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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  June 7, 2022 9:59am-1:19pm EDT

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were sold and how they were going to be used. we've got to take that, seize that opportunity. we have been elected to the united states senate to respond to american crises. this is at the top of the list. after what we've been through in the last several weeks and likely to go through for the weeks to come, how dare we say this is too big and too tough. how can anything be more important than the safety of our children and our families across america? i will join in the senate judiciary committee in any way that i can to support this bipartisan effort. i hope that it's meaningful when it's said and done we can point to it and say we achieved something in the names of those families of survivors and those who lost their lives, who have given so much to this madness, that it's become part of life in america. madam president, i'll yield the floor. >> the senate is about to gavel in for the day. senators will vote on confirmation of several of
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president biden's nominees, including kenneth weinstein and president bush's former advisory for the homeland security department. and also expands the bill for va benefits for veterans exposed to toxic substances. the senate live now on c-span2. you are our source of hope and salvation, so why should we be afraid? you have been our fortress when evil seemed to be winning, so why should we tremble? keep us fearless even when surrounded by predatory evil. even when there is violence within our nation,
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keep us confidence that your purposes will prevail. today, use our lawmakers as instruments of your peace. hear this prayer, mighty god, for your faithfulness continues to sustain us. we pray in your our redeemer's name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c.,
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june 7, 2022. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable raphael warnock, a senator from the state of georgia, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved.
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the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the following nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of defense, alex wagner, of the district of columbia to be assistant secretary of the air force.
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it was sheer devastation. last year communities in my state had some of the worst air quality in the world because of wildfire smoke. sad to say this but northern utah and colorado on the same day have the worst air quality in the world. worse than beijing and that led senator romney and me to take a about water and climate and forestry. deeply appreciated. there are days when people can't go outside. they can't open the windows. they can't see the mountains. the dangerous air pollution puts coloradans health at risk and is left people across the west direct with the sobering possibility, a future where this isn't the exception but the norm. i deeply worried that if we
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don't act urgently on climate it will make the american west unrecognizable to our kids and to our grandkids. and i refuse to accept that. and the people of my state refused to accept that. they have a reasonable expectation that our national government is going to partner with them and help protect the american west. so my hope is that are hearing today will help shake the complacent in washington and create momentum we need to act urgently, and others like you think the witnesses or who are here today for sharing their expertise in this area. i look forward to hearing about what they're seeing and experiencing on the ground and the ways they are trying to manage the crisis. we need to act now to bring immediate relief to these western western communities. we simply can't address the western water crisis in an meaningful way unless we come together in a partnership. to underscore the crisis i have a map of the current u.s. drought monitor. senators staff has brought up
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from the congressional, the colorado association of wheat growers, trout unlimited and arranging grand county colorado describing the situation we face in the american west. i ask unanimous consent that they be entered into the record. >> so moved. >> that was fun to do. thank you. i would like to also say thank you to senator boozman ranking member of the agriculture community for being here. it means a lot you would be here especially coming from arkansas, place with the don't quite have the same drought conditions that we have. there's too much water, not too little. let me turn over now to my ranking member the distinguished snore from kansas. >> thank you so much a good morning, everybody. what you think a subcommittee chairman bennett and his staff and my staff are holding today's hearing and all the work they have done. want to thank all the witnesses since early for making the trip out here, taking several days out of your daily life as well. and again i'm honored to have a ranking member bozeman and all
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my colleagues here, senator tom udall as well. we appreciate that. it's been decades since the drought was a key focus on the ag committee hearing and i'm hoping we can gain some real insight today and how to address the challenges we are facing out west with regards to drought, wildfires and conservation. senator bennet, the western third of kansas, eastern third of colorado look a lot alike these days and they always have picky mention the colorado river but the arkansas river is very important to us. the arkansas river is built like arkansas but we pronounce it arkansan river as it goes out of colorado through kansas but i'm not sure what the okies called it. they call it arkansas. i thought they might. but i've enjoyed flyfishing in the headwaters of the arkansas river, the mayfly hatchery up there is incredible, but much of the riverbed is dry. >> my wife is from arkansas, and
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her grandfather told me the story of coming to colorado when he was a lawyer, railroad lawyer at some kind come come to colorado and having the arkansas river between his legs at the head water. he just couldn't believe it because by the time it got to arkansas obviously it was much, much wider than that. >> but, unfortunately, too much of kansas it is literally four wheeler trail ride for us. in 1935 after five after surveilling the aftermath of the worst dust storm of record in north america robert geiger was an associated press reporter from washington, d.c. he summed up the life in a region with three, quote from him, three little words achingly familiar on a western farmers tongue, rural life in the decibel of the continent, if it rains. if it rains. this is not new but it is certainly exacerbated. these three words dictate livelihoods on the high plains especially in her home state of kansas and colorado, to just
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last month the national oceanic and atmospheric administration deemed april is one of the driest months on the record in the last 100 years. currently half of kansas is designated moderate drought and over 30 of the state is designated as severe. again, as the chairman commented already. so much of kansas and colorado in those extreme drought conditions. just last week the capital -- the topeka capital journal reported that the projected wheat yield in kansas is expected to drop by over 100,000,000 bushels. i. i think that's about 30% of our average yield is going to be impacted by drought this year. that's a value of over a billion dollars to the state of kansas. this lack of rain that old horse farm production at its most crucial time would also adversely affects ranchers and families who fall victim to raging wildfires and yes, we've had horrible prairie fires the past several years.
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this lack of rain hurt farm production at its most crucial time but it adversely affects farmers and ranchers who fall victim to raging wildfires across the plains incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars come millions of dollars lost in assets, at the worst the lies of homes and the personal lives as well as genetics of cattle will never be able to replace many of our friends in the private sector have been working on solutions in drought resilient and fire mitigation, and i'm excited you're from them and hope this hearing will yield positive results for the future of the western united states. thank you and i yield back. >> thank you very much, senator marshall. i appreciate that and it's nice to have a neighbor action as the ranking member because with a lot in common. senator boozman, anything you like to -- okay. so i'm not going to introduce the three witnesses the i invited to testify at today's hearing and then senator marshall introduced his two from the arkansas river valley.
