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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  May 21, 2018 2:59pm-6:27pm EDT

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and you're smiling. >> guest: once in a while he would tell you he would do it but i think that percentage-wise, probably 90% he just doing what he wanted to do and 10% he would tell you i'm thinking about doing this. >> host: is the private donald trump any different than the public? >> guest: um, he only difference that i would suggest is that i've always -- there's many instances in which i've seen him being carrying and empathetic and concerned that i wish would get out more. he carolina deeply about people. especially in times of tragedy, and i wish people got to see that more. that's the only differs. but generally speaking -- >> you can watch the rest of the discussion with former white house press secretary sean spicer online on c-span.org. we leave it as the senate gets
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ready to gavel in debating a nomination to consumer product safety commission: the chair of the federal department insurance corporation and for u.s. ambassador to luxembourg and work on legislation dealing with veterans health care. take you live to the floor of the senate on c-span. 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. almighty god, who fills us with
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hope even in challenging times, use us to bring your kingdom to earth. give to our lawmakers the inner strength to seek the truth and live by your precepts. help them to see eternal things amid the tempests of the temporal. use them to help create a more nonviolent nation and world. free them from towering self-sufficiency as they habitually place their hope in you. lord, make them tall enough in morals and spiritual stature to
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rise above the petty prejudices of our day, depending on you to direct their steps. we pray in your holy name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: the nation watched in horror fry die it is a as a senseless act of morer changed the community forever. the senate stands in mourning, sorrow with the students and faculty in santa fe, texas. no community should ever be subject to such who are he and heartbreak. our hearts go out to the families of those killed, to the winds who continue to battle injuries, to the first respon responders who leapt into action and to the santa fe community that rallies around them.
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now, mr. president, on an entirely different matter, in the coming day, the senate will take up landmark legislation on one of our top priorities -- providing more option options and better care to america's veterans. the v.a. mission act is a major milestone in an ongoing effort by chairman isakson and the committee on veterans' affairs to ensure our nation fulfills its promises to our men and women in uniform, including more than 300,000 veterans in my home state of kentucky. what senator isakson and his colleagues have put together is one of the most comprehensive reform packages for veterans health care since the v.a. was created back in 1930. it builds on the substantial success of the veterans choice act and harnesses provisions of 15 different senate-introduced bills. this bill streamlines support systems, expands access to care, and provides new tools for attracting and retraining top caregivers.
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the veteran who lives far from a v.a. facility but needs frequent follow-up care will now have easier access to local providers and walk-in clinics. the wounded warrior navigating difficult pain management routines will now be served by providers with clearer guidelines for opioid prescription. and the retired service member who relies on a family caregiver will rest assured of expanded eligibility and program benefits for veterans of all eras. it's hardly surprising this bill has such broad bipartisan coalition support, including the endorsement of 38 of the nation's leading veterans advocacy organizations. i look forward enthusiastically to considering it in the coming days. and i would urge every one of my colleagues to support this worthically legislation and send it to the president for his signature. it's not merely our duty but our privilege to improve and enhance
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the care available to those who have given so much. now, on another matter, later today, mr. president, we'll consider the nomination of dana baiocco, the president's choice tajine the consumer product safety commission. her resume speaks for itself. after receiving her j.d. cum laude from duquesne university, she clerked in the western district of pennsylvania before launching an impressive career in private practice. for two decks she has stood at the center of complicated cases and gained recognition for his mastery of the legal questions surrounding consumer safety. this experience makes ms. baiocco an ideal candidate to help the cpsc. testifying before our colleagues
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on the commerce committee, she pledged to seek the balance with transparency and an open-door policy and to remain guided by the rule of law, i look forward to advancing this nominee when we vote later this i do not have -- afternoon and would urge all of our colleagues 0 join me. earlier today, the president signed in law a congressional review act legislation. federal regulators found a loop hole, skipped the standard period for review, and public comment and issued unilateral guidance that made life needlessly complicated for the american auto industry and its customers. thanks to senator toomey's ten n.a.s. thank you, the g.a.o. ruled that this intrusion did indeed constitute rule making that ought to be subject to congressional review. so congress got to have its say.
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accountability won out in the end. and now thanks to this resolution from senator moran, yet another onerous regulation is now headed to the wastebask wastebasket. our record use of c.r.a.'s is just one of the tools republicans are using to get washington out of the way of american workers and job creators. republican tax reform is providing historic tax cuts for middle-class families and small businesses and it repealed the individual mandate penalty at the heart of obamacare. tomorrow the house will vote on the senate-passed legislation championed by senator crapo, which will give community banks and credit unions relief from the crushing burden of complying with dodd-frank. and of course in the executive branch, the president's team has turned the page on the last administration's hostility toward american business. the result is a palpable shift that is improving the entire economy.
