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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  February 10, 2015 10:00am-3:01pm EST

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immigration. also possible this week debate on the nomination of ashton carter to be the next defense secretary. this is live coverage of the senate here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. holy god, you make the clouds your chariot and walk upon the wind. we see your works in the rising of the sun and in its setting. for the beauty of the earth and
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the glory of the skies, we give you praise. today make our lawmakers heirs of peace, demonstrating that they are your children as they strive to do your work on earth. may they take pleasure in doing your will, knowing that, by so doing, they are fulfilling your purposes in our world. lord, you are never far from us, but often we are far from you, so show us your ways and teach us your paths. thank you that your mercy is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who come to you with
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reverence. may your glory endure forever. we pray in your great name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to h.r. 240.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to calendar number 5 h.r. 240, an act making appropriations for the department of homeland security for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2015, and for other purposes. mr. mcconnell: mr. president many americans have already started a the process of filling out their tax returns much it is a stressful time of year. thanks to obamacare many are sure 20 to find it even more stressful due to obamacare's million-plus dollars of tax increases. if you have health insurance obama hasobamacare has a tax for that. if you don't obamacare has a fax for that. and if your coverage is deemed too generous or not generous enough obamacare has a fax for you. some of these taxes are paid by consumers directly, others are passed alopping in the form of higher premiums, increased costs, and lost opportunities.
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but many fall on the shoulders of the middle class. and there's more to the issue too. because obamacare has done what many thought impossible: it's made a mind-numbingly complex tax code even more 0 so. for the first time the government will be asking you on your tax returns if you had health insurance for every month of last year, and if you didn't, well you guessed it, obamacare has a tax for that, too. but this is only a portion of the cost and complexity obamacare threatens to impose on millions this tax season. here's how one health law expert put it: "it'll be very easy to find people who are unhappy with obamacare's new tax obligations. people move to pay a penalty who have to wait forever to get through for somebody at the
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i.r.s. or have to pay back a lot of money because of overpayment of premium tax credits. qulings "and this is from an expert who supports obamacare. the truth is, obamacare is a law that just keeps on giving, giving headaches to the middle class it meant millions of cancellation notices it meant higher costs for many, and now this. remember too the i.r.s., the same agency charged with processing your tax return, is now in charge of implementing implementing vast sections of obamacare. the same agency that spent so much time trying to silent free speech the same agency that awarded bonuses to employees who owed back-taxes, this is an agency charged with enforcing obamacare's web of complexity. americans are right to question the i.r.s.'s confidence to handle so much sensitive information. we just received another
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reminder of that recently. one of the obama administration's own inspectors general released a damning report of this troubled agency. the report found that the i.r.s. recently rehired hundreds of individuals who'd left the agency under clouds of misconduct. it took back individuals who'd especially gaged in sexual harassment criminal misconduct and fraud. on at least one occasion, it ignored case file notes that warned "do not rehire." the tax collector for america even rehired people who willfully failed to file their tax returns. now, i know the chairman of the finance committee plans to dig into issues like these. he wants answers. we all do. the american people zev deserve them. they're tired of seeing a government that's lost focus on them. and they are a tired of enduring obamacare's growing list of
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failed promises. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: i'm not going to be able to be here the rest of the week. more than likely, i have a personal matter i have to deal with. but i think to take a minute and talk about -- but i want to take a minute an talk about somebody who i've worked with for 30 dwreers in the senate. that's kathie alvarez who has done such a great job of tableting our votes and just being somebody who's always here. we've had a great relationship. i know nothing about her politics. i just know something about her personality, which is warm and she has a great sense of humor
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and i'm going to miss her a great deal. and i wish her the very best. she's now worked in the senate for some 30 years. and for fen that's for anyone that's had any dealings with her i'm sure their experience has been just like mierntion a mine, a very pleasant experience. i wish you the very best in the future. and if you need any recommendations, i'd be happy to give one. mr. president, during the last six years of the obama administration there's been 12 million jobs created -- 12 million. now, remember, when president obama took office, because of the bush administration and their activities, we were losing 800,000 jobs a month -- a month. so i think it speaks well of what is taking place in the last six years to be able to talk about creating 12 million private-sector jobs. now, not everyone has benefited
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from these jobs, but a lot of people have. we in nevada, i wish we were doing better, but we're doing much better than we were. in fact, the nevada unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since 2008 last month. but, mr. president these are private-sector jobs. if we had had just a little bit of help with public-sector jobs, we would be back to the clinton years. the economy would really be on fire. now, the environment and public works committee is environment and public works committee. the senior senator from oklahoma has been one of the leaders in that committee for a long time. he and i disagree greatly with what he does and what he believes dealing with the environment part of that committee. but we have significant agreement on the other part of that committee -- the public sector environment and public works. he has been really out front talking about the need to do
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something with the highway bill, to create these jobs which are good for the economy. i know that he and senator boxer are working to do something with a new highway bill, and i am behind them. i hope that they can work something out. it would be so important if we could do something to help the public sector and no place is better to go to do something with infrastructure. we have a $ed 3 $3 trillion deficit with infrastructure in this country, bridges collapsing, bridges in a state of disrepair. of course, highways most highways get a c-minute news great at best. so a the love things that we can do to help the economy and do something to take all of the pressure off the private sector. unemployment is down to 5.7%. the stock market, all three of them are at all-time highs. manufacturing is doing quite well. the automobile industry --
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mr. president, we struggle back here. when the great general motors was going bankrupt, chrysler was going bankrupt, ford was hanging on and we stepped forward and said we've got to do something about saving one of america's great industries, and we did that. and, quite frankly mr. president, we received so much criticism from the republicans. they were willing to let the automobile sector go bankrupt. we started cash for clunkers, we did all kinds of things. but now these companies are thriving and rightfully so. the automobile industry has rebounded and that's an understatement. a number of the economies are on the right track. i state for the second time here this morning does that mean everyone has benefited? the answer is no. but a the love us have benefited. -- but a lot of us have benefited. but throughout all this, mr. president, in america this great country of ours, the rich are getting richer, the poor are
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getting poorer, and the middle class is being scweesed and that we need to recognize. let's duck talk about the economy. 12 million private-sector jobs. could we do better? the answer is yes. it would have been great had we not been thwarted, stopped because of a number of filibusters. we would have a minimum wage for the entire country. we were unable to get that john. -- get that done. that would be great for the middle class. it would be great if we could do something about the largest debt america has. it is not credit cards. it's student loan debts debts. i've been so -- i'm in admiration of the senior senator from illinois as to what he's done about student debts. he's spoken out about some of the things that are going on in our country dealing with education that are absolutely wrong. but one one thing that's wrong is we're place ago burden on these young men and women and their
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families. there are many things that we should have done that we didn't do including equal pay for equal work. wewell that didn't happen. i think we need to look at what has happened with the republicans dealing with the economy. they are doing things that are not helping. look at the political magazine -- political paper today. they talk about what the republicans are doing with these riders on money to fund homeland security. at a bear minimum that would increase the debt some $30 billion. we can say that for each dreamer -- there's about 600,000 of them -- the republicans want to deport every one of these dreamers deport them. the asmg cost of deporting these people is $10,000 each. do the math. $10,000 times 600,000 -- that would all go toward the debt,
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increasing the debt. so shutting down the department of homeland security is where we're headed with this and such a shame. or having a continuing resolution. each of these would be a disaster for our economy. if republicans refuse to fund homeland security, tens of thousands of employees that secretary johnson is in charge of would have to be furloughed. he says up to 30,000. others would be ordered to come to work and not be paid. now the republicans say we may not fund it, but we would do it at last year's levels, which would be a disaster for the states. there are programs that secretary johnson funds that are so important to states. terrorism centers -- there is a great one -- big one in arizona waiting to be funded. if we have a c.r., continuing resolution it won't be funded. we have programs related to k-9
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units. wouldn't be funded. and secretary johnson laid out on all the tv shows this past weekend about what would happen if we didn't fund the department of homeland security or what would happen if we had to go with the continuing resolution. safer grants, even with firefighters these are tremendously important for states like nevada and the rest of the country. so my republican colleagues who now have a huge majority here in congress why don't you work to improve the economy not hurt the economy? let's pass a clean bill and send it to the president. america deserves a safe homeland. and when you get a conservative newspaper like the "wall street journal" criticizing the republicans as they did yesterday about what they're doing with homeland security, they have what they fail to do with immigration, they have been so critical of the republicans. they have a huge majority, and as the "wall street journal"
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said yesterday why don't they use it to the advantage of the american people, which they haven't done. the presiding officer: under the previous order the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order the senate will be in morning business until 12:30 p.m. with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each with the first hour equally divided with the democrats controlling the first half and the republicans controlling the final half. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: mr. president, it is only 17 days, 17 days in the department of homeland security of the united states of america runs out of funding. the department of homeland security. this is the department we created after 9/11. we said america needs to be safer. we have to put in place those safeguards to make sure that 9/11 never happens again. we created a new department, and it was done on a bipartisan basis. joe lieberman was a democrat
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from connecticut serving in the senate joined with susan collins, a republican from maine, on our side of the rotunda with like-minded people on the other side and they crafted this new department. they brought together 22 different agencies. they tried their best to achieve efficiency to eliminate duplication, save money but have a mission that is accomplished in keeping america safe. if you think about the departments of government, of course the department of defense comes to mind immediately when it comes to our safety. but not far behind is the department of homeland security. so it was december when the republicans in the house of representatives, given a choice of funding the government for this year, decided they would pick out one department and not fund it on a regular basis. they decided that one department would be funded on what they call a continuing resolution, which means kind of grabbing last year's budget and trying to make it work this year. what was that one department that the republicans decided
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needed to be handled differently and not properly funded? the department of homeland security. and that department in 17 days will run out of money again. what are they thinking? what is happening in those closed door meetings when speaker tbhair and -- speaker boehner and house republicans or republican leader mcconnell and senate republicans plot their strategy? is there anyone in that room that says i think we may have picked the wrong department not to fund? the department of homeland security is one we think about instantly when we see the terrible things done by isis, these terrorists and treatments and pray to god they're never visited in the united states and pray to god they come to an ending as quickly as possible. yet this department, homeland security, has been the target of republicans to really execute a political ploy, a political strategy because here's what
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they say: the way to get the president's attention on immigration is to refuse to fund the department of homeland security. well they not only have the president's attention, they have the attention of the united states of america. people are asking what are the congressional republicans thinking? naskt, the -- in fact, the latest inquiry referred to by the democratic leader was an editorial yesterday in, of all things the "wall street journal." and it said that "can the g.o.p. change?" and it basically challenges the whole strategy of jeopardizing the funding for the department of homeland security in order to make a point that they disagree with the president on immigration. what we offered, what the "wall street journal" suggests is let's have a debate on immigration but not at the expense of funding the department of homeland security. that's what they've called for. and so, i ask consent to add to the record, after my remarks
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here this "wall street journal" editorial of february 9 2015. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: thank you mr. president. so what are these immigration provisions that have the republicans in such a rage that they're willing to jeopardize the funding of the department of homeland security? one of them relates to a bill i introduced 14 years ago the dream act. and now over the span of 14 years, though this has not become the law of the land, it has become shorthand for a challenge we have with our broken immigration system. here's the challenge. there were infants toddlers and small children brought to the united states by their parents many years ago. they were not documented. they grew up in this country. they went to school in this country. they speak english. they have dreams about what this will do with their future. but being undocumented, they're unable to realize those dreams. the dream act said if they have a clean criminal record, they graduated from high school and they're willing to serve in our
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military or go on to college we'll give them a path to legalization in america. these are young people who know no other country. these are young people raised in america, in our educational system at the expense of our taxpayers, i might add, who have been successes in life and want to continue to be part of america. they only know one flag, the one they pledge of allegiance to everybody morning to in the classroom, same one we do here on the senate floor. they only know one national anthem. and yet they're being told by the republicans that they should leave. how many are there? we estimate two million across our country. 600,000 signed up for president obama's protection program called daca, which says on a two-year basis they will not be deported. and what the republicans have said is we want to deport these dreamers two million of them, and let's start with the 600,000 that have stepped forward for protection from deportation.
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so they are risking funding the department of homeland security in order to make their point that dreamers have to go. well let's at least take a look at one of these dreamers and understand the kind of people we're talking about. this is johanna majises. she was brought to the united states from venezuela when she was a child. vee grew up in -- she grew up in colorado. she played on the high school soft team, played viola in the orchestra and dreamed of becoming a doctor. here's what johanna said about her childhood. i've become a boulderrite in all aspects of the word. that town with the beautiful mountains is truly my home. in 2011 johanna graduated from the university of colorado at boulder with a double major. i'm going to try to describe her
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major as a liberal arts lawyer, i get lost in some of these scientific terms. but here was johanna's major at the university of colorado. molecular cellular and developmental biology and psychology neuro science. she finished at the university of colorado without any government assistance because she's undocumented. she made it through with these challenging majors graduating with this double major. her dream to become a doctor. it was a dream that she thought might never come to be because she's undocumented. she literally has no country. then something happened. in 2012 president barack obama signed an executive order called daca and johanna heard there was actually a medical school that was willing to admit students
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who qualified under this daca protection. loyola strich college of medicine in the city of chicago. she couldn't believe it, and she applied quickly. and she was accepted because she is an extraordinarily bright and promising young medical student. like many states across the country, my home state of illinois faces a shortage of physicians in some communities. loyola university decided, all right, if a daca-protected young graduate is willing to come here and qualifies in the competitive field of admissions to medical school -- and qualifies -- they can come to loyola medical school if they promise to give one year of service after they're doctors for every year of medical school. if they promise to go to an underserved area where in the inner city or rural areas there are not enough doctors.
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johanna signed up for it. she said it was worth it. she would give a year of her life for each year of medical school if she were just given a chance to become a doctor. this daca loan program that we've created is one that allows these students to receive the loans they need to finish at loyola medical school. last fall johanna began medical school at loyola. i was there one of the first days that i met her. she's even more impressive than anything i can say in this speech. and after she graduates she's agreed to stay in my state of illinois to help people who need a doctor. here's what she wrote me in a letter and here's what she said about her life experience, when the year 2012 came along my life changed. my dreams of becoming a doctor became a possibility again because of daca. i was now able to apply for a medical internship program take the medical school interns exam
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and apply to medical school all because of daca. daca has defined my path. daca has relit a fire within me to succeed and continue to pursue my dreams. isn't that an amazing story that a young girl would come here, realize she was undocumented fight her way through for a bachelors degree in these challenging subjects, continuing to keep alive the dream that maybe just maybe something will happen and give her a chance to become a doctor. and then the president signs this executive order and now she's in medical school in my state because our medical school is in shirks is going to -- she is in chicago is going to benefit because she will go to one of the down state communities begging for a doctor. she will go to one of the inner city neighborhoods in chicago and serve people who are struggling to get basic medical care. what an amazing story. an amazing story that will come to a bitter end if the republicans have their way on this bill. the republican answer to johanna
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after all of your life's work, after all of your dreams fulfilled is to leave. leave america. they are prepared to deport her and 600,000 others just like her. they think america will be a better nation if we get rid of someone like johanna. what are they thinking? and they are challenging the very funding of the department of homeland security with this strategy of deporting the dreamers. it doesn't make any sense mr. president. i'll tell you whether you're conservative or liberal this makes no sense to spend $9,000 to deport her instead of finding $9,000 to help her finish medical school and be part of america's future. mr. president, we are a nation of immigrants. my mother was an immigrant to this country and i stand on the floor of the united states senate proudly representing the state of illinois.
