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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 9, 2013 2:30pm-4:31pm EST

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consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. 75 years ago, president roosevelt signed the fair labor standards act written in part by senator hugo black of alabama who actually used -- sat at this desk as he was writing the minimum wage law and some of the fair labor standards act legislation in the 1930's. this legislation ensured that american workers would receive a minimum wage and work reasonable hours. we know what that's done for families in this country. we also know that the minimum wage hasn't even been close to keeping up with the cost of living, with inflation. we also know a number of other things, mr. president, about the minimum wage. minimum wage is now $7.25 an hour. many of -- many of minimum-wage workers working -- making $7.25 or $8 or $9 an hour -- less than we want to raise the minimum wage, too, so all would get a
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raise -- we know that many of those workers work in the fast-food industry. the c.e.o. of a fast-food corporation makes, we figure, about $8.7 million a year. while his average employees make something about around $19,000 a year. and i don't -- i'm not one of those that says, well, that's -- you know, they have to work a million hours to get to the $8 million a year, but just to put in perspective what's happened with wages. as wages for c.e.o.'s and for top management have gone up and up and up, and we've seen productivity of workers go up and up and up, we know that wages for those workers have simply not kept up. not just minimum-wage workers but workers overall. so since the 1970's, and especially since 2000, profits have gone up, productivity has gone up, executive salaries have gone up dramatically, yet workers' wages have been
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stagnant. no better example of that, mr. president, than the minimum wage. the minimum wage was raised my first year in the senate, my first speech on the senate fliewfloorwith senator barack oa sitting in the presiding officer chair -- officer's chair with senator kennedy and senator byrd on the floor that day, was talking about and debating increasing the minimum wage. we did that in a bipartisan way in 200 7. the bill was signed by president bush. that's the good news. the bad news is there was no cost-of-living adjustment, there was no escalation so that the wage would keep up with inflation. and there's not been a minimum-wage increase since th then. we also know another thing, mr. president, about the minimum wage. that is, for tipped workers, those who work in diners, those who work pushing -- in many cases pushing wheelchairs at airports. they don't work for the airlines, they work for a subcontracting company that pays sub-minimum wage. they work for places -- they're
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val lays, they're sometimes custodian, they're people who are in positions in hotels where they might get tipped. but their minimum wage is only $2.13 an hour. so a woman that's working the floors in a diner, a man that's pushing a -- a wheelchair or driving a cart in an airport, their minimum wage is only $2.13 an hour. some are paid more than that but some of them are paid as the as $2, $3, or $4 an hour, expecting that -- supposedly expecting that tips will make up the difference and get them to minimum wage or above. one of the things that the legislation that the assistant majority leader, who's joined me on the floor, has been working on with senator harkin and several others of us, is the new minimum-wage increase, we want to increase minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. 90 cents at the president's signature, then another 90 cents then another 90 cents. we also want to increase the tipped wage, not increased for 22 years, the tipped minimum
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wage, to lock it in at 70% of the real minimum wage. so as the real minimum wage increases, by the year 2016 under our legislation, and the worker's minimum wage would then be $10.10 an hour, sub-minimum wage, a tipped employee at an airport or in a restaurant will then be making $7 and a few cents an hour. that's the reason that -- and both of those wages, both the tipped minimum wage and the minimum wage, will have a cost-of-living adjustment so we don't have to every five or six years come back, have a big political fight here, raise the minimum wage. it shouldn't be a big political fight because clearly people in this country overwhelmingly -- democrats, independents and republicans -- think the minimum wage should be increased. and not just -- mr. president, it will not just be the tipped employee or the minimum-wage worker at a fast-food restaurant who gets a raise that's now at
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$7.50 or $8 an hour, even $9 an hour. as the minimum wage goes up, so will wages for a bunch of low-income, slightly above minimum-wage workers go up. so in a fast-food restaurant where perhaps the night manager may make a couple dollars more an hour than the line workers who are at the counter, although the night manager does plenty of that, too, the night manager might make a couple dollars above, $3 above minimum wage, we raise the minimum wage -- raising everybody's wages, the night manager's wage will increase, too. the oh pony tonight the minimum wage -- the opponents to the minimum wage, it amazes me that people can sit in this institution with good salaries that we make as members of the senate and members of the house in both parties, with good benefits, good health insurance, decent pensions paid for by taxpayers and oppose the minimum wage. it equally amazes me that they can oppose extending unemployment benefits. in my state alone -- and i know in the presiding officer's state
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of illinois it's a higher number. in the majority leader's -- assistant majority leader, presiding officer's state, a significant number of people, over 120,000 in my state alone, their christmas present will be that unemployment benefits have stopped for them, have been eliminated unless congress acts. that's why it's so important not just to enact a minimum wage in the weeks ahead but that we extend unemployment benefits for those -- those workers who are looking for jobs. these aren't people that are just -- just don't want to work. these are people that are looking for jobs, out -- they have to look for jobs in order to qualify. it's not a lot of money. it's 40% or 50% typically of their wage, what they were used to making. there aren't enough jobs in this country, there aren't enough jobs in connecticut and illinois and ohio that they can find jobs, and to take that minimum addition take thaminimum -- takt unemployment benefits away, when, number one, think about what it means so that happen, and, number two, as the assistant majority leader knows, this helps our economy.
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when people receive unemployment benefits, they're spending it. they're spending it in the grocery store, at the hardware store, they're spending it at the auto repair shop to fix their car so they can go out and get a job and go out and go to work. so all of those are reasons that raising the minimum wage is so important, extending unemployment insurance is so important. and one more point before yielding to the assistant majority leader from illinois. it's not welfare, it's unemployment insurance. people pay in when three working working -- when they're working hoping they're not going to collect. so they're collecting their insurance basic. that's what insurance is. things aren't working right, you get unemployment benefits, unemployment insurance, social insurance. that's why this is so important. i yield to the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: will the senator from ohio yield through the claire for a question? officer the senator fromthe pre. mr. durbin: can the senator from ohio recall, it was not that long ago that the issues that
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we're discussing were largely bipartisan issues. when it came to raising the minimum wage periodically, senator ted kennedy used to sit back at that desk and he would lead the effort. and it would turn out to be a bipartisan vote to increase the minimum wage. that over the years reflected a bipartisan consensus that if you're working for a living in america, you ought to be able to get by, at least, you know, have a little bit put away for your future. but we're finding more and more that people who are working for a minimum wage cannot get by. i listened to public radio over the break. there was a lady on there who works i believe it was in the hospitality industry and she was explaining that she was on food stamps. and she said she had a small family and made $7.25 an hour. and with her children, she still qualified for the snap program, the food stamp program. well, i did a quick calculation in my mind. i think this is correct. she was making somewhere in the range of $14,000 to $15,000 a year.
