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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  March 13, 2018 9:59am-12:37pm EDT

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order the landmark cases companion book, also, find a link to the national constitution center's interactive constitution, go to earlier this morning, the president announced he is replacing secretary of state rex tillerson tweeting mike pompeo of the cia will be the next secretary of state. and do a fantastic job. thanks to rex tillerson. and gina haspel will become the new director of the cia and congratulations to call. both require senate confirmation. and the senate will work on amendments and votes are possible today. off the floor, talks continue on funding the government beyond march 23rd. the senate will break for
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meetings between 12:30 and 2:15 today and we hope to hear from party leaders before they return. now to live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2.
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the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, we seek your blessings this day for our lawmakers. you know their hearts, their motives, and their needs. lord, provide for their every need out of the abundance of your riches in glory. remind them that unless you provide your guidance, they
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labor in vain. so guide them in what they propose to accomplish, so that they will reap a bountiful harvest. hold them with your mighty hand until doubts and fears subside. we pray in your wonderful name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer:
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the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c, march 13, 2018. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable ben sasse, a senator from the state of nebraska, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch, presidet pro tempore. mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: in less than three months since historic tax reform became law, less than three months since we cut taxes significantly for middle-class families by lowering rates and increasing the standard decades. since we created deductions to help small businesses keep more of what they earn and purchase equipment more easily, by leveling the playing field by
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making corporate tax rates moree competitive, which will boost future wages for workers, it's a common theme here. each part of this bill was built on the simple idea that american workers, job creators and middle-class tphaepls -- families know best what to do the with their own hard-earned money. our democratic friends don't seem to share that notion. the democratic leader in the house called these historic tax cuts, quote, probably one of the worst bills in the history of the united states of america. here in the senate, my democratic colleagues' predictions were equally dire. my friend, the democratic leader, offered this assessment. quote, there's nothing about this bill that suits the needs of the american worker. tax reform used to be a shared bipartisan priority. apparently not any more.
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now our democratic friends seem fully committed to the notion there's no problem washington, d.c. can't solve by raising taxes and imposing more regulations. just last week my friend, the democratic leader, made this clear. he announced he wants to claw back tax reform and have americans send more money to the i.r.s. here is his rationale. there are much better ways to use this money. much better ways to use this money. than for people to keep more of their own money apparently. the unspoken assumption is unmistakable. democratic leaders know how to spend that money better than the citizens and employers. the government knows best. of course just a few months in we're getting a clear picture of which philosophy really works. the good news about tax reform keeps pouring in, and with every
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favorable story my democratic friends tie themselves in knots, in knots, trying to convince everyone that new investments, new jobs, new raises and bonuses and companies repatriating money back home are somehow not good news after all. even as billions of dollars are put toward raises, bonuses and new worker benefits, it's nothing more than crumbs. even as billions more invested in u.s. manufacturing and new jobs, they stick by their predictions of armageddon. all this even as tax reform is achieving specific goals they spent years claiming to support. consider the issue of the minimum wage. because of tax reform, hormel foods raised starting pay to $13. wells fargo established a $15 minimum wage. and walmart has started --
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raised the starting wage for its associates. that's great, but apparently senate democrats have better uses for the money going forward than your raise. or take the subject of family leave. because of tax reform, including the family leave incentive championed by senator fischer, huge national employers such as starbucks and cvs are expanding family leave programs or creating new ones. these new family leave programs are great but i guess democrats have other designs on the private dollars financing these programs. they have better uses in mind for the tax savings that are flowing to charities and nonprofits around the country, like the women's shelter in washington state that's getting $1 million toward a brand-new building. well, republicans just don't see it that way. rather than trying to regulate our way into prosperity through
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high taxes and heavy-handed mandates, we believe in simply taking washington's foot off the brake. and because we did, american free enterprise is creating the very pay raises and benefits that our democratic colleagues insisted only government could provide. friends across the aisle may want to repeal the tax cuts that generated these raises, bonuses, new jobs, minimum wage increases and paid family leave expansions. they may want to raise taxes so badly that they're willing to shrink workers' paychecks and send jobs and investments back overseas. fortunately, mr. president, republicans in congress will not let that happen. we're standing with the american people.
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the presiding officer: under the previous order the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of s. 2155, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 287, s. 2155, a bill to promote economic growth, provide tar lord regulatory relief and enhanced consumer protections, and for other purposes. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. durbin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. durbin: i ask the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: thank you, mr. president. on september 5 of last year president trump announced the repeal of the deferred action for childhood arrival program known as daca. as a result of that decision by president trump, hundreds of thousands of immigrants who came to the united states as children, known as dreamers, face losing their work permits and their right to stay in america without deportation. they are threatened with being returned to countries which many of them barely remember, if at all. you see, these dreamers were brought here as children, infants, toddlers, young kids, brought here by parents to america, and they grew up here. they went to school in america, to our public schools and other schools that were available to them. they stood up in their
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classrooms every morning and pledged allegiance to that flag. they grew up here believing this was their home. at some point in their lives their parents pulled them aside and told them the bitter truth that they were not legally in america. they were undocumented and they were vulnerable. at any minute, a knock on the door, a stop on the highway could result in not only their deportation but the deportation of every member of their family. it's tough enough to grow up as an adolescent. i can't imagine growing up with this shadow over me, wondering at any moment whether a misstep, being in the wrong place might mean that i would be sent from this country and that my parents would be sent with me. but they grew up with that reality, with that danger. they did some extraordinary things. they not only prospered in
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america, finished their education, they went on with great ambition, believing the day would come when they would get a chance to be a part of this country. 17 years ago, i introduced the dream act, and the purpose of that bill was to give those young people a chance, a chance to earn their way to legal status, earn their way to citizenship. if they had a serious criminal record, they're gone. we want nothing to do with them. they squandered any opportunity they had to be part of america's future, but if they were doing the right thing, leading a good life, working hard, finishing school, many of us believe they deserve a chance. in fact, at this point, 85% of americans believe they deserve a chance. that includes 60% of the people who voted for president trump. we have never passed the dream act and made it the law, but when i asked my former senate colleague, president obama, to
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see if there was something he could do by executive order, he created daca, and daca gave these young people a two-year renewable protection. they had to file a $500 fee, submit themselves to a criminal background check, go through an interview, and if they passed it, they would end up with a temporary renewable right to stay in america. daca. 750,000 came forward and did it. there were many more that were eligible, eligible but scared, scared that turning over their family's information and the personal information to this government or any government could turn out bad. can you blame them? they lived their whole lives in fear that a highway stop or somebody being arrested next to them could mean that they were gone, gone from the only country they had ever known. but 780,000 stepped up and said
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we'll do it. i encouraged them. i went to so many meetings in chicago and around the state of illinois and around the country telling them that this daca program was for real. the government was giving them a pledge that they would stand by them on a renewable basis because of president obama's order. the program was a huge success. as i mentioned, 780,000 signed up. some even renewed. and then came the decision by president trump to end the program. what he said was that by march 5 of this year, there would be no more daca. those who were protected could play out their temporary protection, but no renewals. that's where the issue stood for the longest time. many of us decided that we needed to do something about it and to accept the president's challenge and create a law, a law which would provide protection for these young people.
