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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  March 14, 2018 1:29pm-3:30pm EDT

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weather events, including dangerous heat, heavier rainfall and more flooding, and larger wildfires as a result, threatening both our long-term economic growth and the well-being of our citizens. many people in new hampshire, particularly on our seacoast, are concerned about what these stronger and more frequent storms will mean for their families, their homes, and their businesses. rising sea levels and greater pre-acceptation -- precipitation have increase the sea level on our coasts. it is estimated that nuclear's sea levels are expected to rise between .6 of a foot and two feet by 2050 and between .6 feet and 6.6 feet by 23100. and in just the last two weeks, our state has been hit by three nor easters. mr. president, this is not normal.
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you can see here the flooding that impacted streets and homes in portsmouth, new hampshire, during one of these storms. this chart depicts a photo. we have to help our people adapt to these changes, these direct threats that they face. this starts with focusing on efforts like coastal resiliency to help vulnerable communities prepare, improving our infrastructure and developing resilience strategies to help plan ahead of storms and extreme weather events. people at the local level in new hampshire sea coast are already doing great work to be proactive and address these challenges head-on. so we must support their efforts. but we must also keep working to mitigate climate change which is why i am continuing to push to cut carbon emissions, conserve and protect our natural resources, and to build a stronger clean energy future.
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unfortunately, president trump has been focused on an agenda that is based on climate change denial and has stacked his administration with climate change skeptics who have placed the priorities of big oil companies over the protection of our natural resources. according to a recent "politico" report, president trump has chosen at least 20 people to serve as agency leaders and advisors who have publicly disagreed with the settled science on climate change. and he's left key positions vacant, including a science advisor at the office of science and technology policy, an unprecedented move over the last several decades in which the office has existed. this clear disdain for science and failure to acknowledge the reality of the dangers of climate change are seen throughout the administration's policies. last year president trump
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recklessly withdrew the united states from the paris climate agreement, failing to listen to the voices of environmental and business leaders who supported this agreement. the united states of america now has the distinction of being the only country in the world that is not supporting it. e.p.a. administrator scott pruitt is working to repeal the clean power plan which is critical to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and helping our citizens, our businesses, and our economy thrive. we've seen several clean air and clean water protections rolled back. and in addition to reversing environmental protections, the administration is taking further steps that can carry extreme risk for our environment. this includes the irresponsible plan to open up 90% of our nation's coastal waters, including new hampshire's seacoast to the dangers of
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offshore drilling. mr. president, we are clearly seeing the impacts of climate change. our citizens are calling on us to act, but the lack of leadership from this administration and the actions they have taken that exacerbate our climate and environmental challenges are, to put it mildly, irresponsible. we need to take proactive steps to protect our environment, not roll back key protections. we need to help communities threatened by changing climate, not put the profits of big oil first. we need to stand up for science, not deny it. i'll keep working to address climate change and to achieve a cleaner environment and stronger energy future that will help our citizens, our economy, and our businesses thrive. and i urge my colleagues to do the same. mr. president, i ask that the following statement be printed separately in the record.
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the presiding officer: without objection. ms. hassan: mr. president, i am proud to recognize not just an individual but the entire spaulding high school community as our granite staters of the month for the compassion and commitment to helping others that they displayed following the horrific shooting in parkland, florida. in the wake of the senseless violence in parkland, spaulding music staff and students met to discuss how they could help the survivors and memorialize the 17 lives that were taken at marjory stoneman douglas high school. spaulding students wanted to focus during this dark time on expressing their love for and how to best send comfort to their peers in florida. this led spaulding student, teachers, and faculty to start an initiative with members of the band, color guard and junior
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rotc playing a leading role to collect money to support the stoneman douglas community. in the days that followed, students passed around buckets to collect donations with each student giving what he or she could. in an enthusiastic show of support, the spaulding community raised $3,271 in just two days. students want to do more so they also presented the spaulding high school music department class eco leadership award to the stoneman douglas music department as that's also the mascot of their school. the junior rotc group also sent one of its challenge coins to acknowledge the parkland students' bravery and resolve. two of the school's music teachers, joanne houston and cheryl richardson recently flew to florida to present the gifts to stoneman douglas' principal
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and vice principal. the selfless support for stoneman douglas by the spaulding high school community exemidentifies the compassion -- exemplifies the compassion of the granite state. and in new hampshire and throughout our country today, school communities are engaging in walkouts and d demanding actn to prevent future acts of gun violence. i know that members of the spaulding student body are planning a walkout, too, and i am profoundly grateful to see our young people speaking out and being powerful forces for change. i am incredibly proud of these young leaders. we as a country must meet them in this moment. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor and suggest an absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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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: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. i have one request for a committee to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and the minority leaders. the presiding officer: without objection. duly noted. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, this week, we're debating an important piece of legislation that's going to streamline and simplify government regulations. we're going to make it easier, cheaper for families to get access to loans from their local banks. this legislation is good for communities and it's good for the american economy. now, in just -- mr. president, it's just the latest thing that we have done in congress over the past year to help give the american economy a boost. the economy is responding and the american people are doing better because of it. here's a headline in "the new york times" on friday. "the economy is looking awfully strong." headline, "new york times." "the economy is looking awfully strong." the article was about the jobs report that came out last week. it said the report can be summed up in four words.
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it says the economy is humming. mr. president, the u.s. economy has already created over 552,000 new jobs in just the first two months of this year. over half a million new jobs in the first two months of this year. half a million more people working-to-do compared to when republicans passed this tax relief law. if you want to go back a little, there are more than three million new jobs since president trump was elected in november of 2016. mr. president, that's a real number to look at. that's the moment when people said they have had enough of slow-growing policies of the democrats in washington and elected donald trump president. that's the moment when businesses realized things were going to be different with republicans in charge. more people working now. and do you know what else? they are being paid more. according to the commerce department, the take-home pay of working people in america increased by $40 billion in
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january. now, they say it's directly because of the tax relief law that republicans passed last december. more than four million workers are also getting a bonus or a pay increase. 400 companies have said that's because the taxes went down. they're sharing the savings with their workers. these are people who work at home depot, lowe's, walmart, starbucks, other businesses that are familiar names all across america. they're also people who worked in smaller businesses like the jonah bank in wyoming. some branches in casper and cheyenne. it's not a nationally known bank, but it's very important in our state and in our communities. some of the people are getting -- who are getting bonuses work at places like taco john's. that's another business that's important to the people of wyoming. a local business in wyoming. when i was in the state senate, it was a place i went regularly to eat lunch. one of many taco john's facilities around the state of wyoming and around the west.