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at $7.25 an hour. a minimum wage in many parts of the united states. she still qualified for a helping hand to feed her children. this is not a lazy person. this is a person who gets up and goes to work. my guess is it's not an easy job. she's making $7.25 but still needs a helping hand. i find it interesting now that issues that used to be bipartisan to help people just like her, working people, have now become too partisan. we should have a bipartisan consensus that regularly we increase the minimum wage in america to keep up with the cost of living. and i hope we all agree that if you have a working mom who is doing her best and needs a helping hand to feed her children, food stamps should be available to her. of the 47 million americans receiving food stamps, 22 million of the 47 million are children. one million veterans.
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nine million elderly and disabled. three-fourths of the recipients of food stamps fall into that category -- children, veterans, elderly and disabled -- and yet we are up against a battle on the farm bill about whether we're going to make deep cuts in food stamps. now, it seems to me that this is counterproductive. we should be helping working families get by, those who struggle paycheck to paycheck, to at least feed their children. going back to the point that's been made by the senator from ohio, when you look across the board at the vulnerability of working families, it's wages, it's that food on the table, and many times turns out to be health insurance. the number-one reason for bankruptcy in america today is people -- people's failure to be able to pay their medical bills. and what we're trying to do with the affordable care act is to say to everyone -- in my state, 1.8 million uninsured people in illinois -- we're going to give
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you a chance maybe for the first time in your life to have health insurance so you won't go broke when you get sick. that, to me, when we start putting it together, it's the paycheck, it's the food, it's the health care, it's the housing. in a county like ours that wants to build the next middle class, these, to me, are the bedrocks of what you need to provide to working families. and it seems we've fallen far away from that goal of trying to provide for working families. and it's become just way too partisan. i was on a talk show with the senator, your senator from ohio, that you share the state with and he argued the classic argument against raising the minimum wage -- it's a job killer, he says. you raise the wage 50 cents an hour, a dollar an hour, whatever it is, there will be fewer jobs. well, it turns out that history and the economic analysis prove him wrong. that's the argument that's been made against increasing the minimum wage since franklin
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roosevelt first increased it back in the 1930's. so i'd ask the senator from ohio, when you take a look at the vulnerability of working families in america and those who've lost their job trying to find another, when you look at that, the basic as that we're talking about i think give them a fighting chance to survive, to raise their families, maybe to send their kids to school for a better education and a better future. failing to do that does just the opposite. i'd ask the senator from ohio if he would include in this the affordable care act? mr. brown: yeah, i think that's right. i -- first of all, the points that the assistant majority leader was making about the bipartisanship is -- has been -- i think is exactly right. and what's -- what's most not discouraging but most -- perhaps the most disappointing part of this is even as recently as 2007, president bush signed this bill. we passed it -- it was my first month or two in the senate when we passed it. it was a big bipartisan vote in
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the house. it was a big bipartisan -- i remember exactly the numbers in the senate. lots of republicans joined i believe almost every democrat or maybe every democrat. but again, it was gladly signed by the republican president of the united states. and you can trace from the time of the minimum wage, when hugo black sat at this desk and helped to write the minimum wage and president roosevelt signed the bill, for all these decades, the minimum wage, in fits and starts but it's kept up with inflation most of the time until the 1980's. it's been signed on by people in both parties. the same with the extension of unemployment benefits, the -- that we discussed. and it's this extension of unemployment benefits. again, social insurance. you pay in when you don't need it and when you need it, you can take money out of the social insurance fund and get unemployment benefits if you can't find a job. and, you know, this -- these are -- these are really tough times. some of my colleagues i don't think understand sometimes how tough a time it is for so many families. there's a -- the -- the
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president of the united states, the last president from illinois before this one, abraham lincoln used to talk about getting out of the white house and going out and getting his public opinion bath, that he needed to hear from the public. and i think -- i know senator durbin does that throughout his state of illinois. i know that senator murphy and the presiding officer's chair does the same. you go out and you listen to people and you're talking to somebody making $8 or $8 $9 and this minimum wage will increase their pay, probably doesn't have insurance because they can't afford it, that's probably eligible for the snap program because of their low income, and it's the least we can do. these are people that work as hard as we do. we have jobs where we get a lot out of it. we're well paid, we have good benefits. we also have wonderful opportunities to serve the public. so many people in these jobs are barely making it, the jobs -- they're on their feet all day of the woman in the diner making $3 or $4 an hour hoping that people tip her to get up to $7 or $8 or $9 an hour. she's working hard.
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she's working every bit as hard as my colleagues and i work yet she has so little to show for it. this is an opportunity for us, as people that care about this country and care about people who live in this country, the people that are doing such of the hard work, cleaning hotel rooms, cleaning our schools, making sure our schools are clean and the trash is taken o out, teaching our kids, people serving our food, people in these kinds of jobs so often, home care workers that are barely making it, the least we can do is make sure that the minimum wage gets them somewhat close to a decent lifestyle and standard of living, that we do better when they're laid off with unemployment insurance and that they get a chance with the affordable care act so they can buy affordable health insurance because they'll get some help and they can -- they can draw food stamps if they're eligible, if they need them on these low wages. and there is a just no reason that we can't, in the christmas spirit, if you will, do those things that have been done
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bipartisanly through senator dus and my lifetime. mr. durbin: the senator raised something that brought to my mind the recent story that i read about the new pope, pope frances. what an administer man. as a catholic, i am just amazed at this man, his humility and his popularity with catholics and noncatholics alike, those of different tbai faith and those h no faith. he says in the evening he will take off his papal garb and go out in the streets of rome with a friend and meet with poor people and talk to them. i can't even envision in any mind what that must be like, but it sure tells moo me a lot abot him. when he gives a message to the world about income inequality, this is in the a political message for the united states or one country. it is more basic message about the values in life, whatever your religious belief or whether you have a religious belief.
