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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  April 10, 2013 12:00pm-5:00pm EDT

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quorum call:
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mr. thune: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: madam president, at long last today, we have received the president's budget. it's several weeks, actually months overdue. it was supposed to have been out on february 4. it's generally used to steer or guide the budget debate that we have here in washington, d.c., but in this case it's -- it's going to be a reaction to, it's going to be after the fact discussion of the budget because the house and senate have both
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passed budgets. the senate for the first time in four years, the house has passed their budget every year on time, and so you would hope at least that the president's budget would serve as a bridge between the house and the senate perhaps at this point in the process because it is so much after the fact, so late in the game that the president's budget has come to us, but regrettably much of the budget, the president's budget is going to rely on the same formula that the senate democrat budget did and that is to double down, to increase spending to significantly substantially raise taxes and to add massive amounts to the debt, and it never balances. now, the budget that was passed by the house of representatives did balance. it balanced in ten years. the budget that was passed by the united states senate did not only -- it did not balance the budget over ten years but it never balanced, so you had a
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real contrast in terms of trying to get to a balanced budget over a period of time knowing full well it's not going to happen overnight. we got in a very big hole, it took a long while to get into this whole, it will take us a while to get out, but nevertheless the house budget did balance in a ten-year window, ten-year time frame. the senate democrat budget never balances nor does the budget that we see this morning from the president. now, it's important, i think, for a lot of reasons, this budget debate is, not the least of which is it is a vision, if you will, a blueprint for the future of the country, for each of the respective parties here in the congress as well as the president's about where they want to lead the country. and i mentioned yesterday on the floor that i thought that the basic criteria that should be used to evaluate a budget, the question that ought to be asked is what will this budget do to grow the economy, to create jobs and to increase the take-home
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pay of middle-class americans? what can we do, in other words, in terms of a budget process here and a budget itself that actually would take us in a direction that would get more americans working and get the economy growing and expanding again which makes these fiscal issues look much smaller by comparison. and i say that because last week we got some -- some employment data, statistics that came out, the unemployment rate has a percentage actually dropped to 7.6%, but only because another half a million people quit looking for work. so if you look at the -- the real unemployment rate, and that is you include the people who actually have stopped looking for work, people who are working part time because they can't find full-time employment, the actual unemployment rate is 13.8%, and that's 21.7 million americans. that's how many people were either out of work, have quit looking for work or are working
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part time because they simply can't find full-time employment. that is a lot of people. that is a big part of our economy. a lot of folks are out of the work force today who couldn't find jobs, and many have actually just given up looking for jobs. and what that's done, because there are so many americans who in frustration have given up looking for jobs, it has lowered the labor participation rate to a rate that we haven't seen literally since 1979. the last time the labor participation rate was at the low level that we saw in the month of march, 63.3%, was 1979, and in fact, madam president, if you had a labor participation rate that was equal to what it was when the president took office in january of 2009, the unemployment rate today would not be 7.6%. it would be 11%. that's how many people have quit looking for work as a result of this slow and sluggish economy. and so the president's budget
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you would hope would try and answer in an affirmative way the question does this grow the economy, does this create jobs, does this increase the take-home pay of working americans, but unfortunately rather than growing the economy, the president's budget instead grows the government, and that's unfortunately what we have seen in the budget that was passed by the united states senate a couple of weeks ago. and again, just by -- by way of contrast -- and i say this simply because i think there are two very different ideas about how to solve the fiscal crisis that we face in this country, one of which includes expanding and growing government and raising taxes, adding even more and more to the debt, one that really focuses on the issue that what plagues our fiscal house here in washington, d.c., isn't that we tax too little, it's that we spend too much, and it really goes after the spending problem that we have in washington, d.c., the addiction to spending, which we have seen
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as a percentage of our economy grow consistently over the past several years since this president has been in office. and so the house budget recognized that, does balance in ten years, does it without increasing taxes. the house of representatives actually produced a budget that balances in ten years, doesn't raise taxes, in fact calls for tax reform which many of us believe would -- would do wonders in terms of unleashing economic growth in this country by getting rates down, reducing the rates and broadening the tax base, but it also takes on what really drives federal spending, what really contributes to the debt crisis that we have in this country, and that's runaway spending, particularly in certain areas of the budget. the area of the budget that we call mandatory spending. it's that part of the budget that's sort of on auto pilot, and it includes entitlement programs like social security, medicare, medicaid, and right now that represents about three-fifths of all federal spending. at the end of the ten-year
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window, it will represent 91% of all federal spending. that's how fast those programs are growing. two to three times the rate of inflation. well, the president's budget doesn't do anything significant or meaningful to address that crisis. it's just flat not serious. now, having said that, there were some what i would call incremental steps taken. i call them baby steps. the president agreed in his budget to address the issue of chained c.p.i. which recalculates the formula by which benefits under certain government programs are calculated. achieves a certain level of savings over a period of time. they assume some savings in medicare, most of which again are by reducing payments to providers. we have already put payments to providers to the point that many physicians and other health care providers these days are getting to where they are saying i'm in the going to serve medicaid or medicare patients because we keep cutting those reimbursements. that's not the way that you save and protect these programs for
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future generations. you have to restructure and reform these programs in a way that aligns the -- those programs with the future demographics of this country, and unfortunately the president's budget fails on that count. now, let me just say that in terms of the -- the direction that these various budgets head, the senate democrat budget, because it didn't balance in ten years, nor does the president's' both use similar assumptions i guess you would say about spending. in fact, if you look at the new debt that's piled up by the president's budget, he adds $8.2 trillion to the debt over the next decade. the senate democrat budget added 7.3 trillion to the debt over the next decade, and both have net spending increases. the spending amount over the ten-year period in both the president's budget proposal and the senate democrat budget proposal is on the order of $46.5 trillion. that's the amount of money,
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amount of taxpayer money that the federal government would spend over the next decade under the budgets proposed by the president and the senate democrats. the house budget passed by the -- largely by the house republicans spends about $5 trillion less than that over that same time period. how does it do that? well, by reducing the rate of growth of federal spending. if you limit the rate of growth in federal spending to 3.4% as opposed to a 4.6% number in the senate democrat budget or the 5.2% increase in mandatory spending called for in the president's budget, you achieve significant savings over a period of time, and you're not cutting government. you are simply slowing the rate of growth. by growing government at a slower rate, getting it back into a more reasonable level, you can actually achieve $5 trillion in savings over the next decade in terms of what the federal government will spend. that's the way that the house
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approached their budget. what the senate democrats and the president have both done is called for massive new tax increases. in fact, the only deficit reduction that will occur under the president's budget will be because of tax increases because he wipes out the $1.2 trillion in spending cuts that were in place as a result of sequester. he replaces those and achieves somewhere on the order of $600 billion in deficit reduction, but that deficit reduction would be entirely accomplished by tax increases. raising taxes yet again, after we have had tax increases both on the fiscal cliff on january 1, the president got a huge tax increase, something that he had been want forgo a long time, $620 billion in new taxes. you add that to the more than $1 trillion in new taxes that are in the obamacare bill passed a couple of years ago, and this president on his watch has signed into law more than
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$1.7 trillion in new taxes. so this is not a revenue problem, madam president. this is a spending problem. what we need to be focused on here is what do we do to rein in out-of-control spending? how do we protect these programs and save them not only for the people who depend on them today but the people who will need them in the future? that's really the question before the house. so as we received the president's budget today -- as i said earlier, it will be the latest point at which a president has submitted a budget literally since around -- it's been 100 years. let's put it that way. it's been around the early 1900's was the last time the president submitted his budget to this congress at this late date. and again, having already acted here in the house and the senate, i'm not sure what meaning it has other than to perhaps give the -- the president the luxury to be able to say he actually at least presented a budget. but on most of the criteria, i guess, in terms of evaluating
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this budget that i mentioned earlier we ought to be looking at, it is not a serious attempt. it doesn't do anything to rein in these out-of-control programs that are growing at two to three times the rate of inflation. it has a massive tax increase, a trillion-dollar tax increase o on -- on top of the $1.7 trillion in new taxes that the president has already signed into law. it adds $8.2 trillion to the debt over the next decade. and so for that reason, madam president, i think it fails the fundamental test of fiscal responsibility but, more importantly, perhaps even than that, it fails to answer the question that i posed earlier and that is, does the president's budget grow the economy, does it create jobs, and does it increase take-home pay for middle-income americans? the answer to that simply is "no." because when you're raising taxes, consistently raising taxes on the people who create the jobs in our economy, it -- it -- it just makes the economy grow at a slower rate. you have more sluggish growth, which is what we've seen now for
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the past several years. when we're growing at 1.5 to 2% as opposed to 3% to 4%, it makes a huge difference -- a huge difference -- in terms of the number of people in this country that are employed, the number of jobs that are created. and obviously it makes a huge difference in terms of the fiscal imbalance. because when the economy is growing at a faster rate, it means more people are working, more people are investing and, therefore, making money and paying taxes. and so tax revenues go up when the economy is growing and expanding. that ought to be the goal, that ought to be our goal, not only to get those 21.7 million americans who are out of work, back to work, but also to -- to get the -- the fiscal imbalance that we face in this country in a more manageable place. and if we're going to get our fiscal house in order, we have to do those two things. we have got to restrain federal spending and we have got to put policies in place that grow the economy. and there is a relationship between the two. and it's been well documented, well studied, well researched that when you have spending
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that's out of control, when you have a debt as a percentage of your g.d.p. that exceeds a certain level, that it harms economic growth, it reduces the amount the economy grows on an annual basis and in so doing also reduces the number of jobs that are created. and so this is a addition this i -- this isthe -- the questiond be asked. and, again, when you compare or stack up the president's budget against that question, "does it grow the economy, does it create jobs, does it increase the take-home pay for middle-class americans?" the answer is simply "no." and i would compare again what the -- the legislation that was passed, the budget that was passed by both the house and the senate, in the case of the senate, studies done that suggested it would cost 800,000 jobs a year, again because of the tax increases that are included, the higher level of federal spending. simply raising taxes to fuel yet more federal spending does nothing to grow the private economy. what we want to see is a smaller federal economy and a bigger
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private economy, where the real, good-paying jobs are created. and that's clearly, again, with this budget, which relies heavily -- which doubles down on federal spending, adds more to the debt, doesn't achieve balance, increases taxes by a trillion dollars, takes us in absolutely the wrong direction. and i -- i hope that before this is all said and done, that the house of representatives and the senate, both of which have passed budgets and now we have the president's budget, can somehow sit down together and figure out how we get a proposal that actually would deal with out-of-control spending and would focus on growing the economy, creating jobs and increasing the take-home pay for middle-class americans. that ought to be the criteria that we use, and i would hope, madam president, before this is all said and done that people here in the city would realize that we don't have a taxing problem. of the problem here isn't that we tax too little. it's that we spend too. and that's what needs -- it's that we spend too much. that's what we need to address.
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i hope we can reconcile these budgets but it's going to require the president to be engaged on a level that he hasn't demonstrated so far, that he gets what this real issue is and wants to get serious about reining in out-of-control government spending. so, madam president, i hope that we can make some headway there yet. i've not lost hope. and as i said, there's some incremental gains, some baby steps that the president took in this but it's far short of what needs to be done to get our economy back on track and to get government spending under control. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senior senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, madam president. i'm honored to stand again here on the floor of the senate, as i will be doing along with my colleague, senator murphy, and others who are allied in this effort to make america safer and to stop the scourge of gun violence that has plagued this country for decades and has been dramatized so horrifically and tragically by the nightmarish,
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unspeakable tragedy that occurred in newtown. i stand here on behalf of the families but they are speaking much more eloquently and powerfully than i could ever do, as they go around to the offices of my colleagues and look them in the face and say, "how could you not favor a ban on illegal trafficking and straw purchasers?" "how could you not support strengthening school safety?" "how could you not favor a national criminal background check?" as one police chief told me, a national background check makes sure that we do not put criminals on the honor system. without a criminal background check, criminals are on an honor system to not buy weapons. what kind of a guarantee of safety would that be?
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and how could you not be in favor of banning the kind of weapon that killed the children and educators of newtown or the high-capacity magazine that enabled and facilitated that killing to take place? 154 bullets fired in five minutes, tearing apart those beautiful, innocent children. and six great educators who pawr i shoulperished trying to save . we are on the cusp of success in the critical first step, and i am increasingly hopeful -- in fact, i'm confident -- that we will have a vote in this body on gun safety measures. we will have a vote in the united states senate to impose sensible and commonsense
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measures to stop gun violence. we will have a vote in the senate in a matter of days that will enable america to hold accountable its elected representatives here on this floor in the senate for measures that will stop gun violence in this country that has killed 3,000 or more people since newtown. the epidemic of gun violence is stoppable and we will have a vote in this body that makes sure all of us are held to answer to the american people. the majority of the american people favor these measures. 90% or more say they want a national criminal background check. their voice deserves a vote, and
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i am confident that we will have it. i am confident in part because of the bipartisan compromise that has been announced today. i'm going through the details, listening to my colleagues in law enforcement, the mayors and others who have been so responsible and resolute in working over years and decades for these kinds of measures. and i'm listening to the families of newtown. and we will make sure that this compromise vindicates and upholds the vital law enforcement and safety interests that these measures are designed to vindicate and uphold. and i am confident that this compromise is a positive and constructive step toward our having a vote, ending unlimited debate on this bill, achieving
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cloture, stopping a filibuster, as we have a responsibility to do. and i want to focus for the moment on one aspect of these measures that i consider critically important. a ban on high-capacity magazin magazines -- all magazines, all clips that hold more than ten bullets -- that i will be introducing on behalf of senator lautenberg and working with senator feinstein and others to make sure this measure has a vote, whether it's as an amendment or a separate bill. i want to thank senator lautenberg for his leadership on this issue. he has championed it here for some time and i will be working with him and others to make sure that this measure that i have introduced has a vote and my colleague, senator murphy, will
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be working with me in this effort. the statistics show the terrible impact of high-capacity magazines. a recent study of 62 mass shooting since 1982 showed that half involved high-capacity magazine. statistics also show that bans on high-capacity magazines actually work. the 1994 ban on these devices reduced their use dramatically. a study of gun violence in virginia showed that just 10% of guns record by police in 2004 used high-capacity magazines, but after the ban was allowed to sunset, the prevalence of high-capacity magazines more than doubled. geren whitmoot, head of the violence prevention research program at the university of california at davis school of medicine said -- and i'm quoting -- "i was skeptical that the ban would be effective and i was wrong."
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he said that the database analysis offers about as clear an example -- and i'm quoting -- "about as clear an example as we could ask of evidence that the ban was working." and the limitation that i am proposing, that i will be working with senator lautenberg and senator feinstein and senator murphy and senator schumer and others who've championed this cause, would be even more effective because unlike the 1994 law, it will prohibit imports of high-capacity magazines, not just production here but imports of these high-capacity magazin magazines. ten rounds or more, we need to say no. we also have to implement a buyback program for the existing high-capacity magazines in use and circulation today.
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the proposal that i'm advocating allows for byrne grant funding to be used for exactly that purpose. it doesn't require, doesn't mandate that owners of high-capacity magazines participate in a buyback program but it gives them that option. and over time, this measure will reduce the number of high-capacity magazines out there. the provision that i'm spearhe spearheading was part of legislation actually offered by senator feinstein in the judiciary committee, approved by that committee on march 14. it's supported by a long list of mayors as well as organizations representing law enforcement and i'd like to include that list, if i may, without objection, in the record, madam president. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: it's supported as well by educators, the civil rights community, health care providers and others. it is a proposal that is
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eminently sensible, reasonable. it's a matter of common sense. a majority of americans have consistently supported a ban on high-capacity magazines. a poll in january of this year showed that 65% of americans, including 55% of gun owners, support such a ban. but the most powerful argument for a ban on high-capacity magazines comes from the experience of newtown, where the changing of magazine enabled children to escape. when the shooter changed magazines, the time allowed children to evade his nightmarish slaughter.
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in tucson, we know from captain mark kelley, who testified before the judiciary committee, husband of gabby gifford, that the limitation on that magazine enabled spectators, bystanders to tackle the shooter. if theren only ten rounds in that magazine that he was using, christina-taylor shot by the 13th bullet would be alive today. we know that high-capacity phag stkaoepbz enable and -- magazines enable and facilitate these mass killings. they don't cause them. they don't compel them. they enable them. high-capacity magazines allowed adam lanza to fire more than 150 rounds of ammunition in five minutes. and we know from men and women who have lost loved ones that
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these devices are part of the killing. they are part and parcel of the slaughter that has occurred all too often. bill sherlach, the husband of mary sherlach and who has come to washington this week to speak out against gun violence, has this to say about high-capacity magazines and his wife mary is with us in this picture today. quote, "it's just simple arithmetic. if you have to change magazines 15 times instead of 5 times, you have three times as many incidents as where something could jam, something could be bottled. you increase the time for intervention. you increase the time frame where kids can get out, and there's 11 kids out there today that are still running around on the playground pretty much now
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at lunch time." end of quote. another sandy hook family member with us today, nicole hockley, the mother of dylan hockley said the following -- quote -- "we looked at the search warrants and know that the shooter left a smaller-capacity magazines at home. that was a choice that the shooter made. he knew that the larger-capacity magazines were more lethal." end of quote. the fact is adam lanza had smaller-capacity magazines that were found in his home at the time a search was conducted. he left those behind. he used the 30-round clips. he brought with him the 30-round magazines, three of them for
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that ar-15 because he knew he could fire more bullets more rapidly more lethally with a 30-round clip. david wheeler, who is also here today and was the father of benjamin andrew wheeler, said the following -- quote -- "the bullets you can get out the end of that gun in the least amount of time, that is the single area that i believe affects lethality and the size of the magazine placed in that weapon is a direct contributor to that, a direct contributor to that factor. there is a place for 30-round magazines. in the military, on the battlefield." end of quote. the families of sandy hook have shown tremendous courage and strength. their resolve and resoluteness are an inspiration and a source
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of strength to all of us who have spent time with them, who have come to know them, the privilege of knowing them. they've come here to talk about something no one would want to talk about, and they've done it so that no mother, no father, no husband, no wife ever has to again experience the unspeakable and unimaginable horror and tragedy that has befallen them. we owe it to them to vote on this measure. i'm confident there will be a vote. i'm proud to offer this measure banning high-capacity magazines to reduce the scourge of gun violence. there is no turning back, as nicole hockley has said so
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eloquently. there is no turning back from a proposal to ban high-capacity magazine. thank you, madam president, and i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: madam president, i want to talk about the issue of gun violence. our hearts are still heavy from the reminders of what happened in connecticut. and i want to say that i come to this issue from a position of moderation and common sense. i come to this issue as having grown up in the country as a hunter. i grew up on a ranch. i've had guns all my life.
