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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  December 8, 2016 10:00am-12:01pm EST

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want to try to do, make sure you're going to work as hard as you can at trying to do what you want to do. and i believe that's a lesson for everyone. the little boy from searchlight has been able to be part of a changing state of nevada. i'm grateful i've been part of that change. when i graduated from law school, the population of nevada was less than 300,000 people. it is now three million people. it grew from one member of congress in 1964 to 82. one, that's all we had. now we have four. during my 34 years in congress, i've seen the country change. i've seen nevada change. the changes in the country and nevada and then for the better. now i'm going to spend a little bit of time talking about some
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of the things that i've been able to do as a member of the united states senate. i know it's long and somewhat tedious, but i've been here a long time so please be patient. my legislation. reducing tax burdens. i'm sorry he's not here -- david pryor of arkansas. david pryor, i don't want to hurt the feelings of any of my very, very capable friends but the best legislative -- legislator i ever served with. he was good at the getting things done. the first speech i gave as a member of the senate was way back there where cory booker is right now. and i gave a speech. i tried to do it in the house. it was called a taxpayers bill
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of rights. i couldn't get jake pickle, the chair of that subcommittee on ways and means, even to talk to me in the house. but i came over here and gave that speech, and david pryor was presiding. he was the subcommittee chair of the committee dealing with that that, in finance. chuck grassley was also listening to my speech. pryor sent me a note when i finished and said i want to help you with this. grassley did the same thing. so my first speech led to the passage of the taxpayers bill of rights, with the help of david pryor and chuck grassley. it was landmark legislation. it put the taxpayer on more equal footing with the tax collector. everybody liked that so much, we've done two iterations of it since then to make it even stronger. source tax, i'm sure it's a boring thing to everybody, but it wasn't boring to people that came from california and tried
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to retire someplace else. the state of california was merciless in going after people. they had the law on their side, they thought. if you worked in california, it didn't matter where you went, they would go after you for your pensions is what it amounted to. and i tried for 15 years to get that changed, and i got it changed. no longer can california, with all due respect to feinstein and boxer, can they do that. they can't do that anymore. if you retire in california and move someplace else, they can't tax that money. tax relief, we all participated in that. i initiated it to when the collapse of wall street took place, and that was a big help. tax incentives for solar and geothermal, really important. i'll talk a little more about that. payment in lieu of taxes, all my western senators will appreciate that. it was just four years ago,
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five years ago that we were able to fully fund pilt, payment in lieu of taxes. i worked very hard with baucus, with wyden, and we did things to take care of some issues that they had. that's the first time it had ever been fully funded. cancellation indebtedness, that's a buzzword for people who would understand taxes a little better. but what happened is everything collapsed. they would try to get out of a debt they had. they couldn't because the i.r.s. would tax them at the value of it when they bought it. when things didn't work, it was unfair. and we got that changed. that was in the stimulus bill. we got that changed. let's talk about the economy a little bit. i know some of my democrat colleagues, why did you do that? here's what i did. i worked with republican senator
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don nickles from oklahoma, there was a republican president, okay? don and i talked about this. we knew that the administrations would change and it would affect every president, democrat and republican. it was called the congressional review act. what that said is the president promulgates a regulation, congress has a chance to look it over to see if it's too burdensome, too costly, too unfair. and we've done that quite a few times. and that was because of reid and nickles. that was legislation that i did, and it was great when we had republican presidents. not so great when we had democratic presidents. but it was fair. one of the things that's been so important to the state of nevada has been a man by the name of kirk ocoran, a a noneducated
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man. he flew over the atlantic during world war ii. he had, as i said, no education, his parents were from armenia. he became one of the legendary entrepreneurs. and i many, many years ago as a young, young lawyer met him and for many, many years helped him and especially his brother with their legal issues. he's the man that helped create las vegas the way it is, and he did something unique. he decided he was going to build something on the las vegas strip called city center. and for those of you who go to nevada, look at that sometime. you could be in the middle of new york city. you would think you were there. this is a magnificent operation. well, it started before the
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recession. they were desperate to get it finished. more than 10,000 people worked on that project. i would drive by there and count the cranes. 25, 30 cranes at one time there at work. well, i interceded in that. i did some things that probably a lot of people wouldn't do, but i did it because i thought it was very important that operation didn't shut down. he had already put billions of dollars of his own money in it. they had an investor from one of the middle eastern countries. i did a lot of things that a lot of you wouldn't do, but i did it. i saved that project. i called people that i would doubt that any of you would call. i called bank presidents. i called leaders of countries. and anyway, it's completed now. i take some credit for that. the stimulus, the american
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recovery and reinvestment act, we got that done. yesterday the presiding officer was the senior senator from maine. oh, she was so helpful. i hope it doesn't trouble her to boast about her today. but she and her colleague from maine, olympia snowe and arlen specter, we got that passed only because of them. we only had 53 votes. it was so good for our country. obama, the first two months after having been elected, the country lost 800,000 jobs. can you imagine that? a month. that was because of the stimulus bill, we were able to reverse that. we did a lot of wonderfully good things on that that was good for the country. amy klobuchar is here. she did a lot in getting this done, promoting travel to get foreigners to come here, come
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to america. it worked out so well. seven different clotures i had to file on that to get it done but we got it done finally. it's been remarkably good for america. other countries, you'll see them on tv. they're always advertising about come visit australia, come visit the bahamas, come visit england, come visit every place. now we've got advertising around the world, come visit america. now everyone knows that las vegas gets its, more than its share probably of visitors, but it was good for nevada but it was also good for the country. nevada test site workers. we were the cold war veterans in nevada. it was a big project. we had 11,000, 12,000 workers there at one time. an above-ground test, i could remember seeing them. we were a long ways away in searchlight, but you would see that flash. you wouldn't always feel it. sometimes it would bounce over
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searchlight. but it was really a big deal. we didn't know it was making people sick, but they were good enough to make sure the tests didn't go off when the wind was blowing toward las vegas. it blew off toward utah, and utah suffered terribly bad because those were above-ground tests. so we worked to make sure the test site workers were part of it because it was dangerous what they did. we passed that. a number of different segments to get it done, so we've done a lot to protect people. nevada transportation. we care in the airport field, i've tried for years to get the name taken off, a democratic senator from nevada who was an awful man. i tried to get his name off of that. it didn't work. i tried to get j. edgar hoover's name off that government building. it didn't work. we had a vote here. i can remember how mad orrin
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hatch was. we had a vote on it. i made a mistake. i tried to get it named after bobby kennedy. anyway, mccarren airport, it is i think the fifth busiest airport in america now. we've gotten money for the traffic control center. one of the largest structures in the western united states. we've done a good job to take care of mack mack mack -- take care of mccarren. the last thing we put in that was the bonding capacity to allow the field to build a big new terminal. more than $1 billion we got in that legislation. it was really important during the recession to have all those workers. there are thousands and thousands of them on that new
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terminal which is now completed. reno, i was also able to direct money toward getting a new traffic control center there, new control tower. we've done all the construction funding, a lot of stuff, good stuff for the airport in reno. so i feel good about what we've done to help nevada transportation, not the least of which everybody is, billions of dollars in directed spending for roads and highways in nevada. and it's really made a change. in northern nevada and southern nevada. and it's important for us to be able to deal with people in las vegas. we made deals with the california department of transportation and we participated in construction, big construction projects that took place in california.
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barstow, san bernardino. we did that because it would make it easier for people to come to las vegas. i wasn't just giving money to las vegas. we also did it of course for california because it helped us. health care. the affordable care act, i've talked about that a little bit. it would have been wonderful if we had something that got around to help my family when we were growing up. i worked hard to help a number of you on the children's health insurance project, program. orrin hatch was certainly involved in that. just like i had trouble coming to grips with my home in searchlight, i had trouble coming to grips with the fact that my dad killed himself. i was like most -- we are called victims. we shouldn't be but that's what we're called. this year about 32,000 people
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will kill themselves in america. that doesn't count the hunting accidents which are really suicides, the car accidents which are really suicides. so i couldn't get my arms around the suicide. republican senator cohen from maine was the chairman of the aging committee upon which i served, and we were doing a hearing on senior depression. and mike wallace came, the famous journalist, and here's what he said: "i have wanted to die for years. i would take the most dangerous assignments i could hoping i couldn't come back." he said, "you know, i'm okay now. i want to live forever." he said "i take a pill once in a while, i see a doctor once in a while and i'm good. i'm okay." and i said for the first time publicly, mr. chairman, my dad killed himself. that was a long time ago. but i think it would be
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extremely important for this committee to hold a hearing on senior suicide because we've learned since my focusing on suicide, we've done some good things as members of congress. we've directed spending to study why people kill themselves, because we don't know for sure. isn't it interesting that most of the suicides take place in the western part of the united states. you would think it would be in dark places like maine and vermont where it's so dark and cold. but no, it's in the bright sunshine of the west. so we're learning a lot more. that has been so good to me as a person, and we have now funded projects around america where there are suicide prevention programs that are extremely important. there are suicide victims' programs where people get together after someone -- a loved one kills themselves.
