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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  December 19, 2018 1:59pm-4:00pm EST

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the earth will rise again. he asked how long, not long because no lie can live forever. how long, not long because of the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice. this has been a long arc, a painful history and shameful history in this body. at the height of lynchings across this country affecting thousands of people, this body did not act to make that a federal crime. well, this body at least now, the united states senate, has now acted, a hundred senators, no objections. i just want to give gratitude to this body for what we have just done. i yield the floor. thank you. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: i praise my
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colleagues from the atlantic coast of new jersey, the pacific coast of california for today putting our entire senate on record and on a pathway to recognizing the deep darkness of this national scar on our justice system and on our psyc psyche, work well done here in the u.s. senate. and thank you. madam president, i rise to address a current-day scar, a wound in america, a wound in terms of how we are treating children arriving on our borders and seeking asylum. george washington said, america is a nation open, quote, to receive not only the opulen and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all
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nations and religions. this sense of the nation of america was repeated 100 years later through emma lazarus' poem that's carved into the foundation of the statue of liberty. phrases of that poem include, give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. send these, the tempest tossed, the homeless to me. but that spirit is lost right now in the united states of america. we're a nation almost universally of immigrants, and yet we're treating those fleeing persecutions -- children fleeing persecution as if they were catch and release when they arrive on our borders. i went down this last weekend
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with senator hazard subsidy hire row knee of hawaii and senator smith of minnesota and representative beto o'rourke of texas and another representative. two of us visited an internment camp and all five of us went to the tornado child prison in the desert in texas outside el paso. this war against children, this trump war against children was most dramatically demonstrated back in may and june when the united states government implemented a, quote, zero-coal reasons policy -- zero tolerance policy that in fact said if you insert your international rights and come to the border of the united states, we will treat you as a criminal, we will lock you up, we will rip your children out of your arms, and who knows
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if you will ever see them again p. i went down in june, june 3 of this year, to shine a light on this, find out what was really going on. i saw children in cages. i tried to enter a facility, a former walmart that i was told had hundreds of kids locked up into it. i was denied entry because of the administration's desire to keep the effects of their child-separation policy secret. there was an outcry, an outcry from america across america saying the united states does not do this; we do not inflict trauma hon children as a direct and deliberate strategy of sending a message to the world that we do not want you, if you are fleeing persecution, to come to our shores. we do not deliberately inflict trauma on children. in addition to the public outcry, there was a court
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action. the administration agreed and said, okay, we will stop doing child separation. we will quit ripping children out of their parents' arms. but the president said, if we can't rip children out of their parents' arms, instead we will lock them up. we will lock them up with their parents, still treating them as catch and release as they await an asylum hearing. a bill to that effect passed the house of representatives. and 35 senators here in this chamber signed on to a bill to expand this system of family internment camps at the request of the administration. i came to this floor. i pointed out the long and shameful history of family internment camps in america and i proposed a different vision. i put forward a bill titled no family internment camps in america act, and i noted it
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would be a fierce fight if those who want to proceed with internment camps attempted to do so. this body dropped that effort, stopped that effort. that's good. but the administration is still determined to pursue this, and they've been moving funds to be able to expand family internment camps in places like carnes and dillly. so we went there to look at these camps, these family internment camps, one with fathers and sons, one with mothers and daughters. the right thing to do, as families await asylum hearings, is for them to get that hearing on a timely basis of six to 12 months and have them under a family case management program, a family case management program not locking them up in prison.
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locking up children in prison does deep, traumatic damage to those children, so we must continue to fight this intern ment camp strategy. the four members of congress who were there at dilly met with a woman and she and her daughter have been locked up in dilley going on six months. yesterday was the daughter's 15th birthday. the quince , a big tradition of a girl becoming a woman. are you going to recognize this girl's birthday, this very significant 15th birthday? they said, no, no, we can't do anything special to recognize one child. and we said, well, why not have
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a policy of recognizing each child on his or her birthday, so you're doing the same for everyone? and they said, no, no, too much trouble. we'll have a monthly gathering and list the names of those who had birthdays that month. that will suffice. it's a symbol of the dehumanization with which we're treating people who are locked up, families who are locked up, awaiting an asylum hearing. that young woman is suffering significantly. her mother told us she is not sleeping well, she is not eating well, and she was really, really depressed over the fact that this very significant day would go unrecognized. we should never be locking up children for long periods of time. there is an agreement, a settlement that said children will not be locked up for more than 20 days. it is called the flores
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settlement. and it was a settlement that came out of the fact that we recognized locking up children hurts them, traumatizes them, that it should never happen, and it shouldn't happen more than 20 days. well, it is happening more than 20 days, and not just with the mother and her daughter who are locked up there. you know, they -- they fled persecution by a drug gang, a gang that was extorting the family to make payments from their beauty supply business or beauty parlor. and when she couldn't pay, the gang came to her house and assaulted her daughter. and she told us they fled the next day. we need to improve the programs which we're trying to -- which were trying to help stabilize
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those countries and help decrease the power of those drug came. but certainly when those fleeing persecution come to our shores, let's treat them with respect and dignity. this is a birthday card that several dozen members signed yesterday that we're sending to this young woman locked up. i ask unanimous consent to use a card. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: thank you. it says feliz quincenera. it says, from your friends in the senate of the united states. we want her to know and we want every child to know, locked up in these child prisons under the trump war on children, that we're working to end this war. we went on to torneo, initially
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established to to be temporary. it has been expanded to not only 450 children but 3,800 children. now, at this moment, they've cranked up the number of people to 2,700, and they are purposely keeping this that is a, quote, temporary shelter so that they can bypass all the laws related to incarcerating children. they can bypass the requirements for education, they can bypass the flores 20-day standard. i asked how many children are here over 20 days of these 2,700? a couple dozen. and the director said, no, no, no. more than 2,000 of the 2,700 children there over the 20 days. and then we were told that 1,300
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of those children already have a sponsor, and they already have the sponsors having filled out all the paperwork and done the fingerprints and everything, they could be released immediately if the administration would complete the paperwork. so he told us, 1,300 children could be in homes and schools and parks five to seven days from now if the administration would complete the paperwork. we proceeded to hold a press conference, and we said, it is unacceptable that the paperwork is not being completed and these children are being locked up here. we held this on saturday. we said, this tornillo prison camp should be shut down. this is not the spirit of the united states america and is not being used as a temporary emergency shellder for one month. and -- shelter for one month. yesterday the administration said they are change the rules, that they expect to release several thousand children within the next few days.
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that's the right thing to do. they said, we may shut down tornillo. so let's keep up the attention of america on this. let's keep the spotlight on t let's not let this war on children continue our money on our territory, under our government, deliberately inflicting trauma on children. it must end. mr. president, the family case management program, which was an alternative to locking people up, had a report from the department of homeland security inspector general that said, 99% of people show up for their check-ins in 100% attendance at court hearings. then there was a closeout report because the administration shut it down and the closeout report called the program a success. it said, 99.3% of attendance for
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court proceedings overall. 99% attendance for monitoring and it cost $38 a day compared to many hundreds of dollars puerto rican ternment camps or transparent camps. so let's restart a program that made sense, a program that worked. we've seen this series of attacks on children, child separation, family internment camps, child prison camps. let's put america back on track and treat children coming to this country fleeing persecution with respect and dignity, as they await their asylum hearings. thank you, mr. president.
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mr. blunt: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: mr. president, we've come to the end of what i think has been a very productive conference. i'm not happy, as most of us aren't, with an ending that doesn't allow us to get all of the principal work of the congress does, which is to decide how we're going to fund the government, how we're going to spend money. we did this year for the first time in a long time get 75% of that job done before the beginning of the fiscal year. there's nowhere else in america that that would be a bragging point. but we hadn't done that in 20 years, and so it's a pretty significant thing for us to accomplish. what we need to figure out is what we did and how we can replicate that in the future. we have to get to this work. we have to have the kind of floor debates that we had this
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year, and we don't need to let it drag into the end of the year, as too many of the bills did this time. now, you know, the worst possible thing to do in my view in terms of funding the government is to shut down the government. the next worst possible thing to do is a long-term c.r., where you just say we couldn't decide how to spend the money this year, so we're going to spend it like we spent it last year. and then the next option is the one we're following, which appears to be a short-term c.r. to, unfortunately come back and begin next year's work with the obligation to finish this year's work. that is clearly a mistake, and it's a mistake that ends a congress that otherwise pretty successful. all kinds of regulatory reform occurred. some of it the congress was involved in. for the first time in the history of the congressional
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review act, the congress 15 times sent to the president a regulation that the congress was not going to approve, and 15 times the president agreed with that decision. that happened exactly one other time in the 25-year history of the congressional review act, we had done that one time, before this congress when it happened 15 times. the regulatory situation of the country is much better. the first major rewrite in the tax bill in 31 years clearly has had and is having an impact on our economy. the numbers in my state -- missouri -- are as good as they have been in a long time. i think our unemployment number is the lowest in 18 years. the national unemployment number is the lowest in almost 50 years. and missouri's number at 3.2% is even lower than that.
