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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  May 16, 2019 9:59am-12:00pm EDT

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others were written by people who are enslaved, but this is the only known existing manuscript in arabic written by a slave. >> watch american artifacts sunday at 6 p.m. eastern and c-span 3. this week our on-line video library has con at the point in time. all are available in the jop line library, view them free at c-span.org. we are live as the u.s. senate is it about to gavel in to hold votes on nominations for u.s. district court judge in louisiana, undersecretary of state for management, and deputy attorney general, the first two votes are at noon eastern.
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live coverage now of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. black, will open the senate with prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. redeemer and friend, the fountain of wisdom and strength, we borrow our heartbeats from you. today, guide our senators to new heights of achievement,
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providing them with robust health, faith for their perplexities, and light for the path ahead. lord, give them fulfillment as they strive to be instruments of your providence. supply their needs according to your riches in glory, giving them the serenity to accept what can't be changed, the courage to change what they can, and the wisdom to know one from the other. bring them to the end of this day with satisfied hearts and clear consciences. we pray in your strong name,
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amen. the president pro tempore: amen. please join me in the pledge of allegiance. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of americ, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 83, s. 1208. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 83, s. 1208, a bill to end the omnibus crime control and safe streets act and so forth and for other purposes. mr. grassley: i ask that the reading thus far constitute the reading of the bill. the presiding officer: without objection. is there objection to proceeding to the matter? without objection, the senate will proceed. mr. grassley: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the committee-reported amendment be agreed to, the bill, as amended, be considered read a third time. the presiding officer: is there objection?
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without objection. mr. grassley: i know of no further debate on the bill, as amended. the presiding officer: is there further debate? if not, all in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the bill, as amended, has passed. mr. grassley: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: i yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: yesterday, the senate voted to confirm kenneth lee of california to serve as a judge for the ninth circuit. yet another individual will uphold the rule of law as a federal judge. mr. lee is far from the only
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nominee to an important position whom the senate confirmed this week. on tuesday, we confidence michael truncale of texas to the federal bench in the eastern district of texas, and today we'll consider three more of the president's abundantly qualified picks to fill vacancies in the executive branch and in the judiciary. first we'll vote on wendy vitter of louisiana who's been nominated to be u.s. district court judge for the eastern district of louisiana. ms. vitter's impressive legal career includes experience in private practice and a decade in the new orleans parish district attorney's office where she handled more than 100 felony jury trials. ms. vitter has been favorably reported twice by the her colleagues on the judiciary committee. i would urge every one of our colleagues to vote to confirm her today. following the vitter nomination, we'll turn to brian bulatao, nominated to serve as under
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secretary of state for management. as i mentioned shall the job description is essentially that of chief operating officer at the state department, ensuring that tens of thousands of diplomats, civil servants and staff are provided for and a host of important missions around the world can actually be carried out. fortunately, we have a strong nominee who is up to the task. mr. bulatao is a graduate of west point and harvard business school. after service in the army, he founded a business and worked in financial management before entering public service as chief operating officer at the c.i.a. in chamber risch's assessment, he is eminently qualified. our colleagues on the foreign relations committee agree having favorably reported his nomination with no opposition. it's been 11 long months since the senate first received his nomination. 11 months. i'm glad that today we'll finally be able to put partisan
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delay behind us and get the nominee confirmed. finally, the senate will vote today on the nomination of jeffrey rose ton serve as deputy attorney general. as i have discussed earlier in the week, the president has chosen a nominee with rock-solid legal reputation. s a. served with distinction as the deputy secretary of transportation and who would be a clear asset to the department of justice and to the nation in this new capacity. so i would urge my colleagues to join me in voting to confirm each of these three well-qualified nominees for federal service. now, madam president, on another matter, this week i've been discussing the stark contrast between the remarkable opportunity economy that republican policies have helped unlock for the middle class and my democratic colleagues' hard tush towards far-left ideas that would stifle all this progress. our colleagues across the aisle, particularly over in the house, have given top billing to legislation that would end
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medicare, as seniors know it; eliminate every private health care plan; american families have chosen to meet their needs and replace all of it -- all of it -- with a one-size-fits-all government-run government system while piling heavy taxes on the middle class. and of course they've touted a proposal to drop an anvil -- an anvil on a high-speed u.s. economy and shove a host of new federal rules between american citizens and their everyday life choices, all in the name of going green. now, most of my colleagues across the aisle know full well what would happen if the supposed green new deal actually became reality. they know what winding down our affordable forms of domestic energy and the millions of jobs that support their production would do to a u.s. economy that's currently firing on all cylinders. they know what turning families
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on choices about where to live, what to drive, and how to make a living into washington's official business would mean for the historic levels of job opportunities and wage growth we've seen. all that have would come to to a screeching halt. remember, our democratic colleagues tried to claim this outlandish proposal -- truly outlandish proposal -- was just a conversation starter from the farthest left fringes. but then, madam president, push came to shove. then the american people really saw the score, because we brought the thing up for a vote right here on this floor. we had the vote and only four out of 47 senate democrats actually voted no. only four of the 47 voted against this plan to bring our
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economy to a screeching halt. 43 of our democratic colleagues couldn't bring themselves -- couldn't bring themselves -- to vote even against this. not the republican policy taken the exact opposite approach helped drive the unemployment lower than it's been in more than half a century. lower than it's been in a half-century. they want to bring all that to a screeching halts. not even as 19 different states have lit new record-low state unemployment rates in just the year and a half since republicans passed comprehensive tax reform. well, i've got good news for the american people. this republican majority is going to keep fighting for you. we won't let these far-left dreams get in the way of more progress for middle-class families.