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senator lindsey graham, republican of south carolina, senator jeff flake, republican of arizona, senator cory gardner, republican of colorado. senator bob menendez, democrat from new jersey. we came together. we came together and decided on a bipartisan basis to draw up a bill to try to solve this problem, to be fair to these young people, and give them a chance to stay in america and earn their way to citizenship. when we proposed the bill to president trump, he rejected it. in fact, he rejected six different bipartisan proposals to solve this problem. and so the deadline was looming and passed last week on march 5, and the program by the president's proclamation was finished. were it not for two federal courts that intervened and said no, mr. president, you may have overstepped, you may have done more than you can legally do, so
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we are going to protect these dreamers, these daca young people until we resolve the question about your authority, your constitutional authority to make that decision. so at the current moment, 780,000 of these young daca recipients are protected by a court order that required that they reopen daca eligibility for those whose daca protection had expired, the two-year temporary direction. so now tens of thousands of them are coming forward, applying for daca renewal. last week, i called secretary nielsen at the department of homeland security and said i have some questions that i am hearing as i travel around. for example, if i was protected by daca, if my protection came to an end and i am now reapplying for daca and going to your agency, how long will it take your agency to process my
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application? secretary nielsen could not give me an exact date, but there has been speculation it could take four to six months. you see there is a big lack log of cases. it could take months before they process all these cases. that was my first question. my second question is in that four to six-month period, can these young daca recipients be deported? she said no. i put out an order, she said, that no one is to be deported if they made an application for daca renewal. i asked secretary nielsen can we have that in writing? i will get back to you, she said. i don't think that's too much to ask whether these young people can be with protected from deportation while they are applying for daca renewal. third question. there is also a legal right to work under daca. can you protect these young people their right to have a job while you are processing their applications? she didn't know whether she
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could or not. i have since learned she has the authority to do that. but it's an important question, isn't it? if you happen to be one of these daca recipients, the vast majority of them are actually working, and most of them are in school, they have to. they don't qualify for any federal pell grants or government loans, and so they need to work to pay off their education. that's understandable. so it's still uncertain as to what's going to happen. but then what happens when the court lifts this injunction? what will be the future of these young people? president trump said some harsh things about immigration during the course of the presentation campaign. we all remember his comments about people of the muslim religion, his comments about mexican rapists, his pledge to build a big, beautiful wall from sea to shining sea and have mexico pay for it. do you remember?
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we all heard those things. but an interesting thing happened after he was elected. he started saying more moderate, positive things about dreamers, to the point where i actually had some hope that this particular group would have a fighting chance. as of today, there is no indication that president trump feels the same way. six different bipartisan proposals have been rejected. so here we stand with this uncertainty. when the issue came before the senate, we did our best to put together a bipartisan roll call, came close but not close enough. there were four proposals on the floor. the one with the largest number of votes received 54 votes. there were three democrats who disagreed with some parts of it. i think we could have probably found a way to get their support, but we only had eight republicans who joined us, eight out of 51 to vote for the measure to deal with this issue.
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so it is still an unresolved issue at this moment as to what's going to happen after the court cases. i have come to the floor, mr. president, many times, in fact over 100 times to tell the stories of these dreamers, and i'd like to do that today before i yield to the democratic leader. this is maria torres mendoza. maria is the 111th dreamer that i have featured here on the floor of the senate. she came here to the united states when she was 5 years old from mexico, grew up in the state of washington. her family didn't have much money, so she worked pretty hard. she used to deliver newspapers. she delivered 100 newspapers before school each morning. she worked odd jobs, shoveled snow, cut grass. when she was in high school, she worked as a server in a restaurant every night while she was still going to school, kept
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up with her studies, and delivered the newspapers in the morning. you can tell maria is not a lazy person. because of her family's financial struggles, despite her best efforts, her family was homeless for some time. through it all, she was an excellent student, and despite her family difficulty, she graduated from high school with a 3.8 grade point average. she didn't believe she would ever make it to college, but she did. she was accepted at washington state university tri-cities. she is a senior now, and this spring she will graduate with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in computer science. currently working as a student engineer at a.t.i. titanium and specialty alloys, a specialty parts manufacturer. her main project is creating a system to facilitate the usage of auto c.a.d. drawings and manuals for engineering and maintenance. and i hope none of my colleagues ask me to explain what i just said, but it sounds like pretty important work. what's her dream?
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she wants a master's degree in engineering. she is particularly interested in nuclear-power m egatronics, that combines electronics and mechanical engineering. maria wrote me a letter, and here is what it said. daca is a whole world of opportunity for me. if daca were to be taken away from me, all my hard work would not count. i want to see the results of my hard work, and i wouldn't be able to do so without daca. would america be a better place if maria was asked to leave? would we be a stronger nation if we took this young girl's amazing energy, her academic accomplishment, and her dream and drive and sent them back to mexico? after all these years of education and hard work, two jobs and a time when she was -- at a time when she was in high school, is there any doubt that this young woman is going to be a spectacular success in life? that's what this comes down to.
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real human beings, daca recipients, protected by that executive order of president obama who are now under the threat of deportation because of president trump's decision. it is a test of who we are as a nation, whether we believe in fairness and opportunity or whether we're going to walk away from our legacy, this nation of immigrants. i stand before you proudly the son of an immigrant to this country. my mother came here, brought here when she was 2 years old from lithuania. here her son stands as the senator from the state of illinois. that's my story. that's my family's story. that's america's story. it's time for us to remember maria and the hundreds of thousands just like her who are asking for a chance to be part of our future. is it possible, mr. president, that with all the things on your mind, you have forgotten daca and the dreamers? we need the president to step up and lead.
