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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  December 8, 2016 12:00pm-2:01pm EST

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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 national security that it is still one of
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the few bills in congress that enjoys bipartisan support year after year. indeed, this year's ndaa has been supported by senators on both sides of the aisle. the senate armed services committee overwhelmingly approved the ndaa in a 23-3 vote back in may. the full committee followed by passing the ndaa in a bipartisan vote of 85-13, after a collaborative and productive conference with the process, the house passed the conference report with an overwhelming vote of of 375 to 34. and i hope the senate will deliver another resounding vote today. i want to thank the committee's ranking member, the senator from rhode island, jack reed. despite his lack of education at west point and the impending doom of the army football team this weekend, i aappreciate the thoughtfulness and bipartisan spirit with which he approaches
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our national security. this is a much better bill thanks to the senator from rhode island. i appreciate his friendship and more than that, i appreciate the commitment that he and i share to the defense of this nation and the men who serve it -- and women i also want to thank the majority leader of the senate, the senator from kentucky, for bringing the ndaa to the floor and for his support throughout the year in making sure this legislation received full consideration and debate. our nation faces the most diverse and complex array of crises sings the end of -- since the end of world war ii. rowing states like iran and north korea and the enduring threat of radical islamic terrorism, rising to the challenges of a more dangerous world requires both reform to our national defense. that is exactly what the ndaa
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delivers. the last major reorganization of the department of defense was the goldwater-nichols act, which marks its 30th anniversary this year. last fall, the senate armed services committee held a series of 13 hearings on defense reform with 52 of our nation's foremost defense experts and leaders. we followed up these hearings with a comprehensive review of the roles, missions, and organization of the major actors in the department of defense. this review was borne out of concern that the organization of the department too often inhibits rather than enables the talented people serving there to fulfill their duties at a time of major strategic and technological change. building on this work, the ndaa seeks to improve strategic integration across functional components of the office of the secretary of defense. at a time when the department of defense faces numerous threats
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that all span different regions, functions, and military domains, the secretary of defense needs better tools to more effectively develop integrated solutions and strategies for critical department objectives. to this end, the ndaa would allow the next secretary of defense to create and delegate decision making authority -- decision-making authority to a series of cross-functional teams to achieve functions of the department. this would support the deputy sy and deputy secretary. improving the effectiveness of our defense also requires targeting excess bureaucracy. over the past 30 years, the end strength of the joint forces has decreased by 38%. i want to emphasize that. the end strengths of the
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military, the uniformed military, has decreased by 38%. but the ratio of four-star officers to the overall force has increased by 65%, especially at a time of constrained defense budgets, the military services must right-size their office ar corps and shift as many personnel as possible from staff functions to operational and other vital roles. that's why the ndaa directs a reduction of 110 general and flag officers on active duty and requires the secretary of defense to conduct a study that will identify further 10% reduction. likewise, the ndaa includes a reduction to the number of senior executive service civilian employees in the department of defense commensurate with a reduction to general and flag officers. the legislation also imposes a
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limitation on funds used for staff augmentation contracts in the office of the secretary of defense and the military department. a practice which has gotten completely out of control. the ndaa also caps the size of the national security council staff at 200 professional staff and detailees. the past 25 years have brought a consistent and steady growth of the n.s.c. staff from 40 during the george herbert walker bush administration to more than 100 in the clinton administration to more than 200 during the george w. bush administration, to reports of nearly 400 under the current administration. in addition to the growth and size and largely enabled by it, we have seen an expansion of the n.s.c.'s staff role into tactical and operational issues. the ndaa will push the n.s.c.
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staff toward prioritizing the strategic mission that led congress to create it in the first place. i want to repeat, the national security council was created to give advice and counsel to the president of the united states, not to give rules of invasion -- engagement and specific instructions to officers and generals and admirals in the field. former secretary gates tells the story quite often of when he was visiting kabul, afghanistan, and walked by an office and there was a red phone there and the secretary of defense gates said, what's that? they said, that's our line to the n.s.c. friends, we have 30-something staffers at the n.s.c. who are giving directions as to how to carry out operations in the
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field. it's simply outrageous. and, by the way, it does have not only an effect on morale but also on ability to address the challenges in the battle -- on the battlegrounds. for years after the end of the cold war, the united states enjoyed a near monopoly on advanced military technology such as stealth, precision-guided munitions, unmanned systems, and the advanced communications that enable north -- network-centric warfare. that is changing rapidly. from china and russia to iran and north korea, we see militaries that are developing fielding and employing long-range precision-guided weapons, advanced fighter aircraft, anti-access and aerial denial systems, and growing space and cyber capabilities. the result is that we are at real and increasing risk of losing the military
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technological dominance that we have taken for granted for 30 years. that's why innovation cannot be an auxiliary office at the department of defense. it must be the central mission of its acquisition system. unfortunately, that is not the case with the office of the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics -- or known as at&l. it has grown too big, tries to do too much and is too focused on compliance at the expense of innovation. that's why the ndaa disestablishes at&l and divides its duties between two new offices, a new under secretary of defense for research and engineering, and an under secretary for acquisition and sustainment. the job of research and engineering will be developing defense technologies that can ensure a new era of u.s. qualitative military dominance.
