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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  December 7, 2016 12:00pm-2:01pm EST

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chamber in addition to ten years in the house, she has earned the gratitude of the people of her beloved maryland and of the entire nation. that gratitude is based on much more than simple arithmetic, much more than just how many years she has served here, impressive though that is. in reflecting on her service, it is difficult to decide where to begin. her accomplishments, her vision, or her complete dedication to the people she serves, the dedication that began in that neighborhood in baltimore that she described so passionately today. no matter where we begin, we end up in the same place. it's all about her character.
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perhaps the best way to describe senator mikulski's character is by noting that she is not only officially the longest-serving woman in the history of the congress, but she is also unofficially the dean of the women in the senate. that title perfectly demonstrates the trust and respect that she has earned from her colleagues. madam president, as a brand-new senator in 1997, i was one of those ought toered by this accomplished and experienced dean. at the time, senator mikulski had already been in the house and the senate for a combined 20 years. she didn't know me from adam -- or perhaps i should say, "from
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eve." yet, despite the difference in our seniority, our states, and our party, she took me under her wing. she was one of the first people who called me after i was sworn in as a new senator. and i was so grateful for her kindness and her wisdom. she invited me to a power workshop in her office, along with mary landrieu, the other woman who was elected that year. and she taught me the ropes of the appropriations process and instituted regular bipartisan dinners for the women of the senate. in the years since then, i have come to know her as a fighter, as a trailblazer, and as a person of such integrity. maybe i.t. all those years --
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maybe it's all those years with the nuns that taught you that. it has been a privilege to work with her on such vital issues as home health care, maritime issues, higher education, pay equality, and an issue near and dear to both of us: alzheimer's research. serving with her on the appropriations committee, i have witnessed firsthand what an extraordinary leader she is: fair, open-minded and yet with firm expectations and a clear sense of direction. senator mikulski is, above all, a hard worker. growing up in east baltimore, she learned the value of hard work in her family's grocery store, as we have heard today. her commitment to making a difference in her neighborhood led her to become a social
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worker, helping at-risk children and our seniors. the statement that she made sums up her approach to serving in congress. i was a social worker for baltimore families, now i am a social worker building opportunities for families throughout america. and she has, madam president. two years ago, i was honored to stand alongside senator barb to accept the allegheny college prize for civility in public life. we were representing all of the women of the senate for our leadership in bringing an end to the devastating government shutdown of 2013 and working together on so many other issues.
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with our dean setting the example, we have always rejected the idea of a women's caucus because we like -- because we, like the men in the senate, span the ideological spectrum. who would expect otherwise? but we have worked together across party lines to serve all americans. as senator mikulski puts it, it's not about gender; it's about the agenda. in fact, all of us have our favorite sayings that the senator from maryland has taught us, and we will miss her way with words so much. when senator mikulski reached her senate longevity milestone five years ago, she surpassed my personal role model in public service, the legendary senator from maine, margaret chase
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smith. and just as the great lady from maine inspired me and countless other young women of my generation to serve, the great lady from maryland inspires the young women of today, always encouraging them to go for it. throughout her life in public service, she has lived by one guiding principle: to help our people meet the needs of today, as she helps our nation prepare for the challenges of tomorrow. madam president, what an honor it has been to serve alongside senator barbara mikulski. i have learned so much from her. i'll never forget the day that she told me i had the soul of an
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appropriator, which i knew was the highest compliment she could give me, and she was right. and we've worked on that committee to get so much done. and i want to wish her many more years of health, happiness, and, most of all, that most important ship -- friendship. thank you, madam president. mrs. boxer: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: before senator collins leaves the senator, i want to thank her, senator collins, for her beautiful remarks about senator mikulski. you know, as i leave here, i have said publicly, as the press has asked, what's your hope? i often say, my hope is with the senator from maine, senator collins, to breach some of the partisan divides. it's been an honor to serve with you, and i know you have a lot on your shoulders as we move
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forward. senator mikulski, i want to that i can just a very few minutes to talk about you. and i'm going to wait until you say goodbye to senator collins. mr. president, some senators have focus and drive. some have compassion. some have empathy. some have sharp negotiating skills, and some have a quick wit. some are great students of history. and some are champions for the least among us. senator barbara mikulski, you are all of these things. you are everything a senator should be. -- and more. as my mentor, as my treasured friend, you have been a major influence in my career. honestly, i can say i would not be here as a united states
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senator without your guidance. one of my favorite things about barbara is her wonderful sense of of humor. it is legendary. she's hilarious when she wants to be. when i was in the house of representatives, i was fighting to integrate the all-male house gym. the room they had assigned the women was about -- honestly -- 6 x 6. and it had showers and hairdryers. it had no exercise equipment, no space. it was the size after shoebox. but we women decided we needed some exercise, so we packed into the tingey room -- tiny room. there was senator mikulski, there was -- i'm sorry, then-congresswoman mikulski, congresswoman ferraro,
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congresswoman schroeder, barbara kanneli, olympia snowe, who looked like she had just stepped out of "vogue" magazine. the teacher was leading us in an arrow bikes class. put your hands over your head. we did it. put your hands out over your side. we did it. the then she said, put your hands on your waist and bend at the waist. and barbara as i said yelled, "look, if i had a waist, i wouldn't be here." that's my barb. she can use laughter to diffuse any -- defuse any situation. when i started looking at my own longshot for the senate, the first person i went to after my family was barb. it was a few years after she had
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made history becoming the first democratic woman ever elected to the united states senate. she got right to the point. how old are you, babs, she asked, using the nick name she called me to this day. i told her i was almost 50. god, that sounds so young, barbara. i told her i was almost 50. and i explained it was going to be a tough fight. i was up against two powerful male opponents in the democratic primary, and i was an asterisk in the polls. what was her response? she looked at me and she said, go for t it's worth the fight you'll have to wage to get here,s and it will be a fight. and it was. in 1992, four new women came to the senate, and who was waiting for us with open arms? senator mikulski. and this is what she said:
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"some women stare out the window waiting for prince charming. i stared out the window waiting for more women senators, and it's finally happened." that's who barbara is. she never set tout make a name for herself. she wanted to blaze a trail that was wide enough for all of us to follow. just days after i won that first senate race, she said, all the new women senators -- she sent all the new women senators a guide book she had a written herself about how to get started in the senate, thousand get on -- how to get on committees. she invited us to her office for lessons on senate procedure and thousand set up our -- and how to set up our offices. in the years since, as you've heard, she has hosted regular dinners for all the women in the senate, democrat and republican alike. we reach across party lines appeared come together because -- and come together because of her. we talk about our work, our
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families, we share our struggles and our triumphs. and what is said there stays there. senator mikulski has led us by example. showing us how to build coalitions, how to bridge the partisan divide, which includes strong partnership with our male colleagues, who she calls "sir gallogalihads." she says, go ear ring to ear ring with our opponents and "put on our lipstick, square our shoulders, suit up and fight." legendary mikulski words. to me, senator mikulski is the whole package. a skilled, intelligent negotiator, a senator who fights for the people and a woman who helps other women. she is our cherished leader and is why she will always be known as "the dean of the senate
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women." so when barbara announced she would be leaving the senate, i wrote her a rhyme -- i love to write rhymes and lyrics. "before mikulski won the day, a guy would have to pass away. and then his wife would take his place. finally, a woman in a senate space. but, barb, she got there in her own right. the first democratic gal to win that fight. she won the race, she joined the misssters, but finally now, she is 19 -- she has 1-9 19 sisters" and barbara, next year, because of what you started, because of the people you encouraged, there will be 20 women in the senate -- a record -- standing here in my chair, in my seat, will be an incredible woman.
