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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  September 1, 2015 7:19pm-8:01pm EDT

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about transgender rights. we would want people to learn that there are different priorities with the trans portion of the movement. we want people to understand that there are significant social science questions that can be explored by studying this movement and this movement is important for the historical development of civil rights in the u.s.. >> tomorrow, the c-span city store has to we link on the west your -- your heads to wheeling, west virginia. that starts wednesday on seas and at -- on c-span at 6:00 p.m. eastern. a signature feature of the tv is our all-day coverage of affairs and festivals from across the country with top nonfiction
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authors. here is our schedule. this weekend come alive from the national book festival -- this weekend, live from the national book festival in the nations capital. ofly october, the festival books in nashville. the week after, live in austin for the texas book festival. back on the east coast, the boston book festival. at the start of november, we are in portland, portland -- oregon and at the end of november, lies for the 18th year -- live for the miami book fair international. a few of the fairs and festivals this fall on book tv. >> when congress returns from summer recess next week, members
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begin debate on the resolution of disapproval on the iranian nuclear agreement. the president believes it's the only alternative to war. here is a look at part of his statement from last month. [laughter] as an obama: because more sentience when produce the results the critics want, we have to be honest, this leads any u.s. administration with oney committed option. another war in the middle east. i say this not to be provocative, i am stating a fact. without this deal, iran will be in a position to steadily
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advance capabilities. time, already fairly small, could shrink to near zero. does anyone really doubt that the same voices now raised against this deal will be demanding that whoever is president bonzo's nuclear facilities? bomb those nuclear facilities? i can tell you that alternatives to military action will have been exhausted once we reject a hard-won diplomatic resolution that the world almost unanimously supports. .o let's not mince words the choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war. maybe not tomorrow, maybe not
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three months from now, but soon. was just part of what president obama had to say last month about the administration's nuclear agreement with iran. you can see his entire remarks -- eastern. he's on c-span2, authors and books on the u.s. civil war. related several events to the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of hiroshima. tomorrow on washington journal, bob colby looks at the role of his agency and how it regulates the securities industry. appleby looks at the so-called cadillac tax scheduled to take effect in 2018.
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she will explain the tax, its effect on health care cost and coverage, and what it means for employers and employees. after that, peter grier talks about his recent cover article on how voters really choose a candidate in a presidential campaign. washington journal is live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. >> earlier today, tom bill sack talked about federal nutrition programs and urged congress to reauthorize and strengthen the school breakfast and lunch standards. this portion is 35 minutes. >> good afternoon, everybody. i'm president and ceo of the center for american progress. we are very honored to have secretary tom vilsack join us today. we have what should be one of congress' most important priorities as a returns from
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recess, reauthorization of child nutrition programs. too many children struggle with hunger in the classroom because their families are having making ends meet -- having trouble making ends meet. federal child nutrition programs such as school breakfast, lunch, meals, special supplemental nutrition programs for women, infants, and children, are vital to our children's success and to their families' economic security. congress has the responsibility to preserve these programs, which is why we are joined by the secretary today. before joining the obama administration, secretary vilsack served two terms as governor of iowa and more than six years as secretary of agriculture, he has made tremendous strides in promoting rural economies and strengthening nutrition assistance programs. undersecretary vilsack's leadership, under secretary --
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he also helped pass and implement the original healthy hunger-free kids act, which he will discuss today. i also look forward to sitting down with him after his remarks for a discussion about nutrition programs where we will take your questions. he has brought renewed focus and attention to these critical issues, and it is my complete, great pleasure to welcome him to the stage today. [applause] mr. vilsack: thank you very, very much. it is an honor to be back here to talk about something that i think it is extraordinarily important. in fact, on the way over here, i told my staff i was going to say something provocative at the beginning of this, so here goes -- i think i can make the case that what we are discussing
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today is significant in relationship to national security, and it's not the iranian nuclear deal. i think i can make the case that it is central to the economic competitiveness of the united states in the future, particularly against and involving our asian competitors, and it's not the transpacific partnership. discussions that will take place in congress this month. i think i can make the case that this is a way in which we can significantly reduce expenditures on health care, and it's not protecting the importance efforts of the affordable care act from any budget gimmicks that may take place. this is important work. would i say it is as important to national security and health care expense simply for this reason -- 76% of america's teachers report that children come to school hungry. i don't know about the folks here in this audience or those watching this, but i know i