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the job of acquisition and sustainment will focus on the execution of acquisition functions, ensuring compliance and lowering risk to taxpayers. and god knows we need to lower risk to taxpayers. these organizational changes complement the additional acquisition reforms in the ndaa. the legislation creates new path ways for the department of defense to do business with nontraditional defense firms. it streamlines regulations to procure commercial goods and services. it provides new authorities for the rapid promote tow typing, acquisition and fielding of new capabilities. and critically, the ndaa establishes a preference for fixed-price contracts, a preference for fixed-price contracts. the overuse of cost-type contracts and the complicated and expensive government
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bureaucracy that goes with them serves a as barrier to imri to commercial our government needs. continuing down the path of reform, the ndaa initiatives a comprehensivage sayings of the system to provide beneficiaries with higher quality care that are being a -- better access to care and a better experience of care. the ndaa includes provisions that include tellly health capabilities, reform tricare health care plans, modernize tricare medical support contracts, streamline the administration of the defense health agency and military medical treatment facilities, and establish high-performance military integrated health delivery systems. the ndaa also ensures we maintain battlefield medicine as a pocket of excellence in the military health system by taking steps to improve trauma care and military hospitals and develop
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enduring partnerships with civilian military centers and hospitals. these reforms constituent an important first step in the evolution of the military health system from an underperforming, disjointed health system into a high-performing, integrated health system that gives beneficiaries what they need and deserve: the right care at the right time in the right place. in a world of multiplying threats and increasing danger, we count on young americans to enlist or commit to serve in the all-volunteer force that protect us. the ndaa sustains the quality of life for the men and women and their families and addresses the needs of our wounds, ill, and injured service members. the ndaa authorizes a 2.1% across-the-board pay raise for members of the uniformed services, the largest military pay raise for our troops since 2010.
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the legislation authorizes over 30 special pays and bonuses to support recruitment and retention and it ensures fair treatment for our reserve members under the survivor benefit plan. the ndaa also addresses a disturbing situation affecting members of the california national guard who have been caught up in a scandal involving the improper issuance of bonuses. the legislation holds the department of defense responsible for expediting the review process, reaching out to each impacted service member and notifying credit reporting agencies when debts have been forgiven. the ndaa also implements the recommendations of the department of defense justice review group by incorporating the military justice act of 2016. the legislation modernizes the military court-martial trial and appellate practice and i in-- incorporates best practices and
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increases transparency and independent review in the military justice s taken together, the provisions contained in the ndaa constitute the most significant reforms to the uniform code of military justice in a generation. as we implement these important defense reforms, we have to rebuild a modern force prepared to meet current and future threats. the ndaa authorizes a total of $619 billion for defense discretionary spending. which is $3.2 billion above president obama's budget request. that includes the $5.8 billion in supplemental funding requested by president obama for operations in iraq, syria, and afghanistan. the ndaa prioritizes modernization to provide critical military capabilities to our war fighters, fifth-generation fighter aircraft, stealthy attack submarines, vital mew missions, armored vehicles and
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helicopters. the legislation also fully supports the modernization of our nuclear triad and makes timely investments in research and development efforts to produce cutting-edge military technologies. through combination of added funds, and redirected savings, the ndaa directs $4.6 billion to address the military readiness crisis by reducing training shortfalls supporting weapons maintenance, and sustaining facilities. critically the ndaa stems the drawdown of military end strength that has exacerbated the readiness crisis especially in the army and marine corps. as we meet our commitments to our war fighters, we must also uphold our commitment to american taxpayers. the ndaa imposes strict oversight measures on programs such as the f-35 joint strike fighter, b-21 long range strike
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bomber, forward class aircraft carrier and latoro combat ship. these provisions will ensure accountability for results, promote transparency, protect taxpayers and drive the department to deliver our war fighters the capabilities they need on time, as promised and at reasonable cost. the ndaa upholds america's commitments to its allies and partners. it authorizes $3.4 billion to support our afghan partners as they take the fight to our common terrorist enemies. the legislation authorizes $3.4 billion for the european initiative to deter russian aggression. this is a very critical item, as we see more and more aggressive behavior both in cyber, propaganda and actual on-the-ground activities by vladimir putin. a fourfold increase from last
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year in the european deterrence initiative. it provides $1.2 billion for counterisil operations. it authorizes up to $350 million in security assistance to ukraine, including lethal assistance. madam president, one of the things that has disappointed me as much as anything else and in some ways more is this president has refused to give defensive weaponry to the ukrainians who are watching their country being dismembered by vladimir putin. the same vladimir putin whose anti-air system shot down an air liner. the same one who is slaughtering and killing brave ukrainians as we speak. this president has refused to give them weapons to defend themselves, and this will be again the third year in a row where we have authorized it. this is -- this is another
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shameful chapter in the history of this obama's feckless administration as far as national defense is concerned. finally, the legislation includes $600 million to modernize israel's layered missile defense system. as we continue to support allies and partners against the common threats, the ndaa makes major reforms to the pentagon's complex and unwieldy security cooperation enterprise which has complicated the department of defense's ability to effectively prioritize, plan, execute and oversee these activities. the ndaa consolidates security cooperation authorities from title 10 and elsewhere in public law to a single chapter of the u.s. code. for the first time this legislation requires the secretary of defense to submit a consolidated security
