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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  March 12, 2019 2:15pm-7:09pm EDT

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mr. grassley: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask that the calling of the quorum be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: i recently reintroduced the accountability
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through electronic verification act in this congress as i have in previous congresses. this commonsense bill would require all employers to use e-verify programs, which in turn would ensure that they are employing nothing but a legal workforce. as most americans have realized, the immigration debate here in the congress, today and for a long time, has become highly partisan, and obviously then controversial. of course, worst of all, then, it's become completely unproductive. i believe that there's a sliver of hope, however, and that is through the passage of an e-verify program that makes e-verify mandatory.
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whether you're a democrat or a republican, whether you're for open borders or you want secure borders, we all ought to agree that enforcing the law and protecting americans is a bipartisan goal. in 1986, the immigration reform and control act made it, for the first time, a federal crime to employ undocumented workers. ten years later, in 1996, congress created a new tool to verify employment eligibility known as e-verify. e-verify is a voluntary program today, giving employers a web-based tool to verify the
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identity and employment of new employees. and -- meaning the eligibility of those new employees. i worked to renew and expand the program for use in all 50 states and to allow for information sharing between federal agenci agencies, including the department of homeland security. participating employers then tap into a user friendly free electronic system that cross matches documents provided by employees on their i-9 forms with federal records that are available to show the u.s. citizenship and immigration services, the social security administration, and the department of homeland security.
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so you make comparisons of records that a worker applying for a job can be compared with government records to know whether somebody is legally in the country. today e-verify provides instant verification for more than 750,000 employers and businesses all across america. in fact, my office because i hire employees that the taxpayers pay for but i'm responsible for their employment, my senate office uses e-verify when hiring our staff. and i have found it to be quick and easy to use. at my annual 99-county meetings that i have throughout iowa, i regularly hear about the growing
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economy, rising wages, and the vitality of main streets. iowa now ranks first in the nation for the lowest level of unemployment. that also means there are growing challenges for employers in my state to hire the workforce needed to grow and expand. and i bet a lot of my colleagues hear that in their respective states as well. we need to make sure hiring practices don't harm u.s. workers or those authorized to work in the united states. that's why i reintroduced the bill i announced in the first words of my speech today, the accountability through electronic verification bill. this legislation will help businesses comply with immigration laws by certifying the legal status of their workforce.
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the bill would permanently authorize the e-verify program and require employers to use the program to determine worker eligibility. it would then make every employer have to use it except as contrasted for the last couple of decades on a voluntary basis. for decades the e-verify has served as a proven tool for employers that want to use it. it's helped to reduce incentives for illegal immigration and safeguard job opportunities for americans and other legal workers. expanding the system to every workplace will improve accountability for all businesses and take a very -- another very important step toward putting american workers first.
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current law requires all contractors doing work for the federal government to use e-verify repeating for a third time now the mandatory aspect of this compared to the voluntary aspect of the present law. states that have passed laws mandating the use of e-verify also may require employers to participate, for example, as a condition of business licensing. with low unemployment across the country and with iowa leading the way, policymakers have a responsibility to ensure the growing economy has the workforce that it needs to continue to do the growth of the last few years. as a former chairman of the
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senate judiciary committee, i worked extensively to protect the integrity of employment visas and work permits for foreign workers. a top priority must be to ensure immigration policies aren't displacing american workers or depressing wages. making e-verify a permanent and mandatory requirement for all u.s. employers will bring across-the-board certainty to hiring practices throughout our country. certifying the legal status for prospective hires makes common sense and having in place the tools at one's fingerprints makes it a single, convenient solution. e-verify is a proven tool to encourage legal immigrants to apply for unfilled jobs and to
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deter illegal immigration and human trafficking. in addition to making e-verify permanent and mandatory within one year of enactment, my bill would increase penalties for employers who illegally hire workers unauthorized to work in our country. the bill would also require employers to check the status of all current employees within one year using e-verify system and terminate employment of those found unauthorized to work in the united states. this bill establishes a demonstration project in rural areas without internet capabilities to assist small businesses. finally, the bill would require the social security administration to improve its
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efforts to detect identity theft using social security numbers. expanding e-verify will help restore integrity and trust in our nation's immigration system by curbing the incentives for hiring persons unauthorized to work in america. i was pleased to hear that my colleague now chairman graham of the judiciary committee highlight the benefits of e-verify in a hearing held last week. he's right, nation e-verify would go a long way to relieve concerns about illegal immigration and workforce displacement. so let me repeat. this bill would not change
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immigration law. all it does is ensure that businesses are complying with existing federal law through a quick, cost efficient, and proven online method of proving that people are legally in the country and legally able to work here. it is a simple first step towards tackling larger issues within immigration. in other words, bringing credibility to our immigration system where credibility has been lost because for the last 20 or 25 years, we in congress have been -- we in congress have been telling the american people we're getting to control the border. and only people could come here illegally. and we haven't done it. if we're going to deal with the issues like what do you do with
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the 10 million or 11 million people that are unauthorized to live and unauthorized to work in america. some people say well, you're going to load them up and get them out of the country. but that isn't realistic. it wouldn't be humanitarian. but to deal with that issue, we've got to have credibility for the whole immigration system. and e-verify will help that along with everything we're doing to control the borders. and we've got to do more to control the borders. so this is again for repeat simply a first step to tackling larger issues within immigration. and best of all, it has the support of the american people. a recent poll showed that mandatory e-verify enjoys widespread support from voters. 74% of all voters polled support
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mandatory e-verify. in fact, the support is very bipartisan. the poll showed roughly 55% of the democrat, 78% of the independents, and nearly 91% of americans support the idea of e-verify. support for nationwide e-verify isn't just nonpartisan. it's supported by americans across all ethnic boundaries. 58% of hispanic voters, 52% of black voters, 74% of asian voters polled all support e-verify. i'll close with this. perhaps it's time that congress in both parties take a very deep breath and listen to the american people instead of to our own echo chambers.
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before we discuss expanding guest worker programs or discuss comprehensive immigration reform let's first codify, e-verify, and restore the american people's trust in our immigration system. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. jones: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. jones: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise today to talk about something that quite frankly i find to be completely abhorrent, and that is the shortchanging of our nation's military widows when it comes to survivor benefits that they paid for and earned. it's something that i was dismayed to learn about that is happening to some 65,000 surviving spouses, including more than 2,000 alabamians. of american military service members who were killed in action who died as a result of service-connected causes. after suffering the loss of a
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loved one, military widows and their families can find themselves unexpectedly losing out on vital survivor benefits that they had planned to receive in these tragic circumstances. that's because under current law surviving spouses are entitled to receive v.a. dependency indemnity compensation benefits or what is known as d.i.c. benefits. but some families go a step further. like many families in the private sector, many go a step further by voluntarily paying into the defense department's survivors benefits plan, which acts like an additional life insurance policy. again, they're entitled to the d.i.c. benefits, but they pay for additional coverage should there be a tragic accident or tragic accident, it acts like a surviving additional life insurance policy. that policy is something these families pay into voluntarily.
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and like any other life insurance plan, you or i might buy, they expect to get benefits. from those who are entitled to receive these benefits from both programs, they are subject to what's been known as the widow's tax. that is only for folks who are getting benefits from both programs, d.i.c. and the surviving benefits. because our law prohibits widows from receiving their full benefits from both programs. that's the widow's taxes tax. instead the ainto the is prorated because their d.i.c. payment is subtracted from it. new england don't get the d. -- they don't get the full benefit of both programs when one gets subtracted from the other. simply put, it is really a way for the federal government to save a few bucks by simply ripping off military widows.
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-- whose families paid extra to receive these additional benefits. voluntarily paid extra to receive these benefits. and this isn't just a problem facing active duty families. it's far bigger, folks, because it impacts anyone who has a service-connected death. to put that in context, in alabama alone, there are over 60,000 department of defense retirees whose families could be impacted by the widows tax if the veteran were to pass from a service-connected reason. now, i understand that we've got to be careful stewards of taxpayer dollars. i am fully aware of that. but give me a break when it comes to military spouses and widows. this is a benefit that families paid for out of their own pockets. if they're not getting the money, it begs the question -- who is?