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the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary. wendy vitter of louisiana to be united states district judge for the eastern district of louisiana. mr. mcconnell: 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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quorum call:
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mr. thune: madam president. the presiding officer: majority whip. mr. thune: madam president, i would ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: madam president, this week is national police week, a chance to reflect on the sacrifices of our nation's
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police officers and to thank them for everything that they do on our behalf. yesterday i spoke on the floor about military appreciation month, like members of the military, police officers are a special breed. they willingly rush into danger and put their lives on the line for the rest of us. that's not a natural human instinct, madam president, to rush into danger. most of us are inclined to run away from danger. but police officers do the opposite. they not only stand their ground in the face of danger, they walk into the midst of it to protect the rest of us. the centerpiece of national police week is peace officers memorial day which commemorates the sacrifices of all those who have given their lives in the line of duty. last year more than 100 police officers were killed in the line of duty. it's a powerful reminder that being a police officer is a dangerous job. "usa today" reports that 10% of
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police officers are assaulted every year. ten percent. police officers never know what they're going to face when they respond to a call, but they go in anyway. madam president, serving in law enforcement can take a toll. police officers, particularly those who specialize in investigating and responding to the worst crimes, have to see a lot of evil on a daily basis. it's yet another way they protect the rest of us, they face evil so we don't have to. yet, despite all that they do, they don't line up to be thanked. the police officers i meet tend to minimize their contributions. i'm just doing my job is a pretty frequent refrain. madam president, a lot of us don't interact with the police very frequently. we don't often see the work that they do to keep our towns and our cities safe. but being in congress has given me a chance to interact with police officers on a daily
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basis. the u.s. capitol building and the congressional office buildings where i work are protected by the men and women of the united states capitol police. i see them every day manning security checkpoints, directing traffic, standing on guard outside in the blazing sun or the cold rain, responding to incidents, protecting dignitaries and visitors. i know there's a lot they do that i don't see too, the countless things that go into keeping the capitol complex and the thousands of people who work here and visit here safe from threats. i was in the longworth house office building on september 11, 2001, when the planes hit the pentagon and the twin towers. once it became clear that our nation was in fact under attack, the entire capitol complex was evacuated. people were rushing, running out of the buildings. you know who wasn't running?
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the capitol police. they weren't going anywhere until they were sure that all of us had gotten out. since i became whip, i've gotten to know a number of the outstanding p plain clothes police officers who protect members of leadership. there are two members of the detail who stepped into the line of fire at the republicans' p baseball practice and prevented a terrible day from becoming much worse. many members of congress are safe today because of the actions of those police officers. madam president, here in the united states we're blessed with a peace and a safety that is denied to many around the world. it's important to remember that one of the big reasons that most of us are able to live free from fear is because of the countless police officers on duty around our country. they're there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
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, ready to step between us and danger. we owe these dedicated men and women a very great debt. as we observe police week, i want to say thank you, thank you to the police officers who serve across our country, thank you to their families who also sacrifice so that the rest of us can live in safety, and a special thank you to the capitol police and the police officers who keep the peace back home in south dakota. may god bless each of you. madam president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. madam president, i withhold that request for a quorum.
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a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: thank you, madam president. i'd ask consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: thank you, madam president. i have two issues i'll speak about. i'll start and also ask consent that the second set of remarks i have appear in a separate place in the record. prohibition without --. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: thank you, madam president. i come to the floor again this morning to discuss several judicial nominations considered by the senate this week. earlier this week the senate voted to confirm michael j. truncale to the eastern district of texas and kenneth lee to the ninth circuit court of appeals seat in california t. today we'll be voting on the nomination of wendy vitter to the eastern district of louisiana.
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the senate is considering and confirming nominees whose records indicate that they are far outside the mainstream. i've worked very hard over a number of years now -- i guess we're in our eighth year, working with senator toomey to fill district court vacancies in pennsylvania with well-qualified, experienced judges whom i believe will be able to set aside their ideology or personal beliefs and apply the law to the cases before them, but i do not have the same confidence in many of the nominees before this body today, and especially the nominees that were considered. and i would yield if the distinguished democratic leader wants to make his remarks at this time. or i'll continue.