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i am very familiar with guns, and to this day still enjoy hunting quail and pheasant with my son. but, is there anybody that realistically doesn't believe that we ought to have a criminal background check for the person that is purchasing a gun? i'm very encouraged to hear that senator manchin and senator toomey have come together to find a way to close the gun show loophole, and that's instructive. what happened in my state of florida years ago, we amended the state constitution with a overwhelming vote of the people in florida, and then there were
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ways that in practice it's been found to subvert the law that was the will of the people in our state, that you can't purchase a gun in a gun show without having a criminal background check. what they do is say, oh, i'll consider you a personal friend, and, therefore, that's an exception to doing a background check on you. well, senator manchin and senator toomey have come to an agreement to find a way to close that gun show loophole, and that proposal will also establish a commission to better understand the root causes of how to prevent mass violence. there's just simply no reason why we shouldn't be able to do a
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criminal background check to find out what is one way of finding out what's the intention of somebody that's buying a gun. and if you bring it back to its basic, it's all about common sense. and it's especially so given the circumstances that we find ourselves where people are going in and slaughtering children. now is there anybody that thinks that we need ammunition clips for 60 rounds? that's not common sense. when i go hunting, if it's quail, i'm usually -- i have two shotgun shells in the gun. if you're going to give the
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quail a chance, and if it's hunting instead of killing, then let's see how good a marksman you are. and i can't see any reason that common sense would dictate why we would have more than ten rounds in a clip. and yet, people want to go out and buy clips for 60 rounds? well, i think that's telling you something about what their intention is. i voted on this back in 2004 to extend the existing law that came out of the 1990's, and we said in that legislation, ten and fewer is okay. is that not reasonable? is that not common sense?
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so if we don't have reasonably more of a need than ten, then that's what we ought to draw in the law. then there's another element of common sense, and that is why assault weapons? when i served this country wearing the uniform of this country, the united states military has assault weapons. people are going out and buying these ak-47's. they're a derivative of the same weapon that was used by the north vietnamese against us in the vietnam war. and i simply ask the question: are these guns for hunting or are they for killing?
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and if the legitimate answer is they're not for hunting or for some collector's purposes, then they have another purpose. and obviously that's what they were designed for as an assault-type weapon in a combat circumstance. so how do you approach the legitimate recognition of the second amendment, the right to bear arms, with assault weapons? and i don't think you can. it seems that among people of goodwill, using common sense and moderation, that you could come to some definitions that would ban these type of assault weapons. now, we're probably not going to have the votes to pass it here, but we need to take the vote.
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and we need to see how everybody feels about this issue. i want to conclude by saying that there are those of us that are taking this position of moderation and common sense as if we are not for the second amendment. that is false. of course i support the second amendment. i just gave you my history, growing up in the country with guns, having guns all my life, and still having a number of guns in my home today. i support the second amendment. i do so in light of the circumstances in our society today. those circumstances have changed. and my final comment is that in all of this is it's moderation
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and common sense that are so much the solution to facing the issues that confront us today. and here is another example. let's use a little common sense. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. murphy: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, madam president. i thank my colleague from florida for those very thoughtful remarks, and of course my colleague, the senior senator from connecticut. we're here on the floor today to help lead a discussion about how this nation can finally own up to its responsibility to take on
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the scourge of gun violence that has certainly been highlighted by the massacre in sandy hook that i spoke about earlier today in my first speech before this chamber. but has, frankly, become too routine throughout the streets of this country with 3,000, 4,000 people losing their lives to gun violence since sandy hook happened. and lost in a lot of the debate here about the particular policy prescriptions that we are talking about, whether it be universal background checks supported by 90% of americans, or a ban on high-capacity magazines supported by two-thirds of americans, or a federal hraul ending illegal -- federal law ending illegal gun trafficking supported by three-fourths of americans; lost amidst all of the political back and forth over negotiations between republicans and democrats, the pronouncements of
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the n.r.a. and of gun control groups, lost amidst all of that debate about policy and policy are the victims. are the victims. are the people, boys and girls, men and women, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters who die every single day in this country. i described it this morning like raindrops. it's just background noise to this country now, the number of people who are dying every day. and so i decided that after having given my maiden speech this morning, i would come back to this floor. not to occupy the floor, commandeer the floor, but to the extent that there is time today and tomorrow and next week to spend time on this floor telling the stories of the victims. telling the stories of the individual people whose lives were tragically cut short by guns, because it happens here more so than almost every other
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nation in the world. more people lose their lives, more people have their lives ended prematurely because of guns here than almost any other corner of the world. and it's time that we do something about it. yes, because of the aggregate numbers. yes, because of the horror in sandy hook, but because every single additional life that's cut short is a failure of our responsibility to do something about it. and so i'm going to spend some time down here on the floor in between others giving speeches today and tomorrow and next week to talk about these victims, to just tell you a little bit about who they are, especially for the little ones. maybe who they were going to be. so let me start in newtown. let me start in sandy hook. and we can put up some pictures of just a handful of the victims from sandy hook and from cities
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across this country. let me start with the little guy in the middle here. daniel barden. i talked about him this morning. daniel was a pretty amazing little boy. his parents talked about the unbelievable compassion that he had. i talked about it this morning, that he never failed to turn off a light when he left a room. he was always the kid in school that was sitting with the kid who didn't have anybody to sit with when his parents would leave a grocery store, they would get halfway across the grocery store parking lot, turn around and daniel wasn't with them because he was still holding the door open for other people who are leaving the store. he was a pretty amazing little kid. he loved spending time with his family. he loved riding the waves at the beach. you can see with that long hair
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he was a beach bum. played drums in a band with his brother james and sister natalie. his family is really musical, and so on that morning, his father who is a professional musician, who is here this week, actually, taught him how to play "jingle bells". he woke up really early that morning. it's funny because he was the last of the three kids to go to school. they were all in separate schools. and his parents thought this was strange, that that morning he woke up early. in fact, it was the first day all year -- this is december 14, so they had been in school for months. it was the first day the entire year that daniel had woken up before his oldest sibling went to school. and as the oldest sibling was walking down the driveway to go too school, daniel ran after him to tell him that he loved him. it was the first day. he had never done that all year.
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but it just shows what a compassionate little kid daniel was. i actually wear a bracelet for daniel. it's a bracelet that links to a facebook page called what would daniel do? it's got 16,000 likes. the point of this page is you will hear frankly about a lot of these kids. the families have done amazing things to try to spread the word about who these kids were and who these kids were going to be. daniel's page is what would daniel do? it's just a forum for people to to -- you know, just invest in little acts of kindness to try to live up to the inspiration that this little 6-year-old set for his family and his neighborhood. so people posted stories on that web site for the last several months about these little kind acts that they perform, like the woman who bought coffee and doughnuts for a firehouse in her home state of new york. or the missouri woman who helped restock a food pantry in
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daniel's honor. or the illinois woman who just paid for a stranger's meal and on the back of the bill wrote love from daniel barden. daniel is going to grow up to be a really, really amazing young man. loved life. did amazing things for people. but we didn't get to know daniel barden later in life because he was gunned down that day in sandy hook. let me tell you the story of someone equally amazing who we got to know for 20 more years than the kids that she was charged with looking after, but her name is one that you might know, and that's victoria soto. she was 27 years old. she was a teacher at sandy hook elementary school. that's what she wanted to do. she had wanted to be a teacher, her mom said, since she was 3 years old. imagine knowing what you want to do when you're 3 years old and sticking with it.
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a lot of people think they know what they want to do when they are 3, they change their minds, but she didn't. she worked every day from the time that she was 13 to get ready to be a teacher. as early as 13, she was charting out her classes so that she could ultimately be a teacher. and even when she got to sandy hook elementary school, she made time for night classes at southern connecticut state university where she was getting her master's degree in special education. a mentor of hers said that she was the last one who would have wanted hero status, but nobody was surprised to hear what she did in that classroom that day. when adam lanza walked into her classroom, victoria soto was the only person that he saw. why? because she had ushered her special education teacher ann marie murphy and several other
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kids under a desk and she had pushed a number of other kids into a closet to hide them. when lanza came into the classroom, he faced her and killed her, and then he killed the kids who were under the desk. the kids who hid in the closet, many of them lived. many of them survived or were discovered after the incident because of the heroic actions of this one 27-year-old teacher. imagine what she could have done with the rest of her life. the students loved her. parents loved her. she was made for teaching. think of all of the impact. she probably had 30 more years in the classroom. she had hundreds if not thousands of kids that she still could have touched with her life. gone. victoria soto's genius as a teacher will no longer be able to be realized because of what happened that day. and if we don't do something about it, victoria soto won't be
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the last teacher who is going to be gunned down. if we don't take some steps here, this won't be the last selfless educator that we will mourn here on the floor of the united states house of representatives. let me tell you about charlotte bacon, 6 years old. i lost count of the number of funerals and wakes that i went to, but i do remember charlotte's funeral. she had this crazy head of curly red hair. she was described by her family as someone who was sweet and outgoing, someone willing to argue for whatever she believed in, even at 6 years old. she loved the color pink. she loved animals. any animal that she met, but she really loved her golden retriever. she wanted to become a vettarian. a lot of these kids here today, they knew what they wanted to do with their lives. these were ambitious kids, in
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part because they had really special parents as well. she was really looking forward to christmas because she wanted to show off this new pink dress and these pink boots that she had gotten. it was a christmas outfit, so she was waiting until christmas to be able to show it off. but on the morning of december 14 -- again, another theme you will hear is that these -- strange things happened that morning. that morning she woke up and she wanted to wear that pink dress, wanted to wear the pink boots, and her mother let her do it. she wore that special pink dress and those boots to school on friday, december 14. her family has established a nonprofit called newtown kindness. the organization is comprised of community members who are trying to bring positivity and strength back to the newtown community. i talked this morning about the fact that for many of us who have lived through this tragedy,
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not anywhere close to the way in which the victims' families have, what we see newtown as defined by is not those ten minutes of violence and evil but by all of the millions of acts of humanity that have spilled forth from within the community and outside the community within the days and weeks since. this is what newtown kindness is about. it's encouraging children to do their own acts of kindness like charlotte did and submit their stories through drawings and letters to the organization, and newtown kindness is going to show some light on all of these little wonderful things that kids do every day in the same way that charlotte did for the kids she loved and the family members she loved and for the animals that she loved. let me talk a little bit about another teacher. rachel davino. rachel was very much like victoria in that she knew that
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she wanted to work with kids. she had a lot of interests, rachel davino did. she was born in waterbury, received her undergraduate degree from hartford, and she loved animals. that's probably why she connected with a lot of these kids. she loved animals, she loved baking, photography and karate. she drew lots of things. loved to draw animals, dogs, frogs, anything with scales or feathers or fur, she loved to draw. but her passion was really working as a behavioral therapist, working with kids with autism. there were a number of kids in these classrooms who had autism and were doing great because of the work of people like rachel and people like ann marie murphy who reached out to work with these kids. rachel was exceptional because she integrated these kids into her daily life. she brought the kids to her home. she involved the kids in her family. she treated these kids like family. they matured, they did better under her care. she probably didn't know it when
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she died, but her best friend and her boyfriend tony was about to propose to her. in fact, he had already gone to her parents to ask permission to ask her to marry him. he was going to do it on christmas eve, just ten days after the incident. he didn't get to ask for rachel's hand in marriage. instead, the wedding ring that he had planned to present to her was placed on her finger before she was buried. rachel was an amazing teacher. an amazing person who invested herself in these kids day in and day out. it would have been great to know what rachel davino was going to become as she matured as an educator. this is just a sampling of the stories from one day in newtown, connecticut. less kids and adults died in newtown that die than die every day across this country.
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we think of how exceptional it was and how awful and how horrific that we lost 20 kids and six adults -- and by the way, two others in adam lanza and his mother, and yet that number is less than the average number of people who are killed every day by gun violence across this country. and so i want to talk about them, too. i want to talk about just over the last couple weeks and months what we have witnessed across this country. i want to talk about adeya pendleton in chicago. we have heard a lot about because for the presidential inauguration she was here. she was performing with her charter school's majorette team in the presidential inauguration festivities. she loved performing. she was an honors student at
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kings college prep high school in chicago. she was 15 years old. she is remembered by her friends as somebody who was always raising her hand in class. she had all the right answers in that chemistry class. she wore bright lip gloss that made her stand out. she danced. she loved to dance. she danced on the praise ministry at her church. she was a member of the cheerleading team as well. she loved chinese food. she loved fig newtons. she was talking about going to college, journalism or pharmacology. pretty different things. she wanted to go to harvard. she knew where she wanted to go. she was shot and killed while standing with her friends at a park in chicago after she took her final exams, just days after she came back from washington, d.c., probably one of the most amazing experiences of her life. i watched some of that parade and i always think to myself whether i saw her performing in her majorette team. 15 years old. she was going to go to harvard. she was going to become a
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journalist. she was a great dan -- dancer. all of the things that we missed just because she was standing in the way of a bullet at a park with her friends after she took her final exams. i think about levenialle williams, who in january of this year was just visiting with his mother and two sisters in marion city, california, to celebrate his 17th birthday. 17 years old he was that day. and he was checking in on his sister, april, to make sure that she was fine because there was just some suspicious activity going on in the housing complex that day. and so he went downstairs to check out what the commotion was about and moments later, he was shot dead. just because he walked down some stairs to check out some commotion. deputies who arrived on the scene found a group of people trying desperately to revive the
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teenager with c.p.r. but he was pronounced dead at the scene. he had been hit by several bullets. he was just there visiting his mother and two sisters to celebrate his 17th birthday. that's levenielle williams, died on january 11 is, 2013. talk about the connection to the background checks piece of this discussion. we can talk about anne marie bosch. she returned home after dropping off her kids at school on april 8 -- this was just a week or so ago -- in milwaukee. and her live-in boyfriend pulled in behind her in a taxi cab that he drove for hire, he walked to her van's window and he so the her in the head. he then took his gun and he turned it on himself. he was on probation for recent domestic violence incidences involving his daughter, in which he had beaten up his daughter.
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he had firearms arrests going back 20 years. he was a convicted felon and he was prohibited from carrying weapons. now, i don't have in front of me why he had the weapons that day and how he got them but he wasn't supposed to have them. he had a long rap sheet when it came to convictions regarding firearms. he was ordered to undergo anger manage training after his most recent conviction but it's unclear whether that ever happen. and he's not here to answer those questions and neither is his girl fren girlfriend, anne o died that day, 39 years old, after dropping her kids off at school. earlier this week in akron, ohio, there was a 28-year-old man who was fatally shot while taking garbage to a trash bin in the parking lot of a mcdonald's restaurant that he worked in.
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taking garbage to a trash dump and he got shot, he died. his name hasn't been released but he'd been working that the mcdonald's for ten years and his coworkers said -- quote -- "he was the kind of person who would give you his last dollar. he always gave his coworkers gifts on holidays, on christmas and thanksgiving." he worked at mcdonald's. certainly couldn't have had a lot of money to be going out and buying gifts for his coworkers but he worked at that place for a decade. and because of his generous nature, with whatever money he had, he scraped together and made sure people knew that he loved them. 28 years old. this week, earlier this week, he died in akron, ohio. this stuff is happening every day. i mean, i'll keep on going through them here but this is happening every day throughout this country. people are dying on our streets
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by casual gun violence. bringing garbage to a dumpster outside of a mcdonald's. walking down the stairs to check out some commotion at your sister's housing complex. pulling into your driveway after dropping off your kids. these were not people that were going out and looking for trouble. these were people who were just doing their regular, everyday business. president obama came to connecticut on monday and he told the story of -- of a mother who was so frustrated at the phrase regarding her daughter's death due to gun violence that her daughter was in the wrong place at the wrong time. she just happened to be in the way of a stray bullet. and her point was that, no, in fact, she was at the right place at the right time. she was walking to school this guy was bringing garbage to the dumpster.
