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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  June 4, 2013 12:00pm-5:01pm EDT

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quorum call:
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mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that i speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: thank you, madam president. madam president, senate democrats have been waiting a very long time to go to conference on our budget. in fact, it has now been 73 da days. and until recently, we've gotten pretty used to senate republicans just simply standing up and saying, "no." for months, republicans have been offering a lot of excuses for why they don't want to go to conference on the budget. they have said they want a preconference framework which, by the way, is what a budget is. they have said they wouldn't allow us to go to conference until we guaranteed that the wealthiest americans and biggest corporations would be protected from paying a penny more in taxes. they said they didn't want a bipartisan conference to take away the leverage they have on the debt ceiling. and then they called for a do-over, which actually my
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ranking member on the budget called for again this morning. to bring up the house budget, have 50 hours of debate, a whole new round of unlimited amendments, go through the process all over again. and they did this after they praised the very open and thorough floor debate we had on the senate budget. so, madam president, the story keeps changing. but even as some republicans were focused on finding excuses to move us closer and closer to this crisis rather than have a budget deal, we have a number of republicans who are now joining with us to call on regular order. senator coburn said that blocking conference is, and i quote, not a good position to be in. senator bozeman said -- quote -- he would very much like to see a conference. senator wicker said weeks ago that -- quote -- "by the end of next week, we should be ready to go to conference." so we have known for a while that blocking regular order, especially after calling for it
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so eagerly just a matter of months ago, was not sitting well with a number of our republican colleagues. and now according to "politico," more republicans appear to favor heading to conference than blocking it. madam president, i welcome that. we need to move this to conference. it is the regular order. it will allow us to solve our country's problems, and we -- we truly need a process to allow us to deal with our nation's problems. madam president, senator mccain is on the floor, and i want to thank him because he understands the importance, not just for this bill but for all legislation in the senate, that we come here, we compromise, we fight hard for what we believe in, but at the end of the day just saying my way or the highway, even if you're a small minority, doesn't move this country to the place where we need it to get to. it isn't a crisis by management place. and i thank him for taking a lead and calling for regular order. he has said that republican
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preconditions like demanding the conference agree to not raise the debt ceiling or raise taxes are absolutely out of line and unprecedented. senator collins joined us on the floor a few weeks ago to say that even though there is a lot we don't see eye to eye on, we should at least go to conference and make our best effort to get a deal. madam president, i couldn't agree more. the stalling that we have seen is, as some have said on their side, a little bizarre and ironic, to say the least, especially after i would remind everyone 50 hours of debate, innumerable amendments that took us way into the early hours, we offered everybody the chance to speak out, and after that session was over, many of our republican colleagues came to me personally and thanked me for finally having an open process. if they want us to have an open process, then they have to take that process and take it to the next step. so, madam president, i am deeply concerned. we are moving towards another manufactured crisis this fall. we have our appropriations
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committees that need to move forward. the country is very clearly tired of this country being managed by crisis, and we just had a budget hearing this morning where our witnesses, both republicans and democrats alike, said that moving us to a conserved crisis would impact this economy in a horrific way this fall. we do not need to have that happen. i want to go to conference. do i want to have a compromise? not really. i love where i stand, but i have been here a long time. you don't get everything you want, but you do have to compromise in order to move the country forward. and i am willing to go to conference with my counterpart, chairman ryan, who is on a very different page than i am, and find our compromise and be willing to move that forward here in the congress so we can get to a place that allows us to be able to lead this country again. so, madam president, i think we are at a very critical point.
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i see senator mccain is on the floor. i would be happy to yield to him for a comment. mr. mccain: madam president, president, -- the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: i understand that one of my colleagues who will object is coming to the floor, so perhaps i would reserve the right to object on -- on his behalf even though i'm in stark disagreement. but instead, i'll just make a comment and i'm sure that my colleague will -- on this side of the aisle will voice an objection when he arrives. he's here. mrs. murray: i can go ahead and offer the unanimous consent at this time and we can move from there. mr. mccain: if it's okay with the senator, because we know what's going to happen. i would just like to make remarks and then the senator from florida will make the same argument that we have made the last few days, and fortunately i don't have to be listen again.
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for four years, members on this side of the aisle argued strenuously that we were doing a great disservice to the country by not taking up and debating and amending a budget that would then go to conference with the house of representatives -- the other side of the capitol, the house of representatives, and then we would do what we expect, and unfortunately every family in america has to do, and that is to pass a budget under which we would be guided in our authorization and appropriations process. now, my colleague from florida will come to the floor and say that we have amassed a debt because of the budget, but we didn't have a budget for four years, so how can you argue that
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the fact that we may have to -- we may go to conference on a budget, that somehow that would be responsible for the debt? obviously, it's nonsense. obviously, it's nonsense. just as frankly it was nonsense when the same group of senators said we shouldn't even debate gun measures in light of a tragedy that took place in connecticut and another tragedy that took place in tucson, arizona. didn't even want to take up and debate a way that some of us had ideas to try to keep the weapons out of the hands of criminals, and the hands of the mentally ill. so now we have a senate where we refuse to move forward on issues and have open debate and discussion and votes.
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i always believed in the years i have been here with republican and democrat majorities that the way we are supposed to function is to say okay, let's give it our best shot and let's do the best we can and let's have votes. one of the things that was our objections again to the majority leader was that he wouldn't let us have votes on amendments. we had i have forgotten how many votes on the budget that lasted until, i believe, around 7:00 in the morning. so the opponents of moving forward on anything can't argue we didn't have votes on the budget, can't argue that they were blocked from whatever amendment that they wanted to have voted on, so now we're faced with a situation where we will not go to conference, and i want to tell my colleagues that continue to do this that, with
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my strenuous objections, the majority will become frustrated and the majority can change the rules of the senate, they can do that. and i must say that although i would strenuously. majority on the other side of the capitol is of our party. that's really very difficult to understand. unless you take the word of one pi my colleagues to came to floor and said i don't trust democrats and i don't trust republicans. let me repeat what he said. i don't trust democrats and i don't trust republicans. it's not a matter of trusting democrats or republicans.
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what this is a matter of is whether we will go through the legislative process that people sent us here to do. and i've probably lost many more times than i have won. but i've been satisfied in the times that i have lost that i was able to make my argument, was -- put it to the will of the body and it was either accepted or rejected. that's how people, school children all over america, expect to us behave. that's the way our constitution is written. that's what this body is supposed to be about. so when we have a -- by the way, madam president, this is the last time i'm going to come to the floor on this exercise because it's obviously a fruitless kind of effort, until something changes. and obviously that's not going
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to happen in the short term. now, my friends on the -- will be saying they're reagan republicans, you're a reagan republican. i was here when ronald reagan was president of the united states. president reagan rightly or wrongly passed amnesty for three million people in this country illegally. he sat down with tip o'neill and they saved social security from bankruptcy. ronald reagan-rank sat down with the democrats and they agreed in ways of increasing revenues and cutting spending. ronald reagan's record is very clear. and, by the way, it was one of an assertive role of the united states of america and leadership in the world and not come home to fortress america. so sometimes when i hear my colleagues here talk about how they are ronald reagan
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republicans, i don't think ronald reagan would have disagreed we should have a budget. we should have a budget for -- to guide the legislative agenda of the congress of the united states. so as i said, i won't be coming back to the floor again while my colleagues object and i see my colleague from utah that was so unfamiliar with the -- with what we do here that he claimed it was behind closed doors in back rooms when the fact is the budget conference is on c-span and open to all. so i can just say to my colleagues this is not a proud moment for me as we block a process that was agreed to and enacted for many, many years, was not enacted for four years over the strenuous objections of myself and my colleagues who did
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not enact a budget, we enacted a budget after an all-nightmare thon of vote after vote after vote on literally any issue and there was not a single vote proposed by my colleagues here that said that we can't agree to a lifting of the debt limit. now, the floor was open for that amendment. and i don't know why my colleagues now view this as the criteria for us moving forward on the bill. so i wish them luck, and i will not be coming to the floor again to object to their objection, and we'll let the american people make the judgment. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i want to thank the senator from arizona for his very heartfelt remarks. he and i don't agree on a lot but we agree we want this country to work. because the alternative isn't
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great. and the way for this country to work is for for to us come together with our differences of opinion and move forward and that's what the conference committee is all about. so, madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the consideration of calendar number 33, h. con. res. 25, the amendment which is at the desk, the text of s. con. res. 8, the budget resolution passed by the senate be inserted in lieu thereof, that the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, the senate insist on its amendment, request a conference with the house on the disagreeing votes of the two houses, and the chair authorized to appoint conferees on the part of the senate, following the authorization two motions to instruct conferences be in order from each side. motion to instruct relative to the debt limit and motion to instruct relative to taxes and revenue. there be two hours of debate equally divided between the two leaders or their designees prior to votes in relations to the motions, further no amendments
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any of the amendmenteds prior to the vote all of the above occurring with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objectionam ? the senator from florida. mr. rubio: reserving the right to object -- first i thank the senator from arizona for protecting my right to object in my absence before i made it to the floor and just to set the record straight, i don't think that we object to moving the budget conference. we object to moving the budget conference and having the debt limit raised within that conference. i would ask the senator if she would consider a unanimous consent that she modify her request so it not be in order for the senate to consider a conference report that includes reconciliation instructions to raise the debt limit. mrs. murray: madam president, if the senator heard my request, i said that we would consider a motion to instruct relative to the debt limit as part of our agreement to move to conference. so so the senator would be allowed to make his voice heard at that time, and i would object to making a requirement without a vote of the senate that says the majority would agree with that.
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so i would object to his amendment and again ask for consent on the agreement that i have before me. the presiding officer: objection is heard. is there objection to the original request? mr. rubio: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to s. con. res. 18. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate concurrent resolution 18, providing for the use of the catafalque situated in the exhibition hall of the capitol visitors' center in connection with memorial services to be conducted in the united states senate chamber for the honorable frank r. lautenberg, a senator from the state of new jersey. the presiding officer: is there an objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the concurrent resolution be dwroit, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, there being no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. reid: madam president, i now ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to consideration of s. res. 160. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 160, relative to the memorial observances of the honorable frank r. lautenberg, late, a senator from the state of new jersey. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. reid: thank you, madam president. i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be laid on the table, there being no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, the senate stands in recess until 2:
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>> lots of other events taking place today on capitol hill. among them, another congressional hearing looking at the irs targeting of conservative groups. we've been showing that to you live on c-span.org and have been soliciting your reactions via twitter. here is some of what you guys are saying. let's call it what it is. the irs is profiling its victims. james smith, tweets,, irs in the my of midst of a scandal. there is never been a better time to reform the tags code and restructure the irs. come on, gop, do something.
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if all americans were listening to irs hearing our country would be a much different place. shocking stuff. we welcome your reactions and comments using the hashtag, irs. while the senate's in recess we'll show you the irs hearing live now on c-span2. >> one year we took a big bus trip to washington we had $18,000 at one time in the bank. as soon as we paid off the bus all that went down. we usually run under $5,000. >> rough to say never been over 50,000? >> oh, goodness, no. >> you can understand the outrage by members of this commit me or the apparent double-standard from members of this committee seem to have for their frustration, outrage, opposition to groups who seek 501(c)(3) 4 and 501(c)(3) status who may be on the on side of your
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issues and who we know have organized and raised far more sums than all of you collectively. one group in particular we know about is organizing for action. a group organized by the president's own men to date which we know has raised in excess of millions of dollars, and i'm just going to read on their website what they say their mission is. and organizing for action is a nonprofit organization established to support president obama in achieving enactment of his national agenda. now, i would humbly ask my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, is that political? and why would an organization -- >> would the gentleman yield? >> organizing for action -- >> would the gentleman yield? >> i will not. >> what did you ask the question for. >> the gentleman for illinois has the time. >> go ahead. >> are those names disclosed? >> are what names disclosed?
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>> names of the president's committee? are the contributors disclosed? >> i'm not aware whether they are. >> let me be on record saying those names should be disclosed. >> but we're not having debate about whether or not we agree with citizens united. we're not having debate about whether or not we want to change 501(c)(3) or change 501(c) had processes. i would submit to you that if that is your goal, perhaps introduce legislation to do so. the problem is, that this irs agency has discriminated against people based on their political views. [applause] and for anyone, for any, for anyone to defend -- >> regular order. >> from discriminating -- >> will the gentleman suspend? i will have to guests in the committee refrain from applays or other displays emotion. we need to keep decorum in the committee. i respectfully ask members
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to refrain from clapping and cheering. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> you may proceed. >> for anyone to suggest that these individuals rights should be limited more so than others simply because of their political beliefs is nothing more than discrimination. there would be clarity if this is an issue of white versus black, of jews versus christians, but because it is conservative versus liberal, there seems to be some question, some cloud, some lack of clarity and rather than work united in a bipartisan way to root out the very cancer that my colleague, mr. wrangle described, we're simply trying to chop off the head of the patient, remove the acting commissioner and say all is well. we need to get get to the bottom of this we need to identify the cancer and this needs to be removed from this organization. i yield back. >> mr. paulsen is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. also for holding this hearing and, i just really
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want to thank all of you for taking the time to testify. it is really a tragedy that you have to be here today. i really want to commend you for being here today. you shouldn't have to be here. no citizen should have to be here defending their constitutional rights. obviously you shared stories how your rights have been violated. so i think you're brave. you're brave for being here, listening to the emotion in your testimony is very real, not just because you're nervous about testifying in front of a congressional committee, probably in the back of your mind you can't help be a little bit angry or fearful about sticking your neck out a little bit more, having a larger target on your back potentially. and, this is not a mistake by the irs. as some of mentioned today. this is not poor customer service as the acting commissioner miller testified just a few weeks ago. this abuse was systemic and it's been going on for years and we know it is systemic because of the number of groups that were targeted. we know it is systemic because of number of
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individuals that are in irs, workers that have been named as part of your testimony that we will also be able to further interview and get information from. and the larger question now is, who helped direct this activity, and lois lerner is obviously refusing to even answer questions. mr. cocagy kookogey. >> i apologize. you testified back in december of 2011 you made numerous and repeated calls to the irs which went unreturned. finally you reached an agent. you said it was ron bell. >> yes. >> you reached that agent in cincinnati. you inquired why the application was taking so long. he said he had been waiting on guidance from his superiors. >> his superiors. >> can you comment? what, who do you think his superiors would have been? you men'sed it wasn't someone just down the hall. that is north of the feeling you got. >> although he didn't
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indicate exactly where it was, am i correct, these irs calls are recorded. we could probably find out if he did indeed specify, at least, that's what i remember. every time i called the irs, it says these calls may be recorded. i think my conversation with mr. bell may indeed be recorded. what i remember him saying we've been waiting on guidance from our superiors as to our organization and similar organizations. he did not say where it was from but it was clearly implicit it wasn't down the hall, whether it was from washington or some other office. he had been waiting a long time. it wasn't just putting me on hold and going to talk to someone else. >> right. and miss martinek, i believe you made comment about conversations with irs workers with working with some of their superiors as well? >> that is correct. miss richards did tell me on at least two different occasions that she would have to put me on hold and she would check with her superior or superiors to answer the question that i was asking her. >> well your testimony is going to help us get down to the facts so we can actually
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figure out who was directing this targeting. miss belsom, i was going to ask you a question. we heard from the inspector general as part of the audit. in march of 2010, apparently when the targeting actually started and went forward but we were told by the acting commissioner miller, that all of that targeting activity stopped in june of 2012. have you continued to receive any correspondence from the irs regarding the status of your application since june 2012? >> yes, thank you. yeah, i mean i didn't get the letter. i mean i heard nothing basically until september of 2012, when we got the letter with the whole list of questions. so -- >> after june of 2012 you continued to receive information from the irs regarding the status? >> right. >> well, mr. chairman, the other issue i think we'll continue to have questions
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about is the whole consept of donors because we just scratched the surface. dr. eastman has testified but i had a conversation with a donor in my state who has been a contributor to certain political causes and has been fearful of stepping out and voicing his concern about some of these activities. now he is being more emboldened. i think we'll hear from more donors down the road, mr. chairman as this investigation continues and i yield back. >> mr. pascral. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. levin. i think it is critical that this committee continues its investigation into what we all agree, let's make that clear. there are those on the panel here apparently, not the panel, excuse me, thank you panelists. but on our side of the room that have tried to divide some of us, have tried to divide us into those folks don't really want to clean up the irs like we folks do. and that's typical propaganda game. i understand it. i want to stress your
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attempt at bipartisanship, mr. chairman. i think democrats and republicans both recognize that the irs flagging applications is wrong. we have a shared interest in working with you, in a bipartisan way, to find out what really happened and to fix it? i mean if we're the problem, if we had not clarified what the test should be for these organizations it is not the organizations. it is we that are at fault and we need to change the test, to see if that organization qualifies. but you asked everybody, you don't ask a few. so we agree on that. we don't need unsubstantiated political motivating and irresponsible accusations against one another. we have to look where the facts are. no one has a god-given right to a tax-exempt status and nobody, none. panelists said that they was
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contrary to that. the laws, government tax-exempt organizations and 501(c)(4)s were created by congress. it is us. if we've been derelict, then we have to change what the laws are. period. and for us not to change the law would mean that this could happen with facility down the road to all kinds of issues and all kind of groups advocating those issues. so i think we need it focus on writing clear rules and should be a test based on how much money you spend, should it be time-based? after this debacle, we can't after nord not to be -- afford not to be specific. so i have got questions for the witnesses. mr. eastman, chairman of the national organization for marriage i believe, correct, sir? >> yes. >> why did your organization not choose to become, and
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you don't have to answer this, but i'm curious. why did you choose not to become a 527 organization under the tax laws? >> because that is not what we do under our organization. when we get, particularly involved in political campaigns, or those that support our cause, we set up political action committees as is required by the law and pursue that route. when we are pursuing purely educational functions, we use that through our nonprofit educational foundation a 501(c)(3) and for the activities that the tax code sets out as compliant with 501(c)(4), we operate those activities under the 501(c)(4) organization. >> you are both realize if you're a 527, declare, you apply for that? that means that your donors have to be -- >> as a political action committee and we do disclose those donors. the political activity we engage in from nom itself, we follow the same rules
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everybody else follows. >> so your organization chose to become a 501(c)(4)? >> this particular one did, that's right. >> that organization has, like all other organizations in that particular category, have a test to go through? in other words when you make an application, you have to comply with what are some stupid questions, we would both agree to that, but in the final analysis that is information given to the irs to determine whether you're eligible for that exemption? >> that's correct. >> is that correct, sir? >> yes. >> now one of the questions, some of the questions will bear, go through that thin line we talked about before and that is, what is political and what is not political? and that's a tough, question isn't it, many times? >> well, the law often times is clear and there is no contention that has ever been made that our activities under the 501(c)(4) are not
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appropriate for 501(c)(4). we applied for 501(c)(4) status. >> you have every right to profess what you brief in? >> that's right. and have our donors confidentiality protected as the law provides. >> but isn't there a question, when it gets down to it, and we agree so far, when you're going to express that issue in, what you believe in, and doing something overtly to demonstrate where you feel you're right and where this other organization, whatever it may be is wrong, doesn't it get to be a question of, is this political or not? i mean your politics is different than my politics and what is political to you may not be political to me. that's a tough question. >> answer briefly because time expired. >> i don't think it is tough at all when we engage in the very same activity that the human rights campaign engages in our donors are disclosed and theirs are not, it is a felony what happened to us.