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when republicans cut taxes, working americans are seeing more money in their paychecks as a result. and this is what it talks about in terms of the confidence. it's a new survey, came out recently. talked about the heads of mid-sized companies all around america. here's what they said. 89% of the business leaders are confident, confident in the united states' economics and the prospects for the year. u.s. economic confidence soars, soars. 2016, 39%. 2017, 80%. now 89%. but the american people realize we have now beaten back eight years of bad policies from democrats in washington, and as soon as trump took office, we saw the confidence soar. i don't know that it's ever been higher. americans are feeling better about the u.s. economy. they're feeling better also about their own personal situation. that's the key, people's own personal situation. that's certainly the case in my
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home state of wyoming. the polling company gallup looked at overall economic confidence state by state. they found that wyoming is the most confident state in the country when it comes to america's economy. attitudes about the economy turned positive immediately after donald trump was elected president in 2016. you could feel it. you could feel the confidence. you could feel the optimism. you could feel there was a positiveness in the opinions of the people of wyoming. people living now in 43 out of the 50 states have a positive view of the economy, and wyoming, of course, was number one. people i talked to at home -- and i was in cody, wyoming, this past weekend as well as in sheridan and riverton and casper and around the state talking to people in various communities, but the people i talked to about the economy will tell you it's because businesses are hiring again, people are doing better, they see their take-home pay going up, they see their taxes going down.
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they see republican policies are making their lives better. they see the republican policies are also making the economy stronger. they see republican policies are making it easier for people to achieve their dreams and to enjoy their lives. it comes from tax relief. it comes from cutting regulations like we're doing this week. so what are the democrats offering? well, last week, the democrat leader came to the floor and said he wants to raise taxes by $1 trillion. that's what the leader of the democrat party said on the floor of the senate last week. he wants to raise taxes by a trillion dollars. is he serious? a trillion dollars raising taxes, taking away from people the tax cuts that they are just enjoying? mr. president, more people have jobs. the economy is humming. "the new york times" says the economy is humming. 90% of working americans have increased in their take-home pay. it's because of the tax cuts that this body has passed. democrats want to reverse it all. that's what we hear on the floor of the senate.
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they want to take the money back. they want to roll back the progress that we have made. that's their plan -- raise taxes. that's what we hear from the democrats. senator schumer came to the floor of the senate and he said, quote, he said there are much -- he said there are much better uses for the money. that's what he said on the floor of the united states senate. that's what the washington democrats always say. they have better uses for the money than the american people have the use of their own money. they have a better idea they always say about how to use somebody else's money. they want higher taxes. they want more washington spending because they think they know best. they don't think the money should go to pay increases or bonuses for working americans. mr. president, really? they think it should go to washington? i think american families know how to spend their paychecks
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better than any washington democrat ever will. democrats say they want to use this trillion dollars in new taxes to pay for infrastructure. we all know that america's infrastructure, our roads, our bridges, our dams, our waterways, they are in desperate need of attention. but as chairman of the environment and public works committee, i tell you i am committed to improving this situation by working with the president and working on both sides of the aisle. if democrats want to talk about a robust and a fiscally responsible infrastructure plan that's going to help the american economy, then i'm ready to have that conversation, but if all they want to do is talk about raising taxes on american families, they're wasting their breath. there's a very big difference between republicans and democrats in congress. republicans want the american people to keep more of their hard-earned money. democrats want washington to take more of people's money.
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republicans want new policies that grow the economy, create jobs, inspire confidence in a brighter future. democrats want the same old tax-and-spend policies that have failed for years. their policies have led to slow growth, stagnant wages, terrible lack of confidence in our economy. republicans promised that our ideas would do better, and the results from the tax cuts and the tax relief speak for themselves. the economy is strong, confidence is off the charts, the american people deserve this chance to have a brighter future, and that's what republicans are offering, and it's also, mr. president, what republicans are delivering. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. hoeven: mr. president, i would like to associate myself with the comments of the esteemed senator from wyoming. i think he described very well the truly positive impact that tax relief is having on our country, on economic growth, on job creation, and on higher wages and income for hardworking americans. i rise today, however, to talk about the economic growth, regulatory relief, and consumer protection act and the important reforms we're making to spur economic development, facilitate more lending, and reduce burdensome regulations on our community banks and credit unions. the dodd-frank act, as you know, was enacted in 2010 following the financial crisis. in an attempt to reduce systemic
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risk the financial sector posed to the economy. this far-reaching law touched nearly every aspect of the financial system, including many small community banks and credit unions around the country in my home state of north dakota and across this nation. north carolina, every state in the union. and these community banks and credit unions are not what pose the system -- posed the systemic risk that dodd-frank was passed to address. at almost 850 pages long, dodd-frank required more than ten regulatory agencies to write almost 400 new rules which added more than 27,000 new federal restrictions on american businesses. think about that regulatory burden. more than 27,000 new federal restrictions on american businesses. the price to implement these dodd-frank rules have exceeded
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$36 billion. i repeat. $36 billion that is ultimately passed on to consumers, and required nearly 73 million paperwork hours. in fact, agencies are still writing dodd-frank regulations eight years after the law was passed. these financial institutions provide critical funding for and credit for families and small businesses, especially in rural areas and in underserved areas, rural states tikritily feel that impact -- rural state particularly feel that impact. because of their small size, community banks and credit unions have a more difficult time complying with the excessively complex reporting and paperwork requirements. compliance costs have hastened bank closures in small towns leading to a growing number of
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places with no bank branches, meaning not having financial services for consumers. nationwide more than one in five u.s. banks have disappeared. that's 1,700 -- more than 1,700 institutions or more than one bank every business day. think about that. more than one small bank orb financial institution every business day that has shut down since dodd-frank was enacted. that means less access to financial services for consumers across this country, particularly those that don't fiscal cliff our large urban areas. since dodd-frank was signed into law, north dakota has lost one-fifth of its credit ounce declining from 47 in 120 to 35 to date. the number of community banks in north dakota similarly dropped 90 in 2012074 today.