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anne marie was coming home after dropping off her kids. levenielle was just looking out for his sister. they weren't in the wrong place at the wrong time. they were doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing, and yet they were gunned down. we have no answer? we're not able, after 20 years of this, to step up and do something about it? it's like raindrops. it's just become routine. so let me go back to newtown. and tell you more about these kids. let me tell you about olivia rose engle, six years old. olivia was a bright-eyed brunette six-year-old girl. she loved school -- loved
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school. she particularly loved reading and math. that's good, because that's a lot of what you're doing when you're in first grade is reading and math. so if you like reading and math, you're probably in good shape. her favorite stuffed animal was a lamb and her favorite colors were, again, a theme you'll hear throughout especially with these girls, favorite colors were pink and purple. and she was all set to play the angel in her church's nativity play on the night of the trage tragedy. she laughed a lot and her parents said that she just lit up a room when she walked in. she did a lot of things, too. olivia played soccer and tennis and she took art classes and she loved swimming and she loved her ballet classes and she took hip-hop dance lessons. she was involved in her daze hey girl scouts and she loved playing soccer as well. oevery night when they'd gather for dinner, the family would have olivia say grace and she
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was a great big sister. olivia really loved her little three-year-old brother, brayden. she was killed that day in sandy hook elementary school. josephine gay celebrated her seventh birth day just three days before -- seventh birthday just three days before the tragedy. joey is what she was called by her family. she was a kid with just indomitable spirit. she was > autistic, like a handl of these kids, but she was still social and she was very, very affectionate. she was getting really good care from some of these paraprofessionals that were there. she grew up in a -- in maryland, actually, not too far from here in a houseful of ravens fans. and josephine fell in love with the color purple. i don't know if she had bought in to the ravens as a team yet but she loved the color purple. she had a great sense of humor. she smiled all the time. she loved hugs. and even though she participated
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in just rigorous therapy for her disability, she had treatment on a daily basis, she did it without complaint. she did it without complaint. she loved her barbie dolls and her ipad and computer. she loved to swing and sing and she loved to be anywhere that her sisters were. that's joey gay, who was killed that day at age seven in sandy hook elementary school. i want to talk to you about aviel richmond. gotten to know avielle's parents pretty well over the course of the last few months. frankly gotten to know a lot of these families over the last few months. and avielle's parents have done something remarkable which i'll mention. but let me tell you about avielle. guess what color she loved? she loved pink. she loved to wear pink cowboy boots and adored riding her pony
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betty. she turned six years old just about two months before the tragedy. and she had moved to connecticut just a few years ago from san diego and she loved san diego. she -- she was barefoot all the time. she would run on the beaches of san diego until the sun went down. and her relatives used to joke about even when she came to connecticut how hard it was to get shoes on avielle because out in san diego, she never used shoes and so she certainly wasn't going to start using them here, mean a colder climate like connecticut. she had occurly brown hair, an infectious smile. her parents kept a blog about her who they called their little hummingbird. she loved horseback riding and swimming and iceskating and she loved superhero adventures. she loved pretending to be a superhero. she actually loved the move oh "brave" and avielle actually tried out archery. it's a brave thing for her parents to do as well. at the tried out archery because of they are love for that move -- because of her love for
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that movie. before her life was taken that december, avielle was obsessed with an easy bake oven that she was hopefully going to get for christmas. her parents are scientists and they have started a nonprofit in the wake of avielle's death to raise money to try to get to the root cause of the illness that causes someone like adam lanza to pick una gun. it's an maze thing for -- it's an amazing thing for the richmans to do. i've talked about a lot of these efforts. whether it's the facebook page for daniel b ra den or the web site to try to encourage kids to engage in acts of kindness or what avielle's parents did, this is an amazing thing to do, at the same time you're grieving to try to find some silver lining in all of this. and the richmans hope is that they can use the memory of their
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precious six-year-old daughter to go out and raise money to try to research the causes of illness that led to this tragedy because it is an illness. and, you know, to me, we talk about it in terms of evil -- and i've certainly used that term -- but it's really evil masquerading -- or it's illness, excuse me, illness masquerading as evil. so the richmans are going to try to do their part to go out and raise money i so we can try to o a better job of figuring out what's going on in the brain to cause someone to leave their parents' home, drive to an elementary school and start shooting. but also to try to examine what causes someone to walk up to a mcdonald's employee as they're delivering garbage to the bumpster and shoot them as well. it's a different kind of illness, i suppose, but it deserves examination, nonetheless. and the richmans are heroic in
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the fact that they've decided to reach out and try to make this discovery. another teacher to talk about is lauren rurousseau. she wanted to be a teacher so bad. she was 30 years old. she had spent six years up to the point she was hired as a full-time substitute teacher at sandy hook elementary. she had spent six years working part-time jobs just to make ends meet so she could substitute teach during the day. she was for that six-year period of time looking for a full-time job and she had finally found it that october, she had been hired in newtown to be a full-time substitute teacher. it's just what lauren wanted to do.and she was really good at it. she was really good at it. and she was literally on the verge of realizing that six-year dream when her life was taken. she was really bubbly and
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outgoing and she spent the morning of december 14 looking forward to a movie she was going to see that might with with her friends and boyfriend, "the hobbitt." this was a big deal going to see the movie that had just come out that evening. it's what she was talking about that morning. she loved animals too. and she was passionate about doing something about child poverty. it's part of the reason why she went into education was that she felt like she needed to live her life in a way that was going to reach out and eradicate the scourge of child poverty. purple was her faifort color and so -- favorite color and so everybody at her funeral wore purple. she was a huge u-conn basketball fan. in particular, she was a big fan of u-conn women's basketball. so if lauren is looking down from up above, she is very, very happy today, because her u-conn women are nationa national chams again. she would have been watching that game last night and
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hopefully she was. lauren rousseau, she -- she was right there. her dream was within her grasp, what she had work for all her life. and in an instant, it was gone. lauren rousseau. teachers, little girls, little boys could have been great people, great educators. could have been dancers and singers. and daniel barden said he wanted to be a paleontologist, just like his older brother. they could have done great things. but they're gone. this isn't the first massacre that we've seen. daniel barden and anna marques greene and dillon hockley and benjamin wheeler, these are all kids that were killed in
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newtown, connecticut. but you feel newtown is just the latest in a line of mass shootings. 40% of the mass shootings that have happened in this nation's history have happened since the assault weapons ban expired. 40% of all of the mass shootings in this nation's history have happened in the last eight yea years -- eight years -- since the assault weapons ban expired. i'm not an expert in cause and correlation, but that cannot be a coincidence. it can't be a coincidence because we also know that during that ten years of the assault weapons ban, along with the ban on high-capacity magazines was in effect, we saw a 37% decrease in gun violence. we saw a two-thirds decrease in the crimes committed with assault weapons. real numbers, real reductions in
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overall gun violence and in gun violence perpetrated with these dangerous assault weapons. but the minute that that ban was lifted, a dramatic increase in these mass shootings. newtown was the second worst school shooting. it's seared in our memories in a different way because these were just precious young little kids, and we can't help but grieve in a fundamentally different way for six- and seven-year olds. but virginia tech was worse. virginia tech still to this day saw the highest number of people gunned down. and so, i want to talk about a few of those people. russ alamadean was a virginia
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tech sophomore. he loved computer games, and he actually played a lot of them competitively. he was very much into home computer repair, and it was something that he wanted to do with his life. his customers always loved him because they would bring their computers to them. he was one of the few people who knew how to fix them. he did a lot of stuff outside of his fascination with computers. he loved roller pwhraeugd whether in -- blading. he adored movies and music. he played the piano and he actually sang at a local coffee house. he had a fondness of language, and he had strong opinions too. he was part of the debate club at austin prep where he went to school. he talked in every single of his classes. you know these kids who always had something to say and ross was one of them.
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he loved life. he sought to make other people laugh and used his music to do that. one of his classmates remembered his many qualities. he said his wit, insightfulness and humor made him fun to be around but his caring for others was also always present. ross was one of the 32 victims killed during the virginia tech massacre on april 16, 2007. christopher james bishop, jamie bishop, was a german teacher, was shot at the age of 35. he was a dedicated husband and a son. he was a gentle colleague and he was a really generous friend. he had a long pony tail that he wore. that was kind of jamie's signature. but he didn't keep the pony tail for long because once he grew it, he would regularly cut his hair and donate it to the locks
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of love. he was doing it for style reasons, i'm sure, but he saw his pony tail as a means to donate to other people who needed some help. he was another techno guru. he knew a lot about complicated gadgets and one of those was cameras. he was a great technician with camera but also an avid photographer. jamie leaves behind a lot of wonderful art which captured the intensity of the beauty that surrounded him in blacksburg. he hailed from a small town: pine mountain, georgia. and he was a big fan of the atlanta braves, so he would probably be excited about the start the atlanta braves have had this year. he was a foreign language teacher and he was a tough teacher. bishop was his name. but he understood engaging language was a way for people to
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enjoy the world. if you understood languages, understood different cultures and you understood something big about p what it means to be a human being in this world. jamie believed in what he did not just because he wanted to teach kids german but because he wanted to teach kids about the world. he died at virginia tech on april 16, 2007, at the age of 35. brian roy blum was a graduate student and he was a t.a. at virginia tech. he cared about water resources, something that we actually are going to be talking about here pretty soon, but something that not a lot of graduate students think about. he cared deeply about a just distribution of water assets across the country, and that's what he was working on at virginia tech. but his first love was for god. he was dedicated to building a
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relationship through his church with his god. he was one of the friendliest guys you'd ever meet his friends said. he had a smile for everybody. he was a big sports fan. brian grew up with a passion for sports, particularly baseball. and his favorite team was the detroit tigers. he was one of these guys who followed everything about his favorite team. he watched all the games, but when the tigers weren't playing in the winter and early spring, he'd be analyzing every statistic from the past season and getting ready for the next season. he also loved virginia tech sports, especially football and basketball. he was one of those people you'd see on tv that came to all those games with the colors on his chest to show his support. his family says that he'll be remembered for his love of god, family, friends, the detroit tigers and virginia tech. and he was lost that day, april
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16, 2007, as well. ryan christopher clark was known to his friends as "stack." he maintained a 4.0 g.p.a. when he was a student at virginia tech, and, again, he was a kid who had a mass try of science -- mastery of science. he had a triple major. i didn't know you could have a treub pell major. but stack had a triple major in psychology, biology and english. can you imagine what he would be able to contribute to society if he had lived? he was also a big man on campus. he was a leader on campus. he played baritone in the marching virginia university band and he was a resident advisor. he was doing great things on campus and passing a along a lot of knowledge to kids underneath
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him. his friends said he was a wonderful part of our baritone section. he was fun, loving, a delightful person to be around. he cared so much for other people and he would befriend anyone. he was a light and he was a joy. ryan christopher clark was going to do great things with his life. he was a student leader. at his young age, he had already shown a compassion for his fellow students by being a resident advisor. he had shown a talent for music by going out and performing in the band. and he was a triple major, probably going to do something great in the scientific field in this country. but stack didn't get to live that dream because along with so many others, he was gunned down that day at virginia tech. virginia tech, newtown, aurora,
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tucson -- these are just the mass shootings. i'll keep on going, but these victims just don't end. stack on top of that 40, 50, 60 people every day being killed on our streets, and it's important that we talk about these victims. that's why i wanted to come down to the floor today to do this, because if we don't do something in the next two weeks, these lists are just going to grow, because the illegal guns that are used on the streets of chicago and bridgeport and new haven and washington, d.c. and new york, they weren't always illegal guns. they were legal guns before they became illegal guns. somewhere along the line their status transferred. and the question is: what can we do to stop that transformation
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from happening? i believe in the second amendment. i believe in the protection that it affords people to own a gun, to be able to hunt or to shoot for sport or to protect themselves. but i want to make sure that guns stay in that legal category and don't leach into the illegal category. that's why 90% of americans think that we should have a law in this nation that provides for universal mandatory background checks for everybody that buys a gun. that's a really simple thing to do. this is just a sampling of the lives that could have been protected. the gun that was used in newtown, that went through a background check. but so many of the guns that are used to kill boys and girls and young adults, men and women in our cities, those guns don't go through background checks. we think about 40% of guns that are sold across this country don't go through background
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checks. one of the tragedies in this long line is directly relevant to this bill. in columbine high school, the gun that was used was bought outside of the background check system, and the friend of the shooters who bought the gun said after the incident that the reason that she bought it and the me thatth -- and the methode did is because had she gone to a gun show it wouldn't have passed the background check. has it been a decade-plus since columbine and we still haven't closed the gun show loophole? still haven't made the decision to make sure criminals don't buy guns. she said she couldn't have bought the gun if she went to a licensed gun dealer because it would have been prohibited. and so a bunch of kids died at columbine high school. i know you can make the argument that if the gun hadn't gotten in
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their hands that way, it might have gotten in their hands another way. i get it. nothing we're talking about guarantees the fact that another sandy hook isn't going to happen, and certainly can't guarantee the fact that our streets are going to all of a sudden be safer overnight. but you make it a little bit harder to get that gun, you make it a little bit more difficult for the criminal to get his hands on a weapon, your chances look a whole lot better to survive on the streets of our cities or in our schools and mosques and movie theaters. but as senator blumenthal pointed out, i can absolutely make the case that if we had stronger laws on the books today, newtown may not have happened, and even if it did happen some of these kids would be alive today. what happened in one of those classrooms is instructive. a handful of kids survived
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victory i don't see soto put them into a closet and when the shooting was over they were discovered in that closet. but another set of kids survived a different way. when lanza went to switch magazines, there was a delay in the shooting, and a bunch of kids ran out of the classroom -- five of them. six were found in the closet. five of them ran out of the classroom when lanza decided to switch magazine clips. there are five kids that don't look much different than anna and dylan and benjamin that are -- and jesse, there's jesse -- that are alive today because adam lanza had to switch clips. he only had to do it about six times to get off 154 bullets.
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we won't exactly understand why but he didn't discharge all of his 30-round clips. sometimes he only shot 10 or 15 bullets before he switched. he only had to switch clips we think about six times to get off 154 bullets in ten minutes. if we had on the books a law that restricted ammunition clips to ten rounds, an amendment that senator blumenthal and i will bring to the floor next week, either an amendment or in a separate bill, that shooter would have had to have changed ammunition clips 15 times, nine more opportunities for kids to run out of the classroom. i know we can't guarantee that things would have been different, but let me tell you there are an awful lot of parents in newtown who believe that their sons or daughters might likely be alive today had we continued to have a restriction limiting ammunition clips to ten rounds.
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what we know is that in tucson, people would be alive today because that incident absolutely stopped when the shooter switched clips. it was during the transfer of ammunition magazines that he was tackled. we know that if he had ten rounds rather than a higher number, there would still be people alive there. we know what happened in the movie theater in aurora. that guy walked into the movie theater with 100-round drum. what on earth is the reason why somebody needs a 100-round drum? it jammed because these guys are amateurs. they haven't done this before. people say well, it's not going to make a difference, ten rounds, 30 rounds, because it takes three seconds to switch clips, so it's not going to really provide any different outcome. well, for a professional shooter, it takes three seconds, but for a nervous 21-year-old
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kid, hyped up on adrenaline, it's a different things. five kids escaped in newtown. the shooting stopped in tucson. the shooting stopped when the gun jammed upon exchange of magazines in aurora. people are alive today because there is something that happens when you have to exchange magazines in these incidences of mass violence. more exchanges of magazines mean more kids alive today. let me talk to you about porsche foster. she was 15 years old when she was killed over the thanksgiving holiday last year in chicago. she had five sisters.
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six daughters and porsche was the youngest of them. she was 15 and she was shot in the back of the head when she was standing with her best friend in a back yard during a sleepover. the intended victim was a gang-related individual, they were targeting somebody else but she got hit. 25 shots were fired, by the way, 25 shots were fired. porsche was the only victim that was hit. she was a sophomore at ace tech, a charter school that specializes in getting kids ready for college in act tech tour and construction and engineering. this is exactly the kind of student that we wanted. we're on the floor of the united states senate and house of representatives all the time
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clamoring for more girls to go into stem technologies, science, technology, education and math. porsche, she was doing it. she was living up to our expectation. she was going to a alcohol that was going to get -- going to a charter school that was going to get her ready to go into a career in architecture, construction and engineering. imagine what she could have done if she had lived beyond the age of 15. she played volleyball, she played basketball, she sang in the church choir. she loved art. her classmates actually honored her death by holding an art sale in her memory. because funerals are expensive, especially in inner city chicago, they used the proceeds from the art sale to pay for porsche's funeral. let me tell you, that is no small incident, that no small spence. you don't think about that -- no small expense. you don't think about that, but one of the biggest issues in
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hartford, connecticut, today, a city that has had relatively low gun violence this year but on an average year can have a couple dozen gun deaths, how do you pay for the funerals? how do you come up with the money as a community to pay for a funeral every other week in a small little city like hartford? well, porsche's friends decided to do an art sale to pay for her funeral. her family and friends remember her as happy, friendly, a great student, always busy, someone -- quote -- "you couldn't be quiet around." her five sisters had planned to give their youngest sister a guitar for christmas. she was killed on november 26, 2012, about a month before she was going to get that guitar. mr. -- madam president, i know there are other people here to speak so i will yield the floor at this point, but i will be back today and tomorrow to talk about more victims.
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i just think we need to tell their stories. i just think the people need to -- need to know who these people are because there are going to be more of them if things don't change, and we have the power this week and next week to do something about it. not to eliminate future victims. you are never, ever going to change the fact that people are going to pick up a gun, are going to violate the law, are going to shoot to kill. you're never going to stop that, but we can do something to reduce these numbers so that next year at this time or two years at this time you can't come down to the floor with a binder full of victims just from the past three months. so, madam president, i will be back later today and tomorrow to continue this, but at this point i will yield the floor.
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mr. inhofe: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that i be recognized as if in morning business for five minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. inhofe: first of all, madam president, let me say that i -- i certainly sympathize with the tragedy that took place and those who lost family members. you know, as -- as having 20 kids and grandkids myself, i am probably in a better position to sympathize with that than many others are. i -- i have to say that i think somewhat of a disservice is being done to some of these -- some of these families. it's -- it's almost like saying we are looking at legislation that would have prevented that from happening, and that's not the case, or we're looking at legislation that would preclude something like this happening again.
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and i listened to my colleagues on the right side, the republican side, and on the left, the democrat side, and they all have good ideas and they all are sincere in wanting to do something, and maybe i'm looking at it too simplisticcally because i look at the second amendment, i look at what historically has been our privileges in exercising our rights to keep and bear arms, i mean since the very beginning. then i see and i have lived through on the state and on the federal level all kinds of efforts of people to think well, we can do something about gun violence and let's do it by background checks. let's check everybody out there. let's do it and let's approach the gun -- the gun shows. let's talk about all these things that could be done. we could restrict the number of cartridges and the magazines and all these things. but it's all predicated on one assumption, which i can't buy,
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and that assumption is that somehow we think that the criminal element will single out this one law to comply with. now, let's look at the facts. when you look at what they are trying to do, anything that is -- that we're going to be voting on in the next two or three weeks, however long it takes, is going to in some way restrict the number of firearms. i think we would all agree with that. and now whose firearms will they restrict? they would restrict the firearms of law-abiding citizens. and that means the ratio between guns owned by the criminal element versus the law-abiding g citizens is going to change. and when they talk about the background checks, i can't imagine anyone being so naive as not to know that if you're going to get -- if the criminal element is going to get a gun, they're going to get a gun. sure, they would kind of like to have some of these restrictions. they would like to have the
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background checks because it eliminates the numbers of guns in circulation, and so the criminal element is the only one who is not affected. i was asked the question not long ago about this -- it was on a national tv show. i was actually down at the border at the time, the mexican border. they asked the question, they said, you know, how can you be so wrong if -- or why is america so wrong, and he talked about a poll that was taken where the results were 90-3, and the question that was asked do you believe we ought to have stronger background checks? i said fine. if you were to ask that same question, 90% of the people, by the way, answered yes, we need to have stronger background checks. but if you ask that question, do you believe that we should have stronger background checks on the law-abiding citizens and not the criminal element, then i can assure you it would be like 99-0 the other way. and that's the thing. that's the one thing that people
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just overlook. you can pass all the laws that you want and the criminal element is going to sit back and smile. is anyone naive enough not to think, not to believe that if they are -- regardless of background checks, a criminal element can find someone who can go and get a gun, make a hundred bucks, and they have a gun. but the ratio changes in a healthy way. so in a way i think it's a disservice to an awful lot of people who have had tragedies in their lives to believe that we're doing something that is really going to change that when, in fact, i don't believe it is. with that, i will 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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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut.