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so, senator mikulski -- barb -- my treasured mentor, my dear friend, thank you for everythi everything. boy, we've been in the battles together. i am forever grateful to you and i will always, always treasure our friendship. i yield the floor. ms. mikulski: madam president? madam president? the presiding officer: yes. the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: i would like to thank the gentlelady from california for her -- yes, i like that, too. that's the way we talk here. the gentlelady from california for her really kind words. we have been together through thick, thin and the attempt to get thin, and that story about bending at the waist is a true one. you know, i'm not the person
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with the best hairdo or sleek or chic, but, you know, one of the things that i have so admired about you is your authenticity. when you were -- when we first got to know each other in the house and then to encourage you to come to the senate, which was certainly the right thing to do and hear, you are yourself. you were true to yourself. you were true to your beliefs, and you are true to your constituents, and you're true to the constitution. you are such a trueblue person, and i would say that there are many words to describe you, and they have, you know, outspoken, feisty, all that, but i would say authenticity. you are who you are. the people of california have loved you for it, and sent you
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to the congress. we started out together in city council roles. the pothole parliaments, as they are sometimes called. but it has been a pleasure to serve with you, and i have watched you stand up for your beliefs, and along the way as you stood up for your beliefs, you made believers of us all. godspeed to you, barbara, and we're friends forever. ms. stabenow: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: madam president, i do want to speak about senator mikulski and also senator boxer. our two great senator barbaras who have been such giants in the united states senate. we are so grateful to both of them. i do have to say among the many things that i have been honored and have pressured the opportunity to do with senator mikulski has been to offer her the stabenow bed and breakfast
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on long session nights and days when the appropriations committee has been negotiating and doing the incredible work that has to be done. i have the honor in my home of being able to put up a plaque that says senator barb slept here, and i have always be honored for having had that opportunity on top of all of the other ways that we have worked together. it really is an honor to stand here. i can't imagine the senate without senator mikulski and senator boxer both, but the incredible service of my dear friend and colleague, who is our dean in every sense of the word. the senior senator from the state of maryland. in over 30 years of service, she has worked tirelessly. we know that. we hear it every day. we know what people in baltimore, people in maryland care about, people in the
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chesapeake bay care about. she has been fighting for them, standing up for them every single moment of every single day. and i so admire that and am so grateful. she has been a wonderful inspiration and mentor to me. we have all heard about our dinners, about the power briefings on appropriations. she has been a continual source of inspiration and a mentor to me. she reached out to me as she does with all of our colleagues when i was first elected, welcomed me, showed me what it meant to be a good united states senator, to represent my state of michigan, how to really get things done. senator mikulski has always been willing to lend a helping hand, has never given up when it comes to fighting for the people she represents and for being a trailblazer. coming into the senate with a master's degree in social work, senator mikulski and i have, as the two -- as she has often said
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, official do-gooders in the united states senate have taken our interest in helping people individually into the position of policy making and have had the opportunity to touch more lives losing our skills and our background education as well. now, we all know, but i think it's important to remind ourselves that she was only 26. senator mikulski talked about the highway proposal that would have destroyed a neighborhood full of working people. she spoke up, she got noticed. she wasn't afraid to say exactly what she was thinking. she was and she is absolutely fearless in every good sense of that word. she brought that fearlessness to the united states senate. that fearlessness made her the first woman to serve as chair of the appropriations committee of the united states senate. it doesn't get more important than that in setting policy and
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determining impact on people's lives in our country. priorityizing interests the american people in every funding decision. that fearlessness was on display when she helped bring us closer to the lilly ledbetter fair pay act of 2009, to equal pay for equal work, to make it closer to equal pay for equal work than it's ever been before. oh, and she fought for health care, and i was proud to join senator mikulski in making sure that women can receive preventative care without a co-pay. she led us to make sure that women were truly represented, our needs in health care reform, and that will continue to impact all of the lives of women across the country. or when she turned her eyes to the stars wondering what was up there and made sure that the goddard space center was a leader in exploring the unknown,
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and like this super nova named after her, she has absolutely astonished us with her billians, and nothing will quite be the same after her. her work in the united states senate has made it possible for so many women and girls across america to put their hat in the ring and say i want to run for office and i can do it. senator mikulski said it best, we've all heard it. there are so many wonderful quotes i will always use, but when she said put your lipstick on, square your shoulders, suit up, go into the fight, get things done, that has become a mantra for us, a mantra for us in working together. so thank you, senator barb. you will be greatly missed, but i know that you have so much
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more to give. i know you will always make a difference in people's lives in every single thing you do every single day, and we will be forever grateful. thank you. ms. mikulski: madam president? i want to thank again the gentlelady from michigan. we are -- we both have master's degree in social work, so i joke but i'm actually serious, we were actually certified do-gooders. i know people think that sometimes when they hear the words social work, it's about giving money away, but it's really about how do we help build lives, build families and therefore build the nation, and your championship in that area has been amazing to me. i'm so glad that you're here in the senate, whether you're standing up for the people of flint, michigan, so that they
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have safe drinking water or whether you're standing up in the area of food and nutrition so that there aren't food deserts in communities. that is one of the biggest public health initiatives. if you're a diabetic, you can't comply if all you can get is fast food and french fries. if you are a child, you need good food, good nutrition, and you know more than anybody that you need to feed the body, the mind and the spirit, and you've certainly done that, and it's been great being your pal and your partner, and many people don't know senator cardin and i commute every day, but when those appropriation cycles got pretty late and after midnight, the senator -- the gentlelady from michigan offered her home to me, so we had a saying -- stop whining and have a glass of
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water. there was nothing like at the end of the day to be able to talk with a colleague to offer inspiration and encouragement. you offered your home, but really you have fought for so many people to have a home and to have a community and to be able to have what they need to be able to learn and prosper in this country. i just wish you so much and wish you all the best. thank you very much. ms. stabenow: madam president, just one more moment before -- i believe we have other colleagues that want to speak as well regarding senator mikulski. i would ask unanimous consent that my comments regarding senator barbara boxer be placed in the record. i will come back at a later point to do that. thank you. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coons: madam president? i was going to offer a few brief comments if i might just in thanks and congratulations to senator mikulski for her tireless contributions to the state of maryland and to our whole country. as many know, she is a
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passionate, capable, effective champion for people of all backgrounds, and she got her start in local government. one of the things we have in common is i, too, started in a very humble office as a county council member in my home community in new castle county, delaware, but the way i first met barbara mikulski and the way i first saw her toughness and her grit, her passion and her determination was in the fight over a program she helped give life to, the national service program known as americorps. americorps is a fantastic national program that partners between the federal government, state and local governments, the private sector and nonprofit volunteers, and she has been a tireless champion for americorps over many, many years and has made a lasting difference in its areas of focus and its areas of work. she has also in my short six years here been a great friend and mentor to me and so many others on both sides of the aisle. joe biden, our vice president, has often said show me your budget and i'll show you your values. well, as the leader of the
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senate appropriations committee, senator mikulski helped lift up our values, helped make sure that we invested in effective programs that helped feed the hungry, house the homeless, that fought for manufacturing, that ensure that federal workers who lived in maryland and federal agencies that were rooted not just in maryland but around the country, had the resources and the support and the capacity to make a lasting difference, here in our region and for the entire country. so i just wanted to add my voice to colleagues who have stood here on the floor today and said for her decades of service to baltimore, to maryland and to our country, we are so grateful to senator barbara mikulski for all that she has done to wist us up together. thank you. -- to list us up together. thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: this saturday, december 10, marks the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the committee on judiciary of the senate.
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i'm very proud to be the chairman of that committee, the first chairman who was not a lawyer, and i will be offering a resolution along with some other committee members to commemorate this 200th anniversary. 200 years ago, the senate established 11 original standing committees. today although there are many committees, the senate judiciary committee is one of only four original committees that still meet today. during the past two years, some of the most vital, important questions facing the nation have come before the committee. for example, during the civil war, the committee ensured president lincoln had the emergency powers he needed to pursue the civil war effort, and in 1864, the committee took a critical step in ending slavery in the united states when it reported the 13th amendment of
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the constitution. the committee has jurisdiction over issues that directly impact american lives and is on the forefront of deciding important policy issues, including immigration, civil liberties, criminal laws and the protection for victims and of course civil rights. and of course in addition, the committee examines those nominated for lifetime appointments to the federal branch. over the years, the committee has reported legislation that has been vital to the safety and protection of the american people. i don't have time today to discuss all the committee has accomplished over the last 200 years, but i do want to take a minute to recognize this important anniversary. i'm very proud of the committee's storied history. today i celebrate these accomplishments and follow that up with the introduction of the
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resolution and am truly humbled today to be its chairman. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: quorum call:
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. hoeven: i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: woiks. hoimb hoimb i --.
