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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  February 7, 2018 11:30am-1:31pm EST

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resolution in government funding past tomorrow it and not pick the senate likely to take it up at some point. we mentioned it negotiations still underway on the floor. follow it all on c-span2 in the senate. in the house on c-span and all of our coverage at c-span.org. we will go live now to the senate floor as they continue work on the house pass defense spending bill. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, how can we serve you today? what do you want us to do for your kingdom?
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today, use the lives and labors of our lawmakers to make our nation and world better. remind our senators that although there will be hills and valleys as they strive to accomplish your purpose, you will always be with them, even until the end of time. lord, inspire our legislators to know that you have begun a good work in them and will carry it on to completion. sustain them with your grace and never let them go. we pray in your merciful name.
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amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of the house message to accompany h.r. 695, which the clerk will report. the clerk: house message to
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accompany h.r. 695, an act to amend the national child protection act of 1993 and so forth and for other purposes.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. a senator: thank you, mr. president, for the recognition. mr. udall: i came to the floor today to talk a little bit about rule of law and president trump's approach to what has happened as far as the mueller investigation. the rule of law has protected our nation's democracy, institutions, and citizens for over 200 years. it means that no one person is above the law, no one, not even the president. president trump does not seem to respect the rule of law.
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he acts as if the law doesn't apply to him. he believes that he can steer the wheels of justice in can whichever direction he wants to shield himself from lawful investigation. this president is willing to risk national security, to defy the judgment of the f.b.i. director and his team, and release classified material for his own political purposes. think about that. the president of the united states just declassified a top secret document, and he did it with the clear intent to undermine the investigation into russian interference in our election. his actions should end any doubt about his willingness to obstruct justice. after he disclassified the nunes memo, president trump said, and i quote here, a lot of people should be ashamed of themselves. it's a disgrace what's happened in our country. end quote. this is one of the rare times
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i've agreed with president trump. it is a disgrace what's happened in our country, but not for the reasons the president gives. russia's cyber attacks and other potential operations during the 2016 election represented a direct strike at our democracy. i cannot think of a time when our national interest has been so threatened and the president of the united states has ignored the threat. not only has this president turned a blind eye to russia's interference, but he has done nothing to prevent future attacks. he ignores the threat even though the c.i.a. director says russia will try to interfere in our elections again. instead, he has done everything he can to curry favor with vladimir putin. he should be ashamed of himself. unfortunately, he has demonstrated time and time again that he is incapable of shame,
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but he is not alone. many members of his party should be ashamed for enabling the president to undermine the special counsel investigation, for enabling his defamation of career public servants, and for remaining silent in the face of a growing crisis. the president has made clear he does not like special counsel mueller and deputy attorney general rosenstein's independence and commitment to the rule of law, and he's had an eye on getting rid of them for quite a while. we learned he considered firing them last june and we have known for many months from the president's own admission that he fired f.b.i. director james comey to stop the russia investigation. these men have dedicated their lives to serving our country. mr. mueller served as a federal prosecutor and department of justice lawyer for much of his
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career and was appointed as f.b.i. director in 2001 by president bush. mr. rosenstein is also a career federal prosecutor and was appointed as a u.s. attorney by president george w. bush. the president has said many times -- and i quote here -- there was no collusion. if that's true, why does the president go to such great lengths to undermine the investigation? the president's intentions are transparent and dangerous. he fails to accept that mr. mueller and mr. rosenstein swore an oath to the constitution. because they will not pledge their loyalty to him, he is bound and determined to stop the investigation into his potential wrongdoing. but the republican leader has delayed bringing forward bipartisan legislation to protect mr. mueller from arbitrary dismissal. in light of recent events,
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congress must act. the special counsel needs protection to do his job. he shouldn't have interference from the president and his partisan supporters. in the senate appropriations bill for the department of justice, i included language directing the department of justice to abide by its current regulations for the special counsel, but it's clear to me we must do a lot more. during the watergate investigation, eugene mccarthy said, and i quote here, this is the time for all good people not to go to the aid of their party but to come to the aid of their country, end quote. it is time for all members of congress to come to the aid of our country and ensure that mr. mueller and his team are able to gather the facts and draw their conclusions without obstruction. it is astonishing that president
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trump still calls the russia investigation a witch-hunt. our government's 17 law enforcement and national security agencies all reached the conclusion that russia actively interfered with our presidential election through hacking, national party computers, through leaking information, and spreading disinformation over media and social media outlets. the president's continued refusal to address this threat is unconscionable and betrays our national interests. mr. mueller's investigation into russian interference is justified by the evidence and it is imperative. so we also have abundant evidence that the president tried to interfear with the department of justice and f.b.i. investigation. the president's firing of the f.b.i. director james comey because of, quote, the russian
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thing is what landed him a special counsel in the first place. why did the president want a pledge of personal loyalty from mr. comey and mr. rosenstein? why did he ask mr. comey to drop the investigation of mr. flynn? why is the president so angry at attorney general sessions for recusing himself from the investigation? and why did the president need the attorney general to not recuse to, quote, protect him? the evidence of interference with an ongoing investigation is enough reason to investigate. we all remember president nixon's chief transgression was the cover-up, and despite a constant refrain of denials from the president and his campaign and despite these denials from the president's campaign that they didn't have any connection with russia, we know that there were many connections.
