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tv   U.S. Senate Debates Associate Attorney General Nomination  CSPAN  May 17, 2017 9:29am-11:30am EDT

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do something like this i think i get a little bit better. i think i refine my priorities a little bit more. again, i just feel so lucky to have this job. and i do ultimately believe that this is a test, for this country. we're not going to win every single one of skirmishes inside broader battle. i think we'll win more than you think as long as you are committed to keeping this level of activism up every single day you're a part of the fight. thank you very much, everybody. appreciate it. [applause] >> the u.s. senate today considering the nomination of rachel brand to be associate attorney general. number three official at the justice department. the confirmation vote set for noon eastern today. the senate judiciary committee voted along party lines 11-9 to are her confirmation. tomorrow deputy attorney general rod rosenstein will brief all senators meeting about the president's firing of fbi director james comey.
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you should also know that this morning north carolina senator thom tillis was attending a race here in washington, d.c., he was taken from that race in an ambulance. so he will not be attending today's session of the u.s. senate. and now to live coverage of the senate here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain dr. barry black will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. god and god alone,. we praise you that you give power to the weak. and to those who have no might,
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you increase their strength,. increase the stamina of our lawmakers when their hearts are overwhelmed by challenges. may they look to you, the fountain of every blessing, to enable them to solve our national problems with wisdom and faithfulness. may they not be afraid or dismayed, always placing their trust in you. lord, inspire them to remember that your plans stand firm as your purposes prevail through all generations.
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instruct them in the way they should go as you give them your peace. 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: yesterday, the senate voted to confirm jeffrey rosen as the deputy secretary of transportation. now in just a couple of hours, we'll take a cloture vote to advance another well-qualified nominee, rachel brand, to serve as the associate attorney general. rachel brand's impressive background includes experience clerking for supreme court justice anthony kennedy, and she has already been confirmed by the senate twice before. she is extraordinarily talented, as chairman grassley noted at her hearing, and dedicated to the full and evenhanded enforcement of our laws. ms. brand also has the support of a bipartisan group of former senior officials at the justice department, including jamie gorlich and seth waxman, who in a recent letter on her behalf cited her stellar reputation for
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integrity, legal skills and respect for the law. as they pointed out, ms. brand's extensive private and public sector experience would serve her well as the associate attorney general, and they also noted she would be a trusted leader in the department. i look forward to advancing her nomination later this morning. now, on another matter, as outlined last week, during the obama years, the american people struggled with an economy that failed to meet its potential. the slowest recovery since world war ii. the middle class losing its historic status as the majority in our country, too many out of jobs and looking for work, too many giving up after years of fruitless searching, too many fortunate just to have a paycheck, but not one large enough to keep pace with ever-rising health costs and
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energy bills. this is the obama legacy on the economy. over eight long years of failed left-wing policies on everything from regulations to taxes, the democratic administration put on a virtual clinic in how not to get an economy moving again. no wonder the american people opted for a pro-growth direction in november. ever since this republican congress has been working to get our economy moving again and to spur job creation. rather than bury our economy in an avalanche of red tape like the last administration, it's time for a new direction on regulations, smarter and pro growth. already we've taken action to kick start those efforts like passing important legislation to provide relief from obama-era midnight regulations. rather than make our tax code more complex and punitive like the last administration, we think it's time for a new direction on taxes -- simpler and pro jobs. passing tax reform legislation
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would mark a major achievement in bringing us closer to that goal. this republican congress and this administration made it a priority from the very start, and over the years, many of our democratic friends have also expressed the view that we need tax reform. for years, it's been clear that we should help american workers by reforming our outdated an convoluted tax system which currently discourages investment here in america and deters companies from growing, creating jobs and increasing wages. for years, it's been clear that we should remove a huge drag on job creation by reforming our overall complex and punitive tax system, which currently undercuts employers who want to expand with new investments, jobs, wages and employee benefits. for years, it's been clear that we should make taxes simpler and lower for both businesses and individuals, that we should strive for a tax code that works for american families and for