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mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. schumer: mr. president, first let me thank -- the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. let me thank my friend from illinois. there has been no more passionate, effective, strong, and consistent voice for the dreamers, for those beautiful young people who simply want to become americans and contribute to america than he has been, and he will never let this issue rest, nor will we. we are going to do everything we can to help the dreamers.
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we just hope that president trump finally sees it in his heart to actually get something done. we had a bipartisan agreement. it could have passed. it had some things we didn't like, had some things the other side didn't like, but president trump, in one of the more inept acts in terms of legislating, just blew the whole deal. we're going to keep working, and i thank my colleague from illinois. now, on guns, mr. president. as the senate debates the banking bill, americans are wondering if the republican majority will ever move, ever move to take up the issue of gun safety. tomorrow, thousands of students across the country, awakened students, will participate in a nationwide walkout to demand action. at 10:00 a.m., in high schools from one end of america to the other, students will walk out for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 who gave their lives at
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marjory stoneman douglas high school in solidarity. but they're not going to stop there. they're going to keep working and working and working until we get something done. when the students walk out, what will this senate, what will this congress, what will our republican friends be able to say? nothing, because we will have done nothing in that time to address gun safety in a meaningful way. the unfortunate reality is that it seems there is too little courage in the white house to take on the n.r.a. after sounding the right notes when the cameras were on, president trump backed away from everything that the n.r.a. gives the rubber stamp approval to. the president, on the issue of age i believe it was, criticized senator toomey at this televised meeting said not to be afraid of
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the n.r.a., and he said he wasn't. the -- senator toomey and i don't agree on much, and i would have gone further on the checks bill, but he had the courage to buck the n.r.a. president trump, you have no courage to buck the n.r.a. you talk a good game. when it comes to action, you're afraid to do anything, anything that gets the n.r.a. upset. the n.r.a. is so far away from where america is. over 90% of america wants background checks, the n.r.a. and trump don't. a huge percentage, over 80% of gun owners want background checks, comprehensive background checks, president trump and the n.r.a. don't. the majority of americans want protective orders so if a family member or teacher sees a young
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person acting like they are angry or upset and might do damage, the gun could be temporarily taken away. most americans want that, president trump and the n.r.a. don't. neither do our republican friends here. and the vast majority of americans would like a debate on assault weapons, certainly the majority, president trump and the n.r.a. and our republican majority don't. so, mr. president, why don't you retract what you said to senator toomey? why don't you admit that he had more courage than you? why don't you say that you're afraid of the n.r.a. because that's what's really going on here? and no one is going to be taken by the tv camera with nice words
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and back off on everything and, of course, the plan was released on sunday night. they thought hopefully it would get no news coverage, but it is in the news. unfortunately too many republicans here on the hill, not toomey, too many republicans here on the hill are in the same boat as president trump. they want to appear as though they are doing something for gun safety but are only willing to support the smallest policies that the n.r.a. gives a green light to. they say, okay, let's do these small things first. maybe we'll do more later. we all know the game here. everyone sees what's going on. my friends on the other side don't dare support anything that the n.r.a. poses even though the vast majority of americans want them to. so our republican friends hope we'll pass something tiny, something small so they can clap their hands and say they did something on gun violence and move on.
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the day they want to do something meaningful and real on gun safety never seems to come. my friend, the senator from texas, he's a good friend of mine. we banter in the gym every morning -- almost every morning. i worked with him on a number of issues, but he comes to the floor every day and says, let's do the small fix nics bill and then we'll see about other proposals. he knows, as as well as i do, that fix nics is not even close enough to a response to the epidemic of gun violence in the country. he knows, as well as i do, that the n.r.a. is okay with fix nics, but not universal background checks fix nics approves of reporting in the existing background check system, those who are adjudicated mentally ill to get
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guns, the online loophole, they are not touched by fix nics. when you're a doctor, i say to my good friend from texas, the senior senator from tects text, when you're a doctor and your se wing up a wound, you don't just do the first stitch and walk away and say, we did something. no. you've got to do the real job to cure the injury. so i appreciate that my friend from texas wants to pass his bill. democrats support it. i'm a cosponsor. but as a response to the spree of shootings in our schools and on our streets and churches and movie theaters, nightclubs, concerts, street corners every evening, a bill to have one tiny piece is not enough. a bill to say that we can't oppose the n.r.a. on everything
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will never help ameliorate our problem of gun violence to a sufficient extent. as the coauthor of fix nics said, if we were to only debate the fix nics act, we would be slamming the door in the face of all of these kids who are demanding change. he said it perfectly. democrats are fighting to make sure that fix nics isn't our only response. i hope, i pray my republican colleagues will find the courage to go beyond what the gun lobby tells them is okay and work with democrats on real, significant gun safety legislation. now on another matter, this is a happy moment because many democrats, certainly me, agree with the trumghts when they -- trump administration when they
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blocked the proposed bid by -- to purchase qualcomm on security grounds. let me say unequivocally, president trump and his administration made the right decision on blocking broadcom from taking over qualcomm. we all know that china has been rapacious about trade and very smart. they look for places where they can steal our best technology. they develop it there in china and keep us out of their markets and then try to flood the world with their product, sometimes dumping them. china has been rapacious -- rapacious about trade, and, frankly, neither the bush administration or the obama administration did enough in my opinion. president trump has a much better attitude. one particular area of concern is how frequently foreign
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companies have sought controlling stakes in the cutting-edge technology companies like qualcomm. qualcomm has done a great job and they are leading the world in developing the 5-g system. we need to preserve that as america because it has security concern, both check and national security. as china seeks our dominance in the semiconductor and wireless industries, the united states must be wary of attempts to acquire leaders in these industries. a foreign-controlled qualcomm, i don't know the links between broadcom and qualcomm, but china could move to take it over and poof, the dominance we would seek in 5-g, technology developed here, would go away. it's a national security concern and an economic security concern. we democrats believe that the
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cfius-month-old should extend -- model should extend to economic security. whether it's robotics or a.i. or chips or like qualcomm, we ought to block it. china doesn't play fair. now lifetime president xi hopes to dominate the crown jewel of america's industries, the tech industries and others, where we dominate because we've been so good because we take in immigrants, mr. president, from around the world and they help develop these great things. we've got to be wary of china -- weary of china. president trump is more weary of china than the last five or six administrations, and i'm glad they are. i'm glad they are. it's almost too late, but it's not yet.
