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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  December 13, 2018 9:29am-11:30am EST

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bas based upon our values as americans and our values with regard to what's happening in the war in yemen tells us we shouldn't be participating in it and i haven't even mentioned the tragic death of jamal khashoggi and when you look at the royal family and the crown prince, that clearly cannot go unchallenged. human rights in the military campaign all cries out for the u.s. not to be involved. and the passage of joint resolution 54 will, in fact, make that a reality and i urge our colleagues to support that resolution. >> the u.s. senate will gavel in in a moment on this thursday. this afternoon they'll vote on a measure to end military support for the war on yemen. yesterday lawmakers vote today move ahead with that legislation. a number of amendments are
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expected today and we've seen a number of speeches this week from senators who are retiring. this morning, senators dean heller of nevada and jeff flake of arizona will deliver their farewell remarks to colleagues. and now to live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. . the senate. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. o god, our protector, mountains melt in your presence and islands shout for joy.
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we praise you because your ways are just and true. you know our hearts and minds like an open book. thank you for the security we have in you. when all around us seems daunting, you alone remain our rock and refuge. give our lawmakers this day such reverence for you that they will stay in the path of integrity. may they think about you throughout the day whispering prayers of gratitude for your goodness and grace.
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lead our national and international leaders on the road that will bring glory to your name. lord, give them the courage to speak for justice, truth, and peace. we pray in your holy name. amen. please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c, december 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 dean heller, a senator from the state of nevada, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch, presidet pro tempore. mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i understand there's a bill at the desk due a second reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill
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for the second time. the clerk: s. 3747, a bill to provide for programs to help reduce the risk that prisoners will recidivate among being released from prison. mr. mcconnell: i would object to further proceedings. the presiding officer: objection having been heard, the bill will be placed on the calendar. mr. mcconnell: so, mr. president, the senate began this week with a long list of important unfinished business, and make no mistake that list remains lengthy. it will require the continued good-faith efforts of members on both sides of the aisle to keep up the progress. we need to confirm more of the well-qualified nominees who remain waiting on the senate's calendar. we need to deliver the targeted resources that are necessary for securing our border and fund the remaining parts of the federal
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government. today, of course, debate will continue on the sanders-lee resolution with respect to u.s. involvement in yemen. as i stated yesterday, their resolution is neither sufficiently prudent nor sufficiently precise for the job at hand. yes, the senate wants saudi arabia to act responsibly. we want to see a more stable yemen for the sake of the yemeni people. we also want to preserve this 70-year partnership which serves our interest and helps stabilize a crucial region. the resolution before us is a blunt and imprecise measure that would not advance these delicate goals. to the contrary, it would jeopardize u.s. support that is actually limiting civilian casualties. and i maintain that since genuie hostilities are not involved, te
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resolution should not even be privileged under the war powers act. i urge my colleagues to vote against their resolution and to support chairman corker's more responsible alternative in its place. but even considering the work still before us, members should take pride in the significant milestones we've checked off ths week. on tuesday the senate completed the 30th federal circuit judge confirmation of this congress ad yesterday evening the senate and the house reached a landmark agreement to reform the process by which capitol hill itself handles claims of sexual harassment, discrimination, and other workplace violations. it's a bicameral and bipartisan agreement. it strengthens protections for victims. it ensures that members of congress will be held responsibe for their own misconduct. not taxpayers. and it contains a number of othr important reforms to create more
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transparency and accountability in the process. so i'm very glad that congress will be taking this important step. i want to thank chairman blunt and ranking member klobuchar and their counterparts in the house for working hard to get this across the finish line. and that wasn't the only milestone we cleared yesterday. yesterday afternoon the house of representatives joined the senae in passing the farm bill conference report. now it's on its way to the president's desk. the boost this bill delivers couldn't come soon enough. it's no secret that these are tough times in farm country. falling prices, volatile markets make it harder to make ends mee. net farm income continues to decline. the threat of natural disasters is a constant fear for even the most skilled and prepared farmers. families in my home state of kentucky are all too familiar with these challenges. months of heavy rain and severe weather this year have damaged
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crop yields and increased the burden on producers. we're home to more than 75,000 farms. they produce everything from soybeans and poultry to horses and corn. these families are looking to us for help and for stability. and when president trump signs our farm bill into law, more stability is just what they will get. i'd like to share some of the bill's highlights that will support farm families in the bluegrass by way of example. in need of certainty and predictability, this farm bill extends a strong commodity safey net and protects crop insurance. it contains policies to encourae future generations of farmers to plant their own roots, particularly important in states like mine with aging agriculturl populations. to preserve our land in the future, the legislation promotes conservation programs, outdoor recreation, and upgraded watershed and drinking water
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infrastructure. for our rural communities, it expands broadband deployment and dedicates further resources to combat the opioid epidemic. for hundreds of thousands of kentuckians faced with food insecurity, the farm bill increases funding for emergency programs at food banks. the legislation provides continued funding for ground-breaking agricultural research at universities and research institutions and for producers looking for markets abroad it strengthens our trade programs to develop new opportunities for kentucky around the globe. these important victories for kentucky farmers comes in addition to the new opportunities available with the full legalization of industrial hemp, as i have discussed extensively here on the floor. so all in all, this legislation is a big win for farmers in kentucky and across our country. i'm proud to have played a part in delivering that victory.
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it has been my privilege to represent kentucky farmers on the agriculture committee. every -- committee every day i have served in the senate. the bill we have produced is a credit to the leadership of chairman roberts and ranking member stabenow, and now the fruits of their labor are finally on their way to the white house. i would like to express my gratitude to my fellow conferees, especially my colleague from kentucky, congressman jamie comer. i would also like to thank the kentucky farm bureau which has been my partner every step of the way. earlier this month, the farm bureau announced the beginning of its centennial year. i would be hard pressed to think of a better way to celebrate that 100th birthday than with a new farm bill. there is a reason,
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mr. president, this bill passed both houses with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. there's a reason this has been a big priority for congress and the administration. farming families deserve more stability. once the president signs this farm bill into law, that is precisely what they will have.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i would like to conclude by paying tribute to another member of this body whose retirement from the senate is fast approaching. this particular senator, in his own words, grew up on a dry, dusty ranch in northern arizona. you might be surprised at that description if you had known only the name of his hometown -- snowflake. but this navajo county town of a couple of thousand residents wasn't named for its meteorology. it was named for its founding families. it was set up back in 1878 by two wagon train pioneers -- mr. snow and, that's right, mr. flake. it would still be 34 years until arizona became the 48th state.
