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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  February 6, 2018 2:15pm-6:57pm EST

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will want to talk and i said can we talk in the parking lot and have this disagreement worked out. that is the way it would be settled. maybe that's the way it should be settled here, to cut anywhere and in any occupation in the contract. not about
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is allowing anyone to purchase a firearm who is prohibited under current law or regulations. i want that to be very clear. i want it to be very clear right after the bat so that no one misinterprets this as some effort to let people own firearms who would normally be prohibited. this legislation is needed because a very disturbing trend has occurred in the past decade share the glory with someoneade
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else and we think there's good in legislation and every piece of legislation has
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hat the veterans administration's relying are way back if the 1970's. that predates even the national instant criminal background check system and is way, way long before the supreme court held the second amendment to be a fundamental, constitutional right. these regulations grant limited authority to determine incompetence only in the context of financial matters. the regulation reads like this. quote, rating agencies have sole authority to make an official determination of competence or incompetence for the purpose of
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insurance and disbursement of benefit, end of quote. there's nothing wrong with that language, but it's that language that leads to the problems that veterans have with their second amendment rights. so from this language it's clear that the core regulatory authority applies to matters of competency for financial purposes. it has nothing to do with regulating who can purchase firearms. but that is exactly what is happening. so veterans are losing their second amendment rights because they have someone managing their checkbook. it's that simple. you can't handle your finances, you lose your second amendment rights. so everybody wants to know how this is happening. federal law requires that before a person is reported to a gun
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ban list, they be determined a, quote/unquote -- mental defective. the bureau of tobacco, alcohol and firearms created a regulation to define what mental defective means. it includes among other requirements that a person is in danger to self or others. the v.a. has taken the position that this alcohol, tobacco, firearm regulation can then be made to fit within its own preexisting regulatory structure for a signing -- for assigning a fiduciary thus requiring that name be put on the gun ban list. the intent and purpose between these two regulations are entirely different. on the one hand, the v.a. regulation is designed to
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appoint a fiduciary. on the other hand, the a.t.f. regulation is designed to regulate firearms. that is a great big, huge distinction. the level of mental impairment that justifies taking away the right to possess and own firearms must rest at a severe and substantial level, a level where the mere possession of a firearm constitutes a danger to self and others. that decision is never made by the v.a. before submitting names to this gun ban list. as such then, imposing a gun ban is a harsh result that could sweep up veterans that are fully capable of appropriately owning
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a firearm. and in fact it gets worse. when veterans are placed, then, on that gun ban list, they must prove that they're not dangerous to the public in order to get their names removed from that list. that danger -- dangerousness standard is much higher than the mere assignment of a fiduciary. thus, veterans are subject to more rigorous and more demanding evidencery standard -- ef dentary standard to get their name off the gun ban list than the federal government must prove to put their names on that list. so we ought to all agree that that's unfair. and i also believe that it is
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unconstitutional. when dealing with the fundamental constitutional right like the one protected by the second amendment, at the very minimum the government ought to be held to the same standard as we the people. we owe it to our veterans to fix this problem. as of december 31, 2016, the veterans administration reported 167,815 veterans to the gun ban list for assigning a fiduciary. that's 167,815 out of 171,083 or another way of saying it, 98% of all names reported.
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it is important to note that since the v.a. reports names to the gun ban list merely when a fiduciary is assigned to that veteran, not one of those names has been reported because a veteran has been deemed a public danger. accordingly, not all veterans reported to the gun ban list should be on it. on may 18, 2016, i debated this very issue on the senate floor with senator durbin. he said, and i quote, i do not dispute what the senator from iowa has suggested, that some of these veterans may be suffering from a mental illness not serious enough to disqualify them from owning a firearm but certainly many of them do. end of quote.
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then senator durbin said, quote, let me just concede at the outset, reporting 174,000 names goes too far but eliminating 174,000 names goes too far. i'm pleased that senator durbin acknowledged that many of the names on the gun ban list supplied by the v.a. do not pose a danger and should be removed. i want to thank his staff for working with my staff during this process. the essential question then is how do we go about fixing it the right way. and i believe my legislation does just that. this legislation adds a new step before the v.a. can report names to a gun ban list. that step requires that once a fiduciary is assigned, the v.a.
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must first find the veteran to be a danger to self or to the public before taking away their firearms. that's the same standard that the veteran must satisfy currently in order to get their names off the gun ban list. my legislation also provides constitutional due process. specifically it shifts the burden of proof to the government to prove a veteran is dangerous before taking away firearms. currently, the entire burden of proof is on the veteran to prove that he or she is not dangerous. when a constitutional right is involved, the burden must always be on the government. my bill also creates an option for the veterans to seek legal redress via administrative board or the federal court system.
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the veteran is in control and it provides an avenue for every veteran already on that gun ban list to get their names removed. the last point is important to note. my bill does not automatically remove every veteran from the list which was a concern senator durbin raised previously when we debated this issue. it does require the v.a. to provide notice to every veteran on the list of their right to go through the due process to have their names removed. should a veteran choose to do that, the protections, the process, the procedure, and the standards set forth in my bill would then apply to them. every vet raen is free to -- veteran is free to apply for
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relief. every veteran will be treated equally under my bill and, of course, that's a fair thing to do. that's the constitutionally sound way to manage this process. the bill does provide authority for the government to seek an emergency order if they believe a veteran is a serious and imminent risk to self or to others. that was a suggestion by senator durbin to provide for short-term safety mechanism when the situation is too urgent to wait for a judge to evaluate all the facts. the bill also retains a mechanism for the v.a. to system systematically refer veterans to the national institute criminal background system. this was another one of senator durbin's main concerns. a simple -- a similar bill and
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simpler bill passed the house of representatives last year that is similar to the amendment i tried to offer and senator durbin objected to in the year 2016. it would simply stop the v.a. from referring veterans to the gun ban list without first finding them a danger to self and others. however, it does not set up any system to make that happen. the argument is that putting veteran -- that this puts veterans using the v.a. in the same boat as somebody else and of course i'm sympathetic to that argument. but the legislation i'm introducing today was a good-faith effort to overcome objections that have prevented action on this important issue in the past. my bill solves a problem that has existed for many years,
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denying ve veterans their second amendment rights. veterans should not be subject to a harsher standard than what the government is subject to. veterans deserve full due process protection when their constitutional rights are at stake. and that's the core of this legislation. the regulatory process at the back end to remove a veteran from the gun ban list is simply moved to the front end. that is the federal government must first prove that a veteran is dangerous before taking away firearms. this is the same standard applied to nonveterans. the fix? this fix will not change existing firearm laws. felons are still prohibited from owning firearms.
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persons with domestic violence convictions are still prohibited. persons adjudicated as mentally defective are still prohibited. persons involuntarily committed are still prohibited. if my bill were to become law, every federal firearm prohibition would still exist. again, the core of my bill simply requires the federal government to prove a veteran is dangerous before taking away his or her firearms. that's the same standard our veterans must live by currently in order to remove their name from the gun ban list and get their guns back. if we, the people, have to live under that standard, then so should our federal government. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: mr. president, it's no secret that our country faces a major health care crisis, and in fact a dysfunctional health care system. we have some 30 million people who have no health insurance, and that number is going to go up in the coming year. we have even more people who are underinsured with high deductibles and co-payments. our people pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, which means that millions of people who go to the doctor to get a prescription are simply unable to fill that prescription, and that, mr. president, is the definition of a dysfunctional, failing health care system. and in the midst of all of that, there is another particular
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crisis dealing with primary health care, and that is even when people do have health insurance, in many parts of our country they are finding it very hard to go to a doctor, to get in to a doctor to treat the ailments that they have. we fall behind many, many other countries in terms of our lack of emphasis on primary health care, which should be the heart and soul of any strong health care system. the bottom line is when you get sick, you should be able to get to the doctor when you need to and not have to wait weeks and months in order to do so. in the mix of a failing primary health care system, there is one very strong bright spot, and that is for many decades now in every state in this country we have had community health
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centers run by the people themselves -- democratically ruh care needs of those given communities. and today in america, we have about 27 million people, 27 men, women, and children, who are accessing community health centers. in my own state of vermont, one out of four vermonters gets their primary health care through a community health center. but these centers do more than provide primary health care. they also provide dental care, an issue that is too often ignored when we talk about the health care crisis. they provide mental health counseling, which is more important now than perhaps it has ever been because of the opioid and heroin epidemic our country is experiencing. and equally important, they provide low-cost prescription
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drugs at a time when so many americans cannot afford the medicine that they need. that is what community health centers do. and they do it well, and they do it cost-effectively. and to my mind, there is no question but there is strong bipartisan support here in the senate and in the house for community health centers. and yet, now we have gone over four months into the 2018 fiscal year, and we still have not reauthorized funding for community health centers. now i, frankly, do not understand how it happens that when you have strong bipartisan support in the house and senate for programs that are working extremely well in every state in this country, i do not know how it does happen that the republican leadership still has not reauthorized the community
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health center program. there is good bipartisan legislation right here in the senate that has, i think, the support of virtually everybody in the democratic caucus, seven in eight kweupbdz are supporting it -- in eight republicans are supporting it. it is the blunt-stabenow bill, five yearly community reauthorization with a modest increase in funding. if the bill came to the floor today my guess is it would get 70, 80 votes, maybe even more. now we have gone four years, four months into the fiscal year, and we still have not seen that bill reauthorized. and what is happening all over this country is the community health centers who often struggle with recruitment and retention are finding it harder than ever to maintain the
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doctors and nurses and other medical st-f -- staff that they need because applicants are looking around and saying why should i work in a community health center if i don't even know if it's going to be there next year? why do i want to stay at a community health center if i get a better job offer and i don't know if this community health center will be refunded. communities -- community health centers all over this country are hurting. mr. president, i would say enough is enough. right now as soon as possible we need to reauthorize the community health center program for at least five years, and we may need to make sure that there is adequate funding so that they can continue to do the excellent work that they are doing all over this country. and there's another issue that i would like to briefly touch upon, mr. president. there's been a lot of discussion, appropriately so, about the opioid epidemic that
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is sweeping the united states. we are losing some 63 -- we have lost some 63,000 americans as a result of opioid overdoses in 2016 alone. families by the millions are being impacted. i was in brattleboro, vermont, a few weeks ago and they talked to me about what's happening to the children whose parents are now addicted to opioids and the need to find foster parenting for those children. so this is clearly an epidemic that has to be dealt with, that has to be dealt with to increase funding for prevention, to do our best to make sure that young people do not get swept up into the epidemic. and also for treatment for those people who are addicted. but there is an issue that we have not touched upon enough,
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and that is holding the drug companies responsible and accountable for the product that they brought into the market. some people may recall in april of 1994, the c.e.o.'s of the seven largest tobacco companies testified before the house, energy, and commerce subcommittee on health and environment in an historic hearing. and what that hearing was about was under oath, demanding to know what the executives from the tobacco industry knew and when they knew it. did they know that their product was addictive? did they know that tobacco caused cancer and heart disease and other medical problems? and they were asked to hold
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their hands up and under oath tell the committee what they knew. i think it is now appropriate for the united states senate to do the same with those drug companies that have produced opioids. i think we need to know what the drug companies knew in terms of the addictive qualities of those drugs. there is some evidence out there that suggests that drug companies in fact did know that the product that they were selling was in fact addictive, but they forgot to tell the doctors and certainly not the patients. now it is one thing for somebody to do something in ignorance -- not knowing the impact of what you produce. that happens all the time. but it is something very different if in fact the manufacturer of a product understands that that product
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causes addiction, that product causes death. and we need to get to the root of that issue. we need to know what the drug companies knew and when they knew that. so i would hope very much, mr. president, that in the health, education, labor, and pension committee, which has jurisdiction over this issue, i would hope very much that we can bring those executives of those drug companies that produce opioids before us. because not only are we talking about 60,000 people a year dying as a result of overdoses, what we are talking about also is the expenditure of tens and tens of billions of dollars on health care and law enforcement associated with opioid addiction. so i hope that we can move forward and have those executives come before us and
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tell us under oath what they knew and when they knew it, because i think the time is long overdue for us to hold them accountable. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor.
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mr. flake: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: mr. president, last fall i had the honor to stand in this chamber and deliver remarks on the subject of a great and growing concern to me, the stewardship of our democracy at the hands of the most powerful figure in our government. i stand again today to sound the same alarm.
