, used by the wealthy to help themselves, not help workers. that's been the history when you give these corporations lots of money, when they have so much money already without pointing it in the direction of helping workers. yesterday chevron joined the parade of those with stock buybacks. it was chevron who announced that while it was making no changes to workers' compensation or benefits, it would be restarting its dormant stock repurchasing program. you know how much chevron got from this tax bill? $2 billion. you know how much they're giving
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their workers, benefits out of that $2 billion? nothing. nothing as of now. you know what they're using it for? stock buybacks. let our republican friends come to the floor and defend those stock buybacks. let them do that. today another oil company, hess, announced it would be purchasing back $1 billion of its stock by the end of the year. since the start of 2018, mr. president, just the last few months, the cumulative total of share buybacks has passed $200 billion. let me repeat that. $200 billion has been used for stock buybacks. the month of february set the one-month record for share buybacks, and analysts at j.p. morgan, hardly a liberal think tank, says, quote, we expect total buybacks in 2018 to surpass $800 billion, way up
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from the $530 billion of last year and demolishing 2007's all-time high that came in a bit below $700 billion. that's not chuck schumer or cpac -- not cpac. or any liberal think tanks. that's j.p. morgan chase. our poor republican friends. they hoped this tax bill would send them on a trajectory to win elections and by february the numbers are starting to turn against them again. look at the quinnipiac poll of yesterday. why? because as this tax bill plays out, what democrats said all along, the vast majority of the benefits are going to the wealthy, that it increases the deficit and it increases the clarion call of many on the republican side to cut medicare and social security to pay for the deficit they created, it's not going over too well. we'll match our argument against
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theirs now, in october, in november. we're confident we're going to win that argument, and that's why already the enthusiasm about this tax bill is fading. massive deluge of corporate share buybacks is proving to be the principal legacy of the republican tax bill. not benefits to workers. not bonuses. not wage increases. not even new equipment or investment in r&d. i welcome that. no. corporations are spending the bulk of the savings from the tax bill on themselves, their corporate executives, and their wealthy shareholders. companies -- guess how much, mr. president, guess how much companies have allocated the capital that they've earned from the tax bill to their employees, the workers who are going to get such huge benefits from this bill? 6%. no, no, no, it's not 60%.
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6%. 60% is the percent that's gone back to corporations in the form of stock buybacks. ten to one ratio. it doesn't make much sense. the american public is beginning to realize that. that's the numbers according to just capital. so as i said, the american people are starting to catch wind of the truth. three separate polls yesterday, i mentioned the quinnipiac. there are evidently two others. three separate polls show the popularity of the republican tax bill was significantly under water and has lost ground since the last poll. i predict those numbers will continue to slip as more americans learn that their hard-earned taxpayer dollars were used to give a tax break to corporations who hoard the savings for themselves. it's no wonder their candidate in a hard-fought race in southwest pennsylvania has abandoned the tax argument. it's not going over well with
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his working-class constituents because they get a tiny little bit and everyone else gets so much more. so democrats have a plan to rein in these buybacks and put the middle class first. yesterday senator baldwin and i announced an amendment to the pending bill that would rein in the pending -- the pending banking bill, that would rein in corporate buybacks by giving the s.e.c. the authority to reject buybacks that come at the expense of workers. who will object to that? i hope not my colleagues. they say the buybacks will benefit workers. so they shouldn't be objecting to our bill. our bill would also, senator baldwin's bill and my bill would require company boards and their executives to put their money where their mouth is and certify that the buyback is in the best long-term, long-term financial interest of the company.
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we're going to make this one of the top amendments to the banking bill, and i hope it gains republican support. if republicans mean what they say about their tax bill helping workers, they should join senator baldwin's amendment. the blood of corporate share buybacks highlights precisely how the corporate tax cut in the republican bill is being put to ill use. rather than stimulating the economy, creating jobs or raising pay, corporations are spending the lion's share of the tax savings on boosting their stock. let's not forget these buybacks are relatively new. a ruling by the s.e.c. i think in the early 1980's said they could start doing this. before that at the heyday when corporate america dominated the world, profits were great and jobs were growing and wages went up, the safe harbor provision wasn't there. corporations had to go through a lot of proof before they could
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buy back their stock. that made sense. but once our republican colleagues get in power, they do what the corporate leaders want them to do, and look what happened. so the amendment to say no buybacks unless they can prove it's really going to benefit their workers and be in the long-term financial interest of their company, that amendment is going to be one of the top amendments to the upcoming bill. i hope it gains republican support. i really do. if republicans mean what they say, they should join baldwin's amendment, as i said before, but i want to repeat it for the benefit of all of my good republican friends. the glut of corporate share buybacks precisely -- highlights precisely how the corporate tax cut in the republican bill is being put to ill use. rather than stimulating the economy, creating jobs, raising pay, corporations spend the lion's share of the tax savings on goosing hair -- on goosing
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their stock. americans are scratching their heads wondering why we put ourselves in debt so corporations can further enrich themselves, why we tell our children and grandchildren you're going to pay for the c.e.o. of exxon's pay raise or increase the value because the stock's going up. that doesn't make sense at all. there are much better uses for the money. yesterday democrats announced our plan to help build $1 trillion of infrastructure in america, desperately needed infrastructure. and how do we pay for it? we unwind some of these tax cuts for the biggest corporations to pay for a massive infusion of federal funds in infrastructure. job-creating infrastructure, desperately needed. just by putting the top rate where it was, the top rate -- just by putting the top rate on individuals where it was,
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reinstituting the a.m.t. and estate tax which goes only to the very wealthy, and setting the corporate rate at 25% -- you may recall it was the business roundtable that asked for 25%. oh no, our republican colleagues and donald trump, that wasn't good enough. make it lower. even though the 200 biggest businesses in america said 25 was certainly an adequate drop. many on my side wouldn't even think that is good. in any case the b.m.t. asked for 25%. we go to 25% along with these other changes, and guess what we do with $1 trillion. we create infrastructure jobs. millions. we create new roads and bridges, new water and sewer. we say that every rural home in america should get broadband, just as franklin d. roosevelt in the 1930's said every rural home should get electricity. we update our power grid, so all this new energy coming from other places can go to the most
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populated centers. it would be a huge shot in the arm for jobs in america for prosperity in america, far more than this slanted tax bill aimed so much at the few wealthy who are so tight with this new republican party. so i dare say our proposal is a much more effective use of taxpayer dollars than a handout to the biggest corporations and will create far more good-paying jobs in the process. so i hope our republican colleagues will rethink things. their path is a path to a cul de sac. to great losses in the election. rethink that tax cut. don't allow these buybacks. they're doing no good for anyone but the handful, and that's where 60% of the money is going on the corporate rate. and join us in taking some of
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that money to do what the federal government has done since henry clay proposed it in the 1820's, put that money into infrastructure. jobs, good-paying jobs, efficiency. let's not let china or another country become the leader in infrastructure. they invest, the chinese government, the japanese government, european governments invest in infrastructure. so did this government until donald trump became president and the hard right gained a strangle hold over the republican party. let's reverse course before it's too late. i yield the floor. mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i guess i have to give my friend, the senator from new york, credit. once he's made his bed, he
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decided he'd better lie in it. democrats made a risky gamble when they bet against the american people and the tax cuts and jobs act we passed in december. no democrat supported it, none. and now i think they're beginning to worry that it's actually working because otherwise i don't understand why the democratic leader, the minority leader of the united states senate, would say we need to raise your taxes because we can spend your money better than you can. and we need to -- i guess he means we need to eliminate the doubling of the standard deduction which made sure that the first $24,000 earned by a married couple was tax free, zero tax rate. i guess he thinks we ought to repeal the doubling of the child tax credit.