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former national security advisor michael flynn pled guilty to lying to the f.b.i. about his december 22, 2016, conversation with the russian ambassador about relieving u.s. sanctions imposed for russia's interference. campaign foreign advisor george papadopoulos pled guilty to lying to the f.b.i. about his contacts with people connected to the russian government. former campaign manager paul man a fort -- manafort is charged in a federal indictment as acting as a foreign agent for the pro-russian ukraine government. the president's son don jr., his son-in-law and paul manafort all met with foreign operatives to gather dirt on hillary clinton. and then the president personally dictated a press statement misrepresenting the nature of the meeting. these are just a few of the connections. mr. president, i'd like to place into the record a november 13,
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2017, article from the "washington post." it chronicles many of the meetings between the trump campaign officials and the russians during the campaign, too long to go into here. i will ask consent to put that article in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. udall: thank you, mr. president. but neither the compelling evidence justifying investigation nor mr. mueller's credentials have stopped the president and his friends in congress from attacking both. representative nunes nominally recused himself from the trump collusion investigation in the house intelligence committee, but he and his colleagues on the committee have now released a memo based on incomplete and misleading information. with the president's full backing, this is despite a warning from the f.b.i. against the release and the speaker will do nothing to rein in him or his committee members. the president's attacks on the
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independence of our nation's premier law enforcement agency mirror his attacks on our other foundational institutions. he has maligned the judiciary, he has maligned the press. he attacks and disrespects our foundational principles, separation of powers, free speech, religion, and equality under the law. this is in addition to the president's regular assault on the truth. "the washington post" counted at least 2,000 times where this president departed from the truth in his first year in office. the white house and its allies in congress must stop their baseless attacks on mr. mueller and his team. they must let them do their job and find the facts. we must ensure the independence of prosecutors so we can ensure investigation and outcomes are
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fair and impartial. why is the president going to such lengths to fight this investigation? we do not know, but we do know that a foreign power, russia, interfered in our last election, and we do know that the president and his team have had significant business links to russian financial interests. and the president's family business continues today but does so while concealing his tax returns and keeping their business partners secret. on top of that, the trump administration has become much more accommodating of russian interests. are these things connected in some way? we need to know. that's why the special counsel's investigation is so important. now is the time for every member of congress to put the country ahead of politics. special counsel mueller must be
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able to do his job, to follow the facts wherever they may lead, and to draw his conclusions. congress must pass legislation to protect the special counsel from being arbitrarily fired, not serve as the president's lieutenants in an unprecedented assault on the rule of law. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call: a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. ms. warren: mr. president, are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. ms. warren: i ask the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. warren: thank you, mr. president. one year ago today i came to the senate floor to oppose the nomination of jeff sessions to lead the department of justice. the justice department is charged with defending our laws and standing up for all people, regardless of color, sex, sexual
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orientation, religion, or ability. that night i described jeff sessions' appalling record on nearly every major national issue handled by the justice department, including civil rights, immigration, and criminal justice reform. that night i also read a letter that coretta scott king sent to the judiciary committee in 1986 opposing sessions' nomination to serve as a federal judge. mrs. king wrote a vivid account of how jeff sessions as a u.s. attorney in the 1980's had, quote, used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of that vote by black citizens. that letter had been a part of the senate judiciary committee's records for more than 30 years. it helped sink the nomination of jeff sessions for the federal judgeship for which he'd been nominated back in the 1980's,
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and i hoped by reminding the senate of its bipartisan rejection of sessions in the 1980's, that letter might help us once again come together in a bipartisan way to say that this kind of bigotry shouldn't be allowed in our criminal justice system. that was my plan. but for reading those words, the words of an icon of the civil rights movement, i was booted off the senate floor. every one of my republican colleagues present that night voted to shut me up for reading mrs. king's words. and the next day every single republican voted to confirm jeff sessions, a man deemed too racist to hold a federal court judgeship in 1986. nope. they confirmed him to lead the agency charged with defending
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justice for all americans. and now it's been one year since the republican controlled senate made jeff sessions attorney general of the united states, and i wish i could say that i was wrong. i actually really do. but coretta scott king's warnings ring even louder today than they did in 1986. on issue after issue, jeff sessions' justice department has failed in its mission to promote justice for all americans. instead, sessions has taken the department in exactly the opposite direction. so, let's make a list. start with voting. in 1986, mrs. king warned us that sessions had used the awesome power of his office as an alabama prosecutor to chill the free exercise of the vote by african americans. as attorney general, he's continued that crusade targeting
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not only african americans but latinos, the elderly, veterans, and other marginalized groups. only weeks after sessions took the reins, the justice department abandoned its legal challenge of a texas voter i.d. law that intentionally discriminated against voters of color. later, the department argued that it should be easier -- easier for states to strike eligible voters from their voting rolls, a proven way to prevent citizens from voting. sessions has eagerly embraced president trump's make believe, fact-free conspiracy theories about voter fraud condoning the president's voter suppression commission and engaging in state-level inquiries into voter databases. next on the list, defending all americans, equal protection under the law. in her letter, coretta scott king warned that jeff sessions
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would undermine equality under the law. and sure enough, when jeff sessions took over at the justice department, he immediately got to work reversing the agency's prior efforts to defend laws and policies that protect americans from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender i. identity. sessions' justice department has rescinded guidance protecting transgender students and workers from illegal discrimination. the same day that president trump used twitter to announce that he was banning transgender individuals from serving in the military, the justice department filed a legal brief reflecting sessions' view that our great civil rights laws don't protect gay americans from discrimination, despite rulings by other federal courts and guidance from the equal employment opportunity commission reaching the opposite conclusion.
