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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  April 18, 2018 9:29am-11:30am EDT

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country are a good sign. the tariffs are a little match that lights the fire that get these countries to wake up and realize we've had enough conference abouts this and published enough papers and let's do something and fix this problem. in terms of domestic policy it would be wonderful to see an actual infrastructure program with actual spending to upgrade our infrastructure. that would also help the domestic industry and help workers action on currency as rob already mentioned, as something that would be great. and then as you were saying celeste. bilaterally, regionnally, globally and you see some inklings of that. >> you can watch this entire event on-line. we are going to leave the last few minutes and the senate is resuming debates, disapproving
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a ruling regarding auto financing and minorities. and then another vote for carlos muniz. and senators considering a clean water bill tied to a coast guard reauthorization bill and a new nafta administrator. this is live coverage of the u.s. senate on c-span2.
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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. eternal spirit, source of the light that never dims, empower us to glorify your name. forgive us when we cast away our confidence in you. lord, thank you for your infinite goodness that directs
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our hearts to seek your wisdom, power, and love. remember our lawmakers. give them a faith that can overcome obstacles, challenges and setbacks. fill each of us with the joy and peace that comes from believing in you. and, lord, we thank you for the gift of barbara bush, as we praise you for her life and legacy. we pray in your strong name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag
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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. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of s.j. res. 57, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number
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378, s.j. res. 57, a joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5 united states code and so forth. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until noon will be equally divided between the managers or their designees. if no one yields time, the time will be charged equally.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: the senate pays tribute this morning to at that beloved american who passed away yesterday, to our 41st president, her lucky husband, barbara pierce bush was a beloved wife and partner for
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more than seven decades. to the american people whom she lovingly served as an exemplary first lady, she was one of the most respected and well-liked public figures of her generation. and to five children, 17 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and all the family that barbara bush leaves behind at the age of 92, she was a beloved matriarch. on all accounts, she was equally capable of building up those she loved most and poking fun at them when they deserved it. put simply, barbara was a founding partner of the most influential political family of our era. the epic love story of george bush and barbara pierce began pat a christmas dance in 1941. the intimacy of wartime love letters beat back the vastness
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of oceans and they married just weeks after george returned from the pacific. george once wrote that his beloved wife has given me joy that few men know. barbara put it this way just a few weeks before her passing -- i'm still old and still in love. the love story grew and it grew. eventually it incorporated the entire nation. barbara embraced the mettle of america's grandmother. the self-deprecating humor in that title was classic barbara but her plainspoken humility concealed formidable talents. even under all the bright lights and the pressure of public scrutiny, she always combined wit with smarts, isn't that rights with commonsense and great toughness with greater compassion. the beneficiaries of these qualities were many.
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because of literacy in particular bids farewell to a devoted champion. but above all barbara's life was defined by love. she loved her husband and her family. she loved her country and america loved her back. today the senate stands united, as does the nation, with the bush family and their great many friends. we join them in mourning their loss and in prayer. now, mr. president, on a completely different matter, later today the senate will vote on rolling back another piece of obama era overreach. just like the historic 15 times we've already used the congressional review act, the goal here is simple -- we want to protect consumers and job creators from needless interference by the federal bureaucracy. today, thanks to senators moran and toomey, we'll make it 16.
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we can nullify a particularly egregious overstep by president obama's consumer financial protection bureau and notch another victory in this congress' record of rolling back overregulation. we'll also vote to confirm president trump's choice to serve as general counsel at the department of education, carlos muniz. this qualified nominee has been waiting for his confirmation vote since october. i would urge everyone to join me in voting to confirm him. we'll also vote to confirm the coast guard authorization act. today, as ever, the united states calls on our coast guard to carry out critical safety and security missions with little room for error. just last year coast guard personnel stopped over $7 billion in illegal drugs and contraband from crossing our borders. they guarded and maintain shipping lanes and they risk their lives to lead heroic
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rescues after hurricanes half i have and irma. in addition to authorizing funding for the coast guard, this legislation includes a bipartisan measure that is particularly important to states with navigable inland waterways. i'm very proud to have worked with senators wicker, sullivan, and thune to make sure this was included n kentucky, 1,900 miles of navigable waterways are used to ship products. they support 13,000 maritime jobs. and those jobs support countless others throughout america moving food from the fields, energy to homes and businesses, and exports to market. but our vessel owners and operators have been saddled with uncertainty. they've face add patchwork of duplicative regulations enforced by the coast guard, the e.p.a., and the states.
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this inefficient regulatory regime unnecessarily raises costs and jeopardizes jobs. our provision, the commercial vessel incidental discharge act, would clean up that mess and make life easier for american mariners while still protecting our environment. it would give them regulatory certainty and a single uniform cost-efficient standard enforced by the coast guard. this predictable structure will protect our natural resources while ensuring commerce can flow freely to market. this provision commands broad, bipartisan support. it's been report the favorably out of the commerce committee six times during the last three congresses, including when my democratic colleagues controlled the committee. i'm gladded that this year we have the opportunity to reauthorize funding for our coast guard and deliver this key victory at the same time. now, mr. president, on another market i notice that a number of
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my democratic colleagues attended a small protest rally yesterday. it was right here on the capitol grounds. apparently it was put out by a number of left-wing pressure groups, including moveo, planned parenthood, and big labor. so what were they protesting out there? what outrage brought leading democrats to join in protest on the east front of the capitol? it turns out it was the fact that republicans let middle-class families and american small businesses keep more of their own money. that's right. the democrats are rallying to repeal the tax cuts. never mind that our own pro-growth tax reform has led to $1,000 bonuses, pay raises, educational opportunities or other new benefits for literally millions of americans. democrats still want to repeal it. never mind the new estimate that says tax reform will yield more than a million new jobs in the next decade. or the fact that jobless claims are at their lowest level since,
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listen to this, 1973. no amount of good news will shake democrats' confidence that they know how to spend the american people's money better than the american people themselves. my friend, the democratic leader, said so right here on the floor a few weeks ago. this is exactly what he said. there are much better uses for the money. really? on average, a family of four earning the median income will save about $2,000 on their taxes. i don't think a middle-class family will have difficulty finding good ways to use $2,000. they certain will i don't need a bureaucrat to do it for them. maybe they need a new washer and dryer or refrigerator. maybe it will help them make a down payment on a second car. maybe they'll use it to keep up with rising health costs, since obamacare has utterly failed to keep costs down for american families. whatever they choose, i'm glad the republican tax reform is letting hardworking parents keep
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more of their own money. but my democratic colleagues obviously disagree. they're rail laying to take back -- to take back -- that family's money so they can spend it themselves. they're so out of touch that they scoff at a $2,000 tax cut, $1,000 bonuses, and permanent wage increases for hourly workers. they call them crumbs, crumbs, mr. president. to be fair, in the wealthiest parts of san francisco or new york, maybe $1,000 does look like a rounding error. and we know those are the places our democratic colleagues are literally focused on. when president bush was in power, democratic policies fueled an incredibly uneven economic recovery. by one estimate, the biggest, richest urban areas captured 73% of all the job gains.
