Skip to main content

tv   Senators Speak Out on FBI Directors Firing  CSPAN  May 10, 2017 1:29pm-3:30pm EDT

1:29 pm
1:30 pm
quorum call:
1:31 pm
1:32 pm
1:33 pm
1:34 pm
1:35 pm
1:36 pm
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: thank you, mr. president. i would ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: mr. president, i was to say the least shocked last night when i heard that president trump dismissed f.b.i. director comey from his position
1:37 pm
as the director of the f.b.i. to me, this decision by president trump crossed the line. i have looked at and tried to understand what was going through the president's mind at the time he dismissed mr. comey, and it's clear he had memorandums written by the department of justice that were released at the time, but there is also a clear indication that president trump was considering this decision for over a week, that after he had reached the decision to fire mr. comey, he needed grounds from the department of justice, and that information was supplied to mr. trump for his decisionmaking. this was mr. trump's decision.
1:38 pm
at the time he dismissed mr. comey, president trump's associates were involved in the investigation being done by the department of justice. this is a criminal investigation being done by the department of justice because of russia's interference in the united states election system that involved associates of mr. trump. we don't know where that investigation is going, we don't. but we do know now that the president of the united states has compromised the ability of that investigation by firing mr. that should not happen in american politics. no one, no one is above the law. and the timing of the firing of mr. comey is extremely suspicious. if the president was really concerned about the f.b.i.'s --
1:39 pm
f.b.i. director's conduct in the hillary clinton e-mail investigation, why didn't the president fire director comey when he took the oath of office in january? it just doesn't add up. no one is above the law. according to news reports, president trump was also upset over the amount of media coverage the f.b.i. director and the investigations were attracting, and the white house asked d.o.j. officials to come up with reasons. so it is clear to me that the decision to fire mr. comey was a personal decision reached by president trump and it was known by him at the time that it would compromise the investigation being done by the department of justice. so i have been asked by others, well, you know, mr. tome was not popular by democrats or
1:40 pm
republicans, that he had done things during his term as director that upset a lot of us, and that's true, but the director of the f.b.i. has a ten-year term for a reason, a term that is longer than two terms of the president of the united states. this is not a partisan position. the f.b.i. is not required to be popular with either democrats or republicans. what he's required to do is uphold the law of the land for all americans, and that no one would be above the law. that's what we expect from the director of the f.b.i. and mr. president trump, president trump, has compromised that integrity of the independence of the f.b.i. so at this point, what can we do? i would suggest that in regards to the criminal investigation that was being done by the department of justice, there is
1:41 pm
only one course of action that will maintain the credibility of that investigation, and that is it's incumbent upon the department of justice to name as soon as possible a special prosecutor to take over that role. if that is not done, in my view, it will be difficult to have the confidence of the american people that that investigation is not being directed by those who are supposed to be the subject of that investigation. it would also i think compromise the nomination process for the next director of the f.b.i. if we don't have a special counsel named, then there will be so much focus as to how that next director will handle this investigation that we really won't have attention paid to the other responsibilities and talents of that individual to handle the broad jurisdiction of the f.b.i.
1:42 pm
and if that's not resolved, the investigation by the appointment of a special prosecutor, it's difficult to see how we're going to have a truly bipartisan process for maintaining the support for the f.b.i. so i would urge the deputy attorney general to name as soon as possible a respected person as an independent prosecutor to take over this investigation, but, mr. president, there are deeper concerns than just the president of the united states hampering a criminal investigation in which associates of him are involved in that investigation, because it also involves a country that is not a friend of the united states. all this was triggered by russia's involvement in our democratic election system.
1:43 pm
we know that russia was directly engaged in trying to compromise our election system by calling into question the confidence of our system and trying to tilt the scales in favor of one of our candidates. so russia made contacts with americans in order to further their game at bringing down our democratic system of government. this is not unique to the united states. russia has used similar tactics in other elections of democratic countries. we saw in the montenegran election that they were voting on a secession into nato, that russia exported individuals into that country to try to disrupt that election. they were not successful, but they tried. and, mr. president, we saw just
1:44 pm
recently in the french elections where russia directly got involved to try to help one of the candidates that they believed would help pull france away from the e.u., creating a vacuum for russia's influence, and the french voters turned that down. they were not successful. but that doesn't mean that russia won't continue to try to bring down democratic systems of government. mr. trump's casual and consistent dismissal of the facts laid out by the entire intelligence committee about russia's engagement in the united states should set off alarm bells. it cannot be business as usual. today president trump and secretary tillerson met with foreign minister and a navrav. they decide to meet today of all
1:45 pm
days like nothing has happened. well, a lot has happened. so did we see any indication that the purpose of that meeting was to raise our strong objections to russia's interference into our election system? or russia's compromising americans to try to help in regards to their campaign against our free election system? or russia's engagement and encroachment into other countries? did -- did we hear from the president that we would not tolerate that type of behavior from russia? no, it's business as usual. he wants to establish a aallyier -- friendlier relationship with russia. russia has invaded other countries. we know about the active campaign in ukraine, the
1:46 pm
annexation of crimea. i met with the representative from georgia and they can tell you how their country is trying to deal with russia's presence. we know about russia's engagement in other parts of the world, their engagement in syria is bringing about serious challenges to trying to resolve the crisis in that country. the russian government supporting the assad regime, targeting hospitals, convoys, the use of chemical weapons. all of that was facilitated by russia. that's well known. but, mr. president, it might not be as well known that russia is ambitious about going into many more parts of the world. russia is now engaged in afghanistan.
1:47 pm
we've had one of our longest wars ever in afghanistan, and our commitment to the people of afghanistan is to have a democratic government. so russia is now engaged with the taliban, trying to upset our ability to bring all of the parties together in unity in the government. now, that, to me, is just total counter to history. we know about russia's presence in afghanistan. does anybody believe that russia is really sincere in maintaining peace. now we see russia on the yemen coast. we see russia's presence in libya, supporting the general there, who has committed his own human rights violations and war crimes and has disrupted the government of national accord
1:48 pm
which is our best chance for peace in libya. we see russia's presence in nicaragua and building a major compound that many believe is going to be used to spy on the u.s. compound. that's russia. so, to president trump, it is not business as usual with russia. there's a reason why we need an independent investigation to investigate what russia was doing in the united states. russia is trying to expand their influence, and expanding their influence are to values that are just the opposite of ours, a corrupt government, no respect for human rights, no respect for democratic institutions or opposition or free press. that's what russia is trying to expand. and we know that in their involvement in the united states they are trying to get a way to
1:49 pm
expand that opportunity. so it's for all those reasons it cannot be business as usual. when the president of the united states interferes with a criminal investigation that was precipitated by russia's engagement in the united states, every american should be alarmed. every american should be asking, what can we do to make sure we have an independent review so we can take steps to protect our national security. it's not acceptable for the senate to say business as usual. we need to come together and facilitate the independent review of the criminal involvements of -- of potential criminal involvements of americans facilitating with russians and what they were doing and we need to have an independent review of all of what russia was doing in this country so we can take the necessary steps to protect our national security.