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when he goes out, takes off the papal garb and goes out as an ordinary person, i hope it is a reminder to all of us that we need to keep in touch with all the people we represent, some who are not wealthy enough to have a lobbyist but deserve our representation just as much. mr. brown: pope frances, as he does -- integrates these kinds of things into his life, he exhorted his parish priest, sort of like lincoln saying, i need my public opinion bath. pope frances exhorted his parish priest to smell like the flock and to get among people and talk to them and learn from them and smell like the flock, be one of them. i've not sign -- i am not catholic. i know my friend from illinois is. but this pope has really brought us to a different leveled and called on our better angels, if
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you will. before yielding to senator durbin, i have one more foints maifnlmake.the belief by many ie only people who get the minimum wage are teenagers. most are not teenagers. most are supporting themselves and in many cases supporting a spouse or family or someone in their family that's disabled or a close friend. and that's the other reason. this is a wage that really people depend on to get along, not just spending money for a high school kid, but families. -- families depend on it. that's why it is so important that we in the next few weeks raise the minimum wage, tie this subminimum wage, tipped wig t wo that increase. i yield the floor to the senator from illinois. the presiding officer: the
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assistant majority leader. mr. durbin: mr. president, i would like to join my colleagues and people all across the world in expressing my condolences to the people of south africa on the passing of their great leader, nelson mandela. nelson mandela ended his extraordinary ought biography entitled "long walk to freedom with these words, "i have walk walked that long twiewk freedom. i have mid trough faller fa tear. i have made missteps along the way. but i discovered the secret after climb the great hill, one only finds that there are many more littles to climb. i've taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that ruer sounded me, to took back on the dishaifns come. but i can only rest for a moment but with freedom comes responsibilities, and dare not linger for my long walk is not yet ended." sadly, president nelson
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mandela's long walk and his noble life are indeed now ended. but his influence on the the world will endure for a long time to come. the editorial cartoonist four "the washington post" put it, nelson mandela was -- quote -- "large irthan life and deaths p. "quks through emore must strength and characteristic and determination unlike many people in this world, he helped his beloved south africa to end the vicious system of apartheid and begin a new walk toward multiracial democracy. his dream was that south africa would become a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the wompletd he astonished the world with his capacity to forgive, even to forgive those who jailed him and persecuted his family. there was an interview on television that i saw yesterday morning on abc in which nelson mandela spoke about his imprisonment shortly after he had been released.
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he had spend 27 years in prison part of it on robin island which i have had the opportunity to visit. to actually stand in nelson mandela's tiny cell. it is an island off the capetown. the water waters around it are shark-infested so the prisoners won't try to escape. they can just barely make out the land mass away from the island. but they are separated. separated on this piece of land in the middle of this ocean. and there he lived for almost 25 years. there he lived in this cell, many times in isolation. he labored in a quarry nearby which we visited and the sunlight bouncing off the rocks virtually blinded him for the rest of his life. he wore sunglasses and begged
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the photographers not to use flash bulbs. the prisoners at rob inisland tried to create what they called a university atmosphere. they taught everyone all they could remember and that you will they knew. they devoured information from the outside world in an effort to try to keep in touch with what was going on. in this interview, as he was releasereleased from this impri, nelson mandela was asked by the interviewer about his warden and his guard at the prison. he talked about the deep emotional ties they developed, how this guard that he came to know -- i believe his name was gregory -- was a real gentleman in the words of nelson mandela, and how when nelson mandela was finally released there was a moment of emotion when 4 they kw they would part. i recall that story because so
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many times when i've given commencement addresses, i've used his decision when elected president of south africa to invite that guard from his prison to be there as one of his honored guests at his inauguration as president of south africa. that, to me, speaks volumes. nelson mandela taught us powerful lessons about justice, tolerance and reconciliation. as the first democratically elected president of south africa, mandela was the father of a new nation, like george washington the father of our nation, he chose deliberately to walk away from power. in doing so he reminded us that peaceful, orderly transition of power is one of the hall machines of a real -- hallmarks of a real democracy. sadly this year, for the second
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year in a roarks the award committee wouldn't identify one african leader who met that standard. leaders in neighboring zimbabwe, egypt, cuba and so many other nations torn by conflict and manipulated division would do well to ponder this greatness of nelson mandela. at the end of persist presidency he came to washington to receive the congressional gold medal. this congressional gold medal is the highest honoring in this congress can stow on a civilian. he vet note he was humbled to be first south african to receive it. he thanked the american people and congress for our help to bringing an end to the system of apartheid through congressionally imposed economic sanctions and other measures. these are nelson man necessarily did a'did a's word.
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"if today the people of south africa are free to address their basic needs, if the countries of south africa have the opportunity to realize the potential for development through cooperation you if africa can devote owl of her energies and resources to their reconstruction, then it is not least because the american people identified with and lent their support to the struggle to end apartheid, including critically through action by this congress." mr. president, i remember that battle. i remember that debate. i was brand 234u t new to the u. house of representatives, just a few years in service. the debate came up ace up as tor the would impose sanctions on the racist apartheid government of south africa. i said on the floor beginsed that we should do though and listens to the critics of that posms many of them came came to the floor and sated things which i couldn't believe. they characterized nelson mandela as nothing more than a
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communist who should never be trusted to lead that country. i thought to myself, he might have had a flirtation with communism at some point in his life, but this man is speaking to basic principles that are consistent with america's values and principles. you know, i found it interesting last week, after nelson mandela died, to read the editorial in the "wall street journal" about him. i commend it to people to understand where this thinking came from that believed the united states should not be involved in trying to strike down the apartheid form of government. if you'll read that h editorial about nelson mandela's death, you will find the following knacks mentioned:carl marks, lenen and i think juara, stalin. in just a few sentences, "the wall street journal" editors decided to put all the names in there as touch is itstones and reference points to his lievment
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it is an indication of how people can get it just plain les of journalism in the united states. as they did in the debate in congress, we passed the sanctions legislation -- i believe the year was 1985 or 1986, we sent it to president reagan, he vetoed it. we overrode president reagan's veto so that the sanctions went afford to condemn apartheid and do what we could to change it in south africa 30 years ago. i can recall that because a congressman at the time wolpe of michigan was the chairman of the africa subcommittee. he came to me one day as a new member of the house and said he i'd like do a congressional delegation trip to africa. wroo you like to go? i would be honored. i have nevada been there. the and i had a like to go. we put our identity together, it included south africa. then when we applied for visas, it turned out that the apartheid government denied visas to all the members of congress who
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voted for sanctions. so the trip never took place. it took several years and a change in government and the arrival of nelson mandela to see a wel welcoming south africa. president mandela asked the american people and the congress to continue to walk with a the people of south africa to help them develop their economy and strengthen their democracy. as i said, i've traveled to countries in south africa. i have seen the progress that can occur when governments are accountable to their people and really serve democracy. this congress can pay a truly fitting tribute to president mandela's life by heeds being the request he made to us to help africa, to help south africa, strengthen their economy in ways that will benefit not only that continent but the united states of america. i mentioned earlier about the parallels between president washington and president mandela. nelson mandela was also his nation's abraham lincoln. i do not exaggerate.
