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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  December 12, 2019 9:59am-12:00pm EST

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we talk about iran, but saudi arabia that's where the problem lies. lies. >> the house will be in order. for 40 years, c-span has been providing america unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court and public policy events from washington d.c. and around the country so you can make up your own mind. created by cable in 1979, c-span is brought to you by your local cable or satellite provider. c-span, your unfiltered view of governme government. government. >> well, the u.s. senate is about to gavel in. lawmakers are working on several executive nominations today. they'll vote on the director of the u.s. fish and wildlife service followed by a vote on john sullivan to be u.s. ambassador to russia.
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later this afternoon senators will also vote on fda commissioner nominee, steven hahn. now to live coverage. u.s. senate here on c-span2. the presiding officer : the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. god of grace and glory, on your people, shower your blessings. be for us a shield and sure defense. lord, as we live in this tangled world, give us the wisdom to keep our eyes on you. bless our senators. crown their deliberations
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with your wisdom, so that your purposes will prevail. quicken in our lawmaker's noble impulses, as you sanctify their efforts with your mercy and might. be merciful to us, forgive our faults and remember that we are but dust, like a wind that blows by and is gone. lord, keep us from stumbling or slipping. we pray in your gracious name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the 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,
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indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c., december 12, 2019. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable cindy hyde-smith, a senator from the state of mississippi, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: chuck grassley, president pro tempore. ploosm under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of interior, arelia
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skipwith, of indiana, to be director of the united states fishing and wildlife service.
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mr. mcconnell: madam president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i've spoken at length about the serious impact that democrats' impeachment obsession has had on months worth of important legislative priorities. for months republicans have been calling for bipartisan solutions to the ndaa, to the appropriations process, and more. but only in the last couple of days here in mid-december, have our democratic colleagues gotten sufficiently serious about these must-pass bills.
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in the meantime, while we've waited on house democrats to act, the senate has made good use of our floor time to complete the american people's business with respect to nominations. last week alone the senate confirmed two executive branch nominations and put eight impressive justerrists on federal district courts. this week we considered yet another splait of president's well-qualified nominees. today the senate will consider john -- to serve as ambassador to the russian federation, stephen hahn to serve as commissioner of the food and drug administration, and aurelia skipwith of indiana to be director of the fish and wildlife service. we have nominated patrick j.
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bumatay. mr. patrick j. bumatay is a graduate of yale, practiced in the private sector and served in a variety of roles with the department of justice. mr. van dyke graduated from montana state university and harvard law school. his career included a clerkship with the d.c. circuit, spent time as a solicitor general and service as deputy assistant attorney general at the department of justice. each is well qualified, each has widespread respect from legal peers and now they are the 49th and 50th circuit judges nominated by president trump and confirmed by the senate in the last three years. as i've said before, these kinds of milestones are emphatically not partisan achievements. it is not one party or the other that benefits when our federal
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courts consist of men and women who understand that a judge's job is to follow the law, not to make the law. the entire country benefits from that. our constitutional system benefits from that as well. if judges applying our laws and our constitution, as they are written, strikes anybody as a threat to their particular agenda, it's their agenda that needs to change, not the judiciary the framers intended. now on another matter. as i said, the democrats fixation with impeachment has pushed governing priorities into the eleventh hour. after months of delays and hostage taking, house democrats finally -- finally approved an ndaa conference report. next week the senate will pass it and send us over -- send the
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legislation to president trump. of course, we need to follow up defense authorization with defense appropriations so we actually supply the funding that our service members need to carry out their missions and our commanders need to plan for the future. and it's not just defense funding that's been hampered by democrats' impeachment obsession and reluctance to do anything bipartisan. all federal funding has been jeopardized by the house's procrastination, that includes critical domestic programs with implications for every one of our colleagues and all of our constituents. yet, even today -- even today at this late date democratic leadership continuing to delay a bipartisan agreement on appropriations. even now at the eleventh hour, they are still threatening to potentially attack the whole process and force another continuing resolution. so, look, madam president, the
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story is the same as it's been for months. partisan policy demands, poison pills, exactly the playbook that the speaker of the house and the democratic leader had explicitly promised months ago in writing that they would not use to sabotage appropriations. so let me say that again. the speaker of the house, the senate democratic leader explicitly promised last summer in writing that they would not use poison pills or changes to presidential transfer authorities to sabotage the appropriations process. and, yet, even in mid-december, they are still using those tactics to jeopardize all of our progress. it doesn't have to end this way. i know ernest discussions are still under way as our colleagues in both chambers fix this. i would urge the democratic
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leadership to let the committees do their work. let the congress do its work, and let us pass legislation on a bipartisan basis next week. now, on a related matter. while we hold out hope for a breakthrough in appropriations, we also know there's been one major casualty of speaker pelosi's impeachment obsession, congress's ability to pass the president's usmca this year. it was more than a year ago that president trump first signed the draft agreement with the leaders of canada and mexico. more than 12 months ago. that's how long house democrats dragged their heels on the usmca and kept 176,000 new american jobs on ice. now, at the eleventh hour, speaker pelosi has finally realized it would be too cynical and too nakedly partisan to allow her conference impeachment obsession to kill the usmca
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entirely. so after a year of obstruction she finally gave in of -- gave in to republican pressure and struck a notional deal with the white house. but actions have consequences. that entire calendar year that house democrats wasted has consequences. the speaker's action was so belated that the administration is still, still in the process of writing the actual bill. we don't have a bill yet. once a bill is produced, the house has to take it up first. and then under trade promotion authority that exists to protect the deals that presidents negotiate, after house passage, the bill spends up to 15 session days in the senate finance committee, and then, and then after that, there's up to 15