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mr. president, words matter. have we arrived at such a place of numb acceptance that we have nothing to say when a president of the united states casually suggests that those who choose not to stand or applaud his speech are guilty of treason ?l i certainly hope not. one who levels such a charge knows neither the meaning of treason nor the power that the words of a president carry. and if we are numb to such words, then we will surely regret that we failed to defend our colleagues in the congress against such a vile remark. our silence will also mark the day that we failed to recognize that this conduct in an american president simply is not normal. i wish i could stand here today and say that my words of last october have been proven wrong, that i had been unfair to inveigh against the daily sundry of our country, that i had been mistaken about the personal
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attacks that i had exaggerated the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions, the flagrant disregard for truth and decency, the reckless provocations most often for the pediest and most personal reason, reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have all been elected to serve. i wish i could say that i had been wrong but i cannot. i have seen the president's most ardent defenders use the now weary argument that the president's comments were meant as a joke, just sarcasm, only tongue in cheek, but treason is not a punch line, mr. president. the president said that the state of the union address was meant to promote and encourage unity in government. then why follow up less than a week later with this divisive and harmful rhetoric? unity is not secured in a
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speech. it must be pursued constantly through appropriate behavior, mutual respect, and gained by effective leadership. mr. president, respect is earned, not commanded. applause signals approval of an idea, not loyalty to one's country. our democratic colleagues love this country as much as we do. to suggest otherwise is simply unconscionable. none of us in congress pledge loyalty or service to the president. this is not a royal court. our oath is to the constitution and to the people. as members of congress, we must never accept undignified discourse as normal because of the requirements of tribal party politics. none of this behavior should ever be regarded as normal. we must never allow ourselves to lapse into thinking that this is
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just the way things are now. we will get through this period. and when we do, we will look back at the destruction of our discourse and the attacks on our democratic values as nothing but a tragedy. may we also be able to say that they were an aberration, but that, my colleagues, is up to us. we must recognize that this is aberrant, destructive behavior, whatever rationale its defenders may offer. and we must never shrink from opposing it for it is in the opposing this behavior that we defend our norms, our ideals, and our values. it is in opposing this behavior that we stand for decency. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: is the senate in a quorum call? the presiding officer: it is not. mr. thune: mr. president, the good fuss for american work -- good news for american workers continues to roll in. take a look at the headlines from the last week. pfizer plans a $5 billion boost in u.s. manufacturing from tax law changes. cigna raises wages, benefits following tax law. this is another headline. c.e.o. lehi valley small businesses to benefit from federal tax overhaul. altria group will pay $3,000 bonus to all nonexecutive employees. ozarks workers to receive bonus, benefits thanks to tax changes. charter sets $15 minimum wage.
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low's to pay -- lowe's to pay u.s. staff $1,000 bonus following tax reform. mr. president, the number of companies increasing wages, boosting retirement contributions or handing out bonuses thanks to tax reform continues to soar. last week at this time, the number was over 250. now it's up over 300 and it keeps growing. businesses are making plans to invest in their workers, raise wage, create new jobs, and invest in the u.s. economy. fiat-chrysler, at&t, boeing, home depot, great western bank in my home state of south dakota, alladin industries, southwest, best buy, accu-weather, visa, nationwide insurance, jet blue. mr. president, that list of companies announcing good news for american workers thanks to tax reform goes on and on.
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the nation's largest private employer walmart announced an increase in its starting wage for hourly employees and bonuses for eligible employees. it also announced expanded maternity and parental leave benefits and the creation of a new adoption benefit for employees. more than one million walmart employees will benefit from these changes. jpmorgan chase announced it will raise wages for 22,000 workers, add thousands of jobs, and open 400 new branches in the united states. it also plans to increase its lending to small businesses. tech giant apple announced that thanks to tax reform, it will bring home to the united states almost $250 billion in cash it's been keeping overseas. and finally now invested here in the united states. it also announced that it will create 20,000 new jobs and
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provide $2,500 stock bonuses to its employees. fedex announced plans to expedite raises and invest $1.5 billion to expand its fedex express hub in indianapolis. it's also making $1.5 billion contribution to its pension plan. last week exxonmobil announced that thanks in part to tax reform, it will invest an additional $35 billion in the u.s. economy over the next five years. that means a lot of new jobs and opportunities for american workers. mr. president, as i said before, i could go on and on. and it's important to remember that this is just the beginning. companies have barely experienced to date the benefits of tax reform, and already they're moving to invest in their workers and in the economy. as the benefits of tax reform
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continue to sink in and accrue, we can expect to see more growth, more jobs, and more opportunities for american workers. mr. president, the past month of good news is the reason that we made business tax reform a key part of the tax cuts and jobs act. we are deeply committed to immediate relief for the american people, which is why we cut tax rates, doubled the standard deduction, and doubled the child tax credit delivering immediate meaningful tax relief to middle-income families in this country. but we want more for american workers than just a tax cut as valuable as those are. we also want american workers to have access to the kinds of jobs and opportunities that will set them up for security and prosperity for the long term. good jobs, good wages, and good opportunities were in short supply during the last
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presidency, and we are determined to improve things for american workers. so we took action to improve the situation for american businesses since the only way that individual americans thrive is if american businesses and the american economy thrive. prior to the tax cuts and jobs act, american businesses large and small were weighed down. they were weighed down by high tax rates and growth-killing tax provisions. plus, our outdated international tax rules left america's global businesses at a competitive disadvantage in the global economy. the tax cuts and jobs act changed all that. we lowered tax rates across the board for owners of small and medium-sized businesses, farps, and ranch -- farms and ranches. we expanded business owners' ability to recover investments they make in their business so they can free up cash that they can invest in their business and
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workers. we lowered our nation's massive corporate tax rate which up until january 1 of this year was the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world. we brought the u.s. international tax system into the 21st century by replacing our outdated worldwide system with a modernized territorial tax system so that american businesses are not operating at a disadvantage next to their foreign competitors. and now, just a month and a half into the new tax law, we are already seeing the results. increased investment in the american economy, job creation, higher wages, and benefit increases. as the tax law helps u.s. businesses large and small grow and thrive, we can expect to see a lot more benefits and
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opportunities for american workers in the future. mr. president, before i close, i'd like to say just a couple of words about the defense appropriations bill that we're taking up this week. by the end of the obama administration, our military was facing a serious readiness shortfall. the obama administration's failure to prioritize defense left our armed forces with manpower deficits and delayed the acquisition of 21st century weapons and equipment. the defense appropriations bill that we will vote on this week provides critical funding for restoring military readiness and would be a downpayment on equipping our troops with the resources that they need to meet the threats of the 21st century. unfortunately, passage of this bill is in jeopardy here in the senate thanks to senate democrats. democrats have blocked a defense
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appropriation bill six times over the past almost three years now and they look set to block that bill once again. mr. president, that's not acceptable. funding the government by continuing resolution rather than by appropriations bills is never ideal but it's particularly problem natic for the military -- problematic for the military. under a continuing resolution, new programs are delayed and the military's ability to transfer money between accounts for acquisition purposes, for example, is restricted. that's a big problem. when the security of our nation depends on the very programs and purchases that the military makes. defense secretary james mattis has warned that, and i quote, long-term c.r.'s impact the readiness of our forces and their equipment at a time when
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security threats are extraordinarily high. end quote. not to mention at a time when our military is already under extra pressure as it works to repair the deficits of the obama years. mr. president, passing a defense appropriations bill instead of subjecting the military to a constant procession of continuing resolutions would go a long way toward ensuring that our military men and women are prepared to confront the threats that are facing our nation. it is too bad -- it's too bad the democrats seem unable to look beyond politics to the needs of our military. democrats may not pay a price for their op -- for opposing this bill this week, but, mr. president, our military will. it's high time that we pass a defense appropriations bill. we need to stop this obstructi obstruction, stop this blocking. six times in the last three
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years already, they have blocked passage of defense appropriations. and here we are again faced this week with yet another opportunity to provide the critical and necessary funding for the american military, our men and women in uniform who every single day are out there defending our freedoms and it looks as yet again the democrats intend to block that critical, important funding. this needs to come to an end. this isn't about politics. this is about america's national security interests. and i hope that we can come together and recognize that and put the best interests of america's national security and our men in women in uniform ahead of politics. mr. president, i yield the floor and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call: a senator: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. cantwell: i come to speak about the trump administration's egregious attack on our pristine coastline on the pacific and the eastern gulf of mexico. dramatic increases of oil and gas development offshore poses a dramatic impact to our coastal
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economies and the united states particularly in the pacific northwest. i know many of my colleagues are going to join me on the floor this afternoon to talk about this and the specific impacts in their area. the draft leasing plan, which is what has been put forth by the secretary of insuperior, is an -- interior is an attempt to allow offshore oil and gas drilling in over 90% of the u.s. outer continental shelf including washington and oregon. the truth is that instead of creating new jobs in the oil and gas sector, the administration is posed to choose big oil jobs over other ocean-dependent industries like fishing, shipbuilding and tourism on our coasts. i know this because i traveled to many of our coastal communities in the state of washington who make their livelihood off of fishing or tourism or very, very concerned by this proposal. and just today a public hearing was supposed to take place in tacoma, washington, that the administration canceled. the trump administration failed
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to account for the value of the existing robust coastal and ocean economies which would be jeopardized by expanding offshore drilling in those areas. our ocean-related economy is so important to our state. expanding drilling directly threatens the ocean environment, the marine resources that support millions of jobs in construction, fishing, shipbuilding, tourism, recreation and maritime transport. the ocean-related industries in these areas targeted by the administration's plan contribute over 2.2 million direct jobs and nearly $75 billion in wages and over $150 billion in g.d.p. the reason i bring this up is because the economic benefits of these industries cannot be overstated. nearly $8 billion from fishing and seafood, $70 billion from marine transport, and $125
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billion from tourism and recreation. and we know that oil spills or other natural disasters related to offshore oil and gas activities like the exxon valdez or deepwater horizon can destruct entire coastal economies. we know, for example, that here is what, if you just took the deepwater horizon spill in size and compared it to the coastal areas of washington and oregon, the impacted area would cover all of washington and a big chunk of oregon. we know that these can be devastating. the shore adjacent counties and new targeted areas host over 39 million jobs and contribute over $2 trillion in wages. the economies of the shore counties represent 65% of the affected coastal state's g.d.p. so that's one way of saying that coastal states and their economies are big drivers in our
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u.s. economy, and they're extremely dependent on clean water, coasts, and other oceans and our fisheries. the washington coast economy relies healthy sustainable oceans which support our fisheries in many parts of our state to make sure they have seafood processing, recreation, and tourism. our washington maritime economy is $50.3 billion in economic activity and 191,000 jobs. so our economy that also adds to tourism in jobs for anglers, charter boats, cruise guides, restaurants and holtzs -- hotels and more are so iconic in the pacific northwest. they are what the coastal and heritage of our coastal communities are. the fact that so many
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recreational fishermen can be out on our healthy oceans and attracting more people to come and explore is so much part of the northwest. putting that at risk to oil spill activities or activities related to exploration is just not something these communities want to do. just this past week i received resolutions from various communities on our pacific coast urging that this idea be turned down. washington and oregon coasts are not really suited for oil and gas development. first of all, extreme sea states, treacherous storms, the remote nature of our coastlines as one of our maritime communities told me, they don't really have the resources for cleanup in the area even if a spill happened, who would be there to clean it up? in the meantime, our fishermen, even if they have oil sheen behind their fishing boat, can be fined as much as $10,000. so if we're ready to fine
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fishermen $10,000 for an oil sheen behind their boat, why are we proposing a plan in the treacherous waters of the pacific northwest without any idea who's going to clean up the mess? adding to the risk in the pacific northwest is the cascadia zone, one of the most dangerous faults in the united states. the zone is long overdue to create a significant earthquake. you hear from lots of people about this. in fact, after the new yorker wrote a big story called "the big one" many people from across the country e-mailed me to say are we ready for this to happen? so i can tell you with what had happened in japan, people are very concerned about how we prepare for that in the pacific northwest. so it makes no sense to put an oil rig on one of the most high-risk earthquake-prone zones in the united states. in a 1991 spill, the dangerous
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and chop peu seas prevented first responders from being able to contain more of the spill. that is why i have fought to improve oil spill prevention response in the state of washington. things like are neabay tug, which is a full-time tug to make sure we are getting boats safely through our waters, increased oil spill response equipment through the strait of wandafuqua and push with the coast guard on research in tar saupbdz oil. thors -- those are things we can do to protect ourselves but we must do more. we must weigh future decisions about where we're allowed to develop oil and gas exploration and the coast it might be to coastal economies. we must incorporate lessons we learned from the disasters like deepwater horizon, which is part of this picture, or the exxon
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valdez to kpwrouf oil spill prevention and -- to improve oil prevention, response and safety. there are still fish from prince william sound that have not fully recovered after the exxon valdez, so telling our fishermen that this is a great idea when washington fisheries, whether it's crab or other fisheries, should be susceptible to these kinds of spills is just not something our fishermen want to hear. so despite these efforts which have been repeatedly blocked in the past to drill off our coast, president trump wants to roll back important safety regulations that we put in place for deepwater horizon, like blowout preventers, well control and production safety and nor secretary zinke wants to open these coastal areas. this is something that our state has been responding to his
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proposal for months and months. we gave very important data to say that this is not a good idea off the coast of washington. it's interesting because secretary zinke gave a last-minute decision to florida, who didn't turn in their information about their state on this issue, and then later, after a visit with the governor, secretary zinke said that this was something he didn't want to see happen. the people of washington don't want political games played. they want to have their say on this issue, and they want to make sure their voice is heard loud and clear. our coastal economies are too important to us from a jobs and cultural perspective to go about even proposing the research on drilling in our coastal areas. i am disappointed that today there was a last-minute postponement of a public meeting that was supposed to take place
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in tacoma, washington, to hear from our citizens about their opposition to expanding oil drilling off our coasts. i'm not sure whether there will be a hearing rescheduled or exactly what was behind the cancellation of the public meeting, but it was one of the few opportunities that washingtonians could suppress their views on this -- could express their views on this issue. i have sent a letter to secretary zinke with 15 of my house and senate colleagues from the pacific northwest calling on washington and oregon to not be part of a future lease program. i know that many people, including our governor, have done the same. members from the pacific, atlantic, gulf coasts and even alaska are writing to secretary zinke asking them to include future drilling activities in their area. i'm very concerned that we are wasting taxpayer money reanalyzing what we have
