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tv   U.S. Senate Meets for Legislative Business  CSPAN  June 14, 2017 10:45am-12:46pm EDT

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board the subway in the capital after this morning shooting in virginia. the democratics are practicing at a different field and they stopped to pray for the republican colleagues shortly after the shooting. president trump at this response. congressman steve scalise a louisiana a true friend and patron was badly injured but with fully recover. our thoughts and prayers are with him. and first lady melania trump tweeted this out. thank you to the first responders who rushed in to help those who were hurt in alexandria, virginia. my thoughts and prayers to everyone. of course we'll keep you updated with any changes, any updates on this story as they happen. u.s. senate about to gavel income continue working on legislation expanded use penalties against iran. live coverage gracious father, our shield and defense, we look to you in these challenging times. lord, the shooting at the congressional baseball practice
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reminds us of the importance of numbering our days. may we refuse to boast about tomorrow, for we know not what a day may bring. lord, surround our lawmakers with the shields of your protection and favor. fill them with your spirit, causing them to walk in your statutes and keep your judgments. lord, you know better than we what lies ahead for our lives, so lead us like a gentle shepherd. we claim your promise in hebrews
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13:5 that you will never leave or forsake us. guide and inspire us all to follow your plan for our lives. we pray in your merciful name. amen. the presiding officer: 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 for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c,
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june 14, 2017. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable daniel sullivan, a senator from the state of alaska, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g.hatch, president pro tempore. mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i know the entire senate will join in echoing the sentiments of the president this morning. we're deeply saddened. we're all concerned for those injured. we will keep them in our prayers, and we'll continue to send them every wish for a quick and full recovery. we're grateful for all those who stepped in to help, those practicing on the field, first responders, and of course the capitol police officers on the scene. we're deeply indebted for their service. we again salute their continuing
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and unfailing bravery on behalf of the capitol community. the congressional baseball game is a bipartisan charity event. i know the senate will embrace that spirit today as we come together in expressing both our concern and our gratitude. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i join with the majority leader in offering our prayers for those who are injured. i was absolutely shaken by the news of a shooting early this morning at the baseball field in alexandria where many of my friends and colleagues were practicing for the annual congressional baseball game, an event that brings us together each year. it's been reported that representative scalise, the house whip, was shot during the attack, as were two brave members of the capitol police force and others, including a staffer. let us pray that they and any
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others who are injured are able to recover quickly. this morning is the most sobering reminder of how thankful we should be for the service of the capitol police force who put their lives on the line day in, day out for us to be safe. i could not be more grateful that capitol police were there at a time to prevent this attack from being any worse than it was. i was with senator paul in the gym, who had been there, and he told me had these two capitol police officers, who were part of congressman scalise's detail, not been there, it might have been a massacre because there would have been no one to rep sponsored. but -- respond. but their bravery is exemplary of all capitol police force and we thank them. the entire senate family sends thoughts and prayers to those who were wounded and our gratitude to the police officers and first responders who were at the scene. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of s. 722, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 110, s. 722, a bill to impose sanctions with respect to iran in relation at that iran's ballistic missile program, support for acts of international terrorism and violations of human rights, and for other purposes. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until 2:00 p.m. will be equally divided in the usual form.
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mr. corker: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: mr. president, i rise to speak about the countering iran's destabilizing activities act of 2017 which passed the senate foreign relations committee the last month by a vote of 18-3. i'd like to thank the members of our committee and the coauthors of this bill for working in a constructive, bipartisan fashion to craft this legislation. i think it sets a -- it's a good example of how the senate can still work together to tackle complex and difficult issues. i was in the skiff recently,
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it's a place where senators go to read classified information, reviewing intelligence. it truly is astounding. i know the presiding officer knows this well, but it's truly astounding what iran continues to do around the world. for people that are capable of so much, their foreign policy is shockingly counter to their own interests. we we see destabilizing act after destabilizing act on missile launches to arms transfers to terrorist training to illicit financial cyclists to targeting navy ships and detaining american citizens. the list goes on and on. it's past time for us to take steps to protect the interests of the united states and our allies. this bill is the first time congress has come together since the jcpoa, the iran nuclear deal, to do just that. for far too long, the agreement
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which i strongly opposed, as did our ranking member, as did our presiding officer, it has dictated u.s. policy throughout the middle east. it's worth noting that the jcpoa is not unlike the paris climate accord. i don't think many people in our country nor many people in this body realize that it's a nonbinding political agreement that was entered into by one man, one man using presidential executive authority and can easily be undone by one man using presidential executive authority. in fact, in many ways, it's easier than the paris accord considering the president doesn't have to take action to exit this agreement. i don't think most americans understand that. he doesn't have to even take action to exit agreement. all he has to do is decline to waive sanctions. and i think that's been missed.
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i know the presiding officer is very aware of that. i know the ranking member is very aware of that. but no matter what the president decides, this bill makes it clear that congress intends to remain involved and will hold iran accountable for their nonnuclear destabilizing activities. what the nuclear agreement failed to do was allow us to push back against terrorism, human rights issues, their violations of u.n. security council resolutions relative to ballistic missile testing and to push back against conventional arms purchases which they are not supposed to be involved in. as many of us predicted at the time, iran's rogue behavior has only escalated since implementation of the agreement, and this bipartisan bill will give the administration tools for holding tehran accountable. let me say this. i don't think there is anybody in this chamber that doesn't
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believe that the trump administration -- i know there has been a lot of disagreements recently about foreign policy issues and the administration, but i don't think there is anybody here that believes that they are not going to do everything they can to push back against these destabilizing activities, and what we will be doing today with imagine of thih passage of this legislation is standing hand in hand with them as they do that. it also sends an important signal that the u.s. will no longer look the other way in the face of continued iran aggression. i want to recognize the important work of my colleagues in making this legislation possible. senator menendez has been a champion for holding iran accountable in this bill but also in decades of work on this issue. he is truly an asset to the senate, and i thank him for his commitment to many issues but especially this one. senators cotton, rubio and cruz
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all played an important role in crafting this legislation as well, but finally let me say this, and this is -- this would not have been possible without the support and tireless effort of the ranking member, senator cardin and his great staff. it has truly been a pleasure for me to work with him on the russia bill that we will be voting on today at 2:00, but also this legislation. we come from two very different places, representing two very different states, and yet are joined by the fact that we care deeply about making sure that the foreign policy of this country is in the national interests of our citizens and that we as a congress and as a united states senate are doing everything we can to help drive positive foreign policy. i want to thank him for that and tell him i'm really proud of the strong bipartisan momentum behind this legislation which has leadership has helped happen, and i look forward to passage of this bill.