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back in 2013 more than three-quarters -- three-quarters -- of u.s. manufacturers said a hostile climate due to taxes and regulations was a major business -- was a major business obstacles. three-quarters of u.s. manufacturers said that in 2013. today, 16 months into the unified republican government, fewer than 20% say that. from 75% concerned about taxes and regulations in 2013 down to 20% today. and nearly 95% are optimistic about their future economic process expects. everyone is taking notice. here's a "new york times" headline in a few months african american the trump effect, business anticipating less regulation loosens purse strings. that from "the new york times." one texas homebuilder told the reporters, quote, it's an overall sense that you're not going it face any new regulatory
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fights. more investment, more prosperity, more job openings, and higher wages all across the country. good things happen when republican policies get washington out of the american people's way. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to consider the following nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, consumer product safety commission. dana daiocco of ohio to be commissioner. mr. hatch: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from for utah.
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mr. hatch: mr. president, i am here today to discuss new legislation to help puerto rico gain a stronger fiscal footing. but before turning to that i'd like to make a few comments regarding the current nafta today talks. over the past few weeks, there has been a lot of discussion in the press about potential deadlines for concluding negotiations on nafta. while speculation about time lines is natural, let me be clear, as i've said from the beginning of these talks, the most important thing for determining when and how congress will vote on an eventual north american free trade agreement outcome is the quality of the agreement. i understand that the current negotiations are about an existing agreement that american businesses and workers rely on in dealing with two of our largest trading partners. i understand that continuing negotiations means a level of uncertainty about these important relationships will continue to persist.
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nevertheless, it is critical that the administration takes the time necessary to get these negotiations right. i believe the administration understands that. a modernized nafta will help american workers and businesses only if it includes strong and enforceable protections for america's criterias and innovators, supports cross-border data flows and maintains and expands market access for american goods and services, exporters to the canadian and mexican markets. the bottom line substance is what matters. and we should not allow other considerations to impede achieving our goals. i am confident that with continued discussions between the united states, canada, and mexico, we can create a strong agreement that will meet the high standards set by congress in trade promotion authority. i will continue to support the
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administration in achieving that outcome. mr. president, having said my piece about nafta, i'd like to turn to the main purpose i am standing here. last thursday i introduced a bill cosponsored by senator rubio entitled "the puerto rico economic empowerment act of 2018." the bill works to help the people in puerto rico as they continue to face a stagnant economy and recover from massive damage called by recent hurricanes. this bill will be a critical step towards resurrecting growth in puerto rico that directly targets relief to puerto ricans themselves and small businesses on the island. in briefings the bill provides the following -- first, the bill provides a payroll tax holiday for employees in puerto rico for two years, cutting their payroll taxes in half in order to give economic relief to the
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hardworking people of puerto rico who face an economy that has been stagnant and mismanaged for far too long. second, the bill provides equal treatment with respect to the federal child tax credit for puerto rican families with one or two children. not just for those who have three or more. this will provide more equitable treatment to puerto rican families with respect to the federal child tax credit to help families to reduce child poverty. third, the bill provides greater flexibility for puerto rico in various small business administration programs to assist puerto rico's small business owners during a time of prolonged economic downturn. fourth, the bill confronts the long-standing problem in trying to monitor puerto rico's economy that stems from lack of inclusion of puerto rico in many
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federal statistic surveils the bill also calls for the establishment of a federal statistical research data center in puerto rico. these and other provisions in the bill follow recommendations of the bipartisan congressional task force on economic growth in puerto rico. i had the opportunity of chairing that task force with four members from the house and four members from the senate. we also made sure that the task force was evenly split with regard to political affiliation. i know such evenhanded bipartisanship and compromise is rare around here, but we were able to do it. we came up with a 125-page report that made many different suggestions. not wanting that work to go to waste, senators rubio and i have been working hard to craft those proposals into this bill, and i am confident it truly embodies
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the purpose and bipartisan spirit of that bicameral task force. although i do not have a score on the bill yesterday from previous scores on similar provisions would add up to over $3.5 billion of relief, largely in tax relief to our fellow citizens, fellow americans in puerto rico. once i obtained an updateed score, i will recalibrate the offset accordingly, if necessary. in the meantime, the final clause of the bill is entirely offset by redirecting funds from the prevention and public health fund established under the so-called affordable care act. redirecting from that fund helped provide upsets for the 21st century cures act and for the bipartisan budget act of 2018. both of which received bipartisan support. i hope that all of my colleagues can join senator rubio and me in support of this bill.