1:50 pm
with that, mr. president, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
1:51 pm
1:52 pm
1:53 pm
1:54 pm
1:55 pm
1:56 pm
1:57 pm
1:58 pm
1:59 pm
2:00 pm
quorum call:
2:01 pm
2:02 pm
2:03 pm
2:04 pm
2:05 pm
2:06 pm
the presiding officer: the senator montana. mr. daines: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to display a water sample from montana -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. daines: mr. president, i ask to vitiate the quorum. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. daines: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to display a water sample from the state of montana on the senate floor. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. daines: mr. president, today our friends across the aisle have decided to hold up senate committee meetings because the democrats object to the dismissal of james comey from the f.b.i. they've chosen to play politics and prevent scheduled hearings from occurring. understand that means that everyone who has taken time to fly to washington, d.c., -- and that means that everyone who has taken time to fly to washington, d.c., to testify before congress, per our request, and
2:07 pm
to update us on important issues that face the nation will not be heard. in fact, one of those scheduled hearings is in the energy and natural resources subcommittee on water and power, of which i am a member. this hearing was going to investigate the dry red water and the muscle shell judith rural water systems. this is a critically important water issue to montana. mr. speaker, i'll tell you what this was going to focus on. the hearing was going to focus on water from circle, montana. these are water samples from different families in the circle, montana, area. this is from the aronson tap. this yellow tinted water here is from the goods tap. this cloudy sample here is from the hansis tap.
2:08 pm
these are all from circle. this is from the carlson tap. you probable can't see it perhaps on the camera and on the floor, but there's particulate here fleeting. something you -- floating. something you wouldn't want to drink. this is water from the roseanne's tap. these samples came from a small town in eastern montana, circle, montana, and the image here to my left is from roundup, monta montana. this unacceptably unclean tap water is in the homes of montanans and north dakotans right now as we speak. in fact, the mayor of harl --
2:09 pm
harlatan, montana, he is here today to testify. i met with him just yesterday. in fact, he came to our montana coffee this morning. he spent over $1,000 on a flig flight. he spent almost $600 on hotel accommodations, not to mention the cost of other incidentals. and now the democrats won't let him speak. why? as the chairman of the senate western caucus, it is shameful that other witnesses have flown and spent thousands of dollars to prevent improving water quality in our states. the arizona witness, for example, spent $2,400 in three days out of the itself come back and -- out of the office to come back and testify today. thyes, the f.b.i. needs to regaining the trust of the
2:10 pm
american people. in fact, senator schumer on november 2 said, and i quote, i do not have confidence in comey any longer. and on that very same day, house minority leader nancy pelosi said, and i quote, maybe he's not in the right job. but this water -- you see these samples in front of me -- has nothing to do with the f.b.i. there are over 36,000 americans spread across montana and north dakota without access to clean water. i can tell you, if the mayor of flint, michigan, flew here to testify about the quality and challenges facing their water system, no one would have blocked that hearing. frankly, this is just another sign of the marginalization for rural montana and rural america.
2:11 pm
i was sent here to fight for rural montana, to stand for rural america, and that is what i will continue to do. this hearing needs to happen today. mr. president, i have a request for the energy committee to meet at 2:30 today. and i ask unanimous consent that the committee be allowed to meet. the presiding officer: is there objection? ms. hirono: mr. president, reserving the right to object, these are not usual times, and representing a state like hawaii where, of course, we care about access to clean water. so, with all respect to my colleague from montana, we understand the importance of this issue to the people of your state. however, as i said, these are very unusual times, and the
2:12 pm
president's decision to fire f.b.i. director james comey in this manner under this prediction and at this time is also a total disservice to the american people. and this attempt, intended to derail and disrupt the f.b.i.'s on-going investigation into russia's attempt to disrupt or interfere with our democracy and the trump team's ties to those attempts, should be a matter of national concern, should not be a republican or democratic concern. so we need a bipartisan call for a special prosecutor who will conduct an impartial, thorough investigation, untainted by political considerations. and, therefore, mr. president, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. daines: mr. president, if i could respond to my colleague from hawaii, the folks have been derailed today.
2:13 pm
they are the men and women who traveled thousands of miles to be here from very small communities across our country. they've taken time away from work and their families to be here, to show our committees what's going on in rural america and the unacceptable quality of water. water should be -- it's a basic need. and to think we have water samples here that i think would be shocking to most members here in this body, and just i'm saddened to see that the democrats are going to derail these hearings this afternoon. yes, let's have the fight about the f.b.i. and the firing of comey. that's -- we can have a good-spirited debate about that. but why are we preventing these folks from rural america who have traveled thousands of miles to testify here today at our request? thank you, mr. president. i yield back my time. mr. hoeven: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator north dakota.
2:14 pm
mr. hoeven: thank you, mr. president. i have a request for the indian affairs committee to meet today at 2:30. first, we have a markup in indian affairs. the and the two bills that we're marking up are democrat-sponsored bills. the first one is a senator tester bill from the state of montana. it actually provides support for native languages. and i guess the summary is that it would support the education of indian children. and i know -- or i believe it relates to native languages in that educational capacity. so that's one of the bills, a senator tester bill. the other bill that we're marking up is a senator tim kaine bill, also a democrat-sponsored bill. and the short narrative i have
2:15 pm
is to extend federal recognition to the chickahominy indian tribe. the chickahominy indian tribe eastern division. and the upper mattaponi tribe, the rap hon nick tribe, the monican tribe -- indian nation, and the nasamont indian tribe. that's something that both senator kaine and senator warner, both senators from virginia, have been working on for some time. and the reason that it's timely is they have poke hahn -- pocahantas's birthday celebration coming up, a large celebration in the state of virginia, and so they were
2:16 pm
hoping to have these tribes recognized before this birthday celebration for pocohantas. it is a timely issue and obviously we can't advance it to the senate floor unless we mark it up. at the request of those two senators from the commonwealth of virginia, we're scheduled to mark up those bills and get them to the floor and try to do it in a timely way because of the celebration that they're trying to get prepared for. and of course everybody knows the story of pocahontas and why that would be a big celebration, certainly a big deal in the state of virginia. so again, as we debate this here on the senate floor, i think that senator daines made some strong points, and i would certainly appeal to our colleagues across the aisle to consider what i've just described as far as those
2:17 pm
markups. but in addition to those markups, we also have a hearing, a hearing on several bills. and the first one is a mccain bill, and it's to amend the protect act to make indian tribes eligible for amber alert programs. everybody knows what the amber alert program is and how important that program is to protect our young people when they get abducted. and the reason that senator mccain from arkansas -- excuse me -- from arizona is bringing this bill forward is because there was an abduction in arizona and the amber alert went out late. i think the amber alert went out like a day late. and so senator mccain has this protect act so we can make sure that the amber alert is working in indian country, and certainly you can understand how important it is that we do that.
