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tv   U.S. Senate Meets for Legislative Business  CSPAN  June 14, 2017 2:45pm-4:46pm EDT

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amendment number 240. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from tennessee, mr. corker, for mr. graham and others poses amendment number 240. mr. corker: i ask unanimous consent that reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. corker: mr. president, i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. hatch: mr. president? the presidinmr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: is there a quorum? the presiding officer: there is a quorum. mr. hatch: i ask that the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: i rise to express my deepest sympathy for the victims of this morning's shoot,
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including my good friend representative steve scalise. i pray that he, the congressional staff, and police officers who were injured in this horrific event can recover quickly. mr. president, today it not a day to -- today is not a day to reflect on our differences but on you are a common commitment to upholding the constitution and doing the work of the american people. this chamber is often divided on matters of policy, but in the face of tragedy, we are unewtowned as -- united as one. today we are together and together we recognize the local law enforcement officials who respond quickly and professionally to this morning's attack. each and every day police officers across this great nation risk their own well-being to ensure the safety of others, and they do so with little fanfare or recognition. in light of today's events, i would like to recognize in
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particular the special sacrifice of our u.s. capitol police officers, the selfless men and women who each and every day assume significant risks to keep all of us safe. i shudder to think what may have happened this morning were it not for the quick action taken by representative scalise's security detail. these courageous men returned tire to apprehend the perpetrator of this senseless and appalling act of violence. through their horrific actions, they -- through their heroic actions, they prevented a massacre, saving the lives of dozens of elected members of congress and congressional staff. today i wish to pay special tribute to these humble heroes. as far as i am concerned, our capitol police officers are the finest professionals this nation has to offer. we wave to them each morning and we walk into work.
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we say goodbye to them each night as we leave. we interact with them each day. but how often do we thank them for their service? how often do we reflect on the weight of their work? how often do we recognize them for their sacrifices? mr. president, in my opinion, had, not often not. because these police officers are such a common presence here on capitol hill, i worry that all too often we take them for granted. we should never take for granted the men and women who would willingly give up their lives to protect ours. mr. president, this morning's attack reminds us all of the thin line between peace and violence. and our capitol police officers are the first to respond when that line is crossed. today and every day these selfless men and women deserve our heartfelt thanks and appreciation.
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in paying tribute to our capitol police, i would be remiss if i failed to recognize the 23 members of my own security detail who work around the clock to keep elaine and me safe. these men and women are like family to me. over the past two and a half years, i've built a special bond with each of them. today i would like to recognize each of them individually. supervisory special agent david rib who leads the detail with assistance from team leaders jason marcelo and shane powell, john britta, jack lean french, eric holdser, eric love, bob martin, ronald lunar, benjamin o'dell, richard philis, ryan rabal, henry smith, john wittle, mica harrison, gideon moran,
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robert schultz, and charles snead. mr. president, all my years of public service, these are among the most honorable men and women i've ever worked with. greater love h -- hath no man than this. the fact that they're willing to put their lives on the line to protect all of us speaks to their selflessness. their bravery, and their love of this institution and of country. elaine and i love each of these special agents deeply. we love their families, too. and these photos, you can see one of the team leaders, jason, hard at work. jason hates this photo, which is why i blew it up for national tv. the other photo is of a trip i took to all five of utah's
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national parks last year. during this trip, my security detail was with me every step of the way. these men and women never leave my side, and today i wish to thank them with all my heart for their service and their sacrifice. these are really great people, and we've enjoyed being together -- at least i've enjoyed being with them, we'll put it that way. mr. president, as members of congress, we stand united in the aftermath of today's attack. and thanks to our brave capitol police officers, we also stand protected from those who would do us harm. because of them, we can confidently carry on the work of the american people. mr. president, these are really great human beings, men and women who literally sacrifice a lot to serve us and to back us up, to strengthen us, and to help us in times of need. they're people that i really, really admire, and all i can say is i admire those who stood up
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this morning for congressman scalise and others who were there. and especially those who were wounded. this is a wonderful institution, and we have wonderful people working with us. heroic people, people who care for this body, people who care for our country, people who care for us. and i think we ought to all thank god every day to have these good people around us. the and we ought to all take time to be kind to them, to show them how much we care, and to show them the friendship that we truly have for them. mr. president, i'm grateful that i know a number of these people, quite a number, and i'm grateful for them for what they do for all of us. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. -- i yield the floor.
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mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, let me join my friend, the senior senator from utah, the president pro tempore of the senate, in his remarks about the u.s. capitol police. all of us who work on capitol hill, all of our visitors who come here, constituents around the country, are in their debt because they literally do keep us safe and secure here on capitol hill. i do think the events this morning give rise to some additional concerns of what happens after the hill when -- off the hill when ordinarilily there might not be the sort of security measures that are necessary in place. and i think it is another wake-up call to all of us to be vigilant, to be aware of our situation, and to exercise concern for our own safety.
