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tv   Politics Public Policy Today  CSPAN  May 11, 2015 5:00pm-7:01pm EDT

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>> why would you increase it if you have more resources? >> greater oversight in how the system's working, we would do more foreign inspections, importer examinations. but, again, not on a universal basis, on a risk basis. >> the level you do now is not optimal. >> we think we actually have very few food-borne illnesses associated with seafood products. but with more resources, the agency could do more. >> okay. i -- i'm just trying to understand you're suggesting it's adequate, but in the next sentence, you say you'd certainly do more with more money. >> so it's a risk basis in terms of looking at the products that are coming in. with additional resources, we could look at lower levels of risk. we're looking at the highest levels of risk now. >> a batch of actually tested and rejected seafood imports has been simply shopped to another
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port of entry. what in your overall system today categorically prevents that? >> so we have a notification system. when we refuse an entry that electronic notification system not only notifies customs and border protection, but all the other fda district offices imports. >> and so how is that batch tagged indelibly so that that notification is meaningful so that those other ports can identify the same batch we're talking about. >> so as you may be aware, we've been looking -- working for many years to try to get a marking rule that would provide that marking of the product.
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that is not in place yet. but right now, we do notifications based off the data that we have on who the importer, is what the commodity line is, and make sure everyone is aware about that shipment was refused. >> so if they -- there isn't a set marking rule. so if they change the packaging or any of the markings, they could very possibly get away with what i'm describing? >> the system is not foolproof. i agree with you. but we do do notifications. >> okay. well, i would suggest that's a bigger hole than simply saying it's not absolutely foolproof. but we'll pursue that. senator shaheen? >> thank you, mr. chairman. dr. solomon, as i said in my opening statement, i'm very concerned that we are in the process of setting up a new program under the department of agriculture to separate catfish out from all other seafood and inspect them separately. i think it's duplicative, and i wondered if you could talk about
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the program that has been operating under fda, which up until now had the responsibility for inspecting catfish. can you tell us how it's functioned? and whether or not catfish consumption has posed a risk to public health? is there a reason to set up a separate program? >> so the last part of the question, catfish is not one of the species that we particularly target. controls in place that have been adequately controlling issues associated with catfish. >> so, and just to be clear, it's not the fda or the department of labor or -- usda
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that has set up this program separately. it was congress that did this. and the farm bill. but there wasn't a safety risk to human health from catfish that triggered this effort. is that how you would analyze the situation? >> i'm not aware of any specific safety hazards unique to cat fish. >> thank you. and i know it may be hard for you to put a cost figure on the inspection of catfish under the fda jurisdiction that it may take you some time to come up with that. it's my understanding that right now the usda's catfish inspection program, it's estimated that it will cost about $14 million a year to operate.
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so i'm going to ask you to take for the record and try to get for this committee the cost of the inspection of catfish under fda jurisdiction if you would. >> we'd be happy to provide that back to you. >> okay. thank you. miss wu? >> i appreciate the fact that the department is in a challenging position relative to how to make the visa program work given that we have not yet taken up comprehensive immigration reform, which would go a long way towards addressing this challenge. but in the meantime, we do have small businesses in my state, we heard from the chairman in louisiana who are using the h2b program, and are confused about how the new rules will affect their business. so can you talk a little bit
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about how you're addressing outreach to the small businesses affected? >> absolutely, senator. as i noted, we have a bunch of fact sheets on our website. we're also doing some sort of webinars and outreach next week to talk with people. we always -- we have frequent listening sessions. we recognize the use of this program by small business. we're happy to answer any questions. we have very detailed questions about, you know, if i already submit in my application what happens to me now. and i think as i've noted, for people who have already admitted their application for this whole court case in april, they can just keep going along. they got approved, they can keep going along, running the program the way they were going to do it this summer.
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there will be changes in the future. for those who want workers before october 1st, we put in sort of expedited protsz. as you may know, dhs administers the cap, but the cap was hit fairly early this year. but we continue to process requests for labor certification because there are some exceptions. we're happy to answer any questions. we are doing outreach to small businesses. >> and so when you advise those webinars that you're doing, do you notify small business administration so they can get out, get it out to the small business development centers to share that with other businesses around the country? how do you get the word out that you're doing those kinds of webinars? >> well, first and foremost, we use the contacts list we have of the users of the program. we focus on the contacts we have. but if you have other suggestions or if you're concerned about the employers in your state. we'd be happy to conduct. who follow these regulations closely. we make sure to get the word out
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to them. and we have regular listening sessions with them to hear about their concerns. i will note that the new comprehensive rule is an interim rule. we took comments on a similar rule in 2011, 2012, made some changes in part, in recognition of the concerns of small business. we are taking comments, again, and we very much welcome people's comments on how we can improve the program and make it usable for them. >> if anybody has applied for h2b visas in the past, will they get a notification of proposed rule changes? of various outreach efforts that you're doing automatically because they're on your list? >> they should. they should. i will check with my operations. >> behind you, they're nodding. so hopefully that means that any new hampshire company that's applied in the past will get those notifications. >> yes, that's our hope. >> thank you very much.
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>> thank you. next is senator ayotte. >> thank you, chairman. i wanted to follow up on the question that senator shaheen had asked dr. solomon about the catfish program. as far as i can tell, the u.s. fda handles seafood inspections for all other forms of seafood, correct? >> that is correct. >> and so there's no reason why you couldn't continue to handle independently the inspection as you did before congress on its own, created this duplicative inspection regime, which is actually a low-risk species, correct? >> we are currently, since that rule's not in effect yet, we are currently handling all of the catfish inspections. >> and in the end, as i understand it, it's been interesting to me, we have nine gao reports on this topic. and those nine reports consistently recommend eliminating the newly created by congress usda program that as i
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understand, you wouldn't know the numbers, but as i understand has already spent $20 million, not one fish has been inspected. obviously the fda has handled the inspection of seafood for a long time. and here we are in the congress going to already spend another usda trying to stand up, duplicative inspection. already spent $20 million on it. it's going to cost usda, the estimate is $14 million a year. to continue doing what you already do quite well. so i don't know if you've had a chance to look at these gao reports, have you? >> i've not nine of them, but i have read some. >> and do you agree that you can handle the inspection of cat fish? we don't really need another office to inspect catfish? >> the programs worked effectively as far from fda's perspective. >> right. so this is a great example of
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government run amuck truthfully. the notion that we already have the fda doing its job, inspecting seafood, and to carve out just catfish so that we can spend millions of dollars more to have the usda have another office inspecting catfish, which you're already doing quite well for one species of fish. you know, these are the kinds of things i think people look at washington and they say, what are y'all doing down there? so i really hope, you know, that we will have some common sense on this and allow you to continue to do what you've been doing historically rather than creating another continuing to plunk millions of dollars into a duplicative program. i also want to follow up on the h2b issue. i share, obviously, i serve in new hampshire with senator shaheen. and what i have heard in new
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hampshire, many of our seasonal businesses depend on these workers. as we look to the application process next year, you know, given that this is, people have to plan on what their workforce needs are. >> thank you, senator. it has been frustrating. i know. it's been frustrating for us trying to run a program. i'm sure it's been frustrating and frightening for a lot of small businesses when these court decisions come along and halt us from doing something we have been doing. and the program, they could suspend this. it has really been very difficult. that is why we asked for a stave
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of the court sword so we could keep running the program this spring. and now we've issued comprehensive rules even though the department of labor believes we have the authority to do this on our own. because of the legal challenges, we jointly issue these regulations with dhs. so i think we feel like we're at least insulating ourselves from that level of legal attack. unfortunately, we do continue to see attacks from all sides on this program. but we hope that brings some certainty and stability. and we also are trying to include some provisions that will make things easier over the long run for businesses using this program. >> well, i really appreciate that. because just the feedback i've gotten from businesses in new hampshire on the program is that under the administration, it's become more complicated, more difficult, more paperwork. and as i look at the new h2b interim rules on april 29th, more than 100 pages. and i see the burden on employers increasing. so i hope when you look at this that we need to decrease the
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burden on employers, not create more paperwork. especially when many of them, as you know, this is something that they do every year, and they've been in the program already. so thank you for being here today. >> thank you. next, we'll go to senator cantwell. >> thank you, mr. chair. and dr. solomon, i wanted to ask you about russian pollock. last fall i sent a letter to the fda commission requesting to fix this labeling problem. the product from pollock and not just alaska pollock. the change would prevent russian pollock from being labored as united states alaskan pollock. we requested the change in 2011, now it's may 2015. do you agree the term would give consumers the impression that the product is from alaska? >> so the determination about the species naming is handled by our center for food safety and applied nutrition.