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mr. cardin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: lpt, let me return the compliment that senator corker -- to senator corker. senator corker opened his remarks about the bipartisan vote in our committee on the iran sanctions bill. in the last congress, we were able to get a unanimous vote on the iran bill. we under the leadership of senator corker fully recognize that particularly on foreign policy, our country is much stronger when we speak with a united voice, so bringing democrats and republicans together is in our national interest, and senator corker has listened to different views. he and i do have different views on many issues concerning foreign policy, but in almost every one of those cases, we have been able to reconcile those dirchesz -- differences, and that was very clear on the iran sanctions. it's also very true on the russian sanction amendment that we will be voting on later
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today. so to senator corker, i just want our colleagues to know we have a leader on the senate foreign relations committee that put america's national interests first and has respected the rights of every senator, not only in the senate foreign relations committee but in the united states senate that can add to the richness of our discussions and debate, and i think we're a lot stronger today because of that. so this is a good example of it. i'm very proud to be supportive of all these efforts. i have spent a little bit of time going through how this came about because i think it's important for our colleagues and the american people to know about that, but i know senator corker and i both want to express before we start the debate on this issue our concerns for our colleagues who were victimized this morning by the shooting that took place in virginia, an outrageous event, and our security people as well as innocent bystanders who were struck by the gunfire.
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our prayers are with those who are recovering. we hope that they will have a complete recovery. we are committed to making sure that we keep our senate family, our congressional family safe, and we will do everything we can to make sure that takes place, but we will continue to work to make sure that we preserve the democratic ideals of this nation and the free society that we live in, and we know that there are risks, and we know that we can do service by making sure we stand by those democratic commitments but also keep america safe. and i think the work on the senate foreign relations committee has had those goals in mind, and senator corker, through the chair, i want to thank you for your attention to these details. mr. president, let me talk a few minutes about the iran -- s. 722, the iran destabilizing activities act. this bill will impose new sanctions on iran for its nonnuclear violations. i want to make that clear.
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nonnuclear violations. their responsibilities on the nuclear side is now judged by the nuclear agreement that was entered into, and we had a great debate about it last year, and we're not going to rehash that debate. i think every member of this chamber wants to make sure that iran complies with its nuclear obligations, but that's a separate debate. the debate we have here is on the nonnuclear activities of iran that violate international norms and international agreements. we saw, for example, ballistic missile tests that violated their u.n. obligations that took place in january and in march. we have seen a significant increase in illicit arms shipments being done by iran, causing destabilizing activities in many parts of the region. you see that in bahrain, you see it in yemen, you see it in iraq. we know that they are supporting hezbollah in lebanon. we see that they are supporting
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hamas in gaza and we know about the activities in support of the assad regime in syria. this all violates international norms. iran today has violated in an incredible way human rights issues that violate international norms. yesterday, we saw part of the impact of that as we had a debate on the saudi arms sale, and we could argue the culpability about what is going on in yemen, but there is no question about iran's culpabilities supporting the yemen with the houthis in that country. they are violating internationally recognized human rights. we also see cyber attacks on the united states that come from iran, and they are detaining at least five u.s. citizens a day illegally. so there is increased activities in iran as it relates to
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nonnuclear side of their activities. and for that reason, s. 722 looks at strengthening the sanction regime so that we can make it clear yes, we will comply with the jcpoa, the nuclear agreement, but we need to have better activities improvement on the nonnuclear side. so basically the bill increases the sanction menus that are available for ballistic missile violations, for support of terrorism, for human rights violations and for violating the arms embargo, and those that knowingly do those violations or materially assist will be subject to additional sanctions by the united states. we codify the irgc that was done by executive order, and we codify some of the other executive orders as it relates to iran. we coordinate -- and this is done in a way that it coordinates with what europe is
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doing and making sure it's a consistent approach that we have taken in the past, and we ask the administration to develop a regional strategy so the congress and the american people know our policies in the middle east. now, that provision was drafted before the trump administration. this is a desire by congress to have a better articulated regional strategy recognizing the dangers in that region. iran is a major player in the region against u.s. interests. we need to know what our strategy is in confronting those challenges. quite frankly, with the trump administration, we haven't heard that coordinated strategy, and this legislation will require that that report be given not just to congress on a regular basis but to the american people. i want to just underscore how this agreement is totally consistent with the nuclear agreement that was entered into two years ago, the jcpoa, as it is referred to. this bill -- and i need to go
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just quickly through how it came about. senator corker talked a little bit about it, but senator corker and senator menendez, and senator menendez, senator corker is absolutely correct, has been a leader on iran sanctions way before this congress. he was very much involved in the original sanctions legislation passed by congress that led to putting enough pressure on the international community to join us, which ultimately led to iran having no choice but to negotiate. and senator corker and senator menendez had introduced legislation that was out there and we had a chance to review it, which was how the process should work. as a result of that review, both senator corker, senator menendez and myself, all three of us, reached out to interested groups to understand what we're trying to get done. many of the people we talked to were involved in the negotiations with iran that had different views than we did on the final outcome of that agreement, but we wanted them -- us to make sure that we weren't
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violating any of the provisions of the jcpoa. so we sought their input. as a result, there was a revised legislation that was offered known as corker-menendez-cardin, which incorporated the ideas of all three of us but really the outside groups working with us to make sure it was totally consistent with the jcpoa and consistent with the intent of the original bill. i think that bill was well scrubbed. i think it did not violate the jcpoa, but we went through another process, another review, another opportunity for those who could perhaps see what we don't see quite as clearly when it comes to iran and our european allies, and we went through a second shrubbing and we had a manager's amendment that was offered in the senate foreign relations committee that even tightened the bill up even
