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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  December 18, 2018 9:59am-12:48pm EST

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mutual concession. >> thomas jefferson questioned the need for senate. >> the founders believed-- >> let's follow the constitution. >> framers established the senate to protect people from their rulers and as a check on the house. >> the fate of this country and maybe even the world lies in the hands of congress and the united states senate. >> the senate, conflict and compromise, a c-span original production, exploring the history, traditions, and roles of this uniquely american institution. >> please raise your right hand. >> wednesday, january 2nd, at 8 p.m. eastern, and pacific, on c-span. c-span. >> next on c-span2 we'll go live to the u.s. senate, today a bill aimed at reducing the rate of recidivism.
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although the government to be passed is yet to be announced we're expecting senators to speak on it on the floor today. now coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, how brief is the span of human life when compared to the enormity of your univers?
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infuse our lawmakers with reverential awe, as they remember that your ways are so much higher than our own. give them the faith to believe that although you inhabit eternity, you still give each of them your undivided attention and infinite patience. thank you for the many opportunities you provide us each day to celebrate your greatness. help us all to rise above petty rivalries, irrelevancies and
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tiflalities to a fresh unity of idealism and purpose. we pray in your great name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved.
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mr. mcconnell: madam president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: yesterday the
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senate voted to pend the justice criminal investigation. we're considering the bill here on the floor this week. particular credit for this belongs to senator cornyn who has carefully and impressively balanced his role as majority whip with his own personal support for the legislation. his leadership has benefited everyone who shares his position and would like to see this bill become law and he serves every bit of their gratitude. with respect to the substance of the legislation, a number of members continue to have outstanding concerns that the bill currently leaves unaddressed. members will have the opportunity to debate and vote on the pending germane amendments before we vote on final passage. now, on another matter, madam president, to the untrained eye, it might seem that i've completed my thanks and farewells to all of my republican colleagues who will
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depart at the end of this congress. but i'd be remiss if i did not also mention the junior senator from arizona, our good friend jon kyl. when senator kyl bid farewell to this body in 2012, it took me quite a while to come to the terms with the prospect that we cast our final votes together. i went through stages of grief. eventually i came to acceptance. but as it turned out, the great state of arizona was not quite finished with this great leader after all. his biggest mistake was leaving a record as one of the most ernest and effective legislators that this body has seen in recent memory. because when the people of arizona needed someone to step in and honor the towering legacy of our friend john mccain through the end of this congress, his counterpart of 18 years was the natural choice.
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as the inare tire -- ten tire nation mourned the loss of a decorated statesman, jon kyl brought us his even keel and sound judgment to fill the void. while the senate may have changed in some small ways in six years, he's likely to have noticed that some things never do. this floor remains the stage for the most important policy challenges facing our country. there's still an urgent need for hardworking public servants with expertise to enter the fray, and he's still -- still the junior senator from arizona. from his first day back, john has smoothly continued senator mccain's habit of making an outsized impact for his state. he cast his vote to confirm a well-qualified supreme court nominee. he's joined in advancing major legislation, and he's continued his advocacy for improving
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america's military readiness. as we say good-bye one more time, i know every member of this body will join me in gratitude that jon answered the call when his experience and talents were needed. like the others who have been lucky enough to spend 18 years of serving with jon already, i feel lucky to work again alongside a good friend. we wish him and his wonder wife carol much health and happiness in the years to come. madam president, bidding farewell to our departed colleagues is never easy, neither is seeing off a number of other colleagues beyond the senate with whom we've had the privilege of working closely. for the past two years america has been treated to a brilliant example of public service on one of its highest possible staijts, first as secretary of homeland
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security and white house chief of staff, john kelly has served the president and nation with great distinction. this is far from the first chapter. his entire career and life have been utterly oriented around his deep patriotic commitment. john kelly spent the better part of his life with the marine corps. as thousands of his peers waited to be drafted into the military service, john took the initiative. he enlisted, then he completed officer candidate school. he earned a reputation as a loyal brother in arms and an outstanding leader of marines. he commanded infantry units at camp will he june and quantity co, he -- quantico.
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he served with the u.s. southern command. he took on real hardship postings like the house of representatives. he served there in the commandante's lia sorn's office -- liaison's office. he led marines in iraq. as marines would tell anyone, he leads with a confidence that comes with decades of dedicated preparation. the resolve that will comes from deep-rooted patriotism and leads with an understanding as personal and painful an understanding as could be possible about the sacrifice that our freedom requires. general kelly once said to a gathering of fellow gold star parents, those with less of a sense of service to the nation will never understand when men and women of character step forward and look danger and
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adversity straight in the eye and refuse to blink or give ground even to their own deaths. the protected can't begin to understand the price paid so they and they families can sleep safe and free at night. john kelly and his family know that price. they paid that price as fully as anyone has, but as is so often the case, madam president, it is those who have already given so much who seem the most willing to give even more. john's service as secretary of homeland security and now as white house chief of staff reflected the values and instincts that made him such an effective leader of marines. it was only by working closely with him and his team that this congress has been able to record so many substantial accomplishments for the american people. the marine corps is stronger for john kelly's year of leadership, america is better for his
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distinguished career of service. as he departs the white house this month, i extend my deep gratitude for a job well done. mr. kyl: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. kyl: madam president, i just want to thank my colleague, the majority leader, for his comments about me. he asked if there were differences between the time that i served before and this most recent time, and i must say that the thing that i have noticed most is the kindness with which i've been treated by my colleagues and by staff. and i'm talking about colleagues and staff on both sides of the aisle, by other people who work here at the capitol, including and most especially the capitol police. i never expected to be welcomed back with that degree of kindness, and i have commented it might be a nice thing if we could extend that same degree of kindness to each other every day rather than just to those who come back after a long absence.
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but i do very much appreciate your comments, mr. leader, and most especially your leadership and friendship over the years. thank you very much.
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a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. mrs. fischer: thank you, madam president. i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. schumer: madam president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader.
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mr. schumer: are we in a quorum? the presiding officer: we are. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: thank you, madam president. now, with only four days remaining until a lapse in government funding, democrats still have not heard back from president trump about whether he is willing to accept either of our offers to keep the government funded. for that matter, republicans in congress, both house and senate, have been almost entirely silent about what plan they might support to avoid a shutdown. they say they want to avoid a shutdown. our republicans in the house and senate, they have no plan. yesterday, senate republicans were telling reporters they had no idea what the house's plan was or even if it had one, so let me remind my republican colleagues and president trump that democrats have put two reasonable ways to avoid a shutdown on the table. the six appropriations bills plus a one-year c.r. for homeland security, or a c.r. for all seven bills to fund the
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government. neither proposal contains a single democratic demand. no democrat is pounding their fist on the table and saying we have to shut down the government unless we get our way the way president trump is. we only want to fund the government. if president trump were to accept either proposal, it would sail through the house and senate, and we could conclude the nation's business before the christmas holiday. the only proposal that cannot pass is the president's demand for an unnecessary, ineffective, exorbitantly expensive border wall. so if president trump throws a temper tantrum and clings to his position on the wall, he will not get a wall, but he will cause a trump shutdown over christmas. with only a few days to go until appropriations lapse on friday at midnight, president trump needs to come out of hiding and accept one of our proposals to keep the government open. either will get a majority of
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votes on the floor of the house and the senate. now, on another matter, health care. a ruling last friday from a federal judge in texas has put the future of the affordable care act in doubt. every american should be aware of the fact that if the ruling's upheld, the entire law would come crashing down, including health insurance for 20 million americans, protections for 130 million americans living with preexisting conditions. parental health coverage for millions of americans under the age of 26. and essential benefits like maternity care, mental health treatment, preventative screenings, money for opioid treatment. it would cause nothing short of chaos, chaos in our health care system and calamity, calamity for millions of american families if this court case were to prevail. we don't believe the ruling should stand or will stand, but the danger it poses is so great
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that we can't simply hope for the right result. we should do something quickly to allow the senate to be heard and to persuade the courts not to tear down the health care law. senator manchin has a resolution to authorize the senate legal counsel to defend the affordable care act on behalf of the senate. we intend to force a vote on his resolution as soon as possible. every republican who claims to be for protections for preexisting conditions ought to vote aye on that resolution. it's the quickest and best way to ensure that the court case against the affordable care act does not remove these protections and the whole rest of our health care law. legislation, some of my colleagues are seeking refuge. we will just pass legislation to tweak this or tweak that. legislation would be difficult, slow, and frankly unnecessary at this stage. we know how hard it is to do any health care legislation in this
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body, and unfortunately a good number of republicans and president trump by their actions have shown they want to cut health care. we're never going to get a deal with democrats in the senate or the house democrats who are going to be in charge on doing that. so senator manchin's proposal is the best and first way to go. i urge my friends on the other side, all of those who have talked about preexisting conditions, put your money where your mouth is. support senator manchin's resolution. and to leader mcconnell who also says he wants to protect existing preexisting conditions, bring the manchin resolution to the floor. now, on c.j.r. later this afternoon, the senate will likely vote on a package of amendments and then final package of the bipartisan criminal justice reform. i wholeheartedly support the bill and intend to vote yes on final passage later today. among other important changes, the legislation will give judges more discretion in sentencing for low-level nonviolent drug offenders who cooperate with the
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government. it will provide more support and new incentives for prisoners to participate in programming or other productive activities that will better prepare them to return to society as productive individuals. and it will effectively end the practice of juvenile solitary confinement and the cruel shackling of pregnant prisoners. despite what some of the opponents of the bill claim, the legislation is certainly not a get out of jail free card for violent criminals or sex offenders. it's simply not true. rather, the bill makes smart changes to our criminal justice system in ways that will make it fairer, more humane, and more just. members -- individuals serving time in prison for these low-level crimes, nonviolent drug offenders will be eventually be released. it's in the interests of both currently incarcerated individuals and communities to which they will eventually
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return to ensure we're doing everything in our power to set them up for successful reintegration in our society so they won't commit another crime. very important, and the right thing to do. we need workers. we need productive citizens. we can't take 5% of america and just write them off. and this bill says that we can't. so i want to commend so many people who did such good work on this bill. i want to thank my colleague, senator durbin. this has been a passion of his for many years. i want to thank senator booker who is principled. knew when to hold, knew when to fold. that's why we have such a good bill. i want to thank senator whitehouse who worked really hard on making sure those in be prison got the kind of training and drug treatment they need so they can be successful and productive citizens when they get outside. and i want to thank some of our
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republican colleagues, the senator from iowa, the senator from utah who had the courage to stand up and do the right thing here. there will be those on either side who object either to things that were left out or included in the bill, and as i say often, that's the nature of compromise. we can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. this bill with strong bipartisan support should pass this afternoon with strong bipartisan majorities. now, finally, on a matter near and dear to my heart, the great senator from the great state of indiana. unfortunately, we're going to be saying goodbye to members of our caucus who won't be returning to the 116th. this morning, i want to sthair some words about the senior senator from indiana, my dear friend, joe donnelly. now, most folks don't know this, but joe is actually a native new yorker. maybe it's because of his affable personality, his agreeableness, his midwestern decency that folks don't think
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he came from new york. and they're surprised to learn it. after falling in love with indiana after college, joe is now fond of saying you can pick where you live but you can't pick where you're born. joe, on behalf of all new yorkers, i officially forgive you for saying that. but like all young irish catholic kids from long island, joe's dream was to go to notre dame. as joe likes to say, all good irish catholic kids are handed an application to notre dame along with their baptism, and go to notre dame joe did, where his long career and life in the state of indiana began. now, something about joe's inherent decency drew people towards him. his first for ain -- foray in politics came when he received a phone call from a local democratic party official. joe thought he was calling to ask for a donation, but the official instead asked him if he would like to run for the state
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legislature. joe responded well, okay, i'm eating my cereal. i'll get back to you on that. the people of indiana and the people of america are glad joe finished that bowl of cereal and decided a career in public service might suit him. it didn't happen right away, though. joe lost that first race. a few years later, he found himself coaching the son of his opponent in the race -- in that race in a local basketball league. at the first practice, sensing trepidation in the young man, joe hugged him and said don't worry, it won't affect your playing time. that's the kind of little story that shows the decency of joe donnelly, what a good man he is, how he cares about other people's feelings, how he holds no grudges or resentments, always gives his political opponents and in this case their children not only the benefit of the doubt, he has always tried to see things from other people's perspective. and that quality is what made
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him such an effective and well-liked member of this body. it's hard to be both effective and well liked here. joe is both. and, of course, he hustled. a donnelly day in indiana is legendary among his staff. it begins before sunrise, ends long after the sun has set. i travel to every county in my state every year. that's 62. joe of course outdid me. he makes it to each of indiana's 92 counties every year. when he offers an opinion on where to find the best gas station fried chicken in indiana, you know it's coming from real authority. joe's dad was a small business owner on long island who used to tell him as a boy, joe, just do the work. that is what joe donnelly did. he did the work. and because he did the work even in this divided congress, in this divided and partisan era, joe got a whole lot done.
