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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  May 16, 2018 9:29am-11:30am EDT

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be noted as israel's capital and palestinians are acting out against that. at the same time, in case you're not aware or have not been watching us, you have what's going down the border between gaza strip and israel. the israeli forces more than 40 along that border. angry palestinians were out there protesting against the embassy move in jerusalem along with the fact that this is part of the march of return protest, which is happening on the day that the embassy is opening and it's the day before the day which is 70 years since the creation of israel. on the bottom right, what's happening on the gaza strip and tensions there because of the embassy opening. >> the rest of iranian tv's coverage of the owning of the u.s. embassy in jerusalem and the ceremony are both available on-line at we are going to leave here as the u.s. senate is about to gavel in with debate on the education secretary domination,
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the number two post in that department. at noon, senate democrats will try to force a vote to reverse the fcc's repeal of net neutrality rules, scheduled to go into effect june 11th. live coverage now 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. spirit of the living god, fall afresh on us, molding and making us according to your will. thank you for the favor you show us, because we belong to you
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and have been chosen to fulfill your purposes. lord, help us to grasp the significance of your unfolding providence, as you continue to sustain us with the many acts of your faithful love. today, inspire our lawmakers to work to the best of their ability, striving always to do what is right for our nation and world. give them wisdom in their labors to depend upon your mercy, power, and grace, believing that you can do for them more than they can ask or imagine.
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we pray in your great name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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the presiding officer: the leadership time is reserved.
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morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of education, mitchell zais of south carolina to be deputy secretary. mr. tillis: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. tillis: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i've been here -- this is my third occasion on a speech i wish i didn't have to
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give on the floor of the u.s. senate. but i promise i'm going to give a speech on this subject every week that the senate's open for as long as i'm a u.s. senator and there's a man in a turkish prison who i don't believe should be. this man's name is andrew bronson, pastor bronson, a press tearian minister -- presbyterian minister has been in turkey the last 20 years with his wife, raised his family there. presbyterian minister who first did just ministry work, didn't have a church to actually open up to the community but just did ministry work preaching the word and delivering the word to people in turkey who wanted to hear it. a small church. it's only about 50 full-time members. it's a church that's just outside o of the proper. this man has been in prison now. as of today for 586 days.
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he was actually brought to prison without charges under the emergency order since the coup in 2016. he was put in prison on october 4, 2016. he was held in a prison for almost 17 months that was designed for eight prisoners that had 21 in it. none of the other ones american. none of the other ones english speaking. many of them charged on either isis or terrorist charges or plotting a coup attempt. he was in that prison for almost 17 months. he lost 50 pounds. his health is diminished. his mental state as anyone would expect is also diminished but he's a strong man and strong man of faith that hopefully can continue to have the strength to go through this horrible process. now, about two months ago, we've been handling this -- we have what we call case work. if nobody in north carolina needs help, whatever that may be, we encourage them to call our offices. we open up a case. we do any number of things for veterans, for military families,
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senior, anybody. if you need help getting through the federal government, you call our office. so we opened up a case on pastor brunson about a year ago. we've been trying to work through diplomatic channels to get him released. then about three months ago, four months ago, we heard the indictment was going to be served on pasto pastor brunson i got word back from some of the family members that they were concerned the american people were going to read the indictment and judge him guilty and turn their backs on him and have him languish in prison which is essentially a life sentence. he's 50 years old and the charges would be up to 35 years. it was important for me to have him know that we cared about him that he traveled to turkey and made a request, got a visa to go to turkey, made a request to go to that turkish prison and look at pastor bru nson eye to eye and tell him we're not going to
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forget about him and work for the release of him and others who i believe are subject to religious persecution. i met with him in the prison for about an hour and a half. it turns out we found out that his first court date was going to be about three weeks later. so i decided to go back to turkey three weeks later and to be in that courtroom to hear the testimony for myself. to hear the 62-page indictment play out. and i was in that courtroom from about 9:00 in the morning on monday morning until about 10:00 that night. and what i saw there, if you don't know what a kangaroo court is and you can't read it on this slide, just google it real quick because what i saw was a kangaroo court. first off, you should think about the setting. it's unlike any setting you could ever imagine in the united states. they don't have trial juries. so you have a three-judge panel up there. the prosecutor is really elevated to almost being another judge. the prosecutors help add the
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dais. now, the defense attorney, we're in a room that's about half the size of this room. maybe about two-thirds the size. it's a big room. the defense attorney is off to the side about another 30, 40 feet and the defendant is in front of the judge panel being looked down upon. he had to testify for six hours on his own behalf. they don't have a choice in turkey. so then they listed out the charges. why do you say it's a kangaroo court. let me give you a summary. i'm not going to cover all of them because my time is limited. let me give you a summary of some of the charges. the time i was there there were a half dozen of secret witnesses. these are the people that the defendant doesn't get to face their accuser. the witnesses can basically say what they want to say. well, one secret witness that the essence of his testimony was that they knew that pastor brunson was involved in either plotting the coup or working with the p.k.k. which is a
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terrorist organization represented by the kurdish. it's a terrorist organization fundamentally made up of kurds, was because they witnessed the light on in this church for four hours. first off, i know in the u.s. system, you're probably not going to get prosecuted for 35 years by having the light on for four hours. at least i hope not. what makes this even more challenging, this is the church. this church only seat, about 120 people. it's got two very small upstairs rooms. i know because i've been there. we took these pictures when i visited turkey after the visit to the prison. this is the room llged to have -- alleged to have a light on for four hours. one problem. no window. no way to possibly see this room. in fact, the windows in the june stairs are closed -- downstairs are closed with storm windows. i guess they have -- i'm trying to think of the name. the shutters wouldn't shutter. there's no way you could even see in. but this witness had what they
