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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  May 23, 2018 10:59am-4:01pm EDT

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included a lack of guidance and specific requirements of anonymous or confidential reporting by survivors training and background checks to name a few. unlike deficiencies however, there doesn't appear to have been a follow-up audit of the usoc. do you plan to conduct a follow-up audit? >> just a moment to review them. yes, having looked that that, in any sense we have deficiencies in its required we should do exactly the same thing. we should have follow-up audit and ensure we are in compliance. >> what ability does the usoc have to enforce policies and procedures? >> this hearing on a abuse in u.s. olympic community continues
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on c-span.org. we are leaving now for live coverage of the senate. today they will be voting on a veterans choice health care bill and several executive nominations including the federal housing administration and the federal deposit insurance corp. 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. gracious god, teach us to number our days that we may have hearts of wisdom. today, guide our lawmakers.
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keep their minds clear and clean and uncluttered by cares, as they follow your leading. lord, make them aware that they are the recipients of your unconditional love. enable them to fill swift hours with mighty deeds that will help keep america strong. may your kingdom of love and righteousness come within them, motivating them to contribute worthily to the abiding peace of humanity. we pray in your great name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag.
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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 in tech tech the majority leader. -- the president pro tempore: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: first, on an important piece of business, workplace harassment is unacceptable anywhere, end of story. the united states congress is certainly no exception. here, as everywhere, employees must be free to work without fearing they'll be the victim of harassment. so a consensus emerged among members in both the house and the senate that we should do more to hold people accountable, protect staff, and help prevent harassment in the first place. that's exactly what will happen under the proposal that our colleague senator blunt and senator klobuchar have developed. these colleagues of ours deserve big thanks. they are a thorough, -- their thorough, bipartisan
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collaboration has produce add proposal to reform how congress handles federal workplace violations, particularly harassment. it will help this institute take an important step forward. it achieves many of the important goals that members of both parties have put forward in recent months. there was widespread consensus that members of congress who commit sexual harassment should reimburse taxpayers for the cost of claims or settlements. this reform achieved that and more. it requires members to pay for any harassment claims, for any protective class, where the member has personally engaged in misconduct. we sought to eliminate obstacles that made it more difficult for employees to file claims. this reformate chiefs that. it eliminate tz the mandatory counseling, the mandatory mediation, and the mandatory cooling off period that current law required employees to go through before filing a claim of
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a workplace violation. we wanted to ensure that disclosures when there are settlements or awards for instances of sexual harassment. this reform achieves that and more. it mandates that every instance where a member is found to have personally committed in my opinion of harassment be publicly reported. this is an entirely appropriate package of reforms that every member of this body should be able to support. it builds on the foundation laid by senator grassley's landmark congressional accountability act back in 1995. our friend from iowa led the way in making sure that congress had to live by the workplace laws that it required of others. and it builds on other important steps this institution has recently taken, such as updating and strengthening the anti-harassment training that all senate employees must complete. here's what all this adds up to. a clearer, easier, and more
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timely process for those who seek to file harassment claims and greater personal accountability and transparency in the event that misconduct occurs. the democratic leader and i are grateful to senator blunt and senator klobuchar thor their hard work in aseamabling this proposal. it has our enthusiastic support. now, on an unrelated matter, today the senate will take action to fulfill an important promise. our nation's all-volunteer armed forces consist of brave men and women who answer the to serve. we promise them the accessible care have earned when they return home. veterans of all eras rely on this promise as they carry home the physical and mental reminders of their service. all too often the v. has fallen short of meeting their needs.
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facilities that were too far away, lines and waiting lists that were too long, options for treatment that were too limited. the shortcomings of the federal bureaucracy were apparent. veterans awaiting months to see a physician under their v.a. benefits let alone dying before receiving treatment meant we've fallen short of our commitment to them. congress had to act, so in 2014 a bipartisan coalition of 91 senators and 420 members of the house took a critical first step by passing the veterans choice act. for the past three years the veterans choice program has connected millions of american heroes with the care and resources they need and so richly deserve. it removed arbitrary barriers that blocked veterans from convenient care and it sent a clear message to those who have suffered because of a dysfunctional system -- we have our back. but much more work remained.
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mr. president, the veterans choice program has allowed over 23,000 kentucky veterans to seek care in their own communities just last year. but some veterans are still left out. i recently heard from one kentucky navy veteran who lives 36 miles from the nearest v.a. provider. he served aboard an aircraft carrier, the u.s.s. forestal. and sustained a hand injury that still requires regular care. under current law, because he lives 36 miles and not 41 miles from the facility, he can't receive covered treatment from a nearby provider who's right in his own community. he has to make the round trip several times a year to receive care. i know virtually all of my colleagues have heard stories just like that one. they made it clear congress' work was far from finished, so chairman isakson and his veterans' affairs committee colleagues took the lead developing this new legislation
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which borrows elements from 15 different senate-introduced bills. the victories it contains are numerous. the v.a. mission act removes those arbitrary time and distance requirements that limit eligibility for outside care. it replaces those one-size-fits-all policies with a conversation between veterans and their own doctors about what works best. this will empower more veterans to access the care they need when and where they need it. it also allows v.a. professionals to offer telemedicine and partner with community care providers, creating a more comprehensive network to keep veterans from falling through the cracks. it consolidates seven separate community care programs into one streamlined path. and it expands support for military families by broadening the v.a.'s comprehensive assistance for family caregivers to include veterans of all generations.
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these are just some of the reasons why this bipartisan, bicameral bill has earned the support of 38 veterans advocacy organizations. in a joint letter they call if an "historic opportunity to provide care for. president trump agrees, so does a large bipartisan group in the house. after we vote this afternoon i hope we can say the senate does as well. let's pass this worthy legislation and give our veterans more of the support they've earned. on another matter, mr. president, later today we'll vote on two more qualified nominees for important positions in the trump administration. first comes brian montgomery, the president's nominee to serve as assistant secretary of housing and urban development and head of the federal housing administration. his formidable background includes previous service as federal housing commissioner from 2005 to 2009 and as the acting secretary of housing and urban development.
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it's no wonder that our colleagues on the banking committee reported this nomination favorably with a bipartisan voice vote. i'm glad we can vote to confirm him today without any further delay. after mr. montgomery, we'll vote to advance the nomination of jelena mcwilliams, who the president has chosen to share the fdic board of directors. ms. mcwilliams' resume spans government and the private. as a lawyer, policy expert, and executive, she's studied financial regulations from all angles. she understands the fdic's role in safeguarding america's holdings, overseeing the banking sector, and reforming inefficient policies that create obstacles for families and job creators. ms. mcwilliams is especially attentive to the difficulties facing smaller community banks. in her testimony before the banking committee, she explained how government regulations inflict outsize compliance calls
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that can be too much to bear. she was also examined by our colleagues on the banking committee and was also reported out by a bipartisan voice vote. i would encourage all of my colleagues to join me in voting to advance her nomination later today. now, finally, speaking of community banks, yesterday marked a big step forward for local lenders across the nation who've been crushed by the regulatory burden of dodd-frank. yesterday afternoon our colleagues in the house passed the economic growth, regulatory relief, and consumer protection act which the senate had passed earlier this year. now it will head to president trump's desk for his signature. this is the call minute nation of -- this is the culmination of extensive bipartisan work led by senator crapo and his colleagues on the banking committee to give smaller community lenders relief from obama-era overregulation. i frequently discuss how our democratic policies top-down
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agenda left much of the left of the reagan administration -- the nation behind. this is a perfect illustration of that. our democratic colleagues produce add hastily written rule book for wall street and enforced it on the rest of america, including community banks and credit unions in my state of kentucky. and across the nation. these local institutions are vital economic contributors. that's right -- their unique ability to build personal relationships and local connections are why community banks handle a majority, a majority, of all u.s. small business loans and almost 80% -- 80% -- of agricultural loans. that's why research suggests that the closure of a single physical bank in a low-income neighborhood can reduce lending to niche businesses by -- to nearby businesses by almost 40%. businesses needed relief from
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dodd-frank, they needed relief from that one-size-fits-all regulatory approach. and thanks to chairman crapo, our banking committee colleagues, chairman hensarling and our colleagues in the house, that is exactly what this congress and this president are poised to deliver. this legislation is a major bipartisan achievement. i'm pleased we're adding it to last year's historic tax reform. our record use of the congressional review act to roll back overregulation and all the other policy accomplishments that are helping reignite american prosperity. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: quorum call:
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mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the
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minority leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: first, mr. president, some good news. as the majority leaderred, senator klobuchar and blunt have agreed on legislation to overhaul the way congress handles workplace claims to protect staff and others from harassment. it's certainly needed an overhaul. shamefully, the current system, soon hopefully the old system, didn't do enough to protect victims and hold perpetrators of workplace harassment accountable. among the other crucial reforms, the blunt-klobuchar legislation would do away with mandatory waiting periods that too often discourage complaints and let them languish. it would also make important changes to ensure that members of the house and senate are held personally accountable and liable if they have committed
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harassment. so i want to commend senators klobuchar and blunt who worked with many members, including senators gillibrand, murray, mccaskill, feinstein, harris, and cortez masto for putting this together. i also want to thank my colleague, the majority leader. he and i were involved and are both cosponsors of this legislation. an example, again, of the growing sprouts of bipartisanship coming forward in this body. i hope we can pass it quickly with overwhelming, if not unanimous support. on another matter, this morning, mr. president, this morning, with increasing desperation, president trump tweeted several inaccuracies about the special counsel's investigation. no one should take the bait. i doubt very few who are looking at this in a nonpartisan way will. the recent demands from president trump and his allies are just another part of a shameful campaign of harassment,
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intimidation, and obstruction of the russia probe. it's all too clear that president trump and his allies want to change the subject away from the duly constituted investigation into russian meddling in the 2016 election and towards another fabricated scandal. it began with conspiracies cooked up by representative nunes from, quote, deep state leaks to unmasking requests, claims of phone taps at trump tower, uranium one, nunes' midnight run to the white house, and the infamous nunes memo. now house conservatives, with the aid of the white house, seem to have successfully badgered d.o.j. officials into giving them a briefing on sources and methods of an f.b.i. investigation. that's unprecedented and so very wrong. everyone knows what they're doing. they are hunting desperately for any scrap of information for
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innuendo that might help them sully the investigation or to provide them a sneak peek at any evidence the f.b.i. may have against the trump campaign. if they have -- if they have to distort and spread falsehoods about what is revealed in any meaning, they will, and for the president of the united states to pressure the justice department to reveal details and documents pertaining to an active investigation of the president's campaign for the purpose of denigrating it is a gross and unprecedented abusive of power, unlike any we have seen in a very long time. that's why so many people don't trust this president. the only thing more outrageous than this meeting occurring at all is the fact that it's partisan. it's crystal clear that representative nunes intends to interfere with the investigation. he's not a down-the-middle
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investigator looking for truth. everyone has seen that. nunes gave up any pretense of objectivity long ago in that ridiculous late-night charade to the white house. and shamefully, shamefully someone i respect, someone i like, speaker ryan is allowing this to happen. it will forever be a blot on his record. he can't be so afraid of the hard right and the president that he would allow this kind of banana republic behavior to go forward, and that's what nunes is doing. regrettably, a few of my senate colleagues seem to be allowing it to happen as well. yesterday, i saw a few of my friends on the other side sent a letter requesting to attend the meeting and supporting it, but making no mention of the fact that not a single democrat was invited. my republican friends know we have a process for dealing with
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the highly sensitive information of this type. it's called the gang of eight. it's bipartisan. it has worked well. any meeting between the justice department and capitol hill about such information should only be attended by members of the gang of eight. and so this morning, leader pelosi and i are sending a letter to attorney general rosenstein and director wray to request they reconsider holding the meeting at all, and if they move forward to do so in a bipartisan fashion with the gang of eight. if the meeting goes forward as planned right now, only partisan, only the worst actors on the house side in the room, no one should trust anything they say coming out of that meeting. it will be a sham. it will be a sham. in our letter, we remind
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attorney general rosenstein and director wray they have a higher responsibility. i know they are being pushed around by the white house and by the white house's puppets, like congressman nunes, but they must resist for the grand tradition of impartial justice above the law that has been in the veins of this country, in the bones of this country since 1789. to let this happen is disgraceful, disgraceful. and the blame really falls on the president and his puppets like, unfortunately, chairman nunes and some of the others who seem to be going along with him. now, one other thing i might say, though, that gives -- i think should give americans some solace. i do not police chief for one second that special counselor
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mueller will be deterred. all of this side show, all of this attempt to discredit him and his investigation with all kinds of frivolous, silly, and often false statements and activities will not deter mueller. the american people have the utmost of confidence in him. he's a strong man. he's a quiet man. he happens to be a republican appointed by the president's own appointees. hardly some nefarious representative who came out of nowhere from the deep state. mueller is going to go right ahead and see this investigation through to its natural conclusion. he will follow the facts where they lead. americans will have confidence that if we find something, it's real, and if he doesn't, -- that's how he has gone about the
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investigation so far. it's resulted in dozens of indictments, several guilty pleas of top trump campaign officials. and when the president derogates mueller and the investigation, he doesn't speak of any facts or knowledge. it's just wild allegations, somebody thrashing about maybe because he realizes there might be something there, who knows? special counsel mueller is a serious, quiet, diligent man, a lifelong republican, a dedicated marine, universally respected. the american people can be assured that his investigation will not be blown off course by this hurricane of right-wing lies and intimidation coming from the president and his minions. and one final point on this topic. with several of his recent claims, it's clear that president trump lacks
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self-awareness. president trump continues to peddle the myth that a deep state bias against his presidency is driving the russian probe, despite the fact that an active f.b.i. investigation into his campaign was kept secret during his election. while his opponent's was made public. if there was a deep state trying to hurt someone, they did a lot more to hurt hoirkt than donald trump during -- hurt hillary clinton than donald trump during the campaign. everyone knows that. if the deep state were out to get president trump, they would have made the investigation into the shady dealings with russian as a matter for the public record while he was running. this same lack of awareness, maybe hypocrisy, is apparent when the president reportedly uses an unsecured cell phone for some of his communications. can you believe that after all the hay donald trump and his allies made about secretary
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clinton's handling of his sensitive information, that the president once in office uses an unsecured cell phone, despite the fact that so many around him have told him that might be dangerous? it's bad for our national security and his double standard is nothing short of outrageous. finally, mr. president, gas prices. few things matter more to the average consumer than the price of a gallon of gasoline. when gas prices go through the roof, it eats away at a family's income, leaving less to cover the cost of anything else. groceries, medicine, tuition, a nice summer vacation which families cherish. recent data suggests that gas prices are about to climb even higher this summer, and experts suggest that actions and inactions on the part of the trump administration are a major piece of that story. according to energy analysts and experts, president trump's decision to pull out of the iran
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deal led to higher oil prices, and opec has decided to cut production, also raising prices. even though president trump tweeted that opec's decision, quote, will not be accepted, the american people are still awaiting action from the president that will help america's motorists. he is good pals with the crown prince who is running saudi arabia with the heads of the united arab emirates. he seems to have a good relationship with putin. why doesn't he jawbone them to at least stop restricting production so prices can come down? he isn't. he'll talk to them about other things, but not about something so vital to the middle class. as a result, gas prices are headed towards $3 a gallon, and the u.s. energy information administration estimates that the average american family can expect to pay $200 more this driving season than last driving
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season, and $250 more than the 2016 driving season. prices are up more than 60 cents on average from the last day obama was in office to today. where is president trump? rising gas prices will, as one goldman sachs economist put it, roughly cancel out the 2018 consumption boost for tax cuts. they are touting the tax cuts, but when gasoline prices take it all away, where is our president? whatever benefit working families might have seen from the trump tax scam for the rich, if they got any benefit at all, is being wiped out by gas prices. and what about our big oil executives and oil companies? they got huge tax breaks, huge tax breaks. why isn't the consumer seeing any of that at the pump? at the same time, our oil
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companies -- at the same time our oil companies get huge tax breaks, they raise prices on everybody. how is that helping the middle class? why isn't president trump jawboning them like he does on other issues? where is he? it's time for the president to stand up to opec, to stand up to big oil and do what is necessary to lower gas prices. remember, once again, the hypocrisy of this president. this is the same president who tweeted multiple times that president obama was to blame for rising gas prices, so i would remind the president that the final price of gas under president obama was an average of $2.36 a gallon. the current price under president trump is $2.92 a gallon and going up. i hope for the sake of the middle class and those struggling to get there the
