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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  May 13, 2014 2:00pm-4:01pm EDT

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they'll go each deeper. and finish even deeper.19k,,,,8u and in addition, producing clean energy will grow more expensive, risking the high-tech jobs that every member of congress wants to protect. the expire act addresses all of these issues and more. and the second question that i think is going to be relevant to this debate is what are the implications for the cycle of stop-and-go policies that have made the tax code in this country so unnecessarily complicated and uncertain? the expire act ends that. and builds a bridge to comprehensive tax reform. now, many of these stop and go incentives are good policy, and they ought to be extended permanently. the expire act gives the finance
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committee in the congress the room to work on reform and decide which provisions to keep. for now, this is about balancing short-term needs and long-term goals. in the coming months, the finance committee is going to pursue a tax reform plan on a bipartisan basis that gives all americans the opportunity to get ahead. but right now what's needed is to protect jobs and deliver more certainty. on april 3rd the finance committee passed the expiring provisions improvement reform and efficiency act. mr. president, there was a strong bipartisan vote in the committee. and we called the bill the expire act for one reason, it's supposed to expire. and i stated that morning that on my watch, mr. president, this is going to be the last time, the last time that the finance committee considers a tax
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extender bill. once this piece of legislation is enacted and behind us, the committee moves on to the critical next challenge, and that is comprehensive, bipartisan tax reform. now, i'm going to talk for a minute about how this package is going to help middle class individuals and families, and we all understand that a prosperous middle class is the key to long-term economic growth for the country. this legislation boosts that cause by extending incentives that help workers get back on their feet such as the work opportunity tax credit. this provision is a lifeline for our veterans in every state in the country because it encourages employers to hire the best when they come home from overseas. veteran unemployment is still at crisis levels. this bill is going to help
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address that. thanks to work by senators portman and carden again on a bipartisan basis, the work opportunity credit is going to be available to businesses that hire the long-term unemployed. they're the americans who have been hit hardest by the recession, and without help, we're going to see them fall between the cracks. this legislation can be an important role in helping those americans find good jobs. the expire act also extends and expands the credit for research and experimentation. and the reason this is so important, mr. president, is this is the life blood of innovation that is so important for our economy. not only does this credit incentivize research and innovation, but thanks to good, bipartisan work -- we've heard that mentioned a couple of times this morning, mr. president,
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you're going to hear it again. in this case senator roberts and senator schumer and others made adjustments to the credit to make it work better for small hiss and start-up firms. many of these firms that are just getting out of the gate can't really use the research credit in its current form. so the expire act says to all of those start-ups, if they want to use the credit, we're going to make it easier to hire and pay workers. we're going to help you do that. the congress also needs to keep pushing business investment and innovation, and that's why the expire act extends incentives like bonus depreciation and expanded business expensing. this makes it easier for companies to informs in new equipment -- to invest in new equipment and property, grow their operations and create more jobs. now, we know many of our communities are hurting. they've been battered by an exodus of manufacturing jobs.
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so it's critical to drive investment to those communities to help promote growth and create good paying jobs. the people in those communities hit and hit hard by this economy deserve a chance to achieve the american dream just like everybody else. that's why the expire act extends provisions such as the new markets tax credit which drives private investment to these hard-hit areas. the new markets credit leverages, private funds to create new businesses in economically-depressed communities. and thanks to efforts by my colleague from ohio, senator brown, these credits are going to be available to boost manufacturing, areas that have lost some of their good-paying, blue collar, industrial jobs through this will see more private investment head their way. now, with the recent news of the economy's first quarter, the
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challenge of growing the economy, it's obvious our families and businesses need all the help they can get. that's why the expire act allows families to continue to deduct their state and local taxes. americans can already deduct their state income taxes thanks to a permanent part of the tax code. but families in states like texas, florida, washington and alaska don't pay state income taxes. they pay higher sales taxes. this legislation levels the field, it lets families deduct their state and local taxes whether they're income or sale. and as the housing market continues to come back from the great recession, we know that a millions of americans are still struggling to stay in this their homes. many of our homeowners found themselves underwater, owing more in mortgage debt than their houses were worth. to make matters worse, just when
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they caught a break and had their mortgage payments lowered or their debt forgiven, they got hit by a giant tax liability. imagine that. once you get your head above water, a huge tax bill pushes you right back underwater. this legislation con stained a provision to prevebt exactly that situation from happening and to help keep american families in their homes by exempting their forgiven mortgage debt from taxation. and i feel particularly strongly about this, mr. president, because that's really phantom income, and middle class americans shouldn't get hit that way. now, over the past several years, states throughout the country have been forced to make a lot of painful fiscal white houses. in many communities the budget act is solid on education.
