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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  January 20, 2014 4:14pm-5:46pm EST

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saying. first takes up a lot of your time, and you have to learn how to manage that time. you have to learn how to prioritize as well. from being the leader howhe team, i have learned to lead people. you cannot fire them if you are not doing their job. how do you motivate these people and engage them, and that is not something that i can only apply to first, but also to any other group project with students. how do i get these people motivated? that is a big part of it. >> do you have any comments on that subject? >> it affects your time management, most of all. once you're there, you're pretty week.every day of the you have to figure out your homework and all the other things. that is all i have to take of it, as i'm not quite involved
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with the computer science aspect of it. you, everyone. i recognize the ranking member for his questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to say all of you, your extremelyhas been impressive. , you here and i think that probably put -- we all sit up here and look and say if i were only that good when i was that age, i would say that for myself , but obviously you all have great opportunities ahead of you for whatever you want to do, and i'm sure there are parents, teachers out there, you have to be extremely prowled -- proud of your child here. i taught college before i went
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to congress, but it is very impressive what you have been able to do, and i encourage you to keep it up. you have put in a lot of hard work. mr. morris, he talked about the hours. how many hours do you spend -- did you spend on first? first season structure was a lot like a sports season. we have our off-season, so we are preparing for our season. much,hard to estimate how but i would say at least three hours a week, at least, and sometimes we would be at an outreach event or volunteering to 10 hours a day. then you get to the build season, when we construct our bot. and that is every night on our to six hours every night after school, i and
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eight hours on saturday. for the duration of six weeks. after the build, a few months back into repair mode, and then competition, three days of very intense 24/7 work, basically. they are a lot of fun. that is the summary of the hours. i do not know if some of these other teams work differently, but that is how my team works. >> anyone else want to comment? sevenaverage i would say to 10 hours a week on robot activities. they say football never stops, you are still working in the off-season. you still work in the off-season for first. every month we have to have something done. june through august, that is when we try to set up a plan for the next year, when we want to get our corporate sponsorship,
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and when we want the money rolling in. january through march, that is robot. have to build the november through december, we had to train new members, each them programming, skills, safety training needs to be done, because we're all working with power tools. there are a lot of different aspects to it which is one of the most unique things about frc. the worldsall it telus corporation because all your talent is gone in four years. everyone fallen tears, and the people who are leading it our all volunteer. it is very unique, and that is what i think it is important about it. my other students can talk about that. addresse else want to the committee? >> i would violently agree with everything that has been said here -- [laughter] it takes a substantial amount of time. but, yes, in the off-season you have lots more time to go into the outreach aspect of first,
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which is just as much a part of it as the build season is. it is about helping other people, gracious professionalism. even during the build season we will help with other teams. we take if you under our wing and help them get started sometimes. yeah him it is a great experience and it is not end at the end of the season. >> is there anything -- what can be done, is there anything we do,do, anything you can in terms of encouraging more students get involved? i will start with the crew, because you're coming at this -- we are talking about this technical stuff about the robotics, and you were involved in a different part of first. is there anything that can be done to encourage more people, more kids to get involved? >> i think it definitely needs
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to be in more schools and it needs to be -- there needs to be more awareness about it. there's not enough information on. always do announcements about what your sports teams did, come out of the game, and robotics, it is like an accidental secret. nobody really has heard of it unless you know somebody in it most of the time, or we do something really incredible and it is on the announcements. there needs to be -- the word needs to be spread. >> i do not think that is the fault of the teams. you have heard people mention outreach a lot, spreading the mention of first. it is something that the team is a gone and the entire organization is big on. just trying to get access to the gym to use our robot, not to demean sports teams, but to have the same kind of formality with the school is something that
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would help you, because we certainly think this is just as important. racially, i think unknowingly or whatever it used to be that stem were unique activities, this is something that maybe in uld 1970's people wo build train tracks. on our team.ople we run a batch of $25,000. that is not your usual club. if there was more awareness in terms of how to deal with these act -- activities, and recognizing this is not just another academic activity. it is not just -- it is something different and we need to recognize that and how we treat it. the gentleman was talking about how we treated science, but in terms of activities, it is quite open. >> thank you very much. >> thank you for being here, and
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i want to commend the you for going above and beyond. to me, that is the story of your work, is that this is above and beyond, an incredible commitment, but also an incredible opportunity, and i sense that you recognize what great opportunity you have been given. a couple questions. one is i wonder if you could talk briefly about how your parents first responded when you mentioned that you were interested in doing this and when you started talking about some of the responsibilities, they be driving, or whatever that would be involved for them. how did they respond? if we could go down the line. me, even getting started in engineering and stem, my entire family is in the stem field. my dad is an engineer. my grandfather is an engineer.