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folks for whom gas prices really make a difference, that president trump takes immediate action to bring the cost of gas down. he has the power. he can force opec to do things by jawboning this. he can force the big oil companies to consider lowering their prices, giving all the profits they got from his tax bill. where is he? i yield the floor. and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i'd ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. 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, department of housing and urban development, brian d. montgomery of texas to be an assistant secretary. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until 3:15 p.m. will be equally divided in the usual form. under the previous order, the time will be equally divided in the usual form until 3:15. 3:15. mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president,
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yesterday the senate banking committee passed a very important piece of legislation out of the committee by a unanimous vote, and i'm very pleased that this legislation which i'll describe here in a moment received that broad bipartisan support. this is a bill that i originally introduced with the senior senator from california, mrs. feinstein, to strengthen the review process of the committee on foreign investment in the united states. which plays a critical role in protecting our national security. the jurisdiction of this committee on foreign investment in the united states hasn't been updated in more than 40 years, and bad actors, like china, continue to exploit gaps in the process to acquire sensitive national security know-how as well as military and dual-use technology from u.s. companies. now i want to be quick to say this is not about labeling foreign investment in the united
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states as bad. that's not true. foreign investment is by and large a very good thing. but when our laws are being exploited to target cutting-edge, dual-use technology that has national security applications, that is a matter of, as my words suggest, national security. not about banning or labeling foreign investment as being bad. i appreciate chairman crapo and the banking committee's bipartisan work in advancing this narrowly tailored legislation to close the gaps that i just mentioned and safeguard our national security because i believe it's past time for us to do so. every day we fail to pass this set of reforms is a day that we're putting our future in jeopardy. so we need to maintain a sense of urgency and realize that when we're talking about cfius, or the committee on foreign investment in the united states, there's a much bigger issue at
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stake. and that's the issue of competing global visions. china makes no secret about the fact that karl marx is in many ways its national hero. in fact there was a week-long celebration in china earlier this month which included a mandatory study session led by president xi of marx's famous work the communist manifesto. events like these show that china is in some ways a wolf in sheep's clothing. it is becoming a friend to the global community of nations. china conveniently ignores certain facts about its alternative development model and state-controlled economy. it also tends to disguise and down-gray its over-allege political angst. to re-create the world order and re-create them in china's own
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image. whether it is china's belligerence in the south china sea, it's flagrant human rights violations or population controls like the one-child policy, china has repeatedly shown itself as a power-hungry authoritarian willing and able to violate the rights of its own people and dismissive and contemptuous of international norms. now, mr. president, i'm not being hyperbolic. i'm not exaggerating. this is just the truth, the hard truth in front of us. if we'll look. so let's not deceive ourselves otherwise. let us be wary when china tries to, quote, just blend in internationally, that its rosy rhetoric and misleading narrative are often camouflage for its more true and troubling aims. right now as we all know, there are high-level negotiations
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ongoing between the u.s. executive branch and chinese government officials on the very important issue of international trade. but it's important to remember that in the west belief in free trade is almost axiomatic. in democracies like ours, free trade is based on open markets, the free flow of capital and information as well as the rule of law. china, on the other hand, respects or honors none of those things. it doesn't believe in open markets. it doesn't believe in the free flow of capital information, and it doesn't believe in the rule of law. that reality is why we need to approach these trade negotiations delicately. we need to remain steely-eyed and make sure china isn't playing us for fools. of course, we're well-wear of the need -- we're well aware of
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the need to tread lightly. chinese investment in the united states could harm american companies that need capital and customers to survive and grow. we need to resist that temptation. but china is not just any old trading partner. its enterprises are state-backed and there is no clear dividing line between the communist party and what might otherwise be described as the private sector. there is no distinction. this makes a real difference when it comes to chinese investments in u.s. companies that are at cutting edge of developing military and dual-use technology. it means there's the real potential of industrial espionage because you can't separate private profit-making motives from the government's secret-stealing capacities and proclivities, i might add. and this means that our national security is vulnerable.
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in its made-in-china 2025 plan, the chinese government made clear its intent to dominate technologies that will be essential down the road in maintaining our economic and military prowess globally. mr. president, i have a chart here which i'd like to display which is an unclassified slide from one of our intelligence agencies that they provided us in an unclassified verges so -- version so we could talk about it in public. many of us on the armed services committee or intelligence committee are privy to classified briefings but i believe it is important we talk about what we can in an open, transparent way so people can be alerted to what's at risk and what's actually going on. so these are china's strategic goals.
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comprehensive national power. they see themselves as a rival to the united states that they would ultimately like to surpass when it comes to national power. reno that they believe that their -- we know that they believe their economic growth model must be driven. thus their vacuuming up cutting cutting-edge technology. they gobble up start-up companies that have long-term potential to advance their economic and national power goals. and obviously they also are modernizing their military and becoming increasingly belligerent in places like the south china sea in the process. how does china achieve these strategic goals? well, it's god an elaborate -- it's got an elaborate sophisticated plan. the truth is they're really not being clandestine or secretive about this. they're pretty much telling us what they're doing and their doing it quite well.
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so their strategic goals include obviously their security services, their intelligence community; their talent recruitment programs at american academic institutions where they hire talent back to china to help them in this process; they create front companies that claim to be non-chinese related in order to transact business so they don't raise suspicions; they engage in an active program of mergers and acquisitions of companies in the united states; they make significant investments in science and technology including some of the most cutting-edge technology like quantum computing and artificial intelligence; they are probably the worst owe tender in the -- offender in the world when this comes to stealing in the cyber domain, cyber theft; they are very
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creative in engaging in research partnerships; joint ventures, which is one of the gaps that the cfius legislation attempts to plug, where they've realized that this is a gap in our current review process for foreign investment and national security implications; and they've done so through joint ventures that aren't subject currently to that review, where they can get access not only to the intellectual property but also to the know-how. in other words, they could steal blueprints and other intellectual property, but they don't necessarily know how to make it all work, where the secret sauce is, until they can get access to the know-how through these vint ventures. and then they're nontraditional collectors. civilians that are used by their intelligence services to get information to to back up data they think are foreign their pursuit of national power and
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innovation, economic growth model. and so they use a wide variety of nontraditional checkers as well. and of course the legal and regulatory environment. you can't do business in china, an american company, without basically turning over the keys to the government. and again there is no delineation between the government and the private sector in china t all -- in china. all businesses have to cooperate with the chinese government and the chinese government intermingles that information between not only -- in pursuit of their economic goals but also in pursuit of their military goals. as i said, these technologies that they are acquiring and seeking to acquire include artificial intelligence, robotics, quantum computing and 3-d printing. the chinese government is spending $300 billion in subsidies to supplant foreign
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technologies suppliers like ours with homegrown alternatives. and a core part of this 2025 plan is acquiring intellectual property from the united states. china is not even trying to hide it. they are advertising it, and they're doing it in plain sight. those related concerns are what prompted a bipartisan group of 27 senators to write a letter recently to secretary mnuchin and ross as well as ambassador light -- lighthizer. they're all involved in trade negotiations with china. in that letter we expressed concerns regarding china's targeting of our technology. as a report issued by the pentagon recently pointed out, this targeting, if left unchecked, could degrade core u.s. military technological advantages. clearly the chinese communist party regards these sensitive
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technologies as essential for chinese modernization, military modernization, and it is accelerating its efforts to acquire them by any means necessary -- stealing them, engaging in strategic investments, any way they can do it, whether it is cyber theft, coercion through joint ventures with foreign companies, targeted investment, or chinese nationals exploiting access to such technologies here in the united states. the main point of our letter was not to criticize but to alert our colleagues in the executive branch that there's no question that china is actively seeking to surpass the united states both economically and militarily and become the world's foremost superpower. it's pretty obvious. it's imperative, though, that near the the federal government nor private u.s. companies aid
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or abet that effort, either advertently or inadvertently. now, let me conclude, mr. president, by saying we should all support peaceful, balanced, and constructive relationship with china. but it has to be realistic when it comes to china's aims and intentions, and it needs to be informed as well by china's record of deception in the past. so when it comes it china, national security isn't just a pretext for economic protectionism. i think that's an abuse of that label of national security if it's use the just an a pretext for protectionism. but i, like many of our colleagues, believe strongly in free trade, as i started out these remarks.
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but when national security and economic concerns overlap, which they do, there should be no question but that our national security comes first. for those of us who serve on committees of jurisdiction involving intelligence or national security, i assure you that the chinese threat is real and certain dangers are already being implemented. but we need to make sure that not just the committees of jurisdiction understand this and that we are working together with the executive branch when it comes to maintaining this distinction -- economic and military -- and understanding that it's not just about trade, it's about our national security as well. and we need to be smart, well-informed, and clear-eyed when it comes to engaging with an aggressive china. our inaction has had many negative consequences, and we
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must aim to prevent any future ones. mr. carper: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: madam president,
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good morning. i looked down and the presiding officers changed. nice to be here with you this morning. our presiding officer is retired military, army colonel, highly distinguished, comes from iowa and travels home every weekend. she covers every county in iowa. i cover -- in a year, i cover every county in delaware. sometimes we only have three. you've probably got 100 or so. but we have the opportunity to go home frequently to our respective states and to be with our families and just to be with the folks that we work for. i love doing it. i know our presiding officer does as well. people come up to me -- i go back and forth on a train just about every night and will do that tonight, did it last night. i feel really fortunate to be able to be that close to my constituents. i could serve in the senate with
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my colleagues and to actually live in my home state. it is a real blessing. people -- i think i am a approachable. i know our presiding officer is senator cornyn is. people come up and talk to us all the time, which is good. sometimes they just want to say hello. sometimes they ask how we are doing. more often than lately, mr. president, people say i wouldn't want your job for anything. you have the worst job in the world. i say no, i feel really lucky. throughout the 200-some years we have been a country, there have been some 1,800 people who have served in this body. we are fortunate to serve here today, especially during these challenging times. since the 2016 election, however, a growing number of delawareans and american citizens have approached me, whether it's at the shop-rite supermarket or on the amtrak train, but they share with me their sense of uncertainty and their fears regarding the
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trajectory of our country. specifically, they have expressed uncertainty about the future of the special counsel, the special counsel's investigation, their fears that the president may put his own personal interests above the interests of all americans and the constitution of our country. as we pass the one-year mark following deputy attorney general rosenstein's appointment of former f.b.i. director bob mueller to become special counsel, i think it's worth remembering why the investigation began. what it has uncovered, where it's heading, and how it can uphold the rule of law and protect the investigation from political interference as we seek to ascertain the truth. mr. president, -- madam president, during the 2016 presidential campaign, our democracy was attacked by a foreign adversary. no shots were fired. no bombs were dropped.
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but let me be as clear as i can be. russia attacked the united states of america using sophisticateed cyberwarfare, russia indiana feared in our electoral process. as they have in other western democracies, russia borrowed from their tried and true playbook. russian internet trolls posed as american citizens on facebook and on twitter. russian shell companies funded political propaganda online, all with the intent of pitting us against one another and spreading misinformation among the american electorate. we also know that our nation's election infrastructure was targeted by the kremlin and that russian cyber attacks penetrated voting machines in some of our states. not all of our states but a number of them. madam president, thomas jefferson often wrote about the route, including a famous
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description of a few truths that we still consider self-evident. namely that all men -- and women are created equal, entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. later in life, jefferson remarked, this is a quote, we are not afraid to follow the truth, wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as region is left free to combat it. those words really ring true today, don't they? jefferson also said -- i will paraphrase this. jeffersons is used to say something to this effect. the people of the united states know the truth. we won't make a mistake. people know the truth. they won't make a mistake. since the attack by russia on our democracy made patriotic americans within federal law enforcement and our intelligence agencies have been heeding jefferson's advice and seeking to follow the truth.
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here's what we have learned. in a declassified report released in january of 2017, our own intelligence agencies told us that -- this is a quote from them -- russian president vladimir putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at undermining public faith in the u.s. democratic process. further, our own intelligence agencies told us that, and, again, quoting them, russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election represent the most recent expression of moscow's long-standing desire to undermine the u.s.-led liberal democratic order, close quote. those same eaks, our own intelligence agencies, i think there are 17 in all, that combine to provide this report, but they have told us it will happen again. moscow -- this is a quote again from our intelligence agency.
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moscow will aplay lessons learned from its putin-ordered campaign aimed at the u.s. presidential election to future influence efforts worldwide, including against u.s. allies and their election processes. during recent testimony before the senate intelligence committee, director of national intelligence and our former senate colleague right here, dan coats, a good friend of many of us, from indiana, he said these words -- there should be no doubt that russia perceives its past efforts have been successful and views the 2018 midterm u.s. elections as a potential target for russian influence operations. i want to read those words again. our colleague, dan coats, who sat over there, served with us for many years. he and i served together in the house before that. he was our ambassador to germany. but now he is the director of national intelligence for our country. a republican, by the way. he said these words -- there
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should be no doubt that russia perceives its past efforts have been successful and views the 2018 midterm u.s. elections as a potential target for russian influence operations. and then he added, frankly, the united states is under attack. i approve that message. i don't welcome that message, but we need to hear that message, and we need to take it to heart. in response, we have, i would add, the responsibility not to any political party but to our constitution and responsibility to the american people to band together as we would following any attack, any attack on our country. we have a responsibility to fight back, to protect and safeguard our democracy, and to ensure that it never happens
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again. we also have a responsibility, again one that rises above political party, to determine whether the trump campaign may have had inappropriate contact with russia during that campaign. this responsibility is shared between congress and the executive branch, including different committees in the house and senate, as well as the department of justice, the f.b.i., and our intelligence agencies. unfortunately, our president has rejected his responsibility from the start. let's not forget president trump fired former f.b.i. director jim comey and publicly stated it was because of the russian investigation. president trump told nbc news -- i'm going to quote him -- when i decided to fire comey, i said to myself, i said, you know, this russian thing with trump and russia is a madeup story. it's an excuse by democrats
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having lost an election that they should have won, close quote. those are president trump's words to nbc news. because general sessions, attorney general sessions -- attorney general sessions has recused himself from matters involving russia in the 2016 election, deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, a lifelong republican appointed by president trump to his current position, made the decision to appoint a security council to continue the russian investigation. let me just take a moment to remind the american people about the background and the character of this special counsel. bob mueller has spent his life serving our country with distinction. the presiding officer, army, highly decorated, yours truly, navy, 23 years all in active
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duty and reserve. here's what bob mueller received in decoration -- some of his decorations as an officer in the marine corps during the vietnam war, a war in which i served as well. he received the bronze star. he earned two navy commendation medals. and the purple heart. all as an officer in the marine corps during the vietnam war. after a career in federal law enforcement and private law practice, president george w. bush nominated him to serve as our f.b.i. director, and bob mueller guided the f.b.i. in the aftermath of the september 11 terrorist attacks. a steady hand during uncertain times, director mueller gained the respect and admiration of the men and women of the f.b.i., as well as those of us here on capitol hill. during my tenure as chairman and ranking member of the senate homeland security and
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governmental affairs committee, i had the opportunity to meet with director mueller on a range of issues including protecting our nation from cybersecurity threats. let me just say i think maybe in the 17 years i have been here, the best briefing i have ever received on cybersecurity was from bob mueller, the very best briefing i ever received was from bob mueller. i also got to know him american ly and his wife, my wife knows his wife. we believe he is guided by very strong core values. figure out the right thing to do. just do it. not what is easy, not what is expedient but right. treat other people the way we want to be treated. to focus on excellence in everything we do. if it isn't perfect, make it better. and when you know you're right, you're sure you are right, never give up. those are his values. i suspect they are the false of many of us who serve here.