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cooperation budget and the legislation modernize the security cooperation workforce. together these steps will improve operational outcomes, program management, congressional oversight and public transparency. this legislation takes several steps to bolster border security and homeland defense. it authorizes $933 million for department of defense counterdrug programs. the legislation codifies the authority of the secretary of defense to provide support to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement for counter drug and countering transnational organized crime operation and enhances information sharing and operational coordination between the department of defense and the department of homeland security. finally, this legislation takes important steps to strengthen cybersecurity, the legislation
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elevates u.s. cyber command to a unified command. as our senior military leadership testified, this step is critical to providing the commander of the u.s. cyber command with the necessary unity of command and streamlined decision making. the ndaa also prevents the premature termination of the dual hat arrangement under which the commander u.s. cyber command also serves as the director of the national security agency. let me close by saying we ask a lot of our men and women in uniform, and they never let us down. we must not let them down. so let's be bold on their behalf. this ndaa is an ambitious piece of legislation, but in the times we live, we can't afford business as usual in the department of defense. we can't afford these terrible cost overruns. we just had a hearing on the
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latoro combat ship that now costs $460 million each and has a .30 millimeter gun and helicopter pad on it. we cannot do this to the american taxpayers. there was a front page story in "the washington post" just a couple of days ago about some $135 billion that in the view of an outside study had been wasted. we cannot continue to do that to the taxpayers of america, and we certainly can't afford to continue to do it given the challenges that we face all over the world which are unprecedented in the last 70 years. madam president, yesterday i was honored to ask to speak down at the world war ii memorial commemorating the 75th anniversary of the attack on pearl harbor. it was an uplifting experience because thank god, there were
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so many of our brave warriors who fought and were present in the war that was fought by our greatest generation. there were even a couple who had been on board the u.s.s. arizona, which was sunk with 1,117 brave officers and men on board. and you know, one of the lessons of pearl harbor was that we were not ready. we were not prepared. the japanese airplanes had came in and bombed those ships and killed so many brave americans. we had nothing that could combat them. at that time the japanese was so far superior than anything we had that it was relatively for the japanese to attack and destroy a good portion of america's pacific fleet at that time. and what i fear is not another
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pearl harbor. but what i fear is that with sequestration and with a continuing resolution which apparently we're going to do, although i will fight as hard as i can against it, we are reducing the ability of our men and women to serve this nation with effectiveness. all of the four service chiefs, every one of them when asked about sequestration and this kind of continuing resolution have said one thing. we are putting the lives of the men and women who are serving in armed forces in uniform in greater jeopardy. are we going to take the responsibility here with another continuing resolution to place the lives of the men and women serving this nation at greater risk? that is a terrible burden, a terrible burden i say to my colleagues who are willingly, because they want to get out of here for christmas, will be voting for a continuing resolution that again cuts
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defense spending. it cuts it, reduces it. that is not acceptable in light of the fact, by the way, that the president-elect has said he wants to spend more on defense. the president-elect has said we're not spending enough. and we aren't doing enough. and, by the way, we've got to do it right. we need to spend more. we need to do it right. but when we see front-page stories on the "washington post" that shows, i think it was $125 billion that's wasted, then we also have an obligation to spend those taxpayers' dollars correctly. and this legislation which i urge my colleagues to vote for has follow-up to last year's significant reforms in the way that the pentagon does business. and i would like to tell you that now we've reformed the pentagon and everything is fine. my friends, we've got a long way to go. we have a long way to go. i am proud of the bipartisanship
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that exists on our committee. i am proud of the seriousness with most -- most, not all, but most of the members in the committee take their duties as members of the committee. i am proud that my friend and colleague from rhode island and i work so closely together. not only us, but our staffs, in the spirit that is demanded if we are going to carry out our higher responsibilities to the men who serve. i am not proud -- i am not proud to see sequestration continue, the mindless across-the-board cuts that has characterized the last few years. and it is supported by both sides of the aisle. not just democrats. i'd love to blame democrats for it. but both democrats and republicans have refused to address sequestration, which is destroying the readiness -- not
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destroying. is harming the readiness of our men and women to serve and fight. operations are being canceled. parts are not available. the training is not available. it goes on and on and on. and why don't we listen? i'm not asking you to listen to the civilians. ask for the leaders of the -- ask the leaders that we've asked to be the chiefs of their services, ask the leaders who are component commands. they'll all tell you the same thing. we're going to have to spend more money, but we're also going to have to spend it more wisely. and by the way, the pentagon bureaucracy does not like many of these changes. just as last year we forced these changes on them, and now they all take credit for them -- fine. but now, another year of reforms, and next year we're going to have to do more reforms.
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but unless we have -- unless we have the funding that is necessary to make these men and women who are serving in our military fully prepared to counter the new challenges, we're going to relive in some form december 7, 1941, in the words of franklin delano roosevelt, a day that will live in infamy. so i ask my colleagues to vote for this ndaa. we have had the input from literally every member of this body, i'm happy to say. i hope they'll vote for this legislation. but i also, when they do, recognize that unless we fund these programs, unless we fund these reforms, unless we provide the sufficient funding, then they are not going to be able to carry out their mission in the mosten effective fashion.
