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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 4, 2009 5:30pm-6:00pm EDT

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it certainly is important on this bill and the functions of the f.d.a. concerning the importation of prescription drugs into this country. i believe the senator from north dakota's amendment and i would agree to a time agreement within an hour -- hour equally divided or half-hour equally divided and vote on it. but i think the american people ought to know whether we're going to be able to import prescription drugs into this country so to save them billions of dollars every year rather than take so much of their hard-earned money, especially retirees. mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: w we have been trying for two days to move forward on germane amendments. i have had several conversations with senator dorgan. i know how important he feels. i voted with him and you every time this matter has come up. and i would be happy, ace indicated here earlier, to work out some kind of an agreement on
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this. but at this time, until we get some ability to vote on the germane amendments, it just doesn't seem like the right thing to do. i'm willing, as i've indicated to my friend, senator dorgan, to work out some arrangement for him to offer this amendment. this is something that should have been done, i'm sorry to say, years ago, not weeks ago. and so i will work with the distinguished senator from arizona on this drug reimpure takers which is important. but at this stage we just simply can't -- i know of no way to get from here to there. but as i did say -- and the manager of this bill is here -- if we can work something out over the next -- by monday, i'm happy to try to work something out. no one is trying to stop you from offering this amendment. we just have to have some agreement to move forward on the other stuff first. they're germane. mr. mccain: well, let me say to the majority leader -- mr. reid: i have the floor,
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madam president. mr. mccain: would the senator yield? mr. reid: yes, without losing the floor, i would be happy to sure. mr. mccain: i would say, i am very aappreciative of the difficulties that he neighs on a bill of this nature and the challenges that -- of amendments and nongermane and also it's -- the difficulties that he faces in managing legislation. this issue has been around for a long time. could i say to my friend from nevada, it's been around for a long time. we should address it. it is important to the american people. it really does have a lot to do with the -- with the pharmaceuticals in this country and i availability. and i would point out -- and its availability. and i would point out again to the distinguished majority leader, there shouldn't be a lot of debate on this. i mean, people have taken their positions. but i also know that farm -- and i have an -- but i also know
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that pharma -- and i also know that i have an e-mail that was sent, from pharma, to not have a debate and vote on it. if my friend would indulge me, it is an important -- "urgent." this is from the -- as i understand it, from one of the -- from the lobbyist of far mavment "the senate son the tobacco bill today. unless we get some significant movement, the full-blown dorgan or vitter bill will pass an amendment and the cochran or brownback amendment will fail. one, we need to locate a democratly cosponsored for the second-degree amendment. it goes on that kj & j, merck, novartis and the other new jersey companies coordinate and contact senator men nen des aves and get him to take the lead? we're trying to get senator dorgan to back down. senator mccain has said he
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will offer rawrls. so even if dorgan withdraws, we may still go forward. we believe we have 39 yes votes and 25 members in the undecided column. kenzie not here. we're scheduling a call for later this morning to follow up on our targets from yesterday's whip call. please make sure your staff is fully engaged in this process. this is real. wwe only had six companies participate in the last call." my friend, a little insight as to how the special interests in washington work. and i really would like to have an amendment -- a vote on this amendment, i say to my friend from nevada, with full appreciation of the difficulties that he has in getting this legislation through, a very important piece of legislation. i thank my friend from nevada for his indulgence in allowing me to read that e-mail. thank you. mr. reid: madam president, that is really kind of insight. i don't know who's on first, but
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it is pretty interesting. madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that the call of the quorum be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i now dishact we proceed to a period of morning business with senators allowed to speak therein for up to 10 minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: madam president, as if in -- well, first of all, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 132, the nomination of william sessions to be the chair of the united states sentencing commission. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. mcconnell: madam
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president, we have not had an opportunity to get that cleared on this side as yet. so, therefore, i will have to object for the moment. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. reid: madam president, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to executive session to consider the nomination of robert groves to be director of the census. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. mcconnell: madam president, i would make the same observation with regard to this nominee. we have not yet been able to get it cleared on this side. therefore, i object. the presiding officer: the objection is heard. mr. reid: madam president, for the -- we've been getting inquiries in the cloakroom -- cloakrooms, plural. there will be no more votes today. i indicated today we would be out by 6 anyway. there are a number of things going on. we will work on a number of issues over the weekend, including the tobacco issue and other things, and we will vote on monday at 5:30 on the cloture
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motions that we filed earlier this afternoon. no more votes today, tomorrow, not monday until 5:30. mr. dodd: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. dodd: madam president, i listened carefully to the conversation between the majority leader and our friend and colleague from arizona. i just want to, as the manager of this bill on smoking, let me say, i for one have also been a strong advocate for the reimportation proposal that senator mccain and dorgan among others have expressed an interest in. i think most of my colleagues have expressed their views on this and i suspect a majority have expressed their support for the idea. this is not about deny ago vote on reimpure taismghts i think we'd also take that opportunity. this bill on smoking and children is about as fragile a proposal that i've seen here in a long time. there are strong voices that would like to kill this legislation and have effectively. the food and drug administration