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he passed right to try legislation, which according to republican senator ron johnson would not have happened without joe donnelly. and there are going to be people who live decades from now, decades from now because of his hard work and passion on that bill. joe worked tirelessly on behalf of veterans as a member of armed services, and he passed legislation to reduce the number of military suicides. again, there are going to be families that don't have to live with the suicide of a family member, service member because of joe's hard work and dedication and political skill in getting this passed. joe worked across the aisle with senator young, his colleague, to pass a bill that would improve mental health assistance for our police because he knew coming from a family that had police officers the strain, the daily strain that officers undergo, risking their lives for our safety. i could go on, but suffice it to say that joe donnelly will leave
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this chamber with an outstanding bipartisan legacy in his wake. so, madam president, at a time when our politics is so angry and divisive, losing someone like joe donnelly is a real loss. it's a loss for this body. it's a loss for the state of indiana. it's a real loss for america. he's a decent man, an honest person. and in a politics that is far too short on both. we'll miss his steady hand here in the senate, but also at first base where he was relied on in congressional baseball games year after year. we thank jill, his lovely love whom he met in indiana. maybe she's the first reason he never came back to new york. his children, mollie and joe, jr., for letting us borrow him these past six years. joe and i are friends for life. this election result will not break that friendship and that
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bond. and iris and i and all the members of this chamber wish joe and his family the very best. and since there are no new york schools in the college football playoffs, this senator will be rooting for joe's beloved fighting irish. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. donnelly: madam president, i want to thank the leader, my friend and colleague, chuck schumer, for his kind words to senator durbin who is here as well, and to all the members. i see my friend senator fischer whom we team on in the strategic forces subcommittee, to my friend senator grassley who not everybody knows, senator grassley has relatives who are spending eternal rest in michigan city, indiana, not too far away from where i live. and to everybody who has worked here, to the incredible team that makes everything go, to all
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of our pages who have done such a wonderful job. it's been such a privilege to serve in the united states senate. what an unthinkable thing for a kid to have a chance to do. and to actually be here takes your breath away. and our nation is so extraordinary. it is such a wonderful place. and the trust we have to represent our people is something that we take so seriously and so to the whole team, nothing we do could ever be done without your hard work and the efforts we put in to be part of that is something i will never forget. so i just want to say thank you, thanks to everybody here. and it's been such a privilege. and i yield back the floor. mr. grassley: madam president? the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration
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of the house message to accompany senate 756 which the clerk will report. the clerk: house message to accompany s. 756, an act to reauthorize and amend the marine debris act, to promote international act, to reduce marine debris and other purposes. mr. grassley: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: because it's been announced that we've gone to the bill, that will make it necessary for me to ask to speak to a few minutes in morning business on a subject unrelated to the bill before us. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: before i go to that subject, i just heard senator schumer, and he's left the floor now, but speak about the bill before the senate, the criminal justice reform bill. and i want to thank him for his kind remarks and his backing of that bill, a very overwhelmingly bipartisan piece of legislation
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that is going to be the first major change in criminal justice legislation since the clinton era of early 1990's. madam president, throughout my 38 years in the united states senate, i've come to the floor tens of thousands of times to -- whether that's to vote, to give speeches, to manage bills, to debate issues that impact iowans and the american people. i also vote from the senate floor, as all of us do, and since 1981 i've cast 12,800 votes on behalf of iowans. i take pride that i haven't missed a single vote since 1993, and in fact i hold the longest consecutive voting streak in senate history. and since my reelection to a seventh term, i'm now the long longest serving -- the longest
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serving u.s. senator from iowa. it's the privilege of my life to represent my home state and i wake up every day grateful to the work, another day for my fellow iowans. and i'm also grateful for the service, dedication, and loyalty of my senate staff who work every day helping me to serve iowans. and today the work of my staff is what brings me to the senate floor. i'm here to pay tribute to an extraordinary staffer. she's also an extraordinary individual. jill kosniak has served on my staff the last 30 years. to put that in perspective, she has worked on my behalf of iowans and the american people for more than half of her life and doing that right here in the united states senate. jill is a patriot and public servant with a service heart through and through. they say all good things come to
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an end. and at the end of the 115th congress, jill, my chief of staff, will close this incredible chapter in her life. after graduating from the university of nebraska at lincoln, the omaha native worked for the nebraska senator david carnes. then she applied to be my assistant press secretary. i offered her the job. at first she turned it down. they said she decided she wanted to attend law school. 24 hours later she called back. she had changed her mind and wanted to come to work for me. she has never looked back. nebraska's loss was iowa's gain. jill joined -- first joined my senate staff in 1989. she arrived to hart 135 under
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the ji -- under the jail of jill hestra. i would say jill more than qualifies as an honorary iowan. in fact, she was married in des moines to her us bansdz, tom -- to her husband tom. for the last 38 years, i've held a meeting in each one of iowa's 99 counties at least once every year. and for the last 30 of those years, jill has staffed hundreds of those county meetings and q and a's along the way. this is where the rubber meets the road sitting down, talking to iowans. meeting iowans in their hometown community to hear their concerns and doing it face to face. day after day, jill has worked her tail off to make sure that our office and my staff address the concerns of iowans. whatever uncertainty jill had before joining my staff
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evaporated completely through these years. her confidence and her competence grew as she rose through the ranks. she worked for years leading my communications staff as press secretary and director of communications. she developed a respect, trust, and credibility with reporters. and, you know, that's hard to do in this town. a request for information from even a weekly newspaper in iowa was treated as importantly as one from a national correspondent. she is a trusted leader and mentor to my entire staff. in 2013 when the job opened up, i didn't hesitate to hire her to lead my staff as chief of staff -- my office as chief of staff. jill's tenure as a trusted loyal
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advisor truly understated the depth of her contribution and service over these many years. at every turn she went the extra mile, above and beyond the call of duty. to make sure my office operates effectively and efficiently for iowans, with jill at the helm, i never once had to worry if the office was working the way grassley works. those two words, grassley works, are famous in iowa because they've been my campaign slogan since 1978. jill set a tone of professionalism, courtesy, fairness, and integrity. as chief of staff for 15 staffers in iowa and 25 here in washington, jill set a tone of comrodry -- camaraderie, collegiality, respect and confidence. just ask members of my current staff or even people that left
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my staff maybe ten years ago about jill. or ask them about her work colleagues in the press corps. they describe jill's reputation and work ethic and dependable, substantive, thorough. reporters say she is fair, patient, professional and, quote, unquote, set no better standard. she knows how to build policy coalitions and navigate high-stake political dramas that require thick skin and shrewd intelligence to navigate. it's a pressure cooker here in washington, d.c. on any day, and jill never rattles. throughout her service, jill's leadership has been instrumental to advance the important legislative achievements and oversight work, including the historic tax cuts and judicial
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confirmations achieved just this congress. she has served as a pivotal political advisor to me in my last four reelection campaigns as well. without a shadow of a doubt, i will miss her by my side. i have total confidence in her ability and complete trust in her advice. as jill has shared with staff through the years, i want to quote her. i grew up in the grassley cut your teeth school of work ethic where anonymity and hard work are the most effective way to serve and be effective. end of quote. over 30 years she has mentored scores of employees from interns to entry-level staffers to the most senior investigators and attorneys in my office. both current and former staff
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have counted on her counsel and leadership. they say she offers uncommon grace, goodness, and guidance. jill brings joy to the job. and it shows in her work product and our workplace. she is highly skilled, highly skilled communicator, well organized, very articulate, and gracious. there's no other way to say it. for 30 years jill brought 100% devotion to this job and 100% devotion to the people of iowa and i'd have to say and without equivocation made me a better senator. as a chief of staff in the united states senate, jill reached the highest rungs of the congressional staff ladder on capitol hill. she made her mark in these marble hallways with an unassuming anonymity, competence, and confidence that
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is hard earned but very well deserved. my staff becomes like family to one another. after so many years of working together at all hours of the day, you might say -- kind of say 365 days a year for the last 30 years. the professional relationship that grew -- that i grew to value tremendously has evolved into a warm friendship that my wife, barbara, and i value even more. capitol hill staffers know that this workplace and its work pace are all consuming. and yet, life marches on. and it's a true joy to share in the joys of life that my staff share with one another and with barbara and me. without a doubt jill takes pride in her work. after a long day's work, jill goes home to her most cherished
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pride and joy. jill and her husband, tom, are proud parents to three beautiful children, mary is a sophomore in high school and twin boys andrew and teddy are in seventh grade. and jill once said a full nest is the best. barbara and i have had opportunities to attend the couple's -- to attend a couple of the boys' baseball games. they're very good athletes. that brings -- they bring the same determined mindset to the game as her mom does -- their mom does to her job. as one of the boys approaches the batter box, he purposely tapped his bat to the underside of his cleats, clear-eyed and laser focused. it was obvious the steely competitive spirit was inherited from mom. the sense of family and friendship was manifested more than ever on that famous day we
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refer to as 9/11. shortly after 11:00 a.m. that morning, barbara and i along with dozens of staff members from the office took refuge in jill's home near capitol hill. it's a day we will never forget for so many reasons, one of which is how jill opened up her home for anyone who needed a place to go because you couldn't go any place else. when terrorism struck the nation's capitol, jill showed grace under fire. as usual, she set the tone, keep calm and carry on. earlier this year jill woke up very early to catch an international flight to china. she and another staffer were joining me on a congressional trade trip. as she prepared to leave for the airport, she smelled smoke. it turned out that the neighbor's house next door was on fire, but it affected her
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home as well. after putting out the fire -- after putting out fires for 30 years in the grassley office, jill also as we call her in our office, not c.e.o. but c.o.e., chief of everything, she jumped into the crisis mode and got her familily safely outside, but she also had a flight to catch. so she left the smoke damage and inconvenience in the capable hands of her husband. i would like to express my gratitude then to jill's family because they also participate in this thing we call public service which is a noble calling and it often requires unsung sacrifice from family members as happened on that day last april. although jill wasn't on my staff when i was elected to the house of representatives, she knew i
