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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  January 7, 2015 4:30pm-5:01pm EST

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mistrust and propaganda on both sides to lead to the betterment of the relationship between the cuban people and the american people and the greater prosperity to both peoples through trade and commerce. i strongly support continuing to move forward to ep gauge with cuba -- to engage with cuba and will continue to support the president's actions and similar legislative action here. . ms. lee: thank you very much. let me thank the gentleman from colorado for that very succinct and clear statement and for your continuing leadership for a policy that really is in the united states' best interests, so thank you again. let me now ask and yield to my friend from california, congressman sam farr, who has really forged a path toward where we are today for many, many years with the
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administration as it relates to establishing diplomatic relations. one who -- someone who has visited cuba, who has the respect of the cuban people, but also has the respect of our own administration, and someone who continues to plug away each and every day for normal relations with cuba and ending the embargo. congressman sam farr. mr. farr: thank you very much, my dear colleague from california, and our distinguished member of congress, barbara lee. i don't think any other member who has made more trips of anden more people and influenced -- and taken more people and influenced this change in policy in the united states congress than barbara lee. i had the pleasure of traveling to exaw about a on six different -- cuba on six different mission trips and each one of them has been very interesting. one with my constituents in santa cruz, california, who have a sister relationship, sister city relationship with an area in cuba. it looks much like the california coast line, very interesting area, trying to help rural people with better
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connection with learning about their rural delivery of medicine, which is far -- which far exceeds the way we treat rural people in this country. and learning from them how we might do a better job. at the same time improving the facilities they have and things like that. just the cultural exchange. and i find that every time i'm there, whether it's havana or other parts of cuba, that there's just always kind of a curiosity of learning about another country a very well educated country, a sophisticated country, yet a very, very poor country. i was a peace corps volunteer in latin america in colombia. i lived there without water and without lights and people in cuba might have access to water and lights, but the living conditions that they live in are really really restricted. some of the conditions in havana are the greatest poverty i've seen in the world. so this will change when you get people that are well educated and get an economy growing.
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i want to just -- i think that the action of president obama is absolutely awesome. it is real diplomatic leadership. it is the ability to change the united states' isolated, backward, close-the-door policy, to opening it up with all the other presidents of this hemisphere. and as we go, prepare to go to panama in the spring, president obama now will be joining every president of this hemisphere, 36 different countries in the western hemisphere all of whom have diplomatic relationships normal relationships with cuba, except the united states of america. and he's going to be applauded for his leadership in joining the hemispheric unity. when you think about the opportunities of had hemisphere we can get along in had hemisphere in three languages. -- in this hemisphere in three languages. in spanish, english and
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portuguese. a little bit of french. we're not at war with anybody. this is a magnificent hemisphere to unify. and to be isolated from that unification by having this archaic policy toward cuba is just wrong. so, mr. president, you're our hero and i look forward to you being welcomed as a hero at the hemispheric summit this spring. i would also like to say i'm the ranking member on the agriculture subcommittee of appropriations. and it is -- this is an opportunity, 11 million people living in cuba, to really get -- and hungry, and really hungry -- hungry. cuba has to import almost everything. they have trade importations from the united states. buying agriculture products isn't new. what's going to be new is the ability to trade in normal functions, in using the financial instruments that all trade and negotiations have. it is very difficult to export
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to cuba. because of the requirements that we make in the united states. we're not allowed as americans to use credit cards or to get credit. all the other countries can. so what happens is these otherkies -- countries are taking away market -- other countries are taking away market share where we could be in there with our products. i'm very proud in agriculture to see the leadership of our states, our agricultural states, the governors, bipartisan this is not a democratic or -- this is a bipartisan sort of the american outreach. we have formed a coalition of agricultural groups to work on really opening up the trade. and i'm very proud to say that the international dairy -- i'm going to read off this list -- the international dairy foods association, association of state departments of agriculture, national association of wheat growers, national barley growers, national chicken council national council of farmer cooperatives, national milk producers federation, national turkey federation north american meat institute, u.s. dairy export council, the u.s.
