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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  April 12, 2018 9:15am-11:16am EDT

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vote on nomination of patrick pizzella to be deputy labor secretary and then vote to limit debate on the nomination of andrew wheeler to be deputy epa administrator. both approved by party line votes in the committees that held their confirmation hearings. judicial nominations on the schedule tomorrow and possibly into the week. live now to the senate floor for live coverage of today's session. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. most high god, our heavenly father, your loving kindness fills our hearts with gratitude. we are grateful for this opportunity to work in our
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government's legislative branch, striving to contribute to the progress of this great nation. lord, we thank you for our lawmakers and for those who support them. bless our senators with your wisdom enabling them to make decisions that will benefit our nation and world for generations to come. we ask you also eternal god, to bless the american people. place your shield of protection around them, providing them with the inspiration in their pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.
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fill them with the gift of your peace. we pray in your holy name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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the presiding officer: the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of labor, patrick pizzella of virginia to be deputy secretary.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. mr. sasse: i yield back all time. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, all time is
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yielded back. the question occurs on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote: vote:
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vote:
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vote: the presiding officer: anyone wish to cast their vote or change their vote?
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the presiding officer: anybody wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the yeas are 50. the nays are 48. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table and the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action. under the previous order, there will now be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to the cloture vote. a senator: mr. president? the presidin the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: the senate will vote on cloture of andrew wheeler to be administrator of the environmental protection agency. the deputy administrator is critical in developing and implementing policies that fulfill e.p.a.'s mission to protect water, air, and community. he's the right person for the job. he spent 25 years working in
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environmental policy. in that time he served as a career employee of the e.p.a., a staff director on the hill for the committee i now chair, the environment and public works committee and most recently as a consultant in the energy policy space. andrew wheeler is well qualified to fill this critically important job. he has bipartisan support. i urge all senators to support the nomination. the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: the senate is not in order. can we have some order. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the senator from delaware. mr. carper: thank you. mr. president, they say a man or a woman's word is his or her bond. when the environment of public works committee voted on a nomination of andrew wheeler, someone i've known for 15 years or more, i was very clear about my entire to help smooth the way for a faster floor process. it's very clear what we needed was an assurance from e.p.a.
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that it would respect law, respect e.p.a. actions and court decisions that found global warming pollution from cars and s.u.v.'s is a danger to our nation, to our citizens, to our planet. what i asked for was assurance from scott pruitt that he would do what the auto industry has asked him to do. negotiate an agreement on vehicle standards for the state of california. i worked with the administrator for weeks and we reached an agreement that i was told administrator pruitt supported. the presiding officer: the gentleman will suspend. the senate will come to order. the senator from delaware. mr. carper: thank you, mr. president. until scott pruitt reneged on a deal and decided he might prefer fighting in litigation to cooperating and negotiating. let me be clear. i tried to work with e.p.a. i believe that perhaps injustice -- there's one right there to be grasped. but administrator pruitt ignored
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his own top official. let me close if i can. mr. wheeler cannot solve this problem alone at e.p.a. scott put has no interest in governing, no interest in leaving a lasting and responsible legacy and no interested in working with anyone who -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. carper: i urge a no vote. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: cloture motion, we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of andrew wheeler of virginia to be deputy administrator of the environmental protection agency signed by 16 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of andrew wheeler of virginia to be deputy administrator of the e.p.a., the environmental protection agency, shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll.
