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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  January 4, 2018 10:59am-12:53pm EST

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koreans society is changing at a better way, for the better future. but at the same time i do believe if you really want to make better future asians, then we have to share our own responsibility, and also have to engage in that responsibility, too. so that is all that i want to share with you guys, and i will appreciate all the thoughts you guys might have. thank you for listening. [applause] >> we are going to leave this event to take you to live coverage of the u.s. senate. we will have entire event later on our program schedules and you can watch it online later today at our website as i said the austin is about to gaveling to start the day. debate is expected of the judicial nomination of walter count, no votes are planned for the day or for the rest of the week because of weather conditions on the east coast. and now to live coverage of the
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u.s. senate here on c-span2. the senate will come to order. the chaplain # will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, the king of glory, your never failing providence sustains us. today, inspire our lawmakers with the music of your wisdom that they may bring hope, joy, and unity to our nation and world. remind our senators that even in the darkness, you are a sure
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guide. lord, energize them to strive, to transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. and lord, in this new year, go before us to show us the way, behind us to press us forward, beside us to give us courage, above us to provide protection. and within us to give us your wisdom and discernment. we pray in your loving name. .amen.
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the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c, january 4, 2018, to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable daniel sullivan, a senator from the state of alaska, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch, presidet pro tempore.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president.
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the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i spoke yesterday about the need to fund the federal government by january 19. members in both parties, including leadership on both sides, have publicly stated their desire to approach this issue in a serious and collaborative manner. and those sentiments were renewed in a productive meeting we had yesterday. i'm optimistic we can begin 2018 with a bipartisan two-year funding agreement that meets several critically important objectives. to begin with, any agreement must provide our armed forces with the resources they need to fulfill their missions. that means setting aside the misguided notion that new defense spending needs to be matched tkphrar -- dollar for dollar by new nondefense spending. some describe this notion as
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parity but of course there was no parity at all in the damaging costs that the budget control act inflicted on our national security. since fiscal year 2013, discretionary defense spending has been cut by $85 billion morn nondefense spending. that number has real consequences for the men and women who serve our country in harm's way. last year secretary of defense mattis testified that no enemy in the field has done more to arm the combat readiness of our military than these self-inflicted budget reductions. nothing about this issue needs to be partisan. during the obama administration, defense secretaries panetta, hagel, and carter all similarly warned that sequestration cuts would handicap our men and women in uniform. those were all secretaries of
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defense during the obama administration. unfortunately at a time when our country faces myriad threats and strategic challenges around the globe, experts agree that this is exactly what has happened. congress has a golden opportunity to put aside political calculations and prioritize the actual needs, actual needs of america's all-volunteer military. there's no reason why an arbitrary formula which bears no relationship -- none -- to the real needs of our armed forces should dictate the degree to which we fund them. our men and women in uniform are doing their job. our job is to give them the resources they require. funding our armed forces is not the only area that is ripe for productive bipartisan negotiations. last december the senate made progress toward moving a long-term reauthorization of the children's health insurance program. unfortunately though, senate
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republicans were prepared and eager to move forward. we were not able to include that effort in the continuing resolution. approximately nine million children, including thousands in my state of kentucky, depend on chip for health coverage. their parents depend on it for financial security and for peace of mind. instead of giving them a five-year reauthorization in time for the holidays, partisan objections forced congress to settle for a short-term patch. this month, we can set this right. i know that colleagues on both sides of the aisle are eager to find a long-term solution. five years, full reauthorization. let's get this done for working families. furthermore, as senators from both parties have stated, congress should act now to provide relief to communities across the country that were devastated by disasters in 2017. last year's hurricanes crippled puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands and dealt blows to
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mainland communities from florida to texas. wildfires caused serious damage across the western united states. for many americans in these areas, life is nowhere near back to normal. it's time to complete our work on the supplemental disaster relief legislation. and it's imperative that none of these urgent priorities be held hostage to our ongoing discussions around immigration policy. senators with diverse viewpoints have been discussing how to address the unlawfully established daca program while also improving border security, interior enforcement, and addressing other important parts of our broken immigration system. as i have stated, if a compromise solution emerges that meets the president's conditions, it will be brought up for a vote here in the senate. in the meantime, let's continue productive negotiations and secure a bipartisan funding agreement. now, mr. president, i understand there is a bill at the desk due
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a second reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill for the second time. the clerk: h.r. 4667, an act making further supplemental appropriations, and so forth, and for other purposes. mr. mcconnell: in order to place the bill on the calendar under the provision of rule 14, i would object to further proceedings. the presiding officer: objection having been heard, the bill will be placed on the calendar.