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and the sessions justice department has gone out of its way to argue in the supreme court that business owners should be able to deny service to gay customers. in 1986, mrs. king wrote, quote, i do not believe jeff sessions possesses the requisite judgment, competence, and sensitivity to the rights guaranteed by the federal civil rights laws to qualify for appointment to the federal district court. it's clear that sessions has not acquired those skills in the 32 years since mrs. king issued her warning. third, criminal justice. jeff sessions is using the monumental power of his office to invert our criminal justice system. for too long in america, we have had a dual justice system, one sympathetic, soft on crime system for the rich and another
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ineffective, cruel system for everyone else. coretta scott king told us about sessions' role in this broken system when she wrote that he, quote, exhillsborough countied an -- exhillsborough countied -- exhibited an eagerness to bring to trial and convict black civil rights leaders despite evidence clearly demonstrating their innocence of any wrongdoing. meanwhile, she said, he quote, ignored allegations of similar behavior by whites. in recent years, we have made some progress away from that broken system implementing proven reforms that make our communities safer. jeff sessions has worked with laser-like focus to reverse those gains. just last week, sessions effectively closed an office within the justice department that helped make legal aid more accessible to people who don't have enough money to pay for a lawyer.
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and that, just the tip of the iceberg. under jeff sessions, the u justice department killed off a reform initiative that allowed local police departments to voluntarily partner with the federal government to improve policing. the justice department has abandoned its long-standing efforts to hold local police forces accountable when they routinely and systematically violated constitutional rights of american citizens. justice ends the -- sessions ends the justice smart on crime initiative which allowed prosecutors to divert some low-level, nonviolent offenders into rehab programs. this was a program that saved money, avoided incarceration and improved safety in our communities, and it improved the lives of these offenders and their families. instead, sessions instructed all protect prosecute -- prosecutors to bury low-level, nonviolent drug offenders under the most
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serious charges possible guaranteeing the longest prison terms possible. sessions even rolled back efforts to take weapons of war off our streets, lifting commonsense restrictions on the transfer of military-grade weapons to local police departments, weapons of war, like grenade launchers and armored vehicles that belong on battlefields, not on streets where our kids ride their bicycles and walk to school, weapons that even the pentagon cannot justify handing over to local police. and next, immigration. as a senator, jeff sessions was antiimmigration extremist who led multiple successful campaigns to defeat bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform. as a senator, he urged deporting dreamers who were brought to the united states as kids.
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now, as the head of the justice department, he has continued his ugly antiimmigrant rampage. he has zealously defended every illegal and immoral version of president trump's muslim ban. he has used the department to try to cut off aid to cities and states that prioritize keeping their communities safe over being part of his national deportation force. and while it was donald trump who ordered it, jeff sessions himself announced the end to the deferred action for childhood arrivals or daca program subjecting 800,000 dreamers to deportation. so there it is. coretta scott king's words about jeff sessions were true in 1986. they were true in 2017. and they remain true today. on jeff sessions' watch, the justice department has promoted
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voter suppression. on his watch the justice department has endorsed discrimination. on his watch the justice department has reversed efforts to reform our broken criminal justice system. and on his watch, the justice department has led an all-out bigotry-fueled attack on immigrants and refugees. all of this, all of it was predictable. all of this, all of it was foreseeable. all of this, all of it could have been avoided if just a few republican senators had stood up for fair and impartial justice. but they didn't, not one. so here we are. and here's the ultimate irony. president trump turned on his attorney general. why? not over voting or equal rights or criminal justice or immigration.
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nope. the president turned on sessions because sessions formally recused himself from a law enforcement investigation into the president's ties to russia. sessions has graveled but donald trump will never forgive the sin of failing to serve donald trump personally. jeff sessions, president trump, and this republican congress seem to think that they can stoke the fires of hatred and division without being consumed by them. and maybe they can for a time. but people are resisting and persisting. states and cities are stepping up to defend civil rights under assault by the federal government. the american people are showing up in the streets, in the airports, in the courtrooms, and even at the polls to hold this government accountable.
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and they will continue to show up and to fight day in and day out, to fight for fairness, to fight for equality, to fight for liberty and justice for all. republicans tried to silence coretta scott king for speaking the truth about jeff sessions. they tried to silence me for reading mrs. king's words on the senate floor. they've tried to silence all of us from speaking out, but instead of shutting us up, they have made us louder. warn us. give us explanations. nevertheless, we will persist and we will win. thank you, madam 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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mr. barrasso: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: last week, president trump gave the state of the union address. it was full of the same optimism and confidence i have heard the past year from the people of wyoming. i imagine it's exactly the same thing you have heard in your home state of iowa as well. as the president said, this is our new american moment. this is our new american moment. and i agree. the american economy is back on the right track. it's going to take a lot of hard work for us to stay on the right track. some of that work involves building our country's infrastructure, america's roads, bridges, dams, highways, and ports. they are critical to our nation's success. republicans know it. democrats know it. the american society of civil engineers gives america's infrastructure a poor grade.