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and 134 years later, that mormon pioneer's great-great-grandson would be elected to the united states senate. jeff flake is the son of cattle ranchers, so he learned all about earmarking from an early age. back when jeff was serving in the house, he explained in an op-ed that back on the ranch, earmarking was an unsavory way to brand your cattle. apparently, the practice involves a pocketknife. well, jeff moved on from that cattle pen. he wound up leading a statewide think tank. then he won election to the house. by the time he arrived here in washington, filled with equal parts fiery resolve and small town collegiality, earmarks had come to mean something very different to him. but as his house colleagues soon
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found out, he found the new meaning just as unappealing. jeff's take on fiscal responsibility and good government ruffled some fetters over in the -- feathers over in the house, but his stark starkuprising, he -- stark uprising, he didn't seem to mind that lonely feeling we feel here in washington from time to time, the occasional sense that you have wound up on a bit of an island. i mean, jeff really didn't mind this feeling. this is not a political metaphor, by the way. it's literally one of the man's hobbies. starting back in 2009, and several times since, our colleague has decided that a dream vacation means a rugged survival trip where he is marooned on a remote island with just a couple of tools. in one eloquent reflection, jeff described his prediction as,
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quote, a long bout of caruso envy. the first time he went alone. to pass the time there, there were the standard activities -- dodging sharks, spearfishing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. starting fires with coconut husks and a magnifying glass, befriending the hermit crabs. you know, typical tourist fare. in fairness to our friend, maybe a solo getaway has a special appeal to anyone who grew up as one of 11 children, or, for that matter, i can see why it might tempt a member of the house. but apparently, the appeal was at least somewhat broader than the alone time because on subsequent trips, jeff actually brought company. a few years ago, he talked our colleague martin heinrich into coming along on one of these
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adventures. it was just the two of them and some tv cameras. this was prime time stuff now. the network called the show "rival survival." that title actually reminds me of something jeff said to his former colleagues in the house in his farewell speech while he was preparing to come over here. he said that coming to the senate would be like entering, quote, enemy territory. now, that's a funny phrase, enemy territory. it's funny because vitriol and hostility are so precisely not how senator flake will be remembered. instead, there have been warm and genuine friendships with colleagues on both sides of the aisle. and shared work on policy accomplishments that have already made a difference for millions of americans. jeff has cast votes for landmark accomplishments that have tan
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justably made life better for middle-class families in his home state and across the nation. we don't have enough time here to name them all. as part of this majority on behalf of the people of arizona, senator flake gave his vote to pass historic tax cuts and tax reform for the american people, and to enact major regulatory reforms, and to pass bipartisan achievements on every subject from the opioid crisis to caring for our veterans. so jeff has achieved much in this high office. he has had a hand in numerous consequential policy victories, and a few years back -- now listen to this -- he was even named by "the hill" newspaper as the number one most beautiful person on capitol hill. talk about an achievement that few of us could even aspire to. but, seriously, i think we all know that nothing jeff has done in these hallways will rank as
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his proudest accomplishment. that has to be persuading cheryl to marry him and the beautiful family they built together. five kids -- alexis, austin, tanner, ryan, and dylan, and now grandchildren. almost a decade ago after his first island adventure, jeff wrote, quote, i'll never see a sunset as peaceful as the ones i saw there. well, i'm not so sure. i suspect that when jeff's back home with his lovely family by his side, well, with company like that, i suspect the arizona sunsets will give those pacific nights a run for their money after all. so we bid farewell to our colleague. we thank him for his service, and we wish him and his family much happiness in the next chapters they will be writing together.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call: mr. schumer: mr. president. , mr. president, are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president, we have just a little over a week to come to some agreement on how to fund the government past next friday. leader pelosi and i have given the president two options to keep the government open. both are noncontroversial. neither contain any democratic demand. we just want to keep the government open. so far president trump has not accepted either offer.
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the president appears to be clinging to his demand for billions of dollars for a border wall. and from what we saw in the oval office in news reports about his reaction after our meeting, president trump is willing to throw a temper tantrum and shut down the government unless he gets his way. i want to be crystal clear. there will be no additional appropriations to pay for the border wall. it's done. the president repeatedly promised that mexico would pay for his unnecessary and ineffective border wall. in his words, 100%. on tuesday he said he would be proud to shut down the government unless u.s. taxpayers pay for it. and now just this morning the president tweeted that mexico will pay for the wall through savings from the new nafta. well, mr. president, if you
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say mexico is going to pay for the wall through nafta, which it certainly won't, then i guess we don't have to. let's fund the government. honestly, if the president really believed what he tweeted this morning that his new nafta would pay for the wall, he wouldn't be threatening to shut down the government unless american taxpayers funds his wall. he can't have it both ways. the president's position on the wall is totally contradictory, ill-informed and irresponsible. it's not a serious proposal. it's a throw-away idea the president used in the campaign and still uses to fire up his base. a trump temper tantrum and shutdown threat isn't going to change any minds here in congress. president trump has several ways to avoid a shutdown. he should pick one and soon. but if we wind up with a
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shutdown, it will be entirely the president's fault. president trump himself would not dispute that in the oval office tuesday. he almost bragged that he would shut down the government. what irresponsibility. and i would just like to remind my friend, the majority leader, that if we arrive at a trump shutdown, the onus for reopening the government will soon fall in his lap. when democrats take control of the house in january, democrats will pass one of our two options to fund the government, and then leader comoin -- mcconnell and senate republicans will be left holding the bag for a trump shutdown. there is no way for my republican friends to avoid the issue. there is no way for leader mc mcconnell to avoid the issue. either republicans help deal with the president now or they'll be left dealing with a
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much bigger problem in january. now a brief word on china. i spent the better part of the last two decades encouraging administrations to be tougher on china, which has risen to challenge the united states economically. not through fair trade and fair competition, but by shielding its markets from u.s. competition, flouting international trade rules against dumping and currency manipulation. china has not played by the rules. they are the outlaw of trade, and they've cost the united states millions of jobs and be probably trillions if not hundreds of billions of dollars. the recent arrest of the c.f.o. of huawei, a tech china -- giant with china is a reminder
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of the rapaciousness of those companies. it is charged with violating sanctions with iran. beyond these specific charges, however, huawei has raised concerns among u.s. officials for a potential role in china espionage. and now news reports have confirmed that the massive cyber attack on the marriott hotel chain a few weeks ago was conducted by none other than chinese intelligence. now this administration has been tougher on china than previous administrations. they deserve credit for that. but this administration has also shown an eagerness to quickly bargain away tough enforcement of chinese abuses for mild and sometimes meaningless concessions so that president trump can get a quick news hit,
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particularly on a bad day. that's what happened with z.t.e. no one wants to see a repeat of that movie. we had z.t.e. dead to rights. they were hurting america, and president trump at the last minute still unexplained let them off the hook. i hope that doesn't happen here again because this administration has set us up for a potential victory for the first time, better than bush's administration, better than obama's administration against china's rapaciousness. i'm urging the president to be tough on huawei and have the c.f.o. stand trial here in the united states as she deserves. now finally, to my dear friend -- about my dear friend, the senator from north dakota. the task sadly falls to me to
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begin saying goodbye to members of our caucus who will not be returning in the 116th congress, and this morning i'd like to begin with the junior senator from north dakota. heidi heitkamp had a childhood that sounds like it was ripped from the pages of a frontier epic. she grew up as one of seven kids born over nine years in a house with three bedrooms, in a town with a population south of 100. do the math. that means that around one-tenth of the town were heitkamps. inside the household the lack of space meant that heidi's room was also her brother's room and also the laundry room. according to her sisters, the presence of the lawn did i machine had -- laundry machine had almost no effect on her. she'd read and read and reasoned rarely if ever did she participate in the washing and folding of the heitkamp laundry.
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her siblings didn't seem to mind, as julie heitkamp said about growing up with heidi, she was so good, it was annoying. it turned out that the book worm from a small town in north dakota was destined for great things. when she worked for senator kent conrad, the outstanding democrat from north dakota, he realized the same goodness in heidi that her sisters recognized, and he encouraged her to run for state auditor at the age of 28. she didn't win that race, but she ran again for state tax commissioner and won and again for attorney general and won, fighting on behalf of sexual assault survivors and against the abusive practices of the tobacco industry. she had run for governor and eventually the senate, losing the first but winning the second, becoming the first woman ever elected to the senate from the great state of north dakota. for someone who came from where
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heidi came from, that election might have felt like a culmination. but, no, for heidi, it was just the beginning. it wasn't about winning or even beating the odds. it was what you did with the time you had when you were here. as heidi talked about in her farewell speech, the thing that's important is how we use our time. let the history books report just how well the senator from north dakota used her time while she was here. heidi was able to bring democrats and republicans together during a time of extraordinary partisan divisions, one of the few who could do it so successfully on major issues. it was because she understood how each side saw an issue, what each side wanted and what a compromise would look like. once she knew an agreement was possible, she worked like no other to see that it was achieved. that's how she got senator
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whitehouse and senator mcconnell on the same energy bill having to do with carbon capture, a remarkable feat, a staunch environmentalist who gives speeches on the floor every day about green and a senator who is from a coal state who defends that industry. that's how she created the first amber alert in indian country with our dearly departed friend senator mccain. that's how she helped shut down packpage -- back page and child sex trafficking on the internet with broad bipartisan support. what a great legacy, all of it bipartisan. that instinct for compromise and consent was borne from her life experience in her family of nine, heidi was known as an arbitrator. born mary katherine, heidi became heidi because there was a
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mary and katherine in her grade school class and she gladly accepted the nickname. of course, there were times heidi couldn't bring our two sides together on an issue because she was already further along than both sides. senator heitkamp was the first to really drive home the plight of native american women here in the senate. she worked at it tirelessly because she believed that if people knew about the poverty and abuse and addiction that had plagued many reservations and how they affected both the men and women, they would be up in arms about it. so she wrote the first bill to create a commission on native american children who suffer from rates of poverty far above other populations. a little while ago it became law and received funding. recently it had its first meeting, a legacy that will live on. she also wrote savannah's act to
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address the epidemic of missing and murdered native american women. it passed the senate unanimously just a few weeks and the -- after the election. well, heidi, the senate is catching up to you, and we intend to use the time that we have to build on the incredible legacy you leave on these issues. and just so i'll never forget what your service has meant to this chamber, i will always keep the picture of the three heitkamp sisters on my wall in my office, all with their high north dakota cheekbones. it's going to stay there to be a reminder of what heidi has done and i'm sure she would say more importantly, a reminder of the many things we still havele to do to continue -- have to do to continue the great legacy she has left. those of us on this side of the aisle will miss her cornbread, insist stance on corona beer and
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to mimic her fargo accent directed her way. and all of us in this chamber will sure miss the junior senator from north dakota. her warmth, her passion, hers sin settery, her -- sincerity, her political courage. we owe a debt of gratitude to her husband and children for allowing us to borrow heidi for all these years. i wish them all the best. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of s.j. resolution 54, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 682s.
