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tv   AG Sessions Testifies on Agencys Budget  CSPAN  May 14, 2018 5:49pm-8:06pm EDT

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that illinois might not be ready to implement some possible changes. and i shared the language over the weekend with the agency that would run any program that would be implemented in this bill. and i got a message that -- i got a message back that after reading the bill, they're glad with the two-year implementation, but they believe they can implement a program. but they also understand too that what has been introduced today is not likely to be the final version. and i agree with my colleague, mr. nolan from minnesota, when he says that usually the committee's position prevails. and i also believe that the best place for regular order is right here in the committee. and the difference between today and four years ago is that we had a wide variety of amendments to try and change the process. if you didn't like the bill, if i didn't like a part of the
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bill, that's why i introduced amendments today. that's what's missing. that's where the bipartisanship was four years ago, was through this regular order in this committee. and look, we may differ philosophically on to make any comments about illino illinois. >> just quickly, that was also made to me and my staff and hhs of the state of illinois. we had heard those comments first. after looking it over, he thought two years was enough time for implementation. >> well, i believe that -- i believe that bureaucracy in states like illinois can implement the changes we make federally. if there are problems that exist in the future, let's work to fix
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those. but in the end i go back to my district and i go back to a state that had double-digit unemployment not too long ago and caterpillar expanding into my district. these are not just entry-level jobs. they're good-paying jobs. the problem is that they can't get people who are trained to build the trucks being built in a community that was double-digit unemployment not too long ago. why don't we invest in the families in and around decatur by doing something different, by giving them a chance? that's exactly why we've got -- in states that have implemented work requirements like we're proposing today, enrollees went back to work, their income more than doubled. workers didn't just go back to low-paying jobs but places like caterpillar and adm. and the end result was the amount of people needing those
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benefits were reduced by half. our goal should be to get people in those jobs around the country. i don't know your district as well as i know mine n mine this is going to be something that families can take advantage of. if there are problems, amend the bill here. if there are not and you still have problems, let's see the results and take the bill to the floor. with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> mr. lawson, five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and ranking member. in my district one, every four floridians have received food stamps at least once. that's much higher than the state average. snap employment program i worry about the rural communities.
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in north florida congressman scott and congressman dunn. and we have similar type problems. and they go to congressman yoho. we have similar problems in terms of transportation, for people who would need to go to a training center. for example, in jenning, it's about 100 miles round trip. so, in essence, transportation become a very big issue for the people who own the snap program. i really thought that here in congress that some of these details would really be worked
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out. i heard congressman davis said we could accomplish a lot of this through the mandatory process and kind of work out some of these issues. if that is the case, you know, i agree with him. but i think the way that you would do it is not in this markup but to go back into a subcommittee and to make sure that we accomplish so many things that congressman dauvs talked about, which i think if everybody agreed, this should be a nonpartisan issue, we don't have to really go back into the subcommittee and debate the issue on both sides of the aisle and see which way should we actually go. what is best for the people. i think we forget sometimes how difficult it is for people who have lesser means. that's one of the reasons they sent us here and the same reason
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they lose confidence in us. and they lose confidence on us because one person sent a notice and said don't go up to congress and get like the rest of them, you know. and i said, well, what does that mean? these are good people up in congress. these are people who tear kacar the american people. these are the people who would like to work the situation out for the best of everyone. that was the general opinion that many of our constituents have about us. i would say to you, mr. chairman, you do hard work and it comes down to a situation like this where you don't have unanimity among people on this committee. i wanted very much to vote for this bill that we have in front of us, but i can't do it knowing that we are affecting the lives
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of a lot of poor people, you know. we can get by. some of us can get by. but henry crom don't have a choice. he depends on what kind of work we're going to do for him and his family and i don't think that we are there yet. i think that we can get there. i have looked around at a lot of these committee members on both sides. these are very smart people up here. staff as well as members on this committee. and i like to do our best work. and i think we have the opportunity that we can do our work. i have noticed many of you over the last year and a half, and i'm confident that we have that capacity. and i don't see why we can't utilize that capacity. some of the smartest people in america is on this committee. there's no question about it. and once you get all the
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academia behind you, it still comes down to who are those who are less fortunate that we need to give more concern to? and that's where we are. and i'm hopeful that eventually that we can get there because they are the ones who wake up tomorrow with nothing on the table. and i yield back, mr. chairman. >> are there other amendments to title iv? well, everybody had a five-minute bite at the apple. are there other amendments? recognize mr. walsh for five minutes. >> that's why i'm going to yield to one of those smart people, mr. mcgovern. >> i thank the gentleman for yielding. i'm amazed at how this markup has evolved. in the beginning, my friends on the other side were talking
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about how these provisions were the greatest thing since slice bread. they were wonderful and then mr. davis basically said don't pay attention to what's in the bill. you may think it's bad but this is the beginning of a process. it will change and change and maybe get better. here is a radical idea. why don't we start off with the very best product we can? rather than something that nobody knows very much about in terms of how it will impact the most vulnerable communities or how our states will do with it? because our states are calling us now, wondering what this all means and how much money is going to be provided. the problem with this work proposal that is in this bill is that it is underfunded and unworkable. so, states would have to develop massive new bureaucracies that would need to track millions of snap recipients. the problem is the bill doesn't provide the necessary money to do that. job training is already an
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option under existing snap law but states rarely offer them due to that ircost. research, which is something you would learn in a hearing, but that shows employment and training opportunities like the one the chairman has talked about and chairman of the subcommittee has talked about, costs between $17,500 per participant. if at least 3 million snap participants needed work slots by 2021, it would cost $15 billion per year or $150 billion over ten years. this bill provides a mere $7.65 billion. that's it. we can talk about work training and opportunities all we want but you're not funding them. what you're doing is creating a new bureaucracy that will not
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work. you are jeopardizing food benefits for some of the most vulnerable people in this country and i will repeat again, we could have avoided this, if we had done hearings on what we are talking about here today. because the hearings i sat through, and many of you did, the 23 hearings, this was not the focus. we weren't analyzing this plan. there's no language out there to ask witnesses to react to. so, again, i mean, understand what our concern is here today. i find it amusing that we've gone from oh, this is great to oh, don't pay attention to details. maybe it will get better down the road. that shouldn't be the standard for this committee. we should have higher standards. and, again, the people who benefit from this program deserve a heck of a lot better. i thank the gentleman and yield
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back. >> gentleman may inquire. >> are you accepting stories to be submitted? >> without objection. >> any other amendments to the nutrition title? >> none. >> it's open for amendment. anyone wish to offer amendment on the credit title? seeing none, we'll close out the credit title. anyone want to offer up an amendment on the rural economic development title? seeing none does anybody want to offer up an amendment on the research extension and related matters title? mr. yoho? >> mr. chairman is that title ix? >> no, it's title vii. >> i'll hold. >> we'll close out that title. title viii, forestry title, would anyone like to offer up an
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amendment for the forestry title? seeing none, i'll close out the forestry title. would anyone like to offer an amendment on title ix, the agricultu agriculture? >> for nearly 2 1/2 decades the food and drug administration -- >> everybody take your conversations out of the room. please take your conversations out of the room. and shut the door. the gentleman can continue. >> thank you, mr. chairman. for nearly 2 1/2 decades the food and drug administration has been regulating products of animal biotechnology, lacking any regulatory authority to do so. fda assume d authority.
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fda announced they would also like to regulate gene-edited animals with no foreign dna, as an animal drug. the question we need to ask is why. if animal biotechnology is a drug, it means a long regulatory process for these products and farmers and ranchers who raise these animals could have to register with fda as drug producers. can you imagine a hog farm having to reach drug standards? only two have been approved for commercial use. this means valuable products critical for protecting human health are being deterred from coming to market. an mal welfare products can't come to the market. my amendment would direct the usda to work with the fda to identify what existing authorities might be better suited to regulate these products and report back to
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congress, give congress the grounds we need to act to ensure that products that can help to protect animal health and promote animal welfare can have a predictable and appropriate path forward and get the regulatory structure right. thank you, mr. chairman. at this time, i will withdrawal my amendment. >> without objection the gentleman withdrawals his amendment. further amendments to title ix? seeing none we'll close out title ix. title x is now available. any amendments to crop insurance? seeing none, we'll close out crop insurance. finally any amendments on title xi, the miscellaneous title? >> i would like to share my amendment at the desk. >> the gentleman is recognized for five minutes.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman. this is known in the last farm bill as the king amendment but i prefer to call it the protect interstate commerce amendment. what it does, it recognizes that we have multiple states across the country -- those states have grown since the last time we marked up the farm bill. there were only a couple of them at the time past regulations that regulated the means of production of common agriculture products in other states. for example, california's regulations, we have inspectors from california that now travel around iowa with their tape measurers and measure the cage sizes of our laying hens in iowa. gestation states, meat produced in a fashion that they disapprove. and it goes on with stalls for veal calves and prohibition for feeting ducks and geez and a number of other things.