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one out of every five miles of highway pavement is in bad condition. as chairman of the environment and public works committee, i'm committed to improving this situation by working with the president and with members of both parties. we need a fix, and we need to fix a lot of our aging infrastructure. to do that, we need a robust, fiscally responsible infrastructure plan that makes it easier to start and to finish these projects more quickly. now, i was chairman of the transportation committee in the wyoming state senate. i saw how we could make projects less costly and more efficient if we could just speed up and streamline the permit process and the approval process for the projects to get done. madam president, we have a project back home to rebuild a highway interchange in the northern part of sheridan county in sheridan, wyoming. it took 14 years to develop to
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get the approval and planning and permitting for this interchange that needed to be built for safety purposes. the actual construction, less than two years. this is a safety project. it's important for trucks and cars that go through this part of our state to do it in the safest way possible. anything that we can do as members of the e.p.w. committee and as members of the senate to make sure that we can finish projects like this one faster is going to be better for our communities. it's going to be better for people's safety. now, according to the bipartisan policy center, there are 59 different reviews and permits that an infrastructure project may need to get. 59 different reviews and permits. there are a dozen different agencies that can slow projects down along the way. that's just at the federal level. one of the steps that takes the longest amount of time is what they call an environmental impact statement. we all agree we need to make sure that big construction
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projects don't damage the environment. the problem is that these reviews have taken on a life of their own. they now take an average of five years to complete. five years. that's just one type of review that the construction projects have to go through before workers can put a shovel in the ground. regulations and red tape have become unreasonable. they have become excessive. there was a study recently that looked at all of these regulatory delays and the cost of the delays. it found that the cost of delaying the start of all of these public infrastructure projects in this country by doing it by six-year delay is over $3 trillion. not millions. not billions. $3.7 trillion. so think of how much we could actually accomplish, how much we could save if we could cut out these delays just a little bit.
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that's what's possible. in 2011, the obama administration picked 14 infrastructure projects for what they called expedited review. one of the projects is a new bridge in new york. well, for new york, they managed to do the environmental impact statement in just 11 months. why should it take 12 years in wyoming? 11 months for new york. it's five years normally, and less than a year with this expedited plan. this proves that washington can do these reviews and can do this permitting faster when it wants to. the problem is washington usually doesn't care if these projects get done any faster. president trump understands this completely, and he has shown that he intends to change the mindset in washington. you know, it's interesting when you remember that george washington was a surveyor long before he was our first president. i don't think we had a presidena
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president since that who has president trump's experience in building things and dealing with all of the challenges that come with what we have seen from the times of washington and jefferson. president trump understands that the shorter we can make the permit process, the better. these are projects that can save lives. they can provide economic opportunities in town halls and in communities all across the country, is what we are hearing in town halls when we talk to people. when we cut the washington regulations and red tape, we allow for more economic growth. that's what republicans have been doing for the past year, because as soon as president trump took office, republicans in congress began striking down unnecessary burdensome regulations, costly regulations by the obama administration. there you are. republicans wiped 15 of these major rules off the books. a major rule is one that has a cost of time and money to comply with the rule where it adds up
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to $100 million or more. this is going to save americans as much as $36 billion. total saved so far, $36 billion. the trump administration has been very active in cutting needless regulations as well. the president froze action on over 2,000 obama administration rules that hadn't taken effect yet. this is one of the first things that president trump did. it is what he is committed to do. he has said for every significant new regulation washington writes, this administration would offset it by getting rid of two other rules. for every one new regulation, get rid of two. that's how to make a real difference in washington, and we're seeing it with the trump administration. that's how to free the american people so they can get back to work. the economy has responded all across the country. new employment numbers came out last friday. the american economy has created more than two million jobs since president trump took office. the unemployment rate is down to
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4.1%. wages, wages are up by almost 3% over the past year. the associated press had a headline on friday that said u.s. added strong 200,000 jobs in january, pay up most in eight years. 2 -- 200,000 jobs in january. the 200,000 jobs in january, wages take off. according to a gallup poll last week, america's satisfaction with the state of the economy improved by 12 percentage points over the past year. madam president, that is a huge leap, a huge leap. president trump is absolutely right. this is our new american moment. we must keep providing relief from washington red tape for it to continue.
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now, we have done that with other regulations. we need to do it with the things that slow down infrastructure projects as well. that's how we make sure that our economy continues to grow, fixing and improving america's aging infrastructure needs to be a bipartisan goal. we need to be able to do it faster, better, cheaper, and smarter. so, madam president, today i call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do all that we can to make this happen. these aren't democratic projects. they are not republican projects. these are the projects that we need to continue to make our country stronger, safer, better, and more prosperous. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. ms. klobuchar: madam president. the presiding officer: does the senator u.s.s. spend his request? the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: madam president, i know the leaders are going to be coming down shortly, but i
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thought i would get started and return when they are finished with their remarks. madam president, 271, that's the number of days left before the 2018 elections. only 271 days to go. a little more than nine months. and we still cannot assure american voters that our elections are secure. that's unacceptable, and that's on us. we know what happened in 2016. there was no debate about the facts. on january 6, 2017, intelligence reports made clear that russia used covert cyber attacks, espionage, and harmful propaganda to attack our political system. six months later, on june 21, the department of homeland security confirmed that russia launched cyber attacks against at least 21 state election systems and illegally obtained
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e-mails from local election officials. this week, we also learned that voter systems in illinois were hacked, and the information on thousands of voters was exposed to russians. our national security officials have sounded the alarm. this is just the beginning. last week, c.i.a. director mike pompeo said that he has, quote, every expectation, end quote, that russia will target the u.s. midterm elections. former director of national intelligence james clapper said, quote, i believe russia is now emboldened to continue such activities in the future, both here and around the world, and to do so even more intensely. and yet, we have made no real progress in congress toward shoring up our election system. just 41 days from now, illinois, a state that russians
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successfully hacked in 2016, will hold a primary for the midterm election. so why haven't we acted? there is no excuse, and that is because there are six solutions on the table. many of them are bipartisan. first, states need support to protect their voting systems from cyber attacks. right now, there are more than 40 states that rely on electronic voting systems that are at least ten years old. think about that. ten years ago, we were using flip phones. now we have smart phones that we update regularly to keep pace with the emerging technology. so we need to provide states the resources to update their election technology because our voting systems haven't kept pace with the times, much less the sophistication of our adversaries. in addition, our election officials need to know exactly what they are up against. it took the federal government
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nearly a year to notify those 21 states targeted by russian-backed hackers, and today many state and local officials still feel like they are in the dark. that's why senators lankford, harris, graham, and i have introduced legislation that will bring state and local election officials, cybersecurity experts, and national security personnel together to provide resources and guidance on how states can best protect themselves from cyber attacks. second, we need reliable backup measures in place when something goes wrong. each state administers its own elections. our decentralized election process is both a strength and a weakness. it's a strength to have multiple states using multiple systems. then there can never be one centralized place to hack. we saw this in 2016. russian hackers attempted to
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breach the systems in many states but were only successful in one. so i am going to continue my remarks, mr. president, after the leaders are finished. i know they have a major announcement, but i would just end with this. this is a pivotal moment for our country. we will not give up on our free elections and the freedom of the elections preserved. if the worst happens in 2018, it's on us, not just russia. how does the saying go? hack me once, shame on you. hack me twice, shame on us. we know what we can do. we must put the resources into the state elections, and we must protect free elections. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor.
