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tv   U.S. Senate Debates Associate Attorney General Nomination  CSPAN  May 17, 2017 11:29am-1:30pm EDT

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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 inside yemen.
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mr. young: let me just end by reiterating my gratitude to you, of course, for your exceptional leadership for walking points on this issue. i look forward to our continued work together. i want to thank our colleagues who have engaged on this matter. of course on the floor of the united states senate here, i wat to invite others to engage on this. if they have questions with respect to this matter, which is critical to our national security, ianthe they can reach out to you and to me. we send a respectful message to the administration that we think this is something that needs to be addressed in the near-term. with that, i have nothing else, senator. mr. murphy: will the clerk please call the roll? officethe presiding officer: wil
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the clerk please call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. kennedy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. kennedy: are we in a quorum call, mr. president? the presiding officer: we are. mr. kennedy: i will move that we suspend the quorum, sir. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kennedy: mr. president, you'you had -- i'd like to talk today about the need for a work requirement in our medicaid program. in 1969, mr. president, president lyndon johnson addressed the american people, and he talked about breaking the cycle of poverty, and this is what president johnson said. i quote, he said, i believe that the key to success in this effort is jobs. he said, it is work for people who want to work. end quote. now, president johnson, as we know, was a democrat.
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he fervently believed that the people of louisiana didn't want handouts. most people want a chance to support themselves. president johnson also believed that medicaid, as originally envisioned, would be a safety net for the disabled, the elderly, and people with small children. medicaid is not exactly that, mr. president. it's dramatically different. whether you agree or disagree with what's happened to medicaid, the fact is that it's turned into a health insurance program for about 20% of all americans. now, think about that. we have roughly 320 million people in our country. fully 25% are on medicaid. it gets bigger and bigger every year, and it gets more expensive every year.
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you can see the numbers speak for themselves. 1996 -- you can see the trend, mr. president. you can certainly see -- we start in 1966. you can particularly see the trend beginning in 1996 and the trajectory. it's also -- it has also become more expensive. this was the cost of our medicaid program in 1966. $1 billion. a lot of money. this is the cost of last year -- $576 billion. and it's climbing. let me just talk about my state alone. in louisiana, the cost of medicaid has increased from $5.9 billion in 2008 to $10.7 billion
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today. 65% of all of the babies born in louisiana every year now are born on medicaid. think about that. now, we know that medicaid is a federal-state program. the federal government puts up some of the money, the state puts up some of the money as well. we put up in louisiana about a third of the money. in louisiana dollars, in 2008 we were putting up $7.8 billion in state money. it's called the match. today louisiana is paying $3.3 billion. you can do the math. that's about a 10% increase every year. if we're spending $3.3 billion of state money, that means that every year just like clockwork we have to come up with an extra
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$330 million. and i can tell you where that money comes from. it comes out of public schools. it comes out of universities. it comes out of our budget for roads, and it comes out of our budget for public safety. we have a choice in america, mr. president. either medicaid is going to be as we originally enings haved it a safety net for the old, the disabled, and mothers with babies, or it is going to a health insurance program for the masses. now, if the american people and congress decide that medicaid is going to be a health insurance program for the general population, then it needs to operate like health insurance does in the private sector. in other words, able-bodied adult enrollees in medicaid should be required to work in order to receive their benefits, if they are able.
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i'm filing a bill, mr. president, it's going to be entitled "medicaid reform and personal responsibility act of 2017." i.t. going to create a -- it's going to create a work requirement for medicaid. my reasoning is simple. i want americans to prosper. i don't want our people to remain mired in poverty. i want to break poverty's back by creating a system that forces -- that doesn't force the american people to subsist on handouts from government. and the best way to do that is to provide an incentive for able-bodied americans to know the dignity of work, because a person without a job, mr. president, is near the happy nor is he free. now, i think my bill is a commonsense approach to reducing america's reliance on entitlement programs.