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these institutions have been forced to merger and consolidate due to the overly burden p some compliance process associated with dodd-frank the ultimate loser of course from these increased regulations compliance costs and a subsequent consolidation ends up being the very consumer, the very consumer that dodd-frank was intended to protect. whether you're shopping for a loan to fund an innovative start-up business, operating capital for your family farm or seeking a mortgage to purchase your first home, fewer credit unions means fewer options for consumers. in north dakota and rural communities nation iraq's our credit unions serve just that, the communities. they serve their local communities. they're not only savings for hardwork being neighbors and businesses and farmers and ranchers but they're willing to
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work with borrowers unique to their rural community. they know their customer. they know their community and service area. rural community banks and credit unions typically make loans that don't fit the standard mortgage mold. properties that are not cookie cutter are very common in rural markets. rural lenders use their knowledge of the market and the customer to structure loans that work for both the borrower and the beige they make the loan fit the customer rather than make the customer fit a one-size-fits-all loan program that too much regulation are are are makes. that might require using mutt many pieces of property as clottal or utilize ago short-term loan to assist with a renovation paid off with the sale. documenting assets and cash to close a loan may look very different. for example, livestock at a feed lot waiting for sale or crops ready for harvest or in a
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storage silo may substitute for cash in a bank that would typically get a borrower to qualify for a loan under the standardized approach where one size is supposed fit everybody. the fundamental purpose of community banks and credit unions is to serve their local communities. in north dakota they do this by forging personal relationships, personal relationships with the semiautomatics farmers, and ranchers anded individuals in their communities. and knowing their customer -- knowing their customer, they are a able to offer products terrelled to each individual. dodd-frank undermines this fundamental purpose by forcing banks and credit unions to force their customers into a one-size-fits-all mortgage lending mortgage called, quote, qualified mortgages, end quote. while this may work for urban and suburban lenders that sell their mortgages to large wall street banks, we've seen that it does not work in our rural
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states, in our rural areas. the bill that we're now considering provides relief to rural customers by deeming certain mortgages held by lenders with less than $10 billion in assets as qualified mortgages allowing community banks and credit unions to expand the types of mortgages they offer while maintaining critical consumer protections, meaning more choice, more opportunity for financing for consumers across the country. this means that our community banks and credit unions in our state and across the nation will be able to offer a wider range of credit products and better serve the small businesses, farmers, and ranchers and hardworking individuals in our communities. another important issue facing our rural communities is a critical shortage of appraisers. the appraisal is a key component of a homebuying process, important both borrowers and lenders. the bank wants to know that the
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homes are financed -- when they provide that financing, can be supported by the collateral and the borrower wants to make sure they're not paying more than the home is worth. in rural areas including my state and many others, cucking unpraisal can be more complex than in a suburban area because there are fewer sales and fewer comparable properties. that makes it important that local appraisers are familiar with the area that they're working with. however we're seeing a dramatic shortage of appraisers right now in our state and i know in other states as well. for example, in my state of the 53 counties in our state, 29 have no resident appraisers. this means that all the properties sold in their counties are appraised by appraisers from outside the county, sometimes from across the state. this can lead to significant
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wait times for unpraisal to be completed as well as the potential for inaccurate appraisers. this bill provides relief for home buyers in rural areas by exempting rural mortgage portfolio loans of less than $400,000 from being required to have a certified appraisal if the lend sinner able to find a state-certified or licensed appraiser to perform that certified appraisal within five days. this will help reduce the cost to consumers and streamline the already time-consuming homebuying process. additionally, this bill helps further protect consumers from identity theft and other predatory practices by requiring credit bureaus to provide consumers with one free freeze alert and one free freeze unalert per year. these tools will empower consumers to make -- to take more control over their credit and to better protect themselves
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from potential fraud. this legislation also includes a provision i cosponsored that would provide protections for bank employees who disclose the suspected exploitation of a senior citizen to regulatory or law enforcement agency. this will encourage whistle-blowers to come forward and protect senior citizens from financial exploi station. additionally, i filed an amendment that i am urging my colleagues to support which would help our farmers weather the low commodity prices and economic downturns in farm country. i've heard from many farmers and from bankers across the country that the current farm service agency f.s.a. loan program levels are outdated and do not reflect the current ag economy. my amendment would increase the maximum direct-loan amount for the farm operating and farm ownership program to $600,000 from the current level of $30
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$300,000. it would also increase the maximum guaranteed loan amount for these programs from $1.39 million to $2.5 million. this will allow new and beginning farmers to purchase land and equipment or provide necessary operating capital to help farmers endure through the downturn in commodity prices. i will continue to work with my colleagues on that amendment. in conclusion, the economic growth, regulatory relief and consumer protection act provides real regulatory relief through our community banks and credit unions, relief that benefits consumers across this country. it empowers lenders to sell products sailorred to their customers, assist communities impacted by the shortage of certified appraisers and provides enhanced consumer protections from identity theft, fraud, and predatory practices. it's past time that we provide regulatory relief to the community banks and credit unions across this nation.