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and so i say to my colleagues vote for this. vote for this. but do not vote for another continuing resolution which will harm the ability of us and the men and women who are serving and their leaders to defend this nation. it's a heavy responsibility to take on when you vote for the continuing resolution, because that doesn't get -- allow the pentagon to move money around. it's an overall cut of many billions of dollars at a time when any observer will tell you there's more challenges to our national security than any time since december 7, 1941. madam president, i urge my colleagues to vote for the ndaa, and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. vitter: madam president, i have one request for committees to meet during today's session of the senate.
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they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: so noted. mr. vitter: madam president, i ask for regular order. madam president, i also briefly suggest for absence of the quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. vitter: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. isakson: i'd ask the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. isakson: i'd like to ask unanimous consent that ryan bowe, my military liaison be granted floor privileges for the rest of this weekend. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. isakson: thank you, madam president. i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:.
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quorum call: mr. enzi: i would ask permission to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: postcloture time has expired. the question is on the adoption of the conference report. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. there is. the clerk will call the roll. vote: vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or to change their vote? if not, the yeas are 92 and the nays are 7. the conference report is agreed to. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: i ask unanimous consent the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes for debate only until 2:30 p.m. this afternoon. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. flake: mr. president? the senate is not in order. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. flake: mr. president, i rise today to speak about the drought
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legislation that is critical to the state of arizona. as everyone knows, water is a controversial issue in the west. arizona and california have long been at odds on the number -- the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. senators will please take their conversations to the cloakroom. mr. flake: arizona and california have long been at odds on a number of water-related issues, particularly on the colorado river. since the beginning of this congress, i have worked to advance arizona's water priorities. that included work with our neighbors across the colorado river to get a flake-feinstein amendment included in the energy bill. this amendment which was adopted on the floor would allow dams to be more efficient and enhance water storage. in addition to this amendment, i've introduced the western water supply and planning enhancement act to the energy and -- in the energy and natural resources committee. i worked with many of my colleagues on the committee to move this western drought bill
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through regular order. work that included attempting to find a way to reconcile this bill with the california drought bill in order to advance all of our priorities, but i'm disappointed that instead of continuing with the committee process, a california-only deal was airdropped into an unrelated wrda conference report. this was done at the last minute, circumventing arizona and leaving our western states out to dry. not only does the wrda conference report disregard the good work of the energy and natural resources committee, the good work that has been carried out over the past two years, it fails also to address western water matters in a realistic way. let me be clear -- important arizona water issues still need to be addressed by congress, and i will continue to fight for these priorities. for example, the colorado river basin states are very close to
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reaching a ground breaking agreement to -- ground-breaking agreement to deal with a prolonged drought on the river. we will seek legislation to implement this deal early in the next congress. our watersheds are also under great threat from catastrophic wildfires. i'll continue to push congress and the forest service to move ahead to reduce fire risks in arizona. i look forward to continuing my work on these issues and to fight for other water needs in arizona, and thank you. now, mr. president, if i could ask that the following remarks appear in a separate section of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. flake: thank you, mr. president. in a drive-by lawsuit, an attorney will drive by a place of business and look for technical a.d.a. violations. these are usually minor violations that are easily correctable, like the width of a parking space or the height of a van, the accessible sign -- i'm
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sorry. the height of a van-accessible sign. oftentimes, a demand letter -- if a technical violation exists, the attorney will either send a demand letter or threaten the business with a lawsuit. oftentimes, a demand letter will request a settlement that is just under what it would cost the business to litigate, so the business owner picks the lesser of two evils and pays a settlement. the scope of the problem is only growing. from the first six months of 2015 to the first six months of 2016, there was a 63% increase in the number of suits filed under title 3 of the a.d.a. this year is on pace to see almost 7,000 of these cases brought forward. 7,000. now, compare 7,000 to the 4,800 lawsuits filed in 2015 and 2,700 in 2013, and you'll see what a boon this has been for
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trial lawyers. in fact, this past sunday, "60 minutes" did a special report on drive-by lawsuits and the toll they're taking on small businesses throughout the country. i would encourage anyone to watch that piece. it explains the problem very well. while california, florida and new york have the highest incidents of these drive-by lawsuits, my home state of arizona has seen a dramatic increase in these suits over the past three years. in 2013, there were three a.d.a. title 3 suits brought in arizona, three. by 2015, that number was up to 207. as of september of this year, arizona has already seen 284. it's clear that the problem is only getting worse. my legislation would go a long way to solve it. if enacted, property owners must first be given notice of their alleged a.d.a. violation, at which point they would have 120 days to cure the violation
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before the lawsuit could be brought. if the property owner fails to address the violation in a timely manner, then they can be sued. the bill also instructs the department of justice to further promote a.d.a. compliance through education so small business owners know what's expected of them. i think these reforms will help business owners and persons with disabilities achieve the mutual goal of a.d.a. compliance. the a.d.a. has been a great success in its 25-year history. it's essential that business owners continue to see it as a tool to ensure fairness for people with disabilities and not as a weapon to line the pockets of unscrupulous lawyers. thank you, mr. president. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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lay mr. president -- mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i ask consent the call of the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: what is the parliamentary situation? the presiding officer: we're in morning business with senators permitted to speak for ten minutes.