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the work requirement will be very simple. it will be similar to the program that we have in place -- the work requirement we have in place right now, mr. president -- for food stamps. this is what my bill would require. if are on medicaid or want to receive medicaid and you are an adult between the ages of 18 and 55 and you are able-bodied -- you're not disabled -- and you don't have any dependents, you don't have any children -- so you're 18 to 55, you're not disabled, and you don't have any children, then in order to receive medicaid or to continue to receive medicaid, you have to either work 20 hours a week -- not 40 hours a week -- 20 hours a week, you have to look for a job, or you have to go back to school if you don't want to work, or if you don't want to go back to school or you don't want
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it look for a job or you don't want to get a job, you've got to perform community service for 20 hours a week. my goal to get people off medicaid, into the workforce, so they can support themselves and not need medicaid. i don't want to take medicaid away from people in need. i do want fewer people to need medicaid. so if you're disabled, if you're pregnant, if you're elderly, if you're caring for a child, my bill doesn't apply to you. i'm not talking about telling a mother with a baby in her arms that she's got to go find a job. and i'm not going to ask an elderly person in a nursing home to leave the nursing home and go get a job in order to receive medicaid. all my bill says, if you're young, by today's standards,
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between 18 and 5 5, and you are a. you have no children or dependent, then you've got to get a job, go to school or perform community service. i want to be very clear about something else, mr. president. in my state we have a lot of flood victims. we've had terrible flooding last year. in my state of louisiana we have a depression in the oil and gas industry. indeed, we do throughout america and i know we do in the great state of alaska as well. i'm not looking toed a to their hurt. -- to add to their hurt. i'm looking to put our oilfields back to work and go get our flood victims the assistance they need to recover from the tragedy that has befallen them. this bill not about them. this bill is about able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 55 who have no depends and d. dependents and who have been
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unemployed for years. our one has grown a lot. and e -- our country that is again a lot and the evolved a lot since medicaid was introduced in 1965. we now face new challenges both at home and abroad. we know that. but medicaid has grown as well. but it hasn't evolved in a positive way, in my opinion. just three years after medicaid was founded, we knew we were going to have a problem finding the money, given the exponential growth in the program. and more than 50 years later it is way past time, mr. president, to do something about it. we've got to break the back of poverty. this is not about throwing people out into the cold. this is about helping them to know the dignity of work because the best program -- the best social program in the entire world is a job.
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by implementing a work requirement, mr. president for able-body adults, medicaid will evolve to the next logical step. our goal ought to be to ensure, of course, that people are healthy. that's what medicaid exists for. but if you're healthy, then the next step is to help you join te workforce. the simple fact is -- this is nothing new or extraordinary. we already have work requiremens required by acts of this congres for unemployment assistance, for welfare benefits, for subsidized housing, and for food stamps. now these requirements have been a success. we all know that. not just for stemming the cost f those programs, but also for helping people, helping americas build careers. yet, we do not have a requirement, a work requirement for medicaid, and if my bill passes, we will. work requirements exist, mr. president, because these
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programs are supposed to be safety nets. that's what a social program is, a safety net. they're not supposed to exist to permanently support you if you can't support yourself. our social programs in america are meant to be bridges. in way too many respects they become parking lots. medicaid costs aren't just a national problem. the program's expense is clippig the states -- the wings of stats like louisiana and like alaska because, as i pointed out, the states have to put up a substantial part of the money. we're becoming a country, mr. president, where people subsist instead of thrive becaue they don't know the rewards of working. we've become a country where poverty is a way of life for way too many people, and that's just sad. more than 50 years after medicad
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began, mr. president, it's time to break the back of poverty one and for all, and we can start with a work requirement for medicaid. thank you, mr. president, mr. president. if i could for a few moments, mr. president, i'd like to shift gears and speak on another subject. if i came to you today, mr. president, and told you that we had received a job applicatin from somebody to work for the government, and you and i looked at her job application and we sw that she had graduated from harvard law school, if we looked at her job application, we saw that she worked for a presidential campaign. if we saw that she had practiced law in the private sector, if we
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noticed from her resume that she actually worked as a counsel, as a lawyer in the white house, if we saw that she clerked for a supreme court justice -- justice anthony kennedy. each justice of the united states, i think, has four law clerks every year. i don't know how many tens of thousands of lawyers and law students apply. but to be chosen is one of the highest honors you can receive s a young lawyer. if i told you this person who applied for a job in government used to work at the department f justice as principal deputy assistant attorney general in te office of legal policy, if i tod you she also worked for one of the most prestigious law firms n the country -- wilmer, cut
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cutlerring, pickerring hale and door. if i told you those things, i think any person would say, wow, let's hire her immediately. let's do it before she finds another position. well, that person has applied fr a job in government, mr. president. her name is rachel brand, and se has been nominated by president trump to be associate attorney general. that's a position that is vitaly important within the department of justice. it's responsible for the oversight of the civil division, the civil rights division, the office on violence against women and many other important components of the department of justice. i think no matter what political party you happen to be in or whatever your political persuasion, we can all agree tht right now it is particularly important not only to have a department of justice that is fully staffed, but to have it fully staffed with extraordinarily qualified people
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that every american can look at and go wow, is she qualified. i'm so pleased she's working for federal government and that my tax dollars are being well spen. mrs. brand has broad experience, as i indicated, both within the department of justice and in the private sector. as i indicated, i am going to say it again. she worked for justice anthony kennedy of the united states supreme court. wow, what an honor. she served as assistant attorney general under president george bush. she's been in private practice, as i indicated. she's been chief counsel for regulatory litigation in the u.s. chamber of commerce, and i could go on and on and on. i fully support mrs. brand's nomination. i sit on the justice committee, the committee of the senate that vetted her. she's highly respected. she's whip smart, she's well-qualified and she is fully
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prepared to hit the ground running, and that is exactly what we need. thank you, mr. president. i suggest, circumstance the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. kennedy: we're in a quorum call. i suggest that we suspend the quorum, mr. president. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kennedy: mr. president, i have 10 requests for committees to meet today during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of both the majority and the minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted.