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no such felony occurred against them it is not being prosecuted. >> mr. eastman -- >> thank you, time expired, mr. pascral. we recognize mr. marchant for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i have a letter today from the, that i would like to put in the record from the northeast tea party. their treasurer is a gentleman that is a, has been a cpa for 40 years and his primary practice was in helping tax-exempt organizations receive their 501(c)(3) or 4. >> without objection. >> he states in his testimony, which i have here, that he was subjected exactly to the same scrutiny that miss bell some was. miss gerritson and miss kenney. after 15 months he received
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a questionnaire that had 110 questions in it. he states that unequivocally this was the most complicated questionnaire he had ever received in response and very quickly ascertained that this organization was being targeted specifically because of their beliefs. they were asked questions about true the vote. they were asked questions about their affiliation with training sessions. they were asks for list of names. all of you have received very, very similar questions. so, it is happening to all of us in all of our districts. a year ago, about this time, i wrote a letter to the acting commissioner asking if this was actually going on? mr. , he wrote a letter back and said it was not. and then mr. joseph grant wrote a letter back and said, this was not going on.
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just as recently as a few weeks ago we questioned the acting commissioner and, still said that this was not going on. when we finally pinned him down on the questions, he basically said, well, we, it actually was going on but you didn't ask the question the right way. and basically they had lawyered up. so since then, i would like to walk you through a little bit of what's happened. and it has happened as a result of the fact that across the nation each one of you, in each one. groups in all of our districts, have contacted their congressman and this committee has began, a year ago, to act on this, on this suspicion. and what this committee has been subjected to is really a conspiracy of arrogance.
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when this committee swears in witnesses, we expect them to tell the truth. and when you write a letter to the irs commissioner and he writes you a letter back and says it's not happening, you have to operate on some premise of truth. and we have been, this committee has been subjected to untrue statements. and they have been put in writing. commissioner shulman, retired, and resigned. acting commissioner miller, fired, then retired or resigned. joseph grant, resigned. lois lerner, passed on, she has taken the fifth amendment. is now on administrative leave. and just yesterday
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newly-named commissioner, not yet confirmed, werfel, his most common answer to the committee yesterday was, he did not know. he was not aware, and he would have to get back to them. now this committee's heard a lot of that, especially from miss lerner in the last year. the question i would like to ask to each of you, is what do you think the irs commissioner should do once this committee is successful in exposing everyone at the irs that orchestrated this policy? mr. kay. >> i think it is conjecture. i don't think it is appropriate for me to determine what the irs commissioner should do. i can only speak what i would like to see done with regard to the whole matter and that is to get to the truth. if there is criminal activity, that we have the moral courage to pursue it
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and not merely politicize and say, okay, we apologize. if we as taxpayers we fail to pay our taxes we get criminal penalties. so it is not acceptable for the irs to say, oh, i'm sorry. >> i feel like -- >> i'm going to have to ask everyone very briefly because we're out of time. >> okay. i would like to see a huge transformation of the whole way taxes are done. as far as, i feel like as a, just a person concerned in my community, if i want to start an organization and work to educate citizens and have candidates in to speak and vet candidates, that sort of thing i shouldn't need to have to worry paying any taxes on money collected from dues. we're not funding any political candidates. i just think, i don't want to be involved with the irs. the irs is a nightmare. and i would like something done to reduce the average citizens aggravation and in having to deal with the irs.
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we need to get rid of this tax system that we have and go to something much simpler like a fair tax. >> all right, briefly. >> in addition to the felony charges on our particular issue i think you need to hold individuals responsible and with civil liability to the taxpayers whose disclosures were done so that they can pursue it even if the department of justice won't. >> all right. >> the answer is the rule of law must be followed and if it is violated it must be remedied either civilly or criminally or both. thank you. >> thank you. >> the irs needs to uniformly process their applications without offending any of the first amendment's rights. >> all right. >> i will make it easy and ditto what mr. kookogey said but just firing a few people will not fix the problem. just like mr. wrangle said. it's cancer inside the agency and it has got to be rooted out from the bottom up. >> thank you. miss black is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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thank all of you for being here today. mr. kookogey, thank you for representing tennessee but we know we have other groups there such as the chattanooga tea party and the rome county tea party that could likewise give similar testimony. so really appreciate y'all being here today. i think prior to the exposure of what has just most recently happened in the irs, if we were to ask the american people about their impression of the irs i think we would hear the words, fear, powerlessness, intimidation, maybe distrust and those are words that would have been used prior to this but i think what has now happened has confirmed that. it certainly is a sad day for our country where, our founding fathers, set up this bill of rights to insure us that we wouldn't have the government that would intimidate the very citizens of the country. and so it is, really, really sad time that we have come to this point where we have actually confirmed what many people would have said prior to this. if i could ask the staff to
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bring up a, one of the pieces of information that's in our file here. mr. kookogey, i bring this up because this comes as a result of a question that was asked of you and this is question 24 on your questionnaire where they actually ask you the names of those students that you would be educating. can you give me any thought of why this would be of particular interest in order to establish your 501(c)(4) status? >> no, not, it's stunning. it's unbelievable. i can't give an answer. i've been thinking about it for 29 months why they would want to know the names of 7th graders i am teaching western civilization, political philosophy. the basic theories of economics. why in the world would the irs want to know names of these students but for perhaps intimidation of them and their parents, to discourage them from being
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taught under my tutelage. >> certainly very chilling, something we wouldn't expect in the united states. we would look at come necessary countries if we think about that kind of activity. none of you silence and ad what i would like to know. do you feel miss gerritson, what was occurring in the intimidation, and not getting status, did it silence you? >> obviously i'm here, it didn't silence me. >> i mean your group being able to do -- >> i have members come up to me and are fearful. they don't want to give, they don't want to write their name on any sign-up form that we may have. i also have people e-mailing me that they are getting audited for the first time ever, and they gave during the campaign. so, i can't put a number how much, on how it has hindered our organization but it has because people have told me.
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>> miss martinek? >> we have not been silenced but if we didn't have accessibility to the thomas moore society and attorneys we may have been. >> so you have some folks there to help you out. and i would agree. >> had we not had the aclj we couldn't have fought the government. >> thank you. miss kenney. >> we are not silent but there is a fist and a hand over our mouth because our educational opportunities from everything into brochures or pamphlets on the constitution to buying, such things as, book marks, that educate people about the constitution. that has been limited to, to the postcards on, getting voter information. that has been constricted. because, we simply don't have the funds. >> thank you. >> mr. eastman? >> you know, my nature is not to be silenced by anything but the number one
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comment i get and every time i do something like this is thank you for standing up for us. you must be very brave. and i don't think it is brave. i think it is citizenship duty we stand up every chance we get. >> miss belsom? >> i feel if we don't speak now the time may be lost so i'm doing my best to speak up. without the aclj and knowledge of other groups being targeted i'm not sure what would have happened. there was a time i was ready to say forget this whole thing. it is very chilling and i just think. >> my time is running out. the point i want to make here, because i know it will come very quickly. >> sorry. >> that your first amendment rights are being violated. mr. kookogey, in time i have left? >> whether or not it was chilling i think was evidenced today, because some of the democrats on this committee actually implied that what is social welfare to them is social welfare but what might be social welfare to us is somehow negotiatable.
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>> thank you. i yield back. >> thank you, mr. young is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. since the issue of groups being targeted by the irs is come to light i've continually encouraged everyone i speak to, to let the facts lead us to wherever they may. we don't want to draw premature conclusions, follow the facts. the more facts we learned, including in this hearing the more concerned i get is some organized effort to stifle conservative political act activity. given the pattern of intimidation and obstruction we've seen from the irs i at least why some understand are ready to jump to firm conclusions. perhaps what is most frustrating to me is we still need so many answers, answers that we're not getting from some of the higher-ups, and from others, that represent us in our
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federal government. while we wait for those answers, far too many members of congress and pole lemma sifts masquerading as journalists suddenly downplay the gravity of this situation. we hear that time and time again. then they draw conclusions of their own. these are conclusions incidentally that don't seem to jive with the facts that we already know. we heard, for instance, that the real problem is groups applying for tax-exempt status that engage in political activity. the problem is the groups. but groups of every political persuasion do this. they apply for this tax-exempt status. so why is it that every tea party group that applied for 501(c)(4) status was targeted? why did approval of subsequently take years longer than many of their progressive counterparts? i want to know. the people want to know. why were pro-life unions groups and groups of too additional marriage targeted and not pro-abortion and
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marriage equality groups treated similarly? more than suggested, suggested here in this hearing that is really about citizens united, and about 501(c)(4) groups and, and their undisclosed donor lists. i think some of my colleagues helped disabuse us of that notion but i want to know, why were groups filing for 501(c)(3) status like some of those here today asked in appropriate questions like the content of their prayers? why were 501(c) am plants left in -- applicants left in limbo if this is about the abuse of 501(c)(4) status? lastly we heard this about organizations trying to game the system. if it is about organizations, why was the irs so con concerned about individual donors to these organizations? why in the months prior to a major federal election did donor information for conservative groups and candidates get illegally
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released by the irs? we want to know the answer to that question. why did donors to conservative candidates get targeted with threatening communications trying to suppress their political donations? all of this is extremely troubling and of course we need more answers. sadly those who could tell us the most would rather plead the fifth amendment than help us get to the bottom of these things. this must never, ever, happen again. we need to ensure that safeguards are in place as others on both sides of the aisle have said so that our executive branch can not nuture or give license to a culture or a subculture of intimidation within our federal agencies. and finally we need to punish those who say lighted our trust. you know, i'm looking forward to that day when we do prosecute dr. eastman, those who are responsible, for acts, that may well need
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to be prosecuted as more facts come in. you indicate you already have those facts on hand. let's hope that, those facts are presented before a court of law and that proper action is taken. we have an indiana tea party group that waited for a number of years for their 501(c)(4) application to be approved. they decided not to ends a the irs's inappropriate questions. they finally received a denial of their 501(c)(4) status. however just a few days later after being denied, they were approved. curious behavior. i want to know if any of your groups had a similar situation where you were approved just days after being denied? >> no, i'm actually still waiting for status after 29 months. >> okay. >> still waiting after almost three years. >> we were approved prior to 2008. >> okay. >> i with drew my application. >> we were approved one week
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after the request for a letter was given to us, or, once our attorney sent in her letter, i guess it was one week after that we actually were approved. they didn't actually deny us but we acted very quickly once we had legal help, pointing out their requests being illegal. >> and -- >> miss garrett send? >> no. it was 600 and something days but we were approved. we were never denied. >> thank you, i yield back. >> thank you. mr. kelly's recognized. >> thank you, chairman. i thank you all for being here. i went through a similar situation. i was an automobile dealer and my dad started our business in 1953 after come back from the war. little one-car showroom with four service bays. you can imagine my shock in 2009 when all of a sudden sudden one of my franchises was being taken away. not because they didn't know how to run it. not because we didn't meet metrics that is required. because the government made
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a decision, you know, kelly, you're no longer going to be in business. i went through a process and got the dealership back. there is something wrong here. there is something wrong. this is truly david versus goliath, see? edmund burke says all that is necessary for the triumph of evil for good men to do nothing. i thank you for coming here today. i hope by appearing here today that you encouraged other people throughout the country to come forward. you do not have to be afraid of this. go. the fear only exists if you allow it to continue. don't let that happen to you. i traveled through the district last week. i can't share the number of people came up to me, you know what i would like to say something, if i use my name i'm afraid they will come after me. my god, is that what we come to? i call it decoration day. i know it is memorial day. but i call it deck race day about honoring our war dead.
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a guy came up to me. mr. kelly, can i talk to you. sure. what? we were denied our status. here's the problem with this i have said really, what happened? well, some kind of a certification was the problem. but here's his fear. he goes, but i'm wondering now if it is because this, the township veterans association is made up mostly of republicans that maybe we're targeted? think about that. we've talked about chilling. this is not being chilling. the american people are frozen with fear. we have gone far beyond being chilling. we have exceeded, we have gone way over what this government is supposed to be able to do. and i got to tell you, when i talk to you all and see you here and understand what it is you're going through, you don't have big budgets to work for, work with. this stall tactic. that can keep you on the sidelines forever. mr. kookogey, what kind of legal fees have you built up? >> i have my own legal fees.
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so i'm an attorney. so i have done everything quid pro quo. i've done it all on my own. aclj represents us as obviously a nonprofit. doesn't mean i don't have countless other expenses. >> sure. >> i've been funded by loans to organization that i assumed one day would be granted tax-exempt status, countless, 30, 40, $50,000 of my own money just trying to wait for this day and irs is. >> get your day in court. miss belsom, you built up some costs? >> the aclj is representing us for free. >> okay. mr. eastman? >> there are hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees we've incurred trying to protect our donors and fight the nonsense that has been going against us. >> meeting costs. legal costs, yes and other things to run our group, such as speakers fees. the good trainers out and the good organization people
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and spokespeople out, yes. >> miss martinek. >> thomas moore society has taken responsibility of our financial. >> okay. >> and aclj is representing us. so we haven't had to have your own costs. >> isn't it incredible what you're going through to maintain your first amendment rights? i would just tell you, this is not a problem in cincinnati. this is problem that is deep in the bowels of this government. if at some point we can not stop this culture of fear, this government sponsored fear, then we are really coming up short on what the oath is that we took, and we didn't take it for the republican party. i'm so sick of hearing, oh, it is about republicans or democrats. this is about america. this is basically who we are. we took the oath of office not to defend the rights of republicans or democrats or lib tear yoons or those that want to live here to be left alone. we took an oath to defend our constitution. i really applaud you for what you're doing today. do not give up on this because i think the idea, if you can stall them long
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enough, if you can drive their costs high enough, cost me 60 grand in legal fees to get my deepership back, i was told by member of congress the system allowed you to get it back. oh my goodness. i was able to get back from what the government stole from me. isn't that a novel idea? thank you for what you're doing. stay the course. do not give up. spread the word to the rest of the american public. do not be afraid of this government. only when we fear the government that we lose. this is a government that is supposed to serve the people, the people are not supposed to serve it. keep up the fight. we're with you and we've got your back. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> mr. griffin is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank y'all so much for being here today. it reminz me of the somewhat famous quote that a government, big enough to give you everything you need is powerful enough to take everything you have and, and sort of goes to your quote earlier when you were talking about the government culture that we're dealing with here. i think what we've seen
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described here in the previous hearing is a, a distant, ever-growing, almost unlimited federal government that, in many instances, means well. but, it is unresponsive to people that live thousands of miles away. and, the bigger it grows, the less accountable it is. and i think this is another example of that. i want to clarify a couple of things. there have been a lot of facts thrown around and, there are a lot of myths as well. first of all, there was no surge in 501(c)(4) applications in 2010. we have heard, i know some people get talking points and they read them and they don't really know what they mean. "the washington post" and the atlantic and many others
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reported there was no surge in 501(c)(4) applications in 2010. it just didn't happen. and, we're not just talking about c-4s. as, mr. young pointed out. we're talking about c-3s. i'm holding a lawsuit that relates to z street. they're trying to get organized and, they are a pro-israel group and, i've got the questionnaire that they were sent. and the irs, they were trying to get 501(c)(3) status, okay? not c-4. the question, does your organization support the existence of the land of israel? describe your organization's religious belief system toward the land of israel. it's unbelievable. and, you know, what's interesting, it is pointed
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out here, that in "the new york times", a state, a senior state department official was talking about some of the charitable groups active in the middle east. and he said, that the funding for these groups is a problem because it is unhelpful to the efforts we're trying to make. is there a connection? i don't know but it just, it's outrageous they would ask these sorts of things of groups. you know, i would, you heard some other members quote the investigation of the inspector general. i would point out as some others have, it was an audit. there were no e-mails requested. no depositions. it just scratched the surface. and a lot of people love to cite it. well, they didn't cite the fact that it said conservative groups were targeted. that's why you're here. it is not a debate over the law. the fact some groups were given a pass and some groups
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weren't. that's what this is all about. despite the fact that some people say, oh, it's about terminology or, we haven't given them the right terms or, do you really need training to know that you don't ask americans what they're praying about? i mean, seriously! do you really need training to know that you don't approach a group and try to get a deal that they won't protest planned parenthood? it's unbelievable. if you have to write that type of stuff in the statute, then we're just out of look, folks. that is just common sense. and you know, i think this is another great argument for tax reform. . .
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>> we'll do our job here, but this is the federal government. it's agency after agency after agency that's out of control. i appreciate y'all being brave and being here today. thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i wanted to get back and make sure that i thanked every one of you for being here. again, i practiced in the business world for almost 30 years before i came here. i've only been here for two years and had a cpa profession.