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it's no secret that president trump and i share similar feelings on the issue of trade, particularly when it concerns china. often i've been critical of this administration, like i have been of previous administrations. when it fails to follow through on the president's rhetoric or misdirects its policies. so the recent steel and tariff examples, tear -- the recent steel and -- the recent steel and aluminum tariffs are an example of how the administration has the right instincts but bad execution. tir ifs, -- tariffs, properly calibrated, could be a tool to rein in china. china sought dominance in the steel and aluminum industries, but instead of targeting heavily subsidized chinese steel and aluminum, the president put in place across the board tariffs that will hurt many of our domestic industries. there was a story about a
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missouri ball bearing company that doesn't know where it will get its steel from and hurts allies like canada. ped canada -- canada has a trade surplus. that's why these tariffs should have been more carefully targeted. in contrast, the action on qualcomm is targeted and effective in terms of protecting u.s. industry, and i urge the trump administration to do more of these things and they will fill a hole that previous administrations failed to fill. finally, on russia. so we all know that the republican joot on the house -- majority on the house intelligence committee has ended its investigation into foreign interference in the 2016 being elections. -- 2016 elections. the house intelligence committee has so discredited itself, the
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report makes several assertions contradicted by well-known facts. it says that russia has no preference for donald trump in the 2016 elections. it is not just the intelligence community that said that, an independentped grand jury, and a special investigation's counsel came up with the same thing after an investigation inquired by the special counsel by saying they disagree with the intelligence community's assessment that russia interfered in the 2016 election to help trump, speaker ryan, and chairman nunes are closer to putin's view than those in the administration. it seems there are no length that's chairman nunes and speaker ryan will not go to
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protect this white house, even when it damages american security. after chairman nurnz midnight -- nunes midnight run to the white house, partisan memo, fake scam of masking f.b.i. messages, no one should take this seriously. chairman nunes has discredited himself, he is much more a partisan operative than a representative helping america be secure. the house republican majority has never taken this investigation seriously. from the very beginning they have sought to distract and kick up dust. they have shown time and time again they are willing to put party before country, something our founding fathers warned against. they are willing to twist facts and ignore evidence about a foreign power attacking our democracy because it might cause political damage to the president.
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it's a shocking, shameful abdication of duty. chairman nunes, you and your committee, in my judgment, have made a shocking and shameful abdication of duty to america. a congressional party wholly subservient to the president is failing its contusional obligation. congress is supposed to be a separate, equal branch of government with the power -- read the constitution, read the federalist papers. one of the main purposes of congress was to check the power of the executive branch, our founding fathers feared an overreaching executive branch, as i know my friend from nebraska knows because he studies these things. and that responsibility doesn't fall only on one party. it falls on all of us. that's why there's been a history of brpship -- bipartisanship and cooperation on the intelligence committees
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where the vital interests of the nation are at stake. that's been through the years. until chairman nunes seemed to get hold of this, that tradition was a grand one and a good one. now that tradition has been discarded by house republicans on the intelligence committee through this embarrassing episode that will historically go down as one of the lowest moments of any committee's actions in congress. let me say pointedly to my colleagues the senate intelligence committee has been quite different than the house committee. i salute both chairman burr and ranking member warner for trying to run things in a different way. let us hope that the senate intelligence committee does not go the way of the house and continues its bipartisan cooperation to get to the bottom of this mess. and that's because, mr. chairman, we have a responsibility to get to the bottom of what happened in 2016
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and to report those findings in an unbiased way. if the house isn't going to do it, the senate must. i yield the floor. and notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. # quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you,
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mr. president. i'd like my colleagues to take a trip down memory lane. go back, go back a decade or so, 2006, 2007, 2008 with and look at the decade before that. my state of ohio had 14 years in a row from the late 1990's through the year 2010, almost a decade and a half of foreclosure increases leading up to the crisis. that meant in ohio, literally every year for 14 years there were more foreclosures than the year before in my state. predatory irresponsible lenders made dangerous subprime loans. they often ignored whether borrowers had the ability to repay their loan. the incentives were we'll keep writing fees. we don't care if the borrower can pay. you can see that is a formula for disaster. because of the lack of standards for underwriting we learned a
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painful lending that not all mortgage writing is created equal. december 18, 2008, front page of the "wall street journal" featured three headlines. september 18, 2008, so just slightly less than ten years ago, mounting fears shake world markets as banking giants rush to raise capital. bad bets and cash crunch pushed ailing a.i.g. to brink. worst crisis since 1930's with no end. i'll read that last one again. worst crisis since the 1930's but with no end. on the same day "the washington post" reported markets in disarray as lending locks up. how did we get to that crisis? banks forgot the essential rule of lending. a borrower needs to be able to pay back the loan. it's pretty simple, but a forgotten, a forgotten dictum. instead lenders offered loans that required no documentations.
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they offered loans with teaser interest rates that shot through the roof after two or three years. loans where borrowers never paid down their principal or stripped their home's value through cash-out refinances. borrowers had these mortgages where they simply paid the interest with the belief the home would go up in value more and more and more, never paying the principal. the homes didn't go up in value and eventually they don't. look what happens. all of these practices had devastating results for families and communities and the economy. mr. president, my wife and i, connie and i live in zip code 44105, cleveland, ohio, south of slavik village in this great city of cleveland. 44105, 11 years ago, in the first half of 2007 had more foreclosures than any zip code in the united states of america. i still see the blight brought on by those foreclosures, what
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it did to individual families, what it did to the neighborhood, what it did to the city of cleveland. think about, we don't do that very much here, mr. president. we don't really think all that much when we talk about things like this. we look at numbers, we look at statistics. we read analyses and data. we don't really think about individual families. think what happens when somebody is foreclosed on. first of all, these families understand that things are getting tighter. it's harder and harder to pay their mortgage. their spouse may have been scaled back to half time, whatever the economic circumstances. the first thing they often do is get rid of the family pet. it costs too much to take the dog to the vet. the second thing they do is cut back on everything. they start cutting back on everything. eventually they have that sit-down with their 12-year-old daughter and their 14-year-old son and their 15-year-old son and tell them, honey, we're going to have to move. we don't know where we're going. we don't know what school district we'll be in. we don't know where, how much
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you're going to get because we have to sell our car. we don't know how much you're going to be able to see your friends. think about the personal side of this. we don't do that much here. pope francis used to admonish his priests to go out and smell like the flock. we don't do that very much here. we look at data and ideas and don't think about our policies and votes and the impact they have on individual human beings. thinking back about zip code 4401, those faulty mortgage products weren't bad enough on their owns, they are targeted to communities of color. the neighborhood my wife and i live in, 44105, that neighborhood is mostly african american but pretty diverse. a lot of people who are, who look more like me but a lot of people with moderate to low incomes. but these mortgages, these mortgage products were targeted to communities of color. those communities in particular,
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even those who qualified for a no-frills, no-surprises prime mortgages were often instead steered into subprime loans. why? because the lender could make more money on a subprime loan than a straightforward loan, and most members of the senate generally signed up for. even african american and hispanic borrowers with higher incomes than other borrowers found themselves, because the banks put them there, in subprime mortgages. these practices of discrimination going on for years stripped a generation's worth of equity from communities that had fought hard for equal access to homeownership. think about this. the household wealth of communities of color simply hasn't recovered from last decade. middle-class black and hispanic families lost half their wealth from 2007 to 2013, lost half their wealth from 2007 to 2013. 2016 it was $38,000. the numbers are similar for hispanic households. $85,000 in 2007.