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mr. leahy: i think the distinguished presiding officer. mr. president, earlier today we heard a moving speech by the democratic leader and my long-time friend harry reid speaking of his life and his time here. an amateur boxer turned police officer turned lawyer turned majority leader. that's sort of the super condensed life of harry reid. when the book closes on the 114th congress, so, too, will it close on the congressional career of senator reid. he's a fighter and a champion. that's an understatement. he's a fellow country boy, but
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he had a much tougher upbringing. he was in searchlight, nevada. you can read about that in his book. that upbringing has bred traits i've admired since he arrived in the senate in 1987. his humble upbringing raised in a shack, no indoor bathroom, no hot water, sewed the seeds of a life in public service. he first came to capitol hill as a police officer. he worked nights to pay his way through george washington university law school. little did he know he would end up being one of the longest serving majority leaders in the history of the u.s. senate.
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he can point to so many of the things he did including steering the affordable care act but i want to thank him for what he's done and his help on justice bills that i've championed. he's the original cosponsor of the violence against women act reauthorization. introduced to not only reauthorize but to greatly expand it from what it had been before. he's always worked with me to stop the scourge of domestic violence. he supported efforts to put more police on the streets in both small and large communities. his commitment to advancing our comprehensive immigration bill, we got it through the senate by a large bipartisan majority and
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probably one of the things the history books will be written, one of the huge mistakes made was whether the house of representatives did not take up that bill, even though they had the votes to pass it. he's at the edmond bridge in 2015 comet rating the 50th anniversary of bloody sunday. i looked at him being there with congressman john lewis and president barack obama, the first african-american elected as president. but he's never ever even as one of the towering figures in america, he's never ever forgotten the people of nevada. a tireless champion. i think as he and landra go back
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home to nevada, they know the welcome they're going to have. he's been a fighter. he's been a champion. he's been a friend. marcel and i leave washington for the last time, we'll think of the special friends we've had. harry reid, landra reid. mr. president, i'd ask consent that my full statement be made part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president, i have several other statements submitted at the desk and i'd ask that they be incorporated in the record as they read. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. a senator: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: thank you, mr. president. we all remember the very severe financial crisis of 2008 which precipitated a very severe recession from which we have had a very, very weak recovery in many ways we're still trying to recover from that. mr. toomey: i want to talk a little bit about that i want to talk a little bit about the opportunity that is before us to make some really constructive changes to help us have a more robust recovery, the recovery we've been waiting for. but let's first review very briefly the causes of this financial crisis because the misguided response to it has contributed to our lack of a robust recovery.
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the causes of the financial crisis were, of course, princ princelely government causes. it was principally the failure of government policy that created the financial crisis that led to this recession. what specific government policies? i would say several just briefly. first of all it was failed monetary policy, a policy in which the monetary authorities kept interest rates too low for too long, actually had negative real interest rates thand policy, quite predictably, create add bubble. a bubble in residential rather, the explosion of which led to this crisis. this was compounded by the failed legislative policy which actually required mortgage lend,especially -- lenders, especially the government-sponsored enterprises of fannie mae and freddie mac, required that they lend money to people who were very unlikely going to be able to pay it back. it is generally a very bad idea
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to lend money to people who are not going to be able to pay it back. and it was bad idea in this case, as well. and thirdly, there was a failure of government regulators. there were many, many thousands of regulators crawling through all the financial institutions of america, but somehow this gigantic bubble escaped their notice, and the interconnected nature of the firms and the exposures that firms had to financial risk seemed to escape their attention. so this combination of a failed monetary policy, failed legislative possible, and failed regulatory policy was the government's enormous contribution to this crisis. now, one of the things that this financial crisis revealed, i think to everybody could agree, is we learned just how inadequate the resolution mechanism that we have for the failure of a large financial
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institution. we really didn't have an adequate one at all. the failure of lehman brothers was a good case in point, and the worry at the time was that if large financial institutions were simply allowed to fail, they would have a knock-down effect that would bring down the entire financial network and beyond. so that was the concern, and i think it's valid that the resolution mechanism at the time was insufficient. so in the wake of this crisis, congress stepped in and decided we have to do something about it. and of course what they did was they gave us dodd-frank, a law that is very badly flawed in many ways, in part because it failed -- at least the authors failed to fully comprehend the cause of this crisis, and because they took the wrong fundamentally approach to dealing with it. most fundamentally was a conceptual flaw, which is that
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future financial crises would be avoided by having the government impose enormous control, very extensive control, and not by freeing up market discipline to prevent the crisis from occurring. i think that is very much at the heart of the fundamental conceptual flaw of dodd-frank. some of the specifics, broadly speaking, were to severely restrict what financial institutions could do; essentially turn medium- and large-sized banks into utilities. give the regulators, the same folks that missed the last crisis, virtually unlimited powers to micromanage these snigs with the thought that somehow in the future they'll catch the next one and then as a failsafe in dodd-frairntion a sort of final backstop is to actually codify a category of financial institutions as too big to fail. the terminology they use in