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resolution 54 that have not been auressed -- authorized by congress. mr. heller: mr. president, i rise today with gratitude to address my colleagues and members of my staff to reflect on one of my life's great honors, and that is serving the people of the state of nevada. i would like to thank them for allowing me to represent nevada in the united states congress for 12 and then in the united states senate for almost eight years. nevada, thank you for granting me the privilege of working every day for a state that i am so proud to call my home. and, of course, i'd like to
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thank my immediate family, especially my wife lynn, for being at my side for nearly 30 years of public service. to my children, hilary harris, drew, and to their spouses, thank you for your patience, your understanding and your tolerance of this process. i would be remiss if i didn't thank my parents, jack and janet heller, setting the right example in our home growing up. to my father-in-law, richard brownback, all of my wife's family, thank you for raising such a wonderful daughter, sister, cousin, and aunt. madam president, i have five brothers and sisters, they all played a vital role in my upbringing. thank you to jack, tammy, sarah, mack, and brian. all of these individuals i mentioned gave me their steadfast support, made my journey from the nevada
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legislator to the to the u.s. house of representatives and to the united states senate and i could count on them every step of the way. now, madam president, we all know how important our staff is and i'm no exception. i've been fortunate to have two staff members with me my whole tenure in congress. i would like to highlight both of them. mack abrams hails from north carolina. i know more about north carolina than i thought i ever would. matt came to me from senator vitter's office. after 12 years we mused about writing a book together because together we have seen and been through a lot. from the great recession's impact on nevada, the visit from senator reed to my -- reid to my house office, to senator ensign's resignation, the governor's appoint me to the senate, obamacare, dodd-frank, immigration reform, tax reform, changing the courts, just to
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name a few, mack has always been there. in this chamber there's a lot of slings an arrows and it takes an expert to walk through these minefields. no one does it along. i always had mack arams by my -- abrams by my side. i thank him of. scott riplinger also served the office with dissphinx. -- distinction. those who know scott know he is a problem solver. it didn't matter which hat he was asked to ware, he -- wear, he wore it with pride. i will miss his hard work, his work on the banking committee, his loyalty and great sense of humor. every office needs a scott ripringer. i would like to mention sarah paul. she has become a dear friend of mine joining my staff seven and
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a half years ago. i have leaned on her heavily to deal with complicated issues from gaming issues to mining to technology, no one can grasp an issue like her. during her last campaign she served as my chief of staff. so, thank you, sarah, and congratulations. on thanksgiving day she introduced lener miller paul to the world. again, thank you to sarah, raymond, and big brother james on the new addition. i would finally like to recognize ashley. ashley oversees our state operation and has been with us since the early days of the house of representatives. whether it's putting together the tahoe summit or local issues, ashley was someone i could always count on. over the past decade that i've known ashley she's become like family to me, but more important, like family to lynn. she's based in reno, but we're
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fortunate to have her here in washington, d.c., today, so i would like to recognize her along with mack, scott, and sarah and the many members pf my staff who are here today on the floor of the united states senate. we have a great team. i've had a great team from top to bottom, a team that includes naturalized citizens whose family came to this country seeking a better life, professional social workers, and multiple combat veterans. every member of my team in reno, elco, los angeles, and washington, d.c., has worked tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of nevadans. madam president, my staff's dedication, enthusiasm and work ethics go unmatched. so i ask unanimous consent to have the list of current and former staff and their names printed in the record for this legislative day. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. heller: thank you. madam president, i would like to shift gears for a moment to mention several topics that
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demanded a lot of my time and a lot of my energy. when it comes to our legislative success, tax reform, changes on the court, banking reform, go down the list, i'm most proud of what we accomplished to help the 300,000 veterans who call nevada home. i think that everybody here in this chamber will agree that while we can never fully repay our debt to our nation's heroes, we can do everything in our power to show our gratitude for their selflessness and sacrifice. once these men and women return home after leaving their families to fight for our country, it's our turn to fight for them and to make sure that each and every nevada veteran receives the treatment they need, the services they need and the skills they need to get a job to take care of their families. i see that job as a responsibility and a privilege. i said it before, and i will say it again, the greatest
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accomplishment i ever received in public office was when i overheard one veteran say to another, if you need help, call senator heller's office. as a senior member of the u.s. senate committee on veterans' affairs, i have had the opportunity to give our veterans a strong voice in washington, d.c. under chairman johnny isakson's leadership, we've made great strides toward bringing greater accountability to the v.a. and bringing the benefits, care, and the support that our veterans have earned. for example, earlier this year we pushed the historic v.a. mission act over the finish line. this law directs more than $50 billion to the v.a. health care system so the v.a. can hire more high-quality doctors and allow veterans get the care they need near their homes and on their schedule. we expanded the v.a. caregivers program which increased the stipend to families who require a caregiver in their home. previously only post-9/11
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veterans were able to apply. now veterans from every era are eligible. this was particular important to many veterans in nevada who told me how critical it was that we give veterans more access to this program. and these are just a few examples to fix a problem that came up during my discussions during my veterans advisory county meetings. i established these group of veterans in the southern and northern part of the state to speak directly to them about the challenges they are facing and the problems that needed to be fixed. for stains, just a few years ago the reno v.a. was one of the worst ranked offices in the nation. this was a time when veterans were waiting on average 400 days for their disability claims to be approve. this was not acceptable, so i teamed up with senator bob casey from pennsylvania to hold the v.a.'s feet to the fire, and as a result of the implementation of the 21st century veterans benefits delivery act, the
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backlog has been reduced by nearly 80%, nearly 85% and 500,000 of our military heroes around the country are no longer waiting for their health benefits. we also provided accountability through expedited firing authority of bad v.a. employees an overhauled the v.a. appeals process so veterans do not have to wait years for a decision. the president signed this bill into law in reno last year. expanded veterans access to care has been one of my top priorities. veterans living in northern nevada, i worked to authorize construction of the v.a. hospital and deliver $33.5 million in federal funding for it so that the veterans of the north don't have to drive 500 miles to boulder city to access the state veterans home. i walked through the construction site when i was in sparks last month, and look forward to the completion of the state-of-the-art facility. i did the same for veterans in southern nevada. i worked for ten years to secure
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the approval of the new larger clinic. for veterans who face barriers to try to get an education so they can earn a good living, i introduced a bill that increases the education benefits for guard and reserve members that ensure and -- that ensures that the g.i. bill is available to veterans for life. and after nevada was ranked second among states with the highest rate of veteran suicides and experiencing a doctor shortage, i authorized a new law that gives veterans more access to mental health care services and treatment. so i'm grateful for the opportunity to work with chairman isakson, with realm tester, senate -- with ranking member tester, senate leadership and this administration to enact laws to provide veterans the benefits they're owed. while we made progress, we must do better. it is my hope the next congress
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republicans and democrats can continue to work together to get things done for our veterans. now, madam president, on another topic: tax reform. when i delivered p my maiden speech on the floor of the united states senate, nevada was struggling after being knocked down by the great recession. a time when nevada led the nation in home foreclosures and when we had double-digit unemployment. today nevada is leading the nation in private-sector job growth. the housing market has recovered. home prices are increasing. now we're one of the fastest-growing states in the nation. nevada's booming. it's because this congress delivered tax cuts that put more money in america's paychecks, their pocketbooks, and their pensions, and we advanced pro-growth policies that have led to more jobs, higher wages and more opportunities for nevadans. as a member of the u.s. senate committee on finance i'm proud to have authored several
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provisions in the tax cuts and jobs act that included, for example, and not limited to doubling the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000 per child. since the law was enacted tens of thousands of jobs in the state of nevada have been created and recently nevada's unemployment rate hit a new 11-year low. the lowest rate since the 2008 economic downturn. as a result of this new law tens of thousands of nevadans have benefited from bonuses, raises and expanded benefits on top of bigger paychecks and strengthened pensions. i'll give you a couple of c examples. a hotel casino doubled its workers full-time bonuses. developers of the storm project on the vegas strip committed to creating over 10,000 jobs, and the prospecter hotel in ely gave its employees bonuses and raised