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i had to, you know, sit in front of the irs agents with clients, or i had to get the letter from that individual that you all received from the irs, and i got to tell you, it was -- it's appalling, not only what i heard, some of your testimony was and what the irs did, but i got to tell you, they don't treat -- i sat in many, many situations with the irs, and they don't seem to care. their timelines, but, boy, it's amazing how long you had to wait. it's amazing this government allows this to happen. what's interesting for me as a business guy, when i took over a bad business, it would have been the easiest thing in the world for me to blame the guy who appointed the manager of the company before i took it over. quite frankly, we had to fix the problem and move forward. when i hear people say, well, this was a bush appointee, i say, isn't it amazing? we should be talking about how
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we fix the problem, whoever is there, and as leaders, we should be taking responsibility to make sure those problems were fixed. i got to tell you, we had testimony two weeks ago from acting commissioner miller, you know, he seemed more interested in providing excuses. if i heard him, how many times say "i don't know," and we continue to hear that from the agency. can you imagine if you answered "i don't know" what happened to you? of course, you didn't get far with answering properly, but i don't know would have thrown your application away. we have the acting commissioner here two weeks ago talking about i don't know. it gave half-hearted apologies, but i found it appalling and most, you know, with many of the responses, and i would wonder, you know, as victims of many of the actions, and i consider them illegal. do you believe these actions, you know, by the irs to you were illegal? i'd like to hear each one of
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your thoughts. i know "illegal" is a strong word, but i want your thoughts. >> it's absolutely illegal. when the government uses the irs for political purposes, remember, this was part of the articles impeachment in the nixon administration before he resigned. it's clearly illegal to single us out for different treatment based on political views. >> yes, i agree with what he said. >> chapter and verse, 26uusc, a1 makes it a felony do nighs close confidential tax returns. >> i agree with everyone here. it was illegal. i think it was immoral. i think, also, it's very un-american. >> it's easy for me to say, yes, it's very illegal. >> i agree. >> thank you. i will tell you this. one thing they'll say about me as you go through the record, i was a fighter, and believe fighting for the clients. i appreciate you being here,
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appreciate your fighting, don't quit. if you need somebody to stand beside you, give me a call. thank you, i yield back. >> thank you, last but not least, mr. reid. >> thank you, mr. chairman. it's at the inhere, and i just wanted to express my sincere thoughts that we stand with you. you know, and i heard a bunch of my colleagues talk about how certain individuals in washington have been fired as a result of this, but let's just be clear. mr. miller sat right where your were, mr. eastman. when i asked a question, he was not fired. he was allowed to retire with full benefits and was drawing a paycheck paid for by the american taxpayer as he tried to answer the question, and i say "tried" because he wouldn't answer the questions. that frustrates me. i'm sure this frustrates you. we hear lois lerner who took the fifth is allowed to go on
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vacation, i'll call it, that's accountability in washington, d.c.. that, to me, is unacceptable, and what i wanted to leave today with, and you said it in the statement, and i appreciate the heart felt nature of the statement, that a lot of people in washington forget who they work for. they work for you. not the other way around. that's the culture of abuse of power that i see in the irs. i want to hear from you how you -- how that makes you feel that there really hasn't been any accountability as of yet. what would you ask us? me, specifically, as a member of this panel to do to make you feel that justice has been served? >> well, i think it will take a lot for the american people to ever trust the iring's -- irs, just because of the nature of the irs always being a scary agency.
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what i ask, like so many of you committed, to do a full investigation, follow through on every lead, don't stop until you get to the bottom. we need to rid this cancer, so just do what it is that you need to do, and we'll be here to hold you accountable to do that. >> well, and i appreciate that because if we don't do that, one of the things that i'm concerned about with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, if we don't get to the bottom of it, you heard -- i listened to the testimony of each and every one of you. we already heard the chilling effect of what the irs has done. you talked about the fact that some of your pamphlets, i believe, were not produced. you talked about donors shying away from going on and giving donations to your organization. that's a chilling effect. if we don't hold this community, this city accountable, where do you think it's going to go? do you think it's going to get worse? do you think it's going to get better? would you advise us to just sit
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silently by and do what so many elected officials have done before and say, oh, there's a problem, we have to change the law to make sure it never happens again. you know, we have to enforce the law on the books. you point out the fact this is a felony. a felony. that's equivalent to who? murders are flops. robbers are felons. the law has been declared we're going to hold this type of behavior accountable to the level of the seriousness of a felony, and yet what we heard so far is, oh, it was inadvertent. it was a mistake. does that make you feel better? does that make you feel better that that that's the standard we're going to potentially live with as the accountability measure for us in washington? >> when the claim is so divided and apart from what we know to be the truth, it doesn't make me feel better at all.
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>> you're the individuals who stood up and came here and are not similar to ones who came up to me during the week when i was back home working the district that said, hey, i want to tell you what happened to me, but don't use me name. >> uh-huh. >> how many do you think are out there? any of you offer any guesses what that is? >> just last week, i had one of our attendees say, please, take my name off the e-mail, i'm afraid. there's language about people going in and out of the shadows. the citizenship ticket in this particular place with this issue should be the rule of law, nothing more, nothing less. please, go where these facts lead you. >> anyone hazard to guess? think thousands, tens of thousands,ing hundreds of
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thousands, 300 million plus americans watching this on tv, can you any the americans with busy lives say, oh, yeah, that's what i want to do with my free time. >> the prospect of the challenges of the irs and having the last ten years of tax returns gone through with a fine tooth comb is chilling for many americans. i, for the first time, bought audit insurance this year. it is scary. at some point, you have to fight or city hall is no longer what it's supposed to be. >> time expired. there's another member who seeks recognition. >> i thank the chairman. sorry i had to step out for quite a bit. i missed a few of the statements, and one in particular about my colleagues. let me start by saying to the witnesses, each and every one of you, you are all victims here, and you and so many other groups, conservative and
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progress *eu6 alike targeted by the irs are the victims, and to say otherwise is wrong, and it's not representative of the democratic party as well. as a chairman noted in the e-mail, he sent out yesterday, the outrage at what is occurring at the irs is shared by republicans and democrats alike. second, while i welcome the witness', i would like to highlight that the minority party are typically allowed to invite a witness to each hearing. we did not invite any witness to the hearing. that is not because progressive groups were not targeted. they were. in fact, the cig report looking into this targeting documented that fact. i would like to submit for the record this list of dozens of progressive groups who are inappropriately targeted alongside tea party groups along side the irs. >> without objection. the minority did not identify any witnesses that had been targeted by the irs, but they
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were given that opportunity. >> chairman, i'm still making -- >> you may continue. >> whether in stead of making it about groups, we democrats want to make the hearing about the facts and how we prevent targeting from happening again. whether it be the targtsing of progressive or conservative groups and everyone else in between, although the members of the groups testifying today might never vote for me if i was on their ballots, i want each and every one of them to know as a congress, we collectively represent you. as many may recall, i asked lois of the irs tax exempt office about whether the irs was politically targeting groups two days before she and the irk rs came clean to the world and admitted the agency was, in fact, screening on ideological
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grounds. many asked me why i asked ms. lerner about the matter before the outrage took place. the reason is no american should be targeted by the government for their personal views, and i wanted to get to the bottom of the rumors that had been circulating for sometime that the irs was targeting certain individuals. unfortunately, this is not the irs's first time mixing up the mission with the personal politics. starting in 2002 and 2004 under then president bush, the irs went after progressive christian churches, the naacp, and environmental groups, and the actions are as wrong today as they were in 2004. while i don't recall the same bipartisan outrage existing then as i believe it does today, it should have because no agency has the right to target or discriminate based on political ideology so i do want to correct the record on a few matters.
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some republican colleagues have been working overtime to paint this as a political conspiracy by the white house. there is no evidence tieing this to the white house. in fact, the ig's report makes it clear. in the most recent hearing on the topic, the treasury inspector general, appointed by president bush, testified by no officials at the treasury department or white house knew anything about the targeting. they were questioning lynn saying that he would have questions and invest gait the senior treasury department in any obama administration official if he thought they were involved, but, again, he testified under oath that they were not involved. i would like to submit the discussion between ms. jenkins and the treasury inspector into the record. without objection. >> it was the same inspector general who notified republicans including chairman issa, into the political targeting by the
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ir certification in the summer of 2012, morpts before -- months before the election. i want to submit the treasury's letter to issa and the rsc chair, jordan, confirming the investigation dated july 11th, 2011. >> without objection. >> do you think there was political targeting at the highest level of the government in the election year that members of congress like chairman issa would have sat quietly and not brought it to the public's attention? i think it speaks for its because there was no whistle to blow. what concerns me is this is the second chapter in less than a decade that the irs went rogue. they were rogue in 2002, 2004, when they targeted the churches, religious groups, and naacp.
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the record speaks for itself. what happened is intolerable whether it aggressive or conservative groups. from a democratic side or republican side, a republican administration ore democratic administration should never be tolerated. never be tolerated. >> thank you, time expiredded. i want to thank the witnesses for coming forward today. not easy to sit through a congressional hearing answering questions from a whole variety of perspectives and members. i want to tell you how impressed i am with your testimony and your moral conviction, the perseverance and courage you show by being here today representing in other americans equally affected. you helped the committee a great deal, but more importantly, you helped the american people a great deal and the nation a great deal, and i thank you very much for that, and with that,
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the hearing is adjourned. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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>> i thought the hearing was actually very powerful, and it's very clear this is a systematic -- is it not working? should i start over? all right. first, i want to say it was a very powerful hearing, an i think it's clear it's not just a systematic -- this is a systematic approach to this whole issue, and this really gave, i think, a voice to what hundreds of americans have gone through, and i really meant it when i said i was impressed by the quality of the testimony. this was a difficult format for the uninitiated, and i thought to hear their stories firsthand and what it meant to them and to the country was very powerful.
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thank you. >> what happens now? >> certainly, the investigation will continue. we're really just beginning and have to be interviewing more witnesses, probably in interview format more than a hearing format, but that will be the next phase that we move spue. it was important, i think, to hear personally from those affected and not just have a transcript of what may have occurred to them. you heard what they had to say, thought the voices were strong, and very important to hear from. >> [inaudible] >> hopefully we interview a number of people who worked at the irs during this time? >> lerner? >> i'm not sure. she's on the list. we'd like to talk to her. >> [inaudible] >> well, we just begun, though, so i don't think it's really appropriate to draw conclusions yet. we have a lot more of those to do, and after that, i'll be able to certainly draw something.
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>> the cincinnati office -- [inaudible] >> we just begun some interviews in the cincinnati office. we spoke to a couple people there. there's, obviously, a lot more we need to do op that front. >> do you think -- [inaudible] >> i think it's broader than that. clearly, when we get the fact that donor information was disclosed and involving 50 # -- 501c3s. it's a broader look, there's going to be broader changes to make, but at this point, trying to get our hands around the scope of the issue, including the one larger than first thought. this is not just a couple people in one office. this is a nationwide systematic approach to targeting people with certain political beliefs, and this is what we're trying to understand how far this goes, and we still don't know who
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initiated this or how far it goes up the chain, and we are still trying to find that out. >> you made a reference to the broken tax code if that's what you were talking about. >> oh, certainly, i think it shows a simpler tax code gives less discretion to the irs, and i think the witnesses said that as well, if it could be, certainly, more a review of documents opposed to sort of these kinds of very complex judgment calls, i think that would be certainly very helpful. >> using authority to look at tax return information to find out more about what exactly's happened in those cases? >> i certainly had that authority. i'm going to use it at the appropriate time. >> thank you very much. >> thank you.
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>> thank you, guys. >> so that wraps up the house ways and means committee hearing looking at the irs targeting of some conservative groups. we've been soliciting reactions via the twitter hash tag "ir certification," and here's your tweets. gayle talk writes, call it what it is, the irs is profiling its victims. james smith tweets, "irs in the midst of the scandal, never a better time to reform the tax code and restructure the irs. come on, g.o.p., do something. laurie says, if all listened, the country would be a different place. shocking stuff. we welcome your reactions and comments using the hash tag iirs, and while senate continues in the recess, there's a portion of the irs hearing now from earlier this morning. >> thank you to the hob norble members of this committee.
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i'm kevin, and our motto is to challenge the rising generation. we do this by mentoring high school and college students in conservative and political philosophies. we aim to mentor high school and college students by teaching them about the great books and about the foundations of america's moral and constitutional order. lynch pins of liberty is one of those platoons described by alex, a local institution intended to agent as a check on the power of the state to moderate the debt -- desperatism of the majority. we are committed to a lit tear education and moral convictions that allow citizens to maintain civil order. we aim to develop the moral imaginations through the teaching of history, and we believe that god is the measure of all things, and that the soul is the essence of humanity.
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lynch pin students learn how the greeking were unable to maintain freedom because of the pursuit of private gain at public expense. we learned the necessity of the rule of law, and we discover true laws write reason and agreement with nature, virtue must not yield to power. the lynch pen of liberty is inspired by the great fourth century of freedom who wrote only obedience to god do we find perfect liberty. we teach the address that religion and morality are indispensable support for political prosperity. for month skew, we learned pottive conforms to natural law only to be sustained by the virtual of its citizens. they recognize the state is god ordained, necessary to protect against foreign enemies, and there's no freedom without the
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law, but there are limits to the authorities of state. the government can want be a low into itself, and when the state usurps legitimate authority interfering in speech, religion, conscious, family, association, and ideas, we have a duty as human beings to ourselves and prosperity to oppose and protest the state's trespassing its limits. in order to raise money, i filed an application with the irs in january 2011 # seeking to obtain 501c3 status as an educational organization. as of today, i've been waiting for 29 months without status. in the interim, i lost the 30,000 launch grant from a reputable nonprofit who director advised me he never saw such treatment of an applicant in the 25 years of making grants. i lost and continue to lose multiple thousands of my own money, and i had to cease any
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further official activity for fear the irs would target me for further harassment of the for two and a half years, the irs unlawfully delayed my application for tax exempt status using unconstitutional criteria. the questioned asked by the irs included asking me to identify the political affiliation of my mentors and advise the irs on virtually every issue of importance to me. for good measure, i had to identify those whom i trained and that i inform the federal government in detail what i'm teaching my students. considering that the mission of my organization is devoted to mentoring young people, some of whom are minors, imagine the reaction of the student's parents where i turned over names of their children to the irs. to what end? is it not conceivable that i would be sued? would the irs threaten to awe -- audit the parents of the
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students? yet failure to comply with the stunning inquiry results in the denial of my application or subjects me to perjury. contrary to lois lerner, the lynch pin was not the agent of a few agents in cincinnati. in 2011 after numerous and repeated calls to the irs which were unreturned, i reached agent ron bell in cincinnati. when i acquired as so why my application was taking so long, he said we have been waiting on guidance from our superiors as to your organization and similar organizations. we have now received that guidance, and you will receive your answer on a first-in, first-out basis. although lynch pins of liberty is a 501c3 and not 4 like many organizations here today, we do share one common trait with them, and that's our ideas. lynchpins of liberty stand to cause ordered liberty, reject the expansion of the state of
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authority and regard human liberty. i respectfully urge and appeal this committee -- to this committee today, which is a coequal branch of the federal government vested with authority and responsibility to check the power of the executive branch. i would ask that you act with courage and moral resolve for in so doing, you will -- the intent is that you will -- sorry, my time was running there -- >> you may conclude. >> thank you. act with the moral resolve to check the branch because if so doingings you protect, defend, and preserve human liberty for ourselves and prosperity, thank you. >> thank you very much. our next within is diian belsom, founder of the tea party in south carolina. ms. belsom, you're recognized for five minutes. >> thank you for having me
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today. i'm diane belsom, president of lawrence county tea party, a social welfare organization that seeks to educate ourselves and fellow citizens on various issues pertinent to living in a free country, and we also work to educate voters by vetting candidates and holding candidate forums in election years. we typically meet once a month and hold an annual rally. we held our first tax day tea party rally in april 2009, and then formally organized and incorporated with the state of south carolina in march the 2010. on july 22, 2010, we filed for 501c4 status accountability ir -- with the irs and paid the fee of $4400. we stated in 2010 that if more information was needed to process the information, we'd be contacted within 90 days. after hearing nothing, i called the irs in 2011, a year after i
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filed, and told the case was pending. in the meantime, we were still responsible for filing tax returns which we have done. on november 14th, 2011, we received a letter from the irs stating we may be required to file a form 990n and e-postcard. nothing more was heard until september 6th, 2012 when we received a communication from the irs requesting extremely burdensome additional information which included the following: provide a copy of our articles of incorporation, which we had sent with the initial application in 2010; information about all of our committees, including legislative, educational, and vetting, and how much time and resources are devoted to the activities. they sent about 20 pages copied from our website and wanted con confirmation that these were, in fact, from our website. they wanted samples from any other associate media sites including facebook.
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they -- they asked for detailed information on meetings, rallies, and events with dates and names of speakers, agendas, any associated materials, and if a guest speaker made remarks concerning upcoming elections, and whether our organization took a view on anything expressed, and how much time or resources are devoted to these activities. they wanted to know how much time the resources were devoted to vetting candidates. the irs noted our website had a lot of videos of candidates running for local office. they wanted to know what offices the candidates were running for, which was stated in the videos, a list of all candidates for these offices, and an explanation for those who didn't participate. copies of any written materials including invitations to the candidates, copies of any introduction statements made by us, and copies of all questions asked of the candidates whether the interviews were edited, a
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list of interviews on the website, and explanation for any not posted, percentage of time and resources devoted to this. in regard to the forum held, more questions asked with the date and offices for which it was held, a list of those who didn't participate, copies of opening remarks from us, who asked the questions, copies of all questions asked, copies of written materials, including invites to candidates and advertising, whether the videos posted were edited, and the presented time and resources devoted to these activities. they asked for a list of expenses for the past three years including any amount expended in support of any candidate for federal, state, or local public office, which i add is 0. since i was already aware the irs was targeting tea party groups, i immediately contacted the aclj, and they agreed to represent us at no charge. nevertheless, in order to comply with this information request, it took hours of time, stress,
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and aggravation. by the end of the december, we filed the requested information with the irs. then, on january 31st, 2013, we received a question for more information including, again, a request for the articles of incorporation, copies of e-mails sent out on issues we deal with, plus copies from our facebook, so e-mails sent out to group members i provided quite a few of those, copies of free and paid ads placed in papers, pictures submitted to local papers, press releases, and materials for distribution. we complieded with these demands on march 5th, 2013, and it's now june 4, 2013, so nearly three years, and today, we have heard nothing. i would like to note our group is a small-time operation with very little money, and this remits a complete waste of time by the irs in terms of any money they would collect if we were not tax exempt.