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it's getting worse. this is something that came to me about eight years ago that it's a violation of the commerce clause of our constitution. it is enumerated power, the authority to regulate interstate commerce. they are free to regulate intrastate commerce. within their state boundaries. we do say if you want a regulation that goes outside those state boundaries you have to come to congress to do that. founding fathers wanted to see a free trade zone between the original 13 colonies because they knew states would put up barriers if they did not have the clause in the constitution. they drafted the commerce clause in our constitution to prohibit trade wars between the states. i've been a strong proponent of free trade. most of the countries we've negotiated bilateral agreements
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with to promote free trade. we're vulnerable to this accusation, you don't have free trade between your own states. how can you at all for free trade among the nations states? about four years ago, it will be worse if we don't do this now. i thought it would be a little worse than it is right now. it is getting worse. there are at least two different lawsuits that have been filed to address this thing through litigation. there's also been the problem of decisions made at the lower courts denying standing for some of the entities and now i believe there's two states that have filed suits that they want to bring directly to the supreme court. the bottom line is this. we can't be telling -- we can't let every state decide what's going to go on in all the other states who refuse to accept
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their products. this is a very clean restoration of the commerce clause of our constitution. it passed out of this committee by voice vote last time. only place i'm finding opposition to this are states that are trying to regulate other states from within their state boundaries. it deserves the adoption and i yield back the balance of my time. >> mr. denman you're recognized for five minutes. >> replacing it with provision that requires usda to analyze regulation and how that interacts with -- mr. king fundamentally undermines the clause. the tenth amendment reserves powers to the states of the people, the power to preserve and protect the safety, health,
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welfare and morals of the community. i'm fully aware of the opposition that my state has enforced as well as ongoing legal efforts to nullify them. this proposal goes far beyond attacking california egg production and guise of protecting interstate commerce. it indiscriminately targets any and allstate laws that can be deemed a burden to out-of-state entities. in california prop 2 was passed by the popular vote of the people. these are just a few of the areas states will be restricted from acting upon invasive pest and disease protections, food and product safety, animal disease testing, and imported product reviews. there will be a lot of opportunities for members of either side of the aisle to take
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advantage of this new provision on any issue they don't like coming from another state. nearly every single state represented by a member on it committee has laws that will be targeted by lawsuits or eliminated outright. laws that are intended to keep our constituents and state industries safe. the amendment goes further tart to create uncertainty for a broad private right for action. any kind of person to sue at state and local governments for any type of regulation and seek damages for economic loss. this only serves to turn our country from an economic engine into a lawsuit factory. as congress, it is our responsibility to uphold the totality of the constitution, even when the consequences of adhering to it are not perfectly convenient for all, at all times. if the burden of state laws is so overwhelming to our agriculture industry and domestic economy, there should
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be a more analytical approach. my amendment calls for usda to examine existing state laws and their impact on u.s. commerce, the resulting report will be useful tool for this committee and congress as it considers federal policies with potential implication force our states. the king amendment is dangerously vague and broad sweeping and i urge my colleagues to vote yes on my substitute amendment. >> the gentleman yields back? >> and i yield back. >> is there a debate on this amendment? >> mr. chairman? thank you, mr. chairman. i support the underlying amendment offered by the gentleman from iowa and opposed to the substitute amendment and would urge my colleagues to vote against that for the underlying provision. we don't need to do a study of the commerce clause of the united states constitution. the constitution is clear it is the federal government that
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regulates interstate commerce and not the state of california or any other state. and the impact of leaving this unchecked is, i think, very devastating to our economy. our economy was built upon the concept that we had one opened opportunity to sell goods all across america and we had a failed articles of con federation before we adopted our constitution. one of the primary reasons the constitution was adopted to ensure that state koss not regulate businesses outside their jurisdiction. the problem we have here is that when california says they want eggs sold in their state, even if they're raised in iowa, arkansas or ohio or wherever they're raised, to certain california specifications, that means that if texas and illinois and pennsylvania wrote different
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specifications, you would totally balkanize the commerce. a study that delays the issue is not a good idea. if you're going to protect open american agriculture the king amendment is the way to go about doing that. i encourage my colleagues to support the king amendment and oppose the dispute. >> yes, i rise to support the denman amendment and reject the king amendment. clearly, i can see where we get regional differences but, as i said, you know, those of us who believe in federalism understand while states may take actions that we may agree or disagree with, if we really believe in
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federalism we must respect and recognize states to do what they think is the best public policy in their areas within the confines of the constraints of our constitution, obviously. so i think the denman amendment attempts to address the issues that have been raised here. this is not a new issue. we debated the issue in 2014, reauthorization of the farm bill. i suspect as long as representative king and i, and congressman denman are here, we'll continue to debate this issue for better or worse. the fact is that we do want to promote interstate commerce. i don't think we've seen a limitation of those areas, whether we're talking about the poultry industry or other
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regulated culture industries limited for their ability to participate in california markets as a result of the laws at the state legislature enacted. i might also add this was not implemented by the state legislature of the governor. many of our states have initiative and referendums. and this was an initiative voted on by the residents of california. the fact is that you have measures that qualify on the ballot, in your state or our state, and the voters vote on it, and they decide that's the policy they want to pursue. this is, obviously, in direct contradiction to allowing the voters in those states to determine their -- what they think is the best public policy. i did not support the
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initiative. nonetheless it passed. california poultry industry is dealing with it and so i support the denman amendment and oppose the king amendment. and i hope that we'll get a chance to vote on this. >> i want to point out a couple of facts. california has 5 million eggs. imports an additional -- it has affected the eggs coming into our city. it isn't just about eggs. you referenced that this is similar -- it's far from it. it be careful who is in the majority here. different things can happen
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depending who is trying to propose these in different states. when you find things you don't like, to manipulate the constitution for your benefit can create big problems with lawsuits across the country. it was upheld, it was found that the law isn't unconstitutional because it applies evenly to in-state and out-of-state producers. but because this is so proud and so new and was never heard, over 180 verse stake holders have come out freedom works, humane society for fraternal order of police, environmental working group just to name a few. >> reclaiming my time before it expires. question to my colleague, i was under the assumption this is the
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same language as it was four years ago. you're telling me it goes more extreme and impacts more states, is that correct? >> yes. >> so the impact would be far reaching beyond california? >> beyond california and beyond egg industries. >> for all those reasons again i support the king amendment and hope they will get to vote on a roll call vote. >> i want to associate myself with the remarks of mr. goodlatte and mr. king. founding fathers had it right, enumerated it in the country that this congress, body, is the only body that can regulate interstate commerce. a state could come in and say we've got this policy has to become protected because they want to protect a certain sector
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of producers in their state. and that's just chaos. there's no reason to study this. it's quite clear that congress, we have the jurisdiction, the authority and the responsibility to regulate interstate commerce so this doesn't get out of hand. and, you know, in this case we're talking about eggs in this case but, boy, if the eggs are raised in iowa, ohio and are under the regulations, usda regulations and all that and they ought to have the right to sell those eggs anywhere in the united states. >> would the gentleman yield? >> yes. >> here is the headline for you. live in california and buy eggs? if voters approve this in 2018, they'll need to be from cage-free hens.
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so the next initiative is going to say anywhere you produce eggs, anywhere in america, if you want to sell them in the largest state in the country, you have to grow them in the cage-free environment. now, where are we going to put a stop to this? this is an outrageous effort by one state to regulate america. the people of california, through initiative and referendum, can do this kind of thing but they should only be able to do it with regard to producers in california. and if they find because we have one interstate system that that doesn't work, then maybe they'll back away from trying to regulate the entire country by initiative and referendum in the state of california. this is not good for american agriculture. mr. king's amendment is the cure to it. >> reclaim my time this is protectionist. and we're the body that sets the
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rules for across the states, across the country and not one state. in this case it's california but it could be iowa trying to do something for other states. that could happen. that shouldn't happen. one state legislature or petition initiative is even worse, ability to make laws in my state from another state? think about the consequences. that's why our founding fathers said we're the body, congress, who regulates this. i yield to mr. king. >> i thank the gentleman from ohio. i think this committee is maybe in need of an idea. i had an idea about what could happen. i pulled one of these little almonds out of my little bag here. it's true that about 75% of the honeybees in america are transport bid train and truck into california to pollenate the almond trees each february. they transfer disease from bees to bees and they're transferred back to their home state. what if iowa, coalition of
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states decided we won't accept almonds coming into our states if the trees are pollenated by anything other than native california bees or no wine will could many into our state unless it first goes through a freeze/thaw cycle where it has to resist the frozen ground, as an example. he said it's a violation of the 10th amendment but it says the powers not delegated to the united states by the constitution n this case, specifically the commerce clause of a constitution. those powers not delegated to the united states by the constitution, no prohibited by it to the states are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people. this is a very clear delineation. these powers are exclusively reserved for congress itself. it says so in the body of the supreme law of the land.
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and also the argument by popular vote, it raent really doesn't carry any constitutional weight. my recollection was that there was a referendum that pass this had in california, then the california legislature passed it to apply to the rest of the country. that there were two separate votes. i don't want inspectors in my state and i don't want to send inspectors to california. if it's a ninth circuit decision on this that's it's already been litigated neither does that impress people very much, i hate to tell you, but it was also not on the merits. it was on standing. we provide that standing in this bill. that's the only difference. and also when i hear that hsus is on this, i think that's another piece like the ninth circuit. thank you, mr. chairman. >> some states have marijuana
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legal, others it's illegal. would this set up for marijuana that is legal in one case, for example, california suing iowa because they will not import marijua marijuana? i'm worried about the unintended consequences. >> would the gentleman yield? >> and i yield. >> i can't imagine anybody in iowa attempting to tell california how to raise marijuana. so we would be out of that game. >> gentleman yields back. anyone else want to speak on the denman amendment? i intend to vote. i believe that the king amendment is a better path forward. share that with my colleagues. any other comments? seeing none the motion is on -- the vote is on the gentleman's second degree amendment. all those in favor say aye.