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no surviving spouse should be faced with this kind of unexpected and completely unfair cut to the benefits they ought to be able to count on in these heartbreaking circumstances. no surviving spouse should have to fight for what their families are owed in the wake of a tragedy family. and again, this is what they're owed. this is the things that they have paid for in more ways than one. no surviving spouse should have to mount a massive lobbying effort in the capital of the united states of this great country to get folks to understand that this is wrong and we need to fix it. every year there is a campaign to fix this program, and yet it doesn't get done. instead these families should be focusing on helping their families begin to heal and find strength. they should be given the space and time to grieve. it is an absolute shame that this is even a problem that we
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need to address. so that's why i've introduced bipartisan legislation with several of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. senator collins, tester, crapo, and 31 others to repeal the law that prevents these families from receiving their just due. the military widows tax elimination act of 2019 reflects our belief that people who put their lives on the line for our country deserve to know that their families will be taken care of if something, god forbid, ever happens to them. our bill has support from the gold star wives of america, the v.f.w., the military officers association of america, the national military family association, the tragedy assistance programs for survivors, and so many others. in fact, some of the most
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dedicated activists from the gold star wives are watching today from the gallery right now, including crystal weenum, harriet boyden and donna elliott. i want to thank them for contributions to our country. this legislation has been introduced in previous sessions of congress but yet to pass in large part because of concern about the cost. while, as i said, i certainly understand that that there is going to be a cost associated with this. we are talking about a benefits plan that these families paid for on their own accord. it is their money that went into this fund, not money of taxpayers, not money that is appropriated every year. it is their money, and they deserve to get it back. i think we can all agree that ending the widows tax is the right thing to do for our military families. so why don't we finally get it
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done in this, the 116th congress. let's show our troops and their families that we support them not just in word but in deed. let's show these surviving spouses and their children that we stand with them long after their loved ones have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country and long after we know that they too have made a sacrifice in the name of this country. let's right this wrong and finally pass, finally pass the military widows tax elimination act. i urge my colleagues to do the right thing. it is never ever too late to do it. even though this has been tried before, it is never ever too late to do the right thing and support this bill. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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mr. president, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk should call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: i request the quorum call be eviscerated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lankford: mr. president, china is no doubt a communist country. it's also the largest population on earth, which means it's the largest consumer market on earth. it's a growing economy, though it's had a significant slowdown in the previous couple of years. but it's a $400 billion market for the united states currently in our trade, and it's a significant place of trade dealing with agriculture particularly. we have a lot of issues and differences with china, but we should be able to work out those differences long term as we do with every other nation. we've got to be able to resolve some of these things, and i'm proud that the administration is full force taking on the issue of china. every administration over the past couple of decades has tried
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to be able to work out some sort of ongoing conversation with china in trade, and all of them have been successful some, but with significant issues still prevailing. this administration has had a singular focus on trade on dealing with china in trying to resolve those issues with them, and i hope it is successful long term. but i hope that we would be very specific in how we actually handle that strategy, that at the end of it we're still opening trading and we're reducing some of those barriers. it is a communist country. it doesn't always play by the rules. it also uses some of the rules to its own advantage in ways that's unlike any other country. for instance, when they joined the w.t.o., the world trade organization, they self-declared themselves as a quote, end quote, developing nation. developing nations are able to waive a lot of world trade organization rules because they're developing. may i remind this body that china is the second-largest economy in the world, second
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only to ours. they're not a developing nation. but they've used the rules of w.t.o. to be able to call themselves developing to not have to live up to an international standard of basic trade. on march 22 of 2018, president trump signed a memorandum of action by the united states related to what's called a 301 investigation. they're targeting what the white house called economic aggression from china. let me give you some specifics of that. china uses joint venture requirements on any foreign investment that they want to have ownership in those countries actually doing business there. they put pressure on technology firms to be able to transfer their technology to china if they're going to actually sell to china. the result of that is they may not take the product that is manufactured there, those original companies sell back to the united states, but they'll take that information and then actually sell to other parts of the world from that stolen
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information from a technology transfer. it is akin to that which a china maintains unfair licensing practices. typically in other parts of the world our intellectual property we have is guarded by that nation or that we actually have a licensing agreement that's in that's a fair market value. not so with china. they put pressure onent -- on entities and steal intellectual property at times. that doesn't happen with every country but certain types of firms where long term china wants to buy it on their own. china will take the intellectual property in the plans clearly to be able to take that intellectual property and use it for themselves. china is notorious for supporting cyber intrusions, to be able to take the information they can't get especially from american companies or western companies. if there's a design they're interested in whether it be an airplane or whether that be 3-d printing or whatever it may be
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that's designed somewhere else, they reach in to try to be able to hack and steal it. this is not recent. this has gone on for quite a while. in 2014 the department of justice indicted five chinese military hackers for cyber espionage against military operations. in 2016 the department of justice charged three chinese nationals with hacking and theft of trade secrets and it goes on and on and on. in the past couple of weeks the world trade organization has agreed with the united states in our complaint against china in how they handle agriculture subsidies. agriculture subsidies from any country are limited in that country, but china uses large ag subsidies to their farmers and ag companies to be able to subsidize those products with state taxes. let me give you an example of that. 32% of the return for rice in china is a government subsidy back to rice farmers. i've had folks say the united states government, we also have
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a farm program, we have a farm bill. we provide subsidies as well. that is true, but our rice farmers have a 2% subsidies. chinese rice farmers have a 32% subsidy. the world trade organization agreed with us on this, and they've determined that china is in violation and the united states can retaliate back on that. china's using that policy and abusing that policy of subsidizing but it's causing not only problems with china and with trade of china and pricing and what they sell for but causing problems with uncertainty worldwide. cotton farming, oklahoma is big in cotton farming but china oversubsidized for years to cotton farmers. currently 60% of the world's cotton supplies are stacked up in china, just in piles not
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being used anywhere where. but because china is subsidizing people to be able to produce it, they're overproducing it in mass quantities. they have nowhere to be able to send it and they're just stacking cotton up in piles. the same thing in wheat. 40% of the world's wheat supplies are currently piled up in stacks in china that destabilizes worldwide wheat prices, worldwide cotton prices because no one knows what cotton is going to do with that massive stack. w.t.o. has considered them to be in violation for that and we're allowed to be able to reach back and retaliate. the united states is not the only one watching china's trade policies and how they interact in the subsidies they do. much of the rest of the world sees this same issue with china and they would engage with us more to be able to cooperate, to be able to push back on china, but currently we have so many steel and aluminum tariffs on our friends around the world that they're not engaging with us to the level they could to be able to have a clear focus
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against china. we need to be able to not isolate our friends but gather friends and to be able to say china and their policies clearly are a worldwide issue and it needs to be resolved. worldwide collaboration is going to be the only way we're going to isolate an economy as large as china, and i would encourage our administration to resolve trade issues worldwide and resolve tariff issues with our friends worldwide. instead of saying it's a national security threat with canada and mexico and others, and so we need to have steel and aluminum tariffs see the real national security threat that we have from china and to be able to gather a cooperative group and to be able to focus on that one area. one of those areas is what's called the 301 tariffs i mentioned before. any tariffs that go into place must first and foremost not hurt american consumers and american companies and american workers. my concern is the 301 tariffs as
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they have grown will hurt and are hurting currently american consumers, american employees, and american companies. the 301 tariffs, these are products that are manufactured in china. they're often designed so the engineering, the marketing, all of those things, the design of those, the intellectual property is here in the united states but as companies in the united states look it for manufacturing expertise, they find expertise in certain types of products like electronics, lighting, where there's a lot of that manufacturing and expertise in china. it's a natural thing to be able to say there's a large body of groups and individuals and technologies there to do it. let's do the manufacturing there but the design here. it makes sense on the supply chain function. this administration laid down tariffs. so far three different tiers of tariffs. the first tier, every american company was allowed to be able to say is there any other place that can do it and to be able to ask for exclusions through that process. if they could find exclusions
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they could petition the government and get out of them. the second tier, they were also allowed to be able to ask for exclusions through the process and basically a waiver to say this is the best place to do it, there is no competition, no one pressuring us to be able not to do it. but when the third and largest one came out, $200 billion in products, no exclusion process was given for american companies. a 10% tariff was laid down on these companies. here's what that means. if you're a company that produces a consumer electronic or a lighting or one of the other resources manufactured in china, most of the people you're selling it to, you made a contract a year or two ago what the price would be. whether you're selling to lowes, home depot, walmart or best buy or wherever it may be, you made that deal of how much you're going to sell that product for and how much you're going to sell. now with a 10% tariff laid down, who pays that tariff? it's certainly not going to be the end user initially because the contract has already been
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made. it's not going to be the chinese manufacturing location. it's going to be those companies actually doing production here in the united states. the american workers and the american companies pay the brunt of all those. and, by the way, there's no way to file an exemption on this group. and for $200 billion worth of products, americans are actually facing the brunt of that. so far americans have paid $12 billion in tariffs. it's not punishing the chinese. it's punishing us. and by the end of the year, if this continues, those contracts will have run out and they'll be re-pricing consumer electronics products all over the country, and the american consumer will be the one to be able to pay higher prices on this. 301 tariffs disproportionately hurt those that are in the middle class and those that are in poverty that have very fixed incomes. this needs to be resolved. first and foremost, there needs to be a way to be able to have a waiver process, as we have done in the first two sections. there's no opportunity to be
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able to get out of this third and largest group. it is a reasonable thing to be able to say, chow we actually produce -- how can we actually produce this? i have partnered with senator coons here in the senate and we put together a basic bill dealing with the import tax relief dealing with this 301, laying down for the first time how we would actually manage tariffs in the days ahead and what exclusion process there would be and has to be. it is a reasonable thing to be able to have a predictable level to be able to benefit the american consumer, especially those who are in poverty and fixed incomes, and to be able to benefit american companies and american workers. we cannot have tariffs on a foreign country that actually hurts american workers. that's an issue we've got to still resolve, and i'm glad to be able to have a partnership with senator coops to be able to work on that and we hope to be able to get that done this year to be able to guard american
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workers for the future. but along with that, in any trade negotiations that we have, we have what's called trade promotion authority. we have basic standards that we put into. let me give you an example. environmental concerns. we don't want to work with another country that's ignoring all environmental concerns. we're concerned about where we're in the environment, the air we breathe, the water redrink. that's important to americans because we want to be able to protect our americans. it does push up the cost of some products but the long-term benefit is greater and we're very careful in the way we evaluate our regulations. when we overregulate and it drives up cost, we push back to say, we don't want to overregulate and drive up costs. but we do want to have clean air and clean water. the chinese, not so. in many areas of china, you can't breathe. and on a regular daily basis, people wear masks over their face because of the exhaust, because of the fumes, because of the toxic air they breathe, limitations on environmental
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quality with air. it has become a worldwide issue because the amount of trash that the chinese are allowing to go into the pacific ocean and filling the pacific ocean with a plastic and trash. one of the agreements we have is we're going to lean in and have a dialogue to have trade issues but we also want to protect our environment and we think that's a reasonable thing to do. it is a reasonable thing to do as an american that we have a high value on religious liberty and human rights. it is part of our trade promotion authority, an area i worked hard to have as part of our trade promotion authority that when he we negotiate with countries, we also deal with the issue of human rights and freedom of religion. we as americans believe, your religious belief is your most precious private property, and no government should be able to just step in and be able to steal your private property. your most private possession is your faith.