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session days for the senate to vote on the floor. so unfortunately the speaker's 12 months of delay have made it literally impossible for the senate to take up the agreement this year, and if house democrats send us impeachment articles, those have to come first in january. so the usmca will get pushed back yet again. like i said, madam president, actions have consequences. there is just no way the senate can make up for 12 months of house democratic delays in just a couple of days. governing is a question of priorities. speaker pelosi failed to make this trade deal a priority for the entire year, and we're now bound by the time requirements of t.p.p. to protect -- of t.p.a. to protect the agreement here in the senate. now, one final matter, speaking of priorities, listen to what the house democrats are
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prioritizing. listen to what they're doing today while all of this crucial legislation goes unfinished. more judiciary committee hearings about impeaching the president, and on the floor, a vote on yet another far-left messaging bill with literally no chance of becoming law. they're spending floor time on their socialist scheme to micromanage america's prescription drugs and put the federal government in charge of the medicines so many people rely on. the speaker wants to take us down the road of nationalizing an entire industry and imposing washington's stifling influence on the life sciences sector that produces lifesaving cures. never mind, never find the fact that this far-left messaging bill has zero chance of passing the senate and that president trump has already threatened to veto it. we know by now that political performance art takes precedence
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over bipartisan legislation where this democratic house has been concerned. so, madam president, i hope these stunts, stunts come to an end soon. i hope the house finds time to finish negotiating the things we actually have to pass, the funding of the government, i hope we can do that in good faith. i hope our democratic colleagues join republicans at the table, and let's get the american people's business that must be done accomplished. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mrs. blackelburn: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. the senate is in a quorum call. mrs. blackburn: i ask that we suspend the quorum call. this past sunday, hundreds of thousands of protesters filled the streets of hong kong to remind beijing that totalitarianism will no longer go unchallenged. i was reading a "new york times" article about this protest when i came across a particularly striking quote. when asked why she had taken to the streets, a 24-year-old biology researcher named alice said -- and i'm quoting -- we want hong kong to continue being hong kong. we don't want to become like china. end quote. madam president, i ask unanimous
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consent to include this article as well as the front page of the d.c. 9 "new york times" in the record. what a beautiful picture of what people will do for the cause of freedom. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. blackburn: alice's statement is loaded with historical context and directly implies what we're seeing now is the combination of a slow but sure violation of the laws and norms that once defined hong kong's semi autonomous relationship with mainland china. these protests erupted after what beijing argued was a simple proposed change to existing extradition laws. but the people saw it for what it was. a thinly veiled threat to hong kong's relative autonomy. it wasn't a takeover. it was just that foot in the
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door. and china is nearly unparalleled in its ability to turn a foot in the door into a permanent existing condition. sometimes their power plays are very obvious. sometimes they're not. on my recent trip to gentleman beauty, i saw firsthand the influence of china's debt trap diplomacy. now, here is what debt trap diplomacy is. it is a fancy way of saying that china has increased its influence around the world by offering to struggling nations that they're going to hold their debt in exchange for preferential treatment on trade or maybe a physical presence like a port or other sweetheart deals. in jabuti city, i saw this
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tactic run wild. now, china would say that what they've done is to help the gentleman butte -- jabutans create a smart city and they have done this in the horn of africa. but in reality they negotiated their way into creating a full blown surveillance state, cameras, cameras are everywhere on every corner, every street. 24/7 footage. guess where that footage lands. beijing. they even tried to point one of those cameras at our military base right at the entrance to camp lemonai. debt trap diplomacy -- if that's all you see of china, it's easy to assume that all of their tactics are that bold and
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obvious. as i said, they'll go after you in obvious and also in areas that are not as obvious, even domestically. china's surveillance state is notoriously the opposite of covert. their domestic smart city program has outpaced that of every other country on the face of the earth. and the majority of their $70 billion-plus budget for that project has been spent not on intelligent power grids or traffic management systems or on clean air or clean water but it is being spent on surveilling their own citizens. the greatest danger china has created by engaging and at times absurd surveillance oppression, is that it has created a false sense of security here in the
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west. when we don't see the evidence of what they're doing. in the u.s. we're not particularly vulnerable to their debt trap but we are vulnerable to less obvious attempts to get that foot in the door. in some form or another, most americans have allowed big tech to take hold of a portion of their life. smartphones and cloud storage once were very novel but now we assume that even simple transactions come predicated by an additional condition. everything is free as long as the app or the service has access to guess what? your data. they want to own your virtual you. popular apps like tick to be whose -- tick-tock whose parents company is based in china have left me with more questions than answers about the platform's
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business practice, privacy protection, and ideological loyalty to the communist party, considering that the u.s. army has barred soldiers from using tick-tock and everybody needs to understand this. the u.s. army has said you cannot use tick-tock. and this very body has expressed our concerns on a bipartisan basis with the platform censorship and data-handling practices. it's no wonder that tick-tock's chief executive officer canceled this week's scheduled meetings here in d.c. with members of this body. the fact that millions of americans, especially our american children continue to offer their personal data to tick-tock is beyond disturbing but we will not be able to roll back the creeping surveillance state without setting our own
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standards for what is acceptable from both foreign and domestic countries. when i introduced the browser act earlier this year, i did so not only to give big tech solid guidelines regarding data privacy and content but to set a new standard for what consumers expect from big tech. our problem here in this country is pretty much awareness and of understanding that the exact same philosophy that drives china's covert surveillance programs and their less obvious recognition for your data and your information and they're trying to monitor our lives, this is all part of their scheme. their surveillance-state scheme.
