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tv   U.S. Senate Meets for Legislative Business  CSPAN  March 22, 2017 12:29pm-2:30pm EDT

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quorum call:
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mr. nelson: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: madam president, i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: madam president, there has been a lot of conversation from so many of our fellow senators about the opioid crisis that has been devastating individuals and families across the country. we heard this particularly in new hampshire has it was a topic of discussion last fall during the election. it was an opportunity to bring to the nation's attention because of the eyes being focused first on the new hampshire primary of a real opioid crisis.
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well, what we also then discussed was it wasn't just affecting a few states. it was affecting most of the states. and that is the case with my state of florida. addiction to opioids has reached staggering levels, and the situation is only getting worse. in 2015 more than 33,000 americans died from prescription opioid overdose. that's 15% more people than had died just the previous year. and i don't have the figures for last year 2016. and so florida is right there in that national trend. what florida saw between 2014 and 2015 was a 22.7% increase.
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it's staggering because in that year florida suffered over 2,000 deaths from opioid overdose. earlier this month our office interviewed a woman from florida's aging committee hearing -- we interviewed a lady from florida for yesterday's aging committee's hearing, and she is caring for her 7-year-old grandson because his mother lost custody, was later incarcerated due to her drug addiction. and sadly this story is all too familiar. the number of grandparents serving as the primary
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caretakers for their grandchildren is increasing as was the case with the lady from florida who testified at the aging committee hearing this week. they are primary caretakers for their grandchildren, and it's in large part because of the opioid epidemic. in addition to the devastating loss of life and the challenges for the new caregivers, opioid abuse is straining local and state budgets. just last month the vice mayor of palm beach county sent a letter to the governor urging to declare a public health emergency in florida citing the loss of life and financial impact, in this case to palm
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beach county. yesterday several of my colleagues and i sent a letter to the majority leader, majority leader of the senate, highlighting some of our concerns with the house of representatives health care bill that i call trumpcare and how it's going to impact those with substance abuse and disorders. because one of the things that we're most concerned about is how the proposed changes in medicaid that they're going to vote at the other end of the hall right down here tomorrow, they're going to vote on the house of representatives health care trumpcare bill, the changes that they make to medicaid, it would prevent states from being able to respond to the opioid crisis because medicaid plays a
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critical role in the fight against opioids. but changing the medicaid program to a block grant or a cap is going to shift cost to the states of the states are not going to pick up that additional cost. it's going to eliminate also some of the federal protections and it's only going to hurt our people who rely on medicaid to help them as we are combating this opioid crisis. because with less federal funding, how are states like mine going to provide the necessary services to help individuals with the substance abuse and the disorders. congress ought to be doing more
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to help this crisis, not less. and how many times have you heard a senator like this senator come to the floor and talk about the opioid epidemic? and yet we're just about to do it to ourselves if we were to pass this trumpcare bill. remember last year while so many of us, including this senator, were early supporters of the comprehensive addiction and recovery act of 2016? it was signed into law last year. the law takes a comprehensive approach to this opioid problem. a few months ago a lot of us including this senator voted to provide additional funding to start implementing this crucial
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new law to fight the opioid addictions. and despite this progress, now the house tomorrow, probably tomorrow night is about to pass legislation that would completely undermine last year's bipartisan efforts to respond to the epidemic and to undercut the health care for millions of people in this country. opioid abuse is a deadly, serious problem and we cannot ignore it. we should be investing more resources into helping these people and their families, not cutting them at a time that we need it the most. so, again, i make a plea.
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we made progress last year with the law. we passed the new law. we made progress giving some additional funding. now, the crisis hasn't gone away. we still need to respond but at the very same time what we see happening to the medicaid program -- eliminating medicaid as we know it, health care for the people that are the least fortunate among us, we're about to cut back on all that progress that we made on this opioid crisis. i hope that we will think better of this and not do it to ourselves. madam president, i yield the
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floor. and i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. the presiding officer: quorum call: quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: madam president, one thing has become clear in this country, hard work doesn't pay off like it used to. over the last 40 years, g.d.p. has gone up, corporate profits has gone up, executive salaries have gone up all because of the productivity of american workers, but companies are not investing in the -- in workers the way they did.