2:18 pm
but we have to have a hearing on the bill again so we can advance the bill to the senate floor for consideration. and then the final bill that we would have a hearing on in committee if we're allowed to meet is the murkowski bill. senator murkowski, from alaska, which would provide the conveyance of certain property in the state. and you have to realize that the witnesses -- and i think certainly the good senator from hawaii will appreciate this. the witnesses had to come here from alaska, which as you know, is quite a lengthy trip. i'm not -- just like i know when you travel back home to hawaii, that's a long trip. it's certainly a beautiful place but a long trip to get there. and of course it's not inexpensive to travel here to
2:19 pm
alaska from washington, d.c. those witnesses would be out if we're not able to have a hearing and we have to reschedule it. that certainly creates quite a cost burden for them which is certainly unfair and not what they would want to have happen on the part of their government. so, you know, i'm just putting that in human terms. again, so we're talking about two democrat bills. we're talking about two republican bills. and we're talking about constituents that have traveled a long way to come here to have, you know, the hearing and the markup. and so, again, these are issues that we should be able to work on in a bipartisan way, and i would certainly ask for that consideration. and so at this point then, i would ask unanimous consent that our committee be allowed to meet. the presiding officer: is there objection? ms. hirono: mr. president? the presiding officer: the
2:20 pm
senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: reserving the right to object, of course we acknowledge the importance of the issues raised by the -- the matters raised by my colleague from north dakota. and representing, as i do, the state of hawaii, yes, the support of -- for education of native peoples, native children, which i hope will include native hawaii children, that's important as well as recognizing various indian tribes and the other matters that were raised by my friend from north dakota. however, as i mentioned, these are not business-as-usual times. the untoward firing of the f.b.i. director who was conducting an ongoing investigation into russian attempts to interfere with our democracy and the trump team's ties to those attempts should be a matter of national concern, should be a matter of concern to every single member of the senate. this is not a republican or a democratic concern. this is a threat to our democracy.
2:21 pm
we know that russia did this. we know we need to get to the bottom of this. we need to get to the bottom of the trump team's ties to these efforts. and this thinly veiled attempt by president trump to derail or destruct these investigations cannot be sustained or supported. so we continue to call for a bipartisan call for a special prosecutor who will conduct an impartial, thorough investigation untainted by political considerations into the russia-trump matter. and, therefore, mr. president, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: thank you, mr. president. i rised to to address president trump's stunning dismissal of f.b.i. director comey yesterday
2:22 pm
evening. we do know that the russians interfered in the 2016 election. we know that the russians did so in order to undermine confidence in our democracy. we know that the russians carried out this attack with the goal of benefiting the campaign of donald trump, whom the kremlin preferred to see win the election. these facts have been confirmed by our intelligence agencies. what we don't fully yet understand is all of the reasons why, all the reasons why the russians favored donald trump. and whether associates of the president or members of his campaign assisted in the russian operation to sway the election
2:23 pm
in his favor. these questions are the subject of an ongoing counterintelligence investigation, an investigation conducted by the federal bureau of investigation. until last night, an investigation led by james comey. as former director comey recently testified to the house intelligence committee, quote, the f.b.i., as part of its counterintelligence mission, is investigating the russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the trump campaign and the russian government and whether there was any coordination between the
2:24 pm
campaign and russia. unquote. so the timing of director comey's dismissal raises serious questions, and president trump's decision to abruptly fire the man leading an investigation that could implicate the trump administration should shock the conscience of every american who believes that no man or woman is above the law and who has faith in the fair and impartial pursuit of justice. now the white house attempted to preemptively dispel any suspicion by announcing that president trump fired the director, quote, based on the clear recommendations, unquote,
2:25 pm
of attorney general jeff sessions and deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. the white house released several documents to back up that claim, a letter from president trump to director comey, firing him. a letter from attorney general sessions to president trump recommending that comey be fired. and a memo written by deputy attorney general rosenstein which cited the director's handling of the hillary clinton e-mail investigation as damaging the f.b.i.'s reputation and credibility. but, mr. president, these documents really create more questions than they answer. first, the letter from president trump to director comey firing him. president trump, ever eager to put distance between the russian inquiry and himself, wrote, quote, while i greatly appreciate you informing me on
2:26 pm
three separate occasions that i am not under investigation, i nevertheless concur with the judgment of the department of justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau. again, we know that the f.b.i. is conducting a criminal investigation into whether members of the trump campaign coordinated with the russians in their efforts to influence the election. director comey confirmed that before he was fired. so whether president trump is personally under investigation by the bureau or whether investigators are merely scrutinizing his advisors and associates, the president's clumsy attempt at misdirection does little more than remind us of the many unanswered questions about his and his people's connections to russia.
