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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 24, 2009 1:00pm-1:30pm EDT

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the responsibility of the local jurisdictions which serve metro, which is the state of maryland, virginia and washington, d.c., but there's also a federal responsibility in regards to these costs. federal facilities are located within footsteps of 35 of the 86 stations. nearly half of the metro rail rush hour riders are federal employees. this is our metro system. we have a responsibility. approximately 10% of metro riders use the metro rail stations at the pentagon, capitol south and union station serving the military and the congress. in addition, metro's ability to move people quickly and safely in the event of terrorist attacks or natural disasters is critical. metro system was invaluable on september 11th, 2001, providing its importance to the federal government and the nation during the terrorist attacks of that tragic day. there is a clear federal responsibility to this system.
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metro is unique from any other major public transportation system across the country because it has no dedicated source of funding to pay for its operation and capital funding requirements. but we are close to resolving that issue. i was proud to work alongside with senator mikulski and senator webb and former senator john warner last year to pass the federal safety improvement act signed into law in october of 2008. this law authorizes $1.5 billion over 10 years in federal funds for metro's governing washington metropolitan area transit authority matched dollar for dollar by local jurisdictions. for capital improvement. the technical details of the arrangement are nearly complete and when done, metro will finally have the dedicated funding sources. i compliment the states of virginia, maryland and the district for passing the necessary legislation.
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earlier this year as a regional delegation along with our new colleague, senator mark warner, we requested the appropriations committee provide the first $150 million. while this is a substantial down payment it's not nearly enough to fulfill all of metro rail's obligations. at the time of the bill's passage metro had a list of ready to go totaling about $530 million and $11 billion in funding needs over the next decade. yesterday, i joined with my colleagues from maryland and virginia in sending another letter to chairman and ranking member of the appropriations committee, reiterating our urgent request for the first year installment of $150 million in funding. earlier today i was pleased to announce $34.4 million additional funding for the purchase of new metro cars. this was the last installment in the three-year $104 million commitment. however, only a steady measured stream of funding will help make
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the investments needed to reassure the commuters, locals and tourists, families and all americans who ride metro that the system is as safe as it can possibly be and reliable. i find it unacceptable that the transit system in our nation's capital does not have enough resources to improve safety and update the infrastructure. while we may not no the cause of the collision for some time, it shined a spotlight on the dire node for improvements in upgrades to the metro's infer treasure. again, on behalf of all colleagues i extend deep oath sympathies to all those affected by the horrific accidents and families of loved ones and those killed. i hope my colleagues will join together, working with the virginia senators and maryland senators to ensure that this body does everything it can to make sure that a similar tragedy is never repeated. madam president, next i want to talk about the urgent need to
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pass the matthew shepherd hate crimes prevention act of 2009. we passed this two years ago. and unfortunately we were unable to reconcile it with the other body. now, in the last two careers, we have had con stand reminders of the need to pass this legislation. just this past june 15, stephen johns, a supreme court guard at the u.s. holocaust museum lost his life to aerson who was deranged but also was acting under hate. on february 12, 2008, lawrence king, a 15-year-old student, lost his life because he was gay. by a hate crime. on election night, we saw two men go on a killing spree against african-americans because america elected its first african-american president. in july of last year, four teenagers killed a mexican immigrant and used racial slurs making it clear it was a hate
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crime. since 2007, in 2007, there were 7,600 reported hate crimes in america, 150 in my state of maryland. so we need to do something about this. the trends have not been positive. they've been negative. latino, crimes against latinos s based on hate have increased. in 2007 we saw the highest number of hate crimes against lesbian, gays, bisexual and transgender, up 6%. the number of supremist groups have increased dramatically. there has been an increase in antisemetism between 2006 and 2007 and the list goes on and on and on. my point is this, madam president: we are seeing a troubling trend in america. with increased violence caused by hate-type activities. we need to act. the federal government needs to
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act. the matthew shepherd hate crimes prevention act of twine will do just that, expand the current hate crime that we have on the books at the federal law so that it covers not just protected federal activities but all activities in which hate crime is perpetrated. and extends the projections for hate generated by gender, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. it will supplement what the states are doing. many states are aguessively pursuing these matters. 45 states and the district of columbia have passed their own hate crimes statute. 32 include sexual orientation as a protected right. the reason we need the federal law is that the federal government has the resources and the capacity to respond when many types the states cannot. i want to make it clear what this bill fully protects first amendment rights. this is against violent actions,
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not against speech. hate crimes not only affect the victim, they affect the entire community. it is time for us to act. and i hope we will soon pass the matthew shepherd hate crimes prevention act of 2009. lastly, i want to talk about health care reform. there has been a lot of debate and a lot of conversation about health care reform and what we need to do. i hope the only option that's not on the table is the status quo. we cannot allow the current system to continue. i say that for several reasons. first, the matter of cost. this system we cannot afor. the nation's -- afford. the nation's health care costs are $7,400 for every man, woman and child in this country for a total of $2.4 trillion. we spend 15% of our gross domestic product on health care in 2006, the highest country by
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far. switzerland which is number two, spends 11%. the average of the eced nations is 8.5%. we spend approximately twice as much. as the industrial nations of the world spend on health care. we don't have the results to warrant this type of expenditure. of the 191 countries ranked by the world health organization we are ranked 37th on overall health systems' performance behind france, canada, and chile, just to mention a few. we rank 24th on health life expectancy. and we ranked number one, by far, on health care expenditures. between 2000 and 2007 the median earnings of maryland workers increased 21% yet health insurance premiums for maryland families rose three times faster than the median earnings of that same time per.
