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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  December 17, 2018 2:59pm-7:40pm EST

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>> yeah, from a coast guard contribution or are you talkin talking -- >> i was a in the atlantic and north atlantic we are watching at and it's clear why the second fleet came back after being away for a few short number of years. we talk a lot in recent years my predecessors talk about the north pacific coast guard and that brings in the china and russia and collaboration of folks doing things that you were not necessarily think we have the collaboration and we talked about that. we have a north lancet coast guard and the first time the coast guard will hold separate i would say we have not been that active in that collaboration in recent years but consistent with the return of the second week -- >> the u.s. senate is about to goblin to start work on criminal justice legislation. we believe this year.
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the bill will reduce the federal inmates by revising current sentencing laws. it will offer more support to prisoners who return to society so they don't commit new crimes and returned to prison. lawmakers will about to advance the bill at 530 p.m. eastern. work on government spending later this week. live coverage of the senate. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. almighty eternal god, you shine in the darkness. the whole earth is bathed in your light. today, be near to our lawmakers. penetrate the springs of their being, bringing cleansing, healing, and unity.
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drive them away from the shadows of disunity, enabling them to find common ground. in times of routine and humble duties, may they remember they are serving you. lord, as we all trust in your mercies, surround our nation with the shield of your favor and protection. we pray in your great name. and, lord, we ask your blessings upon your servant senator cindy hyde-smith who will be sworn in today. we pray in your great name. amen.
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the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the chair lays before the senate a certificate of election to fill the unexpired term of thaad docron of mississippi. it is in the form suggested by the senate. if there be no objection, the reading of the certificate will be waived and it will be printed
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in full in the record. if the senator-elect will now present herself at the desk, the chair will administer the oath of office. the clerk: cindy hyde-smith the presiding officer:the presi- do you solemn -- that you will bear truth faith and allegiance to the same. that you take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to enter so help you god.
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ms. smith: i do. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i'd like to say a few words following today's announcement from our dear friend, the senior senator from tennessee. the great state of tennessee's been generous to the united states senate over the years. a number of the state senators from both parties have enriched this institution through especially distinguished service and built reputations as national leaders. no one embodies this legacy more fully than lamar alexander. while i'm sure he will accomplish even more over the next two years, he is also one of the most consequential senators on domestic policy in memory. lamar was a success long before he became a senator. he already been a popular, accomplished governor, a brilliant secretary of education, but, fortunately, for this body and for our nation, 16 years ago the volunteer state saw fit to continue that career
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of excellence by sending lamar here. he's chaired the republican conference, he's chaired the help committee, for his colleagues in both parties, he is a go-to expert on some of the most critical subjects that directly impact americans' lives, particularly american families, health care, and our children's schools. the every children succeeds act and this year's opioid legislation are two perfect examples of signature lamar alexander accomplishments. they tackle challenging issues, they will tangibly improve americans' lives and passed both houses of congress by big bipartisan majority. the senate will be lesser without lamar's wisdom, collegiality and expertise when he retires. i'm glad that day is two years away and grateful we'll keep
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benefiting from his leadership through the 116th congress. now, mr. president, on another matter, in recent days i've spoken about the senate's agenda for the reminder of the 115th congress. as was the case at this time last week, there are important items that have yet to be addressed. but thanks to the bipartisan progress we made last week, we're significantly closer to the finish line. together, guided by chairman blunt and senator klobuchar, the senate met the need to revise how congress handles claims of sexual harassment, workplace discrimination, and other workplace violations. under the leadership of chairman roberts and senator stabenow, we cleared the conference report for the 2018 farm bill, sending my industrial hemp legislation and other critical provisions for america's farming communities to the president's desk to become law. and to cap off a year of historic progress on judicial nominations, the senate voted to
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confirm the 30th federal circuit judge of this congress and this administration. now we'll turn our attention to the remaining priority in completing the american people's business. last week i announced that at the request of the president and following improvements that were secured by several members, the senate would take up criminal justice legislation here on the floor. later this afternoon we'll vote on advancing that legislation. i know the pro poafnts this bill -- proponents of this bill spent a great deal of time and energy drafting their proposal. at the same time, there are a number of members with outstanding concerns that they feel are still unresolved. so if cloture is invoked later today, the senate will consider amendments before we vote on final passage later this week. of course, the most high-profile items before us are border security and government funding. we need to make a substantial
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investment in the teferg of our border -- integrity of our border and in the safety of american families and we need to close out the year's appropriations process rn reach a warp -- and reach a bipartisan agreement to supply 25% of the federal government for which we haven't already passed funding legislation. i hope the same bipartisan collaborative spirit that cared us this far will allow the house and senate to complete its business without undo delay.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask the chair lay before the senate the message to kay company s. 1311. the presiding officer: the chair lays before the senate the following message from the house. mr. mcconnell: i concur on the house amendment i ask unanimous consent that the motion be agreed to and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion. the clerk: resolved that the bill from the senate, s. 1311, entitled an act to provide assistance to abolish human trafficking in the united states do pass with an amendment. the presiding officer: without objection, the majority leader's request is agreed to. mr. mcconnell: i ask the chair lay before the senate the
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message to accompany s. 1312. the presiding officer: the chair lays before the senate the following message. the clerk: resolved that the bill from the senate, s. 1312, entitled an act to prioritize the act against human trafficking in the united states do pass with an amendment. mr. mcconnell: i move to concur on the house amendment i ask unanimous consent that the motion be agreed to and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar 623, s. 1862. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 623, s. 1862, a bill to amend the trafficking victims protection act of 2000, and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the
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moyer -- to the measure? without objection, so ordered. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the menendez at the desk be agreed to, the bill, as amended, be considered read a third time. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, it is so ordered. mr. mcconnell: i know of no further debate on the bill. the presiding officer: is there further debate on the bill? if not, the question is on the passage of the bill, as amended. all in favor say aye. opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it, the ayes have it. the bill, as amended, is passed. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection, it is so ordered. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 628, h.r. 2200. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 628, h.r. 2200, an act to reauthorize the trafficking victims
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protection act of 2000, and for other purposes. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection, it is so ordered. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the murray amendment at the desk be agreed to, the committee-reported amendment, as amended, be agreed to and the bill, as amended, be considered read a third time. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, it is so ordered. mr. mcconnell: i know of no further debate on the bill. the presiding officer: if there is no further debate, all in favor say aye. opposed. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the bill, as amended, is passed. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent -- i ask unanimous consent the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection, it is so ordered. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar 441, s. 1520. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 441, s. 1520, a bill to expand
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recreational fishing opportunities and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the committee-reported substitute amendment be withdrawn, the wicker substitute amendment be considered and agreed to, the bill, as amended be considered read a third time and passed and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. so ordered. mr. mcconnell: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president. i ask that the quorum call be rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. boozman: we are going to miss you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise today to applaud my colleagues for coming together in a bipartisan fashion to pass the farm bill conference report. there is much to be excited about in the final version of this five-year reauthorization. first and foremost, the farm bill will bring much-needed certainty and predictability to farmers and ranchers over the next five years. this is especially important due to the intense pressure our agriculture producers are facing. if you look at the numbers across the nation, net farm
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income is approximately half of what it was when we passed the last farm bill. farm bankruptcies are up by 39% since 2014. financing has become more expensive. commodity prices have plummeted. input costs are rising. and the trade outlook is volatile and uncertain, to say the least. farmers across the country, regardless of where they call home or which crops that they grow, are hurting. the farm bill that congress approved last week delivers meaningful and real relief for our farmers and ranchers in these very difficult times. it's a big deal for my home state in arkansas as well as across the country. agriculture is the driving force of the natural state's economy, adding around $16 billion to our economy every year and accounting for approximately one in every six jobs. that's why agriculture advocacy
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groups in arkansas were very excited when we passed the final version. the arkansas farm bureau said it was, and i quote, pleased that congress has recognized how important the new farm bill is to the hardworking farmers and ranchers of this country, end quote, and expressed gratitude that we came together and i quote, to pass this critical legislation before the new year, end quote. the agriculture council of arkansas said, and i quote, it cannot stress enough the importance of the farm bill and the need for it among arkansas farmers, end quote. the council went on to add, quote a farm bill with meaningful support is critical in preventing significant harm to arkansas farms, end quote. and the arkansas rice federation said the farm bill will provide, and i quote, certainty in such a variable agricultural climate. along with strengthening key risk management tools for our
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farmers, the farm bill also helps our rural communities by authorizing key economic development and job creation programs. it helps rural arkansans with everything from combating the opioid crisis to home financing to high-speed internet access. sending this bill to the president is about as important as it gets in my state. it would not have been as beneficial to arkansas farmers and ranchers without the diligent efforts of the conference committee leadership who worked to ensure that the harmful arbitrary policy changes were excluded from the final conference report. as a result of these efforts, family farms are protected from additional regulations and unnecessary paperwork. i commend chairman roberts and conway as well as ranking member stabenow and peterson for their commitment to make this bill fair and equitable to the