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with all know the words from president lincoln's magi lincolk second address. it was in 1865. as he looked afford to the end of the civil washings he turned to this war-torn nation that had lost so many in this battle that had gone on for years an he said rchtion request, with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as god gives to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are on." a friend with later note that lincoln's features when he gay that address were haggerred with care, temper tossed and weather bent. with the nielt nature of the civil war almost over, washington, d.c., was just poised for a joyous celebration of victory. for the first time, african troops marched down the streets after president lincoln gave that address and blacks mingled with the inaugural
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congratulated. it was a craney, overcast day when lincoln gave his second inaugural address. a friend of his noted, "just as president lincoln stepped afford to take the oath of office or, the son which had been obscured by rain clouds burst forth in splendor president lincoln saw it. the next day the president asked a friend did you notice that sunburst? jump. the skies were also overcast the the congressional gold medal here in washington. on that day, the dark bronze bust of martin luther king jr. had been moved from one side of the row tun did did a so -- rotunda so that lincoln and dr. martin luther king appeared to preside together over the ceremony awarding the congressional gold medal to nelson mandela. as president mandela started to speak, rays of sunlight began to pour into the rotunda. they illuminated the base of the
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statues first and then rose gradually until by the time president mandela finished speaking, both lincoln and king were bathed in bright sunlight. with a little imagination, you could almost hear lincoln say did you notice that sunburst? it made my heart jump. like lincoln, president mandela now belongs to the ages, and while our hearts are heavy today with president mandela's passing, the world can take inspiration from the lessons he taught us while he walked among us. mr. president, i ask consent that the following remarks be placed in a separate part in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: thank you, mr. president. as we mourn the passing of nelson mandela, a great, noble leader who changed history, we also take a moment to recall other leaders closer to home. one of those leaders and a friend of mine had his memorial service this week. his name was not well known to many outside of southern illinois, but he was a good man, a good friend and he worked throughout his life to create
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opportunities and a sense of community. his name was john redenour although everybody skipped the first name and called him redenour. he passed away at page 78. he was a mayor of a small town in southern illinois where he presided as mayor for a remarkable 24 years. during his tenure, he prided himself on balancing the budget and investing in the city's future. deit year after year. amazingly, public service was his third career. he began his life as a iron worker. a member of the united iron workers. he also worked as a shoemaker. in 1970, he moved to decoin with his wife wanda and his three kids. he brought together local shareholders and took control of a struggling local bank. he converted it into one of the soundest, most profitable banks in southern illinois. but it was john redenour's third career, his work as mayor of
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decoin, that really distinguished his public service. as a mayor, as i mentioned, he was a fiscal conservative but he was also a person who believed in giving people a chance. john redenour was a proud democrat. in fact, he was the former chairman of the illinois democratic party chairs. he rode on air force one with president jimmy carter and he had a good relationship with presidents, including president obama. the politicians whose careers he helped, launch or advanced could have filled a stadium, but he knew there are things that are more important than party politics. he always made it a habit to meet with new decoin city council members and offer the same advice to them. he said do what's good for decoin, do what's right for the people. that's certainly good advice for any officeholder. over the years, my wife and i were fortunate to be visitors at john's home at the annual state fair party at the duquoin state fair. we always appreciated seeing that great crowd for the social
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event of southern illinois for the year and staying overnight and waking up in the morning as wanda his wife made her famous texas pancakes. we loved them. people gathered from all over the community as wanda just kept making the pancakes. john's funeral last week was attended by the governor of our state, pat quinn, members of congress including glenn pashard, jerry costello and ken gray, and many, many other elected officials. the anecdote that spes captured his spirit was offered in the eulogy by his grandson. he said he once asked his grandfather why he gave money to homeless people every time he saw them. he replied because it's the right thing to do. simple as that. it was the right thing to do. carl sandberg, another son of illinois, wrote a poem called "prayers of steel." it's the prayer of a working person asking for a useful life. john redenour was an iron worker, but these words about a steelworker apply to him as
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well. this is what sandberg wrote. lay me on an anvil, o god, beat me into a crowbar. let me lift and loosen old foundations. lay me on an anvil, o god, beat me and hammer me into a steel spike. take red-hot rivets and fasten me into the central girders. let me be the great nail holding a skyscraper through blue nights into white stars. john redenour must have prayed those words or something like them often and god must have heard them because john redenour achieved much good in his life, a leader of workers, a businessman, a banker, a mayor, a husband, father, a grandfather, a great grandfather and a friend to legions. for decades, john rednour was the great nail that held his community together and helped move it forward. his contributions will enable
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his beloved duquoin to continue to reach for the stars to years -- for years to come. mr. president, i ask at this point in the record be placed in a separate part relative to the undetectable firearms act. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, i ask a separate place in the record to include the statement i have here in support of patricia millett, nominee for the d.c. circuit court whose nomination we will be voting on later today. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: finally, mr. president, last week, fast food workers across the country led a one-day strike to bring attention to low-wage workers who can't make a living on the current wages. in chicago, 200 workers took to the streets, but this is only one part of a much larger debate, a debate in more recent days about the growing economic disparities in the united states of america and the struggles of low-wage workers. in november, pope francis stated -- "while earnings of a minority are growing, so, too, is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few."
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just last week, president obama echoed those concerns in an address on income and equality. he spoke at the center for american progress, and he noted that more than half of all americans at some point in their lives will experience poverty. the week before thanksgiving, a wal-mart in ohio was running a food drive to help the hungry have a happy thanksgiving. that kind of generosity and empathy is commendable. what was noteworthy, though, is that the food drive was specifically to support their associates, their own employees. it reminded me of an effort by mcdonald's launched earlier this year to help their employees create a budget. according to that budget, the only way to make ends meet for someone making the minimum wage and working 40 hours at mcdonald's was to take a second job. "washington post"'s wonk bloggage i the chart and found a worker making the minimum wage would have to work 75 hours a week to have the after-tax income that this company thought was basic to a family budget, 75
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hours a week. low wages aren't a problem just in the fast food industry. i don't want to just pick on wal-mart and mcdonald's. it's catching up in many other traditional jobs that used to be able to support a family. there may be fewer, better examples of this than in the banking sector. the banking industry in america last year posted $141.3 billion in profits. the median executive pay in the banking industry in america is $552,000 a year. and yet, a recent report found that 39% of bank tellers in the state of new york are on public assistance. low-wage worker is just not enough to get by. working 40 hours a week at 7.25 translates into $15,080 a year. that's about $400 less than the
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federal poverty level guidelines for a family of two. if you accept the sample budget that we've talked about, a worker making the minimum wage would have to work 75 hours a week to have the after-tax income necessary to make ends meet. working 75 hours a week at a minimum wage with few or no vacation days and limited benefits, if any, you can make 24,720 a year after taxes. i want to say it's not impossible to do that, but the reality is many people actually have to do it. how do you raise a family working 75 hours a week? when do you have time to sit down with your kids and even read a book? well, one way people get by is they are forced to turn to government assistance programs like the supplemental nutrition assistance program, the snap program, historically known as food stamps. or the liheap program, low
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income heating and energy assistance program that helps to pay for heating and cooling bills. the children's health insurance program, the chip program, which provides health insurance for the children of the poorest families. the emergency food assistance program, t-fap, tanf, the section 8 housing program and, yes, the affordable care act which is providing for the first time health insurance for some of the working poor who have never had insurance as a benefit any time in their lives. according to a recent study at the university of california at berkeley, undertaken in partnership with the university of illinois, 52% of families of fast food workers are on public assistance. 39% of the bank tellers in new york, 52% of the families of fast food workers are on public assistance. subsidizing low-wage employment through these programs costs the