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mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum -- we're not in a quorum. thank you. yesterday, mr. president, the four congressional leaders had a positive and productive meeting with director mulvaney and representatives from the white house, including mr. short. it was a good first step, but there is a lot of work to do. ultimately, the budget agreement must lift spending caps with parity between defense and urgent domestic priorities. it must include disaster aid, a health care package, and an agreement to enshrine daca protections alongside additional border security. like our republican colleagues, democrats want to make sure our men and women in uniform have
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the resources they need to do the job. there is not an argument about that. but we also want to make sure that there are crucial investments in economic development and job creation here at home, programs that support the middle class and help it grow. that includes a number of things opioids, life expectancy has gone down in america for the first time in years because of deaths from opioids. young people, middle-aged people. are we going to just shrug our shoulders at that? there is a lot more to do, and it affects rural areas, urban areas, suburban areas. 63,000 americans died from drug overdoses. those are deaths on the battlefield in a certain sense as well, and they are often the flower of our youth, the prime of our america. so many in rural areas. so these are kids who were full
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of potential. many of them were veterans dealing with the wounds of war. they served our country, didn't get what they needed when they came home. i had a father cry in my arms. his son had been grappling with opioids. finally, they had persuaded the son to sign up for a treatment program, but the treatment program didn't have the funding it needed, so there was a long waiting list, and the son died of an overdose while waiting on that list. you can't have that anymore. what about veterans health care? these are people who died for u. these are people who risked their lives for us. we need to do it. what about millions of hardworking americans who need pensions? pensions, retirement is one of the things americans are most worried about. for years, they paid into these plans. they were told, you know, when you retire, you're not going to
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be rich, you're not going to be able to buy luxuries, but at least you will have a life of dignity. and now those pensions have been robbed from so many people throughout the country. are we going to shrug our shoulders? so i hear the majority leader say that he's not for parity. parity's not a word. it's veterans. it's people who are needing opioid relief. it's working class folks, people who need pensions. are our republican colleagues going to do what they just did in the tax bill and abandon the middle class? are our republican colleagues going to do what they tried to do in the health care bill and take away health care from millions of working people, people in the middle class? parity is a term we use around here. i would rather call it defending middle-class america. and just as it's important, mr. president, to defend america from foreign enemies which our
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soldiers do so bravely and proudly, all of our military does so bravely and proudly, we have to defend america here, and i would plead with leader mcconnell not, not, not to abandon the middle class in this bill. defending the military, funding the military is a worthy goal. so is helping the middle class. and for the past year unfortunately, our republican colleagues have been doing what the very wealthy people want and ignoring the middle class and working people. that's one of the reasons right now so many americans say they would refer have a democratic senate than a republican senate. i would rather have a senate that helps the middle class, whatever the political outcome, but our colleagues don't seem to be going for that, and they cannot, and i would say to leader mcconnell, my friend, you cannot let the hard right dictate what you want because the hard right and their wealthy
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benefactors is not where america is at. it's not even where the republican party has always been. now, in addition to parity, helping the middle class, we need to do other things. we should have passed a disaster package that treats all states and territories fairly, given the necessity of relief to texas, california, louisiana, florida, puerto rico, u.s. virgin islands. and by the way, we need to make sure that we straighten out things in the west so the forest service isn't robbed of the funding they need to prevent future forest fires as they take the money for present forest fires. we have to do that. i know that lots of republican congressmen from the house want aid, even though many of them opposed aid when new york and new jersey had the crisis. we're not going to play tit for
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tat, but we want a fair bill, and we want our priorities recognized as well. and finally, there are the dreamers. this must be done now. leader mcconnell seems to think there is no urgency. we disagree strongly, respectfully but strongly. there is an urgent need. we have hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of americans who want america to be their country, who were taken here through no fault of their own, who are working in our factories and offices, who are going to our schools, who are serving in our military. right now, every morning they wake up with a pit of fear in their heart that they will be deported, separated from their families. there is a very strong urgency there, very strong, and we have to get the dreamers taken care of as well as these other needs.
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so our language, our proposal on this budget deal, take care of the middle class in terms of pensions and opioids and veterans. take care of disaster relief. take care of the health care problems we face. we all know about chip and community health centers and health care extenders. and take care of both the border and the dreamers. we can do it all. we should do it all. it's no secret that in each of these areas right now, there are sticking points, but there are potential points of agreement. all five parties continue to have discussion groups on these four circles of areas, and to do them concurrently and come up with solutions quickly so we can meet that january 19 deadline, because nobody wants sequestration to go into effect for the military or the nonmilitary side of the budget. our goal should be a global
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agreement on all these issues by january 19. that is the best way to resolve the issues we face. i see my dear friend from georgia waiting. i yield the floor to him. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, walter david counts, iii, of texas to be united states district judge for the western district of texas. mr. isakson: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. isakson: mr. president, i rise today to talk about the tradition of new year's day, the beginning of a new year. our great country and many of its great traditions. i'm sorry that the minority leader left so quickly because i wanted to brag about how great
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new york city did, the police and law enforcement on new year's eve. millions of americans gathered in new york city to watch the ball drop and the new year to start. we all enjoyed doing that in the warmth of our homes, particularly on days like today, but also in the warmth of america. there is a second great tradition that takes place on new year's day as well. it's called the college football season, which is capped off by the rose bowl which is played in pasadena, california. this year, the rose bowl was between the university of georgia, my home state, and the university of oklahoma. one of the greatest football games i think anybody will admit has ever been played in that game before, and i'm proud of both those great universities. i'm equally proud of the university of alabama and clemson university, the other two teams who played for the right to outlay in atlanta, georgia, on monday night of next week on january 8 to decide the collegiate national championship in america. my bulldogs, georgia, is going to be one of those two teams. they defeated oklahoma 54-48 in a great football game in california. alabama made a decisive victory
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over clemson in new orleans, louisiana, in the sugar bowl. and the two will meet this coming monday night in the mercedes-benz bowl in atlanta, georgia. i don't know who is going to win. i know who i'm pulling for. i know who i am for. i know who i will brag about tonight, but i am equally bragging about all our collegiate athletics that take place in this country, and the great men and women who make it work, the coaches, the athletic directors, the people who make it go. in particular, with georgia's victory, it prompts me to come to the floor and talk about kirby smart. kirby is the head coach of georgia. prior to coming to georgia, he was the preceder to nick saban of the university of alabama. they will play against each other on monday night's championship. it's ironic that the coach and his pupil will be the two coaches in that great game. kirby is a university of georgia graduate, was a great university of georgia football player in his own right. came to the university of georgia with high hopes and an
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alumni, hoping he could be the person who could take georgia to new heights. it only took him a year. the first season was 8-5. the second season was this year, 12-1, now 13-1. winning the rose bowl and playing for the national championship on monday night. kirby smart is not just smart because he knows football. he is smart because he knows how to be a leader. you saw an example of a man in the rose bowl who never took credit himself, always gave to his other coaches and his players. never tried to be the winner, always tried to be in the background, put others ahead of himself. but behind the victory, it was his spirit, his encouragement, his living the dream that all the georgia players followed. i want to talk about a couple of them, sona michele, one of the greatest running backs to come out of georgia, charlie trippy and hershal walker.
