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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  May 9, 2018 9:59am-12:00pm EDT

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the people of the united states that are a great nation, they are suffering from rulers that have, in fact, tarnished their prestige and trampled upon their prestige and also, i'm also pleased that a bothersome creature has just been eliminated from jcpoa and the troublesome member has been eliminated and i will also very soon attend a press conference to speak with the people. >> well, the u.s. senate is about to gavel in on this wednesday morning, we expect lawmakers to react to president trump's announcement to pull the u.s. out of the iran nuclear agreement. also, today senators will wrap up debate on a u.s. appeals court judge for the 5th circuit which covers louisiana, mississippi and texas, a vote
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is planned at noon eastern today for that. senators voting on moving forward with another appeals court nomination for the 7th court. the senate has confirmed 15 of president trump's circuit court nominees during this congress. and now to live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. 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, our strength in times of weakness, give us the power of purpose to do justly and to love mercy. save our lawmakers from self-interest and pride, making
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them servants of your will in give them delight in your guidance, enabling them to receive the blessings of the bountiful harvest that comes teach them to serve you are are refer all as they find refuge by abiding in your presence. thank you this day for the abundance of your steadfast love. we pray in your great name, amen. >> amen. >> please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our
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flag. inch pledge to the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under god indivisible with liberty and justice for all. [silence] that secretary of state mike pompeo is on his way back from north
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korea with three american prisoners after securing their release. two were detained last year, one had been in captivity since 2015, and now following successful discussions, all three are on their way back to the u.s. with our secretary of state. i'm hopeful by approaching our ongoing negotiations with clear eyes, we can build on this progress and pursue a verifiable agreement to dismantle north korea's nuclear arms. the united states faces a number of threats around the world, from the ambitions of dissatisfied powers, such as iran, china, and russia,or terrorism -- russia to terrorism and the proliferation of missiles. in every mission we need to inform policymakers and help us protect the american people. as we speak, our colleagues on
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the intelligence committee are hearing from one of president trump's nominees to help us confront these challenges. gina haspel is an excellent choice. she will bring direct experience to the c.i.a. director. ms. haspel is eminently qualified, widely esteemed and absolutely the right person at the right moment for this position. first, her ample qualifications, raised in a military family, she had her sights on intending west point until she found out women were not yet allowed to tend. it was the army's loss but my alma marter -- alma mater was happy to have her. after that she joined the c.i.a. in 1985. as a talented operations
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officer, gina haspel took on a variety of challenging assignments and earned the george h.w. bush award for excellence in counterterrorism and was assigned to the counterterrorism center. her first day in that role was september 11, 2011. after this 33-year career, ms. haspel won't have to wonder about what life is like for the men and women she will be leading from overseas to headquarters at langley, she lived it herself. it is not surprising that she has received so much praise from across the political spectrum, chiewfg from those who led the agency before her. president obama's former director john brennan calls her a well-respected professional. general michael hayden said this, her only goal is to live
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out the agency's mission. she's a wonderful choice. and in a letter to her colleagues on the intelligence committee, a bipartisan group of 53 former national security leaders says, her qualifications match or exceeds those of those candidates put forward in the 70 year history of the agency. she is perfectly matched for the challenges that face our country. as was said, our nation must be prepared for a new era of competition between powerful nations. we continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists, but a great power competition is now the primary focus of u.s. national security. while ms. haspel is the perfect candidate to lead the central intelligence agency through these challenges, her experience
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spans the global war on terror. her experience of gathering foreign intelligence in an era of -- hard-won expertise in counterterrorism and analysis many her resume could hardly be better tailored for the specific challenges our nation faces at this moment. as c.i.a. director, director, gl would help defend the homeland from terrorists and help secure america's position on the world stage. this excellent nominee possesses the resume, reputation, and unique skill set to lead the c.i.a. at this critical juncture. i'm glad my colleagues on the central intelligence committee can meet with her and thoroughly examine her credentials.
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on another matter, the senate is in the midst of processing six well-qualified nominees for the federal bench. we voted to invoke cloture on the nomination of kurt engelhardt and today we will vote to confirm him. given his impressive qualifications, his arrival on the bench won't come a moment too soon. lawyers have described him as a wonderful judge with excellent legal ability who is very thoughtful and analytical. one said, quote, he would be great on the fifth circuit. after judge engelhardt, we'll vote to advance the nomination of michael brennan of wisconsin, another nominee who has earned the a.b.a.'s highest rating, unanimously well qualified. each nominee on the slate has been vetted by the judiciary committee and each stands ready to serve as a diligent caretaker of the rule of law.
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considering and confirming judicial nominations is one of the most important functions of the senate. we'll keep taking care of the people's business. now, one final matter. i'd like to recognize a distinguished kentuckian, our long-time state historian dr. james clotter. at the end of the semester he will depart georgetown college. he has dedicated his professional life to preserving and appreciating the commonwealth's history. he earned his ph.d. from the university of kentucky and studied a wide range of top i. as an author, coauthor or editor, jim has completed about 20 books, some of them with his wife and frequent collaborator greta. he worked to make kentucky history accessible to students
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and readers of all ages. according to jism -- jim, students -- he has won national and international recognition. in 2016, the university of kentucky libraries honored him for his intellectual achievement. on a personal note, i thank him for all of his help for a series of historic speeches of u.s. senators from kentucky. i finished the final speech in the series and i couldn't have done it without jim and his endless expertise. although he will retire from teaching, he will continue his research, writing, and service as state historian. i wish him well and look forward to all the great work that i'm confident is yet to come.