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analyzed before, that oil and gas development in the pacific northwest does not make sense for our coastal communities. we want to fight to protect our fishing jobs, our tourism, our recreation, and all the things that are part of the center of our culture on our coasts. we hope secretary zinke will follow science, protect our coastal economy, stop this foolish idea that drilling off our coast is either necessary or prudent, and move about protecting our federal lands. i thank the president, and i yield the floor. 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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the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes. mr. carper: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. carper: i rise to address an issue that is probably not a great concern to the citizens of arizona, but it is important to the people on the east coast and west coast of our nation. i rise to join my colleagues on both coasts in opposition to the trump administration's proposal
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to open up parts of the atlantic and pacific oceans and the gulf of mexico to more oil and gas drilling. for a long time i advocated for an all-of-the-above strategy to meet our country's energy needs as we move our country towards greater efficiency and use of energy. my view, though, of the administration's recent proposal to expand drilling off of our coasts into new areas is not necessary at this time -- unnecessary at this time. just eight years ago, we saw very clearly with the deepwater horizon disaster that oil spills do not stay to state boundaries. and the cost of oil spills sometimes lasts not just for years, but for generations. a spill along the east coast could affect not just the
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pristine beaches of delaware and the tourism that they rely on to drive their local economies, each year delaware's coast, which is not that long, 25 to 3e to just north of lewis, delaware, but each year delaware's coasts generate $7 billion. row hoab oth -- rohoboth and surrounding areas support nearly 60,000 jobs. it supports $7 is 1 million in -- $711 million in tax revenues, again, with a state budget of $4 billion. delaware is the 49th largest state, mr. president, but we have a lot of coast-related activities and they are big
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business for a little state, providing more than 10% of the first state's total employment, taxes, and business production. jeopardizing the environmental and economic health of the east coast is the wrong move and we think it's not worth the risk. you don't have to just take my word for it, mr. president, but experts, scientists, and residents living in communities along the coast that will be most impacted by this decision agree, especially as the threat of climate change continues to grow. delawareans are similarly concerned about the dangers posed by oil and gas exploration activities, including the use of air guns to search for offshore oil and gas deposits. roughly 18 months ago, over 40 states and local elected
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officials set a letter to the last administration expressing their opposition to proposed surveying. the negative impact of the testing of the echosystem and the life that they support from planktin to the whales is documented. despite the harmful consequences, proponents of increased drilling will argue that offshore oil could have benefits in areas along the coast, but these areas are already the beneficiary of remarkable economic benefits thrived from and contingent on a healthy, vital and sustainable ocean environment off of our
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shores. as a result, these communities do not take the prospect of compromising these natural resources lightly and -- nor should we. nor should we. mr. president, you know who also recognizes a -- that coastal communities could be negatively impacted if their natural resources were compromised? and the answer is our secretary, secretary ryan zinke. that is the reason he used to carve florida gulf coast out of the trump administration's proposal. secretary zinke pointed out other states like louisiana, for example, are working coasts that are very much different than a recreation central coast that is in florida. well, mr. president, it seems to me that maybe, just maybe, the only real difference between florida and every other coastal state all the way up to delaware and all the way up to maine,
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that was not lucky enough to get exemption from secretary zinke is that president trump happens to have beachfront property in florida. and believe me, i understand that a potential oil spill off of the florida coast could not be beneficial and they would not want their view obstructed by offshore oil rigs. because an overwhelming majority of delawareans feel exactly the same way and their voices deserve to be heard too. but it's not just the delawareans, or even democrats who acknowledge that increasing oil drilling off our coast is the wrong move. republican governors and lawmakers from states like georgia and south carolina all the way up to massachusetts and new hampshire have publicly stated their opposition to the
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trump administration's plan because the risks are simply not worth the potential reward. the administration insists though on proceeding with this proposal, then it should carve out the cherished delaware coast and similar areas along the atlantic from any efforts to increase drilling. as we heard said many times, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. in florida, secretary zinke has clearly established the standard that should apply to any coastal area that would be part of an offshore leasing plan, and here it is, if it is an area in which coastal activity and industries yield greater economic value and where local communities are solidly opposed, then those areas should get the same exemption as has been awarded to the sunshine state, to florida. mr. president, as a business
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man, the numbers are clear. increased drilling does not make economic sense. i urge president trump to rethink the shortsighted proposal and decide with coastal residents from main to miami. -- from maine to miami. with that, mr. president, i want to yield back the time. we have been joined with my colleagues from florida, oregon, and i'm tempted to yield to one of .they. let me -- one of them. i say to my colleague from oregon, florida -- to whom should i yield? i am happy to yield my time to the ranking member on the finance committee, senator nelson, who i have the privilege to serve on and to senator wyden. mr. wyden: i thank both of my colleagues and my colleague from florida. i will be brief. mr. president, my views on this issue can be summed up in a
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tweet that i sent on saturday. i was home having town meetings -- i go to every county every year -- and i had just wrapped up in asker toa -- astoria and we stopped at rockaway beach on the spectacular oregon coast, and i disoided that i -- decided i would send a tweet and start it off with a question: drilling on the oregon coast? and the answer was: you've got to be kidding me. and on my watch, that's going to be the policy we're going to have for protecting the oregon coast. and that's what oregonians are saying today specifically. in fact, oregonians are lining
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up to make their opposition known by protesting this proposal outside a meeting today by the bureau of ocean energy management and sailing. we have a picturesque coastline that looks right out of a story book. 362 miles that support 22,000 jobs and a $2 billion economy. tourism, fishing, recreation, all dependent on a healthy pacific ocean. our coast is entirely publicly owned, and it's been protected from oil and gas drilling for decades. that's in large part because we learned the harsh lessons of the past. in 1999, the freighter new carissa ran aground off the coast of coos bay.
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the ship split apart spilling gas that covered our beaches. some of that toxic mess remained on our beaches for almost a decades costing tens of millions of dollars to clean up. now the thousands of fishermen, recreation, business owners and guides shouldn't have to go to bed at night hoping there's not a spill or an explosion and risk their livelihoods on the goodwill of oil and gas executives. to make matters even more ominous, just days before announcing its intention to open up the entire coastline to gas and drilling secretary zinke reversed basic safety standards adopted after the deepwater horizon disaster. so what you've got here is a double whammy. first gut safety standards for oil and gas workers on offshore
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rigs. that's right, gut them. gut the safety standard for oil and gas workers. second, increase the probability these workers are going to be put in danger in the first place. as i said on saturday, on my way to those town meetings, the people of my state, oregonians, overwhelmingly do not want to be a part of any of this. secretary zinke went ahead and made a wrong decision with respect to coastal drilling without any input from oregon or commercial and recreational fisheries industry, hardworking families that depend on healthy fishing stocks had no seat at the table. in fact, an entire west coast industry was left out of whatever discussions happened between the oil executives and the trump officials in the back room of the interior department. one day after his decision, mr. zinke met with the republican governor of florida,
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and my colleague who will speak next has been eloquent on that point describing the plan as a threat to the environment and the economy of his home state. now that was enough for secretary zinke to let florida off the hook, but there's been an outcry of opposition from the governors of 15 coastal states, including mine. we've raised the very same environmental and economic concerns. yet secretary zinke seems deaf to our voices. i guess the only voice that is really relevant is that of a republican governor. that, mr. president, is about as nakedly political as it gets around washington. a big gift for the oil and gas companies but one that poses an enormous danger to the economies and environment of local committees along our coast. finally, the decision doesn't make sense in terms of energy policy. our country is more energy
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secure now than ever. international energy agency reports that within ten years the united states will move from being a net importer of oil to a net exporter. so this scheme, this scheme of secretary zinke to expand offshore drilling is going to benefit. let's acknowledge that. a handful of big oil interests, and then leave hardworking fishing families and coastal business owners to pick up the bill. that is not how we do things on our west coast. the lasting economic uncertainty and ultimate environmental degradation is not worth it. and today on behalf of the people of oregon, i urge secretary zinke to rescind his proposal. with that, i yield the floor and i thank my colleague from florida for his courtesy. mr. nelson: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: i ask consent that
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i make an announcement and then defer to senator king and then it come back to me for my statement about offshore drilling. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, just a few minutes ago the largest rocket since the moon program, the saturn 5, launched from the kennedy space center. people across the world saw it on tv as well as over the internet. thousands of people lined the beaches at the kennedy space center. perhaps even more impressively as this rocket with three falcon 9's strapped together, 27 engines taking a payload for its first test flight. it was so successful that the
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two-side falcon 9's with the center core of the falcon 9, that the two side falcon 9's, we watched in amazement as they returned to earth 100 yards apart on two landing zones at the cape canaveral air force station. at liftoff, the falcon heavy generates five million pounds of thrust. it's twice as powerful that we have as any other rocket currently flying. and especially with the ability to land and reuse the boosters, it promises to be a very affordable way to get to space. the test launch of the falcon heavy is a spectacular demonstration of the come-back of florida's space coast and of the u.s. commercial launch
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sector, which is succeeding in a big way. last year we tried -- we tied the all-time record for the number of u.s. commercial launches. that's good news for the civil space program. it's good news for national security. it's good news for employment in the u.s. and it's great news for jobs and the economy. mr. president, i yield. the presiding officer: the senator from maine. mr. king: first i want to thank the senator from florida for yielding, congratulate him on the success of this launch in florida. as you say, it's a huge boost, if you will, for the space industry in your state and a huge advantage for our country. a really amazing technological feat that i think will be positive. mr. president, i rise just for a few minutes to talk about the decision to allow drilling for oil and gas off of our coasts.
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this is a very consequential and serious decision involving important -l policy questions and has important implications for all of the coastal states and indeed for our country. my concern is to echo some of the comments that have already been made, there was very little, if any, consultation with the interested parties along our coastal states. in maine, which, by the way, according to gee og tpers i've talked to, has the longest coast of any state in the country. i'm sure i'll get some debate about that from some of my colleagues. but we depend upon our coast. tourism and visitation to our beaches and coastal communities are a $1 billion industry, the largest single employer in our state. so that is an enormous economic engine that is currently working and running and powering at least a portion of the economy of our state.
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and of course on my tie, i have lobsters, a $1.7 billion a year industry in maine, and it promises to be even stronger as processing is developed. we also have an offshore fishing industry: shrimp, shellfish. it is enormously important. it is part of who we are in the state of maine. and in my view, this is a pretty straightforward decision. what are the benefits and what are the costs? and the benefits are speculative at best, limited at best. and the costs are immediate and enormous challenge for us. the cost of a single incident along our coast which affected our lobster industry or affected our visitor industry in the summertime and in the spring and the fall would be catastrophic for our state. so i hope that the interior department will back off and enter into a process by which
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they make this decision by talking to the people that are most directly involved. i think this is a very important issue for all of the coastal states, and some may say this could be advantageous to us. but let's get the facts. let's get the data. let's understand the up side and the down side. but the entire maine congressional delegation nonpartisan -- that's a democrat, an independent, and two republicans -- have come out against this designation within hours of it having been made, and it is one that i think the people of our state, through their elected representatives, need to be heard. so i hope that the interior department will back away from this unilateral decision, make it in a much more considered way, listen to the residents and the industries and the businesses that are affected by a decision like this, and let our states have the important role that they should play in a decision of this magnitude
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affecting their citizens. mr. president, as i say, i think this is an important decision. it deserves much deeper consideration. and i believe the people of maine will eventually -- not eventually, will very promptly say this isn't something that we're willing to support. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. nelson: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, i see my good friend, the senator from new jersey, here. i just want to make a few comments since i have been at the center of this firestorm. i'm here again to talk about the mess that has been created by the five-year drilling plan. one of the reasons that i talked about it so much beyond the fact that it is so disastrous and dangerous, especially not only
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for all the coastal states, but our state of florida that has more beaches than any other state, that is surrounded by test range. indeed, just today the largest rocket since the apollo program to the moon has brought back two of its boosters that didn't have to fall into the ocean, but some may. and you simply cannot have oil rigs out there in the atlantic where we are testing our military rockets and where such as today, a commercial rocket, a falcon heavy, has dropped its initial stages. the same thing with the military on the west coast. the largest testing and training area for the united states military in the world is eastern gulf of mexico off of florida. that's why it's off limits in
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law for another five years, until the year 2022. and we need to expand it. well, my colleagues have endured me so many times talking about how disastrous is it would -- hs it would be. now we have another wrinkle with the interior department. they first have a proposal that would open up every eufrpbl of - inch of the entire u.s. you're hearing all these coastal senators speak against it. and they pick up off the eastern coast off florida since it's off limits in law until 2022, they pick up there and start wanting to drill out there. can you imagine what that would
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do to the united states air force that runs the eastern gulf test range? now look what happens. they publish this, and then the very next day, 24 hours later, the secretary of the interior jets off to tallahasee for a 20-minute press conference at the tallahasee airport and announces that florida is off the table. now it was an obvious, transparent, political stunt, but it created enormous uncertainty about what was truly under consideration for drilling. so what did off the table in order to try to satisfy
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florida's incumbent governor, what did that mean? did off the table, does it apply to the atlantic coast of florida as well? just to the gulf. is it the whole moratorium area of the eastern gulf? does it include the straits of florida off the delicate florida keys? or or will it be carved in half to appease the oil industry in the eastern gulf of mexico? the administration, specifically secretary zinke, is playing fast and loose with the prospect that affects millions of people in the state of florida, and floridians deserve to know what's going on. that's why i sounded the alarm immediately. within ten minutes after secretary zinke's announcement. i've been through this process
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before, ever since i was a young congressman representing the east coast of florida with a secretary of the interior, james watt, that wanted to drill off the east coast of florida where back then in the mid-1980's we were launching military rockets and where the space shuttle was dropping its solid rocket booster. so these five-year plans are supposed to be developed over the course of one or two years with extensive input from the public, agency staff from the industries involved, from the environmental community. five-year plans aren't supposed to be a goody bag of political favors and they can't be undone by the secretary's press conference or a tweet.