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dodd-frank is a little different. they call them systemically important financial institutions, but that's what it is. it is carving into the law a category that we will then deem to be too big to fail, and the creation of an explicit bailout mechanism whereby taxpayers will have to once again bail out these financial institutions if they fail. well, mr. president, there are many, many problems with this whole approach, not the least of which is there should be no institution in america that's too big to fail. a private, for-profit organization, if it fails, it must be allowed to fail. there are no -- there's no justification for forcing taxpayers to bail out any kind of firm, including banks. so that's a bad and fundamental flaw. but there's many adverse consequences that have come along. we've seen a huge concentration in bankin banking assets directn
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response to dodd-frank. that actually arguably concentrates risk. we've seen costs to consumers rise, costs for financial services that consumers need have gone up. the liquidity in securities has gone down. that just means that pension funds and savers have to pay more to invest their savings in the stocks and bonds that they're relying on for their retirement security. innovation has dried up because bureaucrats have to approve everything and anything that a financial institution can do. by the way, it actually destroyed a whole industry. this is not reported on nearly as much as i think it should be. but dodd-training, together with the -- but dodd-frank, together with the be a normally low interest rates we've had, once gerntion it's completed ended the entire industry of start-up community banking. in the united states -- it's worth noting. in the united states of america, prior to the passage of dodd-frank, for decades, americans launched new banks, something that business folks
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would do routinely. a handful of business people would get together, pool their resources, start up a bank, contribute the capital, do their own banking business there and then what would they do? they would provide lending services to consumers and small businesses in their towns, in their communities to the local pizza shop that needs to add a walk-in cooler in the back, to the local hvac repair shop that needs to buy another pickup truck. it's community banks that provide the lending for these kinds of small business opportunities that allow families and individuals to live their dream and create jobs all across america. community banks for years. well, prior to dodd-frank for decades we launched, on average, about 125 new community banks per year, many more in really good times, fewer in bad times; but about 125 per year. from the day that they signed dodd-frank into law in july of
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2010 through this afternoon, we've launched two new community banks in america. two in over six years. this industry is done. it's dead. it doesn't happen anymore because when business folks sit around the table and say, gee, wouldn't it be a good idea to launch a bank because we need one in our community, we don't have a small community bank willing to provide these funds, what they find is they can't make a go at it because the regulatory costs are so stag thearg they can't see their -- so staggering that they can't see their way to a surviving business model. so we don't have these anymore. they're not being launched, haven't been for years. and who knows how many small businesses haven't been launched and haven't been able to grow because people could never get the funding. let me just promise you. citibank is not in the business of doing the kind of lending that new community banks do every single day. so this is just one of the many
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problems and one of the most fundamental ones is that taxpayers have this big contingent liability hanging over their head in the form of that bailout mechanism that i alluded to earlier, this requirement that they will be forced to bail out big financial institutions all over again. dodd-frank codifies it. dodd-frank spells out exactly how it should happen. so, mr. president, it is my strongly held view shah we need to -- that we need to reform dodd fraifnlgt it is overdue but it needs substantial reforms. those reforms should include making sure that taxpayers never have to bail out another giant institution. that's just wrong. that should not be on the table. in fact, it should be precluded. a second thing is that taxpayers should not be forced through the mechanisms of this bill to make banking products more expensive for consumers. less available, more expensive, fewer products and services. we can do this while we maintain
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our ability to deter and detect and prevent and prosecute fraud when it occurs. that absolutely is a fundamental responsibility that we have, and we can do that. but most importantly, we've got to enable a vigorous competitive market for financial services to respond to consumers with new services and new products at ever-lower costs and to have a market discipline that forces those institutions to behave prudently because their failure -- well, their future depends on it. now, we're coming into a new congress soon, mr. president. and i am hoping that our democratic colleagues will work with us, will work with us to correct the fundamental flaws in dodd-frank, to repeal the things that don't work, to roll back the problems with this legislation. but the incoming senate minority leader is on record in interviews already declaring that they will not do so, that they will not help us in this
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endeavor. they're not interested, that they can deny us the 60 votes that we will need to make substantive reforms to dodd-frank. well, let me suggest to my colleagues that i, first of all, hope there is a change of heart on the other sievmentd i hope, first and foremost, that as we go through this process that some of our colleagues will work with us and will agree that there are changes that need to be made and that we can make them hopefully with a very broad consensus. but if that's not possible, i would suggest there is an alternative, and the alternative is that we use a budget resolution that would contain reconciliation instructions to the banking committee -- and for that matter, this could apply to other authorizing committees, but i'm referring specifically to the banking committee -- and the reason that that's important is because that will allow us to pass subsequent legislation in compliance with the reconciliation instructions that can pass the senate with a simple majority vote.