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mr. hoeven: i have five requests for committees to meet during today's session. they they have the approval ofe minority leader and majority leader. the presiding officer: without objection,so ordered. mr. hoeven: i rise to speak about the access to the pipeline in north dakota. we need to know the facts. on saturday the obama administration announced refusal to issue the final event for the pipeline -- final easement for the pipeline under the missouri river. it is required to finish the 1,172-mile long pipeline which is 98% complete in north dakota. 98% complete in north dakota and 86% complete overall. as i've indicated before on the floor, it runs from the bakken oil fields in north dakota, all
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the way to patoka, illinois, so that oil can go into all the refineries along the eastern part of the country and the eastern seaboard. in fact, our light sweet crude oil competes with opec. if they're not using our light sweet crude they are bringing in places like saudi arabia for these eastern refineries. very important in terms of energy independence for our country. as i said, this pipeline is 98% complete in our state, and now again the obama administration is delaying it. unfortunately this latest obama administration decision fails to follow the rule of law. it fails to resolve the issue and it perpetuates an extremely difficult situation for north dakotans. furthermore, it is estimated that over 5,000 protesters are still unlawfully gathered on federal corps of engineers land in our state. they are there in direct
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violation of the army corps' december 5 eviction notice as well as an evacuation order from north dakota's governor. however, now that the obama administration has made its decision, protesters should move from their unlawful site on the army corps of engineers land. even standing rock chairman david archambault said protesters need to leave and return home. even the standing rock sioux chairman has finally said that protesters need to leave and return home. he is the tribal chairman. and the obama administration needs to do the same. the administration needs to call on the protesters to leave this illegal site as well. as i said, the dakota access pipeline issue has been difficult for the people of
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north dakota. in recent months protesters have trespassed on private property. they blocked state highways and damaged bridges. they've committed acts of vandalism to construction equipment by cutting hydraulic hoses, breaking windows, filling gas tanks with gravel and setting equipment on fire. protesters have blocked intersections in bismarck and mandan. they have disrupted area businesses and farmers and ranchers in the area have reported instances of trespassing and butchered livestock. the rule of law matters in this country. but by committing acts of lawlessness at this construction site as a proxy for changing broader environmental policies, the rule of law is undermined. just as the pipeline company must follow the law, the protesters themselves need to follow the law as well. by continuing to remain in the
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camp, the protesters are defying federal and state orders to leave. they're subjecting residents in the area up to additional weeks of disruption and hardship. they also require our law enforcement to continue their around-the-clock presence 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. the protesters need to follow the law just like everyone else. and i repeat, it is time, past time to leave this illegal camp. and i'd like to address the dedication of our state and local law enforcement officers. the professionals who make up the north dakota highway patrol, our sheriffs and our deputies around the state and from other states who have come in to assist us, members of the north dakota national guard and other first responders have acted with professionalism and diligence to maintain peace and order under very difficult circumstances. they continued to protect the public, especially now with the
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onset of challenging winter conditions. in my ten years as governor of north dakota, i spent a lot of time working with our law enforcement officers to prepare for weather emergencies. i know the preparations that these situations require. even today our law enforcement and state department of transportation crews are working to keep evacuation routes open, rescuing people stranded on the highways and providing assistance to many from outside of north dakota who are unprepared to deal with the recent blizzard that we had in north dakota. the men and women in law enforcement are doing their best to protect everyone, including the protesters. we owe our law enforcement a debt of gratitude for their diligence, for their dedication and for their professionalism but north dakota's resources are severely strained. i repeatedly called on the u.s. department of justice to provide additional funding and law
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enforcement officers to ensure public safety. our state has requested federal assistance and was assured -- was assured by the attorney general we would be given expedited consideration. but that has not been the case. our byrne grant application for federal assistance has still not been approved by the attorney general. i will continue to call on the u.s. department of justice, u.s. department of the interior and the corps to provide additional federal resources, including funding and law enforcement personnel to assist our state and local law enforcement officers and ensure public safety. as i've said before, everyone has a right to be heard, but it must be done lawfully and peacefully. whether that is during the permitting process with its opportunities for public comment or else through the court systems. and i emphasize, through the
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court system. that is the established method in our country for dispute resolution. it is time, it is past time for the protesters to stand down and to recognize that the courts and the next administration will resolve this issue. it is also important to recognize that this pipeline is not unique or unusual as an infrastructure project. there are more than 38,000 crude oil pipeline river and water body crossings in the united states. more than 38,000. and more than 1,000 in my state of north dakota alone. this is one more. these crossings range from rivers, streams, and lakes to ponds, canals and ditches. also it is important to understand the oil is already being transported across the river on rail and across bridges. i just want to show once again, this is the network of oil
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pipelines in the country. they cross many bodies of water. we're doing it one more time with the latest, greatest technology. and the pipeline doesn't go in the river in any way, shape, or form. it is about 100 feet underneath the river. so even if there was a leak, somehow that oil would have to come up through bedrock to even get into the river. in other words, it's the latest, greatest technology. this oil is already moving to market. it's already crossing the river on remain and on truck. if we don't build this, we're relying on the old infrastructure, which is less safe and less environmentally sound, instead of building the new latest, greatest infrastructure with the technologies that will be more efficient, more safe, more environmentally sound. that's what makes sense. so again, it's not unique. additionally the pipeline company has modified its route on its own 140 times in north
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dakota to avoid any important or cultural resources. so they modified the route to avoid any cultural resources 140 times just in our state. in july of 2016 the army corps issued its final environmental assessment which concluded with the finding of no significant environmental impact and no historic properties affected. these determinations have been upheld not once, but twice by the federal court, including a judge appointed by the obama administration, federal district court judge here in washington, d.c. as for the way forward through this difficult issue, we need to look at the facts at hand. in the midst of the ongoing news coverage, it is sceerved heatedd rhetoric leaves little room for good faith ground but there continues to be a chance at finding consensus among the key stakeholders even as recently as
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last friday. to that point, in a meeting i had yesterday with army corps' northwestern division commander brigade general scott spelman, he stated last friday on december 2 the army corps omaha district commander john henderson convened representatives from the pipeline company, standing rock sioux tribe and army corps officials. they met in bismarck for five hours. the meeting including tribal staff and the company's engineering and technical experts who came together for the sole purpose of reviewing standing rock's 19 specific safety and environmental concerns raised in the tribe's october 2016 letter to the corps. in this meeting, the pipeline company tribe and army corps discussed all 19 concerns raised by standing rock, and they considered 36 potential terms and conditions that could further reduce the risk of a spill or pipeline rupture.
