tv [untitled] CSPAN June 10, 2009 9:30am-10:00am EDT
forward, to take the medpac recommendations and rather having them sit on a shelf somewhere, have them protected under a fast-track procedure, voted up or down as a package and considered within a limited period of time so that they become much more relevant, irrelevant to some degree, but much more relevant to the decision making process. >> the u.s. senate is about to start the day. first, general speeches resume at 10:30 eastern, leadership hoping to make progress on tobacco regulation bill, a vote to advance the measures scheduled for 11:30 eastern this morning. the senate majority leader hoping to have a final vote tomorrow morning, the house is in in about a half an hour and 10:00 eastern on c-span. now live senate coverage on c-span2. the chaplain: let us pray. ene chaplain: let us pray.
gracious god, to whom all thoughts are revealed and all desires known, we pray for this large senate family. lord, you know the secret needs of each person on capitol hill, those who are hurting, or feel frustrated, discouraged, or exhausted. you know who has stopped loving and those who are experiencing estrangement in important relationships. you know also when guilt is corroding a soul. today, we ask you to bless all those who need your love and healing, providing them with the
grace and renewal that only you can give. lord, do in their lives exceedingly, abundantly above all thahat they can ask or image according to your power working in and through them. we pray in your merciful name, amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the 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., june 10, 2009. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable robert p. casey jr., a senator from the commonwealth of pebnnsylvania, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: robert c. byrd, president pro tempore. ^ mr. reid: mr. president, following leader remarks there will be a period of morning business for up to one hour with senators allowed to speak for ten minutes each and the republicans will control the first 30 minutes and the majority will control the second 30 minutes. following that the senate resumes consideration of tobacco legislation. there's up to one hour of debate only with time equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees. we do hope, however, we can reach an agreement to dispose of the pending lieberman amendment and several additional amendments upon the use or
yielding back of the debate time on the bill -- that's one hour -- and disposition of the lieberman amendment the substitute amendment will be agreed to, the senate will vote on a cloture vote on the underlying tobacco bill so there will be a vote around 11:30. we have about 25 nominations that the republicans have held up. they're important. i was visited yesterday by secretary salazar regarding hillary tompkins, great education background, the lawyer for the justice department. that was cleared yesterday. and the republicans said "no." we have numerous people -- sentencing commission, william sessions of vermont, we're told that is held up because senator leahy is from vermont so they are holding it up and they don't like chairman leahy is handling the judiciary committee is what
we have been told. we have harold hongju koh, and i heard on monday, day before yesterday to secretary clinton, this is somebody she needs very badly. he is going to be the lawyer for the state department. we have a number of people under the. >> under the judiciary committee. we have somebody who's going to be the -- help run the department of homeland security. rand beers, good person. extremely well qualified. and as i indicated, a number on judiciary but the topper is lieutenant general stanley mcchrystal to run afghanistan. i would hope that people would search their con shns and try to
get these -- conscience and try to get these done. i can't file cloture on every one of these. so people watching this understand, it takes days for us to do that. but 25 nominations are held up. it would take until the summer until we finish the july recess and beyond for us to get this done, filing cloture on every one of these. i hope it doesn't come to that. mr. president, on another topic, in a single word, health care debate is about choices. our country, are you going to choose you can't take children to the doctor because it is too expensive? we tell small businesses they have to lay off employees because they cannot afford skyrocketing health care premiums as outlined by senator durbin yesterday an example of a
small businessman that he talked about trying to maintain insurance for his employees. or will we choose real health care reform that ensures everyone can get the quality care they deserve. and the debate is about choice. democrats are committed to ensuring all americans can choose their doctors, their hospitals, and their health plans. no matter what republicans claim, the government has no intention, this government has no intention of choosing for you or any of these things or meddling in these relationships. we've said that time again. if you like the coverage you have you can choose to keep it or change if you desire. lied most members we believe there should be more choice and more competition to lift the heavy weight of the costs. today, 18 cents of each dollar is spent on health care. if we don't do something about this by 2020 it will be more