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federal government $3.9 billion annually. think about what that means. it means that working families across america paying their taxes are not only sustaining this government, they are sustaining the low-wage workers in their communities who cannot survive without a helping hand from a government program that keeps food on the table or may provide health insurance. instead of trying to find solutions to ensure full-time work so that it's adequate to support a family, many of my colleagues are now attacking these programs. the house republicans oppose the farm bill primarily because they wanted to make deep cuts in the food stamp program. deep cuts in the program for families that are barely getting by and feeding their children. that strikes me as just wrong. we are too good a nation. if we're going to have a political fight over saving money and cutting spending, for goodness sakes, let's not start first with the children, the elderly, the disabled and the
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veterans who are receiving food stamps. that, to me, defines the politics and the values of some members of congress. snap is the first place many people turn when they struggle with this food stamp program. at a time when almost 15% of households in america have trouble keeping food on the table, snap helps 47 million americans buy their groceries. in illinois, more than two million people, about one in seven of our residents, rely on food stamp benefits. in my lifetime, we have seen many companies that are selling food across america now finding that they are selling a large part to those who are coming in with food stamps. after working at a grocery store all day, imagine you have to turn to your snap benefits to buy the groceries you need to take home to feed your family, or after working at a grocery store all day, you go to your local food bank. i visited quite a few of those, mr. president. i'm sure you have, too. what's amazing when you go into a food bank is the people that
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are in there. they are not the folks you might expect. some of them are elderly people on social security barely getting by. they need that food bank, twice a month sometimes, just to have enough food on the table to live for another month. there are also a lot of people who work for a living in those food banks. i remember going to central illinois and visiting one of those food bank warehouses. i saw a well-dressed young lady there who i thought was on the staff and i learned later she was a single mom with two kids. she had a part-time job that didn't pay very well. she qualified for food stamps. and she also went to the food bank with some frequency. she wanted to come and thing me, thank me because the food stamp program now allowed her to use her food stamp benefits at farmers markets so she could take her kids out to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at that time of year. for her, it was a great side trip that the kids would meet the farmers and learn a little bit more about life here. and she thought getting them the food was secondary to that experience, but she wanted to
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come and thank me. the farm bill conference needs to reach an agreement which will not penalize the poorest people in america, not penalize the children, the veterans, the elderly and disabled who count on food stamps. one of the biggest challenges we face is to make sure that our workers all across america have a minimum wage that they can get by on, have a food stamps, if necessary, but also have access to health insurance. that's when the affordable care act comes in. 1.8 million illinoisans have no health insurance. they're going to have their first chance, many of them, to be covered with health insurance because of the affordable care act. according to the congressional budget office, 12 million people in america are going to be eligible for medicaid, 23 million will for the first time buy private health insurance, and they won't be discriminated against because someone in the family has a preexisting condition. they won't be caught in a situation where there are limits on the amount of coverage these policies offer.
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they're going to have opportunities for preventative care and regular wellness checkups. and for many of them, it's going to be the first time in their lives they have ever had this luxury and peace of mind. we have to protect these programs. we have to do more. more and more working families make it clear that the federal minimum wage needs to be increased. since 1967, it's gone up $1.40 to $7.25. this may seem like significant progress but when adjusted to current dollars, the value of the minimum wage has actually declined over that period by 12%. had the minimum wage kept up with inflation, it would be $10.74 today, not $7.25. if the minimum wage is increased to $10.10, which i support and want to bring to the floor for a vote, more than 30 million american workers will get a raise. what will they do with that money? they'll go shopping, of course. they live paycheck to paycheck. a little more money will mean shoes, clothes, food, the basics
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in life. and when they go shopping and create more economic activity, it creates even more jobs. workers in america, full-time workers, hardworking americans are falling behind through no fault of their own. attacking or cutting programs that help these struggling families is just wrong. we have got to work together to help them. in the coming weeks i hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will restore the bipartisan tradition of supporting working families. i urge my colleagues to support an increase in the minimum wage and to resist these efforts to make deep cuts in the food stamp or snap program. mr. president, i 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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this is a test.
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: mr. president, it appears with all the traffic problems in the air --
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the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: this announcement to all senators. because of the myriad of problems with the weather, senators stranded even from last night trying to get here, so we're going to have to put off the votes this afternoon. we are veg to have no votes this afternoon. and so i would ask and we'll have these votes in the morning. so i ask unanimous consent that the previous order with respect to the vote on the confirmation of the millett nomination be modified so the vote occur following leader remarks on tuesday, december 10. i would announce, mr. president, that we're not going to have morning business in the morning. no morning business. following leader remarks we'll go right to the business of the day. the presiding officer: the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i apologize to everyone for the late notice but we've been trying to scramble
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around to see if we'd have enough participation here tonight and we -- most people have been able to do it but there tsh some people, certainly it's not their fault, some of them started last night to try to get here and still aren't here. so sorry about the late notice but that's where we are. thank you, mr. president. i would note 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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mr. murphy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. iewrvey: i'd ask that the quorum call be dispensed with.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. murphy: and i ask to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president. we are about to hit the one-year mark since the tragic shooting in sandy hook, connecticut, that took the lives of 20 little boys and girls six and seven years old, each, and six of their educators who cared for them. and it should be a so far as great embarrassment to the united states senate and the house of representatives that we have not moved the ball forward one inch when it comes to protecting the thousands of people all across this country who are killed by guns every year. even while 90% of americans agree that people should have to prove they're not a criminal before they buy a gun, that there's really no reason why we should allow military-style weapons in the hands of ordinary americans. we should be embarrassed by the fact that we're not doing more to try to stem the scourge of
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gun violence that plagues our nation today. but we should be even more embarrassed if this week we cannot pass a commonsense extension and update to the undetectable firearms act, a bipartisan piece of legislation that has been on the books since 1988. most people in this country have no idea it exists because up until this week, it has been so noncontroversial. and so to tell you a little bit about why this is so important, i want to bring you back 70 years to world war ii. in world war ii, the allies developed a very small firearm called the liberator. and the liberator was capable of only firing one shot. it was a very, very small little gun and the idea was that we would get this out to the resistance movement in europe
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and they would be able to conceal this very small firearm so that they could get close enough to a german soldier, use the one bullet in the gun to kill the soldier, then take his weapon. now, the program never went very far but fast forward to 70 years later, to a university of texas student who came up with the design of a newly undetectable firearm, a plastic gun that can be reproduced on what is now known as a 3-d printer named "the liberator," the same exact gun that was developed to be used by the resistance movement in world war ii. and witness also the fact that once he posted the plans for that plastic undetectable gun on-line, those plans were downloaded 100,000 times in
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short order across this country before the department of state used authority that they had to take those plans down. now, i don't know exactly what the designs for this gun were but it can be used in the exact same way that the -- that the original liberator gun was used. a plastic gun is undetectable by imaging equipment, by metal detectors. it can be used to get into a very secure place like, let's say, a government building. the ones that are being designed today, like the one that the young guy in texas put on-line, can't fire more than a couple bullets but it can fire enough bullets to injure a law enforcement officer or a security officer, take their gun and do even more damage. and so, mr. president, we have two problems today when it comes to this new issue of undetectable plastic guns. first, the law which was passed in 1988 which bans the
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manufacture, possession or sale of undetectable firearms. these are firearms that you can't pick up on a metal detector, that can essentially move into secure locations without being identified. that law expires today. if we don't pass an extension, tomorrow it is legal in this country to create an undetectable firearm. but here's the second problem. the second problem is that this new technology that is pretty widely available already, called 3-d printing, has made it really easy to make firearms that comply with the existing law but are still potentially undetectable. why is that? because to be a legal weapon, you have to have a certain percentage of the weapon be metal so that it can be picked up by a metal detector or a x-ray machine.