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that's my story. that's my family's story. that's america's story. those who would devise a strategy, what i consider to be a divisive, negative, hateful strategy for people like her are not thinking clearly about who we are as americans. we are a nation of immigrants. people from all across this world who have had the courage to pick up and come to america to work some of the toughest, dirtiest hardest jobs so their kids like johanna would have a chance for a better future. that story has been repeated over and over millions of times and the republicans with their strategy their anti-immigration strategy would kill that dream kill that story. i hope that we have the good sense to fund the department of homeland security. if there's going to be a debate about dreamers and their future, count me in. i want to be part of it. i want to come to the floor and tell these stories about real lives affected by these political decisions.
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and i trust the outcome in the senate. but don't stop the funding for the department of homeland security in the meantime. let us make sure that we are committed to our heritage as a nation of immigrants and to our future where young people like johanna can be a bright part of tomorrow for so many needy people across america. mr. president, i ask consent that the next statement i'm about to make be placed in a separate part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, we continue to debate the affordable care act and the affordable care act -- i see the senator from vermont is here so i'll be very brief. the affordable care act is the effort that we passed in the senate to try to make america a better place for those who need health insurance. our goal was accessibility to, make sure more and more people would have access to affordable health care. our goal was to try to transform health care into something that was more preventive, something that reduced the likelihood
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someone would be hospitalized or have a serious disease. our goal was to try to make certain that we created incentives within the practice of medicine for quality care, not the most expensive care. and we've achieved many of those goals. in the first year -- in the first year. some ten million americans now have access to health insurance through the affordable care program. and yelt -- and yet the republicans in the house as late as last week for the 56th time voted to repeal the affordable care act. what do they want to replace it with? the answer is, they don't have a replacement. they are just so determined to kill this program. now, i will say to their credit, the two republican senators have stepped up and said, here's what we would suggest as an alternative. i want to acknowledge that they are the first, i believe after
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all these years to actually step up with a proposal. but it is important for us to take a close look at this proposal. this new plan, which the republicans offered, does not offer the same protection when it comes to insuring people with preexisting conditions. does anyone know a person in their family or friend with a preexisting condition medical condition? ive's -- everybody's hand ought to go up. the new republican approach, the new approach to replace the current protection of people with preexisting conditions doesn't give the same opportunity for health insurance for those people. that to me, is a fatal flaw. second will you we decided that we'd make prescription drugs under medicare for seniors more affordable. we used to have something called the doughnut hole. it cost seniors over $1,000 a year just to pay for their
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prescription drugs. we started closing that doughnut hole and it saves on average in illinois for every senior citizen $780 a year. so that's $780 for the seniors to have in their savings in their checkbook. well the new republican approach the hatch-burr program, eliminated that and we go back to the doughnut hole. we go back to this debt. sadly, it doesn't provide the medicaid coverage, which people in low-income categories need. i'm going to close because i see senator leahy here, and i want to give him his chance. take a close look at medicaid much the vast majority of people receiving medicaid benefits in america are children and pregnant moms -- children and pregnant moms. when you cut back on medicaid, as this hatch-burr proposal does you do it at their expense. but the largest number of -- in terms of dollars spent that receive that's benefits are
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those in nursing homes that are broke. medicaid medicare, social security -- keep thm alive. and when you cut back on medicaid cut back on the reimbursement to the nursing home the obvious question is what's going to happen to grandma, what's going to happen to your mom? so when you start cutting back on medicaid, look long a j and hard. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from vempletsenator from vermont. mr. leahy: i was listening to what the senator from illinois was saying. i could not say it as well as he did, but i agree with every single word. he said, and i suspect that vermonters republicans and democrats alike agree with what he said. mr. president, on another issue almost two weeks ago the attorney general nominee loretta lynch came before the senate
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judiciary committee. she testified for nearly eight hours. in fact, as one who's heard attorney general nominees testify for the past 40 years i cannot think of anybody who did a better job. she was clear concise a prosecutor's prosecuteprosecutor's prosecutor. she's also responded to more than 600 writ written questions. 600. many of them have absolutely nothing to do with whether she is qualified for toarpg or not. but people felt they had to send in these questions for whatever reason they had. but she responded to them all whether they were relevant or not. and when she is confirmed, she will be a the first african-american woman to serve as the attorney general of the
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united states in our nation's history. and a majority of members of the committee, both republican and democratic have said they intend to support her confirmation. i'm confident she has the votes to be kch confirmed by the full senate. but as of today it's been 94 days since the president announced the nomination of ms. lynch. her nomination has been pending longer than any modern attorney general nominee. we should all be able to agree that confirming the top law enforcement position should be an urgent priority of the senate. at a time when we face all kinds of threats from terrorists, both outside our borders and within our borders, we should all be united that we should have the attorney general nominee confirmed, especially one like
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loretta lirchl lynch that has the experience of successfully prosecuting numerous terrorists, people that others said we should be afraid to prosecute we should lock them up in guantanamo in case they're not convicted. she convicted them all and they're sesqui serving in supermax prince rightprisons right now. this thursday the senate judiciary committee has the opportunity to vote on her nomination. i've heard that even though she has waited longer than anybody ever has to be confirmed as attorney general that some republicans are considering delaying the important vote for her for two more weeks. under our rule, they have the right to do so. but i'd urge them not to do so.
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i mean, her -- loretta lynch's qualifications are beyond reproach. she's been confirmed by the senate twice before to serve as the top federal prosecutor based in brooklyn, new york, the most significant prosecutor's office in this country. incidentally, she was confirmed both times unanimously. and under her leadership, the united states attorney's office for the eastern district of new york has brought terrorists to justice and convicted them. she's gotten convictions against both republicans and democrats in public corruption cases. sheshe has fought tirelessly against violent crime. it's hard to find any prosecutor in this country in any administration that has a better record than she does, and her record shows that as attorney general ms. lynch will effectively, fairly, and
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independently enforce the law. now, you think back to 2007 when michael mukasey was nominated by president bush to serve as attorney general. now, president bush was in the end of his term as president. the democrats had just taken over majority in the senate. i served as chairman of the senate judiciary committee. president bush talked to me and said we need, of course, an attorney general. i agreed, and i knew that like ms. lynch, judge mukasey had been confirmed before by the senate and i also knew that this was coming toward the end of the bush presidency. now, ultimately i voted against judge mukasey because of his responses relating to questions
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on torture but even though i was going to vote against him i proceeded with his nomination in a very prompt manner. it took just 53 days from the announcement of judge mukasey's nomination to his confirmation. 53 days for him. it's been 94 days for her. ms. lynch is needlessly on track to take more than twice the amount of time it took a democratically led senate to confirm president bush's nominee nominee. after his hearing senate democrats could have held his nomination over in committee. we did not do that to him. and you'd ask republicans don't do it to her. in fact, i had to hold a special markup to report his nomination out of committee as soon as possible. and he was confirmed two days later.
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republicans should extend the same courtesy to expedite ms. lynch's nomination, as we did to mr. mukasey's. last week the secretary of defense nominee testified before the senate armed armed services committee -- last week. he's going to be reported to the floor today. he's expected to be confirmed by the end of the week. now, i agree the defense secretary is a critically important position to fill, and i will vote for him. but so is the nation's top law enforcement officer. i urge senate republicans to allow a vote on ms. lynch's nomination before we adjourn for a week-long recess. please don't treat her differently than we treated mr. mukasey. we were able to give him an expedited procedure. she has already waited much longer than he did. don't make her wait even longer.
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mr. president, with that, i yield the floor. and i suggest the absence of a quorum -- i see nobody else seeking recognition. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. leahy: i ask consent that the call of the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president in vermont, small businesses are the foundation of our state's economy. they spur economic growth and create jobs.
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one such place is darn tough socks, which sounds like a very small place but it's not. they decided we should have up upscale brand quality of socks with a lifetime guarantee produced in america. not have to, like so many other things be exported from other companies. they've done a huge amount of charity in our state but they are also one that shows that jobs can be created in america and can thrive in america. i would ask unanimous consent a full copy of my statement and an article from the "vermont digger" of february 8 2015, be
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included in the record as this point as though read. officer sper without objection. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: and mr. president again i see nobody seeking recognition. 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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mr. thune: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: mr. president i ask the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president for the past week democrats have been filibustering a bill to
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fund the department of homeland security for the remainder of the fiscal year. they object to the bill because it does not fund president obama's executive overreach on immigration despite the fact that the president spent years declaring that he didn't have the constitutional authority to grant amnesty. i want to quote something the president said here a few years back. "believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting," the president told an audience on july 25, 2011. he goes on to say "i promise you not just on immigration reform, but that's not how our system works. that's not how our democracy functions. that's not how our constitution is written." end quote. on january 30 of 2013 the president told an audience -- and i quote -- "i'm not a king. i'm required to follow the law." end quote. later that same day he said -- and i quote -- "if this was an issue that i could do unilaterally, i would have done
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it a long time ago. the way our system works is congress has to pass legislation. i then get an opportunity to sign it and implement it." end quote. mr. president, president obama was right. the constitution does not give the president authority to make laws. it's congress's job to make laws. it is the president's job to execute them. and clearly based on these statements the president knows that. he's reiterated that sentiment more than 20 times over the past few years and yet a few months ago he decided to ignore the law and the constitution and attempt to make immigration law by executive fiat. how can he possibly justify that? well, members of his own party were troubled by that decision. i have to be honest how this is coming about makes me uncomfortable, said a colleague
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from the state of missouri back in november. the junior senator from indiana said -- and i quote -- "the president shouldn't make such significant policy changes on his own." while the junior senator from minnesota admitted, "i have serious concerns." i should say "i have concerns about executive action." i also frankly am concerned about the constitutional separation of powers. that was from the independent senator from the state of maine. lots of democrats here in the chamber in the senate as well as an independent mr. president have expressed their reservations their concerns about how the president has proceeded on this. well democrats are right to be concerned, which makes it particularly troubling that democrats are now trying to shut down the department of homeland security to protect the president's overreach. because make no mistake that's what this is. democrats are refusing to fund the department of homeland security unless funding is provided for the president's
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unconstitutional attempt to make his own immigration laws. if democrats don't like this bill, they should vote to debate the measure and then offer amendments to fix the parts they don't like. mr. president, republicans are ready and willing to entertain democrats' amendments. in fact, the republican leader has offered to let democrats alternate amendments with republicans on a one-for-one basis. an open debate, what the senate's known for on a big issue. democrats want to fund actions that even they have admitted are troubling. they're welcome to offer an amendment to provide that funding. they have that opportunity mr. president. what we're talking about here is the republican leader, senator mcconnell, offering an open process, something that we've talked about since we became the majority something that those of us who were in the majority were denied the last session of congress when we were in the minority. that's the opportunity to have an open debate, a chance to
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offer amendments and to have votes on those amendments. that is precisely what the republican leader, senator mcconnell, has put forward. he's given the democrats that option. let's put this bill up on the floor. let's open it up. we'll give awe chance to offer amendments. you don't like what's in the bill you get an opportunity to offer amendments, have that debate and vote. democrats, mr. president need to stop their obstruction and move forward on this bill. blocking all funding for the department of homeland security is not a responsible solution, especially when democrats are blocking the bill solely, solely to protect presidential actions the president himself has admitted are unconstitutional and outside the scope of his authority. mr. president, we can end all this. we can -- this gridlock that's existing right now on the senate
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floor simply by the democrats allowing us to get on this bill, end the filibuster, give us an opportunity to debate and offer amendments and let's have that debate a debate that clearly is important to a lot of people across this country and certainly important to people here in the chamber of the united states senate but who are going to be denied that opportunity if the current filibuster and the current blocking of even getting on that legislation continues by the democrats. mr. president, i'd also like to take a few minutes today to discuss the president's foreign policy or i might say lack there thereof. lack thereof seems to be the most accurate description of the president's lead from behind on foreign policy whether it's a proxy war in the ukraine or use of chemical weapons in syria the president is slow to respond or unclear about american goals even when he does. months after the ascension of isis a terrorist organization so radical so radical that even al qaeda considers it to be too extreme, the president still
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hasn't laid out a strategy for combatting this threat. isis represents a horrifying new nader in the annals of terrorism. there is apparently no act of brutality this organization rejects yet a clear plan for defeating isis has yet to be articulated. this week the president is supposed to send congress the authorization for military force against isis. i look forward to examining that proposed authorization. since isis first emerged the president has had the authority he needs to go after this terrorist group but i think seeking additional authorization from congress is wise, and i hope it will help define his strategy for combatting this enemy and supporting our partners in this fight. mr. president, america clearly can't fix all the world's problems but we can help. we can build a coalition and we
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can lead. we can give our commanders in the field the tools they need to meet our clear and growing threats. six years of indecisions mistakes and presidential irresolution have dim minimum nished america's -- diminished america's image with our allies. the triumphs over diplomatic and military objectives has made the world less safe, not more. now more than ever we need a clearly articulated foreign policy from the president and the commitment to back it up. mr. president, later this week we'll consider the nomination of ash carter to be secretary of defense. dr. carter seems to be a very capable individual and i believe he will serve our country well. but, mr. president changing personnel alone won't fix the president's foreign policy problems. even a very capable secretary of defense cannot succeed if his
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hands are tied by the lack of a coherent strategy from the president. as crises multiply around the world the president needs to provide the leadership that is required from a commander in chief. whether it's defeating isis, standing up to russia or confronting iran's nuclear ambition, it is high time we saw the leadership from our president that our country needs and deserves. mr. president, i yield the floor. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. heinrich: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. heinrich: i would ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without
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objection. mr. heinrich: the department of homeland security funding runs out in 17 days. rather than working with democrats to pass a clean department of homeland security appropriations bill, many republicans are prioritizing politics over our national security. with threats emerging every day both at home and abroad casting doubt on future funding for the department of homeland security is a terrible idea. shutting down d.h.s. has real consequences especially in border states like new mexico. a d.h.s. shutdown would threaten public safety, it would hinder interstate commerce, hurt our comirks and jeopardize critical fuppedzing for state local and tribal government activities. some of my republican colleagues are willing to let these things happen because they have an
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immigration policy disagreement with the president. that, mr. president, is no way to govern, and i.t. not real leadership -- and it's not real leadership. as a border state, new mexico plays a critical role in protecting our homeland. d.h.s. custom, and boater protection agents and officers at new mexico's two ports of entry -- at columbus and santa teresa -- are responsible for our security, for screening vehicles and crossers. these public servants put in long hours in order to keep all of us safe. they apprehend drug smuggle,human traffickers and gang members and they play a direct role in facilitating critical trade and interstate commerce between the united states and mexico. that impacts our economy in new mexico particularly in adogo
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and two other koints. new mexico is a growing international trade center and the columbus and santa teresa ports of entry are key to my state's economy. recently a house republican said that if we run out of d.h.s. funding that -- quote -- "it's not the end of the world." unquote. i disagree. and so do many of my constituents. let me be clear about what a d.h.s. shutdown would mean for new mexico. it would impact our southeast federal law enforcement training center in artesia. this facility trains our border and customs agents. and it would compromise sheriff and city police departments who use d.h.s. funding to increase personnel and purchase equipment. moreover d.h.s. helps fund some of our most important security
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programs such as the new mexico all-source intelligence center, a public safety partnership based out of santa fe that is designed to collect analyze and disseminate intelligence. a shutdown would also risk important d.h.s. grant funding for new mexico at the department of homeland security and emergency management. this agency works closely with d.h.s. to aid communities after natural disasters. so in times of crisis, d.h.s. works hand in glove with the state of new mexico. for example just last year, severe thunderstorms and floods caused disruption of oil and gas development, agricultural losses and extensive damage to critical infrastructure across new mexico. hitting counties like colfax, otero, and sierra county. fema an agency under d.h.s.,
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worked collaboratively to help these communities rebuild and to recover. in fact, since 2002, new mexico has received more than $238 million in d.h.s. grant funds. these resources provide statewide hazard mitigation assistance and they help repair damaged roads bridges and low-water crossings after these disasters. as current cabinet secretary designate for new mexico department of homeland security and emergency management mitchell jay puts it, "a d.h.s. shutdown would "have a very negative effect, will lose our grant funding for local and state emergency managers. we fund a portion of their salaries through d.h.s. grants and we can't nor can the counties and municipalities, afford to absorb those costs at this time. we can't afford to lose our emergency managers. they're key representatives in
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our communities who help develop mitigation plans for all types of emergencies. they're our first line of defense should any emergencies occur at the local level." these examples are just a glimpse at the security, the economic and the emergency risks of allowing d.h.s. funding to expire. former department of homeland security secretaries tom ridge michael chertoff, and janet napolitano joined in a bipartisan call for congress to act swiftly and remove uncertainty from an agency in charge of keeping us safe. a department of homeland security shutdown would also either furlough d.h.s. employees or require many of them to work without a paycheck. that means men and women who work tirelessly to keep our nation safe would have to live with the uncertainty of whether or not they're able to support
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their families. d.h.s. workers don't deserve that. they shouldn't be collateral damage in an ongoing ideological battle here in washington d.c. i would like to believe that a debate like this would be about the merits of d.h.s. funding and the d.h.s. funding bill, but unfortunately, that's just not the case. this debate is about republicans picking a political fight with the president over an immigration system that we all recognize is broken. and as a way to vent their frustrations, republicans are unfairly targeting undocumented students known as dreamers. at times like this one is forced to wonder if some on the far right fear dreamers more than isil but we're not a country that kicks out our best and brightest students and we're not a nation that separates
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families. i've met many dreamers over the past ten years in new mexico. they are smart they're hardworking, and most of them don't know how to be anything but an american. they grew up here and they want to give back. i've heard their stories. i've read their letters. for example there's a bright young new mexican named ju ri. her family emigrated from mexico to the united states when she was just two years old. and as a student at high land high school in my neighborhood in albuquerque yuri volunteered in our community. she served as student body president. she graduated in the top 10% of her class and she received the 2013 sandia national laboratories scholarship. in 2013 she was approved for deferred action for childhood
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arrivals snoan as daca -- known as daca, and is currently studying democrat cal engineering at the university of new mexico. she wants to use her degree to enter the medical field. less than two years ago after much debate and compromise, the senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill. that bill would have modernized our immigration system to meet the needs of our economy. it would have provided an accountable pathway to earn citizenship for the undocumented workers currently living in the shadows in our country. and it would have dramatically strengthened security at our borders. accountable immigration reform received 68 votes in this body and demonstrated the kind of legislation and the kind of leadership that is possible when we work together.