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all of them went to west virginia university. i parents were very supportive of how i perched this. i dad is involved in a tech company, and he is giving me advice on how to approach frc.g whatever i do in my parents have been supportive of it. that is what makes a difference to a successful frc team, see parent engagement, which is important for the success of stem programs, because it can be expensive and time-consuming. >> of course, my parents were very excited that i was ready to join the robotics team. at the time our high school started in the eighth grade, which it does no longer, but -- so i started on our frc team in the eighth grade. that was the year when that team l
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there was a game, and the rest of the team graciously let us -- and ninth-hth- boters handle the mini challenge. we worked through that problem on our own. i jumped right into it, and hopefully in the near future we groupry to start an ftc in our district, so the students in the middle school did not have to wait until high school, because there is a gap between fll and frc. >> there's a philosophy among some first teams that adults are only there to sign the checks. runy experience, you cannot an organization like this with that. parents not only have to be supportive. my parents are very supportive. they also have to be involved,
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and the biggest part of that is having them understand the advantages first has for these kids. six, kids are spending eight hours a day, working on the weekend, and parents are asking, what are you getting out of this? the teams can talk at the parents about what are the advantages of this, why do you want your kids doing this, but i credence --es more it gives more weight to the argument when other adults are telling these other adults this is why this is important, this is why should not only be happy and supportive of your kid for doing it, because there are people on the team who have parents who do not want them on the team, and that is really quite sad. some mixedy had emotions for a while. my mom was not happy about it taking up so much time during the build season because you're
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they're basically every single day. we have wednesdays off at 9:00 p.m., but every other a you are there. but longer on weekends and the other days. she was not happy about that, and it is very time-consuming. she did not know how i was going to get there. my dad was pretty interested in it. he thought it was pretty cool. he helped convince her of it. involved and was a mentor. he is now the documentation mentor at our team. my sister is not on the team. he drives me and my sister to it everyday, and a generally kind of works. whof i could, any parents are here, if you do not mind just raising your hands? any parents? i notice a huge commitment, and i commend you for your it involvement and engagement. i want to talk about mentors. parents are part of that, but also some of the other mentors
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that you have mentioned. somewhere in the room, some have joined with you today, but i saw that so clearly with my team got thets back in my area, relationships and the commitment of mentors of giving so much of their time, not getting paid, they are paid not much at all, but seeing this vision of giving you the opportunity that they wish they would have had if they were your age. are there any mentors in the room as well? thank you all so much for your commitment as well of the mentors. that is amazing. one of my fears is that we see with the challenges we are facing in congress some of the cuts that are coming to the department of energy, to stem education mentorship programs, and we have to fight against that come up with that is what we need more of come more mentorship. especially when we see teachers being so stretched or not even desirethe passion or the
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to put in the time commitment. yet mentors, willing to do that. some teachers are willing to be mentors are well. this is something i want to continue to focus on and make sure the funding is there to do that. thank you. i am inspired by the work you're doing. thank you, parents. thank you, mentors. and anything you can be all doing and we as members of congress can be doing to spread the importance of how this is. if i can wrap up, mr. chairman, by talking about the gentleman going to japan. it sounds like an incredible expense. how they are modeling what we have done, my fear is we are going to lose that cutting edge that we are really the place that as the rest of the world looks to come up the innovative nations, and there are nations that are ready to do that. stem education and programs like first are absolutely key for us as what type of nation we are
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going to be in the next 5, 10, 20 years. i want to make sure we are continuing on that forefront, that we are the nation that every other nation is looking to, how does america do it, rather than falling behind. you, and i appreciate and you letting me sit in today. i'm here today visibly because two of the students are from counties i represent them and i feel very proud of the work we are trying to do in our school systems to enable this kind of learning. i am sure he is, from -- i'm curious, from each of you, what aspects of your academic curricula during the school day contribute, and how does it contribute to what you are doing in your club activities? think definitely that it is
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a stem activity at heart, and my physics churchland, everything i do in chemistry, all these are things have helped me in understanding what goes on. i think that some of the advanced classes i've taken have helped me stand -- helped me understand what is going on in robotics. i cannot pass judgment on curriculum, but i've learned a lot in school that has been useful in first. and i feel vice versa. the subject matter is the subject matter, and maybe in different schools it is being taught differently, were some of better, whatever it is, but at heart for me to academic subjects are very important in first and all the stem activities. ana, i wonder if you could share with us, because you are in a different part of the program, the parts
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of your academic work that facilitates what you are doing with first? or not? >> mind does not have a loved contribution. i am in standard classes. i was never in stem. i was never allowed to be in honors, because our department was worried i was never going to be able to handle the work load. before 10th grade, they said i did not have that grades for it. i do sometimes need a lot of april work -- a lot of people were, so that we work together is important. >> thank you. either of the panelists? i will have to say that a lot of the physics and calculus we learned in school, you do not -- what you are doing in first is more hands-on. sometimes he of trouble --
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sometimes you have trouble youifying reconciling what have learned in school, what you have learned in first, but i do not see -- i do not think there is a better way doing it than first, because first -- in school you have your curricula, in in first you have your hands on, and those are not mutually exclusive, but first teaches you hands-on better than school possibly could. >> the math and science classes prepare us somewhat for what you are going to do on first. but in math, when you take a test or something, a tell you what equation you have to use to solve the problem. but when you are doing this in the real world, you have to figure that part out yourself awesome. you have to figure out what he equations to use and what numbers to put where.