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so we can't afford the cost of health care in america. it is crippling our economy, our budgets are not sustainable. we're having a hard time figuring how we will by down the federal deficit and when you look at the projected numbers if we don't get health care costs under control it will be extremely difficult to figure how to balance budgets in the future and we need to bring down the cost of health care if america will be competitive in the international competitive environment. so for all those reasons, we need to do it. yet we know we have 46 million americans despite how much money we spend who don't have health insurance. that's 20% higher than eight years ago. we're running in the wrong direction. 760,000 marylanders do not have health insurance. every day, people in maryland and around the nation are filing personal bankruptcy because they cannot afford the national institutes of health bills they v we've got to do something about this.
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i want to hank and congratulate president obama for bringing forward a reform that i hope will be embraced by this body. it certainly has been embraced by the american people. they understand i. it builds on our current system. we build on our current system. we want to maintain high quality. i say that coming from a state that is proud to be the home of johns hopkins university and its great medical institution, university of maryland medical center with its discoveries and certainly n.i.h., a nation that is proud of the medical traditions of equal. we want to maintain choice. i want the constituents of maryland to be able to choose their doctor and hospital but to choose the national institutes of health plans that they -- to choose the health care plans they can participate in and we want to make sure this is affordable. we want to build on the country system and let me talk about one
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point that has gotten a lot of attention, whether we should have a public insurance option. i hope we have a robust public insurance option. i say that for many reasons. public insurance has worked in our system. just look at medicare. if the federal government did not move for medicare our seniors would not have had affordable health care coverage. our disabled population would not have had affordable health care coverage. i don't know of a single member of this body who is suggesting we repeal medicare. and that's a public insurance option. a public insurance option does not have the government interfere with your selection of doctors. the doctors are private. the hospitals are private. we are talking about how we collect and pay for the bills. and medicare has worked very well. as tri care for our military community. we want to build on that experience. the main reason that we want a public insurance option is to
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keep down costs. that's our main reason. we know that medicare advantage -- this is a private insurance option within medicare. well, i'm for a private insurance option in medicare but what i oppose is giving, costing the taxpayers more money because of that. and we know that medicare advantage costs between 12% to 17% more for every senior that enrolls in the private insurance option. the congressional budget office says that costs $150 billion over 10 years. so this is a cost issue. i remember taking the floor in the other body when we were talking about medicare part-d. the prescription drug part of the medicare s i part-d
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program is c so my main reasons a public insurance option i but it also s a guaranteed reliable product for that individual who's trying to find an affordable option, for that small business owner who today finds it extremely difficult to find an affordable and reliable product in the private insurance in the private marketplace. maybe that will be up to the challenge of 47 million more applying for in. i want to make sure they are. having a public insurance option puts us on a level playing field and allows the freedom of choice for the consumer as to what insurance product they want to buy and the freedom of choice to choose an insurance product that allows you to choose your own private doctor and hospital. now, all the debate, there is
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plenty of more positive things in this proposal. i certainly want to congratulate the leadership of both the finance committee and on the help committee for the manner in which they are working together to bring down health care costs by, first, universal coverage. universal coverage will bring down health care costs. we know someone who has no health insurance uses the emergency room. it costs a lot of money to use the emergency room. we want to get care to the community and with universal coverage it will bring down costs. preventive health care saves money. saves money. saves lives. it provides better healthy lives for individuals and it saves monies. you know that providing a test for a person for early detection of a disease costs literally a couple hundred dollars compared to the surgery that can be avoided that costs tens of thousands of dollars. this is about saving cost, ves, and preventive health care. i congratulate the committees for really coming together on
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this issue. the better use of health information technology will save us money in the administrative aspects of health care but in delivery of care. if we can coordinate a person's care, we can bring down the cost of care and prevent medical errors. so for all of those reasons, i strongly concur in what our committees are doing currently to reform our health care system, to bring down costs. one last point, madam president, and that is the need for us to work together. i really do reach out to every member in this body to say, look, i don't know of anyone who says that our system is what it should be. everyone agrees we're spending too much money. i haven't talked to a single senator who said that they believe that we can't cut the costs of health care. we've got to bring down the costs of health care. i think all of us agree that we've got to do a better job of preventive care and have an affordable product for those who
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don't have health insurance today. we all agree on that. so let's listen to each other and work together. this is not a democratic problem or a republican problem. it really cries out for democrats and republicans to work together to solve one of the most difficult problems facing our nation. i congratulate president obama for being willing to tackle this problem, and i urge all of our colleagues to join in the debate so that at the end of the day we can pass reform that really will bring down the cost of health care in america, be ail to say that america still leads the world in medical technology, and allowing that care to be available to all the people of our country. that is our goal. we can achieve it working together. i look forward to working with my colleagues in achieving that goal. madam president, i have 11 unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have been approved by the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to
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understand that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: and with that, madam president, i would yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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