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s kennedy mr. kennedy: thank you, mr. president. i suggest the absence of a quorum. quorum call:
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quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. without objection. the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22, do hereby bring to a close debate on on the nomination of rachel l. brand of iowa to be associate attorney general, signed by 17 senators. pra by unanimous consent -- the presiding officer: which --
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by unanimous consent the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, does the de -- is the debate on the nomination of rachel l. gillibrand of iowa, to be associate attorney general should be brought for a vote. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or wishing to change their vote? if not the yeas are 51. the nays are 47. the motion is agreed to. mr. cornyn: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: madam president, i know people outside the beltway think that nothing ever happens here and certainly nothing ever happens on a bipartisan basis,
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but they would be wrong on both counts. last night the senate passed a piece of legislation, a bipartisan legislation called the american law enforcement heroes act, and it's a great example of legislation that everyone can agree on and get behind. the main goal is to connect veterans, those who served in our military and have a passion for public service, to opportunities in state and local law enforcement. if you think about it, who better than our retiring military personnel who are accustomed to wearing one uniform moving, then, into the civilian law enforcement world wearing another uniform but continuing their legacy of public service. that way those who voluntarily put themselves in harm's way to keep the peace and promote american interests abroad and defend our homeland can continue the record of public service at
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home. for veterans that can mean a rewarding job in law enforcement. through their training, experience, and sacrifice, there's no doubt that our veterans are equipped with valuable skills to keep our communities safe. by prioritizing existing federal funds for state and local law enforcement agencies to hire veterans, we can better serve them as they transition into civilian life which we know can be a challenging transition. but that's exactly what the american law enforcement heroes act that we passed yesterday does. and for state and local law enforcement groups, that means they can attract the best qualified men and women who are eager to serve their country in a new way. so this is really a win-win. fortunately, this legislation builds on good work already under way in places like my home state of texas. over the last several months i've had a chance to visit cities and counties all over the
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state who are actively recruiting veterans to serve as police officers or sheriffs. that includes law enforcement leaders from san antonio to houston to fort worth. as you may recall, following the terrible shooting killing five police officers and a shoot be of seven more in dallas -- shooting of seven more in dallas, police chief david brown made an appeal for people who were protesting or otherwise concerned about the law enforcement agencies involved to sign up and join them to be part of the solution and not just protesting at the problem. but we have thankfully set a tremendous example in texas of how hiring veterans to serve as law enforcement officers benefit augusall of our communities. so i'm glad this bill will follow their inspiration and help communities across the country hire more veterans. i said before that this legislation is something that everyone can agree on in a
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polarized political environment, and that's of course evidence biff the broad bipartisan support -- by the broad bipartisan support it received. let me express my gratitude to the senior center from minnesota senator klobuchar as well as the senior senators from connecticut and california, all democratic colleagues, for being my original cosponsors on the bill. and i'm grateful to my republican colleagues, including senator cruz, the junior senator from north carolina, and the senior senators from iowa, utah and nevada for working with us on this legislation. my friend congressman will herd in the other house introduced the same bill and i hope it will pass sometime today so we can get it to the president's desk for his signature without delay. i would also note that the american law enforcement heroes act is backed by major law enforcement groups across the country, including the fraternal order of police, the major
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county sheriffs of america, the major city chiefs association, and the veterans of foreign wars. i've been grateful for their hem along the way toward passage of this bill. so i look forward to this bill becoming a law, hopefully this week, as we continue to celebrate police week. and honor the service of the men and women in blue who keep our communities safe. and making it clear that our -- that this congress cares not only about our veterans but also our law enforcement officials as well. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. a senator: thank you, madam president. just last wednesday i spoke on the senate floor about the extremely suspicious timing of the firing of the f.b.i. director james comey by president trump. mr. cardin: in the past few days president trump's actions, statement, and changing of his story on the comey firing has