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and as much as he rails about corporations, the fact is what we did on the business side of taxes has made the united states more competitive globally. and it's the same arguments that he, president obama in his state of the union speech, the ranking member of the senate finance committee, senator wyden, it's the same argument that they made that we embraced. now, we got a little more aggressive than they did in terms of the rate. we lowered it not to 25% like senator wyden had proposed but to 21%. and, thus, we made ourselves roughly at the average in the industrialized world to make america more competitive. we were seeing people going overseas and investing because they had better tax rates than we had here in america. and who owns the stock?
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you heard the democratic leader talk about stock buybacks and he said well, the corporations are using this money to buy their own stock back. you know who owns stock in america? i'm not sure of the exact percentage but a huge percentage of it is owned by retirement funds and pension funds, firefighters, teachers, and others who want to see their retirement not only safe but also grow. and what they've seen since the tax cuts and jobs act was passed in december is the value of their retirement funds go through the roof. the stock market is at an all-time high or thereabouts. it set huge records. so i know that -- i know our friends on the other side of the aisle are worried because they made a dangerous gamble against
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the tax cuts and jobs act. but the fact of the matter is, all the polling is showing that its people are seeing the tax cuts and jobs act actually being implemented, they're seeing more money in their paycheck because the withholding tables were changed to reflect lower tax rates. people are seeing more take-home pay. and as the economy continues to grow, there's going to be more competition for workers. and unemployment is low. unemployment claims are the lowest they've been since 1969. so as there's more competition for workers, that's going to force employers to pay more wages. and so everybody is going to benefit from a growing economy. sometimes i think our colleagues across the aisle have settled for too little. they settled for a stagnant economy, frozen wages, and an
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america that could no longer compete in the world when it came to attracting business and investment. we changed that. every single person on this side of the aisle, all 51 of us, voted for the tax cuts and jobs act. every one on that side of the aisle voted against it. and i think the democratic leader is now getting pretty worried, especially leading up to the november elections. when a number of his colleagues on that side of the aisle are going to have to go to voters and say i voted against your pay raise. i voted against take-home pay. i voted against increasing the standard deduction. i voted against an increase in the child tax credit. i think they're pretty worried about it. otherwise i couldn't imagine the democratic leader coming out here and saying what he said today. and he said, well, we want to
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raise your taxes so we can spend it. well, i think the folks i represent, the 28 million ta tes i represent, they say no thank you. we want to spend our own hard earned money the way we see fit, not send it to washington to see it going to some black hole and we don't know what we actually benefited from. so i didn't intend to come to the floor to talk about that, necessarily. but i couldn't resist my friend's comments responding briefly. i do want to congratulate the senior senator from idaho for a moment, senator crapo, chairman of the banking committee, on the bill that's pending on the floor. he's done stellar work to bring this dodd-frank reform bill to the floor, one that will relieve -- release some of those shackles on small community banks and credit unions.
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they were the victim of overkill when it came to regulation under the name of dodd-frank. it was designed to address wall street and the excesses of wall street but as i tell my friends who are community bankers and members of credit unions back home said you weren't the target but you were the collateral damage and we're going to remedy that on a bipartisan basis, thanks to the banking committee and its chairman, senator crapo, and our colleagues. there's another area i want to mention this morning, though, where the banking committee and senator crapo has shown great leadership. and that is on a bill that will improve the cfius review process. now, let me unpack that. cfius is called the committee on foreign investment in the united states. that acronym stands for this
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interagency body led by the treasury department. in this case secretary mnuchin. it polices for national security risks. the banking committee has held two hearings on the bipartisan bill that i introduced with the senior senator from california, senatosenator feinstein which is called the foreign investment risk review modernization act. and i hope the committee will have a markup on that bill soon. the house financial services committee has also been holding hearings on our bill, including one last week and has more planned in the future. but the time to act is now because this process is outdat outdated. and the committee's jurisdiction remains too narrow. let me explain why that's so important. this review process was not originally designed and is now insufficient to address today's rapidly evolving threats to our national security.
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perhaps most alarmingly, many transactions that could pose a national security risk often go unreviewed altogether. china in particular has proven adept at cheating the current cfius system. it exploits gaps and creatively structures investments in u.s. businesses to evade scrutiny. they literally have been vacuuming up start-up technology firms that are going to produce the next cutting-edge technology that will give america a comparative advantage against the rest of the world when it comes to our national security. and they are thinking strategically in the long term by showing up as investors in some of these businesses and flying beneath the ra radar korn anray -- radarscreen and unrevie current process. it will often pressure u.s. companies into arrangements like joint ventures and coerce them
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into handing over their technology and their know-how. this enables chinese companies to acquire and then replicate u.su.s. capabilities on their on soil. destroying jobs here in america in the process as well as our industrial base. many of these technologies have a direct military application. and my bill with senator feinstein addresses this problem. as we speak, china is turning our own technology and know-how against us and seeking to erase our national security advantage little by little. but they're doing it relentlessly and strategically. this massive technology transfer which occurs out of the public eye and achieves -- and is achieved through china's deliberate campaign of evasion our security guards must end. we don't need to look far to see how technology is increasingly the realm where national
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security issues and china's economic and military interests lie intention with one another or in the worst case they actually collide. it's happening almost every day. consider the widely reported news this week, cfius, the committee on foreign investment in the united states, has ordered a full investigation into a foreign bid to take over a prominent american computer chip manufacturer. that company, qualcomm plays a leading roll in supporting u.s. telecommunications infrastructure, especially by doing the research and development of 5g technology which is important for autonomous vehicles and the internet, increasing use of cellular technology for what is transforming our lives. it supports our national security through classified work and the federal government.
