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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  March 10, 2016 8:00am-10:01am EST

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chief tidwell, if we can't make significant progress to address climate change, what can we expect about the cost of fires in the future? >> the cost of fires, it's definitely increase. but what's more problematic is, if we can't get out and make more changes on the landscape to reduce the fuels, to be able to do a better job today will do build defensible space we will continue to lose thousands of homes. ..
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foreseeable change in the situations we're dealing with for the foreseeable future. pull. >> pull it all together you talk about acres we lose and talk about the lives we lose. obviously we need to get a real solution to fight wildfires. a solution that insures sufficient funding, that keeps environmental protections in place and provides certainty for all the other forest programs. i appreciate the hard work that others on this committee have done to try to come to that solution. rising wildfire costs are just another example of the price we pay if we fail to take decisive action on climate change. unless we take this problem seriously, unless we take
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meaningful steps in reliance on fossil fuels and cut back on greenhouse gas emissions, these fires will get worse, we will spend more money. we will jeopardize more lives. we will damage more critical ecosystems and communities that depend on our nation's forests. thank you, madam chair. >> senator daines. >> thank you, madam chair. good to see you again here today. thank you for your testimony. i share your commitment as well as i know many members in this committee to solving the wildfire funding challenge and increasing active management of our national forests. i know across many of our national forests, certainly in my home state of montana habitual litigation from fringe groups who do not represent the majority of people of montana have been one of the key barriers to moving forward with active management of our forests. i recently received updated information from your region one
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staff concerning litigation in montana. i was told there are 21 active timber lawsuits going on in my state. that to me is astonishing. it is unacceptable. i had some students from libby, montana, in my office recently. they're called the libby loggers. this is vibrant timber industry up in northwest montana. the only folks winning today are the lawyers and i said perhaps they need to change the mask from the libly loggers, to libby lawyers. the lawyers are winning. loggers are losing. community is losing. of the environment is losing not actively managing forests. i appreciate comments on insects, infest stations of pine beetle what that does. we can't even harvest dead trees often times because we're challenged by these fringe groups. in fact, i just saw a study
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showed the forest service, the forest service completes more time-consuming environmental impact statements than any other federal agency. just looked a the report here this morning. forest service spends $365 million a year complying cg with federal laws and regulations. my question, chief tidwell, as we look at the solution to go forward here, as we need to certainly, i support changing the way wildfires are funded as well as insuring we move toward active forest management, i think a big part or big barrier of that is litigation, if congress provided litigation relief and regulatory relief in a way maintains public trust, is it fair to say the forest service would be able to get a lot more work accomplished on the ground and perhaps in a shorter time from time to time? >> there's definitely projects that are litigated and, you know, the past we definitely had
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much more litigation than we're seeing today. we've also, you know, our staff and attorneys doing a good job to work through the backlog. what is even more important is the trend. so like last year in region 10, excuse me, region one, we had seven lawsuits and for, three of those were for our veg management projects. we had no preliminary injunctions to have to deal with. so it's a combination of our folks doing everything they need to do be able to work with people, be able to move forward with that but they have significantly reduced the amount of litigation when it comes to forest management and our vegetation projects. now the litigation in a lot of other issues we're dealing with, it's continuing, stay the same or increase. so the solution, as i look at
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this, and i've spent a lot of time dealing with it over my career, is that if we find ways norfolks to understand what we're trying to get done and be able to build that trust because so much of the, from my view, a lot of litigation comes from the point that, that people believe that we're trying to do something else versus take care of the land. >> and to that point, and i've been a supporter of the collaborative process. it's working. it's working book home in montana. however, of the 21 projects under litigation, 16, 16 of the 21 were collaboratives where these folks show up, who aren't at table working together across various stakeholders, ngos, the timber industry, the community, county commissioners, and then these fringe groups show up and litigate and
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challenge these harvests, i think we all agree collaboration should be encouraged but i strongly believe more needs to be done to protect the collaboratives from this handful of fringe obstructionist who repeatedly sue and upend the heart work and frankly demoralizing, folks trying to find a solution, as we watch the forest burn in the summertime, we see declining revenues to support our schools and our teachers, vibrant economy, i just ask we continue to work together to find solutions to incentivize collaborations. find ways to deincentivize these fringe groups that are litigating a lot of these projects. >> well, senator, i appreciate your support for our collaborative efforts and they are miking a difference, and yes, it is extremely frustrating when people who worked hard together come to agreement on what work needs to occur and then you have somebody come in to file a lawsuit. it es frustrating.
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i do think, to be able to incentivize collaboration, i appreciate the work from congress over the last two years, they recognize that, we see things where we want to put it into statute. i really appreciate that level of support because i do think it is making a difference and it is really the answer. i think that as we build more and more support and build stronger collaboratives i do think it will also help more people to understand really with we're after. and to be able to build that trust. because once you have the trust, that is what carries these collaboratives. that allows us to get the work done. when i look at work going on in your state, over the last few years, our employees doing outstanding job working with the communities to be able to expand the work every year, be able to hit their targets, even with litigation that they're still dealing with, and your state is one of the places we probably
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have as much as any place. they're doing outstanding job. we appreciate your support for our collaborative efforts. >> thank you, commissioner tidwell. >> thank you, madam chair. thank you very much, chief for making the clear connection between climate change and the continuing challenges of fighting forest fires. and also, i agree with senator daines that collaboration is what we want to pursue. every state forest resources and challenges requires us to work closely with the forest service. we depend on the expertise and what the forest service brings to the table. that is why so many of the questions from the committee are very specific to what is going on in our states and your activities in those states. so in that regard i did want to take a moment to thank you for your commitment to protecting hawaii's precious landscapes in
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president's 2017 budget. this includes prioritizing hawaii's island forests at risk, proposal for land and water conservation fund as well as inclusion of both the wilderness areas in hawaii through the forest legacy program. our natural resources in hawaii are facing numerous external threats and your support conserving these landscapes very much appreciated. i would like to invite you to visit hawaii sometime to see all challenges and opportunities and activities that you are very much engaged in hawaii and, there is nothing like actually visiting a place to gain a fully, i think, appreciation of what is going on. i wanted to turn to one of the biggest emergencies that hawaii's native forests are facing right now, which is rapid depth, fungal pathogen and thousands of our native ojea
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trees have died and that is significant because this tree makes up0% of the our native -- 80% of our native forests and ecologically and most importantly our native plant in hawaii. our forests have a lot to do with our watersheds. one of the ground personnel from the federal stakeholders, including usfs personnel from the institute of pacific island forestry of region 5 with private grants are trying to answer several critical questions about this disease including transmission and resistance. we still need the resources to do the proper investigations and research. what can the forest service recommend to hawaii as it relates to rapid ojea death based on lessons learned and best practices when you are confronted with other tree diseases in other states? and would an incident command stricture be helpful to identify and direct resources to help
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provide creative ways we can engage expertise across the forest service on this topic and what other resources may be available for assistance? >> well, senator, we are working very closely with the agricultural resource service and also the university of hawaii to be able to bring all of our resources together to be able to, first of all understand how this is being transmitted and to be able then to look at some ways to be able to reduce the spread of this. then also we're doing work to look at genetic resistance, to be able to find which trees are able to fight off this fungus. this fungus has been in hawaii for a while but just recently has gone into the trees. so we need to understand what is causing that to occur. and it may be just another one of the indicators as we see the changing climate, that we're seeing things, fungus that has been in our environment for many
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years all of sudden starting to create a problem. we're seeing same thing with bats, with white node syndrome. what we're looking at to be able to bring all the resources together to quickly understand what's going on and be able to figure out how we can stop this. the other thing we need to probably look at, how to stop the spread. if there are things we can do to get out in front of this. i also know there are some trials going on with some, you know, some fungicides that may also prove effective. the problem with that, such a large area. that may be helpful in specific area for a few trees around a person's home, et cetera, but to be able to stop this, we'll have to i think go beyond finding that solution. so those are the things we're continuing to work on. there is, there is urgency, to be able to quickly get out in front of. but at same time, it is just another example of why our research and development program