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furthermore, nearly three years in waiting for an answer is totally up acceptable. the irs needs to be fully investigated and held accountable for incompetence, harassment, and targeting of conservative groups, thank you. >> thank you, ms. belsom. next is dr. john eastman, professor the chapman university school of law, and dr. eastman, you are recognized. >> mr. foreman -- mr. chairman, thank you very much. the public interest law firm affiliated with the clermont institute and actor on the legal foundation serving as co-counsel for true the vote, filed a lawsuit just last week on their slow walking by the irs and their status. i'm here today in capacity as chairman of the board of a national organization for marriage because the egregious conduct taken tbens that organization which had its 50 #
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1c4 status confirmed back in 2008 takes us to a different level. in march of 2012, the confidential portions of the 990 tax return, including schedule b, our list of major donors and their home addresses, appeared on this website of the human rights campaign. our principle political opponent in the nationwide fight over traditional marriage. the copy of our tax returns and lists of donors that was posted there was redacted. our computer forensic people were able to unlayer the redacss from that pdf file discovering the original document posted there had originated from within the irs. it had internal irs samples placed on every document the irs receives that are lek tropically filed with the irs and placed on those documents by the computer system. we don't have a copy of the document with those irs stamps on them. those only exist within the irs, and, yet this was posted on the
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website of the human rights campaign. you can message our shock and disgust over this and jealously guard our donor like every other nonprofit does essentially because of the issues we deal with are contentious that once donors are identified are harassed and are tried to be chilled away from the cause we advance. this is unacceptable conduct in our democracy. we immediately requested app investigation from the treasury's inspector general for tax administration office as well as the department of justice. the second request to the department of justice filed because these are felonies committed against the national organization of marriage. it is a felony, punishable by $5,000 fine and up to five years in federal prison for the illegal disclosure, the unauthorized disclosure of one's confidential tax returns. we're a nonprofit, but that part of the tax return is confidential as your individual 1040 forms.
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initially, they invest gaited us to try to determine whether somebody from within our own ranks disclosed our confidential tax returns, and we pointed out we didn't have a copy of the version of our tax returns with the irs stamp on it, that was the last we heard of the investigation. that was last summer of 2012. we then began filing freedom of information agent requests with the irs to try to ascertain some of the information discovered in any investigation had there. we were stone walled in the freedom of information agent requests. the irs told us that any documents they had would have been under the inspector general's jurisdiction is they couldn't disclose them to us, and we pointed out we didn't ask for what was over, but over at the files at the irs, the second response to us, well, we answered your question, we don't answer things twice. most stunningly, may 3rd of this year, following up a privacy act
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request asking for the specific information that federal law allows us to request with an investigation into disclosure of our tax returns. the inspector general's office told us that the identities of the source of this felony against us was a self-protected tax return information that they could not disclose to us. i ask you to think about the irony of that. this are a couple of things that seem to me that this committee could look at to help cure this problem. first, clarify that it's not the case that the prohibition against disclosure of our tax returns shields the culprit of who committed that felony. sec, we have no ability to bring a criminal prosecution for these felonies on our own, and yet the department of justice has not done so. there is a civil penalty provision available, but we can only bring a suit against the united states for a thousand dollars per one disclosure, not the hundredings of thousands of disclosures done by the human rights campaign posted on the
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website. i want a clarification of the provision to hold the individual irs official as well as their colluders that are nongovernment employees, civilly liable to the taxpayer whose tax rereturns they disclosed. finally, i think because the investigation yielded nothing, of information to us. i would ask this committee to consider subpoenaing the folks at the human rights campaign. find out who posted it on the website. find out who introduced redacss and hid the irs information. find out who received it from the irs. most importantly, find out who, from the irs, disclosed this information. the head of the human rights campaign had recently been named the national cochair of the obama reelection campaign. this just smells, and i hope this committee gets to the bottom of it. thank you for allowing me to testify. >> thank you, dr. eastman. next witness is dr. karen kenny, founder of the san fernando
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county tea party, a licensed psychotherapist practicing in southern california, and among her work, she's assisting returning veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. john adams knew facts are stubborn things. they are hidden, used as tools or weapons, but they wait for us. we have to seek them with the lamp of truth and put them into words. you and i speak different languages in this republic. you speak the language of power, of pens, purse, and gavel. i speak american grassroots. the language of liberty, through providence, property, and civic virtue. we seldom speak together about the rule of law unless it is ignored or violatedded, and now is such a time. i have a story that bridges the distance between my state of california and this capital. what i say here must be said
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here. pilgrims brought to this continent a lamp of light, persevering for freedom. we sit in the shadows of washington, jefferson, and lincoln, visiting here memorials to those who failed service in the country. they persevered for righteous power. the spirit of patriots living in dead grants me the right to be here, my duty as an american citizen to speak here today. in october 2010, the san fernando valley patriots, a non-for-profit corporation in california applied for a 501 # c4 status, tax exempt social welfare organization, then and remain a tea parget group affiliated with the gnarl tea party patriots and heard nothing until february 2012 when i received a pact from the irs exempt organization's office in cincinnati, ohio. it included a questionnaire with
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35 items divided into 8 # 0 sub points of inquiry. the letter can thed we had 12 20* days to comply wut perjury and failure to answer all questions of facts that are true, correct, and complete. generally, the questions were chills words from the 1950s, are you now or have you ever been. the irs sought documentation of the meetings, rallies, events, and candidate forums withed view and audio transcriptions, notes, copies of handouts, political parties of speakers, and an issues list. the irs sought identifying information on employees, data on volunteers, members, and employer identification numbers on businesses on which we associate. these are our donors. they have names. mike, the printer, gave us a discount. dee, the beauty consul at that particular time who donated posters, and, greg, the electrician, who made a stand
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for the 9/11 banner out of pipes and wire. the irs sought eims and details on our association of tax exempt organization. these are our teachers. they are names. the harming foundation, freedom works, and the gnarl center for constitutional studios where we learn american history. the tea party patriots where we learn grassroots skills, and the west valley food pantry, our charity. the irs saw details of communications of our legislators, even in southern california, that is protected free speech. my personal favorite was question 33 #, which in relation to protests asked for a listing of our, quote, committed violations of local ordnances, breaches of public order, or arrests. it requested details on how we conduct or promote illegal activities. i think the irs needs to fix its labeling machine. we're the san fernando valley patriots, not occupy oakland. i stopped the prosays in july
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2012, we survive on my credit card and donations in the cake tin like patriots before us, we persevere. the voice of the republic resides in the citizens, not in the tongue of government. more more grasp that self-evident truth. this dialogue is about the jack bad of tyranny on the field of the founding documents to whisper the letters "irs" strikes a shrill note on main street usa, but when they trample on grassroots, few hear this snapping sound. now, more people listen. few no whoa the truth speak. this was the reality of govern nans in america. this time, we come to you. in time, come home it us. this time we came for truth. in time, the lies with fall. the voice of the people is the voice of god, it's irresistible the difference in america. our voice belongs to the free
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individual, not to the collective mob. our voice is heard when power than whispers to live in strength. when liberty stands under heaven and a chance to empower freedom, thanks. >> thank you, dr. kenny. the next witness is the president of the coalition for life of iowa, and until he recent retirement, ms. martinek worked with clothing. you're recognized. >> good morning. >> your mrch, please. >> i'm sue martinek based in cedar rapids, iowa, and we're a low budget charity founded in 2004 to provide prayer, education, and related
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activities about the sanctity of life from conception to natural death. throughout history, we organized and sponsored educational forums engaging in peaceful, prayerful activities. in 2008, we sought tax free exemption from the irs by filling out the form. i speak today so that what happened to us, the irs's demonstrated harassment, improper questions, and intolerance towards the message may not happen to others. the irs questions centers on educational and political activities, our prayer groups, and our sign aiming. on april 27 #th, 2009, irs agents moved richards out of the cincinnati office, sent me a letter asking about the
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educational forum whether we were trying to influence legislation or influence political campaigns. we'd already answered no on the irk rs form 1023 application. i responded may 14th answering all questions fully. in the subsequent weeks, i was contacted by trch a few times asking questions about the activity. some questions i asked was unable to be answered and put me op hold and checked with the superiors. in june of 2009, they would told me verbally we needed to send in a letter with the entire board's signatures stating that under perjury of law, we would not ticket protests or organize picket and protests outside of plannedded parenthood. upon receiving such a letter, the irs would allow the application to go through.
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we cement letters up to the irs respectfully requesting where informed 1023 or elsewhere it stated that we could not protest plan the parenthood. the irs never answered the #kwe. instead, the irs continued questioning us. on june 22, 2009, irs agent richards sent us additional written requests as follows: please explain how all of your activities including the prayer meetings held outside planned parenthood are considered educational as defined under 501c3 #. organizations exempt under 501c3 may present opinions with sign tisk or medical fact. explain in detail the activities at the prayer meeting. also, please provide the percentage of your organization spent on prayer groups compared to the other activities of the
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organization. explain in detail the signs held up outside planned parenthood and how they are considered educational. when we met at the next board meeting, we met the questions and worked hard to get it correct. we e had a local attorney helping us. we understood that we could hold up signs with educational information about abortion and the sanctity of life without the irs, quote, questioning their validity. we never thought we had to defend prayer activities. as christians we knew we had to pray for a better solution to up planned preeing nap sigh than abortion. why not ask the source? personally, i wonders, who fights the irs? what would the repercussions be? would there be a hope to win? since we focused and picketing protesting, some board members
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were signing statements that unfairly restricted first amendment rights. we had little funds. one board member suggested we contact the society, a public interest law firm. they helped the little guy. that was us. they took the case and found us an attorney that specializes in the area. fortunately, with their help and after we submitted a lengthy letter detailing the law and our constitutional rights, the irs granted tax exempt status a week after our attorney, salary wagon makers sent in the letter to the irs agent richards. no more mention was made of the irs required board statements about protesting and picketing outside of planned parenthood. we were fortunate, but we -- but not all are. our story has a happy ending.
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donors claim charitable tax deductions for their institutions, and with their help, we carry out religious activities to promote respect for human life like the march for life and 40 days for life. coalition for life of iowa seeks to save lives, help others, and improve the community. may our story of the irs's overreaching, and no reform, better treatment of the charitable institutions and continue to protect the first amendment right of freedom. thank you for letting me tell the story. >> thank you. the final witness is president of the tea party in alabama. >> thank you. i understand to begin with a brief statement. i know you are primarily interested in hearing about the abuses of the internal revenue service, but i believe it's critically important that you understand just not what these
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abuses were, but what exactly the irs was trying to stifle. in order to paint a clear picture, i need to explain how the wetumpka tea party came into being. my husband and i were never involved in politics in 2008. always patriotic and proud of the country, always felt that the united states is the greatest country in the world. in september 2008, when we had our first 700 billion dollar bailout, we, along with millions of americans were very concerned. that bailout was confirmation that our government was out l control. just a few months later in january twine, we learned the government was going to spend another $787 billion. that money went to foreign nations, failing banks, and unproductive industries. we were worried. we knew we had to do something to sound the alarm. we knew that government had gone far beyond its habitual
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government spending mortgaging america's future. we knew that washington was not going to stop by itself. in the spring of 2009, we learned that others were organizing tea party events around the nation to educate and empower concerned citizens who believe their government was out of control, so we made our plans. my husband and i fill out a permit to heat at -- meet at a local park in the small town, and we handed out fliers for the april 15th event. when the day arrived, we were blown away by the large crowd. politicians came, but they didn't speak. we wanted to give ordinary citizens the chance to speak their concerns. our event had no party affiliation. i could not tell you if they were republicans, democrats, or independents. it didn't matterment the only political notion expressed was one that we collectsively felt, that our representative government had failed us. that was the birth of the
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wetumpka tea party, no dues, no price for membership, meetings are educational, and things are paid by donations and t-shirt sales. we are patriotic americans. we peacefully were assembled, and we exercised the right to free speech and don't understand why the government tried to stop us. i'm not here as a serf or vessel, not begging the lord for mercy, but i'm a born free american woman, wife, mother, and citizen, and i'm telling my government that you forgot your place. it's not your speedometer to look out for my well being and monitor my speech. it's not your right to assert an agenda. the post you occupy exist to prereceiver american liberty. you swore to perform that duet, and you have faltered. the abuses i discuss today
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occurred on your watch, and it's your speedometer to make sure it doesn't happen again. here's the facts of the case. we applied for a 501c4 in object 2010. the 8 r50 # application passed, receiving a letter from robert to work dated november 2, 2010 stating the application and user fee payment was received, and it stated we should be expecting to hear from someone within 90 days, however, the ir certification did not initiate contact with us for another 459 days. that was when i received a letter from the cincinnati office. >> we are going to break away from the recorded hearing looking into the irs targeting of conservative groups at this point to return to the u.s. senate. a quick reminder you can see all this hearing and all the irs hearings online any time at c-span.org. the u.s. senate about to gavel
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back into session with more work expected on the farm bill. now live to the senate floor here on c-span2.
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: madam president, the senate i am learning is an institution bound by tradition and precedent. one of the time-honored and worthwhile traditions in this body is that new senators for at least the first few months of their service are to be essentially seen and not heard until they deliver their maiden speeches on the senate floor. this, madam president, i am doing today. as an aside in the same vein of new senatorsing not being heard but seen but i may have been well advised for the first few months to avoid the stlongs of reporters that congregate outside of this chamber but it's too late for that. politicians after all, can only heed so much advice.
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for the first 12 years -- for the past 12 years it was my privilege to serve in the house of representatives. a body that has its own traditions and precedents. at its core, the house is governed by the concept of majority rule, one party can have a majority of only one or two and by virtue of the rules can still maintain control of that body. during my time in the house i had the experience of being both in the majority and in the minority. all things equal, i preferred the former. but i understood that the power wielded by being in the majority is fleeting, that is as it should be. the senate, on the other hand, is a body governed by consensus. the party holding the gavel is on a short leash. bringing even the most noncontroversial resolutions to the floor, to the senate floor, requires the agreement or at least the action whichens of the minority party.
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over the past decades, both parties have chaifd under these -- chafed under these arrangements. both parties have at times considered changing the rules that would in some way make the senate more like the house. both parties have wisely reconsidered. the house has rules appropriate for the house. the rules of the senate however frustrating to the party that happens to wield the gavel, are appropriate for the senate. i come to this point with great appreciation for those arizona senators who have proceeded me. the 48th state in the union, arizona celebrated its centennial just last year. prior to my swearing in this year, arizona had sent just ten senators to this body. these arizonans that came before me left more of an impression than simply carving their names in these desks.
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few in this body have matched the longevity of carl hayden. few have had the lasting impact of barry goldwater who helped launch the conservative movement. i consider it a high honor to follow in the footsteps of senator jon kyl whose steadied principled leadership made our nation stronger and more secure. my constituents now call the same telephone number i answered as an intern for senator dennis deconcini. he taught me a great deal about constituent service. now i have the incredible honor to serve with senator john mccain, who has as a prisoner of war taught us all the meaning of sacrifice. since that time he has served arizona, the country, and the senate nobly and honorably. fortunately for all of us, his service to this institution continues. it is my great privilege to serve with him.
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the challenges america faces today are legion and growing. abroad, cells of terrorists bent on our destruction continue to incubate. some receive aid and comfort from countries with long-held grievances and irreconcilable enmity toward the united states. other terrorists take advantage of failed states and lawless regions to hatch their plans, but it is not just individual terrorists or terror cells that we have to worry about. countries inbound by the norms and conventions of traditional nation states threaten the peace. today our concern is primarily focused on iran and north korea, but myriad other countries are but one election or coup removed from boiling over into regional or international intathd instability. at home our fiscal situation is dire. qeent to spend considerably more than we take in. worse yet, we have no serious
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plan to remedy the problem in any structural way. we seem to endlessly lurch from cliff to crisis and back again with fiscal high wire acts that erode the confidence of markets and invite the disdain of our constituents. it is understandable that with two-year election cycles the house of representatives begins to focus on the next election as soon as one election is finished. in the house, difficult issues are often avoided or perpetually shelved until the next election. but here in the senate we have six-year terms. senators therefore should come with an added dose of courage to take up the thorny and vexing issues on which the other chamber takes a pass. it is our responsibility to lead and if there was ever a time for this body, this chamber, the united states senate, to lead, this is it. i am a proud and unapologetic
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conservative and a republican, and i hope my votes will consistently reflect that philosophy. so i'm not suggesting that we hold hands and agree on every issue or even most issues. there are proud -- i'm sorry, there are profound and meaningful differences between the parties, but i want to spend more time exercising my franchise while debating the legislation itself and less time on deciding whether such legislation should be debated on the senate floor. there is a time and a place for using supermajority rules to block legislation and/or nominees from coming to the senate floor. there is a time and a place for partisanship but not every time and every not every place. this country yearns for a functioning senate, a senate that recognizes the gravity of our fiscal situation and its responsibility to propose and adopt measures to solve it for
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the long term. this country yearns for a senate that exercises its prerogative as part of the first branch of government to rein executive branch excesses in domestic and foreign affairs. domestically, the parade of missteps and abuses at the i.r.s. and other federal agencies stand as exhibit a of the need for more robust legislative direction and oversight. recent presidents both republican and democratic have exercised authority in the foreign russian far beyond -- arena far beyond that contemplated for a commander in chief. often obligating future congresses to financial commitments far beyond security arrangements. a better functioning senate, less distracted by games of shirts and skins, would not countenance such theft of its authority. now is not the time mr. president -- madam president, for this institution to retreat into
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irrelevance where the sum of our influence is to sign off on another continuing resolution to fund the government for another six months, where success is measured by how well our tracks are covered when the debt ceiling is raised, where prioritizing spending cuts are avoided by invoking another sequester. no, we've been there, done that. it's time now for the senate to lead. there are encouraging signs that we may be moving in this direction. earlier this year, a budget was passed by this chamber. it wasn't a budget that i preferred, but i was given ample opportunity to offer and debate amendments to that legislation as were my republican colleagues. we came up short, but at least the senate got back to regular order. in the coming weeks this body will consider an immigration bill. immigration reform has been and remains a complex and vexing issue with members holding strong and discord and views on many of its facets.