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but, of course, we do need to continue to look at what the needs of the capitol police are in terms of training and equipment and staffing to make sure they can continue to do the outstanding job that they have done yet again here this morning. it's safe to say that without the capitol police being present, as a result of congre congressman scalise's location there at the congressional baseball game practice, that the results of this might have been much more serious, much more tragic than they already were. and of course we're continuing to keep congressman scalise in our prayers. i was looking at the tv screen on the way out. it looks like he is out of surgery but still in critical condition. and of course we continue to think about him and his family and offer them our support and prayers. while there is a lot we don't know about this morning's incident, it's clear that 0 this
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is a new environment we're living in, and we need to do everything we can to keep our constituents safe when they visit us here on capitol hill, as well as all the staff and everybody involved. mr. president, i know at a time when people don't believe anything bipartisan happens here in washington, d.c., we've seen a remarkable vote on these iranian-russian sanctions, for a vote of 97-2, 9 97-2. so virtually every republican senator, virtually every democratic senator voted in favor of these sanctions which target two of the most aggressive regimes in the world. first the iranian regime, the number-one state sponsor of international terrorism, and secondly the russian regime, which as we all know now was so aggressively involved in trying
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to sow discord and chaos in the days leading up to the 2016 election. it is staggering really to see the extent to which russia has raised its game when it comes to disrupting core democratic undertakings likes elections. we know they are do that in the united states. we know that attempt d.o.d. that in france. -- we know that attempted to do that in france. this is part of their tradecraft, through a combination of cyber espionage, propaganda, use of social media, and then, unfortunately, sometimes-too-gullible mainstream media. we know that false stories have somehow been elevated to a level where people actually begin to believe them and causing them to distrust their own government. this is a real threat to the united states and to our
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democratic institutions. this is why i hope now, as the talk of russian collusion leading up to the election is fading because, as so many people have said, distinguished democratic leaders like senator feinstein, who served with distinction as chair of the intelligence committee, who serves on the judiciary committee and intelligence committee now, there is eno evidence of collusion in the -- there's no evidence of collusion in the election. what we need to now turn to is how do we countermeasure what russia tried to do when it comes in this so-called active measures, combination of cyber espionage, use of social media and propaganda right here in our homeland? we are a country that believes in freedom of speech and the first amendment. and sometimes that makes us more vulnerable than perhaps others where they have state-owned media because we let anybody who has a point of view express it freely. that's part of what -- that's part of our d.n.a.
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but it also means that aggressive, hostile regimes like russia can take advantage of our open society and our freedoms to try to sow discord and distrust in our own country. so i hope now that the story about -- or the allegations about collusion are fading, that we will take a serious look at how do we respond appropriately to -- with countermeasures to this sort of aggressive action on the part of russia. so i'm really pleased that a vote of 97-2, we have voted to impose sanctions on the rogue nation of iran and the rogue nation of russia. mr. president, turning to another topic, earlier this year i introduced with the senator from connecticut and the senator from nevada, senator blumenthal, senator heller, a bill called the protect our children act, and i'm proud to see it moving through the senate this week.
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this is an important piece of legislation that most people will not hear or read much about. because it's not particularly controversial, but that doesn't mean i.t. not important, and that's -- but that doesn't mean it's not important and that's why i want to talk about it briefly. this bill helps stop the exploitation of children across the country and over the internet by reauthorizing the internet crimes against children task force program. years ago when i was attorney general of texas, from 1999 until the time i came to the senate, we created in the texas attorney general's office something we called quaintly the texas internet bureau. that was cutting-edge for the time. now it's more cybercrimes unit that deals with frankly a lot of the same subject matter: child exploitation, child porn and other crimes that are committed usinusing the medium of the internet. i got a chance to see how
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quickly children can become victimized at the hand of some truly despicable individuals as well as the resources it takes to stop and prosecute these predators. one of the things we did at the texas internet bureau back in 1999 and 2000 time frame was to link up, of course, with local law enforcement officials but what we learned is not every municipal police department or county sheriff's department has the kind of expertise and has the sort of equipment that they need in order to combat this new type of crime. so through a national network of 61 coordinated task forces, it now represents 3500 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. we've now been able to comprehensible -- comprehensio comprehensionively prosecute child predators. they provide training and technical assistance in advance
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-- and advance forensic methods which is really important which trying to track the online finger prifntles -- fingerprints or footsteps of these predators who operate online. these task forces through this legislation will also help continue to facilitate community education, for example, by helping inform parents and legal guardians what they can do to help protect their own children or the people they are responsible for. tragically in this day and age, the internet's vast scope provides a dark, deep harbor for predators and it could be difficult for our law enforcement officials without the proper training and equipment to track down these child predators. this legislation ensures that they will have the resources they need to fight cyber crime and keep our communities safe. by reauthorizing these important programs until the year 2022. last week's passage through the judiciary committee was a first
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key step, and i'm thankful for the work of my colleague from connecticut, senator blumenthal and one of our principal cosponsors, senator heller from nevada. i'm hopeful we can keep moving forward with this legislation so we can get these essential programs reauthorized by passing this in the senate and then moving it on through the house and swiftly to the president's desk for signature and enactment. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. scott: thank you, mr. president, today, mr. president, we are shaking -- shaken and encouraged. my prayers remain with my friend steve scalise and his family, as well as zak barth, the congressional staffer, matt mica who was volunteering at the baseball field, and the two brave police officers, crystal greiner and david bailey. mr. president, i've played on
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the republican baseball team. i've practiced on that field, and i'm sure that no one woke up this morning imagining that this tragedy was possible. not a single player who woke up this morning who wanted to make sure that they invested their time and energy in such a way to help nonprofits around the area benefit from drawing a crowd together to watch republicans and democrats play baseball for the express and specific benefit of helping those who cannot help themselves. mr. president, i'm also encouraged today. i'm encouraged specifically by law enforcement and more specific the capitol police who because of their swift action saved lives this morning at the
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baseball stadium. thank you to men and women who put on the uniform to keep others safe and as we can tell by the injuries of crystal and david, put themselves in harm's way. i'm also encouraged that in the midst of this crisis, we have seen our country come together. we have seen this body come together. at noon today we had a prayer vigil led by senator coons, a democrat, senator lankford, a republican. we are no longer in the midst of a crisis, black americans and white americans or liberal americans or conservative americans, republicans or democrats. we aren't even swayed by the current environment of sensationalism. no, sir.