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they have what's called a seafood list. i know your submission, that issue is before that group. they look at both the species name. they work with -- they look at the dna sequencing that talks about these different species. and i know they have that issue under review. >> and so when will we hear about that decision? >> i know they're actively working on it. i don't have that. we'll be happy to try and get back with you. >> okay. do you think in your view as the russian pollock industry, a sustainable fishing, you know, industry specifically, scientifically, i guess i would say. >> so i don't think i'm qualified to speak on that. we look at fish from a food safety perspective. and we're not, you know, related to the trade issues or other
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issues associated with it. >> well, i think, you know, we see things, obviously, about it. they're known for labor issues, just last month, the russian pollock catcher process sank in the bering sea. only 63 crew members survived, 69 were lost. 40% of the crew were there illegally from countries like ukraine, latvia, and so these lives are being lost because of lack of training and survival skills. and then, consumers are seeing a product that's labeled alaska. and not really alaskan pollock. we hope you'll get a decision about this and look at the way the industry is operating in the right consumers have to understand this product. thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> okay.
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thank you, both, very much. we'll excuse you and call up our second panel of witnesses as they get situated, i'm going to go ahead and be introducing all three of them. we're really pleased to be joined by dr. mike strain, the commissioner of the louisiana department of agriculture and forestry who was elected to that position in 2007. sworn to office in january 2008. dr. strain holds a doctorate in medicine from lsu and opened the claiborne hill veterinary hospital in covington soon after he received that degree. we're also joined by mr. john p. connolly, president of the national fisheries institute, america's leading trade oh association, advocating for the full seafood supply chain. john was chairman of the international coalition of fisheries associations and board trustee of the marine stewardship council and currently a board member of the international seafood sustainability organization. and we're also joined by mr. frank randall, president of randall incorporated.
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frank is a seafood processor from lafayette, louisiana. over 40 years of experience in the industry. and also owns randall's restaurant in lafayette, louisiana. welcome to all of you, and we'll start with dr. strain. >> thank you. good afternoon, chairman. thank you very much for allowing us to discuss this. >> again, mr. chairman, thank you very much for the opportunity to come here and speak today. my name is dr. mike strain. i'm the louisiana commissioner of the department of agriculture of forestry and aqua culture. i'm testifying on behalf of the louisiana department of agriculture. state department's are responsible for a wide variety of programs, including food
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safety, combatting the introduction and spread of plant and animal diseases and fostering the economic vitality of our rural communities. our department oversees all agriculture activities within the state, including the markets for products produced for our farmers and, especially, when we here to talk about today in the seafood industry which falls under my purview. first of all, i would like to thank miss wu and other members of the department of labor who allowed us to come to visit with them on march 23rd about this issue and have a very open and frank discussion. also with me today is the director of the national association of state departments of agriculture, which i'm a vice president. my statement is also consistent with the position of the national -- the national association of the state departments of agriculture, representing the commissioner, secretaries and directors across all 50 states and four territories. the communication of sound, public policy and programs. while promoting and protecting the environment and our consumers. in order to feed our increased u.s. population, we must have a stable agricultural labor supply. the ability of seasonal
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businesses to keep the doors open and retain their full-time u.s. employees relies upon having successful peak seasons. during the busy seasons, companies must supplement the permanent staff with temporary seasonal employees. employers spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in their efforts to fill these positions. even in today's tough economic climates, there are not enough local workers available to fill all the temporary seasonal positions. and efforts to obtain u.s. workers to relocate for temporary seasonal employment have not been successful. as a result, businesses must utilize the h2b guest worker program to find seasonal workers and workers for their peak workforce needs. the program is vitally important for many industries, including forestry, nursery, landscaping
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outdoor amusement, restaurant and hospitality, tourism, livestock, horse training, and many others. it's in a critical situation because seafood processors traditionally cannot fill the temporary or seasonal vacancies with u.s. workers. many businesses are located in rural areas that do not have sufficient populations to supply their extra workforce needs. many that are willing to work want full time year-round jobs. they depend on processors operating for their own jobs and business operations. in 2014, louisiana hired 5,546 h2b workers. for each worker, it is estimated that 4.64 american jobs are created and sustained.
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hurricanes katrina and rita, floods on the mississippi river, spilling water through the spillways and the basin and drought. the h2b regulations released on april 29th, 2015, by the u.s. department of labor and the u.s. department of homeland security could impact an already fragile industry's economic competitiveness. the seasonal industries had to weather several years of regulatory instability. the h2b wage rule at the department of labor adopted in january 19, 2011 and imposed new untested methodology that would significantly increase cost for small and seasonal small businesses. after being blocked by congress in april 2013, the dol issued an interim final rule that issued the same methodology for setting wages but recognized the importance of staged wage
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surveys. unfortunately, the new rule released two weeks ago is virtually identical to the rule blocked by congress causing additional obstacles from employers in the program. in december 2014, the department of labor announced it would no longer allow the private wage rate surveys, including louisiana. my staff has spent countless hours gathering information to depict the wages that the industry is paying in our geographic location. this action forced employers into accepting higher prevailing wages, and many seafood processor haves not received the workers they need. seafood processing has begun early in the spring and with with the crawfish industry, especially, it is time sensitive. these actions have a negative
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impact on the seafood industry and related commerce sectors such as restaurants, et cetera. two months ago, the lsu ago center -- ag center conducted analysis of the recent h2b policy changes from the u.s. department of labor from the louisiana seafood industry. the assessment was conducted in response to potential changes in the cost and availability of labor stemming from a mid-year cap on h2 b permits and the announcement that it would no longer accept the private wage rate surveys. results indicate that for every $1 of employee compensation created by the seafood preparation and packaging industry in louisiana, employee compensation increased by $2.06 across all sectors of louisiana economy. this includes the original $1 of employee compensation created by the seafood preparation and packaging industry, plus $1.06 of induced multiplier effects across all sectors of the economy. total income generated by h2b
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visa workers in the louisiana seafood industry is estimated between $36 million and $43 million. based on the assumption of $35 million in revenue, the loss of this revenue for any given number of firms would lead to a reduction in labor income across the entire louisiana economy. eventually leading to a number of companies closing. the economic impact of two processing facilities closing is $5.3 million. and with five firms shutting down, 13.3. louisiana has already faced a number of processing facilities closing due to hurricanes and oil spills. and the industry simply cannot sustain -- be sustained without a stable workers. i'm certain not only seafood industry in louisiana impacted, but the entire industry will be affected by these actions. our markets are subject to particularly fierce competition from abroad. for example, the chinese have been extremely aggressive in
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trying to corner the u.s. crawfish market. this predatory practice and behavior began in 1993 and has continued. the chinese presently control over 15% of the market and capture even a larger market share if our producers are put a further competitive price and labor disadvantage. without temporary h2b guest seasonal workers, the processors would shut down, eliminating the primary market for our fishermen and our farmers to sell their catch. as a result, foreign seafood would gain a stronger foot hold in the u.s. market and our fishermen and farmers who produce and harvest crawfish, oysters and catfish would be devastated and a key segment of the louisiana economy crippled. once we lose the processors, we would not be able to depend on them coming back in future years. therefore the losses because of the processors scale back and do not have the ability to operate during the season will have
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irreparable and bad repercussions now in the future. the short-term consequence of an immediate expulsion of this vital segment of the workforce would cause a production crisis and a wide variety of seafood processing, field and nursery crops, sugar processing, forestry, livestock, restaurant industry and others. this would leave the united states and the state of louisiana no alternative but to import many food products for food countries, from countries with surplus foreign labor. this is unacceptable. we must do everything in our power to grow and support america's jobs and economy. we're asking for your help. we must streamline and expedite the h2b process. we need a working system without overburdensome rules, unrealistic timetables and outright road blocks. neglecting the labor needs of agriculture will raise the cost
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and the production in a way that harms farmers, fishers and industries throughout america. i appreciate your time and encourage you to work with us to find workable solutions. ways that we can facilitate rather than making it so difficult to where our processors and our industries cannot operate. where we're at currently, we have a large crawfish harvest. and we don't have enough peelers to process it. and that puts us in a severe economic state, and i'm sure mr. randall will address that, as well. thank you. >> thank you very much, dr. strain. we'll now go to john connolly. welcome. >> thank you, chairman vitter, for inviting the national fisheries institute to present our views today. our comments will involve a brief introduction. the economics of the american seafood industry and the seafood safety system and the results. the nation's most comprehensive trade association, our members include harvesters like those on deadliest catch, importers who enable us to enjoy seafood around the globe. to processors that put fish in a form consumers recognize, to retailers and restaurants.