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still, a bill having had a thorough vetting in committee will now be allowed to come to the senate floor to be debated, amended and hopefully improved upon. this is the way it should work. to conclude, madam president, in the few days -- a few days after last november's election the 12 newly elected senate freshmen were invited to the national archives. we were taken to the legislative vault where we viewed the original signed copies of the first bill enacted by congress as well as other landmark pieces of legislation and memorabilia. oaths of allegiances signed by revolutionary war soldiers, witnessed by general washington, documents and artifacts related to the civil war, segregation and women's suffrage were also on hand. it was an affirmation to me of the tum iewlt twus seas through which our ship of state has
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sailed more than 200 years. we have had many brilliant and inspired people at the helm and trimming the sails along the way. we've had personalities ranging from mediocre to malevolent but our system of government has survived them all. serious challenges lie ahead but any honest reckoning of your history and our prospects well note we have confronted and survived more daunting challenges than we now face. this is a durable, resilient system of government, designed to withstand the foibles of men, including yours truly. madam president, it is an honor of a lifetime just to be here in this storied institution, more than i could have ever hoped for. my modest hope going forward is that my contributions will in some small way honor the senate's storied past and help it realize its full potential as the world's most deliberative
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body. thank you. i yield the floor. a senator: mm
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president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. a senator: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are not. mr. murphy: madam president, first let me congratulate senator flake on his maiden speech. very thoughtful and i think a challenge to this body to get back to the work that it has been -- it has been given by the american people. madam president, i come to the floor today to once again talk about the 4,670 victims of gun violence that we have seen across this country since december 14. december 14 is a date that
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everyone in connecticut knows but as time goes by maybe fades from the memories of other americans. that is the day in which a deranged young man walked into sandy hook elementary school in newtown, connecticut, and gunned down 26 7-year-olds, in addition to six teachers and education professionals that were charged with taking care of those kids, a day that none of us will ever forget. and we came to the floor of the senate in the weeks and months that followed with the intention of passing legislation that would make sure that we did everything within our power to assure that another sandy hook didn't happen somewhere else in this country, but we also were endeavoring to do something about the all too routine gun violence that has plagued our cities and our suburbs, frankly almost every community in this country. this is a stunning number, madam
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president. since december 14 of last year, in just over six months, 4,670 people have died from gun violence. and during that time, the united states senate and the house of representatives have done nothing to try to change that reality. now, i will at least give this body credit. we debated a bill in the judiciary committee, we brought it to the senate floor, and because of the rules of this place, unfortunately 55 votes was not enough to get a gun violence package passed that would have imposed criminal background checks on thousands of gun purchases that now operate outside that system that would have made it a federal crime to illegally traffic in guns that would have placed more resources in the hands of mental health professionals. at least we tried in the senate to do it. the house, on the other hand, has taken no steps to try to cut
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down on the 4,670 deaths all across this country just in the last six months. so, madam president, what i have tried to do every week since the failure of that bill is to come down to the floor of the senate, and instead of talking over and over again about the policy implications or the different ways and paths that we can get to a gun violence package, instead i think it's important just to talk about the victims. who are these 4,670 people, because their stories really should be the ones that move this place to action. stories like that of matthew tartle who died just a few days ago, may 14, aged 16. he was killed implausibly by his father, his 52-year-old father killed his 16-year-old son in an
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apparent murder-suicide. matthew was an amazing young man. he was a backup offensive lineman for his high school, john curtis christian school. he was a superior track and field athlete. he was an honor roll student, and his friends called him just a happy go lucky kid. they said he always had a smile on. his football coach said -- quote -- "this kind of thing is unbelievable, that something like this could happen. the only way we know how to get through this is with deep prayer. i feel so heartbroken, not just for his family, but the kids, his friends and his teammates." you know, we talk a lot about the fact that, while it's important to change gun laws, there are others who say that all of our emphasis should be on
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intervention, that the we should stop these murders before they happen. but as we know, often we can't see these things coming, and the case of matthew tartle was an illustration of this. neighbors said that they never saw any signs of trouble from this household. in fact, one neighbor remembers seeing the father and the son taking walks together through the neighborhood just days and weeks before this happened. matthew's probably going to be a pretty amazing guy, honor roll student, athlete, friendly, happy-go-lucky kid, but in a murder-suicide, he is taken from us as well as his father. another 16-year-old three days beforehand was gunned down in a back yard in a neighborhood of chicago. angel cano was killed with a gunshot wound to the head. he was pronounced dead on the scene, according to the cook county medical examiner's office. his father had brought his
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oldest son to chicago from mexico in 2004 in search of a better life. his father said that his son just desperately wanted to be someone. his son, a 16-year-old, had dreams of becoming a singer or a professional soccer player. he was always down at the local soccer fields, playing soccer endlessly, teaching other young kids how to be better soccer players. at 16, he still had this dream. and yet, at 16 years old, apparently on the way back from the soccer fields that evening, he was gunned down. the police have said it may be gang related, but the family says that angel was never, ever affiliated with any gangs. and then lastly the story of jamica woods. miss woods was 37 years old. the night before she died on may
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20, her boyfriend uploaded pictures onto his facebook page of a shotgun that he had bought at wal-mart, along with pictures of a shotgun shell that he bought at that same wal-mart. he uploaded the pictures because he had already set about a plan to kill his girlfriend the next night. according to police, ms. woods had taken out an emergency protective order against her boyfriend last december, but she had never gone about the process of finalizing it. she was in the process of kicking her boyfriend out when she got killed, and had she just taken a few more steps, it's possible that he never would have been able to buy that gun in the first place. and if she had taken those steps to fill out a protective order, and if that order had been filed and if the wal-mart had run a
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background check and found that protective order, it's possible that she would still be alive today. frankly, there are hundreds if not thousands of men and women across this country who are alive today because of that law, because of that law that came so very close to saving jamica woods. a protective order being filed due to domestic violence, a gun purchase being stopped because of that order. one of the reasons that we have that law on the books today is the advocacy of senator frank lautenberg. senator frank lautenberg who died this week made it his life's cause to try to make the streets of his state of new jersey safer. he was advocating right up until his final days on the floor of this house to an act to ban
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high-capacity magazines like the one that killed 20 little 6 and 7-year-olds in connecticut, but he was successful in passing through this chamber a piece of legislation that keeps guns out of the hands of people who have been convicted of domestic violence. it is a law that has worked. it is a law that has saved the lives of hundreds if not thousands of men and women all across this country, and it's a reminder that this place can do something about the 4,670 people who have died since newtown due to gun violence. frank lautenberg knew that this place had the power to save lives by enacting commonsense gun violence legislation. in his case, just a simple rule that if you have been convicted of domestic violence, maybe you shouldn't get your hands on a gun. senator lautenberg's work is a reminder that whether it's next
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month, later this year or next year, we still have work to do to try to honor the memories of the thousands of victims of gun violence all across this country. i yield back the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan.
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ms. stabenow: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: if there is a quorum call i ask that it be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: madam president, i rise this afternoon to say a few words about the immigration reform bill that as i understand it we will begin discussing next week. and as the son of an immigrant, somebody who came to this country at the age of 17 without a nickel in his pocket and who was able to send his two kids to college, needless to say, i support immigration. our country is unique in the world, our country is great because, in fact, we are the sons and daughters of immigrants, and i think we
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should all be very proud of that. i also want to commend the judiciary committee, senator leahy and senator schumer and senator durbin and all of those people who have been working very, very hard on what i consider to be a good and strong immigration reform bill. and hey strong components of that bill that i would hope that every member of the senate would support. and that is the need for a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country. bringing undocumented workers out of the shadows and giving them legal status will make it more difficult for employers to undercut the wages and benefits of all workers, and in my view will be good for the entire economy. i have always and continue to strongly support the dream act, part of the immigration reform
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bill, to make sure that children of illegal immigrants who are brought into this country by their parents years and years ago are allowed to become citizens. i strongly support a number of the provisions that deal with agriculture. some years ago, madam president, i was in imokolee, florida, where i suspect you have some of the most kphroeuted workers -- exploited workers in america that pick the tomatoes that go throughout this country. i can tell you that in the state of vermont we have dairy farms now that are dependent upon foreign labor, and it's important that we treat those workers with dignity, that we give them legal status. making sure we can come to an approach which provides legal status for agricultural workers is extremely important. and i obviously support making sure that our borders are strong and that we stop illegal immigration as best we can.
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and i applaud the committee for including all of those provisions in the immigration bill that's going to come to the senate, i expect, next week. but let me, mr. president, tell you what i worry about very much and have deep concerns about in terms of the current legislation. let us be clear that while we have made a good step forward in terms of improving our economy as to where it was in the midst of the financial crisis, we still have a long, long way to go. real unemployment in america is not 7.5%. that's official unemployment. real unemployment is closer to 14% if you include those people who have given up looking for work in high unemployment areas and people who are working part time and they want to work full
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time. in other words, if you include unemployment among minorities in this country, if you include the unemployment rates among young people in this country, we continue to have a very, very serious unemployment problem in the united states of america. it's an issue that we have got to deal with. i have a number of ideas that i have to deal with it, but one thing we sure as heck do not want to do is make a bad situation worse. so it seems to me that in a moment when our middle class continues to disappear, when millions of workers are working longer hours for lower wages, when median family income has gone down by $5,000 since 1999, it does not make a lot of sense to me that we have an immigration reform bill which includes a massive increase in temporary guest worker programs
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that will allow large multinational corporations to import hundreds of thousands of temporary blue-collar and white-collar guest workers into this country from overseas. so one of my major concerns here is that i think corporate america is kind of using immigration reform as a means to continue their effort to lower wages in the united states of america, and we must not allow that to happen. mr. president, we all know that we have a serious crisis in terms of a high cost of college education, another issue we are going to be dealing with soon on the floor. but one thing i can say, and i suspect that i speak for a number of other members in congress, is that when we needed to get some financial help in order to pay for college, if we didn't come from families that have a lot of money, we worked
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summertimes. that's what we did. and i find it alarming that within this bill we are looking at a situation in which we are importing a lot of young people from europe and elsewhere into jobs that young people in this country need in the summertime and elsewhere to allow them to get going in terms of their careers and allowing them to make a few bucks in order to help them with their college education. i understand that jobs like being the waiter or waitress or busboy -- and i did some of that when i was a kid -- are not glamorous jobs. but, you know what? they help you a little bit paying for college. it's the same with jobs like being a life guard or working at a front desk at a hotel or resort or being a ski instructor or being a cook or being a chef
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or working in a kitchen or being a chamber maid or landscaper. i understand these are not glamorous jobs that pay huge amounts of money. but if you have to figure out how you're going to pay to go to college in the fall, those jobs help. if you need some experience in getting a career off the ground, those jobs help. and i am really concerned that kids in this country are going to be looking for jobs, and employers are going to say actually we don't have any jobs. that job isn't filled by some young person by eastern europe. i want us to -- that job has been filled by some person from eastern europe. i want us to take that issue into account. i also find it painful to see the j-1 program which theoretically is supposed to bring young people into this country to learn about our culture; it is a program to
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expose young people from around the world to american culture. it is a good thing. i believe young people in america should have the opportunity to go abroad. people from around the world, young people should have the opportunity to learn about america. good thing. but i fear very much that this j-1 program is being exploited by corporations like hershey's and mcdonald's as an effort to simply bring students from abroad to work at low-paying jobs in the united states. mr. president, supporters of the temporary h-2b guest worker program claim that there are not enough americans willing to do these types of jobs. in essence what they are really saying is that american people are too lazy. young people are too lazy to work at these jobs. i do not accept that. i truly do not accept it.
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and i think it is a slap in the face not only to our young people, but to many, many working people who do not have much education, who want to go out and work and earn some money, to say no we're going to have to bring people in from abroad to do those jobs. jobs like waiters and waitresses and chamber maids and life guards, these are not high-tech skilled jobs. these are jobs that our young people can do and need to do. so i have a great concern about the transformation of the j-1 program from being a program dealing with american culture to being one where corporations are exploiting young people from abroad to work in low-pay jobs in the united states. i also find it interesting that
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instead of raising wages in this country to attract workers, what many of these companies are doing is bringing in people from abroad. what supply and demand is about and what we learned in economics 101 in college is that if an employer cannot find a certain type of worker the way you entice that worker is you raise wages. but instead of raising wages, who employers are doing is saying we've got huge amounts of cheap labor all over the world. and instead of raising wages for american workers, we're going to bring in cheap labor from around the world. and i think that that is wrong. and i think as we deal with this legislation as an issue, we have got to address front and center. when we talk about h-2b jobs, what we're talking about are people who work in landscaping. we're talking about amusement
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park workers. we're talking about housekeepers, waiters and waitresses. further, during the summer, businesses are using guest worker programs to hire young people from other countries to be life guards. to be life guards. now maybe i am mistaken, but i kind of think there are young people in this country who are work as lifeguards and hold other positions in some of the resorts all over this country. and we're talking about ski instructors in vermont. i can tell you, mr. president, that in the state of vermont, we have a whole lot of young people who are very good at skiing, who can teach skiing. and we don't need people from europe to take those jobs away from young americans. mr. president, let me be clear, and i find this to be interesting if not ironic, and that is that the same
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corporations and businesses who support a massive expansion in guest worker programs just coincidentally happen to be the same exact corporations who are opposed to raising the minimum wage, the same corporations who support the outsourcing of american jobs, the same corporations that in some cases have reduced wages and benefits for american workers at a time when corporate america is making record-breaking profits. in too many cases the h-2b program for lower-skilled guest workers and the h-1b program for high-skilled guest workers are being used by employers to drive down the wages and benefits of american workers and to replace american workers with cheap labor from abroad. here's what it comes down to. it comes down to supply and demand. and if the employers of this
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country need labor, let them start raising wages for american workers rather than bringing in cheap labor from all over this world. the immigration reform bill that passed the senate judiciary committee could increase the number of low-skilled -- now we're not talking -- and i hear speeches here that we're going to have these genius, high-tech guys who are going to start companies and create all kinds of jobs. great. that's not what we're talking about here. we're talking about an immigration reform bill from the judiciary committee that could increase the number of low-skilled guest workers by as much as 800% over the next five years and could more than triple the number of temporary white-collar guest workers coming in to this country. during the next five years, h-1b high-skilled visas could go from 85,000 to as many as 230,000. the number of h-2b low-skilled visas could go from 65,000 to as many as 325,000.
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and the new w-visa program for low-skilled workers could go as high as 200,000. the first question that members have got to ask ourselves and the american people have got to ask ourselves is unemployment throughout america in arizona, oklahoma, vermont, michigan, is it so low that right now we desperately need more and more foreign workers to fill jobs that americans can't fill? now the high-tech industry tells us that they need the h-1b program so they can hire the best and the brightest science, technology, engineering and math workers in the world, and that there aren't enough qualified american workers in these fields. and let me be the first to admit in some cases i believe that that is true. i've spoken to employers in vermont. i suspect it is true all over this country, that there are areas where companies cannot
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find the skilled workers that they need. they need employees from abroad. and to the degree that's true, let us address that issue. but let us also give you some facts which suggest that may not be quite as true as some of the employers and corporations are saying. mr. president, in 2010, 54% of h-1b guest workers were employed in entry-level jobs. so the argument is, hey, we need all of these brilliant guys who are going to start companies, create jobs. 54% in 2010 of the h-1b guest workers were employed in entry-level jobs and performed -- and i quote -- "routine tasks requiring limited judgment" -- end of quote -- according to general accounting office. in 2010, the official u.s. unemployment rate averaged more than 9.6% per month.
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why couldn't these type of jobs be performed by americans? so again the point is -- i know some of my friends are saying every one of these guys is some genius who is going to start a company. i wish that were the case. many of these are lower-wage entry-level jobs that certainly american workers could do. further, only 6% of h-1b visas were given to workers with highly specialized skills in 2010, that's the issue i keep hearing about, highly specialized skills, but only 6% of h-1b visas went to those folks. more than 80% of h-1b guest workers are paid wages that are less than american workers in comparable positions, according to the economic policy institute. over 9 million americans have degrees in a stem-related field, but only about 3 million have a
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job in that area. last year, mr. president, the top ten employers of h-1b guest workers were all offshore outsourcing companies. let me repeat that. one of the great crises that we have faced in the last 30 years is that companies have shut down in america, moved abroad, and got cheap labor abroad. the top ten employers of h-1b guest workers were all offshore outsourcing companies. these firms are responsible for shipping huge numbers of american information technology jobs to india and other countries. nearly half of all h-1b visas go to offshore outsourcing firms while less than 3% of them apply to become permanent residents. further, half of all recent college graduates majoring in computer and information services -- information science in the united states did not
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receive jobs in the information technology sector. so, in other words, we have large numbers of americans who are graduating with degrees that can handle these jobs, and yet we're bringing in large numbers of people from abroad do them. doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. mr. president, not only would the senate immigration bill greatly expand the number of h-1b guest workers, it also would provide an unlimited number of green cards to foreign graduate whose receive a master's degree for a ph.d. in a stem-related field. if we are going to provide green cards to every foreign student with an advanced stem degree, what purpose does the h-1b program serve other than to suppress the wages of american workers who are already struggling? at the very least, i believe we should prohibit offshore outsourcing firms from hiring temporary guest workers. mr. president, under the senate immigration bill, the number of college-educated h-1b guest
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workers and stem green cardholders who are under 30 years of age will exceed the number of jobs that are available for young information technology graduates. what message does that send to young people in our country who are interested in pursuing careers in information technology? making matters even worse, i am very concerned that senator hatch was able to gut the very modest reforms to the h-1b program designed to prevent companies from replacing american workers with h-1b guest workers. at a minimum, it is essential that those pro-worker reforms be put back into the bill before it is passed by the full senate. mr. president, this country was built by immigrants. i'm a son of an immigrant -- many of us are. we are a nation, i believe, that wants to see comprehensive immigration reform passed. i certainly do.
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and, again, i want to congratulate all of those people who have worked on this bill because there are a lot of very, very important and positive provisions in there. but, mr. president, i think we have to improve that bill as it leaves committee and as it comes down here to the floor of the senate. what we want to make certain is that at a time when it country continuation to struggle economically, when millions of people are working longer hours for lower wages, when minority uemployment is extraordinarily high, we do not want to take any action that lowers wages or increasing unemployment for american workers. so i think, again, my congratulations to those who have worked 0ening this bill, but -- who worked on this bill, but we have a whole lot of work to do as the bill reaches the floor and i intend to be working with my colleagues to make those improvements. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. mr. mccain: mr. president?