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these are all leading experts in their field with decades of experience in the sustainable management of our water from force streams and wetlands, all of them stagers partnering with diverse groups across the west to manage our water resources in a way that preserves our economy and way of work period begins, the american people have one question front of mind, after years and decades of gridlock, will the senate do something about our nation's gun violence epidemic? democrats are ready to take action and soon every single member of this chamber is going to have to answer that question. today is june 7, 2022, it is the 158th day of the year. already -- already this year we have had over 250 mass shootings, over 250, that's more
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than one a day. two weeks ago, we saw the worst school shooting in america since the tragedy at sandy hook. an 18-year-old boy bought two assault rifles for his birthday and gunned down 19 children in uvalde, texas, 9-year-olds, 10-year-olds, you see the kids with their sweatshirts, with their awards, with their trophies, parents have seen pictures of that children at that age and to know they were wiped out and brutally murdered just breaks your heart and sends shivers down your spine. and a few hours later -- a few hours after it happened, parents were realized and told they would never see their children again. ten days before that, 11 more people were gunned down while grocery shopping in buffalo
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simply because of the color of their skin. i still can't get out of my mind the 3-year-old i met when i visited buffalo who lost his dad because his dad made a quick stop at the top supermarket to get a cake for his son's birthday. living with that his whole life that his dad was killed going to get him a birthday cake. and for all of this, there are those that take place outside the national spotlight. they happen every single day in every part of the country, across every neighborhood, school, and every large city, americans of all persuasions are wondering when is it going to be enough? when will congress find the will to act? one party has that will and soon will determine whether the other side of the aisle will join. that is the challenge that faces this chamber as we begin this
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work period. before memorial day, i made clear that the senate will vote on gun safety legislation in the near future. to that end, a handful of my democratic colleagues, led by senator murphy and including the great work of senators blumenthal, sinema, manchin, coons, heinrich and others, have been holding extended and substantive talks with republicans, to see what can pass this chamber that will meaningfully address our nation's gun violence epidemic. i'm encouraging my democratic colleagues to keep talking, to see if republicans will work with us to come up with something that will make a meaningful change in the lives of the american people and help stop gun violence. there's virtual unanimity among senate democrats that getting something passed is worth pursuing, if it will maipg a tangible -- make a tangible difference in preventing gun
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violence. we know we're not going to get everything we want. we know that the push for even more meaningful gun safety will continue after this debate, but making real progress is very important. ?eaft murphy has asked for some -- senator murphy has asked for space to have the talks continue, and i have given him the space. i look forward to discussing the status of those talks with my colleagues today. we owe it to american parents. we owe it to american kids. we owe it to every single neighborhood, every single community, every sickle household that has been ripped apart by gun violence. this is a tough fight. nevertheless, we have a moral obligation to do everything conceivable to break the cycle of violence. in the wake of the tranl disin -- tragedies in uvalde and buffalo, we have a chance to tell the american people that this time their anguish will not fall on deaf ears. we have a chance to tell them we hear them, we too are angry and
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will everything we can to make real progress in the senate, difficult as that is. but it's only going to happen if both sides keep working. only with that will hope for a compromise translate into real, concrete legislation. we know it's a difficult hurdle to overcome, but nevertheless we must do everything we can to try and succeed. now, on the pact act, mr. president, later this morning, the senate will take the first vote to advance one of the most important veteran health care bills this chamber has considered in decades. memorial day was a little over a week ago. the day our nation honors our war dead, and rededicates itself to caring for those who have sacrificed everything to protect our country. our veterans deserve endless thanks, not just through words but through action. today toxic chemical exposure is one of the most devastating
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health problems impacting our nation's veterans. since 2001, as many as 3.5 million servicemembers have been exposed to toxic smoke, including toxic burn pits and agent orange. sadly, many of them are unable to get the care they need because of outdated rules within the veterans administration that determine eligibility for benefits. this is a long overdue for change, it's something i've been advocating for years. and today, i'm thrilled that the senate will vote to begin consideration of the honoring our pact act, which my colleague, senator tester and senator moran, have done a great job putting together. every single one of us in this chamber has heard from a military servicemember who has struggled to afford quality health care, and this is one of the best steps the senate can take to improve the lives of those who've given their all for their country. the honoring our pact act would
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be one of the largest expansions in health care benefits in va history, and it would make sure that no military servicemember exposed to toxic chemicals has to endure the indignity of carrying the burden of sickness and treatment alone. i expect today's vote will yield strong bipartisan support, and once we're on this bill, because today is just a motion to proceed, not passage of the bill yet there is no reason we can't pass it quickly and without needless distraction. once again, i want to thank senators tester and moran for their leadership on this issue. this issue has been important to me. i've encouraged them, and they have worked so well together adroitly so that this bill can pass of i want to thank every single v.s.o. that advocated for change. and i want to thank prominent voices like jon stewart and john field, who i just met in my office, who fiercely advocated for our veterans. we're moving forward today on
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this bill, and it's my hope we can reach final passage very quickly. i yield the floor, and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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for every one degree fahrenheit rise in average temperature we see rain flow reduction between three and 9%. none have felt the climate impacts more than our family owned farms and ranchers era ine colorado river district. the plentiful water resources of past are no longer physically or legally available for many of our ag producers. families have been involved in arranging for multiple generations are being forced to sell their cattle and confront tremendously uncertain futures. this got a frightening or local regional and national food supply. we cannot nor will we threw up her hands and surrender the
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thriving american southwest to the forces of climate change. citizens, communities and governments are developing strategies but as in the past when our nation has been confronted by existential threats we need the federal government to be an integral partner in our efforts. we must recognize there is no single solution which will allow us to escape this rapidly changing climate. it is a multifaceted effort. i want to touch on a few concrete examples which are worthy of your consideration. we need additionally, additional strategically placed small reservoirs in a high mountain valleys. these will help us successfully mitigate climate change by re-timing the flows which will provide essential water for our streams, our community and our food supply. federal assistance through funding tools like pl 566, the watershed act, will be essential to her effort to adapt and free time this water. we need more robust agricultural efficiency projects such as the lower gunnison project in my district where agricultural
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producers team up with local regional state and federal government agencies to adapt to climate change. through an expanded and streamlined our cpp program with no producers in skin called it and many of the the american west. high mountain snowpack is a grace was a bar colorado river and our water users and for a water users in the western slope of colorado. the 2023 farm bill presents opportunities to encourage of the investment and proper force management forested natural water infrastructure, enhancing climate resilience of water supplies and supporting workforce development in increasing the pace and scale of watershed restoration and adaptation. the multi-the cable drought and conclusive climate science clearly demonstrate that our demands greatly outstrip the water supply in the colorado river basin. to survive and continue to thrive in the southwest we will need to implement an all hands on deck approach with every