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meanwhile, millions of americans in smaller cities, small towns, and rural areas saw little or no progress. so believe me, after years of being left behind by democratic policies, the middle-class kentuckians i represent and the hardworking americans all over the country do not see a $1,000 bonus or a $2,000 tax cut as crumbs. democrats protest america's tax cuts, bonuses, and new jobs. they can protest it all they want to, but republicans will keep defending middle-class families. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania.
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mr. toomey: thank you, mr. president. i want to briefly address an issue that has been raised in the context of the vote we will have later today. as you know, mr. president, later today we'll be using the congressional review act to repeal a very ill-conceived regulation imposed by the cfpb. now, some of our colleagues, some outside this chamber, have suggested that it's somehow problematic to use the congressional review act, to use this device for the repeal of a regulation that's promulgated by guidance as opposed to those regulations promulgated in accordance with the administrative procedures act that we usually refer to as a rule or a rule making. the reality is that the applicability of the congressional review act to a guidance, in my view, is very obvious and very well established and should not be controversial. i understand people might like the cfpb's rule, which i don't,
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but to suggest that somehow because they issued it through a guidance rather than through the appropriate rule making process, that we somehow shouldn't be using the congressional review act i think is completely mistaken. first of all, there is the c.r.a.'s definition of a rule. it's very broad and intentionally so. i will quote in part that definition. it says the whole or a part of an agency's statement of general or particular applicability. the text says nothing about limiting the congressional review act procedural device to formal rule makings that followed from the administrative procedures act. it's much broader than that. instead it says whole or part of an agency's statement. but you don't have to just take my word for this. you could go back to the statements of the authors of the congressional review act itself, the legislation that makes this vote today possible, and one of the authors was none other than
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harry reid, the former senate majority leader and senate minority leader. senator reid was very clear about the intention. he and senator nichols at the time and senator stevens put out a joint statement, and i will quote this. it's brief. it's very important. it says the authors are concerned that some agencies have attempted to circumvent notice and comment requirements by trying to give legal effect to general statements of policy, guidelines, and agency policy and procedural manners. the authors admonished the agencies that the administrative procedures act's broad definition of rule was adopted by the authors of this legislation, the c.r.a., to discourage circumvention of the requirements of the chapter. so here's the irony implied by the position of those who suggest we can't use the congressional review act to
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repeal a guidance. what they really are suggesting is that the regulators and the agencies ought to be able to circumvent the very public process that's established in law, the administrative procedures act, for a rule making. they ought to be able to avoid the need to collaborate with other regulators to issue a proposed rule to the public for an extensive comment period, to make it subject to scrutiny. all of the things that we demand of a proper rulemaking so that we end up with a better rule, right, one that has been vetted, one that has been fully considered. what you are saying is if the c.r.a. is not applicable when this is done by a guidance, you create an incentive for the agency to circumvent this very public scrutiny so that they can impose their will directly without it. that would clearly be a terrible outcome. so fortunately the authors of
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this legislation wrote it precisely so that it could apply to a guidance, and they made it clear that that was the outcome that they wanted. it doesn't end there, though. there have been more than a dozen instances already when members of the senate have asked the g.a.o. to review guidance to determine whether that guidance rises to the level of importance and has the nature of a rulemaking so that it would be subject to the congressional review act. as a matter of fact, within a single year of the passage of the congressional review act, congress asked g.a.o. to review a guidance for this purpose, so this has been done many times. in fact, it is our democratic colleagues that set the precedent for attempting to overturn a guidance after the traditional c.r.a. time window had expired because the guidance was not in the nature of a formal rulemaking. in 2008, there was an effort by
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senators rockefeller and baucus to overturn a chip guidance and to use the congressional review act to do it, exactly as we are today going to use the congressional review act to overturn a different guidance. that effort by senators rockefeller and baucus had 41 cosponsors, including then-senators obama, biden, clinton, schumer, durbin, brown, and many other democratic senators who are still serving today. senator baucus, a democrat, laid out the case, and i quote. he said one agency attempted to ignore its obligations and circumvent the process established by the c.r.a., and the agency should not be rewarded. i couldn't agree more. exactly right. more from senator baucus, and i quote -- this resolution is a way for congress to send the message that it expects agencies to comply with the law. congress should stand up for itself and disapprove of this rule because it was not promulgated properly.
