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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  April 16, 2015 10:00am-12:01pm EDT

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trafficking victims. this afternoon the senate will vote on a couple of presidential nominations, the homeland security management undersecretary and the national indian gaming commission chair. now live coverage of the senate to c-span to. -- here on c-span2. te will come to order. the chaplain dr. barry black will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. immortal god, you rule the earth with goodness. great and marvelous are your works. help us to so live that we can be your instruments for good in our world. fill our hearts with your peace and undergird us
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with the unfolding of your loving providence. bless our senators. enlighten and illumine them that they may know you and your precepts. touch their lips so that they may speak no words that grieve you. give them faith for every challenge, strength for every temptation and wisdom for every perplexity. we pray in your majestic name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic
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for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: human trafficking affects every state in this nation every single one of them. in kentucky, we've heard reports of victims as young as two months old two months old victims of human trafficking. we've heard about a kentuckian who said she was sold for sex from the age of 5 until she was
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able to physically break free as an adult. stories like these may shock the conscience but they're hardly unique. in our country. now, the judiciary committee recently heard the story of aviva who was barely a teenager when she was kidnapped and forced into modern slavery. listen to this. aviva was sold to as many as ten different men a night. freedom stolen from her. innocence ripped away. aviva's trafficker tried to stamp out everything that made aviva aviva. aviva even forgot what it felt like to be human anymore.
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democrats had said they were in favor of helping victims like aviva. democrats had demanded that i bring the justice for victims trafficking act to the floor. but now that the very legislation is here on the floor our democratic friends seem to change their tune completely. a totally different tune. now that they have a chance to actually help the victims they've decided they're more concerned about a few sentences in the bill, a provision they seemed perfectly fine with until just recently. more concerned about those few sentences than actually solving the problem the bill would address. now, this provision has been
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included in countless bills that they have voted for and cosponsored. it's language they were perfectly happy endorsing again in another bill this very week, two days ago. but that bill was designed to help doctors not children, enslaved by sex traffickers. so it's okay to vote for that kind of language if you're trying to help doctors but not okay to vote for that kind of language if you're trying to help these poor young children. obviously, our democratic friends think the doctors are worthy of their help. what about the victims of modern slavery? now, the rationale mr. president, for this filibuster seems to shift by the day, and it's almost income shensible. their foremost concern seems to be about treating this specific
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kind of money this way. versus treating that specific kind of money that way. it's hard to follow, isn't it? focusing all their attention not on the victims of these crimes but on the financial assessments of the people who perpetrated them, the traffickers. honestly i'm not sure why anyone would think money collected from crls cripple analysis ought to get more consideration than money collected from law-abiding taxpayers. what a strange argument, but this is where they planted their flag. that ridiculous article is where they have planted their flag. their contention is essentially that the victims of trafficking should get no help at all because democrats say the money they have received might be
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considered -- quote -- private and that this bill should not pass therefore because the bipartisan hyde principles it contains might apply to those private funds. if that argument sounds contrived and illogical to you mr. president, you're not alone. and now we find out it's not even true. let me repeat that. the very heart of the democrats' argument isn't even true. that's what the nonpartisan congressional research service told us just yesterday. so i would ask my democratic friends to listen to this closely. c.r.s. congressional research service, answered some very straightforward questions posed by the senior senator from texas, my friend and colleague senator cornyn.
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and here's what they said to senator cornyn. money deposited into the general treasury from traffickers as the cornyn amendment requires, is federal money. according to c.r.s. so let me repeat. the democrats have been blocking an antislavery bill over money they call private and they're not even correct about that. now, our democratic colleagues have also blocked this bill because they say hyde has only applied to annual spending or appropriation, not mandatory spending. it's another argument the congressional research service tells us is simply not true. not true. the experts at c.r.s. say hyde has applied to mandatory spending of federal funds out of the general treasury as the
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cornyn amendment provides and c.r.s. concludes that hyde just applied to mandatory spending is the very doc fix that 100% of our democratic friends voted for two days ago. now, mr. president i ask unanimous consent the c.r.s. memorandum be included in the record at the end of my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: and i ask my democratic friends stop this, stop this. take a breath and think about what you are doing. children are being sold into sexual slavery. having their freedom and self-respect ripped away. will they finally allow the senate to help them? or will they continue some debunked crusade?