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all those opposed say nay. the nays have it. >> roll call. >> mr. thompson? >> no. >> mr. goodlatte? no. mr. lucas? mr. lucas, no. mr. king? >> no. >> mr. king, no. mr. rogers? >> no. >> mr. rogers, no. mr. gibbs? >> no. >> mr. gibbs, no. mr. ostenscot? >> no. >> mr. crawford? >> no. >> mr. crawford no. mr. desarlay? >> no. >> mr. denyim, aye. mr. lamotha, no. mr. davis? mr. davis, no. mr. yoho? >> no. >> mr. yoho, no. mr. allen? >> no. >> mr. allen, no. mr. bost?
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>> no. >> mr. bost, no. mr. arouser? >> no. >> mr. rouser, no. mr. abraham? >> no. >> mr. kelly? >> no. >> mr. comber? >> no. >> mr. marshall? >> no. >> mr. marshall, no. mr. bacon? >> no. >> mr. bacon, no. mr. fazo? >> aye. >> mr. dunn? >> no. >> mr. dunn, no. mr. arrington, no. mr. peterson? >> no. >> mr. peterson, no. mr. david scott? >> no. >> mr. david scott, no. mr. costa? >> aye. >> mr. costa, aye mr. walls? >> no. >> mr. walls, no. miss fudge? miss fudge, no. mr. mcgovern? >> aye. >> mr. mcgovern, aye. mr. vella?
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no. miss custer? >> aye. >> miss custer, aye. mr. nowin? aye. miss bustos? no. mr. maloney? >> aye. >> miss plaskett, aye. miss adams? >> aye. >> mr. evans, no. mr. lawson? >> no. >> mr. o'halloran? mr. soto? mr. soto, a. ye. miss blatrochester? no. mr. chairman? >> no. >> mr. chairman, no. >> was mr. rogers recorded? >> yes, he was recorded no.
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>> 12 ayes, 33 nays. >> motion is not agreed to. any further debate on the king amendment? seeing none the motion on the king amendment. all those in favor say aye. >> ayes have it. the motion is agreed to. are there further amendments under title xi? mr. denim? please pass out mr. denim's amendment.
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>> mthank you, mr. chairman. knowingly slaughtering, transporting, possessing, selling or buying hum ining catn consumption. adopting this policy signals that the united states will not tolerate this disturbing practice in our country and demonstrates our unity with other nations that have banned dog and cat meat and bolsters existing international efforts to crack down on the practice worldwide. the stand-alone bill has wide bipartisan support with 230 co-sponsors from both parties, 29 of them sit on this committee. i encourage all my colleagues to support its inclusion and yield back. >> the gentleman yields back. other folks that want to be
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heard on the denim amendment? five minutes. >> just one question. i've seen this thing passed around r people really eating dogs and cats? [ laughter ] >> well, i whipped quite a few members on the house floor. mr. king is the only one who tells me people do that in his district. >> mr. chairman? >> hang on. mr. lawson is controlling the time. >> i think you have an excellent question. i doubt anybody here, including mr. king, eats dogs or cats. but i do have a concern about whether or not we should send somebody to federal prison for the offenses cited in here. civil penalty or something like that would be good. this is a pretty tough thing to say that if you're -- there are certain ethnicities and nationalities where the tradition in their home country
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is that these animals are consumed and they come here and somehow they get involved in a dog that gets sold and -- i wouldn't condone that in any way, shape or form. but to send them to federal prison for doing that? that's a little tough. i'm not for dog and cat consumption. >> mr. king? >> move to strike last word. >> thank you, the question was asked, do people eat dogs and cats? i don't know about ka cats. i only know of one dog that would eat a cat. i never heard any human being of sitting down to a barn cat or alley cat and eat that cat. that one never came up. i don't know why we're burning our time in this committee trying to pass a felonious piece of legislation that creates a felony that's not a problem in the united states of america, not one that anybody here has any experience with. there is a question, though,
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when it comes to dogs. a number of different ethnicities in america that that say practice that they do. i know dogs used to be sold at sale barns around the country. when they noticed they were going to homes for purposes other than what they expected they quit selling dogs in the sale barn. we kind of addressed this. i've never had an issue come forward where we need to bring legislation like this icon occur with mr. goodlatte, to add another felo inform y on the books, what kind of unintended consequences will we get if someone is, say, caught up in an inadvertent situation where they're transporting dog or cat meet matte and don't know they're doing that? i do understand there's a fair number of dog fighting going on especially in southern california. that a problem and i do oppose
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that. this is one i can't get animated about, particularly because of the felony. if the jazz from california would entertain to reduce that down to a misdemeanor. >> i'm not prepared to take any amendments on the bill. i would point out that dog and cat meat has been prohibited by virginia, california, new york, michigan. pennsylvania is in the process right now. the gentleman is correct that there has been instances of both dog and cat meat, 2008, a dog was stolen in hawaii, slaught slaughtered for meat. 2003, pennsylvania authorities shut down a facility where 150 dogs were bred there for meatme. in 1995 -- >> reclaim my time. we have enough people in prison for real crimes. is this considered a violent
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crime, the gentleman from california? it's violent to the dog. it's violent to the cat. is it considered a violent crime? maybe i'll leave that as a rhetorical question except for this. a case came down from the federal court just yesterday that the trump administration has been prohibited by cartilage decision on what the definition is of a violent crime. so this might play into the immigration issue and confusion the situation in california. so i hope the gentleman from california has second thoughts and will withdraw this language. meanwhile i spend to oppose it and yield back the balance of my time. >> further comments on the denim amendment, seeing none, all those in favor say aye. >> chair the ayes have it.
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amendment is agreed to. are there further amendments on title xi? seeing none, recognize mr. thompson for a motion. >> mr. chairman, i move that the bill hr-2 is amended consisting of the amendment agreed to in the markup and with the recommendation that the amendment be agreed to and the bill do pass. >> questions on the motion offered by the gentleman in pennsylvania, hr-2 be amended. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed no. the ayes have it. mr. thompson? >> i request for a recorded vote. >> the clerk of court will call the roll. >> mr. thompson? >> yes. >> mr. goodlatte? >> aye. >> mr. lucas? >> aye. >> mr. king, aye. mr. rogers? >> aye. >> mr. gibbs?
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aye. mr. ostenscott, aye plchlt crawford? >> aye. >> mr. dejarlet? >> aye. >> miss hartzler? >> aye. >> mr. la motha, aye. mr. davs? aye mr. yoho? >> aye. >> mr. al anne? >> mr. allen, aye. mr. bost? >> mr. rouser? >> aye. >> mr. abraham? >> aye. >> mr. abraham, aye. mr. kelly? >> aye. >> mr. comber? yes. mr. marshall? >> yes. >> mr. marshall, yes. mr. bacon? >> yes. >> mr. bacon, yes. mr. fazo? >> aye. >> mr. dunn?
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yes. >> mr. arrington? >> yes. >> mr. arrington, yes. mr. peterson? mr. peterson, no. mr. david scott? >> no. >> mr. costa? >> no. >> mr. walls? >> no. >> miss fudge? >> no. >> miss fudge, no. mr. mcgovern? no. mr. vella, no. miss luhan-grisham? >> no. >> mr. custer, no. miss boustos? >> no. >> mr. maloney, no. miss plaskett? no. miss adams? no. mr. evans? no. mr. lawson? >> no. >> mr. o'halloran?
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no. mr. panetta? no. mr. soto? >> no. >> miss blotrochester? no. >> mr. chairman? >> yes. >> the vote is 26 yays to 20 nays. >> ayes have it. does any member give notice to file supplement or dissentering views? if show have them submitted to room 1407 by noon april 23rd, 2018. take this opportunity quickly to thaveng the staff on both sides. none of us on this side of the
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diaz have a clue how much time is spent, how many family events were missed to get us to this point and i sincerely thank you. without changing the substance of the legislation, the meeting is adjourned.
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the house is expected to begin debate on the farm bill wednesday or thursday, setting farm policy, food programs and agricultural trade for the next five years. a final vote is planned for friday. watch live coverage for the debate and votes this week on c-span. and a look at some of this week's live coverage here on c-span 3. tomorrow the ninth circuit court will hear oral argument in a daca case. regents of the university of california versus department of homeland security, dealing with president trump's decision to end the deferred action for childhood arrivals program. we'll hear the oral argument live tuesday at 4:00 eastern time. on wednesday, epa administrator scott pruitt will be testifying on his agency's 2019 budget before a senate appropriations
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subcommittee. and wednesday afternoon fbi director christopher wray will answer questions on the fbi's budget live at 2:30 p.m. eastern. >> tonight on "landmark cases," regents of the university of california v. bakke, white male was twice rejected to university of davis medical school. he claims he was passed over in favor of less qualified minority applicants. the resulting supreme court decision struck down the university specific admissions program and upheld the constitutionality under the 14th amendment. our guest to discuss is neal katyal who acted as u.s. solicitor general under the obama administration and randy barnett, libertarian and
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constitutional legal scholar and commentator. watch "landmark cases" tonight at 9:00 eastern on c-span. join the conversation. #landmarkcases and follow us @c-span. and we have resources on our website for background on each case. the landmark cases companion book, link to the national constitution centers and the landmark cases podcast at c tonight on "the communicators," gigi sohn and robert mcdowell, talk about the t-mobile and sprint merger. >> i think it's a great idea. it will help to expedite 5g. u.s. government regulators have a decision to make, do they want to help to accelerate 5g
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deployment or are we going to go back to some sort of industrial policy that looks through the rear view mirror rather than the front of a windshield? >> sprint owns virgin mobile and boost mobile. and t-mobile owns metro pcs. those are three of the largest prepaid low-cost carriers. these are carriers that low-income folks pay for ahead of time. it's none on a monthly basis. you combine those three that's really going to do damage to low-income consumers. >> watch "the communicators" tonight at 8:00 on c-span 2. attorney general jeff sessions addresses the house appropriations subcommittee and talked about priorities on civil rights, the opioid epidemic. this is just over two hours.