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after all, our prior efforts have not solved many of the ongoing issues in puerto rico. for example, toward the end of 2015, we passed promesa into law. promesa was the result of the efforts of the obama officials in the obligations. it largely took their bankruptcy scheme but loosely added provisions to spur economic development in puerto rico, particularly in the energy states. one promise of promesa touted by the obama administration officials was that it would circumvent a advice cue us and wasteful -- a viscuous and wasteful sequence of events of lawsuits. theoretically, the law was going to stop creditors in puerto rico from facing off in prolonged
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court battles. i voted for promesa because puerto rico's long span of fiscal irresponsibility needed to be stopped and a promise of limiting litigation was inviting. unfortunately, the law has failed to prevent a tidal wave of litigation as was promised. promesa was also set up -- it also set up an oversight board to facilitate voluntary debt resolution negotiations or movement of disputes to a court-supervised bankruptcy-like process. the promise of voluntary debt resolutions has not been fulfilled even for a restructuring agreement between creditors and puerto rico's power authority called prepa, which had been agreed upon by both sides. the oversight board was also intended to oversee and monitor budgets for the various indebted
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arms of the government of puerto rico. on this front, i have also been disappointed as it seems that the oversight board has largely been operating in the dark, often relying on the government of puerto rico for information of questionable validity. that said, i am not without hope. the oversight board has recently been slightly more aggressive in its demands for transparency from the government of puerto rico, and i hope they are successful in obtaining useful verifiable information. however, the government of puerto rico has been and remains largely opaque. mr. president, it is just one example. i have asked government officials in puerto rico for audited financial statements for nearly three years now. let me repeat that. i have been waiting nearly three years for audited financial statements from puerto rico. unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, the government of
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puerto rico has not provided audited financial information since fiscal year 2014. this is obviously problematic when trying to figure out how to best help puerto rico. and this is not a one-off issue. recently following numerous claims by government officials in puerto rico of severe, even crisis level liquidity shortages, puerto rico finally got around to looking into hundreds of standard government bank accounts and revealed late last year that it found nearly $7 billion of stranded cash. this is just one of many examples of how disorganized and inconsistent accounting continues to prevail in puerto rico. damaging the credibility of the government. but it doesn't end there. there have recently been attempts by the government of puerto rico to potentially
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politicize the puerto rico institute of statistics. obviously, this is concerning. in a report by the congressional task force on economic growth in puerto rico, members of congress from both chambers and both sides of the aisle expressed that the institute of statistics quote, has emerged as a highly professional, autonomous and apolitical organization that is bringing greater transparency to economic, financial, and fiscal conditions on the island, end quote. indeed, a recommendation of the task force was for the institute to continue to protect its independence. unfortunately, the institute has been forced to litigate its independence, given an ill-conceived effort by the government of puerto rico to overhaul and potentially politicize the institute. mr. president, i know that there is bipartisan support for our fellow americans in puerto rico.
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indeed, i heard a lot of support by members here on the floor following the devastating hurricanes that hit the island. some members seem genuinely concerned while others seem more interested in trying to cast doubts on or politicize the disaster response from the federal government led by the administration. nonetheless, i remain committed to working with anyone from either side to help and support the people of puerto rico. however, that work must involve compromise and mutual understanding of each other's concerns. that has not always been the case, in my view. i have tried to work to provide tax relief to people in puerto rico, yet i continue to hear from some, including former obama administration officials that i must include access for puerto rico to be earned -- to the earned income tax credit.
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mr. president, i have been clear about my concerns that the administration of such a provision carries with it many possible problems as highlighted by a report by the nonpartisan joint committee on taxation. moreover, puerto rico already had its own earned income tax credit, which it subsequently did away with. it seems to want to resurrect the idea now and have every right and ability to institute such a credit on the island. however, i cannot support the, quote, advice, unquote from some that i must support a provision involving cutting a big check from the federal general fund to the government of puerto rico for them to administer such a credit. i also cannot support the views of some in puerto rico, including government officials, that they were somehow left out of our tax reform efforts because they didn't receive, did not receive a special carveout unavailable to anyone else.