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the cause for alarm is the deal is a hostile takeover and the consequences of the takeover could put china in the driver's seat for the next generation of mobile technology. chinese companies beholden as they are to the chinese communist party would fill any void that's left once the deal is complete much to the detriment of our national security and our economy. we're still gathering information and not all the facts are known yet, but i want to stress that we are -- we need to do our due diligence. we need to have a comprehensive review of this hoss tail takeover -- this hostile takeover. and in my view, sifious, secretary mnuchin leading at the treasure department is right to be extremely caution and investigate this matter further. today there's a growing recognition that foreign investors are getting more sophisticated in accessing our technology. as this week's developments
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show, we can't be naive in thinking this isn't happening or that it's not a clear and present danger or naive about state-owned enterprises in countries like china where there is no such thing as the private and public sector. the government controls everything because that's the nature of their communist system. the chinese government has plans to dominate mobile technology, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and other industries. that much is clear. one tactic is to force american companies to transfer high-tech industrial capabilities to china's home-grown players in exchange for the u.s. firms gaining access to the chinese market. that, too, is well documented. but the quid pro quos don't stop there. they aren't even confined to the technology space. recently there have been calls to investigate china's involvement in american college
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campuses through the so-called confucius institutes. these institutes are proxies for the chinese communist party. they offer schools financial benefits. in exchange, set up shop in close proximity to u.s. researchers and students whose views they attempt to influence through what are essentially manipulative propaganda campaigns, ones that conveniently whitewash over the communist regime's less flattering attributes and their troubling history of human rights abuses and beligerance in places like the south china sea. i know our colleague from florida, the junior senator, senator rubio who cochairs the congressional executive commission on china has called on schools that host confucius institutes to end those partnerships and he's right to do so. steadily and stealthily, forms
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of information could be a perpetual concern, especially when none other general joe dunford, chairman of the joints chief of staff said by 2025, china will pose the greatest threat to u.s. national security of any nation. the bipartisan bill that senator feinstein and i have introduced is an important piece of our overall response to this threat. it's been endorsed by the administration and supported by the current secretaries of defense and treasury as well as the attorney general. let's not hold it up any longer. so i want to congratulate the chairman of the banking committee for the good work on the bill that's on the floor and thank him for his leadership and willingness to work with us on this important cfius reform bill, and i look forward to the upcoming markup of this bill in the committee soon. and finally, mr. president,
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every day that goes by since the shooting in florida, in parkland, florida, on february 14, every day that goes by, we are distracted by other concerns and our memory dims of the terrible mass tragedy that occurred at that school, the shootings that occurred there that day. i know that secretary of education betsy devos was down at marjory stoneman douglas high school for the students' first full normal school day three weeks after the shooting. she said it was a sobering moment, and i'm sure it was. speaking to the students and teachers who still flinch, remembering the sounds of bullets in the hallways of their school. 14 students died, along with one teacher, and the students' athletic director and a coach who was shielding students with his body so they would not be
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hit. that's the thing about these events. these stories make us sad and angry and sometimes numb all at the same time, but from those stories, from those tragedies, heroes do emerge. we saw one of those heroes last fall at sutherland springs, texas, where people were gathered to worship at a small baptist church just outside of san antonio. a man who prefers not to be recognized grabbed his rifle and ran to the church that was under attack. he saved lives in the process by preventing the gunman from continuing the carnage. that's a case of somebody taking an ar-15 out of his gun safe. he's a certified instructor, shooting instructor, and he came to the aid of people who were
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defenseless and being slaughtered at that church and saved many lives. the person who was shooting at that church in sutherland springs was a convicted felon, and he was under -- under existing law, he was not legally permitted to purchase or possess firearms. that's why when i came back to washington after visiting sutherland springs at the next sunday service, i introduced the bill called -- to fix the holes in the national instant criminal background check system, to make sure that shooters like the one at sutherland springs could not purchase firearms legally. part of the reason i did that was because after i talked to pastor frank pomeroy who lost his daughter annabelle in the massacre, i promised myself i would do everything in my power to prevent similar ive events from occurring in the future. i did the same after i spoke with a man by the name of andrew pollack who lost his daughter meadow in florida last month.
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i met andrew last week along with senator rubio who i know has been similarly moved to take action. after having these difficult conversations, i can't tell you how disappointed i am that the united states senate has done nothing, nothing to prevent them from happening in the future. we can't even tell fathers and mothers that we have taken the first step toward ending some of the violence that plagues our country, that puts bullet holes in our classrooms and spills blood inside some of our most sacred places. now, the bill that i introduced to fix the national instant criminal background check system we call fix nics, but that's what it does. it fixes the holes in the background check system so that people like mr. kelly, the shooter at sutherland springs, could not legally purchase a firearm. i'm grateful to my colleagues who have sponsored that bill.
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it includes the majority leader and the minority leader, senator schumer, as well as senator murphy and senator blumenthal from connecticut, and in all we're close to 60 bipartisan cosponsors. they believe what the bill tries to do, which is to fix our broken background check system, is important and will save lives and will keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons. recently, we saw that the bill could make a real difference in places like ohio. there it was reported that dozens of courts are failing to upload conviction records into the f.b.i. national instant criminal background check system. this failure could prevent convicted felons from purchasing guns. this would help alleviate that problem. a similar glitch is what allowed the gunman in sutherland
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springs, of course, to purchase the firearm he used when the air force failed to upload his conviction records into the national instant criminal background check system as they were obligated to do. the law requires that these convictions be uploaded, and now we need to make sure that those laws are enforced. 60 is how many votes we need to pass this legislation in the senate, and i am confident were that bill to be brought to the floor and we had a vote on it, it would actually get many, many more, close to unanimity here in the senate. last week, we tried to get an agreement to have a debate on the bill followed by an up-or-down vote. sadly and inexplicably, the minority leader blocked that agreement. i don't think the minority leader opposes the bill. he actually is a cosponsor of it. but he's in a bind. he is being pressured by a handful of those in his conference who say, well, this is not sufficient.