2:27 pm
second, attorney general session's letter to president trump. the attorney general writes that based on his review of deputy attorney general rosenstein's memo, which cites the director's handling of the clinton e-mail investigation, that general sessions has concluded that the f.b.i. requires new leadership and a fresh start. so general sessions recommended that director comey be fired. but, mr. president, attorney general sessions should not have had any involvement in this decision at all. on march 2, the attorney general called a press conference to announce, quote, i have now decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matter relating in any way to the
2:28 pm
campaigns for president of the united states. unquote. now the reason that general sessions made that announcement was because news reports revealed that he had provided misleading, shall we say -- misleading testimony in response to a question that i asked during his confirmation hearing that general sessions had falsely stated, quote, i did not have communications with the russians. in fact, he did meet with the russian ambassador during the campaign twice. having provided misleading testimony under oath about a matter that could potentially be the subject of a criminal
2:29 pm
investigation by the f.b.i., general sessions was forced to recuse himself. so, mr. president, i find it deeply troubling that attorney general jeff sessions, who misled the judiciary committee by his own communications with the russian ambassador, and who pledged to recuse himself from this investigation as a result, betrayed that pledge by involving himself in the decision to fire the director of the f.b.i. who's leading the investigation into russia's interference into our elections, including whether members of president trump's campaign were involved in that interference. and attorney general sessions was a member of that campaign, and he misled the committee on
2:30 pm
whether he had met with the russians, and he did that under oath. that's why he recused himself, and yet he inserted himself in this firing. finally, deputy attorney general rosenstein's memo which asserts that director comey's handling of the clinton e-mail investigation caused the public to lose confidence in the bureau, mr. president, director comey spoke publicly about the clinton e-mail investigation twice, in july and october of last year. now setting aside whether director comey's decision to discuss the investigation was unorthodox or broke with justice department and f.b.i. protocols, his actions were well known to
2:31 pm
both president trump and attorney general sessions, and both of them celebrated, celebrated his actions at the time. after director comey wrote to congress on october 28 informing us that the f.b.i. had discovered additional e-mails and would therefore reopen his investigation into secretary clinton, then-candidate trump praised his decision. he said that, quote, what comey did was the right thing and that, quote, it took guts for director comey to make the move that he made in light of the kind of opposition he had. unquote. appearing on "fox business network," then-senator sessions said that director comey, quote, had an absolute duty, in my
2:32 pm
opinion, 11 days before an election or not, to come forward with the new information that he hasp and let the american people know that, too. unquote. so, mr. president, if president trump or attorney general sessions truly objected to the way that director comey conducted the investigation into secretary clinton's e-mails, i suspect they would have said so at the time rather than heap praise upon him, but their previous statements lauding director comey's handling of the clinton e-mail probe cast suspicion on the extent to which they relied on deputy attorney general's purported rationale. further, -- and this is
2:33 pm
important -- if deputy attorney general rosenstein were truly concerned that director comey's handling of the clinton e-mail investigation had damaged the reputation of the bureau, then why not wait for the conclusion of an investigation by the very respected d.o.j. inspector general into comey's decision during the election, his decisions. an investigation had been under way since january. mr. president, the shifting positions of president trump and attorney general sessions lead me to believe something else is going on here. that this is not about hillary clinton's e-mails but about turning the page on russia. in fact, last night, the white house spokesman said something.
2:34 pm
appearing on fox news, white house press secretary sara huckabee sanders was asked how director comey's firing would affect the russian investigation. she replied, quote, when are they going to let that go? it's been going on for nearly a year. frankly, it's getting kind of absurd. there is nothing there. it's time to move on. frankly, it's time to focus on things the american people care about. unquote. mr. president, the american people care about whether a hostile foreign government influenced our election. and they care about whether advisors and associates to the president helped that foreign government do that. the events that occurred over
2:35 pm
the past 24 hours are deeply, deeply unsettling. as my republican colleague, senator flake, said, quote, i have spent the last several hours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of comey's firing. i just can't do it. unquote. i can't either. in my view, the timing and circumstances surrounding director comey's dismissal are very, very suspicious. for example, just this morning, it was reported that director comey recently asked the justice department to provide additional resources for the russian investigation, a request that reportedly he made personally to
2:36 pm
deputy attorney general rosenstein. this raises grave concerns about the trump justice department's ability to conduct a full, fair and impartial investigation. and in order to address these concerns, attorney general sessions and deputy attorney general rosenstein should come to the senate and explain their involvement to all the senators in this body. and in the wake of what i believe was a politically motivated decision to remove director comey, i no longer have confidence that the department of justice can fulfill its obligation -- its obligation to resolve this matter impartially. the situation now calls very
2:37 pm
clearly for the appointment of a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation into whether associates of the trump organization or former members of the trump campaign had knowledge of or participated in the russian attack on our democracy. i join my colleagues' calls for an independent inquiry so that the american people can have confidence that the individuals who conduct this investigation will follow the facts no matter where they lead. thank you, mr. president. mr. bennet: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. bennet: thank you, mr. president. i am here to speak about another
2:38 pm
subject, but before the senator from minnesota leaves, i want to thank him for his statement and for his observations which are dead on about the need now more than ever to have an independent special counsel take a look at what's happened here. so i'm very grateful for that. and i believe that that's the conclusion that others in this chamber, republicans and democrats, working together will reach as well as they let sink in what has actually transpired over the last 24 hours. mr. president, earlier today, a bipartisan -- a piece of good news around here. a bipartisan majority voted to block an effort that would have wasted taxpayer resources, polluted our air and accelerated climate change, and i want to thank my colleagues who voted that way. in particular, the republican senators who crossed the aisle to join us in this vote.
2:39 pm
today we showed that washington can still come together to put the public above the power. today we showed that in the senate at least a majority still exists for common sense, for public health and for good stewardship of public resources. before this morning, the trump administration and some members of congress sought to undo a rule from the bureau of land management that had been a win for taxpayers, for businesses and the environment. across the country, oil and gas companies pay royalties to extract from federal and tribal land, and each year these companies waste around $330 million worth of gas because of inefficient operations from leaky pipes to excess burning to faulty vents. by preserving this rule, we will
2:40 pm
give taxpayers roughly $800 million in new royalties over the next decade. resources our communities could use to invest in schools or to build roads, bridges and tunnels. actually, the idea that we're giving the money is not right. the taxpayers will earn the royalties to which they are entitled as a result of this public land. this is a win all the way around, for public health, reduce toxic pollutants in the air we breathe. for businesses, it cuts waste and expands their bottom line, and for the planet, it curbs leaking methane which is up to 80 times more potent as greenhouse gas and accelerates climate change. in fact, without the proper protection of natural gas to burn as dirty as coal, and the benefits that we've gotten from natural gas would be
2:41 pm
dramatically reduced. thanks to bipartisan cooperation, this rule will remain in place, and i want to recognize colorado's leadership in bringing us to this moment. in colorado, we have led the nation to adopt the country's first-ever rule to reduce methane waste and pollution. the rule enjoys support from environmental groups, the oil and gas industry and 83% of coloradans. our approach was so successful that the bureau of land management drew on it as a model for all federal and private lands. in my state, when we were thinking about passing this rule, critics said it would stifle energy production, but the opposite has happened. colorado's natural gas production has continued to rise while oil production has nearly doubled. critics also argued colorado's rule would kill jobs. once again, the facts tell a
2:42 pm
very different story. in colorado alone, 41 different companies put people to work to repair pipes, monitor pollution and develop technologies to reduce emissions. our experience showed that the rule spurred new jobs alleged technologies, reduced pollution and protected the planet, all while failing to reduce energy production as critics alleged. those facts were critical in preserving the rule this morning, and because of what we did this morning, the national standard we preserved, our state will not suffer from higher methane pollution coming across the border from other states. that would have hurt colorado's economy. that would have hurt tourism in one of the most visited states in the country.