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vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: is there anyone wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the ayes are 53, the nays are 45, and the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination, environmental protection agency, andrew wheeler of virginia to be deputy administrator. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: yesterday, the senate confirmed john ring to the national labor relations board. now the nlrb is once again fully staffed and ready to call balls and strikes fairly for america's workers. this morning, we confirmed patrick pizzella, the president's highly qualified nominee to fill the number two job at the department of labor. mr. pizzella brought a sterling reputation and an impressive resume. it includes time at g.s.a., the small business administration,
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the department of education, the federal housing finance board, and o.p.m. even with eight years as the assistant secretary of labor for administration and management and four years as a senate-confirmed member of the federal labor relations authority, this dedicated public servant saw his confirmation process play out in a manner that's become all too familiar. months of waiting on the senate calendar. months of obstruction by our democratic colleagues. months of needless vacancy in this critical agency position. after this morning's vote, mr. pizzella can finally get to work, but the same story of obstruction applies to the next nomination on the slate as well. andrew wheeler, he is ready and
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waiting, and waiting, and waiting, to clock in as the deputy administrator of the e.p.a. his qualifications are beyond question. he has won the support of the american farm bureau federation and has won praise from both sides of the aisle. mr. wheeler's former boss, senator inhofe, says, quote, there's no one more qualified. senator inhofe. our former colleague, senator lieberman, has called mr. mr. wheeler fair and professional and has said he hopes the nomination will receive fair consideration by the senate. the deputy administrator is the e.p.a.'s chief operating officer. he plays a major role in protecting america's air and water while minimizing unnecessary obstacles for
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workers and job creators. the american people deserve to have him and other key officials in place. i mentioned yesterday that our democratic colleagues are literally setting records. just 15 months in, they've chosen to force -- now listen to this -- 84 cloture votes on president trump's executive and judicial nominees. 84. that's more than three times as many nominee cloture votes as happened in the first two years of president obama, president bush, and president clinton combined -- combined. 84 cloture votes is more than three times as many cloture votes as happened in the first two years of president obama, bush, and clinton altogether. many nominees were then
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confirmed unanimously. i hope these stalling tactics will end soon because the personnel business isn't going anywhere. today, in fact, c.i.a. director mike pompeo is appearing before the senate foreign relations committee for the first time as the president's nominee for secretary of state. he's yet another qualified nominee who deserves fair and swift consideration for our country's sake. for now, i meant when i said on monday. we'll remain in session as long as it takes to process this week's slate of nominees. after mr. wheeler, we still have two judicial nominees -- rebecca grady jennings for the western district of kentucky and john broomes for the district of kansas. one way or another, the easy way or the hard way, this senate will get the people's business done this week. now, on another matter, i've
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been speaking all week about the stark difference between the obama administration's economic policy and the pro-growth agenda this congress and president have been putting in place. our eight years our democratic friends' so-called economic recovery hardly made it past our nation's biggest and richest cities. democratic policies largely failed the millions of working americans who live in our small towns and suburbs, smaller cities, and rural areas. not so with this republican congress and this republican president. already our inclusive opportunity agenda is bringing new energy, new optimism, and new growth to all of those forgotten parts of our country. on my recent trip back to kentucky, i heard what i've been hearing for months now. i heard how tax reform is helping bourbon producers compete, create jobs, and
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reinvigorate their local economies. i heard how employers in the state are reinvesting in their workers by offering bonuses or looking to increase hiring. i heard how farm families are breathing easier after regulatory reforms that will keep the government from invading every puddle, dinks and pothole in america. these signs of progress just confirm what republicans have said all along -- that middle-class families flourish when the i.r.s. takes less of what they earn. that american entrepreneurs thrive when we scrub the regulatory rust off of our economy and give farmers, ranchers, local communities, community banks, and small businesses more say over their own affairs. that good things happen when we just get washington out of the way. our policies are delivering real prosperity for americans in all kinds of communities. so it's no surprise that a recent study found that last year rural areas outpaced the