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too muchers routinely -- teachers retune he face classrooms of 30-40 students. too often those teachers run short on supplies, and then they go reach into their own pockets, mr. president, to make up the difference. now, these are hard working, middle class professionallings. what this legislation does is help those teachers just a little bit by letting them deduct up to 250 of those out-of-pocket expenses from their taxes. oregon too muchers deduct more than $9 million in classroom expenses each year. and a college education is absolutely vital in our competitive, modern economy. for families and students paying for college, trying to deal with the skyrocketing costs, the mountains and mountains of debt they incur, this legislation
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extends the $4,000 deduction for tuition ebbs pensions. oregon's family use it to deduct more than $61 million in tuition and fees ap yulely. it gets harder each year to maintain a middle class life without a college degree. that's why this deduction so important and why it's in this legislation. now, there's one last part of the bill that i'd like to touch on, mr. president, and that's the incentives for clean energy. previously, i chaired the energy committee, and i saw how essential it was to generate investment in clean tech, in clean energy. it's an area of our economy that's been plagued by the stop and go nature of tax policy. now's the time our country should be investing in low carbon and energy-diverse alternatives. and some of the provisions in the expire act have been extraordinarily successful in
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doing just that. the production tax credit for renewable energy that includes wind, geothermal, hydropower and biomass has helped drive major growth in renewable clean energy. wind, in particular, has boomed over the past five years. it now accounts for more than 60,000 megawatts of wind generation across the country. wind energy production has more than doubled since 2008. that's enough to power more than 15 million homes, and the industry supports more than 50,000 jobs. and the growth of this industry has been a boon to manufacturing, supporting more than 500 manufacturing facilities. still, the wind industry is not immune to the stop-and-go nature of tax extenders. growth has leveled off over the past two years, mostly due to the expiration of late,
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retroactive renewal of provisions like the production tax credit. it's critical, in my view, to provide certainties. in the energy sector, electricity draining stations and refineries are major investments that can take years to plan and finance and destruct. that's why tax reform so vital. our country needs a long-term, stable energy policy. and there are a lot of fresh ideas on how to improve energy policy in the tax code. as chairman of the finance committee, ambassador baucus put out a number of innovative, technology-neutral ideas that, in my view, deserve a significant amount of attention. but while you work up those ideas in a transparent, bipartisan way, it's important, mr. president, that congress not let our domestic clean energy
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industry fall off the cliff. that's why this bill extends provisions like the production tax credit through 2015. now, clean energy is not just about generating more low carbon electricity. it's about using energy more efficiently and reducing our overall consumption. that's why the expire act extends and updates a credit that helps out homeowners, homeowners who want to improve their houses and make them more numbering efficient. so will it's through percent windows, installing insulation, perhaps replacing a water heater or a furnace, this provision helps those homeowners. and these improvements can dramatically reduce the amount of energy useed to heat and cool american homes, resulting in lower electricity bills. and the legislation improves this provision by cleaning up what has been current law and
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updating its standards. it'll be easier to use and help push the boundaries on energy efficiency by allowing only the most efficient, only the most energy-efficient improvements to qualify. even in pushing for efficiency in how we use it's important to make smart use of taxpayer dollars. commercial buildings use a tremendous amount of energy; 20% of all clerk terrorist consumed in the united states powers the places we work. by reducing this consumption, the u.s. drastically put emissions and lowered costs for business. so, mr. president, it's obvious that the areas that i've outlined make sense for our economy, and they've had bipartisan support. they're going to help spur investment and innovation, boost our commitments, help disadvantaged workers and continue to drive investments in clean energy and energy efficiency.
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now, a number of those, as i've indicated, should be made permanent. it would be a mistake to simply let them disappear. so in wrapping up, i want to address the question why not make these provisions permanent now? why not just pass tax reform today? well, mr. president, that'd be my first choice. everybody knows our tax code is in bad shape. it's complicated, it is, i think, calling it opaque would be a compliment. it desperately needs fixing. we want a code that promotes economic growth and treats everyone fairly. a lot of members have worked hard to develop ideas. but the reality is tax reform is not happening tomorrow. reaching a comprehensive, bipartisan plan is going to take time, focus and hard work. and i know something about that, mr. president, because i think i put as much sweat equity in the bipartisan tax reform as member
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of this body starting with our former colleague,gu%wc[mav' sen, wrote the first bipartisan federal income tax reform plan in 30 years. senator coats has joined senator begich in this effort, and we're not alone. senator camp -- chairman camp has put forward an ambitious tax reform draft that lays out several ideas as well on how the make the tax code simpler. >> senatorwideen from earlier -- senator wyden from earlier. we'll take you back to the senate there floor, extending a5 tax breaks that expired at the end of 2013. south carolina senator lindsey graham on the floor. live coverage on c-span2. unborn child protection act, s. 1670, which is my legislation, and s. 1696, the women's health protection act by senator blumenthal.