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is so important so that we do have the scientists, we have the capacity to be able to address these emerging issues. >> so do you have enough money in your fiscal year '17 budget proposal to do the kind ever things you're doing? not just happening in hawaii. these kinds of unusual occurrences are happening across the country i would imagine. so, you need to have a robust capacity for research, tests, what have you. is there enough money in the budget? well, there is never enough. >> so i'm pleased we're able to ask for the amount of funding we do have, yes, once again, until we fix this wildfire suppression funding situation, we're not going to be able to be in the position to be able to ask. so i do feel we have an adequate level in research and development but it is one of the things we need to be aware of, there will be mower and more
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invasives, more and more issues. research and development is definitely an area that we need to increase our investment in. >> thank you. i thank the chairwoman's leadership in the wildfire issue. >> look forward to working with you. we will next turn to senator cassidy and then senator lee. >> hey, chief. last september the epa published interim recommendations for environmental standards as well as ecolabs for use in federal procurement. recommendation for lumber defines, i think, fsc, you will know that term but just to define it, forest stewardship council certified by including that, not including therefore excludes, if you will the standard forestry initiative and sfi and atfs, the american tree farm system. now, first in louisiana, about 85% of all of our lumber is sfi
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or stfs. but i'm also told from the national forest service land there is 42,000 jobs attributed to the forest products from nfs lands. and that the forest service does not allow their harvested wood to be subjected to a third party standard. so not only are 85% of my for -- for evidenters are excluded but the entire national forest service is excluded by the epa standards. i'm also told the sfi and the atfs have the same sort of standards as the fsc, all these initials i'm sorry but that they're just not included. thoughts on that? why should we allow the national forest service products to be excluded based on their own rules and epa rules? >> well, senator, i'm going to have to look into this but there is no question we support the
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sfi, the tree farmed, fsc certifications. it is something that's in your state the majority of the private land is certified and so we've always been supportive of that. you know, this is something i'm going to look into but it raises the question of potential problems, because when we, when we think about clean air, we think about clean water, we need to be thinking about healthy forests and maintaining our forests. so today, you know, our nation's forests, which is the majority of them are private land as in your state. they sequester from about 12 to 14% of the coo 2 emitted each year. if we lose those forests. if there is not a way to have viable markets for the wood, private landowners will develop their land for some other use. so it is essential that we make sure that we're, things that we're considering, it actually
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helps us to be able to maintain forests on the landscape. so this is an issue that i will look into and i will get back to you on it but it is problematic when there's, we're looking at things, especially we're concerned about clean air and clean water, we got to make sure that it allows us to be able to maintain our forests and part of that is to be able to have, you know, strong economic markets for the wood. so it's essential we have both. so i will look into this and get back to you. >> that is interesting. you just kind of put a nice perspective degree to which the federal government passes regulations that makes it economical for someone to have a forest. that forest will be put to its other economic uses and the federal government will actually be working against clean water, against having a, if you will, a sump for co2 if that is the priority and clean air. so, the federal regulation that
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restricts the access of an another federal agency to these projects actually works against the stated goals of the agency, is that a fair way to put it? >> well, it could, and once again i'm not familiar this epa regulation. so i'm going to have to get back to you on that. but my point was, we need to be very careful that we need to understand the benefit of our forests. yes, we have our public land forests that are going to stay forested the majority of our forests are private. if we lose privated forest lands we lose potential not only to store carbon but clean water, and wildlife habitats and recreational settings. it is essential that we consider the impacts of any of our regulations so that we want to be able to do, is be able to promote that. then at the same time be able to answer the question, yes, it is
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being managed in a sustainable way because some of our markets in europe, there's people that are questioning our forest management in this country because of the standards that they have in some of the european countries required that their wood products are coming from sustainable managed forests. so it is essential we'll be able to do that but at same time, do it in a way we can maintain these forests. it's, if i think about, if for no other reason just the amount of carbon that is being stored, if we lose that, that, that sync, we'll have to find other ways to deal with it. it is another benefit of forests i'm not sure everybody recognizes. >> we'll impose that as question for the record and look forward for your reply after you had a chance to review. thank you. >> thank you, madam chair. thank you for being here with us
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today. agriculture plays a pretty significant role in my home state of utah. our state's economy is quite dependent on agriculture especially in many of the state's rule communities. because of the fact that 2/3 of utah's land is federally controlled, thoses of utah ranchers are dependent on federal land managers and policies they set for their own livelihood, own ability to feed their families and keep farms and ranches operates. unfortunately for these farmers and ranchers federal policies have become increasingly hostile towards livestock grazing. since 1950s, federal land managers cut livestock rising rights by 74%. this is quite significant, cutting those by 74%. this is created tremendous uncertainty for ranching families in out few and undercut
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rural economies throughout my state. so can you tell me, mr. tidwell, why have grazing permits declined so dramatically since the 1950s? >> the combination of things. part of it would be the impact that was occurring from the grazing. it is also the change with multiple use. and that the public's interested in these lands for a variety of uses, whether it is for recreation, whether it's for wildlife, whether it's for scenery. so when we look at how to manage these lands, we want to, we're going to continue to graze these lands. we can do it in a way so that we can maintain ecosystem, maintain the right areas. we have thousands of places where we can do this. and so has there been reductions over the last 60, 70 -- sure, there has but you also have to remember that the reason the
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forests, the national forests exist in utah is that the communities petitioned congress have them reserved from the public domain because of the lack of management that was occurring way back in the late 1800s. so, over time, yes, there has been reductions but it has been to be able to address the public's needs to provide not only multiple use but also to have sustainable grazing. when we do that, then the permitees are in a place where they have that certainty. the other problem we deal with is that we go through drought periods of time in utah like every place else and when we go through those droughty periods of time there is less forest and less capacity on the landscape. the ideal situation the permitees would reduce numbers during that time. when we get the more favorable
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precip years they can actually expand operations. that is the place we need to be but very difficult for many of our ranchers to have that flexibility. >> yeah. and i understand that there are a lot of considerations there and i wouldn't dispute, i don't think any utah ranchers would dispute the fact it is necessary to restore range lands to, allow range lands a chance to catch up so that our grazing permitting processes remain sustainable but what i'm hearing from a number of ranchers in utah even after range land has been restored, after you know, being allowed to rest for a while, that it is still not opening up. that even once range conditions have improved substantially, grazing rights are not be be restored. why is that? can you tell me why that is happening? is that the case first of all, and if that is the case how do you justify that?
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>> well, each allotment has a management plan that basically lays out the rotation of the livestock, the during racer and intensity of grazing. permit east follow that. if there is available forage, it is available. a lot depends on water. the more water distribution we can have you then can spread the livestock out. it also depends on the operations. so it's been my experience that we work with the permit east and -- permitees and we put a plan together. it is their plan. they run the livestock. these are the conditions the public wants an needs from the landscape. so you know you have that opportunity to use that forage. so there is a variety of things at that factor into it but if the forage is there we're making use of it. >> okay. thank you, sir. thank you, madam chair. >> [inaudible]
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>> thank you, madam chair, thank you, chief tidwell for being here today. first of all a year ago when we were having our budget hearing last year for the appropriations cycle we had conversation about the forest service's work around water policies and the ski area water rule. i understand the late 2015 that the service arrived at a ski area water to address the concernsconcerns of ski industry, partners of forest service, resulting in resolution for the service and ski area partners. i want to thank you for your work on that. would i like to briefly touch on the importance of healthy forrest management practices. near colorado springs, watching incident of species infestation of the douglas fir toxic moth. i understand from the stakeholder meeting with the forest service on friday with the service is looking into possibility of utilizing a categorical exclusion provision within the farm bill to treat the affected areas.