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considered to be compelling testimony that a light was on and for that reason they had to be involved in the terrorist plot or the coup. another of the charges alleged by the prosecution is that all of the churches in america are connected and that they actually work in unison in other countries to disrupt the governments of other countries. that a christian church, they may bring the word to people in other countries but they're really there to kind of organize as an intelligence gathering and to stabilizing force on behalf of the american government for disrupting other sovereign nations. literally, this is how they're thinking and this is what they're using to prosecute them. kangaroo court. now, i maintain that what we've got is a hostage situation here. we have president erdogan saying, on the one hand they say you've got to work through the system. we've got to let justice be
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served. on the other hand the president has said well, if you give something we're trying to extradite from the united states, then we'll give you pastor brunson. this is a hostage situation. this is religious percent caution -- religious persecution. i'll finish with this. turkey is a nato ally. they're an important nato ally. they've been in nato since 1952. they're in a very dangerous part of the world. they have a lot of challenges they have to deal with, the syrian conflict, their own internal challenges. president erdogan's job is difficult. i want to make it easier as a colead of the nato observer group to work on how we can then then our partnership, make their safer and security in the homeland and from their important adversaries. today i have a nato ally who is behaving like no nato has ever had in the history of the alliance. these are the sorts of things we're supposed to be doing as members of the nato alliance, not imprisoning illegally for
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586 days a presbyterian minister. mr. president, we'll be doing the markup next week. i'm working with other members on the national act. i would be like -- i would like to put provisions forth that strengthen the alliance with nato, that sends the signal that we want to help them we want to secure their homeland and work together with the fight in syria. but today i can't have that as a priority. today my number one priority is releasing pastor brunson. i hope everybody understands that this is something that the national -- everybody, whether you are from north carolina or north dakota or any state in this nation, we should all stand as a nation saying this is not how you treat an american citizen, certainly not a nato ally. and i look forward to hopefully never doing this speech again. i hope that by next week, pastor brunson is free and that we have sent a very clear message to all the other people in turkey who are in prison because of their
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faith that this is unacceptable behavior. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: yesterday, the senate confirmed two more superbly qualified circuit court nominees, joel carson and john nalbandian. they are the 20th and 21st circuit judges we have confirmed this congress. this morning, our colleagues on the intelligence committee finished their consideration of gina haspel to be c.i.a. director and reported her nomination favorably with bipartisan support. ms. haspel's testimony and record have showcased the poise, talent, and experience that make her an excellent selection. senators heard about her 30-plus years of c.i.a. experience
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spanning sensitive operations from the cold war to the global war on terror. that background makes ms. haspel an ideal pick at this particular moment, and secretary mattis has explained that counterterrorism and a renewed great power competition are two of the key challenges facing our nation. so it's no wonder, mr. president, james clapper, president obama's director of national intelligence, said, quote, i think the world of gina. she is capable, smart, very experienced, well respected by the agency rank and file, and a great concern. just yesterday, dan coats wrote in "usa today" she is a person of high integrity with valuable front-line and executive experience who is willing to speak truth to power when required on behalf of our nation. gina haspel is the right woman at the right time. her nomination has support from national security leaders and senators in both parties. there is no reason why her
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confirmation should be delayed, and i look forward to advancing it expeditiously following the committee's action. now, mr. president, on another matter, over the last 20 years, the internet has yielded progress that was the stuff of science fiction just a generation ago. in so many ways, it has spawned a new economy and fostered new connections across the country and the world. in large part, this success is owed to a bipartisan consensus that washington should be largely hands off. but, of course, like every exciting new frontier of the economy, the internet attracted attention from the crowd that prefers to regulate first and ask questions later. in 2015, president obama's f.c.c. set out to fix what wasn't broken. it imposed regulation designed for depression-era telephones on new technologies that fit in our pockets. so much for the light touch
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approach that helped the early internet grow. last year, under the leadership of chairman ajit pai, the f.c.c. sought to rectify this mistake and destroy the results of the rules that helped the internet flourish while still protecting consumers from abuses. the resolution democrats are putting forward today would undo that progress. it would reimpose heavy-handed depression-era rules on the most vibrant, fast-growing sectors of our economy. it is wrong on the merits. it is also the wrong way to go about this process. the c.r.a. is useful when it lets elected representatives rein in regulatory overreach by unelected bureaucrats, but this resolution doesn't seek to rein in overregulation. it seeks to reimpose it. what's worse, by using the c.r.a. mechanism, the democrats seek to make the 2015 rules permanent going forward. the c.r.a. would handicap this
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f.c.c. or a future f.c.c.'s ability to revise the rules even if revisions were widely seen as necessary. there's a better way to proceed. it's called bipartisan legislation. senator thune has reached out to the democrats on the committee to draft an internet rules of the road for the 21st century, a set of rules that would safeguard consumers but still prevent regulators from stifling innovation at every turn. already, multiple democratic colleagues have drawn the same conclusions with regard to preemptive overcorrection by the f.c.c. the senior senator from florida and the junior senator from hawaii, for example, have both expressed a desire to collaborate on bipartisan legislation. but democrats have already made clear that the resolution today is about the elections in november. they know they won't ultimately be successful, but they want a campaign on their desire to add new regulations to the internet. this resolution takes us in the wrong direction, and we should
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reject it. now, one final matter. later today, i will be meeting with members of an industry with deep roots in my home state of kentucky, our bourbon and spirits distillers. judging by recent headlines, we'll have plenty of good news to discuss. after eight years of democrat policies enriching big cities and leaving small businesses behind, republican policies are helping workers and job creators thrive all across our country. from louisville to kansas city to portland, our growing craft distilling industry is a perfect example. they're enjoying a pro-growth provision in the historic tax reform republicans passed last year which lowered excise taxes on beer, wine, and spirits, and modernized the regulatory policy affecting each. interestingly enough, the craft beverage modernization and tax reform act even began as a bipartisan effort with 56 cosponsors here in the senate
