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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  February 27, 2014 4:00pm-6:01pm EST

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the average senior in america saved an average of $1,200 on their prescription drugs in 12 3 because of the affordable care act, closing the doughnut hole in medicare part-d prescription drug coverage. the affordable care act has made these changes, reducing the costs for seniors, expanding benefits and reducing wasteful spending in medicare. at the same time that we have improved the solvency of medicare. so when i hear republicans talk about repealing the affordable care act, i wonder what alternative universe they are living in, because in this real world, there should be no confusion about what repealing the affordable care act would actually mean for our seniors --
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higher costs for prescription drugs, higher costs for preventative services, reduced benefits and a medicare program that would go bankrupt nearly ten years sooner. the affordable care act is working to help seniors with their expenses and keep the costs of health care down. we need to improve and build on the progress the law has made, not argue over tearing it down. because this shouldn't be about politics. this should be about keeping the promise that we made to our seniors. it's about building on that promise, and i will continue to fight for them. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you very much, mr. president.
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i appreciate my colleagues, senator warren, senator schumer and senator murray for joining us on the floor today. i think we will be joined by senator stabenow in a few moments. i appreciate them also being at an event we did yesterday in which we were kicking off the affordable care works campaign, which of course is designed to tell what has been untold for much of the last six months, which is the increasing good news about the millions of americans for which the affordable care act is working, and indeed for many of them changing their lives. an announcement was made this week that four million americans have now signed up for the private health care exchanges. over 10 million americans all across the country now have insurance today that didn't have it prior to the passage of the law, either because of these private exchanges or because of increased eligibility of medicaid or because of the law's provision that young men and
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women under the age of 26 could stay on their parents' insurance. over 10 million people now all across the country have access to insurance that they didn't have before we passed this law. but as senator schumer said, there is even more good news because we now know that the second promise of the act, that it was going to reduce the deficit, is true as well. c.b.o. tells us that from the ten-year period covering the enactment of the law to a decade later, we're going to save about $1.2 trillion beyond what we additionally estimated. current trajectories we are going to be $250 billion under c.b.o.'s initial estimate for federal health care expenditures on an annual basis. that's big savings to the taxpayers, and when you combine that with the millions of americans who have coverage, you can see how the affordable care act is working. now, there is still work to do, and there are going to be
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debates on the floor of the senate about ways in which we could change and fix the affordable care act. we're reordering 1/6 of the american economy. there is no doubt going to be bumps along the road and no doubt going to be places where we can find bipartisan agreement on how we can fix the act, make it work even better. but the answer from our republican colleagues has been pretty simple so far. it has been to simply repeal the law. they say they want to repeal and replace it, but we have yet to see any evidence of that replacement. i think when the presiding officer and i served together in the house of representatives, we probably witnessed about 30 or 40 different votes to repeal all or part of the affordable care act and never once were part of a vote to replace that act. the american people don't want this bill repealed so that we would go back to the day in which insurance companies ran our health care. so we go back to the day in which those 10 million americans who have insurance are back unun -- uninsured.
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they want us to work on making it better, but they are understanding day by day that the affordable care act is working. now, specifically for seniors, there are some pretty unique benefits, many of which have been glossed over because when at the outset of the implementation of this act, some pretty important things happened. sometimes while people weren't even looking. first the doughnut hole got cut in half almost overnight. the first year anybody who was in the doughnut hole got a $250 rebate check. the second year their drugs when they were in the doughnut hole got cut by 50%. and by the end of this decade, the doughnut hole will be completely eliminated. the average savings for a senior, as senator stabenow will be talking about, was $1,200. people don't often know that's because of the affordable care act, because when you go in and your drug all of a sudden costs 50% less than it did, there is no stamp on that bill that says courtesy of the affordable care
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act, but the fact is that without the affordable care act, seniors over the course of the last three years would have spent $9 billion more on drugs than they have. a number so big it's kind of hard to fathom, but the affordable care act has saved seniors $9 billion, an average of $1,200 per senior. put on top of that that when seniors go in to get their annual checkup or they go in for a cancer screening or for a tobacco cessation program, those preventative health care visits are now free. 25 million seniors have accessed those programs all across the country. in my state of connecticut, 76,000 people with medicare have taken advantage of free annual wellness visits under the health care law, and so we're seeing tremendous benefits for seniors all across the country, but it's not just about the doughnut hole, it's not just about preventative health care.
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in 2012, the medicare part b deductible dropped by $22 to $140. that's the first time in the history of medicare that the medicare part d deductible has actually been reduced. that spanks the efficiencies that are being garnered in the medicare part b program by the medicare law. second, medicare advantage plans can't charge more than medicaid for things like skilled nursing, chemotherapy and other specialized services, protections saving thousands of dollars for seniors. in the first three years of the affordable care act, medicare recovered $15 billion in fraudulent payments under medicare because of new tools designed to root out fraud and waste and abuse in the affordable care act. and older americans that haven't yet reached medicare age are saving money because the act reduced the amount of
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discrimination in premiums against older americans by saying that insurance companies can't charge more than three times what they charge younger workers what they charge older workers. and so for seniors in particular, we're trying to make it clear that some of the unnoticed benefits, the fact that nobody is asking you for a co-pay when you go in for a medicare checkup, that you are saving money every time you go in to the pharmacy. those didn't happen magically. those didn't happen because of republican health care policies. they happened because of the affordable care act. and finally, mr. president, before i turn it over to my colleague, senator stabenow, i want to just address some of the mythology that we have been hearing on the floor of the senate in the past few days about medicare advantage. no doubt there are reductions in the payment from the federal government to medicare advantage plans in the affordable care act. why?
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because we were overcompensating private health care companies for running the medicare advantage plan. we were giving them 13% more than it cost medicare itself to run the medicare program. this just doesn't make a lot of sense. private companies tell us that they can do things for the same price or less than the federal government. in this case, we are paying medicare private insurers more, a lot more than it costs medicare to run the program. and so we decided we were going to eliminate that subsidy. and guess what? the news has been pretty remarkable. in fact, 30% more seniors are on medicare advantage plans today than when we passed the law, and premiums under medicare advantage have come down by 10% during that time. more people on medicare advantage plans, less cost in premiums, and the average medicare participant has 18 different plans from which to choose from. so all of this apocalyptic talk about what was going to happen when we passed the affordable care act with respect to medicare advantage and all of this new apocalyptic talk about
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what will happen when the subsidies get further reduced just has not come true. cheaper medicare advantage plans, more seniors on them and plenty of across-the-board availability. so, mr. president, i'm really pleased to have been joined here today by about a half dozen of our colleagues to tell this story about what the a.c.a. has meant for seniors, and we're going to come down here every week to the floor. we're going to stand up with patients and with consumers every week to talk about the benefits for seniors, the benefits for cancer patients, the benefits for women, the benefits for taxpayers, all in an effort to try to prove to the american people what millions of americans are finding out, and that is that the affordable care act works. with that, i yield the floor. and actually, before i yield the floor, if i could just ask one unanimous consent, which is that my legal fellow don bell be granted floor privileges for the remainder of the calendar year.