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being a junior, i have not gone into some of the more advanced math and science classes yet. but on another note, one of the things our team is trying to do this year is to engage some of aspect outsideom of stem, like the english students and the history students, because there are functions they can do on our team. there are warts you have to write essays for -- there are awards you have to write essays for, and accounting. economics classes play into that. we are tried to reach out john stem and have some position for everybody on all the classes on our team. talkedearlier panel about this idea of failure, and it is a thing that we have been wrapped up in since i've been in congress, because sometimes i think we do not put resources into things because something fails and then you experiment with it. could you all share with us what you have done that failed you
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learned from and the value of that? [laughter] >> i will start. ,he first game, the competition you are designed to fail. they give you way too many requirements with way too little time, so you are going to mess up. i am sure every team here has had robots a that maybe did not perform as optimally as they had hoped, but the core of the engineering challenge of first is not just building the robot, it is prioritizing to say, all right, what aspects of this are we going to concentrate on and how are we going to concentrate on that? if you fail, it is not like this is first, this is not like real life, so this is a place where you can fail and learn from your
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failures without consequences being too heavy. thank you very much. iq for all -- thank you for all the witnesses. again, you have done a better job justifying in front of congress then maybe i would. i havefour kids, and found this to be one of the most fascinating hearings i have ever been in. i would like to thank the witnesses for your very valuable testimony. committee may have additional questions, and we will ask you to respond to those in writing. rule will remain open for two weeks. at this point, the witnesses are excused and the hearing is adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by national captioning institute]
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>> here at the mlk memorial, some of the shadows falling on the statue where people have been visiting throughout the day on this mlk holiday 2014. we will just take a look at the crowds for couple minutes. -- for a couple minutes.
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the mlk memorial opened three years ago. it was originally scheduled to be dedicated in august, but that was postponed because of hurricane irene. this is the first memorial don't for a nation's capital person of color. the address here is sick again. 1964 listed as independence avenue, in honor of the 1964 civil rights act. later today could look at liberals and the media with a former chie tv writer.
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conservative forum of silicon valley earlier this month. asked, doobama was you believe in american exceptionalism? clever answer in which he said yes, and then made it very clear he meant no. i believeid was, yes, in american exceptionalism just as the greeks lead in greek exceptionalism. a other words, it is not belief based on anything other than the fact that he lives here. it is not in our constitution that he finds exceptional. it is not our work ethic that he finds exceptional. he just happens to live here. [indiscernible] [laughter] he is stuck with it.
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if america is not exceptional, then how is somebody like barack obama to explain america's success? are the most successful nation in all of human history, rock obama and the modern lib -- barack obama and the modern liberal has no defending this stupid ideology. given america is the most successful nation, the modern liberal has no choice but to believe we are the greatest injustice in human history. -- are sowhy vicious and lie about is your, explainse how do you tel aviv and the gaza strip? how do you ask lane symphony orchestras and the -- symphony orchestras and the ied?
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there's nothing journalists are allowed to report them so they both want peace. that is what the liberal journalist has to believe. otherwise, something is wrong with islam. if they both want peace, they just want to coexist, then why do the muslims murder jews children and blow up office in jerusalem? another bus was blown up in jerusalem. god forbid. the journalist goes and says the palace and the and must want peace, -- the palestinians must want peace. now they need to look for what that provocation is. provoke it. did not they have to find something moronic. it is because a jew built an extension on his home in jerusalem. [indiscernible] to a thinking person, you have got to be more on. there's nothing else that will allow him to believe it. the same thing for benghazi.
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if it was a well-timed mass murder of an ambassador and other heroes, aced on the l slotnick fascism, -- based on the islamic fascism, then there is something wrong with islam. it does not matter that it was stupid. you and i laughed except for the fact it was so horrible. must "the new york times" he to believe something so obviously stupid? more of thistch later today at 6:45 eastern or anytime online at . know truthfully that every single problem in america would be better if more people could read, write, and comprehend. i just know that. we would be able to compete with the rest of the world.
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we would not have these children crimes committing because their families do not have jobs. they do not have jobs because they cannot read, they cannot write, they do not understand. and i think every thinking american is coming to that conclusion. we have got to educate our children, and we have got to educate their parents. it is not just a whim. it is a necessity, if we are going to compete in this world. >> first lady barbara bush, tonight at 9:00 eastern live on c-span and c-span www.c- span3, also on c- span radio and at therrow, a look supreme court decision united versus the federal election commission.
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then you discuss and on efforts to fight the decision and moves rightste voting legislation. then a look at the u.s. job growth in the coming year, plus your comments by phone, twitter, and facebook on "washington journal," live tomorrow morning and every morning at 7:00 eastern on c-span. talks aboutman transportation and investment and the future of amtrak operations. he spoke for about an hour. [applause] >> thank you, angela. i'm very pleased to have some of my good friends
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and colleagues here. i would like to talk about 17, i is in the air force, celebrated my 18th birthday by having a drink, and then later when i turn 201i was able to vote. [applause] that is all reversed today, in't it question mark what want to really talk about is three weeks ago i became 65 years old, and i told jim, one of my good friends, that i am now an old man. 65 is not all. he said, i am 67, and i am not old. [laughter] but that is reversing as well in this nation, and there are other things that need -- we need to start thinking about.
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most recent discussions we have had about the future of surface transportation in america, it has been focused on what is called the highway trust fund and its reauthorization. i think that's unfortunate because the highway trust fund is dead. it's financially unviable and built on an outmoded vision for mobility in the united states. we need to be thinking about how to replace it with a surface transportation program for the 21st century. to do this, we need to start out by asking ourselves what the purpose of the program should be, what we wish to accomplish with it, and how we will structure the program and its partnerships to produce a coherent, integrated transportation policy. i say we need to start here because when i look at today's disjointed collection of federal transportation programs, you can't find rational answers to
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these questions. and as they say, if you don't know where you are going, good luck getting there. tom tells me that all the time. it is clear to me that people no longer know what they are buying when they are asked to support federal transportation investments, and frankly, their confusion is justified. what is it that we are out to do? maintain the network we have? improve it? expand it? i'm going to talk today about what i think we should do with our federal transportation program and a little about how amtrak could fit in to that. to start, we have to finally replace this notion of a highway program with the notion of a surface transportation program. it is not easy.