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american businesses rather than working against them. this year, we finally have the perfect opportunity to achieve that goal, so rather than engage in blind opposition for its own sake on yet another issue, i hope democrats will instead take the kind of constructive approach we saw the last time our country enacted comprehensive tax reform. back then, both parties recognized the need to address the burden and growing complexity of our tax code, and they came together to actually do something about it. republicans and democrats worked side by side and across the aisle to move that tax legislation. it was a big win for both parties. for ronald reagan and the republicans, for tip o'neill and the democrats. now it's once again time we do something about the issue, and i would hope our democratic colleagues will once again work on a bipartisan basis toward that end. this has been a growing problem for a number of years now. the american people deserve a
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tax system that allows them to keep more of their hard-earned money that empowers them to invest in their futures and that actually makes it easier to succeed rather than harder. so we have to get this accomplished because americans have waited long enough for an economy that finally lives up to its potential and finally allows them to realize theirs as well. i appreciate the house under speaker ryan's leadership for the role he is playing in these efforts. that work continues now with the ways and means committee hearing dedicated to tax reform tomorrow and more to follow in coming days. i also appreciate the good work of members in both the house and the senate, particularly the senate finance committee under chairman hatch who has been leading our discussions. for years, the chairman has been hard at work with fellow finance committee members on both sides of the aisle on options for tax reform, and i'm confident that senator hatch will continue to lead the way on these efforts in the days and months ahead.
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so the task before us is certainly a significant one, but i'm confident we're up to the challenge, because we know how important it is for us to get this done, and we know how long overdue this is as well. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the brand nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of justice, rachel l. brand of iowa to be associate attorney general. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until noon will be equally divided in the usual form.
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mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democrat leader. mr. schumer: are we in a quorum, mr. president? the presiding officer: no. mr. schumer: mr. president, i have just heard that our friend and colleague, senator from north carolina, has collapsed during a race in d.c. and is receiving medical attention. until we hear further news, our hearts will be in our mouths, hoping for the best. our thoughts and prayers as a senate family are with the junior senator from north carolina and his family.
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now, mr. president, on a different subject, the events of the last two weeks have shaken my confidence in this administration's competence and credibility. there has been revelation after revelation, allegation after allegation of misconduct on the part of the president and his team. in the past two days, it's reached new heights. the president, according to reports in "the washington post" and "new york times," may have divulged classified information to a known adversary, and actually tried to quash an investigation of a close political ally. from the president's own words, we already know that the russia investigation was on his mind when he fired mr. comey. we now know that it may not have been the first time that the president has taken an action to impede an active investigation of his campaign or associates,
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if the reports in "the new york times" are true. concerns about our national security, the rule of law, the independence of our nation's highest law enforcement agencies are mounting in this land. the stated explanation for these explanations from the white house have been porous, shifting and all too often contradictory. the country is being tested in unprecedented ways. what are now required are facts and impartial investigations into these very serious matters. first, the white house should make available to the intelligence committees the transcripts and any related summaries of the oval office meeting between president trump and the russian foreign minister and ambassador. we can then assess exactly what
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was said and understand the consequences of any intelligence that was shared with the russians. and on the topic of mr. comey, if the president has tapes of his conversation with mr. comey, we ought to be able to review those tapes as well to see if the president pressured the f.b.i. director to shut down an active investigation. the "times" reported that mr. comey kept contemporaneous memos of his conversations with the president, and mr. comey has a reputation for accuracy in those memos. those memos should also be provided to the congressional intelligence and judiciary committees, and mr. comey should testify before those committees in public. indeed, providing the congress the tapes and memos may be the only way -- excuse me.
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indeed, providing the congress the tapes and the memos may be the only way for this administration to credibly make a case to a justifiably skeptical american public about its version of the story reported by "the new york times." the president says what comey said was wrong. prove it. it's easy to prove. as long as there are tapes or transcripts of what happened. if the president's right, he'll have no problem releasing memos, tapes, transcripts that collaborate his story, but if he fails to release them, the american public will justifiably tend to side with mr. comey, not what the president had to say, particularly in light of so much backtracking, backsliding, factual fabrication in this white house.