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and then the combination of leadership, they brought the team on the field and the quiet leadership and confidence that kirby smart brought to the game, they won the game after an double overtime. my congratulations to oklahoma and their quarterback. i wish alabama a lot of luck on monday night, but not enough to beat my bulldogs. this is our chance to win a national chip for pt first time in 38 -- for the first time in 38 years of football. we will be in our newest athletic facility, the mercedes-benz dome. i say go dogs. i hope that dir by smart remembers -- kirby smart knows why i am bragging about him today. he will be our leader monday night. all of the graduates will be looking monday night with anticipation and hopefully satisfaction.
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and i yield back the balance of my time. mr. boozman: mr. president. the presiding officer: will the senator withhold? the senator from arkansas. mr. boozman: thank you, mr. president. and i have to add that coming from arkansas that i have to congratulate the southeast conference for being the championship team. it's going to be a great game. i rise today though to recognize the bicentennial of fort smith, arkansas. army troops established a western frontier military post on the confluence of the arkansas river. major steven long named it fort smith after general thomas smith, commander of the u.s. army rifle regiment. to recognize this milestone, the
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community is organizing a year-long celebration from highlighting its rich history, it's citizens and future. while fort smith was abandoned by 1824, the community that sprung up around it continued to grow and played a role in the preservation of law and order in our developing nation. judge eye sack parker baifd the way -- paved the way and others helped to lay the foundation that shaped fort smith's role in the history of the u.s. marshal service. reece was one of the most well-respected lawmen. he was honored with a monument downtown. his career is well documented. in 1968, charles portis depicted
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fort smith's role in detaining the west in "true grit," which is a teenaged girl's effort to avenge her father's death with a u.s. marshal by her side. fort smith will be the home of the future u.s. marshal museum scheduled to hope in 2019. part of its collection will include a gun and badge that belonged to bass reeves. the national historic site and other organizations have done an exception job of keeping the community's history arrive. promoting its history in this way will also have positive benefits for the future. fort smith is a city with an incredible history with its schools, industries, its arts, and its culture. the community is marking its bicentennial that will include an attempt to break the world
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record for a lip-dub video at the old fort day's parade and the city's first fort building competition for kids. i helped with the time capsule and look forward to seeing many old friends at my high school reunion. the steadfast resilience and -- resilience of the citizens have remained. i look forward to the events during this year-long celebration. it is home to vibrant new industries. i know fort smith is starting the 21st century on a solid foundation. we have much to celebrate from the past but even more to look forward to in the future. we are forever grateful to the men and the women who encouraged the community's progress and implemented their ideas to shape the city for the next
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generation. dr. jerry stiewrd is one leader who led a life dedicated to public service. he had a successful career as a pulmonologist and helped to lead the growth and development of one of the region's top medical care providers. after retirement he helped to serve patients at the river valley primary care. he was well respected at the medical community and admired beyond the walls of the clinic. his influence was felt across the community in civic organizations and community boards including the fort smith public school board and as chairman of the board for the fort smith chamber of commerce and the united way. dr. stewart passed away decembel live on. i appreciated his friendship and like so many others will greatly miss him. fort smith was blessed with
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dr. stuart's guidance. we have talented leaders to make this great city even better. congratulations to the members of the 200th anniversary committee for all of their hard work and planning to celebrate 200 years of fort smith history. i'm excited for the community as it comes together to commemorate this historical milestone and look forward to all of the events through 2018. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. blumenthal: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: it thank you, mr. president. i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. i'm here to talk about our fellow americans in puerto rico. even as the northeast is gripped by a storm of impressive
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proportions, puerto rico is still recovering from the hurricane that hit that island 106 days ago. i visited puerto rico with my friend and colleague senator murphy yesterday and the day before to bring back to my colleagues here a fact-based report on how the recovery effort is going and how ample federal support has been. and i come to the floor today furious and frustrated. and the people of puerto rico have a right to be furious as well. because they have been denied the basic help and relief that
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this great nation, the greatest in the history of the world, owes to all americans. let there be no doubt the people of puerto rico are our fellow americans. they have fought in our wars, they have come to the mainland and gone back, contributing to our communities as well as theirs, they are in our communities in connecticut which has the highest concentration of people from puerto rico and their i did send enters -- dissendents, and we are proud of the puerto ricans in connecticut and of the puerto rican families coming to america in an exodus unmatched.