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diverse needs of producers of all regions of the country throughout. and again, as always, mr. president, a special thanks to the staffs that do so much hard work around here to get these things done. it was a heavy lift. they worked hard to ensure we would get this done before adjourning this congress. i would also like to thank them for their willingness to include provisions that i advocated for in the conference report. the elimination of all state performance bonuses in snap is something i pushed for in the last farm bill. i am pleased that this time we got it included. the federal government partners with states to administer snap, but in the order -- but in order to best serve program recipients, the states must be good partners. unfortunately, states have exaggerated their performance to receive these bonuses. this policy change saves $48 million per year, is a smart
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reform we made in this bill. i was particularly proud that another provision championed by myself and my friend, senator heitkamp, was included that would allow trade promotion funding for agriculture products to be used in cuba. this is a big win for our farmers and ranchers who have consistently been working to open up more access to the cuban market. cuba imports approximately 80% of its food, and our farmers and ranchers produce the highest quality, lowest cost and safest food in the world. additionally, i welcome the inclusion of my provision that clarifies the definition of livestock to include live fish for purpose of the department of transportation's hours of service regulations. as well as reauthorization of the program which does so much to help our veterans who want to get started in agriculture and reauthorization of the dealt regional -- delta regional
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authority. the farm bill conference report includes a true investment in conservation to help the waterfowl in arkansas. and i was excited to see the century farms act that senator murphy and i authored was also a part of the package. with the approval of the conference report last week, we were just one step away from the farm bill becoming law. president trump has indicated he is supportive of the farm bill that will ensure certainty and predictability for producers. we are sending one his way, and i look forward to it becoming law. and with that, mr. president, i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: i would ask unanimous consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. would the gentleman suspend for a moment? morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of the house message to accompany senate 756, which the clerk will report. the clerk: house message to accompany s. 756, an act to reauthorize and amend the marine free act to promote international action to reduce marine debris, and for other purposes. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mr. moran: mr. president, thank you very much. i'm on the floor this afternoon
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to honor a friend, a colleague, and the senior representative from kansas, congresswoman lynn jenkins, who has gracefully and honorably served kansas for two decades in both our state and here in the federal government. madam president, while it will be -- i will talk a bit about lynn's history and past, none of this should be taken as just something that is being read in her honor. she is a very special person who has served kansas so well and she brings such tremendous attributes to public service. we will miss her greatly and kansans will have benefited by her service, but she will also remain a role model for many who look for ways to make america and to make our state more prosperous and a brighter future. congresswoman jenkins grew up on a farm outside of holton,
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kansas, a small town of just -- just 100 miles away from kansas city, just north of topeka where she learned the value of hard work and perseverance. you cannot meet somebody who grew up working on a dairy farm without determining they have those attributes, and lynn exemplified that in every endeavor. she was taught what needed to be done was something that she would do. and when you do it, she learned that you do it right. and in every day, you need to step up and do your job to make certain that things get done. that's a dairy farm, and that's lynn jenkins as a member of the united states congress. lynn before becoming a member of congress and before being elected in kansas was a c.p.a., a certified public accountant, and she was recognized -- she recognized the real need for financial reform as a result of that experience, and she used
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her skills as a c.p.a. to benefit kansas. in 2003, lynn was elected to the 37th -- elected the 37th state treasurer of kansas. lynn took that same tax and financial experience to washington, d.c., where she was elected the congresswoman from the second district of our state. after her election to the u.s. house of representatives, lynn quickly rose to become one of the highest ranking members of congress, serving today as the vice chair of the house republican caucus. she served in that capacity for four years, and she is a senior member of the house ways and means committee. it goes without saying that in addition to her background as a c.p.a., intellect and service-oriented mind-set, lynn is one of the most beloved kansans that we have. we meet with many of the same people in groups that -- here in kansas and in washington, d.c., and i know that visiting with lynn is without a doubt one of the highlights of kansans who
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come to washington, d.c. lynn also understands that while it may seem like this environment is a loud and boisterous one and that make your appearances on national tv is the effective way of being a member of congress, she knows that you can really serve your country and especially kansas by rolling up your sleeves and just getting to work. it's been a privilege to witness this firsthand and to work on a number of issues with lynn over the years. together we jointly introduced the fair tax legislation, worked together to protect rural health care in kansas, made sure our veterans receive the benefits they deserve. and we are both chairs of our respective hunger caucuses. we both are lucky to have bob dole as a mentor, and we have made it a priority to carry on his legacy to end hunger in america and around the globe. lynn was also a champion of mental health first aid act
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modernizing 529 college savings plans, section 529 college savings plans and was an integral part of passing major tax reform legislation for the first time in 30 years. lynn and i often shared flights back and forth from kansas to washington, d.c. she, like i, have chosen to remain at home in kansas, and so we're often on the same airplane. and i can always count on lynn to have the conversation to let me know what was going on in the house and her to explain to me what should be going on in the senate that wasn't. we were able to take care of our constituents' business by being together on that flight here to washington, d.c. and that flight home. it also goes without saying that lynn will be sorely missed as a leader and a sensible voice in congress and in our kansas delegation. her role will be so difficult to fill, but i know she is excited about spending more time back in kansas with her kids haley and
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hayden, in that place we so proudly call home, the state of kansas. lynn, i thank you for your many years of service and on behalf of all kansans, i want you to know we appreciate, we respect and admire you. and, lynn, thank you for your friendship, advice, and your realness. i wish you the best of luck and countless m&m's in retirement from congress and in everything that comes next, may you have success, may you have joy. and please know that you are missed and that we look forward to spending time together as you tell me still what i should be doing in the united states senate. madam president, i ask unanimous consent that my following remarks appear at a different place within the journal. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. moran: madam president, i also want to speak this afternoon about another
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retirement from kansas, congressman kevin yoder, who served the third congressional district of kansas for four terms. he is a solid colleague and a good friend. i met kevin when he was an intern in our office, when i was a member of the house of representatives. and i remember his tenacity, his spirit, his passion forking serving kansans, which he continued to feel long after he was an intern in the moran world. kevin went on at the university of kansas to serve fellow students as student body president and earned a law degree from the university of kansas school of law. he served the overland park community in the state house of representatives and became the chairman of the house appropriations committee. as a member of the united states house of representatives, kevin also served as a member of the appropriations committee and there he was and has been a steward of kansas' taxpayers' hard-earned dollars.
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as a member of that appropriations committee, kevin has made biomedical funding a top priority, and i've enjoyed working with him as we advocated for the national institutes of health and for the university of kansas cancer center which was designated as a national cancer institute in 2012. kevin served as a real leader in congress in advocating for that designation, and it's a point of pride for our state and the hope for many in the region. he also serves as chairman of the house appropriations subcommittee on homeland security where he has helped to protect our borders and our homeland. kevin has been a steady leader in his support for head start, understanding that education uniquely unlocks opportunity. and he's worked to give underprivileged children a path to success at an early age, an opportunity unlikely would have otherwise. understanding the complex and outdated nature of our country's
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immigration laws, kevin has championed legislation that could garner the support of both republicans and democrats, that would end per country caps on employment-based green cards c clearing the background of indian and chinese immigrant green card applications some of which have been unfortunately on a wait list for decades cenchlt grew up in a small town in kansas and was a farm kid. he also learned the value of hard work and the issue of being responsible for the consequences of what you do. kevin will be greatly missed in our kansas delegation and here in washington,d.c., and his shoes will be hard to fill. kevin, i hope you're able to spend some well-deserved time with brook and your girls. i'll miss our flights back and forth between kansas in which you were showing me photos on almost every trip of your children. i wish the very best for kevin,
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for brook his wife, and had i daughters as they enter -- and his dawrs as they enter this new chapter. i would pay special tribute for brook yoder for her work side by side with her husband. they together as a team made a tremendous difference in kansas and in washington, d.c. so on behalf of all kansans, kevin, i say thank you for your dedicated service to our state. godspeed. mr. cornyn: madam president. the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: madam president, at 5:30 we will be voting on the first procedural step to take up criminal justice reform legislation that started back in 2013 when i introduced a bill we
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called federal prison reform. this legislation is based on prison reform but has taken on some additional attributes relative to how we sentence and how judges sentence people convicted of various crimes. but let me explain a little bit about why this should be a priority for the senate and for the congress and for the country. we know that the cycle of crime is all too common. people commit crimes. they serve time in prison. they get out of prison. they commit another crime. they serve time again in prison. they're released. this is what one young man in houston a few years ago, when he was talking about his own experience, he called himself a frequent flier. somebody caught in that revolving door of prison and crime. but in texas in 2007 or
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thereabouts, we had some far-sighted visionary leaders actually who decided instead of just being tough on crime, which texas has always had a reputation for, we needed to be smart on crime too. a little more than a decade ago texas prisons were bursting at the seams. we had more people incarcerated in texas prisons it than any state in the nation, and tragically we also had high recidivism rates. so it was obvious that we were doing something wrong, and we needed to up our game. the legislative budget board in our state estimated that in the next five years texas would need as many as 17,000 new prison beds to house the growing inmate population. so two options became clear. build more costly prisons with the same tragic results or fix the system. and we chose the latter.