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the douglas fir tree forests are incredibly beautiful and certainly a local economic driver and just was hoping to get your commitment to work with my office around local stake holders to come to resolution that will treat the moth on infestation of public land to lead to healthier forest and obviously greater prevention of wildfires in the area. >> well, senator, you have our commitment to continue to work with the city and count there to be able to address that and make use of that farm bill authority. it is another example about the benefits of those authorities that were put together in a way that there is strong trust to be able to use those. so this is perfect example of that. >> thank you, chief. madam chair, madam ranking member, i would like to submit to the record the memorandum of understanding among colorado stakeholders for coordinated treatment of the doug fist letter moth and -- >> without objection. >> forest service prepared
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environmental impact statement on the reinstituted to the north fork concensus estimates to the rule. look forward to the final record of decision. i think it is important that we recognize the value of coal mining in the north fork valley and to uphold the exception which is result of years of negotiation and collaboration among the forest service, colorado and stakeholders. madam chair, madam ranking member two submit two letters from on the record. one from governor hickenlooper and advocating exemption upheld in the forest service analysis. if i can get those submitted. >> without objection. >> great, thank you. and recreation on forest service lands is obviously tremendous part of colorado's economy, our country's economy. senator shaheen and i are working on legislation that woke would focus more on recreational economy, outdoor economy to get better understanding of economic impact. recent studies in colorado show the ski industry in the state generates $4.8 billion annually. the vast majority of the 25 ski
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areas in colorado are located at least partially on national forest land. in addition i read that the ski areas generate over $20 million in fees that go directly into the u.s. treasury. my concern centered on reporting that the forest service is finding it increasingly challenging to keep up with the growing industry, excuse me, the growing recreational industry including these ski areas. most heavily used popular forest in the country is the white river national forest generating nearly $18 million of the fees paid to the treasury each year. but we've seen the white river national forest staff steadily decline, budget eroding over past self years. we're struggling to uphold their end of the partnership. in fact since 2009 they have seen a 40% reduction in their budget, white river national forest. as they take on new projects, take on improvements, expansion of summer recreation great success over past several years. how do we address this at forest
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service level, erosion of road capacity to serve recreation critical to colorado and some other communities? >> well, senator we face that problem everywhere, not just in your state. you know the ski areas are great partners. they're often to willing to actually help pay for additional analysis when they're looking at expanding, especially we're now moving into the forest season resorts to make full use of these facilities. we're doing what we can to be able to, to be a good partner and be able to be responsive but as the problem you mentioned with the staffing. it's just, something that's occurred because of the cost of fire suppression. it occurred gradually over quite a few years, over 10 plus years to the point where we just have 33% fewer employees outside of fire than what we did just a few years ago. and so it is just another example. now that being said, what we're looking at is to find way so
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that we can actually be more efficient with our processes so we can be more responsive. it is one. things we wanted to be able to sit down, especially with the ski areas where they can bring capacity to help with the problem. but we still have our role. but if we can find ways to be able to package a different proposals together, to be able to get the work done up front so that there's strong support, people of the public understands what's being proposed we'll continue to be able to do a better job but probably isn't going to satisfy their needs and we just going to have to find a way to stop the erosion of the our staff. >> so specifically, with the fire funding fix, how would that help on the staffing issue? how specifically can we make sure that money then, that is being drained from over here go into staffing issues? >> well the first thing, it would, it would stop transfers. so we doesn't have to deal with
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that anymore. we wouldn't lose all the time and expense and funding. and then the second thing is that we would be able to at least maintain our current staffing or ideally build that over time because it would provide flexibility, budget space within the constraints so that appropriators could, you know, add to our budget instead of constantly reducing it to be able to pay for fire. so you know, first thing is stop erosion and then be able to create the spice so that we can be -- space, so that we can be proactive not only on forest management but deal with recreation. so we carry out our responsibilities to be a good partner with all our recreation users especially the ski areas. >> chief tidwell, keeping in mind the drought maps, snow pack levels as you're looking into the summer and spring, and spring and summer what areas of the country are you concerned about from a forest fire perspective? >> well, this year with our
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projections we're looking at having a less active year than we had last year by we're also seeing areas where we're getting a very warm spring. we're seeing the snow come off the low ground, the low areas. so that is becoming a concern so that in our lower elevations we're now looking, it looks to me that we may have an early fire season. our higher country will be much better shape than it was last year, at least out west. so we may not have those large fires in the higher elevations but come september it is going to dry out. one of the problems that we have, is that when i'm asked to predict the fire season, you know, our scientists can look at it, one of the things they do, they predict the cost. so for fy-16 our predictions right now is that we're 90% confident that the cost of this fire season is going to be between somewhere around
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700 million and 1.72 billion. and that's today. and then, we're talking about fy-17 budget. so the idea we can actually predict, we have great scientists but it is just so difficult. even for this year i will be able to give you a good projection in may but probably not until may can i really answer your question. >> thanks, chief. >> thank you, senator gardiner. chief ted we will let me go to the tsongas and the transition issue. i mentioned in my opening comments, my concern that this transition only works if you have those that are able to stay in the business. we've had this information before. and i appreciate that the forest service stuck with the big thorn sale.
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that is going to hopefully keep enough timber out there to keep things alive into next year but i do remain concerned about the future. in 2015 you sold no old growth at all. so far this year in' 16, you're planning to sell just 51 million in board feet unless some revised sale come as it of this. looking beyond 2017 old growth sale is pretty much to reprepare for young growth seals. when we sit down in the public forum i raise the question to you, what do i say to people back home? what can i tell the folks at viking about how the forest service intend to keep them alive and other mills alive given that really the source of timber that they could count on
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and to pay for any investment, much less encouraging the people who are working whether at vie king or at others -- viking a or others to encourage them to stay there? what can you tell me that would be encouraging to the men and women in the southeast that continue to depend on a supply of timber? >> senator, i think our transition to young growth over time is the solution, to be able to provide that certainty, to provide that bridge timber, to reach agreement, that yes, there will be bridge timber made available. >> so what do we do in the short term? because you say over time and i'm saying okay we can talk about over time but how do we keep them alive until then? because the outline i've given you, we've got, we've got timber that we can look to this year that keeps us alive through next but how do you see their future
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after that? >> well, we're continuing to move forward with our annual timber program while we're doing this. so for, fy-16 and target for the tsongas is 62 million board feet. my understanding they're committed to get that done. >> are you aware, chief, though, that, that, you know, in order to keep this transition day live we have to rely not only on what's coming off of the forest, forest service lands but also off of non-federal and what i understand see alaska, told you recently last week, they're going to have a difficult time continuing economic operations, and, that they're going to be seeking to supplement their timber supply with sales from the tsongas. they tell me that they're going to need to buy 20 million board feet annually for perhaps 30
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years for the tongass. how do you make this all work? how do you make this all work, not just for this year, and not just for '17? if see alaska saying they will need 30 years and you're suggesting that you're going to be able to have 62 million board feet, how, how does this all pencil out? >> well, it starts by the, there is -- folks in alaska working together, the state, see alaska, folk on the tongass and folks from the mental health trust to be able to look how we can really have an all-lands approach so there is going to be x-amount that is available for the industry and actually work together and this is something that you could say we should have been doing a better job in the past, however, we're looking how we can do a better job as we move forward.
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then based on that, to be able to have the coordination between the programs. but it's essential that we're able to produce, and, i wouldn't be up here telling you that, without any question, i believe this approach, that over time to transition to the young growth is the solution to be able, for us to continue to provide that integrated wood products industry in southeast alaska. yes, we're going to have to continue to have the bridge timber. we're also going to have to move forward with some young growth to be able to start giving operators the chance to be able to explore markets with that young growth. and so that is, that is our course. that is our plan over time to be able to do this. >> i understand that it is a plan over time, and again i am trying to make something that works beyond the paper plan because on paper might be
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possible but again, you can't, you can't push this young growth timber to grow any quicker. it can not be a fantasy plan. it has to be based on accurate analysis and assessment and a reality on the ground. and i continue to have the same concerns that i have had. i will continue to express them and it is not because i'm sitting back here in washington, d.c. reading some, some talking points. it is because i'm talking to the people that are on the ground that are out in the communities, that are on prince of wales island, who do not believe that they have the capacity to hang on much longer. and they hear the good plans and they believe it is nothing by pie-in-the-sky.