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things like a long-term f.a.a., the federal aviation administration extension, the farm bill, a lot of things that we should be talking about. i want to talk today for just a few minutes about the things that have happened for missouri this year here in the senate. we have made significant progress in addressing some of the most important issues facing both the state and the nation. just this month we had a land transfer for the national geo spatial agency that started out as an ocean mapping agency in st. louis, missouri, decades ago, and then became a full partner in our overhead architecture that tries to figure out what's going on in the world at any given moment in any given day. things like mapping out what we
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knew about the outside of the place where osama bin laden was hiding and was eventually found there. guessing, from watching traffic in and out of that, what might be on the other side of the door when you went in, that's just one of the things that happens at the national geospatial agency every day. and that one and others happen at m.g.a. west, the st. louis facility. big competition on what we should do about that. the decision was made to put that $1.3 billion new facility in the city of st. louis right next to, mr. president, one of the great federal disasters of all time where the pruitt igo housing complex, not well thought out, had to be imploded within a short time of people moving in there. within a decade or so.
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thches known to be a disas -- this was known to be a disaster, not too long after that imploded. that's so much a part of the city that at one time was the fourth-biggest city in the country in terms of population. it's not there any longer, but things like the geo-workforce, national geospatial location being there will make a difference. in aviation, we make lots of military aircraft in our state. and the bill that we funded really brought that line of, that we worried so much about in recent years back to where we have had multiyear funding of things like the super hornet, the hornet, the growler. growler was the growler -- it just so totally disrupts the efforts of our enemies to figure out what that formation of planes is all about.
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it is an important part of flying, whether they come off the deck of a ship or off a runway, anywhere else in the world. the air force t.x. trainer, boeing 1, the opportunity to make that new trainer, and is beginning the process right now. the nonman tanker, important keeping those lines open in a way that we were concerned just a few years ago wouldn't happen. i had the chance this weekend to be part of the launching of the future of freedom class ship u.s.s. st. louis, where the navy asked for 32 of those ships, and this congress gave them 35. now, if you're listening and you're out there and you're a taxpayer and you're thinking
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about this, well, why would the congress give them 35 when they asked for 32. we looked not just at the immediate need of that line, but the long term, the unfunded need. and it hasn't been that long, mr. president, when if the navy would have asked for 32 ships, they might have gotten 18 or 16. we're in a place where once again we're looking at our defense obligations. we had the biggest pay increase for men and women in uniform in over a decade. all of those things matter. senator mccaskill and i worked on one piece of legislation to allow the historic delta queen which will be based at kims kimswick, missouri, south of the mississippi river, to get back in operation again. that's a 1920's riverboat that not too many years ago president carter took his summer vacation on with the other passengers on
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that overnight facility. the gateway arch was reopened officially 60 years after the arch was built. it's time to restore the arch, but p it was also time to connect the arch in better and different ways to the city of st. louis. the historic courthouse where the dred scott decision was started, that's where the locall federal court case was that wound up in a supreme court disaster in the minds of people looking back at how wrongheaded that particular court was. but that old courthouse still there, now connected, as it wasn't before, to the arch and downtown. it's really -- i talked yesterday, mr. president, to the designated person who runs the park service. i said we want this second
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century of the park service to be a public-private partnership. there is no greater example of that than the reopening and the restoring of the arch, connecting it to downtown. $300-some million. all that money was private or locally raised with the tax, and the city of st. louis, i think about $20 million of that thrus 300 -- of that $300 million-plus project was federal highway money. the message there is if you're going to expect a different source of money, you've also got to expect a different kind of partnership. i think one of the things the park service learned at that big project was the second century of the system is going to be different, can't be just like the first century except you get your money from somewhere else and then do whatever you want to do. what happens is you get your money from somewhere else and you have to create a sense that you really have partners in
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that. st. louis, during world war ii and after, a lot of work on atomic weapons was done in our state. congressman wagner and i were able in september to join a signing ceremony on a record of decision of what to do with some of that military waste that radio active waste left from the years before and after the end of world war ii that had been discarded by the federal government in ways that weren't well thought out. west lake -- the west lake landfill, families there have been tireless advocates demanding that things be done for the health and safety of their children and their community. they waited for 27 years. there's some real criticism out
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there of scott pruitt who was the e.p.a. director. when we first talked to him about this, he said you can't be on the priority list for almost 30 years if it's really a priority list. and with his leadership and then the leadership of administrator wheeler, somehow we came to a conclusion there that has generally been met positively by people who have worked so hard to get that federal decision -- and there's a public-private partnership -- and the private companies they worked with to do something with this material to now do the right thing with the material, which means moving it out of our state. in southeast missouri, there was a port authority, an inland port authority, almost $20 million bridge grant was announced the other day that allows that inland port with two new rail lines to become much
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more multimow -- multimodal than it's been before. what's going to happen with food demand. no other country is better equipped to meet the doubling of food demand between now and 2050. but our inland ports in that discussion become particularly important, both the congress and in this case the missouri general assembly paid attention to the inland port structure like they haven't before. that is the biggest single piece of contiguous agricultural ground in the world, is the mississippi river valley. and unlike the others in the world that may be almost as big, it has its own built-in transportation network. the mississippi river, the missouri, the ohio, the arkansas, the illinois, the other rivers that flow into the
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mississippi river create that network that now linked through the panama canal, easily you go to asia. you don't go through the panama canal, you easily get to either, to the east coast of our country or you get to europe and africa. it is the great opportunity for us. that kind of investment makes that opportunity more likely to pay the kind of dividends we would hope it would pay. in september of this year congress passed, the president signed the energy and water appropriations bill which included $25 million for the delta regional authority, authority designed to benefit a part of our country where the early focus on labor-intensive occupations, particularly farming, has given way to a
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different kind of -- looking at that part of our economy, without thinking about what happened to rural communities and the rural workforce as that moved on. broadband is part of that, and i think we're going to see that continue to be a big part of what goes on in the future. but whether it's small ports, the mississippi river and tributaries project, st. gene eve national historic park, the president signed that bill in march. st. geneveve with french architecture that goes back to the 1700's and early 1800's, unique to the kind of architecture that's preserved there. some of the oldest buildings certainly in the middle of the country and in some cases in the entire west of the mississippi are there, and we're moving forward, i hope, even yet this
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week to do a couple of additional things that make that historic park work and be open to people from all over the world. the french ambassador wants to go there in the near future as an example of seeing what we're doing to maintain those buildings that are reflective of a different part of our heritage than we have in most of the country. research institutions like the university of missouri, the usda, ag research facility in columbia and other facilities across our state have benefited from money. in east locust creek in august of 2018 it was announced the final investment would be made for an east locust creek reservoir in north central missouri. water a bigger and bigger challenge as we look toward the
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future. and thinking now about how we're going to have the kinds of water opportunities we need for drinking water, for agricultural water and other water very important. in sedalia, missouri, a project to help congresswoman hartsler worked on a project and new corps announced this year a significant and brand-new steel facility in that part of our state. kansas city, the buck o'neil bridge is something that has needed to be done for a long time. the community had come up with 90% of the money needed. a bridge grant that secretary chao called me about that the community applied forgets that last $25 million of that $200-and some million dollar
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project. whiteman air force base, a long fight to maintain the a-10 replacement, to maintain the a-10's and then to get the replacement wing there important as was the things that happened in st. joseph with the lift capacity, the ability with the c-130's where 19 different countries come to that facility and train to figure out how to get the kind of support that we need for military all over the world, including our nato allies. senator boozman and i, from the days when we were in the house together, we formed the i-49 caucus, another announcement just in the last month will allow the last few miles of i-49 to be completed in our state.