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starting wages, a direct result of the tax reform bill. nevada's economy is back on track and i hope that this congress will continue to advance policies that keep us on that path to help nevada workers and the hardworking families get ahead. let me move on. since coming to washington,d.c., my number-one focus has always been the people of nevada and putting our state's priorities first. for example, i worked with senator martin hien -- heinrich to level the playing field for energy technologies to support nevada's energy diversification. earlier this year i was proud to host the bipartisan annual lake tahoe summit and i have worked with senator feinstein throughout my career to deliver resources to protect the tahoe basin and fight devastating wildfires. and when congress came together to approve a five-year highway bill, i was able to secure my top infrastructure priority, and that was to expand
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interstate 11 up to northern nevada. whether it's leading the republican charge to extend unemployment benefits in 2014 when nevada's unemployment rate was nearly double what it is now, or breaking with my party to pass the violence against women's act, i've always been willing to work with anyone who has good ideas to help move nevada families and nevada communities forward. so while i'm pleased that i've been able to work with my colleagues to turn these ideas into over 100 pieces of legislation that are now law, this job is more than advancing good policies. it's about helping people, and that's what's most important. i work for nevadans and when someone calls with me with a problem or calls one of our offices for help, we drop everything that we do and all that we do in an effort to help them. when the v.a. refused to pay a homeless veteran $40,000 after he won his appeal, we made sure
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that the veteran got paid so that he could get back on his feet. when a constituent had a liver transplant and was denied coverage and left without insurance, he enrolled into the marketplace exchange. when the time came to reenroll the exchange forced him to go without insurance until my office intervened. take, for example, a woman who came to us after being charged a medicare penalty of about 40% each month. my staff worked with the local and regional offices to secure reimbursement of $1,000 and adjust the monthly premium to save that constituent potentially thousands of dollars. and when a constituent spent nine months trying to get her social security retirement benefits, we were able to get her a resolution to promptly begin receiving her payments. and finally, when a navy veteran was in jeopardy of losing his home when he was temporarily out of work, we contacted the lender of his mortgage on his behalf and
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ensured that he was able to keep his home. these are just a few examples of what this job is really all about. making life better for people that you work for. and, madam president, i know that i'm not alone. i truly believe that that is what drives all members of congress and that is to serve their constituents. no matter your party, no matter your state, no matter what you did before you got here. so, madam president, before i got here, i grew up with two parents and five siblings who, lime nevadans, embodied the battle war and spirit. i'd like to pay tribute not only to my family, friends and mentors who helped me along the way but all of my constituents by talking a little bit about what makes nevada different. nevadans are pioneers. they are not afraid to take risks, to dream, to put in hard work or to start from scratch. we are self-starters. we're builders, and we're trail blazers.
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we lay down the tracks to connect railroads and mines for gold and silver in the north. we shoveled mud, drilled through rocks and scaled concretes to construct the hoover dam. and in the mohave desert we created the entertainment capital of the world. one characteristic yowt -- outsiders may overlook is this, we are fighter. in no other example is the aftermath of the october mass shooting in las vegas, a tragedy that truly shook our state. i've spoken before on the senate floor about the incredible and heroic people who helped lead concert goers and turn the community out of that darkness. whether these individuals wore uniforms or not, they stepped up to help others and their actions help us grieve and start to heal together. this immeasurable pain, suffering and devastation
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inflicted by one man elicited a profound and immediate human response from nevadans across the state. like many, i saw firsthand the strong sense of family, faith and the strength in the wake of the october 1 shooting. and when i leave here i will carry those moments of unity and generosity with me. madam president, during the 1989 inaugural address, former president h.w. bush once said, we know what works. freedom works. we know what's right. freedom is right. we know how to secure a more just and prosperous life for man on earth. through free markets, free speech, free elections, and the exercise of free will unhampered by the state. regardless of what party affiliation you have, i still think we can all agree with those words. we can all agree that we are fortunate to live in a great
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country defended by men and women who stand guard to defend our way of life. we can all agree we're fortunate to live in a great country in which every aspiration or dream is possible to achieve. and we can all agree that this is because freedom works and that freedom is right. no, not everything comes easy, and i'd be lying if i said others didn't have to fight harder than some. but that job we want to get, that school you want to get into, that business you want to start or that idea that you'd like to see come to life is possible in america. a country where the son of an auto mechanic and a school cook had the opportunity to deliver the newspaper, to then governor michael callahan, go to sunday school with then-lieutenant governor harry reid's sons, get his education at the same public high school as the late senator paul laxalt, or play basketball with governor brian sandoval, a
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place where that same kid could grow up and serve nevada in the united states senate. my goal always has been to make nevada a better place today than it was yesterday, a better place to raise a family, not only one where you can find a job but a place where you can have a long-term career. madam president, i'd like to end with this: my daughter hilary and her husband adopted a young child from china she was abandoned as an infant at a bus station. her name is ayla. she was raised in an orphanage for the first two years of her life. when my daughter and her family first met ava, she did not cry when she was hungry. she did not cry when she was
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tired. she did not cry when she needed to be changed. and she did not cry when she was hurt. why? because it didn't matter. she was always on someone else's time. but she did cry when they took her shoes off to put her to bed. you see, in an orphanage kids sleep with their shoes on so that they don't get lost. ava at two years of age had never slept without her shoes off. she did cry the first time when they bathed her in a tub of water. she did cry -- let me go back. she did cry the first time when they bathed her in a tub of water. in an orphanage you take cloth baths. so ava had never been in a bath tub. today when ava falls, someone
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is there to pick her up. today when she cries, someone is there to wipe away the tears. today when she's hungry, someone's there to feed her. and today when she's tired, there's always there to tuck her into bed. and when ava grows up in this country, there will be plenty of doors that she can open that would otherwise have been closed. and i will never forget -- i'll never forget seeing my newest granddaughter in the arms of the vice president, knowing that
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her life had changed forever. so, madam president, this is a job at hand. to uphold this country's long-standing reputation as the land of opportunity. so i'm an optimist. i'll remain one after leaving this great chamber because i have seen remarkable moments here in washington. this body has come a long way from its early days from henry clay, daniel webster and john calhoun were navigating a divided nation and fighting to save our young democracy. i believe that our nation's future is bright and that of nevada's future is bright. my heart has and always will be in nevada, a state that i love and a place where i'm so proud to call home. nevada, thank you for giving me the opportunity to work for you. thank you, madam president.
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mr. cornyn: madam president. the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: i can say with great confidence that nevada and the senate and the country are better for dean heller's service to our nation. we know dean is a smart guy. he is so smart that when i was chairman of the national republican senatorial committee in 2010 and was trying to get him to run for the united states senate, he declined to do so, only to then run in 2012 and obviously succeed. i know there are many others who would like to speak and pay tribute to dean, and i won't take but a moment here, but of course the other thing i
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remember most about senator heller is his optimism and i particularly appreciate his comment about things that he has done to help ordinary nevadans that does not involve major pieces of legislation. he has certainly played a part in major legislation like the tax cuts and jobs act. but dean's efforts also to do things like to pass the safer act which helped our law enforcement agencies reduce the rape kit backlog. dean's efforts on the federal level coupled with state-led reforms made it possible for nearly 8,000 untested sexual assault kits in nevada to be sent to labs for testing. and dean's commitment to our veterans led to his bill, the veterans' urgent access to mental health care act. so i'm -- but i appreciate his
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reminding us that sometimes our most important work that we do is what we call casework. that is when veterans comes to us and say i'm not giving access to the health care that i earned by virtue of my military service or when a senior said i'm not getting my social security benefits or sometimes when people contact us and say well, i've got relatives who can't enter the country because they can't get a visa. these are the kinds of things that people will never forget, the sort of acts of individual kindness and generosity and with a true attitude of public service that they -- as i have said, they will never forget and sometimes i think amounts to some of the most meaningful work that we can do and our staff can do. so i have every confidence we will see and hear a lot more from dean and lynne, no matter what they do.