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every individual should have the right to have any faith they choose, be able to change their faith, or to have no faith at all. that should be their choice. but that's not so in china right now. in 1999 the state department designated china as what's called a country of particular concern. it goes with the issue of religious freedom in their country and china's aggressive move to be able to limit religious freedom in their country. they've worked -- recently, secretary xi has worked toward secularization of religion, to make every area in their country equal and the same, stripping away religious symbols from buildings of all types, stripping away religious practice that is not approved by the government of china. this discrimination has impacted tibetan buddhists, muslims, protestants, catholics, falun gong practitioners.
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it has led to the destruction of buildings, restrictions and practice of study of faith by people of whatever culture or language, restriction of religious attire, religious rituals, imprisonment of religious leaders and followers. right now we're tracking through an imprisonment of a pastor named pastor sao, his wife is an american citizen and his children are american citizens. he's allowed to have legal residency in the united states. but two years as of this month, he was imprisoned in china. pastor sao has a hearing coming up on the 22nd of this month. and we hope for pastor sao and his family that that hearing happens because it's been postponed again and again and again. on the 22nd of march, we anticipate the chinese government will have his hearing and will give him a moment to
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have this finally resolved. there's no reason for pastor sao to be in prison right now. we don't want to see in china forced reeducation facilities, intimidation, lack of medical attention to people of faith. we'd love to see for the people of china what people worldwide have the opportunity to have -- freedom of religion. and in our trade conversations, we think it's highly advisable to be able to engage in that type of dialogue. and for people like pastor sao, whose children are looking forward to holding him in their arms again, and for him to be able to be released. china is an important part of a worldwide conversation. they're a powerful -- they're a powerful nation. we should be able to work together on key issues. the chinese government needs to determine how they're going to trade, and they're a developing
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country or if they're really a worldwide leader. we need to determine how we're going to do fair trade with them and we need to determine who they're going to be on the world stage dealing with human rights and dignity. this is not all about the sameness of the world. this is about the power of the individual within a country. i'm sure the people of china are very proud of their country. we'd love to engage with the people of china and would appreciate their engagement with us as we receive thousands of chinese students and visitors every single year. this is a point where we should resolve the trade issues that have been lingering for decades now, and we hope we can get to a right agreement from our administration being attentive that the tariffs don't hurt our own citizens, to the chinese economy that's slowing down due to the trade conversation that we have ongoing. it's for the benefit of all of our people to see if we can't
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resolve the trade issues to. with that, mr. president, i yield back. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk should call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. wyden: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: i ask unanimous consent to vacate the quorum call at this time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wyden: mr. president, i have come to the senate floor this afternoon to talk about a young man namedennis canter, who plays basketball for my hometown portland trail blasers. i wish i could be here to run through satdays box score or preview tonight's match-up against the clippers, but unfortunately, mr. canter is facing dangers that are far more serious than the outcome of any basketball game. his family is now facing those dangers as well. mr. canter is from turkey.
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his love of basketball brought him to the united states in 2009, and he was selected third overall in the 2011 nba draft by the utah jazz. eni es -- enes is a bright and soft-spoken guy. he pays attention to what goes on back home and cares deeply about his country's future and he rightfully believes that he ought to be able to express his opinion as he sees it on these important issues. for that, turkey's president erdogan has laid mr. kanter a
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terrorist. mr. erdogan an his cronies are too thin-skinned to tolerate enes's dissent off the court. erdogan revoked mr. kanter's passport based on accusations that lacked any real proof. president erdogan has demanded that interpol issue a red notice on mr. kanter which means he has to stay in the united states whenever his team travels outside the country. it has kept mr. kanter from going to london and going to toronto. as mr. kanter himself wrote in a recent "washington post" opinion article, i'm going to quote here, i am definitely a target, and erdogan wants me back in turkey where he can silence me.
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unquote. following strategies right out of the dictator's playbook, erdogan has responded like a coward to mr. kanter's criticism, trying to silence him by threatening his family, his family that still lives in turkey. mr. kanter recently told reporters that his father would be going on trial this week, in just a few days, in turkey. the details of that trial are shrouded in the fog of secrecy where authoritarians thrive. but mr. kanter's powerful words cut l cleanly through that fog just a few days ago. asked what his father was on
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trial for, enes said, just being my dad. enes is a young man who has already sacrificed so much. he moved thousands of miles away from home as a teenager to pursue his dream of playing in the nba. for the crime of just voicing his opinions on the future of turkey, a nation that is supposedly an american ally, enes was labeled a terrorist. he cut off contact years ago with his family because he believed that erdogan would punish them for speaking with someone who is critical of erdogan's government. now without being able to contact them, enes has to live
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in constant fear of what is going to happen to his loved ones back home. so as i stand here on the floor of the united states senate, i wanted to make sure that there wasn't any confusion on two important topics. first, mr. erdogan, the world is watching. the world is watching how you treat enes kanter's father this week and in the weeks ahead. and, mr. erdogan, the world is watching how you treat mr. kanter both when he is on american so i -- american soil d when enes travels abroad. and second, the united states cannot and must not stand idly by while enes and his family are
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subject to this autocratic torment. i have called on the secretary of state, mike pompeo, to raise mr. kanter's case with his counterparts, and i have asked our secretary of state to state clearly our country will actively resist these contrived red notices or extradition requests. the fact is our state department should be taking all necessary steps to ensure that mr. kanter can travel safely with the trailblazers or advocate for the freedom of his people. enes kanter is a young man, an american resident exercising the right to free speech that is
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enshrined in our constitution. the united states must not stay silent in the face of such a blatant attack on free thought and expression. in my view, this is not exactly an isolated issue. it's certainly not just a sports story. the situation ought to be examined in a broader context. a government that is taking a supposed nato ally down, an increasingly authoritarian rogue, a supposed nato ally down an increasingly authoritarian road. when the saudis killed jamal khashoggi in a consulate in turkey, erdogan styled himself as a fierce defender of
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journalists. but this is a classic situation of actions speaking louder than words. erdogan jails more journalists than the saudis. in fact, erdogan jails for journalists than the russians, the chinese, and more than any other authoritarian regime that's out there. because erdogan does not just target journalists or independent media outlets, all of whom knowingly, bravely risk such oppressive actions when they just want to report the truth. erdogan has thrown peaceful demonstrators into prison as well. just last friday he cracked down on people assembling peacefully in istanbul for international women's day. but it gets worse.