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water user sector from agriculture, industry to -- will have to reduce their water consumption. if congress is to incentivize a reduction of irrigated ag in the colorado river basin any such program must support productive agriculture while focusing incentives on march would protect plants. the federal government should not fund the retirement of productive agricultural lands. in conclusion, we are only beginning to see this climate crisis in the american west but we cannot afford to remain idle as rivers and reservoirs of dry and families shuttered businesses. wishing for snow and rain is no longer an adequate plan at any level of decision-making. if our communities are going to survive in colorado and downstream, decisive action at the federal level is needed to help us adapt to this hotter and drier future. mr. chairman, this concludes my tesla. >> thank you. very much appreciated. mr. lewis you are next. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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ranking member marshall and members of the subcommittee appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to talk about this critical issue. my name is earl lewis on chief engineer of the kansas department of agriculture division one resource and a member of the western states water council yp on behalf of today. the western states water council is a member organization representing 18 western states and the members are appointed by and by speech of the governors. as each of the people that are taught before me have mentioned, situation in the west is dire. we have herd about the colorado river basin challenge with no water supply. the situation in the great plains is similar in the fact that over time we are receiving less precipitation under challenge by drought. each year when we have less precipitation that means our farmers are pumping more water exacerbating the declines of the lower aquifer. this is a vital resource for our region, and if we don't act we will end up with a situation
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that resource going away as was production associate with that irrigation. there are three roles that i believe the federal government place when it comes to draft. first, operation of federal infrastructure take the with pure of reclamation and corps of engineers the second, collection of nelson distribution of data to all levels of the government. and third costs your programs to producers and communities that help to mitigate drought and its effects. the collection analysis and open sharing of reliable data is important for water reliability. i like to touch on a few of those that do federal government. the national integrated drought information system is a multi-agency partnership that coordinates got monitoring, planning, and forecasting including drought monitor which we talked about here today. the western states water council supports nida and cultures this
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executive council with usda and noaa. senator thune is been a champion of nida and drought monitoring equipment and we thank you for his past support. much of the west winter snowpack and spring runoff dominates water supply. usda snow survey and water forecasting program within nrcs is critical for water users, managers and planters. program funding has been flat at about $9 million per year over the last two decades. faulty equipment, , staffing and other costs have increased, challenging the program to meet staffing levels and maintain an adequate network. the 50% increase of the the president 23 budget has not been realized although we would encourage your consideration of this request. the western states water council also supports programmatic funding for approved seasonal to sub seasonal precipitation forecasting oftenest st west. it is critical for water supply
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planning as well as reservoir and operations. pilot programs have been proposed to improve noaa's forecast but funding has been inadequate to date. water resource managers and agriculture interest are reliant on evaporation data for irrigation scheduling, management, water administration and a host of other issues. satellite-based et data is already available in some regions but it is often not readily reliable for modeling and decision-making at the watershed or field scale. the councils legislator proposes that fills the urgent need for operational system that can produce accurate consumptive crop water estimate such as 2568 introduced by snore cortez masto. we encourage of the subcommittee to consider usda role and resources to perspective and building a national water data network as well as partnerships
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to advance the use of what information to serve the use of agriculture. senator lujan together with senator heinrich of introduce legislation to establish a national water data framework. western states water council welcomes the introduction of water data act active suppot nation and leverage of state and federal resources. final usda conservation assistance programs of agriculture industry thrive in good times and survive in hard times. the council support collaborative and puncture programs including conservation practices and groundwater recharge to preserve long-term ground and surface water resources per program such as equipped, regional conservation partnership program and reserve enhancement program are all programs which implement best major practice on the ground to help mitigate drought. likewise the usda world to fill the agency helps rural communities plan and implement projects to have a reliable water supply.
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planning for and limiting the impact of drought will take all of the government working together which is why appreciative opportunity to beer today. thank you for that opportunity and i would be happy to answer question at the appropriate time. >> we appreciate you being here today. take you for your testimony. dr. schultz. >> thank you, chairman bennet, ranking member marshall members of the subcommittee. appreciative opportunity to speak you today. my name is courtney schultz, i'm a professor force and natural resource policy at colorado state university in fort collins, colorado, had at ao leader universes climate adaptation partnership. in colorado and across the country climate change is leading to increased fire, smoke, flooding and drought. in april of this year usda designates the entire state as a primary natural disaster area due to severe drought conditions that are likely to persist for years. drought is projected to cost the state more than $500 million in and agricultural damages by 2050 and reduce water availability and effectively -- water users
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alike. fire is also increasing in colorado and across the western three of the states largest wildfires in history occurred in 2020 about the state witnessed its costliest fire in december which is supposed to be winter. the marshall fire which burns 6000 acres and over 1000 homes in the suburban setting last year. when fires are followed by heavy rains which will only become more likely we will seek landslides, billions of dollars in damage to water infrastructure and flash floods the leap to the loss of life and property. in some places for us also not growing back and smoke from fires is increasing with major implications for human health. these impacts fall disproportionately on the lower income and marginalized populations in our state and beyond, and as a headwaters state for vita represents about 18 of the estates and mexico drought fires -- i think that universe we're undertaking extensive work related to climate change. we arell th. the presiding officer: without
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objection. mr. mcconnell: back in 2019 while running for the white house, president biden made a public promise. here's what he said. he said i guarantee you we're going to end fossil fuels. i guarantee you we're going to end fossil fuels. once in office, he wasted no time starting down that path and now working families are paying the price. during the previous administration under republican policies, our nation became a net exporter of oil for the first time literally in decades. we were producing all that we needed and then some. the headlines under this all democratic controlled government are quite different. here from january 2021, right
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out of the gate, biden halts oil and gas leases and permits on u.s. land and water. here's another, biden order blocks keystone xl pipeline. january 2021. and here are the headlines more recently from a few weeks ago. biden pulls three offshore oil lease sales curbing new drilling this year. and from just this past week, biden e.p.a. to make it easier for states to block fossil fuels projects. so even if oil and gas producers could get past the biden regulatory gauntlet to actually explore and produce in this country, they likely could not get a pipeline approved to move it to market.