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so that's something that i'm glad i worked on. finally, health care. 24 years ago one of my friends from las vegas called me, sandy jolly, and she said, i would like you to look at this film i'm going to send you. i want you to watch it. and what it showed was a beautiful little girl from africa -- in africa in a party dress. it was white. she looked so pretty. you know, it was a party. and suddenly two men grabbed her, spread her legs apart and cut out her genitals -- right there with a razor blade. i thought, man, that's hard to comprehend. and my staff said, now, it's
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something you shouldn't deal w it should be a woman. but i went ahead and i did something about it. we haven't done as much as we should do, and i would hope that we have people who will pick up this issue. i had a meeting last friday, the biggest audience i've ever had, just people -- they were there. there was a conference on female genital mutilation. i say that word because that's what it is. millions of little girls have been cut -- that's what it's called, cut. last year, no one knows for sure, but probably 250,000 little girls were cut. and last friday, i had 200 people there. i said, this is wonderful. i said, i've had ten people a couple times, but two or three of the people were lost and didn't really want to be there. it's really important that we do something about it.
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we have some laws now -- it's against the law in the united states. you can't go away and -- for purposes of being cut. but there's a lot more that needs to be done. our government has done almost nothing. spend a little bit of time on the environment. i've been the chairman of the environment and public works committee twice. not for very long. i gave it up once because i had to because of control of congress. one time i gave itway, so i gave my chairmanship and my chairman spot to jim jeffords. i've been involved in the environment and energy things since i came here. the state of nevada is 87% owned by the federal government. 87% of the state of nevada is federal land. the rest, 13%, is private land.
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so that -- of course i should be concerned about it. yucca mountain, i will not get into the a long dissertation about that. but because we we've spent about $8 billion or so there. it's gone. someone asked me the other day, the republicans in power now. they're going to come back to yucca mountain. i said, well, they better bring a checkbook with them. there's nothing left there. they spent more than $1 billion digging that tunnel. that's ground up for scrap metal. there's nothing there. you could probably get it going again now for $10 billion, $12 billion. if you were smart, what you would do is leave it where it is in drycast storage contankers which has prove -- drycast storage containers, which has proven to be extremely saivment that's -- extremely safe. part of the stimulus bill said
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one of the problems we have with energy is that we don't have a way of transmitting electricity to where it should go. talk about all this renewable energy which is produced in places where there aren't a lot of people, but you can't get anyplace where there are a lot of people. that's been changed with the stimulus bill. for example, in nevada we have line one, it's called, and that for the first time in the state of nevada, we can move power from the north to the south of nevada. part of that legislation that's under way. that line will also goes up into the north wevment that was good -- northwest. that was good legislation. i've had clean energy summits for many, many years. we bring in national leaders, democrats and republicans, to focus attention on the problems america has with energy. the clintons have come, obama has been there, we've had republicans of many -- and here's one that came and did a great job: tom donahue.
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everybody knows him. we democrats know him as well, the head of the chamber of commerce. coal -- you know, i have no problem with coal. i've helped fund clean coalte coaltecnology -- clean coal technology. there was a power plant outside of republica reno. that was a clean coal plant. it didn't work so they had to go to a different source. nevada is very pristine. i have told a couple people this. people don't understand nevada. everybody thinks it is the deserts of las vegas, but it is novmen-- not. we have 314 separate mountain ranges. we have a mountain 14,000 feet
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high, we have 32 mountains over 11,000 feet high. when i learned by reading the papers that we were going to have power companies come to nevada, one of the most pristine asian and they were going -- areas, and they were going to build three or four power plants, i said no. they said, you can't do that. you're up for reelection. they'll destroy you. they tried. i won. they lovmen lost. there are no coal-fired plants in nevada. there's two left. one of them is going out of business in a matter of two weeks. and the other is on its way out, probablying within a year. we're not going to have coal-fired plants in nevada. but we do have lots afned lots of -- lots and lots of renewable energy. i've worked especially with john ensign when he was here, major land bills, carson city, and we
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were able to do a lot of good things to bring land into -- we put -- because of him, he was a real conservative guy, i had to make deals for 87% land private. i was able to do that. and he was able to work with me to create more wilderness. we worked together to get that done. i created the first national park in nevada. it's wonderful. everything within the great basin is in that park. we have a -- hard to believe now -- in nevada we have a glacier. we have the oldest living things on that mountain. those oacialtiond old pine -- those old, old pine trees. they're there. they're there -- they're 6,000 or 7,000 years old. they're there. a beautiful, beautiful park. basin range national monument. i worked with president clinton on this, more than 700,000 acres
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in a remote place of nevada. and it's done -- it's a place where john mayer came as a young man camping there and talk about how beautiful it is in his diary. now everybody can see that. part of that wonderful place is a man most a world-famous artist. the name is heiser, michael heiser, he worked for 40 years building this monument in the middle of nowhere. it is called "the city." it is the most magnificent thing. we don't have roads coming there yet, but we will. tsuley springs. right in the middle, people came to me, we have this place in nevada where we have the oldest and most abundant source of fossils anyplace in america. what? i thought they were -- anyway, make a long story short, that's now a national monument. you can come to las vegas, if
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you are an archeologist or if you're interested in old fossils, you can come there. and i don't mean old people. you can come there and there's this great study, all these studies going on with this tuley springs national monument. when i came to the congress, we had about 70,000 acres of woldness in nevada -- wilderness in nevada. now we have about 4 million, legislative initiatives of mine. we have a million, a mall and aa million and a half of additional conservation land. water hack difficult for nevada, the -- water has been difficult nor nevada, the north and south. the first thing i did when i came to congress -- actually, to the senate, is i knew i had been elected to the senate. i was leaving reno, headed to
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las vegas. someone asked me, what's the most difficult problem facing nevada? i said water. having done that i thought, what am i going to do now? i had to do something about it. we did something. now it's all done. it settle add 100-year -- it settle add 100 -- it settled a 100-year water war between nevada and kaferl. california. we had a large dry well that's now getting fresh water in it. we were able to get it all done. that's made a stable water supply for northern nevada, the reno area. southern nevada, it's really a desert. it's really -- four inches a rain a year in las vegas. but we've worked hard with the waterwaters, pat roy, she's done
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wonderful things. when she was elected, states of arizona and california wouldn't speak to each other. they were fighting over water. now we work together on water. it's been remarkable what we've been able to do as partners to get things done. we now -- we bank water for arizona, and when they need the water, it's in our ground, we can give it back to them. but it's been good for nevada because we can use that water in the meantime. we have also done good work with california. california got most of the water out of the colorado river. they took a lot more than they should have, and we were able to work on that. but we work with california in a very positive way. we help pay for reservoirs. we help line canals. we did lots of good things to help water in that whole area. so i'm happy about that. lake tahoe. lake tahoe, we share it with
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california. lake tahoe is a stunningly beautiful place. there are only two alpine lakes in the world. one of enemy is in sigh beer yavment the other is there. one of them is in siberia. the other is there. we've gotten over $1 billion there with the cooperation of the california delegation and many others. we've done well in stabilizing, helping the clarity of that beautiful lake. walker lake is another lake that was originally controlled by the indians. it's been stolen from them by us. but we now have gotten hundreds of millions of dollars directly toward that, and we have bought up water rights and saved walker lake. there's 20 million lakes in the world. we've saved those two lakes, walker and pyramid lake. now, here's one thing and then i'll move on. there was a great big gravel pit
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-- oh, man, 10, 15 times bigger than this chamber, huge. and spots of black appeared on it. the state of nevada didn't have the resources to take control of t so i got bill bradley, chairman of the subcommittee on energy, to hold a hearing. it was so important we did that. because we determined that there was -- the oil was coming from broken oil lines, fuel lines going to the reno airport. had we not done something, it would have been awful. it was declared an emergency superfund site. immediately people moved in and took care of that. now that -- i am a giving a quick look at it. that gravel pit is now a beautiful lake. it's called the sparks marino. there's condos, apartments, businesses all around that. people boat on t it's wonderful.