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finally, the events of this past week only heighten the need for a special prosecutor who is truly independent to run the department of justice's investigations into the potential collusion between the trump campaign and russia. the american people must have faith in the integrity and impartiality of this investigation. we've learned that if the reporting is accurate, that the president is willing to directly interfere with an active investigation. whether it breaks the law or not is not the point here. the point is he was trying to interfere with an investigation. how can anyone trust someone in the president's chain of command, someone who the president has appointed after those actions? the only way out is a special prosecutor. it's the right thing to do. we know the president's willing
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to fire an f.b.i. director because of this investigation in his own words. it makes all the sense in the world to have a special prosecutor who can only be fired for cause to lead the russia investigation. that would help protect the integrity of the investigation by insulating it from the white house which at the very minimum is overreaching. given the circumstances, these requests are reasonable. they're modest. i hope, i really pray that my friends on the other side of the aisle will see that now is the time to put party considerations aside and do what is right for our country. i know that several of my colleagues, senators from maine, tennessee, arizona have expressed concerns. a few have gone further and
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endorsed some of the actions i have mentioned. it's a good first step, but it is not enough. in the past 24 hours, there's been more movement among republicans in the house than here in the senate. the senate by its traditions should be leading this effort, not following. more of my republican friends should join the senators from maine and tennessee and arizona in speaking out about these events first but far more importantly helping us get to the bottom of them in an impartial, trusted, and respected way. to my friends on the other side of the aisle, america needs you. america needs you now. america needs you to help pressure the deputy attorney general to name a special prosecutor, to compel this white house to turn over the transcripts and tapes to congress, to demonstrate that
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congress that the american people elected, democrats and republicans, can come together to do the right thing when it matters most. i repeat to all of my colleagu colleagues, history is watching. this is not a casual or usual time. as great as the desire would be to repeal obamacare or do tax reform, the very faith in the institutions of government now are being tested. they've been tested in the past. it's not the first time in american history they've been tested. but in the past there have been people who rose above party, rose above an immediate interest to defend the needs of the republic. is it going to happen now?
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america -- history rather, history, mr. president, will judge on whether or not this congress and these senators have been able to do what so many senators before us, democrats and republicans, have done in the past, put country above party. whether or not we have decided to act as an appropriate check and balance as the founders intended or whether we will let this continue, history will judge us all. whether we decided to act in the way that's appropriate, history will judge us. whether or not in this moment of trial the senate is able to rise above partisanship and achieve statesmanship, again history, history will judge us. i yield the floor.
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and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democrat leader. mr. schumer: mr. president, first i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the time during the quorum call be charged equally to both sides. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. durbin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: more than three million illinoisans, about 20% of the people in my state, currently depend on medicaid and the children's health insurance program for health care. that's one out of five people in my state who need these programs to have basic health insurance for themselves and their children. this includes 300,000 illinois seniors and people with disabilities. 650,000 who were recently added as part of the affordable care act. it also includes 1.5 million
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children. half of all the kids in illinois are enrolled in medicaid and the chip program. it's called illinois all kids. nationwide, the medicaid program helps pay for two out of three seniors in their nursing homes. it pays for about half of all children born in this country. it is the primary payer of all mental health and opioid addiction treatment. it provides health care to 25% of people in rural communities. it pays for special education in nearly half of all school districts, and it provides critical support for veterans with chronic conditions. do you know what the house of representatives affordable care act repeal does for the programs i just described? it ends the expansion of medicaid. it would eliminate coverage for 650,000 people in the state of illinois. think of that.