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and the effort, again, for these families that have, have worked it so hard for so many decades, and are not asking for the timber industry that was around 20 years ago, 30 years ago. they're asking to just be working with the facts. i am going to ask one more quick question and turn to my colleague here and this is, this is regarding the new, the proposed new forest wide standards and guidelines to address renewable energy development within the tongass and the transition plan. you know that i had pushed for this last year. continue to do so but what we are seeing is guidelines appear to be pretty simplistic looking, pretty vague, therefore causes me to question how effective they can be.
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does the forest service does the forest service plan to utilize the, an approach that would give greater clarity, more consistent enforceable guidelines through an approach that has been considered to provide for renewable energy lud? because the issue that i'm hearing is that what the forest service is proposing just doesn't provide enough clarity. that there is ambiguity that is not going to be helpful to folks. >> so, senator, are you referring to the alternatives in forest plan amendments? >> yes. >> well that's one of the benefits for the comments we received, i wanted to thank you for your letter, that well-written letter. >> it was a good letter, thank you. >> it was part of the comments and as we go through those,
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those are the things we're going to be addressing but those are the things that the feedback that we need on the plan. if there are things we need to change. you know that being said, you know, we have, i know that we have at least five projects that are approved or under construction. there is another seven hydro projects we're working with ferc to try to get through. there are another dozen we're looking to start analysis on. so we are, we're moving forward. so we're not waiting for the forest plan amendment. we'll continue to be able to work with folks move forward to implement those hydro projects. >> i would ask you to look making sure that these standards, these guidelines, really do do what we're hoping which is help facilitate the renewable energy development projects that we're talking about. let me turn to senator cantwell. >> thank you, madam chair. chief tidwell, i want to ask you
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abouts ascot mine. canadian mining company is proposing discuss the exploratory drilling near adjacent to mount st. helens which is national volcanic monument that the exploratory mining development could impact 900-acres. 165 of those acrers of the proposed 900-acre development were purchased by the land and water conservation fund. so you can see where i'm going here. why would the forest service allow for this proposal to move forward if you had already previously helped to make purchase of the land and water conservation fund? i want to understand how these two things can coexist together? , i shouldn't say that that way. i don't believe they can. i'm interested in this process that you're moving through. >> well, senator i share your concern and, i'm not certain on the timing of it but i
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understand we acquired that property using lwcf a few years ago and then we have this mine proposal. so when we acquire properties, they then become part of that national forest and the management is then covered under their forest plan. so it raises the question for us to be thinking about this as we move forward to, if there are areas, depending on why this land was acquired. was it just to block up ownership? was it to provide public access? what was the key reason, that the forest plan should assure the purpose for requiring the land should still exist but when we do have a mining proposal that comes in on top of that, it raises a question about, do we need to do a better job to be thinking out on these key parcels that are being acquired so that we, if we, if what the
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public is okay with, we're okay with it but if it raises questions it is something that we need to be considering. this is somewhat unusual. it happened at least once i'm aware of before where we acquired lands and had someone come in and stake a mining claim on it. >> i'm having a hard time understanding how we would use lwcf and not think it was for public use? lwcf is about protecting public's access and interests. it is hard to believe an an epa document would say there is no recreational impact when literally lwcf is about preserving areas for recreational and public access for the future. that is why we're doing it because we don't want the development? >> well, you know, mining, it is also part of the use that occurs on national forests too. and so it's one of the challenges that we have to be able to balance. >> not in conjunction with lwcf. >> i agree and you know, it is one of the things that i want to
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look at, how we can maybe avoid these problems from happening in the future. but it's, once those lands are acquired and they are managed as part of the national forest. if they're open for mining and there is mining claim, then, you know that proponent has the ability to propose an operation. >> well, anyway, we will, i'm sure you will hear from people who believe that it has recreational value and it should be stated so in an epa document. i we'll leave that for now. i want to ask you about the road maintenance. the forest service is proposing the number of roads in the mount baker, forest and i can understand closing roads endangering watershed. there are number of roads being closed because of lack of maintenance funding. ii want to understand how we are proposing new roads when we have this backlog of maintenance? >> well, senator, each year we build very knew number of roads -- few number of roads.
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often the roads are to replace existing roads. be able to move a road out of a logging stream, et cetera, to reduce environmental impacts. there are a few places where we do build a few roads and some are in the state of alaska but, over, for many years, the number of new roads that we're building is always, is in small number of maybe, you know, 10 or 15 miles per year but your point about road maintenance is an issue. and we have a tremendous amount of backlog of deferred road maintenance that is contributing to not only erosion but impacting quality of our streams, fisheries, et cetera. and it continues to be an outstanding problem for us. so as we look at which roads need to be closed, we go through a public involvement process to identify those roads so that we can reduce some of the backlog of our deferred maintenance, reduce impact to streams and at
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the same time, still provide for a level of public access. >> so, i think you have something like a 13% decrease in the road maintenance funding but you have an existing 3 billion backlog so, to me, i don't know where you were talking about specifically building the new roads but, trying to understand the value because as recreation supports so many jobs in our area, we certainly want to make sure people are having access to the recreational businesses for the snoqualmie national forest. what i'm saying is, i am sure every day you have to make decisions about these issues, backlog versus new roads but i'm asking whether you consider the impact that that maintenance backlog has on recreational areas when it is such a big part of an economy in an area? >> we do and that is one of the
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reasons why we sit down not only with the communities but local officials and the public to be able to find solutions to the problem. so the majority of our road budget goes to maintenance. and we are proposing to spend $6 million on some new roads. we, i will be glad to provide for the record where those roads will be located and purpose those roads to be able to reduce environmental impacts and provide needed access for the public. >> thank you. i appreciate that. if we could dialogue about the mount baker situation specifically with the community. >> yes. >> that would be so helpful. thank you. >> thank you, senator cannedwell. chief, i have a couple of quick questions for you. first relates to aviation resources and coordination with the states. back in december we received testimony from national association of state for resters that -- forresters, that during
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the 2015 fire season because of new federal rules, u.s. forest service dispatchers decline to call up state aircraft for fire on federal land even when the state aircraft might be closest to the fire start. we talked a lot about issue of carding and different standard for aircraft used in fire suppression. can you give me a quick update on the aircraft carting issues and progress on the coordination then between forest service department of interior and the states to we know we've got one carting system out there that recognizes aviation standards as being equal and accepted by all? >> madam chair, we're working with the states to be able to come up with that win standard. >> okay. >> we operate about, at least 300 to maybe 400 helicopters and dozens of contracted aircraft that all do meet this one standard that the forest service has.
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that being side, not all the states do so we want ideally get to a point where there is just one standard so that it makes it easier for us to be able to use resources. it also, you know, insures that level of safety that our pilots are looking for and public is looking for. >> do you think you can do that relatively quickly? or how long of a process is this? because again as we heard in the committee here there's nothing that frustrates people more than knowing you have got an immediate issue right there. you know exactly what has to happen and yet you're stuck because somebody doesn't have the proper authorization. >> it's going to take some time? >> like years. >> it may. a lot of it will depend on our partners on the states, on their willingness to be able to come together on one standard. >> if there is anything we can do to help facilitate those conversations so we can make that happen more roop i hadly, i think there would clearly be
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interested in doing that. let me go to an issue in southeast alaska. this relates to sheatica and cube cove land. this is operation where there were in holdings in admiralty island for sheatica corporation. what has been going on, long protracted situation, effort for apraiseal of the lands. that was accomplished by forest service and sheatica that appraisal expires in october unless there is purchase option agreement signed locking in the appraisal price. what we recently learned there is new staff at forest service that think that an environmental site assessment that was conducted prior to the appraisal
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is no longer valid and needs to be redone. so that would completely pull the rug out from under all of the progress that has been made and the effort for sheatica to get this concluded. i would ask you to look into this issue and determine whether the reassessesment needs to be redone or whether it can simply be updated. we would really like some assistance in just making sure that there's a process that is smooth on this and also, if you can look into the issue of this the split ownership of the cube cove lands with regards to see alaska. local issue but one that's been outstanding and seems to me there is no reason we can't get this resolved. >> well, senator, we are going to move forward. we need to update that environmental study assessment which is relatively quick and easy thing to do. we'll be able to get that done this spring. be able to move forward and get
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a purchase option and, it is my expectation that we'll be asking, i will be asking for your help for us to be able to quickly complete that purchase that we've been working on this for many years. >> yes, we have. >> we want to make sure we get locked in this year so we quickly move forward to be able to complete that purchase. >> and recognizing that appraisal then expires in october. we've got a pretty tight timeline here. >> why we have to get the purchase option in place, get that study completed and move forward to start okay choiring the lands with the money that we currently have, plus, what we're, requesting in fy-17. >> okay, let's work closely with you on that. two very quick ones here. what are the forest service plans for offering new opportunities for tourism firms and wildlife bids for new and additional days for services in region 10 and in tongass and
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suketch? we have received so many complaint in my office for lack of new opportunities, no solicitation open periods. and so you have got new operators that would love to come in and, and gain some use days. can you tell me whether or not there is going to be any new solicitations for the chugach in '16 or '17? >> i will have to get back with you. we'll move forward on some of with the tongue goose. your point is well-taken. we need to find ways to make it easier to be able to expand operations to get more people out there and also it creates more job. >> if you can look into that. it goes back to a point i made earlier with regards to our request to forest service last year on the recreation dollars that come from forest service. alaska has taken
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disproportionate reductions in funding over the years. you were directed to correct and address that. we haven't seen where that has been remedied and i would like an update as well. my final question for you this morning is, secure real schools. we were told that the payments through the extension that we did last year, that the payment was supposed to go out to states last month for distribution and i'm hearing now that the payments may be delayed. can you give me any update to that as to when community might expect to see their srs payments? >> the peoples should go out no later than next week. >> okay. and, and it will be as advertised if you will? >> yes, we did have some discussion whether these payments would be subject to sequestration an the determination was that they are not. >> that will be welcome news. >> took a little while to be able to get there.