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we started down this path over 20 years ago, but we are still far from a mode-neutral program , and when you are in the rural parts of new york, you got the highway department when you call him because they think about it as the highway department, not dot. mode-neutral program that provides investments in projects that deliver real results rather than projects that simply invest on the basis of historical perspective. we need a balanced program that can provide investment in any of our surface modes-- including highway, transit, and rail, both passenger and freight, and would
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unshackle transportation planners, system users, and other decisions makers from simply chasing mode-restricted dollars and instead ask them to produce results that matter to the nation. and what are those results? a new focus on truly national priorities that must be the guiding principle of the federal surface transportation program. the overarching objective of our transportation policies and infrastructure investments must be our economic future, because we are competing in the global marketplace. to build a program around this goal and others worthy of federal attention, we need to change the debate. as leaders, and we are, we must pay our debt to the future, and focus the industry on supporting no -- promoting economic growth. we must help keep our great country moving forward. i've been president of amtrak
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since november of 2008 -- just over five years. at that time, the company, with the support of our federal and state partners, has achieved some impressive accomplishments, despite the great recession and our country's very slow recovery from it. we've set ridership records in 10 of the last 11 years, and we carry three times as many passengers between new york and washington as all of the airlines put together. when's the last time you heard someone say they just flew in on the shuttle? amtrak revenues are up 21% since 2008. amtrak now covers 89% of our operating costs from non-federal revenues. it has been a great time to be at amtrak.
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i'm happy our growth indices continue to rise, but the fact of the matter is that we're constantly being asked by everyone, from rural communities to the nation's biggest cities to deliver more and better service. state and local leaders see passenger rail as a driver of economic development and are to invest in local train stations. many towns without intercity rail service are seeking to be amtrak-served communities. communities are starving for tangible transportation improvements that can meaningfully impact their lives. in many key respects, transportation has gotten worse for many americans -- and more expensive -- and they want to see that the tide and see if it will turn. this isn't an amtrak problem. it's a national problem, and
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it's symptomatic of the declining emphasis we've put on national connectivity in recent decades you see many of the same challenges in the airline business. their domestic capacity has fallen about 20% since 2005. about half of airline flights on routes of less than 500 miles have been discontinued since 2005, and this is hitting small and mid-sized communities hard, and making it difficult for them to grow, or even to do business outside town limits. under these circumstances, you might think that strengthening national connectivity between our communities and economic centers would be a national priority. but if you thought that, you would be wrong. it's not. we're not really making the investments we need for growth
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and improvement. we're just barely keeping the existing system going. amtrak, like everyone else in the transportation business, is trying to keep pace, but it's a challenge. we have to make do, cramming more onto the existing infrastructure and squeezing more out of old, hard-run equipment. and missing real growth opportunities. this year, congress and the administration will take up the reauthorization of federal funding of surface transportation. i have got a somewhat unique perspective on that issue, because i've seen surface transportation from almost every side. i think the only thing that angela left out was i drove a bus and tractor-trailer in college and i have a politics --
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pilots license. i began my transportation career operating bus systems in small cities in upstate new york -- rome, utica and binghamton, and i then owned a company that contracted with public agencies to provide rural public transportation service. as new york state commissioner of transportation, i was responsible for all facets of transportation in our state, the third most populous in the nation, but my biggest responsibility was building and maintaining highways. as federal railroad administrator, i was responsible for the safety of our nation's rail system, for federal rail policy, and for overseeing federal funding to amtrak. and as president of amtrak, i've spent the last five years figuring out what capital investments amtrak needed to make to operate safely, to maintain the northeast corridor, and our trains and stations, and to meet the growing demand for our service -- always without knowing how much money i would
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have in the next year, and often in the current year, to meet all of these needs. these experiences have given me some perspective on the challenges of transportation policy, and i'd like to offer you some of my thoughts on what i have seen, and what i think needs to be done. the highway trust fund was established in 1956 to pay for what was then our country's single greatest transportation goal -- the construction of the 47,000 mile interstate highway system. it was a real vision. it was authorized in 1944, but the real genesis of the system may be the trip major dwight eisenhower made across the u.s. in 1919 with an army convoy at an average daily speed of 5 miles per hour. the good road movement of the 1920's and 1930's greatly improved these roads, but in most places, they followed the
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trails that hunters, trappers, and wagons had made a century before. the interstate system, by contrast, was a new kind of road, built and financed on a truly national scale, to take advantage of the mobility trucks and cars were able to provide after six decades of development and to promote a new kind of commerce on an unprecedented scale. it was originally funded by federal appropriations and the federal gas tax, which pooled incremental tax revenue from users through the highway trust fund to leverage a massive, multi-decade program. today, however, the highway trust fund is dead. what we think of as the highway trust fund -- a user fee-funded, single-mode, and purpose-built trust fund -- hasn't existed for many years. construction of the interstate highway system was substantially completed in 1992, and we have since expanded funding eligibility. today, the highway trust fund
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pays mostly for maintenance of 220,000 miles of highways, less than a quarter of which are part of the 47,000 mile interstate highway system. local transit was made eligible for funding in 1992, but illogically, intercity public transportation is still not eligible. user fees -- federal gas taxes -- no longer cover the costs funded by the highway trust fund. since 2008, congress has spent more to bail out the highway trust fund with general revenues than it spent on amtrak for the whole of its 42-year existence. and without intervention, projected deficits continue to grow. a recent congressional budget office study concluded that the shortfall in the highway trust fund will grow from $7 billion in 2015 to $126 billion in 2023.