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we are simply americans blessed by god to be a part of the american family. the polarization that pulls on the fabric of this great country is very, very dangerous. too often we find ourselves splitting into smaller factions. we stop listening to others' points of view. we react immediately with hostility doubting the very intentions of folks who do not agree with your perspective. this, mr. president, is very dangerous for our future. we seem to have forgotten how to disagree without being disagreeable. and today's shooting is one of the manifestations of that.
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you know, this weekend marks two years since the massacre at mother emmanuel church in charleston, south carolina, my home, where a racist who wanted to start a race war decided that he could take advantage of the cracks in our foundation, that he could drive to charleston, south carolina, and take advantage of those cracks. but the families of the victims understanding and appreciating the notion of matthew 5: 44, loving those who seem to be your enemies, they did not allow their grief and their anger to overpower their senses. they believed in the power of love. they believed that love is more
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powerful than hate. they believed in each other. and because of their conviction, my city and my state stood together, black south carolinians and white south carolinians, and said to the world not in my place, not my city and not my state and not my houses of worship. we stood together. we did not allow this spirit of oppression and division to separate us. we allow the power of love to unite us. and so, mr. president, whether it's race or politics, whether it's gender or any other number of ways that we could be divided, we have to, i implore
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all of us to remember that we are first americans. i think back to the funerals, to the vigils. i think of my good friend from hawaii. she's not a christian. she's of another faith. she's not a republican. she's a democrat. but she flew down to south carolina only a couple of days after the massacre because two of her friends, myself and tray gowdy were attending the funerals, attending the first major events. she wanted to worship with us. she wanted to be there with us. this is a classic example of when and how our nation pulls together, setting aside our differences.
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we must work together ensuring opportunity for all, not profiting from the division in this nation, not looking for ways to get more clicks on our pages. and why is that? well, mr. president, it's simple. because america is stronger than this. america is better than this. we are the american family, and we must let love be the light to show us the way. thank you, mr. president. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. wyden: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: i ask unanimous consent, mr. president, to vacate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wyden: mr. president, i have some remarks to make with respect to health care that i'll offer in a moment, but first i want to address the events of this morning. the shooting that took place in alexandria today was a horrendous, despicable act of violence. the victims, including congressman scalise, two capitol police officers, and two others are still undergoing treatment. there is much that is still not known about what happened. there are a few things that are
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known. first, it is thanks to the extraordinary heroics of the capitol police and first responders on the scene that this shooting did not become a massacre. each and every one of us who comes to work in these buildings every day is profoundly grateful for our capitol police, our first responders, and the incredible service and protection that they provide. second, i think all of us know that this violence has visited too many of our communities. it has cost and ruined too many lives. and finally, we know that the game our colleagues were practicing for -- a charity game between rival parties
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that's held to benefit disadvantaged kids -- is going to go on as planned. the game is a show of friendship. it's a show of bipartisanship. it's an indication that as there are strong differences of opinion on the policies that we debate here on the floor of the senate, we still come together at urgent times like this and the gain which shows our commitment to friendship and bipartisanship has never been needed more than it will be tomorrow. our thoughts are now with those who are injured. it seems that everyone you run
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into here in the capitol has said that they're praying, they're rooting for a full and speedy recovery. and it's one of those moments, mr. president, when people understand that there's legislation here, there are bills, there are amendments. sometimes there's a lot of process. an amendment to the amendment to the amendment, as my wife calls it. then there are other times like this morning that are life and death. and as we reflect on those who did so much to keep it from being even worse -- a massacre -- and have our prayers for those who are
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injured. it once again puts into perspective what is so very important. now, mr. president, to the topic at hand, there have obviously been traumatic headlines in the news per tank to ties of the president with russia. and i want to be sure that what's happening here in the senate with respect to health care doesn't get drownt out. -- get drowned out. here in the senate behind closed doors, 13 senators all from the same party, all of them men, are updating the republican health care plan. the house passed its trumpcare bill by the slimmest of margins just a few weeks ago.