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the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: mr. president, i say to the senator from vermont, i appreciate much of what he had to say, and i look forward to working with him to see what -- how we can best reflect some -- address some of his very legitimate concerns. i would point out to my friend from vermont that we are -- there is going to be a requirement for any of these foreign workers that, first, the job be tie advertised in a variy of ways to make sure there is no american worker who would take these jobs. and i hope that that is, to some degree, resolves some of his differences. i paid close attention to his statement, and i look forward to addressing some of those very legitimate concerns. i thank the senator. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up mccain amendment 956, and i ask
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unanimous consent to dispense with the reading of the amendment. ms. landrieu: i object. the presiding officer: is there objection? ms. landrieu: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. landrieu: reserving the right to object -- and i have some difficulty with the senator's amendment that he wants to discuss -- but until -- i've been trying to get a vote on amendment 1113, that one of the members from the other side is holding up on, on flood insurance. until we get things worked out, i hope the senator from arizona will appreciate the predicament we're in. i am happy for the senator to discuss his amendment. but to call up an amendment to have any kind of vote on the amendment, i would have to object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. mccain: mr. president, i appreciate the senator from louisiana allowing me to discuss my amendment. i think i'll do that at another time, although i'm deeply appreciative. i'd like the statement included in the record, and i would just like to say to the distinguished managers of the bill, we really
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are -- there are a number of amendments. my colleague from oklahoma has them. and it is going to be regrettable if we're not able to take up and address these amendments. it is not really what we had agreed to when we took up the bill, but -- so i hope that there will be another opportunity. i yield the floor. ms. landrieu: mr. president? the presiding officer: without objection, the statement will be placed in the record. ms. landrieu: mr. president, may i -- the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. ms. landrieu: -- speak for just five minutes? i don't know if there's any rule on the floor. i ask unanimous consent. mr. president, i did not like at all objecting to senator mccain's amendment, but i'm compelled to because i've been literally trying for several weeks now -- not just on this bill but on a previous bill -- to get a vote, just a vote -- i'll even take a 60-vote threshold; i'm not asking for a 53-vote threshold. i'm asking for a 60-vote
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threshold on amendment that will make it clear that we could grandfather in flood insurance rates until an affordability study -- that was supposed to be done -- is done. now, the interesting thing about this is that my amendment has no score. it doesn't cost the federal government anything, if this amendment were to pass. it is a zero score. it simply delays for three years a certain category of flood insurance premiums until an affordability study can be conducted, with zero score. unfortunately, the senator from pennsylvania, to my knowledge, is still holding up this amendment. so i know that there are other republicans that would like to offer amendments, but i am going to object to the offering or voting on any republican amendments until the senator from pennsylvania allows me to have a vote on my amendment. now, i hate to be here because i
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don't like being in this position. but i have no choice, because i can't even get the republicans to vote on the flood insurance amendment. they could vote "no," they -- the amendment may not pass. i think i have the 60 votes to pass it. i would hope. we've explained it. it's important shal, not just to louisiana, to new york, even west virginia has some issues. and please understand -- i have a lot of respect for senator coburn -- i know this program has to be self-sustaining over time. no one depends on it being is he-sustaining than -- no one depends on it being self-sustaining than people in florida and louisiana and california. there is a way that's going to blow up the dreams of people that built their homes according to efficiently floo official fld
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everything they were supposed to under the official flood maps. then when the maps changed, their rates can go up 25% compounded for the next five years, not only pricing them out of the market, it makes their homes unsellable and it affects community banks in these communities. this is not just a louisiana issue. i'm proud that i advocate so much for my state that when people come here they say -- when they see me, they say, oh, there she goes again, advocating for louisiana. i wear that as a badge of honor. let me be clear. my state has the 32 lowest kind of rate of insurance on these claims. i'm not even in the top three. this is affecting states -- and i read them out earlier. the top ten states affects are rhode island, connecticut, massachusetts, vermont, new york, maine, new new jersey, illinois, michigan, indiana,
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iowa, california, and ohio. these are states with the highest premiums now, and they could double or triple -- actually almost triple in the next five years. now maybe some of these rates need to go up. some, interestingly, when the recalculations are done, some of the rates around the country will go down. i am not disagreeing with that. what i am disagreeing with is the rapid rate at which it is going to happen, and it is going to have catastrophic, in my view, effects on many communities, not all but many, and i happen to represent some of those that it will. so my realtors have asked me to stand up for this, my homebuilders have called concerned, my community bankers are very, very concerned about this. so i want to just thank the thor from michiga -- so i want to juk the senator from michigan and the senator from mississippi. i know they are doing their very best job to manufacture this forward. i think -- their very best job
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to move this forward. i think they've been very fair. i have been very patient. i have not objected to many amendments. the irony of this is, mr. president, even representative toomey's amendment, my friend from pennsylvania, who was going to end a program that was vitally important to my state, i even allowed him to have a vote on that. i mean, a terrible amendment for louisiana. now, we were happy we beat the amendment. but i even allowed him to have a debate. i could have stopped it. i'm one senator here. one senator can stop anything. but i'm not trying to stop. i'm just trying to advance a vote on flood insurance. so i would ask the senators -- senator coburn and senator mccain, maybe they could be more convincing to their colleague from pennsylvania than i've been able to be, but i just have to stay on the record -- and if i have to stay on the floor until the end of the week, i am going to stay here. but i am going to object to any republican amendment until we
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get an amendment -- a vote on the landrieu-vitter, et al -- schumer, gillibrand, menendez, and our good friend senator lautenberg, who just passed, was also a supporter of this. and i'd like to keep his name on it, if i could. so, any washings i yield the floo-- so, anyway, i yieldthe fm oklahoma. mr. coburn: i can somewhat associate with the remarks from the senator from louisiana. we've unwound because we don't want to have real debates and real votes. we just fixed the flood insurance program. we didn't fix it well enough, and if senator landrieu is allowed her amendment, i'll vote against it. but i think she ought to be able to have her amendment. the whole fact is that the reason the senate isn't working is because we want to use a
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procedure that was never before been used except in the last two or three years in this body, and that is to limit a senator's right to offer an amendment. and the fact is, as senator landrieu may in fact win her amendment. but there's another chance the house may not go a lon along wi. she wasn't for us raising the flood insurance to the extent we did. we didn't raise it to the extent to make it healthy yet. the flood insurance program has operated through fema. i am the ranking member on that subcommittee. but the fact is she ought to be allowed to have her amendment. i agree with that. so what i'm going to do is i'm going to go through and painfully talk about every amendment i have for the farm bill, and i understand there's going to be objections to it, and i'm a big boy. but if there's objections to
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mine, and even if senator landrieu'landrieu's gets clearem going to object to everybody else's until mine get cleared. we can start acting like grown-ups --. if you are not capable of defending your vote, you don't have any business being here in the first place. but to not vote, to not allow the managers of the bill to operate the bill the way they want to operate it and put it all on the table and actually -- because the majority leader is going to file cloture. and so all these amendments are going to fall, which may be pleasing to the managers. i don't know. and only the germane amendments are going to be available and then they're going to be under a time constraint. so the american people will get cheated out of a full and rigorous debate on things that ought to be changed in this bill. so i'm going to act like the amendments are approved, even though they're not. i am going to debate the amendments, offer every one of them, and i am going to let the senator from louisiana object,
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and then she can explaining to her constituents the dysfunction of the senate and it doesn't just happen on the republican side, i'd remind my colleague from louisiana. there's plenty of unilateral objections on the other side. and if we're going to operate this way, then nothing is going to happen in the senate. and so with that, i will begin -- i will be happy to yield for a question. ms. stabenow: thank you. mr. president, i just want, before you proceed with your unanimous consent request, just to ask the senator if he would agree when we brought the farm bill to the floor the last time, that we had 73 votes and we did -- it was done in a large agreement, that we worked through every one of them, and i agree that my preference is to be able, as i know our distinguished ranking member is, to work through amendments and to have votes and so on. would you agree that that process last time worked?
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and i know my friend didn't end up voting for the final bill, but we did work through a process of 75 votes. i -- of 75 votes. i think it was a really long day. two days actually. and that would be the good way to proceed on this bill. mr. coburn: i agree. ms. stabenow: and so we -- mr. president, i will certainly yield back to my friend. but just to indicate that that's what we have been working on doing. we do in fact have objections from various members for various reasons. but we have been spending our time hoping to come up with even postclotur-- even postcloture ie our desire to come up with a finite list of amendments that we could then move forward to vote on. i am very happy to have votes -- additional votes on the bill. mr. coburn: mr. president? i'd ask that the pending amendment be set are aside and coburn amendment 1003 be called up. the presiding officer: is there 0,?
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-- is there objection? objection is heard. burning bun mr. coburn: i am gok about this amendment. let me set the stage for this. we are going to have somewhere between a $500 billion and $00 billion deficit. we have got $17.5 trillion worth of debt today. what this amendment does is it prohibits people who are tax evaders from receiving government assistance including grants, contracts, loans, and tax credits provided in the farm bill, with the exception of snap. so we're still going to take care of food provision, even if they refuse to pay their taxes. we're still going to provide them food. but we're not going to allow, with this amendment, them to take advantage of other programs within the farm or any other area that's associated with direct grants, associated with the ag bill. the most critical issues facing our country today -- and everybody knows how to solve it
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-- we know what has to be done to save medicare. we know what has to be done to save social security. we know we need to reform the tax code so that we generate more jobs, we generate more income to the effect. we know all that. -- to the federal government. we know all that. but we have billions of dollars is that is owed, it is not uncontested. it is not being contested. that's owed and then we turn around to the same people that owe you billions of dollars -- that owe us billions of dollars and give them programs, benefits, whether it be conservation payments, crop insurance, whatever it is, we turn around and give them money. i think the average tax-paying american doesn't gray we that. part of -- doesn't agree with that. part of being a responsible citn is paying taxes. so we're not talking about disputes, we're talking about settled agreements that are not
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being paid and they continue not to be paid and it's billions of dollars. this would not apply if the current individual is currently paying the taxes, interest and penalties that are owed to the i.r.s. that the i.r.s. and individual have worked out >> compromise on the -- out a compromise on the taxes, interest and penalty and in the process of being repaid. the individual has not exhausted his or her right to due process under the law. the individual filed a joint return and successfully contends that he or she should not be fully liable for the taxes in a joint return or because of something that the other party to the return did or did not do. further, this provision would not apply to snap payments provided in the bill. farm income is subject to very little scrutiny in reporting requirements. in fact, there was a 78% reporting gap in farm income reported to the i.r.s. just last year. 78% gap. this is by far the largest gap
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in individual income reporting to the i.r.s. in a time of strict budgets and many in washington are calling for increased revenue, it's inappropriate for us to continue to provide funding to individuals who owe back taxes and aren't in compliance with their obligations. total taxes owed in the united states in 2006 were $2.66 trillion. the gross tax gap for that year, taxes owed but not collected, was $450 billion. the net tax gap in 2006, taxes still not paid after late payments are enforced, is still $385 billion. the president wants another $600 billion or $800 billion. what we have to do is start figuring out a way to collect the actions that are already owed us. acorresponding to the internal revenue -- according to the internal revenue service, the amount actually owed and actually collected is $385 billion. that's the most recent data the
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i.r.s. can give us, five years old data. $28 billion that was owed was because people failed to file. underpayment was $46 billion. and intentional underreporting of income was $376 billion. so what this amendment does is it just puts a prohibition, says you can't have this money if you owe "x" money and it's settled. it's not under dispute. so it's not about not giving people their rights. it's already been adjudicated. now, why would we not want to do that with the farm bill? can you think of a reason why we wouldn't want the people who owe taxes, who already have agreed that they owe the taxes and we're going to give them money and they're not going to pay the taxes that they owe the federal government? it's a commonsense amendment. we're not going to get a vote on that. and we're not going to get a vote on it because we have cowardly, members of the senat
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senate -- and i'm not talking about the senator from louisiana -- who refuse to come down here and voice their objections to bills and refuse to debate why they won't allow an amendment that does something for the future, that actually make a difference in a kid's life in the future, that will actually, actually increase some income so we can afford the -- the -- the flood insurance program that we have, they won't come down and debate it and express an opinion why they won't allow a vote on it. it dishonors the senate. mr. president, i ask the pending amendment be set aside and amendment number 1004 be called up. ms. landrieu: mr. president, i'm going to have to object to that as well but i know the senator is going to want to speak about it. thank you. mr. coburn: this amendment ends conservation payments to
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millionaires, people who make a million bucks a year. now, we have a rule at the usda that says people making a million dollars a year aren't supposed to get these payments. but guess what the usda does? they waive the payment -- they waive the rule. and what this amendment would do is say you can't waive the rule. if you -- again, talking about our debt. the very well-heeled, the very well-connected are getting the majority of the conservation payments in this country. they're the ones most capable of doing conservation on their own land and do. but now they do it with the assistance of mine or the president pro tempore's grandchildren. because what we're actual doing is paying them -- actually doing is paying them dollars that our grandkids are going to get to pay back. what we're doing with this program is incentivizing people
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to do what they're already going to do in their best interests. and all i'm saying is enforce the rule, the law today; do not give the department of agriculture the ability to waive if somebody's making a million dollars a year, they don't need our help right now. our kids need that help. our grandkids need that help. our schools need that help. they don't need that help. a senator: will the senator yield for actually a fais -- ifi might, a question and clarification. mr. coburn: yes. a senator: you have good news for the senator. based on the fact that we took the amendments from last time, his language was in the bill, it was accepted last time. it was part of the 73 amendments
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that were offered. and as i had indicated earlier, we included everything that was in fact passed by the senate on the floor last time so that people would know that their amendments were included in the bill. mrs. stab mao: there was one exception to that which was the -- ms. stabenow: there was one exception to that which is the coburn-durbin amendment but that was revoted on and is now a part of the bill. but on page 309, section 2610, adjusted gross income limitation for conservation program. so the senator's correct. it was passed last time. and the good news is that it is in the bill. mr. coburn: well, i thank the chairman of the committee. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. coburn: i will double-check that with my staff. this excludes something that was in the bill so i'll have to look at what the old bill said to be able to concur with that. if that's the case, then there shouldn't be any problem with accepting this amendment if, in fact, it's not complete.
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because it's the intent of the authors, both the chairman and the ranking member, that this limitation be a part of this farm bill. ms. stabenow: we certainly will work with you and look at the intent and that is the intent. and i would also just in passing indicate that -- that hopefully we will have an opportunity, as we come to a universe of amendments, as we did last year, to have the senator's previous amendment that he talked about, which is also one that i suppo support. so as we work through this, again, what we need to do is what we did last time, is to come up with a universe -- can be large, small -- and put in the interest of time make sure a variety of senators have the opportunity to offer different amendments as well, not just one or two senators but that a number of senators have the opportunity to. and hopefully members will be willing to come together and put together a list that includes
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senator landrieu's flood insurance amendment, which is absolutely critical. we have other amendments, senator grassley has an amendment we've been working on to pair with senator landrieu that we'd like very much to put together. and i would be very interested in including senator coburn's 1003, which he talked about previously, because i think it makes sense. so right now we're at a point where we've just got to get people positively working together on a list that we can move through together. but the good news is, senator coburn, that the one that you are speaking about i believe is as you had offered it last time but we'll be happy to work with you. mr. coburn: i thank the chairman of the committee. omr. president, i ask the pendig amendment be set aside and amendment 1005 be called up. the presiding officer: is there objection? ms. landrieu: i object. the presiding officer: objection is her. mr. coburn: mr. president, three
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and a half years ago, with the debt limit increase, my colleagues and i overwhelmingly voted to ask the g.a.o. to study duplicative programs in the federal government. and this last april they gave the third and what will be a continuing rollout of the programs in the federal government. and i would just say that the director of the o.m.b. followed another amendment that i offered directing all the programs of the federal government be published. now, they made their first stab at that this last week and direct thdirector burwell, who e utmost confidence in at o.m.b., a stellar individual, made the first attempt at that. the problem is, is what is a program in the federal government because there's no definition? so we've got a rough start in an attempt to do that. but what the g.a.o. has done -- and their magnificent employees -- over the last 3 1/2
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years, have identified at least $250 billion of waste and duplication that we ought to be getting rid of. and here's an amendment that's not highly prescriptive but recognizes what g.a.o. told us about food assistance programs, domestic food assistance programs. and we didn't make any attempt in this bill to streamline those or consolidate them or put metrics on them, and so what this amendment does is try to bring that together through the usda to put, number one, metrics on them. number two, combine the ones that are duplicative, so that we can actually be effective in what we intend to be but also be efficient. those are two words that hardly ever happen in washington. efficiency and effectiveness. and so what -- what this
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amendment does is the g.a.o. finds signs of overlap and inefficient uses and resources within the 18 different programs. now, we have 18 different programs. three of them are outside of the department of agriculture. one of them is in homeland security. first of all, there shouldn't be a food assistance program outside of the department of homeland security. two of them are h.h.s. so we shouldn't have duplicative bureaucracies in those other two departments when we've got a bureaucracy in agriculture. but of those 18 programs, what they found was the following -- 11 of the 18 programs, there was not enough research to even determine -- in other words, the agency didn't have the research, whether or not the programs were effective. we don't know if what we're doing is working, because never when we pass these programs do we require a metric or some type of method to assess their
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effectiveness. and so that's one of the things this amendment will do. and it allows the department of agriculture to do that. as a matter of fact, it mandates that they'll do it. is it effective? what parameters are you using to say they are effective? in other words, if the american taxpayers are going to spend money on this program, ought they not know whether or not it works? i mean, only in washington do we do programs and not know whether they work or not and not ask whether or not they work. so 11 of the 18 programs, there's not enough knowledge even in the department of agriculture to know whether they're working. what this amendment does is it requires the department of agriculture to evaluate the following programs -- child and adult care food program, community food projects competitive program, the community food shelter national board program, the grants to american indian, alaskan native and native hawaiian program,
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organizations for nutrition and support services program, the food distribution program on indian reservations program, the fresh fruit and vegetable program, the senior farmer market nutrition program, the summer food service program, the emergency food assistance program and the w.i.c. farmers nutritional program. now, let me just mention one of these. the summer food service program that was announced by kotv in tulsa, oklahoma, just last night, no matter who you are, they're going to feed you two meals a day in the summer. whether you make $100,000 a year or whether you really are in need of a meal. so, first of all, we have got a problem with that program. we ought to be giving food to people who need food, not to people who don't need food. smart people will take advantage of that and say man, i can get two meals a day and i'm not in need, but since it's free, i'm
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going to take it. and last summer, we served 180,000 meals in tulsa. and a large proportion of those weren't to people in need. so i have no objection to helping people who have need, but here's a program that has no limits on it and has no metrics on it, and it's a wide-open program, well intentioned, but there is not a metric and there is not a limitation. so all we are saying with this amendment is if those 10 programs, the department of agriculture determine whether or not they are effective, and, by the way, how did you determine that? what were the parameters that you used to do that? that's just common sense. why wouldn't we want to know if the programs are working, why wouldn't we want to know if they are efficient and effective? why shouldn't we look at it when we're running -- you know, we're down to 24 cents on the dollar that we're just borrowing against our kids' future from
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48, and that's because of the economy growing last year to the tune of $360 billion coming in and $620 billion over the next ten years in tax increases on the very wealthy in this country. so we're down to 24 cents but we're still borrowing 24 cents out of every dollar we spend. why would we not want to spend the time to make sure these programs are effective and efficient? so it's very straightforward. this amendment also eliminates one program, the commodity supplemental moves program and moves any incomplete or ongoing projects to the appropriate usda program. usda proposed eliminating this program themselves which targets low-income pregnant women and children and persons, but
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congress continues to fund the program. that's the reason i want to get rid of it, because we already have programs that duplicate this one, and yet here we find it's still going to get funded again, still going to get authorized again, and even the usda says we don't need this program. so it's the only program that we have. in 2012, the program was funded at $177 million, and it duplicates snap, grants, native american, home-delivered nutrition programs. in other words, usda already recognizes that it's a duplicative program. they have asked for it to be eliminated. we didn't eliminate it. and so this amendment would eliminate it. this amendment also eliminates the seniors farmers market nutrition programs and moves the nonduplicative function to the w.i.c. farmers market nutrition program. both of these programs do exactly the same thing. they provide grants to participating states to offer vouchers and coupons and electronic benefit cards to low-income participants that may be used in farmers markets,
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roadside stands and other approved venues to purchase fresh produce. they provide exactly the same assistance to women, children and seniors and should be combined. g.a.o. says they should be combined. usda says they should be combined but they are not combined in the bill. all the cost savings from the elimination of these consolidations and thee eliminations are directed towards providing food assistance. in other words, none of the money comes back out, it goes back in through programs that have proven to be effective. it also -- this amendment also directs the usda to coordinate with health and human services administration on aging to identify for overlap, duplication between the programs providing food to the services on indian reservations where we have a real need. so we're not just looking for duplication. we're looking for gaps in service. and it also requires them to report their recommendations back to congress.