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so, again, g.d.p. goes up, corporate profits go up, executive salaries goes up, worker productivity goes up, but workers' wages aren't. actions like this today are the reason congress is voting to allow employers in our most dangerous industries to hide injury to worker and to skirt worker protection laws. this occupational safety and health administration, osha rule, simply makes clear that it's employers to maintain accurate records of serious injury while on the job. the rule is simple. makes it clear it's the employer's responsibility to maintain accurate records of serious injuries that happen on the job. it doesn't impose new costs or affect small businesses. what it does is hold companies accountable for maintaining their own records as they've done for 40 years. these records are the most important tool we have to
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identify and to route out the -- root out the most dangerous workplace hazards. they are for health and safety. two former commissioners, one from the george bush administration, one from the barack obama administration have written to this body warning us that killing this rule could undermine a half century of worker safety information. a leading republican, a leading democrat have written to this body saying don't do this, it will mean more workplace injuries. i know people around here that have these kinds of jobs where workplace injuries rarely are even a fact of life. as pope francis said, he exhorted his parish priest to smell like the flock. people need to go to workplaces
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and listen to workers are saying, listen to what union members and nonunion members are saying alike what these workplace rules mean. worse yet, this vote would allow employers to falsify safety records with impugnity. companies can avoid osha rules and inspecting by underreporting harm to their workers, they can avoid making a real investment to make their workplaces safer. over the past three decades some of the worst offenders hid injuries and kept fraud lentor records. they claim -- fraudulent records. they claim they were safe while workers were hurt on the job. these requirements and this rule undermines and undoes -- these requirements apply to the most dangerous industries where proper safety precautions make the difference between life and
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death or permanent disability for workers. we talking about fall hazards, workers handling dangerous chemicals without adequate washing areas. poultry workers face many issues, they process 140 chickens a minute. maybe people around here don't much think about people -- people processing chickens. it's not a job that pays well. it's not a job -- it's a job that's difficult. it's not a job that, frankly, people in this body -- people in this body don't know people who do those job by and large, but they are handling 140 chickens a minute. we are eating the chickens, but we don't see what happens when they are processed and not paying attention to that and that's why it is important not to vote for this rule change. too many employers fail to report injuries. if osha isn't empowered to keep
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record keeping, processing plants will be able to expose their workers to crippling injuries. this vote -- this c.r.a. today, this vote is about workers' safety, period. something so fundamental it's hard -- it's hard to believe we're arguing about it. in the united states of america in 2017 companies shouldn't be able to put workers' lives and safety at risk just so they can make more money. they shouldn't be able to put their workers safety and lives -- lives and safety at risk just to make more money and we shouldn't be part of that effort to help those companies do that. to my colleagues who are prepared to gut this rule, i ask, would you be willing to work these jobs? would my fellow senators be willing to send their children to work in these dangerous industries while turning a blind eye to safety rules? i think we know the answer to those questions.
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this is why america loses faith in institutions. earlier this month, the glen school in columbus, named after senator john glen, rolled out a plan to invest in the american workers. instead of coming together, the senate today is going in the wrong direction. it's debating a measure to give big corporations, in many cases more profitable than they have ever been, to give big corporations more ways to exploit american workers, avoid consequences. american workers aren't just a cost to be minimized. protections for worker safety aren't a luxury you can cut. it's days graceful that this body fails to understand this. madam president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. merkley: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: i ask the quorum call be lifted. i ask permission that my intern be granted privileges of the floor for the balance of the day. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: thank you, madam president. the most important three words in our constitution are the first three words -- we, the people. with those words, our founding fathers laid out the vision, the principle, the foundation for our new nation's government. it would be, as president lincoln so eloquently described,
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a government of the people, by the people and for the people. it would not be a government by and for the privileged. it would not be a government by and for the powerful. it would not be a government by and for the elite. and it certainly would not be an authoritarian government. i believe it is more important than ever for us to recommit ourselves to that vision, a vision of a nation that measures its successes, not at the board room table but at the kitchen tables of hardworking americans across this land. the vision of a nation that derives its power and authority from the people. in order to do that, mr. president, we must resist president trump's dangerous tilt towards authoritarianism.