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we do represent all geographic regions, and we are particularly proud to have had the late louisiana seafood leader of motivated seafood as our chairman. on h2b visas, essential to seafood processors. senator mikulski captured many of the senators concerns in a letter last week. quote, the lack of available temporary foreign workers has caused chaos among businesses in maryland that depend on the h2b program. more than 40% of maryland's seafood processors have been unable to get the workers they need for the 2015 crab season. i think dr. strain pretty much said it all. and i think that's reflective of the rest of the seafood community in the u.s. on economics, seafood is the most globally traded food commodities. that benefits our fishing
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communities as we send high-quality and bountiful american seafood to northern asia and throughout europe. also benefits the more than 525,000 americans that process, distribute and sell imported seafood. those jobs found in nearly every state, an important reminder that trade benefits the u.s. not just when we export. seafood trade also benefit farm states in two ways. 18% of all soy goes into fish farms, many of those fish farms in asia. and to the countries with which american farmers increasingly seek to send our ag products, are countries that export seafood to america. we cannot expect to open asian markets to u.s. pork beef poultry if we shut off access to our seafood markets. seafood safety. a strong supporter in word and deed. worked closely with academia to best implement.
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nfi works with the alliance for a stronger fda to urge congress to for the agency to meet statutory obligations. as dr. sullivan fully described, i will not duplicate that discussion. i will close, though, speaking to results. results afterall, what matters. the centers for disease control analyzed illnesses from all foods. over the five-year period ending in 2010, cdc found that 141 of 122,000 that is 0.001156 or 0.12% illnesses caused by imported seafood. most of us love baseball. great day to be out for the nats game. but we recall going to the games with our dads. hoping to clutch that mitt and catch that foul ball. unfortunately, we often came home crest fallen because we rarely ever did. the chance of catching the foul
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ball. 0.001156 or 0.12%. as an example of effectiveness of fda and while this is the hearing focus not only the fda captures program, i did want to acknowledge the leadership of senator shaheen and ayotte and others on this committee working in a bipartisan manner to eliminate a program that usda's own risk experts said will not improve public health. both domestic and imported has reduced illnesses to less than two per year. a safe product. it is because of the stringent requirements, a system required for both domestic and imported seafood. a system that requires problems to be fixed thousands of miles
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away from america not caught at the border. that congress exempted companies from some of the key provisions. nfi agrees with congress' determination. thank you. >> thank you very much. and now we'll hear from mr. frank randall. frank, welcome. >> thank you, chairman vitter. there we go, again. thank you. and for the members not here. ranking member shaheen, senator carden. thank you for inviting me to testify about the guest worker program. the program is a vital part of the survival, is -- this program is a vital -- is vital. this program is vital for the survival of seafood processing, especially in louisiana and maryland. the program, this program -- excuse me, just let me go.
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>> sure. >> it's vital. i will submit my statements for the record. in addition to a number of exhibits that will provide a use of reference for the committee. i'll now provide oral comments. i'm here to express my concerns for the future of my business and other small businesses that struggle daily. to succeed. i started at randalls in 1971, very small, one man, one truck. after four decades they're grown in size and scope, transitioning to the next generation. the future is in my sons that work my business allowing me to pull back. hurdles over the last four years were detailed by the commissioner. floods, hurricanes, oil spills, lack of product, imports from china. but the single most pressing issue has been the lack of labor.
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1970s when i started my business i was lucky enough to have the refugees from vietnam come in. brought in roughly 40 to help us get through that time. over the course of the years, came to the 1990s, that started to wayne a little bit. we discovered the h2b program and started to bring in the guest workers from mexico. started with 40, dwindled to 30, now we're at 25. i'm here to talk about the h2b guest worker program. the legal, legal temporary workers. to support farming, fishing, restaurants, wholesale and retail operations. the attached decorations i've submitted from dr. strain filed in our suit of 2011 against the department of labor gives an overview of the importance of the h2b program to the louisiana economy. h2b application process has been a growing and expensive challenge since took over the initial wage certification from the state in 2008, the process
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has become increasingly more time consuming and costly. initially, i did the paperwork myself. but now had to turn it over to someone else qualified to -- more qualified to run through the governmental hoops. many people are using legal or international, international immigrant immigration attorneys. immigration attorneys. the stack of paperwork represents, was submitted on the application for the first cap. for the second, it'd be twice that stack. we missed both caps. our plant was scheduled to open february, 2015, we're still waiting to see if we can salvage part of it. often we hear the remark, if you pay more money, you'll get the labor you need.
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we feel that isn't the case. it's more about the job than the money in our seafood industry. after missing the cap, both caps, we tried something different. seven prison trustees after one day. one trustee said i'd rather go back to jail than peel crawfish. the warden picked him up, brought him back, we didn't see him again. the remaining trustees continued to shrink until after a two-week effort they were all gone. now union activity starts to increase and create problems for us. and, recently the nlrb has surfaced in getting involved. we have referenced this in documents that we brought as exhibits. we need urgently we need fixes to save the program for small businesses. congress has to take action now. lost opportunity to fix the problems last year have already done severe harm in louisiana. some louisiana small business
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will not recover, others may be forced to cross the border. as in the past, we need immediate congressional action to block the new dhs and dol proposals of last wednesday. the workforce coalition submitted a statement we attached as an exhibit. in addition, we need to resume the returning worker exemption from the annual cap. we also have to return the authority of determining prevailing wages to the states. additionally, we feel we need a seat at the table with dol. just like the national guest workers alliance. the office of advocacy needs to be more aggressive in confronting dhs and dol as policy changes are being discussed. and, you know, part of what came up today as we listen to the testimony is what we have been hearing is that somehow what's
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happening was caused by industry. we just don't see it that way. we're small people, but we do know no matter where it was caused or somehow, when something like this happens, if there's an error or whatever, people that make the error still have their jobs. but in our case, we're small. we don't survive. there's some got to give and take that's got to take place here. and that's really why i'm here. somebody had to come up and tell you about what's going on back home. the little guys that are having problems. some big guys have the same problem. hershey expressed these problems in 2007 on to 2011 when they decided to open up the monterey mexico. and most of the growth already funneled into that plant for their american chocolate is now the america's chocolate. we have one right here.