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we had seven of our republican congressmen vote for a program that will eliminate health insurance under medicaid for 650,000 people in my state. and cut $840 billion in federal medicaid funding. well, if they're going to cut this money for medicaid funding, what are they going to do with it? well, the house new exactly what to do with it. they give it back in tax breaks to the wealthiest people in america. is there justice in that decision? is it too much to ask that those of us who are better off in life pay a little more in taxes so that those who are struggling have basic health care? i don't think so. but those who voted for the republican plan in the house do. so the bill cuts health care for struggling families, women, seniors, children, in order to give a tax break to the wealthiest people in america. illinois would lose $40 billion
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over the next decade and three million people would be at risk of losing their care. absolutely no one believes that illinois is going to magically come up with $40 billion to fill this medicaid shortfall. i doubt that many other states would be able to, either. with funding cuts this dramatic, even illinois' republican governor spoke out against the house action repealing the affordable care act. he said it's going to force us to make significant changes in health care in illinois. he would have to decide who gets health care and who doesn't. he'd have to decide whether health care services are just too expensive to cover. hospitals, too, would be devastated by the proposed medicaid cuts. now, i was born and raised in downstate illinois. it doesn't look at all like the city of chicago. i'm proud to represent that city. i enjoy being there and being part of it. but where i grew up was in small town america and the congressional district that i
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represented was basically a smaller city, no more than a hundred thousand population at the time, but a lot of many, many smaller towns. i can't tell you the pride that those communities take in downstate illinois in their hospitals. some of those hospitals are a life line, the whole source of health care for miles around, and they're great employers. they bring in medical specialists who are paid good salaries by local standards. the only hospital association is dead set against what the house republicans did in passing their repeal of the affordable care act. they've told us illinois stands to lose up to 60,000 health care jobs because of that vote in the u.s. house of representatives. and of course it means that for many of the people who count on these rural hospitals, even inner city hospitals in chicago, those services are going to be curtailed and denied. and when i sit down with people like ed curtis who's the
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president of memorial medical center in springfield and speaks for illinois hospital administrators across the state, he tells me the devastating impact it will have when you eliminate medicaid coverage and sick people still show up for care. they'll be taken care of. their expenses will be shifted to other people. that's the way it used to be before the affordable care act, before medicaid expanded and gave these individuals in low income situations basic health insurance. why would the republicans in the house of representatives want to have such a devastating negative impact on medicaid? so they can give tax cuts to wealthy people? that to me is just inexplicable. the only hospital association speaks across our state for those who really care about those great institutions but they're not alone in opposing this bill. the illinois nurses association opposes it. the illinois pediatricians do as well as the illinois medical
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society. so why does every medical advocacy group in illinois oppose this bill, this so-called republican reform of our health care system. because they know it moves in the wrong direction. it lism natures health -- eliminates health insurance coverage for people instead of expanding it. it makes health care too expensive and out of the reach of people who are not lucky enough to have it where they work and not wealthy enough to buy it on their own. it moves in the wrong direction. it is not a solution to any problem. it's a new problem, an even worse problem than ones we faced in the past. remember when candidate donald trump tweeted in may of 2015, and i quote, i was the first and only potential g.o.p. candidate to state there will be no cuts to social security, medicare, and medicaid. end of tweet. end of quote. or when he tweeted again in july of 2015, quote, the republicans who want to cut social security and medicaid are wrong, closed
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quote, said candidate trump. he was right. but now he supports this bill which dramatically cuts back medicaid coverage across america. what's going to happen to the elderly in the nursing homes who despite all of their social security payments, despite all of their medicaid reimbursement still don't have enough resources for the basic care that they need to stay alive. when you cut back on that medicaid coverage, what happens to them and what do their families do to make up the difference? reach into their savings? bring mom home from the nursing home in the hopes you can take care of her in your own home? those are -- those are choices -- that no family need face. ip hope the republican leadership will say no to the terrible bill that passed the u.s. house of representatives just two weeks ago. we need to put together a bill
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that expands health coverage, a bill that addresses some of the built-in challenges that we have with the affordable care act. it's far from perfect. there are things we can do to improve it. we need to do something to improve the cost of pharmaceuticals and drugs. they are out of control at this point. secondly, i think we ought to offer a public option. there ought to be a medicare-type program available across the united states for those who wish it. medicare enjoys a positive reputation for good reason. most americans would feel honored and happy to be protected by a medicare-type program. we need to go to the premiums that are too high and ask why. in many cases they are individuals buying health insurance from, really, narrow pools of people who are older and sicker. we need to expand that pool so it is real insurance and we can bring the premiums down and there are ways to do that. there are many things we can do
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to reform the health care act. but what some want to do, repeal it and walk away would be devastating -- devastating to half the kids who depend on medicaid, devastating to the seniors in the nursing homes who are dependent on medicaid supplements, dependent as well as those who are disabled and have to turn to medicaid regularly to maintain their lifestyle and be productive, happy and safe. these are the elements and would be -- wouldn't it be a headliner to say that democrats and republicans came together in the united states senate to make the affordable care act better, to make sure there was more accessible, affordable quality coverage for more americans. i think that's why we were elected. i hope we can achieve that goal.