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i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call: quorum
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call: quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. now, first, i want to spend a moment in recognition of teacher appreciation week. i'm sure everyone here remembers a teacher who inspired them, challenged them, propelled them to greater heights. i'll never forget mrs. roberts in cunningham junior high school who opened my eyes up to science. miss riley who inspired a love of literature and i'll never forget miss wagman would kindled
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my interest in government and politics, an interest that never died. that's would great teachers do. they open doors previously thought closed. they work day and night to give every one of us the opportunity to succeed. what a noble calling. in my view, teaching in the 21st century should be the same kind of exalted profession that law or medicine was in the 20th century. it's such an important job. in terms of our future, our economy, competing with china, the education of our young people is number one and often around here we forget that. many of the states they've forgotten it. teachers enjoy their jobs. they make huge financial sacrifices. many of them could make much more money in another profession. and so i think we should appreciate teachers not only in thanking them -- i've thanked the three who have changed my life and there are many more --
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but we should thank them by rewarding them financially because it's such an important profession. second, i'd like to address the news this morning that secretary of state pompeo will be returning from north korea with the three americans who were held there against their will. we're all glad to see them returning home. their families are delighted. we are all delighted. but let's not forget this is not some great give on north korea's part. we cannot forget no regime has the right to hold american citizens in captivity without cause. and under no circumstances should american citizens be viewed as bargaining chips by foreign capital. i hope that president trump and secretary pompeo are clear about that because the same goes for other country, wrongly detaining americans. iran, china.
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if countries in the world think they can detain americans and get something in return, we'll see many more hostages. so we're all rooting for the diplomacy with north korea to succeed. and in that respect i urge the trump administration to work with our allies with a coordinated and considered strategy to see if we can denuclearize the korean peninsula. but the hostages shouldn't be part of it. we are happy they have returned but north korea shouldn't gain by taking americans and then releasing them. next, in a few hours the senate will vote to proceed to the nomination of michael brennan to the seventh circuit court of appeals. mr. brennan has not received a blue slip. that's a notice of approval that's been a tradition here in the senate from one of his hometown senators, senator baldwin. so the vote today will be a slap
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in the face of the custom of senatorial courtesy. it will be a slap in the face to the bipartisanship that we hear so many on the other side of the aisle and so many more americans talk about. it is blatant disrespect to every senator who wants to withhold his or her judgment on a judge, a tradition that's been respected by democrats and republicans until leader mcconnell abruptly changed this earlier this year for circuit court judges. what makes this even more gallingalling is the history ofs vacancy on the seventh circuit. mr. brennan will fill a seat that's been held open by wisconsin's other senator for six years during the obama administration. how did johnson -- how was senator johnson able to withhold? he didn't return his blue slip.
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and senator leahy, the democratic chair, respected it. the same should prove true for senator balanced win. she should get the same respect from senator mcconnell and chairman grassley that senator johnson got for the same seat from then leader reid and senator leahy, then chairman of judiciary. but, no, our republican colleagues keep changing the rules. senator johnson's right to refuse a judge from his home state, as i said, was respected by then chairma chairman lahey. was -- leahy. was defended public by guess who? mr. brennan himself. he wrote an op-ed. he was not a nominee for judge then saying johnson's right to hold the seat open should be respected. now he's here on the floor with
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the blue slip being ignored for the first time since i've been here. that's since 1998. how is senator baldwin's right to consult on judges for her state any less important than senator johnson's? it's mind-bending hypocrisy. it's an appalling double standard. and it's another erosion of minority rights and the tradition of comity that i know so many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle wish played a greater role here in the senate. furthermore, there's been a -- senator baldwin has talked about -- there's always been a bipartisan commission recommending judges in wisconsin. and there were several nominees who got through that bipartisan commission. you need both democratic and republican support to get through that commission, as i understand it. they were ignored by the white house and here senator -- judge brennan or mr. brennan, a hard
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right nominee who probably -- who i believe -- i'm not sure if he didn't pass the committee or wouldn't have passed the committee, bipartisan committee of wisconsin here on the floor. this is the second time we'll be voting on a judge who didn't receive both blue slips. there will another hearing on ryan bowens even though he didn't receive a blue slip from senator wyden or merkley. i admonish my friends on the other side of the aisle, this is a dangerous road you're treading. the winds of political winds blows swiftie. the majority one day -- swiftly. the majority one day, the minority the next. i don't think my friends will will not be too happy if they
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don't have the courtesy of confirming home state judges. i like the tradition of bipartisanship when it comes to judges. i argued privately with leader reid that she shouldn't remove the 60 votes. i was successful on supreme court, he didn't include that, but not on district and circuit court judges. so in a tit for tat, leader mcconnell said we're doing it for supreme court too. but the bliewps are a -- blue slips are a new thing. they should be legally excellent, not political hacks. diversity. i like diversity on the bench when we can get. it we've had a lot of success in new york. i also like moderation. i don't like judges far right, that's obvious, but i also don't like judges far left.