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it was -- it all started out as a gravel pit. u.a.ethere are people in this cr that are much better than i on national emergency -- national security and i know that. you but i worked hard. we have been a dumping ground for all things in the military. we have had necessarily list air force -- we have had nellis air force base. it's the finest fighter training facility in the world. if you want to fly jet airplanes, you must train at nellis. we have a large begunry range. we also have in northern nevada, the navy does the same thing with the naval training center. i frankly have gotten tens and tens of millions of dollars for both those operations because they've been important. also, everyone, we hear a lot about drones. every drone attack that takes place in the world takes place 30 miles outside las vegas at
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the air force base. it used to be called indian springs. that's where they all take place. we have all these great servicemen, mostly airmen who take care of that. they protect us around the world. barbara mikulski is here. she traveled as we were new senators. she was in a position to help me on appropriations. she said this facility in reno was awful and i and barbara mikulski is going to do something about it and she did. very quickly. we renovated that place. it was so bad, the old v.a. hospital that you couldn't get the new hospital equipment down the halls it was too small. senator mikulski, i said before how much i appreciated take. she took care of that. i have had good fortune two v.a. hospitals i asked money for and they were built. we had one that was an experiment which was a joint venture with the veterans administration and air force and it worked well except we had the middle east war. the veterans were given -- go
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some place else. so we don't have that anymore. but we have a huge new one in this bill, the new -- one built. the newest and the best. it's not fully -- doesn't have all the equipment they need but has been functioning now for a couple of years and has been very good. i feel very proud of that. the nevada test site is part of the national security. i've done everything i can to make sure that facility is taken care of and it is. we have a lot of experiments going on there all the time. if you -- we have all these what we call fuel spills, all the testing takes place there. finally with the military, here's one of the best things i ever did. as i heard barbara mikulski talk about yesterday, let us know what your constituents say. a group of veterans came a few feet from here to talk to me a few years ago. they said, you know, senator, this is somewhat strange. i'm disabled. i have a military -- i'm disabled from the military. i'm also retired from the
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military. i can't draw both benefits. what are you talking about? he said i can't. if you retire from the forest service and you have a military pension, you can draw that and your disability -- i'm sorry, you can get your pension from the forest service, wherever it is and also get your disability but not if it's both military. we changed that. now, if you have a disability and you have a -- you retired from the military, you can draw both. that took a long time but we got it done. it's not perfect but it is 80% all done. judiciary. you know i talked earlier this morning i'm a lawyer and i'm proud of the fact i was a trial lawyer. i hear senators talk all the time about the judicial selection committees they have, pick who they're going to have on the federal bench and i'm glad they do that because i also have a judicial selection committee. you know who's on that
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committee? me. no one else is on it. i've selected all my judges. i'm the committee. and i'm very happy with what i've been able to do. [laughter ] one of the things i did in the house i named a federal building in las vegas named after this very famous family of lawyers, two federal judges, a district attorney, state court judge. a wonderful family called the folly family. mr. reid: so i go back for the 10th anniversary and i look up there and nothing but white men. i thought gee, i hope some day i can change that and lloyd decided to take senior status and i had a chance to do something about that. i have done -- i have sent names to the president. i -- four more judges, myself and the entire state of nevada,
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other senators. so what i did with the first one, well, i want to get a woman. we don't have a black woman court either. why not get a black and a woman and that's what i did. oh was i criticized. she didn't have enough experience. you could have found somebody better. she was a dynamo. people loved this woman. she was so good, she was so good that she's now on the 9th circuit and she quickly went there. during the last -- anyway, make a long story short, she's been part of the talk about who could go on the supreme court. this is a wonderful person named johnny roll lynns. kent dawson one of my predecessors, city attorney, david hagan, a wonderful trial lawyer, i put him on the bench. brian sandoval i selected as a
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federal judge. he was a good federal judge. things were going great till he ran against my son for governor. i wish he hadn't because my son would now be governor. [laughter ] mr. reid: but he's my friend. we have family -- we as a family have accepted that. he was the first hispanic on the bench. i appointed another hispanic, gloria know va -- novarro, pares born in cuba. she's now a judge. and a woman, miranda due, born in vietnam, came when she was 11 years old to alabama. richard bolar, african-american. i've changed that nevada bench
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significantly, federal bench. i've had the pleasure of voting for and against all eight members of the supreme court that now sit there during my career, every one of them i've had a chance to vote. education, i've worked hard for education in nevada and i've done okay. desert research institute is a unique organization. not helped by the university of nevada at all. they do it on their own, all ph.d.'s. they've been in existence for 50 years. some of the most significant research in the world is done there. these super computers, i've gotten two of them. they have more shake tables than any place in america and people come from all over the world to study the -- what happens with earthquakes. biodiversity study. for many years i directed funding to the biodiversity study. it was the best science going on at the time on the environment,
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studying the great basin. native americans in nevada, we have 26 different tribal organizations. i'm really happy with what i've been able to do to help native americans. and believe me, they haven't been treated well in nevada or any place else. i've led the legislative efforts to make sure that we have water rights taken care of. set of long-standing claims against the united states. we did the shownee tribe, duck valley reservation, all have been able to develop their water rights and their economies, pyramid lake, for example, their money is going to be almost $100 million. worked to get two new high schools built and they were so long overdue. the shoney distribution act, took decades to get it done. finally got it done. thanks to president clinton, we
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were able to get the indians up there, get them right on the lake. it's been a dream job of mine to work with the obama administration for the last eight years. point man here in the senate, i gave an extended speech yesterday. i want to make it part of the record and i ask consent to do that. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: so we don't have to listen to the same stuff but i did do it yesterday. i want to ask unanimous consent, i have lots and lots of stuff that i've done that i didn't feel i'd take the time to do. i want to make that part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr.mr. reid: okay. winding down, everybody. i know you're glad. but it's been 34 years. i've served with 281 different senators during the time i've been here. i have such fond memories of so, so many, so, so many.
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the hilarious fritz hollings. i've never known a better joe keller and i hope al is not mad than frank lautenberg. he could still stories. i asked him to tell the same stories so many times, i couldn't tell it but i had one about two wrestlers. i'm not going to repeat it. he was very, very funny. i'm not going to go through the whole ted kenny list and all that but i've had wonderful experiences with my senator friends. when i came as democratic senator, there was one woman, barbara mikulski. that was it, one woman. i'm very happy now that we have 17 democratic women and we have four republican women. and i want to just say, make the record very clear, the senate is a better place because of women being here. there is no question.
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for many different reasons but they've added so much to the senate. the only problem we have now, there aren't enough of them. but we did our best this go around. we got four new democratic senators. i've already talked about senator mcconnell. it's been my good fortune to have been able to serve with such good leaders like robert byrd. i don't know if it's true. i accept it because that's what i want to believe. people told me i was his pet. i don't know if i was or not but he sure was good to me. george mitchell, what a wonderful extemp rainous speaker. he was the best. the u.s. attorney, this good man from maine. bob dole. i was a junior center. i have had a lot lately.
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he all cames me, some of the issues he's working on. i can recall one of the most moving times in my life -- lying in state in the rotunda. he called me and asked me if i would go over there with him. of course i would. he was in a wheelchair. somebody pushes him. he says stop. there's a little alcove there. and bob coal as hard as it was for him walked over to the crypt where annie was. he climbed up -- climbed up and said danny, i love you. if that won't bring a tear, nothing will. i'll always remember that. trent lott, he was really a good leader, extremely conservative but extremely pragmatic. we got lots of stuff done. i was senator daschle's point
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person to get legislation out of this body and we did some really good things. tom daschle, he always gave me lots of room to do things. i can remember once i was the whip and he was -- i thought he'd been too generous with one of the other senators and i complained. he said look, you're going to make this whip job whatever you want it to be and i took him at his word and i did. i never left the floor. the senate opened i was here. when it closed i was here. bill frist, a fine human being. i really cared about him a lot. he wasn't an experienced legislator but that's okay. he was an experienced human being. i liked him a lot. i already talked about mitch. diversity, we don't have enough diversity in the senate but i do take create for creating a diversity office with democrats. senator schumer has indicated he's going to continue that. i'm very happy he's going to do
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that. we don't have enough diversity, i repeat. i want to tell everyone here, i'm grateful to all my democratic senators. they've been so good to me during my time as leader, but i have to mention durbin. he and i came here together 34 years ago. he has been so supportive of me. he's been my cousin jeff. you care if i tell the story? okay. here i go. my brother lives -- he's an interesting man. he had a girlfriend there that was married. and he brought her home one night, her husband, boyfriend, whatever it was jumped out on my brother's back. they had a fight. my brother won.
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so he -- a couple of weeks later at a 49'er club. he's having a beer, whatever he drinks. he looks around. he sees a guy that he beat up but the guy's got a couple of people with him. he knew why they were there. they were there to work him over. he said well, what am i going to do? just about then a miracle happened. our cousin jeff walked in. he hadn't been in searchlight a couple of years, but cousin jeff was known as being a really tough guy. so larry said here's the deal. cousin jeff looked him over, went to the biggest one, grabbed his nose, twisted it as hard as he could. do you guys want any part of me or my cousin larry? they said no. the reason i say that is i say durbin is my cousin jeff. i was -- i was in my office watching the floor. mcconnell was up there. i was so damned mad.