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china's communist party is about more than just ad revenue and more complete data sets. their goal as the same with those hong kong protesters, as they've put it, is to trick other countries in becoming more like china. not tilting toward freedom. tilting away from freedom and toward china. my goal with the browser act and with my focus on what has become the surveillance state is to do the exact opposite, to enable freedom, to encourage freedom not only here but around the globe. to make certain that consumers here decide how much of their data they want to be able to share and to make certain that we continue to support the cause
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of freedom wherever human beings show up to protect the freedoms that they have. i yield the floor.
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mr. schumer: madam president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: we're not in a quorum, are we? the presiding officer: we're not. mr. schumer: we learned yesterday that two -- i learned yesterday that two of the innocent victims in the shooting in jersey city earlier this week are from my hometown, my home burrow. and that the kosher deli where they were killed in all likelihood was targeted as part of a hate crime. this morning i stand in solidarity with the jewish communities of new jersey and
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new york. as they confront the antisemitic poison. and i stand in sorrow at the loss of innocent lives from my community. may their memory be a blessing and salutes to the brave police officer as well who fell in the line of duty. trying to apprehend these brutal thugs. now on impeachment. the house judiciary committee will continue today its markup of articles of impeachment against donald trump. the articles charge that president trump abused the office of the presidency by soliciting the interference of a foreign power in our elections to benefit himself personally. the articles also charge the president with obstruction of congress in the investigation into those matters. those articles were drafted after a month's long investigation into the president's dealings with ukraine which included scores of fact witnesses and expert
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testimony. throughout that time and still today the white house refuses to participate in the house process. it has blocked key witnesses. it has withheld relevant documents. it has instructed members of the administration to defy congressional subpoenas and not to testify. those that did testify did so bravely against the wishes of the white house. what is the president hiding? what do these witnesses know? what do these documents show? that is a fair question that every american could ask. and because the president has not presented nor have the republican congress members presented any refutation of the facts in the impeachment charge, any exculpatory evidence other
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than grand conspiracy theories, the american people have a right to say the president must be hiding something. if there are documents or witnesses that the president believes could provide exculpatory evidence, nothing is stopping the witnesses from testifying, the documents from being sent over except the president of the united states who in all likelihood is afraid of what they show because they confirm and corroborate the lengthy factual basis that the house compiled to come up with the articles of impeachment. the fact that president trump is blocking witnesses from testifying and blocking documents from release means that more likely than not those witnesses, those documents do not and cannot refute the charges against the president. when someone who might be guilty of a crime says he doesn't want witnesses of the crime to come forward, what do you think that
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means? why haven't the president and his allies prerchtsed exculpatory -- presented exculpatory evidence, evidence that says this is not true? why instead have they created these bobbles, these objects far away and say there's a conspiracy here, there's a conspiracy there. it's the old lawyer's saying. when you have the fact, argue the facts. when you have the law, argue the law. when you have neither, pound the table. in this case pounding the table means coming up with diversiodiversionary, conspiratl theories. house republicans rather than mount a rigorous defense of the president on the merits attack the process. if house republicans could focus on the merits, could find evidence that says no, this is not true, that is not true, he did not try to influence ukraine to help his campaign, they would have presented it. why has no evidence been
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presented directly refuting the core of the charge against the president? because there probably isn't any. here in the senate we have several members who are swimming in the murky waters of conspiracy to divert attention from the fact that they don't have the facts on their side. they don't have the law on their side. the only way they can defend the president's comments is come up with crazy, out of line, and not based on any evidence conspiracy theories. some senate republicans find it so difficult to argue the president's defense on the fact they resort to fiction. for instance, in the past few weeks certain republicans have actually helped spread disinformation invented, invented by putin's intelligence services. he said that ukraine, not russia, interfered in the election. it's absurd. no one believes it. there's no factual basis of it.
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of course putin would say it. he wants to divert attention from russia. but it's amazing that senators would traffic in those theories, totally made up, not one bit of fact. it's a low moment for the senate when their blind obeisance to president trump shadows -- overshadows any needed to find truth and to defend rule of law. that is not what a democracy is about. that is the edges of dictatorship. chairman graham conducted an entire hearing yesterday to give public viewing to the now completely die bunked conspiracy theory that the f.b.i. investigation into the trump campaign began with political
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motives. inspector general horowitz found no evidence of bias, so senator graham put on a big know, a lot of ranting, a lot of raving, nothing of fact. it's just like ukraine when so many are unable to defend it, or they come up with histrionics, again to try to divert attention, a shiny object to take the american people's people attention away from the wrongdoing that the house is accusing him of. in fact, the deputy counsel of the f.b.i. actually said that the department would, quote are are -- quote, be derelict in its responsibility if it did not open up an investigation into president trump. she's not in a political position, she's a law
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enforcement officer. if you think president trump is above the law, go right ahead. that's not what george washington or benjamin franklin or thomas jefferson or alexander hamilton thought this nation was about, that's not what generations of americans thought our country is about. we reached a low moment in american history and a very low moment for the republican party now that it's been taken over by donald trump. this is not the republican party of the last 150 years. so all of this is a backdrop to the impending trial of president trump where two lines of argument may be presented in a court of impeachment. one line of argument, accusation against the president, has relied on facts, the public record, and the sworn testimony of dozens of officials with knowledge of the event. the other line of the argument,
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the defense of the president has so far relied on conspiracy, inewe innuendo and hyper violation about the process with no reputation of the specific facts that the house has found. the american people will be savvy enough over the next several months to tell the difference. now, on taxes. this month marks two years since president trump and congressional republicans passed a trillion dollar tax cut for large corporations and the richest americans. republicans made many promises to sell this legislation as a boon for jobs and the middle class. they were outlandish at the time and now recent history has proven them even crazier. two years later this has not come close to living up to its billing. president trump promised it would be a middle-class miracle,
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creating a $4,000 raise for every american family. no way. ask the average american family. richers americans will say yes. the top 1% will say yes, but, of course, they received a tax cut 64 times what was given to the middle-class. he said there would be job growth and higher wages. this too has proved a fantasy. less than 5% of all workers in america were ultimately promised pay increases or bonuses as a result of the tax cut. out of 5.9 million employers, only 413 announced bonuses to workers or wage hikes. want to know where the republican share went? the shareholders. the corporate buyback has shattered records over 2018.