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because judges who are ideologies believe they can make law rather than interpret law. week by week, month by month, year by year, bounds -- this blue slip goes way beyond that tradition of bipartisanship that has kept judges more in the center, that has kept judges who intend to interpret the law rather than make it is evaporating. once the blue slips are gone, that's the last vestage. there will be little incentive for the majority to consult the minority on judicial nominations. that's objectively not a good thing. we want judges who are qualified, evenhanded, not partisan instruments. a senate that acts only as a rubber stamp for the president's nominees is not doing its job.
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we might as well not do advice and consent if the majority party rubber stamps the judges. i urge my republican friends to consider the larger implications on the vote for mr. brennan, a seat that was vacant for six years in response to the blue slip. by the way, senator grassley signed a letter to then-majority leader reid to not sign the blue slip, which he listened to. if you want to talk about tit for at it, this one doesn't belong. reid honored the blue slip. mcconnell is getting rid of it for circuit court judges and it's a move away from impartial judiciary. every senator, if he or she was facing what senator baldwin is
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facing today, would want this body to defend their rights. i would urge at least one or two of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, for the sake of the senate and for the sake of the country, to voac on -- vote no on brennan whether you agree with his views or not as a protest to the way this has happened. now, one final topic, net new neutrality. later today democrats will take the senate another step towards the consideration of a bill to restore net neutrality. when the republican f.c.c. voted to repeal net neutrality, they handed the internet providers all the cards many they said do what you will with the internet, charge consumers more for faster service if you like or segment the internet into packages, forcing the average family to purchase faster times for their
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favorite websites. let big corporations purchase faster internet service while startups and small businesses and consumers are left in the dust. public schools, rural americans, communities of color or anyone in a remote area or without substantial resources could be at a significant disadvantage if the i.s.p.'s start charging more for decent internet. you know, people say, well, let a private company do whatever it wants, let them charge whatever they want. but in certain goods which are essential we don't do that. utilities, highways. the same thing now applies to the internet of. it's a necessity and we have to have protections for average folks, for small businesses, for working families. that's why democrats are so concerned about net neutrality
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and why we're trying to restore it because we believe the internet should be kept free and open like our highways accessible to every american, regardless of your ability to pay. it's not that you don't pay, it's that if you're a little guy or gal you shouldn't pay a lot more than the big shots. we don't do that on highways, we don't do that with utilities and we shouldn't do it with the internet, another modern 21st century highway that is a necessity. every democrat supports our net neutrality c.r.a., and one republican, senator collins. and, unlike most legislation, democrats can force a vote on the floor of the senate on our proposal. today senator markey will take the first step in that process. he's going to discharge the c.r.a. from the commerce committee to the senate calendar. that means we'll have a vote on
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this ability to preserve net neutrality and help the little guy as they pay for services on the internet, and that will make that vote available next week. so i would urge americans, average americans, young people, old people, everyone in between, small businesses, e-mail, call, write, visit your senator on the republican side and urge them to preserve net neutrality. it's only right. it's only fair, and it makes economic sense. no matter what my friends on the other side of the aisle must put themselves on the record, no matter what, rather, my friends on the other side are going to have to put themselves on the record on this issue. whose side are you on, the big internet and capable providers or the average consumer who depends on the internet? this vote can be summed up in
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one phrase: whose side are you on? so i urge all americans, and particularly younger americans who he get this better maintain generation because they lived with the internet their whole life -- i urge all americans to consider to contact their senators this week and next week before the vote and demand that their senator restore net neutrality. contact your senators, americans, please. your wallets and well-being, in ways far more significant than most things we do here, depend on it. i yield the floor. under the previous order the -- the presiding officer: uferred under the previous order morning business is closed.
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the senate will resume to executive session which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, kurt d. engelhardt to be united states circuit judge gor the -- for the fifth circuit. the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: republicans wanted to put more money in the pockets of hardworking americans and we wanted to create the kind of economy that would give americans access to economic security for the long term. to achieve the first goal, we cut tax rates across the board, nearly doubled the standard deduction, and doubled the child tax credit. and americans are already seeing this relief in their paychecks. to achieve the second goal, we reformed our tax code to make it easier for businesses to increase wages, expand their business. after five months after the tax
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cuts was signed into law, we are seeing a better playing field for workers. there are a lot of things that go into giving a worker a secure economic future, a good job, good wages, opportunities to grow, good retirement benefits, and opportunities to achieve the education necessary for that good job or that wage hike. sometimes a degree or certification can make all the difference between an okay job and the kind of job that brings financial security for the long term. but getting that degree or certification isn't always easy. sometimes it can be cost prohibitive. sometimes it can be difficult to fit the degree requirements around an existing job. mr. president, as i said before, the tax cuts and jobs act is creating the kind of economic environment that will give more