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i know people on both sides of the aisle would like to do more, but i want to make sure we don't fail to do anything at all. that we don't end up doing nothing. these members, many of whom have indicated they want votes on other measures, frankly i would be fine with that, but let's make sure we don't leave here another day empty-handed by failing to take action on the one consensus piece of legislation that would be supported by an overwhelming majority of the senate. i'd like to be able to report good news to pastor pomeroy and his wife sherry. i'm sure my colleagues from florida would like to do the same for the shocked families that are still grieving in parkland. we need to send a message that when they drop their children off at school, when they go to
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church to worship, they will be safe or safer than they would if we fail to act. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: mr. president, i thank my colleague from texas, and i listened carefully to his words about gun safety, and i agree with so much of what he said. he talked about bringing his bill to the floor. i think his bill is a good bill. his bill tries to literally provide more information into the nics system. we do. we definitely need to do that. he also said he was open to amendments on the floor. i am as well. i think that there are other aspects of gun safety that we may even find common ground on as well. but i might rye mind him that the decision about the business on the floor of the senate is in the hands of his side of the aisle. it is your decision to decide
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through your majority leader as to what we consider on the floor of the senate. an effort to do this by unanimous consent is certainly understandable in light of the events of the last few weeks, but if senator mcconnell were to announce that as soon as we finish this banking bill, we are going to move to the fix nics bill and have it open to amendment, i think he would find support from both sides of the aisle to do that, and i hope he will, because things are changing in america, as they should. gun violence, the terrible chandle which occurred in texas and florida and so many states have really raised consciousness of this issue. i'm a grandfather and proud to be. i have two 6-year-old twins who are first graders in brooklyn, new york. they are the cutest kids in the world, and i'm very objective about that.
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about two weeks ago, my little granddaughter came home from the first grade and said to her mom, mom, they told us at school that if there is a shooter outside the school, stay away from the windows, and if a shooter comes in the classroom, get on the floor. first grade. is there any sane person in america who thinks that that should be a normal talk in the first grade classroom? is there any person, constitutional scholar or not, who believes the second amendment to the constitution of the united states was designed to allow this to happen? i can't imagine. 97% of the american people believe in universal comprehensive background checks to keep guns out of the hands of those who would misuse them, convicted felons, mentally
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unstable people. 97%. the overwhelming majority of gun owners feel exactly the same way. so why, why in god's name have we not taken that up since the tragedy in florida and the tragedy in texas? there is no explanation for it, other than fear, fear of the national rifle association and the gun lobby. that is the only explanation. i salute the legislators in the state of florida who this last week defied the n.r.a., defied the gun lobby, and passed their own measure for gun safety. i don't agree with parts of it, giving cafeteria workers in school the right to carry arms around the school i don't think is a wise thing at all. i understand that there is opposition to that from teachers' organizations and even republican leaders in florida. but they did stand up when it came to questions about how old you have to be to buy a firearm,
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a long gun, and other questions that i think are just common sense. so i would say to my friend from texas, the majority whip, what you said is something i can support. bring your bill to the floor open to amendment. let us have our day in the senate where we actually act as legislators, where people will come to the galleries and not see an empty chamber, but instead will find members of the senate 100 strong, democrats and republicans, at their desk, debating measures that make a difference in the life of america. that's why we were sent here. i had a friend of mine years ago when i served in the house. he was a congressman from muskogee, oklahoma. his name was mike synar. he was a dear close friend of mine. mike lost his primary in
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oklahoma because he was fearless. he used to come onto the floor when we had votes, and he would see members of his own caucus kind of wincing, afraid to vote on something they knew was right for fear of the political consequences, and he used to get right in their face. mike would say if you don't want to fight fires, don't be a firefighter. and if you don't want to stand here and debate controversial issues and vote on them, don't run for congress. mike was right. he was right then. he's right now. let's bring this issue of gun safety to the floor of the senate. let's open it to amendments. let's have a fulsome bipartisan debate. we understand nothing serious is going to pass without bipartisan support, and we should do everything in our power to exercise the power and the right we are given as united states senators to fix the problems facing american families. this is a problem. it's a problem when a first grader in brooklyn, new york,
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has to be warned that if somebody walks in the classroom with a gun, she is supposed to get down on the floor. secondly, mr. president, this is the week, of course, of the president trump deadline on daca students, the dreamers, those young people who came to the united states as infants and toddlers and young people, grew up in this country, pledged allegiance to that flag just as we did this morning, and briefed that -- believed that they were a part of america until at some point in their teenaged years, their parents pulled them aside and said we have to tell you something. you're not legal here. you're undocumented here. you can be deported tomorrow, and we would be deported with you. they continue their lives with the resilience that a lot of young people show. some of them did amazing things, even with the knowledge that they weren't, quote, legal in america, close quote. they achieved extraordinary things, in education, in serving
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their communities. they did it against great odds because they don't qualify for federal assistance for higher education. if you go to college and you're one of these undocumented dreamers, you don't get federal student loans. you don't get pell grants. you've got to go out and work. you've got to save up enough money to go to school. that's the only way. but they did it. and all they asked for in return, all they have ever asked for is a chance to earn their way into legal status in america. brought here as kids, they want a chance to prove to america that they love this country and they can make it a better country. that's all they've asked for. and for 17 years i've come to the floor of this senate -- 17. i know you have to be patient as a senator, but this is getting a little crazy. but for 17 years i've come to the floor of the senate and asked my colleagues, democrats and republicans, would you give them a chance? would you just give them a chance? let them show you that they can bring something of value to this
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country. let them prove to you that they're no danger to this country in any way whatsoever. in fact, just the opposite, will make us stronger. give them a chance. we haven't been able to do it, and president trump has made it worse. september 5, he eliminated the daca protection program. he said as of march 5, which was monday of this week, they lose their protection. the only thing that protects them at this moment are court decisions which could change in a week or a month. but if those court decisions don't come their way, those young people who have lived here their entire lives, who believe they are americans and want to be part of america will be subject to deportation. that's the reality. the senate took up this measure a few weeks ago. we gave to the president six different bipartisan solutions to this problem. democrats and republicans agreed
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on six different ways to solve it, but the president rejected every one. he rejected the bill that came before the senate. and only 8 republicans, only 8 out of the 51 republicans would vote to stand with democrats to solve this problem. i wish it were more. we only needed a few more. but now we're in a position where this senate, again, like the issue of gun safety, is not taking up the issue of daca and the dreamers. it isn't like we're too busy around here, is it? when you look at this empty chamber and these empty desks. we could do a lot of things here if we were determined to use the power and opportunity that's been given to us by the american voters. the one pending issue that's before us i would like to discuss this morning. mr. president, in two weeks it will be the tenth anniversary of the collapse of the company known as bear stearns. and as we approach that anniversary, it is remarkable to me that congress is now
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debating, ten years later, an effort to undo the financial reforms we put in place after what was tantamount to a recession or depression hit america. that was the worst financial crisis of our lifetime ten years ago. many of us never want to see it repeated. i'm supportive of meaningful regulatory relief for smaller banks, community banks, credit unions, but i cannot support legislation that rolls back key wall street reforms at the request of the same banks that started the crisis. we know what happened the last time financial regulations were eased. an economic collapse that rippled not just through the united states, but around the world. that financial crisis of ten years ago left our country spiraling into deep recession that left almost nine million americans out of work and our
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unemployment rate above 10%. families across america lost $19 trillion in household wealth, retirement and savings. savings, hard-fought savings that they put aside for their kids' education and their retirement, were evaporated on a daily basis in the midst of that recession. in my home state of illinois, we weren't spared. during the height of the financial crisis, almost 800,000 people in my state experienced mortgage delinquencies, 70,000 more went through personal bankruptcy. i remember it. i remember going to these meetings where gymnasiums would be filled with people trying to find some way to save their homes because the mortgages that they'd signed up for had just blown up in their faces. this was evident in my hometown of east st. louis, in the city of chicago, in aurora, and many other communities.