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i was there about eight years ago when highway 71 and missouri -- in ohio became i-49 in most of our state. now it will be i-49 in all of our states. what happened there and with opioid grant funding are all things that had significant legislative things happen this year. so hire vets act was an act where not only hiring vets, but establishing recognition, everybody says they hire vets, following up on legislation that was passed here in the senate and in the house and signed into law in may of 2017, the labor department came up with that new standard acknowledging who hires vets and who's better at hiring vets than anybody else. the first five missouri
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employers were recognized this year with dozens of employers all over the country in a tiered thing sort of like the lead standard for energy efficiency, we now have a standard for hiring vets. whether it was the f.a.a. reauthorization bill i mentioned earlier, our effort to move toward more rural broadband that have moved significantly this year but still that's one of the things that we need to be looking at next year. so, mr. president, i would argue that this is one of the most effective, certainly one of the most effective right of center congresses in a long time and i think an effective congress that looks at the issues facing this country and does so in a long-range way deal with those issues and it is something that we ought to be talking to people
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about and use that as a standard -- we were good this year, let's find out how to be even better next year. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. man man i ask unanimous consent
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that the senate -- mr. manchin: i ask unanimous consent that the senate -- the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. barrasso: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. reserving the right to object. you know, whether you support obamacare or oppose it, and to be clear, i oppose it, it remains the law. the decision in the texas case is being appealed. i expect it will eventually end up before the supreme court. regardless of what happens in this legal process, we look to protect people with preexisting conditions. as a doctor and the husband of a breast cancer survivor, i know the importance of making sure that patients can get access to quality health care at an affordable cost. since obamacare passed, this
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hasn't happened to many families i speak to in wyoming. they keep telling me that obamacare made insurance unaffordable, whether it was the premiums, copays, all of it. simply put, they know that obamacare has failed because they personally experienced the law's sky-high premiums and fewer choices. it's taken washington democrats longer to figure it out. they are looking for a single-pair system dominated and controlled by washington. as a doctor, my focus is on making health care better for patients, period. it shouldn't take a judge to force us to get it done. we need to reform health care to give american families the better care at a lower cost that obamacare failed to deliver. the question is whether washington democrats are interested in solving problems or playing politics, i'm ready to work, therefore, mr. president, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. manchin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. manchin: mr. president, i
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respectfully disagree with my friend from wyoming. first of all, the reason i called for the live unanimous consent request on my resolution was to protect nearly 800,000 west virginians with preexisting conditions and millions and millions of americans. we have tried. we've come to an agreement of how to fix the high cost of third party or individual pay. it has been laying on the majority leader's desk for over a year, no movement or action. and if people say ha we all have -- we all have sympathy and empathy for people with preexisting conditions, if you want to protect that, then remove your lawsuit or at least allow us to move forward on a unanimous consent so we can fight and have a fighting chance as this thing will be appealed to the -- to the higher courts. it's just absolutely wrong for people for the first time to have insurance now and the threat of having it taken away from them. as a former governor, let me tell you how this system work.
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if you think people are not deserving of insurance or should not be able to have a fordable access -- affordable access to insurance, then you're paying anyway because the people that don't have that or didn't have it before, go to the emergency room at the highest cost. they go right into the emergency room, they don't pay. that cost is then distributed on to the governor and the governor of each state has to come up with supplemental payments to keep hospitals, rural clinics open. that's the way the system works. if you work for a company that you couldn't afford the copay, if you worked for a small company that didn't have insurance at all, what you would do if you got hurt at home or got sick, you would hobble into work and claim a workers comp. claim. if you want to go back to those draconian days, that's where we are headed if this lawsuit succeeds. what we asked for is simply the ability to fix what we have in front of us.
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i haven't supported the single-payer system. we're not talking about a single-payer system. we're not talking about anything but fixing the existing affordable care act. the president of the united states, president trump could do this easily. i would be happy to call it trump repair. he can bring us together to where we can basically look at a bipartisan solution to bring down the high cost of premiums. we can also look at a bipartisan solution to fix the runaway costs sometimes teaching people how to take care of themselves, keep themselves healthier and be preventive in the care they rch. this resolution allows west indianas and americans to be protected from inhumane lawsuits. if you believe in that, there should be no consideration for objections. we should be able to sit down and let the legal staff that we have here in the senate
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intervene on our behalf and the people that we represent. that's all we've asked for. so millions of americans with preexisting conditions, they've been trusting us to defend their right. now, they are hearing the political rhetoric. they hear it every day when everybody goes on the campaign trail. the last thing i heard from my republicans on the republican side, and these are my friends, they said, oh, yes, joe we want to make sure that people have access with preexisting conditions, they cannot be denied. guess what the proposal that they were going to come forward with. it would say simply this, that we will make sure that insurance companies offer you affordable insurance, but they will not have to basically protect you or insure you for an existing condition you have. we'll basically insure your entire body except for the karns or heart -- cancer or heart condition you had prior to that. it doesn't make sense.
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they will not have insurance for people to have access to affordable care. we had that opportunity today and you heard it objected to. i'm sorry for that. we could have directly defended the lives of millions of americans. i believe the texas judge was so wrong in his ruling because we never removed even those who voted for the tax cuts, and i think a lot of them from begrudgingly done that looking back on that. with that they removed the mandate. it did not remove the code of the law. it removed the money but didn't take the language away. i think anybody with any type of background in the legal process understand that will not hold up in court. we ask to defend the rights of the people we represent. i thought that we could get a unanimous consent moved forward and then really you could go out
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and talk to your constituents saying i truly, truly am fighting to make sure that any of you all to have preexisting conditions, 800,000 west virginians who have preexisting conditions will have affordable access and cannot be denied and will not be overcharged. give them a chance. i don't know where you came from, but before we had any access before there was a lull to forbid insurance companies to charge outrageous price -- prices or people who hit their cap, you're sick for us to invest anymore into you. they would say, i don't want to be a burden to my family. when a person with a preexisting condition does not want to put their family in a financial position that could put them in bankruptcy. one of my illnesses could put my family in bankruptcy because i could not buy nor could i afford what they want for health
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insurance. that's what we did away with. that's where we're going back. that's all where we intervened so we don't go back to the dark ages many with that, mr. president, i hope that my colleagues on the republican side -- my friends on the republican side will reconsider this and let us move forward as a body to protect the people of mec. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. casey: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: thank you, mr. president. i want to rise to join with the remarks of the senator from west virginia who worked very hard to make sure that we had a resolution that would allow us to direct the senate legal counsel to intervene in the lawsuit. now, of course, the lawsuit is beyond the district court. we await what might happen in an appellate court, but the best way for anyone in this body to express their disagreement with the removal of the protections for those who might have a
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preexisting condition, if you believe that those protections should remain in law, remain the law of the land, as they are now, then you should, as a member of the house or the senate, even if you wanted to be in favor and have voted in favor of repealing the affordable care act, you could still argue that in the interest of preserving those protections without question, in the interest of providing certainty to not just tens of millions of americans but many millions more than that who have these protections in law right now, did not have those protections before the affordable care act, that if that's what you believe, you could very easily say, let's preserve them and make a different argument in this court case. file -- file a brief that would -- and try to intervene as you could in this case. for but some reason and here
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some people think you can have it both ways, to do television ads in campaigns or give speeches back home saying, oh, don't worry, i want to protect the -- i want to preserve, i should say, the protections for preexisting conditions but at the same time do nothing about it. so there's no -- there's no third way here. you're either in favor of those protections, maintaining in law the protections for those who have a preexisting condition or you're not. you're either for that or you're not. if you're for it, i think you're duty bound to take action to preserve it. right now these protections are at risk. they will be in greater jeopardy if an appellate court were to agree with the district court. so i think folks here have to make a decision. you're either for maintaining these protections which carries with it a responsibility to take action to make sure that those protections are in law -- are kept in law, remain as part of our law, or you have to go the
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other side which is you throw up your hands and say either i'm not for those protections or i'm not going to do anything about it. so you have to take action or not. and i think that's true of people in both party, both chambers. but when you consider what's at sake, in a state like pennsylvania, we have a huge portion of our population, more than three million people, who live in a rural -- would live in rural communities. 67 counties in pennsylvania, 48 of them are rural. a couple of years after the affordable care act passed, we saw that in pennsylvania at that time -- and this is only maybe two, three -- two years ago now. i'm sure the numbers haven't changed that much -- we had about 280,000 people who got their health care through the affordable care act but lived in those 48 counties. rural counties. of the 280,000, roughly, who got
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coverage, 180,000 of the 280,000 were in rural communities. so you have lots of folks in rural areas that are worried about the protection -- the protections they got because they were benefited by medicaid expansion. and the other -- the balance of those got their health care through the exchanges. so if you're in a rural community and you've got health care most recently through the exchanges or even if you had health care prior to 2010 or prior to the last several years, you have protections that you didn't have before. of course, in rural communities, you have in pennsylvania you have an even higher incidence in many cases of those who are -- have an opioid problem. so these health care decisions, these health care votes that we cast, these health care court cases have even greater significance in some rural
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communities, whether it's preexisting conditions protections, whether it's having the coverage of medicaid that allows you to get treatment and services for an opioid problem, or whether you're just dependent on health care because of your own health or that of a family member, especially children. mr. president, i'll just make a couple more points because i know we're limited in time. here's just some data on the impact of the affordable care act and what could happen in some of these communities in a state like pennsylvania that has a high significant rural population. since 2010, we're told in one study that -- since 201083% of -- 2010, 83% of rural hospitals have closed. 90% of these rural hospitals who closed have been in states that have not or had not as of that time period not expanded