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let me start with -- let me start with several of the nominees. i'll go in the order that i mentioned before. first of all, michael truncale and then kenneth lee and wendy vitter. i believe in all three cases all are not mainstream conservatives. their backgrounds and records are very political and they have long records of advocating for certain positions on issues that may come before them as either a united states district court judge or an appellate judge. first of all, mr. truncale has advocated strongly for the repeal of the affordable care act, which provided health care coverage and critical patient protections for 20 million people in terms of coverage and tens of millions more in terms of protection. he said that the affordable care
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act, quote, would lead to the rationing of health care, unquote. he has personally advocated for abolishing the department of education and used false claims of voter fraud to support voter i.d. laws that disproportionately affect lower-income voters and communities of color. second, kenneth lee was confirmed over the objections of both california senators, senator harris and senator feinstein, senator feinstein in this case being the ranking member of the judiciary committee, the very committee that considers judges p mr. lee has a litany of writings that include offensive statements about people of color and immigrants and lgbtq americans. he has strongly opposed -- opposed -- affirmative action policies and it's very possible that he may consider matters relating to these policies as a
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member of the ninth circuit. finally, wendy vitter, who has virtually no federal trial court experience, who has a long record of opposing contraception, and has promoted false information about the safety of oral contraceptives. these views are not only outside of the mainstream, the judicial, or legal mainstream, they are also not supported by science. i don't believe these nominees will be able to set aside their personal views and apply relevant precedent. my concern is compounded by recent efforts by conservative jurists to overturn long-standing precedents. most americans thought that the voting rights act, which for decades protected the franchise for americans of color and particularly black americans, was a foundational, almost untouchable statute. but in 2013, the conservative majority of the supreme court,
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which mass only gotten more conservative, moved to the right even more, that court, the supreme court, gutted the protections of the voting rights act in the shelby county v. holder case. just last year the janus decision, a decision in which the supreme court overturned a four decades' old precedent in the abaaoud case you that allowed private-sector unions to collect so-called fair-share fees to cover the cost of negotiations that benefit all workers. so you've got the union doing the work and the law allowed them for four decades to charge other employees that benefit from the work of the union, and the supreme court struck that down. pennsylvania passed a similar law in the 1980's which has been the law of the land for pennsylvania for years, signed into law in the late 1980's by my father when he was serving as
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governor. so that is an important issue in pennsylvania to working men and women. the conservative majority of the supreme court overturned the abaaoud case, eviscerating a precedent lauded by public-sector unions. i believe the next step by the far right and by this court and maybe by the supreme court and maybe other courts would be to make it illegal the very right to organize for wages and benefits. i hope i am wrong about that but i believe that is the next step -- the logical next step for the right. and just this week, a conservative majority of the supreme court overturned a 40-year precedent regarding states' sovereign immunity in the courts of other states. in the last line of his dissent, justice breyer sounded alarm bells about this kind of judicial activism from the
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right, saying, quote, today's decision can only cause one to wonder whether cases the court -- let me read that again. today's decision, quote, can only cause one to wonder which cases the court will overrule next. so said justice breyer, and he is right. we no longer know what is settled how and what could be up for debate. we thought that abaaoud was settled law in the context of labor unions and the right to organize or an issue related to the right to organize. we thought the voting rights act was settled law. this week we marked the 65th anniversary of brown v. board of education, the unanimous supreme court decision holding that segregation in our public school system, in addition to being a profound moral failure, was a violation of our constitution. i would hope -- we all would hope that brown -- brown v.
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board of education would remain rock-solid, settled law. yet we must stay vigilant. we cannot let civil rights that americans fought for and earned and have cherished for decades be chipped away by extreme judicial nominees who hold insuper-parable political and policy preamps. i oppose the nominees that the senate has considered this week, and i will continue to oppose extreme nominees to our federal courts. with that, i would yield the floor to the distinguished democratic leader. mr. schumer: well, i thank my colleague, senator casey, for, as usual, his thoughtful and erudite and on-the-money remarks -- this time about judges. and i am going to talk about that in a membership, but when -- in a minute, but we see something happening here. we see state after state trying
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to repeal roe. when we ask our republican colleagues directly, do you want to repeal roe, they're usually silent. but their votes ons judges say they do, and that's they're doing and the voters should hold them accountable. i'll get to the that in a minute, but i wanted to follow up on my good friend from pennsylvania's remarks on judges. yesterday the trump administration released the outlines of its plan for immigration reform. truth be told, the reported white house plan isn't a serious attempt at immigration reform. if anything, it is a political document that is anti-immigration reform. it repackages the same partisan, radical, anti-immigrant policies that the administration has pushed for two years, all of which have struggled to earn even a simple majority in the senate, let alone 60 votes.
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the hands of stephen miller are all over this plan and, of course, he had a watchful eye when other administration officials came into the republican lunch yet and talked about it. the plan they put together holds immigration precisely at current levels, meaning that for every new immigrant, the plan potentially lets in, it must kick one out. what kind of logic is that? what kind of hair-brained logic is that? the idea that for every immigrant you help, you have to hurt another? our cruel. it's like the pro-crustian bed of immigration policy. we need immigrants in america. our labor force is declining. you go to businesses at the high end, the middle end, and the low end, they say their greatest problem is a lack of workers. and we come up with a policy like this? make no mistake about it it is cruel and inhumane.
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but it also hurts our economy significantly. and if you don't believe me, talk to business leaders, any business leader you know. shockingly, the white house's immigration policy fails to deal with the 11 million undocumented immigrants now living in the united states. the white house press secretary said dreamers were, quote, left out on purpose. what does that say about the administration? that goes to the root of what's wrong with this administration's approach to immigration. and if they think they can repeat what they failed to do in the past, if they try to repeat it, okay, we'll let dreamers in but you accept a whole lot of bad things -- which is why immigration reform last time, last year -- it ain't happening. it ain't happening. so i would say two things. if you're going to do major immigration reform through copping, you're going to -- through congress, you're going to need bipartisan support. that means you sit down and talk
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to democrats. four of us on the democratic side, four of us on the republican side, in the gang of eight spent hours and weeks and months together and carved together a bill that got overwhelming support from republicans and democrats in this chamber and was overwhelmingly supported by the american people -- and still is. i think it's 68% now still support comprehensive immigration reform. but what does the white house dozen? typically, they -- but what does the white house do? typically they put together their own plan and say, democrats should support this. ain't going to happen. no consultation, no nothing. it's not the way you go about putting a bill that you really want to pass. iter not the way you go about things if you really want to solve our immigration problem. when stephen miller -- one of the president's most virulent immigration advisors is in the room -- it is a sure-fire
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failure. the fact that the president is announcing his bill provides a further by the of irony, because this afternoon -- bit of irony, because this afternoon the immigration meme opens up today. the statute of liberty reaches out to people from every corner of the globe and it towers over nearby ellis island where generations of hopeful strivers shuffled off boats into a new life, a new country and helped build america into the greatest country in the world. the white house immigration bill is an insult -- an insult -- to our grand tradition of welcoming immigrants from all walks of life. and it is an appropriate metaphor that the president is skipping the new statue of liberty museum to simply go to political fund-raisers, even though he is in new york.