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i -- just very briefly, what i'm trying to do is to have an opportunity for the body to talk about two pieces of legislation that relate to the abortion issue, the role of the federal government and very quickly, my legislation would ban abortion at the 20-week period, the fifth month, based on the theory that the child can feel pain at that point in the pregnancy, and that the standard of care for the medical community is you can't operate on an unborn fetus at the 20-week period without administering anesthesia, and the reason for that is because the child can feel pain. there have been individuals born at the 20-week period that survived, but the theory of the case is not viability, medical viability under roe v. wade. it's a new theory in the sense that the state has a compelling interest to protect the unborn child at this stage of pregnancy, and the partial-birth
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abortion ban applies to 24 weeks. we have backed it up to 20 weeks. here is what medical journals tell parents to do at 20 weeks. an unborn child can hear and respond to sounds, talk and see, the unborn child enjoys hearing your voice. it's just a whole list of things about the unborn child at the 20-week period. we're one of seven countries that allow elective abortions at this stage in the pregnancy. china, north korea, vietnam, singapore, canada and the netherlands. so what i would ask the body to consider is to have a debate on my legislation about whether or not we should limit abortions, elective abortions at the 20-week period and also have a debate on senator blumenthal's legislation that basically would allow the courts to set aside several state restrictions on abortion, parental consent, a series of actions at the state level. i think his legislation would allow the courts -- require the courts to have a liberal
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construction in terms of being able to strike these provisions down. and i just disagree with my good friend, but we are good friends, but we have a different view of this. and he made a statement when he introduced the bill that every senator should be on the record when it comes to his legislation. i agree. i hope every senator would be on the legislation when it comes to my legislation. so with that, i will go ahead and make the unanimous consent request. i ask unanimous consent that at a time to be determined by the majority leader in consultation with the republican leader that the senate proceed to consideration of s. 1670, the pain-capable unborn child protection act, and s. 1696, the woman's health protection act, that there be up to eight hours of debate equally divided in the usual form to run concurrently, that there be no amendments, points of order or motions in order and that upon the use or yielding back of time, the senate proceed to vote on s. 1670, and that following the disposition of 1670, the senate proceed to vote on s. 1696, and
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that both bills be subject to a 60-vote affirmative threshold for passage. the presiding officer: is there objection? the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. reserving my right to object, and i will object, i respect my friend and colleague from south carolina -- and we are friends and we agree on a lot of issues. on this issue, we fundamentally disagree. i am here to remind the american people and my colleagues that this proposal to ban abortion after 20 weeks, in my view, is irresponsible and should not be before the united states senate, but i am more than happy to cast a vote on it along with the women's health care protection act, and i hope they will be considered. this issue deserves to be before this body. neither of these proposals has yet been considered in committee, and the minority
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leader of this body has repeatedly spoken about the need for -- i'm quoting him -- a vigorous committee process, end of quote, handling bills. this bill should not be considered in this way. it would prohibit the medical profession from performing an abortion when the fetus is older than 20 weeks and would do nothing, frankly nothing to help women protect their health and the health of their families as well as their right to have control over their health care needs. this bill leaves the vast majority of women who may need an abortion for health reasons after 20 weeks of pregnancy with no options, and it punishes doctors with up to five years in prison for providing a service that the doctor believes in his or her professional medical opinion is best for the woman
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and her family. our constitutional right to privacy tells us unequivocally and emphatically that these choices should be between the doctor and her family or her advisors, including her clergy. the proponents of this bill would have us believe that the bill will reduce the number of abortions in this country. in fact, here is the statistic that matters in this debate. there are a mere 1.5% of abortions that occur after 20 weeks of conception. -- 20 weeks after conception. and the majority of these medical procedures occur due to a health issue that would put the fetus or mother or both at risk. take a young woman. i'm going to call her laura.
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she is a young mother from connecticut. she became ill at 22 weeks into her first pregnancy with early onset of severe preeclampsia. laura's blood pressure rose dangerously, her kidney stopped and she was at risk for seizures. her pregnancy was wanted. she wanted a baby and she planned for it, but she needed to end it to protect her health. her physician was able to provide her with a timely and safe abortion, and although laura felt a future pregnancy would be too risky, she went on to adopt three children. facing such severe medical risks, women like laura need the safest care modern medicine can offer. with all due respect, senator graham's bill ignores the health realities of women, the
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realities they face every day in connecticut and around the country. had this bill been law, a doctor would have had to wait for laura to be facing death before protecting her with the abortion she needed. the women's health protection act would put women's rights first. the women's health protection act seeks full and thorough consideration of these issues, and i seek it through the regular order. let's have hearings. let's consider these measures in committee. let's bring them to the floor in a way they can be debated insightfully and thoughtfully, not this way. the women's health protection act protects a woman's health and her ability to make her own decisions and her constitutional rights. i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard.