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americans access to economic security for the long term. businesses are creating new and better-paying jobs. they are increasing and raising wages, and they are expanding opportunities, all essential elements of giving workers access to long-term financial security. but that's not all. businesses are also increasing benefits, including in several cases education benefits. grocery store chain kroger recently announced its feed your future program which will provide employees up to $3,500 a year to put toward their education whether the employee is working to a g.e.d. or advanced degree. employees will be provided up to $21,000 for their education. the company is even introducing
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an educational leave of absence which will allow them to take time off without losing their place in the company. it is not just kroger. mcdonald's increasing investment into the arch ways into education program. the program will now offer workers $2,500 a year toward their education cost, up from $700 preafsly -- previously. there is no lifetime cap on the amount an employee can receive for his or her education. plus employees can now work as few as 15 hours a week and still be eligible for the program which will make it easier for employees to combine a job and education. and then there's boeing, which is investing $100 million in training and education for its employees and express scripts is creating an education fund for
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employees' children. and disney, which is investing $50 million in a new education program for employees. and more. mr. president, it's another way that the tax cuts and jobs act is giving american workers access to the resources that they need for a secure and prosperous future. mr. president, i would like to switch gears for just a moment and turn to another important topic that addressed -- that was addressed moments ago by the democratic leader, and that is net neutrality. this -- there is widespread agreement among senators of both parties that we need to maintain a free and open internet. and there is widespread agreement between both parties that we need net neutrality legislation. but as with other issues that should be and technically are noncontroversial, democrats have decided to take the issue of net
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neutrality and make it partisan. instead of working with republicans to develop permanent net neutrality legislation, they decided to try to score political points with a partisan resolution that would do nothing to permanently secure net neutrality. mr. president, for years the commercial internet flourished under a light touch regulatory regime, free of onerous, heavy-handed, offering customers steady benefits. during the obama administration the federal communications commission, on a party-line vote decided to change the way in which the internet was regulated. instead of the regulatory approach that had worked for years, the obama f.c.c. decided that the it should be regulated under a set of regulations that were developed over 80 years ago
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to manage monopoly telephone services. think of that, mr. president. the 1934 communications act designed to govern and regulate ma bell being used to regulate the internet. that decision posed a number of problems for the future of the internet. for starters, heavy-handed government regulations tend to stifle the kind of growth and innovation that have always flourished around the internet. there was also serious reason to be concerned that this new regulatory regime would discourage companies from expanding access to broadband. that's a big concern for my state where too many individuals still lack reliable internet service. and in fact, the f.c.c. found that the decision to regulate the internet under the 1934 telephone regulatory regime has, in fact, slowed investment,
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which has restricted the improvement of internet services for rural americans. like many that i represent in south dakota. in response to these problems, the f.c.c. recently decided to restore the light touch regulatory regime that the internet had thrived under. up until 2015 for two decades, the internet was regulated under the light touch. everybody agreed that was the best approach. let the internet grow, flourish, innovate, expand to give more people access to high-speed internet services. well, when the f.c.c. decided to change that, it created the opportunity for us to adopt net neutrality legislation to permanently address concerns about blocking, throttling, paid prioritization to deal with these concerns under a regulatory regime that is suitable for the 21st century internet. that's what the f.c.c. did when they went back to what we had for two decades prior to 2015. they opened the door to address this in the way in which we
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should address this. the people's representatives here in congress. people are concerned about the blocking of unlawful con the president on the internet, about the throttling of internet speeds. let's lock it into law. let's put rules for the open internet into law so that we fully understand and can move forward in a way that doesn't have this constant ambiguity and back and forth from one f.c.c. to the next or worse yet spending it in litigation in courtrooms. but instead of moving forward with that approach with republicans to draft such legislation, the democrat leadership has decided to try and score political points by pushing a resolution to undo the f.c.c.'s decision, even though, mr. president, undoing this decision will do nothing to provide a permanent solution on net neutrality. and the democrat leader's decision to pursue this partisan course has stalled conversations, conversations that were occurring on a
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bipartisan basis between members both sides of the aisle who have wanted to come together to deal with this issue. i have been engaged in those conversations now for the last three years. we were making progress coming together around a legislative solution that would get rid of all this uncertainty and unpredictability and ambiguity and the clouds that hang over this issue and allow open internet rules to be put into place and allow the internet to continue to thrive and grow and innovate. mr. president, for decades, the commercial internet has been a source of innovation, economic growth, and opportunity, but that growth and opportunity will be stalled and stifled if we keep going the way that we're going. we can't have internet regulations ping-ponging back and forth from administration to administration or from year to year, for that matter. that will bring innovation and
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investment to a standstill, and that is the worst possible thing that you can do for people across this country, many of whom i represent in south dakota who still don't have access to high-speed internet services. nobody is going to be interested in taking risks or investing in innovation if they can't predict what the rules will look like a year down the road. the only way to preserve the dynamism of the internet while also protecting consumers is for democrats and republicans to come together on legislation, to provide long-term certainty. but for that to happen, democrats are going to have to rise to the occasion, and they're going to have to stop playing political games to score political points and start focusing on actually legislating. because, you see, this c.r.a., this congressional review act resolution is going nowhere.