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the commerce of appropriation subcommittee
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coming to order. attorney general session it is is my pleasure to work with you on the budget request. this committee has always made it a priority to support the work of the justice department. we honor our federal and state and local law enforcement officers. and we will continue to work together on this committee to do everything we can to ensure our law enforcement officers across the country and the department have the money and resources they need to protect this great nation. in the final fiscal year, 2018 appropriations bill this subcommittee provided the department's significant increases above your request to be sure you have the resources necessary to conduct the investigations and prosecutions of terrorism, human trafficking, gun crimes and integration crime s and opioid abuse. and submitted prior to the budget agreement and therefore, as a result, office management and budget submitted a request for 19 that would result in significant cuts for all of these critical law enforcement agencies and i want to make it
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clear that this committee will not support a cut to the resources available to our law enforcement officers that are so important to protect this country and our communities. mr. attorney general, you and i have discussed many times the treatment of sanctuary cities. i have worked with the previous administration to ensure that doj policy was changed in the summer of 2016 so that the state and local law enforcement agencies understood clearly, if they expect to receive federal dollars, they must follow federal law and cooperate in identifying and deporting individuals in the country illegally who have been convicted of a crime and are housed in a state prison or county jail so that they can be deported immediately upon their release. that's just common sense. these agencies, these local governments and states should not ask for federal dollars unless they comply with federal law. and, as we all know, the most
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fundamental tenet of good law enforcement is working together as a team, the only way to really fight crime and protect this great nation. so i look forward to working with you, to implement the policy that i encouraged your predecessor to implement and i want to ensure this is done as promptly as possible so that those state and local law enforcement agencies that are doing their job and are cooperating receive their federal grant money as quickly as possible and those who refuse to cooperate understand that you cannot ask for federal money unless you comply with federal law. as of fiscal year 2019 moves forward the committee will work together to ensure that federal law enforcement agencies have the support, the resources they need above what the administration proposes so they
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can sustain the activities funded in the fiscal year 2018 bill and build on them. in particular, mr. attorney general, i want to direct and encourage the department to do all that you can to fight human trafficking and drug traffic g trafficking. and very grateful to see your initiative to implement a zero tolerance policy on the border, so that the border is secure. the zealous supporters are those who live right there because they suffer the most. interfering with the peace and safety of their communities. we also have to do it on a humanitarian level. it is a catastrophe and is heartbreaking to see human trafficking and the dangers people face in coming to the if we enforce the law, the united states. problem will resolve itself.
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i'm very grateful to you, mr. attorney general, for the work that you're doing and we look forward to work with you to provide the resources that you and your officers need to protect this great nation. and at this time, i'm glad to recognize my good friend, mr. t recognize mr. shira no from new york. >> thank you, mr. chairman. although you have been in office for 50 months, this is the first time testifying before the subcommittee. last year you refused to appear before us. the first time in decades as an attorney general declined to appear before this committee. i would note that during the same period you managed to testify before the authorizing committees as well as the senate intelligence committee. suffice to say, you are operating with a deficit of goodwill on this side as a result. unfortunately, this treatment has been par for the course in this committee's dealings with the administration. just recently, the department ignored clear direction from
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congress by bringing to an end the legal orientation program and the immigration court health programs. as announced yesterday, it appears that your views on the subject have changed. i remain concerned that such an action was contemplated despite clear instructions from this committee. that announcement was one in a long line of troubling actions taken by this department and this administration to undermine due process and civil rights in this nation. the announcements of the past 16 months are almost too many to comprehend. efforts to undermine public safety in sanctuary cities by reducing law enforcement funding, attempts to impose case quarters on our immigration judges. proposing to eliminate the community relations, and the
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list goes on and on. a clear theme emerges. an intentional effort to minimize and ignore the concerns of large segments of the american population. minorities, immigrants, lgbtq community and those that have suffered discrimination in this country. for generations the department of justice has been at the forefront to fight discrimination and uphold the constitutional values of all americans. this proud legacy is under threat from the choices you make in your budget. looming over all of these issues are the ongoing investigations by the special counsel and now the u.s. attorney's office for the southern district of new york into russia's interference in our 2016 elections and possible collusion by the trump campaign. our country needs a full accounting of russia's actions to undermine our democracy so we can effectively work to
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prevent interference in the 2018 election and beyond. you and a small group of senior- level officials in the department stand at the nexus of ensuring the white house does not interfere further in these investigations. i am worried that the president's ongoing attacks on the department in tandem with the retreat from some of the core missions of the agency are doing a terrible disservice to the tens and thousands of doj employees at main justice, the fbi, and the dea and the atf and elsewhere. these individuals are committed to the hard work of serving and improving our nation. there is a real fear there, and throughout this nation many of them norms of our democracy are falling by the wayside and that your agency's leadership is doing little to stop this decline. i look forward to discussing these issues with you today,
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mr. attorney general, and i thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. serano. >> the gentleman from new jersey. >> good morning. thank you, mr. chairman, for your time and the strong leadership of the committee working with closely with your ranking member from new york, mr. serrano. i want to welcome our attorney general to the appropriations committee. we look forward to your testimony and hearing your frank and candid views on a wide range of issues. i say at every meeting the power of the purse lies in this building. it's the constitutional duty of congress to make spending decisions on behalf of the many people we represent at home. i would, obviously, urge your continued active engagement with the bill payers, which this committee represents. and i work very closely with miss lowie from new york.
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i think you know we did your bill in july of last year, and it was packaged up in september and then there was a huge hiatus. we like to blame it on the other body, but we did come together. and i hopefully have given you the resources that you need. mr. attorney general, i'm pleased you are sitting here this morning as the 84th attorney general of the united states representing the people of the united states. it's your responsibility as our nation's chief law enforcement officer to enforce the laws and defend the interests of the united states against all threats foreign and domestic, ensuring a fair and impartial administration of justice for all americans. i'm especially proud of the work of your department's law enforcements, including the fbi, the dea, the u.s. marshals service and others. i have gotten to know and
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respect those in the new york- new jersey region that do remarkable things sometimes under the radar screen, and they do it well. we are usually proud of their pro officialism. it's abundantly clear our nation needs you and the men and women of your department to protect our nation as we face mounting and complex challenges, some of which the chairman has mentioned. the opioid epidemic. the cyber-related attacks on private and public i.t. infrastructure, human trafficking. and heightened threats. i come from a 9/11 community where new jersey lost 700 citizens on september 11th. we are acutely aware, even though time has passed, of vulnerabilities we have. i would like to focus on applaud your dedication to attacking the opioid epidemic. in the fiscal year 2018
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spending bill, this committee made a substantial investment. actually, the largest to date. this is not only in your committee, but across a variety of different committees providing your department, along with many other agencies, with increased funding to respond. further, as you are fighting the deadliest drug epidemic in our recent memory, i share your concerns that our nation will face additional consequences with the growing availability of marijuana. as we march down that road, it appears of later legalization, and i know it's not without controversy, really in direct contradiction of current law, i fear, and certainly i speak for myself primarily, we don't fully understand the consequences and impacts of actions we take on our children and potentially our
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grandchildren. i'm concerned about that very much, sir, as you are. saying that, mr. attorney general, mr. chairman, thank you for having this hearing. i want to thank you and your staff for the remarkable work you have been doing to pull this bill together and provide the department of justice the resources they need. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> mr. attorney general, we are pleased to have you here today. your statement will be entered into the record in its entirety, if there is no objection. i would welcome your summary of your testimony. we look forward to hearing from you, sir. thank you. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i appreciate very much the opportunity to be with you. and i thank you for your support and the support of the committee in the 2018 budget. you are correct. it was a strong affirmation on the efforts we have on opioids and other matters. it's an honor of a lifetime to
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serve as attorney general of the united states. i sit here representing the men and women of the department of justice. you can be sure i understand the importance of the office i hold and the responsibilities i face and that i strive every day to be worthy of that challenge. every single day the 115 men and thousands of men and women of the department work to protect national are security, defend civil rights, reduce violent crime, stop deadly drug dealers and their organizations and to strengthen the traditional important critical rule of law in our country. i'd like to lay out some priorities that are reflected in our budget request. first, the department has rapidly moved to improve partnerships with our state and local officers. if you want to reduce crime in america, and the president and his first executive order to us said reduce crime in america, you have to work with the 85%
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of the law officers who are state and local. the people in your community. that's where the action really is, and we can help them in many ways. and just recently, we were reminded of their sacrifice and all of the sacrifices we ask of our men and women in blue. officer crystal alameda and rogelio santander responded to a routine call at a home depot in dallas, but they did not return home. and today we mourn with that family of santander and alameda, and the men and women of law enforcement who suffer with them. they deserve our support. they are out there every day. they are the key to reducing crime in america. their morale and affirmation we give them are critical it the success of their work. so after two decades of
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declining crime in our country, we have done some really good things, and it takes time to, all to the dynamics. the crime rate went up by nearly 7% in 2015 and 2016. the violent crime rate did. assaults went up nearly 10%. the rate went up nearly 11%. murder increased in this country in '15 and '16 by 20%. the highest increase that we have seen since 1968. so president, our federal officers, our local law enforcement partners are determined this increase will not continue. our prosecutions of i will list guns, gun violators, violent crime, gangs, opioids, and immigration offenses are going up. in 2017, we brought cases against more violent criminals than in decades.