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rest of the country in relative job creation. these are promising signs and long overdue. but, of course, there's a lot more work to do. that's why a number of us have been working hard on legislation that would get government out of the way in another important respect. as the tobacco industry has changed, some farmers in states like kentucky have been searching for a new crop that can support their families and grow our agricultural economy, and many believe they've found such a product -- industrial hemp -- but the federal government has stood in the way. mr. president, it's time to change that. that's why some colleagues and i are introducing legislation that will modernize federal law in this area and empower american farmers to explore this promising, new market. i want to thank my fellow
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kentucky congressman jamie comer, my good friend and colleague from oregon, senator wyden, for their leadership on this issue, as well as senator merkley for his support. during the recent state work period, i stood with kentucky's agriculture commissioner ryan quarrels to announce my intention to introduce new legislation on this subject. so today we're introducing the hemp farming act of 2018. it will build on the success of recent pilot programs and take a big step toward growth and more innovation. as i traveled across kentucky, i've spoken with farmers, manufacturers, and small business owners. time and again, they shared with me their enthusiasm for hemp's potential to reenergize agricultural communities and provide a new spark to the u.s. economy. this bill will help make that potential a reality. but first let's remember how we
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got to this point. in 2014 i secured language in the farm bill that established hemp pilot programs in states that allow hemp research. the results have been extraordinary. in kentucky, hemp is proving useful across a wide variety of innovative products. it's fibers are being added to concrete and home insulation, it's extracts are being researched for potential health benefits, and some breweries have even crafted hemp-infused beer. last year alone the hemp industry added 81 new jobs in kentucky and yielded more than $16 million for kentucky farmers. and that, mr. president, is just under kentucky's research pilot program. and of course that's just one state. already, in fact, around $600
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million in hemp products are sold each year here in the u.s. but due to current laws, much of this hemp has to be imported. that cuts out our american farmers. it's time for that to change. the legislation we're introducing today will solve this problem and get the federal government out of the way of this promising market. the hemp farming act of 2018 will do the following -- first and foremost, our bill will finally legalize hemp and remove it from the list of controlled substances by recognizing the difference in statute between hemp and its illicit country, we can remove much of the confusion facing farmers, producers, and state agencies. second, the legislation will allow states to become the
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primary regulators of hemp, if they can develop a plan to properly monitor its production. kentucky agriculture commissioner quarrels is a strong supporters of hemp and its potential. under his guidance, the industry is already maturing and growing in kentucky through the pilot program. he and state leaders like him around the country are well-positioned to develop their own policies and take the industry to the next level. if states are unable or choose not to create their own regulatory plan, the u.s. department of agriculture will provide the necessary oversight. third, this bill will also allow researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from usda so we can continue to see more innovations with respect to this extraordinarily versatile crop. and finally our legislation will also explicitly make hemp eligible to apply for crop
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insurance. that will enable farmers to build out a steady business model and put it on a level playing field with other crops. so i look forward to working -- continuing to work with colleagues here in congress and hemp advocates in kentucky and throughout the nation on this legislation. again, i want to particularly thank senator wyden and senator merkley for working with me on this bipartisan bill. i also want to thank again congressman comer, a longtime advocate for heroin, who was a -- for hemp, who was a former agriculture commissioner in kentucky, for taking lead on companion legislation over in the house. i will be proud to continue to work with him on this issue. today is a many proking step. i'm hopeful that -- today is a promising step. i'm hopeful this we can get this bill over the finish line and onto the president's desk. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon.
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mr. wyden: mr. president, the majority leader said that this was a promising day, and i would just say, i think it is more than that. it is really a milestone to have the majority leader of the senate working with a bipartisan group of us to lift a restriction that is anti-farmer, certainly anticonsumer, and anti-common sense. i mean, this industrial hemp restriction really, in my view, is working a needless hardship from sea to shining sea, and i'm going to take just a minute to build on some of the majority leader's remarks. some colleagues may have heard me say that, for me, this issue goes back several years. and my wife was pregnant, and
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she and i headed from our house in southeast portland and we went off to the nearby costco store and we're working through the aisles and we come across this huge bag of hemp hearts, and it says, great fiber, terrific source of protein, a variety of different attributes were spelled out on this package -- good for your heart and good for our bloo -- and good for yod pressure. and i looked at the package and the package clearly indicated it had been grown outside the united states. so i said to my wife, who is a businesswoman and savvy about such matters, is what would be wrong with saying, if you can buy it in a major supermarket in
