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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  March 5, 2021 9:00am-10:01am EST

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hours and will consider several amendments to the bill. also some of the bills provisions may be challenged as violating senate budget rules. we are expecting votes to start right after the debate concludes this afternoon and you can see it all as we go live now to the floor of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. ing officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, who rules the raging of the sea, use our lawmakers to bring stability to our nation through wise and knowledgeable leadership. remind them to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow
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to anger. give them the wisdom to understand that moral rot within a nation can topple its government. lord, inspire our senators to pursue justice, to love mercy, and to work with humility. help them also to remember that you rescue the blameless from harm. and, lord, give a special blessing to your faithful servants who worked through the night. we pray in your faithful name. amen.
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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, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c, march 5, 2021. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable tina smith, a senator from the state of minnesota, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore.
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the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. mr. schumer: madam president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. schumer: now first and foremost, i want to thank everyone, everyone on the floor staff who worked late into the night and into the wee hours of the morning to finish reading the senate amendment to the american rescue plan. the folks who sit up here on the dais come to work every day with a very serious job to do -- helping the senate come to life and fulfill its purpose under
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the constitution. i'm sure you all didn't expect that part of your job this week would entail standing on your feet and reading dense legislative language for more than ten hours straight. i can't imagine that's anyone's idea of a good time. but as usual, our staff took their additional duties in stride and carried them out with professionalism and grace, finishing around 3:00 in the morning. and you're all right back on your posts this morning. thank you, thank you, thank you for your service, your dedication. you are the unsung heroes of this place. so to all the critical workers, not just those here on the dais -- the clerks, the stenographers, the capitol police officers, the floor staff, to all of you, thank you, thank you, thank you for your efforts yesterday and every day. and as for our friend from
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wisconsin, i hope he enjoyed his thursday evening. now, mr. president, a year ago this week congress began work on what would become the cares act, the opening salvo in a year-long battle against what at the time was a strange and new disease. i don't think anyone could have anticipated that a year hence we would have lost more than ten million jobs and over half a million citizens. even as the vaccine makes its way across the country and hope shimmers on the horizon, millions of americans are still struggling with basic necessities. folks are thousands of dollars behind on rent and utilities. their heat, water, and power is getting shut off. more than a million americans on unemployment insurance report that their kids aren't getting enough to eat. sometimes the macro statistics get in the way, but the top end is doing very well, the top 10% or 25%. but so many other people are
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struggling. and if you just look at a big number, you say, everything is getting a little better. it's not for the lower half of america. it's not. i read about one of my constituents recently, alisa fernandez from queens who had a job as a home health care aide lined up at the start of the pandemic but couldn't take it because of her family's preexisting medical conditions. her mother was in the hospital with covid. her income went from $3,400 a month to just $1,000. it was a huge, huge loss, she said. i have medications, my electric bill, the phone bill and other costs. every day you have to make decisions -- am i going to eat? in america that should not be the case. it shouldn't be at any time, but particularly when an evil disease robbed hardworking people of their income, their livelihood.
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am i going to eat? and we're supposed to sit here and do nothing? we're supposed to say to ms. fernandez and so many like her, we're not giving you the help you need? ms. fernandez hasn't been able to pay the rent since april of last year, over $16,000 worth, and this bill will help people like her, but it will also prevent people from getting into ms. fernandez' place, people who work for state and local governments who might be laid off, people who work for small businesses who might be laid off. madam president, it is the job of this government during this evil pandemic to assist american families, businesses, and workers like ms. fernandez until this pandemic is over. it's also our job to prevent others from falling into the same awful situation that ms. fernandez finds herself in. it's our job to hasten the day
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when americans can go back to work, our country can go back to normal, our economy can come roaring back. we can reduce that awfully high actual 10% unemployment. that's what the american rescue plan will do. it will send direct checks to american workers and families struggling with the cost of groceries, medicine and the rent, the vast majority of americans will get the full $1,400 we have asked for. it will help reopen schools quickly and safely as possible. it will help the hardest-hit small businesses hang on. it will keep firefighters and teachers and bus drivers and sanitation workers on the job. it will help american families stay in their homes, care for their children, put food on the table. and it will give our country the resources, the vaccination and testing that it needs to crush
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the virus once and for all. all told, the american rescue plan will be one of the largest anti-poverty bills in recent history, cutting child poverty just about in half. the entire country has gotten behind the bill. business leaders, mayors, governors from big cities, small towns, red states, blue states, democrat, republican. the clear majority of the american people, democrats, independents and republicans, all support the american rescue plan. it seems the only group in america who doesn't support the american rescue plan are washington republicans. my colleagues on the other side of the aisle say $1.9 trillion is too expensive. well, my republican colleagues didn't think it was too expensive when they gave nearly the same amount in tax breaks to corporations and the ultra rich in a healthy economy, not one that's struggling. my colleagues claim this bill isn't related to covid.