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only strengthened the case for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate ties and collusion between the trump campaign and the russian government in the 2016 presidential election. congress should also establish an independent commission to get to the bottom of the russian interference in our election. in addition, there needs to be an independent investigation as to whether mr. trump abused his power and played a role in the obstruction of justice in terms of the ongoing criminal investigation at the department of justice. let me start going back to the beginning of the trump administration. according to news reports on january 27, mr. trump invited mr. comey to a private dinner with him at the white house. mr. trump then asked mr. comey for his loyalty, but mr. comey only promised to provide his honesty or his honest loyalty. why did the president allegedly ask director comey for his loyalty? on march 4 president trump tweeted without evidence that, quote, how low has president obama gone on tapping my phones
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during the very sacred election process. this is nixon watergate, bad or sick guy, end quote. on march 20, mr. comey testified he has no information to support mr. trump's claim. why does the president try to distract the public's attention by blaming president obama for the russian investigation? on april 12 an interview, mr. trump said that mr. comey saved hillary clinton during the campaign and said it's not too late to remove mr. comey. mr. trump continued but, you know, i have confidence in him. well, see what happens. you know, it's going to be interesting. what changed between mr. trump having confidence in mr. comey in april and firing him in may? may 3 mr. comey testified before the senate judiciary committee and said it makes me mildly nauseous to think we might have had some impact on the election. on may 8 former acting attorney general sally yates and former director of national intelligence james clapper both testified before the judiciary
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committees. miss yates testified about the warning she gave to the white house counsel about how the national security advisor michael flynn was compromised by the russians and was lying to white house staff and the vice president about his conversations and interactions with the russians o. may 9 we witness a series of three letters all dated that day. the first letter was from the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein to attorney general jeff sessions. the rosenstein letter acknowledges that are due to mr. comey's actions tactions during the same day the attorney general sessions who had recused himself in the russian trump campaign investigation sent the rosenstein letter to the white house along with his own letter concluding that a fresh start is needed at the leadership of the f.b.i. again the same day mr. trump fired mr. comey. the trump letter indicates the curious aside while i greatly
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appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that i am not under investigation. did director comey really give those assurances to president trump when the criminal counterintelligence investigations are still active and on-going? now, madam president, at the same time we heard from the house press secretary sean spicer and we heard from the vice president of the united states that the reason for the firing of mr. comey was the recommendations of the department of justice. and that's what they said it was. only to find the next day president trump saying in fact when i decided to just do it i said to myself -- i said, you know, this russian thing with trump and russian is a made-up so, an excuse by the democrats for having lost an election that they should have won. and then he talked about mr. comey and said that he had decided to fire him. so it was not the memos. it was what mr. trump had decided. so there's a lot of just
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misinformation being sent out which raises a lot of questions. over the weekend former director of national investigation james clapper stated that i think in many ways our institutions under assault both externally and that's the big news here is that the russians interfered in our election system and i think as well our institutions are under assault internally. so we have the former director of national intelligence saying we've got some problems intern internally. the only way we're going to get to the bomb of this, find out what this loyalty oath was about and how mr. trump came to the conclusion to fire mr. comey or more recently where we hear mr. comey has memos of a meeting in which the president asked him to go easy on an investigation which could rise to obstruction of justice, the olea we're going to get to the bottom of all this is by having an independent
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special counsel prosecutor appointed by the department of justice. that's what needs to be done. we need to have -- the facts need to go where they take us. but we also need to have an investigation that has the credibility that it won't be interfered with by the president of the united states. and the only way to do that is by having a special counsel appointed by the department of justice. i.t. the only way to restore the reputation of the department of justice. and i might say, we also need to understand exactly what russia was doing here in the united states. there are so many examples of russia being aggressive in our campaign. we know that they wanted to discredit the american campaign. we know that they took sides in favor of mr. trump or mrs. clinton. we in that they hacked information and we know that they used misinformation. we knee they used cyber and social media in order to further their advancements. and we also know that they met with representatives of the trump campaign.