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mr. murphy: thank you, madam president. i rise again -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. murphy: i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you very much, madam president. i rise again to continue an attempt on the floor of the senate today, without holding up the senate or disallowing others to speak their mind, to really draw attention to the names and faces and reality behind this chart. this is probably hard to see for some of my colleagues because it represents the over 3,300 people who have died since december 14, since the newtown tragedy. over 3,300 people have died from gun violence since december 14, represented by all of these
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individual figurines that are so many that the picture becomes muddled and it almost just looks like lines going back and forth. but, mr. president, behind each one of these he small, tiny figuri tph*e s is a story, is a story of a man, woman, little boy or little girl who had their life stolen from them and from their family prematurely because of gun violence. and i wish that there weren't enough material to fill today and tomorrow and next week when others aren't on the floor speaking today, i wish that there weren't 3,300 stories just in the last several months alone with respect to people who have died of gun violence. but that's the reality. the reality is that this nation
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has become callous over time to the every day incidents of gun violence that happen on our streets in my cities of hartford, bridgeport or new hafrpb, but in -- new haven but in your cities of new york, chicago, los angeles and baltimore, that we come to believe in this place over the course of the last 20 years since we passed the last major gun violence initiative through the united states congress that we can't do anything about it, we're powerless and we've come to delude ourselves. i gave my first speech on the floor of the senate this morning, and i've been moved to come back and spend time today talking about the victims as a means to try to move us to do something. we know what we have to do because people out there have already decided what it is.
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90% of americans support universal background checks. two-thirds of americans support a ban on these high-capacity magazine clips. we just haven't figured it out ourselves. and so, i want to talk for a few minutes about these victims. i want to start these remarks in a school near lilton, colorado. columbine high school, the morning of april 20, 1999, was visited by two very disturbed young men who walked in to that school, eric harris and dylan klebold and opened fire. they killed 12 people and injured 12 more. it was at the time one of the worse incidents of mass shooting certainly in a school that this country had ever seen. of course it has now been eclipsed by what happened at virginia tech and in my state
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last december 14 in sandy hook elementary school. but at the moment it shocked the nation because we didn't know how to comprehend ten students just going about their day at columbine high school gunned down by two of their fellow students. of course now we're crap pelg with how -- now we're grappling with how to comprehend 20 kids killed at sandy hook elementary school. even though it's been now almost 14 years since that incident on april 20 -- we're about to come up on the anniversary -- we shouldn't forget the people that were killed. and so before the next senator comes down wishing to speak, let me spend a little bit of time talking about those kids that were killed in columbine. cassie bernal was a sweet, kind little girl. she was active in her church.
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it was so important to her, her work in her church, that after she died her family set up a foundation called the cassie bernal foundation which provides support to youth ministries. i was a part of my youth group growing up and i know what a wonderful connection it is both to god and to your fellow adolescents, it was a big deal for her. she also was fascinated with the united kingdom, and she had a dream to attend cambridge university. she wanted to become an obstetrician. cassie would be today about 30 years old. she would have likely completed her training. she might be out there doing a residency or practicing ob-gyn. boy, do we spend a lot of time here talking about the fact that we need more preventive care doctors out there. cassie was gunned down that day, didn't get to live her dream, didn't get to contribute to a field that we know the
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importance of. it wasn't the only thing cassie cared about. she loved the outdoors. she spent a lot of time in breakenridge, had a passion for backpacking, and takes photographs of everything that she did so that she could record her love of the out doors. she was buried along with a poem that her mother wrote. "bunny rabbit, my friend, my daughter, my mentor, i will love you and miss you forever. i promise to take good care of your king. i know jesus is honored to have you in your presence." cassie was going to do great things, and she was killed that day at columbine high school. steven robert kurdo was the youngest victim at columbine. he was only 14 years old when he died. he loved his family.
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all these kids loved their families, but he was especially close with his family. and he was pretty close to his true passion as well, and that was star wars. he was 14 years old. his parents said he watched the star wars movies so much that he could speak every single line of the movies in sync with the actors. he was a great athlete. he played soccer and worked really hard. he worked even at 14 years old part time as a referee locally. he wanted to go into the navy. a well-rounded kid. loved star wars, an athlete, wanted to go into the navy. wanted to be a navy pilot. he was great with young kids. that's what his friends remembered, how compassionate he was with young kids. he was 14 years old and you already have this window into who this kid was going to be. he loved having fun. star wars. was great with kids, being a
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volunteer referee. he wanted to be a navy pilot, serve our country. he never got to do it because he was gunned down that day at columbine high school. corey deputter was remembered as a courageous kid. he was 17 years old. he had a strong sense of right and wrong, maybe stronger than he had to have because when he was growing up and played cops and robbers, he refused to be the robber. he needed always to be law enforcement in that equation. he wanted to be a marine, just like steven did. steven wanted to be a navy pilot. corey wanted to be a marine. and after he died, he was named an honorary marine at a ceremony in front of his grave. his friend austin said, "people said that corey was the kind of guy you want to be around. he'd always pick up our spirits in a gloomy situation. he was on the wrestling team.
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he loved playing golf. he was going to serve our country." 17 years old, corey never got to live out that dream. kelly ann fleming was a year younger when she died in columbine. she was 16 years old. she was aaspiring author. at 16 years old she had written a ton of poetry and prose. a lot of stories about her own life. she had actually started writing her autobiography. what an amazing thing, 16 years old she was writing an autobiography covering her life from age five right up until the point where she died. the library was what kelly loved. her mom said it was her one true safe place. she just felt right in that library surrounded by learning and by books. ironically, though, in school her favorite subject was math, and she even had -- her family
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had her favorite math teacher serve as a pallbearer at her funeral. like most teenagers she was looking forward to getting her driver's license. she wanted to get out there in a mustang or corvette and drive around with her friends. she was really, really bright. she was really good at math. we need more mathematicians and scientists and engineers in this country, and kelly ann, who was 16 then, would be right around 30 today; never got to fulfill those dreams. here's what happened in columbine. the two students who walked into the school and started shooting couldn't get the weapons themselves. so they had a friend buy them for them. the friend knew that if they went to a gun dealership they wouldn't get them because they wouldn't pass the background check, so they went outside the background check to get them a different way. a way that thousands of people
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go to buy their weapons. most of them -- not the vast majority of them, not because they're trying to get around the background check system, but just because in private sales and gun shows and on the internet we largely don't require background checks. so one of the things we're trying to fix this week, there is a belief amongst many of the family members of the columbine victims that had background checks been universal that maybe the two shooters in that school might not have had those weapons. we can never guarantee that. i don't want to stand here and say we know for certain if we had universal background checks that kelly ann and corey and steven and all the rest would still be alive today. we don't know that, but chances are a little bit better. you know what? those families will take that. they'll take a chance that their sons and daughters might still be alive today, might have kids of their own today, might be an
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ob-gyn or navy pilot or marine or mathematician. they'll take those chances. and so when we think about these victims, we need to think about the real policy consequences of what we're debating here, that while nothing that we're talking about is going to guarantee that these students that died would be alive today, it gives it a much better chance that it would happen. that's just a sampling of the victims in one high school, in columbine high school. but what we know is that the names reflected by these little figure -- figurines are largely victims of mass shootings. she is are just the victims since december 14. these are folks that just got killed by a stray bullet or in a crime of passion or, as i explained in an earlier speech
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today, just because you were taking out the trash from the mcdonald's or going to check on some commotion in your housing complex or driving home after dropping off your kids at school. they were doing what they normally do every day, and because someone else had a gun, legally or illegally, they got killed. and so let's talk about some of those victims as well. as i said, i'm going to be down here as much as i can today, tomorrow and next week, telling these stories. as a means to hopefully inspire us to some bipartisan action on the floor. i hope some good things are happening today while i'm down here on the floor. i hope that we're coming together on this, but if these stories don't move people, i'm not sure what does. on january 7 of last year, 2012, a 14-year-old boy in bridgeport, connecticut, by the name of justin thompson and his friends
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from barton middle school, they went to a sweet 16 party. for a neighborhood girl in the east end of bridgeport. justin was a really popular eighth grader, and his friends and his family thought he looked exactly like alex rodriguez. dow jones in bridgeport, that's a good thing. up in the rest of connecticut, maybe not so much. the patients of the girl had -- parents of the girl had hired a deejay, rented a hall. there was no alcohol. it was a regular middle school sweet 16 party. as more showed up, it got too big and the police had to come and break it up. justin left the party and he began walking down a street nearby with two other young people when all of a sudden two men appeared and started shooting. justin was hit in the head and he was killed in the commotion. he was 14 years old. he was walking home from a sweet
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16 party. he didn't do anything wrong. you know, he wasn't in the wrong place at the wrong time. he was in the right place at the right time. he was doing what he was supposed to do that night, walking home from a sweet 16 party, and he got killed by guns. that's justin thompson. lakisha jackson was 15 years old when on july 21, 2012, she was shot. she told her friends that she wanted to be the next mariah carey. she was a big singer. she loved to sing and she loved to perform. guess where she went on july 20 in bridgeport, connecticut. she went to a sweet 16 party as well. her 16th birthday was actually the following week. she was telling friends that she couldn't wait for her party. she was enjoying her friend's party, but she couldn't wait for her sweet 16 party which was
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happening the following week. after the party, her friend's mom invited some of the girls to sort of take the party to her house. it was a warm, beautiful night. the girls were sitting out on the porch when two men came by and opened fire on the porch before driving away in the car. two hours before she was shot, there was a robbery just down the street and somehow this got connect norwood it. she was 15 years old. she was sitting on a porch with her friends, basking in the afterglow of a sweet 16 party, getting ready for her 16th birthday. she was gunned down boy a drive-by shooting. blair belcher was 17. this is all bridgeport, connecticut. i'm just giving you one city in
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2011 and 2012. blair was dreaming one day of going to college and she wanted to go into electronics and computing. again, another girl that wanted to go into electronics and computing. she was walking through an east side park in bridgeport on july 31. she was about to enter her senior year at harding high school, and three shooters gunned her down in the middle of that park. life cut short. she was a real talent. blaire had a penchant for fixing things. she could fix anything. her mom said it was like a gift, and she really wanted to do something with it once she graduated. again, another young girl who wanted to go into engineering and mathematics. she was one year away from graduating. she was 17 years old, killed in bridgeport, connecticut. she was just in a park. she got gunned down in crossfire. it's hard to even figure out why
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these things happen, but they just get built into the background noise of urban gun violence. t.j. mathis was good at a lot of things in bridgeport. excuse me. t.j. was in new haven. got to know t.j.'s farewell, lenny. lenny will tell you that t.j. was good at a lot of things but basketball was at the top of the list. he was the star of hamden high school's team. he led them to three division titles. he was all-state. he went on to play division one basketball at morgan state university. he had just been signed to a minor league basketball contract in the a.b.a. he was a star. he was good at a lot of things, this was a multitalented kid, but basketball was his thing. he did well, he led his team and he was going on to a career in basketball. and on a warm saturday night,
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september, 2011, he and his friends went to a party honoring another basketball legend, somebody that we're really proud of in connecticut, ryan gomes of waterbury. he played at providence college, went to the nba, had a great career. after leaving the party, his friends realized they were too tired to drive. this kid was responsible. he had a career ahead of him. he was going to be a basketball star. he was going to the aba, then hoping to go to the nba. t.j. decided he needed to get some sleep. unfortunately, t.j. never made it home that night. he pulled over to get a little sleep on the side of the road, and a young man, seeing the three boys asleep on the side of the road, pulled up next to them to try to rob them. when t.j. woke up and realized that he was being robbed in his car, he resisted, and the young man shot and killed him on the verge of a career in the aba, a basketball standout in hamden,
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connecticut, and at morgan state university. he was just sleeping in his car, trying to get a few winks before he drove home, being responsible so that he didn't do something silly like get in the car when he was tired, run off the road and hurt somebody else. he gets robbed and shot. just part of the background noise of the people who die every day in this country. 30, 40, 50, 60 a day. i will come down here today and tomorrow and next week, and i won't get through a few days' worth of shootings all across this country, and the truth is that a lot of these shootings are happening in these cities with illegal guns. the opponents of gun legislation, they are right in one respect. they are right that the majority of crimes are not committed by
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assault weapons. assault weapons have become the weapon of choice for mass shooters. that's true, with but the realis that, you know, these kids that i'm talking about, justin and akisha and blair and t.j., they were killed by handguns. but most of them are illegal handguns. why do we have so many illegal handguns out there? because we haven't done anything about it here. we allow 40% of guns in this country to be sold without background checks. hopefully we're getting closer here to changing that. we don't have a federal law making gun trafficking illegal. people don't understand you take a whole bunch of guns out of a store legally, you sell them to a bunch of people who are legally prohibited from purchasing guns and you have not committed a federal gun trafficking violation. maybe you have committed a state
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violation but you haven't committed a federal violation. you know, we can -- we can't solve this problem entirely. we're not going to stop bad people from taking guns out on the street and doing bad things, but we can substantially decrease the likelihood that another columbine or sandy hook happens, that another t.j. mathis, a standup young kid, basketball star, gets gunned down just because he's in the wrong place at the wrong time or the right place at the right time with the wrong person with the wrong gun. we can do something about it here. throughout the day today, i have been trying to talk about the variety of victims. people on the streets of our cities but also in our schools. so before i yield the floor again, i want to go back to the reason why we are here. i think it's important to tell you who the victims are, but i
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think it's particularly important to tell you who the victims in newtown, connecticut, were, because while newtown should not have been a tipping point, it shouldn't have taken so long for us to have this conversation here, i think we're all recognizing that we're having this conversation because of the 20 6 and 7-year-olds and six adults killed that day. i believe if we don't do something about it, there will be another newtown that aurora and littleton and tucson and newtown, we'll just have another town added to that list in a matter of weeks or months, hopefully longer, if we don't take some act here. so let me go back before i yield the floor again today to talk about some more of the wonderful children and adults who were killed in newtown.
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mary sherlach's husband is here today in washington, d.c., lobbying on behalf of his wife who was one year away from retirement as sandy hook school psychologist when she was murdered that day in sandy hook, elementary school. he is here to talk about the insanity of not taking these high-capacity magazines off the streets. that's his passion. he believes that there is a chance that there would be boys and girls alive today in newtown today had adam lanza had 10 bullets per magazine instead of 30 bullets per magazine. but let me tell you about mary because mary is pretty amazing. mary worked for years at sandy hook elementary. she had been there for 18 years. she was not just the school psychologist. she was involved in basically every school improvement effort
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that you could imagine. she was a member of the district conflict resolution committee, the safe school climate committee ironically, the crisis intervention team, the student instructional team. she cared so deeply about the school that it wasn't just a 9 to 5 or 9 to 3 or 7 to 3 job for her. she put in all sorts of extra hours to try to make that school better. she was one year away from retirement, and oh, how her and bill were looking forward to retirement. they had a little cabin on the finger lakes. still have a cabin, i think, in upstate new york. they loved going up there. they planned on spending a good part of their retirement up there when they weren't spending time with their daughters katie and maura. mary loved gardening, she loved reading and she loved the theater. she was a great neighbor, a really beautiful person who on that day did something that a lot of us hope we would do but
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we can't really be sure. about 9:30 that morning, adam lanza blasted his way through the locked doors of sandy hook elementary school. the principal of the school, dawn and mary were meeting, i believe. when they heard the bullets and the glass crash, they must have known something horrible happened. there are two instincts at that point. you freeze, you run the other way, or you do what dawn and mary did and you run to the bullets. that's what she did. her school was in trouble. something awful was happening. and mary and her principal ran to the gunfire and the gunman. they didn't run away. now, plenty of people in that school did heroic and courageous things that day, stowed kids in
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closets and classrooms, hugged kids as the bullets rained down. mary and dawn were the first people who died because they ran right to the bullets. mary is a hero not just because of the 18 years she spent dedicated to those kids, not just because of all the efforts she gave to make that school a better place, but because she tried to stop that shooting. she wasn't successful. she tried, but we all hope we have a little bit of mary sherlach in us as well. those kids had their whole life ahead of them. we don't know what they would have done, so at least we have the benefit of knowing who mary was, at least we have the benefit of knowing the wonder that was her life. but she deserved retirement and bill deserved to have his wife who had worked so hard, who had spent all of these nights out trying to make her school a better place, he deserved to have her for their years of retirement up in the finger lakes, and he doesn't. and he doesn't.
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ben wheeler -- why don't you put up the picture of ben. ben wheeler who i talked about a little bit earlier today, ben was a really gifted musician. ben was 6 years old when he died that morning. just before december 14, he had performed his first recital. 6 years old. performed his first recital. i have a 4-year-old at home. i know what an amazing thing it is to have a child that is that dedicated to music that by 6 years old they can perform a recital. he loved trains. they would go to new york city a lot. he was always more interested in riding the subway and the train than he was in visiting the museums or the zoos. that's not uncommon for kids. maybe doing a recital at age 6
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is, but loving trains is not. more than anything else, though, more than music, more than trains, more than subways, ben loved his 9-year-old brother nate. the two of them did everything together, played soccer, they swam. as i said this morning in my first speech before this chamber on the way to school that morning, ben told his mom that he wanted to be an architect when he grew up but he was going to be a paleontologist because that's what his brother nate was going to be, and he just wanted to do everything that nate did. ben was going to be a pretty amazing man. that kind of musical talent at an early age, love for his family, and unfortunately ben wheeler lost his life that day. emily parker was six years old -- emilie parker was six years old. and the only thing you'll hear
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is that she had an infectious laugh. you know those laughs you hear once and you just hope you get to hear it again before you leave that person's presence? that was emilie. her father robbie described her as bright and loving. at six years old she was learning portuguese. she was learning pomp geez and her -- she was learning portuguese and her father was trying to teach her that. it was part of their bond. she was an artist. she loved to draw with markers and she was talented. at two years old, she could write her own name and she could draw stick figures of her fami family. she loved art so much that her parents, robbie and alissa decided to spend their time and period of mourning after that to set up a fund that honors her creativity. and as i said earlier today, what's really amazing is that so many of these families have
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dedicated big portions of their time in the horrible four months since trying to figure out ways to bring some of the goodness and light from these kids' lives to the rest of the community. and so robbie and alissas have set up a fund to set up art resources for the school. so that other kids like their daughter can experience the joys of drawing and painting. but she was learning portuguese. i mean, this was somebody with a really inquisitive, thoughtful mind. and we never are going to get to know who emilie parker was going to grow up to be. jack pinto was six years old and he was already a jock. he loved the new york giants and he had an idol. his name was victor cruz. he loved victor cruz. he followed everything victor
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cruz did. was ecstatic when the giants won the super bowl and cruz played a big part. and victor was wonderful enough in the days following the tragedy to honor jack's memory during the game after the tragedy, he wore some writing on his cleats and his glove that said, "jack pinto: my hero." jack, as i believe i remember, was buried in a victor cruz jersey. he was also a wrestler. i didn't even know that you wrestle at six years old but jack did and he was pretty good at it. and to show you how tough jack was, in one of his matches, he -- actually i think one of the practices, actually, he lost a tooth. and, boy, when a six-year-old loses a tooth, you'd think that would start the tears flowing. but jack didn't cry when he lost that tooth.