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that did delay things a few weeks. we're now ready to move forward. >> that is another area, senator wyden and i and senator cantwell have looked how we will deal with srs and again making sure that these communities that are so reliant on these, on these dollars are able to provide for some planning. so, that's, chief, i want to say thank you, that is so important to these communities. we'll look, i'm sure they will be very anxious to hear that news this morning and getting this revenue out to them. as i mentioned the county and many other counties in our state are so dependent on that. i'm also eagerly awaiting the outcome on small business rule set aside rule making. i'm not making comment. we're looking forward to see your comments on that. my colleagues also asked about the ymca permit process and you're in the stages of finalizing that. that too will be very, very important to us. i appreciate how much you have
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worked with them in the interim time since we first brought this up in the committee. so we'll look forward to the details how that process works. thank you, madam chair. >> thank you, senator cantwell bringing up the last point on the set aside. you and i worked that letter some time ago, i guess last october but we're still waiting on that. it is not just a response to that letter. it was back in '13 that we had as insurances that we would see something to correct the problem. in '14 congress urged the forest service to address this in a aprepares bill. we directed forest service to act interior aprops bill with contracting. i would certainly hope we would have some form of communication back from you in terms of where this is and why it hasn't been addressed. so if you could get that to us we'd appreciate it.
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>> we'll provide committee on updated progress we're working through small business administration on that. >> okay. thank you. and chief, thank you for being here this morning. thank you for your responses to the questions from all of us and, thank you for your work. we appreciate it. [inaudible conversations]. . .
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> next, canadian ambassador to the u.s. david macnaughton on preparations for prime minister trudeau's official visit.
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the ambassador is new to his post and arrived in washington this month. >> ambassador macnaughton, the newly elected prime minister justin trudeau will make his first official visit to the united states. what's happening at the embassy in preparation for his arrival? >> there's been an awful lot of work done by the staff here. obviously, this kind of trip, its contents. there's a lot of meetings. we have in addition to the prime minister we have many ministers, cabinet ministers coming. so the staff has been working overtime to make this a successful disappear and i must say that the state department and the white house and everybody has been terrifically cooperative, and it's really helped the staff here in terms of the preparation. everybody has been terrific. >> as ambassador what is your roles because i just take all the credit for the good things
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that all the staff do. i've been here for 10 days, so it's been a lot of work for me getting up to speed with all the issues. i've had the good fortune of meeting a lot of people already at the white house. i sat beside secretary kerry at the gridiron dinner which was delightful. we had a lot to talk about. i've had a couple of meetings at the white house. i have my family here, when i presented my credentials to the president. so it's been a bit of a whirlwind 10 days but it's been amazing. >> you are new to your post. tell us about the amount of coordination that goes on between state department and the white house and the embassy. how do you manage all about in n preparation for an official visit? >> well, you know, we have in total i've been almost 300 people here at the embassy. so they have counterparts.
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not just at state but homeland security and all of the various, you know, they ustr and they been working ever since the visit was announced, day in and day out to make this a successful trip. it's been a lot of work. i've been briefed on all the issues. i've been brought up to date in terms of the schedule but most of the hard work is done by the staff on both sides. >> what do you think the canadian people expect out of this visit? >> well, in some respects it is a re- engagement and a refresh of the relationship. the most important relationship we have in the world. americans are not only our closest neighbors but our breast friends, and our largest trading partner. $2 billion a day with a the bilateral trade that goes on. it's a critical relationship for us from an economic point of view but also in today's world
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it's also important that we workeworktogether on security i. a lot of that is being discussed, and i think we are certainly, in terms of our approach to that, we live side-by-side. we need to work together on security matters, as we have in the past. we've been partners and that's worked out really well. >> what do you think that prime minister wants to help which we speak to the president and he is here for all of the different events that will take place? >> we have quite a number of items that have been discussed on and off between canada and the united states, and we'll this visit allows us to finalize some agreement, certainly on the environment, climate change, some economic issues that are important and some security issues. that are other items where we are not going to reach agreement
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while the prime minister is here, but hopefully we can nudge them along and get them to a point where we can hopefully get some agreement between now and the fall. >> wherwe are do you want to doe nudging? where does the prime minister want to do some nudging? >> the our economic issues that are quite important. for the united states and for canada, the whole dispute over softwood lumber, you know, what degree become we had a 10 year agreement. it ran out last fall. and it's in both of our interests to reach an agreement on softwood lumber because having those kinds of trade disputes, the only people that are happy with those take place our lawyers get i'm not sure that's in the interest to be making lawyers wealthy. >> described your relationship with the prime minister. you've only been here for 10 days but how often are you communicating?
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>> well, i first was in, i first was in blair house many years ago with the prime minister is father. i worked for the foreign minister right out of university and we came to washington, i came to washington with his father. and i got to know the prime minister probably eight or nine years ago when he got into politics. his chief of staff and his secretary are close personal friends. i worked on the campaign that took place last year. and he and i are very close. i really had not anticipated when i was working on the election campaign that is going to get asked to do this job. that wasn't what i was working on a campaign, but when he asked if i would do this i was thrilled your this is obvious a very important job in the
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canadian diplomatic corps, and so i'm delighted to be here and i'm hoping i can use my experience in terms of business and in politics and in public policy to work with americans to our mutual benefit. because we need to see this not as a zero-sum game but as a way to work together for the benefit of both countries. >> what are your marching orders? >> well, obviously this year is an important here because there not only is there presidential election, obviously congressional elections, so i need to develop relationships. because, you know, things that, when there are difficulties, and there are always going to be difficulties, difficulties among friends, difficulties in relationships like marriages. the way you get over those difficulties is to be open and honest, and not let the little problems get in the way of what
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is a terrific relationship. >> ambassador macnaughton, thank you for your time. >> well, thank you very much. >> prime minister trudeau is in washington for his first official visit to the united states. coming up president obama and the prime minister hold a joint news conference from the rose garden. live coverage on c-span3. later at 6:15 p.m. eastern live coverage of the arrivals for the state dinner at the white house. you can see that on c-span. >> ahead of tonight's official state dinner for canadian prime minister justin trudeau, white house social secretary and executive chef preview the dinner menu and themes for the event. >> hi, everyone. welcome to the white house. i'm the white house certificate is my privilege and honor to welcome you here today for the press preview for the state
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dinner happening to margaret mohr for dinner will be happening in each room followed by musical selections sara bareilles writer in the state dining room. this works the 11th state or official visit of the obama administration and i'm so excited you are here to show you a preview of a special evening. in a few moments you will get there from some of my and basing college. starting with the white house florist and she will tell you about the design and the decor of the visit. it is aspired by the phoenix land between the us and canada and also the colors of spring. phone that you hear from the shelf and susie patoka with incredible meal to prepare. i will also be served on china. for the first wicket in the individual -- will have also from the obama china. as you can understand this is not an easy these to put together. in addition to those you see her i have to simply think all the departments help us put the special evening give.