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with that, i will yield the floor. ms. stabenow: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: thank you, mr. president. first i want to thank the senator from connecticut for his advocacy for seniors, for children, for families, for small businesses to have access to affordable quality health insurance. a powerful voice. and also to congratulate his state of connecticut and the governor of connecticut who are working very, very hard, and i know are doing a great job on their insurance pool, the health care exchange that is providing more affordable health insurance for the citizens in connecticut. so i want to thank you for all of your leadership. i rise also today to talk about the fact that millions of american families today have access to more affordable health
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care. seniors, children, small businesses, others are getting the opportunity to have the health care that they are paying for and know that they can get the health care that they need even if they have a preexisting condition because of the affordable care act. i want to take a few moments as well today to talk about what this means for our senior citizens, for people on medicare. and obviously, medicare is a great american success story and something that i strongly support, as my colleagues do, that are here speaking today. as part of health reform, we wanted to strengthen medicare for the future. we protect the guaranteed benefits under medicare. we have shored up the program so that the trust fund is now solvent until 2026 and will be there going forward as other
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savings occur over the long run, and it's working because of some very tangible things that we have done to put more money in the pocket of our senior citizens and to create the opportunity for them to have access to affordable health care. and i often think about the letters, the emails that i have gotten from people in michigan prior to our passing health reform and the kinds of stories that people tell me -- used to tell me all the time before we strengthened medicare. i will read just one from a senior citizen from warren, michigan, who wrote me a letter prior to health reform talking about the gap in coverage under prescription drugs, under medicare part-d, you're covered up to a certain point, then there is a gap, you get no help, and then if your prescription drug costs are very high, then it kicks in again. so some people call that the
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doughnut hole. it's a gap in coverage. a senior from warren told me this. he said -- "i cannot afford all of my costly drugs so i have to stop taking one of them, the least riskiest one, and i have to scrounge free samples from my doctor's office for another while paying high retail prices for the other two." that was before we passed health reform. and now on average in our country, seniors have $1,200, $1,200 more back in their pocket since we passed health reform to be able to help them with their prescription drug costs. why? because we're closing that gap. that gap's going to go away. there is going to be no more cliff, no more doughnut hole, no more gap in coverage. and right now, seniors across the country are saving on average $1,200.
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more money back in their pocket. and when you think about it in big terms, there are more than 7.3 million seniors and people with disabilities who are on medicare who found themselves in that gap in coverage, and the health reform law in the big picture has saved them about $9 billion. on average $1,200 for an individual but all told so far about $9 billion. $9 billion more available to seniors, put money back in their pocket to do what? well, to pay the rent, to pay the electric bill and in a state like michigan, to pay the high heating bills because of the winter that we have been having. to put gas in the car. maybe to do something fun with the grandkids and pay for that birthday present. maybe it's doing something else that is needed. whatever it is, the idea that
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the average person who is retired on medicare has over a thousand dollars back in their pocket now because of health reform and what we've been able to do to strengthen medicare is a great thing and the problem is, that's what republicans want to take away. that's what they want to take away. that's what will be taken away if it is repealed, if one of the over 40 different repeal votes were actually to happen in what the house of representatives has already done. and let me share another letter from mary ann from rockford who wrote last fall to say that she's sick of the efforts to repeal health care reform, she says health care reform has already helped millions of senior citizens like myself from free preventive services to low-cost prescription drugs, we're saving money, we're saving money. and let me talk about another
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area where senior citizens are saving money. that is the annual checkup. the annual checkup we want folks to have, used to have co-pays and doubles. today when a senior walks in the doctor's office how much are they paying for that annual checkup? zero. zero. because of health reform. we don't want any seniors to feel they can't get that checkup, they can't get the mammogram they need, they can't get that lovely colonoscopy we look forward to getting, they can't get other preventive or cancer screenings or flu shots or whatever it is because of the co-pays or deductibles. today the costs of that checkup, the preventive services, is zero. if health voarm repealed, that -- reform is repealed, that is repealed. that's what folks that want repeal are doing, what they want to take away. so i join with my colleagues who
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feel strongly that we need to make sure we are keeping in place those positive things that are making a real difference in the lives of senior citizens, of children, of families, that if there are things going forward that need to be fixed, we need to fix them, and we will, but we certainly do not want to go back to the days when seniors are spending 1 had thousand $200 more out of their pocket -- $1,200 more out of their pocket for medicine on average, or when they are paying for the cost of an annual checkup that's absolutely critical they get for their life going forward. i'm proud to stand with colleagues saying let's talk together about how we make sure things work going forward, but let's not go back to the time when all of these important services and protections were
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not in place. i yield the floor, mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. roberts: thank you, mr. president. i come to the floor today to also speak about obamacare, but before i do so, i feel the need to address some comments made on the floor of the senate yesterday that sadly, i find to be extremely distasteful. yesterday two prominent citizens were called unpatriotic merely because they have engaged legally, i must say, in their first amendment right to participate in the political process. i was saddened, i was
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dismayed, i was discouraged to see the floor of the senate to used as the vain ven ewe for campaign-related attacks. in order to further their own agenda, it has become commonplace for my colleagues, more especially across the aisle, to suppress the free speech rights of people, certain people and organizations. these are simply people with whom they do not agree and who have had the audacity to hold views different from this administration. make no mistake, this is all part of a coordinated plan, i call it shaping the battlefield, to tamp down -- maybe that's not the right word, maybe that suppress, political opponents in the runup to the general election as of this fall. we've seen repeatedly since the citizens united decision in 2010 members of this body trying to rein conservative groups' ability to participate in the
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political process. this campaign is a direct attack i believe on the rights of these organizations. this campaign created an environment in which the internal revenue service found it necessary and possible to single out conservative organizations for extra scrutiny. and this has made it impossible for conservative groups to participate in the last two elections and now they're at it again in 2014. there's a short phrase which describes this and i think it is abuse of power. this is all troubling and shocking enough, but now we have a very direct personal attack against a kansas company whose political views some find very objectionable. mr. president, what i find even more offensive is declaring on the floor that opposing views make them -- quote -- "liars." our constitution grants every american the fundamental right to engage in the political