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mr. graham: mr. president, if i could respond? the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. graham: thank you. to my good friend, we already have laws in this country banning elective abortions at the 24-week period. it's called the partial-birth abortion ban. it went through the house and senate. got overwhelming support. that bill has provisions for rape and incest that would affect the life of the mother. so does this. we're backing it up four weeks. the reason we are backing it up four weeks is because at 20 weeks people have been born and survived. i know two twins born at 20 weeks. the theory in the case is if you are this far along in the pregnancy, the government should have the right to come in and protect the unborn child from wholesale abortion because you are so far along that the medical science requires anesthesia before you operate. the question is if you're going to require a doctor to provide anesthesia to the baby before they operate to save its life, should we also have abortions at that point. "the washington post" poll just a few months ago showed that
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about 56% to 27% of people supported the 20-week pain capable bill, 60% women. so at the end of the day, i hope we can have a debate on this. the reason i brought it up today, this is the anniversary of the dr. gosnell case, which was one of the most horrendous cases in american jurisprudence, where a doctor received life sentences for three counts of murder. he was an abortion doctor, aborting babies at the latest stage of pregnancy. babies survived the abortion and he would cut their spinal cord, ensuring fetal demise. two women died as a result of the care given by him. it was just a chamber of horrors. it's been a year ago today. i hope people will not forget what dr. gosnell did. if we can prevent things like that, we should. that's what this bill is designed to do, to make sure that the unborn child at this stage of the pregnancy has a chance to become -- to live among us, because i think that's
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the right thing to do, and there are only seven countries in the world that allow elective abortions at this stage, and i hope the united states when this debate is over will not be in the seven. thank you. mr. blumenthal: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: i respect the sincerity of my colleague from south carolina on this issue. the fact of one instance of possible medical malpractice does not justify this kind of sweeping abrogation of women's reproductive rights or women's health care. the principle is the same, whether it's four weeks back or four weeks forward, the principle is a woman has a constitutional right to choose health care and has a constitutional right to privacy that would be negated by this measure, and we ought to be deciding with improving women's health care and enhancing it and
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upgrading it and giving women choices and protecting those choices, not cutting back by four weeks or in any way infringing on that fundamental right. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin. ms. baldwin: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that following my remarks, senator boxer be permitted to speak for up to ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. baldwin: mr. president, today the senior senator from south carolina and his republican colleagues have proposed a measure which amounts, in my opinion, to an attack on the freedom of american women to make their own personal health care decisions. instead of focusing on improving access to health care for women, these senators are pursuing divisive policies that jeopardize women's health and
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put politicians and government between a woman and her doctor. mr. president, i object to this dangerous political game. women's access to quality health care is not a political game for me and some of my colleagues who join me here today, nor is it a game for women and families across the country and in my home state of wisconsin. too many states have enacted record numbers of laws that restrict women's access to reproductive health services and the freedom to make her own health care decisions. these restrictions like the one that we just heard proposed earlier this afternoon have real and serious consequences for american families. i recently heard from a mother in middleton, wisconsin, who at 20 weeks of pregnancy was
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devastated to find out that her baby would not survive delivery. she had to undergo an emergency termination, and a clinic in milwaukee, wisconsin, was the only place that would do the procedure, but because our republican governor was preparing to sign a law imposing some incredible requirements and burdens on providers, this particular clinic was preparing to close its doors, and they wouldn't schedule her for an appointment. she and her husband were forced to find child care for their two sons and travel to another state in order just to get the medical care that she needed. the threat in wisconsin and in states across the country is clear -- when politicians play
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doctor, american families suffer. this is sea my good friend from connecticut, senator blumenthal, and i have introduced a serious proposal, the women's health protection act. it would put a stop to these attacks on women's freedom.our l protections against real estate strictions, like the republican proposal that we were hearing about today. proposals that unduly limit access to reproductive health care, that do nothing to further women's health or safety, and that intrude upon personal decision making. and i look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this important legislation through the committee process and through regular order. we know that today's spectacle is not mpts t meant to produce a serious debate about protecting women's reproductive health. it's about a narrow republican
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jeand tagenda to take our county backward and roll back important health benefits for american families. we have seen this with the numerous failed attempts by republicans to repeal the affordable care act that have empowered millions of women with more choices and stronger health care coverage. today women can finally rest assured that they won't be charged more for their coverage just because they're women. and someone's mother can get a lifesaving mammogram without fear of high medical bills. over 50 times, congressional republicans have tried to rail l back -- roll back this security for millions of american families. republicans it seems, would gladly go back to the days where being a woman was considered a preexisting condition and insurance companies can drop your coverage because you get
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sick, you get older, you have a baby. but we are not going to go back to those days, just as we're not going to create a future where politicians in washington take away the freedom of women to make their own personal health carestitions. -- health care decisions. i am committed to putting a stop to the relentless and ideological attacks on america's families and will continue to fight to ensure that both men and women have the freedom to access the health care services they need. in the united states of america, health care should be a right guaranteed to all. that is why i have fought and so many of us have fought for and will continue to fight as we move our country forward. mr. president, i yield back. mrs. boxer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california.