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bob mueller is a man of unimpeachable integrity. there may be no better person suited to this task of special counsel. i have every confidence that he will follow the truth wherever it may lead him and those he leads. but don't just take my word for it. don't take my word for it. when the deputy attorney general appointed him to the position of special counsel just a little more than a year ago, his selection drew a particularly resounding endorsement from those of us who serve here in the senate. not just on this side but in particular on the other side of the aisle. here's what john mccain said about bob mueller. robert mueller is a great choice for special counsel. john went on to add that he, quote, is confident that mr. mueller will fully investigate all aspects of russia's interference in our
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election, close quote. senator burr said, and i quote, by having someone like bob mueller have this investigation assures the american people that there is no undue influence, be it here or be it at the other end of pennsylvania avenue or within the justice department or the f.b.i. those are the words of senator richard burr of north carolina, republican. even former house speaker newt gingrich, with whom i served in the house, said this of bob mueller -- robert mueller is a superb choice to be special counsel. his reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity, close quote. i have not known robert mueller for as long as some who serve here. i have known him for a while. i had a chance to work with him. those are important issues to the security of our country.
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he is as fine as any public sphapt i have ever known and have served with. unfortunately, president trump has not been as praiseworthy of our special counsel as the senators i just quoted. and former house speaker i just quoted. president trump is repeatedly using his twitter account to call special counsel mueller's investigation a witch hunt. a witch hunt? mr. president, in february, 13 russian individuals and three russian companies were charged with breaking u.s. law and interfering in the 2016 election, 13. the indictment entails -- details an elaborate coordinated scheme to disrupt our election. moreover, three trump campaign officials have pled guilty to crimes that include lying to the f.b.i., about contacts with russia during the campaign and conspiracy to defraud the united
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states, and the former trump campaign manager is currently facing similar charges. despite the progress of the investigation, we know from news reports that president trump repeatedly has considered firing director mueller and deputy attorney general rosenstein. that would be a grave miss take. that would be a very grave mistake. instead of exercising presidential leadership and holding russia accountable in safeguarding our upcoming election, president trump continues to use dangerous rhetoric directed toward the special counsel's investigation, as well as at the people who work for us, serve us at the f.b.i. and the department of justice who deserve our thanks, not our scorn. instead of exercising presidential leadership and holding russia accountable and
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safeguarding our upcoming election, president trump is now demanding a counterinvestigation. instead of exercising presidential leadership and holding russia accountable and safeguarding the election, president trump is now undermining the special counsel's investigation while risking the identity of american intelligence sources. despite this failure of presidential leadership, the special counsel investigation must go on. a methodist minister in southern delaware, seaford, united states pastor reynolds, wonderful man and the one who is good to give me advice during my career, particularly when i was governor, and one day he gave me this advice. he said, governor, he said, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
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i said would you say that again, pastor? he said the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. and i think in this case the main thing is for us to find out and ascertain the truth. special counsel mueller must be allowed to follow the truth no matter where it leads, no matter how uncomfortable it makes president trump or other people, no matter how uncomfortable it makes vladimir putin. he must continue to ensure special counsel mueller has the time and the resources that he needs to follow the truth and bring this investigation to a conclusion. we must also protect the special counsel from undue political influence and send a strong signal to president trump that firing bob mueller or rod rosenstein without clear legal justification would pose a grave threat to our constitutional system of checks and balances.
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to be clear, we can't pass a bill to end president trump's erratic threats on twitter. i know there are a few people, some here, who would support such a proposal. however, here's what we can do. we pass a bipartisan bill introduced by senators coons, tillis, booker, and graham. the bipartisan bill to protect the special counsel's investigation. that legislation is called the special counsel independence and integrity act to ensure that the special counsel can only be fired for a good cause by a senior justice department official, and the reason must be provided in writing. it will ensure that in the event of his firing, the special counsel can seek expedited judicial review of his removal, and it will preserve all the documents and materials related
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to this investigation. i want to thank our four colleagues, two democrats, two republicans, for introducing this bipartisan bill. i support it. i urge its swift passage. passing this bill will demonstrate to the american people that despite the uncertainties and maybe the fears at this moment, we still have a system of checks and balances that still works. it's been working for 240 years. there are more constitutions in this world modeled after the united states constitution than any other constitution ever. it is the most emulated constitution, it's the longest-living constitution on the face of the earth. and it has its intricate system of checks and balances that our founding fathers who convened in philadelphia 240 years ago
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developed the constitution that we know of today and sent it out to the 13 colonies to debate it and consider whether or not we wanted to, they wanted to ratify it. and the first state to ratify the constitution was the state of delaware, and that constitution is something that we especially revere in the first stays. but if we allow the system of checks and balances called for in that constitution, if we allow it to work, it will eventually lead us to the truth, which is what we should all seek. not just here in this senate, not just here in the congress, not just in one party or the other, not just any one state or the other. all of us. all of us. if the unthinkable were to happen and the special counsel were to be fired on a whim, i believe the legislation i just talked about would help us preserve the russia investigation and the rule of law. and the rule of law.
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as i began -- begin to conclude, let me just say this. like special counsel mueller, congress must not be afraid to follow the truth. we must not be distracted by the president's tweets nor attempts to undermine this important investigation. we must keep the main thing the main thing. special counsel mueller and his team must be allowed to finish this investigation, and congress, especially our republican colleagues, must do our part to protect the investigation and insist that the president stop political interference and gamesmanship. taken together, i believe these actions will allow us to emerge from this moment, this especially challenging moment in our country, as we often have following other crises throughout our history, will
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emerge stronger and more resilient and we'll emerge deeply proud that we upheld our responsibility to the constitution of the american people. madam president, i, in closing, want to mention -- maybe this happens to you when you're back home or traveling around the country. a lot of times people come up to me, maybe not every day but certainly every week. several times a week people come up to me, some are democrat, some are republican, some are independent, some are probably not registered to vote, and they say i fear for the future of our country. i don't think it's ever been this bad before. we've never seen it this bad before. and i remind them of the words of harry truman. harry truman, who once served in this body. he once served in this body as the senator from missouri, later as vice president and then president of our country.
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harry truman used to say the only thing new in the world is the history we forgot or never learned. think about that. the only think new in the world is the history we forgot or never learned. my sister and i grew up in a town, danville, virginia, right on the north carolina border. the last capital of the confederacy. a lot of people thought, i think the last capital of the confederacy was richmond, virginia. it wasn't. jefferson davis and those closest to him got out of richmond and headed south and they ended up in danville, virginia. that's where my sister and i grew up. we saw prejudice and discrimination as little kids, up close and personal. i will never forget it. but there are some people in danville, virginia, who are still fighting the civil war,
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150 years afterwards, over. at least in their minds. but during that civil war, 800,000 men were killed, both sides. 800,000. hundreds of thousands or more men, women, and children were wounded, crippled. when war is over, what happens? when war is over, our president was assassinated -- lincoln. his successor, andrew johnson, senator from tennessee, who also served here, he was impeached. and somehow we got through that civil war, the assassination of a president, the impeachment of a president, and we made it to the 20th century just in time to fight not one, but two world wars, won them, led the world, our allies to victory in the
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cold war. led the world out of the great depression. and when the sun came up on the 21st century, on january 1, 2001, here's where america was as a nation. we had the strongest economy on earth. we had the most productive workforce on earth. for the first time since 1968, we actually had a balanced budget. not just one, not two, not three, but four balanced budgets the last four years of the clinton presidency. while we had a democratic president and administration, we had a republican congress, if i'm not mistaken, the chairman of the house budget committee was very much involved in the balanced budget, was the republican from ohio, our friend, john kasich, former congressman, now governor of ohio. so we had the strongest economy, most -l productive workforce,
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four balanced budgets in a row. and on january 1, 2001, we were the most admire nation on earth. we were the strongest force for justice on earth. that's where we were. after all that bad stuff for 150 years, all those challenges for 150 years, beginning with and following the civil war. if we can get through all of that, if we can get through all of that, folks, we can get through this. if we can get through all of that, we can get through this. and in the words of jefferson, if the american people know the truth, we won't make a mistake. that's what bob mueller and his stuff are trying to get to, and it's important that they succeed. with that, madam president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: madam president, i
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ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rubio: thank you, madam president. there's a lot of coverage over the last couple months and years really, but certainly over the last few days about the topic of china, z.t.e., trade. and i had a lot of questions about it both from the hallways and the press, constituents back home and even family and friends who inquire what all the ruckus was about. i thought it was a good opportunity to lay out to my constituents and broadly for the american people about what's at stake here. the fishes thing i would -- the first thing i would encourage everyone to do is separate the issue of trade with china and the issue of z.t.e. which is a phone company based in china. they are the the fourth-largest cell phone company in america up until very recently when they struggled to stay in business. we'll talk about that in a moment. but let's talk about those two things separately. they are not necessarily
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interrelated. on the broader topic of trade and china, the united states has an enormous imbalance in trade, as we do with other countries, but none like we do with china. a trade imbalance, by the way, in and of itself is not problematic. it depends on what caused it, but the trade imbalance with china is problematic because of how it happened. china -- was a communist dictatorship and decided it wanted to open up to the world and become more economically prosperous. this was years ago. and the deal with china is we're going to help you create opportunity, let your companies invest in our economies. there are rules in the world for trade. there are things that are allowed and things that are not allowed. for example, you are not allowed to steal another company's secrets. so if another company has
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figured out how to make something, that's proprietary, they own it, they spent money creating, you're not allowed to steal that from them and start making it yourself. you can't have rules that say your companies can't sell in my country, but my country can do whatever it wants. china has never played by those rules and everyone knew it. nobody disputed it. but administrations from both parties, the consensus politically in america was, go ahead. let's let china cheat. let's let them steal things because once china becomes richer and more prosperous, they will stop doing that stuff. not only will they stop doing that, but they will become a democracy. everyone who said that is wrong. that is not what happened. they are less democratic, less open today than they used to be. they are no longer stealing
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little secrets to kind of even be in the same ballpark, they are stealing $600 billion a year of intellectual property. $600 billion is equivalent to what we spend on the military. they are stealing the equivalent of that every single year many how do they do it? first of all, straight out espionage. they hack computers, e-mails, they have spies emwedded inside of companies. they straight out steal it through espionage. the second they do to protect their industries and grow at our expense, they don't allow many of our companies to do business in china, a huge market had their companies get to do business here but they don't allow our companies to do business there. some companies. they do allow other companies to do business in china. here's the deal. if they do business in china, it
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has to be 51% chinese, 49% american company. on top of that, there's another catch, if you want to do business in china with a chinese company, you have to transfer your technology to them. so if you want to build turbines, we'll let you build turbines in china, but you have to transfer to us the technology of how you do it. you know why they do it that? because once they figure out how to do it themselves, they don't need their american partner anymore. they kick you out and will be your competitor and may put you out of business. that's happened a bunch of times. if they don't achieve it by forcing you to transfer, they straight out steal it from you. they also buy up small companies. we have a law here called the cfius process, and when a foreign country, especially china, is buying in a key industry, they undergo a -- to
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make sure it is not a big deal. they figured out to buy a bunch of companies that are under the level that we look at, these sub-contractors and finding their way in that way. suffice it to say we have an imbalance with china, but the imbalance is not in the dollars, but in the structure of the trade between china and the united states. that's why we don't need a short-term trade deal. this is not about saying, go ahead and buy more agriculture. you guys go and buy more of the stuff you were going to buy any ways, because you need to, and in exchange, you can do what you're doing and there won't be any tariffs. in the short term you can claim that you won, but in the end it leaves us worse off. you might as well as not have gotten into the -- into this in the first place. how they win the fight. let me tell you how they win. they go to the american multinational corporations, many of whom are just interested in
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how their stock is performing from quarter to quarter and say lobby your congressman, lobby your senator and lobbist the -- lobby the white house,ern they do it. they want access to the 1.3 billion people. they don't care if they are stealing their intellectual prompt. by the time that matters, the c.e.o. and the people making that decision will be retired because they had a bunch of quarters of earnings. that's so shortsighted. they may not care about it, but those who work here have to because we do not want to live in a world where china dominates industry, not because they out- invaitd us, and by the way, they have figured this out. they don't lobby the government, they lobby the business sector and then all of these large
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corporations go marching into capitol hill and the white house and scream and plead to drop all of this. of course they do because they are going to make money in china over the next five or six years. but one day they will be out of business. short-term thinking. their obligation are to the shareholders. they are not all americans. our obligation is to the americans. this is disastrous. we need a structure rebalance, not just a dollar rebalance. china is not a developing country. it is the second largest economy in the world. it will soon be the largest economy in the world, and yet we continue to let them cheat and steal. that's the trade issue. z.t.e. is something completely different related but completely different. let me tell you about z.t.e. z.t.e. broke the law. z.t.e. told -- sold goods and services to iran and north korea, they violated sanctions
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and they tried to cover it up and they got caught. when they got caught, they got hit with a fine and they told them you need to try to fire the people who covered it up. they paid the fine but they did not fire the people who did this. you know what they did instead? they gave them bonuses. they tried to cover that up. the commerce department said, fine, we caught you, we made a deal with you, you probing that deal and -- broke that deal and so now you cannot buy american semiconductors. that was the penalty. z.t.e. says that will put them out of business because they do depend on us for semiconductors. now we're reading there is a new deal in place. it is not official, but i read it, and it was reported. the deal is this, we will let you stay in business, and pay a fine, $1.3 million. that is nothing for a company
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backed by the chinese government. are you kidding me, $ $1.3 million? and the other sanction, guess what it is. we're going to force you to buy more things from america. well, that's not a punishment, that's a reward. that's exactly what they want. that was the sanction. the sanction was they couldn't buy more from us because they can't stay in business if they buy from us. the punishment is going to be instead of punishing you by not being allowed to buy semiconductors. now they you say you can buy more semiconductors. that's a reward, not a punishment. that's a terrible deal. some say it is a broader deal tied into another terrible deal. if i was china i would give us anything they want on z.t.e. but it goes deeper than that. you you see, here's the other
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problem with z.t.e. if it's just one company, it's one thing. china intends to dominate the world in the key technologies of the 21st century, aerospace, biotech, artificial intelligence, 5-gej telecommunication -- 5-g telecommunicationses. you know why i know that? it isn't because i'm on the intel committee or anything else, you know how i know it? because china says it. their plan is is by 2025, china will be the dominant country in the world in the ten to 12 industries that will determine the fate of the 21st century, biotech, that basically means genetic medicine, the ability to cure diseases like alzheimer's disease and others that will be a plague on the world in the years to come.