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the reason for that out migration is that puerto rico is in the midst of a humanitarian and economic crisis. let me repeat. puerto rico is in a humanitarian and economic crisis 106 days after hurricane maria. it is still in triage. half of the population lacks reliable electricity. almost half lacks drinkable healthy water. the tourist industry, the lifeblood of its economy, is shrinking and struggling. about half the hotels still are not open. and the unemployment rate is well above 10%, double the rate
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of unemployment here on the mainland. housing continues to be a major problem. only about half of the homes that need temporary relief, that is the blue tarps that have provided, only half of them have those tarps because they have not been delivered. i want to pay tribute to the first responders, the corps of engineers, and fema workers as well as the national guard from connecticut and elsewhere who are on the ground serving in sacrifice for their fellow americans. they lack the support they need in resources and commitment from the administration and from this congress. it has been denied them in resources and support because of
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a lack of will, not a lack of money. schools still, many of them are shuddered and students have been denied the privilege to continue their education. the health care system of the island is still in shambles. primary care is struggling to recover because of the lack of electricity. a doctor's office simply cannot be run without electricity. nor can manufacturing plants be operated without a reliable source of power. and in restoring power, the corps of engineers has provided for generators in the places where formerly there were plants actually producing. generators are a temporary source of power, not a reliable,
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permanent source. transmission is still down in many parts of the country. and to add insult to injury, puerto rico is stuck with a tax as a result of the action of this congress and the administration, a tax imposed only on manufacturing in foreign countries. puerto rico is treated as a foreign country for purposes of the 12.5% tax on certain manufacturing. that is simply unconscionable. and manufacturing plants will be soon facing a decision whether to stay or go. and many of them will go. adding to the unemployment situation there. it is heartbreaking and gut-wrenching to visit this island, to walk in a neighborhood, as senator murphy
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and i did on wednesday night, and find darkness after the sun goes down, total darkness except for a few isolated lights here and there. how can students study? how can parents care for children? on that tuesday night, we walked through a neighborhood in downtown san juan that was darkened because of the lack of electricity. there simply are not enough generators for every home to have one. and generators themselves are only a stopgap source of power. the human faces and voices are gripping and rivetting in the suffering that people of puerto rico, our fellow americans still endure. and the lack of federal commitment and response is
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shameful and disgraceful. there are steps that we must take immediately in the short-term relief package that is coming to us from the house of representatives. we must make sure that some of that aid, a significant proportion is specifically targeted to puerto rico. the number requested by the governor is $94 billion. it's a number that is fully and amply supported by fact. the total package coming from the house is only $81 billion, and it is supposed to cover expenses in florida and texas as well as puerto rico and the virgin islands. so that number has to be vastly increased. and longer term, there must be a change in the tax code to eliminate that 12.5% or 13% tax that discriminates against puerto rico as if it were a
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foreign country and as if the residents of puerto rico were citizens of another country. they are americans. and the medicaid formula must be changed so that it is fair to puerto rico. the 20% commitment that now goes to puerto rico, unlike other states, must be increased so as to treat puerto rico in fact as if it were a state and so that it is given an adequate match. these kinds of commonsense steps must be the beginning of more than just repair, more than just rebuilding. it must be a full recovery with a vision for the future. i have proposed with senator sanders and others of our colleagues a marshall plan for puerto rico.
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that's the kind of commitment that is necessary. $150 billion that includes not only the $94 billion necessary to repair and recover right away, but a longer-term plan to enable the island to be back on its feet financially, to recover from the near bankruptcy that it is enduring, to enable its institutions to function fully, to permit its health care system to rely on electricity from plants that are powered in an economic and environmentally friendly way. there is, sadly, the hint also of potential corruption in the whitefish contract that now has been withdrawn, in the bronze star contract for tarps that is
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under review, investigations must be concluded quickly and thoroughly so that we are sure that federal dollars are being used honestly and effectively. and we must make a commitment to use the island's natural advantages. electricity is essential. it is not a luxury, not a convenience. it is vital. it is the lifeblood of that island economically and humanly. and to rely on oil or natural gas, one of the island's greatest advantages which is its sunlight, solar has to be used more effectively and widely as a source of power. my hope is that we can make this disaster relief program a
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marshall plan-like program for the island in the long term with bipartisan support. there is nothing political about a neighborhood in darkness, about children unable to go to school, about health facilities closed, electricity lacking, water undrinkable. these are basic needs that we have an obligation to come together on both sides of the aisle and meet. i hope that we will do so and that we will match the resilience and resolve that i saw in meeting with governor rossello and all of his team and the island and its residents and the fema and other federal workers who were there. governor rossello has provided the kind of courage and commitment that are necessary to lead his people in this time of
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challenge. we must match the courage and strength of residents on the island with equal resolve here that we will meet the needs of our fellow american and that we will keep our commitment, as we do always in times of crisis, to rebuild and recommit and make sure that we leave no one there behind. i am proud that we are working with governor rossello after meeting with him yesterday, after meeting with him in the wake of the hurricane when i first visited. i had the privilege of flying over the island, and i saw the devastation. whole villages destroyed. houses and community centers completely razed. progress has been made. governor rossello is to be
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commended for his continuing perseverance as well as the people of puerto rico in their resolve and resilience. but we must now do our part and match that resilience and resolve with a true commitment that we will leave no american behind and keep faith with the people of puerto rico. i'm proud that many of the puerto ricoan community in connecticut have shared their stories with me, and i look forward to returning to them this weekend and sharing my stories with them of their family and their friends on that island, a beautiful island that has such great promise and so embodies the future of our nation in its patriotism and dedication to the ideals of
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america. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you. when we were debating the tax relief law, tax cut law republicans predicted it would be very good for the people of our country. democrats like nancy pelosi predicted it would be armageddon. she said it would be the end of the world. well, that was just last month and it's already very clear to me that we have won the argument. people across the country are seeing the benefits. thanks to this republican tax relief law, nancy pelosi is seeing that hardworking americans have actually won as a result of this law being passed. businesses around the country have begun turning those tax cuts into higher wages for many