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the american people are frustrated with the gridlock here in washington d.c. and, frankly mr. president, i don't blame them. we need pragmatic solutions to fix our immigration system, but withholding d.h.s. funding and jeopardizing our national security is not a solution. and in fact, i would say it's emblematic of just what is broken. so instead of focusing on deporting some of our country's brightest students, i would urge my republican colleagues in the house and here in the senate to direct their attention to the real threats our country faces. the gang members the drug traffickers, the cyber hackers and the terrorists. let's work together to make sure that the department of homeland security is adequately funded. thank you mr. president and i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: thank you mr. president. i rise to urge the senate to take up a clean homeland security appropriation bill and pass it without further delay. i know that we've had several votes on the floor on proceeding and i would just urge the leadership to make it clear that we stand on record for a clean homeland security appropriation bill. we have an obligation to protect the american people. given the terrorist threat we face both at home and abroad, it is irresponsible to continue to fund the department of homeland security with short-term budgets and bring them to the edge of an agency shutdown. we also should not force hardworking federal workers to stand in the crossfire between congress and the president. providing the resources that our federal, state and local law enforcement officers need to carry out their vital around-the-clock mission should not be cut caught up in the partisan political disagreements.
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we need a clean appropriation bill for the department of homeland security. we face a dangerous world today. in light of recent terrorist attacks throughout europe, asia, north america and the ongoing threat of isis. i know i express the views of all members of the senate our deep condolences and prayers to the kayla moore family as we learned today of her fate at the hands of isis. isis is actively recruiting foreign fighters that are being radicalized and they return to their home countries including countries in europe and north america. we need to fully fund without further delay uncertainty or another short-term budget the critical homeland security law enforcement and intelligence activities and programs of the department of homeland security. mr. president, we are now four months into the fiscal year. one-third of the fiscal year is already over for the department of homeland security. we should not keep funding d.h.s. on short-term budgets.
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no agency or private business, for that matter, can effectively implement a budget and carry out its mission under this type of financial tightrope. how would you like to run a business not knowing whether your budget's going to be there starting march 1? how do you plan? how do you make the type of commitments for the year to carry out your mission when you don't know whether you're going to have the budget support starting march 1 whether it's going to be continued on a continuing resolution, whether you're going to have to go through a government shown shutdown or whether you're going to have a budget? you can't run an agency that way. d.h.s. secretary jeh johnson has stated that if congress continues to fund his agency on short-term budgets that it will harm its mission and the programs of the agencies. we created the department of homeland security in response to the devastating attack on our country on september the 11th. for example short-term funding may limit more aggressive counterterrorism efforts weaken
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our cybersecurity protections against hackers trying to corrupt or steal our data, delay enhancements to aviation security slow down new border security initiatives and defer new grants to state and local law enforcement. d.h.s. may have to delay or postpone contract awards or new acquisitions which also hurt small businesses and hurt our economy. d.h.s. will have to scale back employee training and postpone the hiring of new personnel. we have broad bipartisan support on almost all aspects of this $40 billion homeland security funding measure. this legislation funds critical agencies including coast guard transportation security administration t.s.a., federal emergency management, fema, domestic nuclear detection office and the secret service just to mention a few of the agencies that come under the department of homeland security. three former heads of the department of homeland security including both under democrat and republican administrations
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recently wrote a letter to congress urging us to pass a clean homeland security appropriation bill and avoid another short-term funding measure or, worse yet a government shutdown of the departmentment of -- department department of homeland security at the end of february. so let me just quote from a part of the letter from the former homeland security secretaries rich chertoff and napolitano who represent both republican and democratic administrations. and i quote from their letter to us. "we write to you today to respectfully request you consider decoupling critical legislation to defund d.h.s. and a legislative response to president obama's executive action on immigration. the president has said very publicly that he will oppose any legislative effort to undermine the executive actions that he has taken on immigration. therefore, by tailoring a bill to fund d.h.s. in fy 2015 to a
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legislative response to the president's executive action on immigration, the likelihood of a d.h.s. shutdown increases." the letter continues "we do not question your desire to have a larger debate about the nation's immigration laws. however, we cannot emphasize enough that d.h.s.'s responsibilities are much broader than its responsibilities to oversee the federal immigration agencies and to protect our borders. and funding for the entire agency should not be put in jeopardy by the debate about immigration. it is imperative that we ensure that d.h.s. is ready willing and able to protect the american people. to that end we urge you not to risk funding for the operations that protect every american and to pass a clean d.h.s. funding bill." three former secretaries of the department of homeland security working for both democrats and republicans. mr. president, what if congress allows d.h.s. funding to lapse
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on february 27? and that's the end of the current funding resolution. we would then ask critical frontline personnel like border patrol agents and air marshalls to work without pay -- air marshals to work without pay. that's insulting to these law enforcement officers that are putting their lives on the line to keep americans americans every day. that's insulting to the law enforcement officers who depend on a steady paycheck to make ends meet. and that's insulting to the american people, who deserve nothing less than world-class service from government officials. i must tell you we've gone through government shutdowns before. it hurts people, no question about it. but guess who gets hurt the most? the taxpayers of this country. ends up costing us more. we don't save taxpayer dollars. ends up costing us more, jeopardizing the mission and putting individual families at risk. let me give you one example that many of our states and localities know very well. it is the emergency management grant program. many local fire, police and
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emergency management officials rely on funding from the homeland security grant program which provides funds to states, territories and other local governments to prevent protect against and respond to potential terrorist attacks and other hazards. now, this is a program that the local governments rely upon. they don't know whether they're going to get any of these funds after march 1. how do they plan? local officials as well rely on funding from fema's emergency management performance grants. these grants help them to prepare for the unexpected whether it's a natural disaster or some type of terrorist activities. it allows them to be prepared. and these funding -- we require this training. it's 50% federal funds 50% local funds. well, how do they make arrangements to set up these training if they don't know whether the federal funds are going to be there? i can speak for the state of maryland. we have a very tough budget. our governor's trying to figure out how he's going to make ends meet. he -- he doesn't have the
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resources to -- to advance the federal shares. that's no way for us to work in federalism with our local governments when we have a partnership to keep everyone safe. so i can mention many other programs that are in jeopardy of not being fund funded if we don't pass a clean bill. so let me judge just in conclusion address the issue of immigration. due to many ix train yus amendments that were added by the house to the homeland security many extraneous amendments that were added to in the house to the homeland security bill, the president has said he will veto any bill that tries to address his immigration actions. while we agree immigration needs comprehensive reform, including border security and enhancements, that bill is not the place for that debate. no matter what side of this debate you are on, most of us agree that the american immigration system is badly broken. comprehensive immigration reform
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is long overdue. we need a balanced immigration system that is fair. my strong preference is that congress send the president a comprehensive immigration reform bill that he can sign into law. this would provide a more thorough and more permanent solution than executive action. the senate passed a bipartisan bill in the last congress and i'm sure we can do so again. my hope is that the house will take it up soon so that we can come together in a bipartisan way reconcile our differences and pass comprehensive immigration reform as a separate bill. funding for the department of homeland security expires friday, february 27 which is now less than three weeks away. one of those weeks we're not scheduled to be in session because of the district work period. the senate should act now to pass a clean homeland security bill and send it to the president without further delay. that's in the best interests of the american people. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. core anyone: cornyn: mr. president, i have seven unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have been approved by the majority and minority leaders. i would ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, as tempted as i am to respond to my good friend from maryland about the ongoing democratic filibuster of the homeland security funding, i want to spend just a few minutes talking about a topic where there is a broad and growing consensus where both parties have found common ground, and i'm talking about the issue of reforming america's prison system. pretty much everyone agrees that our prisons are dangerously
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overcrowded. i think there are roughly 215,000 inmates in federal 3 custody and everyone pretty much agrees that people who by and large who are in prison are someday going to get out of prison. and, of course, the concern about repeat crimes or recidivism is that it is way too high. because, frankly, i think in many instances we've simply not done enough or maybe even given up on trying to help transition people who actually want to transition to a more productive life to give them the tools they need to do so. of course, the hard part about dealing with what i just described is you have to come up with a solution that addresses these problems without jeopardizing public safety. that obviously is a given. it's a challenge, to be sure, but it even makes it more
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important where we can find bipartisan consensus that we actually try to accomplish what we can. it's in this vain that my colleague from rhode island, senator whitehouse and i have joined together to introduce a piece of legislation we call the corrections oversight recidivism reduction and eliminating costs for taxpayers in our national system. our corrections act. that's quite an acronym, it's a mouthful, to be sure. but the point is this is real, meaningful reform of our prison system at the federal level. before i describe the specifics of the correction act, i want to tell a brief story that the presiding officer is very familiar with of the success of in that laboratory of democracy known as the state of texas. not too long ago texas lawmakers confronted a problem similar to what i've described here at the national level.
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we had growing budget for prison construction overcrowded prisons and a high rate of criminalry sid vicitm. but at some point the thought occurred to a group of people that just building more prisons wasn't necessarily the answer. it wouldn't certainly fix the problem on the back end i described of people who eventually get out of prison not being prepared to reenter civil society. but we tried a different approach in texas scrapping prison construction plans and instead funding a series of recidivism reduction programs aimed at helping low-risk offenders turn their lives around and become productive members of society. and just as importantly not become residents of our prison system once again. these programs are not all that novel. they're well-known, things like
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drug rehabilitation, educational classes, job training faith-based initiatives and something as simple as prison work programs. in texas we gave qualified inmates the option of earning credits in completing a portion of their sentence in lower levels of custody home confinement, halfway houses, community supervision which is dramatically cheaper than the big-box prisons that are very expensive. the results speak for themselves. between 2007-2012 our state's overall incarceration rate fell almost 10% 9.4%. our total crime rate dropped 16% 16%, and taxpayers saved more than $2 billion. now, again the presiding
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officer knows this well. texas has a certain reputation when it comes to crime. we are not soft on crime. we are tough on crime. we believe if you do the crime you should do the time. but what i think we've come up with is a model that can be used here at the national level. senator whitehouse this morning in a press conference we did together talked about how similar initiatives that took place in rhode island produced similar results. but i think one of the keys to this is the recidivism reduction programs because these have proven successful to medium-risk and low-risk inmates and delivered positive results. this bill would also make a number of other reforms and i guess perhaps the most important and the first one i'll mention is a risk assessment program
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regular risk assessments for inmates to determine whether they're low medium or high risk of recidivism. and, indeed, we would not allow high-risk inmates to participate in this program of earning good-time credit toward less restrictive custody. but they could if they were motivated enough to change their status from high risk to medium risk. they could then begin that. so the incentives are clearly there. these assessments would assign prisoners to appropriate programming to ensure that the system is working efficiently and effectively. in other words if someone has a mental health issue obviously they would be directed in a particular way. if somebody doesn't have employable job skills, obviously that would call for some training program so they could acquire those kinds of skills. people that have drug and alcohol problems obviously could be directed towards something that would help them learn to
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free themselves from those -- from those -- from those challenges. as an incentive though, and to me this is one of the great things about this particular approach is it operates on incentives. lower-risk offenders who successfully complete their programs would earn up to 25% of their remaining sentence in home confinement or halfway house. to be clear these earned time credits would be available only to inmates who had been vetted by the bureau of prison and classified as low-risk offenders. the nation's most violent offenders would be exclude from earning any credit under this legislation. and during these budget constrained times it's important to point out that this bill would not involve any additional spending. instead, it would rely on job programs and partnerships with
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faith-based groups and nonprofits and the reinvestment potentially of the savings generated by transitioning lower risk offenders to less restrictive forms of custody. if you think about it, it's -- if it works as it has at the state level it's going to save money because we'll be building fewer prisons. indeed in texas, i believe we've actually actually shuttered three existing prison units because we just simply don't need them because of this new approach. make no mistake though the prisoners eligible for these programs are all people that eventually will get out of prison anyway and what we're trying to do is make sure that the very high risk of repeating and recidivism would go down by preparing them to better enter -- reenter society. our goal would be to make it less likely that they would commit new crimes and wind up behind bars again. so the hope and expectation is this bill would go a long way
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toward improving public safety. it would save taxpayers money. and it would ease some of the burden on our federal prisons just like we experienced in texas. this bill, in a time when we seem to be very divided on a number of topics is a consensus piece of legislation. it was voted out of judiciary committee late last year by an overwhelming vote. and i think those who expressed some reservations at the time just really wanted more opportunity to talk about it, learn more about it and perhaps they had other ideas they wanted to consider adding to it. in addition to senator whitehouse, there have been a number of colleagues who've been very interested in criminal justice reform and this is just one place one starting point which i think enjoys perhaps the broadest consensus. but i don't think we ought to be afraid of the larger discussion that a number of our colleagues including the presiding officer
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have talked about things like mandatory minimums, sentencing reform the overcriminallization of our regulatory regime where people who -- who inadvertently violate some regulation, find themselves actually accused of a crime. so all of these are really i think fair game but i think the most important thing for us to do is to start start somewhere where there is a broad consensus. let's get done what we can get done and let's not let the perfect be the enemy of the good here. i think if we can establish both in the judiciary committee and then on the floor of the senate that we're capable of moving bipartisan legislation like this forward and sending it to the president for his signature hopefully it will start a growing trend of doing that and this will be the beginning and not the end of our discussions
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and hopefully our productivity when it comes to criminal justice reform. mr. president, i yield the floor and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mrs. boxer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak in morning business for up to 10 minutes. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mrs. boxer: i would ask that that be deferred. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: thank you so much, mr. president. you know, i come to the floor -- and i've been trying to get time to do this -- because i stand here in amazement that after the
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republicans took over in january, january 6 after they won big in november they took over here, they took over the senate january 6 and it took them one month to threaten a government shutdown of the department of homeland security. unbelievable. it took them one month to get into a situation where we are threatened with a shutdown of the department of homeland security. it's unbelievable to me because we know the threat of terrorism that is all around us, and playing politics with this is absolutely uncalled for. now, why did they do that? they did that because -- they did that because the president
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under his authority said that we shouldn't deport immigrants who are raised in america. that's what they didn't like. and i would that i can go for up to 10 minutes. i already asked that before but i'm told i have to ask it again. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: i'll go back and start all over again. with terrorists all around us, republicans are playing politics with the critical funding for the department of homeland security and threatening a shutdown and it took them exactly a month in power to do that. because they didn't like the fact that the president who is in line with presidents of both parties, issued an executive order -- and, by the way obama
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has issued the fewest number in recent history of any president, i never heard one republican complain when ronald reagan did a number of skies or george bush did executive orders all on immigration and i have those for the record. but they didn't like this. they'd rather i guess deport these dreamers. and one of my colleagues said they're more scared of the dreamers than they are of isil. it's a joke. what are they afraid of? some child that was brought here at 3 years of age went to school, is holding down a job doing great those are the people that the president's executive order is affecting. they're in my state they're in texas, they're in arizona they're all over the country. if there's anyone swept up in that that is not a good citizen, they don't get to have this benefit. which, by the way does not include citizenship it just
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says action on your deportation is deferred. so i would say to anyone within the sound of my voice if anyone in your family ever came here from another country think about what they're doing. think about what they are doing. it will cost billions of dollars to deport these students, and then, by the way they don't take up an immigration bill, and if the status quo prevails, you're talking about deporting 11 million people. you've got to be kidding. we have an independent analysis done by u.s.c. which shows how important it is to resolve this immigration issue and what a boon it is to our society if we do so. well the republicans are stamping their feet. they never said anything when ronald reagan issued an executive order on immigration they never said anything when george herbert walker bush did
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it they never said anything before but when this president does something that i think is very wise to make sure we keep these young people here, they threaten to shut down the department of homeland security. now, let's talk about what that means. you would stop stop command and control activities at headquarters disrupt important programs detect weapons of mass destruction and train local law enforcement you force critical front-line personnel like border patrol agents to work without pay. now, maybe by colleagues would like to work without pay. go for it. most of us need our pay to live. imagine just a great idea, have border patrol agents and taxes agents who work every day to support their families, they don't get paid. it would jeopardize the safety
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of my constituency because during the last fiscal year, california received over $200 million in crucial grant money that enables state and local authorities to respond to national security threats and prepare for natural disasters. the republicans are putting this crucial funding in jeopardy. let's be clear. even if they back off their threat to shut down the government by shutting down homeland security, if they back it off and say let's fund it at last year's level let me tell you, we will not see those safety grants. last year texas, for example received $105 million from these grants. now, you can't go home and tell your governor too bad we're stepping out. you step up. it doesn't work like this. we are one nation under god. we have to protect our people. now, i'll tell you what else is threatened even if they backed down and let the government stay open but they fund it at last
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year's level firefighting grants such as the assistance to firefighters grant program and the staffing for adequate fire and emergency respond grant program would be delayed. these programs are vital to california. we have a nearly year-round fire season. last year california firefighters received $20 million in fire grants that allowed fire departments all over our state to purchase necessary equipment. now, let me tell you, i have been to scenes, fire scenes i will never forget where we have lost firefighters. they need the equipment that saves their lives. they are so brave but the wind changes, they find themselves in a canyon and they don't have the right equipment horrific results. we also receive $50 million in safer grants last year that allowed fire departments to hire
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and train firefighters because sometimes you're in a situation and if you haven't been trained on how to respond it puts your life in jeopardy. and other lives. other states such as ohio received a total of $33 million in fire and safer grants last year. i just have to say this kind of threat after what we saw the last time republicans threatened a shutdown makes no sense at all. we need a clean -- a clean department of homeland security funding bill. when i say that, i hope people understand i don't mean scouring the bill. what i mean is, keep extraneous issues off the bill. we all have our pet peeves. listen a lot of people don't like the fact that the dreamers are staying here. they want to deport them. introduce a bill to deport the dreamers bring it to the floor, have at it.