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we have one in louisiana, largest employer. uses h2b. missed the cap. and he's struggling. he's trying to make his orders for this year. small business. he's up against -- i'm not saying -- this is good chocolate, needs to stay home. i'd be happy to answer any questions you may have. >> thanks very much, frank. let's start with you since you offer such a great world perspective. i know you touched on it in your testimony. walk through the specific concrete impact to your business that the various recent department of labor changes and rulings have had. number one. number two, if you have any reaction so far. it may be too new, maybe you don't, but if you have any reaction so far of the new
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department of labor guidance moving forward on wage surveys. >> let me start, it's more of the same. as i see from dol. we've reviewed this stuff. it's stuff that don't work. program rules, 75% guarantee. got to turn them back, got to pay them. that doesn't work in louisiana. as far as the parity, if i pay one person this, other person has to be paid the same. in the seafood, we pay for productivity. we might bring them in at entry level, but give the incentives through piece work. they accelerate, get better, might enter at a nominal rate. but a lot of people get up to these larger rates $12 to $15 an hour. peeling craw fish. that's attainable. >> just to take those two examples. as far as you know, is any of that mandated by statutory law? or is it just a creation of the department of labor. >> a creation. y'all write the laws, they interpret the laws and we try to say that's not what you meant. you saw me up here in '06, it
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was easy to predict to see where we were going. that was when i first came to discuss this. the pain is in reality. and the pain to me, i feel it because i'm in it and i can't get out of it. we got through the process, missed the first cap. i've been at this for half a year trying to make a deadline. i can always start four months before i need them. four months, and i've been at it for six months. and i'm still not in the last step, which would gain me access in six weeks to bring them in. the real lifting at the border to determine whether these people really need to come in. you know, we've demonstrated we don't have the workforce here. >> frank, if i can interrupt, through the record, ask miss wu. we talked about two specific requirements that you mentioned
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are flat out unworkable in the real world from your perspective. so if you could submit for the record any statutory basis that requires the department of labor to do that. because from what i see, there is none. thank you. go ahead, frank. >> a lot of this stuff in the coalition paper. what comes to mind is open up a job order that starts four months out, and you have to take it 20 days to where these people are coming inside of the country. and leave it open. normally, you know, we've demonstrated there are no people that want this job. but, you know, these are just some of the few. and what i've offered to dol is, the nga is apparently -- has their ear. let's let small business somehow be in the process so that we don't see the results of a
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mandate, but we have a team effort to try to move forward. when they impose these things, we feel the pain. a lot of people go out of business. >> right. >> let me ask, both you and dr. strain if you have any specific reaction yet to their new guidance about allowing private, including state surveys. is it workable? is it not? is it reasonable? is it too narrow? do you have any reaction yet? >> the reaction i have is that we've been using the prevailing wage rate surveys. >> mr. chairman, we've been using the state prevailing wage rate surveys for many years. and when you look at the final rule, it says they will be used in limited exceptions. and so now we have several different methodologies to determine a wage rate. simply, let us continue to use the wage rate rule. if you look at the seafood industry and the crawfish industry, the state prevailing wage rate as determined by the lsu ag center and my office, $8.66. that's a floor. but they're also paid on
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piecemeal. and you have some -- you have workers that make $12, $15, $18 an hour. depending on production, this sets a minimum wage. let's not, if you look at what is in the interim rule there, it's complicated. we need to simplify this. >> okay. and dr. strain, i also wanted to touch on my imported seafood safety. we worked on it together, it would give states more power to increase seafood inspections for foreign imports. >> yes. >> in conjunction with the federal government. we've talked about this before, essentially empowering you to reinforce the effort of the federal government to put more cops on the beat. we do this in many other areas where the primary regulation is at the federal level. but related state entities can help enforce that. what is your view on that? and how it could improve seafood
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safety? >> mr. chairman. the american public, when they go to the market, 100% of the proteins for beef and pork, and 99% for poultry, there's a special, a specialty thing for poultry if you have a very small amount, less than 10% chickens, you can sell them, it's very tiny. but all of those proteins are inspected. they are monitored from the farm all the way through slaughter, they expect that slaughter and tested and back traced. the american public believes their seafood they consume is inspected and safe at that same level. if you look at the cdc report and i'm going to quote the press release 2012, says we currently import about 85% of our seafood. reviewed outbreaks from the food born disease outbreak surveillance system from 2005 to 2010. 248 illnesses were linked to imported food from 15 countries.
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of those outbreaks, 17 half occurred in '09 and '10. overall fish, 17 outbreaks were the most common source of implicated. foodborne disease outbreaks, followed by spices. nearly 45% of imported foods causing outbreaks came from asia. the american public assumes we are doing this testing. we know we're not. less than 3% of the imported seafood. 85% of the seafood consumes in the united states is imported and less than 3% is being tested. furthermore, when you look at that particular issue, if you look in a container of seafood there could be in the case of crawfish, there could be up to
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20 different lots. 20 different lots, different origins coming together. so when you think that it's all a blended product and you take one sample and it is consistent with everything in the container, it is not. and when you look at the particular issues that we're talking about, we're talking about antibiotics that are banned from the united states such as clonefenacol. chemicals such as malachite green that are banned from the united states. so when you look at that, it is imperative we all be on the same level playing field. and when you start talking about why we need to test this seafood and you say, well, how are we going to stop port shopping, well, it's very simple. is that we need to make sure we have eyes on at the processing level in those foreign countries and i think some of that will take into effect in the future under the food safety modernization act. but that is somewhere in the future. and that container will be accompanied by a certificate stating it has been tested. and if that container comes in and you retest that container and it is not what it says, then
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it can either return directly and be certified to go back to the country of origin or be destroyed on site. now, our department, i'm responsible, i oversee the department of animal health and food safety. we have a food inspection program. we also work hand in hand with the usda, animal plant health inspection service, to where we do joint meat inspection, we do state plants and we can work jointly on federal plants where those products can cross state lines. but i am not permitted to test imported seafood. now, i can look at the containers to make sure that -- and i as the commissioner of the office of metrology, weights, measures and standards, that if there's a pound of seafood in there there's supposed to be a pound. but we're not allowed to take samples and test it for contaminants. so just like we are having a working relationship and we have a cooperative endeavor agreement with the federal government to do the other protein inspection, let us have the same
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arrangements where my inspectors who are out at those plants looking at other things and we do label inspections for the federal government as well give us the authority under a cooperative endeavor agreement to be further armed. the authority under cooperative endeavor agreement to be a further arm. we have testing labs in louisiana. we do half of the seafood testing. >> so if that were done which i certainly support and am advocating through my bill that would be fully consistent with the federal standards. it wouldn't be using different standards in any way. you'd just be additional cops on the beat correct? >> that's correct. and what we do, our standards, our procedures are in alignment with the federal procedures, and we should have standards as high as the european union. >> right. >> they test and i believe it's up to 15% to 20% of all the products going to the eu. we should meet at least those standards. >> thank you all very much. we're going to wrap up, but in doing so let me also ask through the record if dr.
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solomon could supplement his testimony with a response to this question. we talked about the use of chemicals on imported seafood that is banned in the united states. why shouldn't that practice be presumptive grounds to not allow that seafood into the country if dr. solomon could respond for the record. thank you all very much. i think this was very informative and productive particularly focusing on department of labor activity and regulations and the safety regime for seafood imports. thanks very much and our hearing is adjourned.
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the new congressional directory is a handy guide to the 114th congress with color photos of every senator and house member plus bio and
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contact information and twitter handles. also, district maps a foldout map of capitol hill, and a look at congressional committees, the president's cabinet, federal agencies, and state governors. order your copy today. it's $13.95 plus shipping and handling through the c-span online store at tonight on "the communicators," at this year's consumer electronics show we met up with author peter nowak who says we are in a new phase of human development and through robots and other technology, we're likely to enhance the human condition. >> robots i think is an especially interesting one because 2014 i think was the year of robot angst. i don't know if i could -- a day went by i didn't see some kind of story about how robots are stealing jobs from humans and that we're all going to end up out of work. it's on a daily basis you hear stories about here is a robot
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that's a better bartender than humans, a better waiter or waitress than humans and so on and so on. the thing that i find -- the point i think gets missed a lot in that is that every prior revolution or advance in automation has actually resulted in better jobs for humans. we're really worried about the robots taking our jobs and we're having a hard time imagining what we're actually going to be doing not just 200 years from now but even 10 years from now. i think that history has shown that we will figure out a way to combine with the robots to create new jobs, again, that were previously unimaginable. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern on "the communicators" on c-span2. the internet and tv expo recently wrapped up its meeting in chicago. join us this weekend for a number of speeches from that event. we'll kick things off with remarks from comcast chair and ceo brian roberts whose company just dropped plans to merge with time warner.