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admired my predecessor, congressman h.r. gross. his approach to constituent service was legendary. he once advised me in the first days of my membership in the house of representatives, that if a little old lady called and wanted her toenails trimmed, well, chip her toenails. throughout my public service i used that as a benchmark so i've worked to uphold the highest standard of constituent service and representative government, and it takes staff people like jill to help get that job done. so throughout her service to me and to the people of iowa, jill has fulfilled an exceeded this expectation that congressman h.r. gross set mimi, -- for me, including my priority to respond to every iowan who writes or
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calls into my office. some days constituent correspondence may seem like the movie, "groundhog day" and jill has maintained this throughout her years of service. in closing, i have a message for my chief of staff. honestly i'm sad to see her go, at the same time i'm happy for her considering all that she has done to sacrifice for the people of iowa, and more importantly me, i wish her the very best. and thank you from the bottom of my heart from your -- for your loyalty and service. barbara and i extend our warmest wishes to you and your family. it's hard to think about the passing of the baton. you've had a remarkable run in
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the senate. may god bless you as you blaze a new trail. i have no doubt it will be extraordinary -- be -- being extraordinary runs in jill's veins. i yield the floor. mr. durbin: madam president. the presiding officer: assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: madam president, let me first acknowledge that my good friend, my colleague chuck grassley, has paid a tribute to a member of his staff who has served him for more than 30 years. i don't know her personally, but you could tell his words were heartfelt and his appreciation for her public service. on behalf of the senate, i want to thank her and all of the staff people who make our careers possible. as talented as we may think we are, we wouldn't be anywhere without staffers who are determined to serve the people and serve us, and his tribute to his chief of staff -- chief of
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everything, as he described her, was certainly heartfelt from a man who i know is a very sincere and positive individual. i just wanted to say those words. i wanted to add my words about what was said by chuck schumer about joele donnelly. joe is my neighbor in the state of indiana. there's hardly a meeting of democratic senators where you don't hear some laughter and look at the center of the meeting, and it's joe donnelly. he makes us feel good about who we are and what we do even when some of these assignments that we receive are pretty tough. i want to join chuck schumer for saying thanks to joe donnelly for serving indiana and being a great colleague for the last six years. we will miss him. madam president, on a separate
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subject, this bill, 3747, is historic. the first 60 pages address prison reform. this bill, in it's entirety, has been endorsed by the political spectrum of america. i can't remember, and i say to senator grassley, i can't remember another bill that had this kind of support, left and right, liberal, conservative, republican, democrat. it's all there supporting this legislation. to have a bill that senator grassley and i have worked on with senator lee and senator booker, i mean, that tells a story in and of itself, the four leaders on this legislation, but then to consider the fact that president trump has endorsed it, that vice president pence has come to the republican conference lunch saying he's behind it and urging the republican caucus to support it as well really speaks to the
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political bipartisanship that we rarely, if ever, have seen in washington. the groups that are behind it are equally amazing. to have the support on an important justice reform bill by the fraternal order of police is a great start and then to have the leading criminals prosecutors association join with the police really tells you that on the law enforcement side we have the major leaguers. then on the other side, incredibly, we have the america civil liberties union supporting this and most of the major self-rights organizations. i think we really struck a good point here where we have worked and compromised for five or six years to reach this moment. it's possible that as early as today this bill will be up for us to vote on, but before we reach that point, there's a possibility of amendments that are going to be offered -- three
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amendments, as we understand it under the current procedure, and i would like to address, generally, the amendments that will be offered. senator cotton is the lead sponsor of these amendments. senator cotton of arkansas. there will three amendments because senator cotton took his original amendment and literally divided it into three pieces, which is his right under the senate rules of procedure. and i've taken a look at those and a very -- a very close look, i might add, and i want to put on the record some facts which i hope members of the senate on both sides will consider when the cotton amendments come before us on the floor. one of the major elements in senator cotton's amendment here is notification of victims. in other words, if we're going to change the status of a person in federal prison to the point where they may be released early, senator cotton suggests that we must -- we must notify
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crime victims. it soundsle reasonable on its -- it sounds reasonable on its face and it is. it's so reasonable that we currently have a law that guarantees that. this crime victims rights act is a federal statute. under the crime victims rights act, we say to the victims, you have the right to know if the criminal defendant who perpetrated the crime against you is going to have a change in their status as a prisoner. and many other things we spell out here in about ten different provisions giving rights to crime victims. this isn't the only guarantee of crime victims learning of what's happening to the criminal defendant who perpetrated the crime. it turns out the bureau of prisons does the same thing. they notify crime victims of a change in status of the criminal defendant. what is it the difference? what is senator cotton trying to
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add to this? he's adding to it an element that is really worrisome and i'm afraid he hasn't thought it through clearly. you see, under the crimes victim act, it's up to the crime victim to determine whether or not they want to be notified. it turns out that over the last five years 10% of the crime victims, when given the offer of being notified about a change in status about the criminal defendant, 10% of them, about 160,000 have said no, we don't want to be notified. we have consciously decided don't notify us. why? why would a crime victim say don't notify me? well there are myriad reasons. consider the possibility that the victim is an infant or child who has gone through a horrible experience involved in this crime and the guardians, or parents of that crime victim who is a child, have decided that
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they don't want their child to be exposed to all of this information about some criminal defendant for whatever reason. it could be as a result of psychological counseling, it could be they don't want them to face retraumaization of going through reliving that horrible criminal experience. think of an adult who thinks as a crime victim, i want to put this behind me. i don't want to hear more about this. my life is going on a separate track and this is a different past. a crime victim, even an adult can decide, don't notify me. it's not their decision. it is an individual decision. we give to crime victims the respect and the freedom to decide if they will be notified. senator could the orn does not -- cotton does not. senator cotton mandates notification, requires notification of the change in
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status. that's serious and it could have a serious impact on someone who's already been victimized, force haded into some -- forced into some horrible condition in their life that they would be forced to revisit it when they consciously do not want it. what have the crime associations said about the cotton amendment? it's universal. they have said it's wrong and they said it in very explicit terms. let me tell you one group that i think is important for us to consider, the crime survivors for safety and justice. we believe it is the leading largest crime victims organization in america. over 30,000 crime victims are part of this organization to stand up for the rights of those who have been victimized by crime. and what do they have to say about the cotton amendment that would force notification on people who do not want it?
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here's what they say. a mandatory notification requirement is contrary to the victim's approach to avoiding this. department of justice permit a victim to determine whether he or she wants notification of release. a mandate, cotton amendment, a mandate like this requires notifications for those who may not want it and could trigger trauma for thousands of victims many years later after the crime. they go on to say. bureau prison data is publicly available on the bureau of prison website. victim notification is already required by law if victims choose to receive the notice. the crime victims rights act provides the right to timely notice of any release. they go on to say.
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victim notification already occurs through the department of justice's automated victim notification system if victims opt to receive the notice. this system is a partnership with the bureau of prisons, the f.b.i., u.s. postal inspection service and united states attorney general's office. if provides victims with information on scheduled court events, the outle come of events, release dates. in other words, all of the information about the disposition of a criminal defendant is currently available online easily acceptable by crime victims if they choose to receive it. 10% of them, one out of ten, say no, we don't want to receive it. senator cotton, in his amendment, does not respect that decision by 10% and says they will be required to receive it. that's not good for crime
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victims. it certainly violates the spirit of the crime victims rights act where we leave that decision when it comes to minors, and even adult victims, to the families affected why would we override that provision in the law? there's another group that's come forward. a woman by the name of trisha forbes. she's with the texas based regional manager for crime survivors safety and justice. in the hill newspaper, which was published this morning, she has a p lengthy -- a lengthy article opposing the cotton amendments. she says cotton and senator kennedy claims they are trying to protect amendments to force victims to notify victims of a crime when the perpetrators are being transferred from custody.
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but the real goal, according to her, is simply to delay, dilute, the bill. the existing draft of the first step act, the bill i referred to initially, was a result of careful bipartisan bicameral negotiation. by adding their last-minute amendments, cotton and kennedy want nothing more than to break up the broad bipartisan coalition that has come together to support this bill. there is also a letter from ann seymour who is a project director for fairness, dignity, and respect for crime victims and survivors. this letter which she sent to all members of the senate said i write today to urge you to vote no on senators cotton and kennedy's victim notification amendment. it is clear that congress can and must do more to support the needs and rights of crime victims and survivors. i am disappointed that almost no elements of the first step act are tailored specifically to needs of victims. however, she says, senators cotton and kennedy's proposed amendments neither comply with best practices in trauma
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informed victim services nor improve the bill. she closes by saying i urge you to vote no on senators cotton and kennedy's amendments and encourage you to offer solutions better tailored to identify and address the needs of crime victims. so the crime victims groups have come forward and said the cotton amendments would be harmful to crime victims. those who wish to be notified have every right to be, and they are provided that notification under a statute and under existing policy of the bureau of prisons. those who opt out and say i don't want to be notified should be respected. we should not force this on them. and i encourage my friends, those who are considering this bill and discussing it with their staffs, look closely at what the crime victims organizations say about the cotton amendments and understand that if we are going to be respectful of these people who have been victimized by crime, we have to vote no on those amendments.