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it's clear to me that dean has his priorities right -- family first, faith, and then service to our country. and dean, we're going to miss you, but we look forward to staying in touch with you linda as friends do, and we wish you all the luck. given your talent in working on cars, which is one of the things that i think is particularly noteworthy, you will be my first call if i need my transmission fixed. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. isakson: as chairman of the veterans committee, for the last four years i have had the privilege of working with dean heller from nevada. from his opening remarks in his farewell speech, he spoke about his compassion for veterans. let me tell you, i have seen it up close and personal. his value as a member of that committee to me is invaluable. i could not have had a better member. we had a lot of tough votes that had to be taken.
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a lot of times hi to count and know i could count on him when i got to the committee. this is a guy you can count on 100% of the time every day. he cares about what he's doing. he knows what he's doing. est an affable person that's fun to be with, even if you disagree on items. dean is one of a kind, in my opinion, and one i am very proud to have served with on the committee, and i wish he was going to be there for my last two years as chairman so i could count on him a little bit more. but he is the real deal. he is a guy you put money in the bank on. he is a guy that tells me a lot. i wish him the very best. his service to the country is invaluable. i served with him in the house. served with him in the senate. all 20 years you have been here, i have been here, too. i have seen him in countless tough votes, whether it's part d of medicare or whatever it might be, and he has always been there to be counted on. he stood up for the state of nevada whether the issue was nuclear energy, nuclear storage, nuclear waste, or nuclear bombs. nevada's a great state. this is a great senate. and we have a great country. one of the reasons we do is we have great individuals like dean
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heller. god bless you. i wish you the very best after your service, dean. i yield back. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: i do want to associate myself with the comments of my colleague from georgia. senator isakson who chairs the veterans' affairs committee. i have the privilege of chairing the senate commerce committee. and senator heller has been a very active and important voice on our committee. on countless issues. and our committee has a very broad, wide jurisdiction. you heard him speak about his passion for veterans. everybody knows that. and how hard he has worked to make life better for veterans in the state of nevada. but i would say also on issues like rural broadband and issues like transportation, many of which, as i said, fall under the jurisdiction of the senate commerce committee, i can't think of anybody who has been more passionate, more representative of his state and his people, more conscientious,
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more hardworking, and frankly, madam president, just rock solid when it comes to the way that he stands up for and represents the state of nevada here in the united states senate. so i, too, am going to miss him and his voice and his work, his excellent work and that of his staff on the senate commerce committee, but like those who have spoken before me know that his contribution is not only to the people of nevada but to the fema of this -- the people of this country will continue because he is someone who not only has great talent but tremendous character. and i think that -- as i think about the future that he and lynne are going to enjoy, hopefully a little more time together and more time with those grandkids, which we talk about all the time. but the other thing i appreciate about dean heller is no matter how tough the going was, he always has a smile on his face. people talk about his optimism. and that's a virtue that to me around here really matters because we deal with weighty and
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serious issues, but it's important that we see the lighter side and that we appreciate the humor in what we do, too, but that we approach it with a sense of purpose but also a sense of optimism. that is always evident whenever you encounter dean heller in any circumstance, the thing i will remember the most, no matter where i see him, is that smile, and i appreciate that. i wish he and lynne and his family the best in the days ahead and want to thank him for his great work here and then his family for the sacrifice that they have made and to enable him to be here to represent nevadans in the united states senate. so senator heller, god bless you and your family in the days ahead. thank you. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from nevada. ms. cortez masto: i want to
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thank my gratitude for my friend and colleague, dean heller. most people don't know dean has spent 30 years serving the great state of nevada. i have heard everyone talk about how dean loves nevada. there is no doubt. if you just had an initial conversation with dean heller, you will learn about nevada and his love for nevada and why it is a wonderful place to live. he has advocated for the people of carson city as a member of our nevada state assembly. he served as nevada's secretary of state where he made nevada the first state in the nation to adopt paper records for electronic voting machines. and in congress, dean has fought tirelessly on behalf of our nation's veterans, as we have heard, first as a representative for nevada's second congressional district and then as a united states senator. and i have watched dean and have had the honor to work with him now across the aisle. when i first came here to the senate as a junior senator, he warmly welcomed me.
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we had a conversation about how we could work together, although we don't see eye to eye on everything, but how we can work together on the best interests of the state of nevada, and he made a commitment then and he followed through on that commitment. so together we had worked to do so many things on behalf of the great people of the state of nevada. worked on critical infrastructure. we have worked to support our local law enforcement. done programs as you have heard for veterans and seniors and low-income families. we also found common ground, just as nevadans expected us to do, and introduced bipartisan legislation to protect our public lands in eastern nevada while also prioritizing long-term economic growth in our rural communities. i have also worked with and watched dean as he worked on domestic violence prevention and human trafficking prevention in the state of nevada. and we have had the opportunity, not just here in washington but in our home state to work side
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by side to stop any attempts to revive yucca mountain. we introduced bipartisan legislation requiring the secretary of energy to obtain the written consent of the governor and impacted local and travel communities before building a nuclear waste repository. and as you have heard, dean and i shared also an unfortunate, horrific incident on october 1, the deadly shooting in las vegas. he and i were on the ground along with our entire delegation to do everything that we could in our community. and dean was everywhere. talking to so many people, thanking the first responders, stopping by the hospitals, talking with the families. it truly was his commitment to his home state to do everything he could to help that community heal. and he continues to do so today. the one thing that i do know as a nevadan born and raised, just like dean, is that when it comes to our beloved state, it is
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about putting that state first, the people there, and uniting and coming together to make sure that we are working together, no matter the climate, no matter the partisanship that we see here in washington. it is about what we can do every single day to work together. and i thank him for that commitment. i thank him for his willingness to bring a junior senator in and have the conversations about how we can work together to the benefit of our community. and i want to thank senator heller for everything that he has done over the years on behalf of the state of nevada, for your decades of service, for your friendship. i wish you and lynne and your beautiful children and grandchildren the best in this new chapter of your life. i know you're not done. we are all excited to see what is next. so i thank you, my friend, and i look forward to working with you in the future as well. thank you for your commitment. and i yield the floor.
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a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: madam president, i -- before i speak on the topic that i came to speak about on the floor, which is the resolution currently before the senate, i wanted to just echo the comments already made about senator heller. we have enjoyed our time working together. i spent six years of my childhood in las vegas growing up. so we have a lot of friends. he knows a lot of people i grew up with and part of our family. he will be sorely missed here, but i'm sure warmly welcomed back home to the community and his family. we all look forward to seeing what future endeavors lie ahead for him. i think he has much to offer our nation and the state of nevada. it has been an honor serving with him. and one of the things that makes service in the senate meaningful is when we get to discuss big issues of great importance. i want to start by thanking the
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authors of this war powers resolution on yemen, because while i may not agree with theme why in a moment -- i think it's important that the senate have big debates about big topics and play its rightful role. the senate and the legislative branch have an important role to play in setting the foreign policy of the united states. i actually don't think the war powers act is even constitutional. i believe it is unconstitutional restraint on the power of the commander in chief. and even if it were constitutional, i do not believe that our engagement or what we are doing in yemen with the saudi u.a.e. coalition rises to the level of triggering it. that doesn't mean that congress should not be involved. frankly, the one way you could be involved is if you wanted to and you wanted to pronounce yourself on a matter of this topic, you should file to cut off the money. i wouldn't support it, but that's where congress' power really comes from. shut off the money. say no money can be spent on this effort. few people are willing to do that. so we rely on these other mechanisms which exist in our law. but i want to talk more about
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the -- why i think it's a bad idea to vote for this and why i hope more of my colleagues will join me in opposing it. first of all, i understand what's happening. this resolution is not new. it's been discussed before. it existed for a number of months, well before "washington post" columnist jamal khashoggi's brutal murder at the saudi consulate in yemen. so this is not a new issue, but it has become for many members sort of a proxy, a vehicle by which they can address displeasure at the way the administration and the president have responded to the murder of mr. khashoggi. now, i want to tell you i think what's happened to mr. khashoggi is an outrage. i don't need a smoking gun. i don't need intelligence briefings to tell me that the crown prince is responsible. if you know anything about saudi arabia, if you know anything about how their government works, and if you know anything about the crown prince, you know that there is no way that 17 guys close to him get on an airplane, fly to a third country, chop a guy up in a
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consulate, dispose of the body, and fly back, and he didn't know anything about it. it's just not real. it's also consistent with a pattern of behavior by the crown prince. he literally kidnapped the prime minister of lebanon about a year and a half ago. he has jailed multiple members of his family and government because they weren't in support of him being a successor to the king. this is a pattern of behavior that needs to be dealt with. i do not believe it need to shatter the u.s.-saudi aliewns many foreign policy is hard -- alliance. foreign policy is hard. i say this with humility, i hold my record up to anyone when it comes to fighting for humanitarian causes. we have to recognize that has to be balanced sometimes with realism, continue requires us to make difficult decisions. the interesting thing about foreign policy is p often it's not a choice wean a great idea and a bad idea.