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that was confirmed by a career employee, walter crookshank, the acting director of the bureau of ocean energy management. he said that at a house committee hearing. it's no wonder that the attorney general from 12 coastal states wrote to the secretary to warn him that he should terminate the draft proposal -- terminate it entirely or else they are going to pursue their appropriate legal avenues. the whole process has been fraught with confusion because it was a political stunt. and as a result you've got a bunch of senators out here fighting to make known what is happening, and at the same time, the interior department is trying to open up america's
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entire coastline to drilling, they are also working to undo all the commonsense safety standards that were put in place after the deepwater horizon oil spill that spilled five million barrels of oil into the gulf and killed 11 workers on the rig. and those safety standards include requirements like making sure an independent third party, like a professional engineer, certifies the offshore drilling safety equipment such as the blowout preventer that malfunctioned five miles below the surface of the gulf when it did not cut off the oil at the wellhead on the floor of the ocean and allowed that five million barrels to be spilled. and now secretary zinke wants to
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go backwards in time and reverse all of those safety standards. the american people deserve better than this. floridians certainly deserve better than this, and i want to thank my fellow senators for getting out here and raising such a ruckus so that we can get the american people to focus on what is happening and the political stunts that are being done by secretary of the interior. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. a senator: there is no one who has been a greater advocate for america's space program than senator nelson. this issue goes from florida
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across the entire atlantic and of course pacific as well. i rise in strong opposition to the trump administration's offshore drilling plan. i'm here to speak on behalf of new jersey's shore businesses, the restaurants, the tackle shops, and bed and breakfasts that depend on this. their voices deserve to be heard, their livelihoods are on the line. yet this administration remains solely focused on big oil's bottomline. mr. menendez: never mind the consequences of the health of the planet or our vibrant coastal communities. the interior offshore drilling plan reads like a wish list for oil industry executives. clearly the trump administration didn't consult my constituents when drafting this plan, which by the way, we had already gone
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through a five-year plan. so there was supposed to be five years before we were visiting this and now we're back at it again. they didn't consult the shop owners in asbury park because if they did they would learn that our shoreline is an economic powerhouse for our state. each year new jersey's tourism industry generates $44 billion in economic activity directly and indirectly supporting nearly 10% of the state's workforce. and likewise our seafood industry supports over 31,000 jobs and we're home to one of america's largest saltwater recreational fisheries supporting over 16,000 jobs. together the homes and businesses along the jersey shore encompass almost $800 billion in property values. so all of this adds up to a
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simple reality. clean coasts are vital to the economic security of millions of new jerseyans. and the same holds true for towns up and down the atlantic shoreline. yet the trump administration plans to ignore the concern of the communities who have the most to lose. they ignore the more than 120 municipalities, the 1,200 elected officials, the 41,000 businesses, the 500,000 fishing families from up and down the east coast who voiced their opposition the last time that oil and gas drilling were being considered. they ignore concerns from the pentagon and nasa about disruptions to their operations from drilling in the atlantic. they ignore the opposition of my west coast colleagues to drilling in the pacific. they ignore the department of
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the interior's own finding that the arctic drilling comes with a 75% chance of an oil spill in a treacherous and challenging environment. simply put, the trump drilling plan ignores everyone except big oil. what's happening here is a dream scenario for the oil industry but it is a nightmare for our shore communities. it's a gift to corporate polluters at the expense of our coastal economies. and by the way, you know, i love these commercials that i see talk about american energy independence. as you heard my colleague senator wyden say before, we are now an exporter of oil. well, how is it that you are exporting oil -- you're drilling it here in the continental waters of the united states, but
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you're exporting it abroad for others to use? you know, it seems to me if you're drilling on federal lands and waters you should keep it here for domestic energy consumption and keep the prices down and energy security. that's real energy security. not having big oil drill here and export it all over the world so they can make a profit. i don't know how that makes us more energy secure here at home. make no mistake this administration's latest expansion of offshore drilling is just the beginning. they are also beginning to dismantle minimal safety standards for offshore drilling. that's right. the trump administration not only wants more offshore drilling, it also wants to permit more dangerous offshore drilling. the interior department reportedly seeks to weaken the well control rule, the critical
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safety standards mutt in -- put in place after the deepwater horizon tragedy, which taught us something, if you drill, you will spill. if you drill, you will spill. at some point that will happen. imagine doing superstorm sandy along the east coast of the atlantic when that took place if we had oil rigs off the shore of new jersey, we would have had spills. we would have had spills. so instead of saving lives and saving our environment and the economic consequences that flow from that, the trump administration's actions aim to save the industry $900 million. during his senate confirmation, secretary zinke promised to, quote, work with rather than against local communities and states. well, it sure feels like he's working against new jersey. the secretary has shown no
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concern for the jersey shore communities that would be devastated by an oil spill. the shuttered businesses, the destroyed industries, the massive job losses, the birthright of every new jerseyan to go to the new jersey shore and enjoy its pristine beaches, which is why it's all the more baffling that secretary zinc yip recently said that -- zinke recently said that after hearing from florida officials, he would consider exempting the state from the disastrous drilling plan. when asked, he said, quote, local voices count. well, i'm happy if that's what's going to happen to florida. but guess what, if it is good enough for florida, it should be good enough for the jersey shore. that's why every member of the new jersey congressional delegation, republicans and democrats alike, recently joined
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me in a letter to go with secretary zinke to visit the jersey shore. we would like to have him visit the small businesses on the east coast. if he wants to focus on the economics of oil drilling, i suggest that he starts with the thousands of people who would be out of a job if oil starts washing up on our beaches. the secretary needs to hear from constituents of mine like charles of toms river who said, quote, we already have shoreline concerns thanks to superstorm sandy, we don't need another threat to our economy. or jean from new bruns wic, who said that tourism is a major business. or any of the thousands of new jerseyans who have signed my coast anti-drilling act petition
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to stop drilling. the jersey shore is home to family vacations, successful small businesses, and vibrant coastal communities that are visited from people across the atlantic coast, canadians who come down and spend their money at our shore and so many others. that may not mean anything to exxonmobil or b.p., and it may not mean anything to president trump or secretary zinke, but it means something to me. that's why we're here today to give voice to new jerseyans who have gone unheard. we will not stand silent while this administration tries to auction the jersey shore off to the highest bidder, not without a fight. not without a fight. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. whitehouse: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, one of rhode island's
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contributions to the cultural life of our nation came from two brothers who grew up in cumberland, rhode island. they did two movies, one was called "dumb and dumber." this is a good example of dumb and dumber. it was dumb when president obama opened the south atlantic coast to the prospect of oil drilling. when he did, the reaction was immediate and profound from norfolk, virginia, all the way down the red south atlantic coast to st. august is teen -- august isine county, they all said, get that offshore drilling out of here. we don't want it. it was a sweep of that
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republican shoreline. it was called the resolution revolution because so many resolutions were passed saying, get your oil drilling the heck away from our coasts. ultimately, the obama administration got smart and in the final approval, there was no drilling in the atlantic, no drilling in the pacific. they gave reasons for their choice. strong local opposition was one. conflicts with other ocean uses was another. market dynamics was a third. and comments received from governors was a fourth. so in the wake of that, here comes the trump administration and they have seriously gone from dumb to dumber to go right back into this fight where it blew up in the obama
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administration's face among the red state communities of the atlantic coast. good luck finding support for this up in new england. in new england our ocean economy was valued just a few years ago at over $17 billion. it employs about a quarter of a million people. who thinks we're going to walk away from that? who thinks we're not going to defend that ocean economy against an idea as dumb as offshore drilling in the atlantic? we are not going to permit it. i have authored with my house colleague david cicilline, legislation that the whole senate new england representation supports to ban this as a matter of federal law, to stop this. the attorney generals of states from maine down to north
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carolina, including massachusetts, delaware, rhode island of course,ers iners in, new york -- new jersey, new york, maryland, virginia owe owe all have spoken -- virginia, all have spoken out of it. our governor has come out against this dumb idea and she's been joined by republican governors in massachusetts, that new hampshire, in maryland, and in south carolina because this is such a dumb idea. why would this administration pursue such a dumb idea, that republican governors oppose, that blew up in the face of the obama administration along the south atlantic coast when they tried it? that would infringe upon and damage critical coastal economies in states that are republican and democrat. why would me do such a stupid thing?
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well, attorney general kill martin -- kilmartin of rhode island has one suggestion. quote, this decision by the administration is clearly driven by the oil and gas industry. huh. no kidding. this administration is bought and paid for by the oil and gas industry. throw in coal and you have the complete lock, stock, and barrel sale. complete industry toteys and the responsibility agencies of government, climate denial of the most fragrant and obtuse variety coming out of the white house. i mean, it is nonessential land except for the fact that it keeps the oil and gas and coal money coming to prop up the trump administration and republican party. we're not going to stand for it. it's crooked. it will not go. chris brown is the head of the commercial fishermen's association of rhode island. he's add majt. oil drill -- adamant. oil drilling is incredibly threatening and directly adverse to our well-being.
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we're going to stand and fight for our fishing communities. our environmental community is wildly against this. the last thing our coast needs is oil drilling and all of the risks that go with it, says our lead environmental organization save the bay. i'll close with the providence business journal. the voice of the rhode island business community which just editorialized fossil fuels no matter where they are harvested are putting coastal areas across the globe in danger as sea levels rise. in the name of national energy and dependence, public policy would hastened the devastating impacts of burning fossil fuels and make much of rhode island and other low-lying areas uninhabitable. at a time when renewable energy in the united states and across the world is becoming less expensive and the effects of climate change are becoming more pronounced, pulling more fossil
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fuels out of the ground is not a wise decision and one that hopefully will be rescinded before any drilling rigs park themselves off block island. that is the voice of received road's business community. and if you want to take a look at why this bothers us, take a look at the footprint of the b.p. oil spill laid on the map of the new england coast. there's boston. there's long island. there's narragansett bay. that is rhode island and that is the footprint of the mess that the oil industry left when it blew up its facility in the middle of the gulf. that is what they did and we don't need that up in new england. we have offshore industries that are vibrant, that support our economy, that are welcome, that
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have long traditions and histories. we do not need oil industry invaders coming where they're not wanted because they bought their way into the trump administration with their political contributions and their dark money. that will not stand. i yield the floor. mr. merkley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: mr. president, i appreciate that senator cantwell organized this time for a group of us to come and talk about this disastrous, insane plan to drill throughout 90% of our coastal shelf. this, the interior secretary tells us, is part of president trump's directive to rebuild off shore oil and gas program. but he also conveyed that it was the president's directive to, quote, take into consideration the local and state voices.