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and without further ado am going to introduce my colleague who will tell you more about the visit and relationship between the u.s. and canada. have a great time, and thank y you. >> good afternoon here thank you for coming. the president and first lady are very much looking forward to welcoming prime minister trudeau and mrs. sophie gregoire and the entire canadian delegation to the white house to disobey the first official visit but i canadian prime minister to the united states in 19 years and is attested to the importance and value that the united states and president obama place on the u.s. and canada relationship. this is an opportunity for the two countries to further expand and deepen the already very close relationship that we share. this will be the second meeting between the president and prime minister. they met in the philippines and since then have spoken several times on the telephone. the united states canada
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relationship is one of the strongest in the world. underpinned by our shared history, democratic values, family ties, economy and geography. we show the world's largest common border. we enjoy the largest most comprehensive trade and investment relationship. we stand shoulder to shoulder in securing our nation's against threats both domestic and abroad. we provide solution that enables multilateral institutions and international institutions to respond to crisis and support communities in need. we are a joy to protect the environment and combat climate change as well as developing clean energy. of course when these visits ankara the bilateral meeting, there's only one aspect of the event also on the schedule is an arrival ceremony, press conference and luncheon hosted by the secretary of state. this progression of events set the tone for the final event, the state dinner. the president and first lady will host the state dinner in
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honor of prime minister trudeau and mrs. sophie gregoire. i believe the details to my colleagues but would like to highlight a couple of issues about the state dinner to end the united states a modern state dinner dates back to the 1870s and symbolizes the relationship, the importance and value of a relationship that the white house places -- excuse me. that the white house places on the relationship with the foreign country. such an event is reserved only for the most important of relationships come and in the case of president obama's time in office of this is only the 11th time. in short, we consider ourselves fortunate to call the canadians our allies, partners, neighbors and friends. we are looking forward to tomorrow's event. malik is a great pleasure to introduce the white house florist, hedieh ghaffarian. thank you. >> hello, everyone.
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i'm the chief force of the white house, hedieh ghaffarian, and we are very excited that the first lady mrs. obama chose this event. since jade is one of the chemicals of the first place a candidate. coming up we've incorporated some yellow which is the first color of the spring and is the color of friendship. as you can see we have enhanced centerpieces with small satellites with each one of them have one type of flower, cut the flower show is be myself into bigger arrangements with cascading orchids, hydrangea and roses and some -- which gives you a feel of walking through a garden at springtime when all the flowers are starting to bloom. ex-im going to introduce my colleague, the executive chef.
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>> good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. i am the white house executive chef and for the state dinner we want to showcase everything from the pacific northwest all the way to the atlantic aside from the north americas. and for the first course this is the first time ever that we will be unveiling this wonderful soup terrain that is a part of obama china service and what we're going to do is doing a little revealed that it's called the big halibut casserole which -- the food of the americas. and some going to show you later on that you get closer, you can take a close-up picture of this but it's just a wonderful take halibut that is garnished with asparagus, angel asparagus and some spring onions.
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so pretty much what we want to conduct it is anticipation of spring. for the summer roasting some apricots in white house honey and also wonderful cinnamon. is a wonderful salad that is garnished with slivers of appellation cheese. that is such a wonderful salty and tank a combination. for the main course we are serving baby lamb chops from a small farm in colorado and will be garnishing with potatoes and some wonderful, wonderful vegetables in the spring, accented by -- i'm going to turn it over now to our pastry chef. thank you. >> good afternoon, everyone. i'm the executive pastry chef. i'm here to describe to you the dessert course for tomorrow's dinner. we have a desert that is a
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reflection of the naming of winter and the celebration of the arrival of spring. guests will be served at this cake with the delicate nuances of texas pecans and caramelized maple syrup from new england. splendor of the rocky mountains is here in this handmade sugar display, which the rocky mountains extend from mexico to canada, a variety of pastries with american and canadian influences, a few from the mountaintop with handmade sugar sculpture. this this blade depiction illustrates the region's beautiful and status and scenery. also along with this is the dramatic landscape surrounded by stunning wilderness, forged basin and lush valleys with turquoise waters.
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this display also includes a cranberry square, white chocolate snowballs, cheryl mills, tarts and chocolate coconut slice. thank you very much. have a wonderful afternoon. >> canadian prime minister justin trudeau is in washington for his first official visit to the united states. coming at 11:40 a.m. president obama and to prime minister hold a joint news conference from the rose garden. live coverage on c-span3. later today at 6:15 p.m. eastern live coverage of the arrivals for the state dinner at the white house. you can see that on c-span. >> join c-span friday at 2 p.m. eastern for the funeral service for former first lady nancy reagan. first lady michelle obama, former president george w. bush and laura bush are among the dignitaries attending the
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funeral. mrs. reagan will be buried next to her husband at the library. live coverage on c-span, c-span radio and >> american history tv on c-span3 this weekend. on saturday at 6 p.m. eastern. >> i think we see the first convergence of the roads that would become reconstruction in the summer of 1864. especially august 1864. that's a strangely specific date i realize, so let me see if i can make the case for you. at the beginning of the summer of 1864, no president of the united states had won a second term since andrew jackson. isn't that amazing? >> at the seventh the congressional gold medal
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ceremony to recognize the contributions of foot soldiers during the civil rights movement. >> over 50 years ago a selma preacher and educator, reverend frederick douglass reef as president of the dallas county voters league invited reverend martin luther king, reverend ralph abernathy, williams, and the members of the southern christian leadership conference, to help lead the voting rights protest. today the american people for the congressional representatives, bestow the congressional gold medal upon the courageous foot soldiers who dare to march in 1965 voting rights movement. >> sunday morning at 10 on road to the white house rewind. from the 1980 presidential campaign. >> and while i have conservative values and conservative on fiscal policy, conservative on defense policy, i am progressive with regard to my belief in the
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republican party being a lincoln party, a party of black and white, blue-collar and white-collar and of all people. so i call it progressive conservative in order to differentiate myself from the idea that i am up here standing defending the status quo. quo. >> and at 4 p.m. on america, the anniversary of the gemini eight manned space mission will show the 1966 nasa film gemini eight. this is houston flight. >> experts sit down and analyze the flight. they know it is a three-day mission. its primary purposes include rendezvous in space with a target vehicle, the first docking in space and a two hour spacewalk by private david scott. >> for the complete american history tv schedule go to ♪ ♪ >> i'm a teacher so the most important thing to me right now
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is education. i'm looking at the candidates very closely for their programs in education. i'm not happy in the last 15 years or so with all the core standards and the common core that's been happening so i'd like to see that changed. i'm going to vote for either bernie sanders or hillary clinton. unhappy with both of those choices and am interested to see with education plans would turn out to be. >> i have decided i'm voting for ted cruz for the candidacy. because he is a scholar, eloquent and he is principled consistently out of all of the candidates so far. ♪ ♪ >> the u.s. senate is about to gavel in for the day to wrap up work on a bill authorizing funding to combat heroism and opioid prescription drug abuse. they will take a final passage vote on the belt at 11:30 a.m.
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eastern. following that senator rand paul is expected to bring up a motion forcing senators to vote on the approval of the u.s. military sale of $700 million worth of fighter jets to pakistan. we are likely to see that this afternoon. now live to the senate floor 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. o lord our lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth. you are the giver of everlasting life and nothing can separate us from your limitless love. you know us better than we know ourselves,
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and you work for the good of those who love you. you've given us the privilege to be called your children. give our senators today a faith sufficient for these challenging times. may their trust in you empower them to solve problems, to conquer temptations and to live more nearly as they ought. remind them that all things are possible to those who believe. may their trust in you create in them both the desire and power to do your will.