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and since i don't want to use my big slides today, i'll use my small slide. here is the food assistance programs, all 18 of them. 15 run through the department of agriculture, two run through h.h.s. and one through homeland security. and yet, g.a.o. says you can collapse these 18 into ten and be more effective, get better nutrition to the people at-risk groups, and we've not done it. so it's like we asked g.a.o. to do all this work and then we didn't pay any attention to it. mr. president, i would ask that the pending amendment be set aside and amendment 1006 be called up. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: a senator: i object.
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will the senator yield? the presiding officer: i will yield for a question but i will not give up my time. i will not yield the floor. i will be happy to yield for a question. ms. landrieu: i would ask the senator, does he know that some of us are very threatic with the -- very sympathetic with the amendments he is offering and does he know that some of us would actually like to vote on some of those amendments? i'm sure is he aware that i'm really sorry that i have to object, but it is the only way i can get my amendment up. mr. coburn: i would just respond to the senator from louisiana, i have no ill will towards her objections. i stated it plainly before. i believe the senate ought to consider any and all prior to cloture, any and all. i think senators have the right to offer anything that they think is pertinent to this country right now on any bill that's going through here. i have used that tactic for the first three years i was in the senate. nobody objected. and now that we have become so partisan that we -- and so cowardly that we are afraid to vote on issues and that we abuse
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the rights in the senate to the detriment of the whole body, i hold no ill will against you for you objecting. but the point is is the country's the worse off for it, and i'm sure some of my colleagues don't want to have to vote on some of my amendments, i understand that. but there is amendments i don't like voting on either, but i don't have any problem going home and taking a stand. and the fact is that if we can figure out what we're for and what we're against, and, you know, the fact when it goes through here doesn't mean it's wrong. what it means, it has to be conferenced with the house. and we ought to let it roll. we ought to open the spigot up, have the votes in the senate. we used to have votes 10 and 12 at a time. we used to do bills, come down all morning long, be offering amendments, have committee hearings in the afternoon and come down at 4:00 and vote on nine, ten, eight amendments. the next day we would do the
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same thing and the next day we would do the same thing. so the fact is if you really want to get our country back, if you really want the confidence of the american people to return to those that represent them in washington, we have got to start saying, you know, can't win everything, going to try. if i lose, i lose, but i tried hard. and that's how we ought to play the game. the fact that we have people abusing the process on both sides, not just one side. you know, i will never forget former senator akaka, one of the loveliest men i have ever met in my life, when i first came to the senate and offered an amendment that wasn't germane, he objected to it, and one of my colleagues stood up and said senator akaka, do you really mean that because we don't really -- you have to understand where that starts. if you object to his amendment, that means in the future i'm going to be objecting to your amendment, and that we have not ever done that and what we actually want is a free-wheeling, open amendment process so that people can be heard. the fact is i represent four million people. the senators from california
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represent 37 million. everybody's voice ought to be heard. we each ought to be able to have our voice. we each ought to be able to offer amendments. we each ought to be able to get votes on those amendments. what are we afraid of? is the next election really that important that we don't want to allow people to offer their ideas? in what used to be the greatest deliberative body. it certainly isn't now. it's not anywhere close. do we really not want ideas to be proffered and debated and the american people to understand what's at stake? i mean, what i have offered today, maybe not everybody would agree with, but you can't agree that it doesn't make sense, that it's not common sense, that we shouldn't be more efficient, more effective, that we shouldn't worry about the future as we worry about the present, that we ought not to be spending 24 cents out of every dollar by borrowing it from other people in the world or having ben
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bernanke print it at the federal reserve. we can solve these problems. the grown-ups need to stand up. and say we're going to have debate, we're going to have amendments, even if we don't like them. so i have no ill will towards the senator from louisiana. i have ill will for the process that has devolved, and i think it's a shame that the american people are being shortchanged by the lack of debate, the lack of votes. this amendment, even though objected to, is, i think, another critical area where we haven't got our eye on the ball properly, and this is an amendment that relates to the specialty crop block grant program. and what it does, in this bill it's been increased, the amount of money has been increased to $70 million a year, and it was
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at $55 million in 2012. and there is nothing wrong with having this block grant program, but i want to show you how we can save $75 million over the next five years and $75 million isn't chump change. it's $75 million. the amendment freezes spending for the specially block crop grant of $55 million authorized by the bill, and what the amendment does, it prioritizes food safety and access to affordable foods for school children and low-income families. one-third of the projects funded by the specially cropped block grant program last year were for marketing and promotion. they weren't for kids. they weren't for seniors. they were spending money to promote. now, let me show you who got the money. let's say we spent money to promote the emotional benefits of real flowers and plants in
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the home. that's got to be a priority right now, isn't it? we're going to borrow $500 billion this year and we're going to spend money to make sure that everybody in america knows what the emotional value of having real flowers and plants in the home is? that's a priority right now. how about grant funds for float a travels to fairs and festivals to encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables. that's got to be a priority. we're going to pay for a float that goes around so we can promote -- people know they need to eat more. could we spend that dollar in a better way and get a better effect? how about wine receptions and tasting receptions --way the market access program covers that but we take home from this blantd program and promote wines in china and taiwan. we do it also with the market access program. here's an absolute direct duplication and we're spending millions of dollars promoting something that we have another
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program that's designed to promote it for. we didn't do anything about that. how about a short video showing -- showcasing pear growers and promote state wines in mexico and india. again, duplication of what the market access program does. but we take specialty crop block grant program, we got one program for market access and promotion and then we take a different program and use it for exactly the same thing. specifically the amendment requires that no less than 80% of the total funding appropriated for the specialty crop block grant program be spent on the following -- increased, affordability of children, youth, and families at risk including but not limited to specialty crops for meals served in schools and food banks, ensuring food safety,
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protecting crops from plants, pests and disease and production of specialty crops. that's what it was originally set up for, by the way. it wasn't set up to promote wines in india or china or taiwan or brazil or mexico. so part of it is the way we wrote the bill that allows usda to give grants that go outside the original purposes of it. funds can still be spent on marketing promotion but not at the expense of crops and consumers. mr. president, i ask the pending amendment be set aside and coburn amendment 1007 be called up. the presiding officer: is there objection? ms. landrieu: reserving the right to object. could i ask the good senator from oklahoma since he's talked about three amendments, could i just ask unanimous consent for my amendment to see if anybody would object to it?
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mr. coburn: i'd be happy to yield the time, a limited time for to you ask that unanimous consent. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. landrieu: i'll try to do this in less than three minutes. i ask unanimous consent the pending amendment be set aside and the following amendments be made pending in block, landrieu 1113, johnson 1117, cardin 11 a 59, and grassley, 1097, that the time until 5:00 p.m. be today be equally divided and controlled in the usual form and that at 5:00 the senate proceed to a vote on the amendments in the order listed. there be two amendments of debate prior to each vote, no second-degree amendments to be in order to any of the amendments prior to the votes and amendments be subject to a 60 afimple tiff-vote threshold. i'd like to add that i would not object to having one of senator coburn's amendments since he's been on the floor added to this list but this was the list i was given to ask, just four amendments, one is -- two on flood insurance, and the
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grassley amendment is on --ates freedom of information, the grassley amendment is freedom of information regarding e.p.a. and so we would have votes, all of them would require 60 votes, both sides have a side-by-side which we sometimes do in this body so if people want to vote no they can have smog to vote yes for. this is the most reasonable way i could present this list to try to help us get a vote on flood insurance in another important amendment to senator grassley, a republican, i'm a democrat, senator grassley is a republican, so it's very balanced on each side, and i'd like to ask unanimous consent to try to get a vote this afternoon. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: reserving the right to object. the senator from louisiana's proposing an amendment that i strongly disagree with the substance on. despite that, i don't object to
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her having a vote on her amendment. what i object to is the fact that there are only four senators who get to have amendments here. we have a list here of maybe a dozen, maybe it's 15 amendments that senators from our side have been requesting to have considered and they've been objected to all week long. now we're told that soon we can expect the majority leader to file a cloture motion on the bill which will lead to shut shutting off this bill entirely. this seems to me a clear strategy to block amendments. now, so far, we've had ten roll call amendments on this bill. of those three have been republicans, and last year the farm bill had 42 roll call votes. so what i would like to do, we can work this out right now as far as i'm concerned, if these amendments could be made in order, maybe there are others
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on your side, i would welcome them, i have no objection to the senator from louisiana having a vote on her amendment but i just don't think we ought to be doing just these four or some subset thereof and continuing to shut out all the other senators who have been trying to get their amendments agreed to. so for that reason i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. landrieu: i'm going to respond just -- the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. ms. landrieu: i'll relinquish the floor to the leaders, they've been doing a great job but i want to thank the senator from pennsylvania because this is real progress. he said he's not going to object to a vote on our flood insurance amendment, i really appreciate that. because i know that he has strong objections to it. i may not win the vote but the people in my state have asked me to do everything i can to fight for them. this is a really serious issue in the state of louisiana and in texas and in florida and in
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rhode island and in maine and in massachusetts and in vermont. and even in pennsylvania. so i thank the senator and let me just yield the floor back to the chairman or the chairman of the committee to see what could potentially be worked out. i'm so happy the senator is not going to object to a flood insurance amendment if we can ever get to one. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma has the floor. does the senator from oklahoma yield? mr. coburn: i will yield to the chairman of the committee. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: i realize the senator from oklahoma has the floor and wishes to continue with his amendments. i just want to speak to all the members on the floor as well as those in their offices. because as everyone knows, again, to harken back to the last time around that we did this and we had 73 amendments, not all of them took a record roll call vote, but we came up with a finite list. it was 73, it was a big list, but we came up with a list.
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that's what we're trying to do now. we've been working with colleagues, we want that list, no one wants that more than i do and senator cochran to come up with a group of amendments so everyone knows what we'll be voting on and we can begin to move through that. i indicated that we had included the amendments we voted on on the floor last time. i did make one error, my staff reminded me of, there was one we did vote on that's not in here which was senator mccain's amendment on catfish. that was not included in deference to those who had objected, so -- but everything else that was of substance, as i understand, is in the underlying bill. i also do want to make note that the distinguished senator from oklahoma did have a significant amendment that came very early in this process, and in fact it was one that i did not support. he won his amendment, we could
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have blocked it, i could have objected because i don't support the policy, but did not do that, and the senator's amendment did pass, even though i voted no, and do not support what -- so from my perspective as the chair of the committee i'm happy to have debate, i'm happy -- i'm happier when i win than when i lose but i'm happier to have -- happy to have debate. we want to put together a universe of amendments. right now we don't at this point have time to go through 150 amendments. so what we've got to do is find out what is a priority for everyone, put together a finite list, we're going to continue to work on that. if the majority leader files cloture we can still continue to do that. we can put together a finite list list, vitiate the cloture vote and move to a group of amendments. that would be my preference.
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i know it would be senator cochran's preference as well. so we're going to continue to work on that whether cloture is filed or not, see if we can't come together with a group of amendments and hopefully we'll able to get that begun dunn. that's my preference on how to do a bill. we'll continue to try to do that to make that happen. i appreciate the time with the senator from oklahoma yielding and will continue to work with him as well as all members to move through to a place where we can have an opportunity for amendments to be offered in a timely manner and be able to get the bill done. mr. coburn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from is there objection to the request of the senator from oklahoma. to set aside the pending amendment. ms. stabenow: on behalf of senator landrieu, i would object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. coburn: mr. president, i think i'm starting to hear the senate starting to work the way it should. and so i'm going to offer --
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i'm going to wait until the chairman of the committee is finished with her conversation. i'm going to offer a unanimous consent request that the list that she presently has with the ranking member, the senator from mississippi, of a large number of amendments be considered as read and in order, that list that you proffered that went through both -- both cloakrooms this afternoon, unanimous consent that be agreed to and those be filed and be considered. ms. stabenow: reserving the right to object. the presiding officer: is there objection? ms. stabenow: reserving the right to object, mr. president. that is, unfortunately, an unrealistic motion from my perspective. we have got to work with members, many members, including the senator who is speaking, have multiple amendments, and we need to get a list of priorities from people so that we have a smaller list
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that we can work with to be able to get this done in a timely manner, and so i would object at this point. i would like very much to see us put together a list, but to do this in a way where some members have many, many, many amendments and others -- mr. coburn: since an objection has been heard, it was my understanding you had an agreed-upon list you sent to both cloakrooms. failing that, what i would propose based on what i've heard out here this afternoon is you put it together and let's try it. let's ask unanimous consent. the fact is the chairman and ranking member of this committee have worked hard to get this bill. we can move this bill. but one thing you said in your statement, a finite list. that's fine. what we want to do is have an open amendment process so as you
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consider that, let's move it. and here's what will happen. and here's what used to happen in the senate for my colleagues that are newly here. people would file all sorts of amendments, including me. and about half of them you wouldn't bring up. so we don't know in this universe of 150 how many are really serious, how many are done to file an amendment and to make a statement like i did on one amendment, changing the name of snap. i have no intention of calling that up. but to making the statement about what -- if it's really nutrition, supplemental nutrition access program. but what i would suggest to the chairman and ranking member is put that out there, give it to me, let me offer a unanimous consent here on the floor live. we've had a great debate. we understand what the problems are. let's have -- let's start voting. let's start debating and voting. when we consider all the time
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huddled in a group of staffers, we don't do anything. we don't debate the bill, we don't vote the bill and so consequently the american people get shortchanged. so what my offer -- you give that offer, i'll offer that, i won't even participate on what's in the mix. i believe the process ought to move forward whether i win or not. and the fact is, is selfishness on the part of our colleagues because they don't want to vote on something keeps us from doing the country's work. and i think we have -- we're at a seminal moment right now in the senate where we can change what's happening in this body. if, in fact, we will do that. i know the president pro tem wants to see that happen. i believe my colleague from michigan wants to see that happen. i know the ranking member has had that philosophy for years this the senate. he taught me it. i learned it from him. and i offered a lot of amendments that he opposed and
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didn't like. some of them affecting mississippi. and he beat me every time. but he never said you can't offer the amendment. so i think we're at a seminal moment. let's start moving things. and what i would do is call on the ranking member and the chairman, give me that list. let me go fight for it. let's break this beaver dam in the senate and let's start acting like grown-ups again. ms. stabenow: would the senator be willing to yield? mr. coburn: i yield. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: thank you very much. if i'm hearing you right you will work with us to move forward on a unanimous consent request on a list of amendments, certainly would welcome your doing that. i do need to indicate that we have spent last week and this week moving amendments. we started moving amendments. yours was one of the very first
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ones we did vote on. we have been working together today trying to move in small groups of amendments to be able to get things moving, now facing objections as we do that, but we did have the opportunity to do a number of amendments last week, and have moved forward to vote. so we will continue to do that with colleagues. that is our intent again. if my friend will remember, this is the second time around for us. we've already done this once. we're back doing it again. we want to get it done. we want to have the opportunity for people to offer more -- mr. coburn: is there a question in there somewhere? i'd like to reclaim my time. ms. stabenow: there is a question, if i might say to my friend, i'm hearing that you are desiring to work with us. is that correct? mr. coburn: that is correct. mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. coburn: i have another unanimous consent request, and i want to preface this unanimous consent request. there is 150 amendments i think
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the chairman said, or thereabouts, filed on this bill. a lot of those are not going to require votes. some are. i ask unanimous consent that every amendment that's been filed at this point be considered as read and be considered debatable and votable. the presiding officer: is there objection? ms. stabenow: yes, there is objection. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. coburn: there is an objection heard, mr. president. ms. stabenow: objection is heard. i appreciate the -- mr. coburn: reclaiming my time. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma has the floor. mr. coburn: let me make this point. if you wouldn't have objected, we could start voting tonight. we could vote tomorrow. we could get through those. half of those would be pulled, and you'd be almost to the same number of votes that you would have had, that you did have the last time the bill came to the floor. so do we really want to break this logjam? let me offer it again. we can move this thing. let's just do it.