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see that saturday at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. and later saturday afternoon it's comments from fcc chair tom wheeler. he talked about net neutrality among other issues and that's at 5:00 p.m. eastern. and then on sunday it's commerce secretary penny prits pritzker and her speech to the group. the u.s. house is expected to begin work this week on 2016 defense programs and policies. this bill was put together after a lengthy markup session lasting well over a dozen hours. up next, it's a two-hour portion of that meeting several amendments were considered during this time, including ones dealing with the funding of the a-10 warthog aircraft and the possible transfer of prisoners from the guantanamo bay detention facility. the gentlelady from arizona is recognized for the purpose of
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offering an amendment. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i have an amendment at the desk. >> if the staff would please distribute the amendment. >> without objection the amendment is considered as read and the chair recognizes the gentlelady from arizona for five minutes to describe her
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amendment. >> thank you, mr. chairman and i want to thank the chairman for including the a-10 in his mark and fully funding this critical platform. the underlying legislation includes funds to support 283 a-10s for the next year. my amendment today does not cost a dime. the chairman has already provided full funding for our entire remaining a-10 fleet. my amendment simply ensures that the chairman's intentions are carried out and that the air force does not use any backdoor means to try to retire these aircraft. my amendment also calls for a badly needed independent assessment of the capabilities or required mission platform that will be needed to replace the a-10. over the last three years, the administration has already moth balled the equivalent of four a-10 quad rons leaving us with only nine combat capable squadrons. i flew the a-10 and commanded a squadron of a-10s flying 325
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combat hours in iraq and afghanistan myself. i know the unique capabilities it brings to protect our troops on the ground. this includes loiter time, sometimes three or four times other aircraft, maneuverability survivability and weapons load. weapons load including 1174 rounds of 30 millimeter and i brought a prop. this is not live but i'll put it up here. 1174 rounds to bring to bear on the enemy to protect our troops on the ground. it's also critical to combat search and rescue. when we have a downed airman we cannot bear to have them have the same fate as the jordanian pilot and only the a-10 shows up to provide that critical sandy role. this month the commander of our forces in korea admitted that moth balling the a-10 would also create a gap in anti-armor capability for his mission. the a-10 is our most survivable close air aircraft. just two weeks ago a dod
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official testified the f-35 would not be able to take a direct hit the a-10 could survive. the a-10 is also the most affordable aircraft. it has the lowest per hour flight cost. we've invested to upgrade its survivability, it's weapon control system, and rebuilding its wings so it can continue to fly until 2028 as a minimum. and the army and our ground troops they want the a-10. general odierno has repeatedly said the a-10 is our best close air support aircraft. the administration is on the record in this committee saying this is a budget issue only. they've testified before us and clarified that that if they had the funds, they would keep this platform. the a-10 continues to be called upon by combatant commanders since this defense bill was marked up a year ago. they've been deployed to the middle east and to europe to
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train our allies and deter additional russian aggression. 12 a-10s were deployed last week to replace those in the fight begins isis. to give you one example of the unique capability, in 2008 then marine master sergeant richard wells and his marines special operations team were on patrol in afghanistan when they were ambushed. the marines were severely outnumbered, cornered in close combat with dozen of insurgents. the sun was going down, fast moving fighters stationed above the clouds were unable to identify the targets or get low enough to engage. two warthogs were diverted to their aid. they descended below a heavy layer of clouds and came within 400 feet of slamming into a mountainside. to quote the a-10 pilot, i would have rather hit the mountain and at least tried to save them versus fly above the weather and listen to them fight and die on the radio. the two a-10s made roughly ten gun passes each to provide cover
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for wells' team so they could retreat to safety. six men are alive today because of the unique capabilities of the a-10. in closing, this debate is about saving american lives. making sure they get home safely to their families. i want to thank the chairman for providing full funding for the a-10 and encourage my colleagues to support my amendment to ensure his intentions are simply carried out and we protect this irreplaceable asset, and i yield back. thank you. >> gentlelady yields back. gentleman from massachusetts. >> mr. chairman, i have a substitute amendment at the desk. >> the clerk will distribute the substitute amendment.
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without objection, the amendment is considered as read and the gentleman from massachusetts is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman. my amendment does three things. first, it keeps an inventory of over 100 a-10s. second, it shifts the highly unusual preloaded offset for excess a-10s to purchase dod identified unfunded requirements to support our front line troops. third, it ensures the greatest military effectiveness by better
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equipping our ground troops while freeing up resources the air force needs. i respect representative mcsally for her service both flying a-10s and now serving as my colleague on the armed services committee, but i strongly disagree with her sense of priorities for our troops on the ground. i speak as an infantry combat veteran of the iraq war. my commitment to troops on the ground is unwavering. i also have great appreciation for the record of the a-10 and its pilots supporting troops in combat. i wouldn't be alive today if not for close air support, but what you never hear from the appeals of the a-10 community is what the trade-offs are. and they are big. first, there is the $682 million the committee had to carve out of this year's dod budget. over four years, the cost to keep all a-10s reaches more than $4 billion. my substitute amendment is not about whether or not the a-10 is a good aircraft for its mission or whether we may want to keep
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some in the inventory. it is a good plane, and having some number of them may be a good idea, but it is not the only aircraft that does air support, and it's definitely not the only thing our military needs. instead, my substitute amendment is about whether or not forcing the air force to keep all its current a-10s in fy '16 is the best way to use $682 million. i don't believe it is. let me briefly describe the substitute amendment in front of members and how it better supports our frontline troops. this amendment authorizes the air force to carry out its plan for fy '16 to retire up to 164 aircraft. it also asks for a report from the air force on how it can best use its 119 remaining a-10s to provide ground support to our troops in the future. most importantly it shifts those unrequested funds to critical unfunded requirements
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that our frontline infantry troops need. first, it adds $75 million for counter ied equipment for the marine corps. this funding will provide 500 new counter ied systems to meet the latest threats. as members know ieds were the number one killers of americans in the iraq and afghanistan wars. they have literally killed thousands of young americans, not six, thousands. far more than will die from the rare scenarios where only an a-10 can provide close air support. second, my amendment adds $160 million for eight additional mq-9 reaper unmanned aerial systems which are in great demand and our dod's weapons of choice in global counterterrorism operations. it also invests in toe bunker busting missiles which are currently at 21% inventory in the marine corps and invests in critical upgrates to f-16s and c-130s that are also unfunded in
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the current mark. at every point in our history in both good bunt times and bad we are charged on this committee with making tough budgetary decisions. while we consider diverting funds to the a-10, china and russia are investing in aircraft that present very real challenges to our most advanced f-22s and f-35s and could easily take out a pack of a-10s. now, you can always construct a scenario and find a war hero to represent it where only a certain weapons system is the one that works. gu in truth, there are very few combat scenarios where the mission of the a-10 cannot be covered by other more advanced aircraft in our air force more maneuverable helicopters close to the ground and faster moving jets that can defend themselves against enemy aircraft and provide accurate fires to troops in combat. the marine corps provides some of the best air sport in the world without a single-a a-10.
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an a-10 is no good if it's shot down by a now common shoulder launched missile. my amendment does not retire all the a-10 aircraft we have and every dollar affected by my amendment moves funds from a program the air force hasn't requested to unfunded requirements or war fighters need. and in case anyone wants to question my own motive here, the biggest employer in the biggest city in my district makes the a-10 engine and briefed me on monday they stand to gain significantly from reinvestment in the aircraft but this is not and should not be about district politics. this is about our shared national security and the lives of the young americans whom we ask to defend it. >> does the gentlelady from arizona wish to be heard on the substitute? >> yes, thank you, mr. chairman. >> the gentlelady is recognized for five minutes. >> make no mistake this substitute amendment is a poison pill. it will advance the administration's flawed plan to send the a-10 to the boneyard.
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more importantly, it will take away a capability we currently have and dispose of it without a replacement. we are working together on this committee to increase capacities of important military programs and against sequestration but we should not get rid of an entire capability we have today while leaving a gap that would cost lives. we're already down to only nine squadrons after the administration retired the equivalent of four squadrons in the last three years. although about 100 a-10s sounds maybe like a lot once you take out aircraft needed for training and testing, backup aircraft and attrition reserve, that leaves about 70 aircraft or the equivalent of three squadrons. today we have one squadron in korea, one in europe one in kuwait, and one on its way to kuwait to swap out. if you add that up, that's four. so if this amendment were to pass we wouldn't even have the number of aircraft we need to do the current national security
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demands. although this is presented as a substitute amendment to my amendment, it's really a substitute to the chairman's mark and his decision after thoughtful discussion and research to fully fund the a-10 in his mark. i recommend my colleagues support the chairman and his proposal to fully fund our a-10 fleet and not this substitute which will devastate our ability to protect our ground troops. i yield back. >> chair recognizes the ranking member. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and i thank representative moulton and representative mcsally for their service to our country and for their very articulate remarks. i support representative moulton's amendment and i can't articulate better the choices than he did. i will just add one because the money here is in the chairman's mark, but it does come from somewhere, and this is what we have done as we have rejected, as i said earlier, just about every dod proposal to try and save money. on the national guard helicopter issue, on the a-10, on the
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cruisers. this money comes from somewhere, and the question is where does it come from? and you can look at the numbers, and you can answer that question very easily. it comes from readiness because that's the last place that you can cut. and servicewide people are complaining about not having enough money for readiness. last year i think we were about $1.5 billion below the president's budget request on readiness. and we were below that number because we rejected the a-10. we rejected the cruiser plan. we rejected all of those things and readiness may sound like what's readiness? readiness is training and equipping our men and women who serve us to be ready to fight. a number of members on this committee when talking about the necessity of funding the military have given the example of the korean war when we sent the first people over to the korean war just flat weren't ready and were slaughtered. so right now our military doesn't have as much fuel as they would like to train.