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$46,000 in 2016. they all sound like numbers but what that does to a family that's lost half its wealth particularly because their wealth is generally in the home that they own, think of what that does. you want to hear my colleagues talk here about how hard the banks have it, how hard it is to be a banker now, how hard it is for wall street, i'd like to revisit what happens when banks stop following the rules. borrowers with these higher cost loans were foreclosed on at almost triple the rate with borrowers with 30 year standard mortgages. tweeze 2006 -- between 2006 and 2014 more than nine million homeowners lost their homes through distress homes. what does that mean to us? do we know any of them? do we talk to any of them? do we listen to their stories about what happens when you get thrown out of your house? do we sit there and patiently
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just listen and ask them questions and ask them to tell us about what's happened in the last ten years of their lives? because when you get thrown out of your home, whether you're evicted or whether you get put out because of foreclosure, you don't, not just give away the family pet, you not just cut back on everything. you lose a lot of your possessions because you can't take things with you. you start again in your life and start again in debt. does anybody here care about that? they talk about how hard it is for the banks and how wall street is suffering, but they don't think about these individual homeowners that struggle. some of them get foreclosed on them. some of them just are struggling. so many of them lost half their wealth. it's not just families of color that lost half their wealth. a whole lot of working class families, a whole lot of working class white families lost a lot their wealth. does this place seem to care? not a whole lot. it wasn't just subprime. the crisis revealed other harmful practices steering borrowers to affiliated companies. kickback for business referrals,
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inflated appraisals, loan office process based on a loan product if you have a certain loan product that might be more profitable even though it is a little sleazy you make a little more money because you steer people into those loan products. it lead -- it might lead to the ruining of their lives or foreclosure, but we're making more money. the worse the loan was, mr. president, for the borrower, the more money the lender made. think about that. our laws back then in 2008 were the worst -- the worse the loan was for the borrower, the more money the lender made. that's what -- how our laws work. we fix that. we're going to undo some of that in this bill. after the dust settled, the country realized how twisted our mortgage lending market had become. congress finally stepped in to do what the market and regulators had refused to do for too long. i believe in the die nonnism of capitalism, but -- in the
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dynamism of capitalism, but when the market and the regulators did nothing to encourage this kind of behavior, that's why government steps in. that's why we did wall street reform. it established a commonsense rule that lenders should evaluate whether a borrower has the ability to repay a home loan. the ability to repay rule, it's called the ability to repay rule means that lenders can no longer make a loan based on the home's value or ignore the fact that an adjustable rate mortgage would become unaffordable in a year or two. a mortgage is the largest financial transaction most families will make in a lifetime. it is a big deal central to the economic life and the life overall of a great majority of people in this country. requiring the report process and services and fees are transparent and understandable to borrowers is essential. but people go into these -- we don't all have great sophistication when we borrow money for a homeowners loan, when we get a homeowners loan.
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that's why it's so important that it be transparent and understandable to those borrowers. the bill before us chips away at that principle. it includes several provisions that when taken together weak entrance pairncy, weaken inclusiveness and undermine fairness in mortgage lending. the bill says lenders need not consider whether a borrower can afford an adjustable rate mortgage after the interest rate adjusts. so a bank, a mortgage company makes more money when they write more loans. i get that. they should. but when the incentive is only that and there is no requirement that the borrower needs to be able to afford an adjustable rate mortgage, after the interest rate adjusts, we know what will happen. again, it allows the largest banks -- the bill also allows the largest banks to acquire small banks. it retains these legal protections for the larger banks. small banks often -- i spoke to a member of a bank board in
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mansfield, ohio, yesterday. a long-time friend of our family. that's where i grew up. i know banks in mansfield, ohio, the locally owned bank. i know that mechanics, the name of that bank. i know they work hard for their -- i know they work hard for their customers. they know their customers. small banks work with their customers. they lose a job or face a sudden illness. the bank can try to work with them to figure out how to avoid foreclosure. would a megabank in cleveland or columbus or dayton do the same kind of thing? based on the record of secretary mnuchin's bank, onewest and others during the crisis, we can be pretty sure we know the answer to that and the answer is no, they won't. the bill before us gives lenders a pass on the requirement to escrow for taxes and insurance when making subprime loans. it doesn't cost real money to the lender to put money aside for taxes and insurance. it's part of the calculation when you buy a house. most of us want our taxes and
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insurance included so we have a more predictable stream of outflow, if you will, we know how much we're paying each month and it doesn't change. it may change once a year, but it doesn't change often. by definition, someone taking out a subprime loan is at a higher risk of default. escrow helps a borrower plan for the expenses of taxes and insurance and protects the lender from unexpected losses. we're stripping that out of the bill. we're stripping that -- that's in the bill. we're stripping that out of the law. former fdic chair sheila bayer, appointed by president bush, a terrific public servant. she was a high-ranked employee, i believe chief of staff for senator dole when he was in the senate. she steered the fdic through the worst of the financial crisis. she raised her opposition to this in a letter to me. this bill exempts 85% of banks from reporting the humda data they are reporting today. i credit senator cortez masto
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who as the attorney general of nevada before she joined us in the senate 13 months ago, i saw this up close what happened, what happened with foreclosure. she is a strong, outspoken opponent of this bill because she understands, she has had those discussions with people that have lost their homes. she understands how it happened. she doesn't have the amnesia that apparently a majority of my colleagues have forgetting what happened ten years ago, learning almost nothing from what happened ten years ago. they are amendment would fix this humda data collection. without this data, we can't monitor trends in mortgage lending, particularly in rural areas. without this data, it will be even harder to see who has access to affordable mortgage credit, who does not. we know that redlining is still happening. the latest report from the center for investigative reporting analyzed tens of millions of mortgage records, found that across the country people of color are more likely, far more likely to be turned down for a loan.