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the second element which has been raised by senator cotton and the amendments relates to the crimes that are listed as making you ineligible for prison reform programs, for early release programs. our bill is 60 pages long. more than 20 of those pages, more than a third of the bill is filled with a list of over 60 different crimes, federal crimes that we say if you have committed this crime, you are not eligible as a federal prisoner for the re-- rehabilitation program in this bill. 60 different ones that we have added. members would come up to us, senator grassley, myself, senator booker, senator lee, and say we think you ought to add such and such crime. we take a careful look at it. in most cases, we agreed to do it. let me give you an example. senator ted cruz, a conservative republican from texas -- and i think he wears that label proudly -- said he would
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consider voting for our bill if we would consider adding a number of crimes to the list that would be ineligible for that criminal defendant to ask for the help in this bill. we looked at it carefully. there were about six or eight of these that we thought were acceptable. we asked if we could add those to the list, the list of already 60 crimes. unfortunately, senator cotton objected. he did not want that added to the bill. now it turns out he is going to argue in his amendment he wants part of the cruz list to be added at this point. well, we had a chance to do it, and it was a bipartisan measure, but he objected to our adding it. however, he has one provision in his amendment which goes far beyond senator cruz's list or the enumerated bills which we said make you ineligible. he has created a new category of crime. it's almost -- i have read a lot of definitions over the years. it's really hard to follow what he is trying to achieve here
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because what he has said is that in addition to the enumerated crimes which would make you ineligible, he adds the following -- any offense that is not otherwise listed in this subsection for which the offender is sentenced to a term of imprisonment of more than one year and, quote, has an element, the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another. i have never seen that definition. physical force against the person or property of another. we went to the sentencing commission and said how many crimes would that include, and they said it's impossible to calculate, but we think that at least 30,000 people would be ruled ineligible by those words that i have just read who might otherwise be eligible for earlier release. so what he's come up with is his own definition of a criminal standard, one which we have never seen before, and he wants that to apply to this bill which we have worked on for six years.
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so i would say when it comes to the cotton amendments, members of the senate really have a very clear and stark choice. they can support a bill which has been worked on on a bipartisan basis and enjoys the support of police, prosecutors, and those groups which protect our constitutional rights all together right and left supporting. they can support a bill that has bipartisan support here on the floor, colleagues and members who rarely come together, but we have come together on this bill because we have found a good compromise. they can support a bill which has the support of survivors and criminal victims' organizations, or they can vote for the cotton amendments, and the cotton amendments which are being offered opposed by crime victims' rights groups across the board by the leading crime victims' rights groups. supporting the cotton amendment is basically saying to these crime victims we are going to force this information on you whether it's in the best interests of your family,
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whether you want it or not. that is not respectful of crime victims, and i hope my colleagues will join me in opposing the cotton amendments. a senator: would the senator yield? mr. durbin: i am happy to yield. mr. booker: i have been here in the senate for almost five years. senator durbin and senator grassley have been nothing short of heroic in my eyes in consistently working the entire five years to get us to this point where we are, to use a football metaphor, on the one-yard line in getting this over. obviously, senator mike lee, senator whitehouse have been also in that category. you did an incredibly good job of laying out that we have amendments that go counter to the groups, the victims' groups, to their interests and to their well-being. their often emotional well-being of being retraumatized, forced to go back out there. i want to ask you a question about that last amendment that cotton is making about that so-called exclusion list, people that won't be eligible for
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particular programs before they are released. in other words, there is these programs that they can enroll in while they are in prison that would ultimately shave a little bit of time off their sentences. these programs, though, i'd like to maybe go into them because they are programs that actually are evidence-based programs that actually lower recidivism rates. they save taxpayer money, and the idea behind this, maybe if you could explain it, is -- the idea behind this is to make sure that when people are released, that they don't come back. in other words, if they don't get these programs, it's more likely that those very people that he's trying to exclude from them might come back. can you explain why these programs are important and why it makes sense? mr. durbin: thank you. yesterday, our colleague, senator cornyn, republican of texas, came forward and said his state of texas and other states are showing that they can reduce recidivism. in other words, committing
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another crime after you are released by treating the prisoners differently in their state prisons. as he said on the floor, you may be shocked to think that texas would be a leader in this, but they have been. what they have seen is a reduction in the incidents of crime and a reduction in the incidents of incarceration. things which we would like to see happen. reduce the cost to taxpayers for prisons but reduce crime on the street, too. make sure you do both. he believes they have achieved it. what they did was look at programs that work. so what we did was the same thing. senator grassley and i, as well as you mentioned senator cornyn, senator whitehouse, we looked at these prison reform programs in the states and said what can we learn from them? what we did was to establish the obligation of the attorney general -- this is not the obligation of social workers, but the obligation of the attorney general of the united states to take a hard look at the programs that work for prisoners. what can we do to make sure they don't commit another crime, create another victim, come back to prison?
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and we spell out here exactly what we're looking for. the most effective and efficient evidence-based recidivism reduction programs. long title, but what it basically means, we don't want to waste any more time here. we want to focus our tax dollars on programs that have proven results. and we offer these to prisoners, unless you have committed one of the crimes that makes you ineligible, we offer these to prisoners, and they can by participating in them reduce the time they serve or be released to a halfway house or something similar to that. so that's what this is all about, start to finish. and we believe that this will work. now, what if they mess up in the course of being enrolled in a program? well, we have got a provision here that says you're done. you are either going to do this in good faith positively without my violations of your responsibilities as a federal prisoner. we'll give you a chance for less time, but no nonsense. good program, good participation. we hope good results.
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and we're going to measure it. we're going to come back, the general accounting office is going to give us a report on our success. those that released how many turned around and commit another crime? so we're going to take a hard look at this, an honest look, i might say. i believe that this is the best way to do it. make sure it's evidence based. make sure it's fair. an opportunity for those who want to participate, turn their lives around to do just that. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. blumenthal: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. sometime in the next two weeks, we will leave this body and this session, and many of us will return in january for the next one. we will leave many challenges unmet and many problems
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unsolved. partly because of the partisanship that has paralyzed the congress and our federal government and many of our state. the model for what we should adopt as the spirit going forward as we begin that new session is articulated powerfully in a letter that recently was sent to us by 55 former colleagues, ten republicans, 45 democrats coming together to cite the challenges this nation faces and the need for us to do so in a bipartisan way, coming together in the spirit of what makes this country the greatest in the
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history of the world. i hope that my colleagues will pay attention to that letter. yesterday, i entered it in the "congressional record," and i am proud today to cite parts of it that i think are worthy of our attention. because they say -- and they are right -- that we are at an inflection point in our nation's history. foundational principles are our democracy and our national security interests are at stake, and the rule of law and the ability of our institutions to function freely and independently must be upheld. that's a quote from a letter that puts us on notice that we have a historic obligation to work together, as they have come
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together in this letter, as they did so often to accomplish great things in this body. as they say, we are on the eve of the conclusion of security council robert mueller's investigation and the house's commencement of investigations of the president and his administration. the likely convergence of these two events will occur at a time when simmering regional conflict and global power confrontations continue to threaten our security, economy, and geopolitical stability. above all the issues that occupy us in these closing days of the session and will confront us as we begin the next session. the backdrop is a dangerous world and severe jeopardy to our
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democracy and rule of law. they say -- and we should keep in mind that during their service in the senate, quote, at times we were allies and at other times opponents, but never enemies. that is the spirit that must move us as we end this session but more importantly, as we begin the next session. and that commitment to the rule of law that these 55 of our former colleagues have expressed must animate us as well. the three former colleagues who signed from connecticut could not be more different. senators weicher, dodd, and lieberman are different in people, in character, in background, in every way almost
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except their commitment to this country and their allegiance to that principle of coming together in a bipartisan way. i hope that we will take this lesson. i am far from the most appropriate member of this body to be lecturing anyone on the spirit of this great instituti institution. but it has impressed me over a long time. and my colleagues who are here today supporting criminal justice reform on both sides of the aisle embody that spirit as well. we have a real opportunity on criminal justice reform to do real, tangible good. the united states has less than
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5% of the world's population, yet at 2.1 million incarcerated people, we have nearly a quarter of the world's prisoners. anybody who has been a prosecutor, and we have many in this body, knows the complexities and the challenges of dealing with crime and assuring fairness and justice in our criminal system. as a former united states attorney and attorney general of the state of connecticut, i've been proud and privileged to work with the professionals of our law enforcement community. i have marveled at their dedication, professionalism, and skills. and i have been impressed deeply
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so by our corrections officers and the men and women who every day go to work staffing and manning the prisons and other correctional facilities where the justice system extends its reach over people's lives. my experience has taught me that protecting public safety is not simply a matter of locking up people for the longest possible time. the federal government currently spends billions every year maintaining our prison population, the largest in the world. if we really want to keep people safe, there should be more dedication of resources to state
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and local enforcement who patrol our streets, keep our communities safe, and provide role models for many of our young people. the money that we spend now, much of it could be better devoted to more effective investigations, training and equipping prosecutors with the tools they need, ensuring that the most dangerous of the criminals are not only apprehended but kept behind bars. and the least dangerous are given an opportunity and a second chance to make good out of their lives. targeted, innovative programs have been shown to deal with crime more effectively than broad, blunder bust, lock them
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up kinds of programs. spending billions of dollars on extended prison sentences for nonviolent criminals may seem tough on crime, but toughness in a war on crime has been shown to be insufficient. more than being tough, we need to be smart. the human and financial cooses of mass incarceration -- costs of mass incarceration is simply not worth the cost and this legislation sets a marker that it is time to make a change. opponents want to -- they want to see every convict as a threat, every ex-convict as a menace. they deny the fundamental premise of our human justice
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system and our criminal justice that we must seek rehabilitation and recovery, not just punishment, that people can make good from second chances. as an example, let me cite reginald dwayne betts who is a connecticut resident and a graduate of law school. when betts was 16, he made a really serious mistake. he joined a few friends and others he hardly knew getting into a car with them and joining in a robbery. the driver of the car, a man in his early 20's, was unknown to betts. he appeared to be in charge. betts asked him for his pistol. he was given the firearm and
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told to keep the safety on so there would be no accidental gunshot. they headed to a mall where betts holding the gun signaled for a man to get out of his car. betts and his friend stole the vehicle and drove away. they were arrested the next day. that was betts' crime. he pleaded guilty to it. carjacking, attempted robbery, and a firearms charge. he faced a maximum sentence of 13 years in prison. and at his hearing, betts apologized. he apologized first and foremost to his mother and his family and the man he had terrorized. he expressed genuine remorse for his actions.
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his apology was heartfelt. he knew he'd broken the law. he knew he had to face the consequences. and he owned that responsibility. and for the very real crimes he committed as a 16-year-old, he was sentenced to nine years in an adult prison. that's hard time. like so many children, he was tried as an adult and he was in prison with grown men. but during that time in prison, betts read every book he could. he completed a paralegal course. he learned spanish. he demonstrate an initiative and willingness to learn that was extraordinary. he embodied the principle of rehabilitation. and redemption.