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let me repeat that. in order to directly address the river crossing concerns raised by the tribe and the protester, protesters, the pipeline company was willing to consider more than 36 additional safeguards for this crossing. friday's meeting actually resulted in a revised proposed easement presented to assistant secretary of the armijo -- of the army joellen darci last saturday. however on december 4, the assistant secretary instead required more -- quote -- "broad public input and analysis." so clearly the obama administration is not interested in finding a way forward based on the merits of the project. even in light of two federal court rulings upholding the army corps' reviews and even with subsequent attempts by the company to specifically address the tribe's remaining
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environmental concerns. in recent days i have met directly with president-elect trump's transition team and conveyed the importance of bringing this situation to a resolution. i have also spoken directly on the matter to vice president-elect mike pence and to the next attorney general, jeff sessions. president-elect trump has now publicly communicated his support for the project as well as for providing federal assistance, including additional resources and law enforcement personnel. this project should be decided on the merits and in accordance with the law. failure to do so will cast new uncertainty on all future infrastructure projects. from pipelines that carry oil and gas and other liquids to transmission lines carrying both traditional and renewable energy. if companies and individuals cannot rely on a system that follows the rule of law, nobody
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will risk making future investments in our country's vital infrastructure. that will make our nation less safe, less secure and less competitive. as i said a minute ago, think about it. if we can't build new infrastructure, then we will continue to use the old infrastructure which is less safe and less environmentally secure. to avoid this situation in the future, the kind of standoff we have with the dakota access pipeline, we need to focus on ways to improve the permitting process. we need to improve the process so we can make sure all people's voices are heard and provide regulatory certainty to companies willing to invest in large infrastructure projects. this should be done pros expectively, not -- prospectively, not retroactively, looking for ways to better streamline procedures, reduce hurdles and improve methods for public input. this pipeline can be safely and
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include necessary protections for both the tribe and everyone else downstream. the fact is our country needs energy and we can't have it without energy infrastructure. pipelines, transmission lines, road, rail and bridges, to move both traditional and renewable energy from where it's produced to where it's consumed, move it both safely and efficiently. let's all work together to make that happen. with that, madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. a senator: a senator: thank you. rise to commemorate the 7 ath -- 75th anniversary of the attack on pearl harbor. for the people of hawaii, it started as an ordinary sunny sunday morning in december. families were getting ready for
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church. mr. schatz: others were preparing breakfast. it was quiet. it was peaceful. just before 8:00 a.m. the first wave of japanese warplanes started their coordinated surprise attack on the island of ohau. bombers attacked aircraft clustered wingtip to wingtip at the airfields making it too easy for japanese pilots to destroy their targets. by the end of the attack, japanese forces had sunk four of the eight battleships at ford island. another battleship intentionally ran aground in the harbor to avoid blocking the channel. three destroyers and seven other ships were sunk or severely damaged. it was the worst disaster in u.s. naval history. 2,403 service members were killed or mortally wounded. 1,247 service members were injured. and 57 civilians were killed.
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across ohau, people watched as smoke and fire blackened the sky over pearl harbor. among those were two 17-yards, daniel c. anoya and daniel akaka, senator akaka at the school for boys grabbed a rifle and guarded the hills above the school from potential japanese paratroopers. senator inouye, then a volunteer medical aid reported to the elementary school where for a week he tended to the wounded. in the weeks that followed, the shipyard was back to work repairing vessels razed from the harbor. incredibly all but two sunk battleships returned to service in just two years. the nevada went on to support the invasion of normandy. five other ships damaged at
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pearl harbor later met japanese forces in the philippines. that day of infamy and the events that followed would ultimately galvanize more than 12 million americans to serve in uniform during the second world war. we remember the men and women who left their homes to fight an enemy they did not know in places they had never heard of. they said goodbye to their families to protect their neighbors, foreclosed the promise of their own dreams to protect their freedom. we know well the stories of courage and devotion. the tuskegee airmen, the 442nd infantry regiment. we remember the ingenuity and heroism of the raiders, the navaho code talkers and translators. the war in pacific lasted 2,194 days. when american occupation forces landed four years later at the end of the war, japan was in
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ruins. but instead of turning our backs on the people of japan, we extended a hand. we chose to turn an enemy into an ally. american occupiers immediately set out to transform japan into a peaceful democracy, implementing land and economic reforms, improving working conditions and granting women the right to vote. the united states sent billions of dollars in economic aid to rebuild japan. most of the assistance was delivered as food for even several years later after the surrender, there was widespread starvation in japan. it is hard to forget someone that sends you milk for hungry children as prime minister abay recently told congress. the attack sent in motion a chain of events with painful consequences for the two countries. but the decision that we made to partner with rather than punish
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japan helped to forge between our two countries what senator mike mansfield described as the most important bilateral relationship in the world bar none. today japan is a leader in the western world. we cooperate as partners to maintain regional peace. our countries work together to stop the flow of extremism and arms in the indian ocean. we work side by side in humanitarian relief and to defend against ballistic missile threats. our relationship has never been stronger. president obama's trip in may to hiroshima and the prime minister's upcoming trip this month to pearl harbor demonstrates the endurance of this friendship and the importance of reconciliation. and so as we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the attack on pearl harbor, we remember the service and sacrifice of the men and women who lost their lives on that day in december.
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and in remembering them and the service of those who fought, we know that their sacrifices were not in vain. america and japan are forever joined in history. we move forward together in the memory of those who sacrificed for a better world and for peace. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. cochran: madam president, i rise to compment and congratulate my good friend and colleague, the senior senator from maryland, barbara mikulski on her decision to retire from
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the united states senate. we're going to miss her very much. she has been a very effective senator speaking not only as a representative from the state of maryland but also for the entire country on so many different issues and federal responsibilities of our government. she's been very successful in every way serving as chair of the committee on appropriations where it's been my pleasure to work closely with her as the vice chair for -- when the republicans are in the minority and then coming to chair the committee with her as the ranking democrat member, during
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those periods. it's been a distinct honor to serve with her on the appropriations committee. in 2012 she became the first woman to chair the committee. she's also served as vice chairwoman for the past two years. i'm pleased that we've been able to work together to report bills that reflect our shared commitment to national security, scientific research, education, and economic development. senator mikulski has been a very valuable partner throughout. her approach to funding decisions as chairwoman and vice chairwoman highlights the importance of the constitutional role of congress to be good stewards of taxpayer money.
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i congratulate barbara mikulski on her distinguished career representing the people of maryland which reflects great credit on our united states senate. best wishes to her. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. a senator: thank you, madam president. i rise to discuss the fiscal year 2017 national defense authorization act. after several months of debate and negotiation, the house and senate armed services committee have arrived at a completed conference agreement. mr. reed: this will be the 55th consecutive time we've passed a national defense authorization act which sets national security policy and provides important authorities to the department of defense. i want to begin by thanking chairman mccain for his leadership during the course of this year.