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mrs. boxer: i would ask that i be allowed to add another ten minutes to the ten minutes i have already asked for. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: thanks. i ask unanimous consent that jp jeptha napzinger be granted floor privileges beginning today and ending august 1. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: thank you. mr. president, i listened carefully to senator lindsey graham, who put forward a very dangerous bill for women in this country and their families, and i'll explain why i think it is dangerous, but what was interesting is, he said he brought it forward today because today, i think he said, was the anniversary that dr. goznell was convicted and sent to prpk. this iprison. this is a rogue doctor who is
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now serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for what he did, abusing the trust of being a reproductive health care doctor. so dr. goznell is away, as he should be. and so how does my friend from north carolina commemorate this? by putting forward a bill that will drive more women to rogue doctors. if you make it illegal for a woman, regardless of her circumstance, she is going to find a way to either save her health, her life, her family. so women deserve to have protections. and the bill that my friend proposed, which would just simply say, after a certain
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number of weeks, no more abortion, no matter what your health situation is, is very dangerous. now, i would just say rhetorically, how can you say you're doing something right for women and their families when you don't have a health exception? if a woman goes to the doctor and she finds out she is facing cancer, kidney failure, blood clots, other percentagic complications, why -- tragic complications, why should government step in the way of her family? why should the government and the united states senators step in the middle between the woman, her doctor, her god, and her family? it is a disgrace, from a party that says "get government off our backs." this is horrible. there is no exception for rape
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or incest victims who are unable to report those heinous crimes. let's say they were too frightened. now all of a sudden they get the courage. too bad. have your rapist's child. this is not a government that cares about families. this is a government that steps into our lives at the most tragic moments of our lives. the bill is so extreme that the american congress of obstetricians and gynecologists, which represents thousands of ob-gyn's, said these restrictions are -- quote -- "dangerous to patients' safety and health." who do you think stands up for the health of the women in this country? the united states senators or doctors that know the women, that know the family, that know the circumstances of her health?
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there's chri christie who said,y husband and i were confronted with two equally horrible options: carry the baby to term and watch our baby girl suffocate to death upon birth or terminate the pregnancy early and say goodbye to our much-wanted and much-loved baby girl?" christie -- that's her. why should a senator tell her what to do? i'll tell you, it is a war on women, when you tell a woman in that type of circumstance what to do and you take away her right to use her mind, use her brain, use her love that she has for her family, for her husband, for her children to make this decision. christie was pregnant with her second child when that happened. she wanted this baby. but it wasn't until a 20-week ultra sound that she found out
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that her daughter would suffocate to death at birth. what united states senator has a right to make her watch that baby child suffocate to death? i'm sorry. that is not life-affirming. then there's judy in wisconsin. "i know," she says, "what it's lininlike to live without a mot" she tells the story that four months into her pregnancy she developed a pregnancy-induced blood clot in her arm. the only guarantee that she wouldn't die and leave behind a 5-year-old son was for judy it to terminate the pregnancy. she and her husband made the very difficult decision to terminate that pregnancy. what right does a united states senator who doesn't even know her, doesn't know her husband, doesn't know her family history,
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doesn't know that she lost her mother when she was young -- what right does a united states senator have to step into that world at that moment and tell someone what they have to do? do we think so little of the women in this nation? we just had mother's day. we lauded our mothers. we're crying out for the girls who were taken by terrorists. we all care. then why would we support legislation like this? then there's bridget, a 25-year-old woman, who is looking forward to the wither of her third child. she initially had a normal ultrasound. her second trawl sound showed a cardiac malforformation, a fatal problem. because tests could only confirm this fatal defect later in the pregnancy, she couldn't make a decision until after the 20 weeks.