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led by senators blunt, wyden, and portman. of course, not a single democrat showed up when it was time to vote on tax reform, but republicans accomplished it anyway, and now "the new york times" can publish stories about how the measure is making a big difference for small craft distillers. as one such report puts it, distilling is a burgeoning source of jobs, tax revenue, and tourism dollars in every state. for example, the kentucky distillers association reported that just last year, the bourbon industry accounted for 17,500 jobs in over -- and over a million visitors to my home state. that's a big shift from the so-called obama recovery when almost all the limited jobs and investment poured into the biggest cities, but it's a new day. now few -- fugh spirits in illinois has hired more workers and is replacing its overseas
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glassmaker with an american one. j. rigger in missouri has found extra room in the budget to expand its sales team and begin selling its products further across the country. in the democratic leader's own back yard of brooklyn, the new york distilling company recently cut the wholesale price on its signature gin by more than 50%, according to one of its cofounders alan katz, the reaction from our industry peers has been just dropping. and in kentucky, which is the home to more than 50 distilleries, there are plenty of examples from which to choose. thanks to lower excise tax, casey jones distillery, a small operation in hopkinsville, is growing its team, increasing production, and planning to enhance its event space. copper and kings in louisville has been able to hire more workers and is preparing to expand its warehouse and add a new bar. the copper and kings team
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recently shared with me that tax reform is, quote, one of the most important initiatives the senate could pursue to help create jobs for small businesses in kentucky. my democratic colleagues failed to block tax reform last year. now they want to just keep arguing about it. they even propose to repeal it and roll back america's tax cuts, but entrepreneurs across the country are loving our new 21st century tax code. they're using it to expand operations and to create jobs. it's hard to argue with the results. not that that stopped our democratic friends from trying. i'm sure they will continue to try, but republicans will stay focused on taking steps like these and raising a glass to america's small businesses.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call: mr. markey: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. markey: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, are we in a quorum, mr. president? the presiding officer: yes, we are currently in a quorum call. mr. markey: mr. president, i ask for a vitiation of the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. markey: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, today is a monumental day. today is the day the united states senate votes on the future of the internet, the most powerful platform for commerce and communications in the history of the planet. today we show the american people whose side -- who sides
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with them and who sides with the powerful special interests and corporate donors who are thriving under this administration. today we vote on my congressional review act resolution to save net neutrality. net neutrality may sound complicated, but it's actually very simple. after you pay your monthly internet bill, you should be able to access all content on the web at the same speed. no slowing down certain websites, no blocking websites, and no charging you more to exercise your 21st century right to access the internet. it's as simple as that. if that sounds like common sense, you're not alone. in fact, according to a recent poll, 86% of americans support net neutrality. and this isn't a partisan issue.
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82% of republicans support net neutrality. every day we're told that this country is more divided than ever, that our differences outnumber our similarities. well, the american people agree on net neutrality. they agree that the internet is for everyone. they agree that we cannot afford to blindly trust a few internet service providers -- at&t, comcast, verizon, charter -- to put consumers first. and yet, once again, the trump administration has neglected the will of everyday americans and given a gift to the rich and the powerful. in december the trump federal communications commission eliminated the very rules that prevent your internet service provider from indiscriminately
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charging more for internet fast lanes, slowing down websites, blocking websites about, and make -- blocking websites, and making it harder and maybe even impossible for entrepreneurs and job creators, the lifeblood of the american economy, to connect to the internet. the trump federal communications commission picked clear winners and losers when it repealed net neutrality. when the federal communications commission decision takes effect on june 11, big telecom will have new tools to inflate profits. but americans and small businesses who use the internet to do their jobs, communicate with each other, participate in civic life will be left defenseless. and don't be fooled by the army of lobbyists marching the halls of congress on behalf of the big
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internet service providers. they say that we don't need these rules because the internet service providers will self-regulate blocking, throttling, paid prioritization. these harms are alarmist and hypothetical, they say. well, that simply is not the case. these practices are very real. and in a world without net neutrality, they may become the new normal. but just don't take my word for it. let's look at the facts. in 2007, an associated press investigation found that comcast was blocking or severely slowing down bit torrent, a website that allowed consumers to share video, music, and video game files. from 2007 to 2009, at&t forced apple to block skype and other
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competing services from using at&t's wireless network to encourage users to purchase more voice minutes. in 2011, verizon blocked google wallet to protect a competing service it had a financial stake in developing and promoting. there is no shortage of evidence that we need clear and enforceable rules of the road so that these discriminatory practices do not become commo commonplace schemes that consumers and small businesses must suffer through without any options for recourse. and this isn't the first time congress has had to step in to protect the integrity of the marketplace. in the 1800's, we didn't have the information superhighway. we had railroads. american farmers used trains to deliver their products to
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consumers, and powerful railroad trusts started charging certain farmers higher rates to move their goods. but congress stepped in and passed the sherman antitrust act to put a stop to this price discrimination. today we've left the steam-engine era, and we've moved into the search engine era. but internet service providers are the 21s 21st service trusts controlling the channels of congress. and in 2018 many american job creators aren't moving alfalfa seeds. they are tea moving kernels of ideas for the next big app, the next big start-up. net neutrality is about continuing the american tradition of promoting competition and providing the level economic playing field we need to continue to prosper in this rapidly changing global economy.