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he skips real immigration reform and offers a political document on his trip -- and his trip to new york embodies that. ironically and met foreically. now, on iran, this has been a chaotic week in the news about the trump administration's position on iran. we have gone from reports that the trump administration's national security team was discussing possible troop deployments -- one newspaper, "the new york times," reported 120,000 -- to coverage now of infighting among the president's staff about the credibility of the threat from iran. as usual, the signals indicate chaos coming out of the white house. individuals fighting with each other, no real plan, no real pattern, and no discussion with the american people or with the congress. yesterday personnel were evacuated from our embassy in iraq and republicans in congress have now started to echo the same saber rattling we typically
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hear from folks like ambassador boll ton. at this moment, the only thing that is abundantly clear about the administration's iran policy is its lack of clarity and the lack of consultation with congress and with the american people. congress has not been fully informed about the intelligence. we have not been properly consulted about the administration's strategy, to the extent one exists. but, more importantly, the american people deserve to know what's going on here. they are rightfully skeptical and tired of the wars in the middle east, a skepticism many of my republican friends across the aisle don't seem to share. so we need to get a better public understanding of what president trump and republicans in congress plan to do. yesterday i called on the acting secretary of defense, shanahan, and the chairman of the joint chiefs, dunford, to testify publicly before the armed services committee so the american people can at least get an idea what's being cooked up
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here. we learned -- we learned, sadly, in iraq, when things are done behind closed doors, when the american people aren't fully informed, it can lead to significant foreign policy blunders. so they should come up here, general dunford, acting secretary shanahan, as well as secretary pompeo -- and i hope that request will be granted. now, on health care and our friends creating dissent graveyard as well as the abortion bill in alabama, the house has passed over 100 pieces of legislation, many of them with bipartisan support, only to get buried in this graveyard of a chamber. leader mcconnell, who controls the calendar, prefers to run it as a legislative graveyard. let's take health care as an example, the number-one issue the american people care about.
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our colleagues in the house passed a modest bill to protect families from getting charged more, if they have a preexisting condition. it should be bipartisan. and most republicans -- or many, at least, senate republicans say they agree with that policy when asked. but we have a bill that does it, and what does leader mcconnell do? he just deep-sixes is, sets aside another too many stone for his -- tombstone for his legislative graveyard. what bo today's house vote on another set of health care bills to help people with preexisting conditions and help them sign up for insurance? what is the fate of those bills in the senate? will leader mcconnell sentence them to the same legislative death as all these other proposals? or will leader mcconnell actually allow us to debate something of great importance to the american people? to amend it and then vote on it? hopefully it would pass. i believe it would.
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what is leader mcconnell afraid of? is he afraid that the american people will get protection from preexisting conditions? is he afraid he mig -- he might anger some special interests? is he afraid he might anger president trump? we have a higher obligation here. now, instead of debating those crucial pieces of legislation, leader mcconnell has treated the senate like a rubber stamp for the trump administration's often radical nominees. for three straight weeks, we've only processed nominations, including several judges who were either unqualified ideologues or merely unqualified. and this matters. the judges we have heard from are narrow. many have offered bigoted remarks in the past, really bigoted. they are not who a judge should be. a judge is supposed to be able to walk in the plaintiff's shoes and the defendant's shoes, and then come up with a decision
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that is governed by existing law. these people are ideologues. many of them stooges and act -- acolytes of the federalist society. now we have in alabama the most radical antiabortion bill in the country, inviting a challenge to the roe v. wade in the courts. so the evident by the republican leader to remake the federal judiciary into a conservative redoubt has a direct impact on these legal challenges. now, if you ask most of the republican members of this chamber are you for repealing roe v. wade hook, line, and sinker? they would say no, i'm not, or they would mostly be silent and afraid to answer, but then they vote for judges who want to do it, either frontally or by various deep cuts. when our republican friends vote for these radical, hard-right judges, they are saying they want to repeal roe v. wade, even
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if they won't say it directly. so i'd say to my colleagues, much as you prefer to remain silent on the alabama republican abortion bill, your votes for the hard-right, anti-roe judges speak volumes, volumes. and i'd say that the whole impetus of the alabama bill is now that we have very conservative anti-roe judges on the supreme court, supported universally by the members of the other side, they feel they have the boldness to introduce a bill that actually repeals roe instead of just curbing it. finally, something good that i think the administration has done. i was pleased for two reasons to see that the administration issued an executive order laying the groundwork for the commerce department to ban all purchases of telecommunications equipment from china's state-controlled firms. first, it was a good decision
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for our national security. we have long known the threat posed by foreign telecommunications companies, particularly chinese firms like huawei and z.t.e. the tentacles of the chinese government are deep in these two companies. our intelligence and defense communities, concerned about our own security here in america, have banned the use of huawei products in the military and labeled its technology a national security threat. that's serious stuff. so i applaud the decision to protect our networks from potential malware, foreign surveillance and cyber espionage, and i applaud the administration. they backed off on z.t.e. a year ago despite the overwhelming support in this chamber for not letting z.t.e. sell products, but they are now doing the right thing on huawei which is an even greater danger than z.t.e. and there is a second reason this is a good decision. aside from national security.