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mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. president, before i yield, i ask unanimous consent the time during quorum calls until noon today be charged equally to both sides. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: i ask that we dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president. i am pleased to be joined today on the floor by senator young. we are both members of the senate foreign reels committee, both with an interest in middle east security. we are joined on the floor
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together to give remarks and perhaps have a short colloquy about a humanitarian crisis that is unfolding before our eyes in the middle east. today inside the country of yemen, a country that frankly not a lot of our constituents give much thought to, every single ten minutes a child under the age of five is dying due to preventable causes. today 18 million yemenees civilians -- that's two-thirds of this country -- cannot survive without humanitarian or protection support. 7 million of those are on what you would call a starvation diet. that means that 0 hadn't a daily dash that means that on a daily basis they don't know where their next meal is coming from. they don't have enough food to eat in order to remain healthy. and 3 million have already fled
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their homes because of the violence that has been caused by a civil war that both senator young and i will talk about inside their country and the humanitarian catastrophe that has resulted from that civil war. this is one of four current famines that exist in the world today, but i would argue that this particular humanitarian crisis is in some ways the most relevant to the discussions that we will have here in the united states senate because the united states is participating in the military campaign that is in fact causing, in part, this humanitarian crisis. the united states is an active participant with a saudi-led military campaign seeking to regain control of yemen from a group called the houthis who
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overran the capital and now control large portions of the country. workers of course, d. we, of course, are allies -- we, of course, are allies of sexual assault -- of saudi arabia. the president will be visiting saudi arabia shortly. it is time we start asking questions about the saudi campaign inside yemen and whether we are in fact helping to create a humanitarian catastrophe on the ground which is impossible to defend on moral grounds but also is hard to defend based on national security grounds as well. let's be honest about p what's happening here. the saudis are deliberately trying to create a famine inside yemen in order to essentially starve the yemenese to the negotiating table.
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the crown prince said this, he said, time is on our side. being patient is in our interest. we have the supplies and the interests-and-. the enemy does not have. what are the saudis doing to try to exploit this question of time and supplies? well, first they are coming directly after the main port city that brings 70% of the food into yemen and about 80% of all of the oil. that port city is called hudata and senator young has been very good in drawing issue with what is believed to be deliberate targeting of those supplies allowed to come off the boats
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and moved into these desperately needy areas of the country. second, they are requiring an additional screening process for this humanitarian aid, above and beyond the one that the u.n. has put into place. the u.n. is vetting supply ships coming into hudata to make sure there's really food and aid on these ships, not weapons, and it is working. the saudis are putting an additional process on top that ised aing up to a month for the time that the aid gets off the ship and into the country. and between that and the military campaign targeting the port and its infrastructure has essentially resulted in an effective blockade being put in and around hud ata such that humanitarian support cannot effectively get into the country. but that's just the beginning.