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but net neutrality isn't just an economic issue, it's also central to the health of our democracy. over the past several months and years, americans all over the country from all walks of life have mobilized and marched, fighting for progress and change. black lives matter, the woman's march, the me-too movement, teachers calling for fair pay. today citizens of all walks of life are carrying the torch of american activism and they're doing if online -- it online. in to 18 this is how the american people are -- in 2018, this is how the american people are organizing. this is how the people are doing the indispensable work of an active citizenry. this is how the american people are speaking truth to power. asking individuals to pay extra to speak out for what they
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believe in, allowing companies to stifle or even block access to certain ideas, that isn't who we are as a country. it isn't consistent with the values of nondiscrimination. net neutrality is the free speech issue of our time. and the well-being of our precious democracy depends on the public having equal, unfettered access to the internet. today the united states senate will show its true colors. it will either heed the calls of thousands of small businesses who have written in support of this congressional review act resolution and the millions of americans who have sent letters, posted tweets, and made calls defending net neutrality. or the senate will give another present to the rich and the powerful. the senate will either follow the example of governors, state legislators, and attorneys general all over the country who
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are fighting to save the internet as we know it or it will let president trump once again break his campaign promise of putting average americans ahead of swampy special interests. it will either stand up for the principles that have allowed the united states internet economy to become the envy of the world or it'll make another unforced error that threatens our long-term competitiveness. i urge my colleagues to make the decision our constituents with one voice overwhelmingly are asking us to make. i urge my colleagues to vote yes on this congressional review act resolution to restore net neutrality, to restore the principle of nondiscrimination, to restore the protections for small start-ups, for individuals in our country so that they cannot be discriminated against online. this is net neutrality day here
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on the floor of the united states senate. today is the day of reckoning where the trump federal communications commission is going to have their act judged by the united states senate. my hope is that before the end of this day the senate will vote to overturn the trump f.c.c. and restore net neutrality, restore the principles of nondiscrimination, restore the principle of equality, restore the principle that small software and internet start-ups are given the same protections that the biggest companies in our country are provided. today is the day. net neutrality is the vote that will determine whether or not we are going to give those protections to every american. mr. president, at this point i yield back. and i question the presence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the
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clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: minority leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president, this week is police week. it's a time to honor the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day to keep our streets safe. every morning police officers all across the country wake up, put on their uniform praying for the kind of day the rest of us typically enjoy, a routine one. praise god. most days that's the case. but sometimes our police officers are asked to put their
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own lives at risk in defense of others. back in my hometown new york, we're protected by the finest law enforcement organization in the world, the nypd. just two weeks ago, two rookie new york police officers, flavio chaco and jason chu llio rushed into a burning apartment building up nine flights of stairs to pull people to safety. it was an extraordinary act of heroism or just another day in the line of duty for the over 35,000 men and women of the new york police department. all of us here in congress are indebted to the u.s. capitol police who spend long hours protecting us every day. we saw their bravery in action last year when a gunman attac practice. if it weren't for the grit and valor of officers david bailey
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and crystal griner, things would have gotten much, much worse. we should take the time to thank the law enforcement officers at the f.b.i. over the last year our nation's top law enforcement officers have been unfairly maligned by this president. it's unheard of. particularly on the republican side to be so antilaw enforcement and it maligns the brave men and women who work under them, too. our f.b.i. agents are patriots, just like the men and women out on the beat. so today i want to salute the men and women in blue, particularly my friends at the nypd and our fine capitol police as we commemorate the lives of their colleagues lost in the line of duty. now, on another subject, north korea. last night we received reports that kim jong-un is threatening to pull out of a planned meeting with president trump as a result of a routine and scheduled joint military exercise by american
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and south korean forces. after weeks of halting progress, it's a reminder that the north korean regime has not suddenly moderated. remember, all that's happened so far is that north korea has announced it's closing a nuclear test site that was defunct anyway and returned american citizens it never should have detained. we are all thankful those three americans have returned home, but it was not some major give by kim jong-un. americans should never be imprisoned unlawfully by a foreign power and treated as diplomatic bargaining chips and we as a country should not be giving huge kudos to a leader who does just that. president trump on the other hand made a significant concession when he agreed to meet with kim jong-un. we are rooting for the president's gamble with this mischievous and dangerous regime to work. now that push is coming to shove, kim jong-un is baiting
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the president into making more concessions to ensure a meeting that was a concession to them in the first place. i strongly urge president trump, mr. president, don't give kim jong-un anything for free. north korea's threatening to cancel the summit over our joint military exercises with the south. that would be a mistake. it would be a mistake for the president to cancel this exercise, to begin making further concessions before kim has dismantled a singular nuclear weapon or agreed to a single inspector. if we show weakness, if the minute kim jong-un threatens we go along, he will continue to take advantage of us. we must show strength and fortitude by continuing these military exercises, we will do just that. and i urge the president to not even blink an eye but say we're going forward with these
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exercises. we've seen north korea play these games before. when north korea wants or needs something, exercises are a problem. when they don't need something, the exercises are not a problem. kim is clearly testing the united states and president trump trying to see if there's any weakness or desperation or division on our side. we must be strong. we must be resolute. this exercise should move forward. the best way to head into these negotiations with the north is to make clear that we will not be bullied and to show strength. we have to be willing to walk away from an insufficiently robust deal and making concessions before we have even sat down at the table would send the opposite signal. to achieve an enforceable, verifiable, agreement to denuclearize the north korean peninsula, the united states
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cannot give away leverage before even getting in the room. now, on another matter, the judiciary committee report. this morning, republicans on the judiciary committee released the transcripts of interviews conducted as part of its investigation into russian meddling. it was a perfunctory move, apparently intended to signal the end of the judiciary committee's on-again, off-again halting investigation. senate judiciary committee republicans are rushing to declare their investigation complete when they have barely scratched the surface. after a more than intermittent effort, senate republicans interviewed only 12 witnesses in total. today they are releasing the transcripts of the testimony of just five witnesses who were interviewed about the notorious june, 2016, trump tower meeting, and one of the witnesses, an infamous kremlin-connected
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lawyer, was allowed to provide only written answers. no follow-up questions, no probing. astoundingly, our republican friends decided not to even interview two of the other key participants in that meeting, jared kushner and paul manafort. to call the senate judiciary committee's trump russia investigation halfhearted is too generous. it has been no different than the effort taken by representative nunez. it is designed to let the president and his lawyers interfere with the mueller probe and get a peek at any potential evidence. that's why democrats on the committee, led by senator feinstein, have today released a document detailing the open threads of the committee's investigation, the interviews not conducted, the leads not followed, the information judiciary committee democrats provided today shows one thing
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thing -- committee democrats made -- made crystal clear that committee republicans are prematurely saying pencils down. there is much left to investigate. many witnesses still to be heard. many facts left to follow. the message of senate republicans on this investigation is, quote, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. the american people won't be fooled. they know the difference between a genuine search for truth and a whitewash. i remain hopeful that senators burr and warner are running down every lead and every thread. there is no doubt the senate intelligence committee's investigation will be the next target of the president's talking heads on fox news. finally, mr. president, on prescription drugs, i head a headline in this morning's "washington post."