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the current authorization for surface transportation programs, a two-year stopgap law known as as map-21, expires this year, giving us an opportunity to create a new framework for federal transportation investment. we need to think about it, because there are major issues that are pending. those shortfall numbers -- $126 billion by 2023 -- don't even include a lot of things america needs. for example, the recent proposal by the reason foundation to create an interstate 2.0 system that will address congestion and infrastructure age issues on the existing system, that would cost nearly a trillion dollars. and they think that needs to happen within the next two decades. if we treat the issue as what do we do within the existing
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structure, we will all lose. nothing worthwhile will change. the questions we as americans must answer, how do we redefine the approach to federal transportation investment to ensure it is focused on truly national needs? how do we recapture the national vision and purpose of the interstate era? first of all, as i've said, forget about the notion of a highway trust fund. the america of the future will not prosper on the backs of the best highways, airports, or railroads in and of themselves. a world-leading economy today requires a world-leading transportation system. so the new trust fund must be mode-neutral -- a transportation trust fund -- that strengthens the whole network and recognizes and supports the unique roles that each of our modes play in supporting interstate commerce.
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second, in the context of limited revenue, the trust fund must be focused on making investments that are truly national in scope and responsibility and generate policy outcomes the nation needs. it may be that certain things which are being funded today should not or cannot be funded in the future by the federal government if they lack a specific national purpose. that's not to say that they're not worthwhile, but it's not enough anymore to ask ourselves whether certain investments are worth making. that is the easy way out. the tough question is what investments is the federal government responsible for? is the federals government uniquely suited to provide?
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my view, the fundamental purpose of federal transportation investment is to connect this nation together and provide interstate commerce. the vision of our founding fathers. it was the vision behind the highway trust fund. it is a vision we have lost today. only the federal government can address this need for national connectivity. only the federal government has a responsibility for providing the national perspective. the solution should rise or fall on their merits. with every program, every investment we must ask and answer how it provides for national connectivity. other national priorities. how it addresses this fundamental and unique federal responsibility. we should not be afraid of the
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notion of subsidy. who knows anything about transportation no subsidy is ubiquitous. becausert of a business the public at large derives benefits from a strong transportation network. it does have a national highway system was sold in 1992-1995. the key is making the subsidies as small as necessary to deliver broader long-term public value. the need to reauthorize programs and amtrak. it provides an opportunity for us to ask what role we want the play ingovernment to infrastructure investment. how can we formulate national policies that achieve the outcomes we need to need the challenges of the 21st century economy? if national outcomes are our
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goal, investment and amtrak have a home in a well-defined surface transportation program. that is up to the policy makers to decide. this is not what is best for amtrak. some a thing this may produce winners and losers. thinks the wrong way to about it. the right way to think about transportation is as a tool for producing national outcomes. to forge it we make some important choices. choices that go deeper than continuing to do something because it is the way we have always done it. like all of you, i have a lot of concerns about the course we are on. i have seen how governments ability to make targeted, effective investments is declining. other people have noticed that too in their confidence has declined along with it. the people out there, customers,
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constituents, taxpayers. good,ant us to deliver relative infrastructure solutions. we are a mixed group. we cannot be a mixed up group. we have a challenge to meet. one that we cannot afford to dodge or neglect. we have to improve our reality rather than just try to explain our reality. facing a real challenge in the bankruptcy of the highway trust fund is just the tip of an iceberg. it is not an insoluble problem if we are willing to work together to solve it. we must devise a forum where the right debate can be framed. it will not be easy. if we strive in good faith, we can find a way through that will give america the solution it needs and help restore the trust that must return from an appropriate level of investment in our nation's infrastructure needs.
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we who have spent a lifetime in , a betteress oh this and a stronger system to the generation behind us. we owe our debt forward. it.lieve we can do we must. thank you. [applause] >> ray lahood earlier this week call for raising the gas tax by $.10 a gallon as well as indexing the gas tax to inflation. it is not the message he was delivering a year ago.
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or do you think about this as a highway pot of money? >> i knew the? um. big others ought to be done. that is not the question. i try to put that in the speech. the real question is what are our priorities going to be? how are we going to decide what he do for the future? the trust fund should not be retested. it should have a service transportation trust fund and talk about us being a global competitor for the future. lot of criticism about not having high-speed rail or not having this or not having that.