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workers, almost every day there's another business announcement about bonuses of more than $1,000 for workers. and we're seeing it for hundreds of thousands of workers at businesses all across the country. they're raising wages, also investing millions of dollars back into the workers who make the companies so productive for our country. mr. president, democrats are just wrong about tax reform. i'm hearing it at home as i visit with people and stopping in at the drugstore, the grocery store around the state of wyoming, saying look, anybody that does the math sees it's a good deal for them. double the standard deduction, lowered the rates, child tax credits, all of these things have been very, very helpful certainly to people in my state of wyoming. you know, it's interesting listening to democrats because they think they have good ideas, and they're just proven wrong by
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the facts. one of the ones i want to talk about today, mr. president, is something that the senator from vermont has been talking about with regard to health care. he has essentially wanted to scrap the american health care system and replace it with a government-run system. as he has said, the current system under obamacare is the most bureaucratic, inefficient and expensive system in the world, and he often points to a single-payer system, sort of what they have right now in great britain. and of course who would be paying for that? that would be the american taxpayers dealing with the incredible expenses of a program like that. but i just wanted to point out, mr. president, what is actually happening today? great britain, in the system that the senator from vermont, the father of an american single-payer plan, one that a number of other democrats have signed on to, what's happening
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there today where the authorities in great britain just told hospitals to cancel 50,000 operations in the month of january. put them off until next month because they're just too busy doing other things. scheduled operations canceled. these are surgeries for things like cataracts, knee replacements, hip replacements. facilities are turning away all but the most urgent cases in need of care. they're closing outpatient clinics. and why? because it's winter. it is flu season. and the british health care system is not prepared, based on a single-payer, taxpayer-run system, they're not prepared to deal with the needs of the people of that country. so hospitals across the country of great britain have canceled surgeries that have been planned, the people have decided to take off time from work to have done, scheduling to their schedules, forget it. they have been delayed. one doctor in england actually
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said that they are seeing, in his words, third world conditions. third world conditions describing the british health care system today and this was an army doctor who did three tours at a field hospital in afghanistan, somebody who knows what third world conditions are truly like. an -- an article in the british newspaper "the guardian" out yesterday said, quote, hospitals are reporting growing chaos with a spike in winter flu, leaving frail patients facing 12-hour waits, and some units are running out of corridor space, corridor space. now, that's what the situation is like in british hospitals right now today. it turns out it happened before in great britain. last winter, last winter, they had a similar problem with too many sick people and not enough options for care. back then, the british red cross called the situation a humanitarian crisis. so today's "new york times,"
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this morning's edition, page 9, talking about the british health care system and the problems with it, the chief executive of the national health service in england, simon stevens, in a speech to the parliament recently said the national health service waiting list will grow to five million people, growing to five million people waiting. how would the american people like to be one of five million people waiting, waiting to get an appointment, waiting for an operation in the waiting line? that's what senator sanders and the democrats who propose this government-run system are talking about for our country. the scenes unfolding across hospitals in britain, and i will just describe one as outlined and written about today in "the new york times." tuesday night, it says the emergency ward at kensington hospital in southwestern london looked more like an airport lounge than a hospital. more like an airport lounge than a hospital.
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with patients sprawled out in the waiting room. there is no real system of order. it's a jungle in here, said nancy harper, who had accompanied her 87-year-old grandmother who was lying down and complaining of excruciating pain in her lower back. she said it's been more than five hours, ms. harper said. we get to the front of the line, the queue, and then someone more ill comes in, and we get pushed back. it's outrageous. that's the health care system that our democrat colleagues are promoting for the united states with government-run, government-deciding, government-rationing care. now, you know, this system in great britain, madam president, is strained under normal conditions, even when it's not flu season. there is no margin for error. when something as routine as winter hits, the health care system goes completely off the rails. is that the kind of chaos that democrats in washington want for the united states of america?
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third-world conditions in hospitals, frail and elderly patients waiting 12 hours in a hallway just to get care? people getting a call telling them that their surgery that they have been planning for, maybe have family members planning to take care of other things around the home, take care of grand mom, put it off, have to wait until next month, 50,000 people receiving that call in britain this month. when the government controls health care, madam president, it always ends up rationing care. when the bills start adding up, so do the delays. that's what happens everywhere in the world when they try a single-payer scheme. they get long lines of people waiting for care, care being denied. senator sanders has put out the same plan a couple of years ago, and it's interesting because one of the most liberal columnists at "the new york times," the
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newspaper that ran this story today about the british health care system, said that this single-payer plan would lead to rationing. well, it does. the article went on and said in order to keep the costs down, washington to have to, quote, say no to patients, telling them that they can't always have the treatment they want. that's the side of the story that the democrats will not talk about, madam president. the author of that editorial and the columnist in "the new york times," it said that senator sanders isn't coming clean on that, the democrats aren't coming clean on that. thaps what happens in a single-payer system. democrats were pushing for a washington takeover of americans' health care are still not coming clean about the rationing of care that it would cost. republicans think patients and doctors should be the ones making those decisions, not government bureaucrats. democrats who want to pass this new litmus test, and it it is a litmus test for the liberal left, say washington should make
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decisions for us. madam president, i disagree. they say you are going to get what the government gives you, and to me and to the american people, that's not what the american people want. as a doctor who has taken care of patients for 25 years in wyoming, patients want the care they need from a doctor they choose at lower costs. that's the goal, not single-payer government-run health care. parents need to be able to be involved with the doctor, hospital, their child in terms of what's best for that child, not the government coming in and making decisions. seniors ought to be able to decide along with their doctor whether it's time for a new hip or a new knee, not the government saying we're only going to pay for this many this year and that's it. if we're not done this year, get in line and wait for next year. oh, when next year comes in january, 50,000 operations, push it back another month.