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trump's drug price retreat adds to the list of abandoned populist promises. that headline is spot on. the president has repeatedly talked like a -- the president has repeatedly talked like a populist but governed like a plutocrat. on taxes, the president said his bill would be for the middle class. it turned out to be a trillion-dollar boondoggle for the rich and powerful. on prescription drugs, it's no different. after saying that pharmaceutical companies were getting away with murder and that he would bring down prices, president trump proposed only the policies most palatable to the drug industry. just today, i read about a company that proposed tripling the price of a widely used cancer drug. they ultimately backed down after a public outcry, but it shows you this problem isn't going away any time soon.
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we democrats have proposed an independent group to go after egregious increases in drug prices such as the one mentioned about cancer drugs today. where is the president on this issue? he's got to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. president trump was giving his speech last friday outlining his plan on prescription drugs, and guess what the reaction was. the stocks of major pharmaceutical companies shot upwards. that says all you need to know about how tough president trump's plan on prescription drugs really is. just like on the issues of taxes, health care, infrastructure, and drain the de swamp, on the issue of prescription drugs, president trump continues to fail to deliver to the middle class. i yield the floor.
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ms. hirono: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: mr. president, this is national police week, and i want to join my colleagues in saluting all of our law enforcement personnel, our brave men and women who put their lives on the line every single day to keep our communities safe. turning to another subject, net neutrality, mr. president, protecting a free and open internet is something every american should care about. restoring net neutrality protections is about more than just -- just what shows you can watch on netflix and hulu. we depend on the internet for nearly everything in our lives, from staying in touch with loved
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ones on social media to communicating with doctors and paying our bills. it's also about preserving access to information in times of need. over the past month, hawaii residents have depended on the internet to access lifesaving information and to communicate with their friends and family during a series of devastateing natural disasters. on april 15 and 16, nearly 50 inches of rain fell on hanalei on the north shore of kauai ee, setting the record for the largest rainfall in a 24-hour period in american history. this storm destroyed many homes, triggered mudslides that closed koheo highway and damaged local businesses. that same storm also caused widespread flooding and damage on another island, on east oahu.
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volcanic activity on a hawaiian island, including fissures on the capital way a east zone, around 100 earthquakes per day, lava eruptions and significant ashfalls has already destroyed 40 structures in the puna community. more than 2,000 residents have been evacuated as the lava continues to flow and toxic sulfur dioxide pollutes the air. residents in the area have depended on a free and open internet to receive free and up to the minute lifesaving information from local media as well as from federal, state, and local governments. rules on net neutrality established by the obama administration prevented internet service providers, i.s.p.'s, from discriminating against and blocking content. these essential protections help toen sure a level playing field -- help to ensure a level playing field for all content
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providers and consumers. but under the leadership of donald trump's hand-picked chairman, the federal communications commission issued an order late last year that would completely eviscerate net neutrality protections. internet service providers looking to maximize profits should not be able to restrict access to information or slow speeds for providers unable to pay more, particularly during a natural disaster or other emergency. during the flooding on kauai ee and -- kauai and oahu and the ongoing activity on the hawaiian island, local internet providers have been a lifeline for local residents in search of timely, accurate, and understandable information. newspapers like "the garden island" and" the hawaiian tribune herald "requests as well as online sources like big island now and big island video news have provided an essential service to the public.
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through their websites and social media chambliss, these news sources have provided detailed reporting about the precise location of hazardous conditions, where evacuees can find shelter and essential services and where the public can make donations of clothing and nonperishable food. television stations like hawaii news now, kitv and khon have also used their websites and social media platforms to live stream news reports that have been a critical life lynn for local residents and for their family and friends. national and international journal have also drawn on the work of local hawaii journalists to report their stories to a national and international audience. the good work of journalists at hawaii news now, kitv and anthony quintano at civil beat is being seen by people across the country and around the world
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on cnn and nbc news, among others. the response of these local news outlets to natural disasters in hawaii demonstrates why they are so important to the communities they serve. these news outlets depend, depend on a free and open internet to deliver their content to consumers where and when they need it. for an industry already facing a funding crisis driven by declining advertising revenue, the rollback of net neutrality would have a devastating impact on local news. a 2017 report by adam kursch at the center for international society at stanford university cogently summarizes what's at stake. according to his report, local news sources would be particularly hard hit if i.s.p.'s could charge access fees, block traffic from certain providers, throttle speeds and charge fast-lane fees in exchange for preferential
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treatment. huge media conglomerates would have little trouble paying for access, but local papers like "the star advertiser," and nonprofit news sources like civil beat could be hard hit or even driven out of business. in addition to the impact on local news providers, repealing net neutrality could make it more difficult and expensive for relief organizations to submit donations for people affected by natural disasters. the puna community center, for example, is using social media to organize a community and statewide relief response to help families affected by volcanic activity. using their online platform, the center is coordinating donations, identifying families requiring special assistance, and connecting evacuated residents with people who can help. eliminating net neutrality would also have a negative impact on small businesses in hawaii, including those hard hit by
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recent visitor -- by recent disasters and decrease of visitor access. like the local news, small businesses depend on high-speed and high-quality internet to reach their consumers and grow their businesses. we all know this. we had a small business committee meeting hearing yesterday where it was acknowledged that small businesses depend very much on the internet of free and open access. so these businesses don't have their resources to compete in a pay-to-play system on the internet. it's because of stories like these that a bipartisan group of senators is forcing a vote to save net neutrality. an internet service prior should not be able to restrict access, especially, especially during a major disaster such as those being experienced in hawaii just so they can make more money. i encourage all of my colleagues to join this effort and pass this resolution to prevent the
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elimination of net neutrality today. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i thank my colleague from hawaii. our empa thinks are -- our empathies are with the state of hawaii as they respond to this volcano eruption. i noticed this morning on the news they are referencing it could be as bad as mount st. helen. trust me, that was a devastating impact to our state. i hope that all federal agencies are helping in whatever ways we can with hawaii's natural disaster. and thank her for also talking about the importance of net neutrality. i, too, come to the floor to defend the open internet because it is a pro-consumer, pro-innovation rule that we have to build on because it's worth the 7% of our g.d.p. and 6.9 million jobs. that is what the internet economy is.