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medicaid when the hospital closed. so we're talking about a court case that would in essence invalidate the ag a.c.a. we're talking about not just -- the affordable care act. we're not talking -- not just about health care loss. we're talking job loss and devastation. in our state we have something on the order of 25 counties that are rural counties where the number one or number two employer is a hospital. if that hospital is badly undermined, they can't make the margins work because of cuts to medicaid or the elimination of medicaid expansion as some around here want to do, not just cut it but eliminate it, you're going to have economic devastation in those communities in addition to health care devastation. the staff of the joint economic committee has estimated that the affordable care act was struck down which is the effect of this federal court case of just last
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week, 17 million people would lose coverage next year. 17 million people just in one -- just in one year. so what we should be doing around here in addition to urging a court or any court not to strike it down is to have bipartisan hearings for a long time. we need at least weeks of that if not longer on lots of ideas. because if there's one area or one place of consensus around here is health care costs for too many americans are too high. we've got to get costs down. and people in both parties have a lot of work to do on that. second thing that we hear a lot back home and all across the country is prescription drug costs, especially, are too high for too many families. neither party has done enough on that issue. we've got to get those costs down as well. so if we focused on the priorities of most americans which is not repealing this law, is not throwing out or ending medicaid expansion which helps
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with the opioid crisis and helps a lot of our rural communities especially, what we would do is focus on the priorities of the american people. get the cost of health care down and also get the cost of prescription drug cost down and deal with any other issues that have been brought to the table for those who care about improving our health care system. but if the american people see only a battle about one side wanting repeal and the other side working every day to try to stop that, we're not going to advance very far on their agenda. their agenda is not that fight. their agenda is protect the gains that we have, make sure people don't lose coverage, and make sure that a much larger portion of the population, virtually everyone you know, doesn't lose protections that were put into law a couple of years ago. if we do that and focus on those priorities, i think the american people would believe that we're
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beginning to do our job in both parties on health care, but the worst thing we can do is to go back to the days when someone with a preexisting condition was denied coverage or was charged a higher rate because of that preexisting condition. we don't want to go back to those dark days. we shouldinsist that we never re-- we should insist that we never reverse course on this issue. mr. president, i would yield the floor. mr. flake: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to immediate consideration of calendar number 393, s. 2644, i further ask that the committee-reported substitute amendment be agreed to, the bill as amended be reconsidered and read a third time and passed,
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and that the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: is there objection? the objection is heard. mr. flake: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: i rise today for the third time in the past two months to defend the integrity of our political process by defending the outgoing -- the ongoing investigation led by special counsel robert mueller. the continuity of this investigation is critical to upholding public trust in our institutions of government, due both to the substance of the investigation, the extent to which a foreign government was able to interfere in our political process, and the principle that no person, no person no matter how high the rank is above the law. the investigation has proved -- or produced results already, including the indictment of more than 12 russian nationals for
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interference in the 2016 election. it has also led to much knowledge about what was going on during the period of 2016 and beyond with regard to individuals here in the united states. we need to protect the independence of the special counsel and allow this crucial investigation and any like it in the future to run the course. this particular bill, s. 2644, the special counsel integrity -- or independence and integrity act was approved by a bipartisan vote of 2-1 in the judiciary committee, 14-7. we don't have many votes like that. the senator from new jersey will attest, in the judiciary committee. it has -- floor vote ever since. that is nine months without a vote on this bipartisan bill that came out of the judiciary committee.
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in a moment, i just asked a moment ago for unanimous consent to pass this legislation. it was objected to for the third time. now, i know that some of my republican colleagues have sincere objections to this bill. some of them believe that a president must be able to fire anyone, anyone within the executive branch at any time since the president is the head of it. i understand the constitutional arguments. i know that some of my colleagues hold them sincerely. i would respond that if this bill becomes law, the president still has a key role in overseeing the process. there's accountability to him, the constitution requires that there must be. under this act, the attorney general would still oversee the investigation, still be able to remove the special counsel for good cause so the special counsel would not be fully insulated from presidential control. the attorney general who oversees the special counsel still answers to the president.
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this legislation simply adds one layer of protection for the special counsel and makes his removal -- renewable to make sure that it's for sufficient cause and it maintains a significant degree of presidential control while protecting the special counsel investigations from being terminated by a president whom might feel that he or she is under increasing heat. this bipartisan request today is timely and necessary. just last month after the mid-term elections, for those of my colleagues who said throughout the year nobody is being fired, don't worry, nothing to see here, well, the day after the mid-term election the president forced his attorney general to resign after numerous public comments from the president that the a.g. should not have recused himself from the investigation, even though he was a key player in the 2016 campaign. it is clear that we need to put
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these protections in place and send this signal to the president. nobody is above the law. the truth must be told, whatever it is. i want to thank my colleagues on the judiciary committee, particularly senator coons and senator booker for pushing this legislation and to -- for insisting that it be considered on the senate floor and for being here today again. and with that i yield back. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. coons: mr. president, i'm proud to once again join the senators from arizona and from new jersey here on the floor to ask for a vote on the special counsel independence and integrity act. we have come three times now to ask for a vote, just a vote on this bipartisan legislation to protect the special counsel and support the rule of law. a bill which passed the senate judiciary committee by a vote of
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14-7, including with the support of chairman grassley to be considered on the floor. each time we've come here, there's been an objection from a republican colleague. each time we've heard a reason or an excuse, something like this legislation just isn't needed, the president is not imminently going to fire the special counsel. to those who believe this bill is still unnecessary, i could give a thorough survey of the landscape of recent days but let me simply summarize. there have been a whole series of filings and actions, developments in the mueller investigation that have made clear that the president or his national security advisor or his personal attorney lied to the f.b.i. or lied to the american people, misrepresented the scope and depth of the president's business contacts in russia during the campaign or misrepresented to the f.b.i. ongoing contacts with russians. this is an effective and ongoing
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federal investigation that must be allowed to reach its conclusion. meanwhile, the president continues to spread misinformation and undermine the investigation into russian attacks on our election. he recently suggested with no evidence that the special counsel and his team are bullying witnesses into lying about conclusion, tweeting, quote, the angry mueller gang of dems is viciously telling witnesses to lie about facts and they will get relief. i know many of us have begun to shrug our shoulders at the president's tweets and ignoring the ways in which his messages publicly undermine the rule of law or discredit and attack federal prosecutors. i know some members of this body have proven willing to dismiss each new piece of information the special counsel uncovers saying as if it is no big deal. folks, this is not politics as usual. this is not something we should be sweeping under the rug. this is about the integrity of
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our democracy, our national security, and the president of the united states. it is critical that this body demonstrate our ability to come together in a mature and responsible bipartisan way to do something about it. not to sit by and watch a po potential constitutional crisis barreling towards us and refuse to step up and act. our job as members of the senate sworn to uphold the constitution is to take reasonable, responsible, preventive action to avoid the sort of crisis we can see coming. i am so grateful to my colleagues, both republican and democrat -- senators graham and tillis, booker and grassley, feinstein and flake -- who have worked to craft this bill, to get it a hearing, to get it a vote, to get it to the floor. and yet i am so frustrated with those who continue to block the last step -- a vote on the
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floor. just last night we saw the broadest possible coalition of senators, from senator booker and senator lee to senator durbin and senator graham and senator grassley come to this floor and lead a successful final vote on criminal justice reform. if we can do that, overcoming decades of divisive politics on race in criminal justice, why can't we do this? this cannot wait. the moment to act is now. the american people deserve an explanation as to why we can't act on this most important point. before i yield the floor to my colleague from new jersey, i want to conclude with just a few words about my colleague and my friend, jeff flake. when we look back at the history of this time with the hindsight of history, it is my hope, it is my belief that senator flake will be recognized as someone who put country over party at a moment when it mattered. and he follows a long line of
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republicans whose mettle has been tested by the turmoil of their times -- wendell wilke, the republicans' nominee for president who agreed to support president roosevelt's controversial aid to send aid to britain at a controversial time in world war ii. without his support, the plan would have failed and f.d.r. called him a godsend 0 to our country. margaret chase smith who stood up to mccarthy. she was just a freshman. and, last, barry goldwater, also from arizona, who along with republican leaders, went to the white house in 1974 to make it clear to the president he had lost their support and needed to resign. i am a proud democrat, but i know that no party has a monopoly on courage or confidence. our system only 0 works when members of both parties take
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risk on behalf of us all. it is my hope that senator flake's example will inspire others in the congress ahead to come together and to meet the demands of our time. protecting the rule of law, protecting the investigation of the special counsel, taking up and passing this law is exactly one of those demands, to which he has stood up and for which i am grateful for his leadership. thank you, mr. president. with that, i yield my to my colleague from new jersey. mr. booker: mr. president, i want to give a lot of gratitude to my colleague from delaware, chris coons. he not only is with us on this call for a vote, a bill voted out of the judiciary committee in a bipartisan manner, he is also a cosponsor of this legislation and someone i have been proud to work w i want to thank my colleague, jeff flake, for putting himself so far out there in pushing for this legislation. and it is a consistent pattern
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with jeff flake. if you know him, you might know that he and i might disagreetion a lot of policy, but he is one of the people i've looked up to in the united states senate as someone who understands the relative of congress -- who understands the role of congress, that the powers of congress articulated by the constitution should be seen as sacrosanct and that the erosion of these powers or the surrendering of these powers to the executive undermines the very ideals of our constitution that our government should be one of checks and balances on power. i've seen him step forward and lead in the man he's doing today. i've seen him step forward when it came to war powers and the authorization of the use of force, speak forcefully in a bipartisan manner with another of my colleagues, tim kaine, in saying that, hey, we've got to have a system of checks and balances or the very foundations of this republic begin to be undermined.