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well, certainly the draft plan, if you can call it a draft, didn't take into account local or state voices. had the interior secretary bothered to actually consult, this is what he would have heard from people in oregon. our governor kate brown denounced the plan saying in what university would this be okay. noaa -- know would oppenheim of the fishermen's association stated, quote, the trump administration wants to put fish and fisheries at significant risk while lining the pockets of oil industry coconspirators. meanwhile, more frequent oil spills, more intense ocean acidification and ocean warming are guaranteed to ensue. charlie plybalm at surf writer
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foundation, an organization made up by everyday people passionate about protecting our oceans and our beaches shared this opinion, quote, we're united in understanding the threats which offshore oil drilling poses to our coastal economy, jobs, and culture. we will not gamble our ocean resources with dining rouse -- dangerous oil exploration and polluting drilling activities that put our future and that of generations to come at risk. and charlie went on to convey the enormous disparity between the economy that is driven by fishing and ocean recreation and by tourism as compared to the economy driven by oil drilling and how the former completely outweighs the ladder. -- the latter. the association of northwest steel headers is one of the oldest and most cherished conservation and sport fishing advocacy organizations in the pacific northwest. their statement is the following:
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this proposal stands to go against everything we believe in. drilling for oil and gas off the coast of oregon compromises our fisheries, our coastal economies, and our values. mr. merkley: these folks know what they're talking about. and the tribes weighed in through the columbia river intertribal fish commission. their resolution conveys, quote, any proposal to open pacific offshore waters from california to and including alaska to offshore drilling. scott mcmullen, the chairman of the oregon fishermen's cable committee, a group of patrol fishermen who have been very involved in negotiations involving the fiber optic cable lines that are laid in the ocean said, the oregon fishing industry has had a long history of good stewardship of the fishing grounds which are open for multiple uses, oil platforms in our fishing grounds would deny access to the resources
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that fishermen, fish processors and thriving coastal communities depend on. to take away the right to use our historical shared fishing growfnltsdzs by -- grounds by awarding drilling right tbos this single industrial use is -- rights for this single industrial use is wrong. dale beasley had this opinion. as president of the columbia river crab fishermen's association and the coalition of coastal fisheries, our position on any fixed structures in the ocean and particularly oil platforms is simple. no, no, and no again. our members rely 100% on clean, sustainable marine waters for 100% of our family's income. terry thompson, lincoln county commissioner, stated the state of oregon has been a leader in the nation in terms of protecting our environment where we're responsibly using our natural resources. we ban oil and gas development
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three years ago because the potential risk to our ocean which is one of the most productive places in the world. the president's proposal to allow oil and gas development is an attempt to override the will of the people and shows a complete disconnect between this administration and the people of the west. i think that these voices, the voices of the crabbing industry and the salmon industry and the fishing industry, the tourism industry, these voices of the coastal economy reverberate in absolute parallel and passionate opposition to drilling off our coast for oil. before the drilling takes place, there's massive amounts of explosions that are conducted in order to create the maps of what is under the surface for
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potential drilling. that alone, just the preparation for drilling, is deeply disturbing. but imagine what an oil spill looks like. this is a map of the washington and oregon coast with the outline overlaid of the gulf oil spill. it covers a section that is the entire length of the state of oregon and the state of washington. imagine those hundreds of miles of soiled beaches, the oil's impact on the ecosystem of the fisheries. there is no way that this risk is justified for pumping a few more barrels of oil, which i might point out should be left in the ground anyway because burning oil that we are extracting from the ground is steadily raising the temperature of the planet and the temperature of our oceans, which
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absorb the vast majority of the heat from burning fossil fuels. and that is creating changes from ocean acidification, the bleaching of the coral reefs, and all kinds of impacts on the surface of the continents. so i say to the interior secretary, you have been given a mission by the president of the united states, and you have stated that that is to take into consideration local and state voices. so simply hear those voices and then take oregon out of the equation. take washington out of the equation. take california out of the equation. take every state that objects out of this equation and, by the way, be wise to take the rest out as well. thank you, mr. president.
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mr. markey: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. markey: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i want to thank senator cantwell for organizing this opportunity this afternoon to speak about this egregious decision that was made by the trump administration that will allow for drilling for oil off of the beaches of the united states of america. it is an absolute disgrace that this administration is doing something like this. what we have on our hands is a president that has a hard time listening to his own message. last week he's bragging about how much new oil we're discovering in america. he's so proud of this. in fact, we export a million and a half barrels of oil a day.
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listen to that again. we export a million and a half barrels of oil a day. where do we send this oil? we send it to china. we send it to other countries. mr. president, are you happy with that? no. he says we need more oil. we need to drill off of our beaches, notwithstanding what that will do to our tourism industry, to our fishing industry, to any industry that does business along the coastlines of our country. and ultimately, what would be the purpose to which this oil would be put? export the oil. so how does that formula really work? the oil companies come to the beaches of massachusetts or any other state.
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they set up rigs that start to drill for oil. they find the oil. and then they sell that oil somewhere else around the world. meanwhile, the people who live off of those beaches in massachusetts or any other state, they run all the risk if there is an accident, as there was in the gulf of mexico in 2010 in the b.p. oil spill. so the risks all are run by the states that don't want the drilling, and the benefits all run to the oil companies who get to sell this oil around the world. well, it makes perfect sense because g.o.p. really stands for gas and oil party. that's what they have turned themselves into. it's whatever big oil wants. even if state after state after state says that they do not want
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this to happen. now, it was every single state from maine down to florida that was going to be given permission to the oil companies to commence drilling, but the governor of florida, a republican governor, he protests. he says that he doesn't want there to be drilling off the coast of florida after florida had already been included in the plan. so what happens? well, all of a sudden, the trump administration decides that they're going to have a gator giveaway. all of a sudden, florida gets to be exempt. now, why would florida be exempt? well, maybe because it's a republican governor. maybe because that republican governor is thinking about running for the united states
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senate. and so maybe, just maybe this governor who once supported drilling off of the coast of florida all of a sudden says man, the people don't want it. they don't want the beaches of florida to be endangered. and so what happens? well, governor scott all of a sudden from florida starts shedding his crocodile tears about how much he cares about the beaches, even though he had always been supportive of offshore drilling, and that leads to the gator giveaway where all of a sudden florida is not in. now, i don't think it's incidental that mar-a-lago actually is in florida as well. maybe donald trump hadn't been fully consulted by secretary zinke and the department of interior on this inclusion of
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florida, but before you knew it, all of a sudden florida is no longer on the map. but every other state that doesn't have a republican governor running for the senate, that doesn't have a president of the united states with a summer resort, a winter resort, a spring and summer resort, mar-a-lago, is stuck with this decision. now, the problem with what they did is this. it's obviously arbitrary and capricious. it's obviously a violation of the administrative procedures act. it's obviously something that will never stand up in court that after a decision is made to include every state, all of a sudden florida comes up. it will never hold up, and that will be the basis of the case made by the attorneys general and all of the business interests, environmental interests that will be suing on this issue. so what part of this really works? it's oil that would be drilled
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for at the risk of despoiling the beaches and the fishing industry, the tens of billions of dollars in the fishing industry and tourism industry, with the benefits running to one single industry. now, the american petroleum institute is trying to have it both ways. on the one hand, they are saying we are at the boom time of all time in oil drilling in the united states. we're energy independent. this is the boom town. that's donald trump sounding the same exact way, boasting across the country about his energy policies, his fossil fuel first policies. he keeps saying that he's ended the war on energy. now, it's not true because just last week he actually imposed a
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30% tariff on importation of solar panels, so he is talking about no war on his favored energy technologies, but if he doesn't like them, you get a 30% increase in tariffs to the very technologies that in polling by 80% all americans want to see increased inside of our country. so we're going to be fighting this every single step of the way. it is immoral. it's unnecessary. it violates the goals which these individual states have in order to advance their own economies. and i personally am going to exhaust all available legislative tools to fight this attempt by president trump to allow drilling off of the coast of massachusetts, of the east coast, and nearly every other
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single mile of coastline in the united states, with the exception of florida, and that includes using the congressional review act which allows for agency actions to be undone by a simple majority in both chambers. i plan to pursue such a congressional review act resolution if the trump administration moves forward with this reckless plan. we will not stop until this plan is blocked and is dead and that our coastlines are protected once and for all. mr. president, i yield back the balance of my time. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, i rise today to voice my strong opposition to the trurchtion's -- trump administration's latest move to override the will of washington state's citizens, our fishing families, our small business
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owners, our environmentalists, and our outdoor enthusiasts by opening our coastal waters to harmful oil and gas drilling. the continental waters on the west coast are one of our state's richest and most cherished national resources, sustaining communities along with the pacific northwest for centuries in helping to define our regional culture for generations. it would be hard to overstate just how important washington's coastal waters are to our local way of life. many of us count on our coasts for our food or our work, and washington state coasts are home to numerous seafood and tourism-dependent communities. they support a $50 billion maritime economy and nearly 200,000 maritime-related jobs, not to mention countless families and travelers who are seeking outdoor recreation and flock to our shores throughout the year. to experience the natural beauty and sport of our iconic
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shorelines. to put it simply, washingtonians don't take our healthy coasts for granted. we know keeping our shores pristine isn't just about leisure and scenic views. preserving our coastal waters is a critical factor in promoting a healthy regional ecosystem and an economy that supports vital jobs and industries, fish and wildlife, and public health opportunities that many of us, our families and our friends and neighbors rely on. so, mr. president, i, too, was deeply disappointed but ultimately unsurprised when interior secretary zinke announced the department's plans to ignore the existing oil and gas leasing program that was just approved a few years ago and instead moved to draft and implement a new program that would allow offshore oil and gas drilling in nearly all of our nation's continental waters, including our coastal waters off washington state. despite decades of fact-finding
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and public input that already established the need to protect ecologically sensitive areas like our coasts. it appears once again president trump and his cabinet have decided to prioritize big oil and the relentless pursuit of profit over the interests of washington state families, and with virtually no regard to what their one-sided policy proposals may mean for our environment, for our public health, or for our economy. and, mr. president, to add insult to injury, i was even more appalled when it was reported just a few days later that secretary zinke was planning to remove florida's waters from consideration after meeting with their governor and hearing their concerns. now, mr. president, i will leave it to others who wonder what exactly persuaded secretary zinke to remove florida from that list, but i can't say i was stunned when that courtesy was not extended to washington state, even after our governor made the exact same request.
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so later, while i was on my way back home from the other washington and concerned about the potentially damaging impacts of secretary zinke's decision on our washington state's ecosystem, i decided to ask my followers on twitter to join me in sending a message to the interior department and tweet photos of some of washington state's many important and pristine coastal areas, and i just have to say the response was overwhelming. within hours, my timeline was filled with photos of beaches and coasts all along washington state's shoreline, from ruby beach to bellingham bay to olympic national park to orcas island, the majestic calm of cape flattery and of rainbows arching across the belle island shore. photos of children running across the beaches and photos of fishermen unloading their haul.
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i also received photos from other coastal areas in the pacific northwest, all from residents who want their pristine shores preserved and were eager to raise their voices to safeguard our coast. i was inspired as i scrolled through this growing and beautiful collection of photos that illustrated the significance of our coast, not just to our state's economy and environment, but to our shared culture and identity. our shores are where we fish and swim and exercise and work, but also where our wildlife roams and our children play and where we make lasting memories with our loved ones. mr. president, it is not too late for the interior department to reverse this misguided decision to expand offshore oil and gas drilling and instead focus on maintaining and strengthening existing regulations protecting this country's continental waters. i really hope secretary zinke
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and officials at the interior department finally hear loud and clear what washingtonians have been saying for decades, that the extreme environmental and ecological dangers posed by offshore oil and gas drilling are too great a risk for washington state families, and i hope they move quickly to reschedule the public meeting that they were supposed to hold yesterday in tacoma so people from washington can share their concerns with the department directly. mr. president, i want to remind my colleagues and everyone in our country who cares about our environment, this fight is far from over. as we have learned over the last year, it is important we continue to make our voices heard again and again to ensure that this administration backs down from this reckless proposal and puts the interest of washington state families first. as a voice for washington state here in the united states senate, i'm going to continue fighting against the trump administration's effort to
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leverage our environment to boost big oil's bottom line, and i know i will never stop standing with our families and our workers and our small businesses to protect our coasts. today and for future generations. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. mrs. fischer: thank you, mr. president. we have an opportunity before us today to fund key priorities that we all agree are important. the american people elected all of us to do a job, and that job is to provide for the most important functions of our government. for far too long, politics has prevented us from committing the resources necessary to sustain the most critical part of our government, the military that keeps us safe. this is a chance to cast aside partisan differences and give
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the department of defense the stable and consistent funding it needs so it can rebuild readiness and execute its mission. just this morning, secretary mattis testified before congress, saying, quote, i ask that you not let disagreements on our domestic policy continue to hold our nation's defense hostage. close quote. he is right. we cannot let these basic issues distract us from the job that we have all under the constitution taken to provide for the common defense. i just came from a classified briefing with the secretary, and he outlined the most important needs that we must fund for our country's security. so why not come together on issues that we can agree on. six months ago this chamber passed the f.y. 2018 national
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defense authorization act with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 89-9. in the time since, however, our military remains hamstrung under short-term measures that are standing in the way of modernization and readiness. and that's why i say to my democrat colleagues, here's a chance for you to prove that you are serious about funding the military. many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have already spoken clearly about their desire to support the troops. last month the senior senator from vermont remarked, quote, our military leaders agree we cannot govern by a continuing resolution. the military cannot function under sequestration. the senior senator from west virginia said, quote, we want our military to be funded properly so they can defend us.
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the senior senator from montana said, quote, the uncertainty we have without a longer budget that goes to the end of the fiscal year is unacceptable. the senior senator from connecticut said, quote, i hope there is bipartisan consensus among us on the armed services committee and in the chamber as a whole that we need a strong national defense. and even today, the minority leader told this body that democrats, quote, support increasing funding for our military. so why not act? there is a consensus that we desperately need to fix the readiness issues in our armed forces. why not take that step today and vote to provide the stable, predictable funding that the department of defense so seriously needs?