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we pray in your great name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our 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.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: later this morning, the senate will have an opportunity to take decisive action to address our nation's devastateing prescription opioid and heroin epidemic. the comprehensive addiction and recovery act is good legislation that will help tackle this crisis by expanding education and prevention initiatives. improving treatment programs and bolstering law enforcement efforts. this authorization bill in conjunction with the $400 million appropriated for opioid-specific programs just a few months ago can make important strides in combating the growing addiction and overdose problem we've seen in every one of our states. in kentucky, what we have seen is some of the highest drug overdose rates in the country. we know all too well the work that must be done to overcome
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this crisis lies before us. kentuckians also know the positive impact this legislation can have. let me remind you of what a top antidrug official from northern kentucky said about cara. she said this bill will address the growing needs of our communities in getting appropriate treatment to those who are suffering and allow individuals, families and communities to heal from this scourge. so we'll keep working hard to build on these efforts so that fewer americans ever have to know the heartache of drug addiction and overdose. i appreciate the work of senators on both sides of the aisle to advance this bill. on the democratic side, that includes the junior senator from rhode island and the senior senator from minnesota. on the republican side, that includes senator ayotte from new hampshire. she cares deeply about this issue and has studied the problem carefully. she has seen the effect it's had on her home state and she's worked hard to do something about it.
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now, of course, today's vote on cara would not have been possible at all without the leadership and the work of other colleagues, and i particularly want to mention senator portman from ohio who has been involved in this for several years from the very beginning in developing this important legislation for our country. he worked diligently over the past few years as the lead republican sponsor of this much-needed bill. he's held many meetings and expert conferences to get an even greater understanding of the issue. we appreciate the long hours he's devoted to addressing this national crisis so the legislation will pass today. and of course the senior senator from iowa, senator grassley, the chairman of the judiciary committee, we thank him for everything he's done to make this moment possible. he understands the urgency of addressing this epidemic, and we all appreciate the very important role he played in guiding this legislation to
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passage. indeed, this critical legislation to address america's national drug epidemic languished in a previous senate judiciary committee, but then chairman grassley came along. under a new chairman and a new republican majority, the comprehensive addiction and recovery act became a real priority. it passed committee swiftly, and it will pass the senate today. important legislation to help the victims of modern slavery languished in a previous senate judiciary committee, but then chairman grassley came along. under a new chairman and a new republican majority, the justice for victims of trafficking act became a real priority. it passed committee swiftly, and then it passed the senate. the list goes on. here's a chairman who has worked to give voices to the voiceless who also has a passion for letting iowans and the american people be heard.
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no wonder he's working so hard now to give the people a voice in the direction of the supreme court. the next supreme court justice could dramatically change the direction of the court and our country for a generation. it's a change in direction that could have significant implications for the rights we hold dear. that includes our second amendment rights and our first amendment rights, things like americans' ability to speak up politically and practice their religion freely. the american people obviously deserve to have a voice in this matter. it's the fairest and most reasonable approach we can take. during our current national conversation, americans can make their voices heard on the kind of judicial philosophy they favor. one view says the judges should
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be committed to an evenhanded interpretation of the law and the constitution so that every american gets a fair shake. another view, the so-called empathy standard that president obama favors, says that judges should on critical questions rely on their personal ideology to resolve a case. i know which view justice scalia took. he said that setting aside one's personal views is one of the primary qualifications for a judge. if you're going to be a good and faithful judge, he said you have to resign yourself to the fact that you're not always going to like the conclusions you reach. the american people will have the chance to make their voices heard in the matter. and that's thanks to a dedicated senator from iowa who continues to stand strong for america's right to have a say. chairman grassley has gotten a lot done under the new majority just as the senate has gotten a lot done under the new majority. we'll mark another important accomplishment for the american
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people this morning with the passage of cara. now senators have a choice. senators can endlessly debate an issue where the parties don't agree or they can keep working together in areas where we do. i say we should continue doing our work, and the american people should continue making their voices heard. that's good for the country, and that's the best way forward now. mr. reid: mr. president, we're certainly -- the presiding officer: the minority leader. mr. reid: thank you very much, mr. president. we're certainly pleased that we're going to pass this opioid bill shortly, but everyone should understand that the bill would have had a -- had some meat if, in fact, we had had an opportunity to pass the shaheen amendment. it funded the authorization that we're now talking about. my friend always talks about the
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$470 million. that's already been obligated. that was last year's obligations to take care of this issue. this authorization bill has no money. so for my friend to say we have $470 million is certainly not a factual statement. mr. president, three years ago, voters went to the ballot to elect a president. the president of the united states, the most powerful nation in the union -- in the world, i should say. i'm so sorry. the american people spoke and they overwhelmingly elected president obama to a second term. we know that my friend, the republican leader, stated that the republicans had two goals. number one, make sure that obama was not re-elected. and number two, that they would oppose everything obama tried to do. in the first, they were a
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failure. obama was re-elected with more than five million vote plurality. on the other agreement the republicans paid to oppose everything that obama wanted to do or tried to do, and they have stuck with that. that's why we have had seven years of turmoil, seven years of not doing nearly as much as we should, seven years of endless filibusters. so my friend, the republican leader, can talk all he wants about the progress made in the last year, but anyone studying what's gone on in the senate recognizes that simply is without any basis. we've done so little. some political scientists say it's the most unproductive year that has ever been spent in washington. three years ago, voters went to the ballot box to elect a president. the american people spoke, they spoke loudly as i have
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indicated, and they overwhelmingly elected barack obama for a second term. it was a four-year term that he was elected to, not a three-year term, a four-year term. during a presidential term of office, a president has obligations, constitutional obligations. but republicans continue to reject that election. they continue to reject barack obama's presidency. they say he's illegitimate. they continue to reject the will of the people. excuse me. when he was re-elected overwhelmingly, obviously they gave him the constitutional powers to do whatever is within the constitution, and one of
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those is to nominate supreme court justices, just as he did in his first term. yet the republican leader and the senior senator from iowa remain committed to blocking the president's nominee. they're not following the constitution, republicans are not following the constitution. and the whole country is taking note. but the state of iowa is taking special note. earlier this week, a mother wrote a letter to senator grassley that appeared in the "des moines register." here's what she said -- quote - "refusal to abide by the tenets of our constitution and approve a qualified candidate to the supreme court is a violation of our common values. your example to my children is that it doesn't really matter what the rules say. if the stakes are high enough and the chips don't fall your way, it's okay to arbitrarily change and deny the other player his or her turn." close quote. that's the senate republican's
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lesson to the people who elected him. it doesn't matter whom you elected for president. we will refuse to do our duty, just to follow donald trump's example. remember, donald trump told all my republican friends and the country on the supreme court nomination here's his very, very detailed, as he does on everything, detailed explanation of what he wants to do. here's what he said. delay, delay, delay. then he went on to something else. the republicans have followed that. yesterday, professor jonathan carlson of the university of iowa -- he's a professor of law there -- published an op-ed in "the cedar rapids gazette," a newspaper, of course, in iowa. in an editorial, mr. carlson wrote -- quote -- "grassley's decision will rob americans of their voice." he went on to say -- "the voters elected barack obama to still the next supreme court vacancy and that vacancy is now upon us. obama should be allowed to do
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the job he was elected to do. grassley's problem isn't that he wants to give the american people a chance to decide this issue. his problem is that he doesn't like the decision they have already made." close quote. republicans should not ignore the voice of the people just because they don't like what the american people declare. but that is just what the senior senator from iowa continues to do, ignore the people of iowa and the rest of america. 30 years ago, senator grassley had it right. when the judiciary committee began its consideration of the elevation of justice rhenquist to be chief justice, here's what he said and i quote, "this committee has the obligation to build a record and to conduct the most indepth inquiry that we can." closed quote. let me repeat that. this committee, he's referring to the judiciary committee, has the obligation to build a record and conduct the most indepth inquiry that we can." closed quote again.