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and so if you know his character, you know that he's on the senate floor because of his deep belief in this nation and not just today but for tomorrows to come that we must maintain healthy checks and balances on executive power and within our system of government. and so i'm grateful for him to come in his final hours as a united states senator still pushing this idea that there should be checks and balances, still pushing this idea that there is a bipartisan space to try to preserve the ideals of this republic, still pushing this ideal that no one, not a united states senator, a congressperson, not teen a president is above the laws of this land because in the united states of america we believe in the rule of law. and more than this we talk about the framers. but every generation of people that are in these seats in many ways are stewards of this
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republic. and what i respect about my colleague from arizona is that he takes that seriously. and something about past members in history who have understood that you need to not only make decisions for today, but you need to plan for tomorrow. and it is an axiom that i know all my colleagues on both sides of the aisle believe -- it is better to be prepared for a crisis and not have one than have a crisis and not be prepared. well, i am one to believe that we are coming perilously close to the precipice of our nation having a constitutional crisis. there is an investigation going on that is not a political attack. it is not a witch hunt, whatever may be said. we've already seen this investigation through a consensus of our intelligence community is investigating an tac on our nation.
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it is something that people from both parties have spoken about the importance of having an independent investigation. it is something that jeff sessions has said that we need to make sure that the investigation is independent and beyond reproach. that investigation has already yielded many indictments. it's yielded guilty pleas. and that investigation should be able to continue. now, there are some people that say, hey, there's no threat to that investigation. but i'm a big believer that if someone shows you who they are or tells you who they are, believe them. we have a president right now that is attacking this investigation, the very legitimacy of this very, is acting like this investigation shouldn't be going on at a so i believe that hey, it may not happen, we may not end up with a constitutional crisis, but if one comes, we should be prepared. and how are we to be prepared?
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not by some partisan radical idea. by a very sober, measured step that is embodied in the legislation wit we're coming for right now -- to have a modest check and balance hon a president's power to end an investigation, to dismiss an independent counsel. it is a modest step of judicial review. that could prevent not just a crisis that might happen next month, next year, but 20 years from now, 30 years from now, 50 years from now. it is in line with what this body has done in the past of providing a check and balance on executive power. and so we've called yet again for the third time for a vote and a third time we have not been granted a vote on the senate floor, or granted unanimous consent. mr. president, i'm grateful to be standing with my colleagues for the third time. my hope is, in the fashion we
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have seen on this floor of recent, that we can work together to ensure that we have a check and balance on presidential power, to ensure that the ideal of this nation of equal justice for all, to ensure that we can have a country where no one is above the law. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: mr. president, just to conclude, i thank my colleagues for their kind words, and i thank them for taking their jobs so seriously, that they would continue to do this. i would say, mr. president, to our president, this is not a witch hunt. russia attempted to interfere in our elections, and they will continue to make that attempt. we are seeking truth here, and
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that's what the special counsel is doing, and he needs to be protected. we need to be better prepared for future elections. that's what this is about. and as the senator from new jersey just said -- and this is based on the principle that no one -- no one, however high and mighty, whatever position they hold -- is above the law. with that, i yield back.
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the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. now, i return to the floor to conclude saying goodbye to members of our caucus who will not be returning to this chamber next year. last but certainly not least -- to me and to so many of us -- is my dear, dear friend, the senator from missouri -- as she says it -- claire mccaskill. it should come as no surprise to anyone that the senator from missouri mott found her way into politics. she got her start recallly, growing up in a family that actively involved in government
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and politics. clean air was not given the -- clair was not giften the option to avoid subjects of national game when she was seven years old, she was sent door-to-door on halloween saying, trick or treat, vote for j.f.k.. soon politics wasn't just a passion passed down but a passion of her own. in high school, clair launched a stealth campaign to become homecoming queen in the tradition of her school, the football team picked the winner. so claire befriended all the linemen doing small :15, arranging dates, knowing that there would be more of them than any other position. guess what? she won. not because she skated by on popularity, although she was always popular, but she put in the work. she was tenacious, she was tactical, qualities she'd take from high school politics into the politics of the wider and older world.
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that's how, as a democrat in a state already becoming more conservative during her youth, claire would go on to represent missouri at nearly every level of government. as a prosecutor, in the statehouse, as state auditor, and eventually for 12 amazingly wonderful and productive years as senator. now, i was chair of the democratic senate campaign committee in 2005. claire was just coming off a difficult loss in the governor's race, after which she, quote, draining a lot of red wine -- drank a lot of red wine and ate too many cook cheeks but her own admission. i had heard so much about her that i flew to london to meet with claire and her husband joe about a possible senate race. almost immediately i was struck by the force of her personality. she is awhile wind. as -- she is a whirlwind.