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and of course the cost of this financial crisis fell, as it always does, on the shoulders of everyday families. in the wake of those terrible losses and the sacrifices that had to be made, we said in congress, we're not going to let this happen again. we won't let these banks take control again. we won't let greed overcome common sense when it comes to banking policy. president obama signed into law commonsense financial reforms that put an end to some of the worst, inexcusable practices by banks that brought our economy to its knees. these new wall street reforms were intended to address the dangerous problem of too big to fail, so that american taxpayers would never again be on the hook for the consequences of recklessness and greed on wall street. systematically important banks whose demise would pose serious
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risk to our financial system were subjected to higher capital buffers and increased leverage requirements. in other words, if the federal government was going to put an insurance program in place to guarantee that it would protect the savers at your bank, we were going to require the banks to do responsible things. don't put taxpayers on the hook for your stupidity and your greed. banks were required to report their lending data to ensure that borrowers had the ability to repay the loans they took out and to avoid abusive mortgage practices. remember what happened? people would walk into a bank, they'd be lured into a mortgage which they could barely afford to pay, some of them unaware of the fact that there was a balloon provision in that mortgage where the interest rate in a few years was going to dramatically increase and make their monthly payments financially impossible for these
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same families. many of them said, well, if the value of my real estate goes up dramatically, then i'll just refinance the mortgage. it did not go up dramatically. it went down, and that's when people faced this mortgage foreclosure. so we said let's rewrite the rules. let's not let the banks lead people into a financial obligation which is so risky and so dangerous that we never want to see it again. the new rules and regulations provided certainty to banks and consumers. and what happened next? our economy did very well. with this new generation of regulation on banks, it didn't stifle economic growth at all. in part, due to these sensible reforms enacted in dodd-frank, under the obama administration, our economy now has an employment rate of 4.1%, not
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10%. banks are lending, and bank profits are at record peaks. they're making money hand over fist. in 2016, banks in america made their highest profits ever. this was after the regulations that we enacted, the ones that they have been complaining about ever since. and how about american businesses? they're thriving. our gross domestic product grew by 2.5% in the fourth quarter of 2017. in fact, since the passage of this wall street reform, our economy has grown at twice the rate of other advanced economies while our stock market has, until just a few weeks ago, hit record after record. you can't argue that we're regulating banks so much that it's hurting the economy when you read these numbers. nearly all measures in the labor market have fallen below their prerecession averages. this is the result of a
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sensible, forceful response by congress to illegitimate and dangerous practices by the banking industry. we simply cannot afford to return to that thrilling time of yesteryear when banks were not carefully regulated and carefully watched so they didn't go overboard. instead, as we approach the tenth anniversary of the worst financial crisis since 1929, we should be working to strengthen our financial system, protecting families and businesses and the hard-earned money that they've saved and continue to grow our economy. mr. president, there's a room just a few steps away from this senate chamber on this floor of the senate, where i have been present twice at an historic moment. the first one with great sadness
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was 9/11. i was meeting in that room as we finally tried to understand what was happening to america with the attacks on the world trade center, a plane crashing in pennsylvania, a plane crashing into the pentagon with black smoke billowing across the mall. it was that room. it was the same room where we were called together by the head of the federal reserve, mr. bernanke; head of the treasury department, mr. paulson. there were probably 20 or 30 members of the senate and house in that room when they announced to us that we were within 24 hours of seeing the economy of the united states start to collapse. i'll never forget those moments. they told us that what the banking issues that we've discussed here this morning that led us to the point where we had to step in as a government to save the banking industry in america in order to save the economy of america and perhaps
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the world. those are sobering words, and i remember them well. they inspired us. they drove us to the point where we came up with financial reform, serious reform so that there would never be another repeat of that terrible day. we're on the floor of the senate now arguing about changing those standards of reform. if we're going into this issue to debate it, there's one part of it that i want to raise. it's one of the seven amendments that's been offered by the democratic side of the aisle. i think it's critically important. it deals with an issue that every single member of this senate understands if they have spent 15 minutes back home. it's the issue of america's student loan crisis. for many americans today, there's no bigger drag on their families than student loan debt. more than 44 million americans cumulatively owe more than $1.5 trillion in student loan debt.
