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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 25, 2009 9:30am-10:00am EDT

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>> u.s. senate is about to gamble and to start the day. first up general speeches for about an hour before returning to the nomination to be the state department's legal advisor. lawmakers yesterday voted to limit debate and force a final vote. if all the time is we expect around 5:30 p.m. eastern although it could be earlier. the leadership hopes to move onto the legislative spending bill after that legislative branch passed in the house last week. now live to the u.s. senate on c-span2.
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senate will come to order. the guest chaplain, rabbi shea harlig, spiritual leader of chabad of southern nevada, las vegas, nevada, the guest chaplain: almighty god, the members of this prestigious body, the united states senate, convene here in the spirit of one of the seven noahide laws which were set forth by you as an eternal universal code of ethics for all mankind. that every society be governed
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by just laws, based in the recognition of you god as the sovereign ruler. we proudly proclaim this commitment to justice in our pledge of allegiance, one nation under god with liberty and justice for all. grant us almighty god that those assembled here today be aware of your presence and conduct their deliberations accordingly. bless them with good health, wisdom, compassion and good fellowship. on this 25th day of june, 2009, which corresponds to the third day of the hebrew month of tammuz, we are 15 years -- to the day -- from the physical passing of our esteemed spiritual leader, the lubavitcher rebbe, rabbi menachem mendel schneerson, of blessed memory, who consistently extolled the virtues of this great land as a "nation of kindness." i beseech you, almighty god, to grant renewed strength and fortitude to all who protect, preserve and help further these ideals so essential to the dignity of the human spirit. please grant that our beloved rebbe's vision of a world of
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peace and tranquillity -- free of war, hatred and strife -- be realized speedily in our days. god bless this hallowed body. god bless our troops who stand in defense of this great land. god bless the united states of america. 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 25, 2009. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable kirsten gillibrand, a senator from the state of new york,
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to perform the duties of the chair. signed: robert c. byrd, presidet pro tempore. mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: madam president, with the senate chaplain, admiral black, standing by, we all listened to the prayer of one of our jewish brethren from las vegas, rabbi harlig. the chaplain, i'm sure, was pleased with the prayer. those of us here were pleased with the prayer. it was a wonderful, meaningful prayer. i want to welcome rabbi harlig for helping us open the senate and for the beautiful prayer that he uttered. rabbi harlig and his wife dina opened a center in their living room in 1990. it was -- it has grown dramatically since then, and successfully grown. there are now five such community centers in southern nevada. the organizing rabbi harlig and
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his friends -- i'm sorry. the organization rabbi harlig founded has taught many children and many adults and done so many good deeds for so many people. as rabbi harlig mentioned in his invocation, the day is significant. it's significant because it's the day of the chabad community -- important in the day of the chabad community. it is the 15th anniversary of the passing of rabbi schneerson, one of the great jewish leaders of our time. thank you, rabbi harlig for joining us in the senate today. following leader remarks there will be a period of morning business for up to one hour. senators will be permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. the republicans will control the first 30 minutes. the majority will control the final 30 minutes. following morning business, the senate will turn to executive session to resume debate on the nomination of harold koh to be legal advisor for the department of state.