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now, what right does a united states senator have to get in the middle of her most personal, most private, most difficult decisions? there is place for government. it's to make life better for people. it's to say, we're with you; we have your back; we need what you're going through. not to make life so difficult for people. in missouri, julie and her husband were told relatively early in her pregnancy that the baby they were expecting had multiple abnormalities and would not survive outside the wound. but it took her three weeks to locate an abortion provider because they had shut down so many providers, madam president. they found out under missouri's restrictive laws she ha she'd ho travel two hours on two separate
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occasions to comply with the state's 24-hour waiting period. when they were finally able to get the care they needed, her pregnancy was just over 20 weeks. what right does any united states senator have to step out there and tell the american people that we know better than their families know, that we know better than their doctors know, that we know better than their clergy knows? and then this bill targets doctors who risk their lives to help women who are at risk for paralysis, infertility, who have cancer, and whose lives would be in danger if they continue their pregnancy. this bill would throw those doctors in prison for five years just for providing needed health care to their patients. i don't know what kind of country people envision, when
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you have the government policing the private health decisions of women and their families. why would we want to go back to the last century and open up battles that have long been fought? those battles were fought in 1973 when roe v. wade was the decision of the supreme court, and you know what that court said? they balanced all the rights, the rights of the fetus with the rights of the mother, and they sairldly in the pregnancy -- and they said early in the pregnancy a woman has this right to choose and it is her decision. but as you go along, yes, yes, there will be restrictions. and that's fine as long as the health and the life of the mother are in the forefront. this legislation that senator graham want as a vote on, it's t
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what's best for women and their families. it's not what's best for our communities. it is about an extreme right-wing agenda. that needs to stop. this is a country that's a moderate country. we come together, we work together. i don't get everything i want. you don't get everything you want. we work it out. but to come here and offer legislation that is such an extreme danger to women is, to me -- i don't know how to call it. it is out of sync with what we ought to be doing. we ought to be fighting, as senator balanced ar. mssenator-- we ought to be fighting, as senator baldwin said. not putting rules in the books that are so onerous that a woman is desperate. i don't understand it. i believe that the republican
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party has moved so far to the right, it's unrecognizable to me. when i started out in politics and i say this, it was a long time ago, republicans and democrats worked together on the environment. now you can't get a vote from them on making sure the clean air act is protecting our people, that we address climate change. you cannot get a vote from them. maybe once in a blue moon we get a vote from one or two. it was, remember, george herbert walker bush who really worked hard at planned pairptshood. that's -- parenthood. that's where republicans used to be. and we would come together. we would come together on protecting a woman's right to choose. planned parenthood -- there were more republicans in planned parenthood than democrats when i got started in politics. now the republicans want to run
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planned parenthood out. they want to shut down their clinics. stop all the good they're doing to prevent unwanted pregnancies. well, i called it a war on women. we saw it -- we saw it, people saying, well, maybe there is such a thing as legitimate rape. have you ever heard of anything so outrageous? and even when it comes to equal pay for equal work, we can't move it forward around here. so, yeah, i think this is part of the war on women, i'm sad to say today, this bill. clearly they're the ones who'll +sufrsuffer, along with their drssments yodoctors. you don't put women in grave danger. you don't accept in the middle of our families' most difficult
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decisions. americans want us to focus on making life better for our families. they don't want us to create new health threats. god knows we have enough health threats just breathing the air out there, getting the flu, and everything else. we don't need phony legislation to come over here that restricts a woman's rights, when she needs us at her back. let's not go back to the last century. i just hope that if somebody has a bill like this, they'll let it go through the whole committee process. we need -- we need these women, who i quoted today, to look senators in the eye and say, senator, please stay out of my life. these decisions are difficult enough. but i know i can handle them with my family, with my god, with my support system.
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and so with that, i say, roe v. wade is the law of the land. in the early stages, a woman has a pretty much unfettered right. as you go along, there's more restrictions. but we never, ever turn our back on women's health or her life. that's what roe says. and such a bill as this one, frankly, i hope will not see the light of day because it could only make life very difficult for many, many of our families. thank you very much. it is an honor towork with you, senator baldwin, on this. i would yield back my time, and i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mrs. shaheen: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: madam president, i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. shaheen: madam president, it is with great sadness that i rise today to honor the memory of brentwood police officer steven archell. officer archell's life was tragically cut short yesterday while responding to the call of duty, the same call of duty that he courageously answered a
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countless number of times over the course of his career. a 15-year veteran of the brentwood police department, archell served as a part-time officer as well as the animal control officer for the town of brentwood, where he was born and raised. like all of our first responders, his commitment to protecting our community was unparalleled. that commitment was integral to keeping our families, our children, and our community safe everyday, and that same commitment and officer archell's sacrifice is something new hampshire will never forget. steven archell's life and career epitomized the heroism of our first responders and all of us every day will be forever grateful for that. my thoughts and my prayers today are with his family, with his wife, his two teenaged
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daughters, his loved ones, the brentwood police department, and the entire brentwood community, as well as new hampshire's entire law enforcement community. i hope they can all take some solace in knowing that new hampshire joins them both in mourning officer archell's loss but also in celebrating his selfless sacrifice and his service on behalf of brentwood and our beloved state. thank you, madam president. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. cornyn: madam president? the presiding officer: the republican whip. mr. cornyn: madam president, i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: madam president, shortly after i arrived in the senate in 2002, republicans, my political party, became the majority party and i quickly learned a few important lessons. first of all, being in the majority is better than income the minority. but part of the price of being in the majority is that sometimes you got to take some tough votes. via the amendment process. in other words, when the senate is operating the way it was originally intended and which it always has until recently, any senator has the right to seek recognition and offer an amendment on almost any topic on almost any bill.