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it's unfortunate, madam president, when we see what's happening with the british health care system for the patients there, the doctors, the nurses, the shortages, all of the issues that they have there. the issue is do we want that for our country? madam president, we do not. i started this by talking about nancy pelosi calling the tax relief reduction bill armageddon and the worst thing in the world. madam president, she was wrong on that, and senator sanders is wrong about his claims that a one-size-fits-all government-pay national health care plan that all of the american people would be under with government control, not individual choice, not patient control, working with their doctors and their communities i believe would be wrong for america, and i believe that the democrats who are supporting that, proposing that have a different view of america than certainly the people of wyoming. so, mr. president, i think
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what's happening in england is a mistake, would be a mistake for the united states. it's not a mistake. it's not something that the american people want or will, i believe, ever tolerate. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: madam president, i
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rise today -- the presiding officer: we are in a quorum call. mr. flake: i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. flake: madam president, i rise today to honor the selfless and dedicated life of thomas s.monson, 16th president of the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints. after nearly seven decades of church leadership and service, president monson passed away on tuesday evening. millions of members of the l.d.s. church around the globe mourn his passage as we celebrate his life. there is much that can be said about what president monson taught us from the pulpit. there is much more to be learned about what he did when he wasn't speaking. the sick that he visited, the weary he sustained, the jobless he aided, and the homeless he sheltered. a recurring theme throughout his life and his ministry was the rescue. he spoke movingly of a painting
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he had seen in a gallery in england that featured, as he described it, heavy-laden black clouds and the fury of a turbulent sea pretending danger and death. a light from a stranded vessel gleaming far off. in the foreground, tossed high by incoming waves of foaming water, a large lifeboat, men pulling mightily on the oars, plunging into the tempest. on the shore stands a wife with two children, wet with rain and whipped by wind, they gaze anxiously seaward. in my mind, president monson said, i abbreviated the name of the painting. to me it became "to the rescue." throughout his life, president monson went to the rescue of those in need. he possessed a genuine love for those who were sad, downtrodden, and less fortunate. he was quoted as saying i firmly
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believe that the sweetest experience in mortality is to know that our heavenly father has worked through us to accomplish an objective in life and the life of another person. this he took to heart. in the early years of church service, president monson presided over a congregation with 85 widows. although he was their appointed church leader for just a few short years, the love he felt for those widows was evident. he continued to visit each widow throughout her remaining life and was present at the funeral for each of his dear friends. he encouraged all of us to, quote, extend the hand that helps and the heart that knows compassion. my colleagues here would be interested to know that president monson often quoted abraham lincoln, saying if you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. president monson's example of
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service and rescue was recognized by many world leaders. in an effort to promote america's spirit of generosity, president ronald reagan appointed him to his task force on private center initiatives. president monson met with religious leaders of all faiths to talk about the welfare program in the church which has been recognized as being highly successful in its scope and in its mission. in closing, president monson's daughter, ann monson gibb observed how her father embodied the scripture in james that reads pure religion and undefiled before god and the father is this -- to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction and to keep himself unspotted from the world. madam president, there is no better description of the life and legacy of thomas s.monson. may we do the same by rushing to the rescue of those in need.
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i yield the floor. mr. flake: madam president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. gardner: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. gardner: thank you, madam president. i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. gardner: madam president, thank you. up until about 8:58 this morning, we believed in colorado that states rights would be protected. up until 8:58, maybele 55:00, --
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maybe 8:55, when a twitter told us otherwise, colorado voters rights would be respected. prior to jeff sessions confirmation to -- i asked him what would happen to colorado's marijuana policy. he told me there was no plan to reverse it. senator sessions then said it wouldn't be on president trump's agenda. that it wouldn't be something that they would deal with, that it wasn't something that president trump was going to focus on. that was back in the spring of 2016 and up until 8:58 this morning that was the policy. one tweet later, one policy later, a complete reversal of what many of us on the hill were told before the confirmation,
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what we had continued to believe the last year, and without any notification, conversation, or dialogue with congress, completely reversed. now, perhaps the department of justice didn't think this would be a big deal. i understand jeff sessions, attorney general jeff sessions opposition to marijuana, of legalization of marijuana. i opposed the legalization of marijuana in colorado. we were told that states rights would be protected. and not just by the attorney general, then the nominee to be attorney general. we were told that by then-candidate donald trump. in fact in colorado in july of 2016, president trump was asked this question. when asked if president trump, then candidate trump, would use federal authority to shut down sales of recreational marijuana, then candidate trump said, quote, i wouldn't do that.