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more dealing with those issues. so i think it is very, very -- say very, very confidently, there is nothing in the underlying bill that violates the united states commitment under the jcpa, the nuclear agreements. that is my intent and i think the intent of almost every member of this committee that the united states should comply with the jcpoa, even though i didn't support it, i think it's important that we comply with it today. the other aspect i wanted to go through is that -- and i don't want to give the wrong impression. there are people who are involved in the negotiations of the nuclear agreement who would tell you that some would say they oppose the bill, some might say it's not helpful, some might say that iran might take it the wrong way. any one of those arguments aside, i don't think you will find anyone who says that it violates the jcpoa. now, it's also -- and i want to give a little bit of history here because this was
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anticipated that we would need this bill when we acted on the jcpoa by those of us who supported and opposed the nuclear agreement. as the chairman will recall, shortfall after the passage -- or the failure to reject the jcpoa, that action, i filed, along with many of my colleagues, those who voted for and those who voted against the jcpoa, additional legislation that i thought was necessary. i voted against it. it included the regional strategy. expedited procedures to deal with nonnuclear violations if iran used the sanction relief they got under the nuclear agreements for their human rights violations. that's why we filed a bill right after the action on the nuclear agreement. so this is consistent with what we thought would be necessary. yes, we had hoped iran would
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change its activities, but we weren't naive about it. we knew there was going to be a long road. we knew that iran p -- iran doesn't respond to niceties, that we would have to keep up with it to take the action that was needed. many of us were encouraged when we saw the votes a couple of weeks ago in iran -- the iranians voted for a more open society, more transparent society. i must tell you, iran has a wonderful history of very talented people who want democratic principles. i'm sure that is true among many of the people in iran today. it is the leaders we have objections with, not the people in iran. the people in iran want a more open democratic society. this legislation will help get to that point by helping to make clear to the leaders in iran that they must change their ways
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as it relates to human rights violations and other international obligations. that is the reason why this bill becomes so important. let me -- let me just give you one more example on the consistency. there are many provisions that we changed. one is that we all acknowledge that the united states, our partners, are fully at liberty to impose actions against iran for terrorist activity is. -- activities. that's not part of the nuclear agreement. but there is some confusion about how that is done in relationship to sanction relief provided under the jcpoa. so long to their concerns, with we set up an independent review process within the next five years that will resolve that issue before we hit the eight years market so we are not jeopardizing that from occurring. i wanted to point that out because this bill is totally consistent with the united
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states' obligations under the iran nuclear agreement. mr. president, i talked yesterday briefly about the amendment that is pending. i want to spend a moment, if i might, to underscore some of the details of the amendment that is passing. i'm for s. 722 and i'm for the amendment that was crafted in the same spirit as the underlying bill in a bipartisan agreement, but it involved not just the senate foreign relations committee, it also involved the senate banking committee because the jurisdiction on sanctions do overlap between the two committees and, as i said yesterday, i want to thank senator crapo and brown and the chairman already mentioned -- chairman corker already mentioned this. they were extremely helpful in making sure that we tailor the financial sanctions in a way that is workable and consistent with our european partners so that we can make sure that we have collective strength.
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i'm sure the presiding officer has been in meetings with our european friends and you know how they feel about russia. they feel they are in the direct bull's eye of what russia is doing. they want the united states to be strong. they want the united states to provide leadership. we need to provide it in a manner that is consistent with their security interest. i think the way this bill evolved, we have a better bill consistent with those concerns. russia, we know their activities. we know their cyber activities against our democratic institutions. as we said frequently, collecting cyber information, all countries do that, but the use of that cyber information to attack our democratic institutions is an attack on our country. that cannot go unchallenged. we are have to protect ourselves and take action when we have been attacked. this bill does that. russia has been very aggressive in interfering in the
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sovereignty of other countries, today in moldova and in other countries, we have seen russia's aggression and in ukraine with the annexation, russia has -- russia has violated every single commitment of the osce, helsinki accords, and violated the sovereignty of other countries. we know about russia's activities in support of the assad regime and has assisted in -- in horrible human rights violations. just terrible. we've seen some of the videos of the tragedies of innocent children as a result mr. putin's support of the assad regime. in january of this year, senator mccain and i introduced legislation that would have imposed new sanctions on russia because of these activities. we wanted to make sure this was
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bipartisan and we had 18 senators who cosponsored the bill with us, ten democrats, ten republicans, to make it clear that this is not an attack on one administration. this is america and we have to be together in a strong -- in a strong message against the putin regime. that bill included sanctions on cyber activities, it included sanctions on its ukrainian activities and it included sanctions in regards to their seern activities -- syrian activities. the legislation incorporated what has been known as the democracy initiative that provided ways to provide a more unified front with our european allies in defending against the cyber attack that's we saw coming from russia. at the same time senator graham filed, with my cosponsorship, a
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bill that would require a congressional review before the president could give sanction relief to russia. the review was patterned very similar to the review we had under the -- iran nuclear agreement. these two bills were pending. there has been a lot of debate about it. we then received a daft bill from senator crapo and brown as it related to the sanctions and it was focused -- i'm not saying exclusively, but primarily on the energy sectors to make sure it was drafted in the proper way. we went through considerable negotiations. senator corker, as i pointed out before, brought additional text in the discussion to try to bring this together. although i am mentioning senators' names, mr. president, you know it is our satisfies. our staff has been working around the clock to get this write. i thank the majority and
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minority staff on the banking committee and senate foreign relations committee. there are many parts that we will be voting on. one part codifies sanctions against russia. i've already mentioned senator menendez's role in iran. he was very instrumental as it relates to russia. senator durbin has been very active. i must tell you there has been no member on the democratic side that has been more vocal on the need to take action against russia that senator shaheen. there are many members on our side that were active on this, but i want to thank my colleagues for their contribution. we do codify the executive orders that were jirnd that were -- issued that were related to ukraine and cyberattacks. that is now, with the adoption of this amendment, we would codify, give congressional support for what was -- what took place by president obama.