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he just took the tooth, he handed it to his coach and he went back wrestling with a gapped-tooth smile on his face. that was jack. he was tough. he was an athlete. he had perseverance. imagine who jack pinto was going to be when he grew up. we're not going to know because of what happened that day. and i gues i get it. i know there's a risk of overselling policy change here. i don't want to make it sound like i'm coming down to the floor and telling you these stories because these kids are going to come back to life if we pass some bill or that we're going to guarantee that this doesn't happen again. i don't want to oversell what we're going to do here. but -- but all those little do dots, the 33 -- the 3,300 people
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who have died since newtown -- just since newtown -- should tell us that enough is enough, that we should try something. even if we are not absolutely 100%, ironclad guaranteed that what we're going to do is going to work, we should just try something. because it's not okay that somebody can walk into a school with a military-style assault weapon and shoot bullets at the rate of six per second. it's not okay that a couple of student can do an end-around on the background check system to buy guns, they walk into their high school to kill ten people with and wound as many more. it's not all right that there are just thousands of illegal guns on our streets that are used to kill 16- and 17-year-olds on their way home
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from sweet 16 parties. there's no guarantees that what we're going to do this week and next week are going to solve everything, but we've got to try something. and so, mr. president, i'm going to continue to come down to the floor over the course of the next few days to talk about these victims, talk about the victims from newtown, from columbine, hopefully later today i'll be able to talk about some of the victims in virginia tech, some of the victims from wisconsin, and, of course, the just binders full of stories that you could put on this floor regarding urban gun violence that plagues our cities every day. these stories are important, because too often they -- we trade in this body in statisti statistics, that we just talk in terms of politics.
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underlying this debate are 20 little kids in newtown whose lives were cut short, but also thousands upon thousands of other kids, young adults, and adults whose stories deserve to be told. i'll be back on the floor again, mr. president, but at this point i'd yield back the floor. and i'd suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: mr. president, i would ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sessions: and i would ask to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection.mr. sessions: mr. president, -- the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sessions: mr. president, the president submitted his budget today, very late. it was due february 4. it's the latest time perhaps ever. it's the first time since the budget act was passed in 1974 that the president submitted a budget after the senate has voted on one and after the house
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has voted on one and both passed budget resolutions. and so that was a disappointing event. the president really, as the chief executive officer, as any mayor, as any governor normally that i've ever heard of wants to be the one that lays out a financial play for his city or state, to advocate for what would make the state and city better and then encourage the members of the board of directors, the senate and the house, to evaluate his plan and support it so they can put the country and the state and the city on a sound financial path. so once again we've had a very irresponsible approach from the president on the question of budgeting. we did, a few weeks ago, this senate passed a budget for the first time in four years. the law requires that the senate bring up a budget in committee by april 1, it requires that it
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be brought to the floor and passed by april 15. so this is the the first time in four years that process has been completed. whereas every year the house of representatives has produced a budget, a responsible budget that would put america on a sound financial course. this year the senate passed a budget that was irresponsible, did not change the debt course of america, left an annual deficits virtually the same as if we had no budget at all. it didn't improve current law. but the house, on the other hand, and the senate budget left us with a very substantial budget deficit at the end of the tenth year of the budget. on the other hand, the house, congressman paul ryan, chairman of the budget committee, produced a budget that balances in ten years.
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and we've heard great complaints that his plan cuts spending too much. but do you know that plan did not cut spending? it allowed spending to increase every year for ten years. it allowed spending to increase at the rate of 3.4% a year, which is higher than the inflation rate is expected to be. in america. and yet it balances. the senate budget, on the other hand, has a 5% plus increase in spending every year, leaving us on an unsustainable debt path, leaving us increasing deficits not year, nowhere close to balancing the budget. and that is not the right path. so what happened today? when the president produced his budget. well, it's no better, maybe even worse than the senate bill. for example, in his budget it
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would add over the ten-year period $8.2 trillion in new debt to the nation. when now have almost $17 trillion in gross debt. this would add another $8.2 trillion to it. over $25 trillion now would be the debt of the united states. and the one-year interest in 2023, one year's interest in 2023 under the president's budget would amount to $763 billion. the defense -- base defense budget is about $540 billion. $763 billion exceeds social security. it exceeds -- which is the largest expenditure. it exceeds medicare in spending. it would be the largest single item in the budget, and the fastest growing. and it's still assuming
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relatively low interest rates which are extraordinarily low at this moment but could surge in the future and would hurt us substantially. well, how much is that? so we're now -- we now spend about $3.7 trillion -- so $763 billion is a lot of money. just to pay the interest. the federal highway bill today is about $40 billion. a little over $40 billion. interest on the debt would be $763 billion in one year. so young people, we are indeed borrowing from the future to spend and live high today on the theory somehow that it will be paid back in the future by the people there. how will it be paid back? $763 billion in interest in one year. now, this is not responsible.
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it's an unsustainable course. erskine bowles who was chosen by president obama to head the fiscal commission, former president bill clinton's chief of staff, a successful businessman, he told us in the budget committee a couple of years ago this nation is on an unsustainable course, this nation -- quote -- "has never faced a more predictable financial crisis." and what he's saying is that if we don't change the course we're on, it is guaranteed we're going to have a financial crisis and we should avoid that. and we have the opportunity to avoid that and we don't have to slash spending as congressman ryan has made clear in his budget. you can allow spending to increase, increase faster than the growth of inflation. and still balance the budget. but, oh, no, not here, not
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the president of the united states, not the members of this united states senate, the majority. they say we can't live at a 3.4% increase in spending every year. we will run the risk, the president said recently he wasn't setting a balanced budget as a goal. that's absolutely true, because his budget does not balance, never comes close to balancing, has no intention of balancing ever. they use the word "sustainable,"" balance." but it's an irresponsible approach to the business of america. i'll talk in a minute about some of the dangers of this debt beyond just the fact that interest is going to suck up huge amounts of money out of our annual budget that we ought to be using to invest in america. well, how did they do it? when you eliminate the
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accounting gimmicks and honestly look at the budget presented by the president today, over ten years the net deficit reduction is only $119 billion. each year that's about $12 billion a year in deficit reduction. the deficit last year, 2012, was 1,080 billion dollars. and we're going to average $11 billion reduction under this budget? virtually nothing. this is -- probably accounted for, properly analyzed based on the current law, i am correct in giving you those numbers. it's not an unfair number. and what about this year that we're in, 2013, that will end
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september 30? does it cut anything from our spending level this year? no, spending and debt increases. the debt is projected to increase between now and september 31 -- september 30 by $61 billion, more than current law has it. so it increases the debt this year. what about next year? does it increase or reduce the deficit? it increases the deficit again by approximately -- over $100 billion, $100 billion. so i believe that figure is correct. i may be incorrect on that figure. but it definitely increases the deficit this year by $61 billion. mr. president, so spending goes up $1.1 trillion.
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1,100 billion dollars in new taxes. so taxes go up $1.1 trillion on top of the $650 billion in new taxes that was passed in january of this year, and on top of the $1 trillion in new taxes passed as part of the obamacare, the health care reform. so that's another huge tax increase. but we're told not to worry because this is a balanced plan. as we talked about the budget plan that was on the floor and we had 50 hours of debate, a lot of amendments and a lot of discussion, our colleagues kept using the word "balanced" as they referred to their budget, the majority's democratic budget that they laid forward.
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they used balanced over and over again. i put up a chart and the numbers kept running up, we got up to 100, 200 times the word "balanced" was used in about 15, 18 hours of debate on their side. balanced, over 200 times. one of my staff went back and reviewed the numbers and it was 230 times. what did they mean by the word "balanced"? why did they use the word balanced? because some pollster somewhere, some political consultant said people like to hear that. they want a balanced budget. well, their budget didn't balance. nowhere close. so they had several spins on it. but i think the one that -- first they wanted a lot of people who weren't following it closely to hear the word balanced and believe they have a balanced budget and they didn't pretend they had a balanced budget. they never really said that because they knew that wasn't
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true. they had deficits every year. $400 billion plus every year. so balanced approach was what i think people who kind of kept up with things believe was you would raise taxes by a trillion dollars, you would cut spending by a trillion dollars and this would be a balanced approach. and this is the way to reduce our debt and deficit, raise taxes, and cut spending, and that's the responsible balanced approach to getting our fiscal house in order. but colleagues, that's not what the budget did. the budget increased taxes by $1.1 trillion, 1,100 billion, but it increases spending by $964 billion. it didn't cut spending at all. it increased spending. so basically you end up with
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only $119 billion in deficit reduction over ten years. zero, basically. insignificant amount. so it increases taxes, it increases spending. it's the classic democrat weakness, i have to say, colleagues. tax, spend. tax more, spend more p. don't worry about the deficit. but somebody needs to be worrying about the deficit. because it's a very important matter. and we've got to deal with it. mr. president, this morning at the budget committee we had a new nominee, ms. burrwell for the director of office of management and budget, one of the most poverty positions in the entire government. she is a delightful lady and i know she wants to do well. she held a position in that office some time ago under president clinton, a deputy position, so she has some experience in it but boy, it's
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a tough job. you really need somebody that can whip these agencies and departments in shape, that o.m.b. is the one that answers to the president, the o.m.b. is the one who says mr. secretary of interior, mr. secretary of defense, we don't have that much money, you can't spend that much money. i send your budget back to you, take another $10 billion, take anticipate $5 billion out of it, and they're the heavy so she's asking for a tough job. there's no doubt about it. and at that hearing i talked a little bit about a great concern of mine, and my concern is that our debt is so large now that it's pulling down economic growth in america. let me repeat that. our debt is so high today that it's pulling down economic growth. and slow growth means fewer jobs created. the difference between 2% growth
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and 3% growth is a million jobs according to christina romer who served president obama in the white house. the more growth you have, the more jobs are created. the less growth you have, fewer jobs are created. and we had a disastrous jobs report last friday. it was terrible and deputily disappointing. what it sid said was we added 88,000 jobs when they were predicting we'd add about 200,000, but more significantly, 486,000 people dropped out of the labor force. had given up finding work. almost half a million, and less than a hundred thousand got a job. that was a very, very dangerous trend. so it comes around to this question: is our debt so high that it adversely impacts economic growth? let me explain it this way --
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the rogoff reinhart study and book that they wrote analyzes debt in america and it calculated -- and over the world, they examined economies worldwide. what they found was that when debt reaches 90% of the size of your economy, 90% of g.d.p., growth begins to slow. it cellulose a median amount of 1%, on average much more, as much as 2%. growth -- g.d.p. growth begins to slow when debt reaches that high a level. well, what kind of debt limit is it we're dealing with? many people think and the president keeps saying that our debt-to-g.d.p. ratio is 77%. but we've examined the rogoff-reinhart study. we've looked at it. rogoff and reinhart used a higher figure because they compared countries around the
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world, and that was the numbers that they had, the total gross debt. and based on the gross debt when it reaches 90% of g.d.p., you begin to have economic decline. our growth -- our percentage of gross debt to g.d.p. is 104% -- 104%. and i contend, i believe, that the projections for growth for the last four years have all been higher than the growth we've actually seen. in fact, it's been much lower than projected, even by the president and the congressional budget office. so it appears to me that that growth debt figure being over 100% is indicative of a slowing growth. but others instead of rogoff and reinhart have done studies. europe has high debt rates. per capita we have more debt than any country i in europe, me
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than greece. the studies in europe -- the international monetary fund, the european central bank, the bank for international settlements -- all have economists and they're concerned about high debt in europe. and they have been analyzing these figures also. and each one of those, through an independent process of analyzing the impact of high debt on economic growth, all three of those studies indicated that high debt slows growth. well, how much? looking at each one of those three studies, the united states' debt is in their range that pulls down growth. so, colleagues, what i would say to us today, please be aware that there is a cost to borrowing and spending and adding debt. and this budget the president
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submitted to us today would add $8.2 trillion in debt. it would take us from $17 trillion to $25 trillion in debt. and even with a growing economy, even with a growing economy, we would still remain well over 90% g.d.p. to debt. that's an unacceptable figure, and it's deeply disappointing that we do not have leadership in the white house that would lead us to get off of this path. mr. president, i see my -- the majority leader is here. i know he has extraordinary duties and challenges in his busy life, and i would just wrap up to say that i'm disappointed in the president's budget. it does not change the debt
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course of america in any way. it's not a responsible plan for the future. it does not balance the budget ever. has no intention of ever balancing the budget. all he talks about is some sort of sustainable debt course. we cannot continue on that course, as mr. erskine bowles, his own fiscal committee chairman -- commission chairman, has told us. i thank the chair and i would yield the floor. mr. reid: mr. president, i appreciate my friend yielding. my time on this floor is going to be very brief. i would ask unanimous consent that at 4:00 p.m. today, the senate proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 59. that two hours debate equally divided in the usual form, upon the use or yielding back of that tiernlg the senate proceed to vote with no intervening action or debate on the nomination. the motion to reconsider be made and laid on the table, that no further motions be in order,
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statements be printed in the record and president obama be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate return to legislative action. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. murmur i asmurmur i askmr. murpe quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. murphy: i gave my first speech in the senate this morning. i left the floor because this week and next week we are debating one of the most fundamental issues that comes to a body like this: what can we do to better protect our kids and our loved ones from unexpected death? i care about this issue not just because it's one that's important to the families of victims in new haven and bridgeport, and hartford, but of course because of what happened
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at sandy hook. i spoke this morning more broadly about the awful experience of being in connecticut, the personal experience of having been at the firfirehouse that day. the wonderful experience of having gotten to know the families of the victims and the millions of acts of kindness that have showered down upon newtown in days and weeks and months since. that tragedy has become the tipping point that's brought us here to talk about a solution, to at least some of the epidemic gun violence that for too long has plagued the streeted o strer cities but now comes to us in waves of mass shootings happening in our schools and movie theaters and places of worship. and my hope as brand-new member of the united states senate, as someone who has lived through
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this experience as the representative of sandy hook, is to just try to tell my colleagues who we're talking about here. i think that we get caught up in the numbers and the policy debates and we forget that, you know, these are real kids. these are real people. this is just a small sample of the victims in newtown and the victims from across connecticut in bridgeport and new haven that have been gunned down prematurely. and there's just too many of them. over 3,300 people have died from guns since those 20 kids and six adults were killed in newtown. and we're not powerless. wwe can do something about t i have a said over and over again today that there's no guarantees. we're not going to pass a law that's going to immediately flip a switch and assure that gun
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violence won't continue to be a problem. but it can be less of a problem. it can be less of a reality. it can be less of a reality for kids that are walking to school fearing for their lives in urban america. it can be less of a reality for parents sending their children to elementary school, never thinking that something like what happened in sandy hook can occur. so we can do something about t so i want to come back pen to continue -- come back again to continue talking about the victims, to give them a face here. i was very encouraged to see some movement between both parties coming together on one element of this debate: background checks k hopefully there will be looked at as a very good week in the midst of this debate. and so i want to tell you who we're talking about here. so let me go back to newtown. i think this is my fourth time on the floor today.
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and i still haven't told you about everybody who perished in that school. the youngest victim that day was barely six years old. his name was noah pozner, the youngest victim and the first to be buried. it was the first funeral i went to amongst countless funerals that i lost count of. he was young, but he was described by his uncle as smart as a whip. a real rambunctious street. he could be a hand full for his family and his twin sister ariel who was also in that school that friday morning. she was luckily in a different class. ariel survived. her brother did not. he was already a real good reader, one of the youngest kids in his first grade class.
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he was a good reader and was looking forward to a book he bought at his book fair, an in agricultureo book -- an injago book and he was going to a birthday party that saturday that he was bubbling about. like so many of the victims, his family described him as having a huge heart. it is an amazing family, the pozners, his mother and uncle who has been so articulate calling on this nation to change. they have been in washington visiting my office. i know they visited with other members of the senate. it is another one of these families that found somehow the courage and the strength amidst this awful grieving to come down here and explain why things need to change, how they won't fill -- feel any justice until
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we do something here. caroline privi tk*eu loved to draw and to dance. she was six years old and had one of those smiles everybody loved. she and her family were active members of st. rose's church. i can't tell you enough about st. rose's church. about ten of the victims or parishioners there. this hit that church harder than any institution san for the school. the monsignor there has been an absolute hero having buried almost a dozen of his kids. he's come down to washington to try to lobby for some sense of
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change, and he's brought that community together. at that funeral that he presided over everybody wore pink. it was caroline's favorite color. you've heard me say that about a number of the little girls who died. a lot of them were big fans of the color pink. her mom will always remember carolinas a shadow of her older brother. she followed him around everywhere and she atkoerd -- adored him. her brother walker and she were big new york yankees fans. even though she was only six years old and her family went to boston for a trip, she refused to walk into tpepb ton park -- tpepb ton park. caroline died that day.
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jessica rekos was six years old. she loved animals. this is a class full of animal lovers. even some of their teachers were big animal lovers as well. jessica loved horses. anything having to do with a horse, she wanted it. she watched movies about horses. she read books about horses, drew stories about horses, drew pictures about horses, wrote stories about them. she was murdered just 11 days before christmas, and she was hoping that santa would bring her he a cow girl hat and cow girl boots. and her family promised that maybe if she was really good, in a couple years she could get her own horse. she loved going to cape cod, and especially loved seeing the whales. she had a fondness for aquatic life as well, big fan of the
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movie "free willie." she loved going to the cape to see if she could catch a glimpse of those whales. she was curious. and that curiosity was going to spring forth into a wonderful young woman who was going to take her loves, her curiosity, her passion for life and make it into something great. we never got to know exactly what that would be. jessica died at age six. ana marquez-greene, i talked about ana this morning in my first speech. her mother nelba is amazing. nelba is a social worker, has a passion for helping people. she is in d.c. right now as we speak trying to push us to change things. her little daughter, ana, she
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grew up in a musical family. ana's father jimmy is a very well noted saxophone player. hartford native. the family had come back to connecticut to raise their kids. ana was musical. she used to love to sing and dance. she loved most of all doing that at church. she was so connected to her church. she loved reading the bible. she loved having the bible read to her. she loved being part of the dance and singing experience at her church. her parents said that she -- she didn't walk anywhere. that was not her method of transportation. her mode of transport was to dance from place to place. she survived by her older brother isaiah, a third grader at sandy hook elementary and who survived that day. ana, you can find on youtube. ana's performances having viewed
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hundreds of times online was a talent and she had talent in her blood. who knows whether she was going to choose music and dance as a career, but those creative muscles that she had and the amazing parents that were raising her was going to assure that she was going to be something really, really special. she died that day horribly, but her family, her mother nelba especially is just determined that -- to make sure we honor her memory by doing something here. five kids escaped sandy hook elementary school that day out of those classrooms. 11 kids, around that number, survived. six of them were hid in a closet. but five of them escaped because the shooter had to reload. and when he reloaded and he perhaps fumbled the exchange, five kids ran out of a classroom
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and were discovered nearby some moments later. five children. unfortunately none of those pictured in this poster are alive today because as does happen in so many of these mass shootings, an opportunity presents itself when the shooter changes magazines. i wish we didn't have to get into the detailed nuance of how these mass shootings play out to try to find a way out of mass violence, but we do because they're happening over and over and over again. so we now have some experience. we now, to our great horror, have some data. empirically we know what happens. and what happened in sandy hook that killed ana and jessica and noah, caroline and so many others, is that he had trouble reloading.