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it's impossible to look at the last two years with a straight face and say that the republican tax cut was designed or is helping middle-class families. if anything, the republican tax bill exacerbated the inequalities of work and wealth in our country. we need to start moving the needle in a completely opposite direction. next year voters will have a chance to make that happen by voting for a change in the senate leadership. i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. durbin: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask consent that the qoash be suspend -- the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: madam president, the majority leader was on the floor a little earlier and talked about the business of the senate and how busy we are in the senate. i'd like to say for the record -- for the record -- so far for calendar year 2019 on the floor of this united states senate where the greatest deliberative body meets and considers the lofty issue of our time, in the year 2019,
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currently this year, we have considered 22 amendments in the entire year 22 amendments. and, madam president, one of them was offered by the -- i'm saying six of them was offered by the junior senator from kentucky. one senator had six amendments, senator rand paul, they were all defeated. and then some 16 other amendments were offered. to put that in perspective, on a good day in the senate when the senate was the senate, there were ten amendments. bills would come to the floor. we would debate. we passed legislation, send it over to the house, go to the conference -- we don't do that anymore. under senator mcconnell, the republican leader of the senate, we do not do that anymore. # 2 amendments in the course of the entire year. if we -- were paid for the actual piecework that we do, we wouldn't get a paycheck this year because we haven't done
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anything. i'll take that back. what we've done is to fill as many federal court vacancies as possible with some of the most unqualified people ever offered by a president of the united states. this week a man named van dyke is being named to the court in nevada. he has such a limited connection with nevada that both of the nevada senators refuse to approve him for this court appointment. he has no connection to their state, but he was chosen by the white house. he went through a background check by the american bar association on this, mr. van dyke, and they concluded unanimously that he was unqualified to be a federal judge. unqualified. he's not the first. under this president we've had nine different federal court nominees found unqualified by the american bar association. well, you say, that's going to happen, lawyers disagree. do you know how many were found unqualified under the obama
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administration in eight years? none. not one. nine unqualified men and women now with lifetime appointments on the federal bench because, for senator mcconnell, that is his priority, fill the bench with people of his political stripe at any cost. take up legislation, no. the house of representatives, democratically majority controlled house has sent us over 200 different measures to consider on the floor of the senate, and senator mcconnell has refused. he won't take up any legislation, and he's very proud of it. to his credit, he's not ashamed or embarrassed. he says call himself the grim reaper when it comes to measures coming over from the house. he's here to kill them. he's done a pretty good job if that's his goal. when i hear him come to the floor and say we're not doing enough in the senate, 22
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amendments the whole year, senator mcconnell, you've been here a long time. madam president, i ask that the next statement be placed in a separate part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: it's the holiday sea soond many family -- season and many family members are gathering, but many people who have been defrauded by for-profit colleges and universities are just trying to get by. they've been waiting day in and day out for one person to make a decision, her name is betsy devos. she's the secretary of education. she can provide them relief from their student loans they desperately needs, but refuses to do it. after being lured with false promises, these people i'm talking about ended up in programs at for-profit colleges and universities. who are the for-profits?
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see if this rings a name. corinthian, i.t.t. tech, westwood, devry, university of phoenix, dream sitter. these are for-profit colleges and universities, and these student borrowers were left with mountain of debt and diplomas that employers laughed at when it was all said and done. now secretary devos refuses to provide these students with relief from the student loan debt to which they are entitled under the defense higher education act. take one student who attended corinthian. she says i'm not able to buy my children clothes or shoes. pamela, from north carolina, owes dz sdz 100 -- $100,000
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after attending a for-profit school. she says i have an autistic daughter and i can't afford to pay for her school. jen her who attended the illinois institute of art, not to be confused with a reputable institution. she owes $67,800 in federal student loans and says that the stress and anxiety to work three jobs to make a living to pay off the loans, feed my kids and keep a roof over my head is exhausting. borrowers as far as secretary devos is concerned, she may as well be secretary scrooge. she continues to refuse apply the borrower defense provision which would allow discharge of the student debt. more than 200,000 borrowers fine
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themselves in similar positions like secretary devos let's claims back up at the department, she has failed to approve a single claim for all of these hundreds of thousands of students facing this debt. why should we give them a break? why should there be forgiveness of the student debt? i'll tell you why. it starts with the united states federal government accrediting these institutions, these worthless institutions. and that accreditation says, this is a real college. well, it turns out they weren't real colleges and universities. but they were real when it came to costs. some of the most expenses places to attend higher higher educatin work are the for-profit colleges and universities. what kind of ror record -- what kind of record do they have? 9% of high schools of americans go to for-profit and universities. this will be on a final essay. 9% go
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to for-profit universities. 33% of all the student loan defaults are students at for-profit colleges and universities. what does it tell you? if i go to one of these schools, i will rack up a lot of debt. maybe i won't be able to find a job. maybe i won't be able to finish the school. then i learned my credits aren't even transferable from a for-profit school to a real college or university. it all started with the united states federal government accrediting these schools and saying these are real schools, and the students depending on that accreditation. then we back that up and say incidentally, you can borrow money from the federal government to go to these real schools, and then when these schools went bankrupt, when they defrauded everyone in sight, when they were sued by state attorneys general and the department of education, when it turned out they were big frauds and the students saw the schools crumble in front of them, the students end up with a debt, and we say under the law the federal government has some responsibility. we should have done a better job accrediting these schools.