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it expands the list of where sanctions can apply to the energy projects and foreign financial institutions facilitating such projects. it -- it provides for actors who tried to undermine cybersecurity being subject to sanctions, and it provides secondary sanctions for those who materially assist those actors in undermining our cybersecurity. it provides sanctions against suppliers of russian arms to syria. it goes after the actors involved in the corrupt privatization of russian governmental assets. so we don't support those who are supporting the corrupt regime of mr. putin. it deals with sanctions against russia's activities and pipelines, the russia railway, metals, mining, and shipping. so it's comprehensive. and most of these sanctions are
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mandatory. it's not me, it's the president shall in most of it these circumstances. as is traditional, the president has the ability if there is a significant national security issue to whether that sanction should be applied or not. but we used a different standard -- a different standard in most of these sanctions that requires the president to certify before he issues those waivers that there has been basically significant progress made by russia in removing these sanctionable activities. so we have a pretty strong hand that we're giving president trump in his negotiations with mr. putin. in addition, this bill provides for the congressional review, the bill introduced by senator graham and me. it is similar to the iran review act.
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what this means, and this is important, it puts a lot of transparency into the negotiations between the trump administration and the putin administration. it requires that the president cannot just by himself, as senator corker was talking about earlier how one president can do something by himself -- this bill, if it becomes law, the amendment is adopted and the bill passes the house and becomes law -- that the president cannot remove a sanction -- can't remove a sanction until he is -- he has given congress notice and an opportunity to review that. we can have congressional hearings, we can put a spotlight on it and then we have an expedited process where we could reject the president's decision to give relief. and all during that process the sanctions remain in place. so it is a very strong congressional review and that's our responsibility to do that, but it also brings in the american people and brings in a more transparent process. what we found is that with that
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transparency, it's a much stronger hand that president trump has in his negotiations, knowing that he has to go through this process at the end of the day in his negotiations with russia. sometimes we call it the strength of our independent branches of government. you know, the -- the executive branch can say, look, we would like to move faster but we have to do this with the legislative branch or we would like to do this but we can't get it through congress. use the independence of the congress. we are certainly very strongly against what russia is doing. use that to increase the pressure on russia to do the right thing, and that's what this bill does and this is why it's helpful to the president and the united states in order to have this congressional review. so it would reply to anything from cyber sanctions that were imposed under the obama executive order to the attempt to return the compounds that are located in maryland and new
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york -- all of that would be subject to a congressional review before the action by the president could become effective. i mentioned earlier the bill does include the authorization of democracy funds, as i call it, that assist our allies in their fight against russia's aggression, particularly in cyber. it authorizes $215 million and applies work with e.u. states states and canada. it is a strong opportunity for us to work together. i've had many meetings with our european colleagues and friends. yes, every country recognizes they are vulnerable against russia's attacks. they are doing everything they can to protect themselves. what i find disappointing is there is not enough coordination. we know how they acted in the united states and how they acted in france and now how they are likely to act in germany, what they did in moldova. we know what they are likely to
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proceed with, but can we prevent this type of manipulation of russia? this authorization -- and i want to thank senator graham and senator leahy for putting money in the f.y.-17 budget, and we approved that, it is in the budget, that allows us to coordinate the efforts among the united states and our european friends to pro be tect against what we -- protect against what we know will be continued activity against russia. there are investigations going on. part of that investigation is to know what russia is doing, quite frankly, and protect ourselves. i think that information will be helpful and this -- this u.s. role, working with our european allies to protect against certain continued ma malicious activities by the russian federation. there's a provision in this bill that deals with ukraine.
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we -- we make it clear that we will not recognize crimea's annexation of ukraine, that we will continue to stand with the people of ukraine with regards to their sovereignty and we asked for a plan to reduce ukraine's dependence on russia energy imports. we know ukraine is vulnerable because of energy and we have to develop a plan to deal with that. there are many members involved with that. i would acknowledge my friend from ohio, senator portman, for his work in regards to the ukraine provisions. there's new counterterrorism financing provisions, pretty comprehensive so we make sure we have all the tools we need in order to track the financing of terrorism activities, and that's in there. mr. president, let me tell you how proud i am to be associated with the underlining bill as well as the amendment that we're going to vote on at 2:00. both the underlining bill and
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the amendment was developed in the best of the bipartisan manners of the united states senate, and i want to thank again all those that were involved to give us this opportunity to speak with a strong united voice against the activities that iran is doing globally, destabilize action action -- destabilizing so many countries through their violations and make it clear that we're not going to let you attack our country. we're going to stand up to that and work to make sure that we keep our allies and ourselves safe. with that, mr. president, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. 4 quorum call:
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mr. king: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from maine. mr. king: are we in a quorum call, mr. president? the presiding officer: we are. mr. king: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. king: mr. president, i was in maine over the weekend, and
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people said, what do you think we ought to be doing? i said i like the president's plan. i think president trump has it just right. he says we need health care that will cover everyone, low premiums and low deductibles, no preexisting conditions. that's the right formulation, and i hope that's what we can work toward, and that's what we should be working toward. he also said yesterday that the bill that passed the house was mean. well, a couple of weeks ago i said it was cruel, but i'll accept mean. both mean the same thing. it's a terrible blow to millions, literally millions of people across this country, and thousands in my state of maine. and, by the way, the problem with the house bill is it's so bad that some kind of compromise has developed here that's halfway, is still mean or cruel. and now people are talking about a soft landing. that's a euphemism for stretching out the crash. it's not a soft landing. whether you take medicaid and
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health care coverage away from people in two years, four years or seven years, it's still going to happen, and it's a crash. it's not a soft landing. that's just stretching it out into beyond the next couple of elections. but that doesn't really get to the core of the issue, which is taking health care and health insurance away from millions of people. by the way, before i began, i meant to acknowledge what happened this morning to our colleagues across the way at the baseball practice. tragic, inexplicable, horrible and inexcusable. my heart goes out to the capitol police, who i understand were incredibly brave and met their responsibilities admirably, to representative scalise and to any other who were injured. a terrible incident and one that we hope we never see the likes of again.