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five kids escaped. and either at the end of the ten minutes, because he had trouble reloading, or maybe just because the police were coming in, he decided enough was enough and shot himself. in tucson, when the shooter reloaded, it was enough time for somebody to jump on him and end that incident. in aurora, when the shooter had difficulty, again, reloading, the gun jammed, the shooting ended. 154 bullets in ten minutes in sandy hook elementary school, killed 26 people. the shooter had to reload about six times. what would have happened if he had had to have reloaded 15 times? how many more kids would have escaped? how many more opportunities would we have had for the shooting to go wrong? would there have been a moment where somebody could have jumped on him and stopped him as they did in tucson? i don't know the answer to these
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questions. nobody knows the answer to those questions, but they are really important ones to ask because they're relevant to the conversation we're having here. if the answer is there is a pretty good chance one of those three things would have happened: the gun would have jammed, kids would have escaped or somebody would have stopped the shooting, then we should really, really think twice before dismissing the idea that a limitation on the size of magazines sold in this nation wouldn't have an effect on future mass shootings. our first job should be to stop that shooting from happening in the first place. but given the fact that we are living in this terrible, awful reality in which they are happening on a regular basis, then we have to be talking about what we can do to limit the damage and the carnage when this do occur. and i will tell you while no one is sure of the difference in outcome at sandy hook had the assault weapons ban still been in effect, there are plenty of parents there who do believe there was a pretty good chance
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some of their kids might still be alive had that bill still been in effect. remember these are guns and clips purchased legally. all the arguments that all the laws on the books aren't going to stop criminals, i'm not sure nancy lanza would have gone on the black market to purchase an ar-15 or ammunition that was illegal. things could have been different. but as we know, every day there are more people killed in this country by guns than were killed in sandy hook elementary that day. and i'll tell you that i've heard some real visceral anger from parents and gun victims in the cities that i represent because they rightfully wonder why we're talking about this issue now after sandy hook when for the last 20 years young men
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and women have been getting gunned down in our cities, and it didn't seem like this place stood up and cared too much about it. they welcome the conversation, but they wonder where all of this compassion was when people like ronnie chambers were being killed. ronnie chambers was 33 years old when he was shot in january of 2012. he grew up with his mom, his siblings in chicago's notorious cabrini green housing project. he had become involved in the gang problem at a young age. but he had to watch something that no one should ever have to watch. you think it's terrible that noah posner's twin sister has to grow up with the knowledge that her brother was gunned down.
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think about what ronnie chambers had to grow up with, having watched his other three siblings die at the hands of gun violence. ronnie became convinced after watching his three other siblings die from gun violence that he had to turn his life around, and so he did. he went into the music industry and he became a music producer and he decided to go even further and start to mentor young performers. people will remember him in the industry as -- quote -- everybody's hero. he was always pointing kids in the right direction, despite his own difficult upbringing. and he was fun, too. he loved banana milk shakes and onion rings. and then he was killed. the fourth of four siblings to be gunned down in and around
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chicago. four brothers and sisters his brother carlos shot in 1995. his brother jerome shot in 2000. his sister latoya just three months before jerome, before jerome. before jerome and then ronnie, dead at 33. or how about amber deanna stanley who was killed last summer in kettering, maryland. she was spending a nice, quiet evening at home when a gunman literally kicked down her door and opened fire. she was shot multiple times while she was in her bed. she was 17 years old. 17. she had just started her senior year at flowers high school in springdale, maryland. she was enrolled in a really elite science and technology program. it's crazy but this is probably the third or fourth or fifth young woman that i have talked
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about here today. i'm probably into 30 or 40 people that i have talked about. another young woman who is pursuing a career in engineering and science. she had big dreams. she was an honor student. she was in a.p. classes. she wanted to go to harvard university and maybe become a doctor. she had the grades to do it. she could have gone anywhere that she wanted. she was also really popular. she was a kid who people were drawn to. she was a pure leader. she would do really wonderful things for her classmates like she would bring cupcakes to them somewhat spontaneously. one classmate said three words -- she was amazing. until on august 23 of last year, a gunman kicked down her door, opened fire and amber was gone. or how about angelo player, 37 years old. shot february 21 of this year,
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an avid reared who -- reader who loved also the outdoors, gardening and kayaking. she was a fan of everything fun and exciting. fast cars. she liked training dogs. she was killed by her ex-husband. a lot of these are random killings, but a lot of these killings are by somebody you know. her ex-husband who actually didn't have a history of domestic violence but had a gun ready and available in a fit of rage, and she left behind a son and a daughter. 3,300 people have died since newtown, and i just think it's important as we have this debate to come down here and talk about who these victims are. i will be doing this over the course of today and tomorrow and this week to try to bring a little bit of color to the discussion that we're having. at this point, mr. president, i would yield back the floor. mr. durbin: mr. president?
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the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i want to thank my colleague, senator murphy, who gave his first speech on the floor of the senate this afternoon -- this morning on the same topic. he is imminently qualified to speak to this issue because of his unhappy circumstance of being a senator-elect when the newtown, connecticut, massacre occurred. i have spoken to him and senator blumenthal about their personal life speakerses and member -- experiences and memories they will never forget about those days and those that followed. i thank him for his voice on this issue, for his inspiration, and for speaking for many in newtown, connecticut, and across the nation who otherwise might not have a strong voice on the floor of the senate. so thank you very much for that. mr. president, i'd like to speak as if in morning business briefly and then return to the underlying bill on firearms.
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i ask consent to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. durbin: mr. president, in an interview with "roll call" newspaper a while back, robert rimney, one of the great historians of our time, talked about what he hoped for after he died. professor rimney said his idea of heaven wobblies he can with his own ears to debates involving congressional giants like henry clay and daniel webster and john c. calhoun. on march 28, robert rimney died in a suburban chicago hospital from complications of a recent stroke at the age much 91. i hope his wish comes true. i hope right now he is listening in awe somewhere in heaven as the great issues are debated in the great beyond. robert rimney led a good and full life. he spent most of his career at the university of illinois in chicago. he founded the university's respected institute for the humanities. he produced a remarkable body of work that brought important chapters of history to american
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life. in 2002, at the age of 80, professor rimney became a distinguished visiting scholar of american history at the library of congress. at the request of the librarian of congress james billington, professor rimney spent the next three years writing the history of the u.s. house of representatives. that's where i met him. what a man. a great historian, a great personality, with a smile on his face every minute of the day. professor rimney was once asked how he found the stamina to start writing another book at the age of 80. he said he started by setting a goal for himself to write nine pages a day. then he did what he had been taught by the jesuits who trained him. he designed a plan to reward success and punish failure. this historian, this writer, this man who had assigned himself nine pages a day would only get his reward at the end of the day, a martini, if he met his goal of nine pages. his system worked. the house was -- "the house" was
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published in 2006. in 2005, house speaker from illinois dennis hastert asked professor rimney to become the official historian of the u.s. house. the post of house historian had been empty for more than ten years. over the next five years, professor rimney rebuilt the office's small staff and established a reputation for impartial scholarship and integrity. he retired from the house in 2010, but he kept writing until shortly before his death. in all, he wrote and co-authored more than 20 books. his subjects included presidents john quincy adams, martin vanburen, house speaker henry clay, senator and statesman daniel webster and more man leader joseph smith. as one former colleague said, he wrote with such immediacy, you might think he had lunch with martin vanburen. the subject that interested him the most, though, was none of those great figures but andrew jackson. at least ten of professor rimney's books were about jackson, including an influential three-volume biography, the third volume of which won the national book
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award in 1934. andrew jackson was the embodiment of the new american. he was quote an orphan and talented and raised himself to the highest office in the land. he personified what the american dream is all about, that it's not class or money or bloodlines that are rewarded in america, but rather the ability of each individual to achieve something worthwhile in life, end of quote. professor rimney did not excuse jackson for his backward views on slavery or women's rights or his harsh treatment of native americans. he regarded jackson as admirable because -- quote -- "he believed in this union. he believed in this country. he believed that government shouldn't be for just a small segment of society but for all of us. that's what i want in a president, said professor rimney. robert vincent rimney was born in new york city, graduated from fordham university in 1943, wanted to be a lawyer, but that changed after he enlisted in the navy during world war ii. he had passed the time on -- to
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pass the time on board ship, he read history, including all nine volumes of henry adams' history of the united states of america. by the time the war ended, he knew it was history, not the law, that he loved most. he returned to new york to obtain his masters in doctorate history from columbia university and married his childhood sweetheart ruth cooner. he taught at fordham university for 12 years. in 1965, he moved to chicago. he became the first chair of the history department to the newly established university of illinois chicago circle campus. he later founded the interdisciplinary institute for the humanities, chaired that from 1918-1987. became a professor emeritus of research and history of humanities in 1991. he was an institution, not only in the field of history but certainly in chicago and at the university of illinois in chicago. in addition to the national book award, his other honors included the lyndon baines johnson foundation award, the carl
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sandburg award for nonfiction, the university scholar award at the university of illinois, the american historical association's award for scholarly distinction and the freedom award from the u.s. capitol historical society. professor rimney's wife ruth passed away last year. i want to express my condolences to their children robert, elizabeth, joan, their three grandchildren and to professor rimney's friends, colleagues and former students. i will close with this. in 2003, the national endowment for the humanities invited professor rimney to deliver the inaugural heroes of history lecture. he chose as his subject members of the first united states congress. this is part of what he said of those men in whose footsteps many of us follow -- quote -- "ordinary. most of them were just ordinary individuals as far as the record shows yet they performed heroically. and they deserve to be called heroes because they set aside their regional and local differences, their economic and personal preferences in their effort to make the constitution succeed and thereby establish an
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enduring union. they had many disagreements, but they resolved them in compromise and they did it for the sake of showing the world that a republican government was a viable instrument for the protection of liberty and the betterment of its citizens." if professor rimney were here today, he would tell us that the spirit of principled compromise is more than a noble part of our past. it is the best hope for our future. now, mr. president, i would like the statement i am about to make as part of the continuing debate on the outstanding legislation s. 649. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. durbin: mr. president, as i mentioned before when senator murphy spoke, i rise to speak about a vote that the senate is going to take tomorrow as we begin debating legislation to reduce gun violence. i'm glad we are finally having this vote. there were some who thought we would never reach this point. it's been far too long since the senate held a reasoned debate on how best to protect our children
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and families and schools and communities from violent shooting. when you talk to the families who have lost children to gunfire -- and it's been my sad duty to do that over and over again. when you talk to the law enforcement officials who are getting outgunned by criminals on the streets every day, you know this debate is long overdue. some senators have said they don't want to touch this issue. they have announced their intention to filibuster in order to try to stop us from even debating gun safety. this is an extreme political position. it's an unfortunate position. but fortunately over the last few days, a growing number of senators from both sides of the aisle have made it clear that this debate is going to move forward. i hope the vote tomorrow reflects that. and when we get to the point where we are in debate, we can roll up our sleeves and get to work. we can look at our constitution which we have sworn to uphold, including the second amendment, and we can also look to the needs of america to protect the life, liberty and opportunity
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for happiness with the people who live in this country. according to the centers for disease control, over 11,000 americans, 11,000 are murdered with guns each year. that's more each year than all the american lives lost in 9/11, iraq and afghanistan combined. when you count suicides and accidental shootings, more than 31,000 americans are killed by guns each year. that's 87 americans killed every single day by gun. another 200 are shot each day but survive. think of those mums. gun violence in america is truly an epidemic level. gunshots now kill over four times more americans per year than hiv-aids. and shooting deaths are projected to surpass car accident deaths within the next few years. these statistics should give us all pause, but numbers can't really capture the deeply personal impact of gun violence.
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there are just too many families who now face an empty chair at the dinner table, too many parents who walk past an empty bedroom, too many husbands and wives who have lost the loves of their lives because of guns. i.t. heartbreaking but its become almost routine. at park in chicago, at a nice club, at a movie theater in aurora, colorado, at a teem in wisconsin, at military bases in kentucky, at college lecture halls in blacksburg, virginia, and sadly in the first grade classroom in connecticut. since the newtown shooting, more than 3,300 americans have been killed by guns, including at least 220 children and teenagers. the violence continues. americans all across the country are saying with one voice,
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enough. we have to do something. we need to protect our kids, our communities, our schools and this epidemic of gun violence has to come to and he. on thursday we'll vote to begin debate on a about i will that will take commonsense steps to prevent gun violence. it is called the safe community, safe schools act. the senate judiciary committee reported each part of the bill last month. the committee held three lengthy hearings and fewer markups. the safe community, safe school act would do three things. first, make sure that the f.b.i. background check programs are conducted on all gun sales with some reasonable exceptions. about 40% of all transfers of firearms include no background check currently. someone raised the point in our hearings, what if you got on a flight, the flight attendant said welcome to this flight. the transportation safety authority has checked 60% of the
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passengers to make sure they're not carrying a bomb. the but not the other 40%. have a good flight. what would you any it? we have to check everyone if we're truly dedicated to the safety. we would also create tough federal criminal penalties for illegal straw purchasing and the trafficking of gruence. get the picture. if you're going to buy a gun from a licensed dealer, they are a going to run a background check on you. if it reveals that you have a felony conviction or you're under a domestic violence order or that you've been adjudged mentally incompetent, unstable, shouldn't own a gun, you won't be sold that gun. since we came up with that idea of background checks, 2 million unqualified people tried to buy them and we stopped them. that's what the law is supposed to doment but under the current circumstances, straw purchasers go in and buy a gun because they have a clean record.
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so a gangster, the mobster, the drug gang, the thug sends his girlfriend in to buy the gun. she doesn't have a criminal record. she buys the gun, comes outside and hands it to him. he turns around and uses it and somebody. this bill will change what happens to her. he's still going to face the full brunt of the law for his misdeeds. but she is a now going to be held accountable, too. up to 15 years hard time in federal prison for buying that gun. at a press conference in chicago, girlfriend, think twice; he ain't worth it. to run the risk of spending 15 years in prison if you buy a gun to give to that boyfriend who is going to turn around and use it in a crime? it ain't worth it. this bill would also authorize additional reauthorizes to keep -- resources to keep schools safe. these proposals have strong support from the american public including the majority of gun
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owners. the n.r.a. may speak for the gun industry. it doesn't speak for gun owners. gun owners -- and i know them; they're part of my family; i've grown up with them my entire life; they're good, god-fearing, patriotic americans who value their guns and use them proficiency store them safely at home away from kids; these are people who will follow the law and they understand that we've got to stop those who would misuse guns from getting their hands on them. the majority of gun owners across america support what we are doing in this bill. the straw purchasing and school safety proposals passed with strong bipartisan votes and i'm hopeful we'll be able to adopt a strong bipartisan amendment from senators toomey and manchin on background checks. about three weeks ago i went to the chicago police department headquarters.
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superintendent mccarthy sat me down with 10 beat cops from chicago. they are the ones who get up every morning and go usually undercover into neighborhoods to stop the violence. one had just gotten back from his 11th surgery, got in a shootout with a 15-year-old, trying to try to get back on his feet to get back on the force. we talked about what life is like out there. they talked about 14- and 15-year-olds packing guns and firing away. they sadly kill a lot of people they don't intend to kill. they're as irresponsible as it comes, but it is the responsibility of the mean streets of many cities. so these people in law enforcement agree that we need to do something about the straw transparence, for example. -- about the straw purchases, for example. so do the colleges, universities, teachers, and the family members of gun violence
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victims. many those from newtown are here today. senator murphy spoke earlier as did senator blumenthal to note their persuasive lobbying as they walk the halls of congress hoping that the sad and awful tragedy that they went through on december 14 will at least lead it a safer america. say lieutenant them in their -- i salute them. in their grief, they are standing up to make this a safer nation. unfortunately, some parts of the gun lobby have had a long history of proposing even these commonsense ideas and they've raised objections to them. i want to respond to the main objections the gun lobby has raised. as it turns out, they just don't stand up to scrutiny. first they claim that requiring f.b.i. background checks for gunning sales will lead to the creation of a national gun registry. that claim is absolutely totally false. federal law prohibits the federal government from establishing a national gun registry. we could argue the merits of it. but we have to acknowledge the reality. it doesn't exist today. it will not exist as a result of this bill.
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i have a copy of a letter signed by 30 senators including 26 republicans and i ask for consent that that letter be included in the record. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. durbin: thank you, mr. president. this letter dated november 3, 2011, was describes a number of long-standing prohibitions in the federal law. let me quote the letter's description of two. "firearms database prohibition. a prohibition on the use of funds to administer a database of firearm owners and their firearms. this has been in place since fiscal year 1979 and prevents 9 federal government from establishing a national gun registry. information-gearing prohibition. a prohibition on the use of funds to maintain any information gathered as part of an instant background check or to maintain information for more than 24 hours. this provision protects the privacy of law-abiding gun buyers by providing information about legal gun purchases from being kept by government authorities. it has been included in the law since fiscal year 199.