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now, we've offered several compromises to address the concerns they've raised. we'll soon vote on another one that senator cornyn has offered. we have been reaching out to our democratic friends for weeks now to try to find a solution to this nonproblem. the findings of c.r.s. make it clear that we are doing nothing extraordinary or unusual here. we're simply applying long-accepted principles that americans overwhelmingly support. most people would think that sounds pretty reasonable. so it's time to get serious and pass this important legislation. a large bipartisan majority of the senate has already voted repeatedly to approve this bill, and with the support of a couple more courageous democrats we can bring an end to this
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debunked filibuster today. the victims who have survived brutal abuse don't need more of our friends' illogical contortions and justifications. they just need help. and they need it now. they need the help the justice for victims of trafficking act would provide. so why don't we finally get around to fixing this problem? the time to do that is now. i yield the floor. mr. reid: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: i'm not an expert in the field of the study of the origin of words. i do find that origins of english words to be enlightening and sometimes very curious. for example the word govern is
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one we hear often in the capitol. govern is derived from a greek word meaning to steer or pilot a ship. the most important question for the party in power is simply can you govern. i say this to my republican friends. or, in other words, can you steer the ship? can you pilot this great nation of ours in the right direction? we are just over $100 into this -- over 100 days into this republican-controlled congress, and it's already clear that the republican leader and his side haven't been up to the task. for evidence, one need look no further than the republicans' botched handling of the human trafficking bill before the senate. i would just say mr. president in partial response to my friend the republican leader, i've never been a big fan of polling, political polling or any other kind of polling because you can get any answer you want by asking the right question.
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and of course the republican leader and the questions submitted to the congressional research service asked the wrong questions. the majority leader and the assistant majority leader took a good bipartisan piece of legislation and steered it right into the rocks. the ship has sprung many leaks. we all democrats and republicans, support the provisions of this bill that help the victims of sexual trafficking and holds offenders accountable, but instead of a legislative common ground, republicans are legislating to obstruct. they're in the minority, all they did was obstruct, so they know how to do that. i vouch for that. and one of the things i said we're not going to treat them the way that they treated us, and we haven't done that. mr. president, now in the majority the republicans can't filibuster themselves, so they are resorting to tanking good legislation, bills they themselves wrote and support in order to score some type of
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political point. does that seem like reasonable governance to anyone? i don't think so. yesterday i listened to the majority leader and i did today claiming that they're seeking compromise. he even said that the republicans have offered three compromises. well if we're going on the number of offers made, we've done ten. mr. president, we've made ten good-faith offers to get this human trafficking bill passed. we've tried and tried and tried to reach an agreement. we've done ten i'll mention just a few. we proposed the republicans simply strip the hyde language out of the bill. then the leahy substitute which would strip the hyde language and include leahy's runaway and homeless youth act and senator klobuchar's stop exploitation act. then we proposed it use the bill passed by the house instead of the cornyn bill. the bill the house passed,
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bring it to the floor and passed it. we've agreed to keep it but use for law enforcement efforts and use the house bill authorization for victims services including health care. but republicans wouldn't agree to any of these changes. they simply aren't interested this getting the yes. i hear this morning some talk maybe we can work something out. i hope that, in fact, is true. i hope we're not using this urgently needed trafficking bill to continue to push through the party's backward agenda related to women's health. mr. president, the hyde language i serve in -- served in the house of representatives more than 30 years ago. i served with congressman hyde, a fine man if there were anyone who looked like a public servant, it was henry hyde. big man beautiful white hair, great speaking voice.