2:43 pm
and it would have been deeply unfair to the people of colorado, to kids with asthma and seniors who need clean air to breathe, to the next generation of americans, of coloradans who deserve a healthy planet. now that congress has spoken, the administration should listen. my colleagues and i will vigorously oppose any attempts by the department of the interior to bypass somehow administratively the decision that's been made today. all of us need to remain vigilant to ensure that this commonsense protection remains in place, protecting americans, protecting our environment, and i'm grateful that today at least we can come together to put fact over ideology and put the public good over narrow interests. mr. president, i yield the
2:44 pm
floor. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
2:45 pm
quorum call:
2:46 pm
mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: are we in a quorum? the presiding officer: the
2:47 pm
senate is in a quorum. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. first i want to thank my colleague from colorado for his outstanding remarks. much is happening and not many people paid attention, i guess, because they were so busy. this is the first c.r.a. to go down and the first important one that came before us, so the fact that it wasn't voted on, people can breathe a sigh of relief because methane will not be released into the atmosphere as easily. now on the topic of the day, mr. president. this morning the democratic caucus met to discuss the circumstances of mr. i come's -- of mr. comey's dismissle by the white house. there are many actions to be taken.
2:48 pm
we will pursue many things in the coming days and weeks that we decided in our caucus and we will have more to say about that in the days ahead. there are three things that our caucus agreed must happen right away. first, mr. rosenstein should not be the one to appoint a special prosecutor. that responsibility should gl to the highest-serving career civil servant at the department of justice. second, mr. comey is needed more than ever to testify before the senate. third, attorney general sessions and deputy attorney general rosenstein should brief all senators on these events separately and in a classified setting, if necessary, and they should do it soon because the questions are just swirling about. there are more every day, almost every hour. let me go over each.
2:49 pm
first, it is the overwhelming view of my caucus that a special prosecutor should now be appointed to conduct the investigation into the trump campaign ties to russia. mr. rosenstein cannot be the person to appoint him. serious doubts have been cast on mr. rosenstein's impartiality for two reasons. first, there are many reports that democrattor comey met with deputy attorney rob rosenstein to help with the investigation into the trump campaign ties to russia. that would make the timing of this firing even more suspect. and second, mr. rosenstein signed his name to a highly political memo arguing for director comey's dismissal and
2:50 pm
made no complaint about the involvement of the attorney general who had recused himself from all matters relating to the russia investigation in recommending the firing of the man who was leading it. it's hard to believe a seasoned prosecutor without bias would have allowed sessions to be part of this. it's also hard to believe that a seasoned prosecutor would write such a memo which seemed highly political, not in the kind of language, not with the kind of an notations that they write in. the bench who should appoint a special prosecutor should go to the highest-serving civil servant at the department of justice. mr. rosenstein and other appointees appointed by the president who they are supposed
2:51 pm
to investigate should not make a call on the special prosecutor less that decision be seen as influenced or made at the direction of the administration. we need to ensure the american people that they can have confidence in our criminal justice system to conduct the russian investigation impartially. the best and only way to do that now would be for a career civil servant at the department of justice to be the person who decides on a special prosecutor. it should not be a political appointee who makes such a decision. my friend, our great senior senator from the state of california, brought this up in our meeting. senator feinstein's call that the appointment be made by someone a career civil servant, not a political appointee has the widespread support of our caucus and is the only fair
2:52 pm
thing to do. second, we also learned that mre appearing before the intelligence committee tomorrow. in his stead with -- will be the acting f.b.i. director, andrew mccabe. there are so many questions that only mr. comey can answer. we democrats hope and expect that he will still come before the senate in some capacity. i salute senator burr and senator warner for inviting him to testify next week before the intelligence committee. it is the right thing to do. we ought to hear from mr. comey. at this moment a profound doubt about the reasons and timing of f.b.i. director comey's firing by the president, about the status and progress of the very serious investigation into the trump campaign and russia by his agency, we require answers. and, third, the recent revelations about the rosenstein
2:53 pm
and comey meeting demand that the attorney general and the deputy attorney general -- attorney general sessions, deputy attorney general rosenstein, brief the senate and answer questions because of so many -- so many things swirling about last night's firing. that briefing could be classified if necessary. maybe part classified, part not. each briefing should be done separately. mr. president, let me speak plainly. the prospect that a campaign for the presidency of the united states colluded with a foreign power in order to win our nation's highest office is as grave a topic for an investigation as there could be. it gets right to heart of the pillar of our democracy. the fair and free elections of our representatives and the
2:54 pm
fact -- the fact that mr. rosenstein and mr. comey -- mr. -- and attorney general sessions were involved in this firing when there are so many questions swirling about. they must come before us to answer questions. i hope leader mcconnell will understand the need for that and answer the plea i made this morning about that. furthermore, the fact that mr. rosenstein, which came out after i made my request -- the fact that mr. rosenstein, by all reports, had a meeting with director comey where comey asked for more resources makes it all the more important for rosenstein to come because that might be the reason that he was fired because he was pursuing the investigation in an
2:55 pm
accelerated way that was very much needed. so what we're seeking, the tone thing we're -- the only thing we are seeking, is that the investigations are carried out in an impartial and independent way, that we get all the facts, that we get to the very bottom of it. all we are seeking is some assurance that the subject of this investigation is not able to influence it or, god forbid, quash it. the topic of this investigation itself is very serious. the possibility that the investigation is being impeded or tampered with is even worse. that threatens the integrity of our criminal justice system and the hallowed american belief in rule of law. i believe this rises far above party labels. i believe it rises far above partisan politics.