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they might narrowly get a vote out of the senate because we have a senator missing here, but it's not going anywhere in the house. it's not going to be signed into law by the president. all it does is prolong this debate that we have, and we could settle that debate once and for all if we're willing to sit down and actually work on a legislative solution. so i hope that once the democrats have gotten this latest political stunt out of their system, they will be willing to come to the table and develop a real solution that will allow the internet to flourish for generations to come. mr. president, the democratic leader who was just down here said the question here is whose side are you on? well, i think that's a good question to ask, because if the question is whose side are you on, i think the choices are are you on the side of big government and heavy-handed regulation that stifles
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investment in the internet, stifles innovation, or are you truly for a free and open internet, a free market where the internet continues to thrive and to grow and to provide so many opportunities for people around this country? he said passing the c.r.a. makes economic sense. well, not if you want to get 5-g. not if you want to provide high-speed internet services. not if you want to deploy broadband to rural areas of this country. because that takes investment. and investment follows certainty. they want to know what the rules are. they want the rules to be clear and unambiguous so they can move forward and continue to see this economic miracle of the internet advance and continue to be taken advantage of and benefited by so many, so many americans. mr. president, we have a chance
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to do that. we really do. but we can't do it when we sit around and mess around with political theater and political stunts, which is precisely what this is, and everybody knows it. our colleagues on the other side know it. i have talked to lots of them that come up to me and say we want to work with you on legislation, but right now, we have got this c.r.a. we're going to vote on, which is a shiny object and everybody gets to shoot at it, and they can raise money and get people fired up at the grassroots that this is somehow going to be some magic solution, but it is not. it doesn't do anything. even if it succeeded, even if it succeeded, what are you doing? you're just creating more back and forth from one f.c.c. to the next. you're just requiring more money to be spent in courtrooms on litigation and lawsuits rather than being invested in the types of technologies that will bring that high-speed access to more people in this country, that will get us to the fifth generation of technology, which is where everybody wants to go.
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why don't we just sit down and do that? why is this so hard? well, it's because people think that there is -- there are partisan political points that can be scored by doing this. but remember one thing, too. the congressional review act resolution of disapproval was created by congress to unwind or prevent harmful regulations from going into effect, the administration might be putting into effect. it is a way for congress to be heard from if, in fact, the congress, the people's representatives believe the administration is heading in the wrong direction when it comes to some regulation. it has never been used. the c.r.a. has never been used to reregulate. that's what this is doing. the f.c.c. is unwinding a heavy-handed regulation that went into effect in 2015, and this is going to attempt now to reregulate, not to deregulate or to prevent regulations from
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going into effect. that's never happened before. and do my colleagues on the other side honestly think that republicans in the house of representatives are going to vote for that? or that president trump would sign it into law? no. everybody knows better than that. so what are we doing? we're playing a silly game here at the expense of a real solution, a solution that is out there waiting for us if we will simply sit down, as we should, as elected representatives, as united states senators on both sides of the aisle to address an issue that's very important to our economy and very important to a lot of americans. and so i hope we can do that, but we're not going to get there as long as we continue with this charade that we're taking on here today and in the weeks ahead. mr. president, it's time for clear rules. we want an open and free internet that people, investors can invest in, people can
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benefit from that investment, and that provides the types of opportunities and gains in productivity and continues the economic miracle that the internet has been for this country. that's what this debate is about, pure and simple. it's nothing else. we have a chance to do that, but we can't do it if we continue to play this sort of a game. so i hope that my colleagues who will at some point -- and maybe we'll go through this, maybe we will have this vote. if we do, maybe they'll win. they might win by a one-vote margin. it's not going anywhere. we all know that. let's get serious. let's get serious on behalf of the american people. if there are legitimate, serious concerns about potential abuses by internet service providers when it comes to throttling speeds or blocking lawful content or that sort of thing, paid prioritization, let's address that in law. let's quit messing around. let's get to work. mr. president, i yield the
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floor. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you very much, mr. president. this week, people in virginia and maryland are waking up to the first rate filings by private insurance companies in 2018, and the numbers are simply stunning. i'm coming to the floor today to talk about what is going to be a very unhappy spring and summer for health care consumers all across the country as health insurance companies, having now dealt with a full year and a half of president trump's sabotage of the american health care system, going to be looking at gigantic, unaffordable premium hikes for private health care insurance.
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and so i wanted to come down today as we are starting to get into these rate filings, as our constituents are starting to ask why are they facing premium increases in some cases of up to 90%. think about that. think about getting a notice from your insurance company telling you that in one year, your premium is going to double the cost of -- the cost of getting health insurance is going to double. i feel like it's time to come down and talk about why this is happening, why you're seeing these radical rate hikes being proposed from insurance companies. so, mr. president, i want to walk through for my colleagues this very deliberate campaign of sabotage that this administration and congressional republicans have waged against the affordable care act and the american health care system
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at-large. it starts on january 20. within hours of being inaugurated, president trump issues an executive order in which he directs all of his federal agencies to use their administrative powers to begin dismantling the affordable care act, quote, to the maximum extent permitted by the law. this is before there is any proposal for what should substitute for a piece of legislation that insured 20 million people that didn't have insurance before the affordable care act. it was before we knew that that replacement would, in fact, uninsure not 20 million people but 30 million people and drive up rates by double digits. on the first day, president trump tells his agencies to start dismandateling and attacking the affordable care act, -- dismantling and attacking the affordable care act. the affordable care act at that point is so wrapped into the health care system of this country that when attacking the affordable care act, you're attacking the entirety of the health care system.