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her mother said, integrity, independence, and guts, that's what claire mccaskill is made. and everyone who meets claire can see that from the get-go. by the end of dinner, i was so eager for claire to run that i did something i almost never do -- i paid for dinner. and i've never been more glad that i did. because claire became an exceptional senator and one of my closest friends, not just here in the senate but in life. a moderate at heart, claire had a knack for finding compromise between our two parties. a theme among many of our departed -- departing members. she worked across the aisle with senator collins to protect seniors from financial scams. she worked to fight for victims of opioid addiction, working with republicans and taking on the big pharmaceutical companies that were funneling money to organizations to promote their
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own dangerous products. and in the tradition of her political idol, harry truman, she took a seat son the armed services committee and fought fiercely for our veterans and our military. her hearings on the waste, fraud, abuse of military contractors ushered in long overdue reforms of military contracting, increasing transparency and accountability. almost every issue that clare got her teeth into, she never let go and always succeeded. she was amazing, amazing as a senator. and of course clare wasn't just pragmatic. one of the reasons we love her, she's both pragmatic and principled and combines those two in a unique way. i'll never forget the vote on dreamers. clare was seated in a seat back there. she was a more junior member. she knew that voting to bring the dreamers home to a pathway
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to citizenship and living here in america could mean the end of her election. she said it to me me and she said i cannot vote against them. and we walked down the aisle together, tears streaming down her cheeks. and of course she voted yes. the senate has its fair share of dealmakers. it has its fair share of principled fighters as well. but rarely, rarely, rarely is a senator so adept at both. that is our clare -- clare mccaskill. we'll miss far more of course than claire the senator. so many of us will miss the person. when she has something to say, she does not hold back. believe me, i know. i've been called just about every name in the book by claire mccaskill and each time it
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rang true, but i didn't mind it because it was done with a desire to make me better and do a better job. and i can say this, whatever job i'm doing here as leader is in significant part because of claire mccaskill's loving but pointed criticisms. i'll miss them so much. she's amazing. i'm not the only one she criticized and i'm not the only one she criticized using the words that came right to her mouth. they say they used to keep a square jaw on her desk in the missouri legislature. i'd be surprised that they didn't keep a whole few and lined up the whole desk with them. but as much as claire can sometimes criticize you in a pointed way, she can also make you laugh. she said her father insisted on two things: that she learn the rules of football and how to tell a good joke. that she did. and more than that, she can tell a good joke at her own
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expense. that's just one of many reasons she was so well liked in this chamber by democrats and republicans. it's rare you can find someone who speaks her mind so directly and yet be so loved. that's one of the many uniquenesses of this wonderful lady, claire mccaskill. and i'm not the only one who felt that way. after the farewell address in this chamber, the line of senators to say a few words about claire was long and it wasn't just on our side of the aisle. now i could go on about senator mccaskill for quite a while, but i'm sure she's already telling me that i'm getting long-winded. so let me close with this, when claire was nine years old, her father took her to the annual jackson day dinner in springfield, missouri, to hear the big political speeches that
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year. after all this was a famous venue that hosted the giants of american politics. william jennings bryant, harry truman, j.f.k. well, guess who delivered closing address at the jackson day dinner this year? claire mccaskill, whose impact on her state and her country as well as on the senate and on so many of us belongs in the same category as those distinguished names and will live on just as long. claire, we are going to miss you so. i will, the senate will, missouri will, america will. just i wish you and joe and your wonderful family all the happiness in your next endeavors. i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. kyl: mr. president, i am informed that it is necessary for me to insert into the record of proceedings, the resignation letter that i sent to governor doug ducey of arizona on december 12, 2018, and therefore, i ask unanimous consent that this letter be included in the record at this point. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kyl: thank you. mr. president, the other thing i'd like to do this afternoon is to very briefly report to my colleagues and to constituents back home on some things that my predecessor, senator mccain, was working on at the time of his untimely death and which his staff and i have continued to work on, and in several cases have brought to successful conclusion. i want people to know about
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these items and what we have been able to accomplish. i first want to thank the members of his staff who wanted to stay in the service of the government of the state of arizona and were willing to take a position in my office, as a result of which we were able to really have a seamless transition from some of the things that senator mccain was working on and my ability to continue to do so. one of the first things of which i was aware but not really aware of the depth that he had taken it is a new relationship in the state of arizona between the three pillars representing the defense establishment in our country and specifically in the state of arizona. these are the first of our military installations in arizona is blessed to have a lot of military installations. secondly, the defense industries -- and again, arizona is the home to many important defense industries
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serving all of our branches of the military. and finally, the communities that support both of those elements of our establishment. as a result, i had the opportunity to meet throughout the state with the groups that senator mccain had helped to nurture and to create, in particular the group in tucson and southern arizona, including yuma, called the southern arizona defense alliance in flagstaff and northern arizona, the northern arizona military affairs council. and in central maricopa county and the phoenix environs, the mesa industry and defense council. meeting with the representatives of all three components of our military society and hearing about the successes they had had in working with each other and in providing a real synergy that
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benefited them all, it just reminded me again of how important senator mccain's leadership was to the state of arizona and to our national security. and i wanted to mention that today and to let everyone know that i will be passing on to my successor the advice that these councils continue to need to be supported and nurtured by the senators from the state of arizona as well as the members of the house of representatives. a second thing that john mccain was involved in as part of the, as his -- part of his activities as chairman of the senate armed services committee was the creation a couple years ago in the defense authorization bill of a national commission to advise the secretary of defense on the strategy for the united states and to report back to congress and specifically the armed services committee on our
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conclusions. this bill created a national defense strategy commission comprised of 12 members, three of whom were appointed by the chairman and the ranking member each of the senate armed services committee and the house armed services committee. i was privileged to have been appointed by senator mccain to serve on that commission, and i did for approximately a year. and my service there ended as we finished our report before it was signed while tass -- it was still being edited, he passed away and i was appointed to serve in his stead. so i've had the unique opportunity both to write the report and then be a member of the armed services committee on which he sat to receive the report and to question the chairman -- the two cochairmen of that commission report,
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the importance of this commission report reflects, i think, what senator mccain hoped to achieve, and that is a bipartisan consensus, a unanimous report which both provides advice to the secretary of defense and will provide advice to the, both the house and senate. as i said, there's already been a hearing before the senate armed services committee and i know the house committee is going to invite members of the commission to brief it as well. it is my hope that the recommendations of this bipartisan commission will be followed by the congress and by the president and the secretary of defense because i think that they represent some very strong conclusions about what's necessary to enhance our national security. the third thing that senator mccain wanted to do as chairman of the armed services committee was to hold a series of hearings or briefings before the committee that focused on the advances in technology that were having and can have an
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important impact on our national security. in many cases on the kinds of things that we acquire in support of our military superiority. things like hypersonics and artificial intelligence, super advanced computing, cyber technology and the like. after speaking with the chairman of the senate armed services committee, now senator inhofe, it is mile understanding that he in fact -- it is my understanding that he in fact has a plan to carry out this legacy of senator mccain and to hold a series of combreeftions -- briefings early next year on these technological issues so our members will be better able to evaluate the kinds of things that will help our military have superiority in the future, and i'm happy to have some small part to play in advancing that. there are a couple more specific things that senator mccain didn't work on but which bear his name, and i wanted to
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mention one. i cosponsored and helped secure passage of senate bill 728, a bill to hem reauthorize the morris k. udall and stuart l. udall foundation at the university of arizona. this was something that senator mccain helped to create and to foster throughout his career. but i am also pleased to announce that this legislation names the foundation's environmental conflict resolution center after the late senator john mccain. and i'm pleased to make that announcement here. there is one other item that we're continuing to try to accomplish in senator mccain's name. we're not across the finish line yet but we hope to get there, and that is called the 21st century conservation bill act. this bill carries the name of senator mccain and it was one of his favorite projects which expands volunteerism in our national parks and public lands. mr. president, i can tell you that while john mccain came to
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arizona having lived in many other places of the world and in the united states, primarily as a result of his service in the united states navy, he acquired a love for the state of arizona which is unequaled among all of us who have been there for a very long time. he loved the beauty of the state, the ruggedness of it, the incredible variety in the flora and fauna. and when i would visit john and cindy's home in the sedona area, i could always count on being taken on a hike around the perimeter of the property to show me all of the interesting things which he had discovered over the last several months including where the hawks lived and where the owl lived and where they found the rattlesnakes and all the other things that pleased him to be a part of that environment. so we're hopeful that we can get this service corps act passed if not in the latter part of this
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session, at least perhaps early next year. i just want my colleagues to know that though senator mccain passed away in the early part of his senate term, he was working on a lot of things that his staff and i wanted to continue to move forward, and i am just pleased that we have been able to move these items forward and wanted my colleagues to appreciate that as well as his friends and constituents in the state of arizona. so, mr. president, i thank my colleagues here who helped make some of these things possible and urge that they continue to focus on the one item of unfinished business that can perhaps be accomplished next year, and conclude by thanking the governor of the state of arizona for appointing me to serve for part of the remainder of senator mccain's term. it has been a great honor and privilege for me to again serve the people of the state of arizona, particularly to succeed my friend and colleague
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john mccain. i yield the floor, mr. president. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. warner: mr. president, i will be here on another matter in a moment, but i wanted to just add my thanks to the great work that senator kyl has done. i remember coming here as a freshman senator in -- early 2009, and jon kyl was one of the people who was kind enough to kind of take me in. we didn't always agree. i still remember a very famous battle over slots at national airport, but jon kyl's always been someone that i have
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enormous respect for. i think senators on both sides of the aisle have respect for him. we very much appreciate his willingness to come back into service, fulfilling part of the tenure of his dear friend, senator mccain, and i know enough about jon kyl to know that, shall i say, his livelihood prior to coming back into the senate was quite good, and his willingness to give up on that to serve arizona and the country is a real tribute to the individual and the patriot he is, and we will all miss him and wish him all the best going forward. the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. burr: mr. president, i want to add my thanks to my colleague from arizona. i came to speak on something else, and i will say this, that
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if there is one individual that when i got to the united states every day i have been here i have tried to emulate, it's jon kyl. he represented arizona well, but more importantly he represented the kyl name well. jon, we're grateful that you would come back for the short period. godspeed as you leave. mr. president, i rise today -- and it was my intent to request unanimous consent with my colleague, the vice chairman of the intelligence committee, for the senate to confirm bill evanina as the director of the national counterintelligence and security center. bill has served our nation for over 23 years, including service as a supervisory special agent and assistant section chief with the federal bureau of investigation. prior to joining the ncsc, bill served as the chief of counterespionage at the c.i.a. bill has served honorably as the director of n.s.c. since june of
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2014 before the position required senate confirmation necessitating a vote by the united states senate. so here's a guy who served for three and a half years. and we changed the statute that said this is a position that the senate needs to confirm in the future, and all of a sudden the same guy that has been there is now being held up. intelligence threats facing our nation are numerous, they are growing, and they are significant. bill is an experienced professional and understands the threats through real-world experience. we need a director who can ably lead our nation's counterintelligence security activities during a period of unprecedented threats. we need someone who can actively and effectively engage and educate the private sector on the threats, something bill has done time and time again. director evanina was unanimously approved by the senate select
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committee on intelligence in may, and it's time this body moved forward. we cannot continue to let politics or nongermane issues get in the way of confirming good people. i would ask this body to confirm bill evanina as director of national intelligence security center without further delay. i would yield to my vice chairman on the intel committee. the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. warner: let me join my friend, the chairman of the committee, and basically echo what he has said. bill evanina is a true professional. i have had a chance to work with him now for a number of years in my role on the intelligence committee and more recently as vice chair. let me just cite one example. outside of his lane, duty as required, bill has been a consistent voice raising concerns about the challenges
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and threats that are posed by china. as a matter of fact, the chairman and i have recently in in -- recently been in austin, and bill came down and gave one of the most powerful briefs that i have heard, which he has done a number of times for the committee and increasingly for the business community. talking in an honest, straightforward way about the security -- the security threats, the intellectual property theft, the host of concerns that our country is confronted with by china. bill evanina is one of those rare public certificate elephants who i don't think the chairman has pointed out that he received unanimous confirmation from the intelligence committee that there is any question of his -- his service, any question of his temperament, any question of his ability to do the job.