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subsidiaries of the u.s.-headquartered firms that are organized as controlled foreign corporations in puerto rico for federal tax purposes were treated the same as similarly situated taxpayers anywhere else. in addition, if being somehow left out of tax reform means that provisions to provide some sort of tax haven status as some in puerto rico asked for, then i think that the proponents of such a view do not understand recent history. in my more than 40 years in the senate, i have always been a proud advocate of accountability and oversight. that is why i support greater transparency in the puerto rican government as well as the oversight board. i also support ongoing federal efforts, including those of the treasury department to carefully and closely monitor federal funds provided to puerto rico through disaster and other
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relief. as always, we owe a duty to taxpayers to prudently safeguard their hard-earned dollars from being channeled into inefficient and wasteful uses. these and other reasons are why in connection -- in conjunction with senator rubio and anyone else here who wishes to join us i am advocating for the provisions contained in the puerto rico economic empowerment act of 2018 that i introduced today. mr. president, let me end by reiterating that i want to work on a bipartisan basis and in the spirit of compromise with anyone here in this chamber to help our fellow americans in puerto rico. truly, theirs is an uphill battle as they continue to face many different add verities. that has been the case for years, and i hope we can set our
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partisan politicking aside and get to work. with that, mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president, on friday morning there was yet another shooting in a school in america. another community torn apart by senseless violence. another week when parents must bury their children. we're still learning the tragic details of what happened in santa fe, but the basic reality remains unchanged, far too many
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people are dying from gun violence. what we need now more than ever is substantive debate on gun violence. a real debate about universal background checks, a real debate about productive orders and a real debate on assault weapons. many in the -- in the wake of parkland, it looked like president trump would finally get religion this issue. he promised a serious debate on gun violence, but as p soon -- but as soon as the n.r.a. closed ranks around him, he backed off. that seems to be the pattern in this administration. the president says something one day, some powerful interest says don't do it, he backs off. that is not the kind of strength he should show. now, after this most recent tragedy in santa fe, we've heard
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no new calls for gun safety from the white house. this chamber can still act. i implore my friends from across the aisle. we owe it to the people of santa fe, texas, parkland, florida, and every community who lives at the mercy of the gun laws. on another matter, the ongoing trade negotiations on china. when it comes to being tough on crime to china's trading practice, i'm closer to president trump than either president obama or president bush. when president trump threatened tariffs on extortion of our intellectual property, i gave the president a pat on the back. we ought to be able to sell goods and services without
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turning over intellectual property. g.e. employs thousands in skenekty, they know how to make turbines spin fast and not overheat. what did the chinese did? they blackmailed g.e. it's great for the heads of g.e. great for their board, great for the stock for a few years, but after that, chinese now in this 51-49, has learned how to make the turbine themselves, we're gone. more good-paying jobs could be lost in upstate new york as they have been throughout america. president trump's actions at first helped bring china to the table, but now president trump and his team have to stick with it, to be strong, and negotiate a strong, concrete ray agreement. the -- concrete agreement. the worse things to do is sell out for a one-time temporary purchase of goods without
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addressing the real issue, theft of intellectual property and know how which hosts -- costs us millions of american jobs. unfortunately seems too strong a possibility that president trump is headed down the road of not being strong. the president said this morning that, quote, china has agreed to buy additional amounts of farm and agriculture products. secretary mnuchin has said that the administration would, quote, follow this up on this vague commitment and that $150 billion on proposed tariffs would be put on hold. it is deeply disappointing that thus far president trump has won no concessions on intellectual property and has locked in no new market access. in reality, there were not even specific commitments of u.s. goods purchases, not that such a
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commitment would undo the damage china continues to do to us in its other activities. if nothing else changes, this deal is a win-win for china. they avoid tough actions on intellectual property and they avoid tough actions on intellectual property and give us some temporary and relatively small relief to buy some goods. china's trade negotiators must be laughing themselves back to beijing. they know what they're doing, playing us for goods. the temporary purchase of goods while china continues to steal our family jewels, the thing that has made p america great. the intellectual property and the know-how makes no sense. china is pushing the president around, and he seems to accept
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it. worse still, the president's team is still talking about giving relief to china's state backed telecommunications giant z.t.e., a company that violated our sanctions laws and is considered a national security threat. it is totally backward. the way to win real concessions from china is to stay tough, not to bluster and back off at the first sign of friction. so i say to president trump, who knows i genuinely want him to succeed with china, stay strong. don't back off sanctions on z.t.e. you have to pursue the course or china will continue to enjoy the upper hand. now congress also has a say on this issue. i was gratified to see that last week bipartisan democrats and republicans in a house appropriations subcommittee meeting approved a measure tphald block the president from