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passing this bill will further economic development, it will increase lending in rural communities, alleviate the onerous requirements placed on our small community financial institutions by dodd-frank i urge my colleagues to support this bill. mr. president, i would at this time yield the floor to the distinguished senior senator from the great state of alabama. mr. shelby: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. shelby: i rise today, as my colleague from north dakota has just done, to speak in support of senate bill 2155, the economic growth, regulatory relief, and consumer protection act. in response, mr. president, to the 2008 financial crisis, many individuals overreacted to the role that smaller institutions played. in the rush to react, these
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institutions became overregulated. but since the drafting and enactment of dodd-frank nearly 10 years ago, congress has looked for ways to lessen the damage, effects it has had on our financial system in america. as a result of the dodd-frank act, thousands of pages of federal mandates were imposed upon even the smallest of financial institutions. community banks all across the country are the key source of lending and other financial services on main street throughout this nation. i believe we should not and must not continue to require them to comply with the same regulations as our largest financial institutions that are perhaps subject to systemic risk. this bill before us today fixes that by offering a commonsense approach, mr. president, to ensure that our small and medium-sized financial
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institutions are no longer subject to excessive regulation that has choked the life from them in the country. senate bill 2155 is the result of almost 10 years of negotiations between members of both parties. this legislation was negotiated in good faith between republican and democrats to find common ground. in a time, mr. president, when partisan politics have derailed many efforts, the bill before us moved through regular order out of the banking committee where a lengthy and robust amendment debate occurred. many of us in this body have spent hours, including the presiding officer, negotiating since the enactment of dodd-frank to get to this point today. this is a bipartisan bill. this is a good product. time and again i have advocated for conducting a thorough confident-benefit analysis on
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financial regulations. i believe this is congress' role when tasked with oversight authority to ensure that the cost of rules from washington do not outweigh the benefits for consumers. however, even a simple examination of small- and medium-sized banks' activities show that their practices provide no systemic risk to our financial system. many dodd-frank regulations are inappropriate for these institutions in the country. this has become abundantly clear to most of us. as regulatory overreach progressed, community banks and in turn local communities began to fall on hard times. in the 115th congress, i believe the dynamics have shifted. beginning with our work to reform our nation's tax system, the economy has been obamaing -- performing well. unemployment has dropped. the total number of individuals
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returning to the workforce has increased. and in the senate, we have now a unique opportunity to unlock the chains of stagnation that have halted the growth of a lot of our small businesses. community financial institutions provide, mr. president, more than 60% of small business loans in this country. too often it is easy to forget that the personalized touch of community banks has been what started the process for success of some of the most accomplished businesses in the united states of america. i believe, mr. president, we must pass this bill if we want that to continue. if we want to keep and create jobs in this country and opportunities for our people. in response to my friends from the other side of the aisle who oppose our efforts here, i have one simple message. the economic growth, regulatory relief, and consumer protection act -- the bill we have before
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the senate now -- is a thoughtful, bipartisan effort to correct and right-size regulations that were hastily prepared. this product is designinged to help, mr. president, main street, not wall street. this is a good bill. i hope that my colleagues will join me and others in support of it. i yield the floor, suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call: quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. toomey: thank you, mr. president. i want to address two issues today, one briefly, the issue of guns. many of our democratic colleagues have come down to speak of and then i want to speak about the financial services regulatory reform bill we'll be voting on later today. first, on the former topic, mr. president. a number of our democratic colleagues have been down here and we've heard passion and concern about the victims of gun
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violence in our country. i certainly understand and respect their passion. i spent a lot of time of working to try to find sensible measures that will help address this in ways that do not infringe on the second-amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. and it does feel like we're at a somewhat different moment here, and so i hope we can choose to get something done -- something constructive and stop talking past each other and find common ground. i would suggest four steps that ought to be able to find a reasonable consensus in the senate, ought to be able to get to 60 votes, and would at least modestly make some progress in this space. one is a bill that's been introduced by senators cornyn and murphy, a bipartisan bill, called fix nics.
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the background check system sl only as -- is only as good as the data in the system. we have inconsistent quality of data. the data is provided by states. some states provide comprehensive up-to-date data, other states not so much. the cornyn-murphy bill would have better compliance and better data from the states. a second piece of legislation is a bill that i've introduced with senator coons and the sort of nickname for this legislation is lie and try. what our legislation does is it would make it possible for more states to prosecute people who commit a felony when attempting to purchase a fire gun. that is to say those people who knowingly lie about their own criminal history, deny that criminal history in the hope that they'll be able to somehow
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circumvent the nics system and buy a firearm. it happens every day in america, that convicted felons, who obviously know they were convicted felons, deny that and attempt to buy a firearm that they are not entitled to. our legislation would require the f.b.i. when somebody commits this felony, to inform the state from which that comes so the state can enforce that. it is about enforcing laws on the book. i often hear from my friends who are second-amendment supporters, as i am, we ought to do a better job of enforcing the laws on the book. this is an opportunity to do that. a third opportunity is to recognize that people who we deem to be so dangerous we won't allow them to fly on a plane, people on a terrorist watch list could show up at an airport with
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a valid i.d. and boarding pass and we won't let them get on the plain. somebody we believe to be that dangerous we ought not to allow to buy a firearm. senator collins and senator heitkamp have introduced this legislation. i am a cosponsor. this would say we believe you're so dangerous, we won't allow you to fly, that we will also preclude you from buying a firearm. manchin-toomey, the idea behind this legislation is to require a background check on commercial gun sales, whether at a gun show or over the internet, they should be subject to a background check so we can determine if the prospective buyer is somebody that we all agree shouldn't have a firearm. a dangerous, dangerously mentally ill person, someone who has committed a violent criminal
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act, someone who is otherwise simply disqualified from having a firearm. the only way you can actually achieve that is if you have some mechanism to determine whether or not a person is disqualified in this fashion. and so senator manchin and i have legislation that will do that without infringing on the absolutely essential constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. these four items, mr. president, i think would be very constructive. fix nics, lie and try legislation, a no fly, no buy bill, and the manchin-toomey legislation. i hope we're going to make some progress in this space, and those would be candidates for doing so. let me shift to senate bill 2155, legislation we're going to be voting on later today. this legislation is long overdue. let me be very clear about this. the financial crisis that we