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the public has seen it, and based on everything i can tell, mr. president, it's gone over about as well as prolonged root canal surgery. i've heard about every imaginable concern about that house bill from oregonians. i have had 46 town hall meetings thus far this year, including four over this past weekend. so when the bill came here to the senate, my colleagues on the other side got out on the press, tamped down and claimed everything would be starting over, starting from scratch. now the public knows because it is what members of the majority party have said, that the senate version isn't going to be all that different from with barely made it from the house this spring.
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when the bill is finalized, we know it's going to be rushed to the floor, and it won't be long before debate is cut off and final votes are cast. it's a plan that relies on speed, forcing a devastating blow to american health care through the senate before our citizens can actually catch on to what's happening. this political process on this bill makes what the house has been up to look positively transparent. and the basic framework of the republican health care plan isn't going to change. millions and millions of americans will lose their health coverage. not my view. it's the view of the independent
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colorado colorado. costs are going to go up especially for those who are elderly and sicker, and those who are the fortunate few are going to get an enormous tax break. the basic framework isn't changing. and what that means is the social safety net led by medicaid which is a lifeline for kids and seniors and the disabled, that safety net is going to be under attack. the wub health system in -- the public health system in america has stood on two twin pillars since 1965. those pillars are medicare and medicaid. and the republican majority here has plan to knock one of them out beginning this year. today medicaid comes as a
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guarantee that if you're sick, if you're injured, or if you spend every day walking an economic tightrope, you're going to be able to get care when you need it. you won't be denied benefits. but trumpcare ends that guarantee. the plan republicans have on offer would dismantle medicaid as its known today, putting hard dollar limits -- hard-dollar limits on the program that put caps on care. that's what it means, mr. president, that there be caps on care. it's a scheme that puts medicaid in a vice, squeezing its funding year after year. it makes medicare a bigger priority than real world health care needs for some of the most vulnerable people in our country. 74 million americans have health
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coverage through medicaid. that thrus 37 million children. it provides prehen sieve care to millions of pregnant women and it's a leader in the fight against the opioid epidemic, and there's treatment for those who are dealing with mental health and substance abuse disorders. medicaid is a lifeline when it comes to helping kids and adults with disabilities. and then there's a nursing home benefit, something i know, mr. president, from my years as codirector of the oregon gray panthers. this is a benefit that is bedrock protection built into medicaid that helps pick up the tab for two out of three nursing home beds in america. you roll that benefit back, mr. president, and i don't see
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how seniors across this country are going to avoid living in squalor. maybe their kids can take them in. but the kids of parents that i'm talking about have told me they're walking on an economic tightrope, trying to balance the food against the fuel costs and the fuel costs against the rent costs. so my guess is if you squeeze the medicaid program tighter and tighter and tighter and states are forced to cut benefits and access to carry, as will be inevitable under trumpcare, i just don't see where you can ensure that seniors in nursing homes are going to be protected. my own view -- and this goes back to the days, as i said, mr. president, when i worked
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with seniors, the challenge with older people, the challenges that have oh, involved over the years. back then you had part a, that was hospitals, part b, that was doctors. today that's not medicare anymore. today more than 90% of the spending deals with chronic illness, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, strokes. it's a very different program but we're still going to need nursing home care for so many of our older people who have, mr. president, done everything right in life. there are mothers -- they are our mothers, fathers, grandparents, friends, they started families, built careers, they raised kids, they scrimped,
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they saved, they never went on that special vacation, they never bought the boat they would have loved to have, and they did it because they always wanted to pay for essentials and see if maybe they could set aside what they could for schooling for kids and retirement for themselves. but, mr. president, as i said, what i've seen over the years since those gray panther days is growing old in america just keeps getting more expensive for so many older people. the bills don't stop coming when you retire and most older people still live on a limited, fixed income. i saw that when my full-time work as a legal aid office for older people and the gray
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panthers and i saw those seniors having to stretch every last penny and even then it was a struggle to cover the basics. so what happens, and i'm afraid we're going to see a lot more of it, is seniors eventually spend down their savings and -- so then they face challenges when they spent down their funds. today when it comes time to pay for long-time care like nursing homes and home-based care, medicaid steps up. it is the backstop that -- a guaranteed backstop to protect our senior citizens. i don't want to undersell how much that means to people in my state and across the land. medicaid is the barrier that keeps millions of seniors from
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falling into isolation and utter destitution. there was a time in our country when seniors were cast aside. they were sent to poor farms, what were called olms houses. the wealthiest nation on earth, the freiest, wealthiest nation on earth said good-bye to the poor farms with the creation of social security, medicare, and medicaid. under the republican health care plan, unfortunately, medicaid would be slashed so deeply states are going to be force haded into cutting benefits. seniors could be nickeled and dimed for basic every day services. nursing homes could be shuttered, those places that allow seniors to live independently could be no more. i think you're going to have lots of seniors living in