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he was talking about stuff. i was mad. i called my office. why don't we have somebody out there saying something. he said senator, that was transcribed, that was recorded earlier today. we're out of session. so durbin has been my man, my cousin jeff. whenever i have a problem, everybody, i call dick durbin. dick durbin can talk about anything that sounds good. okay. chuck schumer. okay. my kids said make sure you tell everybody about how smart you think he is. okay. i'm going to do it. one day i said to schumer -- we hadn't known each other a long time, but i said how the hell did you ever get in harvard? he said it helped i had a perfect s.a.t. and perfect
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a.c.t. that's true. he is a brilliant man. he has a big heart and he works extremely hard, and he has been so good to me. we worked together. he took a job he didn't want, chair of the dscc twice, but it worked out great. we were able to get the majority. so i will always have great affection for him, and i wish him well in being my replacement. i'm confident he will do a good job. he won't be me, but he'll do a good job. my staff. we checked yesterday, my staff did. it's hard to comprehend how many people i've had work for me over 34 years. almost 3,000, everybody. and i feel so strongly about my
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staff. they are my family. i really, really do believe that. i feel they're my family. chiefs of staff, i haven't had that many, surprisingly, over 34 years. claso bell, ray martinez, david krone, drew wilson and of course david mcallen who has done so much to make sure i didn't overspin things. and my utility man, bill dauster. he can catch, pitch, play any position on the field. i appreciate bill's work very much. thank you, adelle, because i would be so embarrassed if i didn't say something about patty murray. she has been part of this
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leadership team i have had. we have never had anything like this before in the senate. leaders prior to me, they did it all on their own. but i have had these three wonderful human beings helping me for all these years. we meet every monday night. it's set up for the caucus on tuesday, leadership meeting on tuesday. so patty, you and rob, i just care so much about, and i want you to know how i appreciate your loyalty, your hard work. you've taken some jobs she didn't want to take. a budget job. the super, whatever the hell it was called. it was awful. i don't know how long she's going to live, but that took a few years off her life. but you and rob have been great. loretta is my friend. iris i love. so thank you very much, you guys. i've told everyone on my staff,
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with rare exception, you represent me. if you're on the phone, when you answer that phone, you're representing me. you are as if you are harry reid on that phone. i say the same to those who speak, write and advocate for me. they represent me, and they have done so well. they have helped me in good times and bad times. what is the future of the senate? i hope that everyone would do everything they can to protect the senate as an institution. as part of our constitution, it should be given the dignity it deserves. i love the senate. i don't need to dwell on that. i love the senate. i care about it so very, very much. i've enjoyed congress for 34 years. i have, as the leader here in the senate, i have had such joy and times of awe, wow, what are we going to do now. that's what these jobs are like.
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they are so exhilarateing until oh, man, something happens and i think all of you have done like i just said, wow, what are we going to do now? the senate has changed, some for the good, some for the bad. i want to say this, though. it isn't the same as when i first came here, but it's changing everything. the biggest change has been the use of the filibuster. i do my colleagues were able to temper the use of the filibuster. otherwise it will be gone. it will be gone first on nominations, then it will be gone on legislation. this is something you have to work on together. because if you continue to use it the way it's been used recently, it's going to really affect this institution a lot. something has to be done about the outrageous amount of money from sources that are dark, unknown, now involved in our federal elections. the citizens united case in january, 2010, if this doesn't
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change, if we don't do something about this vast money coming into our elections, in a couple more election cycles, we're going to be just like russia. we're going to have a plutocracy, a few rich guys telling our leader what to do. leonard coen who recently died, one of america's great music geniuses, recently died, as i said. one of his songs is called "anthem." he says it all, and i quote -- "there's a crack, a crack in everything, there's a crack in everything. that's how the light gets in." that's what he said. i believe the crack is what's happening with the huge amount of money in federal elections. the cracks are the american people don't like it, they don't like this money, they don't like the partisanship. so there are cracks. the cracks, i repeat, because the american people are complaining big time about the
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excessive use of money and objecting to the partisanship. that's the crack. that's how the light's going to get in. that's how america has the opportunity to become a better place where money will not control our political system or our partnership. so just a little bit of advice to my colleagues. it's worked okay for me. it doesn't matter if i'm in elko. we had a conservative place in nevada 400 miles from las vegas. if a question is asked in elko of me, i give the same answer there as i give in las vegas. we should all do that. the people in nevada have never had to worry how i stand on an issue. i tell them how i feel, and that's why i have never had any big bang elections. people at least know how i stand. people who don't necessarily like how i vote, what i talk about, at least they know how i feel. i think that's good advice for everybody. at least that's worked well for me, i hope.
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but what's your formula for success? what do you recommend? and i tell them the same thing about working hard. of course that's important. of course it's important, but also stay true to who you are, your roots. now, my social life, my time in washington has been different than many. i'm not saying it's better, but it's been different. every year there are galas. white house correspondents dinner, the gridiron club dinner, radio and correspondents dinner, alfalfa club. during my 34 years in congress, there have been 135 or 136 of these. i attended one of them. for me, that was enough. i have attended one congressional picnic in 34 years. that was because my son had a girl friend and he wanted to impress her, and i guess he did because they're married.
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but one was enough for me. i've attended one state dinner. that's because i had a son who spent two years in argentina. i wanted to meet the president of argentina. i did that for my son rory. but one was enough. i have never been to another one. i have never been to a white house congressional ball that's going to be held tonight. i guess -- i'm inquisitive of how it would be, but i don't want to go. i've seen one world series. that was enough. i've been to one super bowl. that was plenty. i've flown once in an f-18 and that was -- that was enough. so i've gone over the years to hundreds of fund raisers, my friends and colleagues, but everyone has to acknowledge i can get in and out of those pretty quick. so let me talk about the press a little bit and their responsibility as i see it. we're entering a new gilded age. it has never been more important to be able to distinguish between what's real and what is
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fake. we have lawmakers pushing for tax cuts for billionaires and calling it populism. we have media outlets pushing conspiracy theories disguised as news. separating feel from fake has never been more important. and i wish i -- i have met him, but i wish i could sit down and talk to him sometime because i so admire pope francis. here's what he said yesterday, and this is a quote -- "the media that focuses on scandals and spread fake news to smear politicians risk becoming like people who have a morbid fascination with excrement." that's what pope francis said. he added that using communication for this rather than educating the public amounted to a sin. well, he can categorize sin, i can't, but i agree with him on what he just said. i acknowledge the importance of the press. i admire what you do and understand the challenges ahead of you. but be vigilant because you have as much to do with our democracy as any branch of government. this is the best -- this is the
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best understood by listening to what george orwell had to say a long time ago, and i quote. freedom of the press if it means anything at all means the freedom to criticize and oppose. so press, criticize and oppose, please do that. so this really is the end of my speech. i have five children, lana, rory, leif, josh and key. they have been role models for me and for landra. they were role models. we learned from them when they were young. we still learn from them. we appreciate the exemplary lives they have lived. i am confident, hopeful and determined to make sure that they understand how much affection, love and admiration i have for each of them, for their wonderful spouses and our 19 grandchildren. okay. here goes. whatever success i had in my educational life, my life as a lawyer, my life has a politician, including my time in
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congress, is directly attributable to landra, my wife. we met when landra was a sophomore in high school and i was a junior. that was more than six decades ago. we married at age 19. as i've said, we have five children. we have wonderful 19 grandchildren. she has been the being of my existence, in my personal life and my public life. disraeli, the great prime minister said in 1837 -- listen to this, what he said. "the emanuel of first love is that it never ends." -- the imaginic of first love is that it never ends." i believe that. she's my first love. it will never end. landra and i have talked and said we will have a different
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life. we have said and we believe that we're not going to dwell on the past. we'll be involved in the past any way we need to be, but we're going to look to the future. i wish everyone the best. i'm sorry i talked so long. i usually don't do that. i thank everyone for listening to my speech. i appreciate my wonderful family being here, my friends, my staff and each of you. thank you for your friendship and support over the years.