2:56 pm
i have been heartened that several republicans have expressed concerns, and i hope and expect our republican friends will join us in these efforts to make sure this investigation is conducted in the manner it deserves. we want congress's role to be nonpartisan, looking at the good of neither political party, but much rather for the good of our dear country. these are tough and serious times, mr. president. we cannot shirk from our responsibilities, neither democrats nor republicans. i hope everyone in this chamber will rise to the occasion. i yield the floor and thank my good friend from minnesota for allowing me to speak before she did. ms. klobuchar: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i join in the minority leader's
2:57 pm
remarks and his plan for moving forward, which is a bipartisan plan and a plea to our colleagues to work together. you know, america is not like some countries where people are all from the same ethnic background or perhaps of the same religion. america is an idea, america is an ideal. america is something that is grounded in our democracy. way back, centuries ago, our founding fathers were concerned about foreign influence on our democracy. they were concerned at the time about great britain. now we have another concern and that concern is russia. it is not just a democratic concern. as one of our colleagues, senator rubio has noted in the past, maybe this election it was an attack on one political candidate and one party, but next time it will be the other party, and that's why we must join together and handle this correctly. and in the spirit of our
2:58 pm
democracy and constitution. now, i have known director comey for a long time. we were classmates at the university of chicago law school. he was well liked in our class just as he earned the respect of the agents that he supervised and the law enforcement that he worked with. now, i made it clear to him that i didn't agree with how he handled the e-mail investigation regarding secretary clinton, but nevertheless, this man is a hard worker and someone of integrity. just because someone doesn't agree with how an investigation is handled, even if it is in a big way, doesn't mean that this person should be fired. f.b.i. directors have ten-year terms for a reason. that is because we want them to be independent from political influence. all americans, including those
2:59 pm
who have criticized director comey for whatever reason in the past, should be very troubled by the timing of this firing. let's just look at the past week. we started the week on monday where former director clapper testified in great detail about the russian threat to our democracy and the fact that the russians feel empowered and he believes they will do it again and again. we also were on the heels of the french cyberattack where their election was attacked where russia was trying to get involved in their election. then former acting attorney general sally yates testified and she made very clear that she had not just given a heads up to the administration that their national security advisor was compromised by the russians, no. she had two formal meetings over at the white house. she outlined in detail how she had gone over to the white house
3:00 pm
and voiced her concern. and when i asked both former director clapper and former acting attorney yates whether or not this was material for blackmail when you had a high-ranking official saying one thing on a taped recording that the russians knew he said and another to the vice president of the united states, if that was material for blackmail, they said yes yes, he had been pry miezed -- comi prize -- come pri miezed. they allowed general flynn sty on for 18 days including being an hour-long conversation between the president of the united states and vladimir putin. so that's what happened on monday. then we know what was going to happen tomorrow, thursday, and that is that director comey was to testify in his capacity as the f.b.i. director in front of
3:01 pm
the senate intelligence committee, where we know questions were going to be asked about russia. of course, i commend senators burr and warner for inviting him again in his capacity as a private citizen now next week. but when you look at what happened here -- yates and clapper testimony on monday, comey testimony expected on thursday, and what's sandwiched in between? the firing of the f.b.i. director. the firing of the f.b.i. director. and, by the way, this is the same f.b.i. director who had the audacity to tell the truth before congress when asked whether or not president obama had wiretapped the trump tower, as alleged by president trump in a tweet at 6:00 in the morning, and the f.b.i. director truthfully answered, no, that did not happen. that is senior senator willing that has appeared -- that is also something that has happened
3:02 pm
in the past month. today we learned that just days before he was fired, mr. comey asked senior officials at the justice department for more resources to carry out the russian investigation. now, what are my colleagues saying about this? well, i think it is very important to note that the two members who are privy to the most classified information -- senator mccain, as chair of the armed services committee, and senator burr, as chair of the intelligence committee -- both have expressed serious concerns about what happened. senator mccain said he was disappointed and senator burr, republican chair of the senate intelligence committee, said i am troubled by the timing and reasoning of director comey's termination. i have found director comey to be a public servant of the highest order, and his dismissal further confusefuses an already-difficult investigation by the committee. senator flake says, i've spent
3:03 pm
the last several hours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of comey's firing. i just can't do it. the reasoning that the white house is using for directors -- director comey's firing is bizarre, that is why i believe senator burr said his decimusal further confuses an already-difficult investigation. these are quotes from letters that i letter back during the presidential campaign and that is what is used in the letter as a justification. if the administration found director comey's conduct during the election to be so problematic, why now, right smack in the middle of the advancements of this russian investigation? the answer, i believe, is because the justification
3:04 pm
provided in the memo is a pretext. the fact that president trump's termination letter to director comey strangely discusses the fact that director comey informed the president he was not under investigation in the context of the russian investigation sheds light on what this is really about. director comey was seeking the truth. senator burr said that director comey has been more forthcoming with information than any f.b.i. director he could recall in his tenure on the congressional intelligence committee. in firing comey, president trump has cast doubt about the independence and viability of any further investigation into the foreign interference of our democracy. why was attorney general sessions, who had recused himself from the investigation on russian interference, able to influence the firing of the man at the helm of the russia investigation? that's one of the questions we want answered and why, by the
3:05 pm
way, we believe it is important to have a closed-door briefing by the deputy attorney general and his predecessor. did deputy attorney general rose hrose -- rosenstein act on his own or at the direct of attorney general sessions? was his firing influenced by any recent developments in the investigation, like the issuance of grand jury subpoenas or director comey's recent request for more resources for the russia investigation? why didn't the president wait for the inspector general's investigation into director comey's handing of the clinton e-mail -- handling of the clinton e-mail investigation to conclude before making his vision to fire him? -- before making his decision to fire him? i am a former prosecutor. i believe in facts. i am in evidence. and these decisions should not have been made without these facts, without this evidence, in the middle of a major
3:06 pm
investigation of russian influence in our election. answers to these questions are essential to getting to the truth and ensuring that an independent investigation at the f.b.i. can continue. for months, u.s. intelligence agencies -- 17 of them -- have said that russia used propaganda and cyber attacks to undermine our democracy. the facts prove it. when former intelligence director clapper testified, he said that russia will continue to interfere in our system. i believe russia is now emboldened to continue such activities in the future, both here and around the world. and to do so even more intensely. if there has ever been a clarion call for vigilance and action against a threat to the very foundation of our democratic political system, this episode is it.