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i will talk about what it would have been like for me whose mother was born in europe and it took her a while to get her naturalization papers. if she was ripped out of my life. you know, i thought we had family values around here. we need a clean bill. you want to deport all the undocumented people, 11 million who are living in your communities and a lot of times fearful? that's a position you can defend. defend it. explain why we should spend billions deporting these people. put up your solution. don't try to kill a bill by holding it hostage to your demands. you know, we had had an immigration bill that passed here, it was terrific, it was bipartisan bill. let's have it again let's have the debate. oh no, they're in power for 30 days and they're already threatening a government shutdown of department of
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homeland security. i'll tell you this is no way to run the greatest nation in the world. and all i can say in conclusion is this -- and i'd ask unanimous consent to place my entire statement in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: thank you, mr. president. let's come together. we had a really good meeting of the minds in the lovely setting last week and a lunch and we agreed that, you know, these differences are not personal. and it's fine that we have them. i don't mind that, that's healthy for this society. we want to have differing views. that's what makes everyone in our country feel represented. the fact that i have views and mr. president, you may have a different view, that's all fine. what isn't fine in my view is to use your views to hold the department of homeland security funding hostage. too much is at stake, and i just would say this chamber is
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empty, we're not doing a darn thing, we even got republicans to come on our side and say no, this is not the right way to go. so why don't we do this -- why don't we fund the department of homeland security, it went through the entire process and then make an absolute commitment which republicans have the ability to do, to take up immigration reform. and then let's debate it, let's hear why some of my friends on the other side want to deport the dreamers. let's find out why they don't seem to want to do much about keeping families together. that's fine. let's debate it. and let's move on. but let's not hold hostage the department of homeland security funding to some ideological debate on immigration which should stand on its own have the focus it deserves, and frankly, i hope we're going to begin offering some unanimous consent requests, i won't do it today because i haven't really
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warned anybody that i want to, but just saying fulfill the commitment to department of homeland security and then immediately go to immigration reform where we can hash it out and become the deliberative body that we're supposed to be. nobody's here. we're not doing anything right now. because we're stopped dead because of this dispute that has nothing to do with homeland security in my view. and if the american people agree across the board on this, it's that you shouldn't attach irrelevant slave matters on a funding bill. we have a funding bill, they have a job to do, in this case it's protecting americans from terror okay, that's over here, and over here is a very legitimate debate on immigration policy and one that deserves the
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full time of this united states senate. with that, mr. president i note the absence of a quorum. i won't note the absence of a quorum. with that i yield the floor. the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate stands in recess until 2:15 p >> the departments technology
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and weapons buying cheap and was assistant secretary of defense for international security policy during the clinton administration. president obama sending war powers requested congress today. is expected to formally unveil his proposal. the ap reports the proposal sets up the first war vote in congress in 13 years. presidential council will be addressing the senate democrats on the authorization of force during the recess luncheon. >> the political landscape has changed with the 114th congress. not only are the 43 the republicans and 50 new democrats in the house and 12 new republicans and one new democrat in the senate there's also 108 women in congress including the first african-american republican in house in the first veterans woman in this and. keep track using congressional chronicle on the congressional chronicle pages loss of useful information
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including voting results and statistics about each session of congress. new congress, best access on c-span, c-span2 c-span radio producer >> and we're live at the wilson center on pennsylvania avenue in washington, d.c. coming up shortly remarks from white house homeland security and counterterrorism adviser lisa monaco virtual talk about cybersecurity and the obama administration's strategy for addressing cyber threats and attacks. we expect this to get under way in just a moment or two. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] as we wait for this event to get in the way a reminder the house is on the way today taken several bills include one that provides $18 billion for nasa programs to replace the space shuttles with new launch systems that would reach the international space station by 2017. also money for mars for human exploration of the bill calls for airports throughout response plans for security threats. and tomorrow the house is expected to take out the keys to xl pipeline but live coverage of the house always on c-span. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> we are still waiting for lisa monaco she'll be coming out soon at the wilson center to talk about cybersecurity and the obama administration's strategy for addressing cyber threats. looks like the event is underway. live coverage on c-span2. >> we have an overflow audience. lots of cameras beaming this event to places far and wide and we have an overflow room as well your and the wilson center is truly honored to host this event. i am welcoming some of our nearest and dearest reporters. i think representative jim hines of connecticut is here or will be here. i'm jane harman, the president and ceo of the wilson center. 15 years ago, a disgruntled australian contractor hacked a sewage control system in
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queensland, filling millions of gallons of waste onto public land and into public waters. all it took human than was a laptop and a radio. today, our infrastructure is increasingly networks, rail switches water mains, power grids. americans lives are more vulnerable than ever to digital disruption. the hacker black market has flourished. you can buy zero days for song. for would be cyber terrorist of the limited resources anymore, it's creativity. crafting a secure internet and securing america's place in cyberspace is a huge technical and leadership challenge. it's our digital apollo program. here at the wilson center we have invested intellectually in cyber. we think ahead of the news cycle to focus on the digital security risk posed by nonstate actors. we are attracting key scholars
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to study the challenge from all angles. we are regularly posting off the record dialogues, and we are very grateful to hear today from one of this administration's senior leaders on cybersecurity issues. i often sit if you want to get the job done right, put a woman in charge. in this case let's give a shout out to three. number one caroline who came to us from the basement of the white house. she had to adjust to the fact that when windows with real sunlight coming in. number two, to me cane -- meg king, building our capacity enormously. and number three is lisa monaco homeland security adviser to the president who is here to discuss the administration's cyber strategy. lisa has the worst job in washington, and one of the most
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essential. we are glad to give her an hours escape today at the wilson center. people pay lip service to the cyber challenge. lisa lives it. before this job lisa was the first assistant attorney general for national security, who happens to be a woman. she clearly got excellent training for her various positions at the start of her career as an intern with the wilson quarterly. so from our point of view, this is a homecoming and it comes as both the white house and congress are seeing where they can have a significant impact on the enormous cyber challenge. obviously, the administration has a crucial role to play. directing the department of homeland security to partner with the private sector. there's some real progress there. shaping standards and using the bully pulpit to build trust between key cyber constituencies
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constituencies. the white house has tried to move forward in the absence of congressional action by issuing executive orders. and lisa is here today to announce a new center similar to the ones we have are counterterrorism and counterpoint for ration. the hack of anthem interest last week highlights how urgent these efforts are. anthem joins a long list of hacking victims, and even the background check contractor that clears employees for the department of homeland security. our lead agency on cybersecurity. so once again we are thrilled to have the main man in the white house on these issues, lisa monaco. she's wilson center a llama and homeland security adviser to president obama's -- a llama. homeland security adviser. both, well, it takes him to get the job done right? please welcome lisa monaco.
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[applause] >> thank you very much, jane for the very kind words. it is very nice to be back. as jane mentioned my first job in washington actually was here at the wilson center when it was a paper quarterly, now, of course, like everything it's gone digital. before i get to my main topic today though, with your permission, jane, i'd like to say a few words about the very, very sad news of this morning. it is with deep sadness that we have confirmed the death of kayla mueller. today our hearts go out to her family. and my thoughts in particular are with her parents, karl and
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marsha, who have shown such grace and strength and dignity over many, many difficult months. my thoughts are with karl and marsha, kayla's brother eric, and the rest of her family. because kayla represents the best of us. her generous spirit and her legacy of compassion in her selfless work for those in need should serve as an inspiration to all of us. so thank you again, jane for having me. and i want to thank those at the wilson center for hosting me. a job that i hold as jane i think rightly observed, is one that normally keeps me in the basement of the white house. i so usually it's nice to get out because they get to go to the sunlight, but you didn't
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serve us any windows in this room. as the president's homeland security and counterterrorism adviser i briefed him every morning on the most significant destructive, and, frankly horrific threats facing the american people. i am oftentimes as the president reminds me the bearer of bad news. since i began this job two years ago, i can value that an increasing share of the badges i deliver is unfortunately on cyber threats. in just the last nine months we've seen a growing list of high profile targets home depot, jpmorgan chase target sony pictures said, and the u.s. postal service to name just a few. we are at a transformational moment in the evolution of the cyberthreat. the actions we take today, and those we failed to take will
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determine whether cyberspace remains a great national asset, or increasingly, becomes a strategic liability. and economic and national security strength, or a source of vulnerability. so today i want to talk about the threat we face and the administration's approach to countering it, drawing on counterterrorism lessons learned from the last decade of war. now let me start with the facts. according to a recent united states government assessment cyber threats to our national security and economic security are increasing in their frequency, in their skill, their sophistication, and the severity of their impact. the range of cyberthreat actors, methods of attack targeted systems, and victims are expanding at an unprecedented clip. the pace of cyber intrusions
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have also ticked up substantially. annual reports of data breaches have increased roughly by fold since 2009. and the seriousness of those breaches is also rising, causing significant economic damage. no one it seems is immune. from health care companies, as jane münchen, and universities, to the tech industry critical infrastructure in the entertainment sector. just last week as has been noted anthem, one of the nation's largest health insurance providers, announced that hackers have reached their database containing the personal information of 80 million customers and employees. and inside the united states government, we know that states and nonstate actors, terrorists hackers, and criminals are probing our networks every day seeking to steal despite, to
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manipulate, and to destroy data. at the state level threats are coming from nations with highly sophisticated cyber programs including china and russia. and nations with less technical capacity but greater disruptive intent like iran and north korea. several nations regularly conduct cyber economic espionage for the commercial gain of their companies. and politically motivated attacks are growing and their growing reality. ..
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>> you've got groups like the so-called syrian electronic army which conducts cyber attacks in support of the brutal regime in syria. and then there is eye -- isil which has harnessed social media for a propaganda machine that's radicalizing and recruiting young people to their hateful message around the world. most concerning on the cyber front perhaps is the increasingly destructive and malicious nature of cyber attacks. as we saw with sony pictures entertainment last fall. this attack stole large amounts of data and rendered inoperable thousands of sony's computers and servers. it was game changer.
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because it wasn't about profit it was about a dictator trying to impose censorship and to prevent the exercise of free expression. at bottom, it was about coercion which the united states believes is unacceptable and which is why we took the extraordinary step of publicly identifying north korea as responsible for the attack and responded swiftly. imposing additional sanctions on kim jong un's regime. in short the threat is becoming more diverse, more sophisticated and more dangerous. and i worry that malicious attacks like the one on sony pictures will increasingly become the norm unless we adapt quickly and take a comprehensive approach just as we have in other contexts. which brings me to the counterterrorism model.
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now, to be sure there are many differences that make it difficult to apply all of the lessons learned from the counterterrorism experience to the cyber realm. for one the private sector plays a more central role in spotting and responding to cyber incidents than it does in the counterterrorism realm where the government largely takes the lead. but having observed the nation's response to terrorism post-9/11 from three different perches in the united states government -- at the fbi as assistant attorney general for national security, at the department of justice and now at the white house -- i can tell you that there are structural, organizational and cultural shifts that were made many our government in the counter-- made in our government in the counterterrorism realm that also apply to cyber. we need to develop the same muscle memory in the government response to cyber threats as we have for terrorist incidents.