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president biden is delivering the holy war on american domestic energy that he promised on the campaign trail. meanwhile energy costs and gas prices for american families have absolutely skyrocketed. gas prices have literally doubled since this administration took office. the average price at the pump has doubled. the president's staff tried to play this off as putin's price hike. how many times have we heard that? but the reality is that prices were already climbing steadily long before, long before the escalation in ukraine. up more than a dollar per gallon before, before putin's escalation. prices for natural gas and other home heating sources were likewise elevated all last winter. and don't count on the warmer months bringing much relief. here's what "the new york times"
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wrote about a month ago. get ready, the "times" said for another energy spike, high electric bills. quote, already frustrated and angry about high gasoline prices, many americans are being hit by rapidly rising electricity bills. the biggest annual increase in more than a decade. according to another report, quote, the federal energy regulatory commission predicts electricity prices could rise by as much as 233% over last summer's power prices. and electricity costs aren't the only problem. there's also the question of reliability. according to the north american electric reliability corporation, americans particularly in the west and midwest should brace for potentially dangerous electricity blackouts this summer. once again you could credit
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democrats' war on fossil fuels. it retired too many fossil fuel powered electricity generators too quickly while replacing them with big subsidies for less reliable sources of power. just a few days ago president biden said soaring gas prices were just part of, quote, an incredible transition that will leave us less reliant on fossil fuels. did you hear that, american workers? democrats say your financial pain is the necessary cost to make america more to the liking of the radical environmental left. secretary of energy has naively suggested that green energy will leave us in a better strategic position than fossil fuels. well, maybe she's not aware that more than 80% of the world's polysilicon is made in china and about 80% of america's rare earth mineral needs are met by
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chinese imports as well. this is why it's such a joke for the administration to misuse the defense production act to prop up solar panel manufacturers. they'll just end up subsidizing chinese suppliers upstream. our stockpiles of actual military requirements like javelin missiles and essential munitions are being depleted. production of critical inputs like energetics and solid rocket motors is backed up months and even years. but instead of using the defense production act for our nation's defense, the president is using it to indirectly line china's pocket. washington democrats are hostile to the constant domestic mining and drilling we'll need to produce any kind of energy here at home, even green energy. last year house democrats proposed a literal dirt tax,
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dirt tax that would crush domestic minerals and rare earth mining. they're so opposed to domestic mining, including for critical and rare earth minerals, democrats literally tried to tax -- listen to this -- they wanted to tax dirt. tax dirt. so look, mr. president, this doesn't have to be this way. the american people know exactly what we need. and all american domestic energy strategy, crude oil, responsibly drilled in america, natural gas responsibly fracked in america and more minerals and high-tech components responsibly mined in america. democrats have a different plan. less production and higher prices. and americans are paying for it literally every day. on a related matter, last month by an overwhelming bipartisan
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margin, the senate approved a package of urgent assistance for ukraine. then over the memorial day state work period, our friends on the front lines marked their 100th day of resisting the latest stab of russian aggression. as colleagues and i can attest from our visit with president zelenskyy and his team in kiev, the people of ukraine continue to display incredible resilience and incredible bravery. every day brave ukrainian soldiers pay the ultimate sacrifice to defend the sovereignty of their democratic country. and every day innocent ukrainians are suffering under russia's brutal and indiscriminate assault. over a hundred days of war the ukraine's resolve has remained quite firm. so can the same be said of the west? as russia pumps more combat
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power to the front, ukraine soldiers need more weapons. they need more powerful weapons. and they need longer-range weapons to counter russia's offensive forces from safety. we should not delay the provision of these lifesaving capabilities. our objective is not to humiliate putin but to help ukraine defend itself. that is what should guard our decision, not vladimir putin's ego. we should not be self-deterred that -- escalate, those most affected by the risk of escalation are the ukrainians and they are certainly not deterred. they're fighting for their lives and putin has already indiscriminately leveling their cities. those concerned with escalation consider what putin will do to their cities if he is not stopped by ukraine. but some of ukraine supporters
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here in the west have yet to learn the lesson. some of our wealthiest nato members have dragged their feet in green-lighting the sort of military assistance our eastern flank allies have delivered willingly and at a tremendous cost. some eastern partners have also welcomed millions of ukrainian refugees into their countries. and there's more than wealthy european countries can do to help provide military, economic, and humanitarian relief in this time of crisis. and here at home, the biden administration's hemming and hawing on self-deterrence slowly and incrementally giving way to a more confident policy but it's come attached to utterly incoherent public messaging. the biden administration should clarify that it will continue to provide ukraine with longer-range rockets so it can defend itself, defend itself
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from massive artillery barrages that are being fired from ukrainian territory. the administration should clarify whether it will provide antiship missiles so ukraine can target russian threats to ukraine's black seaports and the critical export of ukraine's grain harvest. putin is weaponizing global food shortages and we can and should help the ukrainians do something about it. doing so will send a signal to hesitant partners that they, too, should be providing ukraine with these critical, critical capabilities. but reluctance to get ukraine what it needs is particularly baffling when you consider what a russian victory would mean for our own national security interests. letting a vibrant western-facing democracy fall into russian control would send the price of our own security operations on the continent literally through
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the roof. it would put america's closest allies and trading partners one border closer to an autocratic bully. and half away a world, half a world away, it would tell other bullies like the chinese communist party that lawless conquest of their neighbors isn't just possible, it's actually permitted. if america and our allies aren't willing to do everything we can to help ukraine win before it's too late, we'll face costly outsized consequences quite soon. i suggest 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: the central valley, california, host between six and 8 million ducks and geese which rely wetlands. this year rise fighting will be around half of what it normally is. rice is an important commodity and provides more than half of all waterfowl food in the central valley. the rest of the wetlands of the central valley of california are slated to get 20% or less than normal water supplies. while there is no single solution of the increase snowpack and more rain which is becoming increasingly unlikely with changing weather patterns in warmer winters we can implement more water efficient practices to better use what we have. to meet water debates in california water is delivered to users through an elaborate system of water storage and conveyance infrastructure but the systems are often insufficient. working with multiple partners on two projects use pursuing design and construction projects
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to replace leaky and inefficient siphons and canals. these projects will create nearly 47,000 acre feet of new and approved water conveyance capacity and provide reliable water delivery to 29,000 acres of agricultural land and 9000 acres of wetland. as drought continues to worsen want to ensure all policies are maximizing water resilience, water reuse and water efficiency to minimize conflict between water users. working with public and private partners including the usda ducks unlimited will continue to advocate and intimate multi-benefit water projects to maintain vital habitat and support human use. thank you and i would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. >> thank you, dr. herbert. i would like to thank the witnesses for your substantive and sober testimony, and for coming in at five minutes. really appreciate that you we are now going to turn to a round of five-minute for each of us,
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and i am going to start. mr. mueller, with you and ask you assuming we move forward as it are now with no changes to our water use and no meaningful action to slow climate change can you describe what you think the colorado river basin will look like in 20 years or 40 years? could you give the committee also a sense of about what is happening in lake powell and lake mead as will? >> absolutely, thank you, senator. i would say 20 or 30 years from now the colorado river basin will be a starkly different pe if we don't act quickly and act intelligently. all of the scientific and since this is clear that we will, are facing a situation where we can expect as additional cuts to the flow of the colorado river is great as 30% as 30% pics% reduction from 20 years ago. this isn't a river system again that is already over appropriate
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and overused. what that means is that we will have great conflict between our growing cities in the river basin at our national food supply. it means that the price and value of water will exceed the current value of agricultural production water, and it is likely that are agriculture in the colorado river basin will be greatly diminished. it is a situation that is dire, frankly. i talk about a family farms and ranches in western colorado but the reality is our farmers throughout the colorado river basin feed america. you look to the lower basin, and any of us have enjoyed a salad in the winter it's coming from human arizona -- uber arizona. it is water with colorado river. we cannot see that disappear over the next 30 years.