3:07 pm
i was in that hearing and asking questions of clapper when he said that. vigilance -- that's what he said. vigilance. how can we call it vigilance when the f.b.i. director who is conducting the investigation has been fired? what message does that send to russia? does that make them think that we're serious about this investigation, that we want to get to the bomb of it, that we don't want it -- to the bottom of it, that we don't want it to happen again? no, it sends the opposite message. aids and surrogates of the trump administration during the campaign and the transition were in contact with officials from a foreign government that was actively working to tear our democracy apart, and we need to know why. and when and how. but the first question -- that's what i really want to know -- is why? this week former acting attorney general salar sally yates and m
3:08 pm
mr. clapper told us that a member of the trump transition team spoke to a russia official regarding sanctions. michael flynn, the person charged with the most sensitive matters of the u.s. national security, wasn't truthful with the vice president. he lied to the vice president about contact with russian officials and, in turn, the american people were misled. after the department of justice warned the administration that the national security advisor had lied and may be vulnerable to blackmail by the russian government, what did the administration do? they continued to allow general flynn to handle top-secret information for 18 more days. they let him participate in an hour-long phonecall with president trump and vladimir putin. in fact, subsidizive action was not -- decisive action was not
3:09 pm
taken until "the washington post" revealed what was happening. we have now seen two people resign -- trump's campaign manager and his national security advisor -- and the one thing they have in common is russia and the president. and we have seen three people fired -- sally yates, the acting attorney general of the united states, who was simply doing her jobs; preet bharara, the u.s. attorney in new york city; and jim comey, the f.b.i. director. the one thing they have in common is that they were all investigating links that they were doing their job. think about that. let that sink in. the independent government officials who are or could have been charged with getting to the truth, no matter where it led, were fired. we owe it to the american people to get to the bottom of what is going on here. it is our job to get to the
3:10 pm
bottom of this. because the president of the united states, president trump, he cannot fire congress. we need to know the full extent of the trump campaign's contact with the russian government during the campaign and transition, including what was said and what was done and who knew about it. that is why on december -- on january 4, i stood with senator cardin and adam schiff of the house of representatives and he lie shah cummings and called for an independent. this is different than the good work that is being done by the senate intelligence committee under the leadership of senators burr and warner. to me, an independent commission would help us because they could get to the bottom of what happened with the intent of making sure it doesn't happen again, to protect our democracy.
3:11 pm
you could talk about they could have recommendations, just like the 9/11 commission had, hon we could improve our laws. they could have recommendations on what we could do if the media gets hold of information that's the result of a cyber attack from a foreign government. they could have recommendations of what political parties and campaigns could do -- perhaps even in agreement -- when they get access to information that is the result of a cyber attack against the opposite party. it wasn't that longing a when campaigns would come upon debate information and other things and would simply put it in an envelope and send it back to the other side. we can do this, but that is not going to come out of some simple piece of legislation or what the work of the intelligence committee is doing. that is why i believe we need this independent commission, as well as a special prosecutor to
3:12 pm
look into all contacts between trump aides and surrogates and russian officials during the campaign, transition, and administration. this prosecutor must be fair and impartial and completely unattached to either political party. in addition to the independent commission, we also need our congressional committees, as i mentioned, to continue to exercise our oversight authority. since the election, we have heard a lot about the three branches of government and our system of checks and balances. one of the fundamental jobs of congress, as i told a group of students in my office today, is to closely oversee the executive branch to ensure that the law is being properly followed and enforced. this shouldn't just be things that students learn when they come in for a school trip from their senator or what they learn in a textbook. this is actually our job. this means that in addition to
3:13 pm
this independent 9/11-style independent commission, we must make sure our congressional committees continue to investigate russian interference in our political system. we have subpoena power. we need to use it. some of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle understand the importance of doing our jobs to get to the bottom of this. as i mentioned, we have the intelligence committee investigation, but we also have the judiciary subcommittee on which i serve, led by senators graham and whitehouse. they're the ones that held a hearing with sally yates and director clapper this week. this is an unprecedented time in our country's history. we are witnessing a singular moment of constitutional and democratic unease. in recent months, foundational elements of our democracy, including the rule of law, have been questioned, challenged, and even undermined. several of my colleagues have compared the president's action
3:14 pm
to president richard nixon's action of firing of archibald conform who was investigating watergate. but even then mr. conform was replaced by a new special prosecutor. today we have no special prosecutor to determine whether the president's campaign colluded with a hostile foreign power. some in congress are continuing to resist any serious investigation. for that reason, our democracy may be even greater -- in greater merrell. -- greater peril. the night he was fired, mr. cox defended his decision to conduct the watergate investigation as he saw fit rather than yield to the president's order that he limit his request for tape recordings. cox said this: whether ours shall continue to be a government of laws and not of men is now for congress and ultimately the american people. he's right. the american people deserve a
3:15 pm
thorough, independent investigation into the extent of russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. this is not a partisan issue. americans deserve answers now. and where should they get those answers? they should get those answers from this chamber because we, as members of the united states senate, cannot be fired. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i was listening with interest to our friend and colleague from minnesota talk about the russia investigation, and i agree with her 100%. that it is our responsibility to get to the bottom of what exactly happened due to russian involvement in our election, much as they got involved in the
3:16 pm
elections in france, using the combined process of known mcconnell as -- known commonly as active measures. it's espionage, propaganda, use of social media through paid trolls who can then try to raise the visibility of some of this propaganda that it becomes part of the mainstream media and becomes accepted in part of the debate in democratic societies. but i believe that we do share a bipartisan and universal commitment to get to the bottom of what happened in our last election. i would note that there are two members of the senate judiciary committee who actually serve as members of the senate intelligence committee that is actively involved in a rigorous bipartisan investigation. that would be myself and senator feinstein, the ranking member of the senate judiciary committee, who's also the former chair of
3:17 pm
the senate intelligence committee. senator feinstein has said recently that there is no evidence of collusion between the administration and russia. but i think she would share with me a commitment to not stop there, but to find out where the facts take us. and indeed thanks to chairman burr and thanks to vice chairman warner, our bipartisan senate intelligence committee has unprecedented access to raw intelligence that is from the national security agency, the c.i.a., from all sources of the intelligence community. we have access to some of the most sensitive intelligence guard by the united states government. and i think that's to the credit and leadership of chairman burr and vice chairman warner that our committee has remained bipartisan, and we are leaving no stone unturned to get to the bottom of what exactly happened.