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that our criminal justice system treasures as a vital principle. but the system never game him an opportunity to reenter society as a productive citizen. his reading was not part of an education program that gave him college credits or degrees. the paralegal course he took did not produce any certification. the spanish he learned was not formally recognized by anyone. none of the skills he taught himself would qualify him in the eyes of an employer. when he was released from prison as a 24-year-old. most employers wouldn't even
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look past the box that he was forced to check identifying himself as an ex-felon. but fortunately for betts and very unusually for him, the literary knowledge he acquired during his time in prison was enough to impress the owner of a bookstore who gave him a job. he enrolled in a community college. he graduated with honors. he went to the university of maryland on a scholarship. he earned a bachelor's degree and a masters in fine arts and poetry. eventually he went to harvard for a radcliff fellowship and published a book of poetry. mr. betts had a criminal record and it was an ongoing punishment as it is for every ex-felon,
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every former convict in america. it follows him everywhere as it does everyone convicted of a felony, regardless of how much time he served or where he did it. so despite his stellar academic record, the fact that he was an active member of his community and a loving husband and father, he couldn't get a single interview for a job. and as he tried again, he applied to law school and was accepted at one of the finest institutions of the country. he chose to go to yale law school and become an attorney which he is today. betts will be the first to tell you that his extraordinary story is unusual among people who have been convicted of felonies.
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he has spoken with eloquence and passion about the struggles people like him face, both in prison and once they enter society again. most of my life has been spent in law enforcement, most of my career has been devoted to pursuing cases against people who break the law. i know that justice involves both punishment and redemption. it is supposed to be penance and rehabilitation. we do not discard the people who have committed crimes. we do not abandon them in our country. in principle but in action all
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too often, yes, they are disdiscarded and abandoned and -- they are discarded and ban daned and they become recidivists, a polite euphemism for people who commit crimes again and again because they are given no constructive alternative. now, some are dangerous and need to be locked away for life or for long periods of time that are necessary to rehabilitation. but we also know that many no nondangerous convicts could be released with rehabilitation, skill training, education, the kind of training that mr. betts had. we're debating a bill now, the first step act, which tries to bring balance back to our criminal justice system. the current system throws away and discards people like dwayne
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betts, a loss to us and to society. these draconian prison terms provide few incentives for prisoners to prepare for reentry and that's the gap that the first step bill seeks to address. it's an injustice it seeks to correct. the bill will allow judges to sentence below the mandatory minimum sentences for low-level nonviolent drug offenders who core rop rate -- who cooperate with the government. that's a first step to a more humane and effective system. this bill would make fair sentencing act retro active making it possible for nearly 2,600 federal prisoners sentenced under racially discriminatory drug laws to petition for a reduced sentence. that's also a first step toward a fairer, more humane system.
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the bill includes prison reform. under this legislation prisoners can earn ten days off their time behind bars for every 30 days of recidivism reduction programming. that'sed kind of program that would make reentry into society for people like wayne betts just a little bit easier and it gives prisoners incentives to earn skills in prison so they can be productive members of society, after they have paid their debt. that is another first step toward a more humane and just system. the bill includes commonsense reforms, measures like prohibiting and shackling of pregnant prisoners and providing health care products to
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incarcerated women. it ends the horror of federal juvenile solitaire confinement. it helps tackle the drug epidemic by providing heroin and drug abuse treatment behind bars. there are other reforms in this bill that all seek to take that kind of first step toward a better criminal justice system. and one day it will be cited as an exemplar of american ideals of liberty and justice. i urge my colleagues to support this measure. it is a good first step. and it is one that we can be proud of support something on a bipartisan basis, in the best spirit of that letter from 55 of our former colleagues urging us
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to come together and support common ground, where we can improve the greatest nation in the history of the world. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. grassley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 730, that's
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h.r. 6615. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 730, h.r. 6615, an act to reauthorize the traumatic brain injury program. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding? without objection, so ordered. mr. grassley: i ask unanimous consent that the alexander amendment at the desk be considered and agreed to, the bill, as amended, be considered read a third time and passed, and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. grassley: okay. i suggest 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 senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i'd ask unanimous consent that the -- the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: -- quorum be dispensed with. thank you, mr. president. the senate has put forward a bill called the first step act. the name is significant because it shows that this is not a comprehensive fix to the problems of our criminal justice system but, rather, a first critical step in the right direction. a study by the united states sentencing commission found that nearly half of the people released from federal prison in 2005 were arrested again in the next eight years. half of the people released from federal prison since 2005 were rearrested within eight years. considering that 95% of state and federal prisoners at some point will be released, those odds are pretty bleak. but here's the reality --
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almost everybody in prison will serve their time and get out of prison. the question for us is, will they be better-prepared to live life on the outside in a productive way, or will they simply reengage in the turnstile -- or as one gentleman referred to himself from houston, texas, a few years ago when we were talking about this issue -- he called himself a frequent flyer in the criminal justice system. unfortunately, we see that in the federal system, according to the united states sentencing commission, half of the people repeat their mistakes within eight years. this is bleak but not hopeless, because we know there are reforms that will work that help improve the chances that more people will be able to live a lawful life productively outside
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a prison system and who will not reoffend. we've seen these changes implemented across the country at the state level, including my home state of texas, which has yielded incredible results. so this might cause some people a little bit of a shock because texas, of course, has a reputation for being tough on crime. people don't run for public office saying, i'm going to be soft on crime in texas and get elected. but what we have seen is that people said, i think we can be smarter on crime and produce better results at a lower cost, and that message and those things that have followed have been enormously successful. so let me talk about that a little bit. in texas, the initial interest in criminal justice reform was first cost-driven. in other words, people were wondering, how are we going to continue to pay for 17,000 more
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prison beds that we think we're going to need because of our growing population? the growing prison population was simply outpacing the corrections budget, so state legislators were forced with a very difficult financial choice. but as it turns out, the reforms that we adopted did a lot more than alleviate the budget strain on the criminal justice system. using recidivism-reduction programs, including job training and vocational education, we reduced our incarceration rate and our crime rate by double digits at the same time. so using sorts of recidivism-reduction programs that are included in the first step act at the state level, we were able to reduce our incarceration rate and our crime rate by double digits statement. -- double digits at the same time. i remember a few years ago when
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fort worth attorney general michael mukasey testified in front of the senate judiciary committee. he said the single most important measurement of whether sentencing practices are working is the crime rate -- the crime rate. this is at a time when we were were talking about, well, we put too many people in the prison, so we have to let some out. but they weren't paying attention to how that impacts the crime rate. and that stuck with me over these many years because i think he's exactly right. if these programs do not protect the public safety, then we shouldn't be doing them. if they don't lower the crime rate, they're not worth the effort. but our experience in texas and in georgia, north carolina, rhode island, places that have implemented these programs, they've seen their incarceration rate and their crime rate drop at the same time. so we're trying to replicate those successes at the federal
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level through the first step act. in so doing we hope to allow people to transform their lives, as we allow low-risk offenders to lead productive lives in their communities once they leave prison, and assuming they comply with all the rules and religions. and i -- all the rules and regulations. this is an important first step. this bill will develop risk assessment tools to pair individuals with programs proven to reduce the risk of recidivism. this isn't just social engineering or some hope that we have. this is based on proven examples of programs that will help people, for example, deal with their drug or their alcohol addiction. senator cassidy from louisiana has put in this bill some very important provisions relating to the diagnosis and treatment of people with dyslexia.
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i'm convinced that there are people in prison who were told as they were growing up, you're too stupid to go to school because they couldn't read, and they simply dropped out, and they're -- and their dyslexia, which was holding them back, was not properly diagnosed and treated. so i am grateful to senator cassidy for some of the provisions in the bill relating to the identification of people with dyslexia and providing them access to programs that will help them learn and succeed and improve their lives and, at the same time, reduce the likelihood they will end up back in prison after having been arrested again. by spending time in prison, completing evidence-based programming like i've mentioned -- education, job training, drug treatment, life skills, faith-based programs -- we can give people an opportunity to prepare themselves for their transition to life after prison.
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this is because the incentives in this program are really important. i think we as human beings all operate based on incentives, and the incentive for prisoners is to go through the program, gain the -- earn credit so that they can be released not to shorten their sentence but in lesser confining conditions -- for example, a halfway house. i want to remind our colleagues that not all offenders, of course, are eligible for these credits. the bill specifically lists 48 offenses that disqualify offenders from earning time credits, including crimes like murder, assault, carjacking that results in injury and death, and the unlawful possession or use of a firearm by violent catch and release and drug traffickers. in other words, by focusing our efforts on low-risk offenders and by giving them the opportunity to access these
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programs, these education programs, these addiction treatment programs, we can focus our attention and money on the truly high-risk offenders, which i think is also an important future of this legislation. -- feature of this legislation. but it is important to remember that just because a specific crime is not included in the exclusion live of 48 offense -- list of 48 offenses, it doesn't mean they're automatically entitled. notwithstanding whether the offense is listed or not, if you're not a low-risk offender and determined by the testing that's done by the bureau of prisons, you won't be eligible for this less confining condition. this is a determination made by -- this isn't a determination made by washington bureaucrats. it is left to experienced law
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enforcement officers who work with these individuals on a daily basis. we want to give the opportunity to those who will take advantage of it to turn their own lives around. but we will not do so at the cost of public safety. that's exactly what these risk assessment tools are designed to do, to tell us who is at highest risk of reoffending. i believe this legislation is an investment with the potential for astronomical returns. we're not just talking about money. we're talking about human potential. we're investing in the men and women who want to turn their lives around once they're released from prison, and we're investing in so doing in stronger and more viable communities. and we're investing tax dollars into a system that helps produce stronger citizens. when it comes to positive results, you don't have to take my word for it. there's research to show how
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valuable these programs can be. for example, in 2013 a study by rand corporation found that prisoners who participated in education programs were 43% less likely to return to prison than those that did not. employment after release was 13% higher among prisoners who participated in these programs, and those who participated in vocational training were 28% more likely to be employed after they were released. our prisons should be more than just a warehouse for human beings. they should also serve as places where rehabilitation takes place and hopefully people can take advantage of the opportunity once they've made a mistake and served their time to transform their own lives into productive citizens. that's what this legislation tries to do and that's why it's gained such broad support on both sides of the aisle.
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by investing in these education and training programs, these recidivism reduction programs, we can ensure that people who get out of prison, more of them will actually stay out of prison. this bill is our opportunity to make meaningful changes in our criminal justice system. our opportunity to begin fixing a problem that plagues our country and our opportunity to take a model that's been working in the states for more than a decade and use it to benefit all americans. the odds of these individuals leaving prison and becoming more productive members of society should be higher than the odds of a coin flip. i'm proud to be a cosponsor of this legislation and i look forward to voting yes when it comes up for a vote later today or tomorrow. mr. president, i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: ms. klobuchar: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i come to the floor today to urge my colleagues to join us in supporting the first step act, bipartisan legislation that will make needed changes to federal sentencing rules and prison reforms. a number of us have been working on this issue for years, but i do want to thank chairman grassley, who's here with us today; and senator feinstein, for their leadership in getting it through the judiciary
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committee as well as senator durbin, who has been a longtime leader on this issue; senator booker, who has worked so hard on this as well; senator whitehouse, senator cornyn, who's here with us today; and many others who -- senator lee who has really made this and took on this cause at times when it wasn't as easy as it is right now at the end of the year. and i want to thank the administration for working with us on this bill as well. as a former chief prosecutor in minnesota's largest county, i understand the need to use our resources to target the most serious offenders to maintain public safety. you have to make decisions in those kinds of jobs every day, decisions about your priorities, where you're going to put your criminal justice money, what's the safest thing to do for the community.