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what hogwash. it's a strange thing to say because most of the measures in the bill are exactly the same ideas republicans supported a year ago in the cares act, which passed without a single dissenting republican vote. direct checks in the cares act and enhanced unemployment insurance in the cares act, assistance for state and local governments in the cares act, funding for testing and the vaccine in the cares act, aid to schools and small businesses in the cares act. all of them were in the cares act, which every republican voted for, and now they're saying the american rescue plan, which has the basic same structure, is not related to covid. when we passed the cares act, we all you thought that maybe covid would be gone by the summer. it isn't. we need to keep at it in the same way. every single republican who voted for the cares act and those ideas a year ago, when a
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republican was in the white house and republicans controlled the senate, is now saying no, it seems. but now that a democrat is in the white house, now that democrats control the senate, those same ideas which they supported when trump was president and mcconnell was majority leader are a liberal wish list. same ideas. who the heck are they kidding? they have no good answer. but let's face it, we need to get this done. it would be so much better if we could in a bipartisan way, but we need to get it done. we're not going to make the same mistake we made after the last economic downturn when congress did too little to help the nation rebound, locking us into a long, slow, painful recovery where it was years before employment was back to where it was before that crisis. we are not, we are not going to be timid in the face of big challenges. we are not, we are not going to delay when urgent action is
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called for. the senate will move forward today with the american rescue plan. there will be a lengthy amendment process as the rules of the senate require. the senate is going to take a lot of votes, but we are going to power through and finish this bill however long it takes. the american people are counting on us and our nation depends on it. 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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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: today, or tonight or tomorrow, democrats say they will break the bipartisan streak that has defined the pandemic response up until now. they are set on ramming through an ideological spending spree with non-related covid policies. this is what a house democrat admitted they would do at start of the crisis, exploit the pandemic as, quote, a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision. but to give them credit, they never hided the ball. that's how you get a 628-page bill that costs nearly $2 trillion but only 9% addresses the fight against the
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virus itself. only 1% -- 1% of the lifesaving vaccinations are ending this nightmare as we speak. that's how you craft a bill that does nothing to get kids immediately back in classrooms, in fact, spends only 5% of the k-12 school money this fiscal year. this isn't a pandemic rescue package, it's a parade of left-wing pet projects that are ramming through -- they are ramming through during the pandemic. there's a costly obamacare bailout that will disproportionately benefit wealthier people, payments to farmers and ranchers based solely on the demographics of the recipient without any regard to any need. a massive cash bailout for governments multiple time the size of covid needs. instead of pushing back on the antiscience bullying on big
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labor that's lock kids of out of the classroom, they buy into it. they want to create generous benefits for parents who have -- all the parents without government jobs, no such luck. there are provisions to let abortion providers raid the small business rescue funds that were meant for main street businesses, to pay people a bonus not to go back to work when it will -- we'll be trying to rebuild our economy. this is an effort to create a brand-new sprawling cash well-fair program, not the one-time checks, but constant payments that ignore the bipartisan welfare reform and which the white house already stated they want to make it permanent -- permanent. the unrelated liberal policies are simply endless. it's like they've forgotten we have a pandemic to fight.