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experienced is a decade behind us now. the dodd-frank financial services regulatory bill, massive, massive construct that wildly overregulates financial services, that was signed into law eight years ago. we have done nothing really meaningful to roll that back over these last eight years. this bill is the result of years of bipartisan work, untold number of hearings, an extraordinary amount of testimony, and now we have a product that we're going to, i hope, pass later today and begin to roll back some of this excessive regulation. i would thank all the republican and democrat members who have worked to get this bipartisan product to where we are today. senator shelby, when he was chairman of the banking committee, laid much of the groundwork for this. chairman hensarling, chairman of
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the house financial services committee, has done great work in this space. chairman crapo as chairman has really done an outstanding job. so we're at a point where we're very close to finally making some progress on this overregulation. i will disclose up front, i have my own personal experience and bias in this space, having worked with a great group of men and women in eastern pennsylvania and western new jersey, we launched a community bank back in 2005. it was an amazing experience, a great experience. it was a very successful bank. but back in 2005, when we launched, i was shocked to learn how heavily regulated a small, tiny start-up, brand-new community bank was. it seemed to me we needed permission from the regulators to change the color of the
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drapes in the lobby of the bank. and this is all before dodd-frank was passed. dodd-frank came along several years later and made things much, much worse. way overprescriptive. way too much discretion and power in the hands of regulators, a terrible trickle-down effect whereby extensive regulations that were meant purportedly to constrain large financial institutions in fact also imposed huge costs on small banks. we've gotten to the point where arguably small banks are now too small to succeed. 30 years ago we had 14,000 banks in america. today we have fewer than 5,000. now, the trend toward consolidation in banking was underway before dodd-frank but dodd-frank dramatically worsened it. one data point i think makes it really clear, before the financial crisis, before
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dodd-frank came along we used to routinely launch on average over 100 banks per year across america. it's a very ordinary thing for a group of business folks that come together and decide they were going to launch a bank to serve their community. and it's a great thing when people do that because it introduces new competition, new choices for consumers, new access to capital. over 100 per year routinely for decades. from the time that dodd-frank was passed through this year, we've had five new banks start up in america. we've just completely destroyed the entire de novo banking industry. there's a price to that. there's a price to communities. there's a higher cost of credit. there's less available capital. and this doesn't serve anyone well. so our legislation, this bill that we're going to vote on later today is going to improve
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the overall regulatory environment. at the same time it's going to make improvements for consumers. let me touch on a few of the features. one is designed to improve access to mortgage credit. section 101 of the bill provides regulatory relief for financial institutions if they originate a mortgage and keep that mortgage on their portfolio. you see, when a financial institution originates a mortgage and sells it, which is a very common practice, there is this sense that the financial institution doesn't care about the borrower's ability to repay. it happens not to be true, but there are very, very extensive regulations that are very onerous and they make it more difficult for borrowers to meet the criteria that's acceptable. well, if the bank is keeping the loan on its own books, then it should be obvious to everyone that the bank has every incentive to make sure that the loan is made to someone who can repay it. and so this section provides
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some relief, more flexibility so that the bank can actually make a loan that works for that consumer rather than one that works for whatever bureaucrats have decided. section 107 allows relief from some of the regulations in the manufactured housing space. it's based on legislation that i introduced with senator donnelly. this will help consumers who are using manufactured housing, which is one of the most affordable ways of having a home. there are consumer protections like section 301 which protects consumers' credit by giving consumers greater control over their credit reports. there's section 302 which protects veterans' credit by helping to prevent medical debt from improperly harming a veteran's credit report. there is help for community banks, the very small banks that are not systemicically important even to their neighborhood much less our entire economy. they're wildly overregulated.
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this at least diminishes that burden modestly. it simplifies, for instance, their capital requirements. section 202 exempts very small community banks from the volcker rule. why might you ask do we need to exempt them from it? not so they can engage in proprietary trading or investments the volcker rule precludes but it recognizes community banks don't do this anyway. they end up having to spend a lot of money proving they haven't done that which they've never done. it doesn't make sense. this legislation relieves them of some of that burden. section 210 will allow, again, very small banks to have a little bit more time between the very onerous exams that they are subject to periodically. it's still very onerous but at least there's some relief here. there's a change in how we treat bank holding companies.
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we have unfortunately as a result of dodd-frank this concept of too big to fail. we have enshrined it in law by creating what we call systemically important financial institutions or cfius. these are too big to fail but it happens automatically under dodd-frank when a bank hits $50 billion and that's a ridiculously low threshold. this takes automatic cfius up to $250 billion. it should be driven by the conduct of the institution, the kind of business they do. but at least we are raising the threshold from $50 billion to $250 billion. by the way, this is problematic actually for banks that are a little larger than $250 billion. they still have this onerous,
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complex, expensive regime that they have to comply with when their competitors who might be just a few billion-dollar smaller are relieved of this burden. there's an unfairness in this. i intend to work with regulators to basically have this cfius designation reflect the activity of the institution rather than just the size. there's another provision, mr. president. section 402 deals with the supplement ratio which goes by the acronym s.l.r. the s.l.r. is a minimum capital ratio, looks at the entire balance sheet of a bank and says, well, regardless of what those assets consist of, we're going to have a minimum capital requirement. that of course is in addition to all the specific capital requirements that are associated with the various category of assets. that whole regulatory regime remains in place, so we have both simultaneously.
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this legislation has a very, very narrow, very, very narrow exception for this secondary s.l.r. capital requirement. it simply holds that for those handful -- there's really only three custody banks, banks that have as their principal activity the custody of securities for other financial institutions. when they take custody-related cash and they put it on deposit with the fed or another central bank, that is a risk-free transaction. there is no risk to an american bank having a dollar denominated deposit with the fed. and, therefore, this legislation recognizes that you should not have to be hit with an additional capital requirement for such a transaction. that is a constructive feature. some have mischaracterized this and suggested my goodness we could have deposits with the central turkish bank or greek central bank. that is clearly factually wrong.