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and knowing that a number of our offenders do reenter into society, what is the best make to make sure that if they do come back into society that they are going to be functioning members of society, that they are not going to go back to drugs or they are not going to commit additional crimes. so all of those things. it's fine to preat the border that it's not happening, but people are going away forever. violent criminals, murderers, they don't come out again. but a number of the other offenders do come out again. the question is what do we do to make it mostly safe for our community and to make them be functioning members of our society? that is what in bill is about at its core. we need a justice system that both protects the victims of crime and punishes those who bake the law. one time someone once said that prosecutors, my old job, were ministers of justice.
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and that's what we're doing with this bill here. we are acknowledging that there are issues with our criminal nufts system that we have to deal with. we're not just closing our eyes and pretending it's fine that some people go away forever. some people come back out and the step program gets at those issues. our criminal justice system must administer justice fairly. the sentencing laws on low-level drug offenders were implemented decades ago, and in a number of cases they have diverted limited law enforcement resources away from public safety initiatives that will allow us to go after violent criminals, and they have resulted in prison sentences that don't actually fit the crime. today our country has over 20% of the world's incarcerated people even though we only have less than 5% of the world's population.
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we need a criminal justice system that works for our communities. that's why i fought for bipartisan criminal justice reform for years. as a former prosecutor, i've l long supported important policies, including more law enforcement resources, i lead that bill with senator murkowski on the cops program to get more law enforcement resources to our police. i think that is very important. i work hand in hand with our local police in minnesota for eight years. they have very hard jobs. as a former prosecutor, i've also supported important policies that make it better for the community and the police to work together. that includes better training for our law enforcement. that includes videotaped interrogations. that includes reforms to the eyewitness process. we're one of the first states that made some changes there. that includes body cameras, diversity in hiring, and meaningful work between law
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enforcement and our citizen, fair jury selection processes. there are a number of things that we have done but must continue to do to increase that trusts between the community and our law enforcement. as a member of the senate judiciary committee, i supported the bipartisan sentencing reform and correction act for years. my colleagues and i worked across party lines to pass that bill out of committee earlier in february and last congress as well. although the bill was never brought to the floor of the senate until this week, today we finally have an opportunity to make meaningful progress. the first step act represents a concerted bipartisan effort to strike an effective balance to improve the fair administration of justice while keeping our community safe. even though this bill is not sembgget, it -- perfect it is te result of compromises between two sides and people with a lot
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of different groups and many sides to advocate for citizens. it is a compromise that has the endorsement of groups -- and we don't usually see this -- ranging from the fraternal order of police to the aclu. this bill represents a critical opportunity that shouldn't be lost. one of the most important reforms in this bill are the changes to mandatory minimums. we all know people who have been caught up in a criminal justice system that can be unfair. i believe strongly in enforcing our laws on the books and putting criminal offenders behind bars to protect public safety. but for nonviolent, low-level drug offenders, there are more innovative and evidence-based weighs to deal with them -- based ways to deal with them than longer prison sentences. the first step act allows judges to sentence below the mandatory minimum for nonviolent drug offenders who work with the government. it also reduces some of the longest sentences now on the
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books including decreetioning decreetioning -- decreasing the mandatory minimum of 20 years to 15 years and reduces the third striem of -- strike of mandatory sentencing to 25 years. it required a longer mandatory minimum sentence for the possession of crack than for the possession of the same amount of cocaine to petition to be resentenced under the reform guidelines that we passed in 2010. significantly this bill will not automatically reduce any one person's prison sentence. instead the bill simply allows people to petition courts and prosecutors for an individualized review based on the particular facts of their case. that is what justice is supposed to be about. it is not always a one-size-fits-all. it gives the people that work in the justice system, knowing that you have mandatory minimums that are still in place,
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knowing that you want to have fairness across the system, but it allows judges and prosecutors to look at an individualized case and decide what's best for public safety and what's best for the community. by giving prosecutors and judges this discretion, we will give them the tools to better see that justice is done. the first step act also incorporates much-needed reforms to our federal prisons to treat people more humanely and to encourage participation in programs intended to help people from committing another crime after their release. in my old job as hennepin county attorney, i always said we would try as much as possible to run our office like a business. we would be efficient, we would keep track of what we were doing, we would be accountable to the public and show them what the results were with regard to our prosecutions and the numbers
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and what the sentences would be. we did all that. but one of the things that i also knew was that while you want to run government as much as possible, as efficiently as a business, there is one way that we weren't like a business in the criminal justice system. we did not want to see repeat customers in our doors. that is not what you want when you're running a prosecutors office. we wanted to make sure that people could get their lives back and their acts together so they didn't keep cycling through the criminal justice system. this bill, the first step act, includes a provision to require that federal prisoners be placed at a facility as close to their primary residence as possible. that makes sure that families aren't separated and they can continue to have visitors. one of the things that we know is really important for them to make that transition when they get back in the community. this straightforward change is an important step toward reducing recidivism because research suggests that people who maintain contact with their
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families while they serve time are less likely to commit crimes after they are released. other key provisions in this legislation expand access to treatment and education. i look at this two ways. one, when i first became a lawyer at a private law firm in the twin cities, i actually got involved in a program called amicus where we went to visit people in the prison, and i visited a woman through a number of years until i became the chief d.a. -- that got a little awkward -- but she went on to serve her sentence and go back out into the community. and that program was really the community saying we want to keep the thought out there that there is hope, that these people are going to get out at some point and that you have role models and people willing to work with them. i saw that work with my own eyes. the other reason i care so much about this part of the bill is that i am a child of an alcoholic, of someone who went through treatment, who after a
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number of d.w.i.'s was finally pushed into treatment, and he changed his life. in his own words, he was pursued by grace. and i think that other people, whether they're in the prison system or not, should be able to have that same opportunity for themselves and for their kids. i was able to see my dad literally climb the highest mountains as an adventurer and a mountain climber and a columnist, but sink to the lowest valleys because of the disease of alcoholism. and you see that all the time in our prison system, whether it's drugs, whether it is alcohol. that is one of the reasons that people get involved in crime, to feed their addiction or because they're not functioning normally and making decisions that they would make if they weren't addicted. this bill encourages the use of evidence-based treatment for opioid and heroin abuse and will help to address the addiction that is the root cause of so
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many crimes. i state that believes in treatment. we're known as the land of 10,000 lakes, and every so often people jokingly call it the land of 10,000 treatment centers. that includes the betty ford hazelton. we're proud of their work. it is a major part of our criminal justice system and our drug court. we have one of the first major drug courts in the country and i've continued to carry on that work as a senator. taken together, the prison reforms in this bill and the recidivism reforms and the reentry reforms are an important step that will help us to make progress toward reducing the number of repeat offenders. as a prosecutor, i always believe that our -- i always believed that our job was to serve the cause of justice. that was to convict the guilty but protect the innocent. and sometimes the innocent are
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of course the victims of crimes. that's the first thing that comes to our mind. but the innocent are also people who are unfairly accused of crimes and that's why it's foreign have all these measures in -- why it's important to have all these measures in place to make sure our process is fair. but at some point when someone has served their sentence and turned their life around, they go from guilty -- which they once were -- to having a chance to go out there as an innocent person that's just trying to lead their lives. that's what our yob is as senators, to do justice, to make sure that we have rules in place that make sure the guilty go behind bars but that we protect the innocent. and that includes the families of victims but also the families of offenders. there's still much work for us to do to improve our criminal justice system and i'm committed
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with my colleagues -- and so many of them i mentioned earlier that have been leaders of this bill; i see senator leahy here, the senator from vermont, who worked so hard on this as well. so many people have contributed to the effort, from the left, from the right, from the democratic party and from the republican party. this is a victory for justice today as we consider this bill. i urge my colleagues to support it. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, before i begin, i would note my long friendship with the presiding officer. i was delighted to see him come back to the senate. i wish him well now as he leaves the senate. i'll let you know, you're always
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welcome by both republicans and democrats when you come back. i know the presiding officer is constrained and cannot respond to whatever i say to him, but i'll say only nice things because that's all i know about him. and i want to thank the senator from minnesota, who has just spoken. she, like me, is a former prosecutor. i have often said that's the best job i've ever had, and my wife marcelle told me that she may remind me of some of those times 3:00 a.m. in the morning when i was going to murder scenes and maybe it is easier to be in the senate and you can sleep on it. a lot of us who have been prosecutors, both republicans and democrats, or those who have
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been defense attorneys, republicans and democrats, have come together, and because of that, the senate is considering perhaps the most significant bill to reform our criminal justice system in nearly a decade. the first step act takes modest but important steps to remedy some of the most troubling injustices within our sentencing laws and our prison system. it is my hope this bill represents not just a single piece of legislation but a turning point in how congress views its role in advancing criminal justice, because there will be a lot of advances we must look at. i have been working to bring fairness to our criminal justice system for decades, both before i was in the senate and since i've been in the senate. for far too long, the legislative response to any and all public safety concerns was
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as simple as it was flawed. no matter the perceived ill, returned arbitrary, inflexible mandatory minimums to cure it. that was a knee-jerk response. and i believe it's changing. i truly believe the era of mandatory minimum sentencing is coming to an end. today there is a growing recognition that one-size-fits-all sentencing is neither just nor effective. it routinely results in low-level offenders spending far longer in prison. neither public safety nor common sense requires. it comes at a steep human cost, especially in communities of color. it also comes at a steep fiscal cost, that leaves us less safe. the united states houses more
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prisoners and has a higher incarceration rate than any other country in the world. this is not something for americans to point to with pride. the cost of housing federal offenders consumes nearly one-third of the justice department's budget. because public safety dollars are finite, it strips critical resources away from law enforcement strategies that have been proven to make our communities safer. if we take steps to responsibly -- responsibly -- reduce our prison population, we can save both money and reduce crime. that's a lesson states across the country are already learned. prison rates and crime rates can fall together, and it's past time for the federal criminal justice system to catch up with
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the states. five years ago, as chairman of the judiciary committee, and drawing on my own experiences as a prosecutor, i convened hearings, i advanced the core pieces of legislation that now form the basis of the first step act. and despite strong, bipartisan votes in committee, at the time some doubted that we had the support needed to ensure passage on the senate floor. each year since then an expanding group of dedicated senators and advocates have methodically built support for these reforms. and today that support is outstanding. somebody said it was bipartisan. it's more than that. it's nonpartisan. and with the efforts of senator durbin, who has been championing these efforts as long as anyone,
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along with senators grassley, whitehouse, lee, booker, and others, we now stand poised to pass meaningful criminal justice reform for the first time in a decade. now, it is true this legislation doesn't go as far as i would like. far from it. i support ending mandatory minimum sentencing. i would prefer to fix racially disparate sentencing. i would like to see the full elimination of the existing crack-powder cocaine disparity. what we have in that crack and powder cocaine, you can have a well-respected american on wall street or a law firm or any or else buy a certain amount of money, spend a certain amount of
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money for powder cocaine. you can have somebody in the inner city spend exactly the same amount for crack cocaine. the person who has the good social standing will be told, what a terrible thing you've done. you may have to spend a few weekends volunteering at soup kitchens, and we hope you won't do it again. the person from the inner city spending the exact same amount on crack cocaine is going to have a mandatory sentence in prison. i'd like to see a broader judicial safety valve. i'd like to see judicial retroactively. any laws that we consider unjust today were just as unjust yesterday or a year ago or even a decade ago.