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aerospace means technology for space, it means aircraft and the like. they don't intend to be competitive in those fields, they intend to dominate those feeds many you may, what's wrong with that? country can dominate fields. that's fine, if you are going to become the dominant power in the world in these key technologies, you have every right to do so, but not by breaking the rules, and that's how they are doing it? what are they doing to dominate the world in 2025? they invest a lot of money in research and development. they also invest a lot of money in stealing. think about it. america invests taxpayer money, we innovate something, we innovate it, and after we spend all of your money innovating these things, they take it from us and steal it. it costs them nothing to start out exactly where we are after years and years of work. so think about that for a moment. that is an enormous competitive advantage. they have free research funded by the american taxpayer.
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they steal it. what else do they do in they do other things. how do they steal it you may ask? one of the ways they steal it is through telecommunicationses. they are trying to embed themselves in our telecommunications system. here's how. they know that a defense contractor will not buy a z.t.e. phone, and they have a solution for that. they sell a z.t.e. phone, the exact same components inside of it, the things they turn on and off to take e-mails or documents, they sell the exact same phone to an american telecommunications provider. the american telecommunications provider puts their sticker on it, so you think you're pie -- buying not a z.t.e. phone, and they sell it. it's called white labeling or a router.
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huawei has a router. they will sell it to an american company and they will take off huawei and put on their sticker and you have a chinese company beholden to chinese government. if they say we want you to go into that router and get the secrets of the u.s. government, they have to do it. especially in telecommunications. that is what's happening now. they embed themselves that way by white labeling. they use their american sub-contracting unit. they know nobody will allow them to build an american base, you hire an american company. that's the prime contractor. they come in as a sub-contractor to the prime contractor and they are the ones doing the work. we think we hired an american company, but the work is done which a sub-contractor controlled by z.t.e. or huawei, that's another way they are
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doing it. one day we're going to wake up and realize that in our own country embedded in our toiks systems, in our cable, in our routers, in our internet are a bunch of component pieces that not only leave vulnerable our department of defense but our business community, to what? to stealing corporate secrets and commercial secrets that allow them to take the research that america has done and use it as their starting point free of cost. this is not fantastics. this is why people here are so fired up about z.t.e. this is not a game. i -- somebody sent me an article a few minutes ago, i don't know which one of the publication it was, talking about me and taking on the president about z.t.e. this is not a political game. it has nothing to do about that. this is not about politics. do we not understand where we are headed? you have a country actively saying we are going to displace you. we are going to be the most
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powerful country in the world and we're going to do that at your expense and we're out here talking about all kinds of other crazy stuff or political reporters cover this through the political lens. this? not a -- this is not a game. you know why they win these negotiations, they don't play these games. they have a 20-year plan, 40-year plan, and we can't think 48 hours ahead and everything here is a political game. this? not a game. -- this is not a game. every single one of us was elected. but most of us here do not want to live in a world in 10 or 15 years or some other country dominates the world. we now work for them and be holden to them for everything from medicine to technologies and we were here when it happened and we didn't do anything about it because we were loyal to our party or we were too busy focused on -- well, you guys, just turn on the
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news. when we have this massive threat before us. this is the stuff historians write about. 100 years from now if this happens we will look like fools. if you're watching this on an hour-by-hour business is -- basis is is not a -- this is not a story. if we let this happen, they will write about us and they will say we were fiddling while rome was burning. we allowed the chinese to take over at our commonsense and -- expense and displace us. this also is not about business. you turn on the networks that cover the stock market and they cover this like a casino. the trade thing is doing better today so the stocks are up or the stocks are down. this is not just -- forget about that for a moment. can you make all the profits you want the next three to six months. i promise you if this continues in ten or 15 years, you won't be watching the u.s. stock market. you'll be watching the chinese
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markets. and they will be determining whether our companies survive. it will be us. it will be us on the outside looking in. and then americans are going to wonder why do we no longer invent great things. why do we now have to do whatever china wants in the world in order to get the medicines we need to cure my mom or my dad's alzheimer's. and the answer will be because when they were displacing us, your policymakers were too busy arguing with each other and playing dumb, ridiculous games on a regular basis. meanwhile china was focused like a laser with a plan and they executed on it. this is not a game. i can think of no more significant issue from the perspective of history than what is happening now. and do not misunderstand me. i do not come here to say that i want to be unnecessarily aggressive with china or that i want there to be a confrontation. china is going to be a rich and a powerful country. and we have no problem with that
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we can't have any problem with that. but there has to be a balance. it cannot be a china that is rich and powerful and an america that is weak and not prosperous because those imbalances are what create wars. those imbalances are what create misery. those imbalances are what destabilized the planet. that can't be. we need to recalibrate this relationship. it needs to be rebalanced on the trade side. it needs to be protective on our national security side. it needs to be equalized. and if it is, china can still be very successful. they're going town vent things. they're going to create jobs. they're going to become more prosperous. and that is fine. we've been doing that for a hundred years. every person in this gallery, sitting in the gallery, every person in the well of the senate on the floor, everyone you know has products on them, a phone, a belt, made in another country.
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the issue is not that other countries make things and we don't. it's not about us dm naturing everything -- dominating everything. it's about balance. this is not balanced. this is headed to a dramatic imbalance, and the imbalance used to be they made cheap things and sent them back to us so we had lower prices. that's what's happened for the last 30 years. they made cheaper t-shirts. they assembled the phones cheaper and shipped them back to the united states leading to lower prices. that's not the imbalance i'm talking about. the imbalance we're headed to is they are -- they control state of the art artificial intelligence. they control the state of the art quantum computing which means that nothing can be encrypted anymore which means there are no such things as secure cars left. the president of the united states will not be able to talk to his national security officials anywhere in the world without the chinese hearing it because no matter what encryption you put in, they'll break it with a quantum computer. that's the imbalance i'm talking about. the imbalance i'm talking about is one day we'll have a dispute
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with china on something on national security somewhere in the world and they will threaten to cut off our supply of biomedicines. in essence, threaten the lives of americans not getting medicine unless we cave to their desires. that's the imbalance i'm talking about. the imbalance i'm talking about is one where they dominant aerospace, where they are the nation that controls satellites and satellite communication. they are the nation that controls 5g. we're headed towards autonomous vehicles. autonomous vehicles will depend on 5g technology and china there dominate the world in 5g and we'll depend on it. we'll build a fleet of autonomous cars and trucks and none will work if the chinese decide to shut it done because they dominate that field. that's the dominance i'm talking about. if this all sounds fantastic, apocalyptic, look it up. research it. i promise you, you will not find a single person versed on this topic that would disagree with
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what i'm saying. this is the threat that we face and we are not facing it squarely. so i would advise those who cover this issue to stop covering it as a political issue. there are some things so important to this country that i don't care what the politics of it are. and most of my colleagues don't either. because these are definitional things that will define the 21st century. i would advise us not to cover this as a purely economic issue because there is a way to grow the trade gap in the short term. we can sell them a lot more the things china is willing to buy anyway. they don't intend to lead the world in those things, in exchange for dominating us in the long room. we need to start thinking our competitor has a 50, 20 -- 15, 20, and 25-year plans. it's time to wake up to this threat because we have two ways forward. there can be a balanced relationship between two great
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powers leading to a world that is stable and secure in prosperity. or we can have an imbalanced world in which a rising power in china does so at the expense, at the direct expense of a falling status quo power in the united states and that instability will lead to conflict and a way of life for americans that we will find unacceptable. and then, then it will be too late. and then we will have to explain maybe to our children and most certainly to our grandchildren why the america we grew up in, led the world and all the great innovations and all the great ideas and provided prosperity to millions of people here and around the world and the america they get to grow up in is a second-tier power while china dominates everything that matters. and if you think that that's just -- that's not a big deal, one of the reasons why democracy is spread across the planet is because the world's most powerful country was a democracy. if the world's most powerful
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country is a dictatorship, a country that has no respect for privacy, a country that has no respect for free speech, a country that has no respect for religious liberty of its own people, a country that has no regard for human rights anywhere in the world, if that's the most dominant nation on earth, what do you think the world is going to look like in 20 or 30 years? it's not going to be a better place. democracy is morley superior to autocratic -- morally superior to autocratic regimes. we should not be afraid for say that. if you want to put aside economics for a moment and confront it from that angle, we cannot allow an autocratic dictatorship to dominate the global economy and technology by stealing from us at the expense of the democratic order in the world. democracies are morally superior to dictatorships. if we allow china to cheat and steal their way into dominance, there will be more dictatorships
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and less democracies on this planet, and we will all pay a price for that. so i urge everyone to take this issue seriously and i urge the president to listen carefully to those in his own administration who understand this threat holistically for what it is. and i urge them to move in a direction that recal braits the -- recalibrates the structure economically and does not alou z.t.e. but numerous other telecom communications from continuing to grow and spy at our expense. that's why i en-- that is what i encourage them to do and it is the right thing to do for our country, not a short-term deal that makes us feel good and potentially gets you a positive headline in the short term but which historians will condemn as the beginning of the end of america's place in the world as its most influential nation. mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call: mr. brown: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: i first want to add my comments to those of my friend from florida, senator rubio, about china. i remember years ago when i was helping to lead the opposition to china's admission into the world trade organization, that american c.e.o.'s came to this body and said one after another to members of congress take we want access to a billion chinese consumers when what they really wanted was access to hundreds of millions of chinese workers in u.s. companies -- and u.s. companies as part of a business plan consistently shut down production, whether it was in
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the florida panhandle or whether it was in northeast ohio, move that production overseas enriching that communist government and giving china the wherewithal that senator rubio talked about now. that's the importance of the cfius legislation we did yesterday in the banking committee that senator crapo and i and senator van hollen worked on. it's the importance of many of the issues that senator rubio raised. i thank my colleague from florida. mr. president, i rise today to oppose the nomination of brian montgomery. he's been nominated by the president to serve in the u.s. department of housing and urban development as the assistant secretary for housing and federal housing commissioner. if confirmed, mr. montgomery would oversee the federal housing administration which ensures loans for homeowners, multifamily rental buildings and health care facilities originated by h.u.d.-approved mortgage lenders. h.u.d. is how they would -- they would oversea h.u.d.'s housing counseling program and rental
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assistance for 1.2 million low-income seniors, individuals with disabilities and families. we're considering this nomination at a time when the nation faces all kinds of housing challenges thanks to a deep shortage of affordable rental housing, a quarter -- think about this -- a quarter of all rentals -- i'm sorry -- a quarter of all rentals, a quarter of all households renting rg paying more than half their incomes for housing. that means if anything goes bad in their life, if their car breaks down on the way to work, if their child is sick and they have to decide do we send our child to school anyway or do we stay home and lose a day's pay, then they get behind on their rent and then everything goes bad for them. for too many -- for far too many creditworthy borrowers still struggling to access sustainable credit in the mortgage market, particularly communities of color. data was released showing people of color were far more likely in
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some cases five more times more likely to be denied a conventional mortgage. they surveyed hundreds -- they found this data in 61 metropolitan areas around the country. so it's not limited to only a few places. mr. montgomery had served previously in the position for which he's been nominated. he would bring valuable experience. he would bring an appreciation for the importance of the programs he would lead if he's confirmed. he has spoken about the value of the f.h.a. has a responsible engine of homeownership and a cyclical tool to ensure mortgage credit remains available. he's supportive of the affordable housing program. that's the good news. the bad news, i'm concerned that mr. montgomery in the interest of making the f.h.a. a better partner to the mortgage industry, many of whom he served as a board member or advisor will lose sight of the interest that f.h.a. and consumers have. following his previous tenure at h.u.d., mr. montgomery cofounded a consulting firm, a firm that
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provided a range of services to financial services companies, including helping f.h.a. pafntses minimize -- participants minimize penalties from h.u.d. enfocht actions. he also sits on boards of companies whose business could be affected by f.h.a. and federal housing policies. perhaps more troubling, mr. montgomery has stated concerns about, quote, excessive enforcement efforts against mortgage lenders in the years following the mortgage crisis, including pursuing claims under the false claims act. late last year the trump administration's department of justice noted that, quote, the false claim act serves as the government's primary civil remedy to readdress false claims for government funds and property. further said the recoveries under the act are a message of those who do business with the government that fraud and dishonesty will not be hole rated. -- tolerated. the false claim act was cited in several enforcement actions including $1.2 billion settlement with wells fargo
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2016, a 2014 settlement with j.p. morgan chase for knowingly originating and underwriting noncompliant mortgage loans submitted for insurance coverage and guarantees in f.h.a. mr. montgomery told our committee that fraud has no place in f.h.a. programs, obviously. however, without a strong signal that fraud and dishonesty will not be tolerated, some lenders who don't play by the rules will once again push the envelope with damaging effects for families and taxpayers. i hope mr. montgomery proves me wrong. that under his leadership, h.u.d. will emerge as a strong advocate for consumers and affordable housing and assisted families. it's hard for me to believe that, though, when you look down the street at the white house, and the white house frankly looks like a retreat for wall street executives and those connected to those financial interests. consumers and families need an advocate at h.u.d. so far the administration's response to the rental housing
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shortage has been to propose slashing billions from housing programs and raising the rent when low-income h.u.d.-assisted families, seniors and people with disabilities. after all as the h.u.d. secretary said, after given this tax cut where 80% of the tax cut, of the trillion dollars plus, 80% went to the richest 1% of the people in this country. they had to make cuts in the cleanup of lake erie when senator klobuchar and i care so much about. they had to make cuts in head start. they had to propose raising the eligibility raise for social security and medicare. they had to make these cuts. that was part of the deal of a tax cut for the rich. it's a little hard to buy some of their reasoning. they have been managing the consumer protection and eroding the fair housing at h.u.d. yesterday congress passed legislation making it harder to protect against violation of fair housing laws, particularly reverse red lining. as if we didn't deal with that
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issue decades ago and that we should come to agreement that red lining is wrong. it hasn't gotten better. i hope mr. montgomery, if confirmed, will advocate for housing solutions that work for our families and communities. this is far too important for these families. i oppose his nomination. i hope that i am wrong. i hope he toes the things that someone -- i hope he does the things that someone in that position should do. madam president, i yield the floor. ms. klobuchar: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: madam president, i come to the senate floor today to discuss what i consider and often overlooked issue, and that is the central importance of the well-being of american consumers to our nation's economic strength, and that issue is antitrust enforcement. before i was a senator, i was a
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prosecutor for eight years, and before that, i was a lawyer in private practice. and early in my legal career my main client that i actually took over when i was really a brand-new lawyer was m.c.i. at the time they were a young, innovative telecommunication community, which was competing with long distance carriers and then other companies. they had a lot of scrappy lawyers. they viewed themselves, as they were, fighting for consumers to give them some alternatives and lower prices. i remember at one of my regulatory hearings, i quoted the first words that alexander graham bell said over the telephone, which, of course, was come here watson, i need you. in the world of m.c.i. when they
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relayed the first-ever communication between st. louis and chicago, this all seems add to some of the younger pages here, but at the time the bell companies dominated all telephones and you only had those old dial telephones and you only had one company in your area that offered you service so m.c.i. came in there to compete by building their own line between st. louis and chicago. and one of their investors,er within her -- erwin sp hersch said, i'll be damn, it actually works. if it wasn't for antitrust law, m.c.i. never would have worked. we would have no competitors, we would be stuck in the old bell company world. m. clmplet i. took on at&t and
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broke up that monopoly. it lowered long distance prices for consumers across the country and ushered in an era of innovation and revolutionized the telecommunication industry and brought the long-distance prices down. antitrust may not always make headlines these days, but antitrust enforcement is as important now as it has ever been. it remains vital to the welfare of our country and we ignore it at our own peril. people often ask me, what does antitrust law have to do with our economy? and the answer i always give is, everything. let me repeat that. antitrust has everything to do with our broader economy. that is becoming clearer to the american public. people intuitively understand there is too much industry
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consolidation in this country. they understand it is not necessarily good for them whether they are a democrat, republican, or independent. they understand that it goes to the large companies and investors and not to the public. this highlights the fact that antitrust is not just a subject for competition policy circles or law school classroom discussions or the business section of the newspaper. antitrust policy touches people across our country, and they are beginning to see how important it is to their lives. two-thirds of americans have come to believe that the economy unfairly favors powerful interests, even as our economy stabilizes and grows stronger, it's easy to see why people feel that way. every year i go to all 87 counties in my state, and everywhere i go people tell me that while the job situation has
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improved since the downturn over the last decade, and, in fact, we need workers for a lot of the jobs open in our economy, they are still struggling with the cost of living. we are fortunate in my state to have that strong economy but the cost of living is by no means low, and that is true all over the united states. for some it's rent payments, for others it's mortgages, for others it's prescription drugs. well, that's actually for almost everyone. mobile phone service, to many people who dream of starting their own business, that's hard to do when those costs are so high. anticompetitive mergers and excessive concentration can increase these cost burdens. they may lead to these cost burdens. whether it's in the agricultural industry or the cable industry or certainly the pharmaceutical industry where we see monopoly power over certain kinds of drugs, where we see
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pharmaceuticals basically, in the words of the president of the united states while he was campaigning, able to get away with murder. again, what are we doing about it? well, the people would like us to do something about it. they are increasingly realizing that antitrust has everything to do with the prices they pay for goods and services and with the help of our broader economy. these are not novel ideas. think back to trust busting, think back to teddy roosevelt, think back to the american entrepreneurial spirit of small companies and individuals being able to compete against each other. that's what our economy is all about in america. when companies are allowed to compete and people are allowed to get into a business, businesses can offer the higher-quality good for the lowest possible price. but the point i want to emphasize is this, talking about antitrust in a narrow way is
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outdated and oversimplified. antitrust enforcement affects more than price and output. we now have evidence that competition fosters small business growth, reduces inequality, and increases innovation. in short, tackling concentrations of power is a linchpin to a healthy economy and a civil southeast. with respect to business growth, evidence suggests that it is nearly impossible for new firms to penetrate highly concentrated markets. so ensuring competitive markets is one clear way to help entrepreneurs and small businesses succeed, and we all know how important small business growth is to our economy. research also suggests that concentration increases income inequality. firms with market power raise prices which takes money from consumers and puts it in the pockets of the few. concentration also blunts incentives to innovate.