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even when you take into account factors like their income and the size of the loan. without this data, we don't know when redlining happens. it will make it more difficult to show the community leaders go the extra mile for their customers. that's why the nacp and the national community reinvestment coalition and the national urban league and the rural community assistance organization, more than 170 organizations have objected to this devastating new hole in lending data. why in the world would congress want to keep us from getting that information, keep us from getting that data so we in fact understand better what goes on? part of our problem in 2007 and 2008, we had a whole bunch of regulators who were aleve at the switch. we had a congress that was oblivious. we had this national media not paying enough attention to this. part of that was they didn't have the information -- the regulars didn't have the information they need. that's why the -- why one of thn
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at the federal reserve, rand al quarles, who was in the bush administration then, why he could see nothing but roses and candy in the years ahead. he said that in 2006 an i believe he said it in 2007. he had no idea what was going on, partly because maybe he didn't want to know but partly because we didn't have the data collected that we are starting to collect now. we're going to say we don't care about that? i ask unanimous consent that the letter from the former fdic chair and the letter from the civil rights groups in opposition to this be entered into the record immediately after my remarks. the presidingthe presiding offit objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. any one of these provisions is bad enough, but taken together they add up to riskier loans and more foreclosure from american families. think about this. if the bill passes, the bank could make a subprime loan without considering if the borrower could afford the higher interest rate when the teaser rate expires. you understand how that works. the first two or three years,
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you are paying rate x. then all of a sudden in the third or fourth year, you are paying x plus two or x plus three. then the next year, maybe x plus that number plus one, to the point you can't afford your mortgage anymore, what happens? you get foreclosed on and your life turns upside down. if this bill passes, a bank could make a subprime loan without considering if a borrower could pay the higher interest rate. a bank wouldn't have to collect taxes and insurance on a monthly basis, making a loan look affordable when it may not be. the cost of the mortgage, because you have insurance and taxes is higher, why not put that in the monthly rate -- in the monthly payment so people can predict more and understand their finances better? the homeowner loses her right to take the bank to court for removing her from her family even though the bank made a loan that knew she -- it knew she could never repay. so a bank makes a loan to a homeowner that the homeowner perhaps doesn't have the sophistication that the banker sitting across the table has.
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doesn't quite understand what the teaser rate will mean to the cost of her house. doesn't -- the bank doesn't do the escrow, adding home insurance and taxes. and the bank convinces this homeowner, prospective homeowner, the borrower that she can make these payments, there will be no problem. then she loses her right to action. if she foreclosed on. she has no recourse, even though the bank sold her on something that a good banker wouldn't do. it's a recipe for disaster. it's a recipe for more families ending up in homes that are misled and thinking they could afford. is it too much to ask a lender to consider whether a family could afford the lending it's getting? are we back here already? the cherry on top is this bill eliminates data we need to determine if banks are targeting certain communities for these risky loans. we know this administration, we know the heads of departments are not concerned about accountability for financial institutions, equity, lending, inclusivity. we learned that h.u.d. is
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considering changing its mission statement to delete references to inclusive communities. imagine that, secretary carson, that you would do such a thing. i'm concerned this bill will put more families at risk of poor housing conditions, particularly in rural communities that are so often ignored in this town. the bill reduces the frequency of required inspections for units overseen by rural public housing agencies that administer 550 or fewer units of h.u.d. public housing and section 8 rental vouchers. for many of these so-called p.h.a.'s, h.u.d. will inspect their property once every three years rather than every one or two years. this bill would allow these p.h.a.'s to inspect more voucher-assisted units just once every three years. a lot can happen to an apartment in three years. it could put residents' health and safety at risk. i know in my neighborhood how many of those homes -- it's in the 90% rate -- those homes that have toxic levels of lead. it gets worse as the house gets older and the paint chips, and
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we're not going to inspect these places? i understand that p.h.a.'s face many challenges in maintaining high quality of housing for families. due to years of underfunding, public housing alone faces an estimated $26 billion. that's with a b, $26 billion backlog of repairs. my senate democratic colleagues and i propose an infrastructure package that includes funding for public housing repairs and revitalization to help address these challenges. we have an obligation to make sure these struggling families have safe and decent housing. i have been clear throughout this process, i want to help community lenders and housing providers better serve their customers. we don't do that by reducing accountability. we don't do that by returning to the free-wheeling housing market that led to millions of families losing their homes. we have to remember when we talk about escrow and lending requirements, it sounds kind of boring, it sounds dry, but it may sound like legalese that doesn't matter, but it matters to the biggest, most important
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purchase most americans will make. mr. president, it just seems that when people, particularly when they buy that first home and they don't really know much about how to do that and they maybe don't have a lot of political sophistication and they are 25 or 30 years old or whatever age they are, we should make it more complicated, we should make it less complicated. the bankers should not be only incentivized by how much money she makes or he makes by writing more and more and more mortgages, but instead should walk through what this is going to cost. so here is the escrow, here is what your banking insurance costs, here is what you are going to pay if you have a teaser rate. we're going to make some decisions that this house may be a little too expensive for you because of that teaser rate because of what you are paying three years from now in addition to the escrow that you didn't -- the taxes and insurance that you hadn't really planned for. weakening a standard here or granting an exemption there will end up causing more pain for real families. growth in the housing sector is
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sustainable only if families can afford their loan and homes are maintained. i know families in my zip code can't afford a repeat of the housing crisis. i know what it's done to my neighborhood. some of them are still digging out. let's stop listening to the big bank lobbyists. let's start listening to the people we serve, the families across this country who remember all too well what foreclosures and job losses mean to them. i note 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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mrs. feinstein: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator for california. mrs. feinstein: thank you very much, mr. president. i note the absence of a quorum. i ask that the quorum call be relinquished. the presiding officer: without
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objection. mrs. feinstein: thank you very much. mr. president, i rise to discuss s. 2155. it's called the economic growth, regulatory relief, and consumer protection act. now you think from the title that i would be all for it, but as one who went through the drop in the economy, when we were on the brink of collapse, i believe this is a very bad bill. let me take you back for a moment to that time. banks were teetering, and over 300 would fail in the next three years. for perspective, only three banks failed in the year of 2007. unemployment was skyrocketing. we lost $19 trillion in household wealth. americans lost nearly nine million jobs.