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that is greater than the total amount of credit card debt in america. unlike most of us who could borrow a reasonable amount to finance our college education, this generation of college graduates starts off with an average debt of $27,000 on day one after graduation. many have much, much more, especially if they were duped by this notorious for-profit college industry in america. i hear from young people who have had to forego homeownership, starting a family, buying a car because of student debt. i also hear from those who have gone back to school and stayed in school because they can't imagine starting to pay back their debt. they dig the hole deeper every semester. too often this debt involves their parents and grandparents. it was reported a couple of years ago that a grandmother who
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was kindly and signed on as a cosigner of her granddaughter's student loan debt after the granddaughter defaulted was now being chased by the federal government who threatened to attach her social security benefits so they could recoup the student loan that her granddaughter signed up for with her cosignature. that's why we're bringing an amendment to the floor and it should be part of the debate on this bill. if we're going to talk about reform for banks, let's talk about a reform that american families really care about: student loan reform. one of the things included is a borrower bill of rights. once a student graduates, their loans go into repayment with private financial institutions, or in the case of federal student loans servicers contracted by the department of education. they are supposed to help the borrowers navigate the repayment
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process, keeping borrowers informed. how are they doing? between july 2011 and august 2017, the consumer financial protection bureau handled almost 51,000 complaints related to private and federal student loans. the majority of the complaints, both private and federal, address difficulties in interacting with lenders or is servicers. this is unacceptable. lenders and servicers should be making payments easier. to improve the servicing, our amendment includes the student loan borer bill of rights. it requires notifications and protections for borrowers when a loan is sold or transferred to another company or when the interest rate or other key terms in the loan change. it establishes a standard for applying payments so payments are applied in a way that most benefits the borrower. it protects borrowers from unreasonable late fees. it requires servicers to provide borrowers online access to
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information about their loan, like payment history and loan terms, and require key information to be disclosed to borrowers by servicers. the student loan borrower bill of rights also prevents servicers from using predisputed mandatory arbitration clauses to prevent borrowers from holding them accountable in court. while federal student loan borrowers often face challenges, the situation is worse for borrowers who have private student loans, not government loans. there is an estimated $165 billion of outstanding private student loans. the consumer protection bureau reported in 2012 that private student loans worth $8 billion were in default. they have uncapped variable interest rates that can spike to 20% and more, hefty fees, and these loans often lack the protections that come with federal student loans.
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unfortunately, many student borrowers and their family members don't understand the difference between a federal loan and a private loan and take out costly private loans when they are eligible for federal loans that are much more reasonable with better interest rates. almost half of borrowers in 2011 and 2012 did not max out on federal loans and ended up taking private loans. that's why i have the know before you owe, requiring borrowers to be notified of the difference. it offers private lenders to offer private loan rehabilitation. it gives private student loan borrowers that default a fresh start. my amendment also addresses the key issue of bankruptcy. did you know that if you borrowed money to buy a home, buy a car, buy a boat, then lost
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your job and couldn't pay off those loans and went into bankruptcy court saying, i don't have any money left. i can't pay off these loans that the court could discharge those loans for your home, your car, your boat in bankruptcy and say we've wiped the slate clean. you filed for bankruptcy, you qualify, the slate is wiped clean. however, if one of your loans is not for a home or a car or a boat but a student loan -- a student loan is not dischargeable in bankruptcy. originally this was done in the 1960's because there were some students exploiting the system, borrowing money and then declaring bankruptcy after graduation. then we extended it not just to federal and government loans but to private loans and extended it to these for-profit colleges and
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universities. we said there is one provision, if you are facing undue hardship, perhaps we could forgive a student loan. almost never does a court find undue hardship. we tried to address it. we try to address it to those who are clearly facing undue hardship. what are the categories, one facing bankruptcy, that cannot discharge current student loan, that would be able to discharge them under our amendment. it would be those who have been determined which the veterans administration to have a service-connected a disability. should we give veterans a helping hand like this? i think so. how about the caregiver of elderly or disabled veterans? how about those receiving social security disability whose only income is social security? how about those who spent years at a low income, think they
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might be facing an undue hardship and can't pay back a student loan? i think so, but the law just doesn't allow it. mr. president, there are other provisions as well, but i see i have colleagues on the floor who want to speak as well. i have spoken for a while and i will stand just in just a -- i will stand down in just a moment. if we can take up the issue to make it easier for banks in america, can we spare a few minutes to debate whether or not we can make it easier for student borrowers to survive when the student debts that they face are stopping them from moving forward in their lives? massive debt that stops them from getting married, buying a home, a car, starting a family, that's the reality for many families across america. i hope my colleagues will join me. a lot of us give great speeches about student loans. it would be terrific if we could
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allow on the floor of the senate those speeches and a vote on that critical issue. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: mr. president, let me tell you about farmer state bank of allen, oklahoma. i know exactly where allen, oklahoma is, but i bet a bunch of folks here do not. small town, small bank, $43 million in total assets. that's pretty small as banks go. there's about 900 oklahomans, there are farmers, ranchers, folks that some people in this room fly over. there are good families that live in that great town. many have great credit scores and have and pay the bank back. i've been a long-time customer of this bank and in many
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instances the bank employees and the people in the bank have grown-up together. they know each other, but they also understand seasonal income. when you're a farmer or rancher that doesn't come in with a w-2 every single week or every month, it comes in seasonally, so they understand the credit risks there. a banker there named debbie wrote me this. between the ability to repay the global cash flow analysis, particularly a bank of these size, they are taking time away on what needs to be done, caring for our customers. we have 12 employees. we're treated the same as j.p. morgan chase or goldman sachs both of which have a different business model of operating. they don't operate in towns of 900 people. that's not their market. one of our key employees spends most of her time on compliance issues. total cost of this employee with
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the cost of the compliance audit is $100 annually. folks in big towns may not think that is a big issue to have $100,000 in compliance cost, but the total net for this bank, total for the year is right at $500,000 a year, $100,000 is spent on compliance. how did this happen? well, this happened when congress decided in 2010 to pass something called dodd-frank. dodd-frank was a bill signed into law in july of 2010 to deal with the financial crisis that happened in 2007 and 2008 which was real. the largest banks in our country took some incredible risks and it caused a financial domino effect across the country. it caused great risks for our international markets. in response to that, congress rose up with a strong democrat majority and president obama ran
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to it and said we need to do something and they looped together as many financial restrictions as they could, they had the financial protection bureau, and a litany of regulations and said this would only be for the banks because they are the violators, put tt out there and the regulations -- put it out there and regulations started flowing after that. guess what, farmer state of allen who was not the cause of the financial collapse in america is now caught up, and they are struggling to survive as a bank because congress decided they were going to do something. the something ended up being something that is devastating rural economies in my state. since the passage of dodd-frank, we've seen a 16% decline in the total number of oklahoma bank charters in my state. there is a 35% decline of
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charter banks with less than a total of $100 million in assets since dodd-frank. the effects of dodd-frank were felt pretty quickly in oklahoma. passed in 2010, by the 2013, 2014 reporting time, more than 40% of the banks in oklahoma no longer did mortgage lending at all. now let that soak in for a minute. banks that don't do mortgages. if you're in a rural community, that is the bread and but ther of -- butter of normal lending in that community is going to get a mortgage. but 40% of the banks in oklahoma by start -- starting by 2014 reporting cycle said that the compliance costs were so high and the complexity was so great they no longer offered mortgages and mortgage lending. well, folks would say, just drive to a big city and go to a big bank and get it, they'll still take care of that.