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larry somers, a top check in the clinton and obama administrations say this piles way more debt on our kids and grandkids than we need to spend right now. that's larry summers, bill clinton's secretary. the state and local bailouts are, quote, overkill. these are liberal economists. the cash bonus for laid-off workers will result in 60% of more workers by staying home then they would earn by rushing to work. more money by staying home than they'd earn from returning to work. what a great idea. this isn't state unemployment insurance, it's borrowing from our kids and grandkids to pay yet an additional cash bonus for
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not working. and this would extend deep into 2021 when we anticipate serious job growth. just this morning we had a jobs report that shattered expectations, nearly doubling the job growth experts expected to see. here's what "the washington post" says about in mess. this is "the washington post" about this mess that's before us. from policy experts even members of biden's own party, the improving picture is raising questions about whether the stimulus bill is mismatched to the needs of the current moment. "the washington post" editorial. it's mismatched all right because it was never designed to meet america's needs. the goal was to restructure things to fit their vision. that's why there was no bipartisan process after a year of completely bipartisan covid
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bills that we worked on together. that's why the senate republicans who went to the white house to propose working together were told, no thanks, take it or leave it. this is such a poorly targeted rush job that democrats can't even settle on one set of political spin. the white house chief of staff is going around town admitting that they've written, quote, the most aggressive domestic legislation in a generation, end quote. that's the white house chief of staff. meanwhile here in the senate, democrats are still pretending this is some down the middle proposal and lecturing us for not supporting it. they can't even get their story trait. -- straight. the they said there would be unity and bipartisanship. but in 2020, unrepublican leadership, the senate negotiated five -- five rescue bills totaling $4 trillion, none
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of them got fewer than 90 votes. that's how this senate was run last year in a time of divided government. and now, in this supposed new era of healing leadership we're about to watch one party ram through a partisan package on the thinnest of margins. go figure. republicans have many ideas to improve the bill, many ideas, and we're about to vote on all kinds of amendments in the hope that some of these ideas make it into the final product. we're going to try to improve the bill, the millions who elected 50 republican senators will have their voices heard loud and clear. our country's already set for a roaring recovery. we are already on track to bounce back from this crisis. that's not because of this bill, it's because of our work last
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year. it's the trend this new democratic government inherited. we're going to come roaring back and mostly not because of this bill. in fact, in some ways in spite of this bill. it will be because of the bipartisan foundation we laid last year and the strength and resilience of our people. democrats inherited a tide that was already turning many we could have worked together to do something smart to finish this fight as fast as possible. democrats decided to do something else. the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of h.r. 1319, which the clerk will report.
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the clerk: calendar number 10, h.r. 1319, an act to provide for reconciliation pursuant to title 2 of s. con. res. 5.
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mr. sanders: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the duration of the senate's consideration of h.r. 1319, the american rescue plan act of 2021, the majority and republican managers of the bill, while seated or standing at the managers' desks, be permitted to deliver floor remarks, retrieve,
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review, and edit documents, and send e-mail, other data communications from text displayed on wireless personal digital assistance devices and tablet devices. what do we think about that? i further ask unanimous consent that the use of calculators be permitted on the floor during consideration of the bill. further, that the staff be permitted to make technical and conforming changes to the bill, if necessary, consistent with the amendments adopted during senate consideration of the bill. finally, that the following staff members from my staff and from senator graham's staff be given all-access floor passes for consideration of the bill -- majority staff, michael jones, joshua smith, michael lawless, melissa caplan pisner and ari robinhof. republican staff, becky coal, matthew ruminkos. the presiding officer: is there
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objection? without objection. mr. sanders: madam president, i call up my amendment 972. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from vermont, mr. sanders, for himself and others proposes amendment numbered 972 to amendment 891. at the end of title 2, add the following -- subtitle m, increasing the federal minimum wage -- mr. sanders: i ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment be waived. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. sanders: madam president, i rise today to offer an amendment to increase the federal minimum wage from a starvation wage of of $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour over a five-year period. as i think you know, the
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congress has not raised the minimum wage since 2007, and the result of that is that half of our people are now living paycheck to paycheck, and many, in fact, are working for wages that are much too low in order to take care of their families. so to my mind, the american people in poll after poll, in state after state understand that we have got to raise that minimum wage to a living wage oo do everything i can to make that happen, and i will be offering that amendment this morning. but before i do that, let me begin my remarks by explaining why this reconciliation bill, the american rescue plan, that we are debating today is so