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my colleagues told me at the time, they said it's always been that way and it's the way it always should be. if we're serious about protecting minority rights. so why should i care being a member of the majority about protecting minority rights in the senate? well, in the intervening years, my political party has gone from being in the majority in the senate to being in the minority. that's one reason to care. and the other reason to care is because every senator was elected by their constituents in their state to represent their state. and when any senator, whether they're in the majority or minority, is shut out of the process, their constituents are shut out of the process. that's not what the constitution contemplates when it says that each state has a right to send two senators to washington. because if you can tell one of
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those or both of those senators to sit down and be quiet, and you can't offer any amendments, you can't get any votes on your amendments, you are effectively shutting out well -- in my case the 26 million people i represent in the tof texas. -- state of texas. so the message is this -- if you don't want to take tough votes, you're in the wrong line of work. you're in the wrong line of work. the way the senate should operate is that each of us are accountable to our constituents, and when they disagree with us about a vote, then they have a right to tell us. that's called petitioning your government for the redress of grievances. well, so accountability, which is the way this congress is supposed to work, can only work when we have an open process and where the minority gets to
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partnership in the process, and the majority gets to partnership in the process and guess what -- if you're in the majority on a given subject, you're going to win. but that's no justification for shutting down the minority and saying sit down, shut up, forget about the fact that you have an election certificate from your secretary of state saying you were duly and regularly chosen by the voters in your state to represent them in what used to be the world's greatest deliberative body. and here's something else that i've learned when i came to the senate, mr. president. something that doesn't happen as much now, but what i learned is this place works best when individual bills are drafted by senators and moved through the committee process. that's because usually the committees that have jurisdiction over those pieces
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of legislation have some experience and have some expertise in the subject matter. and sometimes the subject matter gets pretty complicated. and it's good for the senate, it's good for the united states to have a committee look at the legislation. people have a chance to offer amendments, have them voted up or down, and then it comes to the entire senate on the senate floor. and then every senator gets to partnership, whether they know very much about the topic or not. hopefully, all of us get to be smart pretty quick when it comes -- when a bill comes to the floor because that's our chance to have a say on behalf of our constituents whether we're in the majority or in the minority. we don't have a right to win, the minority doesn't, but we do have a right to a voice and a vote and to partnership in the legislative process, which is what's been denied under the
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current majority leader. well, more than a decade later after i got here to the senate, i hardly recognize the united states senate. it's so dramatically different. indeed, in some ways it's diametrically opposite what it was when i got here and, frankly, the way the senate has operated for a couple hundred years since the founding of our country. only in the last rue few years under the current majority leader has the senate become completely dysfunctional and when the majority leader becomes in essence a dictator who says no, senator, your amendment cannot be considered, it cannot be voted on. in other words, it's not up to the senator to offer an amendment to try to shape legislation on behalf of our constituents, to engage in robust debate. it's the majority leader who
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basically becomes the traffic cop, who says who stops, who goes, and, of course, that's one reason why the senate has become so dysfunctional. under the current majority leader an unprecedented number of bills have come directly to the floor from his conference are room, from his office, and bypassed the committee process. in fact, many of my colleagues, including many of my democratic colleagues, have been left wondering why in the world have committees in the senate if we're not going to use them. if we're not going to use the committees for the experience and the expertise that those members serving on those committees have, before it comes to the senate floor. well, in addition to bypassing the committee process in an unprecedented sort of way, once the senate legislation comes to the senate floor out of the majority leader's conference
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room or wherever it is it comes from, senators from both parties representing hundreds of millions of american citizens are routinely denied the opportunity to offer amendments and engage in meaningful debate. we just saw that yesterday. because as a direct result of the majority leader denying anyone -- the presiding officer, one of our democratic colleagues, or anyone, and opportunity to offer amendments and to get votes on those amendments on an energy bill which was the first time we've had an energy bill on the floor since 2007. and the majority leader shuts down the process and says in essence, sit down, shut up, good luck. during the 109th congress when republicans controlled this chamber, democrats were allowed
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to offer, that is, the minority party was offered -- to offer 1,043 separate amendments. 1,043 separate amendments during the 109th congress. you know how many amendments republicans have been able to offer since july of last year? in the united states senate. nine. nine republican amendments in ten months. majority leader reid has filled the amendment tree -- that's the technical jargon, someone have called it basically, it's the gag rule of the majority leader, but it's technically blocking the amendment tree -- more than twice as much as majority leaders bill frist, tom daschle, trent lott, bob dole, george mitchell and robert byrd combined. that's one, two, three, four, five, six -- six