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today that massive system of reservoirs are referred to has the two largest that is lake mead and lake powell with the glen canyon dam. you may have read in the paper that the states and the department of interior are very cooperatively this year enacted some extremely shocking emergency actions and did so in a spate of about two weeks of dialogue. we are talking about a water bureaucracy that moves at the pace of melting glaciers 200 years ago, not in today's pace. and they came together because the reality is that lake powell was predicted to drop below minimum power production at the lake. and that's bad enough because the western united states depends upon that cheap power coming out of the reservoirs but it's even worse when you look at the infrastructure associated with it. that leaves us with two outlet
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out of glen canyon dam. the concern was that those two river bypassed outlets would actually have a taste like they did in the 1980s and erode the concrete tunnels that passed that water because they appear not to be functioning as they were designed in the early 1960s. the concern was that we would not be able to pass water to the lower basin at all. no water in the grand canyon, no water for california, no water for nevada. and that is a stark warning to all of us. we were within months of hitting that level in lake powell. so we moved water around, didn't release as much out of glen canyon down through the grand canyon this year, about half a million acre-feet, and we also moved another half 1,000,000 acre-feet from flaming gorge reservoir up in wyoming and utah county to lake powell.
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these are one-time fixes. these are one moment in time if we don't have any more of those i.v. iv bags as a column, upper basin reservoirs. the three reservoirs that's it that the federal government control that sit above lake powell are sated approximately 23, 27, and, and some are around 50% full respectively. they are stark and empty. this year snowpack as receipt of today has melted a full month earlier than the average runoff. our run off peak about 60% of average runoff. as a reference in my written testimony, last year we had about an 89% still back in the colorado river basin, , pretty good, close to average. the inflow into lake powell where it really matters was less than 37%. so the change in the heat is just killing this river, and so
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i would just say that we need to act, we need to act in a way that supports our agricultural community. and i think the federal government through the department of agriculture has a tremendous ability to do that without producers hand in hand. >> thank you. i'm going to reserve my other questions so my colleagues have a chance to ask theirs. senator marshall. >> i will yield my time to senator tuberville and then come back. >> thanks for being here today. very interesting. i'm from alabama. we've got a lot of water. we don't have this problem but i spent a lot of time at west, big hunter, duck hunter. understand your problem, and it is a huge problem. i been on lake powell several times. what a mess. my question is we know we got a problem. why do we have a problem? i mean we have got to figure out the problem before we can get a
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solution. is it governors? is it we we're sending too mh water to the cities? i know dallas and fort worth are draining the aquifer in north texas. they are sending millions of gallons a day, so why? why are we in this situation? who wants to take it first? mr. mueller, you can start or anybody else want to enter this text why -- climate change i'm fine with climate change but why? how do we stop this? >> i might take the first crack at that. i would say twofold. first, the majority of the western states fall under what is called -- individual water rights are private property rights dedicated and owned by the owner of the property. a lot of times that development
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happened clear back in the 1800s, and certainly certainly by 1970, 1980. we really didn't have adequate data at that point to have a good handle on what the situation was going to be. so that's part of it is just lack of understanding of the time we were reallocating the water supply and water rights. the second is that as we think about it from the standpoint of making those decisions, where using the best available data available to us at that point. our history you herd the chairman talk about the fact that the west is a stripe as it is been for 1200 years. we we don't have 1200 years records to make decisions on. at that point with 50 to maybe 100 100 years of record any think if we look at the overall history of our, of the record, we allocate a lot of that water supply during a fairly with period. so we consequently in a lot of cases over allocated the resource and did that in a
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private property rights situation. want to respect the private property rights but it puts us in a situation of how do we manage a more limited situation we thought we had at the time those water rights were issued. and i think it has been pointed out that the question of is urban versus ag? i think we're all in this together whether it is ag urban, industry or -- >> it's going to take both. >> all of us working together to resolve this. >> so we have this problem, mr. president. is the senate in a quorum call? the presiding officer: it is. mr. thune: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president, the white house has apparently decided to spend june focusing on the economy. president biden kicked things off with an op-ed in "the wall street journal" entitled my plan for fighting inflation. before he gets to the actual quote-unquote, plan, though, the
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president spends the first part touting his economic successes, as usual he takes credit from the recovery from covid's woes even though it happened before that. he touts job creation figures without mentioning that businesses are struggling to have workers find jobs. he tawts the applications of small businesses in 2021, without mentioning that small business optimism is at the lowest level since the 2020 level. he said that millions of americans getting jobs with better pay. end quote. while leaving out the fact that wages are outstripping wage growth. in all, he spends multiple paragraphs attempting to convince americans the economy
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is thriving, which i have to think feels pretty meaningless to the millions of of americans struggling with massive increases in gas, groceries and every day goods. a poll found that 20% of americans feel there is a good chance of improving their standard of living. it's no wonder. the president can talk about his supposed economic achievements all he wants, but that means little to americans who have seen their disposable income raise and whose raises keeping pace with the cost of living. the president omits the fact that it was his economic plans that created our inflation crisis in the fist place. when president biden took office, inflation was at 1.4%. well within the federal reserve's target rate of 2%. today it's at 8.3%.
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near a 40-year high. and how do we get from there to here? in substantial part via the president's so-called american rescue plan. democrats massive partisan spending spree flooded the economy with unnecessary money and the economy overheated as a result. this that is not something the president mention whs he talks about fighting inflation. what is the president's so-called plan to fight inflation? well, after spending half the op-ed touting his spoafed economic successes, the president gets to the plan part. the first part of his three-part plan involves having someone else address inflation. controlling inflation, the president says, is primarily the job of the federal reserve. and he's going to leave them alone to do that job. the next part of the president's plan involves things like fixing
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broken supply chains and boosting the productive capacity of our economy overtime. -- over time. i'm a big supporter of improving our supply chains which is why i have legislation that i hope will pass the house of representatives and head to the president's desk soon. given the president has so far demonstrated little progress in addressing supply chain challenges, i'm not holding my breath waiting for the white house to take action. i'm also a big fan of boosting the productive capacity of our economy. my concern is that the president fails to give examples of how to do that. he mentions high gas prices but instead of talking about ways to address high energy prices by unleashing american production, he pivots to touting his release from the strategic petroleum reserve, a highly temporary
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band-aid that did next to nothing to address the cause of high gas prices. except for briefly pausing their rise to what are record highs. he also claims congress could help by passing his clean energy tax credit and investments, which he says will result in a $500 decree in utility bills for american families. first, nothing about the president's clean en tax credits is likely to drive down energy prices, especially in the near term. and americans can't afford to wait. in fact, for americans to take advantage of some of these credits, they would need to spend more money on an electric car, for example, which is how the administration suggests americans deal with these historic gas prices. and the president's claim that his energy tax credit and investments would decrease utility bills for american families by $500 is 100% false.