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america, our farmers ought to be able to grow it in america. and she said, well, dear, that just sounds way too logical for what goes on in your world. but i think what the leader has said -- and i just want to back up this with a little more detail -- is the current policy is somehow based on the idea that hemp is a dangerous drug. i mean, if you look at the way some people have attacked this idea in the past, that was always the heart of it -- hemp was a dangerous drug. hemp does not produce the high associated with marijuana. the only thing you're going to accomplish by smoking hemp is wasting your breath, wasting your time, and wasting lighter fluid. that is pretty much what you
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will accomplish. so this misguided policy of treating hemp like it is some kind of perilous, imminent threat to the american people is, i think, a mistake and it means that the hemp products that are lining up on shelves all across america simply aren't going to be fully american made. so you and senator paul have heard that from farmers in kentucky. senator merkley and i have heard that from farmers in oregon. and that is why it is so important that we move to a system that really is built on common sense, something that will be good for farmers, something that will be good for consumers, certainly offer additional consumer choice, and
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to, if i might, build on the now sort of memorialized words of nancy wyden -- because when she said, hey, if you can buy it in a market in oregon, the farmers ought to be able to grow it, i think that's a pretty good watch word for this bipartisan bill we're undertaking. i look forward to working closely with you, mr. we're obviously going to be working with chairman roberts and senator stabenow, the ranking democratic leader. this is long, long overdue. as you noted, we've got bipartisan supporters, and we are going to pull out all the stops to get this legislation passed. and i think i mentioned to the majority leader that those who have been involved in this effort -- and it's been a really
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impressive coalition of farmers and health advocates and others. they're watching the senate this morning because they're saying the senate has finally come to understand what is relevant for this century. the policies that have been so flawed in the past are sort of outdated relics to yesteryear, and i'm pleased that senator merkley and i can join you and senator paul. we'll have colleagues on both sides involved in this legislation. it is long overdue. i want to thank the leader and i'll yield back the balance of my time. mr. mcconnell: i want to thank my friend from oregon. i think this is a great project we can work on together. during the recent break i met with a lot of farmers in kentucky, and i thought particularly noteworthy since farmers demographically tend to be older in most of our states, there were a lot of young enthusiastic farmers, including research people from the
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university of kentucky college of agriculture with genuine enthusiasm about what this could mean to help reinvigorate a rural economy in kentucky that's not what it used to be when we had tobacco as our number-one cash crop. and that's faded, and it should have given the health implications of it. so this is an opportunity for us to do something together, to do something important for rural america. and i look forward to working with my friend and colleague to achieve success.
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the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. now, mr. president, over the past two weeks we have seen increasingly worry -- worrisome signs that president trump is seriously considering firing the special counsel charged with the investigation into russian meddling in the 2016 election. equally as troubling is the possibility of the president firing the deputy attorney general who oversees that investigation in order to install someone who would dismiss mr. mueller or otherwise impede or shut down the investigation. let me be clear, firing mr. rosenstein would be as great an injury to our democracy as firing mr. mueller. mr. rosenstein, by all accounts, since being appointed by president trump has followed the letter of the law. there's no conduct the president or anyone else can point to that
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would suggest mr. rosenstein went beyond d.o.j. regulations or otherwise abused his position. he has dutifully done his job when he approved mr. mueller's referral to the u.s. attorney in the southern district. it was simply because he was provided sufficient evidence that mr. mueller had uncovered a potential crime. it doesn't matter if it upsets president trump. mr. rosenstein was following the facts and the law. it's the obligation of a justice department official when he or she sees evidence of a crime to pursue it without fear, without favor. that's what rosenstein was doing, and somehow president trump -- somehow president trump doesn't grasp the rude -- rudiments of our democracy and system of laws. instead president trump seems to have the view that the justice
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department exists to protect his interests and prosecute his enemies. but in a long history of our country, our grand, wonderful country, god's noble experiments as the founding fathers called it and it still is today that's never been what the justice department stood for. it's an independent federal agency tasked with following the law wherever it leads free of considerations of politics or power. mr. rosenstein is acting in line with that long and great tradition, and it's no reason, none at all, for the president to fire him. now, my friends on the other side of the aisle know just as well as we do that firing mr. rosenstein or mr. mueller would precipitate a constitutional crisis. our constitutional order is built upon a bedrock faith in the rule of law, of equality under the law.