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wheat association the u.s. rice federation, etc. etc., are all interested in helping promote our relationship with cuba. so congratulations president obama, you're a tree leader in -- true leader in this hemisphere and thank you, barbara lee for setting aside this time for us to discuss this. and i want to personally thank barbara lee for inviting allen gross to be here yesterday when we were sworn in. i was very fortunate to be able to meet with and gross when he was incarcerated in cuba. i brought phmsa lamby from the eastern -- i brought him salami from the eastern market here. he just loved that. he brought me a bracelet he made when he was incarcerated. it's so nice to see him back in the united states, in the halls of the united states congress. america is changing and this is a big step. thank you. ms. lee: thank you very much. let me thank you congressman farr, for that really very positive upbeat statement, also for your leadership on so many issues. i want to remind this body, cuba still finds self on the list of state sponsor terror
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countries and congressman farr along with other members have really led in trying to get our administration to really understand, as william cohen issued the white paper in 1998, saying that there's no conventional threat by the cuban military. that has decreased. there's none. and this should be lifted very quickly. so thank you, congressman farr. let me now yield to congressman cohen from tennessee who understands very clearly the importance of lifting the embargo, not only for our foreign policy goals, but also in terms of his constituents and in terms of the benefits to american businesses and the efforts in our job creation and economic revitalization efforts. thank you again for being here with us. mr. cohen: you're very welcome. i thank you for bringing this special order. you have indeed, as people have said been the leader on this issue for many years and i appreciate that. and so many other issues you've been a leader on, but this in
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particular. also mr. rangel has been an important leader in this issue as has mr. meeks and others. i had written the president and talked to valerie jared about the three c's i thought he could engage in with executive authority. one of which is cuba. and i commend him for taking this leadership role. the second of which was communetations, which he's not done nearly enough, to commute unjustice sentences here in this country. and the third is cannabis which should be rescheduled to a schedule three drug so we can do research on medical marijuana and charlotte's web, that can help children with epilepsy who otherwise are either dying or not being treated. but i commend the president for his actions toward cuba. this is a policy that many have mentioned has been a failed policy for over 50 years. we do have engagements and diplomatic relations with china where the mooists are getting
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more and more power. with vietnam and with russia. why should we not have relations with cuba? there was no reason. the only reason was florida and electoral votes. so i commend the president for rising above politics and doing the right thing for human beings and for americans. as representative castor said, so many americans want to travel to cuba. and for many years i thought it was absurd that i couldn't travel to cuba. i wanted to. and i couldn't. because my country was stopping me from doing it. and people were going through canada or going through mexico and other countries and getting in and subverting the law. but that wasn't right. if you want to follow the laws of your country, you couldn't go and you didn't go. it was wrong. i did have the opportunity to visit cuba as a member and found the cuban people very, very, very friendly.
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and as i was walking around havana, i thought, this is so strange. i'm supposed to think that these people aren't going to like me, that this is our enemy. they're on the terrorist list. i should be concerned. but i felt as safe as i was anyplace in the united states or anyplace in the world. and people were very friendly and very nice. it was no different than being anywhere else in the hemisphere. i really liked the old cars, the 1950's cars that are all over havana. they're kind of part of the culture now. while i liked them, because i remember as a child those cars, my parents had them, seeing them, thinking about auto zone in my district and all the parts that could be sold in havana to make those cars work more efficiently and maybe a little less impact on the environment. i also thought about federal express and how many packages that might be shipped in and out of cuba. by america's number one and the world's number one carrier of
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products. i thought about the hotel industry that's located in my community. we used to have holiday inn, we still have hilton. and the hotels that could be built there. other countries mostly i think spain and sweden and canada and even israel had hotels and restaurants and businesses. but not america. so it made no sense. i remember katrina and the great tragedy just south of memphis and new orleans and when cuba offered medical aid doctors and medical aid we turned it down. how foolish of us to turn down an offer of humanitarian aid. but we did it. and they offered aid after 9/11 as well. my appreciation for cuba goes back to my childhood. in 1955 i was befriended by a baseball player whose name was
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minnie menoso. the cuban comits. number nine with the white sox, with the indians. a little bit later with the cardinals and the washington senators. and he befriended me and gave me a baseball when i was just 5 years of age. he was in the segregated memphis, tennessee, so the player who gave me the baseball originally what is a white player. i didn't have to say he was while, but he was. -- white, but he was. i went to thank him, i had crutches at the time, i'd just gotten out of the hospital some months earlier from polio and had a white sox t-shirt and cap it was an exhibition game. and thanked him. and he said, you don't need to thank me, you should thank number nine over there. the darkest player on the field. and so he came over and we thanked him. and what it was, he was kind of inhibited from the segregation laws in the south being the nicest guy on the baseball field and coming up and giving me a ball. he became my buddy.