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let me go back to health care. i think it's important for people to understand the big picture of what's going on in this issue that's now before both the house and senate. what we're really talking about is a massive tax increase on middle-class and lower middle-class people and a massive tax cut for the wealthiest americans. it's as simple as that. it is a gigantic transfer of wealth, probably one of the greatest in a short time in recent american history, where you have millions of people across the country who have health insurance under the affordable care act and are protected under medicaid and medicaid expansion, and you're taking that away. and the affordable care act exchange policies are a tax credit. so when you take that away, you're increasing people's taxes. you're increasing people's taxes
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who are making between $15,000 and $45,000, $50,000, 70,000 a year and you're decreasing taxes in a huge way only for people who make more than $200,000 a year. the 400 highest taxpayers in the country will get a $7 million a piece tax cut. that makes no sense. we are taking resources away from the people who need it -- the middle class -- and we're giving it to the people who don't need it. it's robin hood in reverse. and that's the fundamental point of this legislation. it's all about that big tax cut for the rich. for the really rich. and i just don't understand why we're even thinking about that because the american people need help with the cost of health care. the average, if you divide the total health care bill in this country by the number of people, you come up with about
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$8,500 a year per person. $35,000 a year for a family of four. that's the cost of health care. that cost has to be paid, and i would argue that people who are in the middle income can't afford it. they can't afford to pay those costs. and they need some help. and that's what the affordable care act does. but instead we're talking about repealing it, knocking those thousands of millions of people off. in maine we have 75,000 people on the exchanges, and then of course we have hundreds of thousands on medicaid. we're talking about severely constricting their access to health care. and that's just wrong. ethically, morally and any other way. we are taking health care away from people so we can give a massive tax cut to the people who don't really need it. in maine, if the house had taken a blank sheet of paper and
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said how can we design a health care plan that would really hammer the people of maine? it would have been the ahca, misnamed american health care act. it ought to be the antihealth care act because that's what it's all about, is taking health care away from people. it could not be more tailored to harm people in maine. we are the oldest state in the country. we have more people in the older age bracket, 50 and up, than any other state in the united states as a percentage of our population. we also are relatively low-income state. you put those things together, and you really get hurt. and also in maine, as in the presiding officer's home state, we have a lot of hazardous occupations -- agriculture, fishing, the iconic maine
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lobstermen. this is a guy named david osgood from vinyl haven, an incredibly beautiful island off the coast of maine. lobstering is a part of our maine economy and a way of life. vinyl haven has a population of about 1,200. it's really hard work. it's all-weather, it's dangerous. you've got to haul tracks, repair them, be out on the water in the winter time, which is no fun. david osgood has been lobstering since he was 13, like his father and grandfather before him. as of this spring, all three of david and elaine's children have finished college. that's amazing. that's a real achievement for any family. but fishing is challenging and tough. the osgoods are really thankful for the fact that they can get
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affordable health insurance through the affordable care act. once they weren't covered, and david had a back problem, required surgery. like a lot of people in maine, he paid it off month by month by month. but the a.c.a., according to elaine, has given them some comfort and peace of mind. and those of us who have pretty much had health insurance all our lives i don't think realize the importance of that peace of mind, of not being anxious about a health problem that could wipe you out, make you lose your house, an illness or an injury. elaine said we'll be okay. the deductibles are a problem. they're too high. i agree. that's what we ought to be working on, is how to get the deductibles down, how to work on the premiums, how to work on the cost of health care. because all this debate about the affordable care act and medicare and medicaid and public option and single payer, all of
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that is about who pays when a big part of the problem is how much we're all paying. we pay roughly twice as much per person for health care than anyone else in the industrialized world. and that's a real problem that we have to start debating, mr. president. we have to start talking about that because whoever pays, whatever the insurance plan is, if the underlying cost is something that people just can't arved, -- afford we're going to be arguing about who pays how much and what part. we have to get at that $8,500 per person. people say we have the best health care system in the rld would. yes, we do for the people that can afford it. but for the millions of people that don't have health insurance, that only get treated in emergency rooms or more often don't get treated at all because they don't want to go in because they know they can't pay for it, the health care system does not deliver for them. and by all the objective
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measures, longevity, infant mortality, all of those measures, we're not first in the world. we're like 20th in the world. we are way below our colleagues, and yet we're paying much more. we have got to address high deductibles and high premiums and high costs, but we also in the meantime have to keep people covered. another couple in maine, jonathan edwards and jefferson schothe live in hancock county. it's another coastal county. they are farmers. and they raise vegetables. here's a great maine story. i have known jen's mother for about 40 years. i met jen at a health care farm in bangor a few weeks ago. everybody in maine knows everybody else. i suspect it's like alaska. we're a big small town with very long roads. jonathan and jennifer own and operate a farm.
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this farm is in a town called brookland, but this is -- in brooklyn, but this is the real brooklyn, brooklyn, maine. they grow berries, asparagus. they could never afford health care until the a.c.a. came along because they were essentially a small business but they weren't a big enough business to have a group plan. they didn't have employer-based health insurance. they just didn't have it. but they are both in their 50's. and one of the changes made in the house bill is that under the affordable care act, the ratio between the premiums for younger people and older people can't be more than three times. it reflects the reality that older people have more health care needs and cost the system more, so there is a reflection. it's allowed to be a three times basis. the house bill changes that to five times. that's a huge shift directly toward people in their 50's and early 60's. when jen was pregnant with each
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of their two boys, they had no insurance. they paid the hospital just like my friend david osgood, they paid the hospital. that's what many people do. but what if there had been complications. they were pretty straightforward births. what if there had been complications? they would have been wiped out because they had no health insurance. jen says she doesn't feel it's responsible to go without health insurance, especially when you have a family. it's critical to them that the a.c.a. is affordable, and it is because of the tax credits. and they also appreciate that they got real insurance that really covers things. there are no exclusions. people say well, i have this really cheap insurance policy, but it doesn't cover anything. it may not even cover hospitalization or doesn't cover doctors' visits or doesn't cover drugs, doesn't cover what you really need. that's not insurance. that's illusory. but now jen says they have peace
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of mind because they have coverage. she told me that face to face not long ago. running a small business is tough. it's tough because you generally can't get group policies. sometimes you can join a small business association, but generally you can't, and this is a way to have coverage that people can afford. imagine if somebody came to this body and said i have a great idea for a bill. i'm going to raise taxes on the middle class and give a great big break to hedge fund managers. we wouldn't even think about it, it wouldn't even get out of committee, and yet that's essentially what this is all about. how much of a tax increase on somebody? well, in hancock county where these folks live, 60-year-old making $40,000 a year -- these are real numbers from the kaiser family foundation -- under the affordable care act, your premiums $4,080 a year.