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no person, not even the president, can subvert that principle for his or her political interests or needs. let me remind everyone, the investigation is not a witch hunt, as the president keeps tweeting it is. it has resulted in multiple indictments and guilty pleas. by definition that's not a witch hunt. the trump administration itself leveled sanctions against russians based on information obtained as a result of the russia probe. so if the president's own administration separate from mueller leveled sanctions against the russians, using information that mueller has gotten, how can he then proceed to call it a witch hunt? it just doesn't add up. the investigation concerns the national security of the united
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states. if the president were to try to shut it down for personal political reasons, there is no doubt he would face a constitutional crisis. so let's make this simple. the consequences of firing mr. rosenstein, mr. mueller, or issuing pardons would be dire for our democracy. we have clear evidence from the president himself that each of those things is a possibility. president trump basically mused about it on national television. every democrat and every republican, regardless of politics, party, ideology, should stand up and say that what the president is considering is not only wrong, but a real threat to the constitutional order of this government. once they admit that, what
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rational person would not want to take steps to prevent a constitutional crisis from happening now, before the president acts precipitously and against the whole meaning of our democracy. we in congress have the power to prevent that constitutional crisis and to do it right away. we have the power to protect the special counsel's investigation. only the deputy attorney general can fire the special counsel, and only for cause. so a bipartisan group of senators, including senators graham and tillis on the republican side, booker and coons on the democratic side, have come up with legislation that would allow the special counsel to appeal a firing to a panel of independent judges under an expedited procedure to determine if mr. mueller were fired for cause.
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if he wasn't fired for cause, the special counsel would be reinstituted immediately. that makes eminent sense. the bipartisan legislation would simply provide a legal avenue to reinforce existing procedures and assure that the grand tradition of rule of law is maintained. chairman grassley, ranking member feinstein have agreed to hold a hearing and mark up this legislation. i applaud them both for it and urge the members of the judiciary committee to approve this legislation. without watering it down or weakening it with amendments. we should pass it out of committee. leader mcconnell should bring it to the floor of the senate quickly where i believe it would pass with a very large majority. and we should pressure our colleagues in the house to do the same. it's my view if the bill came to the floor and passed the senate by a significant majority, the
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house would follow because the pressure would be enormous. the rule of law, quite simply, should not be a partisan issue. it must not be a partisan issue. we cannot ever let it become a partisan issue. the last time it was at risk under president nixon's administration, republicans stepped up to the plate and they went down in history as very admirable. i hope they will do it again. the congress should speak loudly and soon by passing this legislation through both chambers. i yield the floor. mr. president. the presiding officer: the minority leader.
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mr. schumer: with unanimous consent i'd like to continue my remarks for a few minutes on another subject. the presiding officer: the democratic leader is recognized. mr. schumer: i apologize to my colleague from delaware. mr. schumer: okay, on a second issue, the issue since the beginning, on the issue of taxes. since the beginning of the tax debate, republicans have insisted their bill is about cutting taxes for working americans. this is despite the fact that the bill would direct 83% of the benefits to the top 1% of americans. despite the fact that they make corporate tax cuts permanent but let individual tax cuts expire, republicans said middle-class workers were the focus. democrats warned if you give big corporations, powerful corporations and the wealthiest of americans the overwhelming lion's share of the tax cuts, corporations would do what they've always done when they have higher profits: distribute
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it amongst themselves. unfortunately, we said it at the time. i wish we were wrong, but our warnings prove prescient. almost every day we hear a new story about a corporation using the savings from the republican tax bill to purchase its own stock. that's called a stock buy-back. what does it do? it boosts the corporation's stock price to provide a reward for the wealthy c.e.o.'s and top executives who have the shares, and shareholders, the vast majority of wealthy americans, a third of whom are not even americans, they get the breaks. stock buy-back is designed to feather the nest, increase the power and support among shareholders of the c.e.o. because when you buy back stock, you use that money, instead of