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when i swore an oath to defend the constitution, i did it knowing that every day i hold this office, countless numbers of my constituents would be wearing the uniform and be in harm's way. around the globe you find nebraskans, you find americans protecting and defending the united states. each of us here represents people who sacrifice and serve american heroes. today is a chance to show them that we have their backs because they have proven time and time again that they have ours. i urge my colleagues to put aside partisan differences and take the vote to support our military and the programs that are critical to the safety and the well-being of this nation. mr. president, we also have a
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unique opportunity today to address another program that has a deep, bipartisan well of support here in the senate. today i visited with nebraskans who made the trip to washington to advocate for funding for community health centers. across our nation, community health centers are vital to keeping our children and our families healthy. last year nearly 85,000 nebraskans received care at centers across our state during approximately 296,000 visits. these centers provide high quality care, compassionate care, and patient-focused care. community health centers in my state rank second in quality measures nationally and first in four other measures involving individual care. their focus and their impact on
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the communities they serve is very impressive. we all recognize the importance of these health centers, and i was proud to recently join my colleagues in the senate in urging that funding be reauthorized so these centers can continue to provide the quality care that all nebraskans and all americans deserve. mr. president, our military and community health centers are too important to be caught up in politics. as we find ourselves once again facing the prospect of yet another impasse, i urge my colleagues to join me in showing your support if these critical areas -- for these critical areas. article one, section 8 of the constitution makes clear what our job is, provide for the common defense and the general welfare of the united states. let's fulfill that duty today. i yield the floor.
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mr. president, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. a number of my colleagues are going to be -- i ask unanimous consent that the pending quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. a number of my colleagues will be coming to the floor this afternoon to discuss the predicament that we face as the mueller investigation, the special counsel investigation, the department of justice,
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closes in on the trump white house and the trump campaign creating two problems. one is an unprecedented attack on the law enforcement institutions that are involved in that investigation, an effort to discredit our federal bureau of investigation and our department of justice, including the suggestion that this whole thing is a witchhunt, even though every single witness, including trump administration -- trump appointees who have come before our committees have been asked, hey, this investigation, is it a witchhu witchhunt? two persons said no. russian interference is real. it's coming back in 2018 and it's no witchhunt to look into what took place. so you've got this whole smear effort going on at individuals and institutions involved in the institution. cue call that the crime of --
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you could call that the crime of commission, if you would. the crime of omission, that while the majority in both houses are trying to smear the department of justice and various individuals in this investigation, they are not -- not taking the steps necessary to protect the 2018 elections. we have done virtually nothing. the one thing we've done led by ranking member ben cardin, the senator from maryland, was to get really strong sanctions put through. and we all agreed on that i think the vote was 98-2 in the senate, 98-2, powerful sanctions. you messed in our elections. pop. here's one in the nose for you. don't do it again. that was the lesson. we're going after you, mr. putin, where it hurts, which is with all your dirty, corrupt oligarchs who support you and who you may to stay in power.
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that's the shot that we took back. you messed in our elections. we're going after your crooked oligarchs, except that guess where that effort stopped dead? in the oval office, at the president's desk, where president trump won't let the russian sanctions go forward. so we have this whole smear campaign discrediting honorable american institutions just to protect the president from the investigation. we have nothing being done legislatively to protect the 2018 elections. and you have the one thing that we did do to send a message to the russians that we're tired of this nonsense and to give them a little bit of a pop in the nose to get them to knock it off, a little deterrent, and the president won't act on it. so i'm going to be here for the duration of this and i'll have more to say, but i want to yield to the ranking member of the
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senate foreign relations committee who was so important in getting these sanctions through and understands very well from his work in the magnitsky issue what these russian oligarchs are up to. mr. cardin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: mr. president, first, i want to thank senator whitehouse for bringing this issue to the attention of our colleagues and the american people. as senator whitehouse points out, we've seen from the white house, from the president, an effort to try to undermine the credibility of the independent investigation being done by the department of justice under mr. mueller. these are very serious issues. and i would hope every member of this chamber would support the independence of that investigation and speak loudly against any interference wherever it may come from. but then senator whitehouse has brought up the second issue, and
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that is that mr. putin has been extremely active in regards to activities against u.s. interests. i appreciate senator whitehouse referencing a report that i authored on january -- and released on january 10 of this year. it was the result of a full year operation by the staff of the senate foreign relations committee to document mr. puti mr. putin's reckless assault against democratic institutions, universal values, and the rule of law. the asymmetric arsenal that he uses to accomplish that attack against democratic institutions, which includes cyber attacks, disinformation, support for fringe political groups, weaponnization of energy resources, organized crime, corruption, and, yes, military aggression. he has used every one of those
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tools to -- who compromise democratic institutions in europe and, yes, in the united states. mr. putin was extremely active in the 2016 election. that has now been verified without any question. a report that i authored goes through 19 european countries in which mr. putin has been active against democratic institutions. i share with my colleagues that the president of the esep parliamentary assembly was in town today. he's meeting with government officials. he knows firsthand russia's -- mr. putin's aggression because there are russian troops in georgia today affecting its sovereignty as there are russian troops in m ukraine. the people of montenegro saw the hand of putin when he held a
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koup against their authority. he got involved in the brexit receive ransom dumb. the people of france and germany saw mr. putin's aggression as he tried to interfere with their free elections. countries have stepped up. they've said enough is enough. and we've seen with strong leadership that you can counter the activities successfully what russia is trying to do. the right mixture of political will, of defense and deterrence can work. and, yes, as senator whitehouse pointed out, we in congress acted. we recognize the threat of russia. so we passed the countering america's adversaries through sanctions act, the caasa agrument. it was a bipartisan effort that tightens the sanctions under the obama era executive order on
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ukraine and passed new mandatory sanctions, mandatory sanctions against russia because of their activities. there are sanctions imposed in regards to russia federations undermining cyber security. there were sanctions related to russia's crude oil products. there were sanctions authorized with respect to russia and other foreign financial institutions. there were sanctions imposed against russia for significant corruption in the russian federation, sanctions with respect to certain transactions with foreign sanction evaders and serious human rights abusers in the russian federation. mandatory sanctions with respect to persons engaging in transactions with the intelligence and defense sector of the government of the russian federation. why? because they were interfering in our elections. sanctions with respect to investment in or facilitating the privatization of state-owned
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assets by the russian federation. why? because that helped finance mr. putin's activities. russia with sanctions with respect to the transfer of arms or related materiel to syria. each one of those sanctions imposed new authority to the president of the united states to impose sanctions against russia for their activities. i said earlier where shuns have shown leadership, it has been effective in countering mr. putin's activities. president trump, no sanctions, not one has been -- has been brought forward under the law passed by the congress of the united states. by 98.9% of the members of the house and senate, we approved the sanctions the -- the sanctions, the trump administration has opposed steer. the trump administration has failed to acknowledge that
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mr. putin has been engaged in their 2016 elections. he says i talked to mr. putin. it seems like he is telling me the truth when he says he wasn't involved. even though it is the unanimous view of our intelligence community and the facts have been very clearly laid out to the american people that mr. putin was actively engaged in the 2016 elections. and yes, we have seen very recently russia's engagement in the czech election. we have seen this movie before, the candidate advocating for stronger ties to european institutions was targeted by a barrage of fake news stories that spread across online platforms which he alleges were directed by russian security services and entities tied to them, a direct assault against the czech public's democratic institutions. and as senator white house pointed out, michael pompeo, when asked in an interview if russia would try to influence the midterm elections of the united states, our c.i.a. director replied, and i quote, of course.
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i had every expectation that they will -- i have every expectation that they will continue to try to do that. so where is the trump administration in taking action to protect our democratic institutions? mr. president, this is not a partisan issue. there is a long tradition in congress of republicans and democrats working together to counter russia government aggression abroad, an abuse against its own citizens. our allies and democratic institutions. the sanction bill passed in 2017 was with near unanimous support. it was crafted and developed through democrats and republicans working together. the strengthened durability of our political system relies on school lunch bipartisan -- on such bipartisan solutions to our national security challenges. i hope the recommendations that were in the report i referred to earlier -- and there is a series of recommendations, from working with our allies to develop
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countersecurity issues to working in nato to understand what the article five response should be to cyber attacks to making alternative ways to remove the impact of russia using energy as a weapon. but it starts with presidential leadership. we must take care to point out there is a distinction between mr. putin's corrupt regime and the people of russia who have been some of his most frequent and long-suffering victims. many russian citizens like sergei magnitsky hope for a better government under the rule of law. we hope for a relationship with the russian government that reflects these imperatives. in the meantime, the united states must work with our allies to build defenses against mr. putin's asystem trick arsenal and strengthen our values to deter such behavior by russia or any other country.
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it starts with the leadership from the white house. it starts with imposing the sanctions that were approved by congress. mr. nelson: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, i have been involved in a number of elections over the years. i love campaigns. i love campaigning. i have always campaigned in a situation where you have your opponent and the people have a chance to make a judgment between you and your opponent as to who can best serve the people. little did i ever think that i was going to have to fight against the russians in a campaign, and yet that's what i fully expect and that's what i expect a number of us that are
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up in november of this year will be having to do, because in the midst of all the disinformation that we have seen that the russians are very good at, all of the fake accounts on twitter and facebook, the internet trolls, the bot nets, it's critically important that the american people understand this is a fundamental attempt of russia to influence our very democratic institutions and our critical infrastructure in our elections, indeed are a part of that critical infrastructure. so last year when the intelligence community assessed that putin seize his attempt to influence the last election as a success, that he's going to do
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it again. that's what the intelligence community's conclusion was. just last week, the director of the c.i.a. said, just last week, that he had every expectation that russia will meddle in the 2018 midterm elections. so as the senator from maryland just said, as the senator from rhode island has already said, this isn't a partisan issue. it can happen to both sides. attempts to influence our elections are attacks on the very foundation of the democracy that we so cherish. that's really what the russians are trying to do. they're trying to divide us. they're trying to undermine faith in our democratic institutions and ultimately they're trying to undermine
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american leadership in the world community of nations, and the bottom line is we have got to do more to protect ourselves, and we have got to make mr. putin feel enough pain to deter future attacks, or else he's going to keep doing it. now, this senator has the privilege of being the ranking member of the cyber subcommittee of the armed services committee, and i must say that this senator has sat through hearings with people who ought to know, and i have been appalled at how little we will or have or have the capability of responding. it's going to take some resolve. it's going to take some resolve, not only in this senate, in this congress, but in this administration as well to let
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mr. putin know that he's going to have pain if he does the continuing attacks that he's already done. and of course there is another aspect to this threat, and that is that russia just isn't attacking our democracy in america, as has been stated so effectively by previous speakers. he is in europe. he is in latin america, too. so look at what the russians have done in the spanish language propaganda television. r.t. there is an r.t. in espanol. it's already targeting upcoming elections in mexico and colombia, two of our important partners in the hemisphere. and the president's national security advisor, general mcmaster, he said recently
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that there was already evidence of russian meddling in mexico. and of course this points to the russian effort to destabilize the region. it's sought to gain influence from propaganda arm sales, trades, other means to challenge the u.s. in the western hemisphere. undermine our partnerships which are critical to our national security. look at russia's friends. cuba, nicaragua, and how about venezuela. the reality is that russia is propping up the med euro-- madu maduro dictatorship in venezuela. for years, the maduro crowd have
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stolen and used the state-owned communication company to launder money and russia has bailed them out. russian moneys has helped maduro from defaulting on debts and payments to bondholders. and meanwhile, look what is happening to the poor people of venezuela. they are hungry. they don't have basic supplies. their children are malnourished. inflation is rampant. maduro has undermined any remnants of venezuela's democracy. he jails opponents. he has a rough congress. he cracks down on protestors. it's all a part of the russian influence campaign. so as you can see, countering russian influence is critical for the united states and for
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the world, and it's also important to remember putin can't beat us on the ground, he can't beat us on the sea, he can't beat us under the sea, he can't beat us in the air, and he can't beat us in space, but he can beat us in cyber, and his propaganda campaign. but that putin, that russian bear is not ten-feet tall. as a former secretary of state just testified last week to our armed services committee, putin is playing a weak hand, but he's playing it very aggressively, and it's time for us, the u.s.a., to push back. mr. president, i yield the floor.