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at his direction, the senate armed services committee undertook a robust review of how the department develops strategic guidance and executes their business processes to help the department operate more effectively and efficiently. i commend the chairman for making this effort a priority for the committee, and i appreciate his willingness to work in a bipartisan fashion on this important endeavor. the conference report that we are considering today includes many of the senate reforms, including efforts to improve the defense strategy documents produced by the department and reorganizing the office of the acquisition technology and logistics to ensure that the pentagon emphasize the research and innovation in support of our war fighters. in particular one of the most important reform efforts included in the final conference agreement is a senate provision that would create cross functional teams. this is a new tool for the secretary of defense to manage the formation and implementation of policies and solutions for complex problems that inherently cut across the many stove piped
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functional organizations in the department of defense. the private sector has pioneered and mastered this highly effective integration mechanism for a generation and business schools and business consultant sis have championed its use for decades. i consider this provision to be one of the most important reform initiatives in this bill. none of this would have happened without the leadership, the guidance, and the constant urging of the chairman senator mccain. and once again i commend him for this extraordinary effort. it is imperative as we introduce these reforms that we continue to collaborate with the department of defense to ensure that they contribute to our national security and do not create unnecessary and detrimental consequences. so this will be a partnership going forward to ensure that these reforms are adequate, appropriate, and work for the benefit of the men and women in uniform. and that's a process that we will all be engaged in. now, with respect to the budget, the conference agreement which
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we are considering today authorizes a total of $619 billion which includes $543.4 billion in base budget funding for the department of defense and certain security activities of the department of energy. and 67.8 billion in overseas contingency operation funding. the amount includes $5.8 billion in supplemental funding requested by president obama for operations in afghanistan, iraq and syria as well as an additional $3.2 billion over president obama's budget request primarily devoted to increased end strength. there is always concerns about increasing oco funding above a president's request. while it accounts for the budget caps, the purpose of the budget control act was to establish proportion naturally equal caps on defense and nondefense discretionary spending. during consideration of the ndaa, the house and senate had
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different approaches on how best to fund base budget requirements and ongoing military operations. however, after a robust debate, we reached an agreement on a modest increase in oco to fund increases and replenish inventories. with respect to afghanistan, the conference agreement supports our military operations specifically the bill authorizes approximately 8400 troops in afghanistan in 2017 including fully funding the afghan security forces fund at $4.26 billion to continue to support the afghan national defense and security forces. likewise, the bill contains $814 million to enhance the capabilities of the afghan air force and begin a transition from mi-17 to uh-60 helicopters. and also after a recent trip to afghanistan, it accelerates the afghan aviation initiative which is designed to build greater
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capabilities and fix wing capabilities in the afghan air force and in is a critical -- this is a critical battlefield advantage that the afghan forces will have over the taliban. with respect to europe we have fully funded the president's request of $3 boy 4 billion to the -- $3.4 billion to the european initiative. this funding will support critical investments that will increase rotational u.s. military presence in europe, improve key infrastructure, and enhance allied and partner military capabilities to respond to aggression and preserve stability. it includes an authorization for $350 million for the ukraine training initiative, continue and expand security intelligence support to ukraine forces to protect sovereignty and continued focus on robust defense and their efforts to reform the defense. with regard to our special operations forces at the
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forefront of our fight against isil and other terrorist groups, the bill includes important reforms for efforts -- for important efforts by enhancing the role of the assistant secretary of defense special operations and low-intensity conflict. that i think will be something we will watch and encourage. with respect to other aspects of our security cooperation programs, the conference agreement includes a comprehensive reform. this is the first time such an reform has been undertaken and is an important effort to ensure our government is in the security assistance arena. likewise a conference agreement includes a provision that will enhance the scope and authority of the global engagement center. for too long we have been losing the information space to our adversaries, both state and nonstate actors. it is my hope that by providing this critical center at the state department with a powerful mandate, we can begin to
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improve our efforts in the information space. the bill also supports modernization efforts of many different platforms. i'm particularly pleased to see that we are continuing two-year construction of a junior class submarine. it also supports additional requests for advanced procurement to keep this production on track. furthermore, it authorizes $1.9 billion for the ohio class replacement, which is the first strategic nuclear submarine procured funds to begin the process of reinvigorating and rebuilding our nuclear deterrence under water through the ohio class replacement. in addition to modernization of our underwater forces, we're also looking at modernization on a triad of air, sea and ground delivery platforms for strategic deterrence. this is the beginning of a
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multidecade long effort involving three acquisition programs, the ohio class replacement, long range penetrating bombers and also the land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles. most importantly, we'll be modernizing command and control systems to ensure our president always has positive control of these forces. as i stated many times, modernization is critical in light of the belligerent actionses by russia who conducted a nuclear exercise after invading crimea as a form of nuclear intimidation. in the area of technology and acquisition, i'm pleased the conference report takes a number of important steps to help d.o.d. maintain its technological super yorty. we continue to build on past work undertaken by the committee as well as the successes of defense secretary carter and colleagues in controlling the cost of major weapons systems for procurement programs. the agreement includes a number
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of steps to improve defense acquisition processes including strengthening the acquisition workforce, simplifying and streamlining regulatory burdens on the government industry, making it easier for d.o.d. to work with innovative small businesses and commercial companies and promoting the use of prototyping and rapid fielding to speed the development and deployment of advanced new systems. in the area of technological innovation, i hope reconstituting the position of under secretary of research and engineering will help promote connections with innovators both inside and outside of the government and ensure that the policies and practices governing ourrd -- our r&d programs are optimized to promote the new systems and technologies. finally i think the conference report includes important visions designed to streamline and modernize pentagon management processes. the bill supports efforts to develop, execute modern techniques and practices,
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modeled on private-sector best practices, including the use of big data to improve pentagon business processes. i believe that refining pentagon management practices will result in cost savings and efficiencies, freeing up funds for other critical needs. i want to note that conferees did not include several provisions regarding the application of the obama administration's funds related to lgbt issues and many are problematic. i hope we continue to work to ensure the department engages with effective contractors to the best benefit of war fighters and taxpayers alike. one of the key issues was readiness of our troops. i'm pleased the conference report includes significant resources for the military services unfunded requirements with a goal of restoring full readiness as soon as possible. for example, the bill includes additional funding for the army to conduct additional home station training in order to prepare them for future combat
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training center rotations as well as additional flight training for the other services. we've also included significant resources to provide additional depot maintenance to repair our military aircraft, ships and combat vehicles. and there's also additional funding to better sustain our military installations specifically in the facilities, restoration and modernization accounts. in the area of military personnel the conference agreement accomplishes much on behalf of service members at the department of defense. it authorizes a 2.1% pay raise for service members, supports an increase in the housing bifed reauthorizes pay authority to encourage enlistment and continue service by active duty and reserve personnel. unfortunately the bill does not include the provisions in the senate-passed bill that would have required women to register for the draft to the same extent men are required. i continue to believe this is the right policy for the nation and the military. if we're going to have a draft,
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women must share equally the burden and privilege to service and we must be able to take advantage of their extraordinary talents because without those talents our military today could not function as it does. the bill does, however, establish an independent national commission on military national public service to study the need for military selective service processes, including whether a nation continues to need a mechanism designed to draft large numbers of replacement combat troops, whether a woman should be required to participate equally in the process and the means by which to force attitude and ethos of service among the united states young men and women, including increased propensity for military service. finally, how to be obtain individuals with skills for which the nation has a critical need. this commission could provide valuable insights to proceed or how we should proceed particularly in a state of national emergency in pulling together the best of our young people to everybody is the
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nation. the agreement also touches upon the hire proposed by the administration. this too is an important end step. with respect to health care. the bill has reforms that will bring the program in line with the best practices in the civilian health care industry. and this is something that we have to continue to emphasize, the ability to care and treat for all of our personnel and retirees with respect to health care. we have done a lot of, i think, important work in this legislation. and let me conclude as i began by thanking chairman mccain and my senate colleague in the committee for their thoughtful contributions to this process. i'd like to thank my colleagues in the house armed services committee. they did a superb job along with their staff. this was a thoughtful bipartisan process that resulted in a bill that i believe will receive overwhelming support here on the