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i've known him ever since. he's been my friend. we visited back and forth. and he was a cuban player who was block ofed in chicago and i think is the most beloved player in chicago today. a lot of cuban players have gone to play in chicago and they've had great baseball. we could have a great baseball relationship with cuba, a great tourism relationship, cultural relationship and medical care. in traveling to latin america as a congressman, i've been told the biggest impediment to our relations with latin american countries is our treatment of cuba. the president by starting to formalize relations with cuba, has helped america and latin america, which is our number one -- south america central america, number one trading partner. makes a lot of sense economically as well as humanely. i look forward to the time when all americans can visit cuba
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great culture. good wishes. they're our friends. thank you, representative lee, for having this session on this program, which shows president obama's leadership. and i yield back the balance. ms. lee: thank you. i want to thank the gentleman from tennessee for being with us this evening. and really laying out many of the benefits to your constituents, to america as it relates to the -- ending the embargo against cuba. but also just for being here and kind of sharing your stories. because i think it's very important that we hear the stories of americans who have had relationships with the cuban people who really don't and can't figure out why everyone can't have these normal relations with the people of cuba, as we do with people around the world. so thank you again very much. let me now yield to the gentlelady from connecticut, congresswoman delauro, who has visited cuba several times, who really has been very focused on the business aspects, the agricultural benefits to our own country and to cuba, as it
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relates to ending the embargo. also on women's issues and so many issues that really require us to normalize relations with cuba. she's been in this fight a long time and still continues each and every day to move us forward. and i really thank you again for your leadership for being here, and for being with some of us when we've been in cuba and really raising sthees issues to a level that -- these issues to a level that really i think the cuban people understand that americans are spirited and they really want to be there and to help move cuba forward as well as our own country forward. so thank you. ms. delauro: thank you. i want to thank the gentlelady. first and foremost for her leadership. this is not an issue for the faint of heart or for people who want to say, oh, my gosh, if we don't see success immediately, then you know, wash our hands and go off and do some other. this requires tenacity and
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passion and deep concern and we're grateful to you for your leadership in this area and it's been a pleasure for me to work with you. . like my colleagues, we are not fans of the castro regime. it is not about the regime. it is about the cuban people and what we can do to help our near neighbors realize their aspirations for freedom and for prosperity. and judged against that worthy goal, our policy of the last 54 years has been a dismal failure. it has not helped ordinary cubans one bit. in fact, the sanctions have harmed them and us by holding back cuba's democratic and economic development. back in 2007, i had the opportunity to chair the agricultural appropriations subcommittee. at that time, i led a bipartisan group of members on a trip to cuba. and on that trip it was so
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interesting to me that one of the things one or two of my colleagues, and again in a bipartisan way, wanted to do was to go to the port and to see the offloading of rice and the fact of the matter is that instead of getting their rice from the united states which cuba could do, they are getting their rice from ma lay shah. -- from malaysia. imagine where we could make an economic difference for our rice farmers, or our agricultural community, and because of a policy that has been so shortsighted that we are putting our own economic interests aside. i had the honor of taking part in another delegation to the island last year led by our colleague, barbara lee, and what
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we saw on the visit was an immense and untapped potential. it was at that time as well that i accompanied congresswoman lee to visit with alan gross and to understand his plight. arrested put in prison, for 15 years, having served five years, and what that -- the destruction it was doing to him physically and mentally and unnecessarily so. and we were so excited yesterday when we were sworn in as newly elected or just elected members of congress that alan gross and his wife judy were in the audience to see that back here, home, in the united states, with family and enjoying all the freedom that he deserves.
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so the -- again, the immense benefit the untapped potential we also saw, and my colleague barbara lee will bear this out, we met with entrepreneurs many young women, who are -- who have opened stores, opened restaurants, they've opened other small businesses. we spoke with people that are finding innovative ways to improve their lives and the lives of their families. and yet because of a lack of financial infrastructure or the ability of u.s. banks to participate in cuba, that they are held to a modicum of what they can do. there is palpable hunger for change in cuba. we need to do our best to support it. opening the economy will help to
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unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of the cuban people. we have engaged with the soviet union and communist china, both of which pose potentially severe threats to our country. cuba poses no such threat. i applaud the president for his historic first step to normalize relations between the united states and cuba, and we must stop a senseless policy and act to end this embargo. i thank the gentlelady for the time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady's time has expired. for what purpose does the gentlewoman from california seek recognition? ms. lee: thank you mr. speaker, i move that the house do now adjourn. the speaker pro tempore: those in favor -- the question is on the motion to adjourn. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes have it. the motion is adopted. accordingly the house stands
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adjourned until 10:00 a.m. in the morning for the morning hour debate.