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he this good congressman is responsible for the hyde language. and it's been in bills since then but it applied mr. president, and has always applied to government money. taxpayer money. taxpayer money. and what we have said over the last couple weeks time and time again is hyde should not be expanded to cover nontaxpayer dollars. that's what this is all about. and we're not going to bend on that issue mr. president. it's not right. we do not need to expand hyde. we think that the republicans believe this is a way to pacify their right-to-life community some of these -- not all but some of these ideologues out there who want to expand hyde. we're not going to allow that to happen. hyde should apply to taxpayer-funded money and nothing else. mr. president, what has taken
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place on the direction of human trafficking is an effort to obfuscate, to hide the real purpose of the legislation. we all agree that human trafficking should stop. with this legislation we have before us is a step in the right direction and we want to support that legislation and our friend the republican leader says all ire complaining about is a sentence or so. well mr. president that's why people spend all these years going to law school and taking these contracts courses. that's why my friend, the republican assistant leader who served as a trial court judge a supreme court justice he dealt during his entire career with lawyers coming to him talking about sentences in a contract or sentences on a piece of legislation. that's what this is all about. and we should eliminate those sentences that here allow hyde
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to be expanded to nontaxpayer money. we cannot allow that to happen. it's over 100 days into this congress, we should 3406 forward and get this bill done and it's time on this legislation republicans right the ship. if human trafficking legislation is any indication, republicans haven't had a desire to govern dependably and i think that's unfair and i hope, i hope that this vote this cloture vote will be defeated and at that time people will finally come to the realization we're willing to do whatever needs to be done to change this language so that hyde language does not apply to taxpayer dollars and that if that in fact is the case we can move forward and move forward expeditiously. mr. president -- would the chair be kind enough to introduce the agenda for the day.
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the presiding officer: under the previous order the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of senate bill 178 which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 26, s. 178 a bill to provide justice for the victims of trafficking. the presiding officer: under the previous order the time until 11:00 a.m. will be equally divided in the usual form. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to waive the mandatory quorum call with respect to the cloture vote at 11:00 a.m. this morning. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president i'm an optimistic person. as a matter of fact i think everybody from texas is an optimist. can you imagine the challenges
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that people have that founded our state indians wide open hostile territory, tough weather, but they persevered because they were optimists and they thought the fight was worth the struggle. they thought the goal and the accomplishment the hoped-for accomplishment was worth the struggle. so i'm still -- i still remain optimistic despite the last few weeks that would challenge that optimism that we will actually break through hear and get to consider and vote on the justice for victims of trafficking act and get help to the people that the majority leader, senator mcconnell, described. the children who cannot help themselves. i mean, for heaven's sake, if we can't help the most vulnerable people in our
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country, children who cannot help themselves who are the victims of modern-day slavery what in the world can we do? so we mark 100 days here in the united states senate with the new republican budget, and -- republican majority, ands look back, i don't think anybody can deny under the majority leader's stewardship we have had significant accomplishments in a short period of time. sure it's been bumpy along the way, the keystone x.l. pipeline was a significant bump in the road but we had a strong bipartisan vote and unfortunately, the president decided to veto that legislation. after years of this chamber being used solely for the purpose of messaging and conducting political show votes, we actually are starting to get some things done. it's pretty exciting. as somebody who has been here since 2002 it's hard to believe when i say that, i've
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actually been here during different phases and cycles of the united states senate operating and i have to tell you the last four years or so has been a dark period, a stain on the reputation of the united states senate in terms of actually getting things done in the interest of the american people. and i understand, you know, he said she said, the blame game the blame game is a world-class sport here in washington, d.c. but most of our constituents could care less about the blame game. they actually want to see government function in their interest. consistent with our principles, we're going to have some is disagreements, there's no doubt about it. but they hate the dysfunction. they hate the political posturing. and you know what? i do, too. and i dare say the vast majority of the united states senators, they hate the dysfunction the senate has experienced. so there is a new spirit of optimism and yes hope, not