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on january 26, 2017, the administration announces that it will stop advertising the open enrollment period for the affordable care act. the administration says that we are no longer going to tell americans that they have an option to become insured or to get less expensive coverage through the health care exchanges set up around the country or through the national exchange, leaving millions of americans in the dark. next, the president starts to threaten insurance companies, threatening them to pull the subsidies that congress approved, allowing for premiums to be reduced for lower income beneficiaries. the trump administration starts threatening to pull those cost-sharing reduction payments in april of 2017, and eventually
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in october of last year, the administration follows through on that threat and ends payments to insurance companies to help redues cost-sharing for beneficiaries, driving up the cost of insurance all across the country. and if you listen to health insurance executives talk to you about why they have to pass on these big premiums, one of the reasons is the end of this program to help defray the costs for lower-income individuals. also in 2017, about the same time he starts threatening to reduce these payments, the president cuts in half the open enrollment period. there's no reason to cut in half the open enrollment period other than you just don't want people to get insurance. it's a deliberate sabotage. cutting in half the enrollment period is simply a mechanism to try to deny people the ability to get health care. there is no practical or
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logistical benefit to reducing the amount of time that people have to buy health care, just as there's no practical benefit to cutting off all the advertising for the health care exchanges other than you don't want people to sign up. in july of 2017, the department of healt health and human servis starts to unveil videos, 23 of them in all, featuring individuals explaining how the affordable care act has hurt the american health care system. they use their twitter account to amplify these anti-a.c.a. messages, and they remove any content promoting the exchanges from the website. so once again, just a spiteful attack on americans who want to get health insurance who now won't know about it because of these attacks and the removal of that content. open enrollment outreach funding
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is reduced in august of 2017 by as much as 90%, so the helpful people that you used to have trying to figure out whether you qualified for medicaid or whether you qualified for subsidy, a tax credit, are no longer available because that money is taken away. then the big legislative intervention, the repeal of the individual mandate. the individual mandate is repealed as part of the tax bill, even though c.b.o. tells congress that if you do that, 13 million people will lose insurance. with full knowledge that the repeal of the mandate would result in 13 million americans losing their health insurance, congress goes forward with it. c.b.o. also says that it will result in double-digit premium increases. congress is told if you take this step, 13 million people lose coverage. premiums go up. congress still moves forward with its passage as part of the tax bill with no democratic
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votes. and finally, the president most recently unveiled what he calls the short-term health insurance plan rule. these are more commonly referred to as junk plans, plans that last up to a year but don't need to comply with federal regulations. for instance, regulations that require insurance companies to actually give you coverage for things like mental illness or maternity care. or regulations that require insurance companies to protect people with preexisting conditions. all of those super popular benefits in the affordable care act, the ones republicans are so nervous to remove, now are no longer available to many americans because this short-term plan rule, these junk plans are going to be much more widely available. and so you have this very coordinated, very deliberate
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attack on the american health care system. the executive order in january of 2017 directing all federal agencies to start undermining the american health care system, the cut in the open enrollment period in april of 2017. in may the votes start happening on the floor of the senate to take insurance away from 23 million. one of the bills took insurance away from 30 million. in december the repeal of the individual mandate resulting in premiums going up by double digits. and now this junk plan rule taking away protections from millions of americans. the effect of that junk plan rule is also to move healthier patients out of the exchange pools into the junk plans because the junk plans don't have to cover anything so healthy people will go to those plans, which drives up rates for the plans that people with any kind of preexisting condition
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would be able to access. so you have this very deliberate plan to try to undermine the american health care system. and we are now seeing the consequences. as i mentioned, the period of rate filings is beginning across the country where insurance companies have to announce what their rate increases are going to be. now, health care inflation on an annual basis has been holding steady over the years. it certainly never gets above 10%. and for a number of years during the early rollout of the affordable care act, that number was at or lower than 5%. and so if you're just looking at the amount that we're spending on an annual basis above last year on health care, that number is never more -- has not recently been more than 5%. and yet one insurer in virginia, a subsidiary of the big health
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insurance company care first is proposing a 64% increase in virginia. other rate increase requests in virginia, 26%, 15%. nobody can afford a 64% increase in health insurance premiums in virginia. but it is a consequence of this deliberate campaign of sabotage. let's take a look at maryland. there's one insurance company in maryland that is asking for a 91% increase in premiums. this is a -- again, a care first plan for its broad network p.p.o. plans. that currently has about 13,000 people in it in maryland. 13,000 people in maryland are potentially going to get a 91%
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increase in their health insurance premiums because of this deliberate campaign of sabotage. if you're in other care first plans in maryland, you're getting a 19% increase. your premiums are going up by one-fifth in one single year. in large part because of this deliberate campaign to undermine the affordable care act. because of actions that this congress has taken that would knowingly increase rates for health care consumers. so, mr. president and my colleagues, i and others are going to come down to the floor of the senate over the course of the spring and summer to make sure that everyone here and everyone out there in america understands what the consequences of this republican health care saa sabotage campain is. it starts here in maryland with rate increases that get as big
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as 91% and virginia where health insurance increases get as big as 64%. these numbers will continue to roll out all across the country, and americans are going to be stunned, stunned at how much this republican campaign of sabotage is costing them. i will just add one last note which to many of my constituents in connecticut feels like insult to injury. the tax bill did drive up rates by 10% at least in the first year, 10% of these increases are a big -- or a big chunk of these increases, more than 10%, is a result of the repeal of the individual mandate. but the tax bill also gave a windfall to insurance companies and to drug companies, some of the biggest players in the health care space.