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the saudi bombing campaign that is deliberately tarringed roads and bridges -- targeted roads and bridges throughout the country. there are reports that the bombers have engaged in something called double tapping, which is where you hit a huma humantarian -- a civilian asset. you wait until the workers come to try to address that first strike and then you hit it a second time to take out the civilians who have responded to the emergency. and this isn't just my opinion of the situation. this is representations that have been made by multiple aid organizations on the ground and, more importantly, by u.s. officials that have been embedded with the co-listing. this is a quote from dafna rahn, she was in charge of the saudi
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coalition portfolio at state. she said, in 2015, the u.s. government offered technical training on cyber, ballistic missiles, border security, counterterrorism and maritime security to the coalition. the precision-guided munitions that we transferred into 2015 to the coalition on the hopes that they would enable better and more precise targeting by the coalition of the targets itself. but what we have seen since is not an improvement in targeting, and the issue itself is the target selection. it is not the precision of the target itself, but it is the choice of the targets and adherence to the no-strike list. that's a really important statement. really important sentence. what's happening is the u.s. is telling the coalition, what are the civilian targets you should stay away from so that humanitarian aid can move into the country and the coalition is
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deliberately ignoring that advice. it is not a matter of mistakes being made on the ground, though there have been mistakes; it is also a matter of a no-strike list being ignored. and i mention that this is not just about the millions and millions of yemenese who are starving today because of this civil war. it's also a question of whether this is accruing to u.s. national security interests, and again i am speaking just for myself on this -- just for myself on this matter. we are allies of the saudis, and there is no doubt that an iranian proxy state inside yemen presents a threat to the saudi state. there is also no doubt that houthis have been launching attacks into saudi arabia. that's a real security threat for our ally. but we do have to acknowledge that there are other players that exist inside yemen today. it is not just the houthis and those yemeni forces supported by
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the saudis. there's also al qaeda, a branch of al qaeda that we know well because it has traditionally been the piece of al qaeda that has the most advanced threats to the u.s. homeland, and isis, which is growing inside yemen. they have taken advantage of this civil war to fill in the ungovernable spaces. recently with the help of the u.a.e. we have begun to hit back against al qaeda and isis. but for a time they controlled a sizable amount of territory and revenue inside that country. isis is growing as well. and as a group of yemeni americans told me in my office a year ago, to yemen the bombing campaign is not perceived as a saudi campaign. it is perceived as a u.s.
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bombing campaign, or at the very least as a u.s.-saudi bombing campaign. so when responsibility inside yemen is attributed for this starvation campaign, it is placed upon the united states as well as on saudi arabia. and we have to think about what that means given the fact that there is the potential for millions of yemenis to be radicalized in a place with very sophisticated radical infrastructure. that's a real national security concern for the united states. and so i think it's time for us to draw a hard line with this coalition and that we will not continue to support it if there is not real commitment made to change the way that targeting has happened and to make sure that relief supplies can flow that that country to try to address this unfolding famine and humanitarian catastrophe. we can allies with the saudis. we can be military allies with
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the saudis, but they have to understand -- and their partners need to understand -- that this humanitarian nightmare inside yemen, it's both immoral to participate in a campaign that perpetuates that kind of humanitarian crisis, but it also in the end doesn't benefit the long-term security of the united states or our partners in the coalition. and so we wanted to come down to the floor today to try to explain to our colleagues what is happening on the ground and see if there's a way for us on a bipartisan way to have a policy that brings significant relief to the suffering of the yemeni people and strengthens our national security hand in the region. with that, i notice senator young is going to say a few word, and then i think we'll engage in a colloquy. thank you, mr. president. mr. young: well, mr. president, i'm pleased to
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join senator murphy to discuss the importance of this humanitarian crisis in yemen. and as he so cogently emphasized, this is at once a humanitarian crisis and also a security crisis in the region and beyond. i'm a new member of the senate foreign relations committee, and i have to say i've quickly come to admire senator murphy for his forceful advocacy of our values of universal human rights and of american international leadership. so i want to commend him for his leadership on this issue in particular. i share many of the concerns that were articulated by senator murphy with regard to the situation in yemen and the saudi-led coalition there in that country. before you getting into the -- before getting into the specific situation in yemen, i think it is important to look at the big picture. the world currently confronts
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humanitarian crises of a magnitude we haven't seen in many, many years. parts of nigeria, somalia, south sudan and yemen are all in famine or pre-famine stages. according to the united nations, 20 million people are at risk of starvation within the next few months. in those four countries. the director general of the international committee of the red cross appeared before our senate foreign relations committee just weeksing a and he called the crises one of the most critical humanitarian issues to face mankind since the end of the second world war. and he warned us that we're at the brink of a humanitarian mega-crisis that is unprecedented in recent history. now, each of these crises are unique. they have their unique man-made causes. but in each case, the crises are