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investing it in workers, instead of investing it in a new plant, instead of investing it in training, you use that money to decrease the number of shares which raises the value of the other shares. who benefits? the shareholders. and who are the shareholders? the c.e.o.'s and major officers of the corporations, so they're not doing this without self-interest. and as i said, 80% of the stocks in america are owned by the top 10% of the wealthy. it's not very good. let me give you an example. these are the kinds of things that are happening daily. deven energy, they announced a $1 billion stock buy-back in march. and two days ago they said they're laying off 9% of their workers to streamline operations and boost the shale oil producers' sagging profits and
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stock price. and they're not atypical. according to trend tabs, in the first quarter -- no. according to just capital, rather, 60% of the money in the republican tax break went to shareholders who tend to be the wealthiest. only 6% went to workers. so much for all the talk that when the money was given to the companies, it would also be given to workers. it hasn't happened. why? because instead of investing, corporate profits and things that benefit the long-term health of the economy and workers, higher wages, equipment, new research, new hires, corporations spend the money on buybacks. in fact, mr. president, stock
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buybacks were illegal because they so feathered the nest of the very few and because when corporate c.e.o.'s and their board did it, they were not objective observers because they made so much money from them. stock buybacks were illegal until 1982, which was about the same time that wages stopped increasing with corporate profits. senator baldwin has led the charge in our caucus to go back to the days before 1982. so if corporations had a lot of profits whether through earnings, revenues, or tax breaks, they couldn't dues ease -- use these stock buybacks and almost certainly a larger percentage of money would go to the workers and middle class. the theory behind the republican
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tax break was to have corporations keep more of their already very great wealth and maybe the benefits will trickle down to everybody else. as we are already seeing, the idea was folly. the middle class will pay the price. because of the enormous cost of the republican tax bill, $1.9 billion, according to the latest c.b.o. prediction, the numbers keep going up, all of the deficit hawks forgot about that when it came to giving breaks to the big corporations, the deficit and debt will grow over the next several years and many republicans are already talking about targeting social security, medicaid, and medicare for cuts to make up the difference. so on top of a tax bill that mostly goes to the folks who need it the least, the republican tax bill has become
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an excuse for republicans to come after social security, medicare, and medicaid. it was a huge mistake and could have been crafted a whole lot better had our republican colleagues decided to work with we democrats. i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: mr. president, we are here today primarily to discuss the nomination of andrew wheeler to serve as deputy administrator of the environmental protection agency. but before i turn to andrew wheeler, i want to spend a few minutes talking about our current e.p.a. administrator. recent reports of scott pruitt's unethical spending of the taxpayer dollars are unethical. i stood at the same spot where i stand today to discuss mr. pruitt's nomination. last february i said never before had i been forced to consider a candidate to lead the e.p.a. who had been so focused throughout his career crippling the very agency he sought to lead, were so hostile to the
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basic protections to keep americans and our environment safe. at the same time i warned our colleagues that scott pruitt, based on his record as attorney general of oklahoma, had an unacceptably casual approach to meeting obligations as a public servant. unfortunately, that warning fell on deaf ears. and in the 15 months since he was confirmed -- narrowly confirmed -- mr. pruitt has proven to be even worse leader on a matter of policy fund, but also with regards to unethical failing after another as well as his disregard for the american taxpayers. presiding officer and i have -- the presiding officer and i have spent large portions of our lives serving our country in uniform. he is a marine -- he as a marine, me as a naval flight officer. i was a midshipman four years
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before going overseas and serving as an air force commander. i was trained to be a commander, and before that i was a boy scott, navy rotc lead shipman, five years on active duty and another 18 years as reserve flight officer. if i don't know something about leadership, it's my fault. hi had great mentors and role models trained as a leader since the age of 11. leaders are humble, not haughty. leaders are servants. our job is to serve, not be served. we lead by our example.
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we are in step when everybody else is marching to the wrong tune. leaders put the best people around them that they can find. a team does well, the leader gives credit to the team. the team falls short, the leader -- the leader takes the blame. leaders are inspirational, they appeal to our better instincts, they are purveyors of hope. leaders build bridges, not walls. leaders focus on doing what is right, not what is easy or expedient, what is right. leaders treat other people the way they want to be treated. they actually embody the golden rule. leaders focus on excellence in everything they do.