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structurally since 9/11 our government has done the very hard work of breaking down walls in our counterterrorism agencies and bringing people together to share information so that we get the best possible assessment of the threat. whenever possible we're bringing partners together to share information and extend our operational reach. this has made us against a revolving enemy more effective and more sustaining. like counterterrorism, it requires a whole-of-government approach, one that uses all the appropriate tools available to us including our global diplomacy, our economic clout our intelligence resources, our law enforcement expertise our competitive technological edge and, when necessary, our military capability.
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those who would do us harm should know that they can be found, and they will be held to account. in the cyber context, we need to share threat information more broadly and to coordinate our actions so that we are all working to achieve the same goal. and we have to do so consistent with fundamental values and in a manner that includes appropriate protections for privacy and civil liberties. we need to sync up our intelligence with our operations and respond quickly to threats against our citizens our companies and our nation. make no mistake, over the last few years we have developed new and better ways to collaborate across all levels of our government and with our partners in the private sector. including at the operational hubs in our government that are charged with monitoring threats,
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issuing warnings sharing information and protecting our critical infrastructure. at the white house, we've taken steps to improve our policy response. last summer following a rising number of breaches and intrusions to both public and private networks, we created what's called the cyber response group or the crg. you to know it's official because it has an acronym. [laughter] the crg is modeled on the very effective, highly effective and longstanding counterterrorism security group. like its terrorist analog, the crg convenes the interagency and pools knowledge about ongoing threats and attacks and coordinates all elements of our government's response at the highest level. but despite this step and other steps in the progress that we've
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made, it has become clear that we can do more as a government to quickly consolidate, analyze and provide assessments on fast moving threats for cyber attacks. as president obama said during the state of the union last month, we will make sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats just as we have done to combat terrorism. so today i am pleased to announce that we will establish a few cyber threat intelligence integration center under the auspices of the director of national intelligence. now, currently no single government entity is responsible for producing coordinated cyber threat assessments insuring that information is shared rapidly among existing cyber centers and other elements within our government and supporting the work of operators and policymakers with timely intelligence about the latest
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cyber threats and threat actors. the ctic will serve a function for cyber as the national counterterrorism center does for terror im. integrating intelligence about cyber threatses providing analysis to policymakers and operators and supporting the work of existing federal cyber centers, network defenders, law enforcement communities. the ctic will not collect intelligence. it will analyze and integrate information already collected under existing authorities. nor will the ctic perform functions already assigned to other centers. it's intended to enable them to do their jobs more effectually and, as a result, make the federal government more effective as a whole in responding to cyber threats.
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ctic will draw on the existing cyber centers to better integrate their expertise and information to improve our collective response to cyber threats. now, responding to today's threat is only part of the task. the real challenge is getting ahead of where the threat is trending. that's why the president's national security strategy identifies cyber as a critical focus area to insure we both meet the imagines of today and prepare for the threats we'll face tomorrow. the president's budget backs up this commitment with $14 billion to protect our critical infrastructure, government networks and other systems. and later this week at stanford university president obama and i and several cabinet members will join hundreds of experts, academics and private sector representatives for a first-of-its-kind white house
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summit to discuss how we can improve trust enhance cooperation and strengthen america's online consumer protection ares and cyber -- protections and cyber defenses. but to truly safeguard americans online and enhance the security of what has become a vast cyber ecosystem we're going to have to work in lockstep with the private sector. the private sector should not rely on the government to solve all of its cybersecurity problems. at the same time, i want to emphasize that the federal government won't leave the private sector to fend for itself. partnership is a precondition of success. there is simply no ore way to tackle such -- no other way to tackle such a complicated problem. it requires cooperation to address vulnerabilities and then work together to respond jointly. to the private sector, we've
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made it clear that we will work together. we're not going to bottle up intelligence. if we've got information about a significant threat to a business we're going to do our utmost to share it. in fact within 24 hours of learning about the sony pictures entertainment attack the u.s. goth pushed out -- u.s. government pushed out information and malware signatures so they could take action. we want this flow of information to go both ways. the private sector has violatal information -- vital information we don't always get unless they share it with us and the government has a unique capacity to integrate information about threats including with non-cyber sources to create the best possible picture to secure all of our networks. when companies share information with us about a major cyber intrusion or a potentially debilitating denial of service attack, they can expect us to
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respond quickly. we will provide as much information as possible as much information as we can about the threat to assist companies in protecting their networks and their critical information. we'll coordinate a quick and unified response from government expers including -- experts including those at the department of homeland security and the fbi. we'll look to determine who the actor is and to hold them to account. and as we respond to attacks, we'll bring to bear all of the tools available to us and draw on a full range of government resources to disrupt threats. i want to commend companies that have shown strong leadership by coming forward as soon as they identify breaches and seeking assistance so we can work together to address threats more rapidly. this is good for the company, it's good for the consumer, and it's good for the government.
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across the board we're tearing down silos increasing communication ask developing flexibility -- and developing flexibility and agility to respond to cyber threats of the 21st century. just as we've done in the counterterrorism world. moving forward as our lives become more and more dependent on the internet and the amount of territory we have to defend keeps expanding our strategy will focus on four key elements. first, we need to improve our defenses. period. in particular actively using the cybersecurity framework that was announced last year would enable every organization to manage cyber risk more effectively. even just employing basic cyber hygiene could stop the large percentage of the intrusions we face, so we've got to start by getting the basics right. second, we need to improve our
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ability to disrupt respond to and recover from cyber threats. that means using the full strength of the united states government. not just our cyber tools to raise the cost for bad actors and deter malicious actors. third, we need to enhance international cooperation. including between our law enforcement agencies so that when criminals anywhere in the world target innocent users online, we can hold them accountability. accountable. just as we do when people commit crimes in the physical world. and fourth, we need to make cyberspace intrinsically more secure replacing passwords with more secure technologies, building more resilient networks and enhancing consumer protections online. president obama will continue to do everything within his authority to harden our cyber
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fences, but executive actions alone won't be enough. we need durable, long-term solutions codified in law that bolster the nation's to cyber defenses. this is not and should not be a partisan issue. the future security of united states depends on a strong bipartisan con consensus that responds to a growing national security concern. everyone shares responsibility here including the congress. in december congress passed important bills to modernize how the government protects its systems and to clarify the government's authorities toss carry out its cyber missions. today we need the congress to build on that progress by passing the package of cybersecurity measures that president obama announced just last month that encourage greater information sharing set a national standard for
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companies to report data breaches and provides law enforcement with updated tools to combat cyber crime. and we look to congress to pass a budget with critical funding for cybersecurity including at the department of homeland security. the administration is ready to work with congress to pass these measures as quickly as possible. cybersecurity is and will remain a defining challenge of the 2 the 1st -- 21st century. with more than three billion internet users around the world and as many as ten billion internet-connected devices there is simply no putting this genie back in the bottle. we have got to get this right. our prosperity and security depend upon the internet being secure against threats reliable in our ability to access information, open to all who seek to harness the opportunities of the internet age and interoperable to insure
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the free flow of information across networks and nations. we are at a crossroads and the clock is ticking. the choices we make today will define the threat environment we face tomorrow. all of us have a responsibility to act, to practice better cyber hygiene, to build greater resilience in our networks so we can bounce back from attacks, to break down silos and improve information sharing as well as the integration and analysis of threats, to pass cybersecurity legislation and to insure that we take a comprehensive whole-of-government approach to respond to cyber attacks just as we do in other contexts. these are hard and very complicated issues but i'm confident that working together government industry, advocacy groups the public and the congress our networks can be
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safer, our privacy protected and our future more secure. i look forward to tackling these threats with all of you. thanks very much. ms. . >> lisa is, thank you for very comprehensive remarks. i'm going to ask you a few questions. let's have a conversation and then we will open it to conversations from this room and from the overflow room. i hope somebody will give me questions from others who are outside this room. first of all i noticed as a recovering politician your gentle pitch to congress on a bipartisan basis. and i hope congress is listening. it has occurred to me for years that the terrorists won't check our party registration before they blow us up, and this is obviously true in the cyber realm as well.
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the attacks on all of this infrastructure that you listed, not just the private sector but also the postal service and so forth didn't target democrats or republicans, did it? >> no it did not. >> so this is in one sense one size fits all, and i hope everyone in congress is tuning in and realizing that there's more to do. you made a list of things that congress has to do more information sharing, standard setting, tools for law enforcement. you didn't mention immunity. is that adequately dealt with, or does more have to be done there, and could you explain it to this audience? >> sure thing. it is a central feature of the package of measures that president obama announced last month, and it goes directly to the heart of the first in the list that was recorded there, information sharing. the president's legislation that he announced last month makes it clear and proposes to provide
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liability protection for sharing from the private sector with the government to the department of homeland security. and in order to incentivize the private sector to provide that very, very critical information that i talked about in my speech. >> now, not everybody's a lawyer so why would a firm be liable for sharing information? >> so there's any number of reasons. i'm a recovering lawyer, as you know -- >> so am i. [laughter] >> as has been noted. as we have heard from industry across the board, small, medium large businesses they face real choices and concerns about sharing information about breaches or hacks or intrusions into their networks. they want to share information with the government about the origins and what they find out about those breaches but in doing so they're concerned that it would, the information they provide could include consumer
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information, or they could be sued for seeming to include consumer information. so what the president's proposal does is says straight out provide liability protection, targeted and narrow liability protection for the purpose of a corporation's providing that computer security and cybersecurity information to the government after taking reasonable steps to remove private information, consider information so that the government can get that information in, look at it compare it and analyze it along with all the other sources, classified and otherwise, that the government has and return that information to the public sector, to the private sector, state and local governments, and the private sector holders of a huge something approaching 85% of the cyber infrastructure. >> i was going to go there, but
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let me ask just one follow-up question just so everyone understands what you're saying. company x thinks it's hacked, the reason it should tell the government about this is what? and the information will be used how? >> so a few things. one, we may have seen exactly that signature that set of 1s and 0s that a particular malicious cyber actor uses to do its destructive or denial of service or other attack that may even go to the integrity of data. so we may, once we look at it and put it together with all the other intelligence information that we have we may say we know what this is we know who it is, we know how it's going to affect your system and most importantly, we want to tell everybody else. we want to tell if that company that provided us, provided that information to us is a power plant producer or owner, we want to get it out to the rest of the
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energy sector. >> so by -- when company x comes forward and is protected in a limited way -- >> yep. >> -- more doing so, company x benefits. >> company x benefits -- >> in addition to company x is being patriotic and helping the rest of the government that may provide -- not the government, the rest of the internet. >> whether this is why i talked about an ecosystem. we are all intertwined, as you noted in your remarks. one person's vulnerability frankly, is everybody's vulnerability. and so that's why it's so critical that we are working together. >> well, i don't think there's a lot of pushback from congress on the immunity issue. so why isn't congress doing something? >> so this is, this is what we're really hoping we can galvanize the congress to act. because once you pare the liability protection -- pair the liability protection with
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reasonable privacy protections this ought to be the kind of thing that we can get behind on a bipartisan basis. >> the other thing i want to draw you out about because again, i don't think there's a lot of public understanding of it is the portion of critical infrastructure that is in the private sector. people should be aware that there is, an internet system for our military for our government and then there's how many people here have some sort of internet account that ends in okay. how many of you are clueless? [laughter] no. clueless people don't come to the wilson center. [laughter] okay. so lisa, can you talk about the percentage of let's just start with critical infrastructure that's in the private sector and why leaving the private sector
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with inadequate tool exposes all of us? >> so like most statistics they're all over the place, but by any measure, you know there's references to 85% of critical infrastructure and -- are the backbone on which we ride whether you are a power plant, a financial company, a shopping center. all of that resides the vast, vast majority of it resides in private sector hands. state and local governments or privately owned. that means that the piece or the that is solely in control of the united states government is a very very small portion. and so we are incredibly reliant for all the services we rely on that are critical in many instances to our life and us demanages whether it's a
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hospital or -- sustenance whether it's a hospital or your bank account. you are vulnerable if you are hooked up to the internet. >> so in my brilliant introduction, i referred to rail ways, power grids. what percentage of this is in the private sector? >> all of it. >> everybody hear that? >> state and local governments or the private sector privately owned. that's not -- it's not the federal government's responsibility. it is, it doesn't come under the control of the federal government. and in any event, if you're hooked up to the internet, you're vulnerable. my former my former boss former director of the fbi robert mueller said and has been quoted often there's only two types of company owners, those who have been hacked and those who will be hacked. >> well, the wilson center's been hacked and we're pretty careful about things and we are taking precoughs every day.
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has -- precautions every day. has anybody here never had an experience of being hacked or not know somebody who hasn't been hacked? one person. we're going to call on you later and you're going to explain how you're so lucky. [laughter] well moving along, something we brag about at the wilson center is how good our people are, and that's, of course, why we're in the top five think tanks in the u.s. but my question is about how good are the people the government can hire to work on cyber issues? and i ask this because i'm well aware and i know everyone here is that the private sector pays much, much bigger salaries. >> look, we have the same -- or i should say greater recruiting and retaining challenges that the private sector has. now, we can offer something jane that the private sector, not all the private sector can,
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and that is, obviously a tremendous sense of mission. but we've got to do more to be able to hire topnotch cyber talent. we've got tremendously talented people working in the nsa, in the defense department, in homeland security. these folks are top, topnotch. but they also can be hired away for vast sums. >> so what do we have to do to get these people to come and to stay? by the way, i was at the nsa recently being briefed on some aspects of our programs and they said that really good kids coming out of college are turning down much bigger salaries to -- because they're patriotic and they want to protect our country. >> so we've got a sense of mission that we can offer, and that's a huge recruiting tool. but we need funds. we need the funds and the authorities and flexibility
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particularly in the department of homeland security to be able to do that extra hiring. this is the wave of the future. >> is another obstacle to hiring some of these kids are security are clearance system? >> well, look there's always ways that we can do better to streamline the security clearance system. as the president's counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, you're never going to hear me say anything that would seem like we're scrimping on security. but there's more that we can do to streamline that process and to get people in who are patriotic, who have huge skill sets and who we can put to work. >> obviously i'm not encouraging more edward snowdens to apply, got that message. i think we all got that message. but what about a kid who incorrectly downloaded music for free hmm, which is not okay on his, one of his systems? what about that kid who answers that question correctly?
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would he be cleared? >> you know not having recently gone through my security clearance -- although i've had many -- i wasn't, didn't have that question trip me up. but, you know look what i would encourage folks who are patriotic, obviously, the first thing is to be honest on your security clearance form. but something that is a crime is going to be something we're going to have to talk about. >> last question from me and we'll have 20 minutes for audience questions, is about the only criticism i've heard since news that you have just made here was printed in the newspaper this morning. that's okay. as long as you came here to deliver the speech we're very happy. but the criticism was/is that you're building an unnecessary bureaucracy with the ctuc. what's your -- ctic. what's your answer to that? >> my answer to that is, look as i laid out in the speech,
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this is filling a critical gap. the nctc the national counterterrorism center, did nothing to take away the mission or role or responsibility of c irk a's counterterrorism center, of fbi's joint terrorism task forces or cioc which is its operational hub. those are operational arms and operational centers that have clear responsibilities and clear missions. what we need and the gap that the ctic fills is critical rapid, coordinated intelligence to feed those operations. so it's not duplicative at all jane, and i think what we've seen with nctc in the terrorism realm is operators and policymakers are very very well served in facing an evolving threat by having a source of rapid, integrated intelligence at their disposal. >> well, expressing my personal
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opinion, i was there when the first terrorist integration center was set up by president bush, and then it was renamed nctc, and then congress codified nctc as part of the 2004 intelligence reform law. and i think nctc's terrific, and shout out to the people who work there. >> here here. >> so if you're building something comparable to that that's going to work as well as that my own view is you're on the right track. >> well, thank you. we think so. >> all right, folks. eighteen minutes and 40 seconds. please identify yourself and ask a question. do not give a speech. right here. wait for the microphone. finish. >> thank you. pete bayer with energy wire. could you elaborate on the second of your four action points? how can the government use all its capabilities more effectively to disrupt serious threats to critical infrastructure before they
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occur? >> so it's a very good question. what i meant by that is -- and the reference in the speech is using all of our tools. again, the terrorism model is instructive. we get around literally, get around the table in the situation room. our diplomats, our intelligence community, our military our prosecutors and law enforcement officials, and we discuss what is the best way to disrupt this threat, to deter this actor to determine how to address the threat. and that's what i'm talking about with respect to cyber. so you see us using all of those tools; diplomacy in trying to work with other governments to establish cyber norms of behavior, on the military side on the intelligence side, on the law enforcement side. just last spring the department of justice the national security division -- something i know a little something about --
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brought indictments against five members of the people's liberation army in china for conducting cyber economic espionage in this country. that is an effort to say we will take account of these actions, we will determine who has committed these malicious sign actions and go after them -- cyber actions and go after them. and then there is, of course, sanctions. and you see that in our response to the actions of north korea. so the idea is you're going to look at all your cyber tools and you're going to -- you're going to look at all your tools including your cyber tools and determine which is the best one. >> i know it is u.s. policy not to do economic espionage. >> right. >> could you explain the basis for that? >> sure. and the president's been quite clear about this. we are not conducting and will not conduct economic espionage for the benefit of our companies. full stop.