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that the age of aquarius has suddenly broken out peace love and understanding and we're going to hold hands and sing "kumbayah" that's not going to happen but can we work together as americans people who love our country who have taken an oath to uphold the laws and constitution of the united states to who owe a fiduciary duty to the people i represent. i represent 26.9 million people. that just staggers my imagination when i think about it. when i think about the responsibility associated with it. but i am encouraged when we have the chance to help people who can't -- especially those who can't help themselves. well one reason for my optimism about the new congress is that we've held a lot of votes we had 15 votes last year, 15 roll
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call votes last year in the congress. we've had about a hundred in the hundred days we've been here. as a matter of fact, i've heard some of our colleagues saying i'm a little tired of voting quite as much as we have, particularly the budget vote-a-rama which lasted until 4:00 in the morning and i understand that. but, you know, we've passed a balanced budget in the united states senate without raising taxes. we -- the congress hadn't passed a budget since 2009. what more fundamental, basic function of government than to pass a budget? the distinguished presiding officer was governor of his great state. i am absolutely confident he viewed that as one of the fundamental responsibilities of his state government, and of his office in particular, is to get the fiscal house in order and the way you do that is by
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passing a budget and determining what your priorities are things you absolutely have to do things you perhaps want to do but maybe have to delay. and things that you simply can't afford. every state every local government and yes, the federal government should pass a budget and we will in short order. the senate has now we need to reconcile our differences with the house which we will shortly. but, you know, it's not just government. every family, every business has to work on a budget. so that's progress. and i'm happy for that. and then on tuesday night we actually fixed a problem that had been nagging the united states congress since 1997. now, back in 1997 we -- the congress we weren't here, the presiding officer and i weren't here but congress had the bright idea we're going to save money in health care by whacking
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the payments we make to provide ers and hospitals. well, after a while we found out that if you don't pay doctors and hospitals for treating medicare patients, they won't see them. so our seniors to whom we've made a sacred promise, we will continue to make sure that medicare provides quality service and is accessible, all of a sudden wasn't quite so accessible because people couldn't find a doctor who would take a new medicare patient. that's still a problem. so we came back over the intervening years and 17 times out of the 18 times that those cuts would have been imposed congress reversed them. and we had an expression around here that, unfortunately we had to use a lot we called it the doc fix. that's an inelegant way perhaps of describing what we were doing
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but basically what we were trying to do was preserve medicare and access to doctors and hospitals for our seniors who were beneficiaries of the medicare system. that to me represents some progress mr. president that we have fixed that once and for all. and then imagine my surprise that after the contentious issue of congressional approval over the anticipated iranian-u.s. and along with our allies nuclear negotiations over this deal that could be forthcoming this summer imagine my surprise after the president said he would veto it, that the senate foreign relations committee unanimously passed a bill out of the committee. all democrats voted for it, all republicans voted for it, and oh, by the way when the president began to count the numbers and the support in the united states senate on a bipartisan basis, he said you
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know what? i think i'll sign that piece of legislation when it comes to my desk. i think that represents progress. and one other item that has made me somewhat optimistic on this 100th day of this new congress is that we are very close to working out a trade deal that the president supports, and i would say republicans by and large support. honestly there is probably more controversy on the democratic side than on the republican side. but in a world where 80% of the purchasing power in the world and 95% of the population in the world exists beyond our shores, why in the world wouldn't we want to open up new markets to the stuff that we grow, our farmers, our reference the
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livestock they raise and the things that we make? i think it just makes good sense. so you can see why i perhaps -- perhaps why i'm optimistic about this new congress and what we've been able to do together on a bipartisan basis to make progress in the interests of the american people. the one thing that has me completely bamboozled and befuddled is the objections over this anti-trafficking legislation that had 30 cosponsors roughly an equal number of democrats and republicans, pass -- sailed out of the judiciary committee. my friend the senator from illinois t -- the democratic whip, knows the judiciary committee is no place for the faint of heart. we have a lot of disagreements. maybe that's because we have a lot of lawyers on the judiciary committee. but we have -- we fight a lot