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why would you innovate if you know you can just keep the product you have, not invest in r and t, -- r&d and not invest in innovations because you have the only product on the market and no one is competing with you for something better. when there are eight or ten competitors, they will try everything to get a leg up on their product. by lowing products, when there is one or two firms, there is little incentive to make product imthe proavment, develop new products or bring the prices down. we have to recognize the broader benefits of this. since 2008, american firms have engaged in more than $10 trillion in acquisitions. the last few years have seen a steady increase in mergers reviewed by the trade commission
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and antitrust department trade decision division. it is not just the number of deals. i called bill bayer, who said that his agency was reviewing deals that raised such serious antitrust concerns that they should have never made it out of the boardroom. as former chair and ranking member now of the antitrust subcommittee, i have raised concerns about several mega merger proposals over the last few years. look at the come cast-time warner proposed merger. as i pointed out the at a hearing in the judiciary committee, if the merger had been approved, the combined company would have controlled 60% of the country's high-speed, broadband customers, or the failed merger between norfolk southern railway and canadian pacific, something i took on immediately after it was announced. even after the merger, 90% of
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freight traffic is handled by only four railroads. this is the same number of railroads on the monopoly board, four, that's what we're down to after having 63 of these major railroads years and years ago, and then down to nine, and then down to four. and if you're in a state that has a lot of agriculture, my state is fifth in the country for agriculture, you have farmers, and small businesses who are at the end of the freight rail growth line, they are captive customers because they are served by only one rail and they see their rates go up and they have no other choice. so the more you reduce the numbers, the more difficult it becomes for people to get good rates to get their goods to market. it's easily if you're in a highly concentrated market, it's
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very hard when you're not. these examples are a larger pattern of horizontal integration. that is something you hear in law school classes or business section of the papers. but that's what's happening. we you a know about at&t's bid to buy time warner and the justice department lawsuit to block the deal. that's not all. sinclair broadcast is trying to buy a company, c.v.s. is trying to acquire aetna and the list goes on. t-mobile signed an agreement to buy sprint which would combine two of four major cellphone carriers in the united states. again, i note that number four, the number on the monopoly board. this would go even to less. that would go down to three. t-mobile has been playing a major disrupting role in a good way -- i mean disrupting is good
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in terms of bringing prices down. and you have all seen the ads with what they are offering. this would merge two of those four companies and we would be down to three. more than three-quarters of american adults now own smart phones, including many who depend on these devices for their primary connection to the internet and many don't have local phone service and now we're bringing their choices down from major carriers to three if this deal were to go through. last october in anticipation of this transaction, i sent letters with a number of my colleagues raising antitrust concerns and urging the justice department and federal communications commission to investigate this potential transaction. and today senator lee and i are announcing that we are going to hold a hearing to look at these issues very carefully and very seriously in a bipartisan way in the antitrust subcommittee next
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month. often in connection with large mergers, the merging parties and the investment community promise millions, sometimes bms of dollars in efficiencies and cost savings. but after closing, do consumers actually see the promised lower prices or the improved quality? i think the american people deserve an answer to that question. to address these issues we need aggressive antitrust enforcement. so let's talk about that. unfortunately current levels of antitrust enforcement activity are not where they need to be. i take my responsibilities on the antitrust subcommittee seriously and senator lee and i have done a lot of important work together on the antitrust subcommittee over the years. we are also committed to the professionalism and the independence of the federal communications commission and the anti-frus division. anti- -- antitrust division.
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antitrust is not democratic or republican issues. they are consumer issues. we can agree robust -- in light of the consensus the enormous consequence of lax antitrust enforcement and the current merger wave, these issues require our urgent attention. our economy in terms of nominal g.d.p. has increased between 2010 and 2017. filings have almost doubled during that time. at the same time our antitrust agency budgets have been held flat. as a result, agencies are only able to take on seriously cases involving the most highly concentrated markets. this limits the attention that they pay to closer or more difficult cases. despite these constraints, agencies are doing what they can but we need to do more. giving agencies the resources to pursue the harder cases will pay
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real dividends on our economy. when i say resources, i also mean legal tools necessary to protect competition. when it comes to mergers, the protections in the clayton act, the antitrust law, have slowly been eroded. over time we have seen a systematic underenforcement of our competition laws. the result has been even larger mergers and more concentrated industries. and american consumers are taking notice. we need to give our agencies the legal tools to push back. that's why i have introduced two major antitrust bills over the last year. the first will give our antitrust agencies the resources they need to protect competition now, this is not coming off the backs of taxpayers because as i've already explained, they're already having to foot the bill for a lot of these mergers in terms of higher prices. this bill would in fact update merger filing fees for the first
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time since 2001. think of how many years that is and how the competitive landscape and the merger landscape has changed during those 17 years. it would lower the burden, this bill, on small and medium-size businesses for their filing fees and ensure larger deals where we're seeing all of these activities, these billion dollar deals where they hire so many lawyers, there are more lawyers on those deals than there are senators' desks in this room. these fees on businesses would raise enough revenue so taxpayers could foot less of the bill for merger review. i am not talking about across-the-board business tax. i'm talking about higher fees on those businesses, major businesses, huge businesses who are seeking to merge and reap the benefits. if their lawyers can get all kinds of bonuses for getting the deals through, at least the taxpayers should be getting the bonus of being able to know that someone is looking out for them
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in reviewing these deals. effective enforcement also depends on feedback. as the size of mergers have grown, so have the complexities of merger settlements. a question for modern enforcement is whether some mergers, proposed mergers are simply too big to fix. agencies can make better enforcement decisions if they understand what has worked in the past. so my bill gives the agencies the tools to assess whether merger consent decrees have in fact been successful. have all those promises we hear at the hearings or we hear in writing or read about in the business pages, have they really come to fruition? in addition, we need a better understanding of the effects of market consolidation on our economy. that's why we need to study the effects of mergers on wages, employment, innovation, and new business formation. and we also must give our antitrust agencies and courts the legal tools necessary to
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protect competition. that's why my second bill, the consolidation prevention and competition promotion act, would restore the clayton act's original purpose of promoting competition by updating our legal standards. so our legal standards as our -- as sophisticated as the companies that are proposing these mergers and the kind of mergers they are proposing. my bill clarifies that we can prevent mergers that reduce choice for closed competition through vertical consolidation, stifle innovation, or create monopolies. that's a great word you would hear in law school classrooms. what does it mean? it means where a buyer has the power to reduce wages or prices. it also creates a more stringent legal standard to stop harmful consolidation and shifts the burden for mega mergers. so the parties involved in the
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deal have to prove the merger does not harm competition. so what we're talking about here is when a big company buys another and then has that power to do something to make it so that the other competitors aren't really going to be able to compete with the company that they bought because this huge company might have the ability to bring down prices, do things temporarily to the point that they get other people out of the market or they hurt the others to the extent that you then don't have real competition. and that is what they're doing. let me be clear. big by itself is not necessarily bad and large mergers do not always harm consumers. my home state of minnesota now has 19 fortune 500 companies and we all benefit from the fact that the largest and most successful companies in the world are american companies. but if we want that success to continue, our new businesses
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must have the same opportunities to grow as the businesses that came before them. target, one of my favorite companies based in my state, started as a dry goods -- dry goods store at a small pedestrian mall that is now a big one in minnesota way, way back. that's a true story. 3m, a big company out of my state started as a sand paper company, okay. so we have to make sure that these small companies continue to grow and be able to compete. but that's not going to happen if we shut them out. our new businesses must have those same opportunities. promoting competition and preventing excessive industry consolidation is a way we encourage this country's next big idea. take trader joe's, jet blue, starbucks, these companies started small. but they were able to get a foothold in the market and succeed because our antitrust
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laws prevented large established competitors from limiting their growth. as a result the american people get better products and services. these bills will simply ensure that the next american business success story is possible. they will allow entrepreneurs and innovators to succeed in open, competitive markets. we can do this and we should do this. it doesn't take a miracle. it just takes people acknowledging what has made our economy strong in america. antitrust law and policy are not always front and center in our debates, but they should be. the proposals in these bills will improve the lives of businesses and people across the country. protecting competition speaks to the basic principles of opportunity and fairness. it speaks to the simple notion that companies with the best ideas, the most innovative products will have a chance to rise to the top based on their own merits. and the reality is that these principles are at risk. we are currently experiencing
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this dramatic increase in both the number and size of mergers. and as our markets and technologies evolve, our agencies and courts are less able to address this increased concentration. and the really big guys, they like it that way. and that's why we have to stand up in this chamber for the american people. we cannot wait any longer. we need vigorous antitrust enforcement. we need to improve the tools and the resources that those -- that are trying at least to put a modicum of enforcement in place are able to exercise. our economy depends on it. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor.
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: madam president, the right to vote is one of the most precious rights that we have here in america. how we protect it is so cherished and it's cherished by a lot of people all over the world that don't get a chance to exercise that right. our constitutional foundation is built on a process of free and fair and unfettered elections. well, what happened in this country two years ago put a crack in that foundation and it
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started to sow the seeds of doubt that if gone unchecked, could undermine our entire democracy. after painstaking analyses by the intelligence community, we know complete agreement in the intelligence community, unanimous in the i.c., we know that russia interfered in our 2016 election. and we know that russia continues to meddle in the elections of not only our country now but in other countries around the world. we saw that in the elections in europe last year. fortunately, what they tried in france backfired on them, and they didn't get their candidate to win. we also know that if we don't
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act now, they're likely going to continue this interference and the election here in this country is coming up in just a few months. so the threat that we face today from russia meddling in our elections and attempting to undermine our democracy, it's really one of the greatest threats that we face. congress recognizes this threat, and we have taken action to protect that vote, but none of it matters if the states, the respective states won't work with us and take this threat seriously. so last march we passed a bill here that authorized $380 million to help states'
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elections officials strengthen their election security and update their election equipment. now, $19 million of that total, that total of $380 million for the country, $19 million of it was set aside for my state, the state of florida. and while at least a dozen of other states have taken advantage by applying for and receiving the funding to help them protect therapy systems better from russian intrusion, my state of florida hasn't even applied for one single dollar of the $19 million set aside for
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florida. not one. in fact, the government of florida through florida's secretary of state said recently that he's not planning to apply for any funding to improve security during the upcoming november election. obviously, when you consider the risk and what russia did that the intelligence community all agree did to us in the last election, why in the world would the state of florida not apply for any of the $19 million set aside for our state. so we know that russia had already intruded into the election mechanism and records of 21 states.
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the state of florida was one of those states. and although we don't know what kind of interference the russians are going to try in this upcoming november, we do know that russian president vladimir putin having interfered in 2016 and causing so much chaos and, therefore, attacking the very foundation of our constitutional democracy is likely to do it again. so why wouldn't the government of the state of florida apply for $19 million of funds set aside for florida to upgrade and protect our election system? we know we're not the only country that has been attacked.
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according to the u.s. intelligence community, he obviously is going to continue this so we better get ready. and that's why we have such a heavy responsibility to defend america from these kinds of attacks. and to defend our process of free and fair and unfettered elections. we need to rebuild trust in our elections and, at the same time, we need to ensure that every citizen who wants to exercise their right to vote has the confidence that their vote can be exercised. it also can be counted, and it can be counted as they intended it to count.
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well, remember this goes back to 1965. congress passed the voting rights act of 1965 to protect the right of every citizen to vote. but in a 5-4 supreme court decision, it declared that part of that law was outdated, and it removed much-needed voter protections that we've come to rely on for minorities, and we've come to rely on it for the last half-century. and part of that supreme court decision struck down part of the law as it applied to protecting minorities in certain counties in the state of florida. the justices voted to strike down that important part of the voting rights act on a 5-4
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decision because they said it was outdated because we no longer have the blatant voter suppression tactics that we once did years and decades ago. madam president, i disagree. we've seen a lot of voter suppression. just take since the 2010 election, we've seen a number of states, including my state of florida, approve voting restrictions targeted directly at reducing turnout among young, low income and minority voters. why? because they traditionally support one particular party.