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about 10% of your income. that's still substantial, but under the bill passed by the house, that would go to $17,090. on a $40,000 gross income. that's ridiculous to go from $4,000 to $17,000. and where does that difference come from? it's going back to the people that don't need it. it's going back to the people that make 200ed, $400, $800, $5 million a year. a 300% increase for out-of-pocket health care. in knox county, david, my lobsterman friend, if he is -- i think he is younger than 60, but if he were 60 and making $40,000 to keep the example the same, his premium would go from $4,080 to $10,590. more than double.
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mr. president, this just doesn't make sense to me. this whole discussion doesn't make sense to me. i agree that we need to talk about health care, and i agree that we need to do something about it, but we're doing the wrong thing. we're making it worse. there are two problems with health care in this country. you can boil it down to two issues -- cost and access. the affordable care act, although it dealt somewhat with costs, was mostly about access, allowing people who don't have health insurance to get it, whether through medicaid expansion or through the exchanges. cost is a bigger issue, and it's one that we also have to deal with, but that's not what's on the floor now or soon, and it's not what is being considered in congress, but i would argue we have really got to pay attention to that issue as well. so all of this, taking coverage
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away from my friend david or jen and john and thousands -- well, we know the number from the house bill. 23 million people in america. 23 million people to give a massive tax break so a guy making a couple million dollars a year could buy an extra mazeratti. it just doesn't pass the straight face test for good public policy. i am the first to agree that the affordable care act's not perfect. i think there are things about it that need to be fixed and adjusted, and we need to work about how do we do the deductibles and how do we improve that and how do we broaden the coverage and maybe make it more of a sliding scale. all of those things are things we can discuss and work on. i'm absolutely willing to do it. but the idea of repealing it
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just to check a box and to meet a campaign promise and to be so divergent from what the president has said over and over and over in the campaign and since that time that he wants coverage for everyone, no preexisting conditions, and lower premiums and deductibles. i'm for it. but what we're doing is the exact opposite. the exact 180-degree opposite. so let's take a breath. there is no deadline here of next week or the july fourth recess. let's take a break and back off and start talking about it as senators and representatives from all over the country, all parties. i think we ought to be able to come so some agreement here. now, if there are people who are just hellbent to provide a tax cut to multimillionaires, then there aren't an agreement to be
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had. if that's got to be part of the deal, include me out. but if we can start talking reasonably about how we can improve the affordable care act -- and i don't care if we improve it, change it, tinker with it and call it trumpcare or mcconnellcare or ryancare. call it what you want, but let's provide health insurance that's so (to the american people. and, mr. president, i've told this story a couple of times, but i'm going to conclude with this why i'm so passionate about this. 40 years ago, i worked here. i was a staff member, and i had insurance. for the first time in my young life, i think, i had health insurance, and part of the health insurance was a provision for preventative care, which is also required under the affordable care act so you could have a free physical. i was 28, 29 years old and immortal. we all were at that age. but i said what the heck, it's free. i guess i will go and have a
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physical. so i went in and had a physical. the doctor looked me over and looked in my eyes and down my throat, but he happened to notice on my back i had a black mole. he said i don't like the looks of that. that ought to be taken off. i didn't even notice it. i didn't even know it was there. he took it off. it turned out to be something called malignant melanoma, which is one of the mostville length and serious forms of crn -- is the most virilent and serious forms of cancer. the thing about this type of cancer is if you catch it in type, you're good. here i am 40 years later. if you don't, you're gone. i have had friends in maine and other parts of the country who have died of melanoma. it's always haunted me to this day that the only reason i caught it and my life was saved was because i had health insurance, and that somewhere in this country there was a young man who also had a mole on his back or on his arm or on his
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neck who didn't have health insurance, didn't have preventative care, didn't go to the doctor, and he's gone. that's not fair. that's not right. in a country as advanced and wealthy as this is, it's not right that that guy died and i'm here. and so don't ever tell me that health insurance doesn't save lives, because it does. there is no doubt that it does. and that's why this is so important for us to get this right and not just cavalierly and blithely rip health insurance away from people, many of whom have gotten it for the first time, many of whom have small business people, the very people we all talk about wanting to help. we can't do it. it's a dereliction of our duty
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to serve the american people. we need to figure out how to do it right. we need to figure out how to do it effectively and efficiently. but in the end, we're here to help our fellow citizens. i am here for maine and i can't let my people suffer under a law that would take something away that they have come to depend upon that has saved lives and means so much to them. we can do better, mr. president. i'm sure of it. thank you. i yield the floor.
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mr. king: 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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mr. sanders: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont.
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mr. sanders: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: madam president, i have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the republican baseball practice this morning is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign. i am sickened by this disspickible -- despicable act. let me be as clear as i can be -- violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and i condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. real change can only come about through nonviolent action and anything else runs counter to our most deeply held american values. i know i speak for the entire country in saying that my hopes and prayers are that
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representative scalise, congressional staff, and capitol police officers who were wounded make a quick and full recovery. i also want to thank the capitol police for their heroic actions to prevent further harm. thank you, madam president.