3:18 pm
so i'm -- i know people are concerned, and i share that concern, and we need to come up with a program of countermeasures to deal with this because the russian government has been amening -- amping up their game for some time now and now they are operating at dangerous levels when it comes to trying to interfere in our most basic institutions like our elections. i would say as far as the department of justice is concerned, rod rosenstein was confirmed by this body by a vote of 94-6. that's probably the only trump nomination so far since he's been president that has enjoyed such broad bipartisan support. it is because of his distinguished record most recently as the united states attorney in baltimore. i remember hearing from our senators from maryland, for example, democrats who were praising rod rosenstein and
3:19 pm
saying he was exactly the kind of person we needed in the sensitive job as deputy attorney general. but now our colleagues are -- seem to forget their very own conviction and vote on rod rosenstein and say he can't be fair, that he has somehow an appearance of a conflict of interest necessary to appoint a special counsel, which, by the way also then reports to the leadership at the department of justice. i think we awt -- ought to give mr. rosenstein a chance to demonstrate he's capable of leading that role at the department of justice understanding our role in the congress is not to pursue a case. that's the job of the department of justice. but our job, in parallel fashion, for oversight reasons and to let the american people and ourselves know exactly what happened. that's why the investigation of
3:20 pm
the bipartisan senate select committee on intelligence is so important, in addition to the hearings we're having on the judiciary committee which the senator from minnesota and i happen to be on as well. so we do need to get to the bottom of what happened, and i'm confident we will. it is our duty, and we will get the job done. mr. president, last week on another note, our colleagues in the house took the first necessary step to deliver on our campaign promises for the last three elections to repeal and replace obamacare. why is that important? well, because of the impact of obamacare on premiums and deductibles for many people, millions of people literally who are now being priced out of the insurance market, whose insurance, even though they have a policy, is really unavailable to them because they have, for example, such high deductibles. and we know insurance companies
3:21 pm
continue to pull out of the marketplace, and people are reduced to little or no choices when it comes to where to buy their insurance. because, frankly, obamacare was oversold and underdelivered. the president said if you like your policy, you can keep it. well, that proved to be false. he said if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. well, that didn't turn out to be true either. and he said if you like your policy, you can keep your -- or he said a family of four would save an average of $2,500 on their premiums. that didn't prove to be true either. so like most command and control from washington, d.c., not withstanding perhaps the aspirations of our colleagues across the aisle to deliver affordable care act to the american people, it simply failed to do so, and it's in serious distress, even a meltdown. so we would invite our
3:22 pm
colleagues across the aisle, our democratic friends to join with us to help rescue the american people from this failure of the affordable care act. the house passed a bill last week, the american health care act. it's not a perfect bill. i dare say the senate is going to take up a bill of its own, and we'll try to work with our house colleagues to try to get legislation to the president and signed into law. it will rescue the american people and we'll finally deliver on our promise of more affordable premiums and better access and real choice. but it's really not enough just to stand back and to criticize those who are actually trying to rescue those who are in harm's way as a result of the failures of obamacare. that so far is what our friends across the aisle are doing. they are not lifting a finger to help the people hurt today by obamacare.
3:23 pm
we would challenge them to get involved and to work with us. many of our colleagues have come to the floor and talked about stories that they've heard from their constituents back in their states and the harm that the affordable care act has caused. premiums that have skyrocketed, millions kicked off their health care plans, the economy was saddled with billions of dollars in new regulations, employers laying people off or not hiring new people because, frankly health care reforms they don't want to suffer the additional burden, financial burdens of obamacare. and instead of having more access to more health insurance options, texans -- the people i represent -- have less of both. the bottom line is obamacare has failed, and it's up to us to provide some relief to the people who are being hurt by the failure of obamacare.
3:24 pm
so we would invite our colleagues to work with us to do that. since the creation of obamacare, i've been hearing regularly from my constituents back home in texas how they need relief from the health care law and they need it now. every letter, phone call or conversation produces similar themes. one of my constituents, for example, a woman was paying about $300 a month for her health insurance. but over the span of just a few l months that premium, under obamacare, skyrocketed to $800 a month. $300 to $800 a month. i don't know many people who could withstand that sort of increase in their expenses for health care. so she wrote to me and said this has to stop, and quality, flexible plans need to return for individuals. i agree with her. another wrote in to say that
3:25 pm
before obamacare her daughter was getting what she considered to be adequate health care. insurance for about $190 a month, with just a $500 deductible. now that's gone up to a payment of almost $400 a month, roughly double, with a deductible of more than $6,000. what are people supposed to do with a deductible of $6,000, which says you have to pay $6,000 before your insurance pays a penny? it's essentially no good to most hardworking middle-class families. so obamacare does not equal health care that's affordable or better for americans. it is simply not working. in fact, in texas, if you have a gross income of about $2,400 a year, under obamacare you can end up spending about 30% of your total income on health care costs alone.
3:26 pm
30% of your gross income on health care and related costs. fortunately, thanks to the passage of the american health care act, the ahch that passed the house last week, we have the beginning of a path forward to provide a lifeline to those people who are simply out of the market today, the 30 million people who don't have insurance, and those who simply can't use the health coverage they have under obamacare. so i look forward to working with our senate colleagues. hopefully all of our senate colleagues, if they're willing, to help improve the house bill and to get it passed in this chamber and signed by the president. this is not something we can do without the support of every republican senator, but my hope is that we would do this with the help of more than just republicans.
3:27 pm
our goal to repeal and replace this bill have been of course no secret. we need legislation that will reform medicaid. with the american health care act we have the first major entitlement reform in a generation. without eliminating anybody who is currently covered from medicaid today. we also need to do away with obamacare's job-killing taxes like the individual employer mandate. i remember in tyler, texas, a few years ago, meeting with a single mom who worked in a restaurant, who told me that her hours had been cut from 40 hours a week to less than 30 hours a week because her employer didn't want to pay the employer mandate and so basically had to cut people from full-time work back to part-time work. so what did she do? she had to get another job. a single mom working in a restaurant in tyler, texas. that's the sort of unintended
3:28 pm
consequences of obamacare. and then there's the medical device tech, something the presiding officer has led on, which is a tax on innovation. and this isn't even a tax on income. it's a tax on gross receipts. i have had some medical device companies from my state tell me they had to move their operations to costa rica in order to avoid the medical device tax which has crippled their ability to innovate and invest in their business. then the tax on investments, the tax on prescription drugs, middle-income americans and our job creators need and will get massive tax relief when we repeal and replace obamacare. so that's what 52 members of the republican conference are working on and what we'd like to work on with our colleagues across the aisle if they're willing to help. we welcome their ideas. actually a bipartisan solution
3:29 pm
would be preferable to one done strictly along party lines. but all members of the republican conference are at the table working on that today. there's no denying that our country can't afford another one size fits all approach to health care. the american worker needs leave from the unworkable, unsustainable system which president obama delivered, which is very different from what he promised. and i'm confident we can get there by working together to responsibly provide relief and in doing so empower individuals, deliver more options in competition and responsibly help those who need care have more access to it. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. all those in


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on