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the presiding officer: the senator from nevada. mr. heller: i yield a couple more minutes for sentiments and i'd like to say a few words. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. heller: thank you. the presiding officer: under the previous order the leadership time is considered. the senate will resume consideration of the conference report to accompany s. 2493 which the clerk will report. the clerk: conference report to accompany s. 2493 an act to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2017 for military activities of the department of defense and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: the
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senator from nevada. mr. heller: thank you, mr. president. i stand in front of you today to commemorate the long life and service of a fellow nevadan who has given his all to serve our state and this country. mr. president, it's been said that it's better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both. and as me and my colleagues here today and those in the gallery probably agree with me, no individual in american politics embodies that sentiment today more than my colleague from nevada, harry mason reid. i'm here today to pay respects to the senate minority leader, harry reid, after 30 years of service in this chamber. in addition to years of public service before entering into the senate. i know harry is notorious for his short conversations, minus today, for hanging up the phone before our conversations end, and sometimes even midsentence. so i'll try to keep my comments
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respectfully short. but before i truly get into the speech, i must first recognize harry's family. as a public official, very often it's time with your family that's most often sacrificed the most. and it's very true, as stated by a leader in our shared faith when he said nothing compensates for failure in the home. harry has been keenly aware of this fact. and it shows his adoration, he has shown it for his wife landra, his children, lana, rory, leif, josh and key. he has kept a close bond with his wife, children and grandchildren and that is something we all respect and something i wish to emulate. so what can i say? it's an end of an era for my home state of nevada. harry has devoted his entire adult life to one cause: the state of nevada and serving it. and trust me, though we've had our differences when it came to
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our state, i can attest to one thing and that is that there is no stronger partner to serve the people of nevada than harry reid. it's been said victorious leaders feel the alternative to winning, the alternative to winning is totally unacceptable so they figure out what must be done to achieve victory and then they go after it with everything at their disposal. and i believe that that describes harry reid in a nutshell. another measure of success, something harry and i have found amusing in the past, and that is being blamed for all things. all that's good, all that's bad and all that's ugly. and let me assure you harry's been blamed for a lot, some fairly and some unfairly. senator reid has served in every level of government from city attorney, state assembly, lieutenant governor, united states congressman and senator. as a senator he's one of only three to serve at least eight years as majority leader.
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and even in retirement, due to his far-reaching influence, in just about every facet of state, local and federal government, i totally expect that he will operate as nevada's third senator. after 26 elections, harry knows a thing or two about representing his constituencies. he's one of the sharpest tactical minds ever to enter the political arena. having worked together over the years, my hope is that we have sent a message not only to all nevadans, but to everyone across this country that two people that you can tell have different opinions can work well together, get things done for their constituents when both are willing. that's why it's fitting this week that the late tahoe restoration act will pass the senate and will be sent to the president's desk to be signed into law. after fighting for years to refocus federal policy on the 21st century threats to the lake we teamed up to ensure important work that preserves
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the jewel of the sierra for future generations and that it will advance. one of harry's lasting legacies will be that he and i worked to improve water clarity, reduce wildlife threats, wildfire threats, jump-start transportation and infrastructure projects and combat invasive species at lake tahoe. because of this, would, lake tahoe is once again been made a national priority. another policy, an issue that we worked together on was the fight against yucca mountain. harry, rest assured, i will continue to fight yucca. my mantra is borrowed from one of your friends, the late senator ted kennedy when he said -- quote -- "the work goes on, the cause endures." and we will not allow nevada to turn into america's nuclear dump against the will of its own people. harry, you share the nevada values like faith in god, hard work, commitment to family. i know because you displayed
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these values at home, at work, and at church. and in fact, actually that's how we first met, harry. it was during his tenure as lieutenant governor when he spent time in carson city. our families were able to meet each other and become friends and eventually i became very good friends with his son, leif. harry, your dedication to family is extraordinary and has served as a model to all of us. i'd be remiss if i didn't share a couple of my favorite harry reid stories. there's a lot of them but there's a few that i can't share, there's a few that i can, so i'll share with you the ones that i can. before serving in the senate i was elected to the house of representatives in 2007 until my appointment to the senate in 2011. late one evening i'm sitting in my office with my chief of staff mack abrams discussing a few last-minute details before leaving for the day. it must have been near the end of the week because staffers in the house, offices, milling in
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the hall celebrating a birthday party, playing loud music, taking moments to relax. i was having a hard time keeping the noise out of my office because of the thin walls. all of a sudden, it was as if it all stopped immediately. a quiet hush fell over the crowd. it became so quiet to the point that i could hear a small echoing. tap, tap, tap. the taps were magnified. the hallway which was previously full of life just immediately died. i began to walk towards the hall to see what it was. i could tell the tapping noise was the sound of footsteps. as they grew louder and closer i barely heard a peep in that hallway. sure enough the next sound i heard was the doorknob opening to my office and in walks harry. hi, dean, do you have a few minutes? that story to me illustrates how much presence harry has. and the respect he commands no matter where he is. he quieted an entire hallway full of lively staffers by just
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passing through and walking down that hallway. the second story occurred more recently. we were in harry's office on a january morning soon after i was elected to my first term. during that campaign harry and his friends gave me several reasons why i shouldn't be standing in that office today but this is the senate and collegiality reigns supreme, so i was at that breakfast because our constituents were there. harry and i have known each other for many years and he made it a point to tell those in attendance how close we were. we were having a good breakfast. he gets up to tell everyone how long he had known me. some of my background but he kept highlighting how close we were. so after the speech, it was his short speech, a little shorter than today, harry looks at me, offers up for me to say a few of my own words. so i just got up in the front of the room, made sure that everybody knew that i could attest that at least one reid
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voted for me: harry's son leif. the look on harry's face was priceless. seeing harry process the fact that there was a reid that voted for me is a memory seared in my brain forever. for me, this speech is not a goodbye because i know we'll be seeing you back home in our great state. harry, people like me may disagree with you at times, but we'll always respect you for three things: your devotion to your family, your service to our state and nation, and your commitment for fighting for what you believe in. this chamber's been blessed with some of the greatest men and women who have ever served our republic. today i recognize and rise to recognize your place among these figures and hope that your career will give inspiration to a young child from carson city
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or searchlight or anywhere else in nevada to follow in your footsteps. again, congratulations on your career. we the people in nevada thank you for your service. linda and i wish you and landra all the best in the years ahead. and as your new senior senator, i hope i can count on your vote. mr. president, i yield. the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: mr. president, i'm going to say a few words about harry reid, our departing, retiring democratic leader here. it's appropriate that he's not on the floor because its painful for him to sit around and hear anybody say anything nice about him. i'm sure he's going to be happy not hearing these words, but i want the rest of the folks following proceedings of the senate to hear them. i was first elected to the house of representatives the same year as harry, 1982, and a friend of mine who is an attorney in
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chicago named ed joyce said be sure to look up this harry reid from nevada because he's a great fellow and a great lawyer. so i did. and we came in in a large class of over 50 members. i went up to harry and i said i'm dick durbin from illinois and we've got a mutual friend in chicago. he said i'm looking forward to working with you. i said are you headed to harvard for the orientation? he said no i'm headed to a personal lawsuit i couldn't miss. i thought this is some lawyer. up to the bitter end of his legal career he was still devoted to the cause of representing clients and representing them effectively. when harry makes a commitment, he keeps it. i knew at that moment and known it ever since. four years later he's in the united states senate, i'm still in the house but the day comes when i get elected to the senate and join harry reid. i know that we had a good
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friendship to start because we came to the house together. but i remember the day and i remember the moment when that friendship became something special. it was right there in the well of the united states senate. the most important bill in harry's political career was up for a vote. it was on yucca mountain. and he came to me before the role call was being announced and he said how are you going to vote? and i said, well, harry, i'm kind of mixed feelings on this. he said stop. he said i need you. i think i've got enough votes but i may need you. so can you promise that if i need your vote, you'll be there? i said, well, all right. but he said i don't think i'll need your vote. you know what happened next. he called the roll and at the end one of the democratic senators that he counted on voted the other way and he turned to me and he said well? i said giench -- given you my word and voted with harry reid
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on yucca mountain. that was the moment when our friendship became solid. in this business your word is your bond and when you promise somebody you're going to stick with them come heck or high water, that's when it's tested. our friendship grew from that point. i didn't know the time would come but it did, amazingly, when tom daschle lost in the united states senate race in south dakota. and the next day i got a call from harry reid and he said i hope you'll consider running for whip and you ought to call every member of the caucus. and i did. and i quickly learned that many of them had called him and said who do you want to be your whip? and he said well, i think durbin would be a good choice. that's why i'm sitting here today. 12 years later still serving as harry reid's whip, counting the votes on key issues. and during that 12 years i probably spent more time talking to harry reid, my colleague in the united states senate, than any other member of this body. it is a close personal