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mrs. shaheen: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: mr. president, i'm here with senator nelson, senator white house, and senator cardin because i share their concerns about the rising chorous of -- chorus of partisan attacks, not only on special counsel robert mueller, but also on the federal bureau of investigation and the department of justice. these attacks are part of a broader campaign that has been orchestrated by the white house to undermine the investigations into russia's interference in the 2016 campaign, including possible collusion by the trump campaign. now, unfortunately, if continued, it will have a lasting impact on our security structures, on our democratic institutions, and on our people, and ultimately it will help the kremlin achieve its goal to break down our country and our democratic way of life. in a report issued january 2017,
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the united states intelligence community found that russia interfered in our elections. this was the unanimous conclusion of all 17 u.s. intelligence agencies. indeed, that russian interference continues to this day, not only in the domestic affairs of the united states but in the affairs of our western allies. we have seen the kremlin's hand in great britain, in spain, in france, and in mexico, all in an effort to determine the outcome and disrupt elections in those countries. just last week, c.i.a. director mike pompeo confirmed russia's ongoing interference in an interview with the bbc. as senator cardin said, when he was asked, director pompeo, if russia would try to influence our midterm election this year, he replied, and i quote, of
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course. i have every expectation that they will continue to try and do that. in fact, in recent weeks, russian internet trolls and bots have used facebook and twitter to aggressively promote the release of the house republicans' memo by devin nunes attacking the integrity of the f.b.i. so let's think about that. russia gave a powerful assist to the successful campaign to release a misleading document undermining an ongoing f.b.i. investigation. and yet, despite these disturbing facts, president trump continues to be dismissive of claims of any russian interference. for six months congress has expected the administration to impose the penalties in the bipartisan russia sanctions bill that passed this body 98-2. but the administration has not
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even issued one sanction through that law. despite ongoing braisen russian interference, the white house claims that sanctions are not needed because the threat of sanctions is already, quote, serving as a deterrent. but the me threat -- the mere threat of sanctions is not serving as a deterrent. even the senate has experienced cyber attacks since the 2016 elections. yet, vladimir putin continues to deny that russia interferes in anything at all. and for support, the president putin can point to president trump's own denials of russian interference. now president trump has a penchant for labeling factual reports as fake news. again and again he says things that are obviously false or
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misleading. he calls responsible mainstream journalists, quote, the enemy of the people. he attacks the rule of law, the judiciary, and our law enforcement agencies. these things are all classic hallmarks of the slippery slope toward authoritarianism. and indeed it's striking how attacks by some republicans on our law enforcement and democratic institutions echo similar attacks by the kremlin and its mouthpieces. so consider these side-by-side comparisons of statements by russian officials and statements by republicans. so as we see in this tweet which is dated january 2, 2018, president trump has described u.s. government employees and the justice department as the deep state. at the same time russia's propaganda network, r.t., has repeated this terminology.
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so you see deep state takedown? just yesterday r.t. aired a discussion focusing on how to root out the deep state now that its biases supposedly have been exposed by the nunes memo. so on the next one, again, we see these mirror messages between republicans, the white house, and putin. as we see in this panel, allegations that special counsel mueller and the f.b.i. are conducting a, quote, witch hunt, are coming from the highest levels of both the american and russian governments. so we see reuters has repeated a line from r.i.a., which is russia's state television, saying u.s. scandal over russia contacts is a witch hunt. that sentiment was repeated by
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representative andy biggs, a republican who is calling on mrh hunt. and of course was tweeted by donald trump, who called it all of the illegal leaks of classified and other information is a total witch hunt. and then in panel three, we see that both vladimir putin and president trump claim that there is no way to know for sure who meddled in the u.s. election. you can see the two of them. they blame democrats for allegations of russian meddling. putin said, again looking at similar language, putin said maybe somebody lying in bed was responsible. so repeating that, and it repeated what president trump famously said when he said it could be someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400
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pounds. well, it's unfortunate that some republicans as well as voices in the conservative media appear to believe that in order to support the president, they must attack and discredit not only special counsel mueller, but also the department of justice and the f.b.i. these partisan attacks are baseless and reckless, and they will not succeed in deflecting law enforcement from its duties and mission. what they may do, they may well succeed in undermining the american people's faith and confidence in these institutions so vital to a healthy democracy. and that's not only unfortunate, it's shameful. last summer members of congress came together on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis to impose sanctions on russia because people here believed that they were interfering in our elections.
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republicans and democrats spoke with one voice. we said our country has been attacked by a hostile power. we will not tolerate it, and we will stand together to stop it. today it's critical that we continue to speak with one voice in condemning russia's interference. this is a really remarkable moment in our country's history. a hostile foreign power has interfered in our presidential election and continues to interfere. c.i.a. director pompeo said in no uncertain terms that russia will interfere in this year's midterm elections. our lawmakers agencies and a special counsel are working diligently to uncover the scope and methods of russia's interference so that we can put a stop to it. and supporting these efforts isn't about party. it's not about partisanship. it's about patriotism. it's about defending america's
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democracy which has been attacked and continues to be vulnerable to attack. make no mistake, our democracy is being tested. our lawmakers agencies are being tested. and we as senators are being tested. we have a responsibility to come together. senators of both parties to defend the independence of the justice department and the f.b.i. we must insist that special counsel mueller be allowed to conduct and complete his investigation without further political interference. and we must stand together in opposing russia's outrageous continuing interference in america's elections and domestic affairs. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mrs. murray: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president.
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i want to commend my colleagues who are sounding the alarm about russia's interference in u.s. elections and who have worked tirelessly for months on their respective committees to get the answers that americans deserve and give the confidence americans need to know their government is committed to preventing such interference from ever happening again. this work is incredibly important to people around the country and in my home state of washington. i have heard from countless people who deeply love this country but fear for its institutions and are concerned about the integrity of its elections. because here are the facts. more than a year ago u.s. intelligence agencies concluded russian interfered in the last u.s. presidential election, calling russia's meddling, and i quote, significant escalation in directness, level of activity and scope of effort compared to
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previous attempts. and that's not my opinion. it's not a partisan statement. it's a fact. even more troubling, they are already back at it. we know because our president's own hand-picked c.i.a. director said last week that of course russia is trying to meddle in this year's midterm elections. this is exactly why this congress approved sanctions. months ago in order to punish russia and show them the steep price of doing this again. because if there is one thing we should all be able to agree on, it is that no one should get away with such a devious attack on our democracy. but somehow, while the public is demanding action, the white house has gone silent, refusing to implement the sanctions for reasons president trump can't or won't explain. the same president who has no problem speaking and tweeting on any other topic under the sun,
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clams up when it comes to russia, or he tries to change the subject, or he launches a political attack. the same president who promised to put america first has failed to live up to the most basic duty of defending our elections and enforcing congressional actions to punish russian meddling. the same president who promised law and order has been lashing out against a special counsel investigation with a campaign to discredit our agencies of law and order by criticizing the men and women of our top law enforcement agencies. let's remember the putin regime that president trump is so fond of is one that has invaded and annexed part of ukraine and continues to incite war in ukraine, is propping up the
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murderous assad regime and is every bit as responsible for those heinous acts as assad itself and tries to instigate conflict by threatening troops around the world. president trump is not alone. he gets help from members of congress. think about that. we have a president and members of the republican party more interested in helping a foreign power get away with interfering in our elections than allowing an investigation to run its course. mr. president, it's simply stunning how far some of my republican colleagues will go to undermine the special counsel and congressional investigations in order to score political points. this just puts them at odds with the public in the short term. this has long-term consequences for the men and women who protect our country from harm.
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a few days ago a former supervisor special agent with the f.b.i. who served as a counterterrorism investigator and special assistant to the bureau's director explained why he was now resigning from the f.b.i. in order to speak publicly. he said his resignation was painful, but, quote, the alternative of remaining quiet while the bureau is tarnished for political gain is impossible. end quote. he says he worries the damage from attacks on the integrity of the f.b.i. could last generations. so there are a number of things this congress must admit to. first of all, we must ensure that special counsel robert mueller stays on the job and continues to follow the facts wherever they may lead without threats or intimidation, and with the resources he needs. we already know the president talked about firing mr. mueller last year. well, the president should be on notice, firing mueller is not an
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option. and the same goes for trying to fire deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. and i also want to be clear, doling out presidential pardon to trying to cover up any collusion or obstruction of justice is unacceptable and will be met with furious resistance across the country. you know, this is about our elections. it is about our national security. it is about our standing in the world. and no one, no one should stand in the way of a thorough investigation. in the coming days and weeks and months, congress must work to fulfill its duty to the american people by ensuring the integrity of our elections and safeguarding investigations by allowing them to run their course free from political pressure. the question is whether the trump administration and all members of congress will choose to act in the best interest of our country and our democracy or whether they will continue to act out of self-preservation and
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shortsighted political gain. mr. president, the world is watching. thank you. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: mr. president, i rise today to denounce -- this is a strong word but an appropriate word -- to denounce the ongoing republican effort to undermine the public's faith in important institutions all to protect donald trump from the russia investigation. this effort is self-evident to any neutral observer watching "fox and friends" reading the judge report or following the president on twitter. and it has profound consequences for our country. defending our critical institutions such as the f.b.i. and an independent department of justice should not be a partisan issue. and those who care about these institutions have to speak up. this, of course, includes members of congress. many congressional republicans,
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however, appear determined to transform legitimate congressional oversight into an arm of the president's defense. for example, the tea party dome hearings uncovered government corruption for personal gain. the kefauver committee uncovered organized crime and corruption nationwide. the -- the watergate theory uncovered nixon's conspiracy. some of the very reforms that are currently being warped for trump's benefit. these were bipartisan, fact-based public inquiries into issues of national consequence. the investigation into russia's acknowledged interference in our election should be no different. unfortunately, many of the republicans in congress investigating the trump-russia
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matter appear more concerned with protecting the president than getting at the truth. this is particularly so in the house of representatives where almost nothing happens on the intelligence committee without the ascent of the white house. but it's also true in the senate where even the judiciary committee has been stymied in its efforts to get to the truth. certainly it's not from a lack of trying. democrats serving on relevant committees have demonstrated determination in fulfilling our constitutional oversight obligations, but this is nearly impossible without cooperation from the republican majority, without cooperation from republicans letters requesting information are not bipartisan and interviews of key witnesses are delayed or canceled. just to give two examples. conducting oversight behind closed doors lacks transparency,
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of course, creates a situation ripe for exploitation. it allows republicans to weaponnize inaccurate information for the president's benefit. we've seen the chairman of the house intelligence committee, devon nunes, last week, in spite of concerns raised by the f.b.i. and department of justice. congressman nunes determined to support the president's par odierno conclusion that the entire security apparatus is out to get him, conveyed a memo to engineer an outcome that pleased the white house. armed with a misleading memo, congressman nunes and republicans across the country with the assistance of russian bots on social media launched a
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conservative attack on the f.b.i. why? to prove a conspiracy against the president that does not exist. nunes and other republicans knew that the facts did not support the conspiracy theory, but the incitement continued anyway. the president's own hand-picked director of the f.b.i. after his agency posed release -- opposed releasing the memo. by the time the committee released it and the public saw -- saw it, the seeds of doubt had been sowed. the president rewarded nens by tweeting, devin nunes may some day may be recognized as a great american hero for what he has exposed and had to endure.
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end quote. i think history will conclude otherwise. just as the president has praised the nunes attacks on the f.b.i. and the justice department, he has certainly been doing his part to undermine these institutions. he's done his part by demeaning, for example, and humiliating the very people he appointed to run these institutions. we can all recall the very personal attacks on attorney general jeff sessions in the oval office, demands for personal loyalty from rod rosenstein and that the f.b.i. was in tatters under the leadership of his hand-picked director christopher ray. we can appreciate the irony of donald trump's personal attacks against special counsel robert mueller who the president interviewed and seriously considered for a return to his old job as director of the
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f.b.i. the self-serving and personal attacks against people who refuse to do his bidding reflect the n.r.a.cism of a -- n.r.a. is narcissim of a man who has little regard for his responsibilities. by attacking the justice department and the f.b.i., the president is attempting to discredit the russia investigation and protect himself and his family. his words and actions are intended to undermine public confidence in the f.b.i. and the justice department for his benefit in the here and now. he does not seem to care about the long-term consequences of eroding public confidence in two critical institutions charged with keeping us safe and protecting our rights. through all the obfuscation and negative attacks, a clear pattern has emerged. the president and his republican
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allies will do whatever they can to discredit the mueller-russia investigation without regard or respect for the collateral damage caused. then they'll turn to fox news and other outlets to get their message or propaganda and dismiss the mainstream media as fake news. sadly, this is a strategy that can win and can work. according to a new poll from reuters, 73% of republicans believe that the justice department and the f.b.i. are trying to undermine the president. the state of affairs may serve the president's short-term interests but we'll have real and -- but will have real and lasting negative consequences for our country in the years and decades to come. i yield the floor.
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mr. wyden: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: thank you, mr. president. i also want to thank my colleague from hawaii for a very eloquent statement and so appreciate her leadership. we miss her on the intelligence committee. i also want to express my appreciation to the organizers of this effort, senator whitehouse and senator blumenthal, who have been tenacious in pursuing these issues, both of them on the judiciary committee, and i serve on the intelligence committee. mr. president, it is quite obvious what has been going on in the last few weeks. the president, the chairman of the house intelligence committee, and others are working hard to get the american people to just forget that our country is in the middle of an
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ongoing national security crisis. russia has attacked our democracy. russia has intervened in our election and there is every reason to believe that they are just going to keep doing it. in the year since the assessment i mentioned was conducted by the intelligence community, virtually everyone has come to see it this way. donald trump, obviously, disagrees. the only change has been the extent to which donald trump's protectors are willing to just go out and throw dust in the air to prevent america from focusing on this direct threat to the people of this country and our
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very system of government. the congress has to get to the bottom of what has been done to our democracy, but the fact is the senate has been stonewalled, particularly when it comes to the crucial issues of following the money. it began when donald trump refused to do what every other presidential candidate has done now for four decades, and that is release his tax returns. and it continues on other fronts. i've repeatedly asked the secretary of treasury to provide the senate finance committee with documents, treasury department documents, that would allow investigators to follow the money between russia, donald
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trump, and his associates. the committee has been given nothing. secretary mnuchin has simply refused to cooperate with congressional oversight conducted by members of the committee that has direct jurisdiction over his agency. so the question is really, mr. president, what are you hiding? what is in those tax returns and those financial documents that you don't want revealed? what would be so damageling -- damaging? it seems to me if you're to understand russia's ability to undermine our democracy, it is essential to follow the money.