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but because we can now make very creatively constructed weapons with 3-d printers, that piece of metal can be easily removed before it goes through a metal detector and still be used without the metal on the other side of the detection unit. thus, essentially erasing the benefit of having a metal component if the metal component can just be stripped out. it's a pretty simple update that we have to make here. all we have to say is that the metal piece of the gun has to be integral to the firing mechanism of the gun so that if you take the metal out to get it through a metal detector, it doesn't work on the other end. but, mr. president, we're having a hard time getting that commonsense update, just recognizing the advancement of technology, passed. in the senate and in the house of representatives. so we have these two problems. one, the underlying bill, which is still really good law even without the update, is expiring. we've got to pass it here. and, second, that we need this
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update to be taken care of. this isn't science fiction anymore. now, undetectable firearms have always been around since the days of world war ii. it was clearly a present danger. that's why in 19 both parties got together to pass it and it's been extended since then. but it is no longer science fiction that somebody can just make a gun in their basement, basically obliterating the utility of all of our nation's firearms laws and use it to perpetrate great evil throughout this cannes. -- throughout it country. 3-d printers cost only about $2,000 today. most futurists are pretty certain that in maybe a decade or more, most americans will have access to this technology, just like the photocopier and the personal computer seemed out of reach at some point for most middle-class americans. maybe today the 3-d printer is
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but in a decade or more it might just be another household appliance that sits right next to your computer printer. second, we know how dangerous plastic guns are, because people have tested this premise. one investigative journalist in israel took a plastic gun into the israeli parliament, got secy that surrounds that building, got into the parliament and sat ten rows behind binyamin netanyahu with a plastic gun on his possession. so this isn't science fiction. this isn't just a perceived or imagined threat. this is real. this is now. and we've got to do something about it. one of the things that's happened in the wake of sandy hook is that schools have invested in enormous amounts of security. i'm somebody who doesn't believe that ultimately that's the way you keep schools safe.
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but to the extent that schools have put in more metal deducters, have put in more security platforms around their entryways and exitways, it doesn't do any good if somebody can walk through that school who wants to do great damage within it with plastic firearm that will be legal in this country in one way, shame, or form if we don't pass an updated version of this bill right now this week. it's time that we recognize that the future is here. plastic guns are real. and as we approach the one-year anniversary of the most horrific school shooting that this country has ever seen, it is fipple for us to do what we have many times before: reauthorize and update the undeductable firearms afnlgt i yield the floor. mr. levin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: mr. president, --
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the presiding officer: would the senator quhoald for a minute? mr. levin: i will. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of s. 1197 which the clerk will report. the clerk: is $1197, a ghoil authorize are appropriations for fiscal year 2014 for military activities of the department of defense and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: before me left for the thanksgiving break, senator inhofe and i said that we would come to the senate floor today to update members on the status of the national defense authorization act for fiscal year 2014. before the break, we spent a week on the senate floor trying to bring more amendments up and to have them debated and voted on, but we were unable to do so. we tried to reach agreement to limit consideration to defense-related amendments, but we were unable to do that. we trade to get consent to vote on two sexual assault amendmen s
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that had been fully debated but we could not get that accident. -- get that consent. we tried to get consent to lock in additional votes but we were unable to do so. at this point, mr. president, the house of representatives will be adjourning for the year at the end of this week. and there is simply no way that we can debate and vote on those amendments to the pending bill, to get cloture, to pass the bill, to go to conference with the house, to get a conference report written and to have it adopted by the house of representatives all before the house goes out of session this friday. there just simply is no way that all of those events can take place and get a defense bill passed. so senator inhofe and i believe that it is our responsibility to the armed services committee, to the senate, to our men and women in unifohe country to do everythin to
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enact a defense authorization bill. for this reason, we're taking the same approach that we took when we were unable to finish the bill and go to conference with the house in 2008 and 2010. what we did is we s.a.t sat dowh our counterparts on the house side -- chairman buck mckee on and smith from the house committee, and we had our staffs come up with a bill that would have a chance of getting passed by both houses. the four of us have reached agreement hon a bill that we hope will be passed by the house before it recesses this friday, and if they do, then be considered by the senate next week. we worked hard to blend the bill. it was overwhelmingly voted out of the senate armed services committee, with the bill that was overwhelming a approved by the house of representatives. we have worked as we always do on the s.a. se committee.
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we focused on amendments that had been cleared on the senate side when the bill was being debated in the senate. we approached these amendments and others in much the same manner as we did provisions that were in the bill. working to come up with language wherever possible that could be accepted on the democratic and republican sides in both the senate and the house. the bill that we've come up with is not a democratic bill or a republican bill. it is a bipartisan defense bill. one that serves the interests of our men and women in uniform and spreerves the important principle of congressional oversight over the pentagon. here's some examples of what will be in the bill that will be considered by the house later this week and then hopefully by the senate next week. the bill will extend the department of defense's thought to pay combat pay and hardship duty pay for our troops.