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enormously important that it must be passed and it must be passed as quickly as possible, in my view. this legislation is the most consequential and significant legislation for working families that congress has debated for many, many decades. now, why is that? and the answer is that is, as i think all americans know, the last year, last year that we have gone through has been in so many ways the very worst year in our lifetimes. that's what it has been. the working families of our country today are hurting in a way that they have not heard since the great depression, and they want their governments to
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hear their pain and come to their aid, and that is not too much to ask. now, a lot of folks in this country -- there are estimates that maybe 30% to 40% of americans have literally given up on democracy. they are moving toward authoritarianism. they are hurting. their kids are hurting. their parents are hurting and they look to washington for help in their democratic society, and they don't see washington responding. what they see year after year are policies which make the very, very rich richer, which enable large, profitable corporations to not pay a nickel in taxes, but for them, they face eviction, they face hunger, they don't have health care, they can't afford to send their kids to college, and they are
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asking does anybody, anybody in washington care about their lives. so what today is about, in a very profound way, is whether or not we stand with the working class of this country, that we say yes, we live in a democratic society, we understand what you are going through, and we're going to move as aggressively as we can to respond to your pain and improve your lives. so this is not just a health care bill -- it is. it's not just an economic bill. it is. not just an educational bill. it is. perhaps more than that, this is a bill which will answer a profound question. are we living in a democratic society where the u.s. congress will respond to the needs of
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working families rather than just the wealthy and large corporations and their lobbyists. that's what today is about. it is dealing with the pandemic. it's dealing with the economy. it's dealing with education. so much more. but most importantly, it is dealing with the issue of whether or not we are hearing the pain that is out there and we are responding to it. during last year, as everybody knows, over 500,000 americans have died of covid and millions more have been made ill. unbelievable. unbelievable what we have gone through in terms of this terrible pandemic. covid has not only caused massive death and illness, it has resulted in a way we have never experienced social isolation. that means all over this one,
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there are old people, elderly people in their homes, they can't interact with their grandchildren, with their own kids, with their friends. you have got young people who want to go to school, want to socialize, want to date, want to do things that young people do, and they can't do it and have been unable to do that for the last year. and that has resulted in a very sharp increase in mental illness in this country, something, by the way, that this legislation also deals with. many americans, young and old and middle aged, are now dealing with depression, anxiety disorder, addiction -- seeing a growth of addictions -- and even suicidal ideation. so this has been just an awful year for people in our country and in fact throughout the world, but this last year has not only been a public health crisis, as bad as that has been,
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the pandemic has led, as we all know, to a terrible economic downturn, which has resulted in millions of americans losing their jobs and their incomes and the shutting down of something like one out of four small businesses in this country. that's just an unbelievable number. go to any town in america, and you will see the main street shuttered down, thriving businesses no longer exist. real unemployment in this country today is now over 10%. further, countless americans face the threat of eviction. we have a moratorium on evictions, which is the right thing, but there is going to be a day when that ends. and people are saying i'm $5,000, $8,000 in debt. what happens to me when the moratorium ends? how am i going to pay my rent?
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am i going to be one of the 500,000 people already sleeping out on the streets? millions more. and we have seen this in vermont, and i know you have probably seen it in minnesota. it's all over this country. people lining up in their cars for food. and it is something that none of us ever dreamed, not in my own community, in vermont, hundreds of people lining up in their cars for food. never in a million years would have dreamed that they would be in that position. and today the level of hunger in america is at the highest level it has been in decades. and then on top of all of that, we are in the midst of a pandemic. people are scared to death about coming down with covid, yet because of our dysfunctional health care system, we have over 90 million people who are uninsured or underinsured in the midst of a pandemic. but it's not only the public
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health crisis we worry about. it's not only the collapse in our economy that we have got to worry about. it is what's happening to our young people, because the pandemic has created massive disruption in our educational system from child care through graduate school. the majority of our young people have seen their education disrupted and think about all of the implications of what that means. and it is likely that hundreds of colleges in america were struggling before the pandemic will cease to exist. so there you have got a public health crisis, half a million people dead, an economy -- an economic crisis, real unemployment at 10%, small businesses going out of business, and an educational crisis. meanwhile, in the midst of all of that, it is important to note that not everybody in this country is hurting.
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what we are seeing in the midst of massive income and wealth inequality is a moment when, in fact, that gap between the very, very rich and everybody else is growing wider. incredibly, during this pandemic, over 650 billionaires in america have increased their wealth by more than a trillion dollars. the 50, 5-0, richest people in america now own more wealth than the bottom half of american society, some 160 million people. so the bottom line here is very simple. in this moment of unprecedented crisis, the united states senate must respond to the pain of working families all across this country, and we must respond in an unprecedented way, which is what this legislation is about.