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that isn't the way secretary devos sees it. as far as she is concerned, these kids are on their own. and they're not kids anymore. they have been hanging on to the student debt for so long, they don't know which way to turn. despite secretary devos' excuses, the reality is montgomery is legally preventing her from providing these discharges to these students, to loans that they took out at these for-profit colleges and universities. she could do it tomorrow. she would clearly -- clear the backlog quickly if she did, if she wanted to, but we know she is using her legal authority to provide relief to defrauded borrowers. it says it gives her extreme displeasure to do that. we know that because she wrote that on an order that she issued from the department. she was extremely displeased to discharge the student loans of these students who have been defrauded by for-profit schools. well, i'm not surprised. she surrounded herself at the department of education with people from that industry who see that the industry has done
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no wrong. we know better. we also know from our -- from her previous statements that secretary devos thinks many borrowers got some value from their experience even though they were defrauded with massive debt. she thinks that these borrowers are just after free money and they don't deserve a full discharge. yesterday, national public radio released a series of internal department memos showing that the facts don't back up secretary devos' claims. the department staff after 2017 concluded that the value of an i.t.t. tech education like corinthian is either negligible or nonexistent. this was a school accredited by our federal government, secretary devos, and it turns out to be worthless. accordingly, it's appropriate, i think, for the department of education to try to make amends for this miserable accreditation of the school and to give these student borrowers a chance. nonetheless, this week secretary
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devos announced a new scheme to use something called gainful employment earnings data to deny defrauded student borrowers full discharge. remember that rule on gainful employment was meant to ensure the programs actually prepared students for jobs after graduation, but secretary devos delayed and then eliminated the rule. now instead of using gainful employment data to hold poor-performing programs accountable, she wants to use it to punish defrauded student borrowers. she has already tried it once, only to be told by a federal judge that what she did was illegal. while it's unclear if this slightly tweaked version of the scheme will pass court muster, the result for the borrowers will be the same -- more delay and ultimate denial in terms of relief from their student loans from these miserable for-profit schools. not only is secretary devos delaying denying relief to previously defrauded borrowers, she is rewriting the rules to
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make it almost impossible for future defrauded borrowers to get relief. she continues to accredit these unworthy institutions. she continues to say to the united states and the world these are perfectly good schools, and then when it turns out they are perfectly awful, she wants to accept no responsibility. she released a new version of the borrower defense rule just a few months ago that places unreasonable burdens on the borrowers way beyond their capacity to detect the fraud that's being perpetrated at the time. the net result is this -- according to the institute for college access and success, the new devos rule will cancel just 3% of all the outstanding loans. 200,000, she is going to cancel 3%? in september, i introduced a resolution to overturn the devos rule. i plan to bring it to a vote on the senate floor where it needs a simple majority. just this week, 57 student
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veteran and consumer organizations released a letter supporting the resolution. i ask consent that it be entered into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: among the organizations supporting it are the american federation of teachers, the center for responsibility lending, the consumer federation of america, the education trust, the national association of college admission counseling, the naacp, the national education association, student veterans of america, and the american legion on behalf of america's veterans who have been victims of this fraud as well. so when our resolution comes to the floor, i hope a handful of republican colleagues will take a look at it and realize that we have got to give these students a second chance at their lives. we misled them into attending for-profit schools that were worthless. the schools defrauded them. they ended up with a debt to our government. under the provisions of the higher education act, that debt can be forgiven. let's give these defrauded student borrowers a second chance. they ultimately deserve an
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opportunity from our government to have a better holiday coming before them and a better life ahead. mr. president, i ask consent to amend my remarks at this point -- i see another senator on the floor. i yield the floor, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: i have come to the senate floor several times over the past year to talk about the importance of passing the u.s.-mexico agreement. this is the successor agreement to the 25-year-old nafta accord. and, yes, it's been a year. in fact, it's been over a year since that agreement was negotiated between canada and mexico. and then congress was meant to take it up. it's been too long.