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this makes perfect sense, right, to be able to overturn a guidance that has the force of a rule, which is to say, really, let's be honest, the force of law. it was always contemplated as part of the c.r.a., and our democratic colleagues attempted to use it for that very purpose. and to do anything else would be absolutely to encourage the agencies to sneak around the administrative procedures act, to avoid the public scrutiny and disclosure requirements, and promulgate rules through guidance routinely. there is another more fundamental issue here, mr. president, that i think we should be acknowledging, and that is that the use of the congressional review act is a really important -- a modest but important step in the direction of restoring accountability to congress. as the presiding officer understands very well, the constitution is completely unambiguous. it's very clear. legislative authority is vested
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in congress. it's supposed to be our responsibility to write the laws. but we delegate a huge amount of authority and power to the executive branch. we say well, you write these rules. maybe it's -- maybe it's too complicated. or maybe we don't want to be held accountable for the outcome. it happens all the time. there has been a huge shift whereby the permanent bureaucracy, the administration, has enormous amount of power to effectively write laws. we call them rules, sometimes guidance, but they have the power of law. they have a force of law. they are not optional. they are imposed on whatever industry or individual is subject to them, and this is at a minimum, i think congress ought to be reviewing this. this is a mechanism for holding congress accountable for the rules that we tolerate the agencies to promulgate.
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i think it is a really important step in that direction. so, again, to summarize, mr. president, the use of the congressional review act to repeal a guidance is well established. it is consistent with any plain reading of the law. it is consistent with the intent of the authors at the time. congress has attempted to do so in the past. democrats have attempted to do it. and it is an important -- a modest but important step in restoring the accountability of congress with respect to the regulations that we encourage the executive branch to promulgate. there is no evidence that this somehow opens a floodgate of repeal, as some have suggested, but any guidance -- in fact, any rulemaking, i think ultimately should be subject to congressional review, because after all it's our authority in
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the first place that's used to generate it. so i am pleased that we were able to pass a motion to proceed yesterday. my understanding is we'll be voting sometime around noon or so on this. and i urge my colleagues to vote in favor of repealing this ill-conceived regulation and restoring some modicum of congressional accountability to the rule-making process. and i yield the floor. mr. toomey: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: mr. president, i note the 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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quorum call:
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mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent -- are we in a quorum? the presiding officer: yes. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: first, mr. president, i'd like to send my heartfelt condolences to the bush family for the passing of the former first lady barbara bush. simply put, mrs. bush was the personification of grace and class, as first lady and as a human being throughout her life. she will be missed by people on both sides of the aisle and by all americans. second, mr. president, let me begin on our nation's issue of foreign policy. over the weekend the ambassador to the u.n. nikki nailly went on national television to's a
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nnounce a new round of sanctions against russia for enabling the brutal assad regime to commit chemical weapon attacks against its own people. only 24 hours later, the white house reversed course and senior administration officials blamed nikki haley for being, quote, confused. the word confusion may in fact define this administration's foreign policy. does anyone at the white house talk to each other? is there a coordinated strategy? or is our foreign policy completely subject to the president's fleeting whims, changing as they do day to day, moment to moment, often guided by what some commentator say says on television? unfortunately, that's what it looks like from the outside. and it's going to put america and our interests abroad in danger. predictability, consistency is
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not boring. it lets our allies know that we'll support them and our adversaries know that we cannot get away with violating international norms. the erratic nature of this administration's foreign policy exemplified by the abrupt reversal of nikki haley's announcement is something all americans should be worried about. all americans should be concerned about president trump's disturbing decision to pull back from sanctioning russia, for its support of assad, and its enabling of his use of chemical weapons in the wasn'tton murder of his own people. this extends a sad pattern of inconsistencies when what is required of this administration is more aggressive, comprehensive, and consistent policy actions that impose on putin and his allies sufficient costs to change their behavior.
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the second foreign policy issue is the administration's ongoing efforts to secure a diplomatic deal with north korea. we all want diplomats to succeed with north korea. my primary concern with the president and his efforts with respect to north korea relate to preparation and to discipline. we are all aware that the president makes decisions about sensitive issues without seeking or in spite of expert advice. indeed, his decision to move forward with the north korea summit was an example of this type of decision-making. but whether or not there is ever a time and place for this sort of decision-making, it is unquestionably the wrong way to approach a tense summit between two nuclear-armed adversaries. we should all root for a diplomatic solutions to the decades' long north korean conflict. that's why the united states should pursue a diplomatic
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opening, including through direct diplomacy with pyongyang. but thus far we've not seen any indication that north korea is willing to take concrete measures towards denuclearization. now we've read this book before and i'm concerned that the administration, without a clear or coherent strategy, is buying a pile of magic beans. at the cost of our allies and partners and our own security. as secretary gates once said, quote, i'm tired of buying the same horse twice, unquote. there is a diplomatic pathway forward toward north korea, it's just not clear that president trump is on it or would even know thousand find it or stay on it. now, on another matter, trade -- the president and i don't agree on a whole lot but on the issue of china's rapacious trading policies, we see eye to eye. presidents from both parties, in
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my estimation, have failed to act strongly enough against the threat posed by china. president trump, unlike both presidents bush and obama, is finally doing something about it. i remain disappointed, however, that the president passed up the opportunity once again to label china a currency manipulator. nonetheless, yesterday a really good thing happened. the f.c.c. voted unanimously to advance a measure to limit the ability of chinese telecom companies to sell in the united states; chiefly wawei and z.t.e. they are both state-backed companies. their efforts to enter the american market is a great example of how china attempts to steal our private data and intellectual property. the f.c.c. has said that allowing these two companies into the u.s. would pose a national security threat because
