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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  November 8, 2014 4:00am-6:01am EST

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and not such distant future. what has happened is the urban centers, including the dense suburban counties of fairfax county of the world are voting so strongly democratic. but you have small area. so it is hard to draw a map. sometimes you can outvote the rest of the states in statewide races, but you have to turn out to do that. it is a huge challenge for democrats that all of their votes are in very limited places. >> i like that. red states and blue counties. another question? politicians managing us.
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how are they going to interface with the new majority, the senate majority, the house majority. and where do you see the issues merging, like transportation? we hear from states they want more transportation funding. how do you see that taking hold? >> given the specific candidates, how will the state issues sync up with national priorities? it's uhave now, i think going to be 31 governors on the gop side. so they will have a line of communication to the folks in congress. on the other hand, kind of countervailing that, is the idea that in general republicans do not like to spend money to tax people to spend money. this goes back to my point before of how much leeway the general republican party is
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going to give you a governors and state legislators who need to spend money on certain things in their state which runs contrary to the general gop philosophy that you do not want to spend too much. it is an interesting area of tension. it will be an interesting area of tension. they may have different interest because of where they stand. >> we will take more questions at the end of the panel but right now i would like to bring up caroline cournoyer. she is the senior editor for she coordinated all the coverage this year of the state ballots. on these and state ballot measures, the story is a little bit different. we have this dichotomy of voters pulling the lever for conservative candidates but more progressive issues, right? >> it was really interesting because this bite this
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-- despite this republican wave, voters in red and blue states passed a number of ballot measures. one of the more popular is marijuana legalization. both alaska and oregon went the colorado way and legalize not just possession but also the sale of marijuana. washington, d.c. legalized possession and allowing home growth of marijuana. what will be interesting in d.c. is whether or not congress i the next couple of months decides to intervene. whether or not congress does intervene, this is an issue that will not be going away in the next few years, especially off all the successful measures on tuesday. activists will be pushing measures for the next go around in at least five states.
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massachusetts, nevada, california, arizona and maine. >> specifically on marijuana? >> specifically on marijuana legalization. marijuana activists will also be pushing for legalization in the legislatures. that is something that has never happened before. they are targeting states in the northeast for this because that is where they think that is where they will have the best chance. >> another of these categories -- more progressive issues within more conservative states is on this labor issue and income inequality. can you tell us about that? >> if there was a win for anyone, it was a win for lower wage workers. four republican states, they are nebraska, alaska, arkansas and south dakota, they all voted to raise the minimum wage.
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this suggest that despite it being such a polarizing issue in congress, it might be a little more bipartisan among the voters. i would not be surprised if in the next couple of years you see a lot more republican states, especially since there are more now putting minimum wage on the ballot and passing it that way. there is also paid sick leave. massachusetts became the third state to pass the statewide paid sick leave law. connecticut was the first in 2011 and california followed them a couple of months ago. massachusetts will be particularly interesting because connecticut's law has sony carveouts for manufacturers. only about 15% of the state's workers ended up being covered
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by this law. a way higher percentage of the state's workers. both of those states will be a truer test of the impact of paid sick leave on businesses and employers and whether or not it has negative impacts on businesses and their budget. we see layoffs or whether or not as positive impact on employee retention. >> massachusetts is actually the first aid that did this the of the ballot measure, right? >> massachusetts passed into the ballot measure. >> what are the measures we are seeing in terms of more progressive wins for ballot measures? >> there is also abortion which is not surprising because there were two initiatives in north
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dakota and califonia. -- colorado, sorry. they were initiatives that would of criminalized abortion. in both states, voters rejected it. it is surprising because of the republican wave in this election but it also is not really surprising because an initiative like that has never passed in any ballot on any state. there is also gun control. only one state voted on a gun-control. that was washington state and they voted to pass universal background checks for gun sales. this is something that congress tried and failed to do in the wake of the newtown shootings. it is the lesser extreme of gun-control measures. washington state did have, unfortunately, a shooting a couple of weeks ago before the
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elections. voters may have had that in their minds when they went to the polls. also, former mayor bloomberg's group invested millions of dollars in the washington initiative and they will be investing heavily for background checks in several states going forward. >> i know you have been paying attention to one other set of valid initiatives. >> it is a pretty good night for the environment. there were states that passed funding mechanisms to keep open space open. the state of florida has an existing program but a basically shortened up. i think about a two to three to one margin. it was a close gubernatorial race. a 50-50 electorate but they went
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in favor of this ballot measure and went against some of the key gop leaders were pushing for. new jersey also passed a separate ballot measure on that issue to protect open space. the state of alaska. there was a ballot initiative by opponents to a major mine or a mine proposal in a very plentiful fishery area. that also passed. it puts a more severe roadblocks in the way of the mine. the only one which did not succeed was in north dakota where there was a measure to spend some of the states oil and gas tax revenues for a few environmental purposes and that
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did go down. three out of those four passed. >> it was at least one progressive measure on the ballot that failed which was gmo labeling. caroline, i know that is something you looked at. >> gmo's has been heavily debated in the past few years. a lot of the research that say they pose a health risks have been discredited. but they say the research has been tainted by big research groups. regardless of the health risks, gmo labeling is never passed in any state. with the growth of the movement, you're getting movement and people really wanting to know what it is in their food, people thought this year would be the year for labeling. that unfortunately was not the
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case in both colorado and oregon. both measures to label failed. however, activists are undeterred. they will continue their fight in the legislature and possibly on more ballots. it was an issue that came up in 30 state legislatures last year. it will definitely be a big issue here. only one state has an active labeling law which is vermont. it is an issue that is not going away. >> what were some of the other big issue areas from tuesday maybe not in this vein of progressive issues? kind of more on the budget and management side. what were you tracking? >> one that got a little less national tension was proposition two in california. california has always been a big trendsetter in policy whether it is health care, or regulations.