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they don't have the ammunition that they would need to train. they don't repair parts that get broken because they don't have that fun. so that's the choice that we're making. so i strongly support representative moulton's amendment and let us not act like this money doesn't come from somewhere. and, again, it's all because we don't have as much money as we should because of the budget control act and i won't say anything more about that than i already have but that's the choice. no one is saying the a-10 is not a useful aircraft but given the tight budget environment we are in, we have to make choices, and the one thing, the one choice that i think we under no circumstances should make is to send our men and women into combat untrained and unprepared to do the job that we are asking them to do. and as we continue to raid readiness accounts to protect one program or another that is exactly what we are doing. i strongly support representative moulton's
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amendment. >> chair yields himself briefly. i think i agree with most everything the ranking member just said. readiness is crucial. this continuing to have the a-10 does come at a cost. we shouldn't pretend it doesn't, but i'm also persuaded by the fact that we just sent 12 more last week into iraq and syria. this is an aircraft that is being used today. it's not some hypothetical capability we hope -- we think we may need sometime. it is in use today, and i know that the argument is there are other aircraft that can do this mission, and yet when i talk to -- and mr. moulton obviously knows this better than i but i think there are situations where the a-10 cannot be replaced by
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existing aircraft, at least the capabilities it brings to supporting troops on the ground to things like combat search and rescue, and personally i'm just not ready to say that i'm ready to get rid of it. so i appreciate, like the ranking member, very much the perspective and the service of both the members on this issue and i recognize there is a cost here, and yet for what we're doing today i think we need to keep this airplane until there is an adequate substitute that can do it the way that it does to support our folks on the ground. and allowing some of these to be retired just adds to the fighter shortfall which exists. gentleman from texas mr. o'rourke. >> mr. chairman, i think there's
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a lot in both of these arguments, but when it comes to mr. moulton's argument i think the response that we would be doing away with the a-10s should we support his amendment is not true. it's a false choice to say that we either have the a-10 or we don't. as mr. moulton explained, his amendment would allow us to keep 100 a-10s. the a-10s serving in the middle east today could continue to serve in the middle east, and with that i'm going to yield the balance of my time to mr. moulton. >> thank you mr. o'rourke. mr. chairman with all due respect, there is a very real trade-off here and it's not just about the ten a-10s that may be in the middle east. it's about the hundreds of troops that are on the ground, and when the marine corps says that they are not able to fund 500 counter ied systems for their vehicles those are lives put at risk. a lot more lives from a lot
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greater danger than those lives that might be at risk by not having the a-10s. we can always construct scenarios where we need a certain weapons system and you can certainly construct a scenario where you need an a-10 but the reality is those scenarios are very rare. in fact, most missions by the a-10 are not being conducted at low levels. they're being conducted at high levels like other capable aircraft that we own. before us today with this substitute amendment we do not have a hypothetical question. we have a very real vote. we have a real vote between picking something that the air force has said it doesn't want and funding requirements that our war fighters on the ground have told us that they need. we lost far more troops to ieds than we did to air support failures in iraq and afghanistan, and that continues to be the major threat that we face today. so these are very real choices.
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they're not just hypotheticals, and i urge members to think about what the troops on the ground really, truly need. with that i yield my time. >> i yield back. >> gentleman from georgia mr. scott. >> thank you mr. chairman. and i have looked at the list of things that mr. moulton is looking to fund and i guess my question would be, you know, was that list presented in subcommittee? >> i presented this list as part of my substitute amendment. >> so it was not presented until tonight. thank you for that. the problem we have, and i know a fair amount about the a-10s. i don't pretend to know as much as miss mcsally has. in the late '80s and early '90s the air force promised the united states we would have 750 f-22s. we ended up buying 195. they say we can live out the
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a-10 because we're going to have 2,457 f-35s at some point in the future. by the way, there were amendments today in this very committee to reduce the buy of the f-35. i think what we've got is a system that works right now. we can crank it up. our pilots are trained on it and it's ready to go into a mission right now. the false choice seems to be that we have to give up this system that works right now to fund these things. i'll be happy to help you work these things. trust me i want these things funded as well, and i would hope that we could find other areas to pull that money from but the air force's assumption that we're going to have 2,457 f-35s if they do the same thing that they did with the f-22 buy,
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instead, we had have about 25% of that and then i think they would be screaming to have the a-10s back. so i would just suggest to you that, you know, coming from the farm, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. and you don't give up your old tractor that cranks up every time you need it for one that you can't afford to buy yet. >> will the gentleman yield? >> i'll be happy to yield. >> i want to clarify this substitute and the substitute options here were presented to the majority on monday. so they were not just presented tonight. but with regards to the idea that we're just replacing something that works, and, look, the marine corps does fantastic close air support. i have heard a lot of army soldiers say they get better support from the marine corps because they're trained from the very beginning that close air support is their mission. we don't even have a-10s in the marine corps at all. so the idea that we can't fulfill the close air support mission unless we have a-10s,
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that's a false choice. while i appreciate your willingness to fund these requirements that will actually save a lot more lives than the a-10, the reality we have here to vote on tonight is a choice. >> if i can reclaim my time the combat rescue guys that fly out of mitty air force base like the a-10 providing that cover above them. they don't think a helicopter has near the capability to protect them that the a-10 does when they are on those most dangerous of missions. and with that mr. speaker, to miss mcsally would like to speak, i'd be happy to yield my remaining time. >> i wanted to comment on mr. moulton, you have repeatedly said this is something the air force says they don't want. that is not true. these are difficult financial decisions but they are on the record saying they want the a-10, they'd like to keep the a-10. it's because of the sequester and because of the hard work of the chairman and the people in
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this room we've held back the line to be able to provide some additional relief on defense spending so that we can have assets like this staying in force that are saving lives right now. so it is really misinformation to say that they're saying they don't want it. they're on the record saying they do. >> will the gentlelady yield? okay. >> mr. chairman -- mr. chairman -- >> time is controlled by the gentleman from georgia, mr. scott, for the next 49 seconds. >> mr. chairman, i know when i'm in trouble. i think i'll yield miss mcsally's remaining time back to the chair. >> i think that was a good call. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. i am in support of the amendment in the nature of a substitute offered by mr. moulton. as a co-chairman of the air force caucus, i stand behind the statements made by the air force leadership on the a-10 program and agree with them on two key points. first, the air force and the other services continually
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remind us that in the eras of tight budgets we must make hard choices, and the choice to divest the a-10 fleet is an incredibly difficult one, but when the combatant commanders are asked about priorities and where we can take some additional risks, the capabilities of the a-10 are continually at the bottom of the list. we have the opportunity to reinvest the dollars that would have supported the a-10 fleet into critical capabilities needed by the services today and tomorrow. second, the a-10 is a great aircraft. no doubt about it. with impressive capabilities and a proven combat record. in an ideal world we would be able to afford and retain the a-10. however, it is also not an ideal world from a threat perspective. so as we consider potential future combat operations against near peer adversaries with
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advanced air defense capabilities, the a-10 would be at a distinct disadvantage in comparison to the fifth generation aircraft currently in development. for me this is quite evident in the asia-pacific region. the air force estimates at least a one-year delay in the initial operating capabilities of the fifth generation f-35 if congress prohibits the retirement of any a-10 aircraft. with or without the a-10 the air force will continue to deliver the close air support needed by the joint forces with other very capable aircraft. what we need to focus on at this time is ensuring that the proper effects, independent of the platform delivering them are available when needed by ground force commanders. the air force is 100% committed to delivering these effects or those effects. retiring the a-10 fleet frees up
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the resources to deliver other advanced capabilities sooner and provides more of what our commanders in the field need to manage the threats of today and tomorrow, and so for these reasons, mr. chairman i support the amendment offered by mr. moulton. and i yield back the rest of my time. >> mr. nugent. >> thank you mr. chairman and i do appreciate mr. moulton's service and his comments. i also appreciate miss mcsally's service and comments. you know we've been talking about the a-10 now for the last two years, and the arguments really continue to be the same in regards to the fact that the air force at one point was saying they need the money to hire maintainers for the f-35 which is having its own issues and so who knows if they'll need those maintainers or not.