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it would give state-backed chinese companies, quote, hidden back doors to our net wherebies, unquote, that would allow them to inject viruses and other malware, steal americans' private data, spy on u.s. businesses and more. those are the words of the f.c.c. the united states is a world leader in high-tech manufacturing and development. so naturally china's government is coming after that lucrative industry and continues to try to steal their way to a competitive advantage. every one of our top industries that employ millions of americans in good-paying jobs, that make our economy the envy of the world are targeted by the chinese. and this one is no different. so i want to applaud the f.c.c f.c.c.'s decision and president trump for pursuing a tough course of action against china and its rapacious trading policies. the president is exactly right about china. it seeks to take advantage of
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the united states in innumerable ways by undercutting our products, stealing our intellectual property, and denying american companies market access. so i strongly encourage the f.c.c. to finalize this measure and encourage president trump to stick with his tougher posture towards china. finally, mr. president, a note on floor action this week. the republicans are pushing in succession legislation that hurts labor rights and working people, consumers, the environment, and communities of color. president trump during his campaign would often wonder aloud about what these folks had to lose by voting for him. now we know. the republican majority seems intent on putting forward heavily partisan bills that have no chance of passing or little practical impact but are simply designed to be divisive. that's not going to get us
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anywhere. and it's turning the senate, which all of us want to be a deliberative, bipartisan body, into a bit of a farce this week. no debate, no amendments. so i'd suggest to my colleagues on the other side, let's get back to pursuing bipartisan accomplishments that actually advance the interests of the american worker, the american consumer, and the middle class. after all, that's what we were elected to do. i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. sullivan: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: i ask the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. moran: thank you very much. i come to the floor again today to visit a moment about s.j. res. 57. it disapproves the cfpb indirect auto lending. this is a piece of legislation that i introduced. i appreciate the assistance i have had -- i appreciate the assistance i have had. i have had strong and valuable assistance from the senator from
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pennsylvania, senator toomey, and certainly the chairman of the banking committee, the senator from idaho, and other colleagues. i want to talk just a moment, perhaps process the use of a c.r.a., and the fact that the cfpb utilized what they called guidance as compared to a rulemaking process. i want to make certain that my colleagues understand that agencies and departments still would be encouraged to put out guidance to ensure appropriate compliance with the law. this ought not have any chilling effect, this c.r.a. resolution ought not have a chilling effect on guidance because guidance is a useful tool. it can be helpful to those who are being regulated, but it needs to be issued for traditional purposes. guidelines for complying with federal law. one of the cfpb's errors was in issuing this guidance in this instance, and then they proceeded down the path of an
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aggressive enforcement action in search of, quote, market-tipping settlements. if enforcement actions, the action is the desired -- is desired on the part of the agency, then a formal rulemaking process ought to be conducted. that's what cfpb did not do. the cfpb used the guidance as an enforcement weapon instead of guidance in its more traditional and helpful purpose. it's important that we in congress reorient the guidance process back to its intended form by ensuring that cfpb cannot replicate its mistakes with regard to indirect auto lending. the authors of the congressional review act that we're operating under on this resolution, senator nichols, senator reid, and senator stevens in the congressional record in april of 1996 said, and i quote, the authors are concerned that some agencies have attempted to circumvent notice and comment requirements by trying to give legal effect to general
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statements of policy, guidelines, and agency policy and procedure manuals. so even in 1996, my colleagues, my previous colleagues were concerned about what actually transpired at the consumer financial protection bureau. clearly, the c.r.a. was passed in 1996 with the understanding that agency guidance had been used inappropriately. it's important for congress to reassert its role in policy making from the executive branch. all members of congress ought to be committed to conducting oversight over the rest of the federal government. failure on the part of congress to hold federal agencies to account when they stray from their statutory and congressionally intended jurisdiction means that we will get the de facto legislation being originated in the executive branch. this effort is did making certain that the form and function of the federal government is accountable to the american people. kansans hold me to account for the actions i take in washington, d.c., on their behalf.
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in return, they expect me to hold other components of their government to account. congress is the link between the american people and the federal government. we will continue -- i will continue to use the position that kansans have entrusted to me to make certain that i am representing their interests in washington, d.c. and can do so only by working with my senate colleagues to oversee and correct mistakes made by other -- in other branches of the government. today we will do that with the adoption of s.j. res. 57. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. mr. sullivan: mr. president, i want to say a few words. i know a number of my colleagues have before i start my discussion on the very important coast guard bill that we are debating on the floor here as america lost a wonderful
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example. a strong woman, mrs. barbara bush yesterday. i think the entire country, i know the whole senate sends its prayers and condolences to the bush family. but if you want an example of an american citizen who represented strength and dignity and class and really served our nation so well, it was barbara bush. the thoughts and prayers of the senate are with the bush family right now. mr. president, as you know, you sit on the armed services committee with me. each year, this body, the congress, house and the senate, we pass the national defense authorization act. really, really important bill. the ndaa, as it's called, it moves forward the policies, authorizations of spending for the men and women serving in the
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military. it can be contentious, but at the end of the day for over a half century, we have moved that bill forward. each year. but we always forget one of the branches of the u.s. military. the men and women who serve in the coast guard of the united states of america. we don't always move the coast guard authorization act forward. that's not because they are not just as important as the other members of the military. in some ways, it's just a twist of the organization here in the congress. the coast guard is under the jurisdiction of the commerce committee, not the armed services committee and is under the executive branch jurisdiction of the department of homeland security, not the pentagon. but it's still an incredibly important organization for all of us. so that's what we're doing