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a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: madam president, may i ask unanimous consent that any pending quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: we are not in a quorum call. and the senator is recognized. mr. whitehouse: thank you. madam president, i would ask unanimous consent that -- i understand that senator mccain is potentially coming to the floor. i will yield to him as the chairman of the armed services committee if he appears, and i'd ask unanimous consent that the remainder of my remarks be connected in the record to this first part of my remarks should that transpire.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you. madam president, the united states of america has suffered an unprecedented intrusion into our american presidential elections. in january, our intelligence agencies disclosed that agents of russia on the orders of president vladimir putin engaged in a massive election influence campaign throughout 2016. this effort strikes at the very heart of our representative democracy. all americans should take this attack deadly seriously. congress had to act against such interference decisively. by strengthening economic sanctions against the russian gangster state, we hit them where it hurts, right in the oligarch. i'm glad to see that republican and democrat senators came together to do this. now the question will shift to
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the white house. last july, as evidence of russian election meddling began to emerge, then-candidate for vice president mike pence said if it is russia and they are interfering in our elections, i can assure you both parties in the united states government will ensure there are serious consequences. well, it is russia, and they were interfering, but there has been little sign of consequences so far from the trump white house. michael flynn, as advisor to the president-elect, had illicit communications with the russian ambassador about which he then lied. trump appointees at the state department alarmed career officials with their rush to craft a pro-russia program. president trump held an unprecedented cozy meeting with russian envoys, all smiles in the oval office, a meeting of which putin says he has a
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transcript. in europe, trump dropping the assurances about article 5 protections from his nato speech gave the russians joy. the trump administration has been reported trying to return two compounds used by russian intelligence to russian control, compounds here in the united states. and former f.b.i. director james comey told the senate last week that president trump never spoke to him, not even once, about defending against russia's acts of aggression. well, the threat from russia is severe. chairman graham and i held hearings in our judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism, exploring the russian toolbox for interference in democracies across the globe. how russia exploits the dark shadows of other countries' political and economic systems.
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one tool is campaign money. russia is reported to have fund money to french far-right party presidential candidate maureen lapen, for instance, as part of a reward for her support for russia's actions in crimea. ken wingstein, homeland security advisor to president george w. bush, cited russia as a threat of that kind of foreign financial infiltration here in the united states. it is critical that we effectively enforce the campaign finance laws that would prevent this type of financial influence by foreign actors, wingstein told our subcommittee, but that task proves difficult in a system like ours that permits the free flow of dark money.
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since the citizens united decision, we have seen unprecedented dark money flow into our elections from anonymous dark money organizations, groups that we allow to hide the identities of their big donors. we don't know who was behind that dark money or what they are demanding in return. madam president, pursuant to my previous request, i will yield the floor to the distinguished chairman of the senate armed services committee. mr. mccain: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: madam president, i have 11 requests for committees to meet today during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. mccain: madam president, i rise in support of the countering russian aggression and cyber attacks act, an
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amendment to the iran sanctions bill currently under consideration. in just the last three years under vladimir putin, russia has invaded ukraine, annexed crimea, threatened nato allies and intervened militarily in syria, leaving a trail of death, destruction and broken promises in his wake, and of course last year, russia attacked the foundations of american democracy with a cyber and information campaign to interfere in america's 2016 election. it's been eight months, eight months now since the u.s. intelligence community publicly concludeed that the russian government had attempted to interfere in our last presidential election. since then, the intelligence community has concluded that it is confident that the russian government directed a campaign to compromise e-mails, american individuals and political organizations.
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if vladimir putin ordered and influenced the campaign in order to undermine faith in the democratic process. and that moscow will apply lessons learned from this campaign in future efforts worldwide, including against u.s. allies and their election processes. months of congressional hearings, testimony and investigative work have reinforced these conclusions that russia deliberately interfered in our recent election with cyber attacks and a disinformation campaign designed to weaken america and undermine faith in our democracy and our values. vladimir putin's brazen attack on our democracy is a flagrant demonstration of his disdain and disrespect for our nation. this should not just outrage every american, but it should at long last compel us to action. but in the last eight months, what price has russia paid for attacking american democracy? hardly any at all. modest sanctions against a few
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russian individuals and entities, some russian diplomats and spies sent home to russia, two spy compounds closed, at least for now, and all of this reversible and at the discretion of the president. we must take our own side in this fight, not as republicans, not as democrats, but as americans. it's time to respond to russia's attack on american democracy with strength, with resolve, with common purpose, and with action. so i'm proud to support this amendment which would begin to do just that. this legislation incorporates some of the best ideas from different pieces of legislation already introduced in the senate, ideas which have broad bipartisan support. the amendment would impose mandatory sanctions on transactions with the russian defense or intelligence sectors, including the f.s.b. and the g.r.u., the russian military intelligence agency that was
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primarily responsible for russia's attack on our election. the amendment would impose mandatory visa bans and asset freezes on any individual that undermines the cybersecurity of public or private infrastructure and democratic institutions, and it would impose mandatory sanctions on those who support or support such activities. the amendment would codify existing sanctions on russia by placing into law executive orders signed by president obama in response to both russian interference in the 2016 elections and its illegal actions in ukraine, and it would take new steps to tighten those sanctions. the amendment would target the russian energy sector, which is controlled by vladimir putin's cronies with sanctions on investments in russian petroleum and natural gas development as well as russian energy pipelines. we also need to put additional
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pressure on the ability of putin and his cronies to move money they've looted from the russian state. so this amendment would mandate that the secretary of treasury establish a high-level task force within the department's financial crimes and enforcement network that would focus on tracing, mapping, and prosecuting illicit financial flows linked to russia if such flows interact with the united states' financial system. the task force would also work with liaison officers in key united states embassies, especially in europe to work with local authorities to uncover and prosecute the networks responsible for the illicit russian financial flows. finally, recognizing that russia seeks to undermine not just american democracy but western democracy all together, this amendment would provide support
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to the state department, the global engagement center and usaid to help build the resilience of democratic institutions in europe against russian aggression exerted through corruption, propaganda, and other forms of political interference. importantly, the legislation also mandates congressional oversight of any decision to provide any relief from these sanctions. administrations cannot waive or lift these sanctions without certifying that russia is making concrete steps toward changing its behavior on the international stage. in particular, russia needs to begin adhering to the immense protocol, roll back its occupation of crimea, and destabilizing efforts in ukraine and cease its cyber operations aimed at undermining democracy in the united states and europe. we need a strong russian
