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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  November 4, 2013 2:00pm-2:31pm EST

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live to the senate floor on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to owrd. the chairntion retired admiral dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: le let us pray. eal god, help us to live so that the generations to come will know of your mighty acts. today, give our lawmakers the sing later of heart to seek,
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find, and follow your will so that their legacy will be exemplary. lord, guide them in the path you have created, inspiring them with the potency of your powerful presence. may they trust you in times of adversity and prosperity, knowing that they will reap a productive harvest if they persevere. keep them from underestimating the power of your great name. and, lord, we ask that you would sustain the victims and families of the los angeles airport shooting. we pray in your merciful name. amen.
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the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stand, one nation, under grued, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the majority leader. mr. reid: mr. president, i ask that -- i'll just tell the senate that following my remarks, the senate will resume the motion to proceed to s. 815, the employment nondiscrimination act. at 5:30 the senate will proceed to vote in executive session and consider the nominations of gregory howard woods and debra m. brown. after debate on those two nominations, at 5:30 there will be up to three roll call votes. i would hope that one of them
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can go by voice. but we'll have to wait and see. confirmation of the woods and brown nomination and then cloture vote on the motion to proceed to enda. police officer michael carney fought for two and a half dwreers get his job back and he won. after he took medical leave of absence, the springfield officials refused to reinstate him because a veteran police officer had revealed he was gay. but officer carney was determined to return to the force. because he lives in mass marks one of only 1 states that protect employees against discrimination based on sexual orientation or general identity, officer carney is now back on the job serving and protecting the people of springfield, massachusetts. i'm also pleased to say nevada law also includes robust protections against this type of discrimination. officer carney testified before the house of representatives in
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2007 and shared his story. mr. president, this is what he said: "i'm god cop. i've lost two and a half years of employment, fighting to get that job back because i'm gay. i never would have been able to do that had i not lived in massachusetts or in one of the handful of other states that protect employees from discrimination. sadly you mr. president, not everyone is able to fight back like officer carney. in 33 states, lesbian, gay yo cn be fired or harassed just for being who they are. sam hall was terrorized by his coworkers for seven years because he was gay. mr. hall just wanted to make a living. but supervisors told him he would have to endure the persecution if he wanted to keep his job. west virginia is one of 33 states with no protections against this type of discrimination. that's why, mr. president, i so admire joe manchin for recognizing that this is an issue that's important to everyone.
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patchwork of state laws excludes tens of millions of americans from basic protection against discrimination. it is simply not good enough. it is fipple for done pass a federal thraw ensures all americans regardless of where they live can go to work unafraid to be who they are. as long as hardworking, qualified americans can be denied job opportunities, fired, or harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, all workers are at risk. this week the senate will begin debate on the employment nondiscrimination act which would simple pli a ford all americans the same protection from discrimination based on prejudice. in fact, four out of five americans miss sustainly believe that these protections already exist. two-thirds of americans, including a majority of republicans, support federal protections against discrimination based on sexual ornts orientation on the one hand gender identity in the
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workplace. once again rs republicans in congress are out of step with the rest of the country. house speaker john boehner this morning said he does not support this legislation. but the speaker should take his cue from 56% of republicans nag wired who support enda. corporations also bring nondiscrimination policies good for business. most foretine 500 companies already prohibit this kind of persecution. and more than 100 of the nations's largest businesses, more than 80 civil rights organizations and faith leaders have spoken out in support of enda. there's more, much more and a more important reason to spurt this legislation than popular support. it is the right thing to do. here's what harvey milk, a murdered california politician gay rights activist said. "it takes m no compromise to gie
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people their rights it takes no political deal to give people freedom. it takes no survey to remove suppression." all americans regardless of what they look like, where they live or who they choose to love deserve to be treated with the same respect and dignity while they are living. an employee should not be judged on matters that are really unimportant, mr. president. we're talking about fairness. employees should be judged on the quality of their work and on their performance, not on their sexual orientation or gender identity. so, mr. president, i urge my colleagues to vote tonight-to-supporting the legislation, the 81% of americans approve. to begin debate on a bill that would affirm the equal rights and freedoms of every american, to do so simply because it is the right thing to do. mr. president, i'd like a new
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position in the "congressional record" dealing with health care. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: mr. president, i read an excellent come up in "the new york times" by nicholas kristof, and i ask that it appear in the record. the presiding officer: without objection u. mr. reid: he tells the stoart of a number of things but of one richard streeter, a truck driver who's very, very, very ill with colon cancer. why? because he couldn't afford insurance. couldn't afford health insurance. kristof writes, "the biggest health crisis in america now is not the inexcusably messy rollout of back obamacare. now, far more serious is the kind of catastrophe facing people like richard streeter." mr. streeter is a resident of eugene, oregon. his problem isn't obamacare, but a tumor in his colon that is going to kill him.