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\don't perform as well when i'm hungry, and the reality is neither do children. if we are going to expect them to be at their best in terms of educational achievement, we want to make sure that they are well fed at schools. i think i can make the case that this is about national security because retired admirals and generals for mission readiness have suggested the concern about if we will have sufficient numbers of young people physically fit to do military service to support an all volunteer military. in fact, only today, one out of four young people ages 19 to 24 are fit for military service. when you're dealing with a situation where 15.8 million of our children are living in food-insecure homes and nearly 30% are obese or at risk of being obese, you can also make the case that health care costs
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may go up or down depending on how well we deal with child nutrition. why? we currently spend tens of aliens of dollars on preventative conditions linked to obesity and health-care costs today. so this is an important subject. five years ago, we treated the subject with the importance it deserved through the passage of the healthy hunger-free kids act. we reached out to experts and said tell us what we need to do, particularly as it relates to those meals where some youngsters in america received a third or half the calories they taken during the school year. experts came back and said that cool lunches and school snacks have too much sugar, too much sodium, too much fat. need to promote more fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains. we need to have a consistent message in the school snack program with what we're doing in school meals. we need to expand access to school breakfast, and we need to make it a little bit easier in those school districts where there is a significantly high number of free and reduced lunch kids for everyone to have access
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to a good meal. congress passed with bipartisan support the healthy hunger-free kids act. we have seen i think significant acceptance of these standards. 95% of schools certified under the new standards, and it's not just school districts certified. it's also an acceptance in the general public waste on recent surveys of 290% of american public believes it is appropriate to have standards, federal standards, national standards for our schools and school meals. it is embraced by parents of school-age children. of the 2% of parents suggested support for the new standards. it is embraced by the students themselves and nearly 60% of high school students embracing
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the standard. it is resulting in more fruits and vegetables being consumed according to cdc and according to a harvard public health school study, and its resulting in less plate waste according to a connecticut study. bottom line is that standards are being embraced. they are making a difference, and if given an opportunity to do over a long time, it will result in healthier youngsters, better achievement at school, a stronger economy, and more young people to draw from in terms of public service, military, and other opportunities that national service can provide. provide.that is why it is important for congress to get back to work as youngsters are getting back to school and reauthorize our nutrition programs. it is important for congress not to take a step back. it's important for congress to continue the forward movement. we understand and appreciate there may be from time to time a school district that has a challenge meeting the standards. it may be related to the
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standards. it may be related to the circumstances of an individual school. despite the fact that over 450 additional million dollars has been put into the system as a result of reimbursement increases, we understand and appreciate at usta that there are still some schools that are struggling. that's why we established a grant program, to assist those schools in making the transition to being able to produce food on site. it's why we encourage states to continue to utilize the implementation money that came with the passage of the healthy hunger-free kids act. it's incredible to know today that $22 million is unspent by states from the resources that were provided when the law was initially passed. that's 28.2 million opportunities to provide assistance and help to struggling schools. it's why we have focused our efforts in creating flexibility in the system, to give the food processing industry time to adjust and adapt, and it's why most recently, we've established
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a program is an opportunity for us to take struggling schools and link them with succeeding schools so they can learn the procurement strategies, the menu strategies, the farm to school opportunities that exist that can create easier compliance with the new standards. as congress returns to work, it is important that we not only reinforced the standards but that we continue to provide opportunities to strengthen them with additional resources for our student grant program, with acknowledgment for the success programs, and institutionalizing that effort, we can continue to whittle down and reduce the number of schools that struggle with the new standards. and it is not just school lunches. it's also about expanding breakfast opportunities. one of the highlights of this effort has been the fact that we've seen, as a result of a lot of outside help, a real
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promotion of school breakfast, reducing the stigma associated with school breakfast. 380,000 more school breakfasts being served on daily basis as a result of this new focus. folks, this is particularly important in the rural concept and the rural areas of this country. one out of four youngsters who live in rural america are living in a food-and secure home erie the percentages of persistent poverty in rural areas is actually much higher than you would anticipate. over 90% of the county's in this country would -- with persistently high poverty rates in excess of 25 percent to 30% are rural in nature, not urban. so these programs are significantly important, particularly for the rural areas of this country, which is why usda is putting a lot of time and effort on child poverty and incorporating our new assistance
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programs in that effort. it is also about making sure that we eliminate the hassles associated with compliance with any federal program. that's why an important component of the healthy hunger-free kids act was the concept of community eligibility. we know there are school districts across the united states were 75%, 80%, 90% of the students are free or reduced lunch kids. there's no reason why we are requiring them, their parents, and their school district to go through the process of making applications and making sure the paperwork gets back from the third-grader to mom and dad and back to the third grade teacher and incorporated into the school system's records. that's why community eligibility provides for the opportunity to eliminate that expense and allow for all of the students in that particular school to have access to a meal.