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today. we are going to vote on a bill, the coast guard authorization act that we should be moving every year just like we move the ndaa because the men and women serving in the coast guard are some of america's finest citizens. i see my colleague from mississippi, senator wicker, join me on the floor, but we have been working on this bill, the coast guard authorization act, for about a year now. we faced a lot of roadblocks, and we have moved forward on a bipartisan basis to finally get this important bill to the floor. as the chairman of the committee in charge of the coast guard, i feel it is very important to take a minute here on the senate floor to speak about what the men and women in our coast guard do on a daily basis. so everybody, people watching back home, people in my state, the great state of alaska, know
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just how important the coast guard is and how we are focusing on them. many people in the country know the coast guard as the heroic americans who literally come out of the sky to rescue us when we're in trouble. particularly on the high crazy. i've heard them -- or not high seas. i've heard them described as angels in helicopters, with courage, dignity and strength. when they show up, it is certainly america witnessing its very best. let me give you a few examples of the coast guard, what they do on a daily basis, certainly in my state. in the past few weeks, a couple of examples. in oregon, a coast guard air crew rescued four commercial fishermen after their 54-foot fishing vessel capsized off the coast of rockaway beach. in kuai, hawaii, the coast guard is assisting in recovery efforts
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following a storm dropping more than 27 inches of rain, causing severe flooding. the coast guard rescued four people from the water sunday in blackwater sound near key largo, florida. and they rescued eight people aboard a disabled vessel just a few days ago near pensacola pay bridge, florida. in new york, the coast guard crews medevaced a 25-year-old man from a fishing vessel. and from my state, the great state of alaska, mr. president, the coast guard is vital. alaska has more coastline than the rest of the country combined. think about that. just in the past few weeks there have been numerous rescues, as there typically are in alaska, given our tough weather, including a 44-year-old man from a fishing vessel, a 55-year-old
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man from the water off the aleutian chain and another man stranded off the barrier islands. just in the last couple of weeks. every one of these individuals, americans is alive today because of the coast guard, is someone's father, mother, brother, daughter. they were someone's loved one. and the men and women of the u.s. coast guard had the courage to go out and rescue them. all in all, in addition to the additional humanitarian and law enforcement operations including drug interdictions and coming to the rescue of migrants on unsafe vessels, the coast guard is working 24/7 for us 365 days a year. their mission includes ice breaking, marine and environmental protection, port security, international crisis response, the response to hurricanes that so many americans saw over the last several months, and readiness to support department of defense
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operations where they are the fifth branch of the u.s. military. sometimes we forget that. so this bill that we're debating right now, that we're going to be voting on here in a little bit on the senate floor, is the bill that sets the policies, the spending authorization, the readiness standards for the entire u.s. coast guard. enormously important. and i believe it should pass in a bipartisan way, the way it passed out of the commerce committee, with a strong vote of senators, republicans and democrats, on both sides of the aisle. mr. president, the coast guard authorization act also contains many important items for our fishermen and fisheries and maritime industries and maritime unions and maritime workers. let me give you some examples, important examples, including in this legislation is language to
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permanently fix issues that have plagued our fishermen and our commercial vessel owner operators in the maritime industry and the workers in that industry for decades. we have an opportunity here to make good policy. again, bipartisan policy that we've been debating for years in the united states congress. currently or fishing fleets and vessel owners and operators are forced to comply with a patchwork of burdensome federal and state regulation for ballast water and incidental --. let me start by talking about the incidental --. if you're a commercial -- if you're a fisherman on a vessel and you caught some fish and you want to hose your deck off because you have fish parts where you may have gutted and headed a fish, let's face it, the fishing industry can be a
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bit messy, under current law, believe it or not, you have to get permission from the e.p.a. to do this. you need a permit. and if you don't, you can face a fine. okay, think about that. you've taken a fish out of the water. you're processing it. you're hosing down your deck. it's got some fish guts on it. for the fish parts to go back in the ocean, and you need a permit yes, everybody in the country thinks this is ridiculous. and it is. it creates inefficiencies, add business costs, inhibits economic prosperity in states like mine certainly, and it kills jobs. most fishermen -- most fishing
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vessels are small business owners. they are the ultimate small business owner. they take risks. they work hard. they create a great and produce a great product like wild alaska salmon. and yet, we are regulating them with these kind of inefficient regulations that nobody supports, mr. president. it's just another burden that we put on the men and women who are actually trying to make a living and create economic opportunities for others. so this bill does away with that, which has strong bipartisan support. it makes no sense. another provision in this bill tries to cut through a patchwork of burdensome state regulations for vessel ballast water. now, currently ballast water is regulated under both the coast guard and the e.p.a., dual
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regulations. that's trouble enough. they both have separate and inconsistent and sometimes directly conflicting sets of federal requirements. and you layer on state requirements too. so let me give you an example. you're a commercial vessel owner operator going up the full length of the mississippi river. right now not only must you comply with the inconsistent coast guard and e.p.a. requirements, but you also have to comply with the different separate requirements from minnesota, wisconsin, iowa, illinois, missouri, arkansas. again, it makes no sense. 25 states are regulating ballast water under separate inconsistent and often directly conflicting sets of
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requirements. this again not only cripples the american economy, but the men and women who work in these industries. the hardworking men and women of our country who work in the maritime industry. and, by the way, it makes -- it more likely an invasive species, which is a very real issue, a serious issue, will accidentally be introduced because there's such a conflicting patchwork of regulations. mr. president, i'm very aware of the invasive species issues that playing different states. a lot of concerns we've heard, certainly we've addressed in this bill, from the great lakes. and if the current patchwork system worked, i think a number of us would be supportive. but it simply doesn't work. it's not working at all, and it's only getting worse. this confusing array of
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requirements will only continue to grow, confusing vessel owner and operators and their workers, and i making it literally almost impossibly to comply. e.p.a. says one thing. the coast guard says another thing. 25 different states say 25 different other things. one person who knows this issue very well, the current commandant of the coast guard, admiral zukoff, just yesterday he told the house appropriations committee that, quote, it makes sense to have one entity regulating vessels. not with very high standards, but one entity. i really put myself in the shoes of a mariner, he said, talking about how difficult it is with the current system. competing entities doing enforcement operations are not working. he said the coast guard understands the issue best and understands the mariners.