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i would say, madam president, some of our colleagues and some of the critics of the underlying bill say the best way to keep communities safe is to keep criminals in prison. and there are some people, sadly, who will never take advantage of the opportunity to transform their lives through faith-based programs, deal with their drug and alcohol addiction, learn a skill, get a g.e.d. in other words, there are some people unfortunately you can't save. but there are others who understand that they've made a mistake and paid their debt to society and want to turn their lives around. and those are the type of people this criminal justice reform bill speaks to. in the beginning my start, the decision was largely driven by cost. the estimated price tag to build new prisons exceeded $2 billion. you can imagine what that does to a state's budget. but instead of leaving taxpayers
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with the bill and just moving on, a visionary group of state legislators decided to dive further into the problem to try to understand it better and propose cost-effective ways to fix it. these fixes came in a number of forms which looking back on it now seem pretty obvious, pretty intuitive but at the time really was revolutionary. first for improvements in our parole system which means that once people got out of prison, people were then supervised while out of prison to make sure they met the conditions of their parole. they didn't get involved with the same bad company that helped them get into trouble in the first place, and they didn't start using drugs again and they kept fully employed. this parole supervision targeted 10% fewer revocations and graduated sanctions for small rules violations such as missed meetings. that's particularly important
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because one of the first indications that somebody who's on parole is in trouble is when they don't show up for their meeting with their parole officer. and in the past that was pretty much blown off until those missed meetings began to accumulate. then ultimately that individual found themselves back arrested and back in jail and ultimately back in prison. rather than letting this be small and factions pile up and eventually sending the person back to prison, each misstep was dealt with swiftly and surely. in 2005, 5 -- $55 million was appropriated in texas probation departments to make improvements in how we supervise people who had once been in prison, with most of the funds going toward reducing caseloads. in other words, parole officers, probation officers, if they have to handle so many cases, they can't give them the individual attention that they need and that the formerly incarcerated individual will
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benefit from. that brought the number of cases down from nearly 150 in some areas to 110 probationers per officer. this allowed for closer supervision and constant application of sanctions when called for. the results were pretty dramatic. in 2005 our state was paroling 21,000 prisoners. 11,000 of them returned to prison after committing other crimes. that means a little more than 50% were eventually going back to prison. a decade later putting in place these reforms, the state paroled 28,000 prisoners and about 4,500 came back, or only 16%. so you went from about half of the people in prison being paroled without les -- less supervision and less help to only 16% because of these
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reforms. these reforms, as i said at the outset, may not look so obvious , and it seems so intuitive, and it seems clear to us today. but at the time it was pretty groundbreaking. as we all know, many politicians, one of their biggest fears when it doms -- comes to their next is being accused of being soft on crime. again, this is not about being tough on crime or soft on crime. this is about being smart on crime and giving the best results. the decline in revocations led to the savings of $1 19 million for texas taxpayers, more than double the initial investment in these programs. second were improvements to prison alternatives for low-level nonviolent offenders, judges and prosecutors were frustrated by the number of individuals who kept ending up back where they started with no
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real change in their trajectory and certainly no more hope for their future. so the states started to provide funding to increase access to things like substance abuse treatment, drug courts and mental illness treatment. again, the reason why people end up in prison often has very little to do with their desire to live a life of crime. many of them feed their addiction by theft and other crimes. people who are mentally ill who go to jail or go to prison without diagnose and treatment don't get any better. and when they get let out of jail and prison, they just go back deteriorating until they become a danger to themselves and others. in addition, mandatory prerelease programs were expanded to reduce the backlog of inmates waiting to complete these requirements. in other words, there were a lot more people who wanted to go through these programs because they recognized the benefit to themselves and their families, but they just simply couldn't
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get into the programs because there weren't enough slots. for example, the expansion of a drug treatment plan brought down wait time from one year to four months. if you're somebody with a drug problem and you're told we don't have room for you, come back in a year, that can be obviously very discouraging and not resulting in getting them the help that they need. so moving the wait time for drug treatment moved two-thirds of the wait list into treatment, after which they were released only to see a more hopeful and better outcome. so in texas the model worked. not only did we avoid new prisons, we actually closed eight prisons in texas. again, this sounds a little shocking if you're from other parts of the country when you hear about our tough on time reputation, but we were actually able to close eight prisons because they were no longer
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needed because of these reforms. we quickly saw a reduction in both incarceration and crime rates by double digits at the same time. and this, to me is the essence of criminal justice reform. there are some who say we need to do criminal justice reform because we just simply imprison too many people, and there are others who say we imprison people for offenses that are disproportionate to what they have done. but, to me the essence of criminal justice reform is reducing the crime rate, in other words, increasing and improving public safety. other states took notice of what was happening and started to do the same -- georgia, rhode island, and north carolina quickly followed suit and we saw other states adopt similar reform. so when i say we saw both a reduction in the incarceration and crime rates, let me give you
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a couple of numbers. from 2005 to 2016, the texas f.b.i. index crime plummeted by more than 34%. in the same period the incarceration rate dropped 23%. that's pretty shocking and surprising numbers. the crime rate went down 34%, the incarceration rate dropped 23%. you would think the opposite would be true, that with incarceration rates going down, the crime rate would go up, but because of these visionary programs and these reforms, they simply worked in tandem to reduce the incarceration rate and improve public safety at the same time. it's clear now, based on experience, that these reforms and these outcomes are real, and i've been working with my colleagues in the senate judiciary committee since 2013 to try to bring these reforms now to the national level.
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and the first step act is our opportunity to do just that this week in the senate. thanks to the primary sponsors of the first step act, the senator from illinois, who has joined us here in the chamber, the chairman of the senate judiciary committee, leahy, sheldon whitehouse and i who have worked primarily on the prison reform bill, the current bill has undergone major improvements over the last few weeks, which i'm very proud of. the previous version of the legislation had positive attributes. in fact, more than three-quarters of the bill was based on the corrections act that senator whitehouse and i introduced in 2014, which is the prison reform component of the legislation. but the remainder of the sentencing elements in the bill were more controversial and many of my concerns were shared by
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members of the law enforcement community. as i was gauging where members stood on the bill, it was clear that many could not support the old version of the bill and needed the primary sponsors of the bill, who i mentioned a moment ago, to work with them to try to make it more acceptable to law enforcement, which was going to send a signal, i think, to many other senators about whether they should get behind the bill. madam president, we've all learned how to get things done here in the senate, and that is not just to point out the problems with legislation, but it's also to listen and to work together to find solutions and that's exactly what we did. we spent a lot of time talking to, as i said, national law enforcement organizations and those in texas. i know we all value the input of our sheriffs and our police chief and our other law enforcement professionals, and we tried to work with them tro try to figure out, how can we make this bill stronger?
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i listened to feedback from our nation's police officers an sheriffs, and we all got to work. we had meetings, we negotiated, we compromised with colleagues both sides of the aisle as well as friends across the capitol in the -- and the house. we also worked with the white house who we all stayed in constant contact with since the trump administration took over. jarad has been looking to get this done. i know each of us have talked to him almost on a daily basis, sometimes many times in a given day. so this bill is a product of those negotiations and those changes, and i'm not the only one who is happy with the result. since the improvements have been made, the bill has been endorsed by a number of important groups, including the texas municipal
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police association, the fraternal order of police and the council of state governments. so i appreciate the dedication and hard work of our colleagues who have worked on this to get the bill where it is today. but, madam president, before tonight's cloture vote, i want to correct some misconceptions floating around about what this bill will be will not do. there are some who, for example, say that this legislation will put violent criminals and sex offenders back on the streets, which is completely false. let me say that again because i think it bears repeating. this bill will not allow dangerous violent criminals to be released early. that's pure fiction. not everyone is eligible to earn the credits that lead to early release based on their participation in these programs that i talked about a moment ago. this bill specifically lists 48 offenses that disqualify
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offenders from earning time credits including crime like murder, specific assault, specified assault, carjacking that results in injury or death and unlawful possession of use of a firearm by violent criminals. we use social science evaluation tools to find out who is at low risk of reoffending, and these are the ones who get the benefit of these programs because we think these are the ones who are most likely to have a good outcome and not end up back in prison. we have disqualified violent offenders, including anybody who either used or displayed or happened to be carrying a firearm during the course of committing their offense. those who have not committed one of those crimes aren't automatically eligible. in fact, nobody is automatically eligible for the benefits of
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this program. as i said, they have to be evaluated to be at low residcism risk. that is made by the law enforcement professionals who work with these men and women every day. it's important that we look at people who are at low risk of recidivism and low risk to public safety in community because what we could do is use the resources not to keep people like that behind bars unnecessarily, but to focus on the truly violent criminals who are not likely to be rehab rehabilitated because, frankly, they don't want to be rehabilitated. but by fowfg on the most -- focusing on the most dangerous criminals and provide relief to those who earned credit makes common sense. some people are falsely claiming that the first step back will
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retroactively release illegal immigrants by increasing the good-time credit by seven days a year. again, this is simply not true. all the bill does is clarify congress's original intent when it comes to good time credit. now good time credit is different from the earned credit for participating in these various programs. but you can imagine how important this is not only to the safety of the jailers and the wardens and the public law enforcement officials in the prisons because it gives inmates hope that if they lead exemplary lives while they are in prison that they have a greater hope of getting good time credit and getting out earlier. this clarifies congress's original intent that 54 days of good time credit be available rather than the 47 days that the federal prison bureau had
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interpreted under the original law. this is merely a clarification of preexisting intent. some say it will allow gang members to be transferred to lower security prisons to be closer to their homes. this is false. gang members will not be transferred to lower security prisons under this bill. while the bill does call for inmates to be transferred to a prison within 500 miles of the only applies to the availability of beds and other conditions. for example, a member of the dangerous ms-13 gang held in maximum security over 500 miles from their release residence and there happens to be a minimum security prison within 500 miles of their release residence, they would not be transferred. we simply don't transfer violent
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criminals to medium-security prisons because they happen to be within 500 miles of their residence. there's a lot of mythology and misunderstanding and misrepresentation of what is in the bill. this is not to release broad swaths of criminals, in fact, it is just the opposite. this legislation helps prisons help criminals transform their lives if they are willing to take the steps and responsibility to do so that we're not perpetuating the cycle of crime that continues to plague communities across the country and drain taxpayer dollars in the process and to damage public safety. so i want to thank all of our colleagues who have worked so hard on this legislation. one of the most important attributes i think of a legislator, certainly of a senator, is to listen, to listen to our constituents, listen to the feedback from our members,
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and help build a better bill that will garner significantly more support than it otherwise would have had. i'm confident that the senate will pass this bill and we can soon send it to the president's desk for his signature. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. schumer: madam president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: now on another subject, madam president. we're five days away from a lapse in appropriations, and president trump still doesn't have a plan to keep the government open. in fact, the only indication he has given is that he wants a government shut down. at the moment, the situation should be clear to everyone. president trump does not have the votes for his wall. he certainly doesn't have the votes in the senate. and it doesn't seem that he has the votes even in the house. where he needs only republican votes. tellingly, the house is on recess until wednesday night, just two days before the trump shut down would start. it's because the house
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leadership has no idea what to do, where the votes are, or where the people are. many of them don't want to come back. so everyone knows the situation, even with a republican congress, no threat or temper tantrum will get the president his wall. on the other hand, democrats are all together. we have given a proposal to president trump. we have given two alternatives to president trump that could easily pass both the house and the senate. we could pass the six bipartisan appropriation bills and a one-year c.r. on homeland security or we could pass a one-year c.r. for all of the remaining agencies. president trump should support one of these options and spare innocent, hardworking americans the pain of an unnecessary trump shut down. his temper tantrum will get him a shut down but it will not get him the wall. it's fiewt many.