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in my state, california, more than two million people were unemployed. three and a half million mortgages were at risk. and nearly 200,000 people filed for bankruptcy. now that the economy is recovered and unemployment has decreased from its high point of 10% during the crisis, i worry that my colleagues have forgotten the magnitude of this crisis. i simply cannot. i remember sitting in caucuses, hearing from our top financial officials about the potential for a total collapse of our economy. treasury secretary timothy geithner testified to the house financial services committee, and i quote, our financial system failed to do its job and came precariously close to failing altogether.
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end quote. that is not an exaggeration, mr. president, for those of us that were here, who listened to the economists, who heard what was happening, we feared a total collapse. and personal conversations i had with these economists carried the most dire warnings. we should never get close to that point again. congress spent more than $400 billion on something labeled tarp, troubled asset relief program, to help stabilize the economy. it was very controversial at the time, but we have since recouped more than we spent on that bank program. congress then passed the dodd-frank wall street reform and consumer protection act in 2010, putting in place policies to prevent another financial crisis, including strong
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protections on the largest banks. now, just eight years later how quickly we forget we are considering loosening these protections. have we forgotten the lessons from ten years ago and the devastating consequences for american families? as with any bill we pass, i'm open to looking at how it's been implemented and making adjustments as needed. for dodd-frank, i agree that community banks and credit unions shouldn't be regulated the same way as the largest banks in the country. i'm open to adjusting some of these regulations for them, but this bill simply goes too far. it goes beyond targeted relief for small institutions. the nonpartisan c.b.o., congressional budget office, says the probability of a large
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bank failing or another financial crisis will go up if this bill is enacted. one provision i'm particularly worried about would roll back regulations and supervision for banks with assets between $50 billion and $250 billion. these aren't just small community banks we're talking about. instead, this would apply to some of the largest banks in our country. paul volcker, the former chairman of the federal reserve, wrote that country-wide, national city and gmac were all below $250 billion and required -- this is a quote -- required billions of dollars in official capital assistance and debt guarantees either for themselves or their inquiring
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institutions. end quote. and here's what phil angelitis, who served as chairman of the financial crisis inquiry commission, said about this particular provision, and i quote, the bill's provisions to list the asset threshold for enhanced prudential standards and supervision from $50 billion to $250 billion would substantially reduce oversight over 25 of the 38 largest banks, including institutions over $100 billion in assets that were deemed too big to fail in 2009. a number of financial institutions with less than $250 billion apparently triggered the need for bailout assistance during the crisis, and history has shown time and time again that the failure of financial
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firms that are not among the largest megabanks can pose systemic threats to financial stability. in addition to weakening these requirements, the bill could also weaken capital requirements for even the largest banks. sheila bair, former chair of the federal deposit insurance corporation, said this could lead up to a 30% capital reduction at some banks. just think of that. she also raises a question that we should all take a moment to reflect on. why does congress want to start designating banking activities as low or no risk when expert financial regulators were so wrong prior to the crisis?
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finally, this bill would amend the safe act that i authored to ensure that mortgage brokers and lenders meet minimum standards. this was necessary to curb abusive lending practices we saw leading up to the financial crisis in which many consumers were taken advantage of through predatory lending. this was a serious problem in california. between march and june of 2008, 406 defendants were charged in 144 mortgage fraud-related cases, and approximately $1 billion in losses were attributed to these fraudulent acts. the safe act created a new system of registration and licensing that included background checks, education requirements, and testing to
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assure that mortgage brokers and lenders could meet basic standards. the bill before us, interestingly enough, would allow mortgage hraorpb -- loan originators to operate without a license -- without a license -- for up to 120 days if they move from a bank to a nonbank or across state lines. allowing this transition period without ensuring that lenders have passed the licensing test we required in the safe act weakens the protections we put in place for consumers. before i conclude, i want to say that i appreciate this is a bipartisan bill that's gone through banking. i also understand the interest in ensuring regulations are appropriately tailored to the size and activity of financial institutions. but i'm really worried that members here have become too
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comfortable in our economic recovery and have forgotten where the path of deregulation ends. i oppose this bill because it simply goes too far in deregulating some of our largest institutions and weakening the protections we put in place to prevent another financial crisis. if we don't learn from past failures, we are doomed to repeat them. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to put full -- phil angelitis's full statement in the record and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. feinstein: thank you very much. mrs. feinstein: i suggest the absence of a quorum, mr. president. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call: quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator for texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, is the senate in a quorum call? the presiding officer: the senate is. mr. cornyn: i'd ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i have eight requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have been approved by both the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that i be authorized to sign duly-enrolled bills or joint resolutions on tuesday, march 13, 2018. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, just two years -- excuse me. just two days ago, the white house announced its plans to reduce gun violence in our nation's schools. this is an important, important issue and the white house's recommendations should be taken seriously. and i certainly do. the president's blueprints
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attempts to address this pervasive problem from multiple angles during what has been a period of heightened tension and discord across the country. parents and children continue to grapple every day with the aftermath of the shooting at stoneman douglas high school in parkland, florida. but, of course, the problem didn't start with that single event. and what i think can only fairly be called a catastrophic failure across the board which resulted in this terrible tragedy. one important piece of the white house plan is to train school staffers. the president strongly supports a bill introduced by the senior senator of utah that would authorize funding for school safety improvements. you wouldn't think that would be controversial. but that school safety improvements include training efforts and school threat assessment and crisis intervention teams. this bill is called the stop school violence act. we ought to pass it and we ought to pass it today.