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the bill relative to guantanamo includes that part of the senate language easing restrictions on overseas transfers of gitmo detainees but it retains the house prohibitions on transferring detainees to the united states. although we were unable to consider the gillibrand and mccaskill amendments on the senate floor, the bill includes -- or in the bill itself that will be forthcoming, the bill includes more than 20 other provisions to address the problem of sexual assault in the military that were the senate bill that came to the floor out of the committee and that were in the house of representatives' bill as well. these provisions include the following: they provide a special victims' counsel for survivors of sexual assault, they make retaliation for report ago sexual assault a crime under the uniform code of
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military justice. the provisions require commanders to immediately refer all allegations of sexual assault to professional criminal investigators. they would end the commander's ability to modify findings and convictions for sexual assaults and would require higher level review of any decision not to prosecute allegations of sexual assault. the bill will do the following that will be hopely coming here next week: the bill would make article 32 process more like a grand jury proceeding. now, under the ucmj, the code of military justice, currently the proceeding that is taken under article 32 is more like a discovery proceeding rather than a grand jury proceeding and it's created all kinds of problems including for victims of sexual assault who would have to appear and be semiconducto subject to
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cross-examination. this will help local school districts educate military children. the bill will extend existing military land withdrawals in a number of places that would otherwise expire, leaving the military without critical testing and training capabilities. the bill includes a new land withdrawal to enable the marine corps to expand its training area at 29 palms. the bill provides needed funding authority for the destruction of syrian chemical weapons stockpiles and for efforts of the jordanian armed forces to secure that country's border with skier syria. earlier today, general martin dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, wrote a whrer to the leadership of the senate and the house of representatives in which he strongly urges completion of action on the national defense authorization act this year. general dempsey's letter provides a long list of
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essential authorities that will lapse if this bill is not enacted. the -- and this is one just -- one paragraph that of his bill l -- his letter. the authorities are crit l cal to the nation's defense and are urgently needed to ensure that we all keep faith with the men and women military and civilian selflessly serving in our awrnld forces. appeared, mr. president, i would ask that his letter with that attachment with included in the record at this point. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. levin: mr. president, we have not failed to pass a national defense authorization act for 52 years, even when, as i mentioned, in a couple cases in recent years the final bill was the result of a process like we've had to follow with this year's authorization bill. this is not the best way to proceed, but our troops and their families and our nation's
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security deserve a defense bill. and this is the only practical way to get a defense bill done this year. floss other way. as i indicated before, the house of representatives is -- we can't ghet this bill done before the end of this week if we brought back the bill that was pending before thanksgiving. there is no way. floss way that we can do it and the experience of the week before thanksgiving recess demonstrated pretty clearly there is no way we could get a defense bill such as the one that was piend pending this wee. the problem is that the house of representatives is done at the end of this week and if we use the pending bill that was previously pending as the vehicle, we can't possibly get a -- to a conference, get an agreement on a camps, get a conference report go back to the house of representatives and then get a conference report here because the house of
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representatives is done on friday. this is the only path to a bill. we've not missed in 52 years. the reason we don't miss is our troops and their families and the national security of this country. that's why we have not failed, and we cannot fail this year. and the only practical way to avoid failure is if we follow the course which senator inhofe and i are now proposing to this body. again be, it is not the preferred course. it just happens to be the only course. and i want to thank senator inhofe and all the members of our committee for the way they've worked on this bill for now almost a whole year and for the final product, which i believe will have the full committee's support, or at least almost all of us. there are only three members of the committee who did not vote for the about that i will came to the floor b i yield the floor.
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mr. inhofe: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: mr. president, first of all, let me express my appreciation for not just this last monday -- a week ago today -- when we met and put together a negotiated settlement, a negotiated bill, but all year long in the previous year he's been very good to work with. we did our best to get a bill fl we passed our bill out of committee months ago, months ago, and the problem has been -- i am critical of the leadership of the senate and a lot of the people who wanted amendments. i have to say this: on the republican side we agreed finally to cut it down to 25 amendments, which i think is very reasonable, and we were denied that. and i can be critical. it doesn't do any good to be critical right now of the majority because we're where we are. the and we're here now. the chairman has stated that
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looking at december, it -- mr. president, we only have between now and friday at 11:00. that's it. the house is gone. they've already canadian decision. they've made the announcement and it is going to happen. so mechanically, if we are all going to embrace and love each other and not grie disagree request anything, it still couldn't be done. there is no way in the world we could have a defense authorization bill this year. we -- except to do the negotiated bill that we got together. by the way, when people say they want to wait until january, keep in mind that in the -- on the 31st of d.c., the services are no longer authorized to pay hazardous pay to the troops serving in hostile fire areas. after december 31, service is no longer authorized to offer 37 specific special and incentive
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pays in -- including enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses. these people in service, and those of us who have been in service, we know that they approach you, getting close to the time you're going to be out, and they say these benefits are going to be there if you will re-enlist. it's absolutely necessary that they have that information, and all of a sudden we're pulling the rug out from under them after they have anticipated what their re-enlistment would be. and so if you look at -- that is what happened -- those things stop december 31. now, if you say well, we can come back in january and do it, i can show you this calendar right here. you start on january 6 and we're going to be in the c.r. on the 15th, there is no way that they're going to pay any attention to the defense authorization during that time period. there just isn't the time to do it. and if you stop -- i won't be redundant and repeat the things that the chairman talked about that were -- that wouldn't happen, but if you take some of
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these areas like gitmo, sure, that's controversial, but in the absence of doing something, that stays just like it is but certain things are going to expire. it would restore this bill, the ndaa, the one-year prohibition on transferring gitmo detainees. you might remember last year, we had that one-year prohibition. that expires. when that expires, anything can happen. of course, we -- we also had passed prohibitions on construction and modified facilities in the united states. all these things come to an end if we don't have this bill. now, we covered this, and i appreciate the fact, and i want to repeat what the chairman said, that we actually had and cleared, considered some 87 amendments, and we got in this bill 79 amendments, and that's
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democrat and republican amendments. so we have done this in the areas where we are supposed to be -- be accomplishing it. i looked at some of the things in military construction, that any major projects that are currently under construction would have to stop work. they could be partway through a project. for example, the bill contains $136 million to continue construction for the replacement of a command center for the u.s. strategic command at off it air force base -- offett air force base in nebraska. if this amount is not authorized for appropriations, d.o.d. will have to stop work halfway during construction leading to contract claims, lost time, maybe even lawsuits, certainly extra work. the same thing i can say about areas in maryland, kentucky, washington, texas and new york. if you look at the construction