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friendship and relationship, and we've gone through a lot together. i listen to his stories. he told some of them today. he returns to his youth, growing up in searchlight, which we heard today in just wonderful detail, but he also returns to all those friendships that were made during those years. with people he grew up with in searchlight and in henderson where he went to school. and i've come to know these people as if they were my own classmates because i've heard these stories so many times. but it's part of who he is, and it's part of his value system, and it explains some important decisions in his life. when he talks about the affordable care act, you understand he still remembers that his mother needed dentures and he saved up money to buy his mother a set of teeth. he thought about the fact there was no medical care for his family when they needed it the most and he thought about the
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depression that took his father's life and how that might have been averted with the right medical care. that's what's inspired him in public life. but the one thing that's inspired him the most is landra. over and over again i've heard these stories about this courtship. now, by most standards getting married when you're 19 is not recommended, but clearly in this case it worked out beautifully. but when he tells the story of how he finally got landra to marry him, it appears that there was a little bit of tension between landra's family and this young harry reid to the point where landra's dad basically said to him, stay away. i don't want you dating my daughter. well, they had words and other things and harry insisted and he dated landra and they were married. the interesting thing about that is despite that tension with her father in those early years, harry wears a ring that her father used to wear, and he carry it is around with pride in
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memory of her father and her family. he manages to keep those memories as part of his life and his inspiration. another thing my colleagues may know or may not know is that harry is a veracious reader. he reads books constantly, even after he lost his sight in his right eye he has continued to read. i love to read as well. of the it's been one of my real joys in life exchanging books with harry. and he reads everything under the sun. one time he told me he was reading the quran cover to cover. i thought, man, that is something i'm not sure i could even do. but he has this curiosity, this interest in learning, even at this point in his life as he nears the end of his public career he wants to continue to learn about people and history and important things. i look back on experiences we've had together. it was 9/11 when harry and i were in a room just a few feet
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away from here when there was the attack in new york, in virginia, and we thought the capitol would be the next. and we had to race out of this building and stand outside not knowing which way to turn as we were afraid that we were the next target here with the u.s. capitol. those were moments we spent together that i won't forget. i do remember as well that he was one of the first to say to my junior senator from illinois, barack obama, that he should seriously running for president. president obama the other night said that was one of the most important pieces of advice he received in making his decision to be a candidate for president of the united states. it's an indication of harry's credibility, how much people trust him, and how when he gives his word you know he's going to be there. well, when president obama was elected, he needed a person more than one but he certainly needed
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a leader in the senate that he could count on. he couldn't have had a better ally than harry reid. when i look back on the battles in the last eight years that were waged on behalf of america and harry's leadership role with the president, there wasn't another person in this chamber who could really take as much credit, and he'd be the last person in the world to do so. but when it came to the stimulus package to turn this economy around, it was harry reid counting the votes. it was harry reid working every single day holding the hands of those members of the senate who weren't quite sure they could be there when they needed him. it was harry reid who was counting up to 60 votes to pass the affordable care act and it took every single democrat, not a single republican would join us in that effort. harry reid had to do it. and what was he up against? he was up against ted kennedy who sadly was giving his life up to cancer at that moment and fighting to stay alive until he could vote for that important
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bill. it was harry reid working with other members of the senate who would get cold feet on the issue, had to be brought back in and he did it time and again, day after day after day. in the end 20 million americans have health insurance because of harry reid's determination that what he went through as a kid growing up in searchlight would not be repeated in families across the united states. when it came to wall street reform, the frank and dodd bill that passed through the united states senate, harry stuck with it, made sure that we passed it, hoping to avoid the kind of recession we'd been there and the damage that was done to businesses and families and individuals all across the united states. i knew that he was a fighter because i knew his record when it came to being a lawyer. there are so many stories about his clients that i've heard over and over again. i feel like they were my clients. i've heard these stories so often. but one of the things i remember, read about in his book i wanted to share with you.
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there was a woman named joyce martinez who was working in las vegas and the police came in to the casino where she was working and arrested her for writing bad checks at the local grocery store. joyce tried going to several lawyers and kept insisting they were wrong, she'd never done anything like that. but none of these lawyers would take the case. and then she met harry reid. harry believed her. harry said she reminded him of the people that he had grown up with, real people who had nothing but hard work as their life. like many of the cases harry decided to take, his colleagues said what are you doing wasting your time on this case? spend your time on worthwhile cases. but every step of the way despite the ridicule, harry decided to stand up for this cocktail waitress. harry was determined to keep at it and to make sure that she had a strong voice in court while ultimate -- court.
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well, ultimately joyce won her case and harry reid ended up with a victory that he still counted many years later as one of his great successes as a lawyer. he also made sure that that store that had brought the charges against her had to follow the law in the future so he didn't just help joy. he helped a lot of other people as well. for harry this is what law was all about as a lawyer and what it was all about as a senator, making life better for people and families across the united states. he's fought for so many important causes and one that i want to give special thanks for, it was his commitment to the dream act. i introduced this legislation 16 years ago when i discovered a young woman in chicago undocumented who sadly couldn't go on with her life and go to college because of her legal status. i introduced the dream act to say those young people brought to the united states as kids deserve a second chance. well, harry reid heard my speeches and then met his own dreamer in nevada, astrid
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silver, a dreamer who would often write to harry with updates on her life. on december 8, 2010, harry reid kept a promise to me and a promise to astrid and other dreamers by allowing the dream act to be brought to the floor for a vote. the senate gallery was filled with dreamers wearing their graduation gowns and caps to remind people they were students who wanted to use their education and talents for the future of america. 55 senators voted for the dream act that day. harry had given us our chance, but it wasn't enough to pass because we needed 60 votes under the senate rules. well, harry reid joined me and 22 other senators in sending a letter to the president of the united states asking that he do everything he can to protect these dreamers, and he did with an executive order known as daca. to date 744,000 of these young people have been producted with president obama's executive
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order because harry reid believed as i believe that these young people deserve a chance. let me tell you one last story that i think really defines harry, his courage, and also landra's as well. it goes back to his days as chairman of the nevada gaming commission. being a mormon, not gambling, not drinking, he was the perfect choice for the gaming commissioner. it was hard to consider bribing him. in the 1970's, harry wire a -- wore a wire for the f.b.i. to catch a bribery attempt. the tape that was transcribed from that wire ends with harry jumping out of his seat and shouting "you s.o.b., you tried to bribe me." harry couldn't tolerate that someone thought he could be bet. in an effort to retaliate the mob was mad at harry and they planted a bomb in his family car. thank goodness a watchful landra spotted it and told harry don't
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start the car. they're alive today because of landra's vigilance but they suffered that indignity because of their courage in standing up for ethics and integrity. today when we hear about people talking about how rough politics can be, it certainly doesn't lead to a bomb in most circumstances. in this case harry proved then and today that he's up to that kind of a challenge. let me conclude with this. in harry's childhood home in searchlight, there were words embroidered on a pillow case that his mom hung on the wall. as you can tell it was a simple and baron little shack they lived in but this pillow case had the following words. "we can, we will, we must." franklin delano roosevelt. harry never forgot those words. they're engrained in his spirit. i want to thank him for what he's done for the senate, for
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the state of nevada, for me and for his decades of service to the united states. i want to thank landra and their five kids and their wonderful family for sharing their husband and father with us all these years. harry's leaving the senate but i'm sure he's not going to quit. he's going to be fighting for nevada to the end and fighting for the causes he believes in. he will continue to be a fearless advocate. i wish him and his family all the best. mr. president, i ask consent to enter into the record a statement from senator boxer on behalf of senator reid as well. grass mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i come to the floor today to alert the new trump administration to a problem in the defense department. there's a festering sore needing high level of tension. i'm talking about what turns out to be a formidable barrier. it stands in the way of an
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important goal, auditing the department of defense books. at times this barrier makes the goal seem unattainable. the need for annual financial audits was originally established by the chief financial officers act of 1990. by march of 1992, each agency was to present a financial statement to an inspector general for audit. today all earned, unqualified or clean opinions except one and guess what? the department of defense is that one. it has the dubious distinction out of all the federal government of earning and unblemished string of failing opinions known as disclaimers. in the face of endless stumbli stumbling, congress do a new -- drew a new line in the sand.
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it's in section 1003 of the fiscal year 2010 national defense authorization bill. the pentagon was given an extra seven years to clean up the books and get ready. well, guess what? the slipping and sliding never stopped. the revised 2017 in september deadline is staring us in the face and all evidence tell us the department will never make it. the 25-year effort to audit the books is stuck in mud. billions of dollars have been spent trying to solve the root cause of the problem, and that root cause is a broken accounting system. but the fix is nowhere in sight. and until control at the transaction level is achieved, auditing the books is nothing more than a pipe dream. under the fiscal 2010 law, the
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financial improvements and auditing readiness called fire plan is supposed to tell us whether the financial statements of the defense department -- quote -- are validated as ready for audit by not later than september 30, 2017. the latest fire report hit the streets last month. it does not answer the question is the department of defense ready for audit. i read it and don't know for sure. it's a study in fuzzy thinking. it's kind of like a riddle and here's why. true, the department boldly declares that it is audit ready, but in the very same breath the controller and chief financial officer mr. mike mcchord takes a step backwards.