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it's called reciprocity. in america, we make great products, and time and time again when we make great products, the chinese don't let us sell them to china. they instead keep the product out, steal the technology, and then produce it themselves. well, it's about time there is a little fair play, a little fair play. china for years sells products likely with stolen i.p. here in the united states cheaply while denying american businesses access to its markets. reciprocity matters. a lot of people say to get china to negotiate, tariffs aren't the way to go. i've made my views on that clear, but reciprocity is another way to go. china, you don't let our best stuff in, we're not letting yours in. open up. play fair. because if we don't do something about china today, our economy
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will be second rate ten, 15 years from now, and our children and grandchildren will suffer economically. make no mistake about it. telecommunications, especially 5-g technology, are already a major focus of american innovation. we shouldn't let chinese companies worm in on the cheap -- on the cheap and put american businesses at a disadvantage. the united states with our allies should lead to the development of safe, secure, and economically viable alternative to the 5-g architecture of firms like huawei that are subject to the infiltration by the chinese government, which has shown no qualms about stealing everything of our intellectual property they can. and i would say to our european, japanese, australian, other allies, stick with us on this. it will benefit everybody, everybody. china has been our number one global competitor, and it's
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about time they played fair. what was done yesterday with huawei by secretary ross will help make that happen, and it's a very good decision. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: mr. president, i have come to the floor today to join -- be joined soon by my colleague and cochair of the senate law enforcement caucus, senator coons, to honor the men and women that work for us every day that help protect us every day during police week. this is an annual event. it brings law enforcement officers to washington from around the country and of course including my state of missouri. now, as it turns out, police week is really a bad week to rob a store in washington. a town full of policemen, and just last week several would-be
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robbers came out of a robbery and almost ran into a group of st. louis area policemen and a new jersey policeman. they immediately chased down and arrested the perpetrators of that crime, so criminals are often not very smart but you have to be particularly not smart to decide you're going to rob a store in washington during police week, and thank goodness those who serve us, those who wear blue and work to serve us and protect us every day even do that when they're off duty and hundreds of miles away from home, so congratulations to those officers for what they did while they're here, and nobody's very surprised by that. really, when senator coons and i came to the senate a little over eight years ago, we started trying to find a law enforcement caucus to join and find out
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there wasn't one, and so senator coons said to me let's just start one, and we did. this is the week we get a chance every year to talk about specifically what happens this week. we look for opportunities through the year to, one, honor the people who work here protecting us every day and, two, to talk about things happening in the country that affect people who protect us -- protect police and sheriff's departments. this is a time of year, frankly, when the tragic loss to family is so evident as we add people to the police memorial, four missourians were added to that list this year. deputy shaver aaron paul roberts of the green county sheriff's office, the county i live in, died when his patrol car was swept into the palm de terre river after he responded to a 911 call.
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deputy roberts had served with the sheriff's office for a year, but he had previously been in the willard police department for four years. he is survived by his wife, by his daughter, by his parents. in april of 2018, miller county deputy sheriff casey shumate was killed when his vehicle collided with an oncoming vehicle while responding to a structure fire. he had served in that department for about a year as well, but he had previously worked in two other missouri police departments, and he is survived by his two children, his fiancee, his parents, and his siblings. in march of 2018, clinton mr. president officer chris morton was shot and killed when he and two other officers responded to a 911 call. as officer martin and his colleagues arrived at the scene, a man began shooting at him, the officers returned fire, they entered the building. the subject continued firing.
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he fatally wounded officer morton and injured two of officer morton's colleagues who i had a chance to visit with at that department not long after this incident. he had been -- officer morton had been the clinton -- with the clinton police department for three years. prior to doing that, he had served in the u.s. military through the missouri army national guard. he had been deployed to kosovo. he had been deployed to afghanistan. his parents and siblings, i know, worried about him there, but wouldn't have in their wildest imagination thought that he would be killed at home, near his hometown in reacting to a call, a 911 call from a house. in march of last year, f.b.i. special agent melissa morrow of kansas city died from a brain cancer that she had developed following the 9/11 terrorist attack on the pentagon. she had been assigned to the
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evidence response team of the f.b.i. washington field office, had spent ten weeks covering -- recovery weeks after that event and processing evidence from the site in hazardous conditions. melissa is survived by her parents, her sister, a niece, and a nephew. the names of these fallen men and women were added to the national law enforcement officers memorial here in washington and to the wall of honor at the missouri law enforcement memorial over the last months. they will be remembered by people who benefited from and remember their bravery, their dedication, and their sacrifice. this is a time when we honor those who serve us and particularly lives that have been lost, but it's also the time we think about the things we can do to serve them in a better way, to be sure that they
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have the equipment they need, the resources they need, the training they need. i mentioned an event earlier today that -- for the last 50 years, law enforcement and the emergency rooms have also been, unfortunately for everybody involved, the de facto mental health delivery system in the country. officers now take that crisis intervention training to be sure that they are really prepared when they are dealing with someone whose intent is not criminal, but their activities are impacted by their mental health issues and what to do in that situation so that everybody is better served. we have worked hard to see that the regional information sharing system in our state, headquartered in springfield, is properly funded. high-intensity drug trafficking areas, the center for our region there is kansas city, are things that senator coons and i have worked together on to do our
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best to fund. and for two different times now, we have worked together to extend the victims of child abuse program. last year, we again introduced the bill -- i think the previous extension had been a five-year extension. we came to the end of that. this is the program where at 23 centers in missouri, people understand how to get the forensic information testimony they need from kids who have either been the victims of crimes or witnesses of crimes. every law enforcement person i talked to, senator coons, every prosecutor i've talked to believes that what happens at these victims of child abuse centers can't be replaced anywhere else, and now we're working together on the national law enforcement museum commemorative coin act, a bill that the congress passed last year and the house passed last year -- i'm sorry.