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you don't have to take my word for it. "the washington post" fact-checker column gave the president's claim for tokyo's, are reading the post reserves for and i quote, whoppers. and if the president has the idea that greatness can move the united states where we can ban gas and oil overnight well, hehas another thing coming . perhaps no matter how much democrats might wish it were otherwise, the fact of the matter is clean energy technology is simply not advanced to thepoint where we can replace all traditional energy sources with renewal . pretending that we don't need gas and oil or discouraging american oil and gas production will only result in higher energy prices for american consumers.
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presidents really wanted to reduce gas prices", who is the productive capacity ofour economy over time as he said in his op-ed , he would embrace american energy production including conventional energy production. instead he's doing the opposite. he continues to discourage conventional production of energy sources
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drops, since many democrats still want to use reconciliation rules to force through another big party-line democrat spending bill. this one $5 trillion. if they come up with the proposal that's anything like their original build back better proposal, we will undoubtedly be looking at more deficit spending. madam president, one news outlet had this to say about president biden owes op-ed and plan to
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reduce the tef sit, and i -- the deficit, and i quote, is it really a plan when the president points fingers? while the president's op-ed purports to lay out a plan for addressing inflation, the close read shows that he actually seems to be pushing the burden off on others, end quote. madam president, that's a fair assessment. unfortunately, it's pretty par for the course for president biden. he's happy to take credit for positive economic numbers, even when he had nothing to do with them, but when it comes to taking responsibility for a situation he's frequently nowhere to be found. he won't acknowledge that his own economic proposal, the american rescue plan, helped create our inflation crisis in the first place. indeed, he largely ignored the inflation crisis until it started to become absolutely necessary for him to address it, if he wanted to survive politically. and he's displayed a similar
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lack of ownership of other crises on his watch. the action to weaken board security and immigration enforcement helped create an unprecedented immigration crisis at the southern border. from the president's attitude, you'd barely know there's a problem. much less one that he has a particular responsibility to address. his hostile attitude toward american energy production helped drive up gas prices and left families struggling. stlugling to -- struggling to fill their cars. yet, the president is ready to push off responsibility for conventional energy production to other nations, leaving our nation less secure and even more vulnerable to price hikes. madam president, the president closes his op-ed by noting that, and i quote, the economic policy choices we make today will determine whether a sustained
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recovery that benefits all americans is possible. end quote. well, the president's right about that. unfortunately, it's pretty clear that the economic policy choices that he is making are the wrong ones. madam president, i yield the floor, and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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>> so western third of our state, we are really in a water rain situation. it's like any real estate, aboutlocation . we other areas that are 25 to 50 years less, areas close to florida that may have to hundred years left so i think that making sure that we tailor whatever action we take to that individual area, that individual producer is key to our long-term success.
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one thing that hasn't been on yet that is key is, and mister walls talk about it briefly is crop varieties and crop genetics. we are seeing even in the western part of our state because of drought tolerant crops people that can be successful and certainly in normal years for 25, 50 years ago that wasn't the case on the dryland situation. additional research, dedicated crop genetics that are more suited to the high plains would certainly make sure that we can keep those farmers viable for the long-term . >> i've been a tree farmers in the late 80s and all i can tell you is its great therapy for this job. i go back to it everyweekend . forest brown has a little different dynamic. a longer horizon. the biggest thing i deal with would be invasive species and we got one called scrub grass that once it gets into your
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what you don't even know that it's not needed and you do a poor harvest, it's gone for near skid trails enveloping the entire woods and you can't even get up see link to break through and i know you've got similar stop in the west. cheap grass, other stuff you contend with. how big a deal is that and how much has become a problem in the recent past? >> thank you for the question. my understanding and i'll just copy on to say it's a little bit outside of my expertise but my understanding is that they will be disease outbreaks of our forest in the west and they will have a variety of facts but sometimes it will mean you'll get to cycles per year because it's warmer instead of one or you'll have situations where because you don't get hard freeze fall? don't die so that will exacerbate what happens when
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we saw a massive die off and help you a few years ago it was there was an insect outbreak and weakened the trees and in addition to the drought and the conditions it caused a huge mortality event and then back and interact with fire and some tricky ways as well. >> i think whenever something becomes weak or the climate is not in sync, you now have that issue. less for road crop farming but good deal for forest management. thank you. >> i appreciate these questions, we had terrible beetle kill in colorado and it's happening in headwaters so when the forest dies there's basically our water infrastructure for the rocky mount west i appreciate your line ofquestioning . so my neighbor is here and i think you're going to go next and there then senator in your absence, mister lewis just mentioned the support of your bill with senator
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heinrich, the water data so i justwant you to know you were mentioned when you weren't here . >> i'm glad to be in his hearing with mister marshall as well and that's encouraging that you are supportive of that effort. we have an incredible us house member by the name of melanie stansberry. she used to work in a second and the good people saw that expertise and now she's in the house but she really was a brain trust behind some of this with the worksheet it on similar issues in the senate so i appreciate that. across the west i'm glad to hear across the country there's more and more attention to the drop conditions that are experiencing . i myself find fourth-generation a small farm some people may prefer to but we do want a few acres at farming. twohouses sell sustenance . and we, what comes of background whether it's sheep or cattle or others that may
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be grazing on hay, it's all important as well as we're looking at those impacts. and doctor scholz, in new mexico like in colorado mister muellermentioned this as well . our water comes from those watersheds. from accumulation and like southern colorado and new mexico they are all irrigation ditch ways so people may chuckle at what we do but centuries ago our ancestors saw the right to do three feet across, down a police case. we call them the spanish name for door but we met the water flow. in goodyear everyone has more crop production and in bad years everyone's floundering and you have to walk up that ditch and often times it's with a shovel in your hand. you have words with one another but then the water gets flowing again so it's
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always positive that way but whether it's centuries-old or we look at irrigation structures that have been conducted in conjunction with the unitedstates of america , private entities that have taken these over and doing that work it's also important. last week i was visiting areas of new mexico where we have the largest fire on record. it was started by the forest service within the usga but nonetheless concerned about what dry conditions mean and lower water yield on the front and and what that can yield to with beatles and other invasive species. but i'm concerned at least during this time in new mexico with what good water is going to mean for us. good water will mean bad water conditions because that fire burns so hot, we've got 6 to 12 inches deep. trees are going to clog up the river. that crash logo and waterways and culverts and some of
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these towns that 90 percent of the water that is for drinking water, these communities are not going to touch it. so doctor scholz, can you touch on that little bit as well? with fire and water? good conditions for or back conditions and on the backend , what they can yield to and how we need to be thoughtful about conditions before and conditions after what could because with the fire. >> thank you senator for that question and i'm certainly very cognizant of the fires were facing in your state. >> this is the day we take up toxic exposure by the united states senate. it's a day that quite frankly should have been two decades ago, three decades ago, five decades ago. but we are where we are. and the bill we're going to
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be considering is the sergeant first class robinson honoring. this bill is the most comprehensive exposure package for veterans in congress has ever considered. and hopefully i can say ever delivered. it's literally been years in the making. especially i'm proud of this bill because it addresses our decades of inaction and failure by our government to do the right thing heby the men and women whoserved this country in uniform and stood in harm's way . i want to thank my friend and ranking member of the senate veterans affairs committee for being able to work together across the aisle. to deliver what is truly a bipartisan bill that would give veterans of all the benefits they haveearned . but maybe even more t importantly the benefits they deserve . as chairman of the senate veterans affairs committee there have been few issues as important as this one is to me.