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however, i'm happy to report today that we're at the end of that long process now, and the legislation is actually going to be voted on, i'm told, in the house of representatives probably next week and then here in the united states senate right after the holidays. we'll have a chance finally to pass this agreement that is so good for the farmers, for the workers, the manufacturers, small businesses that i represent. i'm really pleased that the president of the united states and his chief trade negotiator bob lighthizer had the patience and fortitude and persistence to get this done. i'm not sure i would have had the same patience. and i want to also congratulate house speaker nancy pelosi for making the decision to move forward with it. this is one of these situations where under our law the agreement has to be voted on first by the house. and so the speaker of the house had an unusual role here where
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it couldn't go forward without her approval. again finally we're there. the agreement which was negotiated over a year ago -- and language -- specific language was sent up here in may of last year is pretty much the same. about 99% of it is the same agreement. it's a good agreement because it opens up more markets for us. what has changed is there is a a -- new provisions, different provisions as it relates to enforcing the labor standards that are already in the agreement. so in the agreement, what mexico and canada were asked to do, in addition to the united states in terms of higher labor standards, was negotiated over a year ago, but what has happened really over the past several months here is now there is a mechanism to enforce it that is a little different. and i think we will make it easier to enforce potential violations of the agreement we've reached, particularly with regard to mexico. it doesn't really come back
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against the united states at all, and we can explain this in more detail as we see the exact language that is coming up in the next couple of days, but bottom line is for a u.s. company, the labor standards that are established are the ones we already have in our law, and for mexico or canada to file an objection to us potentially not following that agreement is simply after there has been a u.s. law process which would involve the national labor relations board and our existing law. so it really shouldn't affect us at all. by the way, secretary scalia who was the secretary of labor was really involved in ensuring it wouldn't come back on u.s. companies and u.s. workers and on our economy. i think at the end of the day, although it took way too long to get there, we have ended up with a very good result, an agreement that does expand trade, and that's the whole idea. we have talked a lot about this on the floor as to why this is so important. in my home state of ohio, we
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send more than half of our exports to two countries. so this is really important because these jobs are really important. it's about $28 billion a year. these are jobs that pay higher wages, better benefits, export jobs. for our farmers, this is really important. for manufacturers and workers, it's really important because this lets them be able to do what we do best, which is efficiently, productively make things, produce things that can be sold to other markets. remember, in america, we're only about 5% of the global economy, and yet 5% of the people, so our population is only about 5%, but we're about 25% of the g.d.p. of the world. we're a relatively small country in population, but we have got this big economy, and to access that 95% of consumers outside of america to sell our products is
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absolutely essential to our prosperity here, to our jobs here. as i mentioned earlier, those export jobs tend to be better jobs, higher paying jobs with better benefits. so what does this agreement do? first of all, it creates a bunch of new jobs. this chart has 176,000-plus new jobs. that's because the international trade commission, which is the independent body that analyzes these things, gave us a range, but the g.d.p. increased, the increase in our economy and the number of jobs is huge. by the way, greater than any other trade agreement we've entered into. greater, by the way, on the economic growth side than the trans-pacific partnership that many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle thought was something we should have entered into and was so important. this is even bigger. obviously, it's so big because canada and mexico are such big trading partners with us. even relatively small changes to especially 0 up new markets has a big impact. these are going to be welcome jobs, and, again, higher paying jobs. second it really helps with regard to online sales. one of our advantages as a
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country is we do a lot of commerce over the internet. when the original nafta agreement was written and was currently enforced, the status quo, there were not significantly online sales, virtually none, so there is no provision in there. every modern trade agreement has provisions for online sales, for sales over the internet. now we have them with regard to mexico and canada, which we would not have had under the old nafta. that's a big improvement. for ohio, that's a lot of small companies because entrepreneurs, some of these new start-ups are online companies. they really like this provision. and by the way, it says a number of things. it says you can't require localization of data. in other words, canada and mexico can't say hey, you have to have your servers in our country if you're going to do business with us. that's really important to our american online industry. second, it says you can't put tariffs on data online. again, very important to establish that. not just for canada and mexico, but as a precedent for other trade agreements going forward.
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third, it actually raises the de minimis level. in other words, to apply customs duties on stuff going to canada and mexico, they have a very low level. we have a relatively high level here. that level is increased for crea and mexico. that's an administrative burden that's lifted off a lot of these small businesses but also a cost saver. they don't have to pay customs duty on a relatively small amount of product that goes into this other country. so these are all good things for american jobs. again, we have a comparative advantage here because we do a lot of online sales. the third thing here, it says more u.s.-made steel and auto. this is really important to ohio but also to our country. manufacturing is finally now on the upswing. manufacturing jobs are actually increasing in this country for the first time in years, and we're getting back on our feet in terms of what has always made america great, which is that we produce things, we make things. and so this agreement helps. it says that's an example that
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70% of the steel that goes into the automobiles -- and the automobile industry is a big deal for canada and mexico and the united states -- but 70% has to be from north america. that helps u.s. steel mills and steel mills in ohio as opposed to steel coming in from china as an example from brazil and other countries. second, it changes the rules of origin. how much stuff can go into a automobile that comes from other countries. it's 62% now. highest level of any agreement we have with anybody. why is that important? well think about it. so we have agreed with can today and -- with canada and mexico that we're going to have disagreement that lowers the tariffs in all these countries, lowers the trade barriers generally. in other words, gives them an advantage in our market. we get an advantage in their market. that's the idea here. if you don't have a rule of origin where you say stuff can't come in from other countries and take advantage of that, then you have basically free riders. so china as an example can send a bunch of their auto parts to