than 35% of every dollar spent in america. if we leave it to private insurance companies, who are more interested in keeping profits than keeping us healthy, that won't happen. the best way to do that, that is, to give people choice in competition, is to pass health care legislation. republicans have a choice in this debate much. choose to work with us, or choose to work against the interests of the american people. from the start we've reached out to republicans in this debate. senator baucus has done everything he can to get a bipartisan bill. he still believes he could do that. i hope that's the case. senator dodd, filling in for senator kennedy has done the
same. he has reached out to ranking member enzi and others on that committee to try to come up with a bipartisan bill and the outline was given to us yesterday. from the start, i repeat, we've reached out to republicans. we let them know we would rather write this bill with them -- that's what we want to do. republicans so far have made it quite clear what their against. we remain interested and democrats continue to save our -- save four our republican colleagues a seat or seats at the table and we sincerely hope they'll take those seats. last year the american people made their choice clear. in no uncertain terms they reject the republican status quo. those with coverage know that their health bills are high are because of tens of millions of americans who are uninsured. they know they shouldn't have to go bankrupt or lose their home just to afford to stay healthy
or care for a loved one. i know we will disagree at times in this debate. that's fine. but we well an open and honest debate on this issue. one choice, health care is not a luxury. it shouldn't be a luxury. we cannot afford another year in which 50 million of us have to choose between basic necessities and lining the pockets of big insurance companies just to stay healthy. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, americans are increasingly frustrated with the u.s. health care system as we know it.
and they expect real reform not just the promise of reform that never seems to come or the allusion of reform that ends up destroying what's good about the country system and replacing it with something actually worse. the americans don't think basic medical procedures should break the bank. and they dope understand why millions of mr. presidents have tmr.million of americans have to without basic care. still, many americans are quite happy with the health care they currently have and they don't want to be forced into a government plan they don't like. so the need for reform is not in question. the real question is, what kind of reform? the kind that makes care more affordable and accessible? or the kind that makes existing problems worse. one thing most people like about health care in the u.s. is the quality of cancer care that's available here. far too many americans die from cancer. yet for all the problems we
have, the fact is, america boasts some of the highest cancer survival rates in the world. and that's not the kind of thing americans want to see changed. but it could very well change if the u.s. adopts a government-run health care system along the lines of the ones some are proposing. a recent study comparing u.s. cancer survival rates with other countries found that on average, on average, u.s. women have a 63% chance of living at least five years after a cancer diagnosis compared to 54% for women in britain. as for men, 66% of american males survive feis survive five% of british men. and the u.s. is outperforming with government-run health care systems. according to a report, 84% of women between the aims o ages od
64 get regular mammograms far higher than the 63% of women in the united kingdom. access to preventive care is important and when it comes to breast cancer prevention is something we do quite well here in the u.s. these are the kind of things americans like about our system and these are the kind of things that could change under a government plan. americans don't want to be forced off their existing plans and they certainly don't want a government board telling them which treatments and medicines they can and cannot have. it's no mystery why americans have higher cancer survival rates than counterparts in countries like great britain. part of the reason is americans have greater access to the care and medicines they need. they don't want that to change. all of us want reform but not reform that denies, delays, or
rations health care. instead, we need reform that controls costs as it protects patients the some way to do this is to discourage junk medical liability lawsuits that drive up the cost of medicine and limiting access to care in rural kentucky and other places. through prevention and wellness programs that reduce health care costs such as quitting smoking or fight obesity and get early diagnosis for disease. we could control costs and protect patients by addressing the needs of small businesses without imposing mandates or taxes that kill jobs. all of us want reform. but the government-run plan that some propose is not the kind of change americans are looking for. we should learn a lesson from canada: at a time when some want government-run health care canada is instituting reforms to make their system more like ours. according to canadian born
doctor david gretzler, the medical profession is in revolt -- revolt -- with private-sector options expanding and doctors frustrated by cutbacks that limit access to care. "the new york times" record a few years ago that private clinics were opening in canada at the rate of one a week, private clinics. dr. gretzler asked a simple question: why are americans rushing into a system of government-dominated health care when the very countries that have experienced it for so long are backing away? many americans are beginning to ask themselves the very same thing. now, mr. president, on another issue. senator leahy's decision to rush judge sotomayor's confirmation hearing is, indeed puzzling.