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unfor the -- futile. unfortunately, since our meeting last tuesday, leader pelosi and i have still not heard from the white house whether they will accept either of these two options, nor have we heard from our republican colleagues in the senate or the house about what they might support in order to avoid a shut down. not a people. they are -- not a peep, they are nowhere to be found. a reporter asked, what's the democrats' plan? we gave them two. the real question is, what's the republicans' plan? they don't have wufnlt they don't know what -- one. they don't know what to do. the senate republican leadership has no idea what president trump wants, neither does house republican leadership. and they don't have the leadership, the strength, in my judgment the wisdom, to tell the president he's wrong on this, let's move forward. that amazes me more in the house than anywhere else. the house, republicans lost 40 seats by just clinging to president trump even when they knew he was wrong.
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are they continuing this pattern of behavior and are our senate colleagues going to do the same? it makes no sense. my friends on the other side of the aisle know the president's wall is wrong, ineffective and that it cannot pass. the president's daily twitter outbursts cannot alter that reality. my republican friends need to step up and convince the president to pick one of the two sensible offers we've made. but right now, nobody seems to know what republicans want or plan to do. it's shocking that republicans haven't engaged yet in this process, considering they control the presidency, the house, and the senate. what a symbol, what evidence of disarray. once again, i'd remind my republican colleagues, going along with the trump shutdown is a futile act. when democrats take control of the house on january 3, they
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will pass one of our two options to fund the government, and then leader mcconnell and senate republicans will be left holding the bag for a trump shutdown. the onus for reopening the government will wind up on their lap. that's not what they should want. i don't think they do want it. they just are so fearful of departing from trump. and i'd remind them when the president wasn't mixing in, we did two good budget seasons. we did two good appropriations bills which got large majorities of democrats and republicans in the house and senate. you can't let the president interfere, particularly when he does it in a pound-the-table, tantrum-like way, without any plan or knowledge of how to get things done. if president trump decides to shut down the government, there is no end game in which president trump gets the wall, there is no end game for republicans in which they can avoid their share of
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responsibility, overwhelming share for shutdown. the time to solve this problem is now. now, on health care, madam president. on friday, in response to a suit brought by republican attorneys general, a district court judge in texas issued a bizarre and dreadful ruling that the affordable care act was unconstitutional because of changes to the law made by congressional republicans. if the ruling is ultimately upheld, the consequences would be disastrous for the american people. it would jeopardize health insurance for more than 20 million americans who gained insurance on the exchanges or through expanded medicaid. it would end protections for the 133 million americans living with preexisting conditions. can you imagine a mom and dad have a daughter or son with cancer, and we would now allow
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the insurance companies to cut them off or not give them new insurance as they watched their child suffer? that's not america. that's not, frankly, the situation now because of what we all did in 2009 with the a.c.a. are our republican colleagues going to let that happen? americans under the age of 26 could no longer stay on their parents' health insurance. that's been a sigh of relief, a breath of fresh air for millions who get out of college, want to get a job, but can't take the job they want because there is not adequate health insurance. it would reopen the prescription drug doughnut hole in medicare. that would mean that seniors on medicare, tens of millions, would pay more for prescription drugs and essential health benefits would be gone. these are not just trivial things. they include guaranteed access to maternity care, prepreventative cancer screenings, treatment for opioid addiction, crucial things that americans need that allow them
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to go away. so you can see the extent of the disaster if this court case prevails. hundreds of millions of americans would be hurt. our health care system would be thrown into chaos, including for families that get health insurance from their employer. now, we democrats believe the ruling is based on such faulty premises that it will not be upheld by a higher court once it's appealed, but given the potential consequences of their ruling, we cannot twiddle our thumbs and hope for the right result. the court, i would remind my colleagues, based a good portion of its decision on what congress intended. we can clear that up in a minute. in a minute. my friend, senator manchin, has a resolution which every democrat in this body has signed onto, to regulars the senate legal council to intervene in the lawsuit and defend the affordable care act on behalf of the senate, because the trump
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administration refuses to defend the law and is in favor of it being overturned. president trump was almost gleeful when this court case came out. is he going to be gleeful to those parents with cancer, to that college graduate who needs health care, to a family who has a father on opioids and needs help? is he going to be gleeful that they won't get it? i don't get him sometimes, much of the time. so i hope that our republican colleagues will join us in this petition, because if a majority of the house and a majority of the senate tell the appeals courts that our intention was not to overthrow health care, it will have a great deal of weight. now, some way well, let's do legislation. we have all been through that before, with both democrats and
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republicans in charge. very hard, long time -- it takes a long time to get health care. by the way, the president and a lot of my republican friends want to cut back on health care. that's their goal. they will never come to agreement with us, democrats in the senate, or the house, which will be democratically controlled in a few weeks if they stick with that. so legislation is not the best and first way to go. court intervention is. and we'll be watching. the american people will be watching, particularly so many of my colleagues who said i'm for existing conditions. we will let them know this idea let's do legislation won't work. where are they on the petition? that will determine whether they are hypocrites, saying they want to protect preexisting conditions but not doing the best thing for it or whether they really care about the people who will lose health insurance. i yield the floor. oh, wait. one more. i have something else to talk about.
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oh, one more thing on health care. one more thing. the american people spoke loudly and clearly in the midterms. they want health care protections. they don't want republicans to take them away. i believe republicans will have no choice but eventually to join us. to not do so would be to jeopardize health care for hundreds of millions of americans and risk a complete disaster for republicans in future elections. now, on lamar alexander, my dear friend. we have received sad news today. sad for us, happy for him, that our friend, the senior senator from tennessee, will not be running for reelection in 2020. there will be time to reflect on his life and career at a later date, but upon hearing the news this afternoon as i was taking the amtrak down from new york, i felt a pang of sadness.
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lamar and i have been dear friends. we have worked hard on many things together. so i just want to say a few words now. when senator alexander eventually does leave this body, the senate will lose an incredibly capable legislator and statesman. and he cares so much about legislating, he reminded me when i talked to him this afternoon that he will still be around for two years and wants to work together to get things done. an alexander-ian statement if there ever was one. senator alexander has been in the midst of so many things for his 16 years here in the senate. that's not because he is some ideologue who stood all alone in his own corner and made a lot of speeches and didn't get things done. no. senator alexander seeks compromise almost reflectively -- reflexively, and he gets things done. the recent higher education bill, legislation dealing with opioids, which he was so passionate for and talked to me about every day for about a month. and he gets things done because
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of his passion, his competitiveness as a legislator, and his persistence. so both sides of the aisle respect and trust lamar. i do. we have worked together so many times in my years here. hopefully as he said on the phone there will be a few more opportunities in the next two years, his last two years in the senate to work together successfully, hopefully, and god willing again. even though he is not here at the moment, i salute my friend from tennessee and look forward to seeing him in the gym tomorrow morning. we always see each other in the gym, where i can convey these sentiments personally. i yield the floor. mr. durbin: madam president. the presiding officer: the democratic whip. mr. durbin: let me start by joining my colleague, the democratic leader, in his words about lamar alexander. a great senator and a personal friend, someone i am sorry is going to bring his senate career to an end in two years, because he's done so many good things. i could spell out many of those
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things, but one comes to mind immediately. a few years ago when i was deciding whether to run for reelection myself, i thought one of my goals would be to increase the federal investment in medical research. that is right in the wheel house and committee jurisdiction of lamar alexander. i went to him and his counterpart on the democratic side, senator patty murray of washington, roy blunt of missouri, and we put together an informal team, pushing for increases in medical research, and we have had amazing success. it's been bipartisan, and it's been enthusiastic effort all around. we couldn't have done it without lamar's wholehearted participation. he was committed to medical research and as a result we've had a more than 5% increase each year for the last four years in the budget appropriations for the national institutes of health. that is going to end up creating more opportunities to spare
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people suffering and to cure disease and to save lives than we can possibly imagine. that's the kind of thing that people expect of us, don't they, here in the senate, that democrats and republicans will find a common goal and work together to achieve it. lamar alexander was part of that successful effort. i would hold him to it for the next two years, as i'm sure he will hold me to the same goal and look forward to working with him, but certainly with some pain in my heart as the democratic leader said with the knowledge that his career is coming to an end. he has been an extraordinary public servant, as a governor, as a presidential candidate, as a cabinet member, and as a member of the united states senate. i'm sorry for his decision, but i certainly understand why he would make that on a personal and family basis. madam president, on a separate note to be entered at a separate place in the record, i would like to say a few words about the legislation currently pending before the united states senate. every once in a while, -- it