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if it's improving the standards, making it easier, or even also focusing on making sure that the programs are done in a way that reinforces the integrity of the programs, it is important for congress to focus on that portion of the law. it is also important for congress to understand the significance of what occurs between the months of june and september when youngsters are not in school, when they do not have access to a school breakfast and school lunch and maybe even an afterschool snack or dinner. we focused on efforts in which we can expand in those time periods when youngsters may not have access to school meals. we've asked the university of kentucky to take a look at rural child poverty and nutrition issues to figure out if there are pilot that could potentially be funded that will expand access to food across the school day and across the school year
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and across the calendar year. we have looked for creative ways to develop potentially here in the d.c. area and the state of virginia and the state of virginia an opportunity to look at what would happen if all three meals were available for young people. just recognizing the reality of what we face today. one of the components that we need help and assistance on and more additional resources from congress is in our summer feeding program. despite the extraordinary efforts of usda and partners across the united states where we've seen increased sponsorships, an increase insights, and 23 million more meals being served in summer months than in 2009, we still face a significant delta between the number of students who are free and reduced lunch and the number of kids who benefit from a summer feeding program. around 20 million young people participate in free and reduced lunch. about 3.5 million kids get benefited from summer feeding programs, and there are many reasons, not the least of which is that sometimes it difficult
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to get kids to a fixed location in order to take an vantage a meal that might be available. it may be that people are not simply aware of the summer feeding site. it may be that we need additional resources to encourage more partners and sponsorships on more sites. it may need -- it may be that we need mobile and flexibility in terms of how meals get to kids, but the bottom line is as a country, if we want to be successful economically, if we want to reduce health care costs, if we want to ensure national security, we have to see child nutrition in the same way we see so many other issues involving economic security and health care security. it is a critically important part. let me finish with this -- this is personal to the people who work at usda. we go to schools. we sit down with kids. we talked to them, and it's
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personal to me, and i think everyone who works with me understands that. as some of you may know, i started out life in a rather modest way in a catholic orphanage. i was adopted into a family where my mom and dad struggled, and because of those struggles, i think i probably looked to food as a way of dealing with the challenges of substance abuse and addiction in my home. when i did, i was obviously a bit overweight. i remember as i stand here today very graphically and very specifically in fourth grade being at the black not being able to do a math problem and being accused of not being able to do that math problem because i was fat. i know what it feels like to have your self-image questions. i know how it takes you off your game academically. i don't want that for any child.
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and i don't think most americans do, either. that's why this is a personal issue for me, and i suspect the people who work at usda have similar stories in their home lives or their families' or friends' lives. we want to expand, solidify, institutionalize, and strengthen the work that was done in 2010. i'm here today to encourage congress to get to work, to get back to work as our youngsters are getting back to school. don't take a step back. let's take steps forward. that's what we did in 2010, and that's what we should do in 2015. thank you. [applause] mr. vilsack: past the first test. i got up here without stumbling. that's good.
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>> thank you so much for your remarks on child nutrition assistance programs. i really appreciate your personal remarks. we really try to demonstrate the impact of these programs on people. one thing we are facing as we go forward is issues around sequestration, so i would love for you to talk a little bit about what sequestration itself has meant in real people's lives and what do we think we can do about something like sequestration and can we get a message to congress on that. mr. vilsack: first of all, sequestration is a budget policy is ill advised because it basically treats in many cases everything alike, and that is simply not the case. there are things that are more important and less important. it does impact the ability of usda and its staff to be able to meet the needs and demands of programs.
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if you have a reduction in half -- staff as we have suffered at usda, you're not in a position to do all the work that you need to do or in a position to provide the information you need to provide to a sponsor that might be interested in setting up a summer feeding program. to a school district interested in a no contest or accessing additional opportunities you are , limited in the capacity that you have to provide service, so one drawback of sequestration and one drawback of this whole focus on budget is that you have fewer people. we have tried to deal with this in the right way by not impacting policies and people. we try to figure out ways in which we can be more effective with the dollars we have, by leveraging our resources and getting more partnerships focused. many folks in the field may not have seen a significant drop-off
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in our productivity, but we are asking a lot of the folks who work in federal government. and if we continue to expect them to do more and more with less and less -- that's number one. two, i think it is important as we look at the cost of food, as we look at inflation rates, the six sent reimbursement rate was effective and helpful, no question. the fact that we had $28.2 million left on the table is a little troublesome to me, so we've been asking governors to focus on this, and for whatever reason, they refuse to do so or are unable to do so, but there is a need for us to have additional resources. when you talk about sequestration and turn around and say you need to support summer feeding programs effectively and put together more resources for our project that gives folks a card that allows them to access more food during the summer, it makes it harder to make that case. >> i also wanted to touch upon your personal story.