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the criteria for eligibility is very, very narrow and it is only at the most secure central banks in the world. by the way, mostly it's the fed. a quick additional word about this too-big-to-fail doctrine. i feel very strongly that no institution should be too big to fail. no institution should get a taxpayer bailout. some of my colleagues seem to agree with that. they've come down here and they have been very critical of the idea of a bailout that might occur for a financial institution. i would suggest that the best way to avoid taxpayers having to bail out a financial institution is not to attempt to prescribe every conceivable activity through massive regulation but rather have a bankruptcy code that allows the failure to be resolved in bankruptcy. the people that should be wiped out in the event of the failure of a financial institution are the shareholders and unsecured
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creditors. not taxpayers. so for those of my colleagues who have come down here and expressed great concern about potential bailouts, join me in my legislation which adds a chapter to the bankruptcy code so that we can successfully resolve even a very large and complex financial institution where we should, which is in bankruptcy, and not pose a risk to american taxpayers. senator cornyn and i have the legislation that will do that. it really over time can completely end the debacle of too big to fail, and that would be a very constructive development as well. so, mr. president, let me conclude by saying that this bill, 21 # 55, s. 2155 which is called the economic growth, regulatory relief, and consumer protection act, is very aptly named. that is the goals expressed in the title are actually achieved in this legislation. i'm confident we will make progress on all of these fronts
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if and when -- and i think we will -- pass this legislation later today. so i certainly urge my colleagues to support this. but my last plea is that this not be the last word on financial regulatory reform. this is a constructive step in the right direction, but it is a modest step forward. much more needs to be done if we're going to have a safe but robust, competitive financial system that is capable of fueling the economic growth that our economy is capable of. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. durbin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. durbin: most people cannot remember what happened in the first grade. i have vague memories of being a first grader. but there are certain things that may happen even at that young stage in your life that will be remembered. my six-year-old granddaughter who attends first grade in brooklyn, new york, a few weeks
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ago was told by her teacher what to do if a shooter, if a gunman came into the first grade of her classroom. my little granddaughter was told don't get by -- stand by the windows. you could get shot. if they enter the classroom with a gun, get down to the floor. is there any sane person in america who believes that's what the founding fathers had in mind when they wrote the second amendment to the bill of rights, the right to bear arms, that we would have reached a point in america where the prospects of gun violence in the first grade classrooms all the way through school, through high school and college, would become a reality in america? i can't imagine anyone in their wildest dreams would have imagined that possibility. today's march 14. on february 14, the gunman went into a high school in parkland, florida, and killed 17, 14
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students and three members of the administration. it's not the first by any means. ten years before at northern illinois university, a gunman killed four there, injured many others. the list goes on and on and on. this gunman who went into parkland, florida, wasn't carrying a handgun. he was carrying an ar-15. it's a semiautomatic weapon which he was able to embellish with a clip, high-capacity magazine clip that could kill 30 people at a time. why? why on earth would that man, 19 years of age, be allowed to buy a weapon that was created to be used by the military, a military assault weapon, a weapon that sometimes our police may need but hardly ever an individual
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american could need or want to buy for a legitimate sporting, hunting purpose? but he did. and 17 were dead after that rampage. there has been a lot of reaction to that, more than i expected. i'll be honest with you, because mass killings have become way too common in america. but something happened there. something we saw across america today. high school students in that high school came out and said enough. we're fed up with the laws of this land and the politicians who refuse to change them. we're fed up with the fear that comes with just going to school in america. we're fed up with those who say the second amendment requires us to live in fear. and they have marched on towns across america today. they have marched on washington. they have come to my office and visited with me.
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i believe they become a major force in the national debate. i commend them. i encourage them. i hope they will continue. what can we do? you know, politics is tough. it ain't bean bag, as they used to say. there are forces like the national rifle association and gun lobbies that threaten the political existence of members of congress if they vote the wrong way. i know. they came after me when i was a member of the house. they almost got me. it was a tough election year. i managed to survive it, but they poured the money in and tried to beat me. and i have never had their support since, and that's okay with me. but for a lot of members of congress, they're just not willing to risk it. not willing to anger the national rifle association. do you remember when president trump had the meeting two weeks ago? called in the students and parents and others. he let the cameras roll, and they continued the meeting so
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america could witness it. he admonished the members of congress there, don't be scared of the national rifle association. don't be petrified by the n.r.a. we've got to do something. president trump came out for universal background checks. in a way, it's not a very bold and courageous position because 97% of the american people agree with it. even gun owners agree with the premise that we should do everything in our power to have a background check to keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons and mentally unstable people. the president came out for that two weeks ago. and he also said why in the world do we let someone 19 years of age buy a military assault weapon? we don't need these assault weapons. and i thought to myself, what a break. here is a republican president who is finally standing up to the gun lobby and supporting positions that are overwhelmingly supported by the american people.
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my fellow senator who is now presiding over the senate has shown that on a bipartisan fashion, we can move forward on universal background checks. he came together with senator manchin of west virginia on a measure that i supported and one that i think we should revisit. i felt so encouraged two weeks ago. well, what has happened since? that group left the white house, and a couple days later, the national rifle association came in for lunch, and the president reversed his position. it's nothing new. i saw him do exactly the same thing with daca and dreamers, but he reversed his position, and now instead of universal background checks, which will keep guns out of the hands of those who would misuse them, they are supporting a bill which is good but not -- not all that we need called fix nics, which fills some of the information gaps in the background check for
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purchasing firearms. 17 lives in that high school in florida are worth more than this weak response by president trump and by some in congress. we must do better. and let me tell you, at issue here is more than just the safety of high schools. a few weeks ago, in fact the day before the shooting in parkland, florida, an amazing member of the chicago police department named paul bauer, commander paul bauer was downtown for a training session and heard on his radio an alert that there was someone who -- a fugitive escaping. being a man of duty, he responded to join in the pursuit and was cornered in the stairwell by a man who pulled out a gun with a high-capacity magazine, shot him six times and killed him right in that stairwell. this was an amazing police
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officer with a great wife and daughter from bridgeport in the city of chicago, and our whole city was in grief over that loss. we tried to figure out where that gun came from. where did that criminal get that gun? it was purchased legally outside madison, wisconsin. it was then sold without a background check to another person who in turn sold it on the internet, sold it on the internet with no background check to a person with a record of felony arrests and convictions. completely defied the system and made the argument again, sadly, of why universal background checks, not just at federal licensed dealers, but also at gun shows and on the internet are absolutely essential. the fix nics bill does not solve that problem.