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the american people have a right to understand exactly what those contacts were all about. that's why i filed a resolution which is supported by many of my colleagues to set up a 9/11-type independent commission in order to get to the bomb of what is happening. that can be done simultaneously with the work being done by the senate intelligence committee, which is important work for us to to do. but we also need to have an independent commission in order to determine exactly what russia was doing so we can take the necessary steps to prevent this from occurring in the future. so, madam president, there's a a lot of unanswered questions. and people say, well, how can you call for action if you don't know all the facts? well, i am calling for us to know all the facts. i am calling for us to understand exactly why on one day the white house sends out one story that the department of justice recommended the firing of mr. comey and then on the next day the president said, no, i decided that before i met with
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the attorney general and the deputy attorney general. we need to understand why there was a conversation in which mr. comey has notes that indicate that mr. trump wanted to -- him to go easy in an investigation. that's a pretty serious charge. we need to understand that information. and that's why it's impossible for the department of justice to do an independent investigation. it will always be suspect as to whether that investigation, the president of the united states or the white house have impact as to how that investigation is being done, because there's already evidence that they tried to do that previously in this investigation. so the law is clear. the law is clear as to how special prosecutors and counsels are appointed when conflicts ex-im the department of justice has this authority. we know that the attorney general sessions has recused himself from the russian
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investigation. deputy attorney general rosenstein now has that authority to make that decision. he should clearly make that decision, not because it is the right thing to do -- which it is, which it is, and the american people have the -- we have the obstacles to make sure they get -- we have the obligation to make sure they get all the facts as to what happened here -- but it is also the reputation of the department of justice here. i know we've have the chance to learn more tomorrow in our meeting with mr. rosenstein, but i would urge the american people to listen to what we're saying and recognize that we're an independent branch of government and one of our responsibilities is oversight of the executive branch of government. i would urge us to carry out that responsibility by collectively -- this shouldn't be partisan -- collectively telling the department of justice, get all the facts, do it in an independent way, appoint an independent prosecutor, let the facts go -- lead to us where they are going to lead us to.
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let's not prejudge. but this is a serious, serious matter. and in order to protect sours from an aggressive enemy -- and that's russia, who is trying to bring down our democratic system of government, which has now been acknowledged not just by the intelligence community over and over again but by their ability to try to compromise our system is now much better understood -- we need to have that independent commission devoted to giving us the recommendations to keep america safe. i would urge my colleagues to exercise that independent function and for us to set up that independent commission. with that, madam president, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call: mr. donnelly: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. donnelly: i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. donnelly: i rise to honor our h law enforcement officers for national police week and talk about the importance of supporting law enforcement including their mental health.
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during national police week we recognize and remember the sacrifices of the law enforcement officers we lost in the line of duty in 2016. every day and through every night in communities across indiana and our country, law enforcement officers are patrolling our streets, arriving at the scenes of challenging and often traumatic incidents and even putting themselves in harm's way as they do their best to keep our families safe. they help ensure our children can be safe at the neighborhood playground and our seniors can sit peacefully on their front porch. he -- they help stem the violence in crime that plagued our communities for too long. our law enforcement officers put on the uniform every day they head out the door to serve us while other family members say a prayer hoping they come back safely at the end of their shift.
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sadly, sometimes they do not. in my home state of indiana, our law enforcement lost one of our own last year when howard county sheriff deputy coontz was shot and killed during a raid last march. deputy koontz was 27 years old, in the prime of his life and dedicated himself to serving and protecting the communities he loved. he left behind his wife cassie and their young son noah. deputy koontz loss was felt not just in kokomo but cities and towns across our state. he represented the very best our state has to offer: smart, talented, service-driven, working to make his community a better place to live.