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doesn't happen very often -- the stars line up. the democrats and republicans and the conservatives and the progressives and the president and the congress agree on something. i'm not talking about flag day or apple pie or whether lassie was a collie dog. it really comes down occasionally to something that is meaningful. we're in the midst now of a debate on the floor of the united states senate which will culminate probably tomorrow in some historic votes on the whole question of criminal justice reform. how important is this issue? it's so important that we rarely take it up more than once a decade, that we sit down and look at criminal justice standards and laws in america and decide whether or not we can make them better and more effective. just a few minutes ago, my colleague from texas, senator cornyn, a conservative republican, came to the floor and explained how the state of texas engaged in prison reform and found out that they could not only reduce the prison
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population but reduce the incidence of crime at the same time. that's what we are setting up to do at the federal level as well. senator cornyn's prison reform measure, which he introduced with senator sheldon whitehouse of rhode island, has been a central part of our conversation on criminal justice reform. i had another part of criminal justice reform that i have been working on for a long, long time. you see, three decades ago, congress responded to our nation's drug epidemic by creating the harshest mandatory minimum sentences in our history. consider what happened next, as we made the penalties for drug use and sales higher than ever in our history. what happened next was the use of illegal drugs in the united states of america actually increased, just the opposite of what we were trying to achieve. the availability of heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine
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increased, despite harsh penalties. crime rates for federal drug offenders did not go down. in other words, longer prison terms did not deter drug use or drug crime, but they did lead to an explosion in our federal prisons. since 1980, the federal prison population has grown by over 700%. federal prison spending has increased by nearly 600% in that same period of time. today the united states of america holds more prisoners by far in prison than any country in the world. america has 5% of the world's population, 25% of the world's prisoners. more than russia or china. our overcrowded federal prisons consume one quarter of the justice department's discretionary budget. this undermines other important
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priorities like preventing crime in our neighborhoods and treating drug addiction. the largest increase in the federal prison population is for nonviolent drug offenders. this is largely because of the inflexible mandatory minimum sentences. these mandatory penalties don't allow judges to distinguish between drug kingpins who should be our focus when it comes to criminal penalties and lower-level offenders. that isn't fair. it isn't smart. it isn't an effective way to keep us safe. we also have to consider the racially desperate impact of these laws. listen, the majority of illegal drug users and dealers in america are white. but three-quarters of the people serving time in prison for drug offenses are african american or latino. the majority of the users and
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dealers, white. three-fourths of those who go to prison for drug crimes, african american and latino. the large majority of those subject to federal mandatory minimum penalties fall into that same group of african americans and latinos. as a result of mandatory minimums, the families of nonviolent offenders are separated for years on end. most of these families are people of color. this has a destructive impact on their communities and erodes faith among them in our criminal justice system. most senators don't come to the floor and say what i'm about to say, but let me tell you the worst vote i ever cast. i was a member of the house of representatives, and it was about 25 or 26 years ago when i voted for a law that established what became known as the crack powder sentencing disparity. that jumble of words means that under this law, it took 100
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times more powder cocaine than crack cocaine to trigger the same minimum sentence. 100 times. this came to be known as the 101 crack-to-powder disparity. and under this law, 80% of the people sentenced for crack cocaine offenses were african american. in 2010 i worked with an unlikely ally, then senator from alabama jeff sessions. he was the republican senator, a member of the judiciary committee, and felt strongly about this issue. and i said to him, senator sessions, 100-1 isn't fair. for a tiny handful of crack and a handful of powder cocaine that the handful of crack could get a hundred times the sentence as the cocaine doesn't make any sense. we debated back and forth. i thought it should be one-to-one in the sentencing. he didn't agree. but the day finally came when we had to make a decision. we actually bargained in the senate gym. i know the democratic leader
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referred to that gym earlier. we get a lot of business there. we were bargaining in the gym on the day of the committee markup, back and forth, back and forth. finally the two of us agreed it would go from 101 to -- 100-1 to 118-1. dramatically reduced the disparity in powder cocaine to crack cocaine. it passed the senate judiciary committee, the senate, the house judiciary committee, the house, was signed into law in a very private ceremony by president obama which senator sessions and i attended. for the last five years, i've been working on the next step, a bipartisan coalition of republicans and democratic senators to take the next step in reforming our federal drug sentencing laws. five years ago i joined up with another unlikely ally, mike lee, very, very conservative republican from utah to introduce a bill called smarter
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sentencing. we had a problem. there was a republican senator who didn't like the bill at all. his name, chuck grassley. iowa. conservative republican. coincidentally chairman of the senate judiciary committee. after a while i said to senator lee, we're going nowhere without grassley. we've got to get him on board if we're going to change the law. it took a year which is just a few minutes in senate time, but it took a year of negotiating for us to finally reach an agreement that chuck grassley and mike lee and i all signed on to for sentencing reform. we were joined by senator cory booker in the last year or two, democrat from new jersey, and after a more than a year of negotiations, we introduced the sentencing reform and corrections act, legislation approved by the judiciary committee by a vote of 16-5 earlier this year. around the same time, the house of representatives passed bipartisan legislation to reform the federal prison system. this bill was supported --
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listen to this -- by president donald trump, cosponsored by republican congressman doug collins, democratic congressman huckkin jeffries of new york and committee chairman bob goodlatte of virginia. i didn't like the original version of this bail because i thought we could do better and we should add criminal sentencing to prison reform. then we did something that's rare. we sat down, democrats and republicans, and worked it out. we believe we could come up with a common, bipartisan bill by combining the two. the result is the most extraordinary political coalition i have ever witnessed in the time i've been in washington. the so-called first step act, the revised first step act, is a bipartisan sentencing and prison reform bill that is sponsored by 34 senators, 17 republicans, 17 democrats. it is supported by president trump in a broad spectrum of
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stakeholders. listen who's supporting this bill on criminal sentencing reform and prison reform. the fraternal order of police. it's a good starting point. the largest police group in america. the national district attorneys association, the largest group of prosecutors in america. so we have the police and the prosecutors and we also have the american civil liberties union. go figure. that a bill we put together could bring these folks together in common purpose to pass it. our bill would reduce federal mandatory minimum sentences in a targeted way. we don't repeal any mandatory minimum sentences, and we don't lower any maximum sentences. we would simply allow federal judges to determine in certain low-level cases on a case-by-case basis when the harshest penalties should apply. the bill also puts in place a recidivism reduction program prison reform that will facilitate the successful rehabilitation and reentry of
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prisoners. senator cornyn addressed that just a few minutes earlier. let me tell you a story about this man here. his name is alton mills. in the year 1994 at the age of 24, alton mills was given a mandatory life sentence without parole for a low-level nonviolent drug offense. when alton mills stepped into that federal prison cell with a life sentence, he was stepping into a jail cell for the first time in his life and he was bound to stay there for the rest of his life. i ended up being contacted by his public defender. she has this wonderful name from chicago. her name is my angel, codey. my angel cody contacked me and told me how this kid growing up in chicago, decent school in
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high school, made a bad turn, got mixed up with a drug gang, was a sales runner on the street, the lowest possible level and on third offense got a life sentence to spend the rest of his life in prison. i asked president obama to take a -- take a look at this and on december 15 after searching 22 years in prison, alton mills came home to chicago. what's he done since then? he's become a mechanic at the chicago transit authority. he got married. he's contributing to society. he has a granddaughter. he's working as a community college student pursuing a associate's degree. if he hadn't received a pardon, alton mills was destined to die in prison. because of the federal sentencing laws which we're setting out to change. the first step act would eliminate this mandatory life sentence for nonviolent drug offenders like alton mills. and the bill would also give a chance to thousands of people
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still serving sentences for nonviolent offenses involving crack cocaine under the 100-1 standard i mentioned earlier. i'm going to have more to say about the pending amendments which will be brought up tomorrow. the senator from arkansas is going to offer three amendments that i consider to be poison pills. after six years of hard work putting these bills together, democrats and republicans, police, prosecutors, and the aclu, president trump and durbin together on a bill and now comes the senator from arkansas who has introduced three amendments which i think are very destructive to this bill. i'm going to oppose all three of them. and i hope he'll think twice about them. we have an opportunity to do something significant, historic and bipartisan here for the good of this nation. we could end up reducing the crime rate in our country and do it in a smarter way with sentencing and prison reform. the amendments that he will
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propose tomorrow, the senator from arkansas, have been opposed by groups across the board, left and right, conservative, progressive, republican, democrat. they all oppose his amendments. i'm not going to get into a specific discussion about them until later but i wanted to let the senator from arkansas know that we are hopeful that he will take a more constructive approach. if he goes with the amendments we've seen, we're going to have to do our best to oppose him. some are going to suggest this bill, that the underlying bill doesn't go far enough to unwind the harsh mandatory sentencing which i mentioned earlier. i agree. but that's the nature of legislation. it's the nature of compromise. it's what the senate is all about. a republican controlled senate is considering a bill supported by senators from both sides of the aisle and we have a chance to do something. congress should make this bipartisan legislation a fitting ending to this year. for all of the cynicism and
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skepticism about what congress can achieve, we can prove as soon as tomorrow with one of the most historic changes in criminal justice legislation in our history that we can work together for the good of this nation. our people who sent us to this job expect no less. madam president, i yield the floor.