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weakening sanctions on z.t.e. senate democrats will consider additional measures if necessary to block sanctions on z.t.e. and hope our republican colleagues will join us in that effort. the united states cannot let china continue to steal america's lifeblood, our intellectual property, and flout international trade laws. if president trump doesn't get tough with them now, china will know he's willing to back down the first time of resistance. it will be a sad day for america, for america's workers, for our future wealth, our future prosperity. it will help make china replace us as number one, is crucial. finally, on the probe tphaop putin's interference in our elections, in a series of tweets yesterday, president trump demanded that the justice department start a counter investigation of the russia investigation itself. that he would issue such an
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absurd and abusive demand based on no evidence shows just how little regard the president has for the rule of law. president trump seems to have the terribly misguided view that the department of justice is there to protect his political interests and prosecute his enemies. well, it's not. the department of justice is required to follow the law, not the political bidding of the president particularly when they're investigating him. the president's demand is a blatant abuse of executive power and an ill-informed sloppy attempt to discredit the dually constituted investigation led by the special counsel. as we speak, the president is reportedly meeting with justice department officials to press his case. even after they've already called on the inspector general to look into this matter. the president's behavior is the kind of grossly autocratic behavior we'd expect in a banana
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republic, not a maturity democracy. by now we should all recognize that president trump's latest demand is just another example of a relentless campaign to distract from the serious wrongdoing being uncovered by the russia probe. this weekend it was reported that members of the president trump's inner circle met with emissaries and companies from several other foreign countries during the campaign to discuss manipulation of american voters in order to sway the election. this is exactly what our founding fathers feared. attempts by foreign capitals to influence american elections. as a reaction, the president does what he always does when faced with alarming news about conduct of his campaign and the people in it. he kicks up dust. he tries to distract. he issues a flurry of tweets pointing people in every other
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direction. that's all his demand for a counter investigation is. another distraction. i must add with sadness and some reluctance, a good deal of the blame for the president's undemocratic behavior lies with congressional republicans who have engaged in a scorched earth campaign to discredit the justice department broadly and the special investigation specifically. representative nunes has been at the center of much of this happen campaign -- much of this campaign but the circle of blame is widening. paul ryan is not doing his duty when he stands aside and lets nunes and his cohorts do what they're doing. members of the majority here in the senate have demanded that the d.o.j. hand over copious amounts of information and documents including potential evidence about an ongoing criminal investigation any prosecutor would tell you that's not how criminal investigations operate. it's hard to view these requests
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as anything but a coordinated campaign with the white house to interfere with or impede mr. mueller's investigation. and, frankly, these kinds of actions are enabling and encourage the president to test the bound of the rule of law in this country. when the president sees republicans in congress go after the special counsel investigation, he feels even more emboldened, and that's a shame for our country broadly defined in history. there's a disturbing trend emerging. chairman nunes and the republicans on the hill concoct a plan to tear down the chain of command to the mueller investigation. they feed it to the right-wing press which churns out innuendo laden and often factually inaccurate story after story. the president twaoetsz and the fringe conspiracy theories of the far right in congress land on the front pages of mainstream media outlets all in the service of the president's despicable
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attempt to distract and deflect from the legitimate probe into russia's interference in our elections. republican, democrat, independent, it shouldn't matter. all americans should want deputy attorney general rosenstein and special counsel mueller to continue the russia probe and follow the facts to their conclusion, without interference and without intimidation. you i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. cornyn: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: i have one question for a committee to meet during today's session of the senate. it's been approved by both the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: without objection. duly noted. mr. cornyn: madam president, to my shock and surprise, tern people were killed friday in a little town outside of houston known as santa fe at santa fe high school 20 miles northwest of galveston, texas. a student walked into the school with a shotgun and a pistol perhaps from his parents and without their knowledge. he engaged in a killing spree. the dead included eight students
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and two teachers. a brave police officer was among the 13 wounded. when i heard of the shooting, i made plans to immediately to go to santa fe where i met with governor abbott, lieutenant governor patrick, senator cruz and others. we spoke to the texas department of public safety, the bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms, the f.b.i. representatives as well as santa fe independent school officials to find out what happened. families there, of course, remain in shocked that something so terrible could happen in a small tucked away little community, one that was recently shaken by hurricane harvey last fall and previously seen far -- seemed far removed from the violence that has touched other parts of the country. as i said last friday, we have seen this before. just last fall, we saw a similar story unfold in sutherland
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springs outside of san antonio when a man opened fire at a sunday church service. then we saw it in florida earlier this year at stoneman douglas high school in parkland. unfortunately, in recent years, there have been plenty of examples, too many examples actually, too many lives lost, and far too few solutions for families reeling from the aftermath. two things that strike me are clear though. we need to better protect our student, secure our schools, and keep weapons out of the hands of those who are a danger to themselves and others. and the second thing is to acknowledge that we haven't yet been able to do this effectively. something's wrong because these school shootings keep happening. it is no coincidence that these shootings mostly happen at public schools or soft targets, and the shooters are usually male teenagers who attended those schools.