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mr. mcconnell: madam president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: madam president, i'm pleased to announce that our bipartisan, bicameral negotiations on defense spending and other priorities have yielded a significant agreement. i want to thank my friend, the democratic leader, for joining me this afternoon and for the productive discussions that have generated this proposal. the compromise we have reached will ensure that for the first time in years, our armed forces will have more of the resources they need to keep america safe. it will help us serve the veterans who bravely served us. and it will ensure funding for important efforts such as
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disaster relief, infrastructure, and building on our work to fight opioid abuse and drug addiction. this bill is the product of extensive negotiations among congressional leaders and the white house. no one would suggest it is perfect, but we worked hard to find common ground and stay focused on serving the american people. first and foremost, this bipartisan agreement will unwind the sequestration cuts that have hamstrung our armed forces and jeopardized our national security. secretary mattis said, quote, no enemy in the field has done more harm to the readiness of our military than sequestration. for years my colleagues on the senate armed services committee led by chairman john mccain have spoken out about these
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damaging cuts. in the face of continuing and emerging threats, these cuts have left us unable to realize the potential of our missile defense capabilities. they whittled down our convention forces, laying an undue burden on foreign deployed personnel and their families. and they shrunk our fleet to its lowest ship count in nearly three decades. we have not asked our men and women to do less for our country. we just forced them to make do with less than they need. this agreement changes that. in addition, this bill will provide for our returning heroes. too often underfunded, overcomplicated bureaucracies fail to deliver the care our veterans deserve. the trump administration and congress, thanks to the leadership of chairman isakson, have made important progress for veterans in the past year.
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this agreement will expand on those steps. this agreement will also bolster our ongoing national struggle against opioid addiction and substance abuse. it will fund new grants, prevention programs, and law enforcement efforts in vulnerable communities all across our country. it also provides funding for disaster relief efforts. last year powerful storms in puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands and damaged mainland communities from florida to texas. thanks to the efforts of members such as senators cornyn, cruz, rubio and others, this bill will get more help on the way. and the agreement will clear the way for a new investment in our nation's infrastructure. a bipartisan priority shared by the president and lawmakers of both parties. this bill does not conclude the
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serious work that remains before congress. after we pass it, the appropriations committees will have six weeks to negotiate detailed appropriations and deliver full funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2018. but this bill represents a significant bipartisan step forward. i would urge every senator to review this legislation and join us in voting to advance it. i particularly want to thank my friend, the democratic leader. i hope we can build on this bipartisan momentum and make 2018 a year of significant achievement for congress, for our constituents, and for the country that we all love. now on one final matter, as i said publicly many times, our upcoming debate on daca, border security, and other issues will be a process that is fair to all sides. the bill i move to, which will not have underlying immigration
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text, will have an amendment process that will ensure a level playing field at the outset. the amendment process will be fair to all sides, allowing the sides to alternate proposals for consideration and for votes. while i obviously cannot guarantee any outcome, let alone supermajority support, i can ensure the process is fair to all sides, and that is what i intend to do. mr. schumer: madam president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: first, let me thank the republican leader for his comments and his work these past several months. we have worked well together for the good of the american people. we had serious disagreements, but instead of just going to our own separate corners, we came together with an agreement that
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is very good for the american people and recognizes needs that both sides of the aisle proffered. i'm pleased to announce that we have reached a two-year budget deal to lift the spending caps for defense and urgent domestic priorities far above current spending levels. there are one or two final details to work out, but all the principles of the agreement are in place. the budget deal doesn't have everything democrats want. it doesn't have everything republicans want. but it has a great deal of what the american people want. after months of legislative logjams, this budget deal is a genuine breakthrough. after months of fiscal brinkmanship, this budget deal is the first real sprout of bipartisanship. and it should break the long cycle of spending crises that have snarled this congress and hampered our middle class.