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squaller and some could be out on the street. so in my view the people of our country are owed answers to key questions about this republican plan. first, how are families supposed to support their loved ones if they lose the guarantee of medicaid? one year in a nursing home costs more than $90,000 on average. that's two or three times the cost of a year of college tuition. are families going to be forced into choosing between educating their kids and supporting their elderly parents? is it going to be a fact of life for working americans that they have to cram two, three, or four generations of one family into the same house simply because they can't afford nursing home care? second, what's the backup plan for vulnerable, isolated
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seniors, particularly those who live in rural areas? i recently held a series of eight health care roundtables in rural communities across oregon just over the last few days at home in pendelton and c afternoon mden, what i heard was trumpcare cuts could hit seniors in rural america especially hard. seniors in rural communities, mr. president, have higher rates of chronic illness like heart disease and diabetes. the health care they need requires for attention and service. they count on getting top-notch care in nursing homes an from home base providers. losing these benefits could mean being alone in a home that is it unsafe cut off from the care and
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connections they need. colleagues, in the last few weeks of this debate, i heard members flatly deny that gutting medicaid by more than $800 billion will mean anybody loses access to health care services. that is just untrue. anybody who says that they can slash our health care programs by close to $1 trillion without having negative im -- a negative impact on access to health care services is just plain wrong. furthermore, i think it's time to recognize what the end goal of this debate appears to be. my republican colleagues haven't put forward a proposal to protect seniors who can't get the nursing home care they need or kids with disabilities who
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will lose the services they depend on. what republicans have on offer is not a plan that swaps one area of health care for another. these massive cuts to medicaid and other programs are going to pay for equally massive tax breaks for the fortunate few. members of this body are going to have to decide whether it's worth gutting medicaid and the important services to pay for these big tax breaks for the fortunate. in my view it should be an easy choice. my colleagues on the other side ought to drop this partisan approach, what's called reconciliation that it seems the senate is headed towards. at a minimum, the majority party ought to bring this process out from behind closed doors and give it a little bit of
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sunlight. there ought to be hearings convened in the finance committee and other committees of jurisdiction as there were again and again in 2008 and 2009. i don't see how, when you're talking about one-sixth of the american economy, what is the premier issue and always will be are people and their loved ones having their health, i don't see how you make an argument for not having a debate out of in the -- out in the open. there has to be a public debate. the legislation ought to be written in the light of day, and then our people ought to have ample time to review it before it goes up for a single vote either in committee or here on the floor. and i'm going to close, mr. president, in terms of
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something that i especially think about today, the big challenges of our time. you've to get to deal with in bipartisan fashion in order to, one, get them right, and, two, make them sustainable. the president of the senate knows this. he and i have spent many, many months working on key economic issues recently put together a bipartisan bill on infrastructure. health care is particularly important because when you're talking about providing care for over 300 million americans, you've got to really think through what the consequences are and often when you take a
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step over here, it ripples up over there and that's why it seems to me that it's so important that the republican majority set aside this partisan our way or the highway approach and get back to working together to find common ground. i had a piece of legislation, when we were debating health care in 2008 and 2009, eight democratic senators, eight republican senators, first time -- first time in the history of this body that we had that. there are republicans and democrats who continue to serve in this body who are cosponsors of that legislation. it's called the healthy americans act. we got some of what we thought was important into the affordable care act. in particular, a provision that i think the american people
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really want to think about in the days ahead, and that is in our bill with the 16 senators, we had airtight loophole-free protection for those with preexisting conditions. there wasn't any way to hit them with extra costs, discriminate against them because they had a preexisting condition. we said that we wouldn't stand for that because if you allow discrimination against those with preexisting conditions, you take america back to the days when health care was for the healthy and wealthy. if you're healthy, don't have a preexisting condition, if you're wealthy, you can pay for care. we can't go back there. but the house bill basically allows states to get waivers so they could start unraveling that
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and punch big holes into that guarantee of airtight protection for those with preexisting conditions. and if the majority will set aside this partisan-only we're doing it our way kind of approach, what you've heard from colleagues on my side is that there is very, very significant interest in working together to deal with the key challenges. one of them obviously is more competition in the insurance markets, particularly as it relates to individual insurance. you do that and you take the insurers off this roller coaster so they have some certainty and predict ability, --
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predictability, you can stabilize the private insurance market. we ought to work together on bringing down prescription drug prices. our people tell us every time we're home that these prescription drug price increases are hitting them like a wrecking ball. i've introduced approaches that i think can get bipartisan and there are others who have as well. but that's how you do it right. that's how you find common ground is you take time to take each other's good ideas. bipartisanship isn't about taking each other's lousy ideas. bipartisanship is about taking each other's good ideas, and it there are good ideas on both sides of the aisle to stabilize the private insurance market and hold down prescription drug prices. but this idea of reconciliation