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we charged the most federal firearm prosecutions in a decade. we convicted nearly 500 human traffickers. 1,200 gang members. your strong support, your strong support for our work is appreciated, and it means that we can stains our project safe neighborhoods program where the united states attorneys out in america where crime is occurring every day will meet with local police and law enforcement and community leaders to develop crime reduction plans based on local needs. this is a program that has been proven scientifically in the past to work. we believe and know, really, it will be successful again. indeed, there are some good signs that we're seeing already in the preliminary data for 2017. the increases in murder and violent crime appear to have slowed, and violent crime may have actually gone down in 2017. we also embrace the president's goal of reducing prescription
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drugs. too many are out there. he proposed that we reduce the amount of prescription drugs actually being moved into our country by one-third. i believe that's a reasonable amount. we are determined to do our part to achieve it. it will reduce addiction. it will reduce overdose deaths. we are simply prescribing too many. this department is going after drug companies, doctors, pharmacists, and others who violate the law using civil, criminal, and found regulatory powers. i have directed every united states attorney establish an opioid coordinator. we have charged hundreds of people suspected of contributing to the ongoing opioid crisis, including over 50 doctors for opioid-related crimes. 16 of these doctors prescribe more than 20 million pills
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illegally. our organized crime and drug enforcement task forces have also indicted 6,500 defendants in opioid-related investigations, and forfeited more than $150 million. and let me just note, i think you probably all know that the leading cause of death in america for people 50 and below is drug overdoses. this is a stunning statistic. the leading cause of death for people 50 and below. so i think you're correct, the president is correct to declare this a national health emergency and say we have got to do something different. we are not waiting three, four, five years down the road. we need to get moving now to change these trends. amazingly, in the last month alone the dea has seized a total of more than 90 kilograms of suspected fentanyl.
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2.2 pounds per kilogram. they were seized from detroit to new york to boston. fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin. it's so powerful that an amount equivalent to a pinch of salt is enough to be deadly. we must acknowledge the vast majority of fentanyl, methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine first come across the southern border. that's where it's all coming from. it used to, many, many sources. now almost all is coming across the border. and we are working with our department of homeland security partners to reduce and ultimately end illegal immigration, which also will help us take on transnational criminal organizations and reduce the drugs pouring across the border. we are streamlining and increasing prosecutions. we are targeting criminal aliens. congress provided enough funding for 100 immigration
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judges in the recent omnibus. it will help us reduce the backlog caseload that's out there. we needed that. thank you for that. mr. chairman, i would like to address another matter i know is important to the committee. the legal orientation program. i have expressed some concerns about the program and the executive office for immigration review has expressed its intent to pause two parts of that program pending the results of a formal review of the program. i recognize, however, that this committee has spoken on the matter. i have reviewed your report language, and out of deference to the committee i have ordered that there be no pause until that review is conducted and completed, and i look forward to evaluating the findings with you and communicating with you about that. our explicit goal at the department of justice, let me be clear, is to reduce violent
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crime. not to preside over increases. to dries the surging increase in homicides. to reduce drug overdose deaths and reduce opioid prescriptions, among other things. i believe these priorities are your priorities. i believe they are the american people's priorities. so, finally, let me say with all the strength i can muster that no nation has a finer group of law officers than those who comprise the fbi, the dea, the atf, and the united states marshals service. they are right now 24 hours a day in every corner of america working courageously and faithfully to protect this nation and our people. and when we face criticism, and it's a free country, we will not be defensive when questions arise, even if misplaced. we will take necessary action to establish that the concerns
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are either not true or take strong action against any wrongdoing. this department, above all others, can never get too big for the britches or think itself in any way above the law as we must apply the law to others. we know the government always wins when justice is done. mr. chairman, i look forward to discussing the matters with you today that are on your mind. >> mr. attorney general, thank you very much for appearing today and for your work to enforce our laws on behalf of the american people. i'm particularly interested in and supportive of your work to expand operation streamline across the southern border. i visited with you before about this. i am going to bring your attention to judge moses in the del rio sector has had great success in enforcing existing law, trusting the good hearts
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and instincts of law enforcement officers there on the border. this is fundamentally, it's a law enforcement issue by simply enforcing the laws we have on the books. you can make a dramatic difference. in the del rio sector, judge moses implemented existing law, called in all the law enforcement officers in that sector, and as a result the border crossings in the del rio sector at the lowest level they have seen since they started seeing statistics. she has been innovative in creating a system of loading her docket with those picked up by the border patrol. the great thing about this again is that we have wonderful young men and women in uniform defending this country, and by trusting their good hearts and instincts as law enforcement and enforcing existing law you restore respect for the rule of law, the border becomes secure. you protect communities. it's also the humanitarian thing to do. she is also able to help fight
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and discourage human trafficking and keep dangerous drugs out of the country. as you pointed out, almost all the fentanyl and heroin and poisons are coming across the southwest border. april 6, mr. attorney general, you notified all u.s. attorneys on the southwest border of a zero tolerance policy that you implemented. i wanted to ask you, what are your plans to enforce this zero tolerance policy, and further deploy law enforcement assets and ramp up prosecutions? >> thank you, chairman culberson. i urge you to meet judge moses. she is a remarkable person who fully understands what is happening. she provided me outstanding information in how they have been successful in a number of situations. we are determined to make a difference. we believe that we have the
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capacity on the existing law to do better than we are doing. i was recently in albuquerque and in new mexico. we talked at length. they are achieving a zero tolerance policy there, every case brought to them is being prosecuted. no longer are people entering the country illegally, given a pat on the back and a bus ticket and a sack of lunch and sent back home. they are prosecuted. probably the official first offense is a misdemeanor offense. they are required to plead guilty. if they come back, reentering, they are facing a felony charge. and if they are "a "a quiet a coyote they will be charged an additional felony. friends, the most important thing is that we send a message to south and central america in particular, the whole world now because others are coming
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across the mexican border, but you will not be successful. don't come illegally. apply lawfully to enter america and wait your turn. that's what america is all about. we admit 1.1 million people every year to permanent legal residence with a fast few-year pathway to citizenship. no country is close to that. so i -- we want to achieve a zero tolerance across the border. >> and we are redirecting resources. i personally talked with the united states attorneys about it. the president has made it clear to me that his agenda, which i knew from the beginning and i share, and we're going to make it happen if there is any way possible. >> one of the most important things is our president and you have initiated is to restore respect for the rule of law. it's fundamental to our prosperity and freedom. it's essential that the rule of
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law be respected on the southern bore border. in fact, in order to learn more about what was going on, i volunteered as a law clerk in judge moses' courtroom under an assumed name. they had no idea i was coming. i found out that human traffickers, that a judge cannot seize their assets when someone is drug smuggling drugs, their assets can be seized. we need to change that law. we appreciate the work you are doing. thank you, mr. attorney general. i am pleased to recognize mr. serrano from new york. >> thank you, mr. chairman. you know, you and i have a very good relationship, but i can't help myself in your comment as we went to restore the rule of
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law. i just need to remind ourselves, it's a rule of law in every state and every territory and every agency and inside the white house. not just at the border. if we do it just at the border, we would do a great disservice to the rule of law. mr. attorney general, recently the department recently notified immigration judges that their job performance will be evaluated based on how quickly they close cases. i am not aware of any court in the nation that has instituted this model of judicial evaluation, and this decision raises serious due process concerns. can you name any other court or judges that have been subjected to that as a basis for their personal performance evaluations? >> mr. serrano, we had conferences with the judges. they agreed that metrics were
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appropriate for the department of justice to establish the metrics -- the metrics that we established was 700 cases a year. if does not mean if you don't achieve that, you're fired. there may be good reasons why those caseloads are down. but we've got people doing over 1,000 a year. we've got people doing less than 700 a year, which i think is around the average. so we'd like to see a certain degree of productivity. the taxpayers are not paying for people who don't perform every day. we need high-performing judges. i don't apologize for it. i think this is a reasonable standard or a request or a metric for them to achieve. but certainly, if they have -- when they are evaluated in their performance, that if they have good reasons for not meeting that goal, we would consider it.