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about things we believe in strongly. but this antitrafficking legislation sailed out of the judiciary committee on a unanimous basis. so i hope we can work out these differences. and i've made multiple suggestions and compromised in an effort to try to get everybody to "yes." i agree with the majority leader 's description of the -- the majority leader's description of the sordid, unspeakable evil of human trafficking and the compelling reasons why we ought to do something to address it. i know that that's where the -- that's where the hearts are of all of our colleagues. but somehow we've just gotten stuck, and we need to get unstuck. and i hope today will be that day. of course, human trafficking is a plague in all 50 states and my
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state unfortunately has way too much of its share. i, like all of our colleagues, have had the chance to meet many of the brave victims of human trafficking. one i met last week in austin, brooks axtel -- brook axtel. our friends at google convened a meeting there in austin. the technology community understands that a lot of the solicitation of underaged girls and victims of human trafficking occurs on-line and so they've come together to try to work with law enforcement, work with victims' rights groups to come up with a comprehensive way to combat it. so at google last week in austin i met brook axtel, who was introduced to america when she gave a moving speech at this year's grammy awards. back in texas she's better known for her work with a number of nonprofits that are focused on ending domestic violence and human trafficking. and i can't begin to tell you how inspiring she is and her
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words were, particularly when you consider the horror the absolute horror of what she had been through as a victim of human trafficking herself. starting at the age of 7 -- 7 years old -- brook was sexually abused. she was literally put in chains and a cage, treated like an animal in a basement. and she was repeatedly sold to men who raped and abused her. out of in the horror -- out of this horror that she experience the as a -- experienced as a young child brook has brought light to her pain and i think her leadership in the antitrafficking effort has actually helped her heal and
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she is one brave courageous young woman. she founded a group called "survivor healing and empowerment" which is a community for survivors of rape, abuse and human sex trafficking. that's why today at 11:00 i hope all of our colleagues listen not only to brook's voice and her experience but each one of us here on the floor could tell a similar story about somebody in their state somebody they know, they've met who would be helped by this legislation. i hope we don't tell them no. i hope we don't shut another door in their face. so i see some of our colleagues on the floor. i want to just briefly give them a chance to speak before we vote at 11:00 just to say that the underlying legislation is not partisan. it would strengthen law
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enforcement tools and authorities to rescue victims while taking down the human traffickers and the criminal networks that support them. it would provide -- the goal is provide at least $30 million through fines and penalties paid into the public treasury that would then go to help heal and rescue the victims of human trafficking. now, this is not tax money so it's really deficit-neutral. we're not raising taxes to do it. we're making the people who purchase these services and who are convicted and who have to pay fines and penalties, we're making them pay to help rescue and heal the victims. well shortly we'll vote on another compromise that i have offered. i've tried to listen to the objections of our friends across the aisle and i don't want to relitigate those because frankly, that's not particularly
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productive. they seem to be locked in. we are -- i'm sure they'd say we are locked in. and so we're trying to find a way forward. first and most importantly this amendment would completely replace a provision that members on the other side have objected to regarding the application of the hyde amendment. the amendment would replace the language with a provision negotiated by leader pelosi leader pelosi, from the doc fix bill i mentioned earlier that passed the house with 392 votes. 180 house democrats voted for this bill, including leader pelosi. so that language, we have substituted that language for the original language. and, of course, here in the senate we had 92 senators vote for that same language. and our colleagues across the aisle have repeatedly voted for similar language. so the pelosi language from this bill that my amendment includes would simply say that any funds used to provide services to victims of human trafficking
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would be subject to the same requirements as funds under the public health services act. well the majority leader said it well. if this language is good enough to help the doctors and the hospitals surely, surely it's good enough to help young 7-year-old victims of human trafficking like brook axtel was -- was. to further clarify, to address the stated concerns of our friends across the aisle this amendment would also clarify that all money all the money in the domestic trafficking victims' fund must be derived from the general treasury. this is something -- an objection i don't personally understand but we want to make it clear just perhaps to help our colleagues get to "yes," that all of the money would be derived from the general treasury which, of course, is where all federal funding comes