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then asked if he thinks that colorado should be allowed to do what it's doing. then candidate trump said it is up to the states absolutely. that was candidate trump's position. i would like to know from the attorney general what has changed. what has taingd president trump's mind -- changed president trump's mind that it would be reversed and rescinded. what has changed the president's mind? why is donald trump thinking differently than what he promised the people of colorado in 2016 that seriesed course today? -- reversed course. i think the people of colorado deserve to have that answer. without the coal memorandum, they are operating under a cloud of uncertainty. thousands of jobs at risk, millions of dollars in revenue, and certainly the question of constitutional states rights
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very much at the core of this discussion. because i believe what happened today was a trampling of colorado's rights, its voters, and, sure, this is a heavily debated issue, something that i already said i opposed, but the people of colorado spoke, they spoke loudly. and i believe if the same question were asked today, they would have even more support for the decision they made back several years ago. i agree with president trump, that this decision should be left up to the people of colorado and so other states. i call on attorney general sessions to explain to me why president trump was wrong in 2016 and what changed their minds. and that they reverse their decision to with draw and rescind the cole memorandum and restate it and until that happens, i think i am obligated by the people of colorado to take all steps necessary to protect the state of colorado and their rights. and that's why i will be putting
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today a hold on every single nomination from the department of justice until attorney general jeff sessions lives up to the commitment that he made to me in my confirmation -- in my preconfirmation meeting with him, the conversation that we had that was specifically about this issue of states rights in colorado. until he lives up to that commitment, i will be holding all nominations to the department of justice, the people of colorado deserve answers. the people of colorado deserve their will to be respected. madam president, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. sanders: madam president. the presiding officer: the -- the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: madam president, i ask unanimous consent to be allowed as much time as needed to complete my remarks. the presiding officer: we are in a quorum call. mr. sanders: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: despite president trump's quote that we need a good shut down, the truth is that shutting down the government is a serious and dangerous action that we must do
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everything possible to prevent. shutting down the government would impact tens of millions of our fellow americans who would be unable to access government services. it would severely impact federal employees who would not get the paychecks they expected. it would also have a very significant impact on our armed forces. in other words, we must do everything that we can to prevent a government shutdown, which is exactly what will happen if a budget agreement is not reached by january 19 when the short-term continuing resolution expires. i am very disappointed, therefore, that the republican party which controls the white house, the u.s. house, and the
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u.s. senate is pushing us closer and closer to a very dangerous government shutdown. the republican leadership in congress and the white house must not allow this shutdown to take place. they have got to compromise. they cannot get it all. as everybody knows, in 2011 congress passed the budget control act. the centerpiece of that bipartisan legislation was that there would be parity in defense and nondefense spending. that agreement continued in the american taxpayer relief act of 2012, the bipartisan budget act of 2013, and the bipartisan
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budget act of 2015. all of these bills provided equal amounts of funding for defense and nondefense purposes. any future effort to increase the budget control act caps must continue to adhere to this principle of parity. in other words, we have had a bipartisan agreement now for six years that has continued on four separate budgets, but now threatening us with a government shutdown, the republicans want to break that agreement. madam president, i was very disturbed to hear senate majority leader mcconnell on the floor yesterday say that and i quote, since fiscal year 2013
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defense cuts have outpaced domestic spending cuts by $85 billion. to fix this we need to set aside the arbitrary notion that defense spending be matched equally by new nondefense spending. there is no reason why funding for our national security and our service members should be limited by an arbitrary political formula that bears no relationship to actual need. end of quote. senator mcconnell on the floor yesterday. madam president, unfortunately what senator mcconnell said was inaccurate and misleading. his statement conveniently ignored the fact that mandatory spending on domestic programs, like medicare have been severely cut over this time period.
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he also ignored the fact that during this period, the defense department has also received tens and tens of billions of dollars in funding through the overseas contingency operations funding that is not capped at all. if you include the overseas contingency operations funding, the reality is that overall defense spending has gone up, not down, over this time period while nondefense discretionary spending has been severely cut. further, senator mcconnell ignores a very, very important reality, and that is that nondefense discretionary spending as a percentage of g.d.p. is now at a 40-year low, 40-year low.
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this long-standing agreement regarding parity for defense and nondefense spending is not some kind of inside the beltway esterric issue -- estorey issue. it is an issue that will affect tens of millions of families in this country who today are struggling to keep their heads above water. over the last 40 years while the middle class of our country has been shrinking, the people on top, the top 1%, have been doing phenolly well -- phenolly well. the actions of the republican congress in the last year have only made a bad situation, an unfair situation even worse. in the united states today, some 28 million americans have no
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health insurance. yet, over the last year, the republicans have attempted to throw an additional 32 million people off of the health care they have, including proposed cuts for medicaid by up to a trillion dollars over a ten-year period. madam president, tragically, the united states has the highest rate of childhood poverty of nearly any major country in the industrialized world. and instead of doing all we can to end childhood poverty in this country, the republicans have proposed to once again make a horrific situation even worse by cutting nutrition programs for children, cutting the wick
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program for low income pregnant women, cutting the head start program, after-school programs, and funding for public education. madam president, there are millions of senior citizens in this country who can barely make it, and i sometimes wonder how in god's name they do make it. on $12,000, $13,000, $14,000 a year social security. how do you keep your house warm, how do you buy the food you need, how do you buy the prescription drugs you need to stay alive on $13,000 or $14,000 a year and yet there are millions of senior citizens in this country in that position? and yet despite that reality, over the last year we have had to fight off one republican
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effort after another to cut social security colas, to raise the retirement age or even privatize this life or death program. further, the republicans have proposed massive cuts to lieap, the low income heating energy assistance program which is keeping people warm in vermont today when the weather goes below zero. all over this country millions of people, often senior citizens, depend upon this program yet president trump in his budget proposed to wipe it out completely. republican leaders are also proposing cuts to the meals on wheels program, senior housing programs and medicare. madam president, today in a highly competitive global economy when we need to have the best educated workforce in the