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guest: republicans say this was encouraging them not to offer coverage. they're saying that the 30-hour threshold hurts employees more than it would if it was a 40-hour threshold. host: the white house now
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issuing a veto threat against this legislation with their statement of administration policy coming up. what in particular does the white house say they don't like about this measure? guest: there's two things the white house has taken issue with. number one they -- they say it adds to the deficit and they say it would hurt a 40-hour worker as well, cutting their hours down to the 38-hour limit. democrats have supported this a little bit on the house side and senate side as well but labeled it more as strengthening the law as weakening it. which is what the white house stance has been. host: this issue has come up before in the 113th congress, you mentioned democrat support going back to last april when the bill passed the house, so what can we expect this time around in terms of house democratic support? guest: house democratic support, there seems to be some support for it. there's already six co-sponsors when it passed last year, i think there was 1 to 20
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co-sponsors. but we expect toyota pass with democratic support in the house as well as in the senate, there should be some democratic support as well. host: you covered the news conference with senators collins and donnelly, saying they have introduced legislation to redefine the work week as 40 hours under the health care law but likely faces veto. tell us about the senate with the republican majority there? guest: in the senate they introduced their version of the 40-hour workweek that would be the same kind of thing. and i think there will be some democratic support but there could be some problems with the republican senators as well, especially those runs for election in 2016 and those who view any changes to the law as fixing something that's inherently flawed. so you could see some trouble in the senate from both sides of the aisle passing this. host: you tweeted earlier about some actually underpinning of the house rules for the 114th
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talks about some changes they'd like to see in the health care law with the independent advisory board. what other sorts of changes might republicans propose on the 2010 law? guest: next up on the list may be eliminating the medical device tax. currently there's an excise tax on medical devices which has drawn a lot of democratic support. other things we could see are in addition to elimination of ipab we could see elimination -- legislation to eliminate the risk quarter program, to limit the financial losses of insurers. we could see them try to attempt to repeal the individual mandate or the employer mandate altogether in an effort to appease businesses who are against the mandates. >> earlier we heard more about the house agenda with speaker john boehner and other republican leaders who also responded to the terrorist attack in paris in this 15-minute briefing.
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>> good morning, everyone. this marks the beginning of a new year, new congress, and the beginning of a new commitment we make to work hard every day to improve the lives of everyone in this country, no mat wrer they come from or their background or walk of life. s the first week of america's new congress. we are already putting forward solutions that are going to get people back to work. expand energy. protect our veterans and give them nor protections. help middle class, hardworking americans bring home more of their paycheck. these solutions are just the beginning. the beginning of this congress that we are excited about as we put forward these bold solutions and the commitment to the american people to make their lives better. last night, i had the opportunity to have my husband and three kids with me as i took the oath and was sworn in
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for the -- my sixth term in congress. and as i do that, i am honored, but i'm also renewed in my own commitment to the people that have elected me to advance solutions that are going to make their lives better. this is our vision. as far as america's new congress. >> good morning, everyone. our thoughts and prayers are with the people of paris this morning. this vicious terrorist attack is a reminder that we must always be vigilant against the enemies of freedom. our priorities as kathy said are the people's priorities -- cathy's -- cathy said are the people's priorities, for middle class families. that's why we started the congress with bills to approve the keystone pipeline, restore the 40-hour workweek and help small businesses hire more of
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our veterans. too many americans are out of work. too many are working harder just to keep pace in the face of rising costs and frankly we've got an awful lot of work to do. unfortunately, by threatening two of these bipartisan jobs bill the president essentially is telling the american people he really doesn't care what they think. our commitment is to stand up for the american people and therefore -- and their priorities and it's a commitment we will not break. >> welcome back. very excited about the new opportunities and the new american congress. very diverse. from the youngest woman ever elected to the size and scope of our conference and the opportunities before us. when you look to the next two years and the legislation, there will be three main issues. we're going to increase freedom. expand the opportunity for the american people. and we're going to hold
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washington accountable. first day started off fast. we looked as a -- at a very strong, bipartisan bill, hire manager heroes. this week we'll take up the 40-hour workweek, dealing with those americans who have been cut back because of obamacare on the number of hours that they can work. keystone pipeline. helping to make america energy independent and create manager jobs. getting those number of pipes that have been sitting out there in arkansas actually to work for us. you know they say history can repeat itself. i look back to a situation in america that's been in this climate before. republicans holding the house and senate with newt gingrich and bob dole and bill clinton in the white house. but i watched them come together this is a new opportunity with
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the new american congress that this president can work with us and looking at the bipartisan bills we have put on the floor, i'm hoping he puts people before politics >> congressman davis brought a bill forward to have americans have more opportunities and move forward with the 40-hour workweek bill and seen a shift from full-time jobs because of effects of obamacare that made it hard to find full-time employment and later this week on the keystone pipeline a bill that obama administration said it will create over 40,000 american jobs. i would encourage the president to create those jobs and

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