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process and these folks have done so fully within the bounds of the law. nothing charles and david koch have done or are doing is illegal. their participation, their statements, their work is very far from un-american. quite the opposite is the essence of what it means to be an american. nothing is more fundamental than our constitutional, our way of governing, than the freedom of speech. we should be focused on our role and responsibility of governing to make things better for the american people and not using the senate floor to further any political agenda by making personal attacks on private citizens. now, that brings me to what i came here to discuss today, some obamacare provisions that should be keeping my colleagues and all americans up at night. obviously, my views are somewhat different or very different from my colleagues who
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have just propounded their views here on the same subject. unfortunately, since the implementation of obamacare began, the stories and reports have only confirmed many warnings i and many of my colleagues made during the debate. most of the stories kansans tell me now involve many hundreds of dollars in increases in monthly premiums or people simply losing their coverage. these are real stories from real kansans and they are not lies. compounding the problem, this administration has madate routine practice to do what we call a regulation dump on friday. this is a deliberate posting sometimes thousands of pages of regulations during the time when the american public and the press is least likely to be paying attention. most recent reports from the centers for medicare and medicaid services, what we
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called c.m.s., are this millions of small businesses will face increased premium rates under obamacare. now, the president promised to make it easier for small businesses to offer coverage and lo and behold it may have become impossible for them to do so. and then there are the cuts our seniors are about to face to medicare plans, we can't forget that the president pilfered -- that's a good word -- pilfered a trillion dollars from medicare to pay for obamacare. these cuts have been delayed but the most recent regulation on part d and medicare advantage will be extremely detrimental to seniors' access to the availability of medicare plans. and because of this, for once -- for once -- i'd like to talk about a subject where we get ahead of the curve. get in front of the next disaster and repeal specific provisions of this law that i think will be most harmful to patients.
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i've talked about how this law comes between patients and doctors before, but i think we need to bring more attention to the specter of what i call rationing. yes, rationing. in the absence of complete repeal, i want to urge my colleagues that these provisions must be repealed. during the health care reform debate, many times since then, i spoke at length about rationing, specifically i want people to know about what i refer to as the four rationers that are included in obamacare. and yes, this is a very real threat, and yes, they will ration care. let me start with something called the centers for medicare and medicaid services innovation center. now, that's a pretty big fancy government name. and the center has an enormous budget to match, aimed at
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funding innovative ways to reform payment and the deliver rif of health care. that sounds very good, but what this really means is that the innovation center can now use taxpayer dollars to invest in ways to reduce patient access to care. let me say that again. the government can now use taxpayer dollars to invest in ways to reduce patient access to care. it gives the government new powers to cut payments to medicare beneficiaries with a goal to reduce program expenditures. but the reality is they're going to reduce patients' ability to access the care they want and need. all hidden under the cloak of innovation. and that isn't innovation at all. even if they did give it a fancy title, folks, it's smoke and mirrors. now, this outfit is already pushing out all of the regulations to implement
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obamacare that are now hurting patients, all the regs we hear about from our health care providers. let me move to the second rationer. it grants new authorities to the u.s. preventive services task force. that's another nice-sounding entity and a long title. this preventive service task force used to be a body that was scientific and academic that reviewed treatment, testing, and prevention information and made preemptions for primary doctors. nothing is wrong with that. it used to be an academic body that made recommendations. not a body pushing through mandates and regulations. many would argue that that is still what they do today. however, the effect of their recommendations is they are significantly more costly and burdensome. because of obamacare, the task force can now decide what should
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and more importantly, should not be covered by health plans. that's not prevention. that's rationing. if the task force doesn't recommend it, then it won't be covered by your public health health plan and you will bear the cost of the procedure p. and already we are seeing this with things like prostate exams and mammograms for breast cancer which have been so helpful to so many people save their lives. the third rationer is the patient centered outcomes research institute -- yep, that's another mouthful -- but this is the outfit given millions and millions of dollars to do comparative effectiveness research. now, i'm not opposed to research. i don't know anybody in this body who is opposed to research. especially when it used to inform the conversation between doctors and their patients. but there's a reason this was formerly called the cost-effectiveness research.
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there is a very fine line between providing information to doctors and patients to determine the best course of care, and using that information to decide whether the care or treatment is worth paying for. i've long been concerned that instead this research will be abused to arbitrarily deny patients access to potentially lifesaving treatments or services. and that's just simply should not happen. the research should only be used for the doctor and the patient to make the best health care decision. and finally, the fourth rationer, my personal nemesis, the independent payment advisory board, ipab. this is a board made up of 15 unelected bureaucrats who will decide what gets to stay and what gets to go in medicare coverage. they'll decide what treatments and services will be covered and which will not. no accountability whatsoever.
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when proposed supporters of the health care law told me we are too close to our constituents, it's too difficult to make the hard decisions, then they said let's have somebody else do it. that was during the debate with regard to ipab. i couldn't believe it. i believed we are elected to make the hard decisions and take care of the hard votes, and i believe that is the way kansans want it and i think that is the way virtually everybody in every other state wants it. this board diminishes our constitutional responsibility. even worse is the fine print of the independent payment advisory board, or ipab. if kansans or any americans determine they do not like the direction the board is taken, call my office and down the road any other office of any other distinguished senator, ask me to do something about it, which is
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what you get when you go back home on any regulation today -- what are you going to do about it -- it will take 60 votes in the senate to overturn their decision. 60. on the surface, this sounds okay until you realize that the president doubtlessly will never support congress overturning the recommendation of this board made up of his bureaucrats. so he'll veto it. and overriding a veto obviously takes two-thirds of a vote. that's 66 votes to overturn a decision by the payment board. my colleagues have been changing the rules around here because they think 60 votes is too high a threshold. what are the chances of reaching 66? but wait, there's even more. if the secretary appoints a board unable to make recommendation for cuts to medicare, tough decisions, albeit, then she gets the authority to make the decision of what to cut. one person. now this president has already
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cut a $500 billion from medicare to pay for obamacare and gave himself the ability to go after even more medicare dollars and have no accountability. this, my friends, is frightening, it's ridiculous, it's irresponsible but it is not new. i've been talk about the four rationers what it means to patients, especially senior patients. what upsets me, scares me as i watch all the broken promises coming true is what is going to happen to kansans when the warnings about the rationers come true. we need to protect the all-important doctor-patient relationship which the four rationers put at risk. that is why i come to introduce the four rationers repeal act of 2014. for once look beyond the current troubles that we are experiencing. we've got to get ahead of the curve.