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world, when the new jobs that are be recreated require a higher education, hundreds of thousands of bright young students desperately want to get a college education but they are unable to do so because their families lack the income. but republicans incredibly want to make that situation even worse by proposing massive cuts in the budget they recently passed to pell grants, the major source of funding to help low income young people get a college education, and other financial assistance programs for college. in my view, we should be making public colleges and universities tuition free. republicans today are making it harder, proposing to make it harder for our young people to
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get the higher education they need. madam president, during this budget process when the republicans want to expand military spending by some $100 billion, $100 billion over the next two years, by far the largest increase in military spending in american history, we will not turn our backs on working families, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the poor. the united states government must do more than greatly expand military spending and give tax breaks to billionaires. our job is to protect the working families of this country and that is what the new budget must do. and that means we must have parity between defense and
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nondefense spending. and that is why this budget, the proposed budget that we are working on must address the many crises facing the working families of the united states. that is what the american people want, and that is what we must deliver. and among many other things that must be included in the new budget that we are working on is full funding for community health centers, which provide primary health care, dental care, mental health counseling, and low-cost prescription drugs to some 27 million americans in every state in our country. it has been more than three months since funding for community health centers has
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lapsed. our nation's 1,400 community centers in roughly 10,000 communities throughout this country are deeply worried right now as to when they will get the funding they need. i just spoke to the leadership of community health centers in vermont the other day, and they have had a long-standing problem as have community centers all -- community health centers all across this country in retention and attracting new doctors and nurses into their programs. what we are seeing now is a situation where many people who might want to work at a community health center are saying why would i want to go there when the republicans are delaying funding for this vitally important program? if we do not act soon, 70% of community health center funding will be cut, and 2,800 health
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centers will close their doors. community health centers must be funded at the levels contained in the bipartisan legislation introduced earlier this year, and i congratulate senator blunt and senator stabenow for their bipartisan work on this issue. and there are a number of other republicans who are cosponsoring that legislation. we could pass it tomorrow if it was on the floor of the senate. let us do that. the offsets to the prevention program of the affordable care act of the 21st agreement are unacceptable and must not be repeated. the blunt-stabenow bill has 9 republican cosponsors. it represents a modest 5% increase in funding at a cost of just $2 billion over five years, the very least that we can do to address the major crisis of
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primary health care in america, especially in rural america. madam president, as you know, federal funding for the children's health insurance program expired on september 30, 2017. if the chip program is not reauthorized, nine million children in working families will lose their health insurance. can you imagine that we have a congress prepared and acting to give tax breaks to the richest people in this country but somehow or another they have not gotten around to reauthorize and refund the children's health insurance program. that must be done immediately and once again without regressive offsets which take money from other health insurance programs. madam president, we must keep
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our promises on pensions. if congress does not act soon, the earned pension benefits of more than 1.5 million workers and retirees in mull take employer -- multiemployer pension plans could be cut by up to 60%. we must not rescind the promise we made to 1.5 million workers. madam president, we must expand social security services for seniors. since 2010, congress has cut social security's operating budget by 16%, and republicans want to cut it another 4% this year. these budget cuts have resulted in the loss of more than 10,000 10,000,s the closing of 64 field offices and reduced hours in many others. in vermont, one field office has seen its staffing cut by 30%.
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according to arecent "washington post" article -- according to a recent "washington post" article, 10,000 people died in the past year waiting for a decision on social security disability benefits. we need to increase funding for these vital services by at least $1.4 billion just to bring staffing back up to where it was in 2010. madam president, we need to keep our promises to our veterans, the men and women who have put their lives on the line to defend our country. right now we have tens of thousands of vacancies in the v.a. those vacancies must be filled. veterans must be able to get high-quality, timely health care. we must fight the opioid and heroin epidemic that is sweeping this country. we are seeing all over america
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tens and tens of thousands of people, often young people, overdosing on opioids and heroin. states and communities all over this country need the resources for prevention and treatment. that is an issue that cannot be delayed. it has to be dealt with now. madam president, everybody knows that in the last several months we have seen disastrous hurricanes impact texas and florida and puerto rico and the virgin islands. in puerto rico today there continues to be many, many people who still do not have electricity. we must pass disaster relief right now, which is adequate, which treats puerto rico and the virgin islands just as we will
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treat texas and florida. we cannot continue to delay given the enormous suffering that is existing in puerto rico and in the virgin islands. madam president, let me very briefly touch on another issue of enormous consequence which simply cannot be ignored. on september 5, 2017, president trump announced that he would be rescinding president obama's executive order on daca. that decision means that some 800,000 young people, 800,000 young people who have known the united states of america as their only home, this is where they grew up, this is where they went to school, these 800,000 people are on the verge of
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losing their legal status in terms of education, in terms of employment, in terms of serving in the military, if that program is not reestablished. without the legal protections afforded by the daca program, these young people live in constant fear of being deported. since the president's announcement in september, more than 11,000 people have lost the protections under daca, with approximately 22,000 set to lose their legal protections by the march 5, 2018 deadline. aepbl -- any spending agreement must address the fear and uncertainty caused by the administration's reckless actions and a clean dream act must be signed into law as part
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of the budget negotiations. madam president, protecting the dreamers and moving these young people towards citizenship is not some kind of wild and radical idea. it is precisely what the american people want. a recent quinnipiac poll showed that 77% of the american people support providing legal protections for the dreamers. this is an issue that must be dealt with and it must be dealt with now. madam president, when history looks back on this period, i do not want them to see a united states congress which worked overtime to protect billionaires and large corporations and a
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congress which turned its back on working families and the children and the sick and the poor. i do not want history to look back on this period and say that members of congress thought it appropriate to spend $100 billion more on the military but not be concerned about veterans who do not get the health care that they need or some 800,000 young people who are now frightened that they will lose their legal status. as a united states senate, we must get our priorities right, and we need a budget which deals not only with military spending, but with the needs of the middle class and working families of this country. and with that, madam president, i would yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands in recess


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