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. a senator: thank you, madam president. i rise today to talk on two issues. the first i would like to talk about the jim justice reform act that senator durbin just spoke
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of. mr. jones: rather than repeating all that's been set and -- said and all the positive things and senator durbin did an outstanding job of outlining all of the issues and how important this bill is for the criminal justice system, for the american people, i'd like to take a moment just to commend my colleagues, particularly senator durbin and senator grassley, senator lee, senator booker, colleagues in the house of represent tifs, those -- representatives, those in the white house that worked so tirelessly over the years to achieve this result. this is a remarkable achievement for the people of this country. i have worked as most people in this body know for a number of years as both a prosecutor and as a defense lawyer. and in that capacity, i've been -- i've seen firsthand the problems in a system of justice that seems to have gotten out of whack, that has incarcerated so, so many people, more than just about any civilized country in the world. and yielding very little results. and so what i see is an effort
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of republicans and democrats coming together. madam president, when i ran for this office last year, i talked consistently about a country and a state of alabama that had more in common than we have to divide us. i talked more about reaching across the aisle, having dialogues instead of mon lookings. this -- instead of monologues. this bill is the perfect example of that and i hope the people of america see what this bill does and see how this body and the house of representatives and the administration came together to pass this historic legislation. this is a historic moment, madam president. this is one for the ages. there is no question. it is so disappointing sometimes to go home, back to alabama and have people say, all i want you to do is work together. and all they see are dueling press conferences among the leaders and dueling talk shows
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on sunday mornings and cnn and msnbc and fox news and they think all we do is stand here and fight with each other. that's not the case. we've done some great things in year since i've been in the senate since january 3. our appropriations process has been rolling on a bipartisan level. we passed the opioid crisis bill. we've also got the farm bill done, and now with criminal justice, it is the crowning achievement on what has been over the years one of the most contentious issues in america. every year i used to say that that system of justice in america that was damaged the most in an election was our criminal justice system because it seemed that everybody wanted to demagogue it to death. that is no longer, and that is no longer the case with what has been done in this body, the house, and with the support of the white house. and i just want to commend all of those that have been involved in this over the years before i
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got here, both in government and out. i worked for a number of years with the brennan from for justice at n.y.u., particularly the law enforcement leaders, to reduce crime. this is the cull culmination afr long, long number of years. they should be commended for all that they did. mr. president, we've changed -- i just noticed, it's now mr. president, rather than madam president. i see the majority leader coming in at this time, and i would -- with the chair's permission, i will yield the floor to the majority leader.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader is recognized. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 1042. the presiding officer: question is on the motion. all those in favor, say aye. opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. mcconnell: i send -- the presiding officer: the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: office of the director of national intelligence, joseph mcgwire of florida to be director of the national counterterrorism center. mr. mcconnell: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of joseph mcgwire of florida to be director of the national counterterrorism center, office of the director of national intelligence, signed by 17 senators as follows -- mr. mcconnell: i ask consent the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent
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the mandatory quorum call be waived. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. jones: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. jones: thank you, mr. president. i now rise to talk about a matter that's a lot more personal. the last couple of weeks, mr. president, has been somewhat difficult for me on a very personal level. not only have i been saddened that several colleagues that i admire so much will be leaving this body, but two weeks ago i lost a dear friend and trusted advisor, giles perkins of birmingham, alabama. i so appreciate the day that the day after his death, when i just could not hold up and hold it together to do so myself, senator schumer noted his passing in floor remarks h
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giles' family appreciates those remarks as well. because he meant so much to his adopted state of alabama and the birmingham community and the fact that's the one that guided the effort to get my elected to this office, it is only fitting that i honor his memory on the floor of the united states senate. giles was a former director of the alabama democratic party, and someone who worked for the last two alabama democratic governors. originally from texas, he came to alabama after marrying the love of his life, hillary head. together they have three children -- barton, hugh, and beverly. for all that he did in life and all that he accomplished, which was quite a lot, giles was first and foremost a husband and father, a family man whose greatest love and source of pride was his wife and children. when he arrived in alabama, he
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immediately began to get involved in the community and in politics. he got involved in the fulsome campaign. he wanted to make a difference. over the next 25 years, he did just that. what a difference he did make. and while he was actively involved in so many civic groups and projects, his greatest accomplishment was turning a few blighted blocks of real estate in the heart of the city of birmingham into a stunning outdoor recreational area known as railroad park, which is i -- which has not only provided a space for family enjoyment but spurred economic development and became a catalyst for revitalization in downtown birmingham. giles was an outstanding warrior and community organizer. but he had politics in his blood and he learned the ins and outs
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of the shark-infested waters of alabama politics like no other. it was giles who i first approached about running for a statewide office because i knew that he shared my frustration about the state of politics and government in the state of alabama. it was giles and doug turner who set me down to explain by running for the united states senate, where my heart has always been, having worked here just out of law school, why it was important to run for that office, why, given my background as a united states attorney and as a lawyer known for civic rights work, why the special election would be so important. it was also giles who brought in joe trippy. everyone else on my campaign team and helped me staff my senate office. but rather than calling him a political mentor, which just doesn't seem to capture all that
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he was, i often referred to him as yoda, a political jedi master because of his intuition for politics and how politics should translate into public service. and he was certainly a master in teaching those around him how they could be wise in the ways of the force of politics. his strategy for my campaign and my senate office and tenure was molded out of a vision of how alabama and the south can move beyond the issues that have divided us and how we can lead the nation in coming together and healing the partisan divide. many think that my election was his greatest political achievement, but knowing him as i did, he would more likely say that it was not the election per se but the reaction that the
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election gave to so many people in alabama and around the country who simply said that it gave them hope. that hope for a better alabama, for a better south, for a better america was his one priority -- was his number one priority. he was brilliant, philosophical, tenacious, stubborn, funny, and so straightforward that you thought he was sometimes just a little bit mean. a trait which you often have to have in order to have a successful campaign. the absolutely remarkable thing about giles, though is that he managed my campaign on a daily basis on all of the calls it e-mails, all of the meetings knowing he was living on borrowed time. see, mr. president, at the time
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that we began the campaign, he was a two-year survivor of pancreatic cancer, an aggressive form of cancer that takes no prisoners. through it all, he suffered through a number of treatments, often texting or e-mailing out orders or streams of consciousness while being hooked up to chemotherapy. when asked why he was doing all of this under the strain and the pain of his cancer and his treatments, he matter-of-factly said, because i want to show my children what is important and how to live. i'm confident that his children got that, as did i and everyone else associated with our campaign. giles lost his battle on december 2, having survived for three and a half years after being told he only had one month to live.
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in the world of pancreatic cancer, a three and a half year survivor is remarkable in itself. but giles perkins was a remarkable human who made such a positive impact on all who knew him. as a friend recently wrote me, it is because of unsung heroes sump as jiles -- such as jiles that democrats is sustained in america and that we are grateful for his commitment and life's work to maintaining integrity in government. i know this -- that when the history of alabama and the politics of my state and the region is written, it will be giles perkins who will be credited for beginning a political change that will be felt for a long, long time. on a personal level, he will never leave my heart and soul. mr. president, it is my intent to have my remarks made at giles' memorial last friday
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inserted into the record. i thank the senate for this personal moment and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. enzi: mr. president? mr. jones: mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent that my statement appear uninterrupted in the "congressional record." the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: mr. president, earlier this month congress sent the president another continuing resolution to allow more time to resolve a partisan impasse that has us on the brink of of a government shutdown once again. a continuing resolution just allows agencies to continue to spend money without knowing how much they actually get to spend. the current episode is yet another example of the breakdown of what should be the basic nuts and bolts of governing --
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keeping the government open and funded. in other words, they've been spending money since last october without knowing how much money they get to spend. and so i come to the floor today to talk about the need to reform our broken budget and appropriations process and to lay out a few ideas i have for how to do that. as chairman of the budget committee, i've worked on budget and appropriations process reform for several years and have always believed that changes need to be guided by two core principles -- the first principle, reform should end brinksmanship and the threat of government shutdowns. second, reform should guide us to create enforceable plans to stop the outrageous growth of our federal debt, which is approaching $22 trillion. according to the congressional budget office, federal debt held by the public as a percentage of our economy is at the highest level since shortly after world war ii. and that debt is expected to
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rise sharply over the next 30 years if current laws general remain unchanged. quite simply, our budget problems are too severe to put off any longer and yet our dysfunctional budget and appropriations process is making it harder for congress to tackle our pressing fiscal challenges. to start, one easy thing we can do is to change the names of the budget and appropriations committee to better reflect each committee's function. the budget committee, which is tasked with crafting an annual fiscal framework to guide congress, really should be called the debt-control committee. the appropriations committee, which is responsible for making the actual decisions about how money is spent each year, should be renamed the budget and appropriations committee. too often when we come up against appropriations deadlines, as we are now, press
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reports that declare that congress has to pass a budget to avid a shutdown. not true. the budget has been passed a long time ago. in reality, the budget reflects the start of the process and appropriations reflects the end. changing these committees' names would more clearly delineate their actual responsibilities and thereby make it easier for them to be carried out and understood by the public. a second important change would be to finally admit that congress is not capable of sending 12 appropriations bills to the president before the september 30 end of the fiscal year each year. the current process leaves congress in a nearly perpetual quest to develop and pass 12 funding bills for the next federal year to avoid a funding lapse. and yet the sheer size and complexity of the federal budget and appropriations process virtually guarantee that
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congress will not consider all the appropriation bills individually each year. in the last 40 years we have exceeded only four times in passing all the appropriations bills on time. let me repeat that. in the last 40 years, we've succeeded only four times in passing all of the appropriations bills on time. our inability to pass appropriations bills on the current schedule has made reliance on continuing resolutions a routine part of the process, and it comes with a cost. the department of defense has operated under a continuing resolution for an average of 81 days per year. that's almost three months per year since 2001, is with a particularly bad time since 2009 in which we've averaged 134 days per year. that's almost four and a half months of not knowing how much they're going to get to spend,
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let alone planning for the future. earlier this year secretary of the navy richard spencer identified $4 billion in waste owing to the lack of financial stability resulting from these continuing resolutions, these lack of knowing how much to spend. he said, quote, since 2001 we have put $4 billion in the trash can, poured lighter fluid on top of it and burned it. it's enough money that it can buy us the additional capacity and capability that we need. instead the $4 billion of taxpayer money has been lost because of inefficiencies caused by continuing resolutions. end quote. while it's true that this year we were able to pass and get signed five appropriations bill prior to september 30, remarkably an improvement from recent years, that still leaves seven bills yet to be enacted.