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this legislation appeals the independent payment advisory board. it appeals euphemistically but misleadingly named information center. it appeals changes made to the information task force and makes sure any comparative effectiveness research, called c.e.r., is used by the doctor and patient, not coverage providers or c.m.s. to determine the best care for patients. this legislation is relatively simple. it should be supported by all of my colleagues to address some of the egregious changes from obamacare that are about to happen just around the bend. time to get ahead of the curve this time. prevent it. i really believe that in order to protect this all-important doctor-patient relationship, we need to appeal and, most importantly, to replace obamacare with the real reforms that work for kansans and all americans. however, in the meantime we can also start taking it down piece
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by piece, which is what my four rationers appeal act does. i urge my colleagues to support this proposal, and for once let's get ahead of the curve. i yield back the balance of my time. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president good to see my longtime friend in the presiding officer's chair from massachusetts. i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business for up to 15 minutes, mr. president. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. president kennedy, from the presiding officer's home state, said, if i could paraphrase just a bit, said a nation reveals itself not only by the men and women it produces, but also by the men and women whom it honors, the men and women it remembers. it is our duty to take care of those who served in uniform, and today this nation's revealed
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itself and the image is shameful. this body failed to consider the important veterans legislation of this congress, the most important veterans legislation of this congress, the comprehensive veterans health and benefits and military retirement pay restoration act of 2014. i sit on the senate veterans' committee. i'm the first senator from my state ever to sit on that committee for a full term. i consider that an honor. i consider it a privilege to serve those who served us in this nation. i've worked alongside republicans and democrats, as chairman sanders and ranking member senator burr. we've produced good legislation here, next to the 9/11 g.i. bill which senator webb worked on four or five years ago, it's the most important advancement in veterans legislation and assistance to our nation's veterans in my time in the senate. that's the good news. the bad news is this debate has
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been about politics, not about veterans. again, people in washington want to score political points by filibuster, by obstruction, by blocking good bipartisan legislation supported by a whole panoply, a panoply of veterans organizations and community groups. there are those who have concerns that want to add to this bill, concerns that aren't related to veterans. to hold up this bill when something unrelated to veterans is unconscionable. you know, whether you're in marble head, massachusetts, or mansfield, ohio, we all have heard our constituents say why do they attach these unrelated things to legislation instead of voting them up or down on their merits? that's what people want to do here. those who want to filibuster this bill are the people who want to add things to the bill that have nothing to do with
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serving our veterans. this legislation by itself improves vital programs to honor our commitment to those who served in uniform and for those who care for our veterans, whether it's a community-based outpatient clinic in zanesville or chillicothe or springfield, whether it's a v.a. center in dayton or chillicothe -- excuse me -- or whether cleveland, we care about those who care for our veterans, many of whom are veterans ourselves, and we take care of those veterans. this corrects errors in programs and benefits. it has widespread support in the veterans community, the american legions, disabled american veterans, vietnam veterans of america, iraq and afghanistan veterans of america all support this legislation. i won't go through a lot of the details that we've discussed before that senator sanders brought to the floor, but i want to talk about a couple. this bill renews our vow to hire heroes act by reoffering
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provisions like the veterans retraining assistance program, retrains unemployed veterans for high-demand occupations. i traveled across ohio throughout 2012 spreading the word about vrap encouraging our veterans to apply. ohio veterans applied in larger numbers than our state's population would suggest because of the outreach of so many in encouraging people to sign up. i met he everett chambers in cleveland who used haverap funds to -- who use vrap funds to get retrained. i remember meeting a veteran in youngstown who went back to school because of vrap and got the opportunity to work at a health care center and information technology. we know vrap works. it helps our veterans get back to work. it lowers the unacceptably high unemployment rate for recently separated service members who have so much to offer employers. this program is aimed for those
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veterans that are a little bit older, that are no longer eligible for the g.i. bill and those veterans who have been out of the service for awhile. but it doesn't stop there. it adds other important improvements in education benefits and reproductive help in the delivery of care and benefits to veterans who experience sexual trauma while serving in the military. too many members in this body will say they support the programs in this bill, but that funding -- finding the money to do so is not possible. so they're for the bill, they say until they're not. well, there's a disconnect between what they say and what they do. those same elected leaders, those same elected leaders who say i'm for this bill, we can't.for it, so we can't pass it. those same people want to give tax breaks to companies that take jobs and factories overseas. we say we can't find the money to find a caregiver the support he needs to care for his wife, a veteran. we fight a decade-long war in afghanistan that goes unpaid for. we can't find the resources to
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ensure the very people who fought that war will be cared for. it would be a little more simple than that. when a business -- when a company closes down in springfield, ohio, or springfield, massachusetts, and moves to wuhan china or shihan, china, they can deductible the cost of closing the plant in springfield and deduct the cost of opening in china. that is a loophole we'd close, helping our communities, helping our tax base. and it would mean those companies wouldn't be deducting that move. and that money could then be used for these veterans programs. but, no, they say we can't find the money. mr. president, it's important to end this filibuster and pass this bill. mr. president, i ask that my -- the following remarks be in a different part of the "congressional record." the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: i heard my friend from kansas talk about what he calls the personal attacks on
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two, i believe he said great americans. but americans nonetheless, which they are, and prominent business people in kansas and around the country. these two americans -- and this isn't personal to me. i mean, these two americans spent millions of dollars trying to defeat me as they've tried to defeat a number of people in this chamber that think that government has a role in sprefrbg medicare and -- preserving medicare and government should provide funds to head start and government should give tax to people, not just rich people. i disagree with these two americans. i don't personally dislike them or personally know them. but i do know they've spent millions of dollars in ads that -- millions of dollars in an unprecedented way, they and a small number of people and try to hijack our political system. and people are sick and tired, first of the tv ads, seconds of
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the lies on tv ads, and third, there are people, a few billionaires that are trying to buy elections in this country. billions that are looking for tax breaks for themselves. billions that are looking for the opportunity to weaken environmental laws. billions who want to kill the union movement in this country. and i want to read from one editorial in these -- that was printed in, i believe, "roll call" or "the hill" magazine, the newspaper, talking about some of these ads. here's what is said. "were this an ad for stain master product or koch product, the brothers, were this an ad for stain master product or koch product federal trade commission guidelines would require the ad to 'conspicuously disclose that the persons in such advertisements are not actual consumers.' moreover, the f.t.c. would