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and, mr. president, i know your state was stricken this past year as well. with the same kind of extraordinary individuals who went and served every day. that's at the core of what law enforcement strive for and why it's so devastating when they are lost in the line of duty. while we pay our respects to those we lost, it's our solemn duty to support those who serve our communities today. as law enforcement officers go through their work, they are sometimes confronted with challenging or even horrific situations. recently i joined with my friend and colleague from indiana, senator todd young to introduce the bipartisan law enforcement mental health and wellness act. it provides tools for law enforcement agencies to help support the mental health and wellness of our brave men and women. we are thankful to have the support from senators blunt and coons and cornyn and feinstein
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when we introduced this legislation. i'm honored that senators blumenthal, booker, brown and cruz, hatch and klobuchar, durbin and tester have added their support in the days since. mr. president, thank you for your support of our legislation. i'm very pleased to say our bill passed the senate unanimously late yesterday and it's a major step forward. i'm hopeful that our friends in the house of representatives, where a companion piece was introduced by congresswoman susan brooks and congresswoman val demings of florida. val served as the first woman police chief in orlando before coming to congress and congress congresswoman brooks and demmings can shepherd that bill through the chamber. this bill is supported by the indianapolis metropolitan police department, the fraternal order of police, the national association of police officers, the major county sheriffs of
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america, and more. i'm proud it's a bipartisan effort, as evidenced by the members supporting this legislation. it's time to get this to the president's desk to be signed into law as soon as possible. the law enforcement mental health and wellness act is about providing resources to law enforcement agencies that want to better protect their officers' mental health as well as the providers that strive to serve that unique population. it would direct the departments of justice and health and human services to develop resources for mental health providers to educate them about law enforcement culture and evidence-based therapies for mental health issues common to law enforcement and requires the department of justice to study the effectiveness of crisis hotlines for law enforcement. it authorizes grants to initiate peer mentoring programs in law enforcement agencies and we're already seeing the success of
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these programs where the impd, the indianapolis police department, is utilizing peer mentoring for officer mental health. during my time here in the senate, our main legislative focus has been to improve the availability of mental health care services for our service members and their families. we've made great progress in recent years, and i'm proud that my bipartisan jacob sexton military suicide prevention act is now law. as of this september, every service member, active, reserve, or guard, is required to have an annual mental health assessment. the law enforcement mental health and wellness act builds upon the work that our military has been doing to combat suicide and mental health challenges. it requires the department of defense, the v.a., and the department of justice to consult on military mental health practices that can be adopted by law enforcement agencies. building on the sexton act, it
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requires annual mental health assessments for service members, the law enforcement mental health health law enforcement act requires annual health checks for law enforcement which would help save lives. when senator young and i announced this legislation we had the honor of being joined by the indianapolis chief of police, brian roche. chief roche shared some of his experiences. as he said, when i came on, officers were taught to be in control of their emotions. we still teach the impd to be in control of their emotions. but if you think about the day in, day out routine of everything they see and everything they're confronted with on a day-to-day basis, it's difficult sometimes to control those emotions, even though they do an extraordinary job of it. the problem is they take them home. the things we're talking about are not just ptsd, but depression and anxiety.
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as the chief stated, law enforcement officers, like the rest of us, they don't just turn themselves off when they go home. the experiences they have every day impact them and their families and their friends. sheriff mike nielsen of boone county located in central indiana right near indianapolis was also on hand that day with us to share his perspective. he said i've seen things that cannot be unseen. the brave men and women of police, fire, e.m.s. are all public safety officers who put their lives on the line each and every day. they endure more than anybody can imagine, and they must deal with the stresses of life both on the job and at home. and sometimes it's really, really tough. sheriff nielsen continued, we must all work together to stop the stigma with mental health issues. as administrators, we have to train our supervisors how to recognize signs of ptsd in our
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staff. we must administer standard officer wellness programs. and as administrators in public safety we must lead from the front. let our staff know it's okay to struggle with issues, that we're human. our emotional mental health heals like a physical injury. with proper treatment and with time, we must provide the funding and resources to go beyond the critical stress debriefing. we must do this for our officers. both chief roche and sheriff nielsen's show the importance of ending the stigma attached to mental health issues. we can't be afraid of talking about mental health and the ways we support our law enforcement officers as they work through these challenges. lebanon police officer taylor nielsen who followed in the tradition of her dad, sheriff mike nielsen, extraordinary family serving our state with