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where we're all just going to do it our way, that's the republican approach, the partisan approach, and features in that approach is devastating cuts to medicaid that is a nonstarter. so i come to the floor this afternoon, mr. president, particularly given years of interest in trying to find bipartisan common ground on health care, to urge my colleagues to abandon this approach that's being pursued behind closed doors, that nobody knows anything about, that really seems unprecedented in terms of dealing with the sixth of the economy, i urge my colleagues to abandon the partisan approach of
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reconciliation, work with colleagues on this side on a bipartisan basis, and i close simply by way of saying i want to come to the floor today to try and be back tomorrow to outline other challenges ahead in health care, and i urge the american people across this country in every corner of our nation to make their voices heard. i yield the floor. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. a senator: i move we suspend the
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quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blunt: mr. president, i'm here today to urge support of the act that counters iran's devastating and destabilizing activities. i'm proud to be a cosponsor of the bill. this bill would expand sanctions on individuals who are contributing to iran's ballistic missile program, supporting international terrorism are violating the arms embargo against iran. iran is one of the key principal state sponsors of terrorism in the world. in fact, the obama administration said it was the number one sponsor of state terrorism in the world. it's a destabilizing force for its neighbors, and it's a destabilizing force for a more peaceful world. the iranians provide financial and material support to groups like hamas, hezbollah, militias in iraq, and a host of other
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terrorist groups. they have threatened to wipe out our closest ally in the middle east, israel. they said they have wiped them off the map, and they continue to violate international restrictions by advancing their ballistic missile program. former director of national intelligence james clapper, when he testified in front of the senate armed services committee in february of 2016, said that iran's ballistic missiles are inherently capable of delivering weapons of mass des trucks and tehran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the middle east. by one estimate, iran may have conducted as many as 14 missile tests since the obama administration's nuclear agreement, also known as the joint comprehensive plan of action went into effect. apparently, the joint comprehensive plan of action meant that iran could take any
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action it wanted if you looked at what iran is doing today. they violated multiple legally binding embargoes established by the u.n. security council. on a trip to saudi arabia in april, defense secretary james mattis noted that iran continues to violate multiple arms embargoes, saying we have seen iranian supply of missiles being filed by the houthis into saudi arabia. i think at one point secretary mattis said anywhere you look at the disrupted middle east, iran is there. is this action and others directly violate what iran agreed not to do and agreed the behavior that they said they would be -- they said would be their future behave. with their ongoing support of international terrorist organizations, the director of national intelligence dan coats
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testified in front of the senate select committee on intelligence in an open hearing on may 7, 2 201, that iran, just to double down on what his predecessor says, secretary coats said, coat -- or director coats said, quote, iran continues to be the foremost state sponsor of terrorism. now, if iran is the principal state sponsor of terrorism, the foremost state sponsor of terrorism, certainly we should take some action, mr. president, and this bill does that. whether it is action supporting the rebels in yemen or the brutal dictator bashar al-assad in syria, iran is clearly there and clearly a force for bad not good. the legislation the senate is considering this week would go a long way toward holding iran accountable. countering iran's destabilizing
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act codifies sanctions against -- that are directed at all three of these illicit activities and behave we should condemn. the ballistic missile tests by this country, arms embargo violations -- and by this company, i mean iran -- arms embargo violations by iran and support of terrorism by iran as well as iran's own systematic abuse of human rights in its own country. there is no way to criticize that government without fear of abuse or worse. specifically, the bill directs the president to impose sanctions on any person who knowingly engages in any activity that materially contributes to the iranian ballistic missile program activities or any other program for which a system to deliver a weapon of mass destruction is
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involved or any person who contributes to the transfer of certain arms to or from iran. the bill also directs the secretary of state to submit to the appropriate congressional committees a list of people the state department has determined to be responsible for gross human rights violations against individuals who seek to promote human rights. the bill further provides that the president may block any property these human rights abusers have in the united states. this measure also addresses iran's continued support for terrorism. scif order 1322d. -- executive order 13224 sanctions entities determined to be supporting international terrorism, and let me remind you, mr. speaker, that the last two directors of national intelligence have both said that the number-one supporter of international
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terrorism -- of terrorism is iran. several iranian-related entities have already been sanctioned under that order, but not surprisingly the islamic revolutionary guard corps. this bill makes a finding that that corps is responsible for supporting terrorism and requires that the sanctions of the executive order i mentioned be applied. this bill does not violate the nuclear agreement with iran. as the obama administration said repeatedly, the nuclear agreement was about providing iran, quote, relief from nuclear-related sanctions. i may come back to that later. but this nuclear agreement does not require the united states to look the other way as iran continues to violate international norms on ballistic missile testing and violations of the arms embargo.