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we must solve that problem. and secondly, on the military assault weapons, today in the senate judiciary committee, we talked about the impact of an assault weapon and a bullet that's fired. senator bill nelson of florida, who has followed this terrible incident in parkland and has spoken out so eloquently, reminded us that firing a bullet in a handgun may mean that bullet passes through your body and injures an organ. firing a long gun, a rifle, a semiautomatic weapon like the ar-15 does drama dramatically me damage. the bullet may enter your body in a small way but comes out on the other side with a wound the size of an orange. in the process, tumbles through your body, ripping through tissue, ripping through arteries, ripping through organs, creating situations that
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is difficult and sometimes impossible to repair. why would anyone need a weapon like that? you sure don't need it to go hunting. if you need an ar-15 to go shoot a deer, for goodness sakes, you ought to stick to fishing. you obviously don't have the skill necessary. to own it just to own it, some do they're -- some do. they're collectors, i imagine. but opening those sales to 18, 19, 20-year-olds makes no sense whatsoever, and that's what the students from parkland and around the country are saying today. i couldn't agree with them more. and high-capacity magazines. why do you need 30 rounds? why do you need 60 rounds? what is that all about? it's been used in weapons that are designed to kill other human beings. not just a few, but many. bump stocks. i never heard of a bump stock until a few months ago. the las vegas mass shooting,
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killing innocent people at a country western concert. we have banned machine guns in america for decades. well, leave it to the firearm manufacturers. they found a way to create a mechanism that takes a semiautomatic weapon, meaning you have to pull the trigger each time for each round, and turn it into an automatic weapon where you can hold the trigger and it just sprays the bullets until you empty the magazine with something called a bump stock. i can't imagine why we haven't just flat-out passed a bill to ban bump stocks after what happened in las vegas, but this congress, this senate is frozen by the gun lobby. all across america today, young people are stepping up. i asked a teacher, miss posada who testified before this committee, the senate judiciary committee today, what is it about the students in your school? why have they become such national leaders?
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i have spoken on this issue. inspirational on this issue to me, and she said that's the way we trained them, to be part of an america where they can participate and be a leader, and they are. i encourage them to continue, continue to put the pressure on all of us. starting with president trump, who may switch his position again, he went from all for gun safety to the gun lobby position in a matter of days. maybe he will come back again to some more reasonable position and put the pressure on congress, too. we have run out of excuses, haven't we? more and more innocent americans have been killed, and the best we can come up with is that over 200 years ago when some men sat down to write our bill of rights, that second amendment gave the authority to individuals to buy any and everything they want to buy in the name of the right to bear arms. i don't think that's what they
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had in mind at all. we cannot continue to let the n.r.a. and the gun lobby have veto power over gun policy in america. we are facing an epidemic of violence with hundreds of americans shot every day. from commander bauer in chicago, the kids in parkland, florida, to las vegas, to dekalb, illinois. the list goes on and on and on. we have got to put the safety of our kids and our neighborhoods ahead of the gun lobby's agenda, just to sell more guns, and we have got to have the courage as a senate to bring a bill to the floor and to open it to amendment. we don't do that anymore in the united states senate. there was a time when the senate was a great deliberative body, and now the senate is not. the silence of the senate when it comes to this gun safety issue is deafening. americans know it well, and the question now is whether we will do everything within our power to reduce the number of
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shootings, to keep our communities safe, and despair more -- and to spare more 6-year-old first graders that horrible lesson they may remember forever, to hit the floor when the shooter comes in the classroom. mr. president, i yield the floor.
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mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i have listened to the remarks from our distinguished colleague from illinois who is the democratic whip, and i agree with a number of things he says and disagree with some others, but i do think we need to keep this in appropriate context. we are, in fact, talking about a provision of the bill of rights, the second amendment to the united states constitution, and i hope we would never treat any of those essential guarantees of american rights that precede the creation of our government casually. it is important that we protect all of our rights, the right to
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worship according to the dictates of our conscience, the right to petition our government for the redress of just grievances, the freedom of association, the freedom of the press. those are also part of the bill of rights, just like the second amendment to the united states constitution. but there are a number of things that we can agree on, and i have been talking about one of them for some time now, the so-called fix nics bill. it's probably not very well labeled or branded because nics is short for the national instant criminal background check system. but basically what it does, it fixes the broken background system to make sure convicted felons, people dishonorably discharged from the military, people who have been adjudicated mentally ill, people who have committed acts of domestic violence, and a number of other categories, make sure that they cannot legally
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purchase firearms. why? because current law prohibits it. we've already passed those laws, but as we saw in sutherland springs, texas, 26 people lost their lives one sunday morning not long ago and 20 more lives were forever changed when they were shot by a gunman who had lied and obtained firearms when he was disqualified under the law from purchasing them. now, the f.b.i. maintains the background check system, and it wasn't their fault because the background check system is only as good as the information that is uploaded into the background check system. that's where you get a hit. that's when somebody goes into a store and tries to purchase a firearm and lies, the background check system catches them and they're denied that purchase. that's how it's supposed to
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work. but recently, the attitude seems to be among some here in washington that this bill doesn't somehow go far enough. well, there are other ideas that i am more than willing to debate and vote on and some of which i actually agree with. but none have the sort of bipartisan consensus support that this particular fix nics bill has. i'm just told now we're up to 70 bipartisan cosponsors. in other words, 70 out of 100 senators on a bipartisan basis supports this fixed or broken background check system because they know if it had been working the way congress had intended, 26 people would still be alive in sutherland spring, texas, and 20 more who were shot and wounded would not have had to suffer those grievous injuries
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and the painful recovery. some have said, for example, as the democratic leader, if we only pass fix nics, we'll be right back here after the next shooting in nearly the same place. he said we will not have done our job. well, as i said, if there are other things that enjoy broad bipartisan consensus, let's get it done. but if the attitude is we won't even vote on what we agree on because we want to do more, we'll never get anything done around here. why not agree with what we agree -- agree on what we've agreed upon, people are supporting, and then we can work on other ideas in addition. as i said, at least 36 senate democrats have already cosponsored the fix nics bill. that's 75% of the democratic