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has jurisdiction over almost every product you can think of except tobacco, including pet food. we've wasted ten years trying to get to this bill. you lose one or two votes on this bill here, you lose this bill again, and we're back where we were for the last decade. and so there will be any number of very attractive ideas proposed to this legislation, many of which i've either supported or would like to support. but with the full knowledge in doing so, i run the risk of breaking up that necessary 60 votes to deal with children and smoking. so no matter how appealing some of these amendments may be, understand what you may be doing, and that is destroying the ability to deal with the 3,000 to 4,000 kids who start smoking every day and the 400,000 people who die every year. so i want a vote on reapportionment as well. i want to vote on a lot of issues here. but every time we bring up a bill of this significance and someone offers a very appealing proposal, understand that the danger is you fracture that
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relationship that has denied us the opportunity to pass this bill for a decade, despite the fact that both bodies have voted overwhelmingly but not in the same congress and we're on the brink of getting this done. and what better thing could we accomplish on the each of the health care debate than to start saving the lives of children. i've got 76,000 kids in connecticut that are going to die because they're smokers. 76,000 of them. there are 6 million children today who are going to die prematurely because of smoking. now, as much as i wanted to deal with a rhee portionment -- or, -- reapportionment -- or, what do you call it? -- reimportation of drugs, and if we do that and it is adopted and we lose the coalition on smoking, what have we achieved? the bill dies. you lose both reimportation as wellals the smoking proposal. i appreciate the majority leader taking the position. i know where he stands on the issue. harry reid has been a strong advocate of reimportation. that's not the issue here.
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the issue is whether or not, at long last, a decade later our colleague from massachusetts, senator kennedy, mite, mike dewine, our former colleague from ohio, henry waxman from california, tom davis of virginia in a bipartisan basis have tried year in and year out to get this done. we haven't been able to achieve it. so i know the game. but this is not a game. this is life and death with people. for 10 long years we've. mr. bennet: able to pass legislation -- mr. dodd: for 10 long years we've not been able to pass this legislation. if people are going to insist on long-term amendments based 0 on a short-term appeal, we will have done great damage. so i appreciate immensely the position the majority leader has taken. and my colleagues know because i did go through the process last week in our committee. there are any number of appealing amendments. and i want to thank the members of the committee who wanted to vote for some of those amendments. i see my good friend jeff
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merkley from oregon here, a member of the committee. there are a number of amendments that he and i would have liked to have supported including daicial penalties and fines. but we know full well if we did that, we might break that fragile coalition of getting us to the goal line of passing this. so i for one want to stand here and say thank you to the majority leader for standing up on an issue that he cares deeply boxer the reimportation of drugs, because he understands, as does the presiding officer, as do all of us here who have loved ones we've cared about who've been smokers, who've a effected by tobacco and the harm and department of justice it does to our -- and the harm and damage it does to our citizenry, it is the only disease that's self-inflicted. there are more deaths each year as a result of smoking and tobacco products than alcohol, drugs, suicide, aids combined, automobile accidents. it's the greatest killer in america. and we have a dhans to make a difference on it. the day will come for reimportation. we ought to get to it. but if you do it on this bill, understand you lose both --
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reimportation and the smoking bill. that's the danger. i thank the majority leader. 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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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. kaufman: i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be dispensed. .the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. kaufman: madam president, i would like to ton where i began by honoring the contribution of our federal employees. on may 4 i came to the floor to discuss the importance of recognizing the hard work and dedicated service of our federal employees. this is especially important because our recovery acts during cheese challenging economic times. the programs we enact, it is easy to say, will be carried out by a federal workforce that requires people's confidence. i know from personal experience how industrious our civil certificate e.p.a.s are. -- civil servants are. we need to encourage graduates to enter a career in federal service. we need them to lend their talents and their ideas, their
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creative minds. this is why i make it a priority to call attention to what federal employees can and do accomplish. in my previous remarks i promised it highlight excellent public servants from this desk every so often. in keeping with my promise i rise today to speak about two federal employees whose achievements are particularly relevant to our work here in this session: the current state of our health care system. as many know, cervical cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in women worldwide. it takes the lives of almost 250,000 women each year. here in america, nearly 11,000 women are diagnosed annually. what distinguishes cervical cancer from other cancers is the cause. while many cancers are linked to a genetic predisposition for abnormal cell growth nearly all of these result from viral infections. the majority of the infections
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come from exposure to the h.p.v. which is most common sexually transmitted disease affecting americans. when doctor douglas lowy and john shiller began studying h.p.v. little did they know their 20 year partnership would lead to the development of vaccine. working at the national institute of center for cancer research, the two discovered that previous attempts at creating a vaccine had failed because of genetic my taiption n existed in the virus. when the doctors made this finding they worked to create a modified version of the h.p.v. without the mutation. this development was instrumental in the creation a few years ago of a evacuation seen to prevent the vast majority of the cases from developing. because over 80% of those that develop cervical cases live in