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require them to either demonstrate these results of obamacare are typical or make clear in the ad they are not. needless to say the ad meets none of these requirements, thereby conforming to the legal definition of false advertising." i mean, that tells you a lot. i rest my case in just those terms. it's never personal. it should never be. it's whom you fight for in this body and what you fight against. but, mr. president, there are people in this country that think they can buy our government. we see that throughout our history. we've seen the oil companies try to do everything they can to, at least if not buy government, to take a long-term lease. we saw the robber barons 100 years ago, including one from my state, mark hanna, that used to try to control the legislature. they used to say he work president mckinley like a watch fob when he was governor of ohio. we've seen it in the past. we've never seen it in such an
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incredibly big way as we've seen it in the last few election cycles. mr. president, i ask again unanimous consent to place a different point, place in the record one more set of comments, mr. president. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: this is about the minimum wage, something that this chamber, frankly, needs to do. the presiding officer in his time in the house saw as i did a number of members of congress that would vote to raise their own pay, but then vote against the minimum-wage increase, which i find morally inconsistent, or worse. but let me say a couple of comments about that, mr. president. in 1991 the average price of gas was $1.15 a gallon. a loaf of bread cost around 70 cents. a dozen eggs were about $1. the tipped minimum wage, that is the minimum wage for people that work in a diner that get tips, people that push wheelchair at an airport that rely on tips, a valet, someone who does nail
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manicures, people who work in jobs where they are receiving tips, the minimum wage in 1991 for those workers at the local diner or the local airport was $2.13 an hour. 1991. today the average price of gas is $3.30 a gallon. a loaf of bread costs $1.35 more or less. eggs are about $2. tip minimum wage is still $2.13. its value has fallen by 36% in real terms. think about that. $2.13 an hour. americans who work hard and take responsibility should be able to take care of their families. ohs
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current tip minimum wage is a little bit higher. it is $3.98, still not enough. these are men and women who was bills to pay and families to support. mr. president, i -- you know, most tip workers don't work at fine dining establishments where they may -- where the average bill is $50 or $60 or $70. so someone is making pretty good money on tips. a server in a high-class, expensive restaurant can make hundreds and hundreds of dollars in a night. but a serve their works in a diner where the average -- where four people come in and get coffee and spend an hour there have a bill of $6 and the tip might be $1 and that person has worked for an hour, they're not getting to the minimum wage with the tipped wage. and neither often is the valet
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or neither obvious is the person in the airport pushing the wheelchair getting someone sov a plane shall pushing the wheelchair to their connecting flielt often doesn't even receive tips because so often the person in the wheelchair never thinks about it doesn't know to these are tipped workers, that they're only making $2 or $3 or $4 an hour. and their working hard. we work hard for the money we make. we're very well-paid here. it is a privilege too serve in the united states senate. but when you think about the workers who are working very hard, they are minimum wage is $2.13 an hour. there's something not right about that. mr. president, i urge my -- i -- one more point. the center for american progress completed an analysis of 20 years of minimum-wage increases in states across the country. they conclude there's no clear evidence that the minimum wage leads to further job losses during periods of high unemployment. because the opposite -- the opponents of minimum wage say
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that it's going to cause price increases, there's going to be layoffs. but what's interesting is, every time there is a minimum-wage bill that we are debating, the opponents say, you know, these businesses are going to have to raise their prices, they're going to lay people to have pay the minimum wage. but, you know what you never, ever hear them say when an executive gets a million dollar bonus, when a c.e.o. get raise to $16 the next year, i never hear them say, boy, they're going to have to lay people off to pay the executives executive. it is only when it's the minimum wage that this is going to hurt commerce and employment. their arguments are weak, their arguments are in many cases a bit hard-hearted. i wish that my colleagues would do what pope francis said. pope francis recently exhorted his parish priests to go out and smell like the flock, go out and
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try to understand their lives and live like them. a lot of those parishers in are workers slightly above minimum wage. smelling like the flock might help some of thy my colleagues to come to the conclusion that raising the minimum wage is an important thing to do, is a humane thing to do, is the right thing to do for our country. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: i would ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: i would ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: wowcts. mr. cardin: mr. president, i take this time to share with my colleagues the tragic events that unfolded these past few weeks in the ukraine. the ukraine is an incredibly
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important country. the recent events are tragic, the result of a corrupt government and loss of life. i remember the orange revolution that took place in ukraine starting in november 2004, ending in january 2005. hundreds of thousands of ukrainians took to that protest, protest a corrupt election. they did it in a peaceful way. they not only got the attention of the people of ukraine but the attention of the world. as a result of that peaceful revolution, the government stood for new elections, free and fair elections, democratic leadership was elected, and all of us thought the future for ukraine was very, very positive. mr. president, i was in key he t
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long after that. i saw that sense of hope that ukraine at long last would be an independent country, without the domination of any other country. and the proud people would have a country that would respect their rights, that would transition into full membership in europe, and provide the greatest hope for the future generations. they started moving in that direction. anand, you a he no there were agreements with europe for integration. they have been involved in military operations in close conjunction with nato. and ukraine was and is an important partner with the united states and for europe. then victor yank kovic came into
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power for a second tievment he was a corrupt leader and had a close involvement with russia. today there's some hope. the parliament has brought in a new interim government. presidential elections are now scheduled for may 25, but there are certain matters that are still very much up in doubt. in the cry me yarks which is a part of the -- in the crimea, which is a part of the ukraine, which has a large russia russian population, it is unclear what is happening there. pro-russian sympathizers have taken over government buildings. it is not clear russia's involvement, and it's critically important that the international community have access to what's happening in the crimea and make it clear that russia must allow
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the ukraine to control its own destiny. it is time for the international community to mobilize its resources to assist ukraine's transition to a democratic, secure, and prosperous country. the people of ukraine have had an incredibly difficult history. over the last century they have been subjected to two world wars, 70 years of soviet domination, including stalin's generagenocide famine. our assistance will be a concrete manifestation that we do indeed stand by the people of ukraine as they main fest their historic choice for freedom and democracy. moreover, we need to help ukraine succeed to realize the vision of a europe whole, free and at peace. that is our desire and that's the desire of the people of ukraine. they are moving right now on the right path. they critically need our help and the international community's help to make sure that russia does not try to
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dominate this country, that its desires to become part of europe are realized, that free and fair elections can take place and the rights of their people can be respected by their government. yesterday, i heard from swiss president and osce chair in office president bulcholzer and welcome his engagement and the important role they can play in the ukraine. mr. president, as you know, as a member of the commission, i had the honor of chairing the helsinki commission. that's our implementing arm to the organization for security and cooperation in europe. foreign minister from one of the member states usually acts as our chair in office, and this year mr. burcholzer is not only the prime minister of switzerland, he is the president of switzerland. he is the person who is responsible for the direction of that organization. we had a hearing with him and