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net neutrality that we are fighting for today has four bright lines, four lines that help businesses, helps consumers, and helps our internet economy grow. they are, don't block content, don't throttle content -- that is, don't slow it downs, don't create paid prioritization. that's like saying in the burger king ad, if you want the next whopper available, pay more. i think they did a pretty good example of if you had every business operating that way. the fourth is transparency. know exactly what you're getting charged for. the obama era federal communications commission adopted rules that basically protected consumers and businesses on those four things. why did they do that? because there were some that
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were trying to eek their way into the making more money off of consumers and businesses on what is basic service s title 2 was the regulatory framework that the obama-era f.c.c. used to make sure that consumers were protected, and they were the strongest tools available and helped in making sure there was non-monopolistic behavior that would harm base businesses. so together the rule that was established by the then-federal communications commission system was an open internet with the f.c.c. being the cop on the beat. that is to say, if you have these rules, you also have to have someone who is going to enforce them, someone who is going to look at the monopolistic behaviors of cable companies or providers and say, that is unfair to consumers and businesses. but under the trump-era f.c.c.,
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all of those things were thrown out. and so that is why we're here today. our colleagues are trying to say we want to go back to the protections of the internet that are called net neutrality to make sure that the f.c.c. becomes instead of a passive entity that just okays every charge that cable companies want to do instead says, these rules about not slowing down content, not doing monopolistic behavior, these things are wrong and we are going to be the policemen on the beat. the f.c.c. can protect consumers and innovators and they can make sure that internet traffic does not violate an open internet. but as i said, the trump-era f.c.c. is trying to throw out these strong rules and cable companies are already -- already -- starting to raise prices for higher speed.
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in vancouver, washington, comcast recently aens nod that higher-speed tiers will be available but only to consumers who purchase expensive paid tv bundles. that's why we're here. because while it sounds like why do we want to give cable companies the opportunity to throttle or block or create paid prioritization, we also have to realize that today the internet economy is so much bigger than it has ever been, that it is a job creator and an innovator. in my state, it's 13% of our economy and thousands of jobs that continue to grow every day as new applications for the internet are created. it's so important that businesses who are even using these apps to help run their businesses more efficiently continue to get access to those tools. but what about an internet that a cable provider decided to arbitrary slow down that website
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and thereby creating a disincentive for the very things that are helping to make our businesses more efficient? so we want to make sure that the f.c.c. does its original job. what is that? well, they are there to promote development and adaptation of communication networks in the public interest. that is, they are serving consumers. and that is the center of their mission. the center of their mission should not be serving cable companies, and that is why courts have said to the f.c.c., if you want to have the authority to protect an open internet, you have to do that under title 2. basically, the court explained that enforcing the open internet principles and being a watchdog against abuse is important to the f.c.c.'s mission of promoting and developing and an a-- an adoption of communicati communications thats in the public interest. but that those powers have to
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flow from title 2 of the communications act. so that is why the obama-era f.c.c. adopted those rules. so today we know that internet is a basic necessity. it's the access that helps our health care delivery system work, our education system work, our banking system work, shopping, all sorts of things that make it just a necessary tool in life today. when a service is that essential and critical to individuals and a community and critical to their economic success, we need to make sure that consumers have protections, to make sure that it is not abused. in the united states, we have just three -- well, in the united states, just three providers of internet access have about 70% of the consumers. in any market with only a few
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players, it is essential that we protect businesses and consumers, and that is exactly what title 2 does. it helps protect us from cable company gouging and its close cousin paid prioritization. it makes sure that the barriers to entry are not erected so that entrepreneurs or start-ups who want to bring new products to market aren't artificially slowed down and a larger competitor who can pay more for it can continue the access. just recently we had an event with redfin, someone who is changing the real estate market, a company in the pacific northwest, and helping drive down the cost to consumers for real estate purchases. they made it very clear that r redfin was able to develop today because it had an open internet, and it's consumers and business partners could connect to it. but under a world where they were just starting over and starting out new and they had to
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pay for a kind of prioritization to get good broadband service, they may not have been as successful. so these rules, title 2, gives expert agencies the tools to look behind the curtain and make sure that cable companies are providing the services that do not violate an open internet. and there is a reason that cable companies don't want to follow these rules, because they want to make more money. i get it. they want to make more money. but i would say that with 40% of americans having no choice in who they pay internet services from, we have to be much more vigilant. these companies have several vertically integrated companies at the top, and they are seeking to amass more and more content. and that could give them the tools again to block content, to
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slow it down, or to "x" out a competitor if they so choose. i don't want to see the f.c.c. sitting on the sidelines and not policing this kind of environment. i know that at&t now is trying to merge with time warner and these large companies, they want to continue to amass content and to drive the marketplace. but the american consumer's satisfaction with these big companies is at an all-time low. do they think that they're going to do the right thing on their own? do they think cable companies will do that? well, the cable industry ranks at the very bottom of 43 industries in consumer satisfaction. in fact, it has been in the dead-last position for five years. so does the public think that they're doing the right things when it comes to them or their businesses? i think that that survey says it all. they have great concern.