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if it isn't perfect, they say, let's make it better. let's work with other people to make it better. and leaders know they are convinced they are right and others realize they are right, leaders don't give up. as i stand before you today, i knew 13, 14 months ago what kind of steward scott pruitt would be with respect to protecting our air, our water, our public health. i had no idea -- no idea what kind of leader he would be -- proved to be with respect to ethical behavior or misbehavior. what a shame. what a shame. over the last two weeks, mr. president, we've been barely able to go a day without learning new and increasingly
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troubling information about the administrator's failure to conduct himself in a way as a public servant working on behalf of the american people should behave. his poor judgment and serious lapses make it clear he is unfit for office and setting aside his lack of stewardship on environmental issues, he should never have been confirmed in the first place. administrator pruitt's acts is the example of a tone-deaf administration. there are a number of good people in this administration. the presiding officer knows them and i know them, unfortunately one of them is not running the environmental protection agency where lavish trips, extravagant office furniture and personal favors are the norm. president trump said he was going to drain the swamp. scott pruitt is the definition of what i heard one person call
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recently is swamp creature with misuse of taxpayer money and corrupt dealings. should the senate confirm andrew wheeler, we will be setting him on a course to address not just the recent allegations, but these occurrences, these terrible examples. as of today administrator pruitt faces growing bipartisan calls to be fired, improper expenditure allegation, are 25, and growing. this is two weeks of turmoil. this is the cliff note's version. there's more, and it's not anything to be proud of. it's a lot to be ashamed of. excessive raises for political appointees who came here from oklahoma with him, unprecedented security requirements are just a few of his growing collection of
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scandals that make headlines. since his confirmation, administrator pruitt has developed a taste for the finer things in life, particularly when the american taxpayer is picking up the tab. mr. pruitt is being broadly criticized for his lavish spending of flights, including international trips, first class fights, weekend trips home to oklahoma in chartered military jets. mr. pruitt somehow managed to spend over $1,600 on a flight from washington, d.c., to new york city last year. mr. president, it takes a real effort to find a seat that expensive. my offer to mr. pruitt still stands for the administrator to join me on amtrak and save a ton of money. mr. pruitt took a $40,000 trip
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to morocco, which is not within the agency's jurisdiction. mr. pruitt missed two flights to morocco while staying in paris. he also spent $120,000 on a trip to italy last june, including $30,000 in security-related expenses, $53,000 in vouchers, and a $3,600 flight to cincinnati to catch his -- cincinnati to new york city to catch his chartered flight. he has spent more than $500,000 on flights during his first year alone. with that first class travel, the agency said that the first class travel was necessary because of the high number of security threats he had
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received. that's -- if that were truthful, we should all be concerned. there's a lot of reason to believe that it is not truthful. he apparently did not consider a first-class upgrade to be vital to his safety since he flew coach on personal trips back home to oklahoma. administrator pruitt is also facing scrutiny for assembling a team for 20 security agents deployed in 19 vehicles, 20 security agents deployed in 19 vehicles who provided unprecedented 24-7 -- 24/7 of protection. his domestic and international travel has led to escalating costs with his security detail racking up so much overtime that many hit their annual salary caps of $160,000.
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cnn reported that the demands of providing the administrator with the 24/7 coverage has taken some investigators away from field work. "the new york times" reported that administrator pruitt asked his security team to use his vehicle's emergency lights and sirens to speed through traffic in route to -- en route to a french restaurant in washington, d.c., to celebrate the president's withdrawing from the paris climate agreement. when the security agent advised mr. pruitt that sirens would only be used in emergency, the agent was reassigned less than two weeks later. "the washington post" reported that administrator pruitt also sought a $100,000 a month private-jet membership and $70,000 for office furniture, including a bulletproof desk.
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i'm not sure where he thinks he works, but his security detail has cost the american taxpayers nearly $3 million during his tenure, roughly three times that of his predecessor gene mckathy. related to his apparent privacy kerps, he -- concerns, he felt the need for taxpayers to pay for him to install a private, sound proof $40,000 phone booth in his office at e.p.a. hawrlts. in headquarters. he had to buy biometric locks to the booth. paid $3,000 to have his office swept for bugs and described his soundproof booth as a sensitive, compartmented informational facility. no other e.p.a. administrator in history felt the need for such a booth. i'm not aware of any cabinet secretary who felt tki

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