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now, madam president, i want to say a few words about some of what is in this bill. this is a 600-page bill. and i will not read it all again. i think our clerks have had enough fun reading it last night. but i do want to summarize some of what is in it. most importantly, what the american people want is they want to get back to a normal life. they want their kids to go to school, they want to work, they want their businesses open. and what the american rescue plan does is enable us to aggressively crush this pandemic and enable the american people to return to their jobs and their schools. it will establish a national emergency program to reduce the quantity of vaccines that we need and get them into the arms
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of our people as quickly as possible. clearly we are making progress in that area. more and more people are getting vaccinated, but we still have a lot of work to do, and this legislation will enable us to do that. madam president, at a time when so many of our people are hurting, this legislation will allow us to provide $1,400 in direct payment to every working-class person in this country and to their kids. and this is on top of the $600 that we provided last month. so if you are out there and you are in a family of four, earning less than $150,000, or an individual earning less than $75,000, you're going to get that check for $1,400. and for that family of four, that is $5,600.
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i know to somebody who has a whole lot of money, $5,600 ain't that much. but for a family that is struggling right now that can't pay their rent, can't feed their kids, that $5,600 for a family of four could be the difference between desperation and dignity. further, at a time when so many of our people are unemployed, this budget reconciliation act will provide $400 a week in supplemental unemployment benefits to over ten million americans until the end of august. the unemployed -- if you're unemployed right now, you're worried, your unemployment check is the only source of income, you're worried it's going to cease, it's not. this legislation will continue that check coming until the end of august. this legislation understands that we have a child care crisis in america, and we provide the
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resources to provide child care to 875,000 children. and very importantly, madam president, we don't talk about this enough, one of the absolute disgraces of our economy right now is the level of childhood hoffert -- childhood poverty in america which is one of the highest for any major country on earth. this legislation will go a long way toward cutting childhood poverty. some studies suggest we're going to cut it in half by expanding the child tax credit from $2,000 to $3,000 and $3,600 for kids under the age of six. in other words, we are about to cut childhood poverty in half in this country. this legislation obviously deals with the horror of so many of our people facing hunger. we put in very substantial amounts of money for nutrition
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assistance, for working families, for kids, for the disabled, and the elderly. this legislation will provide rent relief, utility assistance, and mortgage assistance to millions of tenants and homeowners who are in danger of eviction and foreclosure. this legislation will protect the pensions of many millions of workers who are in danger of seeing their retirement benefits cut by as much as 65%. madam president, not only is this $1.9 trillion emergency covid relief package the right thing to do from a moral perspective, it is exactly what the overwhelming majority of the american people want us to do. the american people didn't want us to give tax breaks to
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billionaires. the american people did not want us to throw 30 million people off the affordable care act. the american people didn't want that, but that is what the republicans tried to do under reconciliation. we have a different idea. we're going to use reconciliation, which only requires 51 votes. we are going to use it not for tax breaks for the rich, not to throw people off of health care, but to provide the help that working class people need all across this country. madam president, i am introducing, as i mentioned earlier, legislation, an amendment today to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. because of an unfortunate and in my view, misguided decision by the parliamentarian, this reconciliation bill does not include an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. in my view, it should have. i think the parliamentarian was
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dead wrong. but more importantly, it is an absurd process that we allow an unelected staffer, somebody who works for the senate, not elected by anybody, to make a decision as to whether 30 million americans get a pay raise or not. i don't care how the parliamentarian rules, no parliamentarian should have that power. the people here want to vote against raising the minimum wage, you have that right. you want to vote for it -- and i hope you do -- you have that right. but we should not shuffle off that responsibility to an unelected staffer. that's wrong. the amendment which i am offering today to raise that minimum wage to $15 an hour is cosponsored by majority leader schumer. and i thank him for his strong support. senator patty murray, who is the chair of the health,
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education, labor, and pensions committee, senator ron wyden, the chair of the finance committee, and many others in this chamber. in fact, this amendment is similar in many ways to the legislation that i have offered which is cosponsored by 38 members of the senate. and let us not forget this legislation was passed in the house. and i want to thank my friends and colleagues in the house progressive caucus for their extraordinary leadership on this issue. this amendment is supported by some 300 national organizations, including the afl-cio, and virtually all of of the major unions in our country. i want to thank in particular the seiu, one of the great unions in america, who have led this effort for years in terms of the fight for 15, where people working in mcdonald's and burger king have gone out on strike and said we can't make it