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these young people, i should add, are surrounded by a culture that condemns violence on one hand, excoriating public officials for not doing more to prevent it, and celebrating violence the next. on television, in movies, and video games that at least have the potential to desensitize especially vulnerable young people. many proposals on how to address this pervasive problem focus on the guns themselves, not on the individuals that actually use them. they focus on restricting access to guns or banning specific firearm components for even law-abiding citizens. but any proposed fixes must also consider the root nature of the problem and that is the deranged minds, the twisted rationalizations, and the tragic decisions of the people who commit these terrible acts of violence. these shooters are obviously
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incapable of self-regulating their own behavior. how could we possibly address that. that's part of what we need to be thinking about. a gun can kill someone only if a person, a very sick or a very bad person pulls the trigger. so what have we done here in congress to try to respond as incompletely as i note we have. well, last year we sponsored -- we introduced a bill called the mental health and safe communities act which was signed by president obama in 2016. it's part of the answer. it provides more resources for communities and schools and mental health providers to deal with people before they become a danger to themselves or others. but there's more we could do certainly in that space. texas tech university health science center has expanded the use of technology that could
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help us better utilize telemedicine to reach out to those in mental health crisis and offer them an alternative course of treatment when they don't otherwise have access. we should consider that and other ideas in the days ahead. the parents that lost their sons and daughters at santa fe high school are obviously still grieving today. and we should be grieving as well, not only for the people who lost their lives but also for the state of our nation, one that continues to watch its young people self-destruct engaging in violence that takes the lives of brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends, and classmates. we have been told in recent days that grief and prayers are not enough. i agree it's not enough to send our condolences to communities like santa fe. we need to look to the families of the victims in the eyes and
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say here are the concrete steps we have taken and intend to take to make sure something like this never happens again. i believe we did that earlier this year in a broad bipartisan basis passing legislation called the fix nics act. passing that bill is important because the last time i saw a major shooting in my state, it was at sutherland springs where a man who'd been discharged less than honorably from the air force for domestic violence convictions fell through the cracks of our background check system. he was able to lie and buy a firearm, even though under existing law he was disqualified and prohibited from doing so. but because of the broken background check system, he was able to get away with it. our fix nics bill will help fix that broken background check system. it was widely supported by republicans and democrats. we got 78 cosponsors in the senate alone demonstrating that
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solutions can enjoy broad bipartisan support if they actually make sense as opposed to engaging in ideological battles. so i'm glad congress worked together also to pass the stop school violence act earlier this year, which i was proud to cosponsor. this legislation will help provide our schools with the tools and resources they need to prevent violence through better equipment, planning, training, safety infrastructure, and law enforcement presence on campus. in this year's appropriation bill, we were able to allocate $75 million to start getting this initiative off the ground. people wonder can we possibly do this, can we succeed in making our schools a safe place for mothers and fathers to send their children and where they're confident that everything humanly possible is being done to protect them? well, i'm not suggesting we turn them into an airport, but you'll
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recall, madam president, post-9/11, we have hardened our airports and our nation's air travel in such a way to make is virtually impervious to terrorist attacks. i think given the proper attention and the creative thinking and the proper resources, we can also come together and make our schools impervious to this sort of attack in the future. if we could do it at our nation's airports against terrorist attacks, we can do it in our communities at our local high schools. finally, and thank goodness, we have seen the justice department prioritize firearms prosecutions with a number of defendants charged with unlawful possession, increasing significantly over the past few years. this is because of attorney general jeff sessions who has made this a priority and thank goodness for that. it's long been overdue. u.s. attorneys are now focused on enforcing laws that criminalize gun buyers who lie on their federal background
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check. previously somebody could come in and lie on the background check, get caught, and nothing would ever happen to them. now, thanks to the attorney general and the u.s. attorneys, people are being prosecuted for lying, acting as a further deterrent on people who are felons or otherwise disqualified from legally purchasing firearms. and vehicles like project safe neighborhoods, which the senate passed unanimously last week, would fund task forces that target serious firearm offenders and get them off the streets. all of this is a good start, but the shooting in santa fe shows we have a long way to go. because every one of these shootings seems to be a little bit different. obviously, in sutherland springs, the failure seemed to be the background check, which allowed the shooter to buy a
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firearm and lie and not get caught. in places like las vegas, this bump stock, which allowed people to turn essentially a semiautomatic rival into virtually an automatic weapon, which is otherwise illegal, we all learned about bump stocks, something i'd never even heard about before. as an avid shooter myself and hunter, i just -- i'd never heard about it. now the president has taken care of that problem. we've acted in the wake of parkland in florida to try to make sure that we get the resources to our schools so that they can better protect their students and deal with other aspects of this challenge. but we need to be more methodical in figuring out the solutions and then seeing what, if any, -- what if any solutions would have actually prevented a shooting and then looking to see if those same proposals would
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prevent similar events. in the case of santa fe, we know the shooter was somewhat withdrawn socially but he was also a high school athlete and involved in his church. he posted troubling pictures on social media, but he was not your typical troubled youth who people guessed one day might snap. we also know that santa fe high school had had lockdown drills recently and that police officers were stationed on campus. both of these likely prevented the event from becoming much, much worse, so good for them for the lockdown drills and having police officers on campus. we should be grateful for that, even in the wake of so much violence that leaves us with so many unanswered questions. one of the two officers who rushed in to stop the shooter was john barnes, who was shot himself by the gunman. he's former houston police
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officer who now works for the santa fe independent school district. i'm told his heart stopped twice while doctors and paramedics were trying to stem his bleeding, but he is a fighter and he held on. he's now in critical but stable condition in galveston. we of course appreciate him and all other first responders. the other officers courageously confronted the shooter and saved other lives, and we wish officer barnes and his entire family the best, as he fully recovers from this injury. another hero who has emerged from the accounts of the shooting is christopher jones who once the shooting started blocked the classroom door protecting his fellow students from the gunman. tragically, when the gunman shot through the door, christopher stone was shot and he did not survive. we will remember him and all the
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other lives that were lost as we pledge to do better, to work harder, to work together and to find new ways to protect our schools and our children from harm. madam president, i yield the floor. and aid he note the absence of a quorum -- and i'd note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. nelson: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: madam president, i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: madam president, i want to speak today in the wake of another tragic school shooting. this time it's in texas. ten innocent people, eight students and two teachers, were gunned down friday when a gunman walked into a high school in east texas and opened fire. tragedies such as this are
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becoming too common in our society, and at some point, we have to say enough is enough. how many times have we said that because just three months ago i stood right here on the senate floor after 17 people were killed at m.s.d. high school in parkland, florida. i pleaded with our colleagues to set aside partisan politics and work together to enact common sense reforms that will help what happened at marjorie stoneman douglas high school a pivotal moment in our nation's history. not because it was one of the deadliest school shootings, but back then three months ago because it was the last.