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in 2011, for example, the florida legislature and state officials and the governor of florida reduced the number of early voting days in florida, including canceling the sunday as an early voting date of the sunday before the tuesday elections. and it's not a coincidence that we find in the use of early voting days -- particularly on weekends but particularly on that sunday before the tuesday election when people have now become sensitive and recognize that there's about to be election day, particularly minority voters -- african
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americans as well as hispanics -- in florida took advantage of voting when they did not have to go to work. you heard the term "souls to the polls." so often many church members after church on sunday would go to the polls. and so they made voting more difficult for people, also who had moved to a different county. it became more difficult, even though we have a very mobile population moving within a state , and they also made it more difficult for young people, particularly college students, who changed their address because they moved and wanted to vote in the town where the university was but that their
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identification often was their driver's license, and it showed their parents' residence. again making it more difficult instead of making it easier to vote. and the state of florida, they subjected voter registration groups, like the league of women voters that had been registering voters for three-quarters of a century, suddenly they subjected them to penalties and fines if they didn't turn it in, the signatures, within a short period of time, which was impossible if you got the signatures over a weekend, and knit-picking on penalties and fines on some small mistake when they were trying to help someone register to vote.
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happily, the league of women voters took that to federal court, and the federal judge threw that law out as unconstitutional. but what happened, by the time of that decision, it was right before the election, and lo and behold the league of women voters had lost a year and a half of voter registration. in 2014, an elections official -- now, you can't believe this. in miami-dade, which was coincidentally one of the more democratic counties in the state , a miami-dade elections official closed restrooms to voters who were waiting in line at the polling sites.
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as a matter of fact, there was so much chaos in one previous election, the election of 2012, that lines were upwards of seven hours long. i'll never forget the woman who was a century old -- 100 years -- everybody kept bringing her a chair, bringing her water. well, some of those waiting in lines didn't have the opportunity to go to the restroom yet, despite voting hours and hours. and that same election cycle, 2014, the state's top election official told a local elections supervisor not to allow voters to submit absentee ballots at remote dropoff sites, ordering that that elections official,
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that there could only be one site. that supervisor of elections, by the way, told the state of florida to go take a hike, that they had a way of securing the ballots by dropping it in several different sites that were formally approved. and then the state of florida denied a request from the city of gainesville to use a university of florida campus building for early voting, a move seen by some as a direct assault on student voting. now, can you believe that? we're going to order the state of florida government, through the secretary of state, is going to order the university of florida not to allow the student
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center on campus to be a place of convenience for students to cast an early vote. and that order has stood. it stood -- instead of making it easier for people to vote, making it harder. and too often here we have let these things go. well, this senator is not letting it go because the league of women voters in florida has now taken the government of the state of florida in to federal court on behalf of students at the university of florida as well as florida state, saying that you arbitrarily saying we cannot vote in a convenient place on campus in a public
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building, government-owned public building on campus, that you cannot order us that we cannot use that. in anticipation, this court case of this coming november's elections. so, too often we find ourselves divided on these issues of party politics, but that shouldn't be the case. there should be no disagreement when it comes to protecting the right to vote and making it easier, not harder, for people to vote. why? because we ought to be americans first, not partisans first. we should be americans first. and the state of florida should
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get its act in order to let the people vote. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. isakson: i have seven requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority leader and the minority leader. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. isakson: thank you, madam president. madam president, i'm delighted to stand today shoulder to shoulder with all my colleagues on the veterans affairs committee in the house and the senate, to thank the senate yesterday for a very strong vote on cloture to take us to the point today where we'll pass the v.a. mission act, which is us as a legislative body fulfill ago promise -- fulfilling a promise to those who fought for us.
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for years there have been problems at the v.a. in terms of health care. you've -- you've read the headlines, i've read them too, and our constituents have read them. we've had veterans die waiting to get appointments. we had people getting bonuses for things they falsified. we've worked hard in the veterans' affairs committee in the house and senate to address head-on these tough issues and fix them so that the v.a. would be the best functioning health delivery system it could possibly be for the people who were willing to risk their entire life for each of us when they joined the military. i think it is appropriate we're doing it the week before memorial day. next monday we'll all celebrate all those who in all the wars that preceded the fight we have today, who represented our country, volunteered unselfishly, fought and in some cases died for america's peace, freedom, liberty, and the perpetuation of our democracy. one of the promises we made to
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them was that we would have good-quality health care and it would be accessible. four years ago with the leadership of john mccain we started the movement towards veterans choice. we passed a good bill with a 40-mile rule and a 30-day rule. if you live more than 40 miles from a v.a. clinic or service, you can go to a closer clinic as long as it is approved by the v.a. the 30-day rule said if you couldn't get a routine -- get an appointment for a routine med service, you can get approval. it was a good start, it was an improvement in our process. it addressed the problem but not well enough. but we learned enough as a test bed to know that veterans liked choice as long as it was not so cumbersome they couldn't use it. the v.a. liked choice as long as
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they had it with a partner with the veteran who made the choice. so we're repealing with the passage of the mission act both 309-day rule and the -- both the 30-day rule and the 40-mile rule. if you are an eligible veteran for v.a. health services and you want -- you can choose a private-sector doctor if you want to as long as it is in concert with our primary doctor. the v.a. needs to know about it, work with you in making that decision and working with you in finding that private doctor. we're not going to have mountains of paperwork of third-partyies coming in and slowing the process down. the v.a. is going to be motivated to see you get fast and timely service, quality health care, whether private or the v.a. there have been some who talked about this being privatization. it is not privatization. it is mobilization. we're mobilizing health care for the veterans to see to it they have access in a timely fashion.
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the v.a. is an instrumental service to our veterans who come home. many of them come home with injuries and sicknesses and illnesses and diseases that quite frankly nobody ever contemplated people surviving. who heard of ptsd and t.b.i.20 years ago? who saw veterans lose arms and legislative session, in some cases all of their arms and legislative session, and survive a battlefield wound? how many of you have seen people wear an eye prosthesis? the v. has specialties where they can do all of those things, the best in the world. we deliver high-quality health care and high-quality rehabilitation to veterans with the most serious injuries in the history of warfare. we'll continue to always do that. but we also have to understand that when health care in the private sector can be utilized for the convenience of the veteran, not as a competitor to the v.a. and use it as a force multiplier to lower the number of people we have to hire and lower the number of hospitals we have to build and provide that
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money for service to our veterans, it is a win-p win-p-win-within. it is no secret why every party has endorsed it, they all know this is something we need to do for a long time. it's no secret while we got a vote of 91-4 yesterday on the floor of the united states senate to invoke cloture and go to a vote today on the v.a. act. it is past time we make sure our laws of health care are available to our veterans are as high quality as our veterans are when they go to fight wars for us. secondly, i want to focus on another feature which to me is very important because i was in the service. i was not in vietnam. i'm a vietnam-era veteran. i joined the international national guard during the vietnam war. i know buddies, i lost buddies during that war. a lot of soldiers sacrificed during that war and made it home
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with terrible injuries but because of our delivery of the health care system and other hospitals around the world we were able to save veterans and rehabilitate them but the need for ongoing medical health care for the basic necessities of life is sometimes some of the by-products of some of the injuries and some who survive those wounds. there are veterans who have difficulty feeding themselves. there are veterans who can't dress by themselves. there are veterans who need assistance in the five basic essentials of life and sometimes they have to call on a care giver. there are spouses and moms, in some cases dads and brothers and sisters who come and deliver those services to their brother or sister or son or daughter. if you're a veteran of almost any era of vietnam they get care giver benefits for a stipend for that veteran being provided by that volunteer. it helps the veteran to be able to pay for the service. it helps the v.a. to not have to find people to do it. we're expanding the care giver s-flss in -- services to all
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sr-fss. finally they will be as eligible as anybody else entitled to v.a. benefits. patty murray of washington, susan collins of maine, a lot of members of this chamber today deserve credit for that. we fought for care givers for a long time. it's a big step forward and for many it will be a life saver and life extender and remove some of the major burdens some have to care for a spouse or loved one injured in battle, who fought for us. i could go on and on and on about detail after detail after detail in this bill but i don't want to bore everyone. i want everyone to tell them when they go home this weekend how important it is. there will be no more headlines of veterans dying because they can't get an appointment because they will be able to get an appointment, make a choice with the v.a. on that appointment. there will not be a case where a veteran is going to die because they can't get a basic service to stay alive at their home. they don't have the money to pay for a care giver, and therefore
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they languish unable to feed themselves or clothe themselves. that's the least we owe to our veterans. today when you cast your vote for the v.a. mission act, you'll do just that. i want to address some individuals, if i can, and thank them. i want to thank john mccain, whose idea this was originally. a great hero to all of us, a friend to all of us, one we love and pray for today as he recovers from cancer. john is the one that started the movement towards choice, and he deserves the credit for it. i want to thank all those secretaries that have worked with us over the past three or four years to get to the point that we're able to pass v.a. choice today. i tell you who i really want to thank. i want to thank all those veterans who sacrificed and died for us in the wars before now. the reason we enjoy our freedom and you, madam president, can preside freely without fear of retribution. i can say what i think to our constituents who gather in the
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gallery and listen to what we have to say, protest if they wish. we have a constitution and the bill of rights that give us everything. but who protected that gift are our veterans. it's not a stretch to remember that had it been in world war ii a different outcome, i might be speaking japanese or german today. not english. because of our veterans, because of our soldiers, they fought in the battle of the bulge, they fought in the pacific, my father-in-law flew reconnaissance in the pacific. my brother-in-law, air force in vietnam. if those vets had not risked their lives and offered their lives in exchange for our liberty and freedom we wouldn't be enjoying this today. we owe no less than the veterans act and i'm proud of our committee members. let me say thank you to my colleagues for your vote yesterday. i urge you to vote today for passage of the v.a. mission act. and it's an honor to serve our country as a member of of the united states senate. it's an honor to be an american.
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may god bless our country, and i yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. hoeven: i rise to speak in support of the v.a. mission act. i want to begin by thanking the chairman of the veteran affairs committee who has shown incredible leadership. on behalf of our veterans for many years, in this bill, it fits right in that mold. this is a very important bill for a number of reasons. i mean, obviously very important because it supports our veterans, but it really has important provisions in it that will make a difference for our veterans. and so i want to thank the chairman of the v.a. committee. i want to thank him not only for the quality of the work in this bill but for building the bipartisan coalition necessary to pass it because it really, it
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really does make a difference for our veterans to whom we owe so much. i'd like to go through not all but some of the provisions that i think are really important and some that i worked on and some that i, really do make a difference for our veterans. so i speak, as i said, in support of the v.a. mission act. it's bipartisan legislation, that will help ensure our veterans receive the care that they so very much deserve. this piece of legislation not only strengthens the v.a.'s ability to care for our veterans, but when the v.a. is unable to provide that care, it gives our veterans a choice to seek care in their home communities and to do it on a basis that's convenient, that works for them, and then to make sure that those health care facilities will provide service to our veterans because they know that they'll be compensated for it by the v.a. that's a huge issue, because it's not just about making sure
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there's care out there for our veterans but making sure that it's quality care and that it's available to them. we owe our veterans more than we could ever repay for their incredibly dedicated service. so expanding veterans' access to health care options closer to home is just one of the ways that we can show our deep appreciation for their service to our country. providing this kind of care has proven to be particularly challenging for our veterans residing in rural areas, so i have a rural state. and to get that access to quality service in these rural areas is a challenge and a challenge that we have to address and a challenge that we address directly in this legislation, which is which is why i'm so deeply appreciative that we're working to pass this legislation. in 2014, the veterans choice program was enacted to alleviate
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unacceptable waiting times for care at the v.a. however, the veterans choice program has been in need of improvement. in 2016 i worked to secure and implement the veterans care coordination initiative at our fargo v.a. health center. it serves all of north dakota and it serves half or more of minnesota as well. fargo v.a. does a tremendous job. we have health centers around the country that obviously need improvement. the fargo v.a. health center does a top, top-quality job. so this initiative, this initiative that we put together as part of the veterans choice program, and it's allowed veterans seeking community care to coordinate all of their health care through the fargo v.a. health center rather than the third-party contractors that
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were set up under veterans choice. and obviously we had challenges with those contractors. so this allowed the v.a. health center to provide that service directly both if the veteran came in to v.a. for institutional care at the health care center or if they wanted to get veterans choice care from a private provider in their local community. so the initiative has been very successful and has significantly reduced wait times for community care appointments. the v.a. mission act builds on that very effort. it builds on that effort by requiring the v.a. to schedule medical appointments in a timely manner. the veterans need health care, they've got to be able to get in and get that care in a timely way. the mission act improves community care initiatives at the v.a., including the veterans choice program, by streamlining them into a single veterans community care program that will be able to provide better care
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for our veterans. that's the bottom line. better care for our veterans. and today i want to highlight three priorities that we worked to include in the mission act to provide veterans in north dakota and across the country with better care closer to home. first, the long-term care piece. when we talk about care, it's not just medical care. it's long-term care. it's in-home care, nursing home care. it's that whole continuum of care that's so important. the v.a. mission act includes key pieces of legislation that i introduced as a stand-alone act. that bill was the veterans access to long-term care and health services act, and it focused on that long-term care piece, making sure that veterans could get v.a. to reimburse nursing homes and that nursing homes would take that v.a. reimbursement and take vans. that's why i introduced the legislation along with some of my other colleagues to increase veterans' access to long-term
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care options in their communities. for example, currently in our state only about 20% of the nursing homes contract with the v.a. due to difficult regulations and reporting requirements. that is not dissimilar from across the country. that's what we're seeing across the country, is only a percentage of, a small percentage of the nursing homes will take that v.a. reimbursement because of the red tape and difficulty in terms of contracting with the v.a. in order to get that reimbursement. a veteran should not have to relocate across the street because he can't go into a nursing home in their community because of the reimbursement issue. that's what this legislation addresses. now think how important that is. you want your veteran to be able to go in and get long-term care in their community, close to their home, close to their family; right? that's what this is all about. our legislation will allow
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non-v.a. long-term care providers, including nursing homes, to enter into provider agreements with the v.a. these agreements will cut through the bureaucratic red tape at the v.a. that has prevented our veterans from receiving long-term care services closer to home. this means that veterans can access nursing homes and other long-term care in their communities closer to home and closer to their loved ones. the mission act also expands care giver benefits to veteran caregivers of all eras. this again, very important provision. the v.a.'s program of comprehensive assistance for family care provisions includes a monthly tax stipend. health care coverage under the v.a. civilian health and medical program if the caregiver is not eligible for coverage under another health plan. counseling and mental health services, up to 30 days of respite care services, reimbursement for travel-related expenses required for an
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eligible veteran's examination, treatment, or episode of care. travel for caregiver training. training is also reimbursed. currently these benefits are only available to caregivers of post-9/11 veterans. the inclusion of this provision will help support pre-9/11 veterans and the family and the friends who take care of them. and then the other provision i want to mention, again, really important for our rural areas and for our veterans in the rural areas. this is a very important provision. this priority, this provision removes the veteran choice program's 30-day, 40-mile eligibility requirement. so it removes that 30-day wait at, the 40-mile eligibility requirement. it allows the veteran to receive care in their local community when services are not available
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through the v.a. or if the veteran and his v.a. medical team determine that receiving community care would be in the best interest of the veteran. again, what's best for our veterans. this is a priority we have been working on for veterans in my home state and states really across the country and particularly our rural states. as i mentioned, for example, north dakota's -- our only health center is in fargo. we have c-bots around the state, but the only full scope health center is fargo. as i said, it covers all of north dakota and frankly most of minnesota. so we have these community-based clinics out there, provide they provide some service, they aren't always equipped to provide the care necessary for our veterans. what does that mean? that means the veteran has to travel in some cases a long distance. under the veterans care choice program, the 30-day, 40-mile eligibility requirement, veterans living within 40 miles