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that's what, that's what the president has said, and that's what the intelligence community adheres to. >> question, met me see, on -- let me see on this side. in the middle over here. yes. >> hi. dave pare from politico. can you discuss where the personnel for the center are coming from? if they're coming from existing agencies, are you just simply cannibalizing existing federal authorities or capabilities? >> the answer to that is, no. to the cannibalization. [laughter] >> the government doesn't cannibalize. [laughter] >> look, the idea here is, as jane referenced, you've got authorities in the dni, and this is what -- this is the reference, the parallel to nctc is apt here. the director of national intelligence has authorities under the terrorism reform and
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prevention action that was passed after 9/11 to create intelligence centers specifically for this mission, to integrate and bring all sources of intelligence together. so yes, as nctc does, this -- the ctic will draw on expertise in an intelligence and analysts from other centers and from other government agencies who have a national security responsibility and a cyber responsibility. >> we actually promoted that idea as part of intelligent reform, because it gives people broader experience, and they're able instead of being in a silo where they don't see the whole picture, to do a more whole-of-government response which is something, i would assume, which you mentioned you're trying to achieve. >> that's exactly right. it's a really good point. in the intelligent community if you were an ap lust somebody who -- analyst somebody who serves in the intelligence community, to get promoted, you have to have done something called joint duty. you have to go -- and i think
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this is a tremendously smart innovation. you have to have served in other agencies and seen what your partners in the intelligence community do and this can be part of that. >> by the way jointness is also a strategy for the military. >> that's right. >> a law called goldwater-nichols which passed in the 1980s created the joint structure we have with the chairman of the joint chiefs. and the whole notion is by pulling people together, you have a better chance of bricking the best capabilities -- bringing the best capabilities together. >> that's exactly right. >> right over here, third row. >> hi, casey gardner. i was hoping you could comment on the attack on the german steel mill. is this an area where it's actually causing physical damage to assets and people? do we have the right tools for that? >> so you're on to something here, and as i spoke directly to it in my speech which is the north korea attack on sony pictures entertainment was, as i
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said, a game changer because it was both destructive and coercive. we saw in 2012 an attack a destructive attack on saudi aramco large oil facility and producer. 30,000 computers just created turned into bricks, basically. this is incredibly destructive obviously, and it has a huge impact on economies, on bottom lines. and that is the thing as i said in my speech, that is probably the most concerning to me. that and what i would say is another element of destructive cyber behavior is manipulating and leaving an impact that makes us question the integrity of data. when you don't know what has really happened. and so you lose trust and faith and confidence in the data that's there. >> right in the certain here. the man in glasses.
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yeah. >> hello -- [inaudible] as you mentioned -- [inaudible] for responding cyber such as international cooperation. are there any concrete plans that the white house have to lead these issues in a global view? >> so it's a great question and president obama spoke to this when he talked about the sony pictures attack. we've got to do more work quite frankly, on galvanizing international cyber norms things like getting the international community to all agree and sign up to the fact that we're not going to commit a cyber attack on critical infrastructure. another country or state's critical infrastructure. there ought to be something we can sign up to. >> okay. on this side on the aisle. >> hi. steve -- [inaudible] independent consultant. you said that the fourth pillar was making the internet more
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intrinsically secure yet for on the counterterror side law enforcement's reaction to the default encryption from apple and google as well as secure messaging platforms from law enforcement both here and in the u.k. has been, shall we say, less than enthusiastic. so where to -- how far does that pillar extend for intrinsically secure? after all, security experts consider any kind of back door to be an inherent vulnerability. >> you used the word default encryption? maybe you could explain that to other people. >> um, with the latest relief from both google and the android platform and apple on the iphone platform, they have implemented strong encryption by default so that if the phone is compromised physically nobody can obtain any data from it. so your data is inherently secure on it, and apple has no easy way or law enforcement has no easy way to recover it. so that would seem to support an i intrinsic security of our
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information, yet the reaction from law enforcement to not having a back door into these security systems has been very negative. >> so i think you've raised two very important issues, and i'll take the consumer protection piece second because it's something we're going to be talking about later this week in stanford. on the first issue you raised, i think you're referring to comments that director comey and others have made and, in fact president obama spoke about this in recently in his press conference with prime minister cameron. look, there is incredible value from strong encryption. privacy-enhancing, privacy protection that we all want. by the same token, as the president has observed there is a real concern if we cannot have and give legal effect to court orders that would allow law enforcement to have access to information or evidence that stops terrorist attacks that stops malicious cyber attacks, that stops crimes. and so we've got to have a
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dialogue about this. we've got to have a real, informed discussion. that's what director comey has called for, it's what the president has called for. and so i think you've raised an important point about a dialogue that we do can need to have. we do need to have. on the consumer protection piece -- which these things are quite obviously related -- this is one of the things we're talking about in stanford in a few days. talking specifically about consumer protections online. what are the new and next generation of payment systems that could move us past the password to multifactor -- [inaudible] never thought i'd say that in front of a group of cameras. [laughter] >> it's a mouthful. >> but other secure forms of payment whether it's biometrics or using additional things that move us beyond the password so we get to a more inherently secure payment system.
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>> um, let's go in the middle sort of, your hand is still up, sir. you're the one. and by the way if there are questions from the overflow room, someone needs to hand them to me in the near future. [laughter] >> christian becker in from the center for cyber and homeland security at the george washington university. you mentioned that a key distinction between counterterrorism and cybersecurity was the tremendous role of the private sector not just as a target, obviously but as a collector and as an analyst of cyber threats. given that distinction, how are you envisioning the ctic being different from the nctc in terms of how it's organized and staffed and so on? >> so the distinction i was trying to draw is, obviously, in the terrorism realm and in the homeland security space we have this e nos that's see something say something which is, obviously, tremendously important, and that's geared at the public sector, and that's geared at citizens. but this goes to the issue
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generally, i think we were talking about at the outset which is because so much of our critical infrastructure and our infrastructure period is in private sector hands, we're relying in large measure -- in significant measure -- on information about vulnerabilities and attacks that happen to the private sector. so that has a space at least under our proposal that the president announced last month which is to say if you're a company and you find out you've been hacked or there's been a breach provide information to the department of homeland security to its national communications cybersecurity certain, the ncic, give that -- who is set up to be a network defender and to engage specifically with the private sector, give that information in. that will then be shared appropriately with the rest of the federal government's cybersecurity apparatus to include the new ctic.
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ctic can pair that private sector information along with classified intelligence and other information that we in the government uniquely have. so the idea is to get a two-way street going here where private sector brings in information, we use it and put it back out. >> i assume you will, as soon as you've got this whole thing up, communicate how to be in touch with it. >> absolutely. >> what safeguards do you have against people putting misinformation, disinformation into the system? >> so this is the type of thing we're talking about in the proposal that the president announced last month which is to say you're a private corporation, we want you to provide that information, it's vital. but we want you to take steps, reasonable steps to insure that you're not a, giving the government private personally-identifying information, ask can you're not -- and you're not providing, obviously, malicious code or
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malicious information. so there's a responsibility also on the part of the private sector the take those privacy enhancing steps. >> well i get that, you know you work for target and you're trying to communicate the right information. what if you don't work for target and you pretend you do and you're communicating information? >> so that's why we want that information to come into the department of homeland security that's set up to insure that we're not going to be propagating malware or malicious code, and so we don't have a vicious cycle here. >> and one more question while we're on that subject. the black market for exploits in malware is growing. please do not tell us precisely what you're doing about it because then people will work around that, but can you assure us that you're doing all the right things in finding and getting rid of the exploits and the malware that a is available --s that is available for sale for cheap on the black market? >> as you said, this is something we're very focused on,
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this hacker-for-hire approach. the criminal networks that and are behind a lot of this malicious cyber activity is something that we're very focused on, and it's not something people should be underestimating. >> okay. we're going to take two last questions together because we're out of time. one is back there, blue shirt. hand up. there you are. >> hi, thanks, i'm eamon jeffords with cnbc. "forbes".com is saying that its web site was hacked by apparently chinese hackers who were targeting readers of "forbes".com as well as u.s. defense contractors. what can you tell us about that particular incident and who might have done it, and also the technique of hitting third party web sites with an eye toward capturing the eyeballs that are going to that web site and -- >> hold that answer. the woman in the front row. >> my name's -- >> wait, wait.
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>> my name is kendra with the european parliament liaison office, and i continue to hear about the need for international cooperation, but i've yet to hear a realistic framework. internet's inherently international, what's our response to that? >> so on the last piece i think issue of having norms and getting and garnering international support for cyber norms is something the president and cameron talked about in terms of they announce -- prime minister cameron talked about in terms of hacks and breaches into the financial secking to have. so those types of partnerships and garnering international support for a set of norms is something that i think could be, something we really do need to focus on. with respect to the gentleman's question in the back, i can't tell you anything about the breach of which you referred. i would say though it sounds like, not having been briefed
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yet on it it sounds like exactly the type of thing that we are going to continue to be concerned about, and we're going to see more and more of, which is exactly why we need something like the ctic in order to bring in that information very rapidly, say is this something that we've seen before and get that information back out for the benefit of the private sector as well as the united states government. >> well on that happy note be fist, i want to thank -- first, i want to thank lisa monaco for escaping from the white house for an hour to illuminate these summits for us. >> thank you very much. >> i also want to observe that here's an instance of the white house putting out some executive orders that aren't getting blasted and that are, i hope, adding some protections to all of us. but step two is congress getting in this picture. and there are, obviously things that executive orders cannot do -- >> that's right. >> -- on this subject and many other subjects. and as someone who has been in
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this game for a long time the obvious lack of partisanship is apparent. and the need for all of us to work together whether we're in the, or space is apparent. and so on behalf of me but also a lot of the initiatives at the wilson center, we hope that forums like this will shed light on policy options and policymakers will act. and, again, lisa monaco, thank you for spending an hour with us. >> thank you for your service. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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>> a reminder, if you missed any of this discussion, you can see it again online at and the issue of terror arism are come up tomorrow. the house homeland security committee holding a hearing tomorrow morning on the threat of home grown terrorists and foreign fighters. that starts at 10 a.m. eastern it'll be live on c-span3. and live over on c-span, full house will begin debate tomorrow. on the senate-passed bill approving construction of the keystone, and l oil pipeline. -- xl oil pipeline and nonbinding statements that climate change is real and not a hoax. the house rules committee is meeting this afternoon at 5 p.m. to consider rules governing debate. the house live over on c-span. >> here are some of our featured programs for this presidents' day weekend on the c-span networks.
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on booktv saturday morning at 9, live coverage of the savannah book festival on topics like the disappearance of michael rockefeller, a british company of elephants during world war ii and four women spies during the civil war. and sunday at 9 p.m. eastern on "after words," former senior adviser for president obama david axlerod on his 40 years in politicsment and on american history tv on c-span3 saturday morning beginning at 8:30 the is 00th anniversary of "the birth of a nation." the showing of the entire 1915 film followed by a live call-in program with harry jones and author dick lar. and sunday at eight on the presidency, george washington portraits focusing on how artists captured the spirit of the first president and what we can learn about him through their paintings. find our complete schedule at and let us know what you think about the programs you're watching. call ugh at 2020-626-3400.
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join the c-span conversation like us on facebook follow us on twitter. >> c-span c-span2 providing live coverage of the u.s. senate floor proceedings and key public policy events and every weekend booktv. now for 15 years the only television network devoted to nonfiction books and authors. c-span2. created by the cable tv industry and brought to you as a public service. watch us in hd like us on facebook and follow us on twitter. >> the senate returns in about 20 minutes 2:15 eastern. until then a discussion on education opportunities and student success. topics include charter schools accountability and the role of states and federal governments in promoting school choice. it was a conference hosted by senator tim scott of south carolina.
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>> i'm certainly very excited about the issue of school choice, and i look around the audience, and i see so many fantastic young folks in the audience. i'll tell you that today is about you. the truth of the matter is that all the things that we will discuss today will be about making sure that the future is bright for you. i'm a big believer that if we are to succeed as a nation, it happen because we empower the next generation. and i believe that school choice provides us an avenue to make sure that each and every student has an amazing future because you have the access to a quality education. now, i'm a southern boy from south carolina, and when we say some things, we like to hear "amen." >> amen. [laughter] >> so if you hear something -- [laughter] that sounds good to ya, you just
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say -- >> amen! >> and if you hear something you don't really understand -- [laughter] and you think i'm confused up here, that's a good time just to shout -- >> amen! [laughter] >> see i brought with me my south carolina contingency because they understand how it works. i have to get you young folks a little warmed up in here. anyway, go back to my prepared remarks -- [laughter] still working their way to the south. i will tell you that while i'm incredibly excited about school choice and the opportunity to hear from some amazing panelists from congresswoman cathy mcmorris rodgers and, of course everyone in the country should know one of the leading voices on school choice in the governor of louisiana, bobby jindal. i am also reminded, unfortunately, of some challenging circumstances.