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unless there is a miracle. he could have been treated, had he had health insurance. for him, obamacare didn't come quite soon enough. kristof's come up is an important reminder that the rollout of obamacare is about more than an effective web site. it is about saving lives, lots of lives. kristof reminds republicans that they should have empathy for the nearly 50 million americans without insurance who play health care roulette every day as a result. he urges republicans to remember that every 20 minute ans american dies. why? because they lack health insurance. would the chair announce the business of the day.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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harass mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: i ask that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to
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s. 815, which the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to calendar number 184, s. 815, a bill to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. the presiding officer: the snr from iowa. march harass first, i ask unanimous consent that sergio mr. president. plaza and lauren erickson be granted floor privileges for today's session. and ca katrina. ruvment gachenski be granted floor privileges for ther duration of the week. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: today marks another step forward in the progress of the united states of america in making sure that all of our citizens are treated fairly and equitably under law, that each citizen of this country will know that he or she
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cannot be discriminated against because of race, religion, sex, national origin that's all covered in the civil rights bill, 1964. then in 1990, i was proud to stand here at this very desk when we took another step forward, when we said that we're going to extend civil rights to cover people with disabilities. today, i stand here to mark another step forward, when we declare that it will be -- we'll have the vote later on proceeding to the debate but we start it now -- to end discrimination in employment because of a person's sexual orientation. it is a huge step forward, one too long in coming.
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one too long in coming. i was here in 1996 when we voted on enda, the employment nondiscrimination act, the bill that's now before the senate floor. and we lost it by one vote, 50-49. that was a -- that was a dark day. we've been trying to get it up ever since. and finally we've -- we've done it. and i'm proud to say that we got it through our committee, the help committee, this summer on a strong bipartisan vote, and now we have it down before the senate. and so people should understand, this is a momentous day. again, in the development in our country of ensuring that every person is recognized for their individual worth and for what they contribute to society.
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not for what the color of their skin or their race or their religion or national origin or whether they have a disability. today we say, and also we're going to make sure you can't be discriminated against because of your sexual identity. or who you love. enda, the employment nondiscrimination act. so, it's been 17 years. president -- ted kennedy was chair of the committee that brought it to the floor in 1996. was just, again, one vote shy of passage. in the meantime, in those 17 years, the attitudes in this country have changed dramatically. dramatically. about the rights of gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgendered americans. i think in a nutshell, the vast majority -- vast majority -- of
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americans believe that individuals ought to have the right to earn a living free from discrimination, to be judged on their performance in the workplace based on their talent, their ability and their qualifications. interestingly enough, since 1996, 17 states, including my state of iowa, have passed legislation that includes basic employment protections for all lgbt americans. i will use that -- that acronym or that -- those letters to explain lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered americans. 88% of fortune 500 businesses have included protections in their nondiscrimination policies. as have the majority of small businesses. over a hundred major businesses, including pharmaceutical companies, technology companies, banks, manufacturing companies, chemical companies have announced their support for this bill. in fact, there's polls that show
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that 8-10 americans already believe that discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation is already illegal, that it's illegal to fire someone for being gay, for example, or for being lesbian. so why are we here today? 23 years ago i stood here at this desk as the manager of the bill of the americans with disabilities act, again, to extend nondiscrimination clauses, civil rights bills to people with disabilities. a lot of people at that time said, what's -- what's the problem? what's the problem? well, here's the problem in a nutshell. let's say that you are a person of color. let's say you're an african-american. or it could be a woman.
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you could be jewish or catholic or anything else. and let's say that you went down to apply for a job for which urn fully qualified. and the prospective employer said, nah, i'm not going to hire any african-americans, i don't want any black people working here. i'm not going to hire you, you're jewish, get out of here. do you know what you could do? you could turn right around and walk out the door and go down to the courthouse and the courthouse door is open for you. you can go into that courthouse and take that case to court. 23 years ago when i stood here, i said at the time that up until that day, up until the president signs it into law, if you're a person with a disability and you wheeled your wheel claire in there -- wheelchair in there and you were qualified for the job and the prospective employer said, "get out of here, i don't hire
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cripples" and you went down to the courthouse door, it was locked. courthouse door was locked. you had no recourse under law. for the violation of your civil rights. that is true today of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered americans. they can be fired just because of that. they go down to the courthouse door, it's locked. they have no recourse under law. now, as i said, 17 states have state laws. some municipalities have municipal laws. but the vast majority of americans live in states in which there is no civil rights law governing lgbt people. the majority of americans, more
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than 56%, live in states where it's perfectly legal to fire someone or to refuse to hire a person because of who they ar are -- lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered -- citizens. they have no recourse under law. as i said, most people in america think that -- that they are, that people are covered, that you can't discriminate someone because of that. but the fact is that it's still perfectly legal to do so in most states in the united states. as i said, i think we've changed quite a bit in the 17 years since we last considered this bill. that las last vote, 49-50. lost by one vote. no amendments. no amendments. and a majority of senators would have been enough at that time to pass it. all we needed was one more vote. and i remember senator -- then-vice president al gore was sitting in the chair up there, mr. president. but we were one vote short.