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of a c-bot meant they had to go there or travel long distance to a v.a. health center. they weren't eligible for that emergency care, forcing many veterans to travel long distances, often in inclement weather in order to receive v.a.-reimbursed care. this legislation, the mission act, removes that requirement so now when a v.a. medical center or c-bot can't provide the service a veteran needs, then those veterans will be able to access health care services in their local community. so you have veterans traveling hundreds of riles now, round trip, inconvenienced now, making it more difficult for them and their families that under this legislation, the 40-mile requirement, the 30-day limit is taken away if it's most convenient for a veteran to
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access care from a private provider in their community, they can do it. that is a huge step in making the choice program work for our veterans. just a few days from now, our nation will set aside a day to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice. it is because of their sacrifice that we could experience the freedoms we enjoy as americans. sending this legislation to the president's desk is one way we can show our gratitude for their actions. i want to congratulate again the great senator from the state of georgia and thank the senate v.a. committee staff for their leadership, perseverance, and hard work to get to this point. i'm pleased that both sides of the aisle have come together to support this legislation to support our veterans. i'm proud to support the v.a. mission act. again, i urge my colleagues to support its passage. with that, mr. president, i
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would yield the floor to the senator from the state of missouri. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: mr. president, i want to join my colleagues from georgia and also join senator hoeven in mentioning the incredible leadership that senator isakson has placed on veterans and their -- the way we deal with veterans' concerns and we honor their service. the senator from north dakota just mentioned that monday, of course, memorial day. on memorial day in 1983, president reagan said, quote, i don't have to tell you how fragile this precious gift of freedom is. every time we hear, watch, or read the news, we are reminded that liberty is a rare commodity in this world. president reagan's words from 35 years ago are every bit as significant today as they were
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then. the willingness to pay the price for freedom by every soldier, sailor, airman, marine, person in the coast guard, the national guard, the reserves, we honor their willingness to do that on memorial day. this is a good time also for us to discuss the things that the congress has been doing to try to honor that service as we continue to look at the challenges veterans face. i have talked before about the hire vets act which was signed into law last year, the bill established a hire vets program within the department of labor to provide a tiered recognition of what employers do based on their contributions for veteran employment. some of the criteria were things like what percentage of the new hires were veterans or what percentage of the overall workforce is veterans, what types of training and leadership
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development opportunities are made available that veterans have unique opportunities to take advantage of, what recognition is given to skills that veterans learn while serving and what other benefits and resources are offered to veterans, things like tuition assistance. creating that national standard will help vets narrow down their employment options and focus on their job search efforts. hire vets is up and running. this year, over 300 employers have signed up to participate in the pilot program, and we'll see how that pilot works. i hope it works as well as those of us who sponsored and voted for the legislation, thought it would as a way to begin to give that recognition to employers that they deserve when they go beyond the statement of, of course, we like to hire vets. hire vets shows just exactly how much you like to hire vets and
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what difference it makes when you hire those vets. the second program that's getting started this year is the military family stability act. it was signed into law last november. we have the most powerful military in the world, the most well-trained military in the world, a military that we have invested money and training and energy in like none other, but the real strength of the military, according to military leader after military leader, is military families. in the military family stability act, we have created a new opportunity for families for education reasons or work reasons to leave earlier than the spouse that's serving is being assigned or to stay a little later. if school is going to start before you otherwise were going to get there or school is going to be out a couple of weeks or a
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couple of months after the serving spouse had to leave, we are giving families that option for the first time because we're the family rest detention support money stays, and i think lots of families are going to take advantage of that. families in the past could do that if everybody up and down the chain of command agrees. now families get to do that because they think it works for their families. secretary mattis and chairman mccain were very supportive of this program as was the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, general dunford, and we're looking forward to seeing how families are able this year for the first time to look at that next assignment and decide when's the right time for the family to move to that assignment. i have talked to lots of families, many of whom saw that moment as the moment they decided to leave the military or
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the moment that they looked back and saw it as their most challenging time when a spouse's job had to needlessly suffer or that last month of school couldn't be completed just because they didn't have that flexibility. now, president trump just appointed acting secretary robert wilkie or just nominated robert wilkie to head the v.a. we look forward to his leadership there. the president and the acting head of the v.a. just signed a contract with cerner, a kansas city company that will modernize the v.a.'s health care i.t. records, the records that health care providers in the whole system can access. cerner was already in the process of coming up with a system that worked for the active defense department. it only made sense for them to be the company that also makes
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that transition into the even bigger v.a. health system, a system that works. almost 200 -- almost two million veterans, rather, have used the veterans' choice program. senator isakson's talked about how this -- the bill we will be voting on improves that program. the senator from north dakota just talked about some of the obstacles that frankly the v.a. system had put in the way of veterans who wanted to take advantage of the program. i have had people from missouri in our office lately who are looking at v.a. health and had a great discussion from the hospital administrators in our state about how it not only helps them but particularly in small communities helps the community hospital if they can identify something that community hospital does better than they do it, to be able to assign that work to be done
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there. the bill expands as senator hoeven just mentioned the caregivers program and makes the eligibility for caregivers greater than it has been before. senator blumenthal and i had a bill that was incorporated into the program, the veterans' peer act which simply turns to the peer group veterans and lets them become part of the emotional and mental support team for veterans that are being challenged. i'm glad to see that legislation in the bill, the mission act that has gone through the process. certainly senator isakson and senator boozman and others on the veteran committee. people have served on that committee in many cases house and senate realized what needs to be done here. nearly 40 veteran service organizations like the v.f.w. and the american legion support
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this legislation. so together with the v.a. mission act, the electronic health records system contract that's now being performed by cerner, the hire vets act, the family stability act, i think what we see here is that when we think that we have done everything we need to do to honor our veterans and look more closely, we find there are still things that we can do that we will do that we clearly are willing to do, and we owe veterans that. we recognize veterans in many ways over the next few days, but the veterans administration has the job to recognize veterans every day and fulfill our obligation to veterans every day. i look forward to seeing the implementation of this well-thought-out addition to the veterans health system.
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i would see my friend from arkansas, senator boozman, is here, and i think he is next on our list, mr. chairman. the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. boozman: thank you, mr. president. thank you, senator blunt, very much. our nation's veterans were promised access to health care for their service and their sacrifice. this week, we continue our work to uphold that pledge. the bill before us, the v.a. mission act claims to transform the department of transfers delivery of community health care. that's a health care goal. specifically, the v.a. mission act consolidates and improves v.a. community care programs so veterans have access to health care and services in their own communities. this is important because veterans should have access to the best health care and services in a timely manner,
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regardless of where they live. under this legislation, a veteran and his or her doctor will decide where that veteran will receive care, taking into consideration the veteran's health care needs and the availability and quality of both v.a. and community care. for largely rural states like arkansas, this makes all the sense in the world. we have two v.a. medical centers in the natural state, little rock and fayetteville, as well as facilities in neighboring states that often serve arkansas veterans. the health care providers and staff at those facilities and our community-based outpatient clinics in arkansas truly do an excellent job in caring for our veterans, but the v.a. medical centers are in populated areas. in cases where veterans need more advanced care than c-boc
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can provide means a full-day trip for many veterans. it's unnecessary when a veteran could receive similar quality care outside the v.a. system in their communities. the service options provided in this bill who live far from a v.a. facility and need frequent follow-up care easier to access local providers and walk-in clinics. it was noted in a letter signed by over 30 v.s.o.'s supporting the mission act, the legislation is an effort to supplement, not supplant v.a. health care. that is a very important note. much like the choice program that preceded it, the new system will be established by the v.a. mission act is not meant to replace v.a. health care. rather, it builds on the foundation laid out by the choice program which addressed many shortcomings within the v.a. system that led to the wait time crisis. last year, i launched a listening tour to hear arkansas
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veterans about their experiences within the choice program so we can better meet their needs. i heard from arkansas veterans who have been able to get quality care from private providers in their own community when the v.a. system could not meet their needs. that's a good thing. but as the veterans i met with noted, the choice program had its share of problems, its share of troubles. i heard repeated stories of difficulties navigating the complex and confusing bureaucratic process. this legislation aims to alleviate those problems. while v.a. implements the new system, we cannot afford to let care slip for our veterans. that is why we made sure that the v.a. mission act authorizes funding to continue the current choice program for more than a year. in addition to the improvements to health care delivery, the bill will enable us to conduct better and more consistent oversight in how the v.a. spends
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money on veterans health care. this is a priority for me as chairman of the appropriations subcommittee on military construction and veterans' affairs. we must ensure that the v.a.'s efficiently and effectively providing veterans quality health care, whether at a v.a. facility or at a private facility in the community. the v.a. mission act would also improve the v.a.'s ability to hire quality health care professionals, strengthen opioid prescription guidelines for non-v.a. providers, and create a process to evaluate and reform v.a. facilities so they can best serve veterans. i would very quickly like to highlight two other important provisions of the bill. one is the expansion of v.a. caregiver benefits to veterans of all generations. this is a long overdue reform that will correct an injustice that left family caregivers and
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veterans injured before september 11, 2001, without critical care. caregivers and veterans in world war ii, the korean war, the vietnam war, the gulf war will now have access to the same benefits as the post-9/11 veterans. the second provision is based off a bill that i cosponsored that would authorize v.a. health care professionals to provide treatment to patients via telemedicine, regardless of where the covered health care professional or patient is located. the arkansas v.a. medical centers are leaders in telehealth, which holds great promise, especially for largely rural states like arkansas. it's important that the v.a. continues to encourage its growth without unnecessary bureaucratic red tape. this bill is a great example of what we can accomplish through bipartisan, bicameral compromise. working together for our veterans.
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i want to thank the majority leader for swiftly bringing this bill up for consideration after the house overwhelmingly passed it. i commend the hard work and leadership of chairman isakson. appreciate the great job that he has done. and ranking member tester who took the advice of all v.a. committee members into consideration while working on this major piece of legislation. i look forward to supporting the v.a. mission act on the senate floor so our veterans have access to the quality care that they deserve. and with that, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: mr. president, i ask for the ability to be able to have unanimous consent to have a colloquy with chairman isakson. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lankford: mr. president, i do want to thank chairman isakson for the work that he's done on this. it's been a long road to be able to work through to reforming the v.a. the v.a. is exceptionally complicated. there are a lot of interests that are engaged with this.
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he's heard a lot of voices from all over the country and all over this town to be able to help resolve some of the issues and bring them together. this is exceptionally important, though, for our veterans, especially for our veterans that live in rural areas very far from health care. so section 101 of this bill requires the v.a. to give access to community care for a veteran or veterans -- when a veteran or veteran's referring clinician agree that furnishing care or services in the community would be in the best interests of the veteran after considering certain criteria. and this is very important. things like the distance that they have to travel, the nature of the care that's required, the frequency of the care so they don't have to travel back and forth so often long distances, the timeliness of available appointments, whether the covered veteran faces an unusual or excessive burden, includes the family and includes the veteran. so in the conversation that's
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happening, suddenly it is not just a clinician making a decision. the veterans at the table and their family are brought into consideration. the reason this is important is not just for so many veterans that have to travel long distances. it's even for veterans that live close. mr. chairman, you and i have spoken on this briefly before, but i have a veteran in my state that was at the muskogee facility who was getting great care. i stopped by to visit veterans in the muskogee facility, just went room to room visiting people, checking on them and their care. i asked him how he was doing. he said great nurses, great doctors, has really done well. my next question was is this your first time to be in this facility? he said well, no, kind of. i had cancer treatments a couple of years ago, but they couldn't do it here in my town. they sent me to seattle to get my cancer treatments. to which i said did your family get to go? and he said no, sir, they
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couldn't go. so that was the best facility. he said i got good care there, but i went a long way and spent months and months away from my family getting chemo, radiation, and surgery and then follow-up. he would have loved to have done that at any number of cancer facilities in oklahoma. in fact, in oklahoma city, there is a national cancer institute, one of the top 2% of all the cancer hospitals in the country is right down the road. the question is, once this bill passes and in future situations, when veterans are facing great care needs for specialties like cancer and other issues like that, will this be a situation where veterans will continue to be sent sent across the country -- sent away from their families for care or will their family members and frequency of visits be brought to bear on that to maybe make a decision that maybe they could get that great care locally? mr. isakson: i thank the
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distinguished senator from oklahoma. i will tell him the story of his citizen -- his veteran from muskogee led us to the way we wrote a lot of the provisions in section 101. the comfort and ease and accessibility of a veteran is equally important to every other consideration that will go in. that veteran who was sent to seattle before he could get the treatment in oklahoma city or muskogee or wherever else closer to home where was more convenient as long as it was in the best interests of that patient. it says the veteran or veteran referring physician agreed that the care or services would be in the best medical interests of the veteran after considering criteria and including all those criteria. every criteria as well as medical consideration. that would never happen again if we were good today without the mission act. i appreciate you bringing it to our attention. i hope it never happens again, in oklahoma or anywhere else in the united states. mr. lankford: mr. chairman, thank you very much for that clarification on this. we look forward to doing what's in the best interests of the
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veterans, the veteran's care, not the simplest thing for the v.a. but what's the best care for that veteran and that veteran's family. i appreciate all the great folks at the v.a. who do serve our veterans so faithfully every day and we'll continue to be able to give them what they need to be able to do that but also help our veterans know that they will be taken care of in the best possible way. mr. chairman, thank you, and with that, i yield back. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: as we approach memorial day, we'll pause and remember the members of our armed forces who have paid the ultimate price in service of our country. as americans, we honor all our veterans who have sacrificially fought for our freedoms. certainly those who have paid with their lives but also those who have returned home determined that we not forget their fallen brothers and sisters in arms. among the most meaningful ways congress can honor our veterans
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is to uphold the promises that have been made to them. one such promise and responsibility is to ensure america's veterans that they have access to the quality medical care that they earned through their service. i want to thank chairman isakson and his staff for all the effort they have put into the bill before us. his tireless work on behalf of america's veterans has produced the compromise legislation now pending that aims to reform the v.a.'s broken community care programs. i particularly appreciate chairman isakson for sending his staff to wyoming to understand the problems our veterans and providers have had with v.a. choice. since the v.a. choice program was enacted in 2014, i received hundreds of letters and calls from people across wyoming so frustrated with the program, that they felt they had no other choice but to call their senator. i've been contacted by veterans
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who could not access timely follow-up care or critical screenings because of unpaid claims leading to providers dropping patients. some veterans are even facing selections from the choice program's failure to pay the provider's claims. similarly, many providers have not been paid for medical services they have provided. that's led to some of wyoming's physicians stop participating in v.a. choice. we're the least populated state in the nation, but earlier this month, we had 3,000 -- 3,130 pending claims in wyoming with 1,025 of them being over 30 days old. to get those numbers to even that level has required multiple meetings with the department of veterans affairs and the administrator of the v.a. choice program for wyoming. at the end of march, there were
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5,319 pending claims and 3,214 more that were more than 30 days old. a number of my colleagues have participated in those meetings, and i appreciate their shared interest in improving care for our veterans in rural states. and despite those meetings, i still hear reports about how difficult it is to get simple questions answered, whether dealing with the v.a. directly or with contractors who are supposed to administrator the program, the process of receiving and paying for health care services is broken. i believe the problem faced by wyoming's veterans and doctors will be improved by this bill, and i thank the senator from georgia for including provisions related to health care provider and veteran education, related to prompt payment to providers, related to tools for the v.a. to
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resolve pavement issues, and -- payment issues and related to v.a. flexibilities to enter into agreements between v.a. facilities and health care providers. however, i do have one disappointment. i do have one concern with the bill. it's not paid for. i believe we must acknowledge that borrowing more money to pay for this program isn't an ideal way to honor our veterans. c.b.o. estimates that federal outlays will total more than 56.-- $56.6 trillion over the next ten years. that's $56,600 billion and yet nowhere in that budget can we find $4.5 billion to offset the cost of this program? i believe we should care for our veterans in a fiscally responsible manner. i believe this is the best way to assure their long-term care as well as the care for the veterans of the next generation.