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the senate passed last year with our efforts. the house didn't get to it. we want to do that again. the law enforcement museum in washington would be the beneficiary of the proceeds from that coin after the cost of the coin is paid. we're going to be working together on that. i have worked -- we have worked with other colleagues. i have worked with senator pat roberts from kansas on the kelsey smith act. it's named after kelsey smith who wasn't found, 18-year-old kelsey smith who was abducted and murdered in 2007. this bill strengthens the ability of law enforcement to get the information they need, the quick access to someone's cell phone that gives you the information of where they might still be or where they last were when they separated from that phone if that's what had happened. senator stabenow and i are continuing to work on the mental health and addiction treatment
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act, something that every time we have support testimony on that act, it always involved law enforcement who want more focus on mental health court, more focus on drug court, but particularly more focus on the ability of officers to deal with the situation in the best possible way when they come upon that situation. remembering those who have fallen, continuing to work for those who stand up for us and run to the side of danger as they shield us from danger is an important thing, and i'm glad to be joined today by my good friend, senator coons, from delaware. mr. coons: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. coons: mr. president, it is an honor and a joy for me to come to the floor today not just as the senator representing delaware but as the cochair of the senate law enforcement caucus, which i am very proud to have the chance to lead with my friend and colleague, senator blunt of missouri, as you've just heard. he has recited some of the many
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ways we have been able to work together. he is a seasoned appropriator, someone experienced in the house of representatives, in the private sector, at home leading an educational institution, state and local government, along with my experience until the local government and private sector has allowed us to do i think really good and positive things for the men and women of law enforcement. this is national police week, an opportunity for us to not just here in the senate but all over the country to thank the men and women of law enforcement, to thank the hundreds of thousands of men and women in state and local law enforcement as well as in federal law enforcement agencies who make possible the opportunity we have to enjoy our freedoms. our basic safety, our ability to travel far and wide to speak and to live and to praise and believe as we hope, all of this is made possible really because of the ways in which our law enforcement officers guarantee those freedoms by literally putting their lives on the line for us each and every day. for that we are eternally
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grateful. the law enforcement caucus which senator blunt and i founded has held a number of, i think, engaging and important bipartisan sessions. you heard the senator reference things like the high-intensity drug trafficking area program or the regional intelligence-sharing system that helps to connect resources between federal and state and local law enforcement. we also recently had a session on sharing relationship-building models where we had folks in from delaware and missouri to talk about how law enforcement serves as positive role models and mentors in the community through terrific programs. i look forward to continuing to work with my friend and colleague, senator blunt, on these issues in the year ahead in the law enforcement caucus and to talk briefly on the floor here today about how we should not just give great speeches but actually take important actions to demonstrate to the families, to the men and women of law enforcement that we care deeply about their service and about
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whether they come home at the end of their shift. i serve on the senate judiciary committee. we have recently on a unanimous basis advanced a series of bills that will help advance officers' safety, not least of which is making permanent the federal bullet-proof vest partnership program that has literally saved lives all over the country. the capitol police, the police who protect delaware's capitol and our courthouse had a dramatic and personal experience with that when two law enforcement officers lives were saved when they were shot in the line of duty and it was only because they were wearing vests made possible by this federal-state partnership that they survived. i'll continue to work to support the cops program which ensures we have officers on the ground in communities large and small. in delaware, cheswald, ocean view, smyrna, my home city of wilmington have been able to hire new officers in recent years because of the cops program. we're working together on the reforms for the public safety officers benefits program to ensure the families of officers who are permanently disabled or
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who lose their lives in the line of duty receive the benefits which they richly deserve. let me if i might, given the present time conclude by thanking and honoring a few specific officers from delaware's law enforcement community for their service this past year. we have not had any delawareans names added to the wall of honor referenced by the senator from missouri, but all of us who have affection for and support the law enforcement community in delaware know that we are simply blessed this year to have not joined that terrible roll of great honor of those who have given their lives in the line of duty. let me thank sergeant paul daugherty of the delaware state police awarded the memorial award as the crime stoppers law enforcement officer of the year. his investigate yoar work to follow up on a robbery led to the apprehension of serial dangerous criminals who harmed other delawareans. let me horn detective jonathan moier who led investigation of fraud and theft.