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it's often a choice between two less than ideal outcomes and you try to figure out which would do the least harm and make the most sense. a lot of times what we face in this saudi-u.s. alliance is that. i have long recognized and condemned the horrifying human rights violations that occur on a systemic level in saudi arabia, and i will continue to do so. but i also recognize that -- there is a threat in the middle east posed by iran and their ambitions which must be confronted and it must be confronted now regionally or eventually it will pull the united states in into direct conflict and saudi arabia and our -- saudi arabia and our alliance is a key part of that coalition. so it would be a mistake to shatter it. in the case of yemen, this has become a proxy issue for the broader issue of mr. khashoggi. i hope later today there will be
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a resolution offered by the chairman of the foreign relations committee that makes very clear that the vast majority of members in this chamber condemn what happened to mr. khashoggi and hold the crown prince responsible for his murder. there's no disputing that what's happening in yemen is a horrifying humanitarian tragedy. the numbers speak for themselves. over 57,000 human beings have lost their lives. about half the country's population of 28 million people are starving to death, including many women and children. 2.3 million people have been displaced from their homes. it's horrifying and there's plenty of blame to go around including iran and their houthi surrogates. the first question i would ask is, if this resolution passes and were to become law, would it end this conflict? if we pass this and the white house was somehow forced to do what we're asking them to do, it wouldn't end this conflict.
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this conflict will continue. this fight will continue, and the reason why is pretty straightforward. the saudis view the houthis as agents of iran, they see them as agents of iran and now to the west and south yemen and they are not just agents of iran, they have launched rockets, ballistic missles into saudi arabia after civilians populations, including efforts to kill the saudi royal family and government leadership. they have threatened global shipping. they are going to have a war. there is no way that saudi arabia or the u.a.e. is going to allow themselves to be encircled by iranian agents. this will continue irrespective of what we do. one of the sad facts about the world is that countries have plenty of sources where they can buy this and plenty of arms dealers willing to sell it to
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you. will this resolution -- if this resolution passes, will it end the suffering? no. the houthis blocked two access roads that lead to the port. it is the houthis who placed mines at the entrance of the ports. it is the houthis torcherring -- torcherring people. we saw people being -- hanging from chains by their genitals and by their wrists, people being scorched with acid. that is the houthis. that will continue. will this end the warfare? it will not. it will not end the warfare. in fact, i think it has the potential to trigger broader warfare. it won't end the warfare because right now they are having peace talks. put yourself in common sense, if you're the houthis and you read this the newspaper that now the u.s. senate voted to end support
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for saudi arabia, they think they may win. they don't know it will not become law. they don't know that. they see the u.s. is weakening in its part of saudi saw. they don't -- saudi arabia. they think it will embolden them to not strike a peace deal. the u.s. stops its support of saudi arabia, houthis establish more control and more stability in their control in areas of yemen. what are they going to do then? are they then going to rebuild the country and build roads and bridges and move on to an era of prosperity and peace? they are not. they will become agents of iranian influence and of iranian-sponsored violence. here's what you can expect to see if houthis establish key roles of yemen and reach a stalemate or worse able to solidify their grip on power. you will see hundreds of ballistic missles launched
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against saudi arabia. misms lawns -- missiles that would also target american women and men in the region. you will see them attack more in saudi arabia. you know what saudi arabia will do in response? they will hit them back even harder. they may even hit iran, triggering a broader war. it gets worse. you can see them using antiship missiles to cut off shipping lane in the arabian gulf. at that point you will see the united states navy be called opinion to go in there and reopen shipping because the global energy supply is reliant upon it and the world looks to the u.s. as the guarantor of the freedom of the seas. and so, in essence, this could very well lead in the long run to even broader more dangerous conflict that could involve us that could pull us in. that's the way we need to think
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about these issues, not just what's before us now. you have to think two or three steps ahead and two or three steps ahead is this could become a broader conflict that forces us in. we know for a fact that iran's facts are plans are to use surgants. that's -- surrogates. at a moment's notice they could decide to start attacking american troops and iran will say it wasn't us, it's the shia militia. that's why hezzbollah is so dangerous. that's why leeb if these hezzbollah is -- lebanese hezzbollah is so dangerous. they are ready to be acted at a moment of crisis so iran can attack the united states without retribution and now we will give them more one, the houthis in yemen to target our service men and women and then we will have to respond and then you will be in a war involving american service men and women.
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now, nothing that we doing now guarantees that won't happen anyway, but i'm telling you if we pull out of this effort, if we pull out of this effort it makes it likelier -- i think it makes it likely that we will see a broader conflict in the very near future that will involve the united states of america directly. and on this final point, i will just say it is important for us to think about these things pragmatically because we lose our influence over the conduct of this war. the saudi authorities do not do a good job, their military, of respecting the rules of war. in fact, they have a military culture in saudi arabia where you are likelier to get punished for not taking the shot than for blowing up a bus full of children. you are likelier to be punished for not taking a shot than taking a shot that kills innocents. that has to change. we are engaged with them and
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need to steer them in that direction and explain to them what trouble our alliances here in washington. we lose that influence if we walk away. so i do sympathize with the two points, reasserting congressional authority on foreign policies. i agree we need more joar sight an engage -- more oversight and engagement and i agree what is happening to the civilians is terrible. i don't think pulling out makes it better. i think it makes it worse. i think in the long run it sucks america into a broader and more dangerous conflict. i hope more of these senators here today will oppose this resolution. we do need to send a clear message to saudi arabia that what the crown prince did to mr. but this is the wrong way to do the right thing. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. mr. leahy: i know i was supposed to speak next, but i know the distinguished senator from missouri has the unanimous
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consent request. i will yield to him. mr. blunt: i thank the senator from vermont. madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of s. 3749, introduced earlier today by senator klobuchar and myself. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. 3749, a bill toll amend the congressional accountability act of 1995 to reform the procedures for the initiation, review, and resolution of claiming that offices of the legislative branch have violated the protections of their employees including protections against sexual harassment and for other purposes. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. blunt: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the bill be considered read a third time and passed and that and the
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motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. blunt: thank you, madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: madam president, without losing my rights to the floor, i would yield to the distinguished senator from minnesota for remarks on the matter we just moved. ms. klobuchar: thank you very much, mr. chairman. and thank you. i want to just speak for a minute here to thank senator blunt for his work on this bill. this is a bill that fundamentally changes the way sexual harassment cases are handled in the senate and in the house. the process we have will now protect victims of harassment instead of protecting politicians. and this was a work of many people, and i want to thank leader mcconnell and senator schumer, as well as the house leaders. thank senator gillibrand and senator murray, cortez masto and
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so many other members. this was something that we had to get done by the end of the year. getting rid of that cooling-off period, getting rid of a lot of the byzantine ways these cases were handled. this will help a lot of victims and i'm glad how the senate came together to get this bill done. mr. leahy: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: madam president, i commend my two friends, the senator from missouri and the senator from minnesota for what they've done. and, madam president, as you have known before, i must speak briefly, but it's about senate joint resolution 54. this would remove the u.s. armed forces from hostilities either in or affecting the country of yemen except those forces in
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operations directed at al qaeda or associated forces, and unless and until a declaration of war or specific authorization for such use of u.s. armed forces has been enacted. i want to commend my distinguished friend from vermont, senator sanders, for the leadership and perseverance he's shown on this issue. and he has rightly insisted that the congress, which alone has the power to declare war, acted in response to the humanitarian catastrophe in yemen, a catastrophe, we have to acknowledge, that the united states shares responsibility for causing. as a result of our support for the saudi military. the saudi military, by any objective measure, is guilty of war crimes. it is long past time for us to say enough. international outrage over this
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issue has been building steadily as the number of civilian casualties in yemen, one of the world's poorest country, has swollen into the thousands as a result of saudi arabia's intervention and ongoing aerial bombardment. we have seen the photographs of the dead and the dying, of children, who are really walking skeletons, they are nothing but skin and bones. some 85,000 children have starved to death. 85,000 children. another 13 million yeminis children are at risk of starvation. and the houthis and the iranians share the blame for the death and destruction in yemen. we are not supporting the
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iranians and houthis. we are not sharing intelligence with the iranians and houthis. we're not selling them weapons. but that is what we're doing for the saudis. this joint resolution is about more than that. or the kidnapping and murder of jamal khashoggi or the carnage in yemen. the outrage towards saudi crown prince mohammed bin salman finally boiled over with horrific, horrible premeditated murder of jamal khashoggi, a respected journalist who dared to criticize the royal family. and there is no question, no question the saudis' involvement in that murder. mr. khashoggi's murder by saudi government agents at the saudi consulate in install bull and in
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the plate -- istanbul and blatant lies, lies by the top official in saudi arabia who tried to cover it up. that exposed the depth of the depravity of the royal family. i spoke about that despicable crime multiple times so i'm not going to repeat what i have said. we know, we absolutely know the saudi royal family is still lying about who was involved. all we have to do is sit down and read the intelligence. and we know that since long before murdering mr. khashoggi, the saudi government has had a sorted history of abducting, imprisoning and executing dissidents after sham trials that violated international law. so the vote today on senate joint resolution 54 is the senate's first response to the