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we hope some of the post cloture debate time can be yielded back and we'll be able to vote on the nomination as early as possible. if we're unable to yield any time, the vote would occur about 5:30 this evening. we're working on an agreement to consider a legislative branch appropriations bill. senators will be notified when votes will be scheduled or agreements reached. madam president, it's my understanding that s. 1344 is at the desk and due for a second reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill. the clerk: a bill to temporarily protect the solvency of the highway trust fund. mr. reid: i would object, madam president, to any further proceedings with respect to this legislation at this time. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the bill will be placed on the calendar. mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: madam president, americans are
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insisting that members of congress work together on reforms that make health care more affordable and accessible but which don't force people off their current plans or add to an already staggering national debt. and yet, the democratic plan now being rushed through the senate would do just the opposite. it would force millions of americans off of their health care plans and bury our nation deeper and deeper in debt. democrats have repeatedly and incorrectly declared that under their plan, americans who like their current insurance will be able to keep it. this morning i'd like to explain why that's unfortunately not the case. just last week the independent congressional budget office said that incomplete democratic "help" committee proposal would cost 10 million americans who currently have employer-based insurance to lose that coverage. let me repeat that, madam president. before the democratic bill is even complete, we know that it will cause 10 million americans
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to lose their health care insurance that they currently have. but 10 million would just be the beginning. one key section missing from the "help" bill is the government plan democrats say they want. and according to one study, 119 million americans could lose their private coverage if a government plan is enacted. here's why the so-called government option would lead to americans losing their current plans and why it soon would become the only option. first, a government-run plan would have unlimited access to taxpayer dollars and could operate at a loss indefinitely, which could force private insurers out of business. private health plans simply wouldn't be able to compete, and millions of americans could be forced off their health plans whether they like it or not. at that point people would have to enroll in a government plan or any surviving private health
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care plan if they could afford it. i say if they could afford it because another unintended consequence of creating a government plan is that it would cause rates for private health plans to skyrocket, leaving most americans unable to afford them. they'd simply be too expensive. right now government programs like medicare and medicaid pay hospitals and doctors less than private insurers do and hospitals and doctors pass on the cost. doctors and hospitals would shift more of their costs on to private health plans making them even more expensive and making it even harder for them to compete with a government plan. in the end only the wealthiest would be able to afford private health plans and the kind of care that most americans currently enjoy. some say safeguards could be put in place to create a level playing field, but the very fair of the government running a health insurance plan in the
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private market is the problem. any safeguard could easily be eliminated, and one look at the government take overs in the insurance and auto industries shows that when the government's involved there is no such thing as a fair playing field. let's take a look at the auto industry. the government's given billions of dollars to the financing arms of chrysler and g.m., allowing them to offer interest rates that ford -- a major manufacturer in my state -- and other private companies struggle to compete with. this means that the only major u.s. automaker that did not take a bailout is at a big disadvantage as it struggles to compete with government-run auto companies. when ford needed money, it had to raise it in the open market and pay an 8% interest rate. but g.m. can just call up the treasury -- just call up the treasurey -- and have them wire over taxpayer money. no company, madam president, can
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compete with that. so contrary to their claims, if the democratic plan is enacted, millions of americans will lose the health insurance they have they have and that they like. again, that's not what i say. it's what the congressional budget office says. it's what independent analysts say. it's what america's doctors say. it's even what president obama now says. the president now acknowledges that under a government plan, some people might be shifted off of their current insurance. this isn't the only democratic claim about health care that's increasingly suspect. democrats have also promised their health plan will be paid for and won't add to the deficit. but the facts just don't add up. right now just one section -- one section -- of the "help" bill would spend $1.3 trillion. it's not plausible that this won't add to the deficit, which has already swelled by more than $1 trillion thanks to bailouts and the stimulus money.
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so when democrats predict their health care plan won't cause people to lose their current insurance and won't add to the national debt, americans are certainly right to be skeptical. they made the same kind of predictions about the stimulus bill. they said the money wouldn't be wasted. yet, we're already hearing about a $3.4 million turtle tunnel and $40,000 to pay the salary of someone whose job is to apply for more stimulus money. the administration also predicted that if we pass the stimulus, the unemployment rate wouldn't rise above 8%. now they say unemployment will likely rise to 10%. americans indeed want health care reform, but they don't want a so-called reform that takes away the care they have and stands in the way of their relationships with their doctors or that buries their children and grandchildren deeper and deeper in debt. madam president, i think we can do a lot better than that. i yield the floor. mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader.
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mr. reid: every dollar that's spent in america, one-sixth of that dollar goes to health care today. if we do nothing with health care, by the year 2020 it will be 35%. think about that. that's just 11 years from now. so it's obvious crushing health care costs leave so many families uninsured and underinsured and drive far too many into bankruptcy or foreclosure. when we discuss our country's health care crisis with our constituents next week when we go home for the july 4th break and when we debate it with our colleagues in this chamber in the coming months, we'll talk about how to best relieve that burden. there are a lot of good ideas, but one of the best ways to bring down the cost is by preventing disease and illness in the first place. prevention and wellness is based on a simple premise: the less you get sick today, the less you'll have to pay tomorrow.