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let's go out and vote. let's take the tough votes. some of us are going to get bruised. big deal. we're all big grownups. let's have the votes. let's move amendments. let's debate. let's do the country's business. instead we're not going to do it. there is a compromise. more than half of those will be withdrawn. my colleagues know that. let's put them all in order. let's vote them. let's take care of it. and let's be grown-up and get the senate back to where it's supposed to be. i'm going to offer my unanimous consent one more time. every amendment that's been filed today as of now be considered as read. the presiding officer: is there objection? ms. stabenow: reserving the right to object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. i'm sorry. ms. stabenow: reserving the right to object, mr. president, let me just indicate as the manager of this bill, i appreciate the advice that we are receiving from the senator
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from oklahoma. and we will certainly look forward to working with him on this and receive his advice. we are managerring the bill on the floor -- we are managing the bill on the floor. we appreciate very much the efforts of the senator to come down and move things in the direction he would like to do. we will continue to manage this bill in a way that is fair and open and work with all of our colleagues and look forward to getting this done. and i would just also in reserving the right to object indicate that we have a bill in front of us that affects 16 million people and their jobs. we have a bill that is $24 billion in deficit reduction, unlike any other thing that's come before us in bipartisan deficit reduction. we have a bill in front of us that has eliminated 100 different authorizations or programs because of duplication which i know is near and dear to the senator's heart from oklahoma. we have a bill worthy right now of voting on and passing. we will continue to work with all of our colleagues to move this forward, to get this done on behalf of the 16 million men
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and women who work in agriculture. we will take his, certainly his ideas under consideration as we move forward to manage this bill. i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. coburn: mr. president? fair and balanced consideration of your colleagues is allowing them to have amendments. and you just objected to that. so, that's where we are, and that doesn't keep you from managing a bill. you don't get to set up the priorities of what comes up when. but here lies the problem in the u.s. senate. there obviously is some amendments in there that they don't want to vote on. otherwise, we would not have heard her objection. so it's not just senator toomey who has now said he would not object to senator landrieu's amendment. it's other objections of people who won't come down here to the floor and show their constituency what they're objecting to. in other words, it's darkness. it's not light.
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it's not transparency. it's not of good character. it's not of good moral fiber. what it is is the least of these, the lowest of these that refuse to participate in an open and honest debate about what's going to happen in our country. i call on all my colleagues, republican and democrat alike. we know what has to happen to open up the senate. let's vote. let's vote. for my colleagues on the republican side objecting, i disagree. let them vote. for my colleagues on the democrat side, let us vote. let the chips fall. the american people decided who would come up here. gaming this system by hiding behind an anonymous objection, putting it through the chairman -- i'm proud to see the senator from louisiana. she came out here and she showed courage. she said here's why i'm doing it. she spoke honestly to her
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constituents back home and also to the members of this body. we don't have enough of that. so we had an opportunity just then to move this bill, restore the senate back to the way it should function, and we chose not to do it. the american people have got to be shaking their head right now in disgust. in disgust. because had the time been spent instead of figuring out what's okay and what's not okay, actually debating and voting amendments, we could have voted 30 or 40 amendments by now on this bill. but we chose not to do it. some of us chose not to do it. you know, kindergarten's out around most of the rest of the country except in the u.s. senate. and it's still in session here. and we ought to be disgusted with ourselves, and the american people ought to be disgusted with us as well, because we're
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not allowing this body to do what our founders intended to do. and i'm going to spend a minute talking about that. this place is very different than the house. and no matter who's in charge, the tendency is to overuse the power of the majority. but what our founders intended was the senate to be totally different than the house. the reason six-year terms were put there is so that you wouldn't be susceptible to the political influence of reelection, so that you would become a long-term thinker and that your motivation would be primarily a motivation for the best will of this country, not your state or your political career. the assessment of the senate today is we've lost our focus. it's about politics, not our country.
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it's about the short term, not the long term. it's about anything but the best interest of the country. so here we have commonsense amendments. i appreciate the fact that the chairman and ranking member have included some of mine in what they were proffering. but let's include them all. what is so bad about voting on a stupid amendment? if it's really stupid, they're either going to withdraw it or lose big. if it's really controversial, the american people want to see us debate and vote on controversial topics. they do not want to see us duck our responsibilities. we've met the enemy. the enemy's us. we refused to do. since i've had an objection to that amendment 107, i'm going to ask unanimous consent that amendment number 108 be called up. the presiding officer: is there objection?
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ms. stabenow: mr. president, on behalf of senator landrieu, i would object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. coburn: mr. president, this amendment, even though it's been objected to, i'm going to talk about, is to require the rural utility service of the department of agriculture to ensure that the grants and loans that it makes to provide access to broadband telecommunication services in rural areas are made to rural areas that don't already have access to broadband. wait a minute, why would we want an amendment to do that? this is an amendment to tell them to do what they're supposed to be doing. over the years the rural broad band program has seen a large amount of federal funding. it received $2.5 billion from the stimulus bill. the inspector general examined the rural services -- rural utility services broadband loan and guarantee program, and what
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he found that a large majority of the funds went to areas that already had broadband services. in other words, they didn't spend the money where we don't have broadband. they spent the money where we already do. specifically, the inspector general found that 148 communities that receive broadband service funded by this program were within 30 miles of cities of more than 200,000 people, including the cities of chicago and las vegas. some of the federal funds going to broadband programs originate from the department of commerce as well. so we have the department of agriculture and the department of commerce both doing the same thing. the issue is highlighted by the problems with the broadband program that occurred in west virginia, the president pro tempore's state. specifically, the state could not handle nor had the use of the routers that were delivered to it. put simply, the libraries and schools didn't have the need for the powerful stuff that was sent
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to them. so we wasted the money. it was a $24 million error. you get to $1 billion, $1 million at a time. and you get to $1 trillion, $1 billion at a time. what this amendment does is make them spend the money where we don't have broadband. not where we do. in other words, it prioritizes -- which most of us would agree to -- that broadband funds through this grant program go to areas that don't have broadband. rather than areas that already do. so let's wire the whole country first before we upgrade everybody else. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that that amendment be -- the pending amendment be set aside and amendment 1010 be brought up. the presiding officer: is there objection? ms. stabenow: reserving the right to object, mr. president. on behalf of senator landrieu, i
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object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. coburn: this amendment is probably -- it's very controversial, i know, among my colleagues. but, you know, i practiced medicine for 25 years. and before that, i ran a pretty successful business. and the department of health and human services delayed the implementation of icdm-10. let me explain to you what that is. icdm-10 is a new diagnostic book. why is that important? well, we use icdm-9 now, which helps us write the diagnosis codes, whether you're in the hospital, a clinic, a doctor's office, an outpatient surgery center, a home health; whatever it is, thoegs diagnostic --
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those diagnostic codes categorize what we actually did for you. and well-intentioned public health experts thought that we aren't broad enough in what we do with the icd-9, international classification of diseases. so as a part of the affordable care act, icd-10 was implemented . there's nothing wrong with updating it, but let me explain to you what we did. we went from 18,000 codes up diseases to 140,000 codes. the cost of which at a minimum in the health care system under various studies will be at least
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$5 billion a year added cost. now, will there be some benefit? yes, to public health experts that study disease patterns, there will be some limited benefit. the question we have to ask is: what's our biggest problem with health care? our biggest problem with health care is it costs too much. it costs too much. and what we've done with icdm-10 is just the implementation -- not the -- i'm talking $5 billion a year from now on. the implementation is going to cost $10 billion to $15 billion to put it in. and what this amendment would do would make a significant delay in the implementation of icdm-10.
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the implementation of the affordable care act is going to cost enough as it is, and what this would do is put us refocusing on what is important. it's important that providers spend time with patients, not spend time trying to figure out how they fill out a disease code of the and for any of you that doubt that there's a significance to this, if you have 1,000 codes now, most -- if you have 18,000 codes now, most doctors write the disease status. when you go from 18,000 to 140,000 now, your doctor is going to be spending time looking in a book that has 140,000 diagnostic codes and listing that. so we're going to take time away from patient care, and why is it important that the doctor gets it right? because the penalties under medicare for mislabeling are severe, and the sanctions are sesevere, penalties of 1% to 2%
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payment per year on your total billing to medicare or medicaid. so the costs associated withist cdm-10 are enormous. so it is not only hard and costly to implement it, but it takes people away, the very doctors we want spending time with patients, it limits that because they're going to be spending more time filling out paperwork for the federal government. the other thing it will do is it will not improve at all -- it does nothing to improve health care outcomes. it won't improve the first patient. so there's no positive benefit in the short run or medium term to the patient and the only limited benefit it would be long-term studies of public health officials. let me give you some diagnostic codes for you to think about on how foolish this is. here, one study -- let me find them.
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the new codes account for injury sites ranging from opera houses to chicken coops to squash court. so not only do you have to list what an injury was, you then have to go through this book and find out where it was. was it on a ranch? was it in the corral? was it in the chicken coop? because if you mislabel it, under threat of penalty from c.m.s. how about nine different codes to where you got hurt around a mobile home? how about a burn due to water-skis? how about walking into a lamp post?
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if you hit your head, it is important for public health officials to know that you walked into a lamp post. it includes 300 different codes related to every different animal. so if you got a bite from a rat or a chipmunk or a squirrel, there's 1312 differen 312 differ each one of those animals. it's got 72 codes pertaining to birds. you got pooped on, pecked on, you got b bit. 72 different codes. how about bitten by a turtle or, the second one, struck by a turtle, or walked on a torte tu, or kicked a curt l. we're going -- or kick add
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turtle. we're going to ask our doctors to spend time figuring out 160,000 different codes on -- disease-related when 18,000 does us just fine right now. so what this would do wouldn't forego the implementation of icdm-10, i ask that the presents amendment be set aside. and amendment 1076 be called up. the presiding officer: is there objection? ms. stabenow: on behalf of senator landrieu, i would object. ferraro objection is heard. -- the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. coburn: inned the objection. i have no ill will towards my chairman or ranking member for their objection. what this amendment does is during sequester it prohibits performance awards in the senior executive service. we're paying performance bonuses right now during sequester. the office of management and budget has ordered a freeze
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monks bonuses -- has ordered a freeze on most bonuses. but the there is an exemption for the senior executive service, the most highly paid federal government employees. what this amendment does is it closecloses that exemption loop. if we're all going to suffer, everybody is going to suffer. just because you work in the senior executive service, doesn't mean that you shouldn't have to lead on the sacrifice that this country is making. what this did is it treat treats senior executive service employees just like every other employee. i ask that the pending amendment be set aside. actually, i think i'll stop with that. i have two other -- i have one other that i --man, --man mr. president, i ask that amendment 1152 be called up.
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the presiding officer: is there 0 incomes. ms. stabenow: reserving i think the right to object -- i will orobject, mr. president, bd like to ask my friend, given all the amendments this a, that if we were able to accept all of these amendments, would he be supporting the bill? mr. coburn: i haven't made that decision yet. ms. stabenow: i would object, on behalf of senator landrieu. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. coburn: i'll tell you how you go through looking at the farm bill. i believe that farmers ought to farm. i don't believe the farmers ought to farm the government. i believe you all over the years have done a good job changing that seine care noavment i believe that food security is an important part of what america can do for both our country and our world. i also know that our farmers are some of our hardest-working people. having said all that, there's a ton of programs in here that don't directly benefit food security in this country or the
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american public. and when we still have the well-heeled and well-connected taking advantage of programs, pro prfrom pro athletes and eveg else, by -- i'm all for crop insurance. i think taught to be a little more costly and spread out. i think crop insurance in terms of the commissions paid to the people that sell it are a little too rich. i think -- and there are a lot of other people that would like to have that book of business with a whole lot money. so it will be a balance for me as i look at the improvements. i would congratulate you and the ranking member of making progress in the farm bill. i think we've got a long ways to go. this amendment relates to one of those, which is how do we make sure that if we're going to take
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taxpayer money and help people with their needs under the supplemental nutrition assistance program, how do we make sure we're doing it in a way that actually gives them nutritious food? as a i physician that's cared fr obesity and heart disease and cancer and high blood pressure for years, diet has a big fact on that. and senator harkin and i have an amendment together -- this amendment -- which would create a pilot project in two states to allow states to use a nutritional assessment for setting eligibility for what can be bought with snap. that's what this amendment does. a lot of the companies don't like it. a lot of people say, well, how can do you that? but i would remind our colleagues, for many of the people who don't buy nutritious food, when we're helping them, we're actually paying for it twice. because when they make really poor choices with our money to
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pay food, they're creating disease categories that we're going to pay for in the future with our money for their disease. so the idea of trying to pilot project in two states where they use nutritional value to make a determination of what food products are eligible and what are not for the snap program is a time that most people out in the country would like to see. you know, you can't help -- most americans want to help anybody that wants -- needs help, but i hear it all the time when people say, i see people buying stuff i don't buy or i can't afford to buy with their snap card. so there's no good way to do that other than do it on a nutrition basis and that's the only way we should look at that. if we're going to help somebody, we ought to help them. that is great book by a guy by the name of marvin laskye.
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it is called "the tragedy of american compassion." and he talks about how you help people. and you don't help people by giving them a blank check. you help people in short term you help them as long as they have a need. but you help them in the way that they bet to help themselves and -- that they git to help themselves and get their dignity back. what senator harkin and i agreed to, this pilot program will have to be reevaluated after two years. there is a he no problem with putting limitations as to u.p.c. codes and all the checkout stuff. it is not an issue. we've done all the homework on it. but it would be interesting to see what you do in a nutritional evaluation and a limitation on the one hand snap products, what would happen to the people that we're helping. and so bof that's the amendmentt
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we're offering. it is time fo for that to happen and it/i will be good. the key is, can we help people get back to being self-reliant? i don't want us to be a big brother, but i also want to make sure that the money that we're stealing from our kids, their future, actually really does help somebody and doesn't hurt them. with that, i would again congratulate both the chairman and ranking member for the bill that they've brought. it has marked improvements. i would thank them for their patience in dealing with me today on the floor. i would say, i very much regret that you have objected to a way to move this bill forward, because it doesn't just have implications for this bill. the courage to stand up and say, let's do that will have great implications for how this body functions forbe the next 16 -- for the next 16 months. i think we're going to miss a big opportunity if we don't do that. i'd love to see the senate go
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back to operating the way it did when i first came here. my hopes are dashed, however with that objection. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i come to the floor -- i have been listening to this debate by my colleagues. but i came to share a few thoughts about the passing of our dear friend, senator frank lautenberg. he was a dear friend, a colleague. i originally sat 0en this floor on the senate and he sat right behind me. we shared seats together on the commerce committee. frank's wit was as quick as his downhill slalom skiing. we know him as somebody who had been in one of the biggest computer service companies, a.d.p., and helped ghat company started and as somebody who represented one of the last world war ii veterans in this body. he served here for almost 30
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years and what always amazed me about frank is that he brought that business attitude to the united states senate when it came to legislating. that is, that results mattered. because of that, he had a long list of legislative accomplishments. i don't know if everybody, because of the turnover in the senate, realized how many things he accomplished. many people have talke talked at some of them -- banning smoking on airplanes, lowering the threshold for drunk driving, better protection against objectiotoxicchemicals, helpinge the everyday safety of americans, improving the quality of our environmental laws in the united states. he also had an amendment that helped allow for better refugee status for members of historically prosecuted groups to easily get refugee status in the united states. so he did many, many things while he was here in the united states senate, and he worked
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very hard because of that experience in world war ii and being a veteran and going 0 school on the g.i. bill. somebody who lost his father at a very early age, he used that g.i. bill to get the education he needed, to do these incredible things. and when frank had a victory, he didn't stop at that victory. he kept going. after he and dick durbin helped ban smoking on commercial flights, he followed that up with a vision to the transportation appropriations bill that extended the ban to include all federal buildings. and in the same kind of fervor, once he helped make our drunk driving laws stronger, he continued to try to implement stronger measures as a key player in establishing a national blood alcohol level at 0.08%. so at the time many states decided to do other things, but
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frank worked a way to try to champion this at the federal level and helped save tens of thousands of lives. he was also a huge champion of our environment and championed ocean acidification issues before they were probably really known by a lot of people in america. he understood that this was a looming disaster and that we needed to do more research for marine life and our economy and our way of life. and he also knew and understood that americans needed protection from toxic pollutants. well, that's something that most of us would say, yes, we don't like toxic pollutants. but back in 1986 he wrote a bill that created a public data base about the toxins released in the united states, and that was certainly brave for somebody from new jersey because it was a leading chemical-producing state. and so the fact that frank took that on showed a lot of tenacity and a lot of courage. and just like on the other things, he followed that up.
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just recently he introduced the safe chemicals act to improve the understanding and reporting of chemicals found in products that made their way into americans' hands every single day. he also championed improving our transportation system. i always told him, i said, frank, how did you get a train station named for you already on the jersey line? if you ever take amtrak up to new york and you see one of these stops at see caucus, there it is the frank lautenberg station. he had been a great champion for amtrak and freight and freight mobility. he knew that was something important to new jersey as a major port in our country, and he wanted to make sure that not only people but product got to where they needed to go and got there on time. we all would like to think that we are remembered by the american people for the accomplishments that we have, and i'm not sure whether they will remember all of these things that frank lautenberg did
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to contribute to their way of life. i can tell you, though, what i think about his advocacy for a modernized g.i. bill or the no smoking on planes. i can tell you that he touched the lives of millions of americans. he also had tenacity. he had the tenacity once to help a boy from new jersey who had been involved in a domestic dispute where the father had lost custody and the young boy at that time, sean goldman, who is from new jersey, had been taken by a family member and was in brazil. his father tried going through the brazilian courts for years to get him back. but it really wasn't until frank lautenberg joined the fight that he was able to be successful in the same tenacity by holding up a general systems of preferences bill here in the united states senate. the terror act removed was worth $2 billion worth of brazilian
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goods. frank n.i.h. threatening to hold -- frank knew threatening to hold up that bill would get their attention and he was right. he literally got them to move and return this young boy, sean goldman, to his father. i know that that was something that frank really cared about, the results. that father and son being reyou'd and getting -- being reunited and getting results for his constituents in new jersey. we will miss frank, his standing on the senate floor, giving a speech or as he would say, giving heck to somebody, and oftentimes somebody on the other side or somebody he thought was a big giant doing too many things that needed to be challenged. but he will be remembered as part of a great generation of americans who were successful in so many ways, living the american dream, coming to the united states senate and being a
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contributor and just for his tenacity of standing up and fighting for people. we're going to miss you, frank. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. cochran: mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:

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