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previous majority leaders didn't do it as much as the current majority leader, senator reid. that is block out any amendments from the minority. now, i know that because we've talked about this so much before that most americans really aren't focused on senate procedure, and, you know, they think, well, maybe this is just one senator who is a little sore at being frozen out of the process and losing on a particular piece of legislation. burr, again, this is not about the prerogatives of an individual united states senator. this is about the people's prerogative. the people's right to partnership in the process. you know, the very legitimacy of our form of government depends upon the consent of the governed and how can the people you represent and i represent consent when they've been shut out? is this what the founding
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fathers had in mind when they created our great system of government? to shut our fellow citizens out of the process, to trample on minority rights? hardly. mr. president, before i conclude i want to say a quick word about some of the majority leader's most recent comments when we've had a discussion about this problem. well, when americans ponder the root causes of washington dysfunction and gridlock, i hope they remember that the majority leader of the united states senate who leads this great institution has referred to the minority party in the senate as agreesed --
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agreesed -- dreased pigs. accused us of wanting to suppress voting rights. claimed we wanted to dump on women and minorities. he described senators representing their constituents with amendments as -- quote -- "screwing around." and he demonizes private citizens exercising their rights under the constitution of the united states as un-american. i have to confess, i find these comments insulting. i find these comments disrespectful. and i find them embarrassing. mr. president, how can we ever expect to reach compromises -- which is the only way things happen here. neither party can dictate on their own what the outcomes
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legislatively will be. so the only way we can do it is to try to find common ground and work together, without sacrificing our principles, of course. but how are we ever going to solve some of the most complex legislative challenges that confront us like tax reform -- i mean we have a bill on the floor now where we're being asked to extend 55 expiring temporary tax provisions. how long? through 2015. is that a good way to do business? well, no. what kind of uncertainty is there when you don't even know what the tax code is going to say for more than a year and a half? well, -- and then there is entitlement reform. i've mentioned this before. we have these pages here who are serving here in the senate. they're in high school. someday the $17 trillion that
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the federal government owes to our creditors is going to have to be paid back. someday. and when that happens, i dare say that interest rates are not going to be at zero, which is what they are now, thanks to the federal reserve, because the federal reserve is trying to juice the economy, doing the best it can to get the economy back on track although it's -- we don't have a lot to show for it. the economy grew at .1% last quarter. how are we going to fix our broken immigration system if the majority leader is going to routinely slander members of this body and our constituents? somehow are we going to fix what's broken if the majority leader wants to trash talk folks on this side of the aisle and
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people he disagrees with? even called them un-american. for what? for participating in the political process. well, of course he'd like to shut them up and make them sit down, so he could do what he wants without any resistance or without anybody questioning his actions. mr. president, recently down in austin, president obama and others gathered for an historic celebration. it was a 50th anniversary of the adoption of the civil rights act. you know how many amendments were voted on by the united states senate when the civil rights act was passed? 117 amendments. do you think this congress and this senate today, under this majority leader, would have any opportunity to pass historic legislation to heal the wounds
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of our country that date back to the very founding of this nation, given the fact the minority is shut out of the process, no amendments are allowed and no votes on those amendments? there is no way, no way. what a tragedy. the 50th anniversary of the civil rights act. then for a more mundane matter, when the panama canal treaties were debated in this body, there were 75 roll call votes. that was a pretty controversial issue at the time. 75 roll call votes. but nine roll call votes in this body coming from the republican side since july. since july. and no prospect of allowing any amendments on the current tax bill that's on the floor just like the energy bill that we
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just concluded yesterday. no prospect in sight for a better outcome and better behavior by the people who should know better. how can we expect to achieve comity in this chamber when its most powerful member has done so much to poison the atmosphere? the senate of 2014 is certainly not the senate that our founding fathers envisioned, nor is it the senate that my former colleague, senator chris dodd, described in his 2010 farewell speech. let me quote just a small portion. senator dodd reminded us that the senate was designed to be different not just for the sake of variety, but because the framers believed that the senate could and should be the venue in which statesmen would lift america up to meet its unique
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challenges. unfortunately, the senate will never be able to play that unique role in american government, in american history until the majority leader shows greater respect for the constituents we represent and for this institution. as i said, this debate is not about procedural niceties. it's not about the prerogatives of a senator because they think they're so important. when republicans offer amendments to pending legislation, we're trying to give our constituents the voice that they are guaranteed by the constitution of the united states of america. when the majority leader refuses to let us vote on amendments and refuses to let us have a real discussion about america's biggest challenges, he is effectively gagging millions of
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americans who don't share his particular views. that's why the senate has become so dysfunctional, because of the majority leader and his conduct. i can only hope, indeed, mr. president, i can only pray that the majority leader will change his mind and act like the genuine leader that the united states senate deserves, unless, like an angry dictator. mr. president, i yield the floor, and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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