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and also importantly, understands the technology. and even the e.p.a., mr. president, has said that the rules developed by the coast guard, which knows this issue best, will work with them because our bill requires concurrence with the e.p.a. you cannot set a standard under the legislation that we are debating right now in the senate unless e.p.a. concurs, which is important. they essentially have a veto over this, but they know that the agency that is best suited to regulate moving vessels on the water is not them. the professional staff of the e.p.a. have said that. it's the coast guard, which is where we put the regulatory authority in this bill. further, under the bill, states have the authority to enforce the federal regulations
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regarding ballast water and incidental discharges, so the states still have a lot of power and authority on the enforcement side in this bill. mr. president, this confusing patchwork of regulations only diminishes the overall effectiveness of the u.s. to meet the high environmental standards that we all want. we need strong, uniform national standards to keep our waters clean, to defend against invasive species. and we also need these standards so the workers and the people in this industry -- a huge industry for america -- can go and do their job. the good news here, mr. president, is we have been working on this issue for at least the past three years that i've been in the senate, but we've really been working on it for decades. and for the most part we have had strong bipartisan support to
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get this bill done. let me give you some examples. 23 members from both sides of the aisle cosponsored these vessel incidental discharge provisions that i'm talking about. 23 cosponsored, and many more signed on to a letter of support for this, democrats and republicans. this bill has been voted out of committee several times, strong bipartisan support, including -- including when the democrats were in control of the senate a couple years ago. we all worked diligently to make sure we addressed all the issues around concerns raised by many members, and we even got some long-term opponents to come over and support this bill, again, through the great work of my colleague from mississippi. so let me just give you another
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example of that. mr. president, i have a letter of support from a very broad-based group of unions, workers, small businesses, maritime operators, fishermen that i'd like to submit for the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sullivan: mr. president, i won't go into it. i've seen a lot of these kind of letters supporting legislation. i have rarely seen a letter that's pages and pages and pages long. steel workers, international union of operating engineers, juneau charter boat operators, international association of machinists and aerospace workers e. eastern lake erie charter boat association. this letter supporting the coast guard bill has so many different groups supporting it, and that's
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why there's been so much strong bipartisan support. a senator: if the senator would yield on that point? mr. sullivan: i'd be glad to yield. mr. wicker: i appreciate the senator from alaska mentioning the broad base of support, and it occurs to me that this legislation has garnered the support of the chamber of commerce and organized labor. mr. sullivan: that is correct. mr. wicker: and the senator, in an effort not to take up too much time, didn't mention the international boilermakers union is for this bill. the long shoremen international association is for this bill. we've crafted something, with the help of democrats and the help of republicans, with the help of labor and business, that
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has brought these people together to help us protect american maritime jobs. and i just want to commend my friend from alaska also for the work that he's done in accommodating people. this is not the first version. am i direct, i'll say to my friend, am i correct this is not the first version that we had in this bill. am i correct there? mr.sullivan: that's correct, my good friend from mississippi. we've literally made dozens of changes over the last several months to accommodate almost every single united states senator to address their change to address it. we have made numerous changes, both republicans and democrats, to make sure that we had large
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bipartisan support and we hope that with the changes for the senators who have been supportive of the bill will lead to a bipartisan vote here in a minute. mr. wicker: i would not ask my colleague to yield all of his time to me. but i would say this, mr. president, to my friends on both sides of the aisle, this is the kind of bipartisan legislative effort on the part of my friend from alaska that ought to be rewarded. a minority party has come to him expressing concerns, and those concerns have largely been met at every pass. and it's not like we're trying to jam something on the part of the business community or the far right. i just have to say to my friend
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from alaska, he has done a heroic effort and we need a couple of more votes from people who at one time or another who expressed strong support for this legislation. mr.sullivan: not only expressed strong support, but cosponsored the legislation. mr. wicker: and we really should send a signal to the american people that we trust each other, that we appreciate somebody like the gentleman from alaska who has bent over backwards to make this work for america, to make this work for labor, to make this work for the waterway operator, to make this work for the environment. i think this will enhance the environmental system in our waterways all over the country, and so as i thank my friend for yielding time, i just have to
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once again say how much i admire the -- actually the statesmanship- -- statesmanship of this relatively junior senator from alaska by working across the aisle and make this a bill that we ought to be proud of. i thank my friend for yielding. mr.sullivan: i thank my friend from mississippi for his kind words. this has been a team effort. we have been working together. democrats have been working with us. my friend from pennsylvania, florida. we have all been down here talking about this. there will be strong votes in favor. i just want to mention, the minority leader was just on the floor and he ended his remarks just a couple of minutes ago and he said it is really important that the senate get back to bipartisan accomplishments that help the american worker. he just said that.