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now, senator grassley is interested in building a record. he refuses to meet with the nominee, even if the nominee is from iowa. he refuses to hold a hearing. he refuses of course to have a vote. he isn't interested in inquiries or building a record through his obstruction he's already choosing to close the door on a potential nominee. he's even said that he will not consider the nomination of his fellow iowan judge jane kelly, even though she was overwhelmingly elevated from the trial court to the appellate court in this body with, of course, grassley leading the charge on her behalf. so what he said about his fellow iowan jane kelly is a little strange, a little odd because it was senator grassley who strongly supported judge kelly and pushed her confirmation to the eighth circuit court of appeals. senator grassley says he will preemptyively reject judge kelly or any other qualified nominee
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-- listen to this one -- out of principle. that's because republicans apparently only princele is obstruction. the -- followed what donald trump suggests, delay, delay, delay. he's going to great lengths to shut down descending voices that simply want to do their jobs. for example, at the behest of the republican leader, he met privately with republicans on the judiciary committee and twisted his colleagues' arms to sign a loyalty promising to block the ?om knees. -- nominees. that's part of the record already having been made here. next he tried to move a committee markup behind closed doors when democrats objected he canceled the meeting. he also used the presiding officer's chair here on the floor to shut down debate on the supreme court vacancy, which is really unheard of but he did it. time and time again the senior senator from iowa has followed the orders of the republican leader and donald trump and sought to silence his critics,
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shut the american people out of the senate's business. why? the senator's obstruction is -- if it's truly supported by the constitution history, why wouldn't he want to debate this in the open? debate it here on the senate floor. president obama's nominee deserve as meeting, a hearing and a vote. america deserves a senate that provides advice and consent on supreme court nominees. by refusing to give president obama's nominee consideration, senator grassley is robbing iowans and america of their voice. listening to the american people is our job and senate republicans should do their job. mr. president, is there anybody on the floor? no, no one here to speak. there he is. we have someone ready to do business. would you tell the senate what we're going to do the rest of the day. the presiding officer: under
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the previous order the leadership's time is reserved. the senate will be in a period of morning business till 11:15 a.m. with senators permitted to speak therein for up to 10 minutes each. dush mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: mr. president, yesterday the senior senator from arizona took to the floor to criticize the work of the defense appropriations subcommittee. i'm honored to be on that subcommittee, the vice chairman working with senator cochran, the republican from mississippi. but the senior senator from arizona argued that the support for republican presidential candidate donald trump is somehow connected to the work of the defense appropriations subcommittee. now i've heard some pretty outlandish claims by mr. trump on the campaign trail, but the fact that he would capture the hearts and minds of the defense appropriations subcommittee with his rhetoric is beyond me. senator cochran has been a
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member of the senate for many years. he's respected. he has worked his way up to be chairman of the full committee, and i've worked with him and found him an excellent partner, bipartisan in trying to make sure we protect our nation's national defense. i've never found him to be in the thrawl of donald trump -- in the thrall of donald trump but that was the suggestion yesterday by the senior senator of arizona. i'll leave it to the american people to judge the wisdom or absurdity of that allegation. i would like to take a moment to correct the record on a few of the things that the senior senator said. the issues involve -- are pretty complex but the crux comes down to this. the senior senator from arizona is proposing to waste $1.5 billion, make that up to $5 billion on a controversial proposal on how the department of defense and intelligence agencies should launch national security satellites. in addition to costing billions of dollars, that's billions, not
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millions, the senior senator from arizona's proposal is opposed by the secretary of defense, ash carter, the director of national intelligence, james clapper, the under secretary of defense frank kindle, and the secretary of the air force debra james. you would think that the senior senator from arizona chairing the defense authorization committee would note that it's -- its unified opposition from the department of defense to his ideas. each of these individuals has expressed strong concern about the senior senator from arizona's ideas. they've stated as clearly as they can, as often as they can that what he has in mind will harm our national security. and they've even stated it in the senior senator's committee hearings. he is either not listening, paying attention or refusing to agree. nevertheless, all that i did, all that the senate has done last year with senator cochran
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on a bipartisan basis was to listen to our senior national security leaders protecting taxpayers from wasting billions of dollars. the matter generating all this discussion is about competition for launching defense satellites into space. let me tell you at the outset before i came to the subcommittee, we made a terrible decision. about ten years ago the two leading competitors for launching satellites into space were two private companies, boeing aircraft and lockheed. they came to the government with a suggestion and they said we've got a great idea. instead of competing against one another to launch satellites, listen to this. we will merge our companies together and we will save the government lots of money. i don't know why but the department of defense and the committees on capitol hill bought it. and they created the united launch alliance, rula. it became a monopoly.
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these to merged corporations became a monopoly in launching satellites. you know what happens when you have monopoly status? the costs go up dramatically and that's exactly what happened. in the last ten years united launch alliance has been a reliable partner with the department of defense and they've launched satellites and other things into space, critical for national security, but because they're a monopoly with no competition, they became very expensive. there are now entries in the market that are promising in materials of lawmpling satellites. -- launching satellites. one of them is spacex. it's matured into a company that can play an important role in the future of satellite launches. i noted this fact and as chairman of the defense appropriations subcommittee, i did something that's unusual by capitol hill standards. in january of 2014, i held a hearing at the same table i invited the ceo of united launch alliance and the c.e.o. of
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spacex to sit next to one another and testify. and so they answered questions about their capabilities, about the history of space launch in the future. we asked on the committee how they could save money and each of them responded. and at the end of the hearing i suggested to each of the c.e.o.'s that they propound up to ten questions to the other c.e.o. that they don't think were covered in our hearing. i tried to make this as open as possible and to invite a newcomb pettive -- new competitive spirit when it came to the space launches. i think it was constructive. it's also clear there's another element in the issue which brought the senior senator from arizona to the floor. the united launch alliance has several engines that can take a satellite into space. the most economic cal one, the rd-180 is not built in america. it's built in russia. now that has become a major problem. put vladimir putin and his adventurism to the side. i have joined even with the senior senator from arizona
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condemning what he has done in countries like georgia and ukraine and his threats to the baltics and poland. put that over to the side for a moment. it's best for us to make our own engines when it comes to the launching of satellites for america's national defense and intelligence. and so we put in the appropriation bill millions of dollars to incentivize the building of a new engine so we could finally break away from our dependence on this russian rd-180 engine. for two years we've been putting that money in the bill. so i am not opposed to competition. i favor competition. i favor an american-made engine. that is not the issue. here's the problem. you can't just waive a wand or pass an appropriation and create a new rocket engine. it can take up to five years. what's going to happen in that five-year period of time while we in america are developing at least one new american made reliable rocket engine?
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we're going to have to be dependent either on that russian engine in transition or run the risk that we're not going to have any engines available when we desperately need them for satellite launches. that's exactly what the secretary of defense has told the senior senator from arizona and he just won't buy it. he has said we've just got to cut the cord, walk away from these russian engines. here's something he can't answer. nasa also uses engines to launch satellites and to launch people into space. why would we launch people into space? for the space station. how do we goat those folks up to the space station and bring them home? on russian rocket engines. so if the senior senator from arizona says that's it, cold turkey, no more russian engines, what in the world is he going to do about nasa's needs for this engine in supplying the space station and in making sure that the folks in orbit there can
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safely come home? he can't answer that question because the answer really tells him the problem that he's creating here. so what we're trying to do is this, transition to american made engines. i'm for that. create competition for space launches in the future. i'm for that. and make sure we do it in a thoughtful, sensible way and not at the expense of america's national defense, our national intelligence, or the future of our space program. we can work with the senator from arizona. i'd like to. but when he comes to the floor and suggests that all of us who oppose him are somehow cronies of vladimir putin or marching to the orders of donald trump doesn't create a very productive, positive environment for conversation. let's do the right thing. let's work together on appropriations and authorization. let's put the russian engines behind us in an orderly way. let's create the american engine
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and let's push for competition. that's where i got started on this. that's where i am today. but we need to listen to the experts. the experts at the pentagon who have told us repeatedly that to do this cold turkey and to cut off the russian engines is, frankly, to jeopardize our national defense, our security, intelligence gathering, and even our space program. that's something i hope the senior senator from arizona can agree is an outcome which we should avoid. mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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