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mexico and produce a car that is a mexican car that therefore gets the benefit of the nafta agreement. china has not opened its market at all. it's only provided this product to mexico but then the product gets the advantage of the lower tariffs and lower trade barriers generally. that's not fair. so raising it from 62.5% to 75% is really significant. again, it's the highest number of in i trade agreement we have. and it avoids this problem. some have said gee, that sounds protectist. i -- protectionist. i don't think it is. i think what it says to chan or japan or brazil or other countries, if you want to get advantage of the u.s. market that canada and mexico are getting and we get resipically, let's have more trade agreements. let's lower the barriers for everybody. that will actually expand trade but we ought not allow them to do it without that. so this is a big deal. it also is true that in this
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agreement there's something unprecedented with regard to leveling the playing field. remember, a basic concept of our trade laws is you want to have a balanced trade law where you have imports and exports because that makes sense, keeps consumer prices down. allows us to have good jobs here. but you want it to be reciprocal and balanced. so you don't want to have a situation where a country because of their low wage rates and lack of labor standards or lack of environmental standards or their polluting a lot can take advantage by having lower-cost goods coming into america. so in this agreement we do say that there is a minimum wage for between 40% to 45% of at out toe production. it's 16 bucks an hour. that will end up benefiting us because the wages are relatively higher in america and in canada than they are in mexico. so that will good for auto jobs here and help level the playing field. this is why you may have seen some of the labor unions are supporting the agreement and some of the u.s. manufacturers
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are supporting this agreement. they have a lot of facilities ear in america. they like that part of it as well. new markets for farmers. i mean, this is kind of a no-brainer that has made it for me frustrating over the last year because we haven't been able to move forward on this agreement while farmers have really been suffering. because of a few different things. one is weather. we've had lousy weather where it's too wet to plant and too dry to have the crops grow properly for harvest and that has hit us hard. we couldn't plancht plant in oha number of cases because of the weather being too wet. farmers have been hit by that. second, prices have been relatively low, not just recently but the last couple of years, commodities like corn, soybeans, wheat. part of that is because of the global markets. part of it is because of the third issue which is china because of our ongoing negotiations with china and disputes with china over would they're doing on intellectual property, stealing our technology, other issues.
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they have bought less of our farm products. so for ohio as an example, our number one market overseas for soy bones is china. -- soybeans is china. one out of every three acres in ohio is planted for export. think about how that affects your prices if you lose take big market share, that big customer. i'm pleased to say we seem to be making some progress with china right now incidentally as an aside. it's great to have this agreement done. i hope the next agreement we get done is with china and get them to play by the rules and open up those markets more. this week they started to buy more soybeans. that's good. in the meantime our farmers are desperate for more markets. and in this agreement, that's exactly what they get. so if you're an ohio farmer, number two in the country on eggs, you can now have access to these markets, canada and mexico in eggs that you never had for. on dairy, canada had protectionist provisions in place with regard to dairy products, milk, cheese.
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now if you're an ohio dairy farmer you can sell stuff into canada that you couldn't before. also pork, beef, wheat, other products. so this is good for our farmers. this is why over 1,000 farm groups around the country have supported this agreement. i mean, i don't know a farm group in ohio that doesn't support it strongly and again part of this is a great agreement for them, part of it is their you a hurting. this gives them light at the end of the tunnel, some opportunity to see you in markets and therefore see some prices increase in our ag community. so this is a good agreement, good for job, good for small business. we talked about good for farmers. good for workers, good for our economy. it's important we get it done. i'm glad that the house is going to go ahead and vote on it here in the next week. i wish we could vote here in the senate right away, too, but under the process called trade promotion authority, we do have some process we need to go through so probably best to have it happen after the holidays. but right after the holidays my
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hope is that here on the floor of the united states senate that members look at this for what it is. this is not a democrat or a republican victory. this is an american victory. and again i appreciate the efforts of president donald trump because he was persistent and tough in the negotiation and then he was persistent and patient in working with the u.s. congress. because there were a lot of people saying go ahead and send the agreement up and try to jam the democrats into doing the right thing. he didn't do that. he waited to figure out a way to come up with an agreement, particularly on the labor enforcement provisions we talked about. and as a result, we now have the ability on a bipartisan basis to get this done. i hope the vote in the house will reflect that. likewise here in the senate. i know there are some of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who think this agreement is not perfect. no agreement is perfect. i will just say that. i'm a former u.s. trade representative. i'm a former trade lawyer. i'm a former member of the ways
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and means committee which is a trade committee there. i'm on the finance committee here. no agreement is ever perfect. it's not the agreement exactly you would write or i would write but boy, this is a good agreement. to make a perfect enemy of the good, it's going to hurt the farmers and small businesses who we represent who want this agreement badly because they know it's going to help them. and the other thing i would say is that it also helps our relationships with our two biggest trading partners from ohio, canada and mexico. but also our neighbors. and so for the north american future, this is a good idea to have the certainty and predictability that comes with an agreement we all have been able to coalesce around and be able to approve the status quo. nafta was negotiated 25 years ago. a lot has happened in the last 25 years. we talked about how the digital economy has transformed our economy here and that we have a competitive and comparative advantage in that. that's one small example.