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worse because erdogan is brazen enough to push his assaults on democratic norms right here on american soil. less than two years ago erdogan gave the go-ahead for security detail to brutally attack nonviolent demonstrators right here in the nation's capital. that assault to emif a sies -- emphasize the point took place right here on american soil. right here, right here, just a short walk from the white house. americans ought to be outraged over this sort of behavior, especially from a supposed friend and ally like turkey. it has not gone unnoticed that erdogan recently doubled down on his decision to make a major military purchase from vladimir putin's russia and his use of fraudulent interpol red notices
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is right out of vladimir putin's playbook. it is past time for the state department to stand up to this behavior, and the state department needs to call that behavior out. it is not a far-off threat to other people that the federal government can conveniently ignore. erdogan's abuseses are happening right here in our country on american soil. and people like enes kanter are victims. mr. president, i went to school on a basketball scholarship as a younger man back in the day. i often tell people at my town hall meetings i wanted to play in the nba, a ridiculous idea because i was too small and i made up for it by being quite slow. my abilities on the court certainly were light-years
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removed from enes kanter's. but i can tell you from playing in college, i certainly remember the value of a full court press. i am firmly committed, and i state once more that our state department must put a full court press on turkey to treat mr. kanter and all those who speak out against erdogan's totalitarian regime with respect for their human rights and freedom of expression. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: and the clerk should call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. durbin: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. durbin: i ask that it be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: at the president's inauguration two years ago, it was an historic moment.
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although my candidate didn't win, i attended it in my capacity here in the united states senate and saw a lot of people, but the one person i saw that was just nothing short of remarkable was jimmy carter. and the reason why it was remarkable to see a former president who left office in 1980, 39 years ago, was the fact that most everyone had counted him for dead. if you'll remember, he was diagnosed with a form of cancer that was supposedly fatal and people br talking about making their -- people were talking about making their last trip to plains to attend his church on sunday and to hear his last sermon, and i thought it was over. most everyone did, too. but then something amazing happened. there was a new drug that came along and it turned out to be just the right drug to save his life. and when i saw jimmy carter a little over two years ago, i thought to myself i never thought i'd see him again and i never thought i'd see him
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looking this good. those things don't just happen. those drugs aren't just discovered. they're the product of a great deal of work and research and application. and i remember asking dr. collins at the national institutes of health what jimmy carter's story was, and he explained that early research at n.i.h., which is the premier medical research facility in the world, had led to some new possibilities in treating cancers, and just so happened that jimmy carter's cancer was responsive to that drug. others have been, too. i hope that even more are discovered. and the good news is that the united states senate and congress understand this, and do you know what's happened, madam president, over the last four years? what's happened over the last four years is a dramatic show of bipartisanship when it comes to medical research. roy blunt from missouri is in my
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neighboring state. i of course represent illinois. he is the head of the appropriations subcommittee that funds the national institutes of health. lamar alexander from the state of tennessee is the chairman of the authorizing committee for the national institutes of health. and patty murray, my colleague -- democratic colleague from the state of washington serves in both appropriation and authorization and couldn't be a stronger advocate when it comes to medical research. we've got a little team together, the four of us, and we said we were going to do something or try to do something each year, and here is what we set out to do. we set out to talking the appropriation for the national institutes of health and give it 5% real growth every single year because dr. collins told me if you do that, senator, then the people who do the research believe that next year could be a good year, too, to continue their research, and they'll stick with it. when they stick with it, amazing things happen. and so we did.
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i want to give credit to senator blunt, to senator alexander and senator murray. i was happy to be part of the effort. for four straight years, we added 5% real growth to the national institutes of health. total when you look at all of the increase in that period, 30% increase in medical research in a period of four years, and more to follow. more to follow if we get a chance. that's why when we received president trump's budget yesterday, it was such a heart breaking disappointment. -- heartbreaking disappointment. he has given up in terms of our continued increases in medical research. in fact, he wants to cut $5 billion out of the appropriation for the national institutes of health. you know, each of us decides why we want to be here and what's worth fighting for. i think medical research is worth fighting for. the team that has been fighting for it has been a bipartisan team in the senate, and i hope that they felt the same way i did, a feeling of real disappointment in president
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trump's budget. i have to tell you, he believes his wall is the most important thing on earth. i believe medical research and saving lives is one of the most important things on earth. and cutting money out of medical research for whatever reason they're going to use it, i just have to say to the president and others, you're in for a fight. there are a lot of us who are standing up and representing patients that are counting on that research to find a breakthrough, counting on families that are dealing with alzheimer's. how many friends of mine, how many families could i tell you about that have some form of parkinson's or dementia or alzheimer's that has changed the family dramatically. and can we, should we be looking for more medical research to delay the onset of alzheimer's and god willing find a cure someday? we're reaching a point where this will absolutely take over the medical budget of america if we're not careful.
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so shortsighted cuts in medical research jeopardize those new cures for cancer and heart diseases and diabetes and parkinson's and alzheimer's and dementia. the president's just wrong on his priorities, just wrong. some of the other things he has done on the budget are equally troubling. according to his budget request, the president wants to cut $1.5 trillion from medicaid. $1.5 trillion from medicaid. what is the medicaid program? it's health insurance for poor people. who are those poor people? in my state of illinois, out of all of the babies born in my state each year, half of them are paid for by medicaid. low-income moms delivering babies -- we hope healthy baby -- because medicaid as health insurance is there to help them. but that isn't the biggest charge on the medicaid program. the biggest charge on the medicaid program, that health insurance program is for your
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mom, your grandmother, your father. when they have reached that stage in life where nothing is left, there is no savings, maybe a little social security check and they have medical needs. it's the medicaid program that comes through for them. and if we cut what the president suggested, $1.5 trillion in medicaid, which of those groups do you want to reduce care for? the mothers with their new babies? the parents and grandparents at a stage in life when they have no place to turn and no savings to turn to? that's not a good outcome. and then there was a suggested cut of $845 billion in the medicare program. medicare is health insurance for the elderly. you reach age 65. you have paid into it through your working life. you have that medical insurance plan. the president cuts $845 billion out of medicare. does medicare work? there is one way to test it.
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how long -- what is the life expectancy of senior citizens today after medicare compared to their life expectancy before medicare? it's dramatically different. people are living longer lives and more independent lives because medicare gives them quality care when they reach age 65. and president trump believes we should cut that program by 8 had $45 billion. that to me is shortsighted. when it comes to our health, is there anything more important? when it comes to the health of our families, of seniors, of the disabled, of women who are about to have a baby, is there anything more important than to make sure that turns out right? it's hard for me to think of what it might be. to cut the center for disease control $1.3 billion in the president's budget, another one you just shake your head at. the center for disease control
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shows up when no one else will enter the room, when they are facing diseases that are life-threatening. the ebay crisis in western africa and the fear it would spread throughout that continent and maybe to the united states it was the center for disease control that stepped in and said we're going to tackle it, we're going to take it on, and they did it and they did it successfully. we're only one plane ticket away from some of those diseases making it to the united states. i want the center for disease control to stop them in their tracks before they come to the united states. and the president cuts $1.3 billion. the snap food stamp program is another one. a cut of $220 billion. you know, this is a program which provides supplements for food for families. making of them working families who just don't make enough money to get by. i can't tell you how many food pantries i visited in illinois where the people who run it, many of them volunteers with churches and charities say the
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people coming in to see us now are folks who are working, not making enough money. some of them qualify for food stamps, some of them don't. but feeding america should be fundamental in this country, shouldn't it? should that be one of the basic things that we pride ourselves on as americans? remember when president trump spoke about the aging infrastructure of america during his campaign? even though i wasn't supporting his candidacy, i certainly cheered those remarks. infrastructure is bipartisan. the roads and bridges of arizona and illinois and every other state all need help, and they count on us in congress to come through with it. well, the president that the president released this week slashes infrastructure funding by 22% when we should be putting more into making a more modern and more efficient infrastructure to build our economy, the president cuts it. cuts 31% from the army corps of engineers. today i had a visit from the illinois corn growers. we're proud -- there is a lot of
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corn in illinois. we're proud of being number two to iowa, i might add, when it comes to corn production. but do you know what they talked about in addition to ag programs? they talked about the locks and dams on the illinois and mississippi rivers. those are the avenues of commerce for agriculture in the midwest, and they are old and getting older and falling apart. the army corps of engineers we count on to modernize it. the president cuts 31% of their budget, a third of their budget. 16% of the department of housing and urban development. it completely ignores -- the president's budget completely ignores the threat of climate change. cutting the environmental protection agency by 30%. and here's one that hits home. the president cuts the great lakes restoration initiative by an outrageous 90%. they did a survey a few years ago and asked the people of chicago, a city i'm proud to represent, what do you think is the defining characteristic of this city? the overwhelming response -- lake michigan.