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it should be retroactive, but this is the nature of a compromise. you don't get everything you want. when i playbook at the scope of reforms -- when i look at the scope of reforms before us today, including a modest expansion of the safety valve, retroapplication of the safety act, a reduction of the minimum sentencing on the books, as well as reforms of evidence-based practices to our reentry efforts, then i believe this is an historic avenue chievement. the first step act also includes my second-chance reauthorization act that i introduced with senator portman. our bill both extends and improves federal grant programs, providing reentry services to
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ex-offenders. it now includes housing, employment, victim support, and morning business. because let's look at it. almost every single offender in our justice system someday is going to be released. we owe it both to them and to the communities where they will live to ensure they can lead productive lives. and in many ways the first step act represents the best of the senate. it represents what this institution is capable, when senators listen to each other and when they come together to solve complex and contentious issues instead of exploiting them for momentary political gain. when senators are willing to be patient, to compromise, persist through inevitable setbacks, real progress is possible. when senators, no matter what
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their political party, understand that each one of us is here to be part of the conscience of the nation, then we should work together. so for the remaining members of the senate not yet ready to support this legislation, i hope you'll reconsider. i hope you'll review the breadth of bipartisan support, both here in the congress and in the white house and in the broader stakeholder community. i hope you'll consider why even important law enforcement voices like the fraternal order of police, the national and district attorneys associations support this bill. and for the members mo do support the -- and for the members who do support the first step act, i hope you'll continue to work to reform our criminal justice system in the years ahead. many of our laws are based on
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decades-old misguided subjects. they don't reflect what we know from the true evidence. there's still so much work to be done. there's still so many injustices and racial disparities to address. so this week we show what's possible by working together we can continue to enact meaningful legislation in the years to come that'll keep us safe and save money, improve america -- and prove america is the nation of fairness and second chances. this was a carefully negotiated compromise. i hope all members will vote no on amendments to this carefully negotiated compromise and vote yes on final passage. this former prosecutor will be very happy if we do. mr. president, i yield the floor. if nobody is seeking --
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mr. inhofe: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: mr. president, we've talked about this recently more than we have in quite sometime. you know, defending america needs to be our number-one commitment. to many of us, it is and has always has been. that's why we've been coming down to the floor and talking about the national defense strategy, the armed services committee. we had the honor and privilege of hearing from, you know, some of the really well-informed people, members and people from the outside, and they look and they see the threats that we are facing. now, they don't always agree with each other, but i really believe that we're in the most threatened position we've been
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in as a country in the years that i've been here. and that'll come as a surprise because people, they know that we've had threats. we've been at war for two decades. and we still have the threat of terrorism. it's out there. they've seen dangerous behavior of rogue states. i like the idea that the administration came up with. we're looking at our peer competitors, our peer competitors are china and russia, and these are countries that have actually passed us up in many areas. when i talk to the american people around, i go back to my state of oklahoma, and when they find out that we have countries that actually have things that are better than we are, i mean the quotes we've heard from our various top people on the types of artillery that they have, that our competition has. then at the same time not only
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do we have peer competition from china and russia, but we also have the rogue countries that are out there -- north korea, iran, and all that. so the threat is there. it's a very real thing. so we need to have the answers. the department of defense creating the new defense strategy, this new defense strategy was one that i think was done very well. it did take into consideration the problems of countries that are peer competition along with other, the rogue nations. and i think it has done really a good job. now one of the things that i really appreciated, we had a hearing about two weeks ago on the national defense strategy commission that was put together. i've been here for quite some time, and i've seen a lot of
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commissions and a lot of reports come up, and i've never seen one that had so -- you wouldn't even call it bipartisan. it's just nonpartisan. one of the individuals, gary ruffhead, an admiral, who is a cochairman of the national defense strategies commission, said that he didn't have any idea who on that commission were appointed by democrats and by republicans. it was equal, equal democrats and republicans in the house and democrats and republicans in the senate. but it did come out just with the very difficult truth that we had to deal with. i think that one of the cochairmen that was ambassador edelman, he said it was so bipartisan it was no way of telling who appointed whom. anyway this is something that has been put together, and the
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commission report has a bunch of stuff that tells the whole ugly truth. it's an ugly truth to realize, particularly when you talk to people in the real world out there throughout america, they assume we have the best of everything and they find out that we have a real threat, kind of makes you go back and remember the good old days of the cold war when you had two super powers. we knew what they had and we knew what they had. the mission of assured destruction meant something. it doesn't mean anything any more. but one of the significant individuals on this report was senator kyl from arizona. the reason i say that is nor kyl, in -- is senator kyl in my opinion and opinion of many people has been historically in the united states senate and one of the -- perhaps even the most knowledgeable individual on the threats that we face and our capabilities we have in this country.
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it's yew -- unique that senator kyl is on this commission because when he went to the commission he was not in the united states senate. he came back after the death of john mccain and served it appears to be just a short period of time. so he has the unique position of serving on the commission and also being for many years on the , in the position to help us meet something that we haven't met before, and that is a real, real challenge. senator kyl, why don't you kind of talk about the, maybe the senate, the bipartisan nature, how this thing fell together. very similar as was expressed when we had our meeting i think two or three weeks ago, this commission. it's been very successful. i applaud you for your work on it. mr. kyl: thank you. mr. president, i would like to thank the chairman of the senate
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armed services committee for engaging in this brief colloquy and specifically for calling the hearing a couple of weeks ago at which the two cochairmen of the national dwenls -- defense strategy commission presented the findings of the commission report. and i agree that that hearing attended by i believe every member of the senate armed services committee was a remarkable hearing because the members of the commission represented by the two cochairs made it clear that their report, our report was indeed a bipartisan document and nonpartisan, as the cochairman admiral ruffhead said. perhaps it would be good to dwell for a moment on how this commission was created and then we can talk more about the report itself. i think one of the big factors about the report is the credibility of the people who helped to design it. a couple of years ago the two
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armed services committees in the house and senate put a provision in the national defense authorization act to create a commission that would be exroised -- comprised of 12 members, six appointed by the senate and six appointed by the house. they would be appointed three each by the chairman and ranking members of the two armed services committee, so there was a balance of six democrats and six republicans. i think -- and i say that because like admiral ruffhead i'm not sure of the politics of everybody who served on the commission. they all knew my politics. i was a retired republican senator at the time. and i knew a couple of the other members of the commission. but frankly, the politics were left at the door, and we went in and debated about the status of our national security, and in particular the secretary of defense's national strategy, and concluded, first of all,
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that the secretary was correct that we had to reorient the priorities of our national defense to reflect the fact that china and russia now both presented a challenge to the united states that had not existed in the prior several years, but that our increasingly difficult to confront and important to confront because of the attitudes of those two countries. and that the other threats from iran, from north korea, and from terrorists, while still very significant, would be relegated in effect to a secondary position. we thought the secretary's strategy in that regard was correct and commended him for that. and we also found that the basic strategy he laid out for confronting the challenges was satisfactory but with a big caveat. and that was that unless the defense department was adequately resourced to confront these challenges, the strategy
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could not succeed. so much of what the commission dwelt on was what we would need to do in the near and medium future in order to rebuild our military, to successfully be able to defend the united states against thee emerging threats. mr. inhofe: that's one of the things that i was really impressed with on this report. you guys didn't hold any punches. you said exactly what it was. you said what areas -- in fact, i have a list of the quotes that were in there which i actually used on the floor yesterday, i guess it was, of the different members, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the secretary of defense, and the rest of them, that showed very clearly that we don't -- it's not adequately resourced. we're going to have to do something about that. i do want to ask what your recommendation was on the commission to do it. where's that chart -- that's
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not the one i want. this is kind of a shocker for a lot of people. i mentioned that people don't realize that -- this is just one element of it that shows that china is actually passing us up. and by 2030 is going to have a larger navy than we do. you and i have been in both the house armed services committee and the senate armed services committee and have watched. it's kind of hard to see that the time we have always feared was going to be there is there now. you know, when you are now -- we are now faced with that problem. what kind of recommendation did the commission come up with to get us out of this whole? mr. kyl: mr. president, the chairman of the armed services committee is exactly correct. you could illustrate the same thing with charts relating to our air force, with our army, the marine corps, all elements of our services. and it's not just in the number of ships, but in the quality of
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the ships in both the russians and the chinese, i would note have made some significant advances in submarine technology, for example, that would pose a real threat to the u.s. navy. what the commission concluded was that three major changes were necessary to the way that we fund our military. the first is that the top line, the total amount that congress appropriates each year needs to be increased. we didn't specify a particular amount, but we noted that just to satisfy the 20-year budget projections of president bush's secretary of defense, this would require a minimum of 3% to 5% increases annually above the rate of inflation. in other words, real growth in the top line spending. secondly, and these are two faults of the united states
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congress. the commission pointed to the congress and said you've been funding government for far too long with continuing resolutions rather than getting on with the job of passing appropriations bills that actually note eesh year's requirements -- each year's requirements and appropriates an amount of money to reflect those requirements. the continuing resolutions, or c.r.'s, make it almost impossible for the planners at the defense department to plan more than just a couple of months in advance. and when we're talking about enormously long-term acquisitions costing billions of dollars, this makes a very inefficient way and ineffective way. finally we recognized that the budget control act which currently controls the way that congress spends money, needs to have a change in it. the the sequestration in that bill has harmed defensing
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spending more than anything else and resultedded in $500 billion in ten years in lost appropriations for the department of defense. that law is still in effect and it will govern the appropriations of the last two years of the decade, of its being in effect unless congress repeals it or modifies it. the third figure is the sequestration in the budget control act needs to be eliminated. mr. inhofe: that's something we've talked about for a long period of time, but i think we have to recognize the problem that we have been in back during the obama years, during the last five years. and this is a shocker. it kind of gives people an idea of how we got into this mess to start with. if you take and use the years 2010 to 2015, that would have been the last five years of the obama administration, using constant 2018 dollars, in
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2010, the budget would have been $794 billion. in 2015, $586 billion. that's a reduction of $210 billion over a five-year period. nowhere else in government have any kind of reduction in any program. but that's where we got, it really got into trouble. and i really believe that we will have to face this and recognize what the problem really is and tell everyone what the problem is. now, i say to my friend from arizona, you've been active in nuclear deterrent. we have not been so much. i can remember and you can remember back in the 1960's when this was recognized as a problem. i think the last time that we did any nuclear modernization was actually in the 1980's.