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>> well, i'm certainly not going to change your mind. i just want you to remember what you already know, that on a daily basis -- not a daily basis, but often we hear of cases where a person spent 20 or 30 years in prison for something they didn't do. and so when you begin to pressure people, not you, but the department, to come up with results, to judge in spanish has the same meaning. it says that you will judge what the outcome shall be. if that judgment takes a while, and so be it in a democracy. i get worried about the fact that the department is basically saying you must complete it by a certain time. i'm not running away from the fact that you need productivity. of course. maybe productivity is more judges in certain cases to handle the caseload. but the idea of do it by a
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certain time, it's also, touching on another subject, i may be the only person who thinks gridlock is not a bad thing in congress. you know why? because there are countries where the budget is always on time. somebody says the budget will be on time. when you have two parties, when you have philosophies, when you have a democracy, that means people are trying to figure out what to do. that's the same thing here. judges are trying to figure out what to do. the big caseload. i just keep that in mind, that some people are worried that we may not doing what we're supposed to do. the issue the legal orientation program, i'm glad that we seem to have made a change, which will be good for everybody. has the contract for providing the l.o.p. service with the doj with any data on other information on
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the cost effectiveness of the program, can you please submit that information for the record? how will your planned cost benefit analysis differ from what has already been done? >> this is what i understand about that. we have asked them for various bits of information, which has not been provided. they may well have provided that data you mentioned. if we have it, we will provide it to you. the program should help make the system work better. it costs 11 or so million dollars a year. and we'd like to make sure it produces the results the taxpayers are paying for. >> thank you. on a local level, if i may, mr. chairman? i am all out of time? okay. thank you. >> we will come back.
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chairman rogers is chairing the committee hearing next door? >> you should have told me chairman rogers was here. i would have stopped ten minutes ago. [ laughter ] >> pleased to recognize the gentleman from kentucky. >> mr. chairman, thank you very much for the privilege. our subcommittee meeting's next door with testimony. but i wanted to come here briefly, at least, and salute the attorney general for his position on the drug problem. mr. attorney general, you could not do a better job, in my opinion, than elevate this issue in the minds of the public and law enforcement especially because the opioid epidemic, as cdc calls it, it's a calamity, as you have said. we're losing more people to opioid deaths than car wrecks and gun violence combined. and yet, it seems the country just doesn't grasp this or want
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to admit to it. that's part of the problem, is it's in the past there has been a stigma attached to addiction. we now know it's a disease. it has to be treated thus so. but the law enforcement end of the problem is a huge piece of the puzzle. my district, east kentucky, was ground zero for the oxycontin explosion 15 years ago. i suddenly found myself going to emergency rooms and seeing kids dying of overdoses, and it just blossom, unfortunately -- blossomed, unfortunately, there. i started unite. holistic three-pronged attack on the problem. it works. drug courts, law enforcement officials, treatment centers, addiction control centers and
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so on. that holistic approach is what you're doing here on a major scale, and it's the exact right way to go. it's been proven. and the congress, as you know, passed the cara act as well as the cures act, both of which provide huge grant opportunities for local communities to do things like unite in their area, where citizens grab a hold of the problem and seek an answer. but an essential part of it, of course, is law enforcement. it's not the only piece, but it's very, very important. we are making progress on prescription pills. the united organization i mentioned now puts on an annual- national summit in atlanta. we had 3,300 people there a month ago. the cdc, nih, fda, dea, drug
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czar, prosecutors, treatment people, all aspects of the problem, and one big four-day meeting. the seventh in a row, annual summit. and the enthusiasm there for what you are doing on the drug problem was palpable. so i'm here to tell you that, from all aspects the of the problem, treatment, prosecution or research and whatever, the three-pronged effort that you are, the government is spearheading is the right way to go. cutting off the supply of illicit drugs, reducing demand here at home, and then treatment for those who are addicted. that's the proven way. and you are on to it, and you are elevating the issue publicly, and that's all important. there is still a stigma that people have attached to
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addiction, even though science says that it's a disease. the head of the nih that deals with drugs tells us that there are physical changes in the brain with addiction making it a disease, which we have to treat it that way. but we've made some progress on reducing the prescription pill abuse some. not much. in my state and my district, quite a bit. but it's being replaced by heroin, which is cheaper. in many cases, easier to attain now that we are cracking down on pills. but the real problem, mr. attorney general, as you know, with heroin and now fentanyl, an elephant sedative from china by way of mexico, as you say,
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one speck of salt sized piece of fentanyl is fatal. and the heroin users now are realizing that the heroin they are perhaps using is laced with fentanyl. so the users don't know the dosage and die. and the fentanyl problem with heroin is the new fatal twist. what can you tell us about trying to stop the flow of fentanyl from china through mexico, through the drug cartels in mexico, into the distribution system in the u.s.? what can you tell us about that, and are we making any progress on fentanyl prevention? >> mr. chairman, i think you've summed that up very well. basically, the situation we are facing today in america and around the world. china is the main source of fentanyl. the president has raised it
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with the chinese leaders personally. deputy attorney general rod rosenstein has been to china and talked to them. dea and fbi have presence there. i have raised it with two different chinese delegations to the united states, and they have made promises. they have actually taken some steps. i don't think they have yet impacted it successfully, but we are urging them, and i think we have a right to expect them, to be cooperative in a matter of this importance to the people of the united states. it does come through mexico. i understand we could have soon a situation in which labs can be built in mexico. it's no harder, i'm told, than building a meth lab, which are all over mexico. so we could have fentanyl down there. in boston, i understand that you have inert substances and
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basically pure fentanyl. even heroin. it's not being mixed with heroin now. and it does remain a deadly disease. we're cracking down. the fbi has doubled its team. they figured out a way to hammer these dark websites where people order it through the mail. i'm more confident now that we can make progress in that area than i was a few months ago. we've had some real success. but it's going to be a continuing problem. so i believe you are correct, that three prongs of this effort. you have to prevent. people need not to start. this is a powerful addiction. any thought that you can get addicted and just walk away from it easily is just totally false. we need people to not start these drugs. good prevention can help us do that. then we have got our role,
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primarily enforcement, and. under your leadership, mr. chairman, under the president's leadership, this is the biggest expenditure we have ever had to deal with treatment and prevention in the $6 billion that congress has set aside for the project. so i think our goal should be clear. i think our goal is reduce this problem. not just preside over a continuing problem, but to go at it hard, and based on my experience as a prosecutor on the judiciary committee, i think we can do it. >> mr. chairman, thank you very much for being so nice to me to allow me to do this. and i think mr. attorney general, when the history books are written, this fight that you're leading will be the most important part of your career. i thank you for what you are doing. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you, chairman rogers.
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pleased to recognize the lady from new york. >> thank you for holding this new york. attorney general sessions, thank you for joining us. there are multiple hearings this morning, as you probably know. i am sorry that i missed your testimony. but thank you, thank you for being here today. attorney general sessions, you recused yourself from the russia investigation led by special counsel mueller. however, it is my understanding that this week you decided not to recuse yourself from the investigation into president trump's personal lawyer, michael cohen. the investigation into mr. cohen was opened, in part, on a referral from mueller's team. in fact, deputy attorney general rosenstein approved an fbi raid in mr. cohen's home, office, and hotel room. we know that president trump had a strong reaction to the raids denouncing them, quote, as an attack on what we all
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stand for. he also took that opportunity to reiterate what a terrible mistake it was for you to recuse yourself from the russia investigation. i'm a little puzzled. why have you decided not to recuse yourself from the cohen investigation when it appears to be so closely, if not rooted in, the russia investigation? >> presumably, you read that in the media somewhere. media are often -- >> not fox 5. >> it's often inaccurate, and much of what i see in print is inaccurate. let me just say this quite clearly to you. i will honor the commitment i made to recuse myself from matters that i should recuse myself from. and i intend to do that faithfully. i have made that commitment and i have done so. i have not violated any commitment in that regard. i am not able to comment about any ongoing investigation or
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investigations certainly that are within the gambit of the special counsel. >> i appreciate your response, and i will assume that the news reports are not true and you have not recused yourself from this investigation, and you have not decided that you will not recuse yourself from the investigation into president trump's personal lawyer. but i will -- >> i'm just not able to discuss any of the details because the policy of the department, i think, is correct, that when you start talking about matters of detail, then you are talking about investigations. and our policy is not to discuss investigations until it's appropriate. >> well, i'll read the paper more clairefully -- carefully and i hope i can get some additional information because i think this is very important, important for our democracy, important for you, and important for the agency. if i'm mistaken and the news
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reports are mistaken, i will accept that response. >> can i say one thing to the whole committee? one of the things that i felt we should do is to reestablish discipline in the department. i feel like the attorney general has to set the example. when i was prosecuting cases, corruption cases, a number of them, quite a number of them in alabama, i was attacked every day or somebody on my staff was, and we just adhered to the view, you don't respond every day, even if they are at fault. the more you get into this, the deeper you get embroiled in it and the harder it is to be objective in a fair investigation. if charges are brought, you take the case to the jury. i just would say we are not going to be in the business of responding to every allegation in the media that may not be accurate. i think that's a mistake and is contrary to our traditions and
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policies. >> i thank your response and i'll check the media. in fact, i am assuming that the information is wrong concerning your recusing yourself from one part but not recusing yourself from the investigation into president trump's personal lawyer. i'll go on. >> you will have to choose a side and believe what you decide. i am telling you i know what the recusal means, and i'm complying with it as i promised to do. >> i'm not sure what that means, but does that mean you have not recused yourself from the investigation into president trump's personal lawyer, michael cohen? >> it means that i have -- i will not be able to describe any matters, the parameters of matters that might be under investigation, the subjects of
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any investigation because it's an ongoing investigation, and i'm not at liberty to discuss it. and it's the policy of the department that delineating and talking about recusals, in fact, does reveal that and you shouldn't talk about it publicly. that's all i'm saying. >> why don't i move on? i hope we get an accurate response, whether it's private or publicly. i think the public is entitled to understand how this very important investigation is proceeding and your involvement in the investigation. so i'll move on to another question. thank you. >> thank you. >> if i may ask one other question, mr. chairman, since we have such a busy day. the house passed hr-38 known as the concealed carry reciprocity act. this mandates national reciprocity for concealed carry permits issued under state law. while all states allow some
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form of concealed carry, legal standards vary. it's misguided in my opinion and dangerous provision were it to become law. a state's ability to consider factors like age or criminal history would be compromised by other states weaker requirements. as i understand it, 11 states grant permits to people would have not undergone safety training. 20 states grant permits to people convicted of violent crimes. a dozen states do not require any kind of permit or license to carry a concealed firearm. these weak laws would particularly harm new york state. if you can discuss that with me, i would be most appreciative. you are the top law enforcement officer in the country. do you agree with the major city chief and national
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and 17 state attorney generals that it be a dangerous theft for the safety of the public and law enforcement alike? >> [ technical difficulties ] so in substance, it's in your hands. i would just say that in the past i rules, but i have not -- i'm not prepared to express any new view today. >> well, mr. chairman, i just want to conclude, and i thank you for your time, because we simply, in my judgment, cannot have a system where concealed guns can be freely carried in times square in any other densely populated destination. that's, in part, why the law enforcement partnership to prevent gun violence opposes this measure. and i don't know if you have been in times square lately. it's people to people. beautiful all over the world.