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of aircraft carriers, without the congressional action that we have in this bill, the -- to update the statutory cap on the cpn-78, the first class carrier of the aircraft, the navy will be forced to cease construction of the cbn-78 when it's already 75% complete, denying our nation of this critical asset, after we have already spent $12 billion on it. now, we're talking about huge amounts of money. we're talking about defending the united states of america. now, i would hate to think that we got here the way we did. we shouldn't have had to do that. i -- there is some blame to go around on both sides, but nonetheless, we have been unable to do it the way we have done it in the past. i will tell you something that's kind of interesting. we did a study, and we have found that in the last 30 years
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that we have never gone into january before, never, not once. the two times that we went in were after a veto of the bill, and then he vetoed it after that period of time, we immediately overrode the veto and we're home free. so this hasn't happened before. and for people to say that it has and it's not unusual to go into january, factually, that is just not true. so we have -- we have special operations, we have -- includes land use agreements. this is a big one here that will ensure special operations forces to have sufficient access for training ranges. the seals, the navy seals. i think many of us have been down there to the chalt mountain aerial gunnery range in california which serves an indispensable role in training the navy seals for deployment. failure to adopt the ndaa agreement that we're talking about now would result in sending navy seals to combat with insufficient training,
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undermining mission effectiveness and increasing the risk of their losing lives. so we have every reason to be concerned about this. we have only one way that we're going to be able to get a defense authorization bill. if we don't do it, this will be the first year in 52 years that we haven't had one. and so that's how serious this is. i do applaud the -- i don't like the way it was done, but i like the end product and i think so many people -- if you look, i think the chairman mentioned the sexual assault discussion that we have had. we had the gillibrand bill. we had the mccaskill bill -- i'm sorry, the amendments. we didn't get a chance to talk about those, but we actually have 27 specific reforms to support victims and encourage sexual assault reporting expanding and so forth. so we have done a lot, and i don't think anyone could argue that we would in any way be better off not to have an
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authorization bill or to just lump it together and put it on a clean c.r. that's not any way to do business. it doesn't accomplish any of the things that i just mentioned and the chairman just mentioned as progress in this bill. so with that, i'm happy to join the chairman of the committee in a bipartisan way to help to try to defend america. the first thing we need to do with this is to pass our negotiation -- negotiated bill. i yield the floor. mr. mccain: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to engage in colloquy with the chairman and ranking member, if necessary. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: as we discuss this legislation or lack of legislation, which may be unique in the history of the united states senate in that for 51 years, this body has passed a
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defense authorization bill, gone to conference between the two houses and had a bill to the president's desk, a bill that legislation that i think most americans would agree is our first priority, and that is to defend the security of this nation. so i -- i guess one of the questions i have for the distinguished chairman of the committee and obviously the ranking member is that by us not acting on this bill before the end of the year, isn't it true, i would ask chairman levin, that we have already done some damage to the military and our readiness? isn't it also true that in the years that senator levin and i and senator inhofe have been together on the armed services committee, we have never tried to do an authorization bill in a
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week? there are just too many issues that are worthy of debate and votes on the part of this body. so isn't it true, i would ask senator levin, that if we fail to take up this legislation, we will be embarking into unknown and uncharted waters, because then we will be leaving it, isn't it true, to various appropriations bills or continuing resolutions or patchwork kind of addressing of of -- as i would argue, and i don't know how anyone could dispute is the most important obligation that the congress of the united states has, and that is to authorize the provisions in law that are necessary to defend this nation. i would ask the senator from
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michigan. mr. levin: the senator from arizona's point is extremely well taken, and there is relevant to his point a list of expiring authorities which we have just received from the chairman of the joint chiefs, general dempsey, and i put that letter in the record. we just got it literally a few hours ago, listing some of the expiring authorities, including many that -- a number that i think you mentioned and also senator inhofe -- mr. mccain: would the chairman mention a couple of those? mr. levin: yes. special pay and bonuses, combat pay, travel and transportation allowances, nonconventional assistance recovery capabilities, the authorities to do milcon which were mentioned, i believe, by the senator from oklahoma. it's a long list. and there will be a real chasm if we don't do this this year. you can't just say we'll leave it go until next year. senator inhofe pointed out, i believe, in one or two cases
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where it actually did get signed in the year after the fiscal -- the year after the bill was passed, it was because there was a veto by a president and the veto override took place, i believe, in the weeks after january. but these -- these expiring authorities are very serious business. we're going to tell men and women in combat that there is a gap in their combat pay, and we don't know for sure that it will ever be filled, the uncertainty. and this is what general dempsey mentions in his letter. he says allowing the bill to slip to january adds yet more uncertainty for the force and further complicates the duty of our commanders who face shifting global threats. i also fear that delay may put the entire bill at risk. protracting this uncertainty and impacting our global influence. and then he gave us a list of the expiring authorities. so the senator from arizona raises a very critical issue
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here. now, it's not desirable for us to pass the bill as we have, but with the help of the senator from arizona, when he was the ranking member, we were able on two occasions in a situation where there was objections to the -- to amendments being offered on the senate floor -- i won't go into all of the details, but two of the last five years, we were put in a position where we couldn't get the usual course followed where the bill had full amendment process on the senate floor. it had some, as this bill has, but not enough time, and then we ran into that wall and we were able to work out a bipartisan resolution to present to the senate sort of a virtual conference report. not technically a conference report, but a bill, a fresh bill, a new bill which merged and blended the bill that passed the senate armed services committee in those two years with the bill that passed the house of representatives. we then on a bipartisan basis presented those two bills to the senate and they were passed.
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mr. inhofe: let me mention a couple of others to the senator from arizona. the specific question was what's going to happen if what expires on january 1. in addition to the hazard pay that was articulated by the chairman, we also have the re-enlistment bonuses, and i think any of us who have served in the military remember as you get close to your date of -- of discharge, you look and you make a plan for the future as to what you are going to do in terms of re-enlistment. it's all based on assumptions of re-enlistment bonuses. all of a sudden, they disappear. you couldn't -- you couldn't have that. what's that going to do to our forces and impact aid? i think impact aid has been something that people don't really think about unless they happen to be in an area that has a lot of military activity where people have been taken off the payrolls -- off of the tax
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rolls. on january 1, impact aid would end. so yeah, there is a lot of concern over and we talked for a long time about what will happen with this bill in terms of partially -- military construction that's partially done or the building of -- of various platforms, but what will actually happen as of january 1 would be really a crisis. if we were to have to stop these things. mr. mccain: first of all, could i -- i probably should have said this at the beginning. i am very proud of the leadership that both senator levin and senator inhofe have provided to the armed services committee. i serve on a number of committees and have served on a number of committees in my time here in the senate, and the bipartisanship and cooperative legislating that is exemplified by both senators to me makes me
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proud and makes me believe that there is still some hope for bipartisanship here in the united states senate, and your leadership i think has been vital in putting together an authorization bill which i think is, as we described, is incredibly important. i would ask both of my colleagues, i'm hearing now from especially on this side of the aisle that, well, it's okay if we -- if we let this go over into january. after all, we've only got another week. we've got the farm bill, we've got the budget agreement, et cetera. why not just, in the house, the other side of the capitol, is going out of session. why isn't it just okay to wait until january? we'll be back early in january and work on this legislation then. i'm pretty sure i know the answer, but i'd ask the chairman if that isn't nearly as easy as it sounds,


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