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so there you have it. this letter signed by senator mcconnell, the republican leader, senators hatch, inhofe, grassley, demint and many others show that the claims about a national gun registry baseless. there is no evidence of such a registry. long-standing federal laws prevent the creation of it. anyone who continues to claim the f.b.i. background checks will lead to a national gun registry should be shown this letter signed by republican senators. second, the gun lobby claims these proposals would unduly burden law-abiding gun owners. what's the burden? in 2011 the f.b.i. reported the background check system had an instant determination rate of 91.5%. that means, 91%-plus of background checks will result in matter of minutes. for those other background checks were the dealer dealers instructed to temporarily dedelay the sea, the f.b.i. must give them a response in three
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days oar the sale will be allowed to go through. a background check is a minor, temporary inconvenience to a small percentage of law-abiding americans. meanwhile, the public safety and law enforcement benefits of background checks are enormous. they have stopped unlawful users from buying guns 1.5 million times and there's just no reason for law-abiding americans to worry about gun trafficking. these activities are already illegal and law-abiding americans will the no be engaged in them. in short, the proposals before the senate will not burden law-abiding gun owners. they will to save lives, reduce crime, and keep guns from the hand of those who will misuse them. the fired claim by the gun lobby: they claim that we should not pass any new gun laws until there's more enforcement of the gun laws on the books. it's blatantly hypocritical of the gun lobby to say we should just enforce the gun laws in the books when they constantly try
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to weaken those same lawsms the gun lobby has gotten congress to change the laws on the book to repeal the reagan-era prohibition on loaded guns in national parks, to require amtrak to allow guns to be transported on their trains, to give the gun industry unprecedented immunity from liability under civil law, and to pass appropriations ride theirs make it harder for law enforcement agencies to enforce gun laws. lionel like the ludicrous teaheart amendment that prevents information-sharing for guns used in the commission of a crime. the gun lobby has also supported court challenges across the country. the gun lobby claims to be outraged that there are not more federal prosecutions when a person tries to buy a gun but is denied by the f.b.i. nix background checks. the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives, a. tee
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f., as we all noshing the gun lobby has gone to great political lengths to make it harder for the a.t.f. to do its job. the gun lobby has block the a.t.f. from getting a senate-confirmed director for six straight years. they pushed appropriations riders that limit the a.t.f.'s authority and they've sought to repeal a.t.f. regulations in court. at the same time the gun lobby tries to prevent the a.t.f. from carrying out its responsibilities, the gun lobby has push add rider into law that prevents congress from transferring any of a.t.f.'s functions to to any other agency. the gun lobby says all we should do is enforce the gun laws on the books, then they make it harder for the federal government to do just that. here's the bottom line: we're going to have votes soon, perhaps starting tomorrow, to see where the members of the senate stand. are they going to stand with the police officers, the religious leaders, teachers, prosecutors, doctors, the mayors, the victims and their families?
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and the strong majority of americans who support proposals that will save lives, commonsense gun safety proposals? or are they going to stand with the gun lobby that refuses to compromise even when lives could be saved? i know where i'm going to stand. i stand with americans like the family of hidea a pendelton, gunned down just weeks ago in a park. she had been out here for president obama's inauguration. she was here with her high school friends and classmates. this a matter of two weeks she was gunned down in a park. i stand with sandra worthhearths whose brother, a chicago police officer, was shot and killed by gang members when with a straw-purchased gun when he stood in the driveway of his father's home. the gun lobby would like us to forget about these victims but there is no way we can. sandra worthham testified and
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talked about how her brother, a policeman, was armed and shot back but it didn't save him. she told us there's nothing antigun about doing more to keep guns out of the hands of the people who will misuse them. it was powerful testimony. well, the n.r.a. described the hearing as "an attack on guns." they described the testimony given any five of our six witnesses, but they said nothing about sandra worthham who lost her brother. they pretended her testimony never happened. they didn't want people to remember her story. it's not the only time. a few weeks ago the n.r.a. proposed a set of redline changes to the gun trafficking bill. the key section of that bill was named after high deia pendelton of shipment that was senator kirk's idea. was the first change the n.r.a. proposed? deleting hi democratic a pendleton's name from the bill.
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they didn't want to be remiewnded of this young girl who lost her life to gun values. the gun lobby may hope that we forget about americans like the pendeltons and worthhams, but we won't. none of us should. i urge my colleagues to join with the majority of americans who support commonsense reformers that will reduce gun deaths and keep guns out of the hands of criminals. let me close -- and i see my colleague, senator kaine, and senator lee on the floor by just reminding those whoever following this debate what other countries have done when they've experienced tragic mass shootings. they've acted to toughen the gunning larks often going far further than any proposal we have before the senate. in australia, on april 28, 1996, a gunman started shooting at tieforts, killed 35 people. that nation dramatically toughened their gun standards for gunning orientation band assault weapons and launched a buy back of hundreds of
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thousands of semi automatic rifles. that's not in this bill. after these laws were passed, gun homicides and suicides decreased dramatically in australia and they have not had a mass shooting since 1996. in finkland there were two masked school shootings. the first sophisticated a teenager who killed eight people, the second was a gun montana had killed several at a culinary school. in scotland on march 13, 1996 a gunman entered a primary school and killed 16 young children and their teacher. in response the united kingdom went so far as to ban virtually all handguns. the measures we're consider considering today are mod nest comparison with steps other countries took in response to mass shootings. even though we have over 300 million guns in america and a strong tradition of gun opener shin the measures we are considering have overwhelming
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support among the majority of americans and gun owners. we should move forward with these measures. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from virginia is recognized. mr. kaine: i ask unanimous consent i be recognized for up to five minutes as if the in morning business and then senator lee. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. mr. kaine: i rise to introduce my first bill, the troop talent act of 2013 and i'm happy to say it is cosponsored by senator saxby chambliss and max baucus. it concerns the unemployment rate of our veterans. currently the national unemployment averages at 7.6%, but the unemployment rate for veterans is 9.4%. that unemployment rate is
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particularly acute for veterans who have served in iraq and afghanistan. we can't be comfortable if we see that statistic that our veterans have a higher unemployment rate than the national average. it should be otherwise. and in virginia, where one in nine of our citizens, one in nine of our eight million citizens from birth to death are veterans, this is a particularly acute challenge and frankly, it's only going to get worse as more and more people exit military service in the drawdown from afghanistan. what is the reason for the veterans' unemployment rate being higher than the national average? some of the reasons have to do with medical chamtion and issues in the province of the v.a. but i learned of another reason as i was campaigning across the state for 19 months. i heard stories from veterans and they would say the following: i was in the military, i was a battlefield, medic and i tried to get a job as a physician's assistant or a
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nurse and i was told i got no credit at all for military experience as i tried to transition into the civilian world. i maintained navy aviation engines for 20 years and when i finished and tried 20 do the same thing on the civilian side i was told i had to go back and start as if i had no experience in doing this. i operated heavy equipment but was told i would need a commercial driver's license. many of the members of our military, all of them are gaining skills along the way but they go into a civilian work force where their skills and talents are not recognized. in some ways, this is a feature of an all-volunteer military. when we had a draft and when men were compelled to serve, someone dmartding military service would go into the work force and say i was a gunnery sergeant and someone on the work force would know what it was they had done. but today only 1% of our adults serve in military and so o we appreciate what military members do, but we don't understand their technical skills and we don't understand their
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leadership talent. and so that is the genesis for this troop talent act of 2013. it's to make sure that military members while they are active are getting recognized credentialed credit for the skills they obtained that will get them immediate traction back into a civilian work force. it has three pillars. the first is the credentialalling of military members for the skills they obtain and the sharing of information when between the military branches with service members, with the private sector and with agencies that would credential you with a civilian credential. that's the first pillar, credentialing people for the skills they obtain. the second is a little bit of a policing function. sometimes folks prey on people leaching the military. pay me 5 4507bdz and i'll administer a test to give you a credential but turns out the credential is worthless. it used to be the v.a. had a working committee to police these credentials granting
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agencies to make sure no one was ripped off. that committee no longer is in service. this bill would restart it. finally, the last thing this bill would do would be to take one particular industry sector, information technology, where there's huge needs to hire people, and where our military members have significant skills and try to accelerate the credentialing and traction for those particular military members back some the civilian work force. there's a current pilot project d.o.d. is working on with certain specialties but not i.t. this would expand the programs to add i.t. to the list. in conclusion, mr. president, what i'll say is this -- this is about doing what the nation should do for our service members. and making sure that they can get the traction that they deserve for the service they provided. but it's not just about the members themselves. it's also about us. we have invested in our service men and women and they have skills, technical skills and leadership skills that can help
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our society be more successful. to the extent that we do not allow them traction back into civilian life, we're not only depriving them, we're depriving ourselves 6 their strengths -- of their strengths and threnlts. i'm excited to introduce this bill and glad to have senators chambliss and baucus as cosponsors and, mr. president, i i yield back the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from utah is recognized. mr. lee: i thank the senator from virginia for his cooperation in helping me get this time. mr. president, the president of the united states has spent the last several weeks evoking the tragedy at sandy hook and highlighting the voices of the victims in an empt to promote his gun control proposals. he has not explained to the american people how any of this new gun -- any of these new gun control measures would have prevented that or any other terrible tragedy. or how any of these measures would reduce gun violence in any measurable way.
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instead, his proposals would serve primarily to restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens. recently i launched a product called protect 2-a to see our bill of rights, and believe members of congress should be doing everything in their power to protect the second amendment rights of citizens, just as we should be protecting all the rights protected by our constitution. i'm pleased to announce that the response to protect 2-a has been overwhelming. in less than two days, we've received well over a thousand responses on my web site. the vast majority of them recognize that the president's proposals will not make them safer, but will rather result in limiting their rights as law-abiding citizens. it's with this in mind that i would now like to ensure that their voices become an important part of this debate. i have several quotes from
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americans across the country who oppose these measures and want senators to stand up for them and their constitutional rights. roger from my home state of utah writes as follows: as a veteran, i've had too many brothers and sisters make sacrifices to uphold the constitution of the united states, their blood will not be in vain. while i believe our rights are not granted by government, i believe the documentation of these rights in the u.s. constitution has helped us maintain our freedoms. why is the second amendment important to me? because was it the -- without it the rest of our rights can simply beth wiped away. jim from louisiana writes as follows "i lived through the los angeles rights roits. my wife and i were living in silver lake. for five days we watched the orange glow of businesses burned on two sides. for five days we never saw a law enforcement officer. we were on our own. my wife and i were unarmed. the couple across the street had a pair of shotguns and the
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elderly gentleman next to them had a .38 caliber service revolver from his days in the lapd. after it became clear law enforcement had abandoned the citizens of los angeles we took shifts watching the street and watching who was coming and who was going. our neighbors brought us coffee in the middle of the night, a night that was lit with the flames of burning buildings. twice cars came up our street, saw us armed and turned around. i have no doubt that the drivers had things on their minds other than getting home to loved ones. as soon as i could, i went out and bought my first handgun. i will not be disarmed. i will not be a victim and i will not let my boys be victims. legal or not, i'm giving them my guns as they mature enough to use them. if our government is so out of touch that they will make law-abiding citizens criminals, it's just something my family will have to deal with. but we will not disarm.
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david from missouri wrote the following: "i'm a handicapped 78-year-old male living lien. i've applied for and received a concealed carry permit which i feel is my second amendment right. i hope and pray that i never have to use my firearm, but will if challenged to do so. please don't treat the second amendment like you did with my health care by passing legislation that you didn't even read. carolyn from new jersey writes this "protection of the second amendment is necessary in order to preserve the integrity of our constitution. the ruling elite cannot pick and choose which amendments they like and which they don't. we, the people, are sovereign citizens and we are protected by the constitution." annie from georgia writes the following "dear senator, how i wish we as a civilized nation did not have to go through this in order to defend our second amendment. that has been in place for all these years. it is very important that we keep the citizens -- that we,
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the citizens, keep our weapons to be able to defend ourselves from criminals as well as to send a message to the government that we are not under any dictatorship, we are a free country, and that we are ready to defend our position against anyone who tries to take away what rights we have. to me personally, my guns are my defense to protect my family, and i've had to make use of them for that reason in the past and i will do it against since -- again since police cannot be available fast enough. please protect our rights because once we lose this amendment, we're defenseless and others will follow. i do not want to live again in a country where citizens have no voice, where there is no democracy, and where the people live in fear of what they say. i'm a legal citizen of the u.s.a. by choice, i am an american and i love this country like my own. thanks so much for what you're doing. let your voices be heard." these are a few of the excerpts. i'd like to submit the rest of them in writing for the congressional record.
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the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. without objection the materials will be presented. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to consider following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of the interior, sarah jewell of washington to be secretary. the presiding officer: there will now be two hours of debate equally divided prior to a vote on the nomination. the senior senator from oregon is recognized. mr. wyden: we will take up this afternoon the nomination of sally jewell to head up the department of interior. the department is one of america's biggest landowners and is the second largest source of revenue for the treasury after the internal revenue service. the department of interior has the unique mission of protecting america's treasures while pursuing balanced approaches to
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promote sustainable economic development. the agency administers the outer continue knell shelf program that's vital to -- continental shelf program that's vital to oregon's coast, and the land where oregon where we are pushing to increasing forest health because we know forest health equals a healthy economy. the agency has significant trust spopts for native americans and it manages water reclamation projects throughout the west. public lands, mr. president, public lands that are cd administered by the department are a life line for our ranchers and they're especially important given the recent droughts that our country has experienced. in addition to these traditional responsibilities, increasingly, the department of interior is responsible for
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providing recreational opportunities for millions of our citizens. today, millions of americans use these lands to hunt and to camp and to fish and hike and boat. and let's make no mistake about it, mr. president, outdoor recreation is now a major economic engine for our country. generating more than $645 billion in revenue each year. that's why, mr. president, i'm especially enthused today to be able to recommend sally jewell strongly to head the department of interior. she has exceptional qualifications, mr. president. somehow, she has managed to pack into just one lifetime
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7 -- two or three of what would normally be lifetime experiences. she has been a petroleum engineer, she's been a corporate c.e.o., she's been a banker, she's been a citizen volunteer. and her qfertions clearly -- qualifications clearly made an impression on the energy and natural resources committee that i chair. last month our members voted 19-3 to approve her nomination, and i believe she got that resounding vote, mr. president, because she is the right person to oversee the multitude of programs at the department of interior, several of which i've just mentioned. she certainly made clear in her confirmation hearing, mr. president, that she understands that there is an enormous responsibility to
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balance these two roles, these dual roles of conserving and developing resources. i think we all understand that jobs in our country come from the private sector. and if through this department we can look to come up with innovative, fresh policies to set the climate for job growth while we protect our treasures, that is clearly going to be good for the united states of america. and let's look at a few of the areas, mr. president, where she's going to be involved. natural gas is just one. now this has been a huge, huge positive development for our country. we've got it. the world wants it. our prices are lower, and we're seeing a significant interest among american manufacturers. i know this has been a great interest to the president of the senate today.
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a lot of these manufacturers are saying they want to come back from overseas because america has a price advantage in terms of clean natural gas. now, mr. president, there are significant environmental questions associated with natural gas. we've already talked about them in our committee. we're going to have to deal with fracking issues and methane emissions and underground aquifers, and i think based on some of the discussions we've had -- we had a very good dialogue between francis bynekee and senator hoeven of north dakota where they have a significant interest in natural gas. i believe under sally jewell when it comes to our public lands we're going to be able to strike the kind of responsibility that makes sense for the senate in a bipartisan way. i see my friend and colleague,
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senator murkowski here. she has more than met me halfway as we try to look at the issues associated with these questions like natural gas. and i'll only say, mr. president, that with someone with the brains and energy and the willingness to reach out -- and she certainly did that based on the number of visits she made to senators -- we may be able to have a natural gas policy where we can have it all, where we can have modest prices for our businesses and consumers that make for a significant economic advantage. we can bring back some of those industries from overseas to oregon and ohio and other parts of the country. and we can do it by using, for example, best practices on our public lands as it relates to managing these resources. but you only have a chance to
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accomplish those kinds of things, mr. president, if you have someone with sally jewell's talents and professional track record of actually bringing people together on these kinds of issues. you can't run a multibillion-dollar company like r.e.i., which has been ms. jewell's current position, without showing the ability to manage, to bring people together, and particularly to anticipate some of the exciting trends in the days ahead. as i mentioned in terms of outdoor recreation, where we all have enjoyed the american tradition of the great outdoors, but i think few thought that it would be a $646 billion contributor to the american economy. and that happens because individuals like ms. jewell are
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willing to step up to take these positions, and because she's part of our part of the world, the pacific northwest, we are particularly pleased to see her secure this position. but you don't run and run well a nearly $2 billion outdoor equipment company, as ms. jewell has by osmosis. you do it because you're a good manager, you're good with people, and particularly you understand what the challenges are all about. i think at this point i'd like to give some time to my friend and colleague. i know the washington senators are very interested in being part of this debate. and i also, before we wrap up this afternoon, mr. president, would like to talk about the wonderful track record of ms. jewell's predecessor, our current secretary, secretary
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salazar, a personal friend of both senator murkowski and i. and for purposes of this part of the discussion, i would only like to say to the senate that in sally jewell, we'll have an individual with the experience, with the expertise and the drive to lead the department of the interior. i believe she will listen to senators who have concerns, listen to senators who want, as senator murkowski and so many in our committee have tried to do, to find that common ground. i strongly urge the senate today when we vote a little bit later to join me in voting to approve sally jewel's nomination for the department of interior. and i'd be happy to yield to my friend and colleague from alaska. ms. murkowski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senior senator from alaska is recognized. ms. murkowski: thank you, mr. president. i follow my colleague from oregon, the chairman of the energy committee, here in
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discussing the qualifications of the nominee for the secretary of the interior, sally jewell. i think we recognize as westerners that this is an appointment, this is a position that has great significance, great meaning to our states, so we pay attention to these nominees. we pay attention to who is secretary of the interior. mr. president, i've taken the position that our responsibility, our constitutional responsibility for advice and consent should begin with very thoughtful questions on our part. and then absent any seriously disqualifying factors, we should conclude with the confirmation of the president's nominees. our obligations to get answers to our questions is always a
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serious one, and i think the duty weighs most heavily when the interest of our constituents are directly at stake. and i mention the impact that the department of interior has, particularly on our western states, our states that have so much public lands, our states where we have national forests, where we have b.l.m. lands, rangelands, refuge lands in alaska and really in many parts across the west. the federal government's biggest and most prominent role is really that of landlord. and sometimes you've got a good relationship with your landlord, and other times it feels like the landlord won't even let you put a nail in the wall to hang a picture. and so, again, we look very critically and very carefully at this position. in several states the federal government controls the majority of the land in alaska.
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64% of the state is controlled from here in washington, d.c. so that means an individual that may have an in holding in some federal -- in some federal land basically has to get permission to get to his or her in holding within a park. it's almost hard for many of my colleagues to believe that so much of what it is that we do has to go through this process of approval. that's our reality. in alaska, with the federal ownership, it's more than 230 million acres that are held in federal ownership. that's an area, mr. president, that is larger than the state of texas. we always like to compare ourselves, alaska to texas.
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but the fact of the matter is our federal public lands in alaska are larger than the size of the state of texas. we've got over 57 million acres of wilderness. that's about the size of the state of minnesota. and that's just sitting in my state. the proportion of federal land in alaska is exceeded only by that of our colleagues from nevada, the majority leader and senator heller. they remind us quite frequently that the federal lands held in their states are about 85%. and when you think about what this does, the federal land classifications you have to deal with oftentimes not only severely restrict the usage of federal lands by our people, but as a practical matter they restrict the use of state and private lands too. so again, the secretary of the interior is important to the future of a state like alaska
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and the west, but really as it relates to other cabinet members, this is one that we're going to pay serious attention to. i had occasion to come to this floor several months ago to discuss a decision that came out of the u.s. fish and wildlife service. in that decision, they somehow found cause to oppose a single-lane gravel road ten miles that would connect the community of king cove down and near the aleutian islands, connect it to the community, less than 100 people, of cold bay. the reason to connect these two communities is cold bay has the second longest runway in alaska.