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he warns that earning a clean opinion is -- quote -- many years away. being ready audit should offer a reasonable prospect for success but something is really out of whack. the ultimate objective of such a 1,003 is a successful audit or clean opinion. mr. mcchord's words seem to turn that objective upside down. how can the department be ready-audit and meet the deadline if it's still years away from a clean opinion? mr. mcchord's message appears to be downright confusing, contradictory and possibly misleadings. if he knows the department of defense is years away from a clean opinion, then he must also know that it is not audit-ready or even close to it.
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he has to know the accounting system is incapable of producing reliable information that meets prescribed standards that tell me the department of defense is not audit-ready yet, and he knows it, like everyone else. before he steps down, mr. mcchord owes us an explanation for the confusing statements, and once the new pentagon leadership is up to speed, i look forward to further clarification. i also hope this new team will address the wisdom of doing full financial statement audits when there is limited control at the transaction level. by proceeding with full-scale audits without it, mr. mcchord has put the cart in front of the horse, spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year for audits with a zero probability of success is wasteful. i would like to remind my
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colleagues why successful audits are so important. first and foremost, it would conform with the constitutional requirements. it would strengthen internal controls and facilitate the detection of fraud and theft, but it would also -- it's also important for more practical reasons. it would help bring about better, more informed decision making. management can't make good decision with bad information. if accounting information is inaccurate and incomplete, as it is today at the department of defense, then management doesn't know what anything costs or how the money is spent. and if they don't have that information at their fingerprints, well, then how could they possibly make good decisions? january 2015 was when a report on referring -- when a report
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i'm referring to was first put out. but it was just now made public. recent revelations about the $125 billion in administrative waste, which was allegedly suppressed by senior defense officials, is living proof of bad decisions. if the time ever comes when the department of defense accounting system can generate reliable information, then such mistakes could be avoided. so i will keep coming back to the same old questions. why has faulty accounting information been tolerated at the pentagon for all these years? how is it that the pentagon is able to develop the most advanced weapons the world has ever known with relative ease and yet for some strange reason it seems unable to acquire the tools it needs to keep track of the money it spends?
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why is this national disgrace being tolerated in the pentagon? there are never-ending bureaucratic explanations but there doesn't seem to be any solutions. with good leadership, this problem can be solved. the man nominated to be the next secretary of defense, mr. james mattis, strikes me as the kind of person who will tackle this problem head off on and run -- head-on and trun to the ground until fixed. his record suggests he will not tolerate in kind of endless foot dragging and endless failure. 25 years of lame-duck excuses probably won't sit too well with this marine general. either he will whip the accounting system into shape or heads will roll. according to press reports, failure is not a word that he knows or uses. with a new sheriff in town, maybe the endless, helpless "woe
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is me" handwringing at the pentagon is about to come to a screeching halt. a modern, fully integrated finance and accounting system might be more than just the dream it has been. i yield the floor. mr. kirk: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. kirk: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to be allowed to have a prop for my work in bosnia, if i can. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kirk: thank you. mr. president, i rise here in the chamber to give my last speech in the senate. i wanted to describe some experiences that i had that are at the heart of my service in this -- in the congress. as a staffer, i worked for the
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house international relations committee for chairman benjamin gilman. he had been asked by colonel john o'connor of new york -- i got unanimous consent -- by john o'connor of new york to investigate the plight of catholics in northern bosnia, and there from that assignment i went to northern bosnia to meet with bishop comaritz, who started out the meeting in a very difficult fashion. he started saying, am a human? am i a human? am i -- and i said, yes, you are. and he said, you foreign delegations always don't do anything for me. i said to the bishop, please give me one task that i can take on for you. he said, if there's one thing that i need, it's to get my human rights office head, father
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thomas labatonovic, who was captured by a notorious crimin criminal, who was infamous for starting the first concentration camp in europe after 19456789 it was called the almarska camp. the man who ran this camp, he had pushed 700 people's bodies down the shaft of this mine. and in this work, he had probably captured my priest that i wanted, thomas labatonivic. when i went back to the states as a reservist, i ransacked the d.o.d. databases and i found that from intelligence reports, we suspected that this man who had been the police chief of the concentration camp.
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i wnts to the c.i.a. and i asked to meet with this man so i could urge him to give this priest back to me. when seimold diacha met with me, he gave me this from serbia. it has the markings of st. george slaying the dragon with the date of 1894, various serbian markings. i would say that after i learned so much about seimold diachka, i asked the clinton administration if they could indict him for war crimes for crimes against humanity to make sure we could eventually bring him down. when the bosnian secret police brought him to me, he gave me this memento. i have kept this under my desk. he gave that to me, hoping that
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maybe he would not get picked up. luckily, the clinton administration had decided to pick him up. they had a typically obscure d.o.d. acronym to cover the status of this kind of person. they called them pifwics, persons indicted for war crimes. the british special air service carried it out. when they waited for seimold, they waited by a riverbank for him to do his sunday fishing with his son. they then had an officer, who had painstakingly memorized the serbian arrest record and indictment, so he could read it to divment acha. >> when he started reading it, divment ach -- diachka reached down in his fishing box.
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luckily, the officer survived. he was wearing body armor. the security team that was across the river put several rounds into diachka's chest. he dropped dead on the beach. after i heard about this, i was so proud to be part of this congressional team and to be -- still be an officer in the united states navy. i will say that this institution and the u.s. military that has given rise from the appropriations we've given it is the greatest force for human dignity that's ever been put forward. i was so proud that we brought this monster to justice. the guy who put together the first concentration camp in europe had been stopped, and he could no longer hurt anyone. and this memento has been underneath my desk in the senate ever since to remind me of the basic human values that we share so dear, that we have here.
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i would say the united states is now the greatest force for human dignity that we have ever seen, to make sure those values are continued has been heart of my service here in the senate and the congress. let me conclude by thanking some critical people. i want to thank congressman john porter for hiring me back in 1984 when i started my service here in the congress, and chairman ben gilman of new york for putting me on that international relations committee and the people of the 10th congressional district of illinois who first sent me to the house and the people of i will hoyle also sent me to represent -- of illinois who also sent me to represent their state here. all the family and friends who put me here, karen garber and michael morgan and dotie mccracken, always on my side. people who wanted to make sure we had a person of thoughtful, independent values that could serve right here in the congress. to conclude, i want to give a
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message to the people of illinois. to the people of i will, i would say that -- to the people of illinois, i would say, take heart, illinois, that you come from one of the most industrialous states in the union, the fifth-largest stril state, especially after the problems we had with governor begvic. i ask them, who invented the cell phone? the person is martin cooper from wynette, illinois. in the top of the phone is a transmitter. the first cell phone call in the world was made from the 450-yard line of soldier field in chicago. that $1 trillion industry started right in the middle of our state. that we should always remember -- lots of times when i'm giving this speech, i'll say to people,
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if it wasn't for the pipeline of illinois, a lot -- if it wasn't for the people of illinois, a lot of the people would be missing teeth because we invented modern tentiestory. we invented the vacuum cleaner. people on the southwest side of chicago say, kirk, tell them that we invented the zipper, which they did. people in peoria will say, hey, remind them we invented the electric blanket, and they did. from the electric blanket and vacuum cleaner and the cell phone, i would say now we have a unique time in history, so i can safely say without contradiction here in the senate that the chicago cubs are now the world series champions, and as i've said so many time, any professional baseball team can have a bad century; that we have finally killed the -- this curse of the goat and all the curses
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that befell our professional baseball team and make sure that -- i would say take heart, illinois. you are so inventive that you produce most of the pumpkins in the country. that when we sit down to thanksgiving pumpkin pie, that's 80% illinois. with that, i would yield the balance of my time. -- to the victor of the illinois senate race, senator-elect tammy duckworth. thank you. i yield back. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: mr. president, prior to my remarks, i would make the announcement -- the request that the army defense fellow for tom udall, mr. sean browrntion be given -- mr. sean brown, be given floor privileges for the remainder of the 114th congress. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reed: thank you. i want to take an opportunity to salute and commend and congratulate my colleagues who are departing, senator kirk, my colleague from illinois, just
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finished his remarks. mark and i had the opportunity to -- and the privilege to work onl things together. he is a navy commander. he never lets me forget that. he always calls me major. i always call him commander. he served the state of illinois with great energy and integrity and great spirit. we thank you for that very very much and thank you for service to the nation in the uniform of the united states navy. thank you. we also have colleagues departing: senator ayotte from new hampshire, senator boxer of california, senator coats of indiana, senator kirk of illinois, senator mikulski of maryland, senator reid of nevada and senator vitter of louisiana. each has brought passion in their work to best serve their constituents. the institution and nation are better. and i am better for knowing them