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that beautiful lake, part of the great lakes, is not just a source of pride, but it's a source of good, clean drinking water, of recreation and commerce. we know that it's threatened in every direction from chemical runoff, from invasive species, and we fight to make sure that those lakes will survive for another generation. the president cuts the funds for that effort by 90%. these are just a few examples of decisions made in the president's budget. needless to say, i have saved the best for last. they always cut everything i just talked about from medical research to protecting our great lakes to transportation and infrastructure to taking care of senior citizens to making sure that health insurance is there for expect ant mothers, the president needs $8.5 billion for his almighty wall. this wall on our southern border. you know, we have given the president 120 miles of fencing, new and replacement fencing. over the first two years he was in office, 120 miles to add to
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the 640 already on our border. do you know how many miles have been built as i stand here today from the last two years that we have given the president? none. it takes a long time to build these fences. the president's learning it the hard way, yet he wants to take money out of programs across the board on the possibility that they may be built in the future, needed or not. congress needs to step up. and i hope on a bipartisan basis, assert our constitutional authority and find a bipartisan way to put together a budget that is much more balanced, that realizes the real values of america. madam president, i ask that the second statement i'm about to make be placed in a separate part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: madam president, this week senate republicans wish to confirm two more circuit court nominations. we have just voted on one, paul matey for the third circuit in new jersey. i'm going to put a statement in the record relative to
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mr. matey's record and address instead the other pending nomination, the d.c. circuit nominee of neomi rao. senator mcconnell has scheduled a vote on this nominee. the d.c. circuit is often considered the second most important court in the land. and typically the nominees to this court bring with them a wealth of legal and judicial experience. miss neomi rao has virtually no practical experience in law, none. she has never tried a case in court. she has never argued an appeal in court. she's never made an appearance in an american court. she's filed one court brief in her entire career. how in the world could someone suggest that this woman get a lifetime appointment to the second highest court in the land, never tried a case, never argued an appeal, never made an appearance in a courtroom and
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filed only one court brief in her entire career? she'd been a political appointee of the president to the agency known as office of information and regulatory affairs. when she was there she set out to rescind a lot of federal regulations, regulation, however, that might have been better left on the books. they protect workers, the environment and americans facing discrimination. she was out to put an end to them. she's been an academic. she's written a lot. in the year 2009, she wrote, and i quote, the president may also decide not to follow supreme court precedent. and in the rare instance may decide against the enforcement of a particular judgment. close quote. madam president, that would be considered a radical statement by most standards. it's a radical view of executive power that miss rao put forward. it flies in the face of supreme court rules and decisions where the final word on constitutional
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interpretation is decided and established two centuries ago in marberry v. madison. she's also published a number of articles in college which i can't even describe to you. what was she thinking moments. shocking, inflammatory writings on issues involving race, sexual orientation, sexual assault, and date rape. in april of 1993, this woman destined for the circuit court and a lifetime appointment where she will use her judgment on a daily basis to decide the outcomes of cases and the legal framework of america, this is what she wrote in april of 1993. quote, date rape exemplifies the attempts of the nurture feminist to develop an artificial alternative world in which women are free from sexual danger and no always means no. in october of 1994, she wrote of
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date rape survivors, and i quote, if she drinks to the point where she can no longer choose well, getting to that point was part of her choice. in september 1994 she wrote that a group of -- at yale called the bisexual gay and lesbian coop was spreading myths about gays. she wrote racial oppression promulgate themselves, create hihysteria and finally lead to e formation of some whining new group. one request only hope to scream perspective just a little perspective, darling. end of quote. these are a few examples of writings which are difficult to describe in the fairest officials. in-- fairest terms. inflammatory at the least. while she wrote a letter to the judiciary committee apologizing for these writings, what does it say about her values and her thinking and whether she should be in this legal position for
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the rest of her life? the bottom line is this. miss rao has minimal, practical experience in the law. her legal views are beyond extreme. and her personal views as reflected in her own personal writings are deeply troubling. i'd like to say to the president and those who are in charge of picking his nominees, please, isn't there a good republican conservative somewhere in this area who's actually been in a courtroom, actually made an appearance in a case, maybe even tried a case, maybe filed a motion, would know a courthouse if they saw it and not on television? is that too much to ask for a lifetime appointment to the second highest court in the land? this lady may be ideologically perfect for somebody who decided she was destined for this court, but it's not a perfection when it comes to the legal system in america. it's an imperfection which if
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approved by the senate is going to be with us for a lifetime. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. ms. warren: madam president, i come to the floor today to oppose the nomination of neomi rao to be a judge on the second most powerful court in the country. my decision boiled down to just this one question. will miss rao advance equal justice for all or will she continue to tilt the courts in favor of the rich and powerful? miss rao's record shows that she will continue to tilt our courts in favor of the powerful few and leave everyone else behind. that is why i oppose her nomination. but that is also exactly why she was selected by the president for this important lifetime
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appointment. in the last two years with the trump administration controlling the white house and republicans until january controlling both houses of congress, the rich and powerful have had unparalleled access to the federal government. and they have been terrifyingly effective at making washington work even better for themselves. just think of some of their high profile victories. a tax plan that takes away money from working americans and gives it straight to the biggest corporations and wealthiest individuals. rollbacks of countless protections to protect public health, consumer welfare, and environmental safety. and those are just the policies that people have been paying attention to. for decades now, billionaire funded right-wing groups have operated in the shadows to take over our courts by installing right-wing judges who will put the interests of giant
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corporations and wealthy individuals ahead of everyone else. those special interests -- for those special interests, neomi rao is the ideal candidate. in 2017 i came to the floor to 0oppose miss rao's selection to lead the office of regulatory affairs, the small but powerful agency that reviews and signs off on economically significant federal rules. i was concerned about miss rao's advocacy for weakening or handcuffing federal agencies that are there to help protect the public from giant corporations that prey on consumers, that mistreat their workers, and that pollute our environment. i worry that confirming her to lead oira would threaten the health and safety of all americans. for example, miss rao attacked the consumer financial protection bureau, the agency that has returned $12 billion to working families who are cheated
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arguing against its authority to protect consumers from predatory lending practices. but that was exactly the kind of candidate that big business and billionaires wanted so the republican-controlled senate confirmed miss rao and the all too predictable happened. under miss rao's leadership, oira approved the e.p.a.'s decision to roll back important environmental protections. they rubber stamped changes at the department of labor that allow certain employers to hide workplace injuries. and miss rao blocked a proposed measure from the equal employment opportunity commission that would have helped uncover pay discrimination. the list goes on. miss rao pairs her pro-corporate stance with harmful regressive views about sexual assault. in college she wrote an article placing blame on the survivors of sexual assault if they drank
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alcohol claiming that such behavior was part of their choice. at her hearing she refused to fully disclaim this line of thought claiming she was just recommending certain actions that women could take to make themselves less likely to be assaulted. now if that wasn't worrisome enough, miss rao also argued in a book review that public protections for women, for people of color, and for americans with disabilities are bad because they have eroded the power of traditional elites going so far as to call affirmative action the, quote, bane of all good elitists. for president trump, congressional republicans, and their billionaire buddies, miss rao's commitment to protecting the interests of the rich and powerful over everyone else was a feature of her tenure at oira, not a bug.
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and now as a reward for spending a year and a half rolling back public protections and rubber stamping corporate america's wish list, the trump administration has selected her to be a judge on the second highest court in this country. at the d.c. circuit, miss rao would have even more power to stop federal efforts to protect americans from abusive corporations and billionaires. she would rule on attempts to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink. she would have the power to overturn protections for workers from unsafe working conditions. and she would have the chance to upend rules to prevent big corporations from discriminating against people of color, lgbtq americans, and other marginalized communities. throughout her career, miss rao has made very clear what her preferred hierarchy looks like. corporations and billionaires up
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at the top and everybody else at the bottom. as a judge on the united states court of appeals, miss rao will have an opportunity to practice that philosophy at an even larger scale. madam president, our federal courts are supposed to defend equal justice for all americans, not cater to the wealthy and well connected. neomi rao's record shows that she will continue the corporate takeover of our courts. a vote for her is a vote against the millions of americans who have already borne the consequences of the radical pro-corporate policy she has advanced throughout her career. and that is why i believe the senate should reject her nomination. i also want to express my strong opposition to the nomination of william beach to run the bureau of labor statistics.