it risks resulting in a less informed hearing, and it breaks with years of tradition in which bipartisan agreements were reached and honored over the scheduling of hearings for supreme court nominees. and it damages the goodwill the senate relies on to do its business. these kind of partisan i maneuvs have always come, mr. president, with consequences. this time it is no different. the explanations of some of our friends offered yesterday to justify a rushed hearing were almost as remarkable as the decision itself and the partisan way in which it was handled. some said republicans had proposed unreasonable hearing dates. yet, no one can cite the time or place when any of these supposed requests were made. but blaming republicans for statements they never made wasn't nearly as ludicrous as the claim of judge sotomayor's long judicial record is for some reason to rush the review
process. not only is this counterintuitive -- why should it take less time to read more classes? it also flies in the face of every statement that our democratic friends made on the topic of the last two supreme court nominees. time and time again they told us that the senate was not a rubber stamp and that the hearings for judge alito and judge roberts couldn't be rushed. as senator leahy put it at the time: we want to do it right. we don't want to do it fast. republicans respected these requests because we recognized the importance of a thorough review. on the alito nomination, for instance, senators had 70 days to prepare for a hearing on a nominee who senator leahy noted at the time had handled some 3,500 cases on the federal bench. judge sotomayor has handled over 3,600 cases. so it stands to reason we would have as much time to review her record as judge alito's.
for some reason the old standard has been thrown out just as the new reasons emerged as we rush the process on this particular new nominee. as senator sessions informed us, the questionnaire that judge sotomayor filled out suffers from significant omissions. for example, she failed to produce numerous opinions from cases in which she was involved as a district attorney. in addition, she failed to produce a memorandum from her time with the por puerto rican defense fund. when this omission was brought to the judge's attention, i understand that the white house then provideded this memorandum saying it was an oversight. in the rush to complete the questionnaire in order to garner a talking point, you're prone to these sorts of mistakes. this counsels the senate to have a thorough, deliberative process, not a rush to judgment in order to meet an arbitrary deadline. when it came to republican
nominees like judge roberts an judge alito, our democratic friends wanted to review the record and republicans worked in a bipartisan fashion to come to a consensus on a fair process that respected the minority's rights. yet, when it comes to tactic mom -- democratic nominee our friends want to deny the republicans the same rights. they want the shortest timeline in recent memory for someone with the longest judicial record in recent member rivment let me say that again, mr. president. they want the shortest confirmation timeline in recent memory for someone with the longest record in recent memory. this violates basic standards of fairness and it prevents senators from carrying out one of their most solemn duties, a thorough review of the president's nominee to a lifetime pongs the highest court in the land -- position on the highest court in the land. the decision to short circuit that process is regrettable and completely unnecessary. mr. president, i yield the floor.
the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order there will now be a period of morning business for up to one hour with senators permitted to speak for up to 10 minutes each with the time equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their detainees with the republicans controlling the first half and the majority controlling the second half. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nevada. a senator: mr. president, as we are confronted with the news this week of the first of what may be many deadly terrorists being transferred to american soil, i am still left to wonder what the administration's plan for the detention facility at guantanamo bay really is. mr. ensign: i recently had the privilege of visiting guantanamo bay. i went down there with senators barrasso, brownback and johanns.
i would like to start out by saying how proud i am of the job of the men and women in uniform who are stationedded down there are doing. admiral dave thomas and his staff are doing an outstanding job and their efforts need to be recognized much these are the kind of individuals who make america great and who keep us safe. this was the type of facility where you don't have a true understanding of how well run it is until you go down there and see it in person for yourself. i would actually encourage our president to go down and see firsthand what guantanamo bay is really like, what the facility is like, how the prisoners are treated down there. as we are all aware, six months ago president obama set an a an arbitrary timeline of january of 2010 to close gitmo.