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preventable. they've been exacerbated by war and restrictions on humanitarian access. now, they're complicated and the situation in yemen is certainly a complicated one. but the u.n. calls the situation in yemen the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. according to their office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs, yemen has almost 19 million people in need of humanitarian or protection assistance, including approximately ten million who require immediate assistance to save their lives or to sustain their lives. so this is an urgent matter, which is why i'm so glad that we had the leadership of senator murphy on this matter and some of my other colleagues on various fronts. this is why i led a ten-member letter to secretary tillerson on march 23 calling for a diplomatic surge to address the political obstacles preventing the
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delivery of humanitarian aid. i note that senator murphy joined me on that letter which i personally hand delivered to secretary tillerson. it's also why i raised the issue with ambassador haley in new york city. it's why i introduced a resolution on april 5 calling for the very same thing. senators cardin, boozman, coons, gardner and rubio joined that resolution. throughout this process, rather than just studying the problem, i, working with my colleagues, have tried to focus on tangible steps that we can take to save lives and address this very troubling national security situation. and for that reason, on april 27, joined by senator murphy and several other colleagues, i sent a letter to the incoming saudi ambassador noting the important security partnership t between the u.s. and saudi araba
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and saudi arabia's essential roe as a regional leader and partne, i asked riyadh to consider five specific steps related to yemen that would prevent thousands or even millions of additional people from starving there. now there's no doubt that the houthis and the iranians bear a very large portion of the blame for this whole situation. but i asked our ally, saudi arabia, to take these steps because the united states has a valuable security relationship with saudi arabia and because we can oppose iran's activities in yemen while ending unnecessary delays in the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian assistance. these who goals are not mutually exclusive. i didn't receive a satisfactory response, and so i subsequently raised these issues with the saudi foreign minister in a meeting here on capitol hill. and in that meeting, i cited the
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fact, confirmed again by the administration, within the last week that the saudi-led coalitin continues to impose significant delays on the delivery of humanitarian aid to the port of hugh -- hudaydah on the red sea. i mentioned to the foreign minister, the u.s. funded cranes for the port that would improve the ability to off load humanitarian supplies at that port. i expressed concerns about the humanitarian impact on an attack on the port of hudaydah. yet, these issues greetfully remain unresolved. regretfully remain unresolved. according to the administration confirmed again this morning, te
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saudi-led coalition continues to be responsible for an average of 16 days of additional delays to humanitarian shipments into the port of hudaydah after vessels are cleared by the united natios verification and inspection mechanism for yemen. think of it. your children are starving to death. perhaps your entire village is starving to death. and you have a delay of an additional 16 days in humanitarian shipments. think of the impact that has on security in the region as desperate people are forced to take desperate measures to associate themselves with bad actors in the area. it's certainly troubling to me. for that reason, i've decided to cosponsor senator murphy's legislation, senate joint resolution 40. before the united states could transfer air-to-ground munitions to saudi arabia, the legislation
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would require the president of the united states to make a number of certifications. one of these includes a certification that saudi arabia and its coalition partners are making demonstrable efforts to facilitate the flow of critical humanitarian aid and commercial goods. i don't believe the president could credibly make that assertion until the saudis take some of the steps i called for. so as president trump prepares his visit to saudi arabia, i ure him -- i urge him to raise these critical issues with the saudi government. i urge our president to emphasie these are humanitarian and national security issues that ae priorities of the american people. and i urge the administration to ask the saudi government to take the following concrete actions: first, renounce any intention to conduct a military operation against the port of hudayda. second, redouble efforts to
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achieve a diplomatic solution. third, end any delays to the delivery of humanitarian aid caused by the saudi-led coalition. and, fourth, permit the delivery of much-needed u.s.-funded crans to the port of hudaydah that would permit the quicker delivey of food and medicine. i said it before, with more than ten million yemenis requiring humanitarian assistance there is no time to waste. i stand ready to work with the saudi partners to fight the maligned influence. i want to again thank senator murphy for his leadership and fr the opportunity to join him here on the floor today. i look forward to working together more in the future. mr. murphy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: i want to thank my friend from indiana. i think he walked through his thoughtful approach to this isse
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which led him to cosponsor this resolution placing commonsense conditions upon the transfer of further munitions. i might ask him a question. in his list of steps that he has asked the saudis to take, i've joined him in that letter, as many of our colleagues have. amongst them is a commitment to not take military action against the port of hudaydah. we both met with the foreign minister who talked about the need to use increased military pressure inside yemen backed by u.s. participation and the coalition to try to draw the houthis to the table. we have both expressed reservations about the effectiveness of that tactic, ad we have something to say about t because none of this can occur without u.s. military support. can you maybe talk a little bit about our joint fears or your personal fears about a major new campaign on this port that brins
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in so much of this aid and how n the end that really doesn't further the goals of the coalition amongst the united states of being amongst the partners? mr. young: it's a critical question and one i've been asking so many stakeholders involved in this issue. no one has presented to me persuasive evidence indicating a saudi-led attack on the port would result in defeat of the houthis-sali bloc. no one has presented to me evidence that i found compelling that that action would even fore the houthi bloc to the negotiating table. the onus ought to be on those wo might take a military action which would exacerbate the worst humanitarian crisis in the world to present that evidence.