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i hoped that it would be the last. i'm so proud of the students that spoke out, the parents that spoke out. fred guttenberg whose daughter was gunned down as she was trying to flee at the other end of the hall, but that bullet from that ar-15 caught her right in the spinal cord. just as she was about to exit the hallway. and thanks to fred and others that have been speaking out, especially the students. so eloquent, so bold. and we all hoped that the shooting in parkland was going to be the last. but it's not.
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and here we go again with this stadged that took place in parkland so fresh in our minds, here we go again, and our students deserve better. you have seen the article since friday's shooting about how students are frightened that their school is next. our schools and our communities deserve better. america deserves better than this. our students certainly deserve better. now, this congress has passed since the margor y stoneman douglas shooting, we passed two bills into law, only two. and while this senator supported both of these, they alone are
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not nearly enough. we can and we must do more, and you have heard me over and over say that we need to ban assault weapons and the long clips, and we need to close the gun show loophole. we need a comprehensive universal background check for the sale of the trans-- sale or the transfer of any firearm, regardless of where it's purchased. and by the way, those comprehensive background checks would have picked up things like red flags like the shooter in parkland who had had some real mental problems. it would have also picked up the shooter in the orlando pulse nightclub two years ago because he had been a member on the list of the terrorist watch list and
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had been taken off. and if those kinds of things are picked up in a comprehensive background search, then when a person goes to buy a gun, those kind of things will be picked up. but also we need to do more to provide our students with access to the mental health professionals they need. now, it's becoming more and more apparent that this is -- if we're not going to get, because of the n.r.a. locking down their votes, if we're not going to get anything on assault weapons or the gun show loophole or a comprehensive background check, then surely we ought to be able to come together in a bipartisan way to do something about mental health. i have met with parents and
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teachers and students across our state of florida, and the one topic that keeps coming up is the lack of mental health services available to our children and how true is that in society at large, but we're talking about school shoons now perpetrated by other students. you won't like this statistic. florida has one school psychologist for about every 2,000 students. that's according to a report of the florida association of school psychologists. if you compare that to the nationally recommended ratio of one psychologist for every 500 or 700 students, that means
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florida only has about one-fourth of the number of school psychologists it needs to properly care for its students. one-fourth, 25%. and that's just florida. 35 million children in this country have had at least one serious traumatic experience and nearly two-thirds of children have been exposed to violence. that's why we have another piece of legislation that senators cosponsored to provide better care to children who have experienced trauma and their families. you know, we finally have done something with regard to ptsd
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with regard to our veterans. everybody understands that. everybody understands you don't actually have to get an injury to have ptsd. as a matter of fact, it can manifest itself years later. and we're getting the mental health counseling for our veterans, particularly those who have come home from a war zone. are these children now experiencing a war zone? is not the trauma that they are experiencing at ages 12- 17 at their tender age comparable to
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some of the trauma that our young soldiers are now experiencing? if we're going to be serious about curbing this type of violence that we're going to continue to see in children's schools, oh, lordy, we hoped that parkland was the last one but it's not, and there are going to be more. and so if we're going to be serious about this, we must hire more school counselors, social workers, psychologists and other mental health professionals to get ahead of the problem and ensure any student who needs help is able to get it. and so later this week, midweek, i'll be introducing legislation aimed at doing exactly that. to increase the number of mental
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health professionals in our children's schools across the country. kids suffering from trauma or depression or any other sort of mental problems shouldn't be denied the help they need because the school or the school district can't afford it. and so the bill that i will file on wednesday i hope with a whole bunch of senators sponsoring, it will provide grants to colleges and universities that set up programs to train future school counselors, social workers, psychologists, and other mental health professionals in the school districts that need them the most. and it will create a federal student loan forgiveness program for mental health professionals
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who take jobs in the districts that need them. that's often been a problem. not only the supply but getting the supply in the school districts that need them. you know, that's not unlike the loan forgiveness that we give to government workers or to, for example, doctors that will serve , practice in an underserved area such as a rural area. we do it for those professionals. let's do this for the mental health workers that are desperately needed in underserved areas, which is obviously becoming apparent is in our schools. and when we give our students the tools they need to succeed,
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such as access to that mental health treatment, you know, everyone is going to benefit. and our students know this. they have been asking for our help to make these services more available. parents, teachers, and school administrators across the country know this, too. and they are pleading for congress to act. let's give our schools and our communities the help they need, the help they have been asking for. let's start taking steps today to change the course that the country finds itself in with another school shooting last friday. i hope many, many senators come on and cosponsor this legislation. we can't allow what happened in