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i ask for support of the bill and i thank you, mr. president, and yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. barrasso: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, over the past 50 years, our country has gone from being a construction society to
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a consumption society, and as a result our bridges, our roads, our dams and our waterways have suffered. president trump has said rebuilding america's infrastructure is a priority toker this administration. he says that we have build, quote, with american heart, american hands, and american grit. that's what president trump said in the state of the union this year. well yesterday the committee of environment and committee works took a big step towards meeting that goal. we voted to approve america's infrastructure act. now, there's a lot of people that we say in wyoming -- lots of people say, around the rocky mountain west as well, well, it's originally been attributed to mark twain. and it goes like this. whiskey is for dripping. water is for fighting over. well, surprisingly, mr. president, in this case, we
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actually didn't fight over the water of the united states. this legislation was written by republicans and by democrats, and it passed with unanimous, bipartisan support 21-0. both parties agreed that there's a lot we can do to improve america's water infrastructure. basically, the bill comes down to three big things. it grows the economy and creates jobs. it cuts red tape by getting more control out of washington. and it keeps communities safe. the first way this legislation supports america's economy is by increasing water storage. that's a big concern in my home state of wyoming and across the west. we've had a serious problem over the years where sediment builds up behind dams and the lakes where water is stored. sediment limits the amount of water that the lakes can actually hold. so we're telling the army corps of engineers and other agencies to develop plans to deal with
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this sediment at federal reserve voice. that's a simple thing that washington can do and now it's going to get done. we're also expanding water storage capacity by making it easier to get permits for additional reservoirs. we have a facility in lincoln county, wyoming called the fountainell reservoir. this legislation makes sure that an expansion will finally occur. farmers and ranchers will get a new, reliable supply of the water they need. the water doesn't do much good if people can't get it where they need it. so we fix the failing irrigation systems that are so important in rural areas. we're also improving america's inland waterways that people rely on to move products to market. on the coast we deepen some of the most vital ports and we can ship goods from there around the world. mr. president, the pro-growth
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policies like the tax cuts that we passed last year have helped america's economy take off. now we need to make sure that we have the water infrastructure in place to keep it growing, to keep people working, and to keep american raw materials and american-made products moving. the second thing this legislation does is cut some of the burdensome and the unnecessary red tape that does nothing but get in the way of economic progress that we need. we're going to make sure that these water projects reflect the priorities of the american people, not the priorities of washington bureaucrats. that means more local control over which projects get built. local leaders know what they need, and they know which projects will make the biggest difference. once we identify the best projects, then we need to make sure that they actually get built. today the permitting process can drag on for years while people get more and more desperate for projects to be finished. america's water infrastructure act is going to push the army
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corps of engineers to complete all feasibility studies for new projects within less than two years. we also eliminate the need for multiple cost-benefit. they take a lot of time and often the army corps of engineers will require new assessments for a single project. this legislation gets rid of these redundant studies. it's going to make a big difference in getting things built on time and on budget. the third big thank this legislation does is -- the thing big thing this legislation does is keep american communities safe. we're going to repair some of the old drinking water and waste water systems across the country. we provide help for places that need to clean up pollution in their water and to keep the pollution from getting into the water in the first place. as a doctor, mr. president, i can tell you that this is extremely important for the health of our families and for our communities. that's why it's a priority in this legislation. we also take some important steps to reduce floods in rural
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areas. in my home state of wyoming and other parts of the west, that is continue -- this is a continual threat for many people. every spring they have to worry about floods caused by snow and ice melting. we have dams and levees where maintenance that be put off for so long that people are anxious every time the water starts to rise. so we're addressing the backlog of maintenance as well, looking for ways to permanently fix some of these areas where ice buildups have caused serious damage. most people don't give a lot of thought to the water that comes into their home. they turn on the faucet. water comes out, comes into the house, water goes out of the house. this legislation makes sure that people don't have to worry about that changing. their water will be safe, reliable, abundant, so they won't have to worry about it. now, for most of us in the west, water is always on our minds. it is vital to our way of life.
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we rely on irrigation and water storage for our livestock and our crops. we rely on water to transport our products to markets far away. we rely on dams and levees to protect us from floods. this legislation makes sure that people in rural communities can still count on the water being there when we need it. that's good for all of us, mr. president -- republicans and democrats agree. we know that there is tea a lot of work to be done to address america's water infrastructure needs. we know we need to get the job done right, we need to get it done faster, better, cheaper, smarter. america's water infrastructure act does just that. this cooperative piece of legislation passed the committee 21-0. now it's time for the entire senate to act. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president.
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the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: i would like to start by congratulating my colleague from wyoming for reporting out this legislation on water infrastructure and particularly with regard to the help he's given us with regard to the great lakes, what you have done to help us maintain and protect the great lakes. $6 billion fishing industry in the great lakes, lake erie being the number one. the great lakes legislation you supported is important as well as helping us with the army corps. you've also helped us keep invasive species out of the great lakes. so we thank you for your support of that and we look forward toest going that bill to the floor soon -- and we look forward to getting that bill to the floor soon for a vote. today i want to talk, as other colleagues have, about the men
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and women of our armed forces, the brave men and women in uniform who protect us every day and some of whom made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us. this coming monday, of course, is memorial day, and this holiday weekend is a time for all of us to kick back a bit, spend some time with our families, relax, be with friends. but let's not forget what memorial day stands for. it's, first and foremost, an opportunity to reflect on the service and sacrifice of those who gave their lives defending the freedoms we enjoy and sometimes take for granted as americans. i'll be spending part of the day at a memorial day parade that i try to attend every year and have for many years in blue ashe, ohio, which is north of cincinnati. it is an event that i think is as patriotic as any i've seen in my state. a wonderful parade, very well-attended, lots of veterans
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in the parade, but also veterans who come to watch. it ends at a beautiful memorial for our veteranned, paying tribute to patriots from every single conflict we have been involved with as a country since our founding. across the country on memorial day, we will give humble thanks to those brave men and women in uniform who during their lives fought for the principles we hold dearest and who in their deaths sacrificed themselves in defense of those american ideals. freedom is bought at a price. sometimes a very high price. the price of lives, of limbs, of some of the veteran whose gave the prime years of their lives for all of us -- part of the cost is the scars of war. some of those scars are very visible, of course. others are more invisible. those who are coming back with ptsd or traumatic brain injury, those scars can't be seen, but they're certainly felt.
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service members brave those risks because of their sense of duty and their sense of patriotism. i'm proud to be the son and the grandson of two army infantry lieutenants, one a world war i vet, one a world war ii veteran. they instilled in me the virtue of service and the merits of servant leadership. they believed in these values and embodied them in their lives, as so many veterans do. this weekend, as we pay thanks to the many men and women who were laid to rest under the flag that they died defending, we should all take a moment to remember and thank all veterans as well, past and present, whose service also has made our way of life possible. the men and women of our united states military represent the best in all of us, and they deserve the best from all of us. today the senate will vote on what's called the v.a. mission act, which is a bipartisan bill that will reform the veterans
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choice program. i've heard my colleagues speak about this legislation on the floor this morning and this afternoon, and i agree with them that this is a positive step forward. it will expand private care options, provide veterans in ohio and around the country with more choices, and fewer barriers to ensure they have the best health care possible. the bill passed the house of representatives last week and it got more than 730 -- 370 votes. that's unusual, that's outside of 435. i look forward to it passing the senate with a sweeping bipartisan vote as well so it can help veterans i represent in ohio and around the country. we had another positive development last week when the senate resources committee when we had a bill passed that
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would -- as the national veterans memorial and museum. it is a spectacular structure, and more importantly, it will have terrific exhibits on the inside to help allow future generations to know about the selfless sacrifices made by so many men and women of the armed forces. the national veterans memorial and human in columbus is one important way that we can commemorate not only brave ohioans but all americans, it is the national museum. it was voted on by -- it will be vote on by both houses. i hope to get that bill through this body before memorial day as a way to pay tribute to our veterans. it is not something that we're asking our taxpayers to support. it has been supported by $75 million raised in the private sector. this is a philanthropist in the
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columbus area named russ wexler, and it has involved a number of businesses in the greater columbus area and individuals from around the country who stepped up and said we need to have a national veterans museum. i urge my colleagues to support this legislation as we try to hotline it here in the united states senate and try to get it don't even before memorial day. this memorial day, as we remember those who sacrificed their lives for our country, let us remember why they offered to lay down their lives. why? because this nation under god is worth fighting for. we are eternally grateful for their sacrifice and for the service of all military members, those in the past, those in the present, and those who will step forward to protect us and serve our great country. mr. president, i yield back my time.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from idaho. mr. crapo: i rise today -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. crapo: excuse me, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. crapo: i rise today to urge my colleagues to confirm brian montgomery as federal housing commissioner. the federal housing administration, or f.h.a., plays an important role in today's housing finance market. promoting homeownership and ensuring access to affordable mortgage credit for millions of
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americans. when f.h.a. operates in a safe, viable manner, it can help many deserving people gain a foot hold in our housing market who otherwise might have been unable to do so. f.h.a. also plays a counter cyclical roll in the mortgage marketplace providing market liquidity when times of additional sources of home financing dry up as they did a decade ago. since 1934, f.h.a. has ensured mortgages for more than 40 million families. today the f.h.a. is the largest mortgage insurer in the world. it also is the primary facilitator of reverse mortgages and supports a nationwide network of housing counseling agencies. yet for nearly four years it has not had a senate confirmed leader. fortunately the time has finally come to fill this vacancy and i
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know that brian montgomery will do a terrific job. brian montgomery is an ideal candidate to take up the mantle because he has done it before. mr. montgomery provided steadfast leadership at the helm of f.h.a. between 2005 and 2009 under presidents bush and obama. during one of the most trying times that housing markets have ever seen. his nearly unanimous support from housing stakeholders speaks to this strong track record of experience and expertise. once confirmed, mr. montgomery can hit the ground running, moving f.h.a. forward in pursuit of its continuing mission. i look forward to continued conversations with him on opportunities to improve america's housing finance system which continues to be urgently needed. i also look forward to working with him on how we can make h.u.d. programs more effective and be efficient and be a better
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steward of taxpayer dollars. 13 years ago this body confirmed mr. montgomery on a voice vote to serve as f.h.a. commissioner. i ask my colleagues to once again vote to confirm him to this critical role. thank you, mr. president. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. isakson: mr. president i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be vitiated.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. isakson: mr. president, i come briefly to the floor to encourage all the members of the senate to vote today for the v.a. mission bill. it's long overdue. it's had a lot of hard work in it, got a great vote on cloture 91-4. i'm sure we'll have an outstanding vote today because it's a vote for our veterans, the promises we made to them, a better quality of health care. it would not have happened were it not for a lot of people. one of the key persons for making sure it passed with the overwhelming margin it has is jon tester. we worked together hand in hand for about three years, had enough pitfalls to want to quit many times but never did because we know the ultimate bill is to meet our veterans needs of the day. when the senate adopts this bill it will be because of the hard work of a lot of people but none more than important than jon tester of montana. i thank my ranking member and thank the presiding officer at the time. and i yield to the ranking
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member. mr. tester: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. tester: i want to thank the chairman of the senate veterans' affairs committee, senator isakson for the leadership he's shown from the get-go, from the minute that he took the gavel in the senate veterans' affairs committee, he's been wanting to work together in a bipartisan way, put aside our differences, and get things done. and this v.a. missions act had a great vote yesterday. and people might say, gee, this is another one of those slam-dunk bills. it's not. we would not be here today if it wasn't for chairman isaksonened a the great work that he has -- isakson and the great work that he has done on this bill. i want to thank the entire senate veterans' affairs committee. i want to thank the leadership of the house veterans' affairs committee. i want to thank the 38 veterans services organizations that offered their support for this bill. i said many times during the hearings we'll take our cues from the veterans. this is exactly what the entire senate hopefully will do in a
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minute or two here with this bill, is take our cues from the people who serve this country in the military. this is a big win for them. it also is going to put a lot of pressure on the v.a. to deliver for them. nonetheless, this is one of those rare times when the senate and the house has done their job and done it in a bipartisan way, worked together and worked for the benefit of the veterans of this country. i also want to thank my staff, tony mclynn, dalia menendez, john cohen, for their great work. in brief review, what this bill does is scrap the choice program and all the community care programs, puts them into one program where the veteran and the doctor control where to seek care whether it be within the v.a. or the private sector. it is strengthens the v.a., helps build capacity in the v.a. in two ways. with a longer repayment program for our employees, and it
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incentivizes medical residencies within the v.a. it also improves rural health care in states where i come from, like montana, by deploying mobile health units and by expanding telehealth. and finally, this bill expands the caregiver program to veterans of all eras. something that senator murray has worked on for years and years. i was there when senator murray came up to the chairman of the committee and said on a previous bill and said to chairman isakson we need this caregiver bill in and senator isakson said we're not going to forget about you, patty. we're going to make sure this is taken care of. and he lived up to his promise to her. and he lived up to those veterans who have a family member to take care of them at home and people don't even know what's going on. they don't even know what's happening. and sometimes these folks have to quit their job to take care
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of a veteran that's home and needs help. so the caregiver program is a very, very important part of this bill. so, it happened because we worked together, something that when i go home to montana, people ask how come you guys can't work together. well, we kind of broke the mold here a little bit, and we did work together in a bipartisan way. we put aside our politics, and we did what was right for the country, and we did what was right for our veterans. hopefully we'll get another strong vote out of this bill when it's brought up for passage and we can get it to the president's desk for his signature. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call: a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from idaho. mr. crapo: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. the question occurs on the montgomery nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: does any senator wishing to vote or wishing to change his vote? if not, the ayes are 74, the nays are 23. the nominee is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table, and the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action. under the previous order, the senate will resume legislative session and the clerk will report the house message to accompany s. 2327. under the previous order, all postcloture time has expired. the clerk: house knowledge accompany s. 2372, an act to amend title 38 united states code and so forth and for other purposes. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: i move to table the motion to concur with
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amendment. the presiding officer: question is on the motion to table. all those in favor, say aye. the opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion to table is agreed to. mr. cornyn: mr. president, aid ask unanimous consent that the remaining votes in this series be ten minutes in length. the presiding officer: without objection. the question is on the motion to concur. is there a sufficient second? there is a sufficient second. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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