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saudi royal family and to the trump administration. the disaster in yemen is so appalling, the murder of jamal khashoggi was so wicked and so repulsive that no amount of money, no amount of oil, and no amount of lives could obscure it -- lies could obscure it. the trump administration lobbied hard against this resolution warning that despite the saudi royal family's many, many misdeeds, the u.s.-saudi relationship is too important to risk. but we're not seeking to server relations with saudi arabia. but far more important to the united states which is a great country, stands for the truth, for justice, for the laws of war, we don't stand by when a whole society of impoverished, innocent people is being destroyed or when top officials of another government, whether
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ally or adversary, conspire to murder a journalist and lie about it. we have to make clear that the united states is not for sale, and our integrity is not for sale. and the administration is going to stand up and speak out about the outrageous steps of the saudis. if the saudi royal family hopes to salvage eight tattered reputation in relation with the united states, it needs to take far more decisive action in the war in yemen and actually bring to justice all those responsible at the highest levels for murdering jamal khashoggi. mr. president, i know the distinguished colleague and dear friend is here to seek the floor, and i yield the floor.
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mr. flake: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: mr. president, i would like to begin today by noting that had the people of arizona and america been truly lucky, my mother or father would have served in the united states house of representatives and then in the senate. everything i know about what matters most in life i learned first at their dinner table, but for many reasons they were otherwise preoccupied raising and feeding 11 children, working the land, running cattle to keep
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the f-bar business going. serving their church and community daily. and in too many other ways to count, my parents were too meaningfully occupied in life to detour to something that can be so frivolous as politics. so you got their son instead. and i rise today to say that it has been the honor of my life to represent my home, arizona, in the united states senate and before that in the house of representatives. that is, it has been my honor in life after being deemed a son, cheryl's husband, and ryan, alexis, austin, tanner and dallin's father. through 18 years in washington, our kids grew up thinking it was normal to have their faces plastered on campaign signs along the roadside whenever campaigns roll along. they were dragged to countless fund-raisers and campaign
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events. they were used to having their dad join them, sort of, with a choreographed wave on c-span at dinner time. they spent summers in washington catching fire flies and voting with their dad on the house floor. they served as interns and congressional pages. much of it they enjoyed. some of it they endured. but through all of it, they were not just good sports but were extraordinarily understanding and supportive. and cheryl, while cheryl is a rock upon which our family is built, her strength, ec nimty, endless patience and love, her good humor, even when congressional life was not always funny, and her belief when disbelief would have been perfectly reasonable, these are but a few of the long list of things that leave me simply awestruck by my wife.
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i think all of us who presume to hold these positions owe someone would loves us a debt that we can never ever repay. that if they could not be repaid, they can at least be properly recognized. cheryl, that girl i met on a beach so long ago, our wonderful children, my brothers, my sisters, my extended family. john mccain often joked that the only way i ever got elected to anything was because of my hundreds of siblings and thousands of cousins. well, the truth hurts, i reckon. senator mccain just may have been on to something there. it was my honor to serve with him as it has been my honor to serve with senator kyl. today i'm filled with gratitude, gratitude for the privilege of loving and being loved by those people i mentioned and of
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serving the state and the country that i love so well. grateful beyond measure and luckier than i deserve to be. so i leave here grateful and optimistic. i will always treasure the friendships that began here and the kindnesses shown to me and my family by all of you, my colleagues. and i'll forever cherish the work of our country that we were able to do together. from the bottom of my heart i thank you all. as i stand here today, i am optimistic about the future, but my optimism is due more to the country that my parents gave to me than is due to the present condition of our civic life. we are, of course, testing the institution of american liberty in ways that none of us ever imagined we would. and in ways that we probably never should again. my colleagues to say that our politics is not healthy is somewhat of an understatement.
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i believe that we all know well that this is not a normal time and that the threats to our democracy from within and without are real and none of us can say with confidence how the situation that we now find ourselves in will turn out. over the past two years i've spoken a great deal on the subject from this chamber. there will be time enough later to return to it in other settings. but in the time i have here today, and with your indulgence, i would instead like to speak somewhat more personally. as the authoritarian impulse reasserts itself globally and global commitment to democracy seems now to be on somewhat shaky ground, i've been thinking a lot about recently about the american commitment to democracy, where it comes from, and how if the circumstances were right it might slip away. this got me thinking about when
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i was a much younger man, when i had the privilege of witnessing the birth of a new democracy in africa. when i was about half the age i am now and for my church mission, i went to south africa and zimbabwe. i fell in love with the people in these countries. when cheryl and i were drawn back to southern africa a few years later for a job, we were in nubia in february of 1990 when at the very moment that much of the world enslaved by totally ayerism -- toe tall their yarnism was thown off by its snackles and the free world that the united states has led since world war ii was growing exponentially, the soviet union was in a glorious free fall shedding republic seemingly by the day. and eastern europe was squinting out into the light of liberation for the first time in 40 years. free markets and free minds were
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sweeping the world. freedom was breaking out in the southern hemisphere as well. the country where i was sitting just that very morning was itself only days old. in november of 1989, the same week the berlin wall came down, nubia had held its first election as an independent nation freed from the apartheid administration of south africa. this had come to pass in no small part because of leadership from the united states through the united nations. just days earlier, an awe-inspiring document had been drafted only a few blocks away from where i sat in vintook and the inspiration had been the marvel of free people everywhere and those who aspire to be free, the united states constitution. at that time i was in africa working for the foundation for democracy trying to ensure that nubia emerged from the process of gaining its independence as a
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democratic country. in my role at that foundation, i eadvantage liesed -- eadvantage liesed for democracy and democratic values, the benefits of which had been a given for me for my entire life. i can safe live say, though, that i learned more about democracy from the lives of those around me who aspired to it thank those who experienced it as a birthright. as i sat there in a brand new african democracy, i read the speech that the playwright and new president of the newly democratic czec czech had just delivered before a joint session of the united states congress just across the way here in the house chamber. havel who had spent much of the previous decade in a communist dungeon and whose last arrest as a dissident had been a mere months before was quite astonished to find himself
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president of anything, much less the country of his oppressors. i sat there in africa and read halvele's speech, an acomian to democracy, a love letter to america, literary and inspiring, i was overcome by his words. there's nothing quite like the sensation of having someone who has been stripped of everything but his dignity reflecting the ideals of your own country back at you. in such a way that you see them more clearly than ever before, maybe for the first time. in some ways that man knows your country better than you know it yourself. i can only imagine how surreal it must have felt for havel as he stood before the entire congress, the president, his cabinet, diplomatic corps, joint chiefs of staff assembled before him in the house chamber of our capitol building with the vice
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president and speaker of the house behind him all standing in a sustained ovation, a deep respect from the oldest democracy in the world to the newest whose leader had been a political prisoner just a season earlier. havel soberly poured out his gratitude to the united states for the sacrifice that our country had made in liberating europe once again and for the moral example of its leadership around the globe in opposing the soviet union, the country he said that rightly gave people nightmares. havel's odd appreciation for the values that too many of us might take for granted brought home to me an american in my mid-20's sitting there in africa the power of the american example to the whole world. and the humbling responsibilities that come with that power. it is no exaggeration to say that havel's position before
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congress that day in 1990 was a turning point in my civic education. havel similarly called out to the whole world from washington on that day in 1990 with grace and without rancor but for one mistaken prophecy that to me now reads as tragic. especially in the context of the here and now. at the time as the wall fell and the soviet block that had been encased, it was vogue among some historians, scholars and others to declare the end of history that the big questions had been settled, that liberal democracy was triumphant and that the decline of the ims pulse to enshave whole countries was also inexorable. freedom had one and forever. the historian frances fukiama
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was much in demand and it was likely that havel would have been inspired by the fervor, which might explain this passage from his speech. he said, i often hear the question, how can the united states of america help us today? my reply is as paradoxical as my whole life has been -- you can help us most of all of if you help the soviet union on its irreversible and immensely complicated road to democracy. of course, history was not over. the road to democracy is not irreversible -- not in moscow, not in america, not anywhere. after erecting the potemkim village for democracy, the russians thrust forward a strongman amid the chaos, a strongman who was determined to reassemble the petes of a broken empire, in the process strangling russian democracy in its cradle. vladimir putin would go on to be
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president, and he is president still. and just as he hijacked democracy in his own country, he is determined to do so everywhere. denial of this reality will not make it any less real. this is something that is staring us in the face right now as we are gathered here today. as we in america during this moment of political dysfunction and upheaval contemplate the hard-won conventions and norms of democracy, we must continually remind ourselves that none of this is permanent, that it must be fought for continually. civilization and the victories of freedom, history it is, are not a matter of once achieved, always safe. vaclav havel lived this. the lovers of democracy i met in namibia lived this. our children, whose rights and prerogatives have never been in doubt, are for the most part unaware of it.