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to address this problem i proposed moving to a biennial system and having the number of appropriation bills considered each year so that six would be considered in the first session of congress and six would be considered in the second. each of them, of course, for two years to allow for more planning. by providing a more realistic and attainable schedule, we could allow for a more thoughtful process for considering individual bills. we would free up more time for oversight and federal spending. we'd actually get to look at some of the details of the dollars we're spending and we'd reduce the likelihood of continuing resolutions and large year-end spending bills with everything attached to it that are inefficient and too often loaded with waste. we could also give agencies the certainty that they need to plan and make wise decisions regarding how to implement funding. a successful and timely
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enactment of the appropriations bills is only part of the solution. we also need to look at the mandatory side of the ledger and programs that don't have adequate revenue to maintain the obligations, ones we don't ever get to make a decision on. any new mandatory programs should be self-financing or offset by the elimination of existing programs that we would continue to fund. in other words, nothing should be mandatory if it doesn't have a stream of money big enough to pay for it. we also need to look at ending the spending bias that begins with the current baseline, current amount of spending, and automatically adjust for inflation. to address the long-term structural deficit problems, we need to create enforceable spending targets that are monitored and enforced annually to make sure lawmakers stay focused on deficit reduction and achieving oo -- a suitable
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federal budget. the newly revamped debt control committee should be empowered to establish targets and enforce spending constraints. for example, if we followed my plan and cut spending one cent out of every dollar each year -- one cent out of every dollar for the next five years -- we could balance the budget. once enforceabling targets are agreed upon, we should conform the debt limit to them. i know that dealing with the debt limits in a responsible manner is a priority for many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and i'm ready to work on it with them. we're not talking about sequester here. i'm suggesting precision cuts on the low priorities. what happened to the sequester was, first of all, it happened late in the year so there wasn't much money left to take the money out of, which made it a
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much larger reduction from those spending bills. they also picked the projects that they thought would be most noticeable and cut those, realizing that the american public would raise up in arms and make sure that it was reinstated. and that happened. it always picked the most visible and the most painful. what we have to do is get to precision cuts in the things that we haven't even looked at. and i have a list of how many things we haven't looked at. some programs haven't been looked at since 1983, but they continue to get an annual inflation increase anyway, sometimes greater than an annual increase. each of the above suggestions would improve our process and help us control spending and meet our constitutional obligations. i plan to pursue them in the next congress and look forward
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to working with my colleagues on these and other ideas. however, while reforms are needed, the reality is there will never be a perfect process and no reform by itself could force the hard decisions that are needed. what we need is leadership and a commitment prosecute -- from both sides to work together to do we know needs to be done. i look forward working with my colleagues on these critical challenges in the next congress, and i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: before i start my remarks, just in case they would go beyond the time for a vote, i ask unanimous consent to finish my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. grassley: we're here today to begin debate on a piece of legislation called the first step act of 2018s. this happens to be the most significant criminal justice reform bill in a generation. our country is based upon the rule of law. if someone commits a crime, they should be punished. and that punishment should be severe enough to deter others from committing crimes. but for our criminal justice system to serve our society well, it has to do more than punish and deter. recidivism rates are far too high and drive crime rates up. in the federal system, 49% of the prisoners are rearrested within eight years, and 32% are
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convicted of new crimes. we must better prepare prisoners to leave behind their criminal past and to become productive citizens when they leave the prison system. we also need to make sure that criminal sentences are tough enough to punish and deter. but not be unjustly harsh. sentences should not destroy the opportunity of redemption for inmates willing to get right with the law. the first step act is tough on crime but is also fair. to tackle the high recidivism rates in our country, the bill establishes evidence-based programming that has reduced recidivism at the state level.
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and we have evidence from the states of texas, georgia, mississippi, many others to justify that fact. the bill provides incentives for inmates willing to put in the work to complete these programs. under this bill, a prisoner may earn ten days of time credit for every 30 days of successful participation which they can apply towards prerelease custody. however, access to these incentives is only available to those who pose little risk of committing new crimes. the first step act requires the bureau of prisons to implement a risk assessment system to determine an inmate's risk of returning to crime after prison.
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access to the earned time credits is limited to those who pose a minor low risk. the bill also makes clear that violent and high-risk criminals convicted of certain serious offenses are ineligible for the prerelease custody program. the list of disqualifying offensives include crimes relating to terrorism, murder, sexual exploitation of children, and gun crimes, among others that are listed in the bill. all fentanyl traffickers are disqualified whatsoever from earning time credits. the bill also makes sentencing fairer by returning some discretion to judges during sentencing. some have called for eliminating
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mandatory minimums or cutting them back severely. i happen to be a supporter of mandatory minimum sentences because it helps law enforcement take down criminal enterprises, but at the same time i recognize that there's some unfairness in how these mandatory minimum sentences are sometimes applied. the first step act leaves in place these maximum sentences but also addressing overly harsh and expensive mandatory minimums for certain nonviolent offenders. locking up low-level offenders for needlessly long prison sentences diverts resources that are needed elsewhere to fight crime. to address this, the first step
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act makes a number of changes to sentencing guidelines. first, the legislation clarifies that enhanced penalties for using a firearm during a crime of violence or drug crime should be reserved for repeat offenders of such crimes. that's what congress had intended when it created the enhanced penalty in the first place. second, the bill would reduce the three-strike penalty for life imprisonment to 25 years. the 20-year minimum is reduced to 15 years. the bill also broadens the mandatory penalties applying them to more of the worst criminals. third, the bill provides for more judicial discretion by expanding the existing safety,
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federal safety valve to include more low-level nonviolent offenders. consistent with the existing law, the judge cannot apply the safety valve unless the defendant has fully cooperated with law enforcement. and lastly, the bill also allows for the retro active application of the fair sentencing act of 2010 which reduced the 101 dis parity in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine. i want to acknowledge president trump's leadership on criminal justice reform. without the president's engagement, we wouldn't be here today. so the president deserves credit for brokering a deal that
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improves fairness and supports law enforcement. a tremendous amount of credit is also due to my colleagues in the senate who helped to forge a bipartisan compromise on complex issues. and i emphasize bipartisan compromise because the people at the groos roots of -- grassroots of america, even of my state of iowa, thinks there aren't much bipartisanship that goes on here. i'd like to especially thank my colleague senator durbin. he's been my partner through this entire process. our bipartisan cosponsors include senator lee who has done a tremendous amount of work on this, and, in fact, started with durbin before i even got involved. but we also have cosponsorship by booker, graham, whitehouse, scott, feinstein, cornyn, and leahy. these all deserve praise for
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reaching this deal. the product of years of negotiating and listening to each other is a bill that will reduce crime, strengthen faith in our judicial system, support law enforcement, and give thousands of people a better shot at living a good life. so as we go to this very important first vote on this bill to invoke cloture, i urge all of my colleagues to join with president trump and our bipartisan coalition of supporters to support the first step act. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion, we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22, do hereby bring to a close debate on the motion to
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concur in the house amendment to s. 756, a bill to reauthorize and amend the marine debris act and so forth and for other purposes with a further amendment # 0le. -- 108. the presiding officer: is it the sense of the senate that debate on the motion to concur in the house amendment toe s. 756 to reauthorize and amend the marine debris act to promote international to promote marine debris with a further amendment number 4108 shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote: vote:
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vote: the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or wishing to change their vote? if not, on this vote, the yeas are 82. the nays are 12. three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative, the motion is agreed to. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. a senator: i ask unanimous consent that i be recognized for
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a few moments and that at the conclusion of my remarks, that my colleague from arkansas, senator cotton, be recognized and at the conclusion of his remarks, that i be recognized again for a unanimous consent. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, one of the things that marks service as united states senator is the chance to meet really remarkable individuals. and among the remarkable individuals that i have had the chance to meet in my time in the senate, there are few if any who are more impressive and memorable than those who have been diagnosed with a.l.s., commonly known a lou gehrig's disease. competing with them for being
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impressive and noteworthy are the friends and family and advocates who become their support system and their caregivers. it is not just those with the diagnosis but it is also those family and friends and caregivers who face incredible bravery. i remember someone once saying that a special kind of courage is maintaining good morale in the face of terrible circumstances and few circumstances are more terrible than a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. we know how it ends. we know that it is always fatal. there is no treatment. there is no cure.
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there is nothing to halt or reverse the effects of a.l.s. those of us who have a.l.s. patients visit us watch the decline as they move from people who walk to people who need a wheelchair to people who need an increasingly complex wheelchair. for all this suffering and for all the certainty of how it ends, we still make a.l.s. patients and their family members wait five months before they can begin to receive the social security disability insurance benefits that they earned by contributing into social security. the logic, i'm told, of this five-month waiting period is
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that it allows temporary conditions to abate. but a.l.s. is not a temporary condition. it does not abate. it does not reverse. sadly, some a.l.s. patients lose their fight with the disease before even receiving benefits. i have been working with senator cotton to pursue bipartisan legislation to eliminate this five-month waiting period for a.l.s. chairman hatch in one of his final acts as the chairman of the finance committee expressed his approval of this and his desire to help me bring it forward. ranking member wyden on the finance committee has helped get it to the floor so that we can have this opportunity to pass it by unanimous consent. and i hope very much that as a
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simple act of humanity, we can step aside from bureaucratic considerations and allow this small population of americans who face the extraordinary blow of this diagnosis to move immediately to the benefits that they signed up for by contributing to social security. with that i would yield to senator cotton of arkansas. mr. cotton: i thank the senator from rhode island for his work on this important issue. i've had -- we have numerous arkansans who are a.l.s. sufferers and family members who suffer from a.l.s. approach me about this bill early in my time in the senate. i've been grateful for the opportunity to work with the senator from rhode island to try to address this very, very sad problem. a.l.s. is a progressive and disabling disease for which
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there is no cure. it is fatal in all cases. and, unfortunately, like almost every other condition, a.l.s. sufferers are required to wait for five months before they receive the social security disability insurance benefits that they have earned, that they earned through a lifetime of paying taxes into social security. now, i understand the purpose of this five-month waiting period is to weed out temporary conditions, but a.l.s. is not a temporary condition. or to prevent fraudulent claims but it's hard to imagine anyone making a fraudulent claim on disability based on an a.l.s. diagnosis. the average disability beneficiary is expected to receive benefits for about 20 years but unfortunately those who have been diagnosed with a.l.s. only have a life expectancy of approximately three years. therefore, the disability waiting period of five months means that those with a.l.s.