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we do not do anything about it except talk about it. improve our reality here. we need to find the solution to a global competitiveness for transportation. >> is increasing the revenue part of the solution? either through gas tax or some other means? >> it is already happening. be states are needing to make changes. they are already out there. they are finding solutions to the problem. the leadership is not coming to the federal government. if the federal government understood that its responsibility was to connect this nation together first and foremost, the connectivity was what drove the interstate highway system, the connectivity of our small towns to the big towns is absolutely critical. states are raising gas taxes
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and tolls and doing public/private partnerships. should the federal government be following the lead of the states? >> the federal government did do that in the law. they required amtrak to go out and tell the states they had to have a greater role in how they would finance state corridor spirit that is ok. and there are suggestions that you can do that on a passenger rail. that is a federal responsibility. that is something we had eight united states four. >> how would you handicap the prospects of a surface transportation bill this year as well as the chances for and amtrak reauthorization? ?o you see those as linked >> i see them as linked. that is what i want to see. [laughter] that it took a long time
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to even get to matt 21. a quick analysis. for amtrak, two years would be a major improvement. if you do not know what you are are going to happen next year, a multifacetedo major program which is what is needed. theave a commission on northeast corridor. we define the work that needs to be done. you cannot build a tunnel in three months. you cannot build a bridge. you cannot do the things that were being asked to do with the commitment level we are receiving. i think you need to bring it all together. this neutralave solution. we will rank well in that area. highways are important.
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is electrical grid important. our water is important. those things that we as a nation need to get done, we need to get it done. [applause] why shouldn't the modes compete for funding? they're calling for more money for planes and highways. why do that? stronger in the globe if we work together and balance our transportation system so that it does bring us a better economic development and connects our people. >> you noted that amtrak has costs to its operating 89% from 88%. do you see that raising higher? how high can it go? >> it depends on who write the next speech? i am kidding.
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i do see an increasing. at the same time, what we are going to see relatively soon as the investments we are making in new equipment. it will begin to cost us more money. some of the revenues that we have had today will be used to pay off the debts and not be used to get back to the federal government. >> is there a goal of getting to 100%? >> are we singling that back out? >> i think we can do that or we have enough ridership and were we can price our product. we can do this today. chris told me that. we ought to have a way to deal .or students
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i began to explain to him that we are full incapacity. the mega buses of the world that theide those services to students is an important part of the balance. buses are subsidized even if they do not get a government check. every time they use the interstate highway system or what is out there already for the communities paid for those. we pay for the costs as a railroad. what ideas do you propose to reduce the operating costs? to what extent would you accomplish that? we have a new contractor up in boston. decision to move to a new commuter rail operator.
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removed from that was amtrak a few years ago. we see that there is a competitive environment out there in the commuter rail business. we stepped back substantially from that except from where it really made sense from amtrak to operate where it owns the railroad. for example, in maryland and connecticut. there are a few other places that really want amtrak in there. cheaply asperate as from any coming in like french company that came in here. they set up a small company where the liability is not exactly the same. the cost is not exactly the same. in the areas where it makes sense, they are going to compete with us. in other areas, you're not going to have that competition because
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of the huge investment it will take in the liability that is out there that we will have to cover. >> paint for us the picture of what happens with amtrak. , what happens to another extend the government shutdown? >> we lost ridership when there's a government shutdown. i do not think this is going to happen. i think this is part of the ofaise at the federal level lack of commitment to what we need to get done for our country. i was not kidding when i said i think we own more debt for were the only really oh back in this nation. fromve benefited greatly the investments that have been made in this country.
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when i lived in washington, d.c. , there is only part of the way i could get home to rome new york on an interstate highway. i had to get off the interstate and go through the cities. that is not really happen anywhere. the investments were made. we have gained from those investments. about the worry not things so much. where are the kids and grandkids going to be if we do not make investments for the future that will allow them to be part of this global economy. we will be the offshore people. like elon musk have proposed new means of transportation. are you working with him or other visionaries? >> i would like to get the existing trains replace.
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the job that we really do well gets stuck even better. it is important to have these ideas. i understand that. i'm not being critical of them. there is a huge change in costs i would have to a change. >> picking up replacements, what is the prognosis of the new tunnel onto the hudson river that can take traffic cop be george washington bridge or maybe you want to tunnel to new jersey. [laughter] >> i promised my friend that would not come up. the prognosis is it has got to
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be done. if sandy taught us nothing else except the fact that when you have water in the two tunnels that we have come at you cannot run trains. cannot move people. we need greater redundancy. if we are going to remain as the financial capital of the world in new york city, we better start being more serious about doing that. building those tunnels. building the gateway program. making sure there is space per trains that keep coming into new york. today that question we have to make these investments. we have got to find solutions. part of the solution is the federal government. .art >> governor christie is talking a lot about transportation this week. it is now the time to get them
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onboard for the tunnel project? [laughter] >> yes. >> passengers this week were stuck on trains for hours or prevented entirely from taking trips because their trains were canceled due to the weather. a lot of problems with the overhead wires. can you talk about what was different this time? cold weather happens in january. what does this tell us about our infrastructure needs. just the northeast so everybody understands. we had a huge number of problems out in the midwest. our trains, trains six, run into a 20 foot snowdrift and got stuck in there. the train that went to rescue them got stuck in another snowdrift earlier than that. upon our verynt good partners to help us out. they did help us out.
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they did help us substantially. we received tons of compliments about our conductors. i will mention her name. andrea. i know she will be right phase. the conductor on trains six absolutely was an outstanding person to deliver for her customers. is interesting thing started getting questions about what about the strains of for 24 hours. you're getting people telling you how well you are handling these problems, the people that are actually there. the way that it is reported it sounds like we are having other major problems. we have women and men of this company that deliver every single day. while they are not perfect, they are the ones responsible for the success we really have. weather that has been happening these past couple of weeks that you really get to know who is worth their salt.