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and what are the reasons that cable companies give for why they don't want to follow net neutrality rules is because it says, they say, it will hurt their investment in networks. well, i guess i'd ask a question -- did the obama-era f.c.c. rules slow down investment? no, it didn't. big cable companies continued to make investment in their network. ness year following the rule that went into place, the entire industry shows is that the total capital expenditures increased by more than $550 million above the previous year's investment. for example, in the 2017 earnings report, comcast, the nation's largest broadband provider, noted that it's capital expenditures increased 7.5%, $9 billion, and that it continued to make deployment in platforms like the x-is and wireless gat gateways.
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at&t spent $22 billion in capital investments, up $20 billion from the previous year. 2016 represents the industry's highest single year jump in broadband network investment since 1999. so the notion that they are somehow going to slow down on investment is just not true. the historic growth came after companies had a full year to digest the impacts of title 2 and net neutrality rules being put in place by the obama-era f.c.c. so where are we today? well, these companies continue to make money and they want a free pass on continuing to make more. that is why our goal is not the profits of big cable companies. our goal to make sure that the internet economy continues to grow and the juggernaut of job creation and innovation
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continues to expand. we want the internet ecosystem that has doubled as a percentage of g.d.p. from 2007 to 2017 to continue to grow. as i said in my state it's about 1% of our state's -- 13% of our state's economy and i spend practically every day in the united states senate hearing about another innovation from someone in my state. it may be the farm economy and more efficient ways to produce product or get product to market or manage their livestock. it might be in telemedicine helping someone get access to care. it may be as basic as connecting people to their family and loved ones. but it is the internet that we know today and it is so integral to our lives. well, i hope that the commonsense legislation in front of us, the c.r.a., which would
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restore those obama-era f.c.c. net neutrality rules passes. i hope that our colleagues will understand that getting exorbitant internet fees from cable providers is not the direction the american people want to go. american entrepreneurs, innovators and consumers cannot afford to take that hit. what they want to see is an open internet, one that continues to allow so much more of the internet economy to flourish. let's make sure that we say to the f.c.c., we don't want you folding or signature on your hands -- or sitting on your hands. we want you to police the internet and we want you to have the rules to do it. that is why we must pass this c.r.a. today and i hope our colleagues on the other side of the aisle will join us because there is just too much at stake in our innovation economy. i thank the president. i yield the floor.
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ms. hassan: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. ms. hassan: thank you, mr. president. and i thank my colleague from washington for her leadership and her articulation of the issue before us, because i, too, rise today ahead of a vote that is of vital importance to protecting a free and open internet. mr. president, last week f.c.c. chairman ajit pai announced that june 11 would be the date when key net neutrality protections will officially end. this backward, misguided decision from the f.c.c. threatens the consumer-friendly internet that americans know today, an internet that ensures equal access to content regardless of which internet service provider you use. ending net neutrality could impact all of our people, and in new hampshire our citizens are rightly concerned. with thousands of granite
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staters contacting my office to urge congress to save these key protections. i'm pleased to join my colleagues -- both republican and democrat -- to force a vote to do just that. reinstating net neutrality is critical to promoting innovation, supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses across new hampshire and encouraging economic growth. and by ensuring that our businesses can compete on an equal footing, we provide more opportunity for a wide range of businesses, from my-tech companies and start-ups to farming and agriculture. on monday, i visited stonyfield farm to discuss the negative impact that repealing net neutrality will have on their business and countless other businesses across our state. stonyfield is a new hampshire business that sells organic dairy products all over our country and relies on the
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internet to reach their customers. they also rely on the internet to connect with small businesses and dairy farmers that help source their products. when i met with representatives from stonyfield and farmers from around new england on monday, they made clear that they are worried about what could happen if smaller farms are charged more for access to websites and services, a potential effect of repealing net neutrality. farmers are already operating on pretty small margins, and they could be hurt by having to pay even more to get the kind of speed on the internet that they need in order to be competitive. this is particularly troubling in rural areas where many communities still face challenges with access to broadband. mr. president, it's not just rural communities and farmers. this decision would hurt small businesses in any number of industries across new hampshire,
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all to give big internet service providers another opportunity to raise their profits. and it would be unfair to all consumers to give internet service providers the power to discriminate against certain web pages, apps, and streaming and video services by slowing them down, blocking them, or favoring certain services while charging more for others. protecting a free and open internet means that we are protecting the farmers who need the internet to sell their products. it means we are protecting the next great start-up which needs a level playing field to compete against larger, more established companies. and it means we are protecting the countless americans who have used the internet as a mechanism to organize and civically engage online. mr. president, there has been so much energy from granite staters and americans who are in favor of reinstating net neutrality
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because they know how much is at stake. and i'm grateful for their efforts to speak out because they have helped us to get to this point today. a and i'm hopeful that more of my republican colleagues will join us today to put consumers and small businesses first and to show that the united states senate is in favor of a free and open internet. thank you, mr. president. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. cardin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: mr. president, i take this time to urge my colleagues to support senate joint resolution 52 which would reinstate the free and open internet. it is, i thank my colleagues, senator marquee, and others -- senator markey and others for bringing this to our attention. it deals with the congressional review act to block a regulation that has been suggested that would repeal the protections we have on the free internet. let me just give you a little bit of background here so we can put this in context. internet service providers, known as i.s.p.'s are basically utility companies that provide internet service to our
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constituents, to our businesses, and to america. without the protection for net neutrality, these utilities have the ability to block or throttle content in the internet, charging what is known as being in the fast lane, charging more. so this is a debate between whether we are on the side of the big utility-type companies that provide internet service, their special interest, or the individuals and small businesses of america to guarantee them equal access to this critical service. let me just give you one example, and there are many that can be given. i'm sure that in every one of our communities we have a lot of small businesses, and they recognize that they can now do business on the internet, and they have an opportunity to compete with the large companies that do most of their business through the internet.