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their lives every day, was chaidges enough to share -- was courageous enough to share her mental health struggles following a tough assignment. she recounted the questions that she was dealing with: why am i alone? why isn't anybody else having these issues? why can't i get this out of my head? what's wrong with me? these were the questions that repeatedly ran through my head on a daily basis last year said taylor. questions that made me me beliee there was something fundamentally wrong with me. she continued for those of you who feel you're fighting alone, know relief is out there. don't be afraid to seek out resources, and the battle is tough but the battle can be won. thanks to her strong will and the help of a trained therapist, taylor was able to get and handle her mental health challenges. as she said, though, we have to work together as a team to beat these issues. we'll take time over police week
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to reflect on the law enforcement professionals we lost last year. and as we do that, it's important we take commonsense steps to support our law enforcement officers. we took a major step forward with yesterday's passage of the law enforcement mental health and wellness act here in the senate, and i see my colleague, todd young, who was my teammate on that, here in the chamber as well. i'm hopeful it will be enacted soon so we can bring more tools to law enforcement agencies across indiana and our country. and congresswoman brooks and congresswoman demmings are working on it now. after the service and sacrifices law enforcement officers make every day, they've earned the resources that we have, that we can provide the very best to the very best. thanks again to senator young for working with me on this effort, to the police and sheriffs in indiana who have
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lent their support, to the law enforcement officers protecting hoosiers as we stand here at this moment. may god bless all of these officers and may god bless the family of deputy carl koontz. may god bless indiana and may god bless indiana. thank you, mr. president. i yield back. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. young: mr. president, i rise to join the senior senator from indiana in voicing my strong support for the law enforcement mental health and wellness act of 2017. during police week, i'd like to
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take a minute to thank all of our men and women in blue who stand on the front lines to protect our communities. i have four young children. since they could barely talk my wife and i taught them if they need help they should dial 911 and the police would respond. every day our law enforcement community around the country lives their lives to answer these calls and to help our fellow citizens. sometimes the job is as simple as reuniting a child with their parent at the park or at a store. but other times they see horrific scenes that no one should have to experience in their lifetimes or experience traumatic stress in the performance of their jobs. ultimately police officers see the best and the worst of humanity, which can take a heavy emotional toll. but who is there to answer the call for help when they need it after experiencing such trauma on a regular basis?
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well, a couple of weeks ago senator donnelly and i introduced the law enforcement mental health and wellness act. this legislation is for those who answer that call. this bill works with the relevant federal agencies, mental health providers and broader law enforcement community to offer opportunities for care. when our police force is healthy, when it's strong, our communities are healthy and strong as well. that's why it's vital we provide our nation's law enforcement with the resources they need as they put their health and their life on the line in order to protect our communities day in and day out. this includes supporting law enforcement agencies' efforts to protect and strengthen the mental health and wellness of their respective law enforcement officers. i'm confident that this bill will have a positive impact on the mental health and wellness of law enforcement officers across the country, and i look forward to finding -- the findings of d.o.j.'s
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collaborative reports. the efficacy of the peer-mentoring pilot programs and the results of the department's study into the creation of a crisis hotline for law enforcement officers. with that said, i want to thank indiana's senior senator for his hard work in drafting this legislation and allowing for my input and those of my colleagues. it's been my pleasure working with senator donnelly on this, and i look forward to continuing our work together on behalf of all hoosiers in the future. in fact, this legislation drew upon efforts undertaken by hoosiers at the indianapolis metropolitan police department. in 2010, indiana's impd recognized the need to address law enforcement mental health and wellness by creating the office of professional development and police wellness. impd captain brian navanotny led the effort to establish the office and has relentlessly
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promoted its motto: healthy hire, healthy retire. wellness is more than just an annual physical. in 2015, the captain and the office received national recognition being awarded the national law enforcement officers memorial funds annual officer wellness award. their forward thinking has inspired police departments across the united states to follow their footsteps and undertake similar efforts to address law enforcement, mental health, and wellness. but this is just the beginning of these efforts. senator donnelly and i are proud that the mental health and wellness act has passed the senate and is one step closer to being signed into law, contributing to the efforts of the impd. i want to recognize u.s. representative susan brooks and her colleagues in the u.s. house
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who introduced this legislation. this bill has received bipartisan, bicameral support in congress, widespread support from several law enforcement organizations, and frankly, support across the country from rank and file americans who understand this is a problem that we have an obligation to address. we're all with you. now we call upon all of our colleagues in the house to act on this important legislation and send it to the president's desk for his signature. let me finish with these words of heartfelt gratitude. thank you to our law enforcement community for always answering the call. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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mr. grassley: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: i'm pleased that the senate is considering rachel