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this budget deal will benefit our country in so many ways. our men and women in uniform represent the very best of america. this budget gives our fighting forces the resources they need to keep our country safe. and i want to join the republican leader in saluting senator mccain. we wish he were here because he has fought so valiantly and so long for a good agreement for the armed forces. the budget will also benefit many americans here at home. folks caught in the grip of opioid addiction. veterans waiting in line to get health care. students shouldering crippling college debt. middle-class families drowning under the cost of child care. rural americans lacking access to high-speed internet. hardworking pensioners watching
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their retirements slip away. democrats have been fighting for the past year for these americans and their priorities. we have always said we need to increase defense spending for our armed forces, but we also need to increase the kinds of programs that the middle class so needs and depends on. it is our job as americans, as senators to make sure that middle-class people can live a life of decency and dignity so that they can keep in hair hearts the -- keep in their hearts the american belief that their kids will live a better life than they do. in this budget we have moved for the first time in a long time a good deal forward on those issues. alongside the increase in defense spending, the budget deal will lift funding for domestic programs by $131 billion. it will fully repeal the
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domestic sequester caps while securing $57 billion in additional funding, including $6 billion to fight against the opioid and mental health crises, $5.8 billion for the bipartisan child care development block grant, $4 billion to rebuild and improve veterans hospitals and clinics, $2 billion for critical research at the national institutes of health, and $20 billion to augment our existing infrastructure programs, including surface transportation, rural water and wastewater, clean and safe drinking water, rural broadband so desperately needed in large parts of rural america, and energy infrastructure. and $4 billion for college affordability including programs that help police officers,
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teachers, firefighters. the deal also boosts several health care programs that we care a lot about in this country. an increase in funding for community health centers which serve 26.5 million americans is included. my friends, senators murray, -- tester and many others have been champions for these community health centers. i want to thank them for the hard work they put to get this done. the children's health insurance program will be extended for an additional four years. credit is due to our ranking member, senator wyden, for his effort for this extension. american families with children who benefit with chip will now be able to rest easy for the next decade. seniors caught in the medicare part-d doughnut hole will also benefit from this bill which eases the coverage gap next year, helping thousands, millions of seniors afford
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prescription drugs. we have waited long for this. rural hospitals that struggle, seniors, children, and safety net health care providers will benefit from a package of health tax extenders as well. on the pension issue, democrats secured a special select committee that must report a legislative fix to the problem by december 2018. millions of pensioners, teamsters, carpenters, miners, bakery workers and so many more are staring down cuts to their hard-earned pensions. they didn't do anything to cause those cuts. their livelihoods are staked to these pensions. we ought to make sure that they get every penny they earned. we democrats would have liked to take up and pass the butch lewis act. we couldn't reach an agreement to do that, but now we have a process and potentially the means and motivation to get it
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done. and there were so many senators, led by senator brown, who are responsible for this. and i want to acknowledge him and senators casey and stabenow, manchin, klobuchar, baldwin, mccaskill, donnelly and heitkamp, who worked so long and hard on pensions. the budget deal also includes long-awaited disaster relief for texas, louisiana, florida, the western states, puerto rico, and the u.s. virgin islands. many of these places are still taking their first steps in the long march to recovery. much of puerto rico and the virgin islands remains damaged and in the dark. this recovery aid could not have come a moment too soon. senator nelson worked very hard for both florida and puerto rico relief, as did so many others in this chamber. i'd also like to thank our ranking member on the appropriations committee, senator leahy, who worked so diligently with his staff and his ranking members on these
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issues, as well as senator murray, who's been our beacon on health issues where we've made real progress today. the budget deal is a win for the american people. it will also do so much good for our military and for so many middle-class americans. and finally, sign the arbitrary and pointless sequester caps to the ash heaps of history. a final point, madam president, our work here in congress on this budget deal between the republican leader and i, between the senate and the house was completed without a great deal of help from the white house. while president trump threatens shutdowns and stalemates, congressional leaders have done the hard work of finding compromise and consensus. it's been a painstaking and
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months-long process. it has required concession, sometimes painful, by both sides. but at the end of the day, i believe we have reached a budget deal that neither side loves but both sides can be proud of. that's compromise. that's governing. that's what we should be doing more of in this body. and it is my sincere hope that the republican leader and i will continue to work together in this way to get things done for the american people. now, of course, we must finish the job. later this week let's pass this budget into law alongside an extension of government -l funding. i hope the house will follow suit and president trump will sign it. i also hope that speaker ryan will do what senator mcconnell has agreed to do, allow a fair and open process to debate a dreamers bill on the house
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floor. this budget deal will be the best thing we've done for our economy, our military, our middle class, for a long time. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: thank you, madam president. we're very pleased by this bipartisan work and what this will mean for our country. i want to thank both leaders for their work. so i want to finish the remarks that i started before the leaders took the floor, pertaining to another issue
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that's very important to this country, and that is the issue of a free election in 2018. i mentioned the importance of the bill that senator lankford and i are leading, along with senators harris and graham that would put, along with house support, republican and democratic support, some much-needed resources to the states to help them with their equipment. many of the states have not updated their election equipment for over ten years. i mentioned the reliable backup measures that we're going to need for things like a paper ballot system. ten of our states don't have that. if they were hacked, there would be no backup to prove what had happened. that must change. third, we have to make sure our elections are free from foreign influence campaigns. we know that the russian disinformation reached0 more than 1 -- reached more than
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126 million americans through facebook. while money was spent on political ads in 2016, we don't know how much russia used to purchase those ads. we do know they bought facebook ads. today online platforms are dwarfing cable, satellite, the largest internet platform has over 210 million american users, the largest cable provider has only 22 million subscribers, that's why senators kaine, warner and i have an act so that money spent on political ads that the same rules that alie to print, radio, tv, apply to online media companies. that is a disclaimer and simply a disclosure of candidate ads and then also issues defined by statute of national legislative
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importance. if my radio station in thief river falls, minnesota, is able to track the ads and opponents in campaigns are able to see them, that should be done by some of america's most brilliant companies. we must fix that. fourth, we need to make sure our elections are free from foreign money. $143 million of dark money was spent in the 2016 election. there is a bill to ban companies that are owned by foreign nationals and senator blunt and i have to verify that online donations are only coming from americans. if amazon can check your credit against your home address, campaigns should be doing the same to make sure that online donations are truly from the u.s. fifth, we must send russia a
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message that this behavior is unacceptable. we need to make it clear to russia that we will not tolerate their interference in elections. that's why i have said time and time again that we need to impose the russian sanctions that passed the senate with overwhelming bipartisan approval. this is about sending russian government a message. there will be consequences if you interfere with our elections. we will impose sanctions against those who engage in business with the russian defense and intelligence sectors. two parts of the russian government responsible for orchestrating the attacks on our election systems. the senate voted 98-2 for those sanctions and this administration has not implemented them. it makes no sense to me that the administration does not stand with 98 senators on this. 98 out of 100. we are announcing to the world when we don't do the sanctions that there are no consequences
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to foreign governments who interfere in american elections. by doing that we simply embolden them. my colleagues also recently introduced a bipartisan bill that would require mandatory sanctions against countriries who inter -- countries who interfere in u.s. elections. detenser is key. sanctions would send a strong message to russia and any other country that seeks to undermine our democracy. and, six, we must understand the full extent of russia's role of our 2016 election. that's why senator cardin introduced al bill to establish an independent commission with one goal, to examine russian cyber operations in the 2016 election. because understanding what happened in the past will help us prevent attacks in the future. all of these tools would help secure our elections and so many have bipartisan support.