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let me also say, mr. president, that the agreement the iranian nuclear -- the iranian nuclear agreement was just an agreement between the leaders of the two governments. it wasn't a treaty. the president never trade to defend it as a treaty. the congress didn't approve it as a treaty, and it is no more of a binding treaty than anything else that a president on their own would decide they'd enter into and hope the next president would agree with their decision. secretary of state john kerry said in the final days of his service as secretary of state, quote, we still have serious differences with the government of iran and will continue to push back on its support of terrorism, it's disregard for human rights and destabilizing regional activities. this bill delivers the pushback that secretary of state john kerry called for. despite the hopes that the previous administration had for moderation -- remember that
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debate about how once we entered into this agreement it would strengthen the forces of moderation in iran -- iran has increased its destructive activities since the 2015 joint comprehensive plan of action. strengthening sanctions on iran is an appropriate response in iran's continued aggression. again, because these sanctions are directed only as actions outside the nuclear sphere, the legislation in no way violates the letter or spirit of that agreement. the iran sanctions regime is the best tool we have to hold iran accountable and one we should continue to keep at the forefront of our policy. in april, secretary rex tillerson sent to congress, as required by the iran nuclear agreement review act, the latest certification that iran is implementing the nuclear agreement. in his message, secretary tillerson pointed out that, quote, iran remains a leading
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state sponsor of terror. how we would have ever put a leading state sponsor of terror on a path to having a nuclear weapon -- all the things we're concerneconcerned about in norta we have guaranteed in iran, unless some future president -- president trump or some future president -- decides this is not the direction we can continue on. secretary tillerson also said that president trump has ordered an interagency review to evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to iran pursuant to the agreement is vital to the national security interests of the united states. he concluded by saying that when this review is complete, quote, the administration looks forward to working with congress on this issue. this is a positive step, mr. president. that review need not constrain the use of sanctions to hold iran accountable for its other
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bad behavior. i'd just like to real estate mind d. -- remind everyone that iran has already gained access to more than $100 billion in sanctions relief, some of which is likely to be fueled to terrorists aligned with iran. remember the delivery of cash to iran, where our government said that some of that cash would likely go, what an outrageous thing for us to be part of. the number-one sponsor of terrorism in the world deserves to be sanctioned. individuals who are part of those activities deserve to be specifically sanctioned. this bill will do that. i urge my colleagues to support the bill and the amendment that was voted on today and look forward to that action being taken later this week.
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mr. barrasso: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, republicans continue to come to the floor to talk about the urgent need that we have to reform america's health care system. the reason we continue to do this, mr. president, is because the pain of obamacare is getting worse. we're seeing it all across the country. the health care system in this country has been devastated by a law known as obamacare. yet every weekend at home i history, as republicans all around the country hear, about the costs that have been spiraling out of control. out of control -- double on the obamacare exchanges we hear across the country but in many states even more than that. in wyoming up 107% over the past four years. we also hear from people at home about how their specific
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premiums on the exchange they're worried about them going even higher next year. so not only have they doubled, but they're worried about going up again. just this past week we've heard stories about numbers that have been requested for increases in new hampshire, in new york, in maine. er you're hearing it all across the country. i hear it every weekend in wyoming. people are very concerned about the impact that obamacare has on their lives personally. many will tell you that they believe that the insurance that they bought under obamacare has been of not less value than they would have liked and many people are not buying because they see that the value is not there. so when we hear about these increasing rates and we hear about the fact that it's going to even get worse, people are saying, the cost have gone up. maybe we ought to try to shop around. maybe we can find more choices. the problem is the choices are
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gimmick down as well. -- are going down as well. insurance companies are continuing to drop out of the obamacare plan so people around the country are having fewer and fewer choices. last sunday, headline in "the wall street journal," "another area loses last whereby last -- a.c.a. insurer." not just that they have fewer. now we're looking at places in the country where there are no choices. in wyoming we had two. one of the companies went out of business. they're down one. that company has lost money. the question is how long will they stay in how much higher will they have to raise rates under obamacare? will we be at a point% the counties in our state instead of having one have none? this article in "the wall street journal" last week says, washington state has no insurer -- none -- willing to offer affordable care act plans next year in some of its 39 counties. a few days earlier, we heard the
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news for the people in a similar situation in ohio. 18 counties in ohio next year, no plans offered. so if you have obamacare and you're going to get a subsidy, fleece place to use the subsidy. you have to choirs. we have warned from the beginning about the obamacare death spiral and we're seeing it happen here and for people living in those counties in ohio and those counties in washington, the insurance death spiral is complete. there is no insurance market. there is no one offering to sell insurance because of the damage done by obamacare to the insurance market in the united states. so you have millions of people across the country who have been harmed by the higher costs and the fewer and fewer choices available under obamacare. they've lost the coverage they had, care is not available to them in the sense that their insurance is not available to them, and the options are shrinking all across the country and have completely gone away in certain places. now, if you are someone who is
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living with a preexisting condition and so much of the debate -- and i hear my colleagues from the other side of the aisle come to the floor and talk about preexisting conditions. if you're someone in any of these counties and you have a preexisting condition and the company that you buy your insurance from goes out of business, and there is no one to sell you insurance in the county in which you live, and you have a preexisting condition, under obamacare, you are out of luck. you may get a subsidy, but you cannot buy a policy. so under obamacare, preexisting conditions are not covered if there is no one available to sell a policy, and we're seeing more and more counties falling into that situation. almost full-page map in the york times earlier this week of the number of counties across the country where there are only two insurance companies selling, or one, or none at all. that is the problem that we have all across the country.