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throughout his candidacy, and now within the walls of the white house, president trump has viciously, repeatedly attacked the media. he has inflamed people's anger towards immigrants, towards religious minorities, toward refugees, and he has undermined or attacked individuals who publicly stand up to him and the shortcomings of his policies. these are core strategies used by authoritarian leaders from time immemorial to consolidate power. these are strategies that are incompatible with our constitutional re, the people -- we, the people construction of government. and we must call out these strategies, and we must resist these strategies. president trump's authoritarian leanings were there from the beginning. like many figures throughout history, he rode into office based as much on a cult
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personality as on the merits of his policies. it started with the nicknames and the unrestrained insults, calling opponents crooked and lying and phony, calling critics dumb as a rock, incompetent, crazy or dishonest. he escalated the calls to toss out or hurt protesters at his rallies. at one point, he even promised to pay the legal bills of a man arrested for punching a protester at a rally in north carolina. and then there were the lock her up chants, calling for imprisoning a political opponent that he repeated himself. threatening to throw your opponent in jail if you win is a strategy usually seen only with dictators. mr. trump himself best summed up his populist cult of personality when he said at one campaign
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event, and i quote, i could stand in the middle of fifth avenue and shoot somebody, okay, and i wouldn't lose any voters, okay, end of quote. the scary thought is that he was probably not so far off the mark. and this aggressive and unswerving loyalty is a challenge to our we, the people democracy. let's take a look at senior white house policy advisor steven miller's declaration on "face the nation" last month. he said, quote, our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned. interesting statement to make. the president's powers will not be questioned. what a bold, un-american,
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authoritarian statement to make, because here in america our nation, our national government is premiseed on the concept that we can challenge our leaders. it is not only a privilege, it is a responsibility. yet mr. trump has repeatedly attacked this fundamental american principle and those who exercise it. take, for instance, his attack on freedom of the press. an ancient greek statesman, legal scholar of the third century b.c. once said, quote, there is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all, but especially to democracies as against des -- despots, suspicion, end of quote. what he was saying was that in a
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democracy, we don't take the statements of our political leaders simply at face value. we test those statements against the facts to find our way to the truth. in the united states, a free and open press is how we exercise that suspicion and find our way to the truth. thomas jefferson believed that. he said our liberty depends on the freedom of the press. our liberty depends upon the freedom of the press. benjamin franklin echoed that belief when he said freedom of speech is ever the symptom as well as the effect of good government. john adams wrote the liberty of the press is essential to the security of the state. so essential, in fact, that the founding fathers enshrined our commitment to a free and open press in the very first amendment to the constitution,
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that congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press. yet what we have seen time and time again from president trump is an endless attack against the fourth estate, against the press. he said the media is very unfair, they're very biased, he complained on fox news last august. he attacked "the new york times" in that same interview, not for the first or last time, saying you look at "the new york times," i mean the fail -- i call it the failing "new york times." and apparently, any news story critical of the president is now fake news. he tweeted in february that, quote, any negative polls are fake news. and when asked about leaks from the intelligence community during the last month's press conference in the east room, he said the leaks are absolutely real. the news is fake, because so
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much of the news is fake. his staff has gone into action, too, pushing at one point the orwellian term alternative facts. during an interview on nbc's "meet the press," kellyann conway said our press secretary, sean spieser, gave alternative facts and we in the administration feel compelled to go out and clear the air and put alternative facts out there. the white house has taken their fight with the media so far as to block access to outlets that they disagree with, banning outlets like cnn, politico, the bbc, "the new york times," the "los angeles times" to an off-camera press briefing last month. but of all of president trump's relentless attacks against the media, the most disturbing to me was when he tweeted in february that, and i quote, the fake news
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media, the failing "new york times," nbc news, abc, cbs, cnn is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the american people. president trump, i have a message for you. a free and open press is not the enemy of the american people. a free and open press is the salvation of our democratic republic. it is the essential warrior in our republic against fake news, against charlatans and against those who would use fake news in attacks on -- and attacks on the press to advance authoritarian government. i thought my colleague from arizona, senator mccain, made a very apt analysis when he said that suppressing free speech is, quote, how dictators get started. when you look at history, the first thing dictators do is shut down the press.
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senator mccain went on to say that if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times an adversarial press. so this is a major concern, this attack on the media, and particularly attack on news organizations that work to vet their reporting before they share it with the american people. in other words, we're in the ironic situation that the very groups under attack by president trump are the groups that work hardest to get true facts, actual facts, vetted facts, carefully fact checked information to the american people, and that's the foundation for a national dialogue, carefully vetted information so that we know when we read it it's reliable. that's the type of news we need more of in this nation.