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we have a lots of them that are. in terms of the problem on the northeast, there has been a incidents happening more and more every year. it's his build in relatively new. it is constant tension instead of the way that they used to be tysons on the south and would just go back in the 30s. it is getting too old. and moreving more breakdowns. there needs to be a rebuild of the entire system. do you have a price tag for that? >> yes. [laughter] >> what is it? >> rather than try to give it to you, i will provide that
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differently. i do not have all the numbers in the back of my head but it is not cheap. >> airlines have a legal obligation to accommodate and displays passengers when there are flights canceled due to their equipment problems. amtrak does not have a comparable mandate. should there be a comparable mandate for rail passengers? >> we do try to take care of them went something like that happens. we do have a system in place that does that. i think what you are asking, where there should be a mandate, some would think so. others might not. did do is things we give people as early a notice as we could during this storm so that they would know that they could not travel. even then, even our trains are on the tracks for a couple of days before we know that the storm will be that bad. another one of the questions you have to field one choose stuck a train now and then go to illinois why did you have it out there? it let the west coast a couple
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of days ago. there was not this kind of a problem really expected at that time. it is a little different than the flight that hops over four a couple of hours than it is for handling train traffic. earned extraave cash by charging for seats with more legroom and for checking luggage. airlines also have multiple service classes in charge a large premium for the top classes. amtrak trains being more crowded, is this something amtrak is considering for revenue? >> we are looking at all of the things. we are looking at how we might be able to raise revenues. in some of my discussions in the meeting before they came in here and we really talked about there was a desire of a lot of people for us to reduce fears rather than have them where they are or increase them.
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what isinly look at happening on a revenue management level just like the airlines do. for theeally looking opportunity to increase our revenues. that is why you see an increase of 21%. we are managing our revenues. for otherking opportunities as well. there is a bill in congress for us to be handling pets at thist ime. there are some opportunities going forward. we're looking at what the ratios might be that we could increase our revenues to our customers and seeing what they would be
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interested in paying. those are the kinds of things we are looking out. >> a couple of questions about amtrak customer service. planning tore you address amtrak's inconsistent levels of customer service, characterizing it as sometimes wonderful and sometimes a mattingly bureaucratic -- eninglyly -- madd bureaucratic. >> we are doing something about that. we are looking at how do we provide the training. how do we provide incentives for employees. kindyou really want in any of a service business is you really want those who gain from .he service itself there are those i really want to provide service to begin with. we are trying to figure out how to select the right people of from.
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this brings up a larger issue. your speak -- that you read the president of the national press club. this is sort of what happened with 42 years. i now the second largest amtrak president at a little over five years. think about the average change that is occurring for the flavor of the month. one of the issues that we really have to look at when i first got i really get do folks understanding that we want a safer railroad. we want good customer service. we want a better bottom line. there is also stiff things that have to change.
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some of them have to change processes. as you get good customer service if you're not giving good employee relations, if you are not delivering to your folks. the things and the values that are out there that are necessary. we needed a strategic plan to establish those values, to find the things we knew were important, including forgiveness. including understanding that somebody might need that forgiveness to move onto the next level. that has helped us. not gotten the consistency we would like for customer service. we are still working on it. >> what about food? a questionnaire who calls said the foodie has
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policy of food on amtrak is subpar at best. is it to serve a decent sailor said does not look like it was shrink-wrapped for days before being served? what are plans to improve the quality? >> i like amtrak food. [laughter] it takes a long time on amtrak to go from new york to washington. that is how i travel generally. from washington to new york in the new york to albany. i park in old exterior and out the knee so it can drive over to rome because there's not enough service. service wasto be about the new. i usually eat on the train. i eat hamburgers. i like their hot dogs. i like amtrak food. i like it on the long distance train. it is normally good. some of this new panini or whatever you call it -- itself
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stimulate that might be what he is talking about. i am ok with that going, my cell. wself. people focus on trying to improve food. we like to me sure that happens. >> what about skycaps? this questioner says they are wonderful but they must be tostly in a highcos operation. how long can they be justified at amtrak? in washingtons get their workout. they finally learned that not everybody who's coming in the front door wants to go to amtrak. some want to go upstairs to the buses. that was not part of the deal. we have a lot of people that absolutely need help with the amount of baggage and what they want to do to get on the trains. we see it as an important part of customer service on the train. we have a bunch of questions
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on long-distance service. n one make sure we get i of those. any comment on the significant dents -- the significance of those routes than what you hope to see? over 500 stations in the united states. over 300 of those stations have no other service then amtrak. buses are gone. aviation has had to cut back. we are the public transportation. somebody he was my age and has grandchildren, and -- and thoseildren grandchildren are not close to another, you can probably get somebody to drive 100 miles or 200 miles to and amtrak station and almost except for two routes
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there ought to be seven days a week. it will go west or north or south or east. you can depend on that. you cannot depend on the neighbor to drive you 800 miles to the coast. we look at the old post office, ae of the things that says connector. we still have this is scattered families. this country was growing.