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part of reforming health care means making it easy for americans to make healthier choices to live healthier lives. we need to do a better job of making that possible. more than half of all americans live with at least one chronic condition. and those conditions cause 70% of all deaths in america. so it doesn't make sense to stop them before -- does it make sense to stop them before they start? the obvious answer is yes. it's not just a health issue. it's also an economic issue. prevention isn't free but it's a lot cheaper to invest in health before it's too late. unfortunately, that investment is peanuts right now. we spend only four cents out of every health care dollar towards preventing disease. that's far too little. we spend only four cents of every dollar towards preventing disease. we spend 75 cents of every health care dollar caring for people with chronic conditions. this is not just to treat and cure disease.
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we must also prevent disease and help people stay healthy. reducing the number of us who suffer from chronic diseases will cut costs and help more americans lead healthier, more productive lives. the same principle we bring to health care reform overall. reform isn't free but it is cheaper to invest in our citizens' health before it is too late. now, madam president, everyone needs to listen, especially based on my colleague's statement that he just gave. we democrats are committed to lowering the high cost of health care. we democrats want to ensure every american has access to that quality, affordable care, and letting people choose their own doctors, hospitals, and health plans. we're committed to protecting existing coverage when it's good improving it when it's not and
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guaranteeing health care for the millions, including nine million children who have no health care. we're committed to a plan that says -- if you like the coverage you have, you can keep it. we're committed to reducing health disparities and encouraging early detection and effective treatments saves lives. prevention and wellness can make a big difference in american families. reforming health care, doing so the right way and making the investment will help people get sick less often. even when they get sick, it will cost less to get them back on their feet. benjamin franklin said: an ounce of prevention is worth an ounce of cure. america's physical health and fiscal health, it may be much, much more. madam president, i believe it's time to announce morning business. the presiding officer: under the previous order the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order there will be a period morning
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business for one hour with the time equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees, with the republicans controlling the first half and the majority controlling the second half with senators permitted to speak up to 10 minutes each. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. a senator: thank you very much. i rise today to speak about the u.s.-colombia trade agreement signed in november of 2006. mr. johanns: on july 29, president uribe will visiting the united states to meet with president obama. they have met at the summit of americas in april. this will be president uribe's first time here. today, as one senator, i rise to express my hope for a continuing bond in our relationship with
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colombia's president uribe. i also rise to express some concerns that i'll talk about. now, i'm happy that president obama recognizes the importance of our closest ally in south america. i'm also pleased that president uribe continues to seek a close relation with the united states where he is truly a courageous and a visionary leader. coming to power in some of the darkest and most vicious days and marxist insurgency in that country, he pulled colombia back from the brink. president uribe has driven the terrorists from much of their ter tries, boosted much of the economy, and boosted the human rights record. if an american president had achieved this much, some would be clamoring for him or her to
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seek a third term. the same is true in colombia where despite term limits, uribe is actually being petitioned to run again. his achievements are very impressive. during the -- during president uribe's time in office the economy grew at an average rate of 5% over the past five years. according to the world bank colombia's g.d.p. growth then grew 7.5% in 2007, far surpassing the average in latin america. 10 million colombians have been lifted out of poverty. unemployment has fallen from double digits, 16% in 2002 to 9.9% in 2007. now, crime has been a historic problem in colombia. yet, under president uribe's
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stewardship, kidnappings have dechained 33%, murders are down by 40%, terrorist attacks are down by 76%. every single one of colombia's 1,100 municipalities have a place presence. finally, at long last, colombia appears to be winning the war against the terrorists that have made life miserable for far too many years. last summer the world was treated to the images of smiling u.s., french, and colombian hostages when a daring colombian army raid freed them from the terrorists. this included three u.s. defense contractors and one hostage. they had been held dating back to february of 2002. the u.s. state department estimates that 30,000 30,000 pan
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disarmed. madam president, i look forward to this relationship. but i'll be very candid, i'm concerned about the present. i speak about the colombia trade agreement that is languishing in the executive branch. however, i have mixed emotions. we should, in my judgment, be embarrassed by this inaction. i recognize the populism opposing trade, but i cannot understand the opposition to the colombian free trading agreement. it levels the playing field for u.s. workers, farmers and small business. over 09% -- 90% of colombia's exports to the united states already enter this country duty free. they have for years under the
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andian trade preferences act and other trade agreementsle meanwhile, madam president, u.s. exports to colombia face high tariffs. they can be as high as 35%. a tax on our goods going into colombia. in spite of these restrictions, colombia is america's 27th largest trading partner. an international trade commission study estimated that the u.s.-colombia f.t.a. would boost u.s. exports b by $1.1 billion. now, do my colleagues and others who oppose this deal think that the u.s. economy is so robust it does not need another billion dollar-plus market? are things really that rosy? i suggest not. i come from a farm state where we're especially eager to open up new markets.