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donald trump's family has acknowledged its financial ties to russia. in fact, in 2008 and 2009, when it was pretty hard to get money for investment, the trump family said, their words, not mine, much of our portfolio comes from the russians. the special counsel included extensive information on money laundering and tax evasion in his recent indictment of paul manafort. there have been dozens and dozens of press stories. it seems there are several every week about the finances of the president and his associates that warrant real congressional oversight. americans are alarmed by the administration's stonewalling and millions have been appalled
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by the idea that this would somehow be treated like just another political gain. those who abused the classification system to put out a laughable partisan memo that doesn't stand up to scrutiny apparently are willing to do it just to protect the president at any cost. the cost is our national security, the cost is our democracy no matter how much the president and his protectors in congress try to change this subject, we are not, on the floor of this senate, going to lose sight of what is really at stake. mr. president, i yield the floor.
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mr. blumenthal: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. i'm honored to follow my colleagues today and to be followed by my great friendnd
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colleague, senator whitehouse, who has been a wonderful partner in this effort and has helped to organize today's colloquy, and i will be yielding to him shortly. i think the american people are asking a commonsense question. what is the president trying to hide? what do the russians have on donald trump? the intelligence community unanimously says the russians attacked our democracy by interfering in the 2016 election. the only one who has any doubt about it, in fact, the only public official who has the
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temerity to deny it is the president of the united states. and so the question is, why? that is the elephant in this chamber. that is the question that the american people demand that we answer in our investigation into obstruction of justice through the judiciary committee and that the special counsel will be answering in his investigation into collusion between the russians and the trump campaign and subsequent obstruction of justice. some of this investigation involves past events and actions by the president and others. but in fact, what's happening
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daily in real time is evidence of obstruction of justice. it's as though we were watching a case in court unfolding before our eyes. all we lack is the marshaling of this evidence and the closing argument. i intend in a subsequent speech to go into great detail on that obstruction case. from what we know now through the public record, there is a lot more that the special counsel knows in his investigation, and he will be making use of it, both classified and unclassified sources. but we know now irrefuteably and undeniably that there is a credible case of obstruction of justice against the president of the united states. it is credible and in many ways
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powerful and compelling. president trump in fact has endeavored mightily to stop all of these investigations into russian meddling into the 2016 election and his connections to it. obstruction of justice is a serious crime, consisting essentially of two elements. one, to interfere with a lawful investigation. and, number two, that interference has to be done with corrupt intent. corrupt intent means any improper purpose. so it doesn't matter that the president, for example, had the right to fire jim comey or to say one thing or another.
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the question is, why he did it? and there can be circumstantial evidence of that corrupt intent of what he says and does as well as direct quotation. if it was to stop or influence an investigation, that is corrupt intent, and that's enough for obstruction of justice. my colleagues and i are here today to raise the alarm because where we are now is that part of the president's corrupt intent as well as his interference with the investigation consists of an all-out assault on law enforcement and the intelligence community. in some ways it's a standard means of defense at trial.
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when all else fails, attack the prosecution. i have seen it and experienced it as a u.s. attorney myself in court. so i know it is a last resort. but it has lasting implication when the defendant, or whoever is raising this defense, is the president of the united states. it has huge, sweeping, enduring, horrific and reprehensible ramifications. it is irresponsible in a profound constitutional sense for the commander in chief to be undermining our national security by attacking the f.b.i. as an institution, our intelligence community as an institution. and i want to remind my colleagues of what our
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colleague, john mccain, said, and my colleague, senator whitehouse, who prepared this poster board, will be using it shortly. the latest attacks against the f.b.i. and the department of justice serve no american interests, no parties, no president's. only putin's. these attacks served the russians. they do not serve americans' national security because they are done with the purpose to obstruct justice. they are the latest in a series of irresponsible and reprehensible actions which began in the first days of this administration, in january of 2017. acting attorney general sally yates went to the white house to enform -- inform the white house counsel that michael flynn lied
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about his relationship with the russians and he could somehow be blackmailed and don mcgahn immediately briefed president trump. but the white house failed to react in the way that a responsible president would. soon after it was revealed that the f.b.i. was doing an investigation into russian meddling, trump asked f.b.i. director james comey for his loyalty. in effect, he asked for a loyalty pledge from the director of the federal bureau of investigation. and he cornered comey privately and said that he hoped comey would let flynn go, referring to the f.b.i.'s investigation into michael flynn.
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trump called comey and told him he wanted him to lift the cloud of the russia investigation over his president. he then called for the firing of andrew mccabe. he asked the director of national intelligence coats and c.i.a. director mike pompeo and mike rodgers to publicly state he was not under investigation. and when comey refused to bend to this pressure, he fired comey. and misstated the reason for that firing. he lied about it, claiming it was because of comey's supposed handling of the clinton e-mail investigation. although he later admitted in an
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interview with nbc news, lester holt, that the firing was, quote, because of this russia thing. and he bragged to russia officials in the white house that comey's firing had, quote, taken off, end quote, of the, quote, great pressure of the russia investigation. but that did not make the russia investigation go away because of the appointment of special counsel robert mueller. and he berated his attorney general, jeff sessions, for recusing himself from the special counsel's investigation because he knew sessions could have stopped it. he berated jeff sessions and privately ranted about him.
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those private rants along with other private conversations, many of them now known to the special counsel, no doubt, are evidence that will be produced by the special counsel. but we know that the president wrote a deliberately deceptive statement for his son, donald trump jr. to cover up the trump tower meeting to misstate what the purpose of that meeting was. supposedly russian adoptions. when in fact it was to obtain dirt on hillary clinton. and he did it when he knew he was under investigation. that is the key point. he ordered the firing of robert mueller and backed down only when his white house counsel said he would resign. and again, the reasons that he provided, much like the comey letter that was a lie about the reasons for his firing the
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f.b.i. director, he lied about why he wanted mueller gone, just as he had lied about why he fired jim comey. now in some ways, others are tasked now in a switch of tactics. he has no longer threatened to fire a special counsel, at least publicly. but he has tasked his surrogates and sycophants in the congress to attack these institutions, like the f.b.i. and the department of justice and the intelligence community, along with him. that was the purpose of the nunes memo, to discredit and distract, discredit the f.b.i.
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and distract from the investigation. but if orchestrated the writing of that memo, if he participated in drafting it, if anyone in the white house, with his imprimatur or direction was involved in crafting that memo, that is evidence also of obstruction of justice, and it will come home to haunt devin nunes and the white house staff who participated and others in the congress who may have been involved, including the staff. all of it because he wants to stop this investigation. all of it because he is afraid of something that the special counsel has and that the russians may have on him. but the fact of the matter is no one is above the law. if the president refuses to talk to the special counsel, he should be subpoenaed to the grand jury. if he fails to voluntarily
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appear for that interview with robert mueller or his staff, he should be subpoenaed to the grand jury and he should be forced to testify under threat of content. and if he invokes executive privilege, the outcome will be the same when it's tested in court as it was in united states v. nixon. we've seen this movie before. we know how it ends, because a broad claim of executive privilege fails in the face of a lawful need for evidence in an ongoing criminal investigation. and if he claims the fifth amendment privilege, the right of self-incrimination, it will be a powerful testament to what he fears. special counsel and the russians have on him. we are careening toward a constitutional crisis, and
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that's why my colleagues in this chamber can no longer remain silent. it is why paul ryan can no longer tolerate deven nunes to continue with these frantic antics to protect the president and his ongoing acts of obstruction. it is why i hope we will adopt legislation to protect the special counsel. sending a message to the president of the united states that he cannot obstruct justice by firing the special counsel and precipitate a confrontation that would match the saturday night massacre during the year of watergate, and would throw this country into another constitutional conflagration that would be profoundly
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damaging and enduringly harmful. this investigation is no hoax or witch hunt. it is real. it is not about any of us or any of the president's tweets. it is about evidence and law. it is about facts and statute. it is about elements of a crime that is under investigation. and the american people deserve to know the truth, which is why we must have public hearings in the judiciary committee and we must have subpoenas for documents and witnesses, and why we need to move in the judiciary committee with special counsel legislation that will offer protection and a guarantee to the american people that they will know the truth and that the rule of law will be protected. no one is above the rule of law. thank you, mr. president, and i
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yield the floor to my friend and colleague, senator whitehouse. mr. whitehouse: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, indisputably, indisputably vladimir putin conducted a broadly based attack on american democracy and its most important institutions. tragically, putin's broadly based attack on american democracy and our institutions is echoed by president trump's attack on american democracy and our most important institutions. and tragically, or pathetically, i don't know which to say, that
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attack is echoed by a broad republican attack on american democracy and institutions. we can and should take steps to defend our american democracy. they are not terribly complicated. one, stop attacking our own institutions. we can start there. we are doing putin's work when we attack our own institutions. two, step up to protect our own elections. all of our national security witnesses have warned that they are coming after us in 2018 with more election interference. and yet what have we done?
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three, stop sheltering putin and his oligarchs from consequences. we passed sanctions against russian oligarchs and putin and russia for this very messing around in our elections through the senate 98-2. the effective date of them has run and yet the president won't enforce them. stop sheltering putin and his oligarchs. fourth, clean up the dark channels of foreign influence and corruption. we know what they are because we've seen this play out in european countries and former soviet union countries. we know how he works. we have similar vulnerabilities. fix them. those are four things that are
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not hard to do. a fifth would be serious investigations by congress, not tiptoe investigations, but ones where we take hard looks, ask hard questions, and demand hard evidence. now, no one in the senate has tangled more with vladimir putin than our friend john mccain. senator mccain has tangled with him so often that he's actually been black listed from travel to russia. what senator mccain said last week is something we should take to heart. the latest attacks against the f.b.i. and department of justice serve no american interests -- no party's, no president's, only putin's. he also said this, our nation's elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at
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this investigation through the lens of publics and manufacturing political side shows. instead, mr. president, we need to be looking at this situation through the lens of our national security, and here is what america's national security professionals tell us. first they concluded russian president vladimir putin ordered an influenced campaign in 2016 aimed at the u.s. presidential election. that's a quote. i'll continue. russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the u.s. democratic process, denigrate secretary clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. they concluded, we further assess putin and the russian government developed a clear preference for president-elect trump. we went on with this important
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conclusion in the january 2017 intelligence community assessment. we assess moscow will apply lessons earned from its putin-ordered campaign aimed at the u.s. presidential election to future influence efforts worldwide, including against u.s. allies and their election processes. mr. president, we know they are coming. we have been warned by trump's own appointees that they are coming, and yet we do nothing, nada. well, right now that leaves congress accomplice come police -- that leaves congress complicit. it doesn't have to be that way
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and it ought not be this way. it is not too late to defend our democracy and to teach russia and the world some different lessons about who we are. what are the things we could do? well, we could defend our democracy from russian political influence. let's take legislative action to secure election infrastructure, improve our cybersecurity, counter and blunt russian propaganda and keep political money out of our -- and keep political money out of our elections. let's insist on the implementation and enforcement of the sanctions against russia. we passed them 98-2 for a reason. why is president trump sheltering putin and the oligarchs from that punch? let's insist on the message being delivered that we don't
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tolerate this behavior and we will deter it with serious sanctions. let's insist on transparency. let's insist on transparency about foreign financial interference in our country through shell corporations in particular, and let's insist on transparency about the president's foreign financial dealings and conflicts of interest. finally, let's pass legislation to protect the special counsel from interference and obstruction. i've been a u.s. attorney. i understand the role of an independent and honorable department of justice. i understand, as we all should, that no man, even the president, is above the law. and like many colleagues who have served in the department of
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justice, i expect, as they all expect, that even under the pressure, threats, and intimidation brought by the president against this department of justice, that it will do its job. as f.b.i. director christopher ray recently said, we expect them to keep calm and tackle hard. mr. president, the majority leader is on the floor, and i yield. mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to 10 minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of s. res. 393 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 393, making minority party appointments for the 115th congress. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection.
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mr. mcconnell: i further ask the resolution be agreed to, the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res. 394 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 394, recognizing january 2018, as national mentoring month. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: so now, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent a -- consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 11:30 a.m., wednesday, february 7, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, finally,
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following leader remarks the senate resume consideration of the house message to accompany h.r. 695. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: if there's no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until 11:30 a.m. done
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that. the presiding officer: the senate is in a period of morning business and the assistant democratic leader is recognized. mr. durbin: thanks, mr. president. mr. president. >> thanks mr. president. i come to the floor today to speak of an issue which really defines america.


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