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so in baltimore, in maryland, i have small shop owners. one that i am particularly familiar with sells bikes. this shop owner now is using the internet in order to get to customers so that he can show his wares on the internet and have, be able to compete against one of the large giant retailers that does a lot of business on the internet. now, if a consumer in baltimore goes on to that bike shop's website, and if the product that consumer is interested in won't pop up within a couple seconds, the consumer is gone. is gone. there's been study after study that shows that about three seconds is the maximum attention span of a consumer shopping on
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the internet. now the large store that has access to the fast service broadband will have an incredible advantage over small businesses. if we allow the utility that provides the internet service to discriminate against the smaller users. that's what this debate's about. it's about protecting individual consumers, and it's about protecting small businesses. there's a reason why in 2015 the open internet order was passed, to protect these utilities that provide internet service from blocking or slowing down better than the service. broadband internet service is a public utility. it's interesting that almost half of the consumers have no choice in who they have to provide their internet service.
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they have basically one internet provider to choose from. competition does not exist. so this is not a matter of competition. this is a matter of preventing discrimination. i have the honor of being the ranking member of the small business and entrepreneur committee. and i can tell you on behalf of of the small businesses in maryland and around the nation, on behalf of farm owners around the nation, they need to have access to the internet, and they depend upon net neutrality. 56% of small business owners oppose the f.c.c.'s repeal of net neutrality. 70% of small business owners feel that they are at a disadvantage compared to a large corporation, due to their size and market power. the internet gives them that capacity to try to equalize that disadvantage. john duta is co-owner of red
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emma's a cooperative bookstore and restaurant in my hometown in baltimore. it summed it up best by saying i don't have the money to pay an internet service provider to guarantee my website will load quickly for all users, so i am concerned the end of net neutrality means customers will buy from retailers that have the resources to pay for faster service. additionally, if my internet service providers slows low times more or blocks access to my web content, we'll be up against more than just larger booksellers or restaurants. we're suddenly competing against any website that loads quickly, because those are the ones that will draw people's attention. mr. president, this is a matter of economic survival for small businesses, and it is a matter of having -- it's one thing, everybody wants to make sure they have access, that we have
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the super highways for broadband. we have that in maryland to make sure you can get connected. absolutely. we have to do more to make sure that all communities have access to internet service. but like health care, if you don't have quality care, access is not going to help you. you need to be able to have reliable broadband service. net neutrality has lowered the barriers to starting and growing a small business, and that's undeniably good for our economy. we all brag about the fact that small businesses are the growth engine of america, more jobs created by small business, innovation, et cetera. well, let's make sure that we give small business what they need. let's preserve net neutrality. as the f.c.c. commissioner put it, for the first time, small businesses could think big and consumers could shop small from anywhere in the world. think about that for a moment. small businesses can think big because they have access to the
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internet. and consumers can shop anywhere in the world, and shop in small companies anywhere in the world. the loss of net neutrality jeopardizes that progress. in every state, community and home across our nation, americans expect what are coming out of their tap, the flow and demand to be safe to tkreufrpg. they expect the lights in their home to go on thanks to the utility company that provides the electricity. and yes, they not only need and want to have access to the internet in the very same way. this is a utility and they need to be regulated as such. these providers should -- -- access to the information vital for our economy must be preserved. congress has a chance to put consumers and small businesses first and preent vent the f.c.c. from -- prevent the f.c.c. from bowg to -- bowing to public
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interest. i ask that my colleagues vote for s.j. res. 52. with that, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. wyden: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: i ask unanimous consent to vacate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wyden: mr. president, it's important for everybody to understand how things work today
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and what net neutrality is all about. what net neutrality is fundamentally about is everybody gets a fair shake with respect to using the internet. after you pay your internet access fee, you get to go where you want when you want and how you want. there are no special deals. there are no priority lanes for those with deep pockets who get more content and they get it faster than everybody else. it's not the way it works today. everybody gets a fair shake on an open and free internet because of net neutrality. what mr. pai and his allies -- and he's the head of the federal
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communications commission -- want is something very different. and under their vision of how things would work online, there would be tollbooths all over the internet, and those higher costs would in one way or another come out of your pocket, and that would sure work a hardship on millions of americans -- on millions literally, but especially small businesses and seniors and students, but everybody would be affected by that new approach that would establish tollbooths all over the internet. so my view is, mr. president, there is no vote that this body is going to take in 2018 that will have a more direct impact
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on the wallets of americans than the one that is going to happen in a few hours. this is the last chance to protect the free and open internet that comes about with real net neutrality. and the fact is if we don't do it, the trump federal communications commission and chairman pai wants to turn the lights out on that system i described, that you get internet and go where you when want you -- when you want. without what we're doing here, chairman pai can change that and take money away from typical americans to line the pockets of their friends over at the big communications monopolies at big
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cable. if republicans in the congress allow this administration to get away with repealing net neutrality, americans can certainly be expected to be charged more for netflix, for music services on spotify, for video game downloads, for example, on playstation. so this isn't some academic policy question that's going to show up years from now, and certainly there are matters we talk about where that could be the case. this is where the trump federal communications commission could hand big cable companies more power and take more money out of the pockets of the american people next month.


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