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>> all over the country. i wouldn't want to see concealed carry weapons. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> thank you. recognize the gentleman from texas. >> thank you, mr. chairman. welcome. we're really glad to have you here. i want to talk about something i call the justice served act. something i introduced in congress. we've spent $1.5 billion working on the backlog of the rape kits and dna that is a national tragedy. your offices addressed it and have gone aggressively into getting those things processed. what we've discovered is that it is prosecutors with files going back a long time, and they need more resources. so i'm basically raising the issue that we need to raise more, get more resources for
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the local prosecutors once these rape kits are processed and in their hands. i want to ask if you are satisfied that they are getting enough resources, and do you think the grant and the sexual assault kit initiatives, doj are doing enough to reduce the dna evidence backlog across the country? and are prosecutors going to have the resources they need to add that to their currently overwhelmed docket? >> it is a challenge. when crime rises, then everything is stressed. it's much better to be on the virtuous cycle of a declining crime rate. i think it's important for us to understand that. so then when crime rate rises, homicides rise 20% and you have the same number of prosecutors, same number of forensic scientists, then you got a problem. judge carter, thank you. you and i have talked about this and some other matters
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that i believe are notable. i have been one that favors assistance to forensic sciences from the federal government. often, in our entire state criminal justice system, the bottleneck is waiting on scientific reports for the prosecutors. the case can't go forward until you get the report. and for a smaller amount of money, you may get a bigger bang for your buck by fixing that bottleneck. i definitely appreciate your leadership on it and look forward to working with it. we just saw the arrest yesterday of the california 40- year-old case solved by dna. >> great example. >> yeah. >> another question. we have discovered that there is a loophole in the law. sexual assault claims are coming up on fort hood.
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the federal government does not have a section in their code. so we've done some research and discovered this is a clear issue all over at every base and post, military post. therefore, the consequences are something as serious as aggravated sexual assault, there are no consequences. and i'm one who believes that there is a real deterrent factor in having consequences for bad behavior and illegal behavior. this is a loophole. we came up with a solution in '15 when i found out about it. i made a deal with the local prosecutors. we made a -- and we worked with your department, transferred justice over to the jurisdiction over to local prosecutors at the state level, and therefore they are going forward. although, they are now saying we are overloading their caseload and they are worried
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about that issue. but the real issue is we need to fix this. i have a bill that suggests that everybody is looking at making a contract with local prosecutors to cover these uncovered criminal activities. >> even a contract, some sort of compensation to them, picking up what would normally be a federal crime and it's prosecuted in federal court. most of you may know, but it is a long established and understandably practical solution that federal prosecutors seldom prosecute juvenile cases. they always defer to locals. we don't have enough juvenile criminals to justify having a juvenile prison in montgomery, alabama. and so that's the big problem and it creates a real problem.
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years ago, i dealt with it in foreign countries where the prosecution had to go to the german government because we didn't have the military jurisdiction over non-military people. my people have worked on it, have heard your proposal. we think we've got that cleared with support from the department of justice. maybe we can get something done, congressman. >> let me know. i'm serious about this. thank you. >> thank you. i recognize the gentleman from washington state, mr. kilmer. >> thank you, chairman. thanks, mr. attorney general, for being with us. it was a pleasure to get to meet your family in washington state. they were residents in my district. and they did love it. >> i have to say, it's a great place. >> i want to follow up on something from the opening comments. it was referenced the marijuana policy and the complexities about this issue where you have states, including washington
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state, where in our state voters passed an initiative to legalize adult use. i know there are other states that are in a similar circumstance. the last administration issued what was known as the cole memo to try to set rules of the road, to provide some certainty not just to states, but to small business owners in a state like i mean, to tribal enterprises that have now started businesses. the decision to rescind that memo has created tremendous uncertainty. i read in a press release from senator gardner from colorado that the department's recision of the cole memo, that he was assured that, from the president, that colorado's legalized industry would not be targeted. i'm hoping you can help us understand what accommodations are going to be made for states like colorado and washington.
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i'm not clear what the commitment from the president was to the senator, but my constituents would sure like to know. >> my view is that marijuana is not a healthy substance. whenever we talk about legalization and other such issues, we need to make clear that we are not in any way suggesting that the consumption of marijuana is not harmful. the american medical association is crystal clear on it. the american pediatric association is, and the psychosis connection is clear, and we have got to determine some other matters. so, first, i think we want to say that. secondly, the state of washington and other states have either eliminated or virtually eliminated marijuana restrictions. they are for medicine only and some so-called recreational use. it remains a violation of
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federal law. that's not off the books. the federal law is still enforceable throughout the country, and i have felt it not appropriate for me to somehow give a safe harbor or a protection to areas around the country where it still remains a violation of federal law. now you know, we know, that the threats that we are focused on in the department of justice are fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, prescription abuses in large amounts that are leading to addiction and death. those are clearly where we are moving. i think i saw like 1% of federal prisons might have a marijuana be in custody for marijuana. it's probably a plea bargain on that. the united states attorneys in your home state and every state have been instructed to use
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their financial resources and capabilities and their judgment, after meeting with local law enforcement and local leaders, to pursue the cases they think are important and worthy. and i can't exclude marijuana from that. i don't think it's appropriate for me to do so. >> based on the president's commitment to the senator, is there any further guidance to states like mine looking for clearer parameters? >> look, let's be trank. what they'd like is a statement that they have been provided safety. a safe harbor. i don't believe i can give that they will have to make their own decision about how they conduct a marijuana enterprise. >> let me shift gears. you talked about where the department's energy ought to be focused, battling the opioid epidemic. it's costing tremendous amount of human suffering, human life, a tremendous amount of money.