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that's what they're going to use the money for. that was their statement, not ours. i can only go back to my conversations with brigade commanders from across this nation, some that commanded my sons in combat in afghanistan. i will tell you that you talk to my sons and, you know, just last week i had -- two weeks ago i had six of his buddies, army guys, having dinner and some drinks and we were talking about the a-10. i will tell you that not only did those lieutenants at the time and captains today and majors today but also brigade commanders talk about the value of an a-10, but my son said this and it really caught my attention. he said, dad, when an a-10 came
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over, the bad guys scattered. he said when the helicopters came, they weren't as afraid of a helicopter as they were of that a-10. and listen i'm going to support and i truly do appreciate the countermeasures for ieds. that's probably my biggest concern when my one son was in afghanistan for 15 months in combat, but at the same time i don't think you trade off a capability that is there today for something else. i'm just -- i'm conflicted from the standpoint that i want to see our kids and i think all of us here want to see our kids, and i say that with the utmost respect because i have three of them serving we want to make sure they have the best possible backup ever, and i don't want to one day wake up and say, you
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know if only i had done this. if only i had backed mcsally and the a-10s and it's not just mcsally but the person, position who you now fill was a huge supporter of the a-10. i have no a-10s in my district. there's nothing in my district that supports a-10s, so this is from a dad saying that, you know what? why would we give up that capability? we're in conflict zones that we could face whether it's north korea or iran or russia or china or any other actor out there that we may need that ship that we know works. it works at a high level. it works every day. and it's not a matter of, geez, maybe it will be there, maybe it won't, but i just go back to my
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kids and their friends and their brigade commanders telling me that without the a-10, they would have been at serious risk, more than what they were when they're drawing fire. so i support the a-10, and mr. chairman, i really do appreciate you putting this in the mark. i certainly do appreciate the comments of everybody because it does -- do you have to think about everything. but at the end of the day, i do think about my son's words saying, dad, when the a-10 showed up, we knew that we had close support and it was accurate support, and the bad guys were scared as hell about it. and i don't know how you replace that. and i worry that when you start cutting down the numbers of those ships, that we then have the inability to respond when we need to. and we don't meet the national defense priorities that have been laid out.
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and with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> we've got a pretty good list of folks who want to speak so let me encourage brevity. mr. walz is recognized. >> i yield my time to the gentleman from massachusetts. >> i thank you sir, and mr. nugent, i appreciate your comments and thank you very much for the service of your family in iraq. quite frankly, your sons face a much greater threat from ieds than they do from not getting air support from a certain platform. having been in those situations before i've seen the effectiveness of helicopters that can get even closer to the ground. and i want to make a comment about helicopters with regards to combat rescue. i have been the platoon commander of a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel platoon and have flown combat missions in iraq. we used a ch-53 because we could
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not only fly low but we could land when we found the aircraft that had crashed. the preferred platform for those missions now is actually the v-22. if you talk to most of the operators who play those roles. the reality is that the marine corps provides a great counter example of how you can have incredibly effective cast, close air support, without requiring this particular platform that was built to destroy soviet tanks in the army. and, again this is not a hypothetical question. there is a difference. the air force might say in a hypothetical world that they would love to have the a-10, but we don't live in a hypothetical world. we live in a real world and there's a very real difference between funds that the air force has not even requested and funds that the marine corps has said are necessary to protect their war fighters on the ground. and with that, i yield back to
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mr. well. >> i yield back. >> mr. franks? >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman i appreciate your thoughtful balance on trade-offs. there are trade-offs but i would suggest to you that the very false trade-off here is trying to measure the a-10's unique capability against ieds. we need both, and we should not juxtapose them against one another. the true trade-off with the a-10 is what can we replace that capability with? how much will it take us to replace that specific, unique capability, and i would submit that once we lose that a-10 platform, that any other platform that can do exactly what it does is going to cost a great deal more than any savings we will have with retiring it. mr. chairman, the amendment that is the substitute here is an inflexible document. this is something that is a matrix that the services have to use as written. i talked to a lot of generals,
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mr. chairman and some of the highest echelon generals we talk to ironically they speak exactly in the opposite of the hypothetical that my friend mentions. their hypothetical is that, yes, in a hypothetical we don't need the a-10, but in real life, it is the all-purpose sledgehammer of the skies and sometimes there's just no replacement for it. and if you're on the ground and you're facing an advancing army -- advancing armor, you're very, very glad to hear it. and if you're the commander of a tank brigade, you're very very unhappy to hear a-10s coming. mr. chairman, i would just say that before we replace -- before we stand down from this platform, we should know what it's going to cost to replace that capability should we need it and with that i yield back. and i would ask that we defeat the substitute and support the mcsally amendment. >> gentleman from california mr. aguilar. >> thank you, mr. chairman. in a time of difficult choices, i think this is a reasonable
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amendment and it has my strong support. i believe it gives the air force the tools they need but only what they ask for. it adds to our readiness in the protection of our ground troops and with that i'd like to yield back to the gentleman from massachusetts. >> thank you. i would just like to say to mr. franks, i appreciate the fact that you may not have written the substitute amendment in the same way. but we do have a vote. we have a vote tonight between requirements that are not requested and requirements that are. so whether you like that choice or not, that is a choice before us, and i think it's a good choice. because i think it's a real choice about supporting the troops on the ground. the troops on the ground are facing ieds. the troops on the ground need toe missiles that can bust into bunkers. the troops on the ground need air support, but that air support is widely documented to be able to be provided by other platforms. and, again it's not that you can't create a scenario where only the a-10 will work. i mean, in afghanistan when we
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invade invaded, we had to resort to donkeys to carry troops and baggage up over the hills. now, that doesn't necessarily mean that we shouldn't have gotten rid of the mounted cavalry back in the 1930s, but the point is we always have to -- [ inaudible ]
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we're unable to fix that audio problem right now. if you'd like to see this you can watch it with the sound at tonight on "the communicators," at this year's consumer electronics show we met up with author peter nowak who says we are in a new phase of human development and through robots and other technology we're likely to enhance the human condition. >> robots i think is an especially interesting one because 2014 i think was the year of robot angst. i don't know if i could -- a day
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went by i didn't see some kind of story about how robots are stealing jobs from humans and that we're all going to end up out of work. it's on a daily basis you hear stories about here is a robot that's a better bartender than humans. here is a robot that's a better waitress or waiter than humans and so on and so on. the thing that i find -- the point that i think gets missed a lot in that is that every prior revolution or advance in automation has actually resulted in better jobs for humans. we're really worried about the robots taking our jobs and we're having a hard time imagining what we're actually going to be doing not just 200 years from now but even 10 years fro now. i think that history has shown that we will figure out a way to combine with the robots to create new jobs again that were previously unimaginable. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern on "the communicators" on c-span2. with live coverage of the u.s. house on c-span and the
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c-span covered an event today on the future of iraq. two iraqi leaders, a former deputy prime minister and the governor of a predominantly sunni iraqi province discussed what's happening in sunni arab communities. they make recommendations on the best way to include sunnis in the process of shaping iraq's future as well as combatting isis. >> good morning and welcome to the brookings institution. i am ken pollack. i'm a senior fellow at the center for middle east policy here at the brookings institution and i am absolutely delighted to bring this program to you this morning. as all of you know in the last few months washington has seen two extremely distinguished visitors from iraq. the prime minister was here in march and just recently -- in april, and just recently we had president massoud barzani of the krg. as we all know there are many
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different communities in iraq. all of them in great tension at the moment. some of them virtually at war with one another and as we all know, at the heart of iraq's communal differences lie its sunni community. we all now know that it was the alienation of the sunni community that began after the 2003 american invasion which drove the sunnis of iraq out of the political system and drove them into opposition and helped usher in iraq's civil war. we all know that it was in 2008-2009 that with help from the united states the sunnis were brought back into the fold. a new power sharing arrangement was forged in baghdad. the sunnis were once again given their rightful place, given political power, and economic benefits commensurate with their demographic weight and that was a critical element in resolving the civil war, pacifying the