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brand to be associate attorney general. ms. brand is a native iowan and i'm proud to be supporting her nomination here today. she has had a distinguished legal career. in fact, she was appointed to senate-confirmed positions by both president bush and president obama, and both times she was confirmed by a voice vote in the united states senate. so here it looks like it somehow has become controversial, which i don't understand. ms. brand has a broad range of legal experience, and that happens to be a broad range in both government and the private sector. with her previous positions in the white house, the office of legal counsel, and the privacy and civil liberties oversight
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board, she has experience that touches almost every part of the federal government. as the assistant attorney general for the office of legal policy, she was a member of the senior management team of the department of justice, working with components in law enforcement agencies throughout the entire justice department. similarly, at the privacy and civil liberties oversight board, ms. brand worked with diverse agencies to ensure that privacy and civil liberties are taken into account while carrying out the important missions of protecting the nation from terrorism. and during ms. brand's tenure in the private sector, she gained extensive litigation management
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experience that will serve her very well as she oversees the department's civil litigation components. now, i said she has seemingly become a little more controversial so that we have to have this effort to stop debate so that we can get her confirmed many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have said they aren't supporting her nomination because of the work she did with the united states chamber of commerce. now how utterly ridiculous those views are and i want to explain why. in other words, why she should not be treated the way she is just because she worked for the united states chamber of
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commerce. so i'll take a minute to address these concerns. first, when she worked at the chamber all of her advocacy was done to represent the views of her clients. that was the u.s. chamber. everybody expects if you hire a lawyer, they are going to represent your views. we all know that we can't assume an attorney personally believes what they are advocating for on behalf of their client just as we know criminal defense attorneys don't -- don't believe that the criminal that's before the judge has done. furthermore, she was not involved in any policy or lobbying apparatus at the chamber. her role there was to bring
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lawsuits, challenging rules that the u.s. chamber believed were unlawful and at the same time, besides just arguing those lawsuits, she had to file a lot of aeee meek briefs. during her time at the chamber, she challenged a handful of the,000s of regulations promulgated by federal agencies. the arguments that ms. brand made in those lawsuits amicus briefs were generally that the agency had acted beyond the scope of the authority that congress had granted that particular agency or had failed to follow the recent decision-making processes required by the administrative
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procedures act of 1946. in many of these cases the court agreed with the chamber that the government had acted unlawfully. so to summarize her work at the chamber during that time at the chamber, ms. brand argued that government agencies went beyond the authority that congress had given them. she also argued that these agencies weren't acting under the scope of the congressional authority granted to the agency, and she argued that congressional authority had to be respected. now, it's pretty simple. it seems to me it's up to congress to give these agencies more authority if we think they need it, but it's not a good reason to vote against ms. brand's nomination because she argued a very commonsense
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and constitutional position that federal agencies need to follow the laws of congress. finally, some senators have maintained that they are concerned about her views on the voting rights act. she responded very well to that because during her hearing ms. brand told the committee that she shares concerns for anyone that would violate the voting rights act and would suppress votes in the process of violating that act. and she believes, quote, enforcement of that statute to be a core enforcement function of the civil rights division. end of quote. i don't know about my fellow colleagues, but i take her at
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her word that she strongly believes in voting rights. it's more than a little puzzling then that when republicans opposed a woman for a government position we heard from the other side that democrats always bringing up gender politics. -- but when they oppose a woman for a position, that's somehow okay. now, i don't see how they can expect to have it both ways. i believe ms. brand will be a superb associate attorney general, the first female in this role, i might add, and that she will serve the office with very great distinction. i urge my colleagues to join me in supporting her nomination. now, mr. president, i would ask a u.c. for five or six minutes to speak on another subject as
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if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: i come to the floor to share real stories of real hardships from hardworking families in my home state of iowa. seven years ago americans were promised that the affordable care act would make health insurance cheaper and health care more accessible. well, i won't pretend to break any new news here. the facts speak very much for themselves. obamacare is not living up to its promises. when passing the law, the other side made promises that they knew -- they knew wouldn't be kept. the irony here is that the so-called affordable care act at the end of the day is anything
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but affordable. so let's look at that word affordable from the webster dictionary, quote, having a cost ha is not too high -- a cost that is not too high. end of quote. i had many iowans tell me in no uncertain terms that they can't afford to buy health insurance because obamacare is unaffordable. ever since obamacare was enacted i have received letters, calls, and e-mails from iowans who are frustrated about the soaring cost of their health plans. here's a prime example, one farmer's insurance premium went through the roovment it jump -- roof. it jumped 23%. if someone can explain how this that -- how that is more affordable, i have an


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