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ukraine took a good part of our discussions. the guiding christians of the osce is that if we're going to have a prosperous country, if we're going to have a secure country, you're going to have a country that respects the rights of its citizens. respecting the rights of citizens means that they are entitled to good governance, they are entitled to a country that does not depend upon corruption in order to finance its way of life. that's the principles of the osce. a country with good governance, respect for human rights, that takes on corruption is a country where there will be economic prosperity and a country which will enjoy security. and that has been our chief function to try to help other countries. the meeting yesterday underscored the importance osce can play in the future of ukraine, and we hope that they will utilize those resources so that ukraine can come out of this crisis as a strong
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democratic independent country. now there has got to be accountability here. there has to be accountability for those responsible for the deaths in kiev. i mention that because, yes, there is a moral for that. those who committed atrocities should be held accountable. that's just a matter of basic rights. but there is also the situation when you don't bring closure here. it offers little hope that these circumstances won't be repeated in the future. if future government leaders believe that they can do whatever they want to, and there will be no consequences to their actions, they are more likely to do the irresponsible actions that we saw in ukraine. so yes, it's important that we restore a democratic government in ukraine. it's important that that government be independent and able to become full members of europe. it's important that that government respect the human
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rights of its citizens, but it's also important that they hold those responsible for these atrocities accountable for their actions. the obama administration took some action this past week. they did deny visas to certain members that were responsible for the government of ukraine and they did freeze banking accounts of those who were involved in the corrupt practices in the ukraine. that was a good first step and i applaud their actions. let me just remind my colleagues that we passed the sergei magnitsky rule of law accountability act as part of the russia mnpr legislation. i was proud to be a sponsor of the sergei magnitsky rule of law accountability act. what that does and it says it was amended to apply only to
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russia, that those that are involved in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights will be denied the privilege of being able to come to america to get a visa and that we will deny them the opportunity to use our banking system. why is that important? because we found that those corrupt officials want to keep their properties outside of their host country. they want to visit america. they want to use our banking system. they want their corrupt ways to be in dollars, not in rubles. so denying them that opportunity is an effective remedy for making sure they can't profit from all of their corruption. that legislation was limited to russia, not by our design. the senate foreign relations committee, the senate finance committee approved the sergei magnitsky rule of law accountability act as a global
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act, applying beyond russia. now, sergei magnitsky was a young lawyer who discovered corruption in russia. he did what he should do, told the authorities about it. as a result, he was arrested, tortured and killed because he did the right thing. so we took action to make sure that those responsible could not benefit from that corruption. that was the sergei magnitsky bill. we felt, though, that it should be a tool available universally. well, we had to compromise on that. it was limited to russia. it's time to change that. along with senator mccain, i have introduced the global human rights accountability act, s. 1933. it has several bipartisan sponsors. it would apply globally, so yes, i would apply -- it would apply to the ukraine. it would have congressional sanctions to the use of the
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tools of denying visa applications and our banking privileges to those who are responsible for these atrocities. i believe our colleagues understand how important that is to do. it is important today that the state department issued its human rights practices for 2013. this is a required report that we request. it gives the status of human rights records throughout the world, talking about problems. now, i'm sure my colleagues recognize that human rights problems are not limited to solely russia or ukraine, from bahrain to china to bangladesh, from belarus to ethiopia to venezuela, sudan to south sudan, syria. the list goes on and on and on. the report lists all the gross violations of human rights that have occurred. unfortunately, the list is too
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long. i could name another dozen countries that are spelled out in this report. human rights are universal, and it's our responsibility to act and show international leadership. it takes time to pass good laws, as it should, which is why we must act with urgency now. the measures contemplated in my legislation have great corrective power, but they are strongest when deployed in a timely manner, preferably before the outbreak of violence. the year 2013 was particularly challenging year for human rights, and today we cannot afford to be silent. the global human rights accountability act serves as an encouragement for champions of democracy, promoters of civil rights and advocates of free speech across the globe. as the great human rights defender nelson mandela once said, there are times when a leader must move ahead of the flock, go off in a new
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direction, confident that he is leading his people the right way. in this great body, the united states senate, we have a responsibility to lead the way in accountability for human rights. mr. president, we've done that in the past. we have shown through our own example and we have shown through our interest in all corners of the world that this country will stand up in the protection of basic human rights for all the people. we now have a chance to act by the passage of the global magnitsky law. i hope my colleagues will join me in helping enact this new chapter, the next chapter in america's commitment to international human rights. with that, mr. president, i would 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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mr. moran: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. moran: mr. president, thank you. i ask unanimous consent to address the senate. the presiding officer: without objection, the senator is recognized. mr. moran: mr. president, thank you very much. yesterday while relaying to the senate some anecdotes that he
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believed proved the success of obamacare, the majority leader stated this: despite all the good news, there are plenty of horror stories being told. all of them -- all of them are untrue, but they're being told all over the country. well, that statement, quite frankly, shocked me. and i'm sure it would have shocked millions of americans if they'd heard it who were feeling the detrimental effects of this very unpopular law, the affordable care act. i've heard directly from countless kansans about the devastating effects of obamacare has had on them and their families. most of the kansans i speak with are concerned primarily about what the future will hold, what the future will be like for their children and grandchildren, what type of life will we as parents and grandparents be passing on to future generations? i can assure the majority leader that kansans are salt of the earth people. they are most assuredly not
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liars. they do not deserve to be called liars by any member of this body. take phillip from wonexa and his wife. phillip has been self-employed for the last 20 years but maintained coverage through his wife's employer for most of that time. she works for a much smaller company that can only pay a fraction of the cost for their insurance, so it is much cheaper for him to purchase insurance in the individual market starting in 2013. finding affordable coverage now in 2014 has been a much greater challenge. he writes, "with the changes in health care insurance due to the implementation of a.c.a. for the next year, we shopped the exchange for 2014 plans. what we found was shocking." they found that for the same level of coverage they would now have to pay a premium more than double what they paid in 2013. on top of the higher premium, they would be faced with double the deductible and nearly double the out-of-pocket maximum.