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sanctions amendment. we need it now, and we need it on this piece of legislation. we need this amendment because we have no time to waste. the united states of america needs to send a strong message to vladimir putin and any other aggressor that we will not tolerate attacks on our democracy. there's no greater threat to our freedoms than attacks on our ability to choose our own leaders free from foreign interference. and so we must act accordingly and we must act now. madam president, i'd like to thank my friend and colleague on the other side of the aisle, one of the really great remaining members of the communist party who has allowed me to speak and give this statement. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. whitehouse: madam president,
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i appreciate my colleague's sense of humor and we'll resume my remarks, the last sentence that i said is that we don't know who is behind that dark money or what they are demanding in return. despite this risk, congress has been unwilling to push back against the tide of dark money. too many are too in tow to the big american dark money emperors, like the koch brothers but once you permit dark money to flow through dark money channels, cash from vladimir putin is no more traceable than cash from charles and david koch. the kremlin's trojan horses is a study of russian influence in western europe done by the atlantic council. russia takes advantage of nontransparency in campaign financing and financial transactions, the report says,
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to build political alliances with ideologically friendly political groups and individuals as well as to establish pro-russian organizations in civil society, creating a shadowy web of political networks which help to promulgate the regime's point of view. corruption is the grid on which the electrons of russian influence flow. in the forward to the kremlin trojan horse's report, kasorsky, former foreign minister of poland who has seen this up close described what he called the financial networks that allow authoritarian regimes to export corruption to the west. he warns, electoral rules should be amended so that publicly funded political groups, primarily political parties should at the very least be
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required to report the sources of their funding. he continues that the kremlin's blatant attempts to influence and disrupt the u.s. presidential election should serve as an inspiration for a democratic pushback. well, we should certainly push back by requiring political entities in this country to report their sources of funding. another of our witnesses, heather connolly, at the center for strategic and international studies wrote about the kremlin playbook. the report, the kremlin playbook, calls corruption the common thread among these various drivers of russian influence. it is the author's right, and i quote, the lubricant on which this system operates. and she testified just today in the helsinki commission, i quote, that corruption is a
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systemic weakness within a country that is exploited and influenced by adversaries and from which no country is immune, including the united states. where russia can work in dark ms. russian -- darkness, russian acts exploit democratic institutions toput influence using corruption. russia has done this in the former soviet union and in europe for decades. and we should be prepared in the united states, miss connolly says, for them to keep doing it here. the kremlin playbook warns that to fight the corruption that gives russia this channel of influence, enhancing transparency and the effect r effectiveness of the western democratic tools, instruments, and institutions is critical to
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resilience against russian influence. miss connolly echoed the widespread warnings that the united states is particularly susceptible to russian influence via dark money channels in our politics. that is widely agreed. but she and others have warned of a second vulnerability. lax in corporation laws that hide the true owners of shell corporations. in the same way that dark money channels can hide the hand of foreign influence, so can shell corporations which obscure the hand of the entity behind the corporate screen. interestingly, "u.s.a. today" just reported, and i quote them, since president trump won the republican nomination, the majority of his companies' real estate sales are to secretive
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shell companies that obscure the buyer's entities, end quote. our lax in corporation laws have made the united states a destination for drug traffickers, terrorists, corrupt foreign officials, tax cheats, and other criminals from around the world. former f.b.i. director comey testified before the judiciary committee that the united states is becoming the last big haven for shell corporations, sickening but true. these crooks come here to america to form shell companies, to hide assets, and obscure illegal activities. for added safety, a foreign gangster or a crooked despot or an agent of putin could put a shell corporation behind a shell corporation with another shell corporation behind that. there are few safeguards in
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place to prevent foreign actors from funneling money into our elections through faceless shell companies. we actually already see shell companies used to hide the identities behind big political spending. this is not a potential. this is happening now. we just don't know whether foreign influence is behind it. nothing prevents agents of putin from being behind those hidden entities. part of the kremlin's playbook is to use shell corporations and other devices to establish illicit financial relationships with prope -- with prominent lol figures. the shell entities allow russian money to flow anonymously to
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crooked deals. the crooked deals give rise to corrupt relationships, and these corrupt relationships give russia leverage either through the carrot of continued bribery of the prominent local figure or the stick of threatened disclosure of the crooked deal imperiling the prominent local figure. the prominent local figure in the crooked deal is well and truly on the russian hook. and for what it's worth, donald trump is the very model of the russian mark in this sort of scheme. to close this avenue of foreign political influence, miss connolly told us, building and strength thing financial transparency requirements and beneficial ownership will go in an extraordinary way to prevent
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these corruption practices to further russia's influence. we really ought to be able to agree that we need to prevent these corruption practices -- corrupt practices to further russia's influence. the answer to the problem of shell corporations is simple. have each state track the actual owners of companies they charter. and make that information available to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies through proper process. that's what miss connolly means by that phrase she used, beneficial ownership. it's the term of art for a simple concept, knowing who the real owner is. the true incorporation transparency for law enforcement or title act which chairman grassley and i will reintroduce soon would require states to identify the actual human beings who own the company they incorporate. the bill would provide funding to support the maintenance and retrieval of this information which would be available to law
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enforcement officers who present valid court-ordered subpoenas or search warrants. the bill has bipartisan support. it has received strong endorsement from the law enforcement community, banks, and antitrafficking organizations. transparency in business ownership is ever more vital around the world. the european union understands very well the shadow of russian influence that has been cast over it. and every member of the european union has committed to ensuring incorporation transparency. the united kingdom, spain, germany, italy, and france have already enacted incorporation transparency laws. the light of corporate transparency is about to shine throughout europe to help defend them from russian influence.
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this means that money from those shell companies and schemes committed through those shell companies will be looking for new, dark homes likely in american shell corporations. again, we are supposed to be an example to the world. we are supposed to be the city on the hill, not the place where the world's most corrupt and criminal evil doers come to hide their cash and their assets. we know the russian playbook for election interference exploits opaque and corporation laws. we know criminals and even terrorists view the u.s. as a haven to hide illegal activity and its proceeds. we even know weirdly that lax in
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corporation laws are affecting our real estate market. some american cities are so loaded with real estate held by shell corporations that it is actually driving up the prices for real american home buyers. and of course there are not a lot of people in the corner store when a property is held for a foreign owner, as the safeguard for his illicit gains. madam president, we must take commonsense steps to stop these activities and bring wrongdoers into the light. the measures that we will take against russia are welcome, and as senator mccain has said even overdue. but we must remember that this is an ongoing


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