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i'd love to just get, in the time that i have left, your sense of where the department's resources are best focused. do you see this a public health issue, a criminal justice issue, both? and as someone who represents some areas that are often left behind in securing federal resources, tribal communities, rural areas where this is an enormous problem but they have struggled to provide for grant funds and things like that, can you talk about ensuring getting the resources to these communities? >> i was appointed united states attorney by ronald reagan in 1982 and drug use had been increasing steadily. it took more than a decade. the university of michigan study showed half of high school seniors in 1981 acknowledged using an illegal drug. that dropped by 50% in ten, 12, 13 years later. that was huge. i mean, we need to get the
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message out, don't start. this is dangerous business. you get addicted, it grabs you with a power that so many people are never able to break free. their lives are lost. it's a death sentence, one expert told me. we start with that. this funding that you passed will help us have a much more robust p.r. prevention campaign. then you have got the treatment that many people can be saved, and treatment can be helpful. there is a lot of money in that you passed to do that. and then we are going to do our part to focus on it. what are the key things we believe? the prescription drugs, the overuse of prescription drugs are addicting people, and when they can't get enough prescription drugs they tend to go to heroin and fentanyl and cocaine or other drugs, too. and so we need to bring that
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down. we are going to succeed in that. we are going to tighten up dramatically the amount of prescription opioids out there that often create the addiction. and then we are going to focus heavily on fentanyl because it's such a killer. it is a killer. one little mistake in how much you take, and you're lost. our deputy attorney general staff was in another city in the country last week, and they find a lady on the floor. they gave her -- her face and lips were blue. she was not breathing. they were able to save her. a narcan injection came quickly and they saved that lady. people are dying all over the country from fentanyl overdoses. that's part of what we are doing. we've got to tighten up at the border. we've got to continue to press the chinese and focus on
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precursor chemicals and the chinese production system. they need to do more. we have every right to ask them to tighten up on what they are doing. a lot of things we can do on the opioid front, but the biggest and best thing is to convince more people to not start. that would be the winner. >> thank you, mr. attorney general. gentleman from alabama. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, attorney general, for being here. welcome to the subcommittee. we are happy to have a fellow alabaman before us. glad you're here today. let me focus a little bit on ms- 13. you have taken a strong and decisive action against ms-13. certainly, that has been the right decision to do. but your designation last fall as a target for the doj's
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organized crime and drug enforcement administration has added an important component of how ms-13 can be prosecuted and dismantled. what are your thoughts on deportations versus long-term prison sentences in the united states for these and other criminals who are not u.s. citizens? we deport them. our unsecured borders, we seem to have a revolving door of criminals coming in and you know, we seem to have a revolving to hear your our country. and so i'd just like to hear you, congressman. i appreciate the opportunity over the years to work transitioning ] you know my admiration for you is so high. we've added about $147 million to the ms-13 and violent gang initiative. we believe that this game is a finite number. that it can be attacked and
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reduced. in fact, it was reduced a number of years ago. somehow, we took the pressure off and they have come back. president trump cares about it deeply. there was this brutal murder of 216-year-old girls in new york. and so we all probably know about that incident. and so, it's a priority of hours. it's a top priority. we intend to dismantle this game. we've got car -- prosecutions all over the country. not in every district, but many. so, we believe that focusing on ms-13, dismantling and prosecuting them vigorously, many of them have been involved in multiple murders, and murders are approved by the highest officials in the group. they are the most violent gang in america. i think by far. and, it is incompatible with
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peace, safety, and justice. their philosophy involves murder and rape as an open statement of what they believe they are entitled to do. and it is an up front and direct challenge to the rule of law and we intend to meet our responsibility to defeat that challenge. >> you feel like long-term predecessors would probably? >> yes. on this specific question, and it's a good question, what we found is people can reenter the country. and, if someone murders an american, it's not sufficient just to deport them. and hope they don't come back. they've got to serve substantial prison sentences. we'd like to think maybe we would not have to do that but we do. so it's a combination. then when they serve their sentence, they would be deported.
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>> can you expand on your testimony with the establishment of these co- located strike forces, within organized crime and drug enforcement task force? >> we are having tremendous success arming task forces around the country to focus on these gangs, on drug distribution networks, cartels, the major distribution networks around the cities, and areas like kentucky or west virginia. or in dallas. and so, we are focusing on that. and new york has proven, in my opinion, if you smartly target the main criminals, the alpha criminals, they explained to me, and you do that over a period of years, you take out these gang leaders and promoters and the people who seduce others to join the gangs and join these illegal enterprises, you can make your
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city safer. and they have a remarkably low, compared to other major cities, murder rate, for example. so, these are proven policies in our project safe neighborhoods and these taskforces will be executing throughout the country, similar principles. >> quickly, you mentioned in your written testimony that there were six enforcement teams created in 2017, and that the administration requested funding for eight more. in this fiscal year. offhand, where with these six existing teams be located? or where are they located? in where do you anticipate the eight new teams being located? >> we are working hard about applying our resources to the most serious spots. for example, there are spots in the northeast, ohio, kentucky, west virginia, even alabama has
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a high prescription abuse rate. and so, we are trying to do that, based on facts, not politics. but, where the crisis is greatest. i could get you the information on where we are now and what our plans are for the future. >> okay, that'll be perfect. thank you. >> thank you, mr. general. >> mr. chairman, general sessions, i come from scranton, pennsylvania. birthplace of vice president joe biden. and, one thing that vice president joe biden loves to repeat is the line, people talk about values. but don't talk to me about your values. show me your budget and i'll tell you what your values are. we are here to talk about your budget request. and the first part that i want to talk about is, there is a
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growing salience and bipartisan support, general sessions, for a wide array of civil rights issues. but, you have steered the doj away from prioritizing issues. this has led a number of states, including my own home state, the commonwealth of pennsylvania, to sue the department of justice. the most recent suit against you and your department came after you revoked legal guidance, designed to protect the disabled, minorities, and the core. at the time, reuters quoted you as saying that this guidance is unnecessary, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper, unquote. but, part of this guidance was intended to assure that state and local governments accommodate disabled employees and integrate them into the workplace. in fact, i note your budget
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proposal makes no mention of fighting discrimination against people with disabilities. as a matter of fact, your proposed budget request would eliminate 27 positions including 11 attorneys from the civil rights division. and by incorporating the community relations service into the civil rights decision, with no additional funding, you are exacerbating the burden placed on the civil rights division. you are doing all of this at a time when the fbi has reported a rise in hate crime in this country, incidents in each of its past three annual reports. so, i did not want to let this day go by without commenting that i'm troubled by that. but i want to move quickly to the bureau of prisons. mr. sessions, it's about augmentation. as you know, augmentation is the bureau practice of using
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administrative staff, like nurses, plumbers, teachers, accountants, social workers, cooks, as correctional officers when understaffed. in fact, senator manchin asked you about bop augmentation in the senate hearing you attended yesterday. and you said you think everybody who participates in augmentation is also trained in the incarceration management, and that eliminating it completely would be highly expensive. this is why it's important to me, general sessions. i'm from northeast pennsylvania. a few years ago, we had a fellow named eric williams. he was a correctional officer in the usp in wayne county, pennsylvania. he was stabbed over 200 times. by a violent inmate, in an attack that took over 10 minutes. a friend of mine was a coroners medical examiner. he talked about it on the
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phone. he says as part of the investigation and the cause of death, he had to watch the video from that. and it turned his stomach. not just from the fact, general sessions, but watching the other inmates stand around as this happened. as eric williams was brutally murdered. we have to talk about keeping our federal prisons safe. there are other stories. officer al bharati who was shot 20 times, or a war veteran who was shot while trying to keep inmates safe. as the head of the doj, it's your duty to keep our corrections officers and prison employees safe. we've seen far too many corrections officers lose their lives in the line of duty. and the question is, why have you decided to ignore explicit congressional destruction --
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discretion to end augmentation before eliminating even more corrections officers from our already overworked and understaffed facilities? your budget proposes eliminating nearly 1200 correctional officer positions. how does this make sense at all, general sessions? >> well first, let me show you, we have no intention of to cease the protection and civil rights of the american people. the budget for the civil rights division is the same as it has been for the last 3 years in our request. and congress has given additional funds also. so, we are prepared to use whatever funds we are given and to protect the civil rights of all americans. on the augmentation situation, non-correctional officer staff are all federal law enforcement officers who have received law enforcement training.
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and so, they can be utilized at times when you need extra staff like at a meal, or some other event, and they augment, the people who do it full time. well, that's been done for many, many years. it would be exceedingly costly if you had to have full-time people, just for maybe certain events that require extra staffing. we are going to protect our law officers. those in prisons, our i.c.e. officers who have to deal with violent, illegal immigrants, and our police officers on the street will be protected by this department of justice. and with -- one thing i would like to call everyone's attention to, you may not know that the b.o.p. inmate population has decreased since 2013 by 35,000.
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the federal prison dropped from about 220,000, to 183,000 or so. and this is a dramatic change. and it coincides, of course, with some increase in crime rate in america. but regardless, b.o.p. staffing level is the same today as it was in 2009. and there were 20,000 fewer prisoners than. so, the bureau of prisons answer to the taxpayers, too. and when the prison population drops substantially, they need to figure out how to use the resources they have effectively. and, we've got a lot of other money that needs to be spent. so i'm prepared to review any situation that's dangerous and may need more than normal staffing. but, we are talking about a 3% reduction in staff when the population of the prison is
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dropped 16%. >> mr. chairman, i would note that when you focus on high security prisons, over 50% of them are still dangerously overpopulated. and i yield back. >> thank you. >> mr. cartwright? >> attorney general for mississippi. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. attorney general, thank you for being with us today. last month i had the pleasure of discussing important topics that are affecting our nation and i thank you for that. you mentioned how the department of justice is working to reduce gun and gang crime within america with project safe neighborhoods. after seeing how weak the previous administration was on crime, i'm happy to see this administration make steps to toughen up on criminal gang activity. when i speak with local police chiefs and sheriffs in south mississippi, they all agree. we need to organize and deploy programs that fund street-level outreach, education, and
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employment opportunities to combat gun and gang violence. to that point, could you please tell me, what is your request for the project safe neighborhoods program? and how well it help to address the balance and ongoing violence in the neighborhood throughout the country? >> thank you. it's $140 million. it will be money not going to the federal government, but to your local law officers in the form of a grant. and the goal of it would be to help the local grant recipients create task forces and partnerships, to be more effective in the neighborhood. we've got professors who reviewed the program in its previous existence, and have established, in my clear conviction, that it worked. and we are going to make it even better now. and the key to success in making our communities safer is this seamless partnership between the federal resources, not bound by county and city jurisdictions or state lines,
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even sometimes we can go internationally. which local police aren't able to do. we have the opportunity to have partnerships in a good way. dea, after you've given us 2018 additional money, we have met with rob patterson, the acting director. and, he has already added 400 task force positions, where we subsidize local law officers to participate in a task force to deal with that local community's problem. so, we want to help south mississippi deal with its problem, and it might be quite different than a problem somewhere else in america. and we'll help them deal with their problem. >> well, thank you for that. and i think the project safe neighborhoods is a great program. and real quickly, i know you mentioned that a majority of the drugs entering our country is coming t


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