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that's not my preferred way to do it, but we've got to do this. we've got to get this done. this changing dodd-frank will have a very profound impact on our economy. it'll encourage, enable us to have growth that we've been waiting too long for, and this device might be what we need to get there. let me point out that there are precedents for this. the deficit-reduction act of 2005 used a budget resolution to create reconciliation instructions, which in turn switched some of the f.h.a. funding streams from mandatory spending to discretionary spending, from spending that's on autopilot to spending that's at the annual discretion of congress. that was done through exactly this mechanism. fdic and the ncua, these are deposit insurance funds. they were restructured. they were reformed. and they were done under the same device, using the same
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procedural mechanism. so those changes were possible because they had very significant budgetary impact, and that is one of the criteria for using the reconciliation device. in these cases, it was something on the order of a couple of billion dollars worth of taxpayer dollars over ten years. well, mr. president, reforming dodd-frank can save taxpayers a lot of money. the cfpb alone over ten years could -- is expected to consume on its current path over $6 billion. that's a lot of money, some really sensible, thorough reforms there could save taxpayers enormously. the orderlily liquidation fund,e congressional budget office estimates that that will cost taxpayers ode $20 billion over e next ten years, of bailout money. we can fix that. the office of financial research, over $1 -- over $1 billion. there are many cases in which we
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can save serious taxpayer money, in the process reduce our deficits, thereby achieve the goal of the reconciliation instructions given to the banking committee, and along the way help encourage stronger economic growth by modifying some of these misguided policies in dodd-frank. mr. president, i would suggest that the election that we just went through was about several things, but one of them certainly was shaking up the status quo and getting some things done, and not just continuing doing what we've always been doing. well, for too long now, we've been putting up with the dodd-frank bill that is costing us a lot of economic growth and opportunity. i am hoping that our democratic colleagues will work with us, so that we can begin to make the constructive changes that we need. but, if not, i think we should use all tools available to get this job done. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. heinrich: i would ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call and speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. heinrich: mr. president, i come to the floor today to share the story of an incredible dreamer from my home state of new mexico. but first, i'd like to commend my colleague, senator dick durbin of illinois, for his tremendous leadership in standing up for dreamers, young undocumented immigrants who are brought to the united states as children. i'm proud to join him in this effort. four years ago the president announced that dreamers would have the opportunity to apply for a temporary protection from deportation through the deferred action for childhood arrivals program known as daca. today, more than half a million
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young people across the country have benefited from di daca, including more than 6,500 in my home state of new mexico. across this country, there are dreamers working to become doctors, to become scientists, lawyers, engineers. they want to start businesses and teach in our classrooms and serve in our military. dreamers want to earn an education and contribute to our economy, to pay taxes and to give back to their communities and their country. i would argue that most dreamers don't know how to be anything but americans. over the last month i heard from many new mexicans who are fearful and uncertain about just how the new trump administration could impact their communities, their neighbors, their friends. this is particularly true for the thousands of young people
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who applied for temporary status under the daca program. over the last few years, i have come down to the floor to tell stories of dreamers from my home. i've told the story of two twin sisters who graduated from college and are now both seeking advanced degreeses, one in law, one in medicine. i told the story of a young man who applied for daca and wanted to pursue graduate school in biology, and i'm happy to report that he is currently studying to earn a joint ph.d. and m.d. with the hope of working on disease prevention. i will continue to tell the inspiring stories of dreamers who demonstrate why we should protect them from deportation. today i'd like to tell you about one of those new mexicans, someone i heard from last week when i held a listening session
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with community and faith leaders, immigrants' rights advocates and dreamers from across new mexico. she and her family live in the mesia valley in southern new mexico. the mesia valley is a rich agricultural region. it's home to dairy farms, to pecan orchards and to many of new mexico's famed green chili chili -- chile fields. generations of farmers shaped the history and fundamentally the culture of my home state. today families like the family of the dreamer i heard from are working hard each and every day to improve their communities. which lack adequate transportation, water infrastructure, and they're working to create a new future for the next generation. this young woman's strength is rooted in her family and faith. she is the oldest child in her
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family and the first person in her family to seek higher education. she told me that through her education and her work ethic, she wants to set an example to her five younger brothers and sisters. she teaches catechism classes for children at her church where she also helps with fund-raisers, cooks meals and assists with church events. since graduating from high school, she has started working toward her associates gree -- degree and nursing. and in a state like new mexico where we need more nurses in our rural and underserved communities, her professional dreams and aspirations are truly critical. daca allowed her to get a work permit to hold a job that assists her in paying for her education, for her textbooks. but now with our president-elect pledging to rescind daca, this young woman fears that everything she has worked so hard to achieve could be lost.