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and having the opportunity to share with them and i want to thank them for their service. let me mention a few words with respect to all of these distinguished senators. kelly ayotte and i were together for many years on the armed services committee. what she brought was an unparalleled commitment and passion to the men and women who wear the uniform of the united states. she wanted them to have a quality of life which reflects their service, their sacrifice. she wanted them to have the training and equipment that would protect them as they engage our foes. and she wanted to make sure they knew that we will -- were always conscious of their sacrifice and service. she did this in so many different ways and she did it so well and she was particularly committed to making sure that the a-10 aircraft remained in our inventory. and as someone who as a younger person was an infantry officer, i appreciated having seen in training how effective that
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system is to protect our forces on the ground. and her efforts were unstinting to make sure that our forces were fully protected. again, just one example of her commitment. barbara box and i had, we had the privilege to serve in the house and senate together. my first -- an extraordinary, tenacious fighter. remarkably so. and she is -- has fought for women's rights, the rights of families, people who needed economic assistance, people who needed a chance, because she realized that the essence of america is opportunity, opportunity for all, not just for those who are privileged or who have the benefit of wealth or power, but for all. and she's done this extraordinarily well. a great deal of her energy was
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directed to environmental protection because that's something that benefits all of us. that's something that is really the biggest legacy we will give to the next generation and the next generation. no one has more fiercely defended the environment not just for a narrow interest, not just for a temporary expedient, but for long-term health and welfare of the american people. dan coats and i served together. this goes back to both his tenures in the united states senate. dan and i served on the armed services and the help committee. he was a remarkable member. he continues to be a remarkable member. he left for awhile to serve as ambassador to germany. once again, no price, distinguished himself with his thoughtful support of american policy, with his international approach to issues of concern, with his ability to bring people together not just colleagues in the senate but also
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international colleagues. when he returned, i was very, very grateful for his help. senator dean heller and i were working very hard together on a bipartisan basis to help unemployment insurance extension, and dan joined us in that effort, and i thank him for that. it just reflects the huge range of talent and interest that he has and also ultimately his commitment to the men and women of inn -- indiana, particularly the working men and women of indiana. mark kirk, i had the pleasure of being able to salute him as he was here. again, we will always greet each other as major reed and commander kirk. i see deep symbolism and deep affection regarded in that exchange. and i wish him well as he goes forth. david vitter and i served together on the armed services committee. we continue to serve together in the banking committee. as a senior member of the
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environment and public works committee, he has been very critical in ensuring that we continue our commitment to infrastructure. that is the word now that's getting a lot of attention. but years ago david was interested in that. not only just interested but instrumental in making sure we did our best to keep up with infrastructure so that we could have a p productive america, so that people could enjoy the benefits and that we could be competitive in a global economy. and he has done a great deal. one area where we also shared our interest is homeowner flood insurance act. again, critical not just to louisiana but every coastal state including rhode island. and his energy and his commitment and his dedication made it a success. so i thank him for that and wish him well as he goes forward.
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barbara mikulski, what an extraordinary individual. she is a pioneer. the first democratic women senator elected in her own right. the longest-serving woman in the history of the united states congress. barbara mikulski and history are one and the same. she has made it. she came from very modest roots in baltimore. she talked yesterday on the floor about her father and mother running a small grocery store in her neighborhood. she took that sense of community, that sense of dedication as well as selfless service to others, and she says she was inspired by the nuns that taught hir, and that inspiration was extraordinary and fully realized in her life. and so there's a lot of sisters of mercy and sister of note tremendous dame that are sitting back today thinking i knew that
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young lady had it in her. she has done so much to assist me on issues that are so close to the rhode island situation. lead poisoning, i must say she and kit bond, one of her colleagues, were just extraordinary in recognizing the problems of lead exposure in children and providing real resources. i thank her for that. she's assisted the fishermen in my communities in rhode island with real assistance and real aid. she's done it over and over again. and she has given me profound advice, counsel and kindness. she said the best ship in the world is friendship. i agree. but ultimately the measure of our service and of our days is measured in kindness. and i must say that by that measure, she is a very towering figure in the united states senate and the history of the united states, and i thank her.
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finally our leader, harry reid. much has been said about harry today. i will not go over the extraordinary tale of a young man from searchlight, nevada. he's been many things: a boxer, a capitol police officer while he was working his way through law school. he has always been a fighter and a fighter for those that need help. not for the powerful but for the powerless, people without power. for those without voice, he has given them a voice. i've always appreciated his counsel, his guidance and his support that was important to my p constituents but important to all americans. and we've worked on numerous pieces of legislation together to address the housing crisis, extend unemployment insurance, to make college more affordable, to improve mental health services. as he said today in his remarks, one of the achievements is to be able to give health care protection to
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millions of americans that didn't have it. and if it's taken away, will not have it. and he did that because it was the right thing to do, but because he understood from his own personal experience how traumatizing and how deblilitating and how ultimately destructive the lack of access to good health care both physical health care and mental health care is to america. and also how it does make us productive. simply having health care is not just a good thing to do, it's a smart economic thing to do. and he led that fight for us. it has been an honor to serve alongside harry reid and to see this extraordinary legislator work his way quietly sometimes, many times, but persistently. there is no one more persistent
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than harry. and his steady, unselfish leadership will continue to guide us and his example will continue to guide us. mr. president, i've been very fortunate. i've had the privilege to serve with these ladies and gentlemen, and i want to thank them for their service. i was also very privileged to serve with the vice president of the united states, joe biden. the vice president was here yesterday. i was here listening to the comments, and i must add, if i could, some words of my own. he is a true statesman. i had the privilege of serving with him for over a decade. we traveled together to places like afghanistan or iraq, and i'm honored to know him and his wonderful family. and even though he's vice president of the united states of america, the second-highest office in the land, i know the titles that he's proudest of: father, grandfather, husband, brother, and after that, senator. and, mr. chairman, a tribute
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to joe biden really has to extend to some others, and one person i want to single out is his sister valerie. val is not only his close advisor but the architect of his first campaign and every one there after. at a time when very few women were running united states senate campaigns, val was responsible for elected a 29-year-old newcomer. and when tragedy struck she was the one who helped bring him back, who enabled him to serve the people of delaware and ultimately people of the united states and of the world. she's a brilliant strategist. she has gone on to advise many officeholders. so we thank her for her lasting contributions, and i want to make sure she got some credit. both the vice president and val are quick to note the real credit comes from their parent, his mom and late great father, joe sr. the vice president and i would often joke -- in fact, it's
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not a joke -- always inspire to be half as good as his mom and dad. that is an irish aspiration. joe made it. i'm still working on it, but he's at least half as good as these extraordinary people. if you spend any time with the vice president, you know that he's famous for quoting his father and his mother and the wisdom they imparted to all their children, to joe, to val, to frank and jenny. inch -- i think you heard senator biden, vice president biden say listen, i give you my word as a biden and you can take that to the bank. he meant it. once you heard that without hesitation, you know he was there with you, would not equivocate, would not deviate. would be with you. i had the privilege not only of working with senator biden, but i also had the privilege of working with a young captain of the united states army at least briefly as we visited him, and
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that was captain beau biden of the delaware national guard. beau biden didn't have to join the national guard, didn't have to volunteer for iraq, but he felt it was his duty and his obligation. and when we were together with him in iraq, you saw someone who personified the very best of this nation. a soldier, someone conscientious, someone who would with give his all, give his life for others, and particularly give every ounce of energy and service to this great nation. anyone who met beau knew he was a biden. he didn't have to say it. he looked like his dad, but more importantly he acted like his dad: strong, tough, proud, dedicated, committed to helping others, particularly those who needed a chance, who needed a hand up, a passion for social justice, compassion. and again, that element of
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kindness. in the sum of his days, of beau's days, he surpassed that test of kindness, decency and compassion. the biden family has known a great deal of tragedy, more than most families. but they've stuck together and they've shared both moments of triumph and moments of profound sadness. and together they have shaped history, made this a better nation and a better world. and all of us who have had the privilege of knowing joe and jill and the family, better people. mr. chairman, let me thank you. mr. vice president, senator, joe, thank you. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor and i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. mccain: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: mr. president, the constitution gives the congress the power and the responsibility to provide for the common defense, raise and support armies, provide and maintain a navy, and make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces. and for 54 consecutive years congress has fulfilled these most important constitutional duties by passing the national defense authorization act. today the senate has the chance to make it 55. it is precisely because of this legislation's critical importance to our nat

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