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phillip in his letter says "frankly, we anticipate a decline in income for the next two years, but still we don't qualify for subsidies. this simply makes the affordable health care unaffordable to us." he continues, "the icing on the cake, my wife's employer told her that they expect to drop their health care coverage for their employees altogether in 2015 because of the added expenses of the a.c..: -- a.c.a. i don't know what we'll do. we have not been able to fund our retirement plans for a couple years now. we do not plan to retire soon and a.c.a. will take everything we can afford to save. we hope congress can come up with a logical solution to the a.c.a. soon." this is common criticism i've heard many time and i can assure the majority leader that phillip's story is true. i've heard from members of the
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kansas disabled american veterans service organizations who share the difficult veterans are having to relinquish their health care plans due to the obamacare. they are now pursuing plans through the v.a. which presents a whole host of problems. we have veterans who are unable to afford health care under the affordable care act now coming to the veterans system and being unable to any time soon enroll. in fact, their biggest concern is that they will now have to wait three to six months to get their first appointment. the bottom line is that veterans will either pay more for their health benefits through obamacare and lose their preferred doctors or be forced to join a backlog of veterans seeking care. neither is a good option for veterans. veterans in kansas and across the nation are feeling the burdens of obamacare. they have sacrificed much for our country, and i can ash surety majority leader that they're -- i can assure the
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majority leader they're telling the truth. another example of how obamacare is hurting kansans comes from salan, the nonprofit ywca will be capping hours at 25 per week. the administrator says it is unfortunate. we have a lot of good people who love -- we'd love to have working more hours, but we're going to have to make the cut. this is hitting nonprofits hard, he said. a nonprofit company, this cuts -- i'm sorry. for a profit company, this cuts into our profits. but we don't have profits to cut into. this ymca is not alone in their efforts to trim costs. numerous companies and organizations across kansas are having to cut back the hours of part-time employees because of obamacare, and i can tell the majority leader once again that those people and those organizations are telling the truth.
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yesterday afternoon the majority leader went to the floor once again. he read an opinion column from "the hill" newspaper. this article authored by mark melman supported the majority leader's efforts to discredit the stories being told of americans who are having struggles and those who had lost their health care coverage as a result of obamacare. the majority leader read the column on the senate floor literally word for word. however, he stopped just short at the end of the column, and i wanted to finish reading the footnote of the column that he chose not to read. it was about the author. it says -- quote -- "melman is president of the melman group and has worked for democratic candidates and causes since 1982. current clients include the majority leader of the senate and the democrat whip in the house. i just want to complete the record that the majority leader is reading an article by a democrat consultant employed by the majority leader to furnish evidence that what he's saying
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about the untruths of people who are complaining about obamacare is based upon fact. mark melman really is not the person to be quoting as to whether or not the affordable care act is working. i'd also like to point out that obamacare has been heavily debated for years now. five years. we've been talking pw-rt affordable care act. and during -- about the affordable care act. and during that time there have been so many broken promises, so many false hoods and so many direct lies. we've heard them all. obamacare will lower our health care costs. or obamacare won't cut medicare. or obamacare will create jobs. and who can forget if you like your doctor or health plan, you can keep them? these were lies. these were untruths. they were the promises that were made and summarily broken. that is why so many americans are outraged. it is time for washington to stop dismissing their concerns
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and start listening to their concerns. another disturbing moment, in fact, i think it's perhaps the most disturbing part of what the majority leader said, after he read the column from "the hill" he said this -- quote -- "it is time the american people spoke out against this terrible dishonesty and about those two brothers who are about as un-american as anyone i can imagine." that really bothers me. accusations about who is un-american are deeply troubling, and to me, that is an unfortunate comment when we refer to anyone. from the earliest days of our republic, it has been a tactic exerted by those in power to humiliate and discredit those who bring a different background or who have a different point of view, who challenge the people who are in power. and it's part of a strategy to convince ordinary americans that sinister forces are working to
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undermine our country and our institutions. ironically by charging some person or group of being un-american or disloyal, the effort to stifle and exchange of ideas erodes the very foundation of our democratic government. these accusations have been leveled during times of war, but they are just as prevalent during times of peace. we know of the alien and sedition acts of 1799, the know-nothing party taking aim at immigrants in the 1800's and the red scare after the first world war. and the process leading up to women's suffrage, critics giving women the vote belittled them. one even suggested that women were too emotionally delicate to take on the task of voting. thankfully these ridiculous assertions could not derail the passage of the 19th amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote. yet perhaps the most famous example is a senator using his position to charge people as
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diverse as hollywood actors and army generals and secretary of state george c. marshall of political views that differed with the senator -- in fact, the senator believed that their views were traitorous. he referred to such people as enemies from within. why would a senator reach such a conclusion? because those political views disagreed with his own. maybe it was also for the headlines and attention that he craved, or perhaps he was just paranoid in surge of a pwaog -- bogeyman. this senator leveled the charge of disloyalty without real evidence. because of his flippant flames he did untold damage to many lives with little damage to himself. not until his colleagues had enough and put an end to his campaign against other citizens did this unfortunate episode in our nation's history come to an end. this tactic didn't end in 1950
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and indeed it continues today. i'm disappointed by those who impugn president obama, questioning his legitimacy and his sincerity as he seeks to do what he believes is best for the country. yet, it's undoubtedly a two-way street. the president dismissed those who opposed his candidacy in 2008 as -- quote -- "people who cling to guns or religion" or have -- quote -- "antipathy toward people who aren't like them." when i served in the house of representatives in 2009 speaker nancy pelosi said in a town hall meeting in august of this year that those with concerns about obamacare, those with concerns about obamacare were -- quote -- "un-american." no one has the right to determine whose believes are american or un-american. certainly no one in the united states house of representatives or the united states senate. it's troubling that there is a
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reflexive reaction in congress to label critics as unloyal. recognizing disagreement is part of the decision-making process of our democracy and arpful die long between all americans is critical to a well-functioning republic. certainly anything short of that is not worthy, is not worthy of the senate floor. i'm weary of the repeated attempted to distract the american people from the rollout and poor performance of obamacare. this week "the new york times" poll -- new york/cbs poll found that only 6% of americans believe that obamacare is working well and should be kept in place as is. i ask the jocialtion doe majoris the mean the other 94% of americans surveyed are liars? it is a disaster to our nation's health care system and our economy. the american people have made their opinions known and rather
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than remedy the situation, the majority leader and others are trying to change the conversation and attack the very americans who have the real-life impacting concerns about their access to health care. my friends on the other side of the aisle act as though the majority of americans support obamacare. they do not. they never have. we didn't listen to them when obamacare quaibecome was passed. we haven't listened to them since. the simple "new york times"/cbs poll found that "americans find that things have seriously gotten off on the wrong track by a margin of 2-1." this poll was comprised of republicans, democrats, independents, of which 63% believe that things have gotten off on the wrong track. i agree that we're heading in the wrong direction and i fear that, like most americans, instead of righting the course, we have a senate leadership that wants to distract the hardworking americans busy with their families being struggling and living their lives.