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no partisan challenges to him, as the chairman has mentioned. he has served in his current position for three and a half years. we do him and other intelligence pro formas a disservice when they are arbitrarily held up from confirmation, not because of a substantive issue that this individual may have performed or not performed, but because of a totally extraneous issue. it is my intent today along with my chair to ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed for a -- a unanimous consideration on the executive calendar. for getting bill permanently into this job. an individual who i am fearful that if we don't act on soon may decide to take his extraordinary professional skills and find
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much higher remuneration in the private sector rather than serving our country. i am not going to ask for that u.c. today in deference to one of our colleagues who has lodged an objection to the nomination. it's my hope again that before the end of this session the chairman and i may be able to come down one more time and make this request. i would implore that the member who has a challenge against mr. evanina -- again, not based on his performance, not based on his politics, not based on any professionalism he brings to this job, my hope is that that member will reflect and decide to remove this extraneous objection and allow this great professional to be confirmed to a position that he's already served in for the last three and a half years. i yield back.
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: mr. president, i want to take a moment to salute my colleagues who are departing the senate at the conclusion of the 115th congress. bob corker of tennessee, jeff flake of arizona, orrin hatch of utah, heidi heitkamp of north dakota, dean heller of nevada, joe donnelly of indiana, claire mccaskill of missouri, bill nelson of florida, and jon kyl of arizona. every one of these members has dedicated themselves to serving their constituents, their states, and our country. the institution of the senate and the nation as a whole are stronger because of their service and commitment. i have been privileged to serve with each and every one of them and want to spend a few moments thanking each of them for their wisdom and experience they have brought to their work and for their friendship. bob corker and i worked on many foreign policy matters together given my role as ranking member on the armed services committee
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and his ace chairman of the foreign relations committee. i have appreciated bob's willingness to reach across the aisle in an attempt to remove barriers to gain bipartisan cooperation on bills and other policy matters. i also appreciate how much bob was willing to speak his mind and stand up to administrations of his party and of my party over the last several years, particularly with respect to his very astute analysis of the situation with russia and other major issues confronting the united states today. he has long focused on international development and human rights, causes that have been glad to support him, including a joint resolution supporting a diplomatic solution in yemen and condemning the murder of jamal khashoggi, promoting economic growth and developing countries through u.s. business investment and the recently enacted build act and consistently fighting to end
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modern slavery. we also served together on the banking, housing, and urban affairs committee. here, too, he spent his time reaching across the aisle, trying to find constructive solutions and informing our work on issues ranging from financial system reforms to housing finance. we will miss his bipartisan spirit, and i wish bob only the best as he leaves the senate. i have also had the privilege and pleasure to join with jeff flake at many moments. last week we were at an event together honoring the late senator john mccain. he reminisced about the times he worked with john on key policies that aim to put our country over party politics. he worked hard to resolve tough issues like immigration reform, protecting the special counsel investigation. and his preferred route for addressing these challenges was not to increase the heated rhetoric but to turn down the volume so that all sides could be heard and so the senate could try to move forward in a rational and bipartisan way.
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just as with bob corker, jeff's approach will be missed in this body. i hope others on each side of the aisle recognize what they have done and take up their mantle. orrin hatch has long served the people of utah with distinction as chairman of three committees -- finance, judiciary, and what was then called the labor committee, now the help committee. he worked across the aisle to pass landmark laws, often with his friend, senator ted kennedy. he was triewmental in -- instrumental in passing critical laws like expanding access to health care for children through the chip program and providing help to those suffering from hiv-aids through the ryan white care act. i was pleased to have the opportunity to work with him in 2005, 2010, and 2015 to reauthorize the stem cell therapeutic and research act, to build upon and improve the national marrow donor program and the national cord blood
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inventory to better treat diseases and expand access to lifesaving therapies. most recently, he helped enact the music modernization act which i know meant a lot to him, given his own musical interest and talent. he ends his service here as the senate's pro tempore. i wish him health and happiness in his retirement. i think, though, that his retirement will be just as active as his days here in the united states senate, given his personality and also given his determination to serve wherever he is. heidi heitkamp beat the odds to get here. a breast cancer survivor. the lesson she learned from that experience was to use what shiem hea has been given for good and noble purposes, and she chose for good or for bad to come to the united states senate and has served a noble purpose with noble actions. we are so grateful that she did. heidi has been a tireless
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champion of north dakota throughout her time in the senate. she worked hard to advance opportunities for native americans and veterans, to boost funding for flood protection, and to secure the northern border, to name just a few. she and i worked together on the banking, housing, and urban affairs committee. most recently, i was particularly appreciative of her insight on proxy access and her support for my legislation on this matter, s. 3614, the corporate governance fairness act. heidi has also been a relentless advocate for a functioning export-import bank, an issue critical to many north dakotans. her voice and insight will be missed on this issue and so many others that come before the banking committee. in addition, over the last two years, heidi has taken on the issue of maternal mortality rates in our country. more women in the united states die from pregnancy-related complications than in most other developed nations, and the number of maternal deaths is increasing. this has impacted so many moms
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and families in north dakota and across the country. heidi has worked across the aisle to put forth solutions. in the coming days, we expect president trump to sign into law her legislation which i was privileged to cosponsor to help address this issue. i salute her and wish her the best. dean heller and i worked together with a great deal of energy and commitment when both of our states and our nation was in deep crisis in the aftermath of the great recession. nevada and rhode island took turns having the sad distinction of the highest unemployment levels in the country. we worked to ensure extension of emergency unemployment assistance in order to provide relief to americans who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. our work together was of great importance, and i wish him the best in all his future endeavors. now i want to turn my attention to three members i had the privilege to work with and serve with on the armed services
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committee. joe donnelly has been the ranking member of the strategic forces subcommittee. he chose this position because of the navy's installation in indiana called the naval surface warfare center crane. this installation serves as the primary engineering center for the navy's strategic systems program, which manages our fleet of ballistic missile weapons systems. i had the chance to join joe on a visit and was most impressed with the capabilities but more impressed with his tireless efforts to ensure that this facility and indeed all of indiana had the very best. in addition to ensuring our men and women in uniform have the resources and tools they need, like those manufactured at crane, joe has always been concerned about caring for veterans and is a well known advocate for suicide prevention programs. indeed, it was his legislation more than any others that helped establish programs to assist veterans and to assist active duty personnel who are coping
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with suicidal tendencies. that was something joe did with great passion and great commitment and great success. joe assumed the seat that senator richard lugar previously held and carried on the legacy of senator lugar's cooperative threat reduction program into the future, which today continues to secure stocks of nuclear, chemical, and biological agents around the world. his work on reducing stockpiles of these dangerous weapons is a critical component of making the world safer for generations to come. joe donnelly has done great work here and i wish him well. he is a gentleman and someone i admire and respect immensely. i've also been extremely proud to serve alongside claire mccaskill on the armed services committee. claire has been a leader of the senate effort to prevent and respond to sexual assaults in our military. she was a principal cosponsor of the victims protection act, a bipartisan that represents a
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substantial leap forward in preventing and responding to sexual assaults in the military and is a testament to claire's determination and hard work that these laws are in place but also she's the first to recognize that our work is not done. she was continually involved in ensuring that what legislative initiative we passed were actually implemented and that's an ongoing work and claire's efforts have given us a strong foundation to continue those efforts. in addition to the victims protection act, claire led the effort to reform management of arlington national cemetery to address significant problems with burial of service members and help to establish a single agency responsible for p.o.w., m.i.a. recovery and accounting efforts. claire has also worked tirelessly to rein in wasteful contracting practices, following in the footsteps of another missouri senator and one of her political heroes, president harry s. truman. claire had been a steadfast