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detective ryan schmitt from the delaware police department, a six-year veteran of that department and maintained 84% in investigating burglaries, robberies and attempted murder and assault, homicide. let me recognize brad cordry, delaware's child welfare professional of the year and served under georgetown chief of police who said, quote, brad's dedication, compassion and tenacity to solve serious cases are unmatched. there is so much more i could say but given the number of my colleagues who have come to the floor to speak, let me conclude by simply saying how grateful all of us are to the men and women of law enforcement and on this police week what a great blessing it is to be able to continue to work with my colleague, senator blunt of missouri, in cochairing the law enforcement caucus in this congress and hopefully for many years to come. thank you, mr. president. with that, i yield the floor. mr. casey: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: mr. president, i rise today to discuss the
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senate's failure to meet its constitutional obligation and conduct effective oversight of what seems to me and many others to be this administration's inexorability march toward war with iran. this week "the new york times" reported that the trump administration is making plans to deploy 120,000 american troops to the middle east in anticipation of a confrontation with iran. it's no secret that some of the president's closest advisors are focused on regime change and possibly military engagement with iran. i was encouraged by a story in "the washington post" that was posted last night. the headline of that story read as follows, quote, trump, frustrated by advisors, is not
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convinced the time is right to attack iran. unquote. that was the headline in the version of the story that i saw reported by four "washington post" reporters. in pertinent part, the story read as follows and indicated the president thinks his advisors, and now i'm quoting, quote, could rush the u.s. into a military confrontation with iran, and then it goes on to further state, and again quoting, trump prefers a diplomatic approach to resolving tensions, unquote. so i'm encouraged by that, but we have to be vigilant when it comes to this issue and the broader issue of the use of force. the plans that i mentioned before referred to by "the new york times" apparently were submitted bill acting defense secretary shanahan. these are the most recent in a
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string of actions this administration has taken, from withdrawing from the 2015 iraq -- i should say 2015 iran nuclear agreement to designating the iranian revolutionary guard corps, the so-called irgc, as a foreign terrorist organization, to suspending waivers that allow partner countries to continue importing iranian oil. i have a long record of working to fight against iranian aggression. we all know, and we've said it often and we should say it again, iran is and has been the leading state sponsor of terrorism. so many of us in a bipartisan way for years have led efforts to confront iran, to sanction iran, to hold iran accountable for its maligned activity and actions in the middle east and its actions to support terrorist
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organizations, whether it's hezbollah or any other terrorist organization. so that's bipartisan. we will continue that regardless of this debate. but when the "new york times" talked about that military plan, they referred to a prior engagement, a prior military conflict, the conflict in iraq. quote -- and i'm quoting "the new york times" -- echoes of iraq war was what the "times" said. these echoes trigger memories and reflections of a misguided period of this body's history in which congress approved the united states invasion of iraq based upon faulty intelligence. by the end of that long war, thousands of americans were killed. many more americans were wounded. just in pennsylvania alone, 197 pennsylvanians killed in action
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in the iraq war. more than 1,200 were wounded. and i haven't even talked about the conflict in afghanistan where pennsylvania lost more than 90. the last number i saw was 91 pennsylvanians killed in action in afghanistan. so pennsylvania is well familiar with contributing fighting men and women to conflicts from the beginning of our republic until this very day. the administration's actions on iran also echo our ongoing stalemate. and stalemate might be an understatement, regarding the authorization for the use of military force, so-called aumf against isis, for example. if we don't debate and vote on an aumf as it relates to iran or any other country or any other conflict, we are not doing our
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job. for six years the united states has been engaged in the fight against isis in iraq and syria. for many years the executive branch has relied on the 2001 authorization for the use of military force to justify its fight against isis as well as to justify other military engagements. i asked majority leader mcconnell to set aside time for sustained debate and votes on a new authorization for the use of military force. last month secretary of state pompeo complied -- implied during testimony in front of the foreign relations committee of the senate that the 2001 aumf to go after al-qaeda and its affiliates authorizes war with
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iran. a lot of people would disagree with that. i believe an 18-year-old authorization needs another update. the threats we have today have evolved since 2001. as this administration seeks to link al qaeda and iran in anticipation of a military confrontation, i am concerned over bipartisan, bipartisan failure to hold both this and the prior administration to account for its constitutional overreach over congressional authority. i commend senator kaine and other senators and those who for years sometimes in both parties for efforts over the last number of years to force a debate of congressional oversight over this issue. the majority leader should allow floor time and a robust debate on congressional war powers and oversight over the executive's unilateral actions that send
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american troops overseas. the debate on the yemen resolution and the vote, and several votes actually on that, demonstrated that there is bipartisan concern over the use of force. but we need a broader debate than we had in the debate on the yemen resolution. as this administration pursues a reckless strategy with iran, it's time for a sustained debate and vote on a new authorization for the use of military force that allows our nation to in fact destroy terrorists and fight threats to u.s. national security but doesn't result in endless war. the 2001 and 2002 authorization for the use of military force authorizing military action in iraq and afghanistan are outdated and must be replaced. mr. president, i'll conclude with some words from abraham
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lincoln in that now famous letter to mrs. bixby where he talked about in this letter her loss of her sons' lives in the civil war. it turned out when they did the checks on it to be two sons. when the president was writing he thought she had lost five sons. but we still have families that suffer the loss of a son or a daughter in conflict, we hope not as many as two or more. but in this case president lincoln said, he started in the second paragraph with this line, the grief of a loss so overwhelming. and then he goes on to say to this grieving mother, but i cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the republic they died to save. i pray that our heavenly father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement and leave you only the cherished memory of the
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loved and lost and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom, unquote. so said president lincoln. at that time. and the words still ring true today. the grief of a loss so overwhelming, the memory of the loved and lost -- and then it goes on to say -- so costly a sacrifice. every president -- every president should read this letter as he or she deliberates about the use of force that commits our sons and daughters to fight and risk their lives. when we talk about so costly a sacrifice, we all know what happened in our states. military families in pennsylvania in the conflict in iraq and afghanistan endured so costly a sacrifice.
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i hope president trump will reread that letter as he deliberates our next steps with regard to iran and our next steps with regard to the authorization for the use of military force. mr. president, i would yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, while we're setting up a few things here, i have a number -- a number of -- a unanimous consent request. i ask, as if in legislative session, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of h.r. 2379. the presiding officer: the clerk will report.