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caucus. and the numbers have been steadily rising, and i hope they'll go even higher. i'm grateful to the democratic leader from new york. he himself is a cosponsor of the bill as is the senate majority leader, senator mcconnell. i've never seen a piece of legislation involving a controversial subject like gun rights get such broad bipartisan support. it is truly unique. and we ought to be grateful that we found a place where we have such broad bipartisan agreement. and more importantly than that, a provision that will save lives in the future. if the shooter at sutherland springs had gone into a gun store to purchase a gun and i lied but the background check system had worked the way it's supposed to work, he would not have been legally able to purchase a gun because it would
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have revealed the fact that he was disqualified from doing so. well, each of these tragedies involves different circumstanc circumstances. the shooters are always different. they obtain firearms in different ways and use them to perpetrate their crimes according to different plans and different settings. but i already talked about the shooter in sutherland springs who actually was convicted of a felon after choking and kicking his wife and cracking his stepson's skull. he was discharged from the military other than honorably. he was detained in a mental health facility because he was mentally ill. yet he was able to lie his way into possession of these firearms forever changing the world, innumerable families in sutherland spring, texas. under federal law, he would have been prevented from purchasing
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that firearm. were it not for the breakdown in our background check system, he wouldn't have obtained it. he would have been caught lying and trying to buy -- and possibly prosecuted and 26 people would still be living their lives. and the people who were worshiping that sunday morning at the first baptist church in sutherland springs would still be doing so in that same location. but it's now been turned into a memorial to those who lost their life that day. this is preventable loss of life. that's more than enough reason to pass fix nics. i disagree with those who say it didn't do -- it doesn't do much. if it saves lives, it does plenty. if our system had worked properly and ensuring it does in
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the future is what my bill aims to do. anna bell pomeroy, the 14-year-old daughter of the pastor at first baptist would still be here. ryrylan ward, a boy who had survived would not have been shot five times. so it's simply incorrect to characterize this bill is a pittance and it's inaccurate to suggest it really wouldn't do anything that it somehow is window dressing or maybe a political fig leaf. that's demonstratively false. tell the families that lost loved ones that day. they wish our background check system had stopped the gunman. each of them suffered terrible trauma because it didn't. it's also not true to say that washington has been feckless or absent in the wake of not only
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sutherland springs, but las vegas, park lad, -- parkland, florida, and the rest. just the issue of bump stocks, i agree with the democratic whip, the senator from illinois, these attachments to a semiautomatic rifle turn it into an automatic rifle. now, i've never heard of such a thing before, but if automatic weapons are already illegal, why in the world would we want to allow an appliance attached to a gun turn a semiautomatic weapon into an automatic weapon. so i'm glad the president has said that those should be regulated by the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. and be unavailable. we know that a lot of people lost their lives in las vegas. 58 concert goars in las -- concert goers in las vegas lost their lives because a man up in a hotel room shooting down into a country concert.
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851 were injured. it's unbelievable the scope of the carnage. but we've also learned that mental health problems are one of the reasons why people do these sorts of things. and we pass laws most notably a year ago last december called 21st century cures act providing new authority for families when their loved one is becoming a danger to themselves or others. they can apply to a court to get assisted outpatient treatment to make sure they follow their doctor's orders and they take their medication. and then we retrain law enforcement on how to save lives in the event of an active shooter incident by training. we know the problem at sutherland springs was the federal government hadn't uploaded the information into the background check system,
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which would have prevented the purchase of this firearm. but we know in the states, the problem is present as well. in ohio we've learned there have been failures to upload conviction records from at least 90 municipal courts, one that would have allowed those barred from owning weapons to purchase them in violation of the law. may have allowed them to buy them in violation of the law. and since the shooting in texas, the department of defense has retro actively uploaded 4,000 additional records into the background check system of those dishonorably discharged from the military. people already prohibited under current law from purchasing firearms but, of course, if the military didn't upload them, no one would ever know and they would be able to lie and purchase firearms. one news account stated that since 2015, the number of people barred from owning firearms because they were dishonorably
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disarnled had hovered -- discharged had hovered around 11,000 people, according to f.b.i. statistics. but now it stands that over 1 15,000. it's clear evidence the background check system isn't working the way it's supposed to. we need to make sure that federal agencies are uploading these records in real time as they're required to do. now we're taking action in other ways. we're also -- i'm also cosponsor of a bipartisan bill called the nics denial notification act sponsored by a bipartisan pair of senators, the senator from pennsylvania and delaware, that will alert state law enforcement about people who lie and try to buy guns. that is, people going in live, the background check system catches them and they're turned away but it's not reported to
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the law enforcement agencies, but it would be if that legislation passed. when people do this, their he -- their actions may be indicative of criminal behavior. that's why the bill would insist federal authorities notify state police within 24 hours if it's determined a person lied in an attempt to buy a gun. meanwhile, the attorney general has announced that u.s. attorneys will be instructed to more aggressively enforce laws that criminalize gun buyers lying on their background checks. i think all of this will happen be a deterrent. and, yes, i do think it will contribute to the saving of lives. the justice department will also increase the presence of law enforcement officers at schools and review the way it responds to public tipoffs with regard to safety threats. we know the shootin shooting in parkland, florida, was a catastrophic failure at almost every level, from the public education system to local law enforcement to the f.b.i. to
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mental health providers. if looking back on this shooter, he was actually intervened with by local law enforcement about 40 times this was a blinking red light. people should have paid attention and done something about it. and so we're now trying to make sure that they have the resources and the training necessary to intervene when people are obviously a danger to themselves and others. one way we're going to do that is the bill offered by the senior senator from utah, senator hatch, the stop school violence act, which will authorize $50 million annually for safety improvements, including teacher training and training students on how to prevent violence and developing noun mouse reporting -- anonymous reporting systems for threats of school violence. it will give money to schools for protections such as metal
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detectors and bulletproof doors. this is a great step and it's not controversial and we ought to get it done and get it down now. as the president has said, we cannot merely take actions that make us feel like we're making a difference. we must actually make a difference. and one way we can do that is by passing fix nics. just this afternoon, a diverse community of victims rights groups, law enforcement officers, gun violence prevention groups, and prosecutors sent a letter to the minority and majority leaders asking them for a vote on a clean version of fix nics before the upcoming easter recess. they said it would improve key elements of the background check system, particularly domestic violence, criminal history, and protective order records. that's really an important point because so much of the gun violence we see in america is in the con

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