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it has been a top priority of mine since i first came to congress and started hearing from veterans, their families , their advocates, veterans service organizations about exposures to chemical o physical tand environmental hazards as i served this country. so let's talk about military toxic exposures and why we are here today. in world war i, there was a thing called mustard gas. in world war ii, we had radiation. in vietnam we had agent orange. now we've got burn pits. massive areas used in two disposal classics and jet fuel and other chemicals in iraq and afghanistan and other locations around the globe. generation after generation war after war service members have returned home only to face yet another battle here
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at home. the sinking the benefits they've earned that they desperately need . because washington, we, congress has been unwilling simply to get the department of veterans affairs the tools they need to take care of our veterans. our men in uniform answered the call of duty. they held up their end of the bargain. so we need to hold up hours. i will never forget what i heard from a vietnam veteran in montana my very first year on the va committee i was having a town hall meeting. this general and stood up in the back of the room and the town hall and he said you are not going to trees wthis generation of veterans the way you treated us. the vietnam veterans. i remember it because it hit home to me. i remember those vietnam soldiers.
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i remember the stories of toxic exposure to agentorange . i remember how we knew what we needed to do but man, it took us a long time to get stuff done. in fact we're still dealing with agent orange but here we are today. treating this generation of veterans just like we treated the vietnam veterans and other generations of veterans . as a result of turning a blind eye on the needs of the veterans who died, and they have died. due to toxic exposure. so here are the facts. more than 3 and a half billion post 9/11 veterans may have been exposed to toxic substances overseas.
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75 percent of those men and women report being exposed to burn pits and as a result of these exposures any veterans suffered from rare deadly cancers, respiratory conditions andother illnesses . let me say it again really rare but deadly cancers and respiratory conditions and other illnesses. sometimes developing years after they served in the military. it's easy for me to stand up here and talk about cancer. i don't have it, thank god. to document respiratory conditions, i don't have the gas or air. but the truth is because of these men and women service to this country in the middle east, and their exposures to toxins, they have developed these illnesses or if what happens in all, they will
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develop them in the future. and because of that today hundreds of thousands are going without care or the benefits they need to meet these conditions . and by the way we're still not addressing agent orange for veterans suffering from health conditions like hypertension where the science is clear. and in the worst cases. paying with their lives. veterans like sergeant first class keith robinson for whom this bill is named after he's deployed with the ohio national guard and was exposed to burn pits and he died. he died in 2020 of toxic exposure. sergeant first class keith robinson was a husband, he was a father. we heard from his daughter this morning in a press conference and senator moran was at. beautiful little girl that
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said i love my dad. but we didn't step up. the country failed to deliver for him . and we also failed to deliver for his family. the situation that happened with far too much regularity. that's why we're here to deliver this bill. the sergeant first class keith robinson onhonoring our patent act will write the wrong for our present and for our future veterans. and here's how it's done. this bill would expand eligibility for va healthcare to move 3 and a half million combat veterans exposed to burn pit since 9/11 . by the way, when i was in afghanistan when we were flying around with my good friend jim went, we flew to
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the bases based on the smoke coming out ofthese burn pits . the toxic exposure was real. it happened and it happened two to 5 million combat veterans exposed since 9/11. we will support our post 9/11 and the era veterans by removing the burden of proof for 23 percent of these conditions caused by toxic exposure from cancer to lung disease and established framework for establishment of future presumptions of service connecting relationships to toxic exposure so what doesthis mean ? it means that we've had toxic exposures for over 100 years and maybe even before that and it's taken an act of congress to get these folks to benefit and now we're giving the va a mechanism to deal with toxic exposure. it will also give the va the tools it needs to bolster its
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workforce, establish more healthcare facilities, to improve claims processing. to better meet the immediate future needs of every veteran that rva serves. the bottom line is this bill is far too important for this country and for those who fought to protect it. when it comes to failure and when it comes to sending our folks out to or, we never talk about money. we just do it because we think it's the right thing to do . they're coming back. this bill will cost 287.6 billion over 10 years. so it's a big ticket item. but the fact is we sent them off to war. we told them we were going to take care of them when they came back and there shouldn't be a debate about the money. iwould agree . we should try to figure out
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ways to pay for as much stuff in this body as we can. but the truth is freedom is not free. there's a price to pay when we send our men and women in uniform to fight wars on our behalf . you don't have to be a veteran or be exposed to agent orange or brackets to understand that. we've been waging war for far too long. and now right now veterans across this country are the ones paying for the cost of war. and we can't wait any longer. no more empty promises. we have to the unique opportunity to make history with the passage of this comprehensive toxic exposure package that will recognize our veterans services and their sacrifices . we are too close to fail. it is time for this body to act. it is time we address the true cost of war. our nations and our veterans families are counting on us and i want to close nwith one thing.
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this is a big deal. i've been in this body long enough. if there's a big deal you can always find a reason to vote against it and always find a reason to vote for it. this is more important if we're going to take into account future of our fighting men and women, the future of this all volunteer military we have, the future of the by toxic exposure. the future of our vietnam veterans with agent orange exposure this is too important to find a reason to vote against it . this is doing right by our fighting men and women. this is doing right by our military. this is doing right for freedom and democracy. our nations veterans deserve this and maybe just as important our nations
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veterans families deserve passage of this bill. i feel the floor to you writing number. >> i ask unanimous consent to speak up for whatever
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southeast asia received from their fellow americans. i was going to pay respect. i was going to honor them. i was going to say thank you. it's what a 16-year-old kid thought he should do to make certain that we compensate for those who served our country and deserve something better than what they received.