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from. and we would make clear that all of the money would be public dollars. now, this -- i don't really get this because, you know, tax dollars are private dollars until you give them to the government and then they're no longer private, they're public. fines and penalties are private until you give it to -- pay it to the government. then it's public. but we want to make clear that that -- eliminate any rationale for any objection and say that explicitly these would be public dollars. the requirements placed on funds under the bill would not be placed on the fees and penalties. that seemed to be a matter of concern and we tried to address that. well as i explained, the pending amendment would do what i have tried my dead-level best to try to address the concerns that the democrat -- our democrat colleagues who have blocked the bill so far have continually expressed. so the language is just the same
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as the doc fix and we've made clear that none of the fines and penalties themselves but rather funds derived from the general treasury would be used to pay for these services in an equivalent amount to the -- to the fines and penalties. i would just add parenthetically when i was talking to one of our colleagues about it, they said, well, that's money laundering. you're taking fines and penalties and you're transferring it -- you're substituting it into the general fund. i mean, give me a break. what we're trying to do is find a solution. so i think we've given our colleagues every opportunity to get to "yes" on this. i know because i've talked to a lot of them, including the senator from illinois we -- people want to get to "yes." and i hope we've found a way to do that. so i hope we won't let the political gamesmanship continue
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to get in the way of a bill that would bring relief and healing to victims of human trafficking. so i hope we will have that vote at 11:00 and it will be a broad bipartisan support to proceed to the bill and to pass the legislation. i yield the floor. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: mr. president, how much time is remaining on the democratic side? the presiding officer: 20 minutes. mr. durbin: thank you. i'll be very brief because i see my colleague from connecticut here. and let me say at the outset in the most positive way, i want to thank senator cornyn and senator klobuchar of minnesota for their bipartisan effort to bring this issue to the floor and to the senate judiciary committee. had a hearing in a subcommittee on this subject and it was heartbreaking to here about the exploitation of these young women at such a tender age. unspeakable things were happening to them. sadly, in many states when they
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were -- finally came into the custody of law enforcement, some of them, some of the children, these young girls were being charged as criminals until it was clear that they had been enslaved and they had been exploited for so many years. so the thinking on the subject is moving in the right direction and the suggestions of senator cornyn and senator klobuchar are also in the right direction. so why don't we pass this bill? we have all this bipartisan support. one provision in this bill turns out to be fraught with controversy. 39 years ago a congressman from illinois named henry hyde offered compromise language on the issue of abortion. it was just a few years after roe v. wade. it was still very controversial. and he said we will prohibit the expenditure of taxpayer funds for abortion except in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother. for 39 years that has been the standard. there's been an uneasy truce
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between those who see this issue in much different ways, many different ways. they've come to the conclusion this will be the standard that will be applied to the expenditure of taxpayer funds and it is renewed year after year after year. senator cornyn, perhaps by accident or perhaps by design crossed the line and started talking about not taxpayer funds but funds collected in fines from those guilty of human trafficking to create a victims' fund. and that has brought all of the debate and controversy. in fairness to senator cornyn and to senator murray, who has joined with others in this battle there has been an active exchange of compromise language. we've counted i think 12 different versions we've sent over to senator cornyn. he's sent probably as many our way. so it isn't as if both sides have hunkered down and are just staring one another down. there's an honest effort to find a solution. the solution would not be
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embodied in the vote that had been scheduled for 11:00. it's the old language. but they're still working on new language and i hope we reach a point soon where we achieve that. we all agree human trafficking should stop and victims should be compensated. i yield the floor. mr. blumenthal: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you mr. president. i rise with regret because you feel we remain divided. there is so much common ground here so many good ideas in this bill so much that unites us. we have so much more in common than in conflict. on this bill. and the justice for victims of trafficking act has involved so