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whatever california's doing, everyone is watching. california passed proposition two which means the state is now required to put a set amount of money, revenue into the rainy day fund and they cannot touch it unless the governor declares a fiscal state of emergency. this is unlike the past because before the governor could just waive the requirement to save a part of the revenue. not only is the state will be required to save a part of the revenue every year, they are required to put a part of that savings every year towards their paying off their long-term debt. this is a really big deal for california.
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a lot other states are going to be watching to see if it is successful. already the day after the election, it raised california's credit rating just slightly. it was directed because they passed proposition two. with the great recession, a lot of states and it into the rainy day fund and they are now looking into put the money back in there. they are thinking about the smartest way to do it and pay down their debts. california might be the way they take. >> to sort of insulate from the next great recession or little recession, hopefully. i know that transportation funding was a big issue in a lot of places on tuesday. what were some of those highlights? >> transportation ballot measures were a mixed bag. the federal gas tax has not been raised in 20 years. most states have not raised theirs in about 20 years.
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states are constantly worried about finding money for infrastructure to pay for road repairs, bridge repairs. it is an issue that voters care about. there was some good news on tuesday in texas, wisconsin and maryland. voters approved measures either to increase or protect transportation funding. in texas, they are now going to put a part of the revenues from oil and gas taxes towards paying for transportation. texas particularly has big traffic problems there. it was brought on by the oil boom and all the workers that came there. it is a big issue that voters care about. in both wisconsin and maryland, they voted to basically lock up their transportation fund so that they can no longer be used for general purposes which is something that often happened in
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the past and depleted their funding. there was some bad news for transportation funding on tuesday and that was in massachusetts. massachusetts a few years ago tied their gas tax increases to inflation. every year essentially the gas taxes would automatically increase without the legislature having to vote on it. a bout a dozen states have found ways to automatically increase their gas tax. some are tying it to inflation and some are using other policies, but voters repealed the automatic increase in massachusetts on tuesday which means the gas tax will still raise but it won't keep up with inflation. with states struggling to find money for transportation, it could send a message to lawmakers and other states and could make them a little more hesitant to consider policies,
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to consider time the gas tax hike to inflation. it is going to be a struggle for massachusetts and other states this year as it is every year to find money for transportation, especially with the uncertainty come may. >> i want to move on to what has happened at the local level. there are two other state ballot initiatives that i want to touch on because i think they set up interesting fights and potentially court decisions in the future. both of those are out of arizona which may be unsurprisingly want to test the waters a little. what are we talking about in arizona? >> this was kind of an anti-obama, anti-federal government election.
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that is highlighted more than anywhere in arizona with these two ballot measures. the one that underscores it the most is arizona passed a law this year -- this week that allows the state to opt out of federal laws of its choice. this means that if voters in arizona next year decide that they don't like obamacare, they can pass a referendum or the legislature can pass a bill against obamacare and then all the agencies, all the cities and counties will be banned in arizona from spending any money for enforcing obamacare or the federal clean water act or whatever. this will be an interesting one because obviously it is sure to bring some lawsuits. [laughter] the constitutionality of it is
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sure to be challenged. i don't believe it has yet. give it a few weeks. [laughter] this is not that surprising. arizona has a long recent history of defying the federal government and asserting their state sovereignty. the other less extreme issue there is arizona passed overwhelmingly a right to try law. a couple of other state legislators passed this law last year but arizona was the first to do it at the ballot box. >> tell us -- >> if you have seen the movie "dallas buyers club," this will make much more sense. the right to trial means terminally ill patients in arizona now will have with doctor approval access to drugs that have passed some clinical trials but have not been approved by the fda yet.
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so, in a way, this does undermine the federal government authority. some in the medical community also say in the long-term, it might undermine clinical trials. people participating in them because they might be a little less willing and me a little less effective if they don't get the right people in those clinical trials. that is an issue that is also going to be pretty big in the coming years and activists are pushing it in state legislatures. it is an issue that is not facing that much opposition. i would not be surprised if you saw it passed in many states. >> what state would not want that if it is upheld? we want to spend some time talking about local elections and measures that passed this week.
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alan, you have been tracking that for us. this republican wave we saw at the congressional and gubernatorial, legislative level, is that something -- did that sentiment continue at the local level? >> it is similar to what caroline was saying that the ballot measures were more liberally leaning. it is not a huge year for local elections. everybody -- "the governing's" current story about pittsburgh which really profiles the mayor who is progressive and was elected last year. you go down the line and they ran on similar pre-k, income inequality, transit type platforms. the big cities -- they are talking about how they're more democratic.
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almost every big city is getting even more progressive mayors elected. there were not a ton of important mayoral elections. bowser won here in d.c. greg fisher won in louisville. joe aberson was just