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i never envisioned being a member of the united states senate. never thought that was something that would happen to me in my life, but because i now serve in this capacity, i have an obligation much more than saying thank you. there's nothing wrong. it's a good thing to tell those who serve thank you. i appreciate your service. i respect you. that's -- but that's just the beginning. certainly as a member of the senate veterans affairs committee and a member of the united states senate, i and all my colleagues owe those who served in vietnam and every other battle of our nation more than just saying thank you. my guess is that nearly all of us, the hundred of us probably said these words at services across our states on memorial day weekend. we've said it hundreds of times, thank you for your service.
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i will continue to say thank you for your service hundreds and hundreds of times myself. but this week we have the opportunity to do something significantly more and that is to actually provide the benefits that men and women who served in vietnam and who served in iraq and afghanistan and around the globe the benefits they are entitled to and the benefits which they desperately need. we were with a group of veterans, certainly a group of veteran organizations this morning on the capitol lawn, and to my knowledge every veteran service organization, every organization that represents veterans are asking us to pass this legislation. but i also was surrounded by family members and veterans themselves who have experienced
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horrendous circumstances in their lives, their families' lives as a result of exposure to agent orange in vietnam and toxic burn pits in iraq and afghanistan. and you can see the challenge that people face in their lives because of their service, and we no longer have the capability if we ever did to say, no, we can't help you yet. we'll wait for -- we'll wait for more science, more medicine. we'll wait until the department of veterans affairs completes another study. we can't wait because they can't wait. during my time at home over that memorial day weekend, a navy veteran said he and his father were both exposed to toxic exposures in their service to their country, and to their knowledge they had no consequences, no physical i'llments that result --
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ailments from results from that. but they said every day we worry about it because we don't think, we don't know that if we do develop those symptoms that the department of veterans affairs and really the american people are going to be there to take care of us. so every day of our lives, knowing that we've been exposed to toxic substances during our military service, every day we wonder if something does develop, what's going to happen to our spouse? what's going to happen to our kids? what's going to happen to me, the person who served, if we don't know that the v.a., the department of veterans affairs, is going to be there with the benefits that we need to care for our success-- for ourselvesr family members. the bill that we take up today is a culmination of years of work. and people have come to their
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congress over those years, knocked on our doors, made phone calls and asked us, please do something to take care of someone we love who has been exposed to these terrible substantials and causing death and ill health in their lives. and so across the senate many of us have introduced legislation over those years, legislation in recent years, and with the leadership of our senate veterans' affairs committee we had begun the process of sorting out bills that our colleagues were asking us to pass to deal with toxic exposure. and now we have combined the best of those pieces of legislation from many members of our senate, members of our committee, into the heath robinson act. we've incorporated important fixes to the house version of this bill.
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we've worked to make sure the mitigation -- this has been one of my concerns from the beginning is how do we take care of a lot more veterans who desperately need to be cared for and not disadvantage other veterans who are already waiting in line for services at the department? and we've worked to mitigate, to reduce, to eliminate those disruptions in v.a. operations. we've streamlined the disability claims process for toxic-exposed veterans. we've proscribed a lasting framework for the future of decisions that is driven by scientific evidence, all with the effort and hopefully the consequence of not negatively impacting veterans already in our system. this lasting framework is a win for veterans requiring the v.a. to be proactive in evaluating diseases for service connections. we've had the opportunity over a long period of time to say, well, the v.a. has the authority to take care of you.
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that really wasn't a very good explanation because it never seemed to happen fast enough, and in the process of us waiting on the department of veterans affairs to act, more and more service men and women became ill and too many died waiting for a result. with this bill before us today we're called to act for veterans , and we should answer that call. the heath robinson act is a solution for a problem that has plagued veterans far too long and left way too many families either uncertain about whether they'd be cared for or actually left them without the care they desperately need. this is a responsible approach to fix a broken system that has been cobbled together through decades of patchwork fixes, as we all tried to do something.
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we never got enough accomplished. but we tried and we put this patchwork system together that has failed those who need our help. this legislation is our chance to make certain that future generations of toxic-exposed veterans can get health care and disability compensation that they deserve without delay. every member of the senate committee on veterans' affairs has voted for the original bill in front of our committee. now nearly a year ago -- the bill was passed out of committee with the understanding that senator tester and i would work to find some fixes to problems that people recognized. in my view, both republicans and democrats had concerns about certain aspects of this legislation, and we've now spent the last year -- and particular lib the last several months -- in trying to fine-tune this bill
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in a way that certainly reduces some damage and fixes the process, increases the assets in personnel and resources that the department of veterans affairs has for determining disability claims and for providing health care for those who serve. this is a better bill as a result of our efforts, and i thank chairman tester and my committee colleagues for their partnership and work to get us where we are today. there was a lady on the capitol lawn this morning at the group that senator tester and i spoke to, and she was telling me that her husband was exposed to toxic substances in the middle east, that he is experiencing growing symptoms of challenges as a result of that exposure, and he's waiting to see whether this
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bill passes, and he's hoping that even if he is the last veteran alive to see the legislation passed that he will have accomplished something that's important for him because he will pass knowing that the problems he is creating for his family due to his service are being addressed. there is sadness in that, that one who is challenged by these conditions wants to know that we have done our job so that he can know he's done his job as a father and a husband. today begins the day in which we can demonstrate that we are capable of doing our job. and i ask all of my republican and democratic colleagues to join me in supporting this
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historic bill for our veterans today and for the generation of veterans to come. mr. president, i yield back. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the question is on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: the yeas are 76, nays are 21. the nomination sl confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table and the president will be immediately notified of the senate's actions. the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion, we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the motion to proceed to calendar number 388, h.r. 3967, an act to improve health care and benefits for veterans exposed to toxic substances, and for other purposes, signed by 18 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the motion to proceed to h.r.
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3967, an act to improve health care and benefits for veterans exposed to toxic substances and for other purposes shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote: vote:
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vote: vote:
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vote: vote:
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the presiding officer: on this vote, the yeas are 86, the nays are 12. three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative, the motion is agreed to. cloture having been invoked, the senate will resume legislate tough session, and the clerk will report the motion to proceed. the clerk: motion to proceed to proceed to h.r. 3967, an act for veterans exposed to toxic
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substance and other purposes. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate >> earlier today testimony on domestic crimes and extremist threats from former us attorney and a former fbi special agent. what's the senate judiciary hearing tonight at 9 pm eastern on c-span2, our free mobile video c-span now or
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online . >> after months of closed-door investigations the house january 6 committee is set to go public. tune in as committee members question to key witnesses about what transpired and why during theassault on the us capital . watch live coverage thursday at 8 pm eastern on c-span, c-span now or anytime online at c-span: your unfiltered view of government. >> c-span is your unfiltered view of government funded by these television companies and more including media, >> the world changed in an instant media, was ready. internet traffic soared and we never slowed down


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