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we have the triad system we've had had for a long period of time. china didn't have it, russia didn't have it. but today they got it. they actually have done more. we had a chart for this but it shows what we have not done and what they have been doing. so in the area of nuclear deterrent or nuclear modernization, it might be a good idea to see what you folks on this commission were looking at in terms of that threat that we're facing. mr. kyl: mr. president, and i certainly appreciate this comment of the chairman of the senate armed services committee, because the secretaries of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs have all said our strategic deterrent has to be our number-one priority. and why is that? because this is the one area where the entire united states security is at risk. this is the existential threat, the threat that could destroy
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the entire united states. obviously a nuclear war between either the united states and china or russia would be devastating to the entire world. but because it is a direct threat to the homeland, it has to be the number-one priority. and yet, as the chairman notes, through our negligence, the administration's and congresses past, we have allowed three things to deteriorate all at the same time , and the bill is now coming due on all three, and, therefore, it's going to be a difficult proposition to get funded. the first are the laboratories in which our nuclear weapons were designed -- and there were testing, and to some extent they have been modified or refurbished, and they have had their life extended through a program operated at our national
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labs. the national labs are in incredible need of modernization. you have a 1946-built facility in which our uranium is being produced. the roof is literally falling in. the i've been there at oak ridge, tennessee. in los alamos, there is a great need to create changes. we have to create plutonium pits. the bottom line is our laboratories are in dire need of refurbishment. secondly, the weapons themselves, the nuclear weapons themselves, designed in the 1950's and 1960's and some as late as the 1970's, but built in the 1970's and 1980's, are in extreme need to have -- to be checked for their safety and their security and to have their life extended by the replacement of certain components and making certain that everything else is in operating order. i know i was given as a souvenir
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a vacuum tube that was taken out of one of our nuclear weapons, having been replaced with a more modern circuit board. these are the kinds of things that are -- that we're doing to extend the life of these nuclear weapons. and it's not inexpensive. and, third, our triad, our delivery systems, the bomber forks the intercontinental ballistic missile -- the bomber force, the intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the things that carry our missiles. all need replacement at the same time. so instead of doing this seriatim, we're faced with a bill that is going to come due for all three. the good news is that through the efforts of the chairman of the armed services committee and others, provision have been made in the past ndaa bills to begin
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this modernization and it has begun, but barry begun. and it's -- but barely begun, and it is going to continue for 15 years, something like that. while all three of these components of our nuclear deterrent are needed and are going to have to be paid for at roughly the same time, at no time in the budget do the combination of all three of these things represent more than 6.4% of the dent cutting and -- defense budget and in most years it is 3% to 4%. for the most strategically important element of our national security, we're really spending a very small amount in pro-forges what we've to -- in proportion to what we have to spend on everything else. that's one of the reasons why the committee has found it so important to enshould you are that all thee of -- to ensure that all three of these things move forward so that our
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strategic deterrent will deter any potential adversary from thinking that the cost of aggression against the united states is worth whatever they might seek to achieve. mr. inhofe: wellcome, -- mr. inhofe: well, we've done a lot in the recognition of what is coming up. i can't fell you how important it is to have thisment. it is the first time i've seen everything written down so we so it. right now we're doing the -- we have this as the blueprint that we're using. we're also being -- doing what we did this last year on the ndaa. the the national defense authorization act is one that has to be done and done in a namely matter. we were able to do it last year. when you talk about rebuilding the readiness, the brigade combat teams, we're down to
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about -- up to about two years ago where only 35% of them could actually be used. of course the navy used f-18's. only 31% are actually pliable. at that time -- we have a lost that kind of thing that's going to be necessary. you mentioned the triad. a lot of people don't know what that is. it is important that we -- now that both china and russia know what it is, it is important that we do the job that we're supposed to be doing. acquisition reform. i can remember the time that you and i both, the senator from arizona and i were both on the house armed services committee and at that time we were talking about acquisition reform. that was 30 years ago. and we haven't been doing it. we have now some really dedicated people who have a background in that and we're going to actually try to get something done. but the main thing right now i think is going to have to be funding. we have to recognize that it's
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going -- it was interesting that the -- that when you mentioned the 3% to 5% increase in funding over and above -- over and above the amount of inflation, when you stop and think about it, when we started out two years ago in fiscal year 2018 we raised it to $700 billion. in fiscal year 2019, we raised the budget for the military up to $716 billion. and then the first budget that came out from this budget for fiscal year 2020 is $733 billion. now, if you do the math between fiscal year 23016 and fiscal year 2033, it is only increasing it by 2.1%, which isn't even inflation. so we're not at that level -- at that level we're not carrying out the recommendation that came
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from your commission and all those individuals who individual whose aagreed with the joint chief of staff and everyone else knowledgeable in the field. so we've got our work cut our for us. mr. kyl: i couldn't agree with the chairman more. in fact, i applaud you, mr. chairman, and the chairman of the house armed services committee for going to the president, along with secretary of defense mattis, and talking about the need to continue with his defense modernization and noting the fact that the improvements that you've made in the last two years have not rebuilt the military or even begun to close the gap. it's staunched the flow of blood. it's been like the turn kit on on the -- tourniquet on the too many prevent the loss of further blood. when the president said is he thought a number around $750 billion was a more accurate
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number is exactly correct. i think it would be a little more than $750 billion to represent the 5% above the rate of -- or 3% above the rate of inflation. i'll have to do the math when i sit down here. but the point is, some people think that the last two years because you all were very effective -- this was before i came back to the senate -- in staunching that flow of blood, therefore the fight is over. nothing could be further from the truth. really a 13- to 15-year program to rebuild our military has just begun. mr. inhofe: and i have to say that the figure that we're talking about right now came right out of the this book. you guys did a great job. my hope is you'll continue to serve in some capacity, because we desperately need you and it has been great to have you back, for however brief a time. thank you. with that, mr. president, i
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yield the floor. mr. menendez: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. menendez: i ask unanimous consent to speak for ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. menendez: i rise today in support of the first step act. this legislation, as the title says, is a important first step towards desperately needed criminal justice reform. and i want to thank senators durbin, grassley, and lee, as well as my good friend and colleague, senator cory booker, for advancing this bipartisan compromise. i want to particularly recognize the junior senator from new jersey, who has been relentless in his efforts to bring moral urgency to this issue. and i think we can thank senator booker for his passion and his devotion to justice. the need for criminal justice reform was an issue constituents
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consistently and frequently raised with me as i crisscrossed new jersey over the past year. from woodbury to patterson to newark and every where between, i heard from people. indeed, the naacp found that nationally, african americans and hispanics make up approximately 32% of the u.s. population, but they represented 56% of all incarcerated people in 20156789 -- 2015. i also heard from young people pushing for drug policy reform so that fewer students charged with marijuana offenses lose access to federal financial aid. i met with leaders like former new jersey governor jim mcgrievey, whose worked with the new jersey reentry
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corporation helps formerly incarcerated individuals, especially those struggling with addiction, find jobs and avoid ending up back in prison. i met with officials about their efforts to build positive relationships in their communities and address challenges like racial profiling and uneven enforcement. now, the first step act won't solve all of these problems. far from it. i certainly would have liked to see more concrete reforms to federal minimum mandatory sentences. however, i am pleased to support a bill that reverses some of the most detrimental effects of federal mandatory minimum sentences. as a longtime proponent of the second chance act, i'm also glad to see provisions reauthorized under this bill that will give nonviolent, low-risk offenders and their families greater hope for a brighter future. under the first step act, more
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americans in the federal prison system will finally get their second chance. while most offenders are incarcerated at the state level, we know that federal mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses are among the harshest in the nation. according to the sentencing project, more than half of the federal prison population is spending time for a drug offense, the vast majority nonviolent. under this legislation, low-risk offenders will be able to earn credits by completing anti-recidivism programs that help better prepare them for life after prison. inmates can apply these credits towards early placement in a halfway house. we know when prisoners are equipped with the right tools and resources, they are better able to reintegrate into society
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and avoid old behaviors that could result in them winding up back behind bars. that's not only good for them, it's good for their families and good for their communities. these provisions are important back-end reforms, but i will not stop calling for greater reforms on the front end -- the enforcement side of the equation. this is a serious problem in new jersey. in july 2017, the sentencing project reported that racial disparities in new jersey's marijuana arrests are at an all-time high. in 2013, african americans were arrested for marijuana possession three times as often as their white counterparts, despite -- despite -- marijuana use being similar among racial groups. and the disparities extend far beyond arrest rates. recently a six-month investigation by a new jersey advanced media found, quote, hard evidence of racial disparities in police use of
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force across new jersey. the data revealed african americans are three times likelier to face some type of police force compared to whites. and even more troubling, african american children faced a disproportionate amount of force. from 2012 through 2016, of the more than 4,600 uses of force among people under the age of 18, slight lit more than half were african american. yet, african american children account for only 14.5% of new jersey's child population. don't highlight these -- i don't highlight these statistics to denigrate our police force because the men and women who serve in law enforcement put their lives on the line every day and their bravery will always have my respect, support, and admiration. i do highlight these statistics because they reveal a larger need for greater front-end criminal justice sentencing and police reforms that ultimately
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serve our shared goal of building safe and thriving communities. passing the first step act is just that -- a first step. it cannot be the only step. we have so much more work to do to fix a broken criminal justice system that leaves too many americans behind. the first step act does not address structural racism and racial disparities in our criminal justice reform, nor does it completely alleviate some of the draconian sentences in place for drug offenses. what this legislation will do is make a positive difference in the lives of thousands of federal inmates working to turn their lives around and earn a second chance. i urge my colleagues to support this bill. i've always believed that the federal policies we set can have a ripple effect across the nation. may the passage of the first step act by congress first
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states across america to take additional steps forward, steps that together may advance our nation's long march for equality and justice under the law. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate previous order, the senate
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>> earlier today arizona governor doug ducey announced his choice of outgoing congresswoman martha mcsally to fill the late john mccain seek through 2020. senator john, was appointed after senator mccain's death earlier this year and said he only served to the end of that year. mix how they ran for the senate earlier this year losing to kyrsten sinema. earlier today majority leader mitch mcconnell a tribute to senator kyle forest inventory in the senate. >> mr. president, to the untrained eye it might seem i've completed my fax and farewells to allol my republican colleagus who will depart at the end of this congress. but d i would be remiss up i did not also mentioned the junior senator from arizona, our good friend j

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