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but mr. trump's authoritarian tactics aren't just limited to his war on the media. his second approach is to attack and scapegoat immigrants and really just minorities and refugees. ever since he stood in the lobby of trump tower and said, quote, when mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. they're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, their rapists. since then, president trump has made it his mission to turn the american people against mexican immigrants. to make them the enemy. he has talked about the bad hombres flooding across our southern border, stealing our jobs, committing crimes and murdering american citizens. in his mind, the people coming from mexico are dangerous, violent cartel members, transporting an endless supply of drugs into our country in order to ruin america, but this story line is completely at odds with the facts.
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first, drug cartels do not ship their products into our country through the backpacks of immigrants. recently, i traveled with a congressional delegation to the u.s.-mexico border to examine this issue. the experts on the border told our delegation that drugs come into the united states through freight in trucks and through tunnels, not through backpacks. what this means is that a proposal to build a wall, whether it's 20 feet high or 30 feet high will be absolutely useless in diminishing the flow of drugs into our country. i'll tell you what else they told us. they said an end zone defense doesn't work against drugs. if you want to stop the flow of drugs, you have to work carefully with everything from the moment they're being manufactured or shipped into mexico until they migrate north. and that means you have to work
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in close cooperation with the security agencies of mexico, with the police, with the intelligence agencies in mexico, and that that cooperation requires a very close coordination between respected partners and disrespecting the partners in mexico is the best way to damage the ability to intercept drugs coming into the united states. we also know that the underlying premise that there is a flood of mexican immigrants coming into our country is false. a 2015 study from the pew research center found that between 2009 and 2014, there was a net outflow of 140,000 immigrants from mexico to the united states. so they were migrating from the united states to mexico. that outflow. a more recent pew study determined that the number of undocumented mexican immigrants
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in america has declined by more than one million since 2007. so if you take the span of the obama administration, there's been an outflow, not an inflow. the exact opposite of the story line that the president is presenting. and what about those violent crimes being committed by undocumented criminals? the data doesn't support the president. in fact, "the new york times" reported that, and i quote, several studies over many years have concluded that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the united states. between 1980 and 2010 among men ages 18 to 49, immigrants were one half to one-fifth as likely to be incarcerated as those born in the united states. when you look closer, the attacks on immigrants fall apart as i've pointed out, but that is
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what authoritarian leaders do. they create a false enemy and they use the perception of that enemy to generate hate and fear. and they use that hate and fear to consolidate power. it is our responsibility as citizens, as the press of the united states, as legislators to resist this authoritarian strategy of president trump. another of his strategies is to attack religious minorities in our country and abroad. take, for instance, his pledge on the campaign trail for a, quote, total and complete shutdown of muslims entering the united states. as we know, mr. trump followed up on this approach after the election by asking rudy giuliani to help fashion a legal muslim ban. during a fox news interview, mr. giuliani said that trump, quote, called me up.
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he said, put a commission together. show me the right way to do it legally to attempt to meet constitutional muster, trump aimed his ban at immigrants from seven muslim majority nations. as rude ji giuliani -- rudy giuliani went on to say, what we did was we focused on instead of religion, danger. the areas of the world that create danger for us, which is a factual basis, not a religious basis, perfectly legal, perfectly sensible. that's what the ban is based on. but as william bank, the director of the institute for national security and counterterrorism at syracuse university has observed, since 9/11, no one has been killed in this country in a terrorist attack by anyone who immigrated from any of the seven countries. the president's own department of homeland security recently reported that citizens from the
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countries listed in the muslim ban are rarely implicated in u.s.-based terrorism. in fact, the report concluded that individuals who died in the pursuit of or were convicted of terrorism were far more likely to be u.s. born than to be immigrants. well, here is a great irony. and the tragedy of president trump's effort to demonize muslims. instead of protecting the united states, he is damaging the security of the united states. his attack feeds perfectly into and therefore strengthens isis's recruiting strategy of claiming that the u.s. is at war with islam. video of his speeches and public statements, especially trump's call for a muslim ban have already been featured in isi iss recruiting tools n. addition it weakens the muslim leaders that we are seeking to partner with
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in taking on isis. it undermines those leaders' support from their own countries for cooperating with the united states. so trump's strategy does double damage to american security. and i wish his impact against religious minorities stop there. i would say stopped long before there because incompatible with the fundamental premise and fundamental values of the united states of america of religious freedom, but throughout the course of his campaign he gave voice time and again to the views and opinions of white nationalists and antisemites. he didn't directly attack the jewish community but his white nationalist rhetoric and actions have an effect of doing it indirectly. when he news or information, he turns to the white nationalist breitbart news, a fake news source which is infamous
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attacked american jews with stories like bill crystal, republican spoiler, renegade jew. another one attacking ann apple balm of "the washington post" says, hell have no fury like a polish jewish american elitist scorned. but president trump doesn't just tap into the breitbart white nationalist themes. he brought the former executive chair of breitbart steve bannon into the white house as his chief strategist, and then appointed him to the principles committee of the national security council. this individual has no business being anywhere near the capital of the united states and certainly not on the principles committee of the national security council. ban nan is a man who not only