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she fears that her family will be separated and that she might be deported from the only community she knows, and the community that she calls home. she told me -- quote -- "if daca were to be removed, then my dream would be destroyed." this young woman's dream and her drive to give back to her community in southern new mexico are incredible. but her story is far from unique. her story is similar to thousands of other dreamers in my home state and hundreds of thousands across our country, some of whom have escaped unthinkable hardships. they are working to contribute to their communities and to create a brighter future. these dreamers should be met with compassion. during my listening session, i also heard from a catholic priest who serves many immigrant families in his parish. he said he is deeply impacted by
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hearing this young woman's story during our listening session. he told me that her story -- quote -- "reflects exactly what he has seen and heard from many families not only from his parish, but also from neighboring parishes. he said there is a lot of fear and people are so concerned and worried, especially families, what can happen after the election. i want to make it very clear that in the coming years i will not waiver in standing up for all new mexicans in my role in the united states senate. we should never be a country that kicks out some of our best and brightest students, and we should not be a nation that tears families apart. i will not stand for policies that are contrary to our fundamental american ideas and
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values. i would like to thank the young woman who shared her story with me for having the courage to speak out, particularly with the uncertainty of her situation and in the wake of the recent election. the idea that young men and women like this hardworking nursing student in southern new mexico will have to retreat back into the shadows or fear being removed from their homes as a consequence of congressional inaction on immigration reform is simply unconscionable. i am calling for the obama administration to take every possible legal action to protect dreamers, individuals who are american in every way but for their immigration status, so that they are not targeted for removal by the incoming administration. last week i sent a letter to the white house urging president obama to use his pardon authority to protect dreamers
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from deportation. i also plan to continue pushing for comprehensive immigration reform in the new congress which i still strongly believe has bipartisan support among my colleagues. those colleagues who want real solutions rather than rank russ rhetoric -- rancorous rhetoric. we need to modernize our immigration system to meet the needs of our economy and provide an accountable pathway to earned citizenship for the undocumented workers living here in the shadows, including making the dream act law. and as southwest border security is discussed in the context of immigration reform, i will continue to be focused on pragmatic and accountable policy decisions that include the many concerns of our border communities. as a son of an immigrant myself, i'm familiar with the
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unique promise that america represents for so many families. i'm grateful that when my father and my grandparents fled germany in the years leading up to world war ii, that our country chose to see them for what they were: enthusiastic american immigrants. our nation's remarkable spirit is rooted in our diversity. our history and our culture, which has always been enriched by our immigrant communities and their family members. i want to encourage my colleagues and our incoming president-elect to look at the human faces of our broken immigration system and to work towards real solutions. mr. president, i yield back the remainder of my time, and i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call: ms. hirono: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are.
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ms. hirono: i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. hirono: mr. president, every year i hear from hundreds of constituents about the transformative impact of medicare on their lives. for many of them medicare is literally the difference between life and death, between living with dignity or in abject poverty. it's as dramatic as that. before we pass medicare 51 years ago, slightly more than half of our seniors had health insurance. only half. and the insurance they had was very expensive and didn't cover much. millions could barely afford routine medical care, let alone treatment for catastrophic illness. for the past 50 years our seniors had approached retirement with the peace of mind of knowing that medicare would be there for them.
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as part of the commitment we've made to care for and honor our capuno. to understand what life would be like for our seniors without medicare, we don't need to look to the distant past before we had medicare. we can learn from what happened. for example, three years ago to a family in maui, to phyllis and tommy duarte. they contacted my office after they received a notice that the social security administration had canceled phyllis' social security payments. like millions of kapuno across the country, phyllis and tommy live on a fixed income and depend online social security to pay -- depend on social security to pay their bills. after several months without receiving the check phyllis could no longer pay for her medicare part-b plan. they threatened to stop her coverage which is when she
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contacted my office. fortunately we were able to resolve the situation within a few weeks. phyllis started receiving her checks and continued to pay her premiums. in only a short time later, phyllis fell ill, broke her -- fell and broke her arm. it required surgery and years of ongoing physical therapy. the final bill, $200,000. phyllis and tommy were only weeks away from understanding just how devastating it would be to live without medicare coverage. it's because of people like phyllis and tommy that i fought tooth and nail to make sure that medicare will always be there for our kapuno. it's why i've been on the front lines to beat back every attempt to privatize and voucherize medicare since i've been in congress. and it's why i will do everything in my power to stop our new president and his allies in congress from shredding this
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crucial safety net program. over the past months, speaker ryan has made it clear he intends to resurrect his plan to turn medicare into a voucher program for private insurance. under his system, private insurers could deny or delay coverage because seniors would no longer have medicare's consumer protections. this plan caps the value of these vouchers to the point where they will not keep up with the rising cost of health care. the congressional budget office calculated that the ryan plan would increase out-of-pocket expenses by $6,000 per year for millions of seniors, many of whom are already on fixed incomes. my colleagues know that i am not given to high peesh lee but this attempt to privatize medicare is a clear and present danger to millions of seniors. i know from talking with kapuno in hawaii that one of the things
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they worry about most is their health and whether their needs will be met there. anyone who talks to seniors and understands what they're going through would recognize that privatizing medicare means seniors will have to go out and find medical insurance on the private market. how do you think that they will be able to accomplish that? are insurance companies going to step up to take care of some of the most vulnerable members of our population, even though it's not profitable for them to do so? i don't think so. during the campaign, president-elect trump said the right things about privatizing or protecting medicare. but tom price, the head of the department of health and human services, that choice sends the opposite message. for years congressman tom price has been the closest ally to
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privatize and voucherize medicare. the ryan health plan would hurt more than 217,000 seniors in hawaii and millions across the country, including those who live in jamesville, wisconsin and rocksville, georgia. i wonder how speaker ryan and congressman price would explain to seniors in their districts, their states how voucherizing medicare won't hurt them. saving medicare is going to be a daunting fight, but i'm not going to shy away from it. i'm going to do whatever i can whenever i can to protect medicare for our seniors. i yield the floor.


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