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qiec frankly, -- quite frankly, that's what's happening. dodd-frank has done a good job of strengthening the biggest banks. we're watching mergers all over my state as smaller banks struggle. it almost looks like the design of dodd-frank was to cause bigger banks to get bigger because the smallest banks would not be able to survive under the compliance burdens. what does that look like in real life? let me tell you a gentleman i bumped into early monday. i was flying out of oklahoma and sitting next to a gentleman and we struck up a conversation. he's a farmer, rancher in oklahoma, he owns 200 acres in central oklahoma. he went through the process to buy that achage and -- being a
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acreage and couldn't get a bank to do it. why? the dodd-frank requirements. suddenly a guy in oklahoma buying 200 acres had to find a way to scrape together $100,000 of cash to buy a ranch. now, five years ago, ten years ago, 15 years ago, if you wanted to be able to get that same ranch, you would go to the bank in down. now the bank in town has to tell you, you have to go somewhere else or find some other way to do it because the restrictions are are so high -- restrictions are so high we can't do it anymore. local customers don't want to deal with someone else in another state in another city. they'd like to deal with their local bank, but they can't anymore. oklahoma's community banks are nothing to do with the financial collapse in 2008. yet, they've been penalized all the way through this process. in total dodd-frank required ten
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federal agencies to write more than 400 new rules imposing 27,000 new mandates on financial institutions of every size. just process that. when you're farmer state bank of allen and have 12 employees, you have to track 27,000 mandates on you to keep up with it. how are you doing with that? that's what real life looks like. again, i had folks say to me, this is some giveaway to the big banks. what we're dealing with in this reform package is pretty straightforward. "the wall street journal" wrote an editorial earlier this week, saying that the bill eases administrative burdens on 5,000 community banks that make up 98% of the financial institutions, but only 15% of the assets. let me run that past you again. what we're dealing with deals with 98% of the banks, but a
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total banking assets in the country only 15% of the assets. that means the top 2% of the banks in the country, the largest top 2% of the banks in the country have 85% of the assets. i understand the higher regulations on those. they are significant and if they fail, they take down global economy. but for the other 98% of the banks in the country that have only 15% of the total assets in the country, these are the smallest banks in the country, why are they being drug into this? all we want to be able to do is say, allow local banks to be local banks again, to be able to loan to their neighbors. these are the folks they go to church with, they are in rotary club with, they've grown-up with, they know their kids, they know their families, but they are dealing with all of these arcane requirements, and they are dealing with all of these
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27,000 new rules and they just can't make it. what does this look like in real life? let me give you an illustration from elk city from legacy bank damon said that my job has become much more difficult. legacy has always strived to offer the best customer offer. i used to be a lender to all. however with the dodd-frank bill, along with the fines and penalties, that at times don't make common sense, i am now a commercial lender only. let that soak in for a second. at legacy bank in elk city, he used to make loans to everyone, and now he's a commercial lender only. what does that look like in real life? i have folks come to this floor and people catch me and say, banks are still making lots of money. banks are doing just fine. why is dodd-frank a problem?
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banks will find a way to do business, but what's happening, the biggest banks are loaning to corporate customers and the smallest banks that used to do small business lending and do mortgages and take care of their community can't do it anymore. so the big is getting bigger and helping the biggest and the small are not able to help small. i thought we were supposed to be a country that helped everyone. corporations or individual farmers and ranchers and citizens trying to start a small business. let's get back to doing that again. let's not put 27,000 new restrictions on a small community bank and tell them they've got to abide by everything that j.p. morgan chase does and treat them as if they're the same. they're not. frazier bank from altas which my wife and i have a long-standing saying. everywhere you go in the world you're going to bump into someone from al takes, oklahoma.
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-- altas, oklahoma. we had a local small business owner that applied for a home mortgage loan. the customer had a downpayment and closing costs but one of the key issues preventing our bank from making this personal loan was the time constraint of two years of history. this is someone that we would have made a home loan to prior to dodd-frank but now we cannot. iso a small business owner with closing costs money with inability to re-- with ability to pay is blocked out. jim wrote me and was trying to describe exactly what this looks like. he made the statement, overly prescriptive rules on mortgage lending are the big issue. the ability to repay in the rules -- and the rules governing that topic are geared for people who are w2 wage earners, not the small business person. many small business people have already been denied credit who otherwise qualified for a mortgage and that's bad policy. any mortgage bank keeps its own
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books and should automatically define as a qualified mortgage. this would help alleviate the ability to repay rule and allow us to take better care of our customers. don't miss what he's saying there. the rules are written for people who get a paycheck from week to week, not for the small business owner and certainly not for the farmers and ranchers. here's a statement from a banker in northwest oklahoma. asked the simple question. what about a $60 million bank in the northwest corner of oklahoma. what about other rule markets where smaller, traditional community banks have completely abandoned lines of business and product because of the cost of regulation makes it so unprofitable or because of the price of regulation and risk from examiners and lawyers bring so much additional scrutiny you can't afford it. one thing is certain, when banks are forced to leave lines of business due to government regulation, both customers and communities suffer.
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even in markets where there are other participants in the abandoned product line, the reality is with fewer competitors, customers pay higher rates, higher fees for simple service. this is not a hard issue. for those 2% of the largest banks that have 85% of the banking assets, i understand there's systemic risk there. for the other 98% of the banks in the country that cover 15% total of all the banking asset, in the country, why are they considered so systematically important that 27,000 new regulations would need to come down on their 12 employees? this is a good moment to be able to get small towns in rural america working again and allow people to be able to go down to the street to the banker they
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know and went to school with rather than have to drive into some big city and talk to the biggest banks in america and have them try to understand more about rural america. we can fix this. i'm looking forward to passing this reform. and allowing our banks not just to make money. they'll find a way to be able to make money. they're a business. but actually getting back to serving the customers they want to serve and farms and ranchers and small businesses. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: thank you, mr. president. today i rise to recognize march as women's history month. today march 8 as enter national women's -- as international women's day.