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has been embringsed by white sup supremacists for his views but according to testimony from his ex-wife says he doesn't want his children going to school with jewish kids and once asked the school administrator why there were so many henika books in the library. if you think this theme hasn't had a real effect on our country, you're wrorng. when dfort was elected, the kkk and other white national groups celebrated. they felt free to come out of the shadows. they felt bold to hold a white nationalist conference right here in washington, d.c. at the ronald reagan building, steps if the white house. because they finally felt like they had one of their own in the oval office. these nationalist groups are so emboldened that we have seen more than 100 bomb threats called in to jewish community centers around the country since
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january. we've wifted the desecration of jewish -- witnessed the desecration of jewish head stones in cemeteries in st. louis and philadelphia. the president speaking to a room full of state attorneys general last month said that he condemned these threats, and i applaud him for condemning them. then he turned around to say you have to be careful because the reverse could be true. what does he mean by that? commentators have suggested the president meant by the reverse could be true that the bomb threats, the swastika graffiti, the desecration of jewish burial sites might actually be the work of jewish americans. to generate criticism of president trump. there is no evidence of this. and i certainly don't believe it to be true but what i do believe is that a blame the victim
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tactic is reprehensible and in itself an antisemitic strategy. the president has also dedicated a significant amount of time to trying to make the country fear refugees, to demonize refugees. many of us grew up in a world where lady liberty's words give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free stirred our heart because unless you are a hundred percent native american, you are tied if through your parents, your grandparents, your great-grandparents, your ancestors, you are tied into those who immigrated to the united states, who came here often fleeing persecution, often fleeing famine, and this nation gave them a place to stand and
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build on new life and thrive and hand down a better, stronger nation to their children. that's the property of our history, that is a value deeply rooted in our hearts. but the president instead has dedicated his energy to attacking refugees, those like our ancestors who came here fleeing persecution and fleeing famine, especially syrian refugees fleeing for their lives in search for a safe haven. he has falsely claimed that they represent, quote, a great trojan horse, end of quote, that threatens the safety of americans. mr. trump says these victims of war have to be subjected to extreme investigating because -- extreme vetting because we have no idea who these people are or where they come from. the fact is we do know who they are. we know exactly where they come
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from because before they can come here as refugees, they already go through extreme vetting. it takes 18 months to two years of vetting on average before a refugee is given a ticket to come to the united states of america. and at any point during the 18 to 24 months something doesn't add up, they don't get the ticket. now, if isis or another terrorist organization wants to get someone dangerous into our country, they don't come through an 18 or 24-month vetting process. no. they'd come on a tourist visa or a student visa or a business visa. going through the refugee process would be the worst possible way to do it. as analysis by the migration policy institute reminded us in october 2015, of the 784,000 refugees that have been resettled in our country between september 11, 2001, three have been arrested for planning
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terrorist activities and none of those got past the planning phase. and only one of those three was talking about potential attacks here in the united states. the others were talking about sending money and weapons to al qaeda. so in other words, no one has been injured by those 784,000 refugees. these are just some of the pieces of the president's authoritarian strategy to demonize groups, to create hate, to create fear and try to consolidate power. and we've seen as a result of his activities ways of hate -- waves of hate crimes and violence and bigotries sweep across our nation. latinos in our schools and classrooms have been forced to confront classmates bull criing and taunts, chants of build the
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wall, go back to your country. graffiti sprayed on walls to build the wall higher. we heard reports of verbal and fizz al attacks -- physical attacks against people of the muslim faith like the woman at san jose university who lost her balance and choked when a man attempted to rip off her head scarf or a muslim student at the university of illinois who reported having a knife pulled on her or the muslim teacher in georgia who found a note left on her desk that said head scarf not allowed and that she should hang herself with it. within the last eight weeks, four mosques around the country have been burned to the ground. just recently a man in kansas went into a bar, hurled ethnic slurs at two indian engineers, shot them killing one, seriously injuring the other. and as i mentioned earlier, since january there's been more than a hundred bomb threats against jewish community
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centers. throughout history, we've seen this tactic used by an executive here, an executive there, by a dictator here, a dictator there in country after country to characterize minority communities as a threat to be feared in order to make the body politic afraid, to make them angry, and to make them willing to support authoritarian exercise of power. what is our job? to expose this strategy. to call attention to this strategy. to address the myths that are used to instill fear and the falsehoods that are used to instill hatred. it is our job to oppose this authoritarian game plan in every way possible. the third leg of president trump's authoritarian attacks are ones that come against public opposition to him and to
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attack the protests of the people of the united states. what was the president's response after millions of people in cities all around the country and all around the world, for that matter, joined the women's march to stand up for the fundamental values of peace, tolerance, and equality? his response was a rebuke and a dismissal. he tweeted, watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! why didn't these people vote? well, president trump, they did vote. and they all voted overwhelmingly for your opponent by a three million-vote margin. and we saw similar responses from lawmakers, from a state lawmaker in mississippi, so a group of unhappy women voted in washington, d.c. we shouldn't be surprised. liberal women are all unhappy.