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floor of the senate as it did in the house. and finally, of course, this agreement would not have been possible without the extraordinary work of the staff. i want to thank so many but particularly let me thank chris pose, steve barney and all the majority committee staff for their hard work. and on the democratic side let me thank my staff director liz king. also gary leeland, meghan mcnemern, jody bennett, mike piken, kirk mcconnell, john quirk and john greene. i deeply appreciate all their efforts and they have made this bill possible. with that, madam president, i would yield the floor. madam president, i would note
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the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quirk,. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. a senator: i ask unanimous
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consent to address the senate as if in morning hour. the presiding officer: without objection. the senate is in a quorum call. a senator: madam president, i ask unanimous consent to lift the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: thank you so much. madam president, i come to the senate floor today to thank chairman mccain for his efforts on the national defense authorization act. mr. moran: yesterday i was here speaking about the cures act. i know that's the business of the day, but i also want to recognize the importance of the mdaa and it's soon or hoped for passage today or this week. i appreciate senator mccain working with me and supporting my amendment to remove language that would allow the administration to expend taxpayer dollars on plans to close guantanamo bay facility. fort leavenworth and my home state of kansas has been a site
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under this administration's consideration. this administration and foreign countries have lost track of numerous detainees which escalates the risk for military men and women if the detainees return to the battlefield. with the total reengagement rate at gitmo detainees returning to that battlefield at more than 40%, this provision is life and death matter. this defense authorization also halts troop reductions and increases the end strength across our active national guard and reserve forces. in every senate appropriation defense subcommittee hearing this past year with department of defense officials from the service chiefs to the chairman of the joint chiefs, i received answers that concluded our armed services would welcome more forces, not less. i introduced the posture act, senate bill 2563, with my colleague senator blunt and senator perdue to reverse these force reductions, increase end
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strength and the active duty national guard and reserve and specifically increase levels for our ground forces in the army and marine corps. i'm pleased that this defense legislation, the one we are considering this week, reflects this objective, and it stops the force reduction and increases the end strength levels across the armed services. there are many unknowns around the world and to reduce the size of our defense force would be a mistake. we've been impacted already by budget decisions based upon what our -- rather than based upon what our armed forces need to defend america. readiness is paramount and this ndaa allows for increased funding to make shower we are training, equipping and readying our forces as challenges around the world unfold. as chief of staff of the army general mark milley has repeatedly said readiness wins wars. the big red one, the army's first infantry division located at fort riley near junction city, kansas, as deployed its
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headquarters to iraq for a second time in less than two years. that kind of turn around requires the highest ready level -- levels of readiness. this bill also authorizes critical military construction funding for fort riley, for fort leavenworth and mcconnell air force base helping kansas remain a stronghold for our military training and power. as we head into the -- into these holidays, i'm pleased that service members and their families will receive with certainty the passage of this bill. they will receive benefits for which they have earned and they deserve and that includes a 2.1% pay increase, which is the largest increase in five years. as we pass this against legislation to support our military men and women, those who serve our nation, we must take a moment to also reflect upon the significance of this day, december 7, 1941, that horrific attack on pearl harbor 7 a years ago -- 75 years ago. that date forever changed our
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nation and national defense. we should not forget those who perished in that attack and as they made that ultimate sacrifice. 198 marines, 218 army men, and 68 civilians. shortly after i was elected to the united states senate, december 7, 2010, i had the distinct opportunity to present service medals to kansans who had served and survived the attack on pearl harbor. it took 69 years after they survived that attack, but i was honor to bestow the u.s. navy veterans arthur dunn and paul archbrenner with their much deserved commendations. it was a special moment i will not forgot. to honor those who perished that day as well as those who survived like arthur and paul who must care for the 21.8 million veterans who live among us today and deserve the best our nation can offer. we have an opportunity to better care for our veterans with the passage of h.r. 6416, the jeff miller and richard blumenthal veterans health care and benefits improvement act of 2016. i look forward to this legislation which has passed the
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house coming to the senate. it includes 76 bipartisan provisions to improve v.a. health care, streamline disability compensation and address other benefits and services that must be reformed to better serve our veterans. i thank the chairman of the committee, my chairman of my committee, the senator from georgia for his leadership in this regard. and i'm particularly pleased that this legislation includes legislation that i along with senator blumenthal have diligently worked for over the last several years and it's sponsored by 48 of our senate colleagues, the toxic exposure research act. this legislation takes a significant step toward researching the potential health effects from toxic exposure to veterans and their descendants. to send a strong message to our veterans we must pass this legislation. i often meet at the world war ii memorial with veterans for the memorial that was built in their honor on the national mall. the message i always convey is one that i shared with my dad upon his first visit up -- excuse me, upon my first visit
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to the memorial. i stepped away and called my g d at home and said i should have said this a long time ago. i respect your owe "i thank you for your service and i respect you and love you. we did that today. with the passage of veterans legislation, the passage of mdaa, we certainly can tell our service men and women and our veterans those who served our country so diligently and faithfully that we thank you for your service. we respect you and we love you. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia kane kane mr. kaine: i rise to discuss the affordable repeal act and want to make the case that its repeal without a replacement being known would be malpractice to the health care of millions of americans but also malpractice to the american economy. before i talk about why i want to tell two stories.
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monday i visited neighborhood health which is a community health center in northern virginia that serves 14,000 patients. it's not a walk-in clinic. they're sort of a medical home for 14,000 low income northern virginians, mostly working people. community health centers in virginia, west virginia, every state are a critical part of the health care safety net in virginia. they serve about 300,000 patients, millions nationally. they are medicine with a mission. they don't deny anybody primary health care services because of inability to pay and residents have equal access regard laz of where they live, their culture, their gender, race or resources. many centers, including the one i visited just ten minutes from here, were centers that were able to build or expand because of the affordable care act. the facilities have gotten better in communities across the country because of the affordable care act. that visit really made powerfully clear to me how much
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every zip code in this country has been affected by the affordable care act because of these centers and other services takthat are provided. the second story is a story from my recently completed 105-day unsuccessful venture as part of a national ticket. i was at the iowa state fair. a grandfather was carrying a little boy who looked to be about 3 and a half years old. i said tell me this youngster's name. the grandfather said jude. of course i said hey jude. i said tell me about jude. the grandfather now the father walked over and started to talked to me. what they said is jude is 3 and a half years old and already has had five open heart operations at the omaha children's hospital which is just across the river in western ie would -- -- of western iowa in nebraska. they said he could not owe have -- could not have had these operations if not for the affordable care act and would have exceeded -- and would have
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a predispissing condition. the heart condition would render unable to get insurance for the rest of his life. the father is a pretty big guy. they said, will you do all you can, will you do all you can to make sure that this act is not repealed. you can strengthen it. you can improve it, but will you do all you can to make sure it's not repealed. i looked at them and i said, because i believed this even before they asked me the question, i'll do anything to my last breath to make sure that we improve this but that we don't get rid of it. that's why i stand on the floor today. since the affordable care act was passed in march 2010, 20 million americans have health insurance and many of them for the first time in their life. that's i think the combined population of about 14 or 15 states. having health insurance for the first time in your life. now, when you have health insurance, it's not only that you can get care for an illness or an accident.
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even when you're healthy, you can go to bed at night with the knowledge that if something happens to my wife tomorrow, if something happens to me tomorrow, if something happens to my child tomorrow, they will be able to receive care. the percentage in the nation of people who are uninsured when the affordable care act was passed was 16%, one in six americans was uninsured. now it's down to 8.6%. that's the lowest level of uninsured that we've had probably since we've measured that. in virginia the drop has been from 13%. we were a little better than the national average, and we've dropped down to 1.9%. we're a little higher than the national average because my state has not accepted medicaid expansion. the difference in six years is 327,000 more virginians have health insurance in 2015 than had in 2010. that's a powerful, powerful thing. in addition to having health