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i'm not just talking about in the united states senate. republican and democratic former national security officials support these policies. republican and democratic state and local election officials want federal resources to protect election security. republican and democratic house representatives do too. representative meadow, leader of the house freedom caucus, and democratic representative jim langiman, introduced a companion to one of the election security bills that i'm leading. it was republican senator marco rubio who said once they went after one party in one election, the next to it will be the -- the next to it will be the other. our our whole country is based on free elections and the freedom to participate in our democracy. our founding fathers set up a system so we would be free of foreign influence. in fact, our whole country began
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because our country wanted to be free of foreign influence. now is the time to put politics aside and come together to secure the future of our elections. whether you're a four star general, a fourth grade teacher or a computer engineer at foursquare, this is an issue that should unite us. in 1923, joseph stalin, then the general secretary of the soviet communist, was asked about a vote in the central committee of his party. stalin was unconcerned about the vote. after all, he explained, that who voted was, quote, completely unimportant. what was, quote, extraordinarily important, end quote, was who would count the votes and how. it is 95 years later and sometimes it seems like we're back at square one. who voted is important and if we suppress the vote or if people
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aren't allowed to vote or if the wrong people have voted or they are kalg laid the -- calculated the wrong way, that means they had their way. what he acknowledged is that who counts the vote matters. we have to decide who is going to count america's vote. is it going to be america or are we going to let another country influence our elections and count them themselves? russia, as we know, is not our only threat. our adversaries will continue to use cyber attacks. these may not involve traditional weapons of war, but they can be just as disruptive and destructive. so as i said in closing before the leaders took the floor, the 2018 elections are just 271 days away. we need to protect our election systems. secretary of state rex tillerson said in an interview just yesterday that russia is already trying to influence the u.s.
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mid-term elections and that russia has a lot of different tools at its disposal. so i ask my colleague, why don't we start having tools at our disclosure, laws at our disposal that will actually do something about it, resources supported by the head of the freedom caucus in the house it that will help to strengthen our state election equipment. that is what we need. hack me once, it's on them, hack me twice, it's on us. the 2018 elections are just hundreds of days away. it is time we take action. we have opportunities in the next few weeks to put some resources into this. i will remind you that the cost of the bill that senator lankford and i have which we have paid for with unspent rat money is 3% of the cost of one aircraft carrier. if these other countries are viewing this as a form of warfare, at least we can put the resources of 3% of one air
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carrier into this challenge. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. scott: thank you, mr. president. six weeks after the passage of tax reform, we continue to show the american people how we are delivering on our promises with real, lasting tax reform. in fact, a recent poll showed that 69% of americans are satisfied with the boost in our economy. another poll showed that americans approval of our tax reform package has more than doubled -- more than doubled since its passage and i know it will continue to rise as more families see the benefits coming their way. our new tax law will ensure that they are able to keep more of their paychecks and that the jobs of the future are created right here in the good old
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u.s.a. back home in south carolina we continue to see positive changes because of tax reform. more businesses are awarding their employees with raises, and as a result, more families are putting more money in their bank accounts -- in their pockets. here's a real-life example. i received a note from steve pots, the c.e.o. of scout votes in south carolina. everybody knows scout votes. scout votes is a world-class brand. it has been recognized all over the world for quality votes. and here is a success story, an organic success story. back in 1989, steve started his business with his wife in their garage, and they did very well
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for a few years, and then, of course, very quickly hurricane hugo came about several months later, wiped them out, and they had to start all over again. two employees, 1989, lifesavings invested into scout votes, and today, almost 30 years later, they have 325 employees. and this year they are going to hand out $1,000 bonuses to their 340 employees. they hope this is the year they will take their employees from 340 to 350 and exceed 400 employees. and he says we're confident this help, the tax reform package, will further stimulate our own
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company morale as well as being a tried enter career -- tr ident career opportunity for employees. we believe by giving back to our employees we are doing exactly what you and other originally intended what happened with tax reform. this is fantastic news, and proof that we are reaching our goals. i want to say thank you to steve not only for sharing your story, but for rewarding the hard work of your employees. it is what happens in small and medium businesses all over the country. having started a small business myself, i understand and appreciate the dedication steve had to his vision and to his employees because for steve and so many entrepreneurs, your employees are an extension of your family. so being in a position to
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provide those folks with $1,000 bonus each is a big day. it's a big deal for the company. it's a big deal for the employees. but it's reflective of the fact that most small businesses are reininvesting in their -- reinvesting in their future, which means reinvesting in their employees. steve is a classic example. but just like steve in the last six weeks, more than three million americans have seen direct benefits from tax reform, be it bonuses, wage increases, or benefits, all good news, and it just keeps on coming. it's good news. more than 300 companies across our great nation have announced significant benefits for their employees. and there's more.