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and after countless citizens began showing up at counsel hall meeting to make their voices heard, what was his response? he dismissed these engaged citizens as so-called angry crowds. and then he tweeted, professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters are proving the point of the millions of people who voted to make america great again! now, i've held a lot of town halls since january and many of them filled beyond capacity with regular citizens who are deeply distressed by what they are seeing in our country. at one town hall, 3,500 people showed up -- or, more than 3,500 people. we had so many people that the hundreds of folks who couldn't get in had to stand outside the building in the cold listening -- we took a speaker and put it
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in the window so those outside could hear and they watched through the windows. this is we the people government. this is american citizens saying, your strategy, president trump, is not okay. your strategy to divide us into factions in america and pitch one faction against another, to demonize groups, to incite hate is just wrong. but i find it truly disheartening to see the president attacking citizens exercising their voice, which is often the most basic civic duty. president jefferson said that there is a mother principle for our government, and the mother principle is that the actions of the government will only reflect the will of the people if each
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and every citizen has an equal voice. well, now we know in the modern day of campaign financing that some citizens -- and indeed often some noncitizens; that is, massive, rich corporations -- have a very loud voice compared to the average citizen. so citizens, to compensate, are saying we are going to show up. we're going to take our time and our energy and we're going to join together and we're going to send a lot of e-mails to capitol hill, a lot of letters to capitol hill. but we're also going to show up in the parks and the streets to march in order to say that this strategy, this authoritarian strategy or this strategy to take away health care from millions of americans, is absolutely unacceptable.
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and the president somehow is living in a fantasy world where he thinks they're paid. i don't think so. i don't think this last weekend when 800 people showed up to redmond, oregon, to my town hall, that a single one of them was paid -- not a single one. or we look across the country and we see the 7-year-old who wanted to be in a town hall because he doesn't want us to cut funding for pbs. or the muslim immigrant who risked his life as a military reporter in afghanistan and now wants to know who's going to save me here? he wasn't paid. american citizens are using their voice -- as designed, in our we the people constitution. in the mind of our president and the words of his advisor steven miller, his powers are, quote, very substantial and will not be questioned. not even by the citizens and voters of this great nation. well, they are being questioned -- massively -- by citizens
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raising their voice in every possible way. mr. president, american citizens everywhere are deeply disturbed by what they're seeing unfold in our nation. they fear that we are headed down a dark and dangerous path that will betray the founding principles of our we the people government. and they have every right to be anxious and concerned. there have been allusions made bay number of expert experts abt mr. trump's actions and especially in the early days of putin's regime and his relentless war against the media. all of these are reasons that citizens are fired up, raising their advices to oppose the authoritarian tactics of this administration. and when the president seeks to dismiss legitimacy of these voices, i stand here today to praise those americans for standing up, for taking on their
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responsibility as citizens, to create a powerful, courageous chorus, a public stand against the authoritarian strategy of president trump. his strategy of attacking the media, his strategy of attacking immigrants, his strategy of attacking refugees, his strategy of attacking religious minorities. a friend sent me a message the other day saying, quote, i'm more devastated daily. i can't believe the republicans are not stopping this, saying something. how can this be happening? don't they see what's happening? i weep for my kids. millions of americans across the country are feeling those same fears, and it's up to all of us here, imbued with the awesome responsibility to speak for, represent the people of this nation, to stand up against advancing authoritarianism. it is right for us to fight for
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a free, open democratic republic with a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. mr. president, i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. blumenthal: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. brume brume thank you, mr. president. i ask -- mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. i am here in the midst of a judiciary committee hearing on supreme court nominee neil gorsuch showing and in a way showindication the wonder of american -- showcasing the wonder of american justice. his hearing will proceed through the balance of the day with him as our witness and then into tomorrow with others who will
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comment on his qualifications. and the showcasing of american justice really demonstrates how the rule of law serves our democracy and how we strive to appoint the best possible people -- men and women, dedicated to public service -- to the courts of 0 you are land to assure -- to the courts of our land to assure that the rule of law and justice are second to none and as infallible in protecting individual rights as they can possibly be. in a sense, i'm here to talk about a rule that also serves american justice. it's the rule put forward by the occupational safety and health administration under the last administration. and i'm here to oppose h.j. res. 83, which would repeal that ru