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and we predicted this. this disaster of obamacare was entirely predictable. republicans came to the floor as it was being debated, as it was being discussed, as democrats were voting on it, and we continued to point out that we are in a situation -- we would be in a situation of free-fall, and we are now in that situation with obamacare. republicans know what we need to do. we're trying to stabilize the market. we want to protect people with preexisting conditions. we want to lower the cost of premiums. we don't want the rug to be pulled out from everyone, and we're trying to reform medicaid in a way that provides long-term stability to that program. well, finally, after all of these years of talking about the problems with obamacare and so many democrats with blinders on wanting to just apply a blank check to the problem saying more money, more obamacare, finally now some democrats are saying yeah, there are problems with obamacare. the problem, mr. president, is their solution is the wrong solution. what they want to do is make the
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problem even bigger, and we've seen it in california this past year. actually just a week ago the california senate, after calls calls -- and it's a democrat-controlled senate -- after calls from people throughout their political party and at their political convention a couple of weeks ago have aid -- said we know what to do, single-payer health. that's what they proposed and it passed along party lines. who is that single payer? it's the american taxpayer. the democrat-controlled senate in california passed a single-payer health care bill. cradle to grave, everyone covered, anything you need, you got it, it says in california. you know, mr. president, i served in the wyoming state legislature. you served at your state level in the legislature. we do something called a fiscal note. what is something like this going to cost? they did the same thing in
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california. the fiscal note was $400 billion a year. want to put it into perspective, how does that fit into the state budget? well, the full cost, the general fund for the state of california for a year, where they just passed a bill for $400 billion, is only $190 billion. the total cost of what the state senate of california passed is twice the entire general fund of the state of california. you know, what's happened in other places where they said we need a single-payer plan, as they have done in canada and england is it leads to longer lines, waiting periods and the rationing of care. that is not what the american people want, but it is what the democrat party is proposing and actually voted for in the state of california. this was a headline in "the new york times" just the other day, quote, the single payer party,
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democrats shift left on health care. the article goes on to say that in terms of the democrats, cast out of power in washington and most state capitals, democrats and activist leaders seeking political redemption have embraced an unlikely seeming cause, it says, an actual government takeover of health care. "new york times" about what's passed in california and what democrats around the country are proposing, and in the u.s. house of representatives, right down the hall of this building in the u.s. house of representatives, a majority of the democrats have cosponsored legislation to go to a single-payer health care plan. a majority of the democrats in the house, single-payer health care plan. it's not what hardworking americans want. that's not what struggling small business owners want. that's not what the people of wyoming want. the people at home already can't afford to pay for the insurance that has been mandated that they
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buy under the obama health care law. they can't afford the penalties. they can't afford the insurance. and they want health care. care they need from a doctor they choose at lower costs. how in the world is this country going to afford higher taxes to pay for democrats' single-payer fantasy? but that's what they're looking at out in california. to double the cost of the state general fund, you're talking about raising taxes as well as probably eliminating some services. you have to eliminate teachers, firefighters, public safety workers. those are the things you have to wonder about when they make such an irresponsible decision in the california state senate. you know, ronald reagan, i think he said it best when he said you can't be for big government and big taxes and a big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy. ronald reagan had it right. now, washington democrats want to ignore that. small business owners know what democrats in washington, d.c.
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and in california refuse to acknowledge right now. small business owners know it. the democrats won't acknowledge it. people around the country realize that obamacare is not working. it's why we elected a republican house, a republican senate, a republican president, because of the pain caused by the american people under the obamacare health care law which mandated everybody buy a government-approved product, and the costs have gone up, the choices have gone down, and people are left in a state where this is not what works for us. so here we are. we're on the cusp of coming out with a republican plan. we're trying to do it with our legislation, writing reform plan to reduce health care costs, improve access to insurance without the mandates and the restrictions that we have seen under the obama health care law. i think democrats should join us in finding the best solutions
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for the american people. the time to act is now, because as we see from week to week, more pulling out of the -- more of those who sell insurance are pulling out. people with preexisting conditions who lose their coverage will have nowhere to turn under obamacare. and we continue to fight for our patients. as a doctor, i know what patients need, and it's the care they need from a doctor they choose, at lower costs. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. 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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