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b.l.s.' accurate, impartial analysis is crucial to policymakers, workers, and businesses. in mr. beach, president trump is addressing someone who has spent years at so-called think tanks that are funded by radical right-wing billionaires pushing so-called studies that criticize social security and support draconian budget cuts and tax cuts for the richest americans. studies that have since been discredited. that is not who we need running one of our country's most important statistical agencies. besides mr. beach's radical pro-corporate background, i want to join ranking member murray in expressing my serious concern with my republican colleagues' refusal to confirm democratic nominees to other important agencies for workers. the national labor relations board and the equal employment
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opportunity commission. this obstruction is a total departure from precedent, and it is preventing these agencies from protecting the rights of millions of american workers to bargain collectively and to go to work without worrying about illegal discrimination and harassment. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: madam president, i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business for probably about 15 minutes and should senator van hollen from maryland who is scheduled to arrive to be able to engage in a colloquy with senator van hollen. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you very much. madam president, there is now no doubt that climate change is
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happening, that it is caused by human activity, and that we must act now to avoid the worst of it. as science guy bill nigh has said, climate change is happening. it's our fault, and we've got to get to work on this. but for too long we've seen the fossil fuel industry and its army of front groups use manufactured doubt, phony doubt, as their weapon of choice to obstruct any solution. well, science studies things, and it even studies doubt. a scientific study published by "nature" has found that the evidence of human-caused climate change occurring has now achieved what scientists call
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the five sigma level of certainty. what does that mean? this scientific standard means there is 99.9999% confidence that earth is warming due to human activity. put another way, there's a one in 3.35 million chance that human-caused warming is not occurring. to compare, you've got a one in 15,000 chance that you'll be struck by lightning in your life. you've got a one in 100,000 chance of being born a conjoined twin. and you've got a one in 3.5 million chance the fossil fuel industry's phony doubt about climate change is true. yet just one republican has
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signed on to senator carper's resolution stating the basics -- that climate change is real and caused by human activity and congress should take action now to address it. in an editorial last week -- this one here -- even the middle -of the-road "usa today" said, climate change is a true crisis facing the united states and the world, unquote. i'll quote again, fossil fuel polluters keep using the atmosphere as a free waste dump, end quote, and finally that the public is growing impatient, end quote. well, let's week here on the senate floor, we actually had something resembling a climate debate break out. it was a little weird. as a debate, it coughed and
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banged and sputtered and we didn't really engage. many of our republican colleagues had a very hard time mentioning the actual phrase climate change. they found it impossible to talk at all about the costs of climate, the floods, the fires, the rising seas, the worst yet to come. and no one could mention the 1.5-degree centigrade limit that we need to meet. they mostly wanted to have fun bashing an imaginary koch brothers-invented version of the green new deal. however, some did say they accepted the science. in particular, i was happy to see the chairman of the environment and public works committee clearly accept that climate change is real, that it is caused by humans, and that we have a responsibility to do something about it. i appreciate that he pointed to the bipartisan work he and i have done on carbon capture and removal.
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i enjoyed working with him on that legislation, and i hope we can get its successor bill passed, too. we just had a very good bipartisan committee hearing on it. but put those two bills together, and you're still nowhere near the scale of action the science demands. our scientists report that we must aim for net-zero carbon emissions by the middle of this century to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. carbon capture will be a part of that, but there is zero chance it alone will be sufficient. and any plan that falls short of that mark amounts to its own diluted brand of climate denial. bashing the green new deal doesn't solve the problem. this, madam president, is a good moment for me to interrupt my remarks because i see the majority leader on the floor. if i may yield to him to close
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out the senate and then have myself and senator van hollen recognized at the conclusion of the majority leader's comments. mr. mcconnell: i thank my friend from rhode island. i will not be long. madam president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that all postcloture time on the rao nomination expire at 12:00 noon tomorrow. further, if confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, and the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. i further ask that if cloture is invoked on the beach nomination, all postcloture time expire at 1:45 p.m. tomorrow and that, if confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, and the
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president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to legislative session for a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res. 105 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 105, supporting the designation of march 2019 as national colorectal awareness month. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent 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: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of s. reservation 106 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the
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clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 106, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the united negro college fund. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent 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: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res. 107 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 107, to authorize testimony and representation in united states v. talbert. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent 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.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the judiciary committee be discharged from further consideration of s. res. 91 and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 91, designating march 3, 2019, as world wildlife day. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection, the committee is discharged and the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. mcconnell: i know of no further debate on the resolution. the presiding officer: if there's no further debate, the question is on the resolution. all those in favor, say aye. those opposed, say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the resolution is agreed to. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the coons amendment to the preamble at the desk be considered and agreed to, the preamble as amended be agreed to
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understand at the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i understand there is a bill at the desk due for a --
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the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: moving right along, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 9:30 wednesday, march 13. further, that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, and morning business be closed, and the senate proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the rao nomination under the previous order. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: so if there is to further business to come before the senate, i ask it stand adjourned under the previous order following the remarks of our democratic colleagues. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: when we yielded to accommodate the majority leader, i was talking about the episode on the senate floor of republican senators
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coming to bash the green new deal and i wanted to go on to say that that "usa" editorial -- the "usa today" editorial that climate change is facing the world also said this about the green new deal. it said republicans in the white house and congress are having a grand ol' time move to concurring the green new deal, but the critics owe this and future generations more than scorn. they have an obligation to put better ideas and solutions on the table. so far, we have not seen much from my republican colleagues by way of better or, indeed, any solutions. i would like to take a moment and express my gratitude and appreciation to senator murkowski and senator manchin for the joint piece that they
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wrote in "the washington post" recently. and i'd ask unanimous consent to have that appended at the conclusion of my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: so, we get that my colleagues don't like the green new deal. so let's consider other proposals. we've got lots of them on the democratic side. we have had cap and trade. we have had keep it in the ground. we've had green new green new d. we have had revenue-neutral carbon fee proposals. senator van hollen of maryland is here to discuss his ideas. we are ready here. republicans last week said they wanted innovation to address climate change. great. me, too. but you can't count on the inno facing fairy to fly down and wave innovation fairy dust on the problem and make it go away. one of the reasons that senator barrasso's and my bipartisan
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carbon capture bill was necessary is because there was not enough inshowvation and there was -- innovation, and there was not enough innovation, and i quote the "usa today" article, fossil fuel polluters keep using the atmosphere pass a free waste dump. it's really hard to spur innovation when there's no revenue in the business model. so our bill put revenue in the business model. we did in the form of tax credits. but the big driver for developing innovation, for developing innovative new technologies would be a price on carbon. just like senator schatz and i have in our american opportunity carbon fee act, a revenue-neutral, border adjustable carbon fee. this bill passes all the major republican tests.
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it's a market solution that fixes a market failure. it does not grow government or regulation. and it does not put american industry at a disadvantage against foreign competitors. and it will drive innovation. put a $50-per-ton price on carbon emissioned, and every polluter paying the price has an incentive to spend up to $49 per ton on solutions. that's how you get innovation. this carbon pricing idea has support from a swath of senior republican officials. including seven chairs of the council of economic advisors, six current and former members of congress, four e.p.a. administrators, three former secretaries of state or treasury, two chairs of the federal reserve, and one congressional budget office director.
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all republicans. some of these republicans were members of a group of prominent economists, including 27 nobel prizewinners, that recently published this statement in the "wall street journal" editorial pain. supporting just the kind of carbon fee model that is the basis of senator schatz's and my legislation. since then, over 3,500 u.s. economists have signed this statement, and that's because it's pretty obvious how you have to solve this problem once you want to. i want to say about former republican congressman bob englis, who has been very active in this area. he said of our carbon fee proposal, democrats have offered republicans an olive limb, not just an olive branch.
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we are trying to reach out. we are trying to get to yes and that olive branch will remain extend pped as long as it takes. if you think all of our bills are no good, come up with something better, for pete's sakes. give it a try. i'm ready to work with republicans on passing a carbon fee or other climate change legislation. i think i've proved that by working in bipartisan fashion. but when republicans won't propose anything and won't agree to anything, even an olive limb offered to them, then that's a pretty strong sign that there is something more going on than objections to a green new deal. if you don't like the green new deal, tell us what you do like.
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go the carbon fee route, go leave it in the ground, whatever. but, please, let's get together and solve this problem. as "usa today" said, the american people are getting impatient. i now an honored to yield the floor to my distinguished colleague from maryland who has been working on this issue in the house before he came to the senate and has become a real leader in our senate caucus, mr. van hollen: madam president, i want to start by thanking my friend, the senator from rhode island, senator whitehouse, for his leadership on addressing the climate issue for many, many, many years, taking to the floor of the senate time and again to raise the alarm about the dangers of climate change
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and what it means to communities throughout this the country and people throughout the world. and much more than that, putting forward very specific ideas, constructive ideas on how we can address this issue together. and i'm proud to join the legislation that he referenced along with senator barrasso to look at carbon-capture technologies to incentivize those technologies as senator whitehouse indicated. it's a small measure but maybe a first baby step that we can work on here together. madam president, like the senator from rhode island, i've been listening carefully to the floor discussion over the last couple weeks. i've heard many of our republican colleagues come to the floor. they've come to criticize the green new deal. the green new deal, of course,
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is a very ambitious set of goals to address the crisis of global climate change and put out some ideas for how we address this generational challenge. and while i heard a lot of criticism, senator whitehouse said i hear a single, not one idea about how we could work together to significantly address this challenge, which is why democrats have asked our republican colleagues to join us in supporting h.j. res. 9, which was introduced by senator carper along with the democrats, and i'm pleased to say one republican. but the question of course is where are the other 40 -- excuse me. where are the other 52 republicans when this is the language?