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well, my friend from new york, i couldn't agree more. that's what this bill is. that's what this bill is. now, i'm going to mention one other thing, mr. president, before i actually do my presiding time, so i appreciate the presiding officer giving me a few additional minutes before i get in the chair, but some of my colleagues -- and, look, it's fine. we've been dealing with this issue. have raised the issue of their concern about what the vessel incidental discharge provisions that i talked about in this bill could do to the environment. i'm from the great state of alaska. we have the most pristine environment in the world, the cleanest water in the world, and we want to keep it that way. i'm all about that. this is a document i would like to submit to the record, it's
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the incidental vessel discharge act, good for the environment, good for business. it has myths versus facts about what they are saying this bill could do and then it gives you the facts. now, i'm not going to read each one, but if we have to have a debate on it, i will certainly read each one, but it is really important, mr. president, to see that this wasn't created by senator wicker or i. if you look at the author, this is the senate committee on science, commerce, and transportation, our committee, the minority staff. what does that mean? this is a democratic staff under the ranking member on the committee saying, hey, all the things you're hearing about, oh, my gosh, this is going to be bad, that's not true. those are myths, these are the facts. so these are our democratic
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colleagues rebutting some of the people now who are looking maybe not to vote for this. so i ask all of my colleagues who are on the fence, take a look at this really well-produced myth versus fact sheet that was produced by our democratic colleagues on the commerce committee because, again, it goes to what wasn't wicker was talking about, that this is a very strong bipartisan bill we have been working on for months, really years, and this has passed out of committee i think six different times with strong bipartisan support, including when the democrats were chairing the committee. so i just want to ask all of my colleagues, it's not just what's in this bill on the vida provision, on the discharge
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provision. the bill is about the coast guard, the men and women serving in the coast guard. and every year, as i mentioned, we passed the ndaa, army, navy, air force, marines, which is great, but we always forget about the coast guard, and we shouldn't be doing that. they are heroic young men and women. we can send a bipartisan signal today. we care about you. we recognize the heroic work you do for this country, the lives you save every day. we've got your back. i ask -- urge all my colleagues, particularly my colleagues who know this issue and who voted for this bill to come out of committee many, many times. there's well over 60 of us. i ask that they vote yes on this important bill when it comes to the floor in a few minutes. i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. booker: thank you very much, mr. president. i rise with my colleagues in advance of the congressional review act vote. we are here for a c.r.a., congressional review act, vote, that is on agency guidance from 2013 that seeks to protect consumers from discrimination. they are rolling back rules, but not meant to apply to years' old guidance from agencies. this is a radical departure from a norm on statutory interpretation that will change the scope of the congressional review act. what then could possibly so important and so urgent that
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today we would break from longstanding tradition and have a vote on something that could set an entirely new precedence for this body. what is the guidance of the trump administration and republican leadership in this body are going so far out of their way to undo? what this guidance does is very simply and very clearly is try to prevent discrimination in purchasing. in 2013, the consumer financial protection bureau put this in place after well documented discrimination against americans of color when financing the purchase of a car. the guidance reminded -- really did not much more than remind indirect auto lenders that they
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were liable under the equal credit opportunity act for pricing disparities. they -- these issues -- these pricing disparities caused by markups in compensation policies and offered concrete steps to those auto dealers that they could use to take -- and use and take to ensure compliance and support for fair lending. auto lending is the third most common source of debt for all americans and we know that the way they establish financing models, it works too often -- the way this model works, it often leaves space for implicit racial bias and leaves place for discrimination against americans of color. we know that americans of color who have better credit and try to purchase and finance a car
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compared to white americans with worse credit, they will often get higher interest rates and worse terms on their loans set by auto dealers. in fact, in one specific study conducted by the national fair housing alliance, they paired white americans and people of color to visit auto dealerships and slap for the same car within 24 hours much each other. unforunfortunately, and surpris, neighbor not to some, in most cases, the person who was a person of color who had better credit was offered financial terms that were offered to -- it is clearly wrong and we should address it. but we also know that, unfortunately, this kind of discrimination isn't unique to
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the auto industry. there are many areas of american lives where people of color, under the same circumstances, are often paying more. we know that implicit racial bias exists across sectors and industries and is a persistent issue causing people of color to have a higher cost of living, to pay more. take the three largest lending markets, mortgages, student loans, and auto loans. an recent report by the center for investigative reporting analyzed 31 million mortgage records from 2015 and 2016. just a couple of years ago. they found that people of color were much more likely to be denied conventional mortgage than white applicants even after controlling for the economic and social factors, including
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applicant's income, the size of the loan they sought, and the neighborhood where they wanted to buy. they took a look at student loans. for-profit colleges disproportionately enroll students of color and saddle them with student loans with little in the way of value in exchange. payday loans. study after study shows that they prey upon low-income people who make a bad situation markedly worse. in 2018, we should all agree to do everything we can to protect against this kind of discrimination. when you test time and time again better qualified loan applicants walking in and then within 24 hours less qualified applicants walking out -- walking out as well, the only difference is the color of their
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skin, this is unacceptable in an america that believes in fairness. and so we should, in a very light touch -- in a very light touch do something about that, and that's what this advice did. this advisory simply said, hey, auto lenders, here's some steps you can take to address this issue. now, the study i referenced of sending in a black couple followed by a white couple, it's something that hits home for me very personally. my family in the 1960's was a part of a similar situation. in this case it was buying the home that i grew up in. in 1969, just one year afters passage of the fair housing act when my parents were trying to find a home in new jersey, they encountered an illegal practice known as illegal steering to try to keep black families like mine out of white neighborhoods. their bids were routinely
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rejected in favor of white couples. my parents saw volunteer lawyers, white folks, christian folks that are part of the fair housing counsel. they set up a sting operation where my parents went in and told, unfortunately, the house they were looking at and loved was no longer for sale and then a white couple came bind them and put an offer on the house and it was accepted. papers were drawn up. the white couple didn't show up. my dad did and his lawyer. the real estate agent knew what he was doing was illegal. so first, he didn't accept it. he actually got angry. he in fact got up and punched my dad's lawyer in the face and put a dog on my dad. a melee broke out. in the end he was pleading with my father not to move into the neighborhood saying crazy things like, your people won't be happy here.