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cathy mcmorris rodgers will have to leave a little early this morning in order to attend the funeral of alan nunnally a congressman who was elected from mississippi with me when i was first elected to congress. so if you don't mind, we'll have about a five second moment of silence for congressman nunnally's family. thank you. this conference is brought to you today not by senator tim scott, but truly by a concerted effort on behalf of a lot of people in this room and specifically my staff, and i'd like to give a shout out to lizzie simmons my -- [applause] where's elizabeth? hiz city over here -- lizzie over here, lizzie's my l.a. for issues. she's worked tireless hi to make
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sure that -- tirelessly to make sure today is as successful as it can be, and so i would love to once again acknowledge lizzie. and you see a lot of my staff who have put a lot of time into making sure that today is as significant as possible. i'd also like to thank my partners, the american federation of children along with the freedom, friedman foundation for educational choice. both have been major contributors to the efforts to make sure that today happens. we're going to hear from amazing speakers beyond this panelment we're going to also -- panel. we're going to also have senator lamar alexander we're going to have educators like steve perry from capital preparatory schools to grassroots energizers like rick hess at aei and dr. cam ya hartsock as well. here's what i want you to work with is an understanding that we understand that we believe
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that a child's education should not be determined, the quality of your education should not be determined by your zip code. that every child in every facet of this nation has the potential to be a lifelong learner. and to be a child of excellence. and so we want to make sure that we focus our attention on making sure that every single student everywhere in the nation no matter your zip code, no matter your ethnic background no matter your family income has the opportunity to succeed. and if we do that, our future will be amazing. >> amen. [applause] >> thank you brother. [applause] i like that. [laughter] the brethren over here to the
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left understands the amen. [laughter] let me make it crystal clear. we must act now on the issue of educational choice. this is not an issue that we can just say is a good issue. this is an issue that we have to fight for every single day to make sure that our actions lead to more kids having more access to the highest quality of education in this nation has ever seen. and when that happens and when that happens, all students will prosper. our nation will succeed. because we cannot separate the future success of this nation from your success. and we have an amazing -- thank you, thank you, thank you. [laughter] y'all caught on here. we're going to go ahead and get started with the first panel because the longer i speak, the
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less they speak, and we have some amazing speakers to hear from. so be you will join me as -- be you will join me as we start our first panel. [applause] moderated by american enterprise institute and my good friend, rick hess. >> hey, good morning, everyone. >> good morning. >> thank you, senator. pleasure to be with you. as the senator said, i'm rick hess, director of education policy studies at the american enterprise institute. it's a pleasure to be with you today, and i just want the thank and congratulate senator scott on the leadership he has brought to this issue and to challenging our nation to do better when it comes to educating our kids. delighted to moderate this panel this morning. as the senator said, we've got some terrific folks for you. sitting next to senator scott we've got governor bobby jindal. under governor jindal's leadership, louisiana has been
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transformed. he has cut red tape slimmed the size of goth reduced state employees by 34% and pushed education reform to give every child the opportunity to get a great education. today under governor jindal's leadership louisiana has more people, more jobs higher incomes, more exports and a higher gdp than at anytime in its history. sitting next to the governor we've got state senator larry grooms. senator grooms elected in 1997 represents south carolina's 37th district which encompasses parts of both berkeley and charleston counties. he chairs the senate transportation committee and the joint transportation review committee as well as serving on a number of other committees including education. a tireless advocate for school choice in south carolina, he lives on daniel island with his wife, carol, and their three sons. and our fourth member of the panel this morning is congresswoman cathy mcmorris rodgers. the congresswoman is chair of
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the house republican conference and the fourth highest ranking republican in the united states house of representatives. an advocate for military families and the families of people with special needs, congresswoman mcmorris rodgers is co-chair of both the military family and the downs syndrome caucuses. congresswoman mcmorris rodgers is the proud mother of three children. congresswoman, let me begin with you this morning. >> okay. [laughter] >> there's a lot of ways to think about educational improvement and how to help our schools do better. love to have you just talk for a moment about why school choice in particular is something that resonates with you. >> it resonates with me, school choice resonates with me both as a policymaker, as someone who has the honor of representing the great people of eastern washington here on capitol hill but also as a mom. and i have three kids. i have one that has down cans syndrome can special needs -- downs syndrome, special needs. and as i think about the issue of education and the impact that
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it has on our lives and the importance of having an equal opportunity to education for everyone in this country, i don't think there's any more importance issue that we face as a country. and you think about the next generation, how we make sure that every student, every person in this country reaches their full potential, it's going the happen as we have more opportunities, more education choices. and i've lived it myself, you know? first of all, in my own life i'm grateful -- i was the first in my family to graduate from college. i was also someone that was on the wrong track when i was in junior high in the public schools, and my mom and dad helped start a school at that point. and i'm grateful that they had the opportunity to come together and say, you know what? we need to start a school here, and it got me back on track. so i'm grateful for that. i also have known this issue as a mom. and it has only reinforced my
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belief in the importance of these choices and having the opportunities for every child. my oldest, cole, is -- he was born with downs syndrome. you know that's not the news that nip wants to receive or dreams -- anyone wants to receive or dreams of dreaming but because of him i am a better legislator, a better mom and i understand this issue more clearly. and i'm grateful, i'm so grateful that as a mom i could go with out there and i could find, i could go visit schools and i could figure out, okay, i think this is going to be the school where cole has the best opportunity to to reach his full potential. and i'm proud to say right now he's in a charter school, and he's doing exceptional. of he's in second grade, and he is, he's reading, he's learning his math and he's he's contributing already in ways that were totally unimaginable when he was first born. [applause]
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>> governor jindal, you know, i used to teach high school in baton rouge, louisiana 25 years ago, so i'm familiar with louisiana's troubled legacy in education. on your watch there's been some real progress made. curious if you could talk a little bit about some of the key pieces there and the role that school choice has played in helping to push that forward. >> well, thank you very much. thank you. thank you very much. first of all, i want to thank the senator for having us, for hosting us. i was so impressed one of his very first speeches on the floor of the senate when he was first a u.s. senator was exactly about this topic. i know he has asked us to recognize everybody else in this room, i'd like to ask the crowd to give a great round of applause to our host, our senator, tim scott. ms. and i think he said the reason we're here better than anybody else could. i mean, i just want you just for emphasis, the circumstances of a child's birth shouldn't determine their outcomes as an adult. and unfortunately that's happening too often in our
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country. if we allow that to happen i wouldn't be here today. my dad's one of nine, just like cathy, he was the only one that got past the fifth grade in his family. none of his older brothers none of his older sisters, younger brothers, younger sisters ever got an education. now you students, i heard in this story every single day growing up. i don't know if your parents are like that, telling you how tough it was when they were growing up. if he didn't get an education, i wouldn't be here. it's also great to be on the panel with the congresswoman. i remember when it used to be cathy mcmorris. also great to be here with the state senator as well. in louisiana we've done several things. the single most important, you know, i'm proud that we've increased the number of charter schools, nearly doubled. i'm proud that we have changed the way we evaluate our teachers. i'm proud that we have done several things and new orleans is often cited as a city where over 90% of the kids are in charter schools.
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1 is 00% of the kids -- 100% of the parents decide where their kids go to school. we've seen remarkable change. the percentage of kids in failing schools before katrina was 65%, now it's down to 4% going to an f-rated school. there's more work to be done, but it shows you, you don't have to wait a long time to make dramatic improvements, and i think it's so frustrating when people tell you wait for incremental gains. look at the little boys and girls in this room. they've only got one chance to grow up. and i would invite anybody that to poses school poise to come tell them -- opposes school choice to come tell them why they should have to wait. the single most important thing we did because there are a lot of detailed laws. you can give a-f letter grades change your state's tenure policies, you can lift the charter school cap, you can allow good operators to have more than one school authorized at a time, you can shut down failing schools, you can do online schools like we have
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done, you can do course choice. the most important thing -- and it's not real complicated -- is you let the dollars follow the child instead of making the child follow the dollars. and i'm here to tell you that -- [applause] charter schools are great, but that doesn't mean every child should be in a charter school. every child is different, and the people who know best are the moms and dads. maybe a child will do better in a traditional public school or charter school an online school, a private school, a dual enrollment program, maybe a catholic school, an independent school. the point is empower parents. and today we have that but only for the wealthy. so if you're wealthy, you can move to a neighborhood with great schools. if you're wealthy, you can save your money and send your children to a great private school. if you don't have resources you're more likely to be trapped in a failing school. that's the exact opposite of what we're supposed to be doing can. education should help america to be an aspirational society. it should also be helping us to
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produce engaged responsible citizens. you're going to hear on a later panel a woman who's a state senator, former state senator from new orleans, championed, authored one of our bills, and for her it wasn't about partisan politics. she was so passionate soeloquent when she went to the mic and said the kids that will benefit are the kids that i was elected to represent. so to answer your question, there have been dozens of laws. the single most important thing we did was to let the dollars follow the kids to empower every parent to make the choice that makes the best sense for their child instead of having a one size fits all approach. i too, want to thank afc and the friedman foundation. they were great partners as we fought to make that happen in louisiana. [applause] >> senator grooms, love to hear a little bit about both how you came to this issue and about some of the challenges you struggled with pushing for school choice in south carolina.
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>> well, first of all, thank you. thank you, senator scott, for bringing us all here together. we live in an exceptional nation we do. some peoplen don't like to say that, but we do. we live in an exceptional nation. we have the highest standard of living the greatest quality of life of any people that's ever been on this planet and you have to ask yourself why? it's because we're the freest people. we value freedom. we value freedom. we will die to defend freedom. we employ freedom in every aspect of our lives. we believe that you should have choices. jefferson, jefferson memorial saw it this morning. jefferson defines freedom as having choices. and it is because of these choices that we've achieved more than any peoples that have ever come before us. but for some reason we don't think that those choices should extend to parents when it comes to their child's education.
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it's mind boggling. i don't get it. we see how freedom has created such wealth, such prosperity, how freedom has allowed us to become an exceptional nation. we need an exceptional public school system. we need an exceptional private school system. we need an exceptional delivery system of education in. and in order to have that, let's let freedom work in schools. because freedom only works every time. choice matters. choice is freedom. you'll root out what doesn't work, and then you'll elevate what does work. and when it comes to education, who loves the children more; the government or the parents? who has the child's best
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interests at heart; the school board or a parent? i know more about my children and the type of education that would work best for them than anybody on our school board than any secretary of education would. i want to be able to offer my children and the children of south carolina -- and i want to see the children of this nation have choices, real choices in their education. not every child's the same. every child learns differently. but when we allow choices, when we give parents choices we give them freedom. and through freedom we have excellence. and we will build upon that and maintain our excellent nation. >> thank you, senator. [applause] >> senator scott, i've heard you talk occasionally about how school choice became a passion of yours, especially with all these students in the room today i thought it might be interesting if you wanted to share a little bit of that part
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of your biography. >> certainly. let me say before i start that i know congresswoman mcmorris rodgers may have to leave before the panel's over because she's attending the funeral -- >> yes. i'm here until 10:30. >> awesome. >> okay. >> we're going to give her as much time to speak except for these minutes i'm getting ready to eat up right now. [laughter] i came to the issue of school choice honestly. i grew up in poverty. my mother raised me by herself. she worked 16 hours a day to try to keep us off welfare. she was doing all that she could, and yet i was not doing that well. i went to four different elementary schools because as some of you may know, when you're living in poverty the chances are you may have to move a little bit. and when you're moving so often you're changing schools. so for me, my elementary years were about hopping from school to school to school. and one of the reasons why i liked what bobby or governor jindal said was it's giving the
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resources to the child and letting the resources follow the child is so important because if you're like me growing up in poverty, it's -- you can't fund the right school if the can kid keeps moving. so the allowing the resources to two with the kid is very important. but because of that challenging beginning, when i was a freshman in high school, i was flunking out. i was not doing very well. i failed world geography -- actually, i failed high school as a freshman. [laughter] i failed world geography, i think i may be the only united states senator ever failed civics. [laughter] which is the study of politics. and then i arrived in the senate. i e e realized that maybe -- i realized that maybe i'm not the only one -- [laughter] that failed civics. [applause] >> and you can watch all of this forum hosted by senator tim scott online in our video
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library at the u.s. senate is galing in momentarily -- gaveling in momentarily. tim scott reported that he is likely to endorse in the south carolina 2016 presidential primary saying the candidate's positions on school choice could tip the scales on that. senate's gaveling in next with possible work on department of homeland security spending. we take you live now to the senate floor.
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mr. hatch: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: is the quorum call dispensed with. the presiding officer: the senate is not in a quorum call. mr. hatch: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak up to 20 -- let's see. 20 minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: mr. president i rise to speak about the impending expawtion of exhaustion of the disability trust fund.
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the social security contains two important programs. one is the old age and survivors insurance or oasi program often referred to as the retirement program. that program provides income to insured workers and their families at retirement or death based on their payroll tax contributions to the oasi trust fund. the other is the disability insurance or d.i. program which provides income to insured workers who suffer from a disabling condition based on their payroll tax contributions to the d.i. trust fund. unfortunately, both trust funds face trillions of dollars in unfunded obligations. each trust fund is legally distinct though they have been commingled in the past and to an imaginary fund labeled the oasdi trust fund or mingled with general fund. reserves in the d.i. trust fund are projected to be exhausted some time late in calendar year 2016 after which beneficiaries
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face benefit cuts of around 20%. the d.i. program alone faces unfunded obligations over the next 75 years more than $1.2 trillion. reserves in the oasdi fufd are projected to be exhaust -- trust fund are projected to be exhausted in 2034 after which retirees and survivors face cuts around 25%. the retirement program alone faces unfunded obligations of around $9.4 trillion over the next 15 years. financial operations of the oasi and d.i. trust funds are overseen by a board of trustees composed of six members. four of them serve based on their positions in the federal government and two are appointed by the president and confirmed by the senate. currently tresh secretary lew labor secretary perez h.h.s. secretary burwell and social security acting commissioner
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colvin serve on the board. this is not what anyone would consider a band of fiscal hawks. yet in their most recent report, these trustees who are once again high-ranking officials in the obama administration, urged congress to take action -- quote -- "as soon as possible to address the d.i. program's financial imbalance." those are pretty clear words. those are not the words of any republican trying to manufacture a crisis. they are the not the words of any republican trying to hold anyone or anything hostage as some of my friends on the other side have claimed. rather they came from the obama administration officials who in their roles as trustees are forced to acknowledge reality. mr. president, i want to take this opportunity to once again urge the administration and my colleagues particularly those on the other side of the aisle to begin to work with me to find solutions so we'll at least begin to chip away at the known
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financial imbalances in the d.i. trust fund so we can prevent the coming benefit cuts. last year in the finance committee hearing on the d.i. program, i made clear my willingness to work with anyone in congress or the administration to examine options and ideas about the d.i. program before the d.i. trust fund becomes exhausted. indeed i've been trying for years fo get the administration to engage on this issue. unfortunately to date i have heard nothing from the administration and very little from my friends on the other side of the aisle about this issue. what i have heard is fearmongering about supposed republican plans to slash benefits or engineer a false crisis or hold beneficiaries hostage. i'm not exaggerating, mr. president. those are the very words they've used. in budget after budget the president has all been ignored social security in general and the d.i. program in particular. the president's budgets generally only include costs for
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more administrative funding for the social security administration or the occasional idea for an experimental trial. after years of my asking the administration to engage on the d.i. program's financial challenges the president quietly inserted his policy position on d.i. just recently, and with his fiscal year 2016 budget we finally learn that the president supports a -- quote -- "stand-alone reallocation" of incoming tax receipts away from the retirement trust fund over to the disability insurance trust fund. oddly, one of the objectives appears to be to make a reallocation so that both the disability and retirement trust funds become exhausted in the same future year. which according to the budget is 2033. needless to say having a joint trust fund exhaustion is a target doesn't solve any fundamental financial problem facing the long-run financial
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challenges of social security. it takes away any urgency for congress to improve the disability program now before it becomes harder to do so down the road. by stand-alone reallocation, the administration means that it wants to shift funds from the retirement fund to the d.i. fund for, with no accompanying policy changes of any kind. no change in overall payroll taxes. no change in benefits. no substantive changes in program integrity aside from the persistent call for more mandatory administrative funds. not even a study. mr. president, there have recently been many misconceptions and misstatements about the idea of a reallocation in general in this stand-alone reallocation in particular. the last time congress made a reallocation for the retirement trust fund to the d.i. trust fund was in 1994. at that time social security trustees wrote the following
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about the reallocation and d.i. trust fund -- quote -- "while the congress acted this past year to restore its short-term financial balance this necessary action should be viewed as only providing time and opportunity to design and implement substantive reforms that can lead to long-term financial stability." unquote. unfortunately those reforms never came. and now also unfortunately the president wants to tell the american people the same story. but now to provide time for later action. in addition the financial challenges facing social security are very different from past trust fund account reshuffling, including the one in 1994. as the public trustees of the social security trust fund wrote just last year -- quote -- "the present situation is very different from that of 1994. the d.i. trust fund's impending
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reserves depletion signals that the time has arrived for reforms that strengthen the financing outlooks for oasdi and d.i. alike." unquote. mr. president, some of my friends on the other side of the aisle say that we have had many reallocations between the d.i. and oasi trust funds in the past and that it's just ordinary housekeeping or a technical change. it's something we do all the time they say. so there's nothing really to see here. true, there have been trust fund reallocations in the past. sometimes from oasi to d.i. sometimes the other way around. sometimes with overall payroll tax rate changes and sometimes not. but there has never -- let me repeat that, mr. president -- never been a stand-alone reallocation from retirement to the disability trust fund. most people who would dispute this talk about the reallocation
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of 1994, which i mentioned earlier, but if the 1994 reallocation is somehow to be considered a model of ordinary housekeeping then we should repeat today. i think it is a bad model for the reasons i just identified. following that model we would defer action until later all the while claiming that real changes were on the horizon. and following that model we would continue to do nothing to place social security on a more stable financial footing. moreover, thinking of reallocation is just a normal way of doing business raises many questions. why was a separate d.i. trust fund set up to begin with? why do we even call them trust funds if they are merely fungible accounting devices? why not merge the oas di and d.i. funds and call them the singular social security trust fund? more generally given the recent stimulus-inspired mingling of
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general fund revenues with the oa si and d.i. trust funds why have social security trust funds at all and if historical reallocations are to be used to guide what we should do today then perhaps the recent reallocations from the general fund to the oasi and d.i. trust funds have been been the most recent historical allocation episodes should be the most prominent precedents. mr. president, when circumstances make us focus on the solvency of any trust fund, there are two options. option one, we can face up to the known financial challenges, examine what can be done about them in a bipartisan way and try to enact solutions. option two, we can kick the proverbial can farther down the road by taking the most expedient truth reshuffle resources temporarily in order to get the problem out of the way in the short term.