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i'm going to read it because it's very straightforward, and i think the american public is going to ask themselves why we don't have 100 senators on this piece of legislation. resolved by the senate and the house of representatives in the united states of america and congress assembled, it is the sense of congress that, one, climate change is real. two, human activity during the last century is the dominant cause of climate change. and, three, the united states and congress should take immediate action to address the challenge of climate change. simple, straightforward. i want, madam president, just to take these very quickly one at a time. climate change is real. look, we all know in a there are a few greenhouse gases. you have methane that's a very potent greenhouse gas. but the most prevalent one, of
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course, is carbon dioxide. it's a greenhouse gas. and you can measure the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. you can go out and take samples and measure it. and when you do that, you find that we have seen huge increases in the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere over the last 100 years. i'm proud to represent the state of maryland, which is home to nasa goddard, where they do a lot of climate science, home to noaa, the national oceanographic and atmospheric administration. and i'm holding in my hand the latest measurement that they did on january 2019. it shows carbon dioxide concentrations atmosphere 411 parts per million. that's a jump just since 2006
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when it was about 380 million parts per million. if you look at that over time, you see a big jump in concentration. and these are greenhouse gas, and that's why you see, of course, the increasing temperatures. i'm now holding in my hand something from nasa. it just came out february 6, this year. headline, 2018, fourth-warmth year in continued warming trend, according to nasa and noaa. it points out that globally 2018's temperatures rank behind those of 2016, 2017 and 2015, and goes on to say the past five years are collectively the warmth -- warmest years in modern record. large concentrations of co2,
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rising temperatures. i hope our republican colleagues will agree with us on that point in the resolution. number two, caused by human activity. there's no doubt that if you look at how fossil fuels that were in our earth for millions of years have been released during the industrial revolution last century in coal-fired power plants, oil, gas, that all of a sudden you saw this carbon which had been trapped in the earth released into the atmosphere through human activity. and that also is measurable. so i hope our republican colleagues will agree with us on those two points. and if they agree with us on those points, then i hope they will agree with us that we should all do something about it because the consequences of climate change are very real, and we can see them all around us. senator white house -- senator
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whitehouse mentioned a recent study that showed the probability that the scientists were wrong was.001% negligible. we just saw last thanksgiving, just last year thanksgiving time, 300 u.s. scientists issued the fourth national climate assessment. i have a copy of part of that in my hand right here. and they make it very clear, these are u.s. scientists, that the impact of these growing temperatures is real. and of course we see them all around us in the form of much more extreme and frequent droughts. we see it in the form of more forest fires. we see it in the form of flooding and sea level rise. we see it all over our country in every community and all over the world. and the costs of doing nothing are mounting by the day.
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and if you look at this report that was issued around thanksgiving, they also talk about the regional impact of disruption and impacts of climate change, and they look at different regions around the country, including the northeast, which is where of course sheldon -- senator whitehouse represents rhode island andist honor of representing -- and i have the honor of representing maryland. it says these areas, these regions will get hot faster than many other areas and it talks about the impact of climate change on the chesapeake bay, which is a national treasure and really important to maryland's economy. and they predict stronger and more frequent storms and an increase in rain which leads to more pollution in the bay, increasing water temperatures, sea level rise. by the way, one island has already disappeared in the
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chesapeake bay and a couple more look like they will be going under in the coming years because of sea level rise. if you go to the naval academy in annapolis and you talk to folks there, they will tell you that they are already experiencing the negative impact of flooding and sea level rise right there at the naval academy. of course our military has warned for years about the consequences of climate change. madam president, i just want to give a very simple analogy since i mentioned the chesapeake bay. like many of us, we've worked hard to protect water bodies in this country, and the chesapeake bay is an incredible natural estuary. and years ago everyone recognized that the bay was dying. the bay was dying because we saw more sewer overflows into the bay. we didn't have enough sewage treatment plants. we saw runoff from suburban
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roads and highways. we saw nutrient runoff from farms in the bay watershed. the bay was on its way down fast, and of course with all those nutrients in the watershed, you lose the oysters, you lose the crabs, you lose the seafood industry, you lose the chesapeake bay. well, the same thing is of course happening to our planet. just like the chesapeake bay, there's a limit to how much pollution, carbon pollution you can put into our planet. we've all seen those amazing photographs from outer space of the earth, and what the earth is telling us is there's a limit to how much carbon pollution we can spew into it. and it's telling us by screaming out with these extreme weather events. so the real question is what are we going to do about it? and as senator whitehouse said,
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there are many things we should be doing. and i'm going to close my remarks by mentioning one that also involves putting a price on carbon. because among the array of tools that we need to deploy, that really needs to be one of them. and it's really based on the simple idea we pursued in this country to fight pollution, which is the polluter pays. right? the folks, the industries who are causing the pollution, it's impacting our communities in harmful ways, they should pay. and how do you make them pay? you put a price on the carbon pollution that's being emitted. because when you put a price on the carbon pollution that's being emitted, there's an incentive to emit less of it. and there's an incentive for others to find innovative ways
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to generate energy without carbon pollution. and so that's why for many years i proposed what's called the cap and dividend bill. what it does is looks at the science and says okay, if we want to make sure to avoid these huge costs to our communities, we have to limit the amount of carbon pollution emitted. so we base that cap on the science. and that generates a price for carbon. and that means, as senator whitehouse said, that in order to avoid that price, people look for ways to reduce carbon emissions. and what we do is we take the funds generated from putting a price on carbon and we rebate those funds to the american people. and so a study by an economist at the university of massachusetts amherst found that
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if you do that, if you rebate the funds you generate by putting a price on carbon and make polluters pay, and you rebate that to american households, 80% of american households actually have more money, more money in their pocket at the end of the day than they started with, and that doesn't even count the additional benefits from cleaner environment, less storms and severe weather events. and it also doesn't include the incredible economic opportunities that would be unleashed by more people investing in clean energy technology and energy efficiency. so, madam president, it's really a pleasure to be here with my friend, senator whitehouse, because that is one tool among others, including the need to invest in more research.
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as he said, you have got to put some resources behind research and innovation. it doesn't just happen by magic. we can have clean energy portfolio standards. we can do a lot of things, but we need to start with something real, and that's why we're here. because that's the final part of that resolution. a very simple resolution that says climate change is real, caused by human activity, and that the united states congress should take action to address the challenge. it's time for our colleagues to stop criticizing everybody else's idea and put their own ideas on the table. we are ready to work with our colleagues on a bipartisan basis to address this most pressing of issues facing our country and the world. mr. whitehouse: madam president, i'd like to remark on the figure
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is that nor van hollen used of the recent measurement, measurement in our atmosphere of a carbon dioxide concentration of 411 parts per million. now, standing on its own, that may not seem particularly significant, so let's put that into context. nasa, which senator van hollen mentioned which has important facilities in maryland has been measuring this for a long time, and nasa -- and by the way, i think nasa scientists have demonstrated they know what they are talking about. they have rovers driving around on mars right now. they know what they are talking about. they have gone back and
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scientists have determined what the carbon dioxide levels were on earth over a period of 400,000 years. 400,000 years. and if you look back, there is a graph that nasa has shown that shows the carbon dioxide levels ramping up and down, up and down over 400,000 years. and for that entire time, they stayed between 180 parts per million and 300 parts per million. that was the range within which the entire human species experienced our development. 180 parts per million at the low, 300 parts per million at the high. at 411, we are now out of that range by almost the entire range. we are not out by a little. we are out of that range by a
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lot. and 400,000 years is a very long time if you look at how long humankind have been farming, kind of the basic organized activity of our species. the common view is that we really started farming about 12,000 years ago. some people pushed that number further, more towards 20,000 years. we invented the wheel about a little over 5,000 years ago in mesopotamia. so if you think about the first people who put seeds in the ground and planted farms, you only go back 12,000 to 20,000 years. if you think about the first people who rolled a wagon or a chariot on a wheel, you only go back about 5,000 years.
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this record goes back 400,000 years. 400,000 years. and they know it because you can go into ancient ice and you can find bubbles of air from tens and hundreds of thousands of years ago and you can test them. i have been to the freezer at ohio state university where they keep the cores that they have drilled out of glaciers and seen how they go back and do these micromeasurements that let you know what the carbon dioxide levels were. so we're not off by a little, folks. we're off by a lot. and when you consider the known scientific effect of carbon dioxide concentrations, we've known what it did, that it was a greenhouse gas since abraham lincoln was riding around here
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in his top hat. this is not scientific news. we know this stuff. and when you consider that we're that far out of the range that has made human life and development comfortable on this planet throughout the entire duration of our species and we're out of that range for the first time in 400,000 years and we're out of that range by an amount that's practically equal to the entire range itself. if that is not a signal for us to wake up and pay attention, i don't know what is. and the fact that the fossil fuel industry can drown out that signal with their political signal in this body is astounding. mr. van hollen: madam president, if i might. and that's why it's always interesting, senator whitehouse, to hear some of the critics of climate change say well, you know what?