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they use the post office to connect with the letters. do that today. we connect scattered families across this nation. we are a major part in bringing connectivity to the united states. over border toto border. to canada. we deliver what this nation needs and have forgotten about. people who do not have the services in this nation. characterizeyou amtrak's relationship with the freight railroad today, especially on positive train control of limitation? >> i think amtrak's relationship with the freight railroads is excellent. very good partners with the freight railroads. they have a lots of pressures. they have had to downsize in a way to make themselves more
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competitive. maybe a little bit further than they knew they needed to. to pick up some services now, especially was traffic. we have good relationships with our freight railroad. to pay them as much as they want to increase the number of routes we want to provide. we are trouble -- in trouble, they are there for us. we found that in this latest storm when it was found. charge them for anything. what else is new? >> what about high-speed rail? nobody wants to pay for it. what do you see or do you see a future for a high-speed passenger rail in the u.s.?
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>> to alison wright that question? we were talking about that a little earlier. >> and depend on how you define it. we will reduce the amount of time it takes get from washington to new york in new york to boston. it is really about the time and reliability that people could really depend on. they wanted on time and they wanted to run all the time. they wanted to run when we say it is going to run. we believe we can build a railroad that is 220 miles an hour. if we do get that railroad bill, it will pay a substantial amount for the railroad
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business to invest in more for the future. we see it as positive. there are no high-speed railroad. that have been built with a large check from the federal government with the country that wants to build it. japan came over to the united states and talks here in the united states. they were willing to write part heree big check to go from to baltimore. i read a recent article where it says it takes a hour on an froming tree to go washington to baltimore. i said while. i did not think it would take us
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that won't. that is 21 minutes on our schedule. a person had to be broke whoever wrote that. the problem here is that you cannot build it 37 miles and ben expect the investment to made for the future. you're not going to get this multi-year effort to occur for high-speed rail and leslie start -- aing about a success surface transportation program that delivers that multi-year contract authority. is critically important for transportation mode. let me tell you what that is. that is what it gave these states the ability to do multifaceted projects. once we knew that we had an environmental program or project
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, we knew we were going to build it. we knew where the money was going to come from. no such thing exists for rail. in our effort to look at high- speed rail further northeast, we needed to do an environmental which is what they're doing right now, looking at that for the future. if you never did get some money for the future you may be able to build it. >> we are unfortunately almost out of time. i have a couple of housekeeping matters to take care of. i would like to remind you about our upcoming speakers. on january 15 we have christine lagarde. a jittery 22nd the head of the nfl players association. present him with our traditional national press club coffee mug. >> thank you very much thank you.
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>> no money. >> one last question. many folks consider amtrak's twitter feed to be one of the best social media accounts out there. how did they get started? who runs it? how do you think it is benefiting your passengers? was myve her like she daughter, julia. stand up. [applause] >> thank you. thank you for coming today. each of you in the audience. i would also like to thank our staff and broadcast center for helping us organize today's events. you can find more information about the national press club at our website. you can also find transcript in
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video programs there. thank you. we are adjourned. [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] >> idb communications act is not keeping pace with where the market place is. what i have tried to advocate is that they should do what they can to calibrate the regulations to fit the times. the contrary, we are stuck. thatve reached the point the sec -- fcc needs to be able to take actions to bring the regulations into the 21st
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century. treatows and to differently. an update would be very useful. i have work closely with our colleagues to help make that a success. on the communicators at 8:00 eastern. >> i know truthfully that every single problem in america would be better if more people could read, write and comprehend. i know that. we would be able to compete with the rest of the world. we would not have these children that are committing crimes because the families do not have jobs. they do not have jobs because they cannot read. they cannot write. they do not understand.
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thinking american is coming to that conclusion. we have got to educate our children. a whim.t just it is a necessity. to compete in this world. >> barbara bush tonight at 9:00 eastern. also on c-span radio in c- >> melanie sloan of citizens for responsibility and ethics in washington discusses the citizensces of the united. on the fourth anniversary of the decision. heritage foundation talks about ongoing efforts to fight the decision and recent efforts in the house to update voting rights legislation. job zandi looks at u.s. growth in two thousand 14 question or comment iphone, twitter and facebook. this is live at 7:00 a.m.
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eastern on c-span. >> the first family is spending part of their holiday today volunteering in a soup kitchen. the associated press was they are just a few minutes away from the white house. they were in an assembly line making burritos. he said he came to help the central kitchen markets 25th anniversary. valerie on the background with the first family volunteering. >> sasha's technique is outstanding, by the way. i am very proud of her. looks like we have land here. a lamb burrito. >> beef. >> beef. i could tell. the vegetables. cheese.
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>> elsewhere, the national action network which was founded by the reverend al sharpton marks the day. we heard from joe biden which, in congress to restore the full voting rights act after a decision last year by the supreme court that struck down part of the law. this is about one hour. he had gone to respond to the call of workers that were a strike for garbage workers in memphis, tennessee. today that union is lead internationally by an african american who also serves on our only lee whoe and
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is already been acknowledged. he introduced us to a man who has in many ways personified the in our time of labor and civil rights when the wing or thee right forces of regression close this government down. it was this leader that stood and had the strength to get to government workers to keep on fighting. adversity separates those of us that will fall under pressure. and those of us that will rise. thatw a real leader in
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nation during the shutdown. they're able to suffer for no reason. it affects labor, race and civil rights. in to give i labor awards to the national president of the united states of government employees.
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>> my mother wanted a baptist preacher. i feel the calling this morning. i'll probably done with it in two or three hours. we will take the offer. i did not say receive. reverend sharpton and brothers and sisters of the action or at work. going to be humbled to receive this before today. aboutve to understand this personally. you can tell by the way that i not that i did originally starred in silver spring, maryland. i grew up in north carolina.