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but so many things have changed. we have better protections for intellectual property in this agreement, as an example. we have these new trade opening opportunities in agriculture. we have opportunities in manufacturing to do more here in north america, specifically in the united states. so a vote against this new agreement is a vote for nafta which is this 25-year-old agreement that has these flaws because that's the status quo. so my hope is that the next time i come to this floor to talk about this, it will be to be asking my colleagues in short order to support a vote that will come out of the finance committee with a strong bipartisan vote, that it will have come to the floor with a strong vote from the house, and that we can get this done. and that then president trump can sign it and that the people we represent will be better off. our community of nations here in north america will be better off. and the united states of america
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will have another victory. thank you, mr. president. i yield back. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mrs. shaheen: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. shaheen: thank you. i came to the floor this morning to address what has been an alarming and inaccurate information campaign that's being spread about the international family planning amendment included in this year's state and foreign operations appropriations bill. i would note that while this amendment is referred to as the shaheen amendment, an alarmist and blog posts, it is actually bipartisan language that was agreed to by both the subcommittee and full committee chairs of the appropriations committee and ultimately approved unanimously by republicans and democrats in the committee. and yet articles and op-eds online have condemned the amendment as pro-abortion. i was surprised to hear this given that despite my
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objections, the amendment does not address the mexico city policy or the global gag rule as it's now, abortion services or information. in fact, this is the first time in 18 years -- i'm going to say that again. it's the first time in 18 years that members of the appropriations committee were prevented from offering a bipartisan amendment that would strip the bill of the mexico city provision. instead of allowing the established committee process to amend the bill with this provision, the entire bill was pulled from consideration. so in response to that, in an effort to ensure that the bill wasn't endangered, i worked with my colleagues, senator collins of maine and senator murkowski of alaska, and with republican leadership to limit the scope of the amendment so we could allow the appropriations bill to go forward.
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now it is false, absolutely, positively false to say that this amendment funds abortions abroad. in fact, it's wrong to say, and inaccurate to say that any u.s. assistance goes to funding abortions at home or abroad. in compliance with u.s. law, family planning funding does not and never has gone to abortion services. so i hope everyone is clear about that. under our law, family planning funding does not go to support abortion services. now that i've outlined what this amendment does not do, let me discuss what it does do. it provides an increase of $57.5 million for a total of $632.5 million for existing international family planning
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accounts. this money funds programs and services that provide modern contraceptives, which 214 million women around the world who want to avoid pregnancy are not able to access. and again, i don't know when the debate around abortion came to include contraceptives and family planning. it also would allow for the healthy timing and spacing of births, which is very important to the health of infants. it's important to the health of women to be able to space the births of their children, to recover between births. it provides education information and counseling about family planning issues. and it ensures access to anti-natal and postnatal care for a healthy mother and baby. it provides for h.i.v.
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vaccination and prevention, something very important to the health of children. and these are just a few of the critical services that the assistance provides, and the impact of these services is very real. according to the institute which additional dollars the u.s. provides for health planning programs, 400,000 more women and couples receive contraceptive services and supplies. and with the $57.5 million increase provided for in this amendment, more than 2.2 million women and couples will have that access. and that will result in 654,500 fewer unintended pregnancy, 291,500 fewer unplanned births, 280,500 fewer induced abortions. so if you care about abortion and you don't believe that that
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is the right alternative, then you should support family planning because that gives families and couples an option to ensure that they can have the children that they want. and it would provide for 1,320 fewer deaths of women. now while these numbers are stark, the transformative of having access to family planning information and services on the lives of women and their families should not be underestimated. the most vulnerable women who are reached by family planning programs report that learning about family planning options, receiving services to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and ensuring that wanted pregnancies are healthy and happy so the babies that they want to have are healthy and happy gives them some control over their lives. many women are making health care choices for themselves and
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their families for the very first time with help from these programs. these critical programs change lives, and our partners who implement these programs are indispensable. in october usaid administrator mark green said that he could not, and i'm quoting, imagine an effective development agency that doesn't partner with communities of faith. well, luckily he doesn't have to. for those people who are worried that family planning programs are not going to be implemented by our faith community, that is just wrong. the family planning account goes to a range of program implementers, including health care providers, international n.g.o.'s and faith-based organizations alike. and all of these organizations have the goal of saving women's lives and saving the lives of their children.
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they need more resources, not fewer, to do this work. so what else does the international family planning amendment do? it includes an additional $33 million to usaid's family planning account for money that is rerouted away from the united nations population fund. again, unlike what the blogs are mistakeenly saying, this is not money that currently goes to unfpa's lifesaving operations. instead it will be redirected back into the family planning account and contribute to the programs that i just outlined. third, the amendment requires the government accountability office to produce a report that evaluates the efficacy of family planning programs and their structure. again, this was another bipartisan effort with my republican colleagues to ensure that our us dollars are most
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effective and that they contribute to programs and services that are most effective. so again, if you have a concern about how family planning dollars are being spent, then you should support this amendment because it's going to give us data and information to show what's effective and what isn't. and finally, the amendment includes language to reaffirm an existing nondiscrimination policy within usaid. this is an existing nondiscrimination policy. this is not a new policy. that policy within usaid ensures that the services funded by these accounts reach all segments of the population. as i said, this is not a new policy. the antidiscrimination policy has existed for several years, and it's not targeted toward faith-based organizations despite what some of the blogs mistakenly are putting out there. in fact, the complaints that
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i've heard in my office about single women being rejected for services didn't touch on work that faith-based organizations are doing. so, mr. president, i hope that all of our colleagues in the senate will not allow misinformation about the family planning dollars that are in the state and foreign operations bill to dismantle what has been a very important bipartisan achievement. its impact is too great and its programs are too important to let them be killed by a campaign to try and mislead people about what's in the amendment. thank you. i yield the floor.
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mr. grassley: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa.
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mr. grassley: i ask that the vote that was going to start at 11:45 start now. the presiding officer: without objection. the question is an the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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