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i just totaled up the projected 2018 tax savings to eight of the biggest insurance companies in the country. and it's over $4 billion. so at the same time that these companies are passing along rate increases of 64% or 90%, they're getting billions of dollars in tax savings from this congress. it appears that none of these tax breaks that this congress bestowed on the insurance industry are going to consumers. and when you look at the drug industry where we have a little bit more mature information, you know why. the drug industry by one report released by, i believe, the finance committee showed that already pharmaceutical companies have announced 50, $50 billion
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in stock buybacks, in share buybacks as a result of the tax bill. these drug companies aren't announcing price cuts to insurance companies. these drug companies are not announcing price cuts for consumers. these drug companies are announcing massive share and stock buybacks that will largely benefit the millionaire and billionaire investors in those drug companies. and so this is insult to injury for the people in my state and people all across the country because they are watching their health care insurance premiums skyrocket while the windfall of the tax bill accrues to the owners of the insurance companies and the drug companies. what a great time to be in the health charybdihealth care busi.
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you get a giant tax break and you get to pass along gigantic premium increases to people all across this country. think about somebody in maryland making $30,000, $40,000 a year and being told that the insurance company that he does business with is going to get a bill dollars in new tax relief from this congress, and he's going to get a 91% increase in his premium. that's outrageous. that's outrageous. and yet it's just going to get worse. so as this spring and summer plays out, i think every single week there's a new state or set of states unveiling rate filings. i'll come down and update this chart just so everybody knows what the numbers are. it starts with rate increases as high -- and i'm not saying every single increase is this high,
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but in virginia, 64%. maryland, 91%. i have a feeling there are going to be a lot of very big numbers on this board. and i want to make sure that everybody understands that if you want to know why premiums are going up at the rate that they are, you don't have to look any further than this campaign of health care sabotage that has been waged by the trump administration and republicans here in congress. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: president pro tempore. mr. hatch: i listened intently to the senator and i'm going to come back to the floor and explain why he's wrong on every point. i'm just really amazed that they make these arguments when they are really the ones that caused the health care bill to come forth which is just eating us alive. but i'm here for another reason. mr. president, i'd like to open
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my remarks by joining the president and the american people in welcoming home three courageous individuals who have been held in captivity in north korea. we're all grateful for their safe return. but even as we celebrate their homecoming, we cannot forget about another brave american who has been unlawfully detained abroad. joshua holt. for two years joshua and his wife tammy have been held on spurious charges in a prison in venezuela. for two years i've been working hard to bring them home. rest assured that i will continue to work closely with the administration to secure their release. now, mr. president, i would like to turn to another matter as president pro tempore of the united states senate and as the longest serving republican on the senate select committee on intelligence.
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i asked my colleagues to come together in voting to support gina haspel's nomination to serve as the next director of the central intelligence agency. i took to the floor just two weeks ago to speak on behalf of speck of state mike pompeo. while i'm delighted that we were able to get behind his nomination, i am shocked and embarrassed by the scale of partisanshipartisanship which ms confirmation process. on the day of miss haspel's hearing, i'm once again on how poorly a dedicated public servant has been treated by the press and by some in this chamber. this is someone who has served her organization faithfully for over three decades. she is one among a very small group who rose up through the ranks within the director of operations during the agency's transition from the cold war to the war on terror.
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the job of a c.i.a. operative, our nation's first line of defense, is a thankless one. the american people for generations will never know the lengths that these men and women and the sacrifices they made to keep us all safe. for these men and women, public service is not only a profession but a lifestyle a commitment that often requires the sacrifice of family and loved ones as well. it is a life of constantly being on the front lines, being in the arena in every sense of the expression. ms. haspel embodies all these qualities and has given of herself in ways we can never imagine or begin to do ourselves. in turn she has not only acquired the needed expertise for this job but has also gained the respect of the men and women of the organization that she's to head.
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she also worked closely with secretary pompeo as his deputy for the year in which he was director. a level of trust that will be critical in her new role as director working with the secretary of state. it is worth pointing tout my colleagues on the other side of the aisle the words of praise offered for ms. haspel's nomination by distinguished national security officials who served under president obama. james clapper, the former director of national intelligence, said, quote, i think the world of jena. she is capable, smart, very experienced, well respected by the agency rank and file and a great person, unquote. leon panetta said, quote, i am glad that they have a first woman as head of c.i.a. and i'm glad that it's gina because frankly she is someone who really knows the c.i.a. inside
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and out, unquote. john brennan, who also served as president obama's c.i.a. director said, quote, she will be able to provide that unvarnished, apolitical, objective intelligence input to donald trump and to others, unquote. if these words do not represent a seal of approval, then i don't know what does. never have i seen someone receive such widespread praise from such a distinguished and bipartisan group of seasoned authorities. and never did i think i would live to see the day that the c.i.a. would receive its first female director. mr. president, i know we will all come together ultimately to vote to confirm this gina haspel as director of the c.i.a. but i would like to take this opportunity to again remind my colleagues in the senate of the destructive nature of this
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partisanship. two weeks ago we were on the cusp of not having a secretary of state all because we were more concerned with political loyalties. today we see the same dynamic at play. we are again divided along party lines and once again on a candidate who is supremely qualified to lead the organization for which she was nominated. this type of partisanship is unprecedented in our history and is destructive to our future -- for our future. it represents a true national security threat of the highest order. we can disagree about specific policies, we can have our political stakes, but let's keep those out of our first responsibility of serving the american people. -- whose physical well-being and safety should be our first
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priority. who better understands this than gina haspel, a distinguished public servant who has kept our country safe during the most dangerous times in recent memory. i ask my colleagues to stop with this dangerous behavior. enough of the partisan games. we will be able to hold ms. haspel, as other cabinet members, accountable for specific policies, as is their job. but let's get them into their jobs first. our nation needs them and our nation needs us to behave as representatives and stewards of our democracy that we ought to be. i urge all of my colleagues to vote in favor of ms. haspel's nomination. now, mr. president, on another subject -- indeed, a deeply sobering one -- i'd like to address a tragic loss we've experienced here this the senate. -- in the senate.