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much work by great colleagues, senator cornyn and senator klobuchar, senator murray and senator feinstein and my colleague from illinois who has just finished speaking. and i'm proud to be a cosponsor of this bill. we are divided on one paragraph that is simply unacceptable r. and it is fundamental to the goals of this bill. which is to restore human dignity and freedom to victims and survivors of human trafficking. restoring freedom involves giving those survivors choices over whether or not they will bare children as a result of that trafficking. trafficking is fundamentally modern-day slavery. it is sex slavery and sex
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exploitation which results all too often in pregnancy. and at its core the human trafficking bill before us today is about restoring human dignity to those victims and survivors and enabling them to avoid the long-lasting and enduring consequences of that slavery. this legislation is an acknowledgment of our common commitment to these survivors and to providing them the services and support they need so much. one of them is abortion. and where we are divided here is on guaranteeing that reproductive right the essence of freedom and dignity and choice. and so it is well beyond a technicality here. it is about the fundamental
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goals of this bill which are contradicted by this provision in the law. senator cornyn's proposed amendment changes the words of this paragraph that we find objectionable but it doesn't change the substance the basic substance for its practical effect. we are told that the provision in question doesn't matter because it includes a rape exception. but it requires the survivor to request, to ask to entreat and supplicate to the state whether the rape was really rape, whether it is a pretense, or they must bear a rapist's child. we're told the provision in question is essentially the same
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as the hyde amendment but that is flatly untrue because the hyde amendment applies to taxpayer funds and as my colleague from texas a good friend who is determined, i believe, to address this problem of human trafficking, there are no taxpayer funds in that $30 million that is taken from criminal fines and penalties. it is an entirely different source of funds. as a prosecutor, former prosecutor i view those moneys as restitution. they come from criminals and they're used to try to support and serve the victims of that criminal activity. there's nothing more fundamental than using funds taken from criminals for the benefit of
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their victims. congress has never before privileged the concerns of criminals over the rights of women, and we should not start now. i respect my colleague from texas and other colleagues who may differ with me on this issue. he has stated with heart breaking and eloquent terms the practical human impact of trafficking sex slavery. i ask my colleagues now to give these women the real freedom from that sex slavery liberate them truly from this heinous and horrific violation of basic human rights by guaranteeing
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them one of the basic human rights, which is the right to make choices about their own bodies about their futures about their hopes and dreams as they are liberated from this slavery let this chamber and my colleagues recognize the rights they have to truly be free from those who enslave them. i urge this body to strike the hyde language from senate 178 and to make good on its promise and as cochair of the bipartisan senate caucus to end human trafficking, i agree completely that this cause ought to be bipartisan. it ought not to divide us along
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any partisan or party lines. i am proud to have worked with members on both sides of the aisle, and i hope that we can come to agreement now with my good friend and my excellent colleague, senator cornyn and others who have worked so hard and who are so genuinely determined to solve this problem and to take a step. it's only a first step in the direction of combating human trafficking. thank you mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: mr. president my friend and colleague senator cornyn, has been involved in discussions with the majority about a path forward on the trafficking bill, and i'd like to ask him if he is optimistic that we may be able to reach an agreement at some point in the near future about a way to go forward. mr. cornyn: mr. president i would say to the distinguished majority leader, i am more optimistic than i have been at any time in the last few weeks. i just talked to the democratic leader who told me that there are active discussions taking place by all of the key people
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who can help us break this deadlock and so i am more optimistic. we're not there yet but we're in a much better place than i think we have been certainly in the last three weeks. so i'm hopeful and somewhat more optimistic. mr. mcconnell: well, mr. president, we'd like to be able to process this important bill and move on to a vote on the president's nominee for attorney general and based upon the progress that's being made by my friend and colleague from texas, i ask unanimous consent to withdraw the cloture motion on the cornyn amendment number 1120. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: mr. president i ask that the call of the quorum be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coats: mr. president as i've done for the last several weeks, i'm back again for this week's waste of the week.