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as senator hatch said last week, there's been little disagreement but a lot of discussion and debate and not much legislative process. to break the impasse, we must unite on the issues where we can't agree. i couldn't agree with senator hatch more. we must unite on the issues where we can agree. one of those issues relates to a bill that i've introduced with the junior senator from connecticut, senator murphy, to improve background checks on gun purchases. as of today, the bill called fix nics, nics is the national instant criminal background check system, as of earlier today the bill now has 69 cosponsors. that's more than nine votes -- that's nine votes more than we need in order to pass legislation so clearly we could and should get it done. the numbers speak for
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themselves. 32 republicans and 36 democrats want to strengthen the national instant criminal background check system. why? because we want to save lives. there have been some who have come to the floor and in public comments said, well, we want to do more. well, god bless you. i would hope that we would have other ideas presented that could do even more. but we know this has the political support and the critical mass we need to get this done in the senate and to get it done now. the reason why this particular legislation is supported by so many senators is because essentially what it does is it enforces current law. in other words, current law states that a felon cannot buy or possess a firearm. a person convicted of a felony in any court in the nation. it also says that a person who has committed and been convicted
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of an act of domestic violence cannot purchase or possess a firearm. if you're -- if you entered the country illegally, you cannot possess or purchase a firearm and so on and so forth. there's also provisions that if you've been adjudicated as a person with mental illness, you cannot legally purchase or possess a firearm. but the problem is that many states and the federal government have done a very poor job of uploading the appropriate information into the f.b.i.'s national instant criminal background system. so there are gaps in the system. the most notable one recently occurred at sutherland springs, texas, outside of san antonio where 26 people were killed and 20 more injured when the gunman purchased the guns illegally. he lied on his background check and sadly the federal government
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had failed to discharge its duty to jowp load the appropriate -- to upload the appropriate information which would have revealed that at the point of sale. i'm convinced that those 26 people and the 20 more who were wounded would be -- the dead would be alive today and the injured would not have been shot. if an appropriate background check system had been in place. and so we have reached critical mass, and i believe we are at a tipping point. and i believe that the public is demanding that we do something. that's what we usually hear when these mass shootings occur. people say, well, do something. and my question is, okay what is it that you want us to do? this is something concrete and specific and enjoys broad political support and will save lives. so i believe it's worth doing and it's worth doing today if possible.
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mr. president, the other topic i'd like to address is the legislation that was signed into law in december called the tax cuts and jobs act. that's the formal name of the comprehensive overhaul of our nation's tax code. the tax change we made, the change in the law doubled the standard deduction, meaning people earning -- a married couple, the first $24,000 they earn they pay zero income tax on. it doubled the child tax credit. it lowered tax rates across the board. and for the first time in a long time, it made the united states more competitive when it comes to attracting investment and businesses around the globe. we know that our tax code had been a self-inflicted wound with the highest tax rate in the word. businesses were moving offshore to avoid the highest taxes here in the united states to lower tax jurisdictions like ireland,
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for example. but we changed that by lowering the business tax rate so as to attract people bringing that money back here to the united states rather than leaving it overseas. but i want to mention today briefly one of several portions of the law that are frequently overlooked. they don't steal the headlines but they actually deserve more recognition. the one i'm thinking of is the one sponsored by the junior senator from south carolina, mr. scott, called the investing and opportunity act. this measure importantly helps incentivize long-term private investment in communities that need it most. that's why it's called the investing and opportunity act. it provides a new way for investors across the nation to pool their resources through newly created opportunity funds established specifically for making investment in economically distressed communities so designated by
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state governors. as any business person will tell you, private capital formation is a necessary ingreed yerchts to -- ingredient to plant the seeds of job creation and economy and opportunity. so our economically distressed communities need this sort of investment and this provision of the tax cuts and jobs act makes that possible and more likely. that's just one of the provisions we need to keep reminding folks back home about because they get so much disinformation and, of course, there's so much coming at us in terms of information that easily gets lost in the day-to-day shuffle. but these are important provisions and i think they bear some emphasis. the presiding officer and i have the great privilege of representing 28 million texans. i know he like i hear from them time to time on the legislation we pass. on the tax cuts and jobs act i heard from pam from amarillo,
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texas. she preferred her last name not be mentioned and i will certainly respect that. but she thought she made a mistake when she was figuring out her payroll at her company in february because the pay increases to employees were just that big. she thought she made a mistake. she called the differences in withholdings significant and a real boost in her employees' salary. similarly, we heard from glenda from midland, texas, who wrote to me recently. she has been retired since 2013 which she reminded me. it means she's living on a fixed income with no possibility of pay increases or year end bonuses. but that doesn't mean she's not grateful for the tax cuts and jobs act. she said the rawx in -- reduction in income taxes to her feels like a raise, even though she's retired and living on a fixed income. she took the critics to task for calling her additional income crumbs. she said maybe to them it's
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crumbs but every single dollar makes a difference to her. she called the effects of the tax cuts and jobs act an absolute blessing. so i want to express my gratitude to glenda and pam for sharing their story because i think it's really important to make sure that the facts get out. according to the bureau of labor statistics last week, midland where glenda lives, had the largest employment increase in the country over the last year. the increase was 10.4% in midland this past january. and they also had the lowest unemployment rate in texas at 2.4%, a significant decrease from 4% at the same time last year. of course, as the presiding officer and i know, midland is the epicenter of energy production. basically, they're trying to get as many people who are willing to work on the job producing energy to fuel our economy.
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but glenda is actually part of a larger story that involves not only where she calls home but also the entire country. after years of economic stagnation, americans are finally getting some good economic news. in february the u.s. economy haded 313,000 jobs. 313,000 jobs, about a third of a million. the unemployment rate is at a 17-year low and it would have been even lower but for the fact that the number of people actually in the workforce increased by 806,000 in february alone. let me say that again. the reason why the unemployment rate actually didn't dip statistically lower from 4.1% is because 800-plus-thousand americans reentered the work force. to me that's a remarkable statistic and a reason for hope,
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that our economy will continue to grow and people will continue to find work and provide for their families and pursue their dreams. since january of last year, our economy has added nearly three million jobs. consumer confidence is at the highest level since 2000. and the good news is it's happening not because the federal government is spending the money but because the people who are actually earning it are getting the money and spending it as they see fit. glenda and pam are just two of the examples that i've mentioned, but they're proof that spirits are high and that people are hopeful and the economy is gaining force. mr. president, with that i would yield the floor and i'd note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call: quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. mrs. fischer: i would ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, the senate stands in recess until 2:15
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