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last week michael beaver, a beloved member of the senate family, passed away unexpectedly. we will all miss him dearly. michael served us as the assistant parliamentarian for the u.s. senate. following a prior record of accomplishment in his legal career and a vibrant life that was tragically cut short at the young age of 39. i'm sure that i speak for all of us here in saying that our hearts go out to michael's family, including his beloved wife, young children, and parents. michael was known and admired by us all for his legal and parliamentary talents as well as his sharp wit and humor. parliamentarians here in the senate work hard for the american people and often face long hours and extended debates. they are an integral part of the
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fabric that holds the senate in order and allows us to achieve results. with michael's talents and demeanor, our accomplishments were made all the more rigorous and our work all the more pleasurable. it was not unusual for michael to provide comment or advice on senate work in progress that included a unique and brilliant mixture of insight, wit, and humor. successuccinctly stated, workinh michael was refreshing. michael engaged with my staff and members of the senate on a daily basis when the senate debated health reform and then tax legislation. there were many late nights and work often spilled over into the weekends. michael was always there to help us through and would often make us smile with his ever-present sharp wit. without the dedication of public servants like michael, it would
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simply be impossible for the rest of us in the senate to function as we should. michael's passing is hard on all of us, from his colleagues in the office of the parliamentarian to every committee here in the senate to those of us who saw him regularly seated directly below where you sit, mr. president. we all benefited from his counsel. mr. president, my heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to michael's family in their time of grief. he will be sorely missed, and i yield the floor. i suggest 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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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. peters: is the senate in a quorum call? the presiding officer: it is. mr. peters: i move the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. peters: thank you, mr. president. competition is the lifeblood of the american economy. competition is what makes capitalism work. and it is competition that has established the united states as the world's dominant economic force for over a century. american competition is driven by innovation. we created the light bulb, the automobile, and the internet. we all know the internet has revolutionized the way we communicate, learn, and do business. a free and open internet allows students in lansing and mount pleasant to access research and
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collaborate internationally. a free and open internet allows start-ups in detroit and flint to reach kphufrpls -- customers around the globe and it allows a small bed and breakfast if traverse city and muskegon to reach guests they couldn't otherwise do. while the internet has been a potent force for innovation and recent economic growth in decades our economy has been facing serious challenges. i'm deeply concerned we're seeing consolidation. big firms are getting bigger and we're seeing fewer start-ups. a recent study found that across 900 different industries, over two-thirds have become more concentrated in the past decade. the formation of new companies is falling. the number of jobs created by new businesses has fallen. even as our workforce has grown.
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we have seen large national internet service provider acquire a similarly large media company. we have recently seen the largest online retailer acquire one of our nation's most successful grocery chains. and now we're seeing two of the four largest wireless carriers making preparations to merge. certainly consolidations and mergers are a part of our economy. but we need rules of the road to level the playing field, to help small businesses and start-ups compete and to drive innovation. this is exactly why we need net neutrality. net neutrality protections prevented internet service providers from blocking, slowing or prioritizing web traffic for their own financial gain. without net neutrality, we could be subject to a two-tiered internet. without net neutrality, large corporations that keep getting larger and larger can pay for a fast lane and buy power to slow
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down or to block content. without net neutrality, consumers, small businesses and start-ups can be forced into the slow lane. simply put, net neutrality keeps america competitive. unfortunately, net neutrality is under attack by the trump administration. in december the f.c.c. voted to repeal crucial net neutrality protections despite the fact that 86% of americans wanted the rules to stay in place. the decision to scrap these net neutrality protections is anticonsumer, antiinnovation and anticompetitive. it disadvantages small businesses, start-ups and families all across our country. while the f.c.c. vote to repeal net neutrality rules is over, we're still here in the senate fighting. in fact, we are closer than ever to reinstating the rules of the
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road that will keep the internet free, open, and competitive. 50 senators, including the entire democratic caucus, have signed a petition that will force a vote on legislation that would reinstate these crucial protections. with 51 votes, we could overturn the f.c.c.'s original repeal and move one step closer to restoring fairness. students, artists, advocates, entrepreneurs, and other visionaries who could be inventing the future and creating the next big thing could once again be on an equal playing field with multinational corporations when it comes to using the internet. we need net neutrality to keep our economy dynamic, growing, and innovative. we need net neutrality to keep our start-ups and small businesses competitive. five months ago i stood here in this chamber urging the f.c.c. to abandon their dangerous vote, and now i stand here urging my
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colleagues to reverse this dangerous and disastrous decision. we have the power to do it, and we must. we need one more vote. mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. into quorum call:
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