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advocate for oversight flout her -- throughout her career and worked to root out waste and accountability has made a difference in how effective the government works for the american people. again, i wish her well in the future and know it will be a future that is also committed to service to others. bill nelson has been a close and valued colleague for many years in the armed services committee. he's the only senator to have flown in space and has, as a result, been our acknowledged expert to both republicans and democrats on matters pertaining to space. his knowledge to military and civilian space issues was particularly important during our debate on replacing the russian rd-180 rocket engine which is used in a number of our national security launches with the u.s. variant. that debate along with his leadership on nasa reauthorization legislation has introduced competition for space launch through a wide array of new companies. as a nation, we are much better
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off for his efforts. because of senator nelson's leadership, we now have a vibrant and entrepreneurial launch and satellite industry that reaches well outside the traditional security realm and is lowering the cost of access to space. recently, he took on the cyber mission as the ranking member on the cybersecurity subcommittee. his steady hand was integral in guiding this new subcommittee during a time in which we face countless cyber threats. we will miss his knowledge and leadership as we debate pressing issues of our national security in the next congress and congresses to come. he has also done able work as the lead democrat on the commerce committee fighting for consumers and as a strong advocate for stricter gun control legislation. we worked together on the 3-d gun safety act in 2018 and the extreme risk protection order and violence protection act. i also want to thank him for his leadership in enacting the military lending act in 2006
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which caps the annual interest rate for an extension of consumer credit for a service member or his or her dependents at 36%. because of his efforts, service members and their families have strong consumer protections that defend them against unscrupulous lenders who unpatriotically prey upon them while they are selflessly and courageously defending our nation. he has done a remarkable job because this legislation truly does protect our protectors, those men and women who serve overseas so they are not taken advantage of here back at home. and i've enjoyed our time serving together and wish him the best as he goes forward. he is a great american. finally, i'd like to recognize senator jon kyl and thank jon for his willingness to serve again following the passing of senator john mccain. i had the privilege of serving with him in his prior service in
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the united states senate. he served for many years in the republican leadership, including as minority whip. he was also a long-standing member of the finance committee. i was not on this committee but given my advocacy for extending unemployment insurance for which there was a critical need at the time, i did have a chance to serve with him on the conference committee for the middle class tax relief and job creation act of 2012. it was a pleasure to serve with him. he is a man of principle, a man of great decency, dignity, someone who has honored the senate with his service, honored arizona with his service, and makes us all very proud to have known him. it was indeed a privilege to serve briefly, all too briefly with him as a member of the armed services committee. i would like to thank him for his service, wish him well as he leaves this body once more, and to all my colleagues, to give them my greatest respect and admiration for their service to their states, to the united states senate, and to the united states of america.
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with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. a senator: my friend from nebraska, senator sasse tells me he has remarks that will take approximately two minutes. mr. wicker: i have remarks that will follow that will take somewhat longer thatten two minutes. i ask -- than it would minutes. i have unanimous consent that senator sasse be allowed to speak before me and i might speak afterwards for such time as i might consume. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the senator from nebraska. mr. sasse: mr. president, thank you to the senator from mississippi for yielding to me. mr. president, i rise to highlight the work of some truly impressive high school students. in september to celebrate constitution day, my office offered a challenge to high schoolers in my state to submit essays describing the relationship it the declaration of independence and the constitution. we received contributions from nebraska from across nebraska from students in public, private, and home schools. today i'm pleased to announce the three winners.
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ingrid william soj from logan senior high school in the first congressional district. patrick collins from the a.p. u.s. history class at mount michael. ben in the second district, and kate piper from the nebraska christian school in central city and the third congressional district and the lessons that these three nebraska students have to teach us are enduringly relevant not only for other high schoolers but also even in this body today. i would like to read very briefly from each of the three essays. ingrid williamson writes, the constitution was put in place so that the rights and liberties laid out in the declaration of independence could be enforced. it puts limits on the government so that the government cannot infringe on the rights of the people. it gives the new government the power to guarantee the liberty of all the people and both functions are tied directly to the declaration. close quote. her essay katie wrerks the founding fathers adopted a humble posture to both their creator and a great human. they understood they did not
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possess the power to redefine the rights of man. rather, their role was to defend, discover, and reveal those rights for the citizens. the constitution's goal is to protect the inalienable rights of every individual image bearer that the declaration of independence laid out. finally in his essay, patrick collins referenced abraham lincoln and declared the constitution is the silver frame that protects the golden apple of the declaration of independence. he continued, and thus the constitution is indeed a structural embodiment of those famous truths which we then hold and which we now hold to be self-evident. close quote. i'm grateful to receive so many great essays from students across nebraska. i thank them for their work and it's clear to me that not only their classmates but washington can learn schoolhouse rock civics from high schoolkids. with that i would like to congratulate ingrid, kate, and patrick and ask unanimous consent to enter their full
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essays into the congressional record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sasse: thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. wicker: mr. president, yesterday the government of guatemala took a decisive step toward regaining sovereignty. guatemala revoked the visas of and deported 11 u.n. personnel working for the international commission against impunity in guatemala, better known by its spanish acronym. chartered in 2006 to help the guatemalan state fight corruption, it had morphed into a modern day united nations pro counsel selectively administering justice and abusing power in ways never intended. voices on the political left both here and overseas will no doubt decry the decision by the duly constituted government of guatemala. but i take the floor of the united states senate this afternoon to state plainly my emphatic approval of this action
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by our guatemalan friends. prior to yesterday's action, guatemalan president jimmy morales had previously announced that the mandate would not be renewed after september 3 of next year. the president's decision marks a logical and welcome step toward ending csic's presence in guatemala. an independent country has the right to decide if and under what terms a supr anational institution can administer justice within its borders. it was never meant to be permanent and no country could accept an unending infringement on its sovereignty. certainly we in the united states would never consent to having an international body accountable to no one run our judicial system here. our guatemalan friends have determined that it is time for
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csic to leave and they have a sovereign right to make that decision. the initial reasons behind the presence in guatemala cannot be disputed. its government was in ruins from a decades-long civil war. criminal enterprises colluded with politicians. military officers, and other government officials to bribe, cheat, and steal. mafias with deep tentacles into the state acted with such impunity that guatemala felt compelled to ask for outside help. in 2006, guatemala and the united nations signed an agreement meant to support, strengthen and assist guatemalan institutions responsible for investigating crimes committed by so-called illegal security groups and clandestined security organizations. although scsic enjoys complete
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functional assistance, it must discharge its mandate in accordance with guatemalan law and the provisions of the constitution. regrettably this proviso has not been followed. despite noble goals, it has become apparent that csic is not being held accountable to either guatemalan law or the united nations. as the largest financial contributor to the united nations, the united states has an interest in investigating the credible allegations that csic was grossly overstepping its mandate. after all, the american taxpayers were largely financing this enterprise. the questionable practice of csic and its unelected leader have been reported in our national papers. "the wall street journals," mary o grady has been a close observer of colombian jurist
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elon value less qez who serves as the commissioner. ms. o'gradyy states under his leadership, there's strong evidence that csic routinely throughouts the rule of law and tramples civil liberties in violation of the guatemalan constitution. his methods cannot be supported by a republic that pledges allegiance to transparency and human rights. end of quote. powerful institutions have a tendency to amass more powers to themselves and stretch their authority far beyond their legal mandates. even its most strident supporters have acknowledged that csig now essentially answers to no one and needs to be reformed. nowhere is this contention better supported than csig-backed persecution of the bit cove family on behalf of the russian government. for all its flaws which are


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