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this was saying the neighborhood didn't have things like my people. in this country we're all one people, one nation united, indiesible. there -- indivisible. there shouldn't be different rules and different laws and different treatment based on the color of our skin. i can't believe we're talking about this in 2018. but my family, thank god, moved into that house. i grew up in that hometown. a nurturing community, incredible community that welcomed me, nurtured my brother and i. i'm here today because of that kind of activism and people willing to stand up and say something basic and simple. you should not discriminate on the basis of the color of someone's skin. it's part of the reason why i grew up where i was was because there was a law that was on my family's side passed by this body. the fair housing act. and i'm proud that we, republicans and democrats, for
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years have stood up for this basic principle, this basic ideal. an even bigger part of the success of my family, my life is because there were people who didn't just celebrate the passage of a law, didn't just say their work was done, but they remained vigilant and active and attentive in making sure that that law was made real and practiced. they knew that protecting america's civil rights was not a one and done endeavor but required constant vigilance. the fact of the matter is, we have so much work left to do in this country, it's frustrating. we have a lot of work to do on controlling for the impact of implicit racial bias. we have people from courageous police officers, to courageous activists, police leadership talking about the presence of implicit racial bias. i've been pleased that even republican judges nominated that
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i get to interview on the judiciary committee speak to the presence of implicit racial bias in the criminal justice system that often results in people with the same crimes, same circumstances getting longer sentences just because of the color of their skin. this is not a partisan issue. this is us working against these issues and these factors in american life making sure that the basic idea of fairness in american society is upheld. outside of this body, american people know how implicit racial bias seeps into our criminal justice system, into our workplace, into our schools. the question is, what are we going to do about it? why today are we going out of our way, possibly creating an entirely new congressional precedent, changing advisories into rules that then can be rolled back, why are we doing this on this issue? to roll back guidance that
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reflects something that most of us should be able to agree on, that when an american goes in to buy a car and get that car financed, the loan terms that they get should be based on their creditworthiness, the amount of debt they s.r. not the color of -- debt they have, not the color of their skin. and when we have comprehensive studies, empirical tests of literally sending in couples to go buy cars, why are we rolling back guidance that gives suggestions to auto dealers about how to control from this. why would this body with a history of trying to address racial injustice roll back a rule that's trying to address and control for its practice in auto lending? and if you live in communities like mine having to pay hundreds extra or a thousand dollars
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extra for a car in a family making $20,000, $30,000 a year struggling for that moment when we all know, when you get your car, get your key, why should they have to pay more? and have an impact on their home and their well-being and their finances, their college savings, their ability to pay their mortgage? it is unfair based on what? skin color. rolling back this guidance has nothing to do with trimming bureaucracy. its guidance. it won't help consumers. it won't help americans of color. it won't help the ideals we swear an oath to, justice for all. and it's not going to certainly help our country just be a place where working stiff can get a fair shot at things that we think of as the american dream, owning your home, sending your kids to college, having a car.
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at a time when the rest of the country seems to be paying closer attention to issues of discrimination, where we see antisemitism on the rise, muslim americans getting greater attacks, at a time when we're looking at racial issues, why are we doing this now or any time? by passing this measure, we will be sending a message to millions of americans that this body isn't just willfully out of touch but that we are doing, going out of our way to create an environment where this practice is going to thrive, where the practice and the per pet situation of discrimination -- per pet yition of americans of color persist in a country. we should be beyond this. this is a chance today. we can make a difference. it may not seem big. we can send a message that these
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kind of practices won't be tolerated. we can send a message that every american matters to this body. we can send a message that discrimination, that prejudice implicit or not will not be tolerated on this soil. i ask my colleague, i beseech my colleagues in the name of an american that is here today because of the fair housing act, because of tests like this where white couples ar have said, blak couples have said, i'm here because of this history. why today would we turn our backs on that kind of pog and not stand -- progress and not stand up for basic american fairness? thank you, mr. president. mr. nelson: mr. president? the presiding officer: senator from florida. mr. nelson: before the senator from new jersey leaves the floor, the senator from new jersey?
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mr. booker: yes. mr, nelson: i just wanty this senator has run into few people that are as articulate and passionate to represent the least among us in our country. mr. nelson: and i want the senator from new jersey to know how grateful i am for his advocacy, for his determination, for his civility, for his passion, and for his heart. i thank the senator from new jersey. mr. booker: i think you, sir. i thank you for modeling that very character to me every day as i get to serve you. thank you. mr. nelson: mr. president, unless this sounds like an admiration society, it is genuinely felt.
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what i want to do is talk about the leadership of our civilian space program. traditionally the nasa administrator has been well qualified, is not controversial. nasa is one of the few remaining areas that has largely avoided the bitter partisanship that has invaded far too many areas of government and our society today. until now. the nasa nominee, congressman bridenstine, he was nominated to head nasa last fall. his hearing in the senate commerce committee was among the most contentious that i've ever
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been a part of. he was voted out of the committee on party lines and senators on both sides of the aisle have expressed doubts both publicly and privately to me on his qualifications for the job. the nasa administrator should be a consummate space professional. that's what this senator wants, a space professional, not a politician as the head of nasa. and that space professional ought to be technically and scientifically competent and a skilled executive. more importantly, the administrator must be a leader who has the ability to bring us together to unite scientists and
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engineers and commercial space interests and policymakers and the public on a shared vision for future space exploration. and as you know, we have set the goal first with the obama administration and now with the trump administration. our goal is going to mars in the decade of the 2030's. and what pains me, mr. president, is that i believe that the one who has been nominated to head this not partisan, not bipartisan, nasa has always been nonpartisan. and to head this agency, i'm afraid we're hitting a different standard.
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my concern comes from having witnessed very directly the tragic consequence when nasa leadership has failed us. when it comes to the ultimate frontier of space, there are always going to be risk involved, but the nasa administrator bears the responsibility, accountability, the final decision for the lives of astronauts who explore the heavens on behalf of all of us. i have witnessed personally in both the challenger and the columbia accidents. we learned that engineers at nasa knew of the dangers and tried to sound the alarm. but nasa's management and its
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structure while well intentioned in both of those tragedies filtered out debate and dissent and the warnings of the engineers went unheeded with heartbreaking consequences. and so it was in 1986 the launch of challenger ten days after this senator has returned on the 24th flight of the space shutle--space shuttle to earth. the tragic consequence. with even the engineers out in provo, utah, who were engineers on the solid rocket boosters begging the night before the launch, begging their management
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to stop the count when they saw in nasa tv the icicles hanging on the launch tower. later in the investigation, knowing as we now know, that they had received back the solid rocket boosters from previous flights in january where they saw blow by of the hot gases pass the field joints that were supposed to be sealed with the rubberized gaskets called o-rings but because of the cold weather, they stiffened and did not seal the field joint and the hot gases escaped as challenger was climbing into the florida sky. it hit right at the external


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