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on $10 an hour, $11 an hour. i want to thank the seiu. and because this legislation will help workers all across the board, but it will significantly help women who are unfortunately forced into low-income work more than the general population, more than men, and it will disproportionately help african americans and latinos who disproportionately are forced into low-income work. this legislation is supported not only by 300 organizations, but by groups like the leadership conference on civil and human rights. they understand that if we're going to combiewf -- improve the standard of living of the african american community we've got to raise that minimum wage. it is supported by the national organization for women, because, again, raising the minimum wage is a women's issue in a very significant way. not totally, believe me. there are a lot of men out there
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who are working for $9, $10, $1 1 an hour. about disproportionately impacts women. it is supported by unitos, supported by the american association of university of women, supported by indivisible, justice for migrant women, national american workers alliance. and here is the simple truth, and that is that in the richest country in the history of ■th world, we can no longer tolerate millions of our workers being unable to feed their families because they're working for starvation wages. and that is not what i say -- although i do say it. it's what the president of the united states says, who very, very strongly supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and i thank him for his support. you know, when we look at the economy, people look at the
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stock market, they look at a whole lot of indexes out there. but at the end of the day we have to ask ourselves what is going on in the lives of ordinary people, and it is not acceptable to me that half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck and millions of people are trying to get by on $9, $10, $11 an hour. and you know what? you can't do that. you can't do that in vermont and you can't do it in california, you can't do that in minnesota. you can't do that. and our job is to make sure that we have an economy that works for all and not just the few, and that in order to do that we are going to have to raise that minimum wage to $15 an hour. frankly, it is disgraceful that congress has not passed an increase in the minimum wage since 2007. think of all the things that have transpired since then, but congress ras not raised the -- congress has not raised the minimum wage since 2007.
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and the reality is that the minimum wage has lost over 30% of its purchasing power since 1968. the minimum wage is worth a lot less now than it used to be. when we increase the minimum wage, madam president, we will be giving over 32 million americans a much-needed pay raise. and let's be clear, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is an enormously popular idea. more than 60% of the american people in poll after poll support raising the minimum wage. since 1998 -- this is really amazing, and i have some friends here who are nervous. oh my goodness, how radical can it be. should we raise the minimum wage? oh my god, i'm scared of the american restaurant association. well, since 1998, every time a
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state has had an initiative on the ballot to raise the minimum wage, it has won. in conservative states, in progressive states, put it on the ballot, it wins. just as one example, in november, just this last november, election time, joe biden lost florida. donald trump won florida by three points. but in that same election, the people of florida -- i say that for the two senators from florida -- 61% of the people of florida voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. florida voted for donald trump and voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. eight states over the years, eight states and over 40 cities have adopted laws to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. it's not a radical idea. and as you know, over just a few days ago the house of
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representatives did the right thing and voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. this is not a radical idea. people want it, states have done it, the house of representatives has done it, and now it is our turn to do what the american people want. now in the last few days i have heard some concerns from my colleagues about one part of our amendment, and that is the provision to raise the tip wage, which now stands -- i want everybody to hear that. the tip wage for waiters and waitresses and all those people who get tips now stands at $2.13 an hour. no, you did not mishere -- mishear me -- $2.13 an hour. that is the federal minimum wage for waiters and waitresses for barbers, hairstylists, parking attendants and others. and that tip minimum wage has not been raised since 1991, 30
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years ago. you think maybe it's time to raise the tip wage from $2.13 an hour passed 30 years ago? i think so. the proposal in this legislation raised that wage from $13 an hour to $14.95 over a seven-year wage. our legislation gets misrepresented, you're raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour tomorrow. no we're not. the tip wage takes seven years. the national restaurant association, very powerful lobbying organization, has suggested to members of congress that this legislation is opposed by restaurant workers and would be harmful to their interests. this is not true. one fair wage, an organization representing service employees, has just delivered to the white house a petition with 140,000
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signatures from service workers who are demanding that they receive the same minimum wage as every other worker in their state. polling among service employees and nonservice employees, also supports the reality that americans want our waiters and waitresses and other service employees to get a fair minimum wage. now, i have heard from some people that those people are working in the service industry are doing really well, you know, and they don't want an increase in the federal minimum wage. the tips that they are receiving are covering all of their needs. leave well enough alone, they say. well, today 70% of tip workers are women who suffer from three times the poverty rate of the rest of the u.s. workforce. they are not doing so well. they use food stamps at double the rate of the general


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