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carbon dioxide has been around since the beginning of the planet, so it can't possibly be harmful. well, of course -- of course it's been around forever, but as you pointed out, it's been around for hundreds of thousands, millions of years at a certain concentration. but if you look at all of the evidence from nasa scientists and others, you see that level of concentration bumps up and down within a certain range for all those millennia that you talked about, but then in the last 150 years, especially the last century, it shoots straight through the roof. so it's an excellent example of the phrase everything in moderation. obviously, carbon dioxide has been part of our planet's gases all along, but the fact that we have unleashed those -- that
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carbon dioxide that has been trapped in the earth in the form of fossil fuels for millions and millions of years and somehow just let it out within the last 100, that is what is creating harmful, poisonous levels of carbon dioxide, poisonous for the planet and just like a human being, when you put poison in the body, the body lets you know, and the earth is screaming out in all these different ways to let us know that it's reached its limit when it comes to carbon dioxide pollution, and that's why we have got to do something about it. mr. whitehouse: arsenic, too, is a naturally occurring substance, but you don't want too much of it. mr. van hollen: there you go. mr. whitehouse: i thank senator van hollen for joining me in this colloquy and for speaking today on the floor. i see the distinguished ranking member of the finance committee
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here. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: just before they leave, i want to thank both senator whitehouse and senator van hollen for conveying the urgency behind this climate change issue. both of them have gone through the specifics of what this is all about, and suffice it to say, i share many of the concerns that they have been discussing here this evening. i want to thank them. madam president, tonight the senate is also debating another trump judicial nominee who is attempting to run away from what i consider to be appalling statements that were written in the not-so-distant past. this time it's neomi rao who is up for a lifetime appointment to the powerful d.c. circuit court of appeals. while studying at yale, ms. rao wrote that sexual assault
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victims were partly to blame for having been assaulted. she ridiculed feminism and women's rights activists. she attacked groups that promoted multiculturalism and minority rights. she belittled those who fought for lgbtq rights. she wrote that warnings about what we now identify as climate change are in effect fake news. after these writings came to light, she stuck to the same script as a number of other trump nominees have done who found themselves in the same position. they say oh, that's all way in the past. i've grown up. i no longer hold those views, except in ms. rao's case, she cannot plausibly claim the views she put into writing back then would have no bearing on how she
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would decide cases as a judge today. that's because you can see those extreme views reflected in the work that she is doing right now as the head of the office of information and regulatory affairs. this is an office that doesn't get a lot of time in the spotlight, but the official in charge of that office has more power to shape federal rules than almost anyone outside the oval office. during ms. rao's time at the head of this program, she has taken a buzz saw in protection for women's health, for sexual assault victims on college campuses, for lgbtq americans, and for black and latino americans. under her watch, the trump administration has allowed polluters to poison americans' air and water, propped up dirty power plants that belch carbon
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into the skies and added to the extreme dangers of climate change. during her nomination hearing, she called, and this was her description. some of what she wrote, and i quote, cringeworthy. she wrote a letter to the judiciary committee, saying she was sorry, and that is certainly well and good, but it doesn't change the fact that she has helped turn those same extreme views, those same extreme views into federal policy under president trump. to help spell this out, as they say on so many television shows, go to the tape. an essay published in the mid 1990's, ms. rao laid out her views on a range of issues dealing with women's rights and sexual violence. at the time, our country was waking up to the fact that most
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sexual assaults are not random acts of violence committed in dark alleyways. they are committed by someone the victim knows. the turn date rape was at that time new to a lot of americans. in this essay, she wrote -- i quote here -- although i am certainly not arguing that date rape victims asked for it, she did exactly that. several times. she put the burden on women to prevent their assaults. she also described, and i quote, the dangerous feminist idealism which teaches women that they are equal. that is an exact quote. dangerous idealism which teaches women that they are equal. she went on -- again i quote -- women believe falsely that they should be able to go anywhere with anyone. that is a quote.
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women believe falsely that they should be able to go anywhere with anyone. now, she has tried to separate herself during her nomination from those thoughts which she wrote as a younger person, but she continues to double down on these views and their influence in her current position. a few years ago, there was an effort to strengthen federal rules to reduce sexual assault on campus and compel schools to do a better job of protecting women. with ms. rao's help, education secretary betsy devos and donald trump are now rolling those protections back. ms. rao has also taken steps to roll back rules designed to fight wage discrimination and sexual harassment against women in the workplace. she worked to make it harder for women to get no-cost contraception under the affordable care act. so now i'm going to turn to her
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views on the rights of other groups, lgbtq americans, black and latino americans are just several examples. here she has attacked so-called multiculturallists, writing, and i quote, underneath their touchy-feely talk of tolerance, they seek to undermine american culture. when you read that sentence, it seems that she believed that the american culture in need of protecting is actually one of intolerance. now, she protested -- again i quote -- millions want to redefine marriage and parenthood, to which i say anyone like rao to defiance it by limiting the definition of love is just wrong and, frankly, un-american. she even blasted african american and latino fraternities and sorrowties arguing that they were the ones who didn't understand the true meaning of
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dr. king's "i have a dream" speech. in a book review, she praised an author for writing -- again, i quote -- perhaps it is time to stop thinking of blacks and having them think of themselves as a category. let them rise or fall as individuals. end quote. a nominee for the federal bench ought to be able to recognize that the design of racism has been to have societies and governments at all levels in that government discriminate against african americans as a category and to prevent individuals and their families from rising from this hardship. again, ms. rao can try and try and try some more to distance herself from these writings, but she cannot distance herself from the work that she does right now in her current job. civil rights, in a recent case
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texas department of housing and community affairs v. the inclusive communities project, the case dealt with what has come to be known as the disparate impact regulations. the court held that housing policies that inadvertently discriminate against minorities violate the fair housingage of -- fair housing act. that type of disparate impact regulation exists across federal law and i, for one, am fighting against a continuation and effect. but right now with ms. rao's help, donald trump is working to indo these protections. here, i quote from the "washington post." the trump administration is considering a far-reaching rollback of civil rights law that would dilute federal laws against discrimination in education, housing, and other aspects of american life. this article continues, past
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republican administrations have done little to erode the concept's application, partly out of concern that the supreme court might disagree or that such changes would be unpopular and viewed as racist. apparently, that's not a big enough concern to stop ms. rao and the trump administration. now briefly i'd look -- i'd like to look at her writings on climate and environmental protection. she move to concurred what she -- she mocked what she called the three environmental bogeymen, the greenhouse effect, the ozone layer and the dangers of acid rain. in an extraordinary twist of logic, she suggested that people who warned about climate change were clinging to a dangerous orthodoxy -- her -- with no reference to prevailing scientific doubts. again, no quote.
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her work of the trump administration shows no change in perspective. fuel economy standards that reduce carbon emissions and save drivers money at the pump have been axed by the trump administration and ms. rao. the clean power plan gone under with the trump administration and neomi rao. rules cracking down on mercury pollution which causes brain damage to kids, weakened by the trump administration and ms. rao. rules designed to protect workers from exposure to dangerous chemicals on the job rolled back again by ms. rao and the trump administration. the list can go on. this nominee's record shows, in my view, that an apology is not enough. even a written one, because the shocking and offensive views she put into words in the past are
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reflected by her work in the present. it's all right here in her resume as a trump official. she's responsible for those policies that lead to more discrimination. they're taking rights and protections awray from women, blacks -- away from women, blacks, and loo tee know americans. she doesn't even have a long record of legal experience on which she can fall back on and cite qualifications. her qualifications seem to be extreme views and membership in the far-right federalist society, a we will -- a well-ed fundeddoid group that the trump administration has empowered to fill the judiciary with extreme nominees. actions ms. rao has been green lighting have been challenged in court and rulings against them have made clear that the trump administration is willing to
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break the law to get their preferred ideological outcome. for example, just last week, a federal judge slammed ms. rao's actions to undo efforts to crack down on wage discrimination. the judge said ms. rao's decision was arbitrary. it was capricious and unsupported by any analysis. perhaps that's why during her nomination hearing she refused to recuse herself from cases involving issues she worked on during the trump administration. so here's my bottom line -- the senate has seen this before. trump nominees with extreme, offensive, and what are essentially incendiary writings from the past. in ms. rao's case, there are current examples of how she has not left those views in the
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past. when it was ryan bounds nominated to the ninth circuit, this body, the united states senate, stood up and said no. mr. bounds' views were extreme and more importantly, he knew it and he hid them from our bipartisan judicial review committee at home in oregon. in my view, it's time to take a stand once more in the senate for ms. rao's views are on display for all to see. i'm going to be a no on the nomination of neomi rao. i urge my colleagues to join me, and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands adjourned until 9:30 a.m. tomorrow.
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