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both at home and abroad, how a country treats its women is very much a barometer of its success. when women live without limitations on their ability to work, societies prosper. when women live without restrictions on their access to jobs, health care, or justice, societies prosper. when women succeed, so do their families, their communities, and their countries. international women's day reminds us that america's global leadership starts with our progress here in the united states. unfortunately, president trump moved the united states in the wrong direction when he decided not just to reinstate the global gag rule but to expand it. the global gag rule disqualifies international organizations from receiving u.s. family planning assistance if they use any nonu.s. funds to provide abortion services or even counseling.
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what president trump fails to realize is that access to family planning services these organizations provide is one of the best tools we have to prevent abortions. when enforced, the global gag rule has closed the door on some of the most effective life-saving women's health programs in developing countries. by reinstating and expanding the global gag rule, president trump is denying millions of women and their families access to critical health care services and endangering their lives and the lives of their children. international women's day is an appropriate time to remind my senate colleagues that we must end the global gag rule once and for all. it was also recently reported that the state department is removing references to women's rights from this year's human rights report. i'm troubled to learn that the trump administration apparently doesn't feel that women's rights
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are important enough to include in our conversation on human rights. i was equally troubled to learn that the state department removed gender equality integration from the foreign affairs manual. the foreign affairs manual is the chief document for instructing our foreign policy leadership and the ways to integrate gender considerations into our diplomatic efforts. abandoning that signals a reversal of decades worth of work in promoting global gender equality. the united states should be taking the lead on fostering an open and honest dialogue about women's issues internationally, not silencing it. we are better than this. here at home women have succeeded this past year in taking control of the narrative on sexual harassment, and they have forced deaf ears to listen. we are witnessing the rise of a new, more equitable social order built on the raw guts and courage of women speaking out to say me, too.
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hearing so many of my fellow americans, mothers, sisters, wives, daughter, friends retell, relive some of their most traumatic experiences has been deeply troubling. but it's also been a lesson of bravery and tenacity and in women's unbreakable spirit. it is that basicry with which we must -- bravery with which we must meet with our own as individuals and collectively. if we witness harassment, we must be brave enough to intervene. if we're told about abuse, we must be brave enough to take decisive action. if we hear about gender discrimination, we must be brave enough to fight it, even when doing so may not be politically expedient or popular. scores of women have proven their moral strength. it is time for us to demonstrate ours. this women's history month, let us take a moment to reflect on the thousands and thousands of me too stories that go untold
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and unheard. let us recognize that single woman working, making barely more than minimum wage living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to turn $5 into a meal for $3. when her coworker begins propositioning her, there are no cameras or cable talk shows waiting to expose him. she bares the burden alone often forced to choose between disparaging behavior at work or providing for her children at home. let us recognize the college graduate, working in an office, empowered and excited about the direction of her career, but in every meeting her boss undermines her ideals and one day when they are alone, questions her suggestiblely about her method of birth control. weeks later his remarks evolve into inappropriate physical contact and tells her if she ever complain, he will make sure she never finds another job in
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her chosen profession. let us recognize the immigrant woman working hard at her new job if her new home, motivated to become part of the american dream. her male coworkers call her by disparaging names and suggest openly to her supervisor that she should make less than they do. in the event she becomes pregnant and costs the company money. she begins to fear both for her job and for herself but to quit would mean to lose the new life she has so painstakingly built. for an untold number of women, these stories are painfully familiar. the me too movement has proven that sexual harassment and discrimination know no age and no income level. these experiences are felt by all women of all background and so it's up to all of us to combat it. sexual harassment is about power. it's about the harasser and authority figures feeling emboldened by being able to behave the way they want wherever they want with
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impunity. so let us end the sense of impunity. if behavior is about exerting a twisted kind of power, let us arm women with the most powerful tool in our legal system, the u.s. constitution. let us finally pass the equal rights amendment. the equal rights amendment is barely longer than a tweet but it would finally give women full and equal protection under the constitution. section 1 of the equal rights state, quite simply, that equality of rights of the law shall not be denied or abridged by the united states or by any state by the count of sex. when congress opposed the e.r.a. in 1972, it provided that the measure had to be ratified by three-fourths of the state, 38 states, within seven years. this deadline was later extended to ten years by a joint resolution but ultimately only 35 out of 38 states had ratified the e.r.a. when the deadline
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expired in 1982, three short. note that the deadline wasn't contained in the amendment itself. the deadline was contained in a joint resolution. article 5 of the constitution contains no time limits for the ratification of amendments. so the e.r.a. deadline is arbitrary. to put the matter in context, the 27th amendment to the constitution which prohibits congressional pay raises without an intervening election was ratified in 1992, 203 years after it was first proposed. the senate should vote to remove the e.r.a. deadline immediately and every state in our nation that has not yet taken up its consideration should do so without further delay. nevada became the 36th state to ratify the amendment last march leaving the e.r.a. only two states short of the required three-fourths of the state threshold under the constitution. if the deadline was abolished.
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i think many, perhaps most, americans would be shocked to learn that our constitution has no provision expressly prohibiting gender equality. the e.r.a. would incorporate a ban on gender-based discrimination explicitly written into the constitution. it would change outcomes and unequal pay cases by requiring the supreme court to use the higher standard of strict scrutiny when assessing those cases. the same standard it uses on racial and religious discrimination cases. just as important, it would provide a constitutional base for claims of gender-base violence and give the congress constitutional basis to pass laws giving women victimized by gender-based violence legal recourse in federal courts. in a 2001 interview, the late justice anthony scalia summed up the need for the equal rights amendment best. he said, and i quote, certainly the constitution does not
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require discrimination based on sex. the only issue is whether it prohibits it. it doesn't. end quote. so i ask my senate colleagues this question most sincerely. are we willing to do what we must -- what must be done to protect gender discrimination by including protection in the constitution? progress has no autopilot feature. we must be its agents. we must be its champions. when we wake up each day to the loud and growing chorus of women saying me too, how can we deny them the legal tool as powerful and important as their own country's constitution? the people being affected by systemic gender inequality are our constituents. they are our wives, our daughters, our grandchildren, our granddaughters. they are american citizens and human beings who deserve basic respect and equality. mr. president, we are capable of so much more than lip service. we are capable

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