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rule. the rule is known as the osha injury record keeping rule. it sounds very technical, obtuse, obscure. formosa most people it is. -- formost people it is. but there are nearly 3 million serious injuries reported every year at american workplaces. for over 40 years -- that's four decades -- federal law has required employers with 11 or more employees in dangerous professions -- poultry slaughtering, meat pack, steel mills, construction -- to assure that the bulk of these injuries and keep records on them, accurate records of injuries suffered in those workplaces and others like them that are considered dangerous.
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having accurate records is common sense for employers who want to know what's going right in their places of work and what's going wrong. and how they can prevent workers from being hurt on the job because they don't want anybody hurt. responsible employers want safe workplaces. it's really that simple. we all know that injuries are bad for business, and they cost time and money. so with those records, osha can also investigate companies and work to make them safer and ensure they comply with law. in essence, they can look at the outliers who are lawbreakers, who care less about safety than profits, but also maybe employers that don't do as much as they could or would if they were better informed. a misguided court ruling in
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2012, after those years of the law prevailing, curtailed osha's ability to sanction employers concerning those records. the ruling limited osha's ability to sanction employers to just six months of the start of the investigation based on the records. soon after that ruling, osha and the obama administration discovered it could not adequately investigate employers who provided an unsafe workplace, making them effectively immune from some safety laws. so after going through all of the proper rule making, all of the steps that are necessary to make an administrative rule, all the channels and procedures, the last administration put forward a rule that responds to the court
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decision and allows osha to review those records for five years. that's essentially how things work for 40 years before. it worked well for 40 years, and it was simply reinstituted because the court decision was so crippling to the rule of law and american juts. that's the rule we're discussing today. a return to long-standing policy that existed for decades under both republican and democratic administrations dating back to the presidency of richard nixon. now put aside there's 40 years worth of this rule working well, it does some very important things. it requires these large employers in dangerous industries to keep act rat records of -- to keep accurate records of serious work-related
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injuries and illnesses. it has no impact on a huge swath of the economy that is not considered dangerous. it doesn't apply to restaurants, offices, and many, many other workplaces, regardless of the number of employs they have. -- number of employees they have. the rule impacts the most dangerous industries in our economy and companies in that industry with more than ten employees. and it prevents them essentially from covering up injuries, maintaining fraudulent records concerning injuries, and woefully violating the law. there are things that the rule does not do. it imposes no new costs on employers. it imposes no new obligations. it simply returns to a policy that worked well for decades,
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and, i repeat, under both democratic and republican administrations, accepted by both, it gives certainty to businesses. that is one of the great advantages in an economy and society where a certainty for our job creators is very, very valuable. repealing this rule would lead to more dangerous workplaces and give unsafe companies an upper hand in competition. it would unlevel the playing field between the good guys and the bad guys in those industries. this rule would eliminate essentially requirements that employers keep proper records as they know osha can do nothing to investigate, and repeal amounts to the federal government siding with the companies that see injuries on the job but in
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effect sweep them under the rug. and repeal promotes companies to keep false records, if they keep records at all, limiting enforcement and punishment to anyone who keeps two sets of books, which few would do. so repeal of this rule undermines companies that keep safe workplace records. and who are in competition with companies that are cutting corners. this has implications for taxpayers. many procurement processes seek information about company safety records, giving a leg up to the safer company, as should be the case. that's in taxpayers' interest. and repeal of the rule would take away the incentive to protect employees. so repealing this rule, bad for
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taxpayers, is bad for federal policy, particularly in those areas where the federal government is a purchaser and a consumer, because it deserves to know, and so do we all, who are the safe employers. former obama and bush administration officials oppose repeal of this rule. dozens of health and safety groups warn against the spike in injuries that repeal may encourage in work-related injuries and illnesses. labor organizations representing millions of workers nationwide and many fortune 500 companies all oppose this resolution and support the rule. health and safety groups, labor organizations, fortune 500