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insurance, families are protected with insurance. they can't get turned away because of pre-existing conditions. they can't get turned away because they've reached lifetime limits in terms of their medical care as jude would have reached by age 3 and a half. children can stay on family policies till age 26. women cannot be charged different health care premiums than men. insurance companies are required to rebate excess premium payments back to consumers if they overcharge. it's not just about the millions who have health insurance who never had it before. there's also millions and millions more who receive protections that they've never had before. and these are important, important provisions. there's been discussion that i've been reading and following here that what we need to do or what some want to do is just repeal the affordable care act with a vague promise that something will happen down the line. of course, those who want to repeal the affordable care act who voted against it in march
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2010 have had six or now nearly seven years to come up with what they think would be better. and there's been no consensus about what they think would be better. so the notion of we're going to repeal it and don't worry we will come up with a better alternative, that rings pretty hollow to a family like jude's parents and grandparents who have a 3 and a half-year-old boy who needs open-heart surgery, the notion that don't worry, we will find a replacement, we will find a fix, i think we can forgive somebody like jude's family for not having a lot of confidence in that. and if in fact we're serious about finding a fix, why don't we go to work finding a fix before we pass legislation to repeal the law. i've said that i think it is malpractice, both health malpractice and economic malpractice. let me start with the economic malpractice. the worst thing congress can do for the economy is to inject uncertainty into it. i've been a mayor and i've been
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a governor and i'm a certainty fanatic. what i've learned about the economy is that our strong and resilient business sector, if you give them certainty, they can plan. they may not like a policy, they might not like a budget number but if you tell them this is the way it's going to be, the ingenuity of our private sector is significant. they're going to be able to plan. they'll be able to make the best of it. they'll be able to figure it out. but if you don't tell people what you're going to do, that is very devastating. i am on the budget committee. came onto the budget committee in the senate -- and i told my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, i'm a certainty fanatic. we shouldn't be doing a continuing resolution right now. we should be doing appropriations bills. because when we toll our own planners and the private economy, this is what we're going to be doing for the next year, they can adjust well. when we instead deliver a message that we don't know what we're going to do, oh, yeah
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there will be a fix but it will be a few years from now, we can't tell you what it is right now and we can't promise we'll do it because we haven't dome come up with it, that is the worst. i have made the argument that the recovery we've been on economically, which is not a robust recovery but a steady roarvetion the principal reason it's been steady but not robust is because of uncertainty and the principal generator of uncertainty in the united states is this body, congress. congress' inability to do budgets, congress' inability to tackle priorities, to work on big-picture fiscal priorities generates un-- uncertainty. now we're talking about a repeal of the affordable care act, the single-largest sector of the economy. one-sixth of this economy is health care. if you tell the american economy
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we're going to go into the largest sector of the economy, repeal it and don't worry we'll get to something down the road as a replacement, you will inject uncertainty into an economy in a degree that has never been done by this body that i think will have catastrophic economic consequences even beyond health care. it is also malpractice in the health lives of americans. the urban institute has come out with a study today -- and it was an updaft a study they did a year ago, because there was a study to repeal a year ago. what would repeal mean? this is what repeal means to the american public as we get ready to celebrate the holidays, a time when we are mindful of the needs of others. the number of uninsured people in the united states, if the a.c.a. is repealed, would fries its current 28.9 million to 58.7 million, an increase of 29.8 million uninsured in this
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country. the share of non-helderly people without -- the share of non-elderly people would increase. of the 29.8 million newly uninsured as a result of the repeal, 22.5 million will become uninsured as a result of eliminating premium tax credits, medicaid expansion and the individual mandate and the additional.3 million would become uninsured because of the near-collapse of the non-group insurance market. 82% of the new 29 million who will become uninsured are working families, 82%. 38% would be ages 18-34, 56% would be non-hispanic whites, 80% of adults becoming uninsured are adults who do not have college degrees. there will be 12.9 million fewer people with medicaid or chip coverage in 2019 if the affordable care act is repealed,
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and nearly 9.5 million people who have received tax credits to help them purchase private non-group health coverage in 2019 will no longer receive that snafnlts -- assistance. this is catastrophic to tens of millions of americans. i tell you a third story that's a story about me. i have to have the healthiest family in the united states. my wife and i and our flee children, the only -- and our three children, the only hospitalizations we've ever had until my wife recently broke a bone is for three child births. our kid kids are 27, 24-rbgs an. we are the healthiest familiar in the united states. i was required once to go out right after the affordable care act passed to buy health insurance on the open market. i didn't have an employer who could cover it, and two insurers turned me down because they said we can't write a policy for your whole family because of a preexisting condition. and one insurer turned me down
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because of something about me and one insurer turned me down because of something about one of my children. and, again, we are the healthiest family there is. we were able to say, wait a minute. the affordable care act just passed. you are not legally allowed to do that now. you have to write a policy for the whole family. and the insurance agent that dealt with us on the phone said, let me talk to my supervisor. you're right. we have to write you a possments this is a law that not only provides health insurance to 20 million people who never had it before but for even healthy families like mine provides benefits to protect against some of the worst and most predacious behaviors of insurance companies. and if the act is repealed, this all goes away. americans agree repeal is not the answer. a kaiser foundation poll that was done in the last two weeks showed that only 26% of americans support a repeal of the affordable care act. of the other 75%, some think it
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should stay the same. some think it should be tweaked backwards a little bit. some think it should be advanced. but only one in four americans believe we should repeal this law. overwhelmingly, what the american public is telling us is we should improve the law. and that's what we should be about in this body. when i was the governor of virginia, i noticed at the end of every legislative session there would be 1,100 bills on my desk for me to review, sign, veto, or amend. and of the 1,100 bills, pretty much every year, two o -- 200 o0 would be new, but 800 would be improvements to existing law enforcement the job of a legislator is more about taking existing laws and reforming and improving it than repealing or doing something brand new. and that's what puzzles me. why aren't we doing that? clearly there's no rush. there's no rush because the discussions are, we would repeal
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the affordable care act with a promise that we'll find a replacement in two or three years. so if the notion is, we're going to work for two or three years to find a replacement, there's no rush. and if there's no rush, why rnts we sitting down right now instead of repealing the law? why aren't we sitting down, let's sit down around the table, talk about what we don't like, let's talk about what we do like, let's talk about what it means to have 20 million people in this country for -- with health insurance, many for the first time in their lives, what they might like. let's get the perspectives of hospitals, doctors, insurers and and other medical professionals. that's what we should be doing. what's the rush? i fear that the rush is for one reason: a desire to do something before this president leaves office that can be a little bit of a poke in his eye. but it's a poke in his eye politically in a way that takes families like jude's family or
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the families that i saw at the neighborhood health center in alexander and puts -- in alexandria and puts deep fear and uncertainty in their lives. i know, madam president, we'll be having this discussion in earnest. a suspect over the next couple of days, but when the year begins just as we're going to be having discussions about medicare and medicaid. 1 .3 million medicare enrollees in virginia, as of 2015, the chip and medicaid programs in virginia have an additional 970,000 enrollees. i read about dramatic discussions about these programs as well, these basic safety net programs. and i'll just conclude and say, there is no reason that we shouldn't be able to sit down around the table and talk about improvements. and what i might call a reform, somebody else could call a
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replace. and i don't care about the label. but what i do care about is repealing the law that provides millions of people the confidence that they have health care for the first time in their life. doing it and having the discussion during th the holiday season, doing it in a way that will hurt working people, will hurt working people who don't have high school degrees, doing it that will hurt people that are already sick, who are already dealing with illnesses in their families. i am a student of this boavmentd i am not a historian. i am a student of this body. but my prediction would be this: if this body goes down the path of repealing this important law that provides important protections to millions, with no idea about what the replacement is, i think it will be a day that we will look back on and those who care about this body will look back on probably in
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the not-too-distant future and will say, this will be one of the low moments in the history of the united states senate. and there's no need for it because there are people of goodwill in this body who are willing to sit down and find solutions and find improvements and find reforms. but nobody seems willing to have that discussion. let's have that discussion rather than the repeal discussion and we will serve our constituents better. with that, madam chair, i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will report -- will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. alexander: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: at 2:00 p.m. the senate will move to vote on final passage --. the presiding officer: we're in a quorum call. mr. alexander: i ask to vitiate the quorum. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: at 2:00 p.m. the senate will move to vote on legislation we call 21st century cures. it's been called by the majority leader the most important piece of legislation that congress is likely to act on this year. the house of representatives added to the bill a mental health reform act, three separate bills.