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virtually 100% of colombia's agricultural products enter the united states duty free. 0% of u.s. agricultural exports enter colombia duty free. this agreement -- this f.t.a. wipes out those differences. tariffs would immediately disappear for 80% of u.s. exports into colombia and the rest phase out over time. the potential for dramatic increases in our exports in my judgment is very clear. consider this: even with the tariff imbalance our agricultural exports to colombia totaled almost $1.7 billion in 2008. in spite of all of the current tariffs corn and wheat are one
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of the top u.s. exports to colombia. last year we sold $969 million worth, as well as $2.6 billion in machinery. madam president, by anybody's definition these are very big numbers, and on a level playing field, which is what the f.t.a. will do, they will be even bigger, with the potential to create thousands of jobs in an economy that needs every job. these statistics clearly show that the f.t.a. we've negotiated with colombia is not a blind leap into the unknown. colombia already essentially has free trade with us, an open border. what this f.t.a. does is it levels the playing field for america's farmers and ranchers in u.s. businesses -- and u.s.
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businesses. did you know that more than 8,000 small and medium-sized businesses in our country export to colombia? 8,000. for them the elimination of these tariffs would blow open the door of opportunity. congress should not be in the business of creating hurdles for the united states overseas nor should the executive branch. yet, here we have a clear pathway to eliminate a huge hurdle with a simple nod of approval and, yet, we have failed to act. the economic justification speaks for itself. but it is just one of the several compelling reasons to ratify this agreement immediately. perhaps as persuasive as the political situation in latin america. since its rise to power in
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venezuela in 1998, hugo chavez has reinvigorated the radical latin-american left he has formed a block of anti-american countries in south and central america composed of cuba, nicaragua, beleava and -- bolivia. colombian military units captured evidence detailing the venezuelan's extensive support for the terrorists. venezuelan has used its petroleum money to buy friends and use its influence. too often they have succeeded. our friend in colombia has stoutly resisted this siren song. when too many other nations have drifted into cheap anti-u.s. populism, colombia has stood strong, has traveled precisely the opposite way.
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while president uribe is here in our nation, is meeting with our president, i hope the president of the united states will do the right thing and stand firmly in support of completing the f.t.a. that has been negotiated. it is time for the administration to show great leadership on this issue, which is at every level, in my judgment, just good common sense. however, congress cannot shirk its responsibility for the lack of action on the colombia f.t.a. while the administration needs to step to the mound, congress must step up to the plate and swing for the fences. this agreement was signed and it was sealed and it was delivered about three years ago. it is an unbelievable opportunity for farmers,
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ranchers, and small businesses and waiting right here at our doorstep. all it needs, madam president, is our nod of approval. that is why today i introduce a resolution recognizing the benefits of the colombian trade agreement. and i encourage my colleagues to cosponsor this resolution and to implore the leadership to allow it to come to a vote. rarely has an initiative with benefits this crystal clear faced such a rocky and an uncertain road. the time to level the playing field for farmers and ranchers and small businesses is here. it is upon us. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: how much time is
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remaining on the republican time? the presiding officer: 18 minutes. mr. alexander: thank you, madam president. will you please let me know when four minutes remain? the presiding officer: will do. mr. alexander: i would like to congratulate the senator from nebraska, and recognizing the importance of the united states to trade with our friends in the rest of the world, especially our friends in latin america, especially when they're taking advantage of low tariffs with us and we're not taking advantage of low tariffs with them. our principal concern on the republican side, and i'm sure many democrats too, is the cost of living for middle-class families in america. there are many issues that come before us that deal with that. the level of our taxes, the level of tuition. if we get medicaid spending -- excuse me -- under control, states will be able to fund the states of tennessee and nebraska better. but another way to do that is to train the world. people walk into stores in america and look


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