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another installment of a series of pointing out how we can save taxpayer dollars by looking at waste and inefficiencies, duplication and other factors that simply is a waste of their money. in april because this is april, because it's just a day after that fateful day of angers april 15 -- we all know what that means -- our waste of the week verifies the tax code. now, -- involves the tax code. now, clearly there is a growing consensus that our tax code is hopelessly complex hopelessly burdensome hopelessly anticompetitive, and needs comprehensive reform. that's not what we're here today to talk about but i am a strong proponent of moving that forward. it's been almost 30 years now -- 1986 -- when the last
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comprehensive reform was enacted by congress. it turned out to be a tremendous stimulus to our economy a boost in growth, a boost in the economy in a way that provided us with the necessary funding without having to raise taxes -- in fact,log lowering taxes -- because of its dynamic effect. that's an issue for another day. we continue to try to pursue that asthat. as a member of the finance committee, we continue to work on that. today i want to talk about the waste of the week in looking at the tax code and doing something i think would be relatively easy and simple to save the taxpayer some dollars. it involves the refundable tax credit. the tax laws allowed a refund, which is not an offset of taxes
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owed but an actual direct payment that occurs, if you have children. the refundable tax credit is pretty straightforward. it qualifies a taxpayer of up to $1,000 credit per child depending on their income level. i'm not history here today to talk about the merits of that tax credit. i have supported it in the past, and i think it's something that ought to be given serious consideration in any kind of tax reform. but, rather, i'm here to discuss the cost to the american taxpayer due to the improper use and payments that are made to recipients that don't qualify legally for this refundable payment. according to the i.r.s. inspector general the internal revenue service today out at least $5.9 billion in improper payments payments that went to people that did not legally qualify for the benefit. listen to what russell george,
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the treasury inspector general for tax administration said. "the i.r.s. has continually rated the risk of improper additional child tax credit payments as low. however," he said, "our assessment of the potential for improper payments in this program indicates that it is an improper payment rate similar to that of the earned-income tax credit." what is that rate? about nearly $6 billion and even more than that over a period of time. "it is imperative," he said, "that the i.r.s. take action to identify and address all of its programs that are at high risk for improper payments." so today we're talking about one of those programs that us russell george said we ought to be taking a look at. and we'll be looking at others later. it is a pretty easy fix that we
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are proposing. i am submitting legislation that would require the submission of a valid social security number in order to get the tax credit. requiring this doesn't take the credit away from anyone who legally qualifies for this credit but it does help ensure that only those who are truly legally qualified benefit from the credit and receive the payment. now, according to the most recent estimate by the joint committee on taxation, this simple fix -- just simply requiring a valid social security number before a payment is given so that we can weed out those improper payments -- this simple fix could save taxpayers it's estimated by the committee on taxation, $20 billion over a ten-year period of time. now, compared to our multitrillion-dollar budget, $20
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billion is a fairly small percentage. but compared to the way the taxpayer looks at this, $20 billion is a lot of change. it's a lot of money. and savings for that can be used in any number of ways, hopefully to lower rates that people have to pay in terms of the taxes they send -- tax money revenues they extend to washington. but if needed for essential programs shall such such as national defense or homeland security, if we can prove a need for that we're constantly looking for ways to pay for things that are essential and need to be done. this is the perfect pay-for. it is a benefit for the american taxpayer. as we mark tax day this week, i wish we could say we're getting close to major tax reform, but we also -- and since we're not it's important that we continue to lock at the look at the tax code as well as other functions of government
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to continue to determine how we can save the taxpayers money and how we can continue to identify unfair and complicated areas of our tax code. so with that -- in fact, i forgot to put up my weekly "waste of the week" poster -- and now we add to that, which is growing every week that we identify a program. we started obviously at zero. the next strawnch next trawj goes tranche and we're aproposing $50 billion for the taxpayer. we're going to -- approaching $50 billion for the taxpayer. we're going to keep doing this week after week and we're going to keep adding to this gauge the addition of money that is identified by our own accounting agencies by our government-neutral -- politically neutral accounting
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efforts. we're going to keep adding to this gauge until we reach our goal and hopefully go well beyond it. mr. president, $20 billion is no simultaneouslysmall amount of change. it is being used improperly. we can save that money. stay tuned for next week's "waste of the week." mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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