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we recently launched a campaign asking people across the country who have benefited from these programs to share their stories. mary likened the wic program to a life raft in a stormy sea. for so many people like her, these programs have become an oasis in stormy times. as you know, they play an important role in economic security and in really stabilizing families. how did you see these programs work together in addressing the needs of families? our story is focusing on this. people think of these programs as serving other people. i grew up in tough circumstances, too. my family relied on food stamps. got us through a very difficult time. millions of people experience
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it, and yet, people think it is something helping other people. how do we break through that? mr. vilsack: let's talk about the wic program. over 50% of america's children ages zero to five are impacted at some point in time by the program. let's talk about the impact it has on getting youngsters to appreciate from an early age the opportunities that nutritious snacks create. i was talking to a mother of a young child earlier today, as she was talking about how her toddler was embracing roots and devilish fruits -- fruits and vegetables because she had access to fruits and vegetables. the wic program creates that access to things that may not be traditionally purchased by a family because it was too expensive, or they did not know how to prepare it, but now, they have access to those fruits and vegetables they might not otherwise buy. their youngsters acquire a taste for it, and that creates a much more positive beginning to life. the school lunch and school breakfast programs -- it's fairly obvious.
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with as many food insecure kids as we have, as many kids coming from families struggling financially, they may get a third to half of their calories at school, so, obviously, parents are benefiting from this, and the fact that we are seeing increased numbers of free and reduced lunch kids is a result of greater outreach. back to your sequester question, you cannot do that outreach unless you get people to do it. but the ability for us to deal with that afterschool effort, the ability for us to do with weekend and summer is directly related to creating a continuum of support, and that summer feeding program is extraordinarily important, particularly in rural areas where it is sometimes hard to know precisely where that meal site eight b.
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-- where that meal site might be. in a city, you might have 20 or 30 different options, and in a rural area, you might have one option with transportation being a problem. the ability for us to have a continuum of support, enough flexibility to deal with the changing circumstances of a family is helpful. the reality is that the characteristics of snap have changed. people might not think of senior citizens as beneficiaries of snap, but they are. living on a very small social security check and are reluctant to take snap because they see it as something other than what it is, which is nutrition assistance, and they do not understand that it is in our collective best interest for that senior to be fed because they will not have the health issues associated with non-nutrition.
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it is also important to note that 42% of recipients are children or working moms and dads. the senior citizens, the children, the working moms and dads and folks with disabilities who would love to be able to work but cannot, you have almost 80% of the snap population. i say to folks, which of those groups do you not want to help, and which of those groups does not represent your friends and neighbors down the street? for the 20% that are able-bodied and potentially capable of working, we are trying to create opportunities for states to do a better job of using the resources we provide to link up. those folks may have challenges with transportation or child care or a whole series of things that make it difficult for them to access the work face. let's figure out what those barriers are and use the resources we have to reduce
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those barriers. >> thank you. you touched briefly on rural issues and talked about them in your speech. children in rural areas has been something you have focused on throughout your career. i wanted to ask you about the statistics you laid out about kids in rural areas needing nutrition assistance. what forces are driving that? it seems like you are taking particular steps to address it. mr. vilsack: i think there are a number of reasons. you have to look at the economy of rural america. we thought the economy was linked solely on the basis of agriculture. that is a critical component, but because we've seen larger and larger farming operations, we have fewer and fewer farmers. what we see in rural areas is in many cases in aging and declining population, which makes it hard to attract economic opportunity, so the folks who are still there have limited economic opportunity.
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at this administration are trying to create a rural economy, trying to support a foundation that takes advantage of the national resources in a more sensible way to create more economic opportunity. part of it is lack of understanding and appreciation for what programs there are. it is important for us to focus on ways in which we can educate people about what programs exist and where they might be able to access those programs. the rural council, which the president established, which i chair, has been tasked with the focus on trying to figure out how we get all the programs out there -- how we make sure everyone knows about them and can access them. what we know through our strikeforce initiative is if we educate the community leaders of the existence of the programs, they can take advantage of them, and we've seen over $16 billion invested in very poor counties.