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senator murphy, senator cornyn and senator cassidy worked on here which is the most important reform of mental health programs in more than a decade. very important to one out of five adult americans who have a mental illness. it caused me to think this today. this is pearl harbor day. pearl harbor is a day we remember the terrifying attacks on the american military that killed 2,000 and launched us into world war ii. it is also a day we define as the greatest generation, the generation distinguished by the fact that men and women of that era, era of bob dole and george h.w. bush and men and women now in their 90's and late 80's, they were defined by being willing to work hard on behalf of the entire country, put
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their differences aside and work for the greater good. to recognize that our diversity is important, but what's more important is the fact that we're all americans. there have been some other times in our recent history when we've been reminded of that. 9/11 is the most important of those. i remember how i felt after 9/11, and i watched president george w. bush speak and i thought he spoke eloquently as did l al gore at that time about the principles uniting our country. celebrating our victory is a good thing. celebrating our oneness is more important and it is hard work. what we're doing today is a modest, much more modest example of the same sort of spirit. i do not want to suggest that passing a bill in congress equals going to war or running into a burning building in new york city after it's been attacked. but it's the same spirit. i don't have any apology for suggesting that. it's the spirit of facing up to a big issue, a complex issue
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that affects lots of people about which there are lots of legitimate differences, working hard to resolve those differences so we're not celebrating those differences. we're celebrating the fact that we've come together. and as we did in the house of representatives last week, 392-26. as we did on monday in the senate with 85 votes in favor, we moved toward a solution that we all can support. sometimes we govern by executive order here in washington. and executive orders can be repealed by any new administration. sometimes we have partisan exercises like we did with obamacare six years ago, and we've been like hatfields and mccoys ever since shooting each other until we actually forget what we were arguing about. we actually remember but it makes it much more difficult to come together and get a consensus. other times, examples are the
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civil rights bills of the 1960's, the medicare bill or the bill last december that president obama called a christmas miracle, when we fixed no child left behind and came forward with a piece of legislation about which there was a consensus. not just to fix it but how to fix it. a consensus supported by governors as well as teachers unions. classroom teachers as well as school boards. there won't be a process to repeal it because everybody voted for it. those of us teaching in classrooms in our 100,000 schools and those working in the state department boards of education, parents will know for the foreseeable future there is stability about elementary and secondary education. we hear we have a fractured country, that we have so many differences of opinion we can't operate. there is one institution in the country that is the institution
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that's capable of leading the country toward consensus on important issues, and it is the united states senate. and sometimes we're able to do that. we're able to do it last year, as the president said, he called it a christmas miracle. we fixed no child left behind. we were able to do it today on mental health legislation which had to navigate its way through gun issues, funding issues and a whole variety of issues. and we're doing it on 21st century cures, which, as i've said, the majority leader has said is the most important piece of legislation we'll act on. it's pretty rare we have legislation that the president of the united states says this is an opportunity we just can't miss. and the vice president of the united states is telephoning senators before they go into their caucus meetings to urge them to support it. at the same time the speaker of the house, a republican, is saying this is part of my agenda for the future of our country, and the majority leader is saying it's the most important bill we're acting on.
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now it still wasn't easy to pass because we're dealing really with a lot of life and death issues. how rapidly can we move treatments and cures through the food and drug administration and make sure they're still safe? or how slowly can we do it and run up the costs so high that nobody can afford it? or how long can we take so that everybody is dead by the time the medicine is ready? we don't want that to happen. so those why are the issues we had. -- those are the issues we had. what kind of incentives can we give to drug companies so they can address rare diseases to children like the ones at saint judes that we see from mississippi and tennessee, 700 to 800 children there. they have rare diseases. nobody is making medicines for the diseases because there is no marketplace for it so we give incentives for those things. electronic medical records, they have been a real burden to doctors who spent $30 billion in taxpayer dollars.
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and they were in a ditch. this legislation moves it out of the ditch. francis collins, the distinguished head of the national institutes of health, says in the next ten years we will be seeing a cure for alzheimer's, with an ability to identify symptoms of alzheimer's before -- to identify alzheimer's before there are symptoms. an artificial pancreas for diabetes. a vaccine for h.i.v. -- h.i.v. vaccine, for zika and for the universal 234r50u -- flew which killed 30,000 last year. regenerative medicine according to mayo clinic is a game changer using it to restore eyesight or damaged hearts. there is a provision in this legislation to move that ahead. and there's funding. there's funding for it.
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$4.8 billion funding for the national institutes of health. that includes the eureka act, sponsored by the senator from mississippi, which is so -- which is so important. it includes money for the president's precision medicine move initiative and for the vice president's cancer moonshot and for the brain initiative and more money for the f.d.a., and $1 billion for state grants over the next two years to fight opioid abuse. so this is, as the president says, an opportunity we cannot miss, mr. president. it is an opportunity we cannot miss, and we're not going to miss it. we're going to have this bill down to the president very shortly, and he'll have an opportunity to be presented with another christmas miracle. i ask consent to put into the record following my remarks today's editorial from the "wall street journal" which says "cures is a stride toward a more rational and humane drug
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development system and it's a legislation about compromise. the bill could become a useful precedent for successful progress as the 115th congress starts to take shape next year." so on pearl harbor day when we celebrate the greatest generation and the contributions they made while remembering that while diversity is important that our oneness is more important,ness a much more modest example, but a very important one of the same spirit, one that affects virtually every family in america. i'd like to extend my deep thanks and sincere appreciation to the dedicated staff who have worked on the bill. we talk about that a lot here, but every one of us who is a senator knows how crucial that is. we have worked for two years on the bill, numerous hearings, numerous discussions. it's passed the house of representatives twice. it came through our committee, the senate help committee, in the form of 19 different bipartisan bills. every one of those bills by the
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time it passed, two was the largest number of recorded votes against each one of those 19 bills. and the staff did a tremendous job on that. i want to especially thank david cleary who is my chief of staff. evan schatz, senator murray's chief on these issues, because of the remarkable way they're able to work together with both senator murray of washington's staff and my staff. on senator murray's staff john rider and nick bathe, andy frisset, wade akerman, madeline punnell, carla arkenclause. i thank them for their passion and willingness to work toward a result. on our staff, in addition to david lipinsky, lindsey simon, grace stumps, gary townsend,
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liz rowe, margaret coulter, jim jeffreys, liz wodemooth, alicia henney and jamie p gardener. we've had an unusual opportunity in this to work across the aisle with chairman upton, representative pallone, representative degette and others in the house of representatives and their staffs. and i want to especially thank speaker ryan and senator mcconnell. speaker ryan did a triple somersault to try to find a funding mechanism that would satisfy both democrats and republicans. and senator mcconnell made time on the floor for it. not everyone is satisfied with the funding mechanism but we're all voting for it because this is such an important bill. i see my colleagues, the senator from washington on the floor. i once again thank her for her strong leadership in helping create an environment where 21st century and the mental
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health legislation can succeed. the presiding officer: without objection the material referred to by the senator from tennessee will be placed in the appropriate section of the record. the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, thank you. i want to again express my heartfelt thanks to all of our colleagues in the house and senate who worked so hard to make this bill the best it could be for the patients and families we serve. and in particular, i do want to express my appreciation to vice president biden for his leadership and vision and determination. and i especially want to thank the chairman of the help committee, senator alexander, for his work and his leadership on this bill, as well as the energy and commerce chairman fred upton, ranking member frank pallone and congresswoman diana degette. i want to reiterate my gratitude to our staff on both sides of the aisle who put in very long hours and weekends and more to get this legislation finished. as a result of a lot of strong bipartisan work, we are sending
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a bill now to the president's desk that will invest in tackling our hardest to treat diseases, put real dollars behind the fight against the opioid epidemic, and make badly needed changes to mental health care in our country. in particular, thanks to the strong bipartisan work of senator murphy and senator cassidy as well as congressman murphy. mr. president, i'm confident that i'm not alone in saying i've heard from so many people in my home state about each and every one of these challenges. there are patients and families waiting and hoping for new cures and treatments. people from every walk of life who made clear that the opioid epidemic has cost too many lives and torn too many families apart. and families who have struggled to get loved ones the mental health care they need and our broken mental health care system got in their way rather than helping. i listened to these stories in my home state of washington. i brought them back and told them here on the senate floor.
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and now i am very proud to be taking bipartisan steps to help give patients and families and communities the relief they need in response to some of the biggest challenges in health care for our time. so thank you again to all the senators who worked on this, all of our colleagues in the house for this bipartisan effort. i ask unanimous consent to put an entire list of all of our staff in the record, to thank them for their support. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: and i again want to thank senator alexander, who has worked diligently across the aisle to get this done. and my sincere thanks to you today. mr. alexander: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: the senator from washington knows how much i appreciate her leadership and enjoy working with her, and i think we all respect the fact that she's -- she enjoys getting results that help the american people. i move to table the motion to
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concur --. the presiding officer: first, under the previous order all postcloture time is expired. mr. alexander: i move to table the motion to concur with the amendment. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to table. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the question is on the motion to concur. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be a sufficient second. the clerk will call the roll. vote:


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