it is now june and it appears he is no closer now than he was in this year's january in identifying what his plan is. we have still seen little more than political rhetoric and no concrete plan with how to deal with the prisoners currently being housed at gitmo. so my question to the administration: why are we rushing to close this world-class facility without first having a plan in place? the administration should work with congress on a bipartisan basis to first come up with a plan if a plan is even possible. and then proceed from there. included in this population are critical figures involved in the 9/11 attacks on the united states and the bombings of a u.s. warship, the u.s.s. cole. and also terrorists captured from the battlefield in afghanistan. as i stated earlier, one of the most deadly terrorists who was
formerly at gitmo and directly responsible for the death of 224 individuals is now in the united states. on our trip we were able to see the security measures that have been put in place to keep these evil individuals from escaping or doing harm. these individuals don't view this war that we are in as over. a document that was found in an apartment of an al qaeda operative in manchester, england, appropriately entitled "the manchester document" lays out how terrorists should act if they're captured and sent down to guantanamo bay. according to the "manchester document" if an individual is detained, he should insist on proving that torture was inflicted upon him, whether it was or not, this is what they -- what they want to use the press. they want to try to show that
torture was used on them. according to this document, they want to take advantage of visits to communicate with brothers outside the prison and exchange information that may be helpful to them in their work outside of the prison. they are to master the art of hiding messages and provide information about the enemy's strengths, weaknesses, and movements of the enemy and its members. the terrorists practice this doctrine on a daily basis. and in addition on a regular basis, they abuse our troops down at guantanamo bay. it isn't the other way around. as spokesman for the pentagon stated that 14% of the over 500 who were released from guantanamo bay have returned to some sort of terrorist activity. 14%. some people say, boy, that's a very low recidivism rate.
if we think about it, these are mass murdererrers. these are people who want to set out an destroy our country and kill as many americans as they can. do we really want to release some of them on american soil, even if only 14% of them return. and by the way, the people who are released early, these over 500, those were the people who we actually thought were safe. the people who are still there are the most dangerous. one of the people who was transferred detonated a car bomb in iraq. another is now a leading al qaeda operative in yemen. and, as i said before, these were supposedly the safe ones. so what would happen if those currently at gitmo returned to the battlefield? mr. president, this document and the actions of those detained at guantanamo bay illustrate what some in this congress seem to have forgotten, we, as a nation,
are still at war. they are trying to gil americans an destroy -- to kill americans an destroy our very way of life. the prisoners at gitmo realize this, our troops realize this, it is time that we here in washington, d.c., wake up and realize it as well. the facilities in gitmo are state of the art and are some of the most impressive that i've ever seen. and after touring the facilities down there, i believe that it would be next to, if not impossible, to recreate those facilities here in the united states. partially because of the fiscal location of the facility itself. guantanamo bay is also the appropriate place to conduct military commissions. the privacy and seclusion of the unique courtroom facilities that have already been built there allow classified information to be protected and allow privacy for the 9/11 families who are
grieving who have chosen to watch the ongoings down there. too often we forget about those individuals. transferring these hardened terrorists to the facilities in the united states would make each of the facilities where they are transferred to and the communities in which they are situated terrorist targets. let me repeat that. transferring these hardened terrorists to facilities in the united states would make each one of the facilities that they are transferred to and the communities in which they're situated terrorist targets. so would you like to own a small business, gas station or convenience store around one of these prisons that house the terrorists? i know i wouldn't. another thing that struck me while i was down at guantanamo bay was the care and treatment of the detainees.
every -- every effort is made to ensure that their religious rights are respected. during my visit to the facility we even paused as part of our tour out of respect for prayer time for the detainees. in addition, there are various programs an resources provided -- and resources provided detainees with instructional training and social recreation. available to the detainees are over 13,000 books for them to read. 910 magazines, various newspapers in different languages that are distributed weekly. they have access to a vast collection of d.v.d.'s for the detainees. it's almost like they have netflix down there. they also have satellite television, including al-jazeera aimenal-jazeera. detainees are permitted quarterly phone calls.
and received 22,000 pages of mail including privileged attorney-client mail. attorney-client mail as i said. finally, we offer literacy classes, and art classes for the detainees. these detainees are provided better health care than a lot of americans are. does any of this sound like abuse? does any of it sound like abuse? in his first five months president obama has had to make some tough decisions. some of these decisions like his afghan policy i publicly supported. he needs to realize, though, that on this issue of bringing these terrorists to the united states, there is strong bipartisan opposition. if the president were to go down to gitmo, tour the facilities and to be completely honest with himself, i believe that he would come to the same conclusion that i did. in the end, there are n
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