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the council is looking at that same type of concept. how can we make share these programs can all be accessed in these communities with a greater awareness and reducing the difficulty of understanding how to apply for all of this. they need help. finally, it's really about figuring out the best ways to use those programs. if we do something for mom and dad over here but do something for children over here and they are not connected, we might have some benefit, but what if we decided to do everything we could do for the family? what if we took a two-generation approach? the mom and dad program combined with the program for children. could we move the dial. could we make a greater impact on those families? i suspect we can, and were going to try to test market that concept through the rural council, coordinating all of our various programs and see if we can really make a difference.
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can, that will tell us how to more effectively use the resources we have a. ask a few more questions and then we will open it to the audience. get your questions ready. you played a critical role in the houthi kids act of 2010. a controversial feature of that was the adoption of nutrition standards. most schools are adopting them. like that i can count on what my kids are eating in school. what can we learn about the program, how can we strengthen and in the authorization,
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what should we do going forward? we have to trust the experts to tell us -- pediatricians, dietitians, we have to trust the experts and stay on that track. we cannot go a step back, relax the standards, remove the standards. we are able and willing to provide flexibility where it's warranted. secondly, it's important for us to look in ways for which we can streamline the processes by which young people can apply to participate. at usdais internally but to the extent we can continue to press community and not take a step back in terms of that opportunity for schools with high poverty rates and allow them to save the expense and treat all kids in the same way, make it easier for them. it's important for us to focus time and resources on the time
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when kids aren't in school. there is an opportunity for us to strengthen our breakfast efforts as well and i think we have to also look at the integrity said because what we don't want is an easy .pportunity to critics we shouldn't promote -- we see this at snuff all the time. the reality is the rate at staff is near his store close at 1.3%. most programs are not at that level. the combined rates are less than they've ever been and we will continue to work on those issues that we don't want to use that as an excuse for not supporting the program. tore's opportunity for us andte more support technical assistance for school districts. the team up for success effort
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which is in the southern part of mississippi has a wonderful nutrition center. they were willing to do a conference. we found mentoring schools willing to spend some time with the struggling schools and what we find is people really interested. they are learning about farm to school opportunities, our farm to school grant program, but the resources available for school equipment. there are ways in which we can strengthen those efforts and incorporate that in a commitment to child nutrition across the board. then ilast question in will give it up to the audience. he mentioned this before. we really see across the country efforts to politicize snapped and really demonize snap and it is causing our fruit makers trying to limit access to snap
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unrelated to the program. what can you suggest to us and others about how we commit clear to people what snap is really about and what are ways you and others can fight back? is making sure people understand who was receiving the benefits and it's a supplemental nutritious program. no one is surviving on snap benefits alone and that's a fiction that we need to .asically attack, if you will is important to note 80% or more of our snap beneficiaries are children, people with disabilities, or people -- or senior citizens. the people who are not --e-bodied, we are getting
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working on trying to get states to do a better job to find work to link those people and we have .0 pilots part of the bill i think we will encourage that. also -- the snap expansion that occurred during the recession was a result of the recession and we begin to is a very effective tool. thelso helps to mitigate impacts of poverty. of the statusout of poverty by the virtue of these programs and it allows people the opportunity of knowing. millions of kids are taken out of poverty as a result. if people fully
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understood he was getting it, the important work being done with states to try to give economic opportunities looking for it and wanted -- want it. sometimes the person cannot get to a job 45 miles away or mass transportation. or they will love to work but they have a three-year-old child and there is no childcare access. there are ways in which we can provide help. >> tomorrow in washington journal, bob colby looks at the role of his agency and how it regulates the securities industry. appleby looks at the cadillac tax schedule to take effect in 2018. she will explain the tax come its effect on health care cost, and what it means for employers and employees. after that, peter grier talks
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about his recent cover article on how voters really choose a candidate in a presidential campaign. and your phone calls, facebook comments come and tweets. washington journal live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. a signature feature of the tv is our all day coverage of book fairs and testicles from across the country. here is our schedule. this weekend, live from the 15th annual national book festival. in early october, the southern festival of books in nashville. the weekend after that, in austin for the texas festival. back on the east coast, the
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boston book festival. at the start of november, portland, oregon, followed by the national book awards and at the end of november, the fairs andof festivals this fall on c-span2's tv. announcer: congress returns next week, and one of the items of ofiness will be a resolution disapproval on the iranian nuclear agreement. under the iran nuclear agreement review act passed in may, congress has until september 17 to pass the resolution. tonight, we bring you the statements and hearings that followed the iran nuclear deal. obama defending the agreement at a speech at american university. then, portions of the foreign relations committee hearings with senior officials who negotiated the agreement.