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but we are being powerfully reminded just how delicate all of it is right now. the stability of tested alliances, the steadiness of comportment and the words and deeds sum up the best of post-war american consensus on foreign policy. it might seem that all of this has lately been tossed around like pieces on a board, but it's important to remember that we have seen such tumult before, and it is the genius of the architects of our liberty that we can withstand it and emerge the stronger for it. what struck me in namibia that day with such force and has stayed with me ever since is how vital a beacon the united states is and has always been to the peoples of the world. both to those already free and those who still suffer in tyranny. mr. president, it is a solemn obligation that we have as
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americans. let us recognize from this place here today that the shadow of tyranny is once again enveloping parts of the globe, and let us recognize as authoritarianism reasserts itself in country after country that we are by no means immune. i stand here today recognizing that i have had the good fortune during my time in the senate to have been surrounded by supremely smart and dedicated staff, some of whom have worked for me for my entire 18 years in washington. my chiefs of staff, chief and margaret, chandler and rolan have ably supervised the team that included people over the years years people like chris, sarah, emily nelson, brian canfield, blake tahn, flaka
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hismali, melanie linehart, brian kennedy, katie jackson, james lane, andrea jones, gary bernett and so many others who drafted legislation that has been signed into law. my schedulers, office manager, and press shop have been asked to explain a lot over the years, including my penchant for marooning myself on deserted islands, sometimes with people like martin heinrich, or forced to explain why i have been force chased by elephants with people like chris coons. people like caroline ceeli and megan runrun, michael chris chrisphily, jacob and jason
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samuals, liz jones, dan mintz, jonathan felts, elizabeth berry and many more. they have kept me largely out of over-, if not -- out of controversy, if not out of elevators during my entire time in office. dedicated caseworkers have helped nevadans with many issues. i am frequently storks as i'm sure many of my colleagues are, in airports, grocery stores, and thanked for the good work done by my staff. thank you to buchanan davis, julie katzell, bob brewbaker, chelsea lett, and so many others for such dedicated constituent work over the years. to all who have served in my office, i will miss your wise counsel but most of all your friendship. thank you. i will also -- i would also like
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to say a word of thanks to the institutional officers that serve the senate so ably. the clerks, the parliamentarians, the floor staff, the pages, the sergeant at arms and his employees, and the capitol police who keep us safe here in the capitol and at times on distant baseball fields. i quite literally owe my life to them. thank you. mr. president, as i give this last speech from the chamber, i cannot help but look to my maiden speech i gave here just six years ago. in it, i talked about how 12 newly elected senate freshmen in 122012 were inwrited -- in 2012 were invited to the national archives where we viewed the first bill ever enacted by congress as well as other landmark pieces of legislation and memorabilia. oath of allegiance signed by
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revolutionary war soldiers witnessed by george washington, documents and artifacts related to the civil war, segregation, women's suffrage and the civil rights movement were also on hand. i noted that it was an affirmation to me of the tumultuous sea through which our ship of state has sailed for more than 200 years with many brilliant and inspired individuals at the helm, along with personalities ranging from mediocre to malevolent. but our system of government has survived them all. i also noted then and i will echo today that serious challenges lie ahead but by any honest reckoning of our history and our prospectives, we will -- and our prospects, we will note that we have confront and survived more daunting challenges than we now face. ours is a -- resilient system of government designed to withstand the foibles of those who sometimes
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occupy these halls, including yours truly. so i start a new chapter in the coming weeks. i am grateful most of all for the privilege of having served with all of you here. it is my sincere hope that those in this body will always remember the words of lincoln, who said, we shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth. the way forward, he said, is, quote, plain, peaceful, generous , just -- a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud and god will forever bless. i yield the floor. [applause]
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. kyl: thank you, mr. president. i'd like to make just a couple of comments on my friends having left the senate and with respect to the remarks that he just made. the senate has had some very good people over the years and currently. but none have been more principled than my friend from arizona, jeff flake. it started for us to see when he was a member of the house of representatives and at first single-handedly fought inappropriate earmarks. he even managed to get himself appointed to the appropriations committee for a while so that he could carry on his crusade from within. and in the end he was successful. i was pleased to support him as my successor to the united states senate. he has his priorities right -- faith, family, and country. and he has spoken about both his
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faith and his family here. not very many of us have the opportunity to serve from a town named after our own family, and that's how far senator flake's roots go back in the state of arizona. he has spoken not just today but on earlier occasions from his heart about things that he sees need improvement here in the united states senate. i think we're all aware of the things of which he spooks. -- he speaks. and it's been appropriate for him to do so. because, as he pointed out, in order for us to be a beacon to others around the world in support of liberty, individual freedom, we have to demonstrate how it can be practiced right here in the united states of america. we'd all like to leave this place better than we found it, and it's not easy to do. but senator flake has tried his best. he also spoke about our
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democratic republic and our focus on individual liberty and how that has had an impact around the world and how others have tried to emulate what we do here. these are universal principles that we need to focus on, and what he has reminded us of here today is that freedom is not free. and each day we all have to do our part from wherever we sit to ensure that future generations will enjoy the kind of freedom we have, and that starts with our representatives in the united states government. it was a fitting subject for a farewell address and wise counsel was given, as always. i want to salute my colleague jeff flake as a person, though, as much as a public servant and senator. he embodies what's right about the people of the united states of america.
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as i said, he has his priorities right, and he's been willing to serve based upon those priorities. i wish him and his family all the best in their next endeavors, and i know because of his dedication to this country and the principles in which he believes that his service does not end at the end of his time here in the united states senate. and we will all be beneficiaries of that. so, to my friend and colleague jeff flake, godspeed. i appreciate your remarks today and yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. coons: mr. president, i am proud to stand before you today to honor my dear friend and colleague, senator flake of arizona. and to pay tribute to his remarkable work here in the senate as this optimistic evangelist of democracy. i've been asked a fair amount in
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recent weeks about my close friendship with senator flake, whose political beliefs differ very widely from my own. yes, senator flake is a staunch conservative, and if you took a scorecard of the things on which we voted the same or believe the same, there would not be a ton of overlap. but he's also a patriot. he's a patriot who deeply loves our country and is willing to work across the aisle to stand up for the values and principles that have made our nation the greatest on this earn. our friendship stems from a foundation in similar experiences and similar world views formed at the same time. we are almost exactly the same age. as you heard in his remarkable farewell address, time spent in namibia, zimbabwe and africa truly shaped him has a man. and at just about the same time, i was spending time in can inia and south africa, havin v


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