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companies, officials from the past two administrations all support the rule and oppose this resolution. it is truly bipartisan. i urge my colleagues to unite across the aisle and resist the false and unfortunate arguments that are made in favor of this resolution. i urge colleagues to join me in opposing it because it will endanger workers in the most hazardous places in the workplace and the country. thank you, 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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quorum call:
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mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, i ask the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, when president trump was running for office, he made a lot of promises to the american people. he promised to the middle class that he would stand up for them. he promised workers he would bring back good jobs back to their communities. and he promised to drain the swamp of corporate lobbyists that muck up our democracy with
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dysfunction. well, mr. president, we are just over two months into this presidency and all we have seen from this administration is a series of broken promises. whether it's cabinet picks that are billionaires and wall street bankers and corporate c.p.o.'s, or his plan to jam through a health care bill that the president himself admits will hurt middle and working-class families, or his proposed budget which guts everything from job training programs to assistance for low-income families who pay their heating bills, to meals an wheels, which provides hot meals to low-income grandparents. it is clear president trump is standing with his billionaire and corporate lobbyists friends at the expense of the people he promised to stand up and fight for. well, we have made many improvements in our economy in the last eight years. we still have a lot of work to do. too many people in our country today are working multiple jobs
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trying to support their families, pay their bills, and are still struggling to make earns meet. that's what we should be talking beneficiary to make ends meet. that's what we should be talking about on the senate floor, thousand build an neigh works for everyone. we should be working together to make sure people are making a decent wage to support their families, corporations aren't getting rich at the expense of their workers, and hardwork being people aren't risking their lives in dangerous conditions at work. instead, what we're doing today -- my republican colleagues, with the back of president trump are trying to roll back a rule that protects workers and prevents work-related deaths and injuries. this rule allows the occupational and health and safety administration, or osha, an agency by the way whose sole purpose is to keep workers safe on the job, to accurately monitor and prevent workplace injuries and fatalities in our
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nation's most dangerous industries. dangerous businesses have been recording serious workplace injuries and deaths for more than four decades, and this rule simply affirms the policy enshrined in the osha law itself of 1960 that these -- of 1970 that these records have to be accurate. a precedent of keeping workers safe and monitoring dangerous work places. after a workplace put this important safety process at risk, osha issued this rule to clarify their record-keeping practices. this rule is not new. this does not imposed ad obstacles or costs to employers. it was actually suggested by the court in its decision, and it does not cover small businesses with 10 employees or fewer. now, we should be trying to make workplaces safer, but enrolling back in -- but in rolling back this rule, president trump and
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my republican colleagues are doing exactly the opposite. this is not something we should be playing politics with. without this rule, if it is turned over today by the senate republicans, some of the most dangerous industries will then be able to hide worker injuries and keep falsified records of injuries and workplace deaths. and it will make it more difficult for osha to punish low-road companies that are putting their workers' lives in danger. every year more than 4,800 workers are killed on the job in america. and three million more suffer serious injuries and illnesses. and we have found that it is often the same companies that are repeat offenders. without this rule, osha cannot sanction employers for keeping fraudulent injury records for multiple years before osha walks in the door to conduct an inspection.
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mr. president, so many people in this country get up every day, they go to work tough, dangerous jobs to support their families and drive the economy. those workers deserve to be able to trust their employer isn't knowingly putting their life at risk. without this rule, corporations and dangerous industries can take advantage of their workers and osha will not have the tools it needs to stop it. we should not overturn this rule. if we do, record keeping will become elective. this goes against everything president trump promised to middle- and working-class families on the campaign trail. he promised to stand up for them, to bring back good, respectable jobs to their communities. instead, he wants to allow his billionaire corporate friends to take advantage of workers and threaten their safety. and, unfortunately, it appears my republican colleagues are now on board. instead of doing president
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trump's bidding, i urge my republican colleagues to do what president trump promised and start putting workers first by abandoning this deeply harmful effort. thank you, 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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