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king cove, on the other hand, where most of the people live -- about 900-some-odd native alaskans -- has an airport that is dicey at best. and we have seen accidents. we have seen lives lost as folks have tried to leave king cove for medical services. and it was an issue that for me and for the people of king cove, was far beyond a discussion about what happens when you put a small road through a refuge. for the people of king cove, this was about safety. this was about life and safety. and they felt that they were not being heard by their federal landlord. the agencies hadn't heard the people, and in fact, the
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department had not heard the people. now they had listened to the biologists and they had gotten that message. but the people had not been heard. and so, through a series of very lengthy discussions with secretary salazar, through a series of conversations with the nominee sally jewell, and through the impassioned words of many of the people of king cove who traveled over 4,000 miles to come here to washington, d.c. to knock on the door of the secretary and say, "please hear our voices," that through these series of discussions there has been an accommodation, there has been an agreement reached. and i appreciate my colleague and the chairman helping us with this. but the department of interior has agreed to have the new secretary as well as the
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assistant secretary of indian affairs review the public and safety impacts of this decision to build this road. but i think it is important, mr. president, that folks understand that this wasn't a parochial issue that i was raising here on the floor. i kept referring to it as the king cove issue. but it's not one single issue and it is not parochial. it is obvious to the people of alaska why this was such a considerable deal, why it was so important that the people of king cove be heard. it -- for them, it was not just about a road. it was an issue of overreach. it was a symbol of federal overreach on way too many policies that we see come out of the department and the harm then that it causes across our nation. and the reality is that so many of us, particularly those in the
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western states, we all have our own king cove. we all have those instances when issues have come up where the people from the states that we represent have to go knocking on the door of some federal agency for permission, have to try to navigate a morass of regulation, and they don't feel like they're being heard. every day we have federal restrictions that are making it harder for local people to live and to prosper. and so i made an effort, i made a big effort to make sure that the incoming secretary of the interior not only understood the particulars of king cove -- and i welcome the opportunity to travel with her when she comes to alaska and flies out to king cove at the -- hopefully the end of the summer -- for her not only to understand this issue but for her to understand the bigger role that she will as
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secretary of the interior and how important it is for her to listen to all sides, to listen to the people that she represents. as secretary of the interior, she has, she is the one that will help to implement that special trust responsibility that the federal government has to our first people, to our native people. so she needs to see and hear for herself. she also needs to fully understand what she has in front of her. as senator wyden has mentioned, the -- the -- the massive public lands that will be under her authority, under her jurisdiction as secretary, understanding what that means to ranchers and farmers and -- and those who are the recreators in
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our national parks, to those who will harvest timber, to those who will use our lands in -- in the manner with which they are intended, multiple use. for her to fully understand what it means to be the -- the custody yarntio -- thecustodiane amazing public lands in this country. we all need to be working with her. now, i have -- i have no question about ms. jewell's intelligence, her competence as a manager. i have been very impressed with what i have seen with her level of sincerity, with her very distinguished private-sector career. it's been noted that she has -- she has probably spent more time in alaska prior to coming to the department of interior than any other nominee outside of walter hickle, who was our former
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governor and served as secretary of the interior. so she gives me comfort with that, knowing that she understands much of what we have to deal with in alaska. and these are all -- these are all important qualities as we think about her competence as a manager, as we think about her intelligence. but to deal with an agency the size, the scope and the complexity of the department of interior really requires the ability to -- to focus not only on the -- the debates and conflicts that we are -- are facing today but it -- it's going to require an understanding of cien o kind of understanding of how we got here. the debates and conflicts of today often are based on years, decades, perhaps even centuries of -- of history. and those who are steeped in this history raise the importance of a secretary understanding the context for
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the many difficult decisions that will -- will be made. i had an opportunity to ask a lot of questions of -- of sally jewell, not only in our private meeting but before the committee, and then also in writing. i asked questions about my questions. i wanted to be thorough. and i do concede that ms. jewell will be on a learning curve as she assumes the position of secretary. but in her answers to questions at the hearing and in her written submissions, she has asserted that her experience and her skill at bringing diverse groups of people together to solve difficult problems on which they've been divided historically, she's pointed that out. and i do take her at her word there. i will certainly commit to participating in that dialogue and to bring all of -- of my and my fellow westerners' --
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constituents with me, whether it's literally or figuratively, i think that that's important. ms. jewell has -- has used the word "convener" when describing herself and i think that this will be a -- a -- a very important task and role that she will assume. you have conflicting groups, you've got conflicting interests and -- and miss jewell has spoken to how she has reconciled that in the past with her previous work experience, not only at rei but at other places. and i do believe that she has those skill-sets to accomplish just that. so with this committee that she has made to me and to others on the committee, i will certainly take the view that the fact that ms. jewell has perhaps not been through the full gamut, if you will, of the -- the conflicts thathat surround so much of what
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happens within the interior, perhaps that's a good thing. because perhaps she is able to look at some of these issues through -- through some -- a fresh perspective, a different lens. perhaps because she's not so embedded in the history she'll be able to look at -- at this anew and i think that that is good, i think that that is a positive. i certainly will look forward to engage -- engaging substantively with her as we complete this process and beyond on these issues how she can really bring her problem-solving skills to bear in a way that will serve all americans. i think it is -- it is telling and it was noted in the energy committee hearing by one of our colleagues that ms. jewell brings to the table as the nominee for the secretary of interior a -- a business
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background that is -- that is quite considerable. she has -- she said she's a -- a petroleum engineer that has actually fracked a well so she's got some experience there. she has, again, experience in -- in alaska, worked on the beginning portion of how we built out the trance alaska traa pipeline. she did it from the seattle area but as that what skill-set as w. and it was asked somewhat tongue-in-cheek by one of my colleagues on the republican side, he says, well, you've got all these -- these great characteristics, why would president obama select you? so i think that that is important to recognize, that we have before us a -- a nominee that brings a unique set of skill-sets, of experiences to us that i am hopeful will be beneficial. this is -- this is important to me as an alaskan to know that we
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have someone that will be a listener, that will be a convener, that will work to -- to solve problems. and i'm looking forward to the opportunity to spend time in alaska with her as she visits with the -- the -- the people up north to better understand -- to better understand some of the challenges that we face and then hopefully work with us on these issues that are so critically important. i appreciate the good work of my colleague and the chairman of the committee in getting us to this point so that we can move ms. jewell's nomination forward. i look forward to supporting her and working with her during her tenure as secretary of the interior. and with that, i yield the floor. mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the
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senior senator from washington state is recognized. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise today to join with my colleagues to urge them to vote in support of sally jewell who's been nominated to serve as interior secretary. and i want to thank snaw wyden for all -- thank senator wyden for all of his work in moving her to this process today. i was thrilled when president obama nominated sally for this position and i couldn't be more exied to support her for her -- excited to support her for her -- in her confirmation. sally's going to come to the department of interior at a difficult time for our country. as a nation, we are working very hard to protect our environment and invest in new technologies to meet our energy demands. and on the local level, including in my home state of washington, sally's going to face some complex issues, like protecting tribal lands and treaty rights. but, mr. president, i can think of no one better prepared for this task than sally. after she studied, as you just heard, to become an engineer at the university of washington, sally left the northwest for the oil fields of oklahoma and colorado where she learned about the energy sector from the
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inside out. from there, she moved to the out of doors, as you can see from here on this picture, and she moved from there to a boardroom and spent nearly two decades in finance, helping businesses grow and learning what it takes to succeed in the marketplace. time and again sally has broken the mold to take on tough tasks, often in male-dominated industries. when she joined recreational equipment perfected, the seattle-based outdoor retailer, it was struggling. but after eight years with sally as c.e.o., rei is now thriving, topping $1 billion in sales while leading the charge to protect our environment. and finding that balance, navigating the business world while keeping rei's commitment to the outdoors is what will make sally great as our next interior secretary. mr. president, perhaps better than anyone, sally knows that businesses and environment both benefit when we're committed to
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protecting our national parks and promoting our national pressures. at rei, sally's proven that sustainability and responsibility make sense for the environment and the company's bottom line. in washington state, she has worked closely with me to help create the wild sky wilderness area and expand our other important environmental protections throughout our state. she's worked with industry and environmentalists to expand recreational opportunities throughout the northwest and has helped us work towards permanently protecting b.l.m. islands in the san juan eye larntiondz whicislands,which myy cantwell, was at the forefront of. that is truly a gem of washington state and has recently been declared a national monument. sally has backed crucial public-private partnerships that create jobs through recreation and she's supported groundbreaking programs to get young people involved in the out of doors. so whether it's our forestlands in the northwest or mineral deposits in the southwest, oil
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reserves along our coastline, sally is going to lead an interior department where economic growth and long-term sustainability go hand in hand. so i am here today to urge my colleagues to vote in support of sally jewell and -- and am really pleased that she's been nominated. and again i want to thank senator wyden for all of his work in getting her to this point in this process. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington state is recognized. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i join my colleagues from the northwest who come to the floor this afternoon to speak in support of the nomination of sally jewell as secretary of interior. and like my colleagues from the northwest, i want to express how much we appreciate her willingness to serve and how proud we are of her legacy and interest in a variety of issues so far. and obviously, the department of
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interior, with its broad range of services, is so important to us, including everything from our national parks to wildlife refuge to offshore drilling lease management, to the important science done by the usgs service and many, many other things. in fact, i read somewhere kind of humorously that the department of interior was called "the department of everything else." so i know that as a nominee, miss jewell came before our committee and i want to thank her family for their willingness to support her in their efforts to come to washington, d.c. because sally the exact type of leadership we need at the department of interior. she represents a balanced person who not only knows how to help a growing business, like she di did -- or served on the university board of regents, also worked on the nonpartisan national conservation parks association, but she has been
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everything in business, from dealing to oil fields in oklahoma to commercial banking to, of late, running rei, one of our most successful companies in the pacific northwest. so i know she has the kind of leadership that it takes to figure out these issues about best use of public lands or the vigorous challenges the department faces when it comes to modernizing the bureaucracy or thinking about climate change at the same time you're talking about deepwater drilling. so it's a myriad of things that we have to forge through and sally jewell is the right person with the right balance to get that done. having grown up in washington with over 40% of our lands -- where 40% of our land is in public land, i know that sally understands these western issues. whether it's water rights or salmon recovery or understanding the impact on water levels, fire season, wildlife on b.l.m. lands or the importance of access to hunting and fishing, i guarantee
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you because she grew up there, sally jewell understands these issues. and i know that she's been involved in many organizations to express that and that has been a good training ground for her. i'm confident because she is a trained engineer she's going to bring a very pragmatic, can-do attitude to the interior department's management and problem-solving efforts. i know that science will be her compass. and i know that she's not going to have an ideological bent but she's going to have a get-it-done mentality. given the importance of the interior department's agencies and very, very challenging mission, i am excited that we're going to have somebody with a business background and a science background at the department of interior. so i hope that our colleagues will vote today to move miss jewell out of the united states senate so we can get her into
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the department of interior so that she can begin this important job and continue to move our nation's agenda forward. as the chairwoman of the indian affairs committee, i look forward to working with miss jewell on all the issues related to indian country as well. there is much to accomplish, much to address, and i think that her background is exactly what we need in the united states senate, so i hope my colleagues will move quickly on this issue, and i thank the chairman, senator wyden, for his leadership in moving her nomination through the process. mr. wyden: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: before she leaves, i just want to thank senator cantwell for all her good work. i think northwesterners know and i hope the rest of the country knows that senator cantwell is one of those who really understands the opportunity in the great outdoors. i know you're climbing a mountain this summer and you're
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always into shape and getting ready for a mountain, and particularly to have the opportunity to work with folks in the pacific northwest, particularly with sally jewell's background as you have eloquently outlined i think is going to be an advantage, not just for our region but for the rest of our country. i see our colleague from new mexico is here. if he would like to make some remarks at this point, we would welcome them. i have some additional remarks as well. would my colleague from new mexico like to make any remarks at this time? all right. mr. president, let me then talk for just a few more minutes about miss jewell and some of the challenges ahead, particularly in natural resources. obviously, with authorities as my colleagues have outlined that range from managing national parks to offshore oil and gas development to protecting fish and wildlife, if you're going to serve as secretary of interior,
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it's almost like an extreme sport for multitaskers. you are going to have to -- have to juggle, and ms. jewell knows a little bit about multitasking as we know from being a petroleum engineer, a c.e.o., a conservationist and a banker. and particularly in my part of the world, oregon, there are some especially important challenges. the federal government owns most of our land, and particularly in forestry, we need to find a way to bring together all sides, timber owners, environmentalists, scientists, and we need to go in there, mr. president, and clean out millions and millions of overstocked timber stands. we can get that material to the mills. it's an ideal source of biomass, a clean source of energy, and
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because we're working to build relationships with the environmental community, we can also find a way to protect old growth as we get the harvest up. but it's not, again, going to happen just by osmosis because somebody waves a wand in washington, d.c. it's going to happen because you have responsible administrators like sally jewell who really are going to take the time to learn the checkerboard pattern of o. o.n.c. lands in our local communities and particularly understand some of our traditions that have worked particularly well in the past, and i think can be of great benefit as we look to future solutions. mr. president, back in 2000, i had the honor of writing the secure rule schools bill, the timber payments bill with our
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former colleague senator larry craig, and what we included in that legislation i think is the kind of model for collaborative forestry that i think you're going to see sally jewell pick up on. we established something called resource advisory councils, mr. president, where in effect on the local level, people from the timber industry, people from the environmental community, scientists, a whole host of others -- frankly, some people who as a general rule hadn't done much talking to each other, probably had done a lot of litigating against each other, they would use these resource advisory councils to come together, to come together and try to find some common ground, and it worked. these resource advisory councils , when i meet people from the timber industry, from
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any of the extractive industries and environmental folks, they say use that model, use that collaborative model that we're seeing used in timberlands in southwestern oregon as a way that we can really build on the opportunity to bring people together. we have been able to do that with forest service lands in eastern oregon to some extent. mr. president, i think we can do it also in western oregon and in the communities that are affected by bureau of land management lands. probably to do it, we're going to have to extend the timber payments law for another year to give us the time to come up with a long-term solution. i have talked about this with sally jewell in the past, and i think her willingness to cede that this is an issue that now
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finally has to be addressed, addressed in a way that will get the timber harvest up in the o. n.c. lands but also protect our treasures. our old growth. this is some of the really pristine treasure of america. and, mr. president, if we don't figure out a way to promote the forest health and go in there and thin out these overstocked stands, these fires that we are seeing, they are really not natural fires, they are magnets for infernos because of years and years of neglect are going to continue, and i think sally jewell is really up to the challenge of coming up with the kinds of policies for the o.n.c. lands, for the lands we're seeing in eastern oregon and wham of my colleagues have talked about in montana and colorado and idaho, and i think she is up to that challenge. now, mr. president, before we wrap up today, i do want to take
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a few minutes and talk about -- i know the president of the senate has -- has great affection for him as well, our former colleague ken salazar. ken salazar, as you know, has been secretary of the interior throughout the obama administration to date, and it's my view that he has done an exceptional job, and i think we all understand here in the senate that when ken salazar is involved, you get somebody with a great smile, an enormous amount of energy, enormous intelligence and someone who in a very persistent way is interested in solving problems. and ken salazar has sure done that, mr. president, in a number of important areas. for example, before ken salazar took office -- and i'm just looking at a headline -- there was a huge scandal at the
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department of the interior. i'm looking at an article in the fall of 2008 headlined "sex, drug use and graft cited in the interior department." and basically what it talks about is a review, a number of reports delivered by the inspector general that basically document, mr. president, at the department of interior a culture of lax ethics, and it basically describes how something like a dozen current and former employees at the minerals management service, this is an agency that collected at that time billions of dollars of royalties annually, you basically had an anything goes kind of environment. the reports go on and on. it feels more like a litany for a late-night television show.
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the reports focus on a culture of substance abuse and promiscuity and the services royalty in kind program. essentially officials that seem to be exempt from spend account limits. one ethical lapse after another was documented in these reports, and i remember, mr. president, the hearing, the confirmation hearing on senator salazar, and it was unusual because he had been my seatmate over the years at the department of energy, and we said senator salazar, you have got to go in there and drain the swamp at the minerals management service, and in fact he certainly did that. it has been essentially the -- the successor has been a program free of scandal, and i think that is representative of both the integrity and the
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professionalism that secretary salazar has brought to the program. he also, i would note, after the gulf spill overhauled the offshore drilling practices, ensured that they were beefed up in terms of safety while at the same time allowing for the drilling that is so important to the industry. and i'm also going to, as we reflect on secretary salazar's accomplishments, mention that he has done yeoman work in terms of promoting green and renewable energy. i note in one of the comments about his departure that christie goldfuss, public lands director at the center for american progress, stated, and i quote here -- "secretary salazar championed a new model of conservation which focused on partnerships with private
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landowners and states and that this approach has paid off with cooperatives in the everglades in florida, the prairie pothole region of the dakotas and other areas." and i'd like to note as well that secretary salazar and i know senators on both sides of the aisle would call them when they had those kind of resource questions that i know senator murkowski brought up is one of secretary salazar's final acts in office today. under his leadership, the state of idaho and the fish and wildlife service entered into an arrangement so that the state of idaho's plan for addressing the sage grouse could be implemented. i know that this is a critical issue for senator risch. he and i have talked about it often. i am going to continue to work with him on these issues and
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what secretary salazar did today is an example of the new kind of partnership that we ought to look to the interior department and the states for, and it's certainly something that i want to promote and i know secretary -- and i know senator murkowski shares that view. so i think it's fair to say, mr. president, that sally jewell has very large boots to fill. we all remember secretary salazar's wonderful western boots and the anecdotes about them, and she has certainly got a challenge to try to step in after a secretary who has accomplished so much. but as i and senator murkowski
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and the washington senators have outlined today, we believe strongly that sally jewell is up to this job. i hope she will receive a resounding vote here in the united states senate. i believe that we are close to the point when we will be able to vote on -- on ms. jewell, and i think for all the reasons that i and my colleagues have outlined this afternoon, i hope there will be very strong bipartisan support for ms. jewell when we vote later in the evening, and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. and i would note also, mr. president, the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:

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