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i asked foolish -- for it and didn't receive it. i think it might push the houths on the iranians with whom they are aligned. that is the exact opposite of what we're trying to accomplish in the region as the iranians continue to spread their influence and terroristic activities across the middle east. so this is not in the interest, as i see it, based on all the evidence available of the u.s. and saudi arabia and u.a.e. that would exacerbate the national security situation. mr. murphy: i thank senator young for his prepared remarks. you know, making it clear that while we are focusing on the saudis because we are part of this coalition, the houthis do not have clean hands here eithe.
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part of the reason humanitarian supplies have a problem getting to places that need is is becaue of the roadblocks put up by the houthis as well and there is a connection between the houthis and iranians. to your second point in answer o my question, senator young, that is, to my mind, also the likely result of a deepening of the military conflict. if the houthis had nowhere to turn, then the calculation might be different. but because the iranians are there, as a support system to lean on, a continued military campaign against hudaydah would push them deeper into a corner and broaden the prospect of military conflict. there has to be a resolution here. by upping the military ante and continuing the humanitarian crisis, you get further away frm
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that political negotiating table rather than closer to it. mr. young: indeed. the last thing we want to do is to exacerbate a situation where we already have ten million desperate people on the cusp of starvation or passing away on account of the lack of medical supplies. so we need assistance here, whih is why it's important for the president to elevate the importance of this issue in his conversation with the saudis during his coming visit. and i believe he'll do so. i believe he'll do so because te international community, n.g.o.'s, understand the importance of this, meeting at the state department and u.s. agency for international development have spoken about what a serious crisis this is. and we don't want to be shortsighted with respect to wht
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a bombing of the port could catalyze. we also need to recognize there are other players in the saudi coalition that can be constructive here as well. the emirates have shown a willig in to be helpful here on a coupe of different fronts. i had the opportunity to visit with the crown prince yesterday and received his assurance that he would seek to resolve without delay a situation related to the forward stationing of inspectors in his country so that they coud preinspect cargo before it goes into the port of hodeidah. that would expedite the process and mitigate the suffering occurring. also had an opportunity to discuss with the crown prince te issue of four cranes.
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the taxpayers paid for these cranes. i mentioned them in my prepared remarks earlier. i heard from the crown prince. he made a commitment there as well. so i am grateful for his commitment and i look forward to following up with the u.a.e. government on this front. they are good allies. mr. murphy: it goes without saying. this is in no one's interest in the region for this civil war to continue at its current pace. and so this is an important moment, the beginning of a new administration with a pending arms sale on the table with the saudis to use that transition moment and the leverage that exists with this new proposal fr major arms sales to the saudis o make sure that we get this righ. i think there's nothing politicl about this. we all join together in trying o abate humanitarian crises and famines around the world and we all want a policy that is going to bring an end to this civil war. because as i said, it is just as
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important to remember that the most immediate enemies of the united states, those terrorist groups that do want to do harm from us, they find their most fertile ground today inside yemen. the sooner that we can put an ed to this civil war and be able to have a central governing structure that spreads across te scope of the country, the quickr we can all be focused on trying to eliminate the isis and al qaeda presence, aqap, as we refr to them in yemen, from that battle space. so, senator, i don't know if you have closing remarks, but i really appreciate your willingness to speak up, your leadership here. and i hope that we can grow others on both sides of the aise to propose and support these commonsense conditions upon this new military transfer so that we can get the situation right inde


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