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the clerk: h.r. 1379 -- 2379, an act to reauthorize the bulletproof grant program. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection? mr. leahy: i ask that the bill be considered read a third time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: i know of no further debate on the bill. the presiding officer: if there's no further debate on passage of the bill, all in favor say aye. all opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. mr. leahy: mr. president i ask unanimous consent that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president, this
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may seem like just a per -- perfunctory thing, but i want to speak about what we just did. the senate passed legislation to permanently reauthorize the bulletproof vest program. this is the sixth time i have worked to reauthorize this program since my republican partner ben nighthorse campbell, of colorado, when we established this legislation more than 20 years ago. my commitment to reauthorize this program as we reauthorized it and reauthorized it was, in part, motivated by a horrific incident the year before
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congressman nighthorse and i implemented it. a man went on a killing spree on the vermont and new hampshire border, after hours of pursuit, federal and state and local authorities in vermont and new hampshire cornered the man. during the shootout, all of the federal law enforcement officers involved were wearing bulletproof vest. one was an officer who i remember as a child. he was seriously wounded. in fact, at that time the f.b.i. director, louie freeh, he and his family were staying with us
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in our home in vermont. we vent to visit officer phifer in the hospital where he was a u.s. border patrol agent and grievously wounded. but he later survived and became chief patrol agent of the sector. and i always feared, and i believe he agrees, if not for his bulletproof vest, the outcome for john and his family may have been much worse. but some of the state and local officers involved weren't that fortunate. two new hampshire state troopers were killed. they were not wearing bulletproof vests. i don't know whether a vest would have saved their lives, but let us hope they would have. but one thing i do know, no officer should have to serve without the benefit of wearing a
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bulletproof vest. that's what this program is all about. i'm immensely proud of it. it's the most tangible support that all of us in congress, both parties, can provide to our nation's law enforcement officers. to this day, for far too many jurisdictions, especially rural and smaller agencies, vests cost too much. they ware out too soon -- they wear out too soon. this program fills in the gap. it has provided more than 13,000 law enforcement agencies with $ 1.350 -- with one million 350,000 vests. it saved the lives of countless officers, several of whom shared their stories with the judiciary committee in the senate during the previous years. in fact, according to the government accountability office, more than 3,000
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officers' lives have been saved by vests since 1987. it makes me very proud to know that they can be with their family and their departments. now, just yesterday my office received a call from the union city police department in georgia. last month one of its officer, officer jerome turner jr., who is shown in this photograph, he was shot multiple times while responding to a call. one round hit him directly in the chest, that would have been immediately fatal but did not get through his bulletproof vest. when backup arrived, they found officer turner on the ground from other injuries and underwent six hours of surgery, but he lived. his department called yesterday to tell me the vest had saved his life and that vest was purchased through this program.
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both -- everybody in my office and i just applauded at that news. and my staff had a chance to talk with officer turner. he's still recovering but he said he's awfully happy to be home with his family. his family he might never have seen again. he also said, what we all know to be true, the bulletproof vest partnership program is critical to ensuring officers around the country can return home to their families after their shift. now, officer turner knows a lot about this program. it turns out the previous -- he previously served as the chief of police in a small town in florida, the presiding officer's state. he used this program to outfit his officers with protective vests to keep his officers safe while they are protecting us.
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now this week is national police week. it's a time for the nation to honor the many brave men and women in law enforcement who have lost their lives serving their communities. that includes the 163 officers lost last year, 52 of them killed by gunfire. but the fact that congress has now passed legislation to permanently reauthorize this program, that places real meaning behind our words attribute. in the -- and the legislation also increases funding for vests as year after year only a fraction of the need is met. now, this program is not now, nor has it ever been, partisan. as i said when we started, ben
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knighthorse campbell, of colorado, and i started it. and i'm especially grateful to senator lindsey graham for being the lead cosponsor of both this and the last authorization. last week our bill was being considered by the judiciary committee. i've got to admit i was a bit surprised and very humbled when chairman graham called up an amendment to name the program after me. i think it got a unanimous vote, republicans and democrats, did so. while the program is personal to me, i'm always going to be thankful. it's personally certain to the officers who wear these vests. but i want to thank my many staff who worked on this program for 22 years. they have worked on it, and i would ask consent that i be able
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to submit a list of many of those who have worked on it over the years. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: but i'm also thankful to the entire law enforcement community. they've spoken with a single voice on this issue -- a single voice. i'd like to thank chuck canterbury and tim pass cal, and tim richardson, with the fraternal order of police, the f.o.p. has strongly supported this program from the beginning. they've been there for each of the six reauthorizations. now, without this legislation, the bulletproof vest partnership program would expire next year, and once this legislation is signed into law, it will never expire. it's already -- it has already saved the lives of so many. it placed the vests on the backs
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of our officers and now we know that million more officers will be protected. millions of officers like officer turner will be able to come home to their families. i wonder if the senate would allow me to tell a story. when we were doing a reauthorization, i asked a police officer from pennsylvania to come and testify. he was there. he had his parents, his wife, and his children sitting behind him. he gave very moving testimony. he said the two most important things to him in life were his family and his law enforcement. and he told about how a short while before he had stopped a car on a routine traffic stop. he was getting out of his police car, and the person in the other
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one stepped out, fired four shots pointblank at him and he fell over. others caught the person. he said, as i was falling, i thought i'd never see my family again. he said, i had a couple of cracked ribs. they came to visit me in the hospital. i went back home with them. their love and care, and then i went back to work. and he said, but what saved me, and he reached under the table, held up a bulletproof vest that you could still see three large cal better slug -- large caliber slugs embedded in it -- those would have been in my heart and i never would have seen my family. i never would have gone back to
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law enforcement. after his testimony, i moved -- i was chairman at that time of the judiciary committee, i asked if we could have a unanimous vote to reauthorize. it was the fastest unanimous vote i can remember in that committee. but as i said then and i'll say now, this is the least congress can do on behalf of our nation's law enforcement officers. obviously i'm proud to have the legislation named after me, but i am proud of all the senators, republicans and democrats, who over the last 28-plus years have supported it. i'm glad we've done it. now it will head to the president for signature and i'm sure the president will sign it without delay. so i see nobody else seeking recognition, mr. president, and i would suggest the absence of a
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quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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