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unfortunately, the president and his allies here in congress seem to prefer the latter. kick the can down the road. kick the can strategy. this is especially disappointing given what the president said about social security when he took office in 2009. at that time the president said about social security -- quote -- "what we have done is kick this can down the road. we are now at the end of the road and we're not in a position to kick it any farther. we have to signal seriousness in this by making sure hard decisions are made under my watch. not someone else's." unquote. the president has been on his watch for six years now and if we look at his administration's proposed solution to the coming d.i. trust fund exhaustion, he seems more than content to push any hard decisions off until his term is over. president obama now not only wants to kick the can down the
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road but he also wants to do it in a way that has never been done before. mr. president, elementary budget arithmetic makes clear that you simply cannot strengthen the financial outlooks for our two social security programs and their trust funds simply by shifting resources from one to the other. indeed director elmendorf of the nonpartisan congressional budget office recently said -- quote -- "if you want to help both programs, you're not going to accomplish that by just moving money around between them." unquote. rather than engaging in yet another unnecessary partisan battle we need to take this opportunity to work together to see what can be done in a bipartisan way to address the impending exhaustion of reserves in the d.i. trust fund. once again i urge the administration and my friends on the other side of the aisle to work with me on this issue. mr. president, i'll have more to say on this issue in the coming days and for now i yield the
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floor. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: mr. president, i want to take this opportunity to express sorrow both mine and that of the people of arizona at the news that one of our own kayla mueller prescott has died at the hands of isil. kayla's entire adult life cut short at the tender age of 26, has been dedicated to the service of others ending that suffering. when she was taken hostage in 2013 kayla was leaving the doctors without borders hospital in syria. she had been in the region working with syrian refugees. kayla once said that what inspired her work was that she found -- quote -- "god in the
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suffering eyes reflected in mine. if this is how you are revealed in me, this is how i will forever seek you." regardless of the exact circumstances surrounding kayla's death the fact remains that had isil militants not kidnapped this sparkling young woman she would still be with us today. her death can and should be laid squarely at their feet. it is yet another example of this group's mindless, alarming savagery. the best thing congress can now do is to authorize the mission against isil and to let our allies and our adversaries know that we mean business and that we are united in our resolve. we should remember kayla not for her death but for her life and for her devotion to the highest calling -- dedication to the service of others. our deepest hard felt condolences go to kayla's family
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and her loved ones in prescott and elsewhere around the state and the country. mr. president, i also rise today to talk for a minute about an arizona original, former senator and presidential candidate barry goldwater. senator goldwater was no stranger to this senate floor having served five terms in this body and having been his party's presidential nominee in 1964. by the end of his time here, tboald water was an elder statesman, the go-to guy on national security, having chaired the armed services and intelligence committees and having reorganized the pentagon structure with the goldwater goldwater-nichols act. he was also respected for his unapologetic fiscal conservatism. goldwater was probably best known for his staunch defense of personal liberty and for reviving and redefining what it means to be conservative. while he may have lost the election in 1964 to lyndon
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johnson, he laid the groundwork for the republican party's future and the eventual resurgence under ronald reagan. as columnist george will noted it took 16 years to count the votes from 1964, and goldwater won. for many of us he was a role model. before i came to congress i was honored to serve as the executive director of the goldwater institute, an arizona organization that bears his name and his philosophy. born before arizona was even a state, goldwater like so many great men he honed his passionate interests in the nonpolitical world around him. he was an avid and published photographer, in fact, goldwater's estate contains some 15,000 photographs many of them of arizona landscapes and the people he loved so much. he also occasionally took his camera to social events, once
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even snapping president kennedy at the white house. kennedy inscribed the photo for barry goldwater whom i urge to follow the career for which he has shown such talent, photography. but in addition to being a conservative warrior goldwater was an actual warrior having flown supply missions over the hump in world war ii and retiring as a major general in the u.s. air force reserve. he believed in peace through strength. barry goldwater was plainspoken, he was stubborn, he was patriotic he was independent, in short he embodied the very spirit of arizona and tomorrow at long last barry goldwater will be honored with a statute here on capitol hill representing his beloved arizona. goldwater may have once described himself as a most underdog under dog there is, but i can -- i can't think of a
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more deserving recipient nor of a more fitting representative of our state. well done, barry goldwater. i yield back. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the democrat leader. mr. durbin: i ask consent the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: and consent to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: the senate is in morning business. mr. durbin: it's ironic you're presiding because i'm going to give ukranian update, and the
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presiding officer and i, the senator from iowa have initiated a caucus here in the senate, bipartisan caucus concerned with the you've of ukraine and my -- ukraine and my remarks will. we're approaching the one-year anniversary of the forcible russian seizure of sovereign territory in ukraine. perhaps the world shouldn't have been surprised by president putin's brazen attack on well established international norms. we've seen this movie before with mr. putin in georgia in 2008 and useing military force in south ossetia. what we're facing is the foundation of the norms of the last several decades, we're facing the use of military force by putin to undermine a democratic sovereign nation's aspirations to join the international democratic community. these ugly threats and actions by putin must not go
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unchallenged. that's why this week i led a bipartisan letter with the presiding officer senator portman, senators brown barrasso, blumenthal and others to president obama urging unions tons and nato to work together to ensure ukraine has the defensive capabilities and equipment to halt and reverse further russian aggression. thousands have been killed, thousands more displaced a civilian airliner was shot down murdering hundreds of innocent people and nationalistic fervor and soviet file style propaganda have been used to further problem the russian -- the ukranian people of their own political freedoms. let's recall how we got to this awful situation. in march of this year, putin used manipulation and military might to annex a region of crimea not because they were about to join nato, not because ukraine was about to join the european union not because ukraine was about to cut economic or historical ties to
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russia even if it did sign an association agreement with the european union and not because russian-speaking ukrainians were in any danger. no putin took this action because he needed to rally nationalist sentiment in his own country for his own political survival to protect his own corrupt kleptocracy. he did so because he needed a war to distract russians from the frustrations they had over a weak national economy domestic political repression, the elimination of russia's free press and civic organizations and increasing russian exasperation with the heavy handed rule of mr. putin. he did so because his ally and former ukrainian president was democratically removed from office by a unanimous vote of the parliament after he squandered negotiations for closer trade ties with the european union and then presided over the murder of over is 00 of
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his own -- 100 of his own citizens. putin did so because he felt aggrieved by the wevment so instead of aspiring his own people of the many accomplishments of the russian nation as part of the global warming community putin has spread a message of victimhood and that the west is still the enemy. what a waste. what an insult to the proud and talented russian people. putin's tactics are from the old soviet playbook -- tired and dated. the resulting destruction and human misery in ukraine has been significant and has been increasing by the day. 13 innocent ukraineian citizensen including pensioners and little children, were killed in a horrific bus attack last month. the city of mirapol recently came under shelling injuring hundreds of more citizens, part
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of an attempt to seize another area. the ukrainian government forces and civilians have come under mounting fire in another city where residents are fleeing by the busload. russian heavy weapons and personnel continue to brazenly flow despite putin's refusal to acknowledge the obvious. nearly 750,000 ukrainian citizens are now living as displaced persons within their own country because of this owen ifive action -- offensive a by the russians. the world health organization estimates that 5 million ukrainians living in areas where the fight something fiercest are in dire need of basic health care services. the people trapped in the cities of luhansq and dnetsk are without any medical assistance. ukrainian officials say that january was one of the bloodest months of eastern ukraine since the conflict started. all the while russia continues
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to balk at peace talks and even denies their military actions. since the collapse of the soviet union, the united states and europe have worked to strengthen ties with russia, to help it become a partner in the global community. of course our interests didn't always overlap and there were disagreements. that's the nature of an international relationship. but to whip up anti-western propaganda on state-controlled media and insult the russian people, they deserve more. the west didn't lock up russian's opposition leaders who is only so-called crime was to disagree with putin. the west didn't shut down all the independent media in russia. the west didn't shut down russian groups whose sole purpose was to ensure fair elections. the west didn't conduct a russian presidential election in 2012 that was loaded with fraud and irregularity, and the west didn't create a system of corruption around putin that enriches a lucky few oligarchs and tarnishes russia's economy and international reputation.
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the west certainly didn't focus on creating false enemies both domestic and international to distract from the real work of diversifying russia's economy. and let me be clear the west did not cause the pro-fests protests in ukraine's miden square. i met with several leaders in ukraine and i can assure you they were ukrainian patriots, not western proxies. while i have been giving this speak, my friend and colleague senator mccain has come to the floor, who i visited ukraine with several months ago. he was there during the midon demonstrations and has firsthand knowledge about how this is this was a homegrown effort to bring real change to ukraine. tom friedman called what's happening in ukraine under putin "the ugliest geopolitical mugging happening in the world today." perhaps you've siege the recent episode of the pbs documentary
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"front line" entitled "putin's way." it laid out the web of corruption and destruction around putin's rise to power. it showed how each contrived crisis at home has been used to consolidate putin's grip on power and left little lengths on putin will go to. i commend the president for working with our european allies to impose severe economic sanctions on russia, for its actions in ukraine these sanctions have some impact. in fact, russia's credit rating is now reduced to junk bond status. but putin and his proxies have only doubled down, launching new offensives in eastern ukraine leaving more death and human miss rhode island so i have concluded, mr. president and i believe you have reached a similar conclusion because of a letter we cowrote this week, that the united states has to do more to protect the ukrainian people. i no he that it's a debating point with some of our european
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allies as to whether or not we're escalating the conflict. but to leave ukraine poorly prepared to defend its own territory, to leave the civilians in ukraine so open to the aggression of the russian invaders is just wrong. we can provide lethal, defensive weapons to help the ukrainians defend their own homeland, their own country from this russian invasion and i think we should and i encourage the administration to move forward. i've reached the conclusion we eventually have to deal with this bully with force. force must be met with force. we must give the ukrainian people the means to defend themselves and to build a modern democratic nation. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. mccain: mr. president i ask unanimous consent to address the senate as if in morning business. the presiding officer: the senator -- the senate is in morning business. the senator from arizona is
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recognized. mr. mccain: i rise today to mourn the tragic death of 26-year-old humanitarian aide worker kayla jean mueller of press scott arizona who had been held which isil terrorists since august of 2013. we and i are heartbroken for the mueller family at the loss of their beautiful beloved kay lavment the thoughts and prayers of the people of her home state of arizona the country and the civilized world are with the mueller family at this terrible hour. i want to take the time today to share a bit of kayla's story. this wonderful young woman represented the best of us. she had a remarkable impact on the lives of so many people who never had the honor of meeting her and her story will forever be an inspiration to us. kayla attended high school at
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tri city college prep in arizona where she was recognized as a national young leader who received the president's award for academic excellence in 2007. a philanthropist of the year award in 2005 and the gold presidential award in 2007 for her volunteer efforts with youth count, americorps, america's promise, open inn for troubled youths big brokers big sisters and other youth organizations. after graduating from northern arizona university in flagstaff in 2009, kayla committed her life to helping people in need around the world first in india, in israel, then the palestinian territories and back home in prescott where she volunteered at an hiv-aids clinic and a women's shelter.
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but it was the conflict in syria that drew kayla's greatest interest and again sparked her desire to help those in need. in a youtube video she made in october 201 1 kayla said, "i am in solidarity with the syrian people. i reject the brutality and the killing that the syrian authorities are committing against the syrian people. silence is participation in this crime. i declare my participation in the syrian sit-in on youtube." in december 2012, kayla traveled to the turkish-syrian border where she worked for month helping the thousands of syrian refugees whose lives were torn apart by the humanitarian catastrophe created by basser assad
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and the syrian civil war. according to her family, kayla found this work heartbreaking but compelling. she was extremely devoted to the people of syria and their struggle. kayla explained to her family her call to service this way: "i find god in the cuffing eyes reflected in mine. this is how you are revealed to me. this is how i will forever seek you. i will always seek god. sosome people find god in church. some people find god in nature. some people find god in love. i find god in suffering. i've known for sometime what my life's work is: using my hands as tools to relieve suffering." when kayla traveled back home to visit her family in arizona in may of 2013, she spoke about her
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experiences at the prescott kiwanis club where her father was a member. after recalling helping a syrian man whose wife had been murdered to reunite with a 6-year-old relative he was desperately searching for after their refugee camp was bombed, kayla said "this story is not rare in syria. this is a reality for syrians two and a half years on. when syrians hear i am an men they ask 'where is the world? ' all i can do is cry with them because i don't know." after spending time with the refugees kayla told the kiwanis club she was totally drawn in and that she -- quote -- "can't do enough to help." she recalled stories of children being hurt by unexploded bombs women forced into early marriages, elementary schools targeted for bombing by the
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syrian regime, and people living in caves to escape the bombing. kayla went on. she said, "syrians are dying by the thousands and they're fighting just to talk about the rights we have. for as long as i live, i will not let this suffering be normal. i will not let this be something we just accept." it's important to stop and realize what we have, why we have it and how privileged we are and from that place start caring and get a lot done." she described part of her work helping the syrian children in the refugee camps including drawing, painting, and playing with the children, many of whom were badly scarred physically and psyche psychologically by the war. she said, "we give and get joy from playing with these children," she said. "half the 1.5 million refugees
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the u.n. has registered are children. the chaos of waking up in the middle of the night and being shelled, we're hearing of more children being separated from their families by accident. asked by kiwanis members what are recommendations for addressing the conflict," kayla said "a no-fly zone over refugee camps would be number one." kayla also believed if the table, reality of the conflict were better known to americans our nation would be more heavily engaged. the people of the united states would see that something needs to be done, she said. today the mueller family release add letter written to them by kayla in the spring of 2014. i want to read a bit of it to gave sense of this -- give a sense of this young woman her deep faith in god her profound love for their family and her remarkable strength in the face of grave danger.
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she wrote "i remember mom always telling me that all in all in the end the only one you really have is god. i have come to a place an experience where in every sense of the world i have surrendered myself to our creator because literally there was no one else and by god and by your prayers i have felt tenderly cradled in freefall. i have been shown in darkness light and even in prisoner one can be free. i am grateful. i have come to see that there's good in every situation. sometimes we just have to look for it. i pray each day that if nothing else, you have felt a certain closeness and surrendered to god as well and have formed a bond of love and support amongst one another. i miss you all as if it had been a decade of separation."


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