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will lose on average nearly one-seventh of the benefits that they pay a lifetime for. and of course, some will lose a lot more. some in nact because of a.l.s. particularly aggressive and degenerative nature will lose their fight to the disease before they ever become eligible for their disability benefits. this legislation would simply ensure that those patients and their families can access the benefits that they've paid into as soon as possible by waiving that five-month waiting period for disability benefits in this one exceptional case. i understand that there's objections about singling out a particular disease or condition. i would, however, say that a.l.s. is itself a singularly exceptional condition and any sufferer of a.l.s. deserves our sympathy, our prayers, but also our action here on the senate
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floor. i also understand there's objections to the cost of the legislation which would be $270 million over ten years. no doubt a lot of money to all americans but, frankly, a small rounding error in the federal budget. and for that matter, less than the amount of money than the piece of legislation that is pending on the floor today, a criminal leniency bill that would cost $352 million over ten years. if we're prepared to allow legislation to go forward that slashes sentences for serious drug traffickers and let's sex offenders out of prison early, even though it costs $350 million, i would suggest it's misplaced priorities to reject the legislation because it costs $270 million. so i hope along with the senator from rhode island that we can
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pass this legislation here in this week before christmas and give some small measure of solace to those who are suffering from a.l.s. and to their families. and i yield back to the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, on behalf of senator cotton and myself, i ask unanimous consent that the finance committee be discharged from further consideration of s. 379, our bill to eliminate the five-month waiting period for disability insurance benefits under such title for individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. that the senate proceed to its immediate consideration, that the bill be considered read a third time and passed, and that the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate as we come into this christmas season. the presiding officer: the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: mr. president, reserving the right to object.
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i first became aware of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis when i was in the fifth grade and i read a story, a book and later a series of books about my childhood hero lou gehrig whose name is often used synonymously with this ailment. it was a tragedy his life was ended and helped bring about his consecutive game playing streak in major league baseball. this is a horrible disease. it's a progressive neurodegenerative condition that rapidly attacks the nerve cells in the brain and the signal cord and eventually it affects the control of the muscles that are needed to move, to speak, and even to eat and to breathe. sadly, it's always fatal. the bill now under consideration would grant a waiver from the social security disability insurance waiting period to victims of this terrible disease. no doubt with good, noble
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intentions. but, mr. president, what we have to remember is that this is not the only tragic disease that americans are dying from. unfortunately, there are many, many others out there that are equally debilitating and equally fatal. and the federal government should not pick favors to legislate from among them. indeed, this kind of policy and approach to policymaking poses several problems. first, it sets the precedent that some diseases or disabilities deserve preferential treatment and not necessarily with the distinction that sets them apart for that disparate treatment and it would undoubtedly opened the door for exemption requests from the myriad of other groups who advocate for worthy causes, including any of the 233 compassionate allowance conditions that are already given expedited review for ssdi.
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i've gone through that list. i looked at that list and it contains a lot of other horrible, debilitating, deadly diseases among them nonhodgkins lymphoma who claimed the life of my father 22 years ago. along with a whole lot of other diseases that are deadly, that are painful, that are debilitating, that result in the incapacitation of their victims. on top of all that, this approach would set the stage for only those diseases that have the most recognition and the most political backing, to find bill sponsors while it would set at a relative disadvantage the conditions that are more rare and underfunded. furthermore, while i'm happy to consider working on the waiting period issue, we cannot do so without taking a larger look at ssdi as a whole and its sustainability. we cannot ignore the fact that social security is facing
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long-term insolvency with the d.i. trust fund set to run out in 2032, even sooner than the old age survivors insurance fund is set to expire and from which it has to borrow funds. it is undoubtedly a noble intention to help those with a.l.s., mr. president. but we'll never have parity if we legislate disease by disease especially among and between diseases that are comparably debilitating and it's incoherent and unjust to pick one favored group where there are others that are every bit as deserving. on that basis, mr. president, i object. the presiding officer: the objection is heard. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, let me go on record to say how much i disagree with my colleague's view of this. the notion that we can't help anyone until we can help
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everyone is simply not the way the world works. the notion that we can't help anyone until we have solved whatever financial problems he sees in social security again means that we will help no one. i do believe that lou gehrig's disease is a sufficiently distinct illness with its inevitable fatality and the slow loss of function for the individuals involved as the disease takes away one by one their various abilities to stand and speak and eat. i think it does set it apart and if the senator has other illnesses that he think are equally cruel and equally lethal, that he would like to add to the list, then i think we should consider that. but the notion that we can't help fellow americans with this disease because we haven't solved other problems is one that i categorically reject and i yield the floor. mr. lee: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah.
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mr. lee: mr. president, i respectfully but most verimently disagree -- vehemently disagree. this is not with all due respect an instance where we can't help anyone until we help everyone. that is a blatant mischaracterization of the facts. look, we have already 233 conditions that equal file for the compassionate allowance category. 233. and if you look those, those are full of debilitating, life-threatening conditions. now, those categories already do receive expedited treatment. they already are in a category where they have to be reviewed and a decision has to be made within a set period of time -- i believe it is in the range of five months -- and that is a good thing. but it's simply not accurate, and in fact it's blatantly
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misleading to suggest that my argument here boils down to the notion that we cannot help anyone until we help everyone. that is not true. it is -- the point here -- it is the point here, mr. president, that unless or until we can make a distinction between this condition and the other 233 conditions that are on that list, i see no valid basis other than the fact that this one has more political support and perhaps more financial backing to draw that here. i think it's unfair to those who benefit from and will need to invoke the need for social security disability insurance to put it in an even less sustainable posture moving forward. yes, in an ideal world, we would like to say, no waiting period for anyone. in an ideal world, we would like
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for no one to have to wait. but we do have in our government a susceptability to claims that are not substantiated. we also have people who have to review them. in the absence of a perfect system, it may not be possible. it certainly is not going to be possible for us to make this program sustainable if we can't put meaningful limits on t i'm all for ways to shorten the waiting period as much as we possibly k i have yet to hear an argument that sets this condition apart from the others in this category of 233 passionate allowance conditions. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, i would simply note that my friend seems to be making precisely the argument that he is denying he has made. and i yield the floor. mr. lee: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: am i in no way, shape, or form am making the argument that we cannot help
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anyone until we help everyone. that is a mischaracterization of the argument that i'm making. i am arguing that if among and between these 233 categories, if we can make no principle distinction between this condition and the others, we are mistreating those other people. who is is is going to stand there -- who is going to stand here for them in today i am. and on that basis, i object. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, at my colleague's desire, he may add any of those whom he wishes, and we can consider that going forward. but unless and until he does that, we are in the position that, unless we are helping all of them, we will help none of them. i yield the floor.
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mr. lee: i'd note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from idaho. mr. crapo: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. crapo: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent that the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. crapo: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the appointment at the desk appear separately in the record as if made by the chair. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. crapo: i ask that the chair lay before the senate the message to accompany s. 2511. the presiding officer: the chair lays before the senate a message from the house. the clerk: resolved that the bill from the senate, 1s 2511, entitled an act to require the under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere to carry out a program on coordinating the assessment and ak acquisition by the national oceanic and atmospheric administration of unmanned maritime system to make available to the public data collected by the administration used for such systems and other purposes do pass with an amendment. mr. crapo: mr. president, i move to concur in the house amendment and ask unanimous consent that the motion be agreed to and that the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. crapo: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate
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consideration of calendar number 727, s. 3191. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 727, s. 3191, a bill to provide for the expeditious disclosure of records related to civil rights cold cases, and for other purposes. the presiding officer: without objection the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. crapo: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the committee-reported substitute amendment be withdrawn, the jones substitute amendment at the desk be considered and agreed to and that the bill as amended be considered read a third time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. crapo: mr. president, i know of no further debate on the bill. the presiding officer: if there is no further debate, the question is on passage of the bill as amended. naifers. -- all those in favor say aye. all opposed say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the bill as amended is passed. mr. crapo: i ask unanimous consent that are the motion to reconsider be made and laid on the table. the presiding officer: without
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objection. mr. crapo: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the commerce committee be discharged from further consideration of s. 3238. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. 3238, a bill to improve oversight by the federal communications commission of the wireless and broadcast emergency alert systems. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. crapo: i further ask that the schatz substitute amendment at the desk be considered and agreed to, the bill as amended be read a third time and passed and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. crapo: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. tuesday, december 18. further that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day and morning business be closed.
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further, following leader remarks, that the senate resume consideration of the house message to accompany s. 756. further, that the senate recess from 12:30 p.m. until 2:15 p.m. to allow for the weekly caucus meetings. finally, that all time during recess, adjournment, morning business, and leader remarks count postcloture on the motion to concur with further amendment to s. 756. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. crapo: if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that the senate stand adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until 10:0
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>> this very government under which we live was created in the spirit of compromise and mutual concession. >> thomas jefferson questioned the need for a senate. >> the founders envisioned -- >> the framers believed -- >> let's follow the constitution. >> the framers established the senate to protect people from their rulers and as a check on the house. >> the fate of this country and maybe even in the world lies in the hands of congress and the united states senate. >> the senate, conflict and compromise, a c-span original production, exploring the history, traditions, and roles of this uniquely american institution. >> please raise your right hand. >> wednesday, january 2nd, at 8:00 p.m. eastern and pacific on
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c-span. a look now at our prime-time schedule on the c-span networks. beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, former federal reserve chair looks at the 2008 financial crisis and some of the current risks she sees in the financial markets. on c-span 2, it's the communicators, with federal communications commission chair, on key issues facing the fcc, including spectrum sales that allow 5 g innovation. and on c-span 3, it's american history tv, with programs from a recent conference hosted by the national world war ii museum in new orleans. sunday, on q and a, "wall street journal" columnist talks about his work and politics during the trump era. >> i think his politics are primarily he wants to be the center of attention. i don't think he's a racist. i think the way he looks at
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people, everyone is either a friend or an enemy and you can change categories very easily. he holds no grudges. but you know, i think his ideas about -- the america first thing is an idea i think he holds dear, that our country has been shortchanged in his daelings with the rest of the world -- in his dealings with the rest of the world and that reflects in trade policy and immigration policy, in the minds of many of his supporters in middle america have hurt them and their economic prospects, that is to a degree a sincere set of beliefs on his part. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. >> today in the senate, members voted to advance the criminal justice reform bill before the votes, several senators spoke on the floor about the legislation. this portion starts with senate majority whip john cornyn. >> madame president, 5:30 we will be voting on the first


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