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but speakings of dysfunction, the majority leader is speaking about dysfunction in the senate that he alone has the ability to control. pilot of the plane, the pilot of the plane cannot and should not blame the passengers for the turbulence. i'm glad the majority leader mentioned that the senate feels like groundhog day. es a absolutely right. over and over time and time again. how many times has the majority leader obstructed the senate debate and votes on amendments? over and over again we see the same strategy from the majority leader to run the senate according to his rules and his ahe loan. he controls the senate operations. he controls the ability to move past groundhog day, and he controls whether or not his colleagues can advocate for their amendments and have votes. i can tell you, republican senators are not alone in this thinking. iri'm sure the majority leader wishes it were the case, just republicans complaining, many senate democrats also feel the same way. they, too, have legislation.
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they, too, have amendments they'd like to see in front of the senate that would see the light of day. one such amendment, the majority leader is using in his blame game, is a bipartisan amendment offered by senator menendez and kirk, a republican and democrat, with 59 senate cosponsors, an amendment that seemingly there's overwhelming amount of senate support for this amendment. so why can't we get the issue of iran and nuclear capability to the senate floor? why does the senate majority leader continue to obstruct the senate process rather than return to regular order and allow the senate to operate the way it was intended? the dysfunction of the senate ultimately hurts the american people and the majority leader has the ability to change that. my hope is that we move beyond this time in the senate's history, we move beyond the same-ol', same-ol' and we have an opportunity to restore the senate to function as it should. i have no interest in serving in
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a united states senate that doesn't do its work. neither the majority leader or any other member of this body has the ability to represent individual americans' interests at any given moment. we each represent people from our respective states who have different points of view. i understand that people have a different point of view depending upon where they live and their background, their experiential their philosophy, and this diversity of opinion is what makes this country and by the extension the united states senate such a force for good in the world. these opposing viewpoints are, by their very definition, american. the diversity, the disagreement among ourselves is actually american, not un-american. whether it is the kansas small business owner who feels -- who fears losing health care insurance or the brave participants in the seneca falls convention, americans have the right to be heard and a right to play a part in the american
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political process. no one has the right to call those people un-american. the litmus test for what is or is not american behavior cannot be administered or measured in partisan terms. yet the bulk of the comments made by the majority leader attempted to do just that. so i'm disappointed that it's even necessary for me to be on the senate floor to talk about these disparaging comments, but the american people deserve an accountable legislature. so whether you agree or disagree with the direction of our country, you disagree with the direction it's heading or you think we're doing okay, you're still an american. and you have the right to voice that opinion without having your allegiance to the united states called into question. mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that the call of the quorum be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i now ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session to consider nominations numbered 568, 569, 569, 571, no the nominee neighs be confirmed en bloc, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate, no further motions be in order to any mom nationnations, statements be prescriptive ed in the record and president obama be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate resume legislative session. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. moran: senator grassley, the ranking member of the judiciary committee, is unable to be here on the floor at this time. and on his behalf i object. the presiding officer: shoarksd. objection is heard. mr. reid: mr. president, i'll read into the record -- maybe tojts, if i'll do it among day -- statements made in the past by the ranking member on the
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judiciary committee, where he talked in detail about how foolish it would be to have cloture on nominations for judges. his exact words. i'll do that. i'm disappointed that there's been an objection. but as indicated yesterday, we're at groundhog year. why would this next week be any different than the rest of this year? they have objected and obstructed -- "they" meaning the republicans of the senate -- to everything. look what we just finished, and i mean finished: a bill that had been worked on for a long, long time by the junior senator from vermont, the chairman of the veterans' committee, a bill that would help veterans. no one disputes the bill would help veterans. all 26 veterans organizations, including the american legions and the veterans of foreign wars, supported that legislation. plus 24 other veterans
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organizations. and what happens over here? the republicans, they figured out a way to say "no." they always do that. but the way they say "no" is obstruct, and that's what they did on this veterans bill. i hope every veteran in america understands the fact that we had something that would improve their lives, improve the lives of the fighting men and women who came back from iraq, afghanistan, and those aging veterans from vietnam and some from korea and some from world war ii who are still with us. because of the obstruction over here, continual obstruction, do anything they can to slow down the obama administration, they are willing to even hurt veterans. this was a bill, mr. president, that didn't take a single penny. it was paid for with war money,
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leftover war money. we agreed to have amendments, but that -- that's just all -- all hot air from the republicans. we would be willing to do these bills if they would allow us to have amendments. and they figured out a way to say "no" again. so we have to invoke cloture on district court judges that my friend, the ranking member of the judiciary committee has said time appeared time again that it shouldn't happen. i will either do it tonight or i'll do it monday, read verbatim into the record what he has said in the pavment i now move to proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 659. the presiding officer: question is on the motion. all in favor say aye. all opposed say nay. the ayes have it.
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the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. reid: i believe there is a cloture motion -- the presiding officer: the clerk will -- mr. reid: i'm complete i spend d it end to rush that. i am sear about that, mr. president. the clerk: department of justice, debo adegbile of new york to be an assistant attorney general. mr. reid: mr. president, i believe there is a cloture motion at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of debo adegbile of new york to be an assistant attorney general, signed by 17 senators as follows: mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that the reading of the names be waived. officer sphe without objection. mr. reid: i move to proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: without objection. question is on the motion. all in favor say aye. all opposed, say nay. the ayes appear to have t the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to.
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mr. reid: i now move to proceed to calendar number 568. mr. president, we have to move to executive session. i'm sorry about that. i ask that that be part of the agreement. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed to executive session. all in favor say aye. all opposed, say nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report. the clerk: the judiciary, pedro delgado hernandez of puerto rico to be united states district judge for the district of puerto rico. mr. reid: mr. president, there is a cloture motion at the desk that i ask to be reported. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. the clerk: cloture motion, we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the nomination of pedro a. delgado hernandez of puerto rico to be united states district judge for the district of puerto rico, signed by 17 senators as


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