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country, and putting it on a pace and in a direction toward real progress. we also are well aware after the painful events of last year that it was the unraveling of that agreement and the actions by the prior iraqi government that alienated the sunni community once again and that opened the door for isis or isil, whatever you prefer to call it, to come back into iraq. today one of the critical questions facing iraq and one of the critical questions for the united states and every country in the world that cares about iraq, that sees iraq's future as tied to its own interests is what the future of iraq will be. what kind of an iraq can bring all of its communities together again, help them to live in piece and tranquility. when you speak to iraqis in baghdad, in all other parts of the country, what you often hear from them, in fact, almost
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invariably when you talk about the course of the fighting so far and what it will take to defeat isis and bring peace to iraq, what you inevitably hear is what will matter is what the future iraq government looks like. to the sunni community that's of intense interest. many sunnis feel they were badly betrayed in particular by the events of 2010 and '11 and '12 and '13 when they bought back into an iraqi political system only to find that political system used against them by a prime minister who saw many of their most important members as his enemies. if iraq is going to be safe, secure peaceful, unified, the real question is not how fast can we defeat isis and how fast can we drive them out of the country. the real question is whether there is a political solution to be had, a political solution
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that will allow the sunnis to once again feel that they are full members of iraq's political system. that once again they have the political strength and the economic benefits commensurate with their demographic weight and that they are not enemies of the state, that they are not objects of persecution by the government but full partners in that government. when you talk to iraqis, you often hear, and this is a pair phasing of something i heard directly from one person in particular, but i'm going to put a slight twist on it so it's not a direct quote. what you often hear from them is you're asking me to fight for the future of iraq. until you tell me what that future looks like, i can't tell you whether i'm willing to fight for it. and for that reason i asked today two very important very well-known, and very highly regarded leaders of the sunni community to come to washington to help us to understand the perspective of their community
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on these critical issues. i know that for many people in this room both of these figures are well known to you but i also know that for some they are not particularly well acquainted with them so let me give them quick introductions. to my farthest right, to your farthest left, is dr. rafah. he was born in anbar, trained as an orthopedic surgeon, and rose to become the head of the fallujah hospital including most famously during the november 2014 battle for fallujah. he was elected to the council of representatives in 2005 and 2006 he became minister of state for foreign affairs. in 2008 deputy prime minister of iraq, and 2010 finance minister. in 2012 and '13, rafah came under attack by the previous government. his bodyguards were arrested. he was the target of an assassination attempt and he was forced to resign from the
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government. he is the personification of the events that led to the alienation of the sunni community in 2012 and '13. to my immediate right to rafah's left and to your immediate left a governor jay if i. he was born in mosul. he has degrees in engineering and law. i also found out in looking over your bio that you were an engineer in the iraqi air force during the iran/iraq war which is something i did not know. in 2009 the governor became the governor of nineveh province and at that time, excuse me, it was a tremendously important event in iraq, and i can remember some of your early adventures when you first took over the governorship which i think were critical in broaching or beaching the differences between sunni and kurd in nineveh province. in addition, the governor is still the governor of nineveh
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and his brother was the speaker of the iraqi council of representatives from 2010 to 2014. now, as again i think many in these audience already know if there was one thing that the previous government of iraq was successful at, it was fragmenting the sunni community. there are many different voices in the sunni community these days, and there is no question that there are other people who will claim to be this or that or speak for this or that community. the reason that we brought you these guests today is because these two men have long-standing -- excuse me -- histories as acting as eloquent voices for their community, as being committed to the peace and stability of a future iraq and of being committed to a u.s./iraqi partnership moving forward. for those reasons, i can think of no two better voices to help
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us understand the situation in iraq and with its sunni community than our two guests. we'll begin with some prepared remarks by both of them. dr. rafah has a bit of and we'll have questions talk show style and finally we will open things up to you in the audience to ask them your questions. this [ applause ] good morning, everybody. i would like first to thank my friend ken on this invitation and thank you all for your attendance and thank my colleague and old friend.
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thank you very much. >> i have specific topics on the situation in iraq. we have to describe what is going on the ground on security and other aspects. excuse me. i will talk about extremism and state of iraq. for the -- both on the isis side
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and daish or militia side. so we have to know the exact causes causes that led to that situation. and i want you to focus on the next video which is about one minute. on the right side one of the flags of the militia. the black of isis and the yellow of the militias working in iraq and one of the leaders threatening saudi arabia and that one threatening the
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neighboring countries and on this side this is the brutal dealing of the militias on that side isis are dealing with the shia on the other side. this is identical criminal groups. the same thing on the killing on the right side. i cover the picture because it is offensive pictures. on this side and on the left side you see that the daish or isis are killing the shia. so this is the situation in iraq right now. in order to change you will come to the practical points we will tackle on government side, on american side how to end this tragedy in iraq. it is such an identical that this is -- on the left side this
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is -- is killing one of the -- and on this side the militia are -- is a new one. that is why we want to focus yes on short term, damaging to the country and threatening the region and international community and global battle with daish. but on the long run you cannot deal with a country filled with a militia which is illegal and violent actor. now the question sunni arabs are iraq. i'm afraid this rabid presentation may not give you an expect picture of the situation. in 2003 and 2004, sunni arab divide into two groups. i am some other colleagues of mine participated since 2005.
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the vice president the chief of -- the sunni bloc in the parliament. and the foreign -- parliament and all of them are leaders of sunni and in exile now. they are wanted in political -- politicized judicially decisions. now sunnis are look is there any benefit of political participation? second, i'm talking about some legal constitutional steps taken by sunni and how the other partners dealt with the sunni. first one is participation second when sunni found it's difficult to achieve their goals they went towards demonstration or before demonstration they went to declare regions like -- and nineveh, yes. and to get a little bit of
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decentralized to decrease the grasp of the central government over them. what happened in 2011 militia occupy the office of the governor and the governor was in -- for six months he was not capable of coming back to his office. while this is a constitutional -- so we moved into a third step which is the awakenings. awakenings to fight al qaeda. this was back to 2006 and '07. what happened almost all the leaders of the tribes who fight al qaeda have been assassinated and the government didn't protect them. after that sunni said let us go to the streets after demonstration. more than one year sunni demonstrated the street. what happened? the former government said thanks and they killed them who
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demonstrate legally, peacefully. when sunni come to say let's come back to talk with the government to find some sort of recruiting sunni salespeople for local national guard in order to participate in the security forces, and defeating isis and until this moment unfortunately the draft of the national guard has not been sent or finalized in the parliament. and when it come to sunni now who stood after some of the big places tribes want to fight them until this moment thousands of people are not recruited officially by the government. keeping in mind we are talking about official legal recruitment, not war lords. we don't need to see sunni armed groups and shia armed groups. it will lead to conflict. we will talking about
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institutionization of the security forces. so when they stood up to fight isis they didn't receive their ministerial orders and the weapons too. we are talking about almost 600,000 families displaced. and we are talk about 3 million people displaced out of their houses because of isis. and this put a challenge over everyone including the central government how to deal with the displaced sunni people. the latest wave of displacement was from anbar that unfortunately for that -- dealt with them as that you have to bring -- we have to bring a sponsor so some came to a dangerous and risky situation in anbar. and we are talking about sunni imbalance on top of the security institutions. we are talking about 16 agencies
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civilian and security. the 16 agencies in a sunni dominated province all the 60 leaders are shiite leaders. what participation are we talking about? that's why sunni arabs are part of iraq. too many agreement with the previous government and with this government about reconciliation and amnesty law which is not on the government side, i mean. so all this environment make the society of sunnis ask the question, is is viable to be part of the political process? if it is yes, the government should include all iraqis. this is one. and you have to be received in security forces even when you come to fight isis, what sort of partnership the government can do if the government fail to
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make partnership those who are fighting a global threat, which is isis. and now around 2012, good signals from governor of anbar to the former central government to prime minister, that isis are there in the western desert, you have to deal with them. who left isis to enter ramadi and other cities those who are controlling the security situation. so the central government and iraqi central security forces which control the security failed to deal with the entrance of control of isis over our provinces. the question we keep saying that iraqi security forces was not built on a proficient national model and this is the end. the many divisions have been defeated in mosul on a few hundred of isis.


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