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parkland, parkland, florida, and in santa fe, texas, to become the new normal in this country. we have to do more to protect our kids in school and ensure that any student who needs mental health services is able to get those services. madam president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of dana baiocco of ohio to be a commissioner of the consumer product safety commission. the presiding officer: the mandatory quorum call has been waived. is it the sense of the? the that debate on the nomination of dana baiocco of ohio to be commissioner of the consumer product -- do this once more. to be the commissioner of the consumer product safety commission shall be brought to a
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close. the yeas and nays are mannedry under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote: vote:
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vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: have all senators voted? any senators wish to change their vote? on this vote the yeas are 49, nays 45, the motion is agreed to.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senate majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding the professions of rule 22, all postcloture time on the dana baiocco be considered expired 12 nontoo many, the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, and the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: so for the information of all senators, there will be two roll call votes at noon tomorrow, a vote on the confirmation of the dana baiocco for the cpsc followed by
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a cloture vote on the veterans health care bill. i ask unanimous consent the senate resume legislative session for a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i understand there is a bill at the desk due for a second reading. the presiding officer: the leader is correct. the clerk will read the title of the bill for a second time. the clerk: a bill to amend the congressional accountability act of 1995 and so forth and for other purposes. mr. mcconnell: in order to place the bill on the calendar under the provisions of rule 14, i object to further proceedings. the presiding officer: objection having been heard, the bill is placed on the calendar. mr. mcconnell: i ask that the senate proceed to s. res. 517 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: designating may 2018 as older americans month. the presiding officer: is there
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any objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the preamble be agreed to, motion motion. mr. mcconnell: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask when the senate completes its business today, it ajirn until 10:00 a.m., tuesday, may 22, further, after morning business, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, and morning business be closed. i ask that following leader remarks senate proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the dane dane nomination -- of the dana baiocco nomination under the previous order. i ask that the senate recess following the cloture vote with respect to the house message to accompany s. 2372 until 2:15 to allow for the weekly conference meetings. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: if there is no further business to come before further business to come before
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>> the senate today debating a nomination to the consumer product safety commission. it's a confirmation vote expected tomorrow and an executive branch nominations this week. also this week work on legislation dealing with veterans health care. earlier today secretary of state mike pompeo talked about the ministrations new strategy for iran. here are some of his remarks to the heritage foundation. >> the path forward. america's commitment to the iran strategy that president trump laid out remains. it will now be executed outside of the jcpoa.
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we will continue to work with allies and to counter the stabilizing activities in the region and block their financing of terror that address iran's proliferation of missiles and other advanced weapon systems that are in peace and stability. we will also ensure iran is no path to a nuclear weapon, not now, not ever. following arbitral president trump's asked me to achieve these goals with iran. we will pursue this goal along several lines of effort. first, we will apply unprecedented financial pressure on the iranian regime. leaders in toronto have no doubt about our seriousness. thanks to our colleagues in the department of treasury stations are going back in full effect in humans are coming in last week we impose sanctions on the head of the central bank and other entities that were funneling money to the irg see clip force. they were also providing money to has a lot and terrorist organizations with the reigning
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regime should know this is now just the beginning and this sting of the sanctions will be painful if the regime does not change his course from the unacceptable path that is chosen to one that rejoins the league of nations. these will indeed and up being the strongest sections in history when we are complete. the regime has been fighting all over the middle east for years and after our sanctions are enforced it will be battling to keep its economy alive. iran will be forced to make a choice. either fight to keep its economy up or keep squandering precious life. it will not have the resources to do both. >> later this week second estate mike pompeo will testify to capitol hill hearings on his department budget. wednesday he will be before the house foreign affairs committee
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and live starting at 9:00 a.m. eastern we will have that on c-span3. also on c-span .org or you can listen live on the free c-span radio app. thursday the secretary will be before the senate foreign relations committee live at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span3. also live online and by using the radio. >> recently the supreme court ruled unanimously that a driver does have a reasonable expectation of privacy while in a rental car. even if the driver did not rent the car and is not the authorized operator under the rental agreement. here is the oral argument in burn versus the united states heard on january 9th. the case dates back to 2014. >> your argument first this morning in case 161371 burn versus the united states.

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