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developing nations the doctors have been working with the world health organization to make the h.p.v. vaccine available to women around the world. in recognition of their achievement the two were awarded the 2007 service to america federal employee of the year medicals. today women and girls able nine through 26 have the ability to be vaccinated against developing cervical cancer. once again, i call on my tell low senators to join me and honor dr. lowy and dr. shiller and all federal employees who distinguish themselves in the service of our nation. madam president, i would like to speak on reforming our health care system. simply put: health care reform has been delayed for far too long and it cannot wait any longer. most americans are satisfied with the health care they receive. let me repeat this: most americans are satisfied with the
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health care they receive today. but if we want to sustain and improve the quality of health care we need to act now. what their concerned about is what the future health care will be about. and also concerned about the cost of health care. we must get health care costs under control while preserving choice. if we do nothing, and allow the status quo to persist it is estimated that the share of gross domestic product devoted to health care will rice from 18% in 2009 to 28% in 2030. if health care premiums continue to rise at 4% per year, which is actually less than the historical average, that by 2025, premiums for family coverage will reach $25,200 per year, over 2,000 a month! this is simply unsustainable. we have attempted to reform our health care system several times in the past to no avail. but this year is different and
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has got to be different. this time, the call for reform is coming from people and organizations that previously opposed reform. this time, businesses along with unions that represent their workers are asking for reform. business in america have to compete against companies from other countries. many do not pay anything for health care for their workers or retirees and others pay far less than what man of our larger corporations pay. this puts many of our businesses at a disadvantage in the global marketplace. in addition, people in my home state of delaware and americans across the nation are struggling to keep up with the crushing and seemingly constant increase in the cost of health care. offer the last decade, americans have watched as the health insurance premiums deductibles have risen at faster rates than raises threatening their financial stability. it also puts them at risk for losing their insurance as employers struggle to provide adequate health care coverage. americans, rightfully, value
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their relationship with their doctor and the care they receive. we must, and i say must, preserve these relationships. in addition, as costs rise and insurance benefits erode americans are asking for reform -- to reform what is broken. our current system, the status quo, is rampant with bureaucracy, inefficiency, and waste. it is time for reform. it's time to reform health care for americans so that everyone has access to quality, affordable care, regardless of preexisting medical condition. it is time to reform health care to replace a higher priority on prevention and wellness saving lives and money. it is time to reform health care so all americans can compare the cost and benefits of different health care policy. it is time to reform health care so americans have more choices, not less, and can choose their own doctor. i applaud the members of the
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finance committee and the health education labor and pensions committee here in the senate as well as our counterparts in the house for this sincere dedication, thoroughness and commitment to crafting legislation that truly transformed the health care system in this country. it is clear this is not an easy tack. and it is one that requires true compromise from everyone across the ideological spectrum but it is a task that must be done. our country and the health of its citizens and the economy cannot afford to maintain the status quo. as a member of these committees gather to discuss and markup legislation, i encourage them to include a viable public option and a menu of insurance options from which americans may choose. it would be a, i stress, a purely voluntary option. if you like your current plan, keep it. but a public health insurance option is critical to ensure the greatest amount of choice
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possible for consumers. there are too many americans that do not have real choices when it comes to health insurance, especially those who live in rural areas. in addition, many large urban areas dominated by one or two insurers that seven more than 60% of the market. in fact, there are seven states where one insurer has only 75% of the market share. a public auction can -- option can help americans expand their choice of provider. a public option could take various forms and i think the committees are the proper place to determine the appropriate contours of public option. but i think a good starting point for discussion is the proposal put forward by my colleague from new york, senator schumer. it delivers all the benefits of increased competition without relying on unfair built in advantages for the federally-backed option. this public option would not be subsidized by the government or
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partnered by medicare. it would not be supported by tax revenue and it would compete on a level playing field with the private insurance industry. and if a level playing field exists, then private insurers will have to compete based on quality of care and pricing instead of just competing for the healthiest consumes. this is just one proposal for a public option. there are others that we can debate as we move forward. right now, more than 30 state governments offer their employees a choice between traditional private insurance and a plan that is self-insured by the state. some of them have them for more than 15 years. and these states -- in these states the market share of the self-plunded plans range from -- self-funded plans range from 25% to 50%, a healthy competition and not domination by either time of insure irand the states provide the options because it adds values to the competitive
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offerings of the workers and they do not seem to be a problem at the private level. why should it be so on a national level? a public option goes a long way to introducing quality advancements and innovation that many do not now have the incentive to implement privately. medicare and the veterans health system have spearheaded important innovations in the past including payment methods, quality of care initiatives, and nferlings technology advancements -- information technology advancements and this could lead the way in bringing more innovation to delivery system and introducing new measures to reduce costs and improve quality. a public option serves as a benchmark for all insurers setting a standard for costs, quality, and access within regional or national marketplaces. it can have low administrative costs and have a broad choice for providers. simply put, americans

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