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my investing in opportunity act was included in the tax cut, and it is designed to help 52 million americans living in distressed communities -- distressed communities like the very one that i grew up in. we have worked hard to get the iioa, investing in opportunity act, across the finish line so that it can be deployed in states around the nation to help those very folks. that means everything from workforce investment to better education, to businesses be attracted into these opportunity zones. i want to thank the majority leader for his words on the investing in opportunity act yesterday morning. he's right, this will empower communities, and it will put up a big neon sign that says we are open for business.
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it will help communities who today may be wavering, questioning whether they could be successful. is this a resounding yes. yes, you should be hopeful. yes, you can be successful. i know these communities full well, and they are full of folks looking for a chance, an opportunity to put their creativity, their intelligence, and their work ethic on display. the investing in opportunity act will provide that chance. the benefits of tax reform has just begun and whether it's bonuses to workers, more wages, better benefits, or the implementation of the investing
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in opportunity act, we know that the best is yet to come for the american people. thank you, mr. president. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. scott: i would like to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. scott: i ask permission for committees to meet. i have nine requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and the minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. scott: thank you, 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 new york. mrs. gillibrand: i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. gillibrand: mr. president, we just marked the 25th anniversary of the family and medical leave act known to most as fmla. when fmla passed 25 years ago, it was an incredible step forward for millions of working families. they finally had a legal right to step away from their jobs, to take care of their families without the risk of being fired. but we now know that the law has just not kept up with the times. fmla doesn't apply to 40% of the workforce, and it doesn't
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guarantee any pay during the time that worker is away. in fact, 25 years after fmla was signed into law, we are still the only industrialized country in the world that doesn't guarantee access to some form of paid leave. that means that workers all over the country are losing wages and retirement savings when they take time off. the economy is losing tens of millions of dollars. we have to change this because fmla is not good enough anymore. mr. president, we need an actual national paid leave program, and i'm pleased to see that paid leave now has clearly become a bipartisan issue. both parties agree that paid leave is something that our country desperately needs and urgently wants to have. earlier today, a group of republican colleagues announced a proposal that they claim would solve this problem.
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but it's clear that their proposal will not help the vast majority of working americans. in fact, it would not create a real paid leave program that covers all workers. and not only that, this plan will actually rob the social security trust fund. this would not strengthen social security. it would weaken social security. no worker should have to borrow against their own social security benefits which are already too low to get paid family leave when they need it to take care of a new baby, a sick family member, a dying parent, or themselves. and let's not forget social security already pays women less than men so this proposal would make that problem even worse. so if you're watching this debate right now and you are wondering whether congress is finally going to pass a paid leave law that actually helps working americans, don't be fooled by this republican proposal. if your son is diagnosed with cancer and you need time to
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bring him to his chemotherapy appointments, their plan will do nothing for you. if your elderly mother has dementia and you need time to be by her side, this plan will do nothing for you. if your husband has a heart attack and he needs you there while he recovers, this plan does nothing for you. mr. president, right now millions of american workers are stuck choosing between earning a paycheck and leaving their job to take care of a loved one when some medical emergency happens. and if this bill passes, that would not change. listen to what a woman named shelby went through because she didn't have paid leave. shelby is a mother and a grandmother, and she takes care of a parent. she is a security officer committed to keeping her community safe. we all know that we can never predict when medical emergencies happen and all of a sudden shelby's youngest daughter and parent needed medical attention
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at the same time. shelby had to leave work because her family needed her. but all she had was fmla, unpaid leave, which counted as an employment disciplinary action from where she worked. as shelby put it, taking unpaid leave was an enormous financial burden for her. she couldn't keep up with her rent or her utility costs, and it took her months to catch up on just paying her bills. she was able to keep her job but she suffered far more than she should have had with an enormous amount of added stress on top of her family's medical issues because she didn't have paid leave. and this republican proposal would not help her. we have to fix this. even president trump agrees. he said in his state of the union address last week, my response is this. actions speak louder than words. our country needs a real paid leave plan. if president trump and congress really are serious about
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creating a national paid leave program, then i urge them to support my paid leave bill which would actually work. it would cover all workers, not just new moms. it's called the family act. the family act would finally gain tee -- guarantee paid family leave to every working american. the family act is affordable. it's an accessible earned benefit that you and your employer would contribute into together. it would stay with you for your entire career no matter where you worked. it's universal and it's comprehensive. and it's for women and for men. it's for young and the elderly. it's for workers in big companies or small companies or even if they're self-employed. and it would only cost about the cost of a cup of coffee a week. this is the kind of paid leave program that our country needs and anything else, anything less is just not enough. mr. president, five states around the country have already stood up for what's right and
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given their workers access to paid leave. these states, including my home state of new york, are doing a much better job than congress meeting the needs of their people on this issue. california, for example, has had a paid leave program for more than a decade. i know some of my colleagues are worried about this. i hope they will listen to these numbers. in a survaif 90 -- survey 90% of california employers said that paid leave had no negative effect on their profit. 99% said it boosted morale. paid leave is good for business and it is good for working families. so we have to pass it and i know there is bipartisan support to do it. let's start rewarding work again and give people the opportunity to earn a bette

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