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today, however, as times have changed, we know you need 60 votes to pass things here now. just think about that. 17 years ago, 50 -- 51 votes would have passed this bill. now you've got to have 60 votes. but i won't get into the testify in having to change the -- in to the necessity of having to change the rules of the senate. but we need 60 votes before we can even bring the bill up. it is a tribute to the leadership of the bill's sponsors, senator jeff merkley and senator mark kirk, that we have now reached 60 votes. actually, as of just last week, we only had about 57, 58. and another person came on. then another person this morning announced -- senator heller of nevada announced his support for the bill and that puts us as 60 votes. so we have the 60 votes. and i'm predicting, mr. president, we'll get more than 60 votes. once you reach that critical mass, i think people here will
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understand that this is a ste step -- another step in the direction of opening america up. and making our society more inclusive rather than exclusive. senator kirk, who is managing the bill for the minority, has been a supporter of this legislation before he was elected to the house. senator merkley on our side, who is the sponsor of the bill, was the leader of this effort in his state of oregon when he was in the organizinthe oregon state l. so both of them, one republican, one democrat, have been champions of this bill since before they even came here to congress. they both played a critical role in getting it into our committ committee. and even though senator merkley left our committee to join the appropriations committee, he always kept on top of this. and with their help, we voted it out of our help committee, as i
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said, in july, a strong bipartisan vote, 15-7. 15-7. and i want to thank the president occupant of the chair -- and i want to thank the present occupant of the chair, the distinguished senator from connecticut, for all his support and help of getting this bill through. and we had support of th three senators from the minority. as i said, it was a great bipartisan vote, 15-7. so, mr. president, despite the passage of laws at the state and local levels, discrimination in the workplace continues to be all too real. 42% of le lesbian, gay and bisel workers report some discrimination at work. even with the progress that's been mate at the stayed and local levels, as i mentioned, too many hardworking americans, whether they're employed by private or public entities, are being judd not b judged not by r abilities but by their sexual
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orientation or identity. consider the example of michael carney who was denied reinstatement of a police officer three times before successfully using the protections of state law to get his job back. this is a job in which he has now served with distinction for many years. or consider sam hall, a west virginia miner, who suffered destruction of property and verbal harassment from his coworkers because of his identity as a gay person. sam is one of those millions of americans who currently have no legal recourse without this law. discrimination against transgender americans is even more common, with 78% reporting harassment at work. i was fortunate enough to here from can i ler brodus -- kyler brodus as a witness at our help committee last year. he faced intense harassment at work as he transitioned from female to male. he has never fully recovered financially from the loss of his
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well-paid position. allison robinson also provided written testimony to the committee regarding the painful separation from her family that she endured because of financial hardships while she searched for her first job as an openly transgendered female. again, too many of our fellow citizens are being judged and not by what they can contribute to the workplace but by who they are and whom they choose to love. unfortunately we can cite countless cases of bigotry and blatant job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. equal opportunity is not just an abstract principle or a matter of statistics. every day decent, hardworking americans are being hurt by this form of discrimination. so it's been almost 50 years since we first took steps to eliminate discrimination at
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work. 23 years since we passed the americans with disabilities act. to eliminate discrimination against people with disabiliti disabilities. and we still have a long way to go. but our country is a far better place -- far better -- because of laws against discrimination based on race and sex and national origin and religion and age and, yes, disability, among others. so it is time at long last for us to also prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. such discrimination is fundamentally wrong and cannot be tolerated any longer in our country. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered americans deserve the same civil rights protections from discrimination as all other americans. this bill will accomplish that. it will say to millions of lgbt americans that they are full and
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welcome members of our american family and they deserve the same civil rights protections as every other american. now, the bill is very simple. it's very clear. it states that private businesses, public employers, labor unions cannot make employment decisions -- hiring, firing, promotion or compensation -- because of a person's actual, perceived sexual orientation, identity or 0 gender. there are exceptions for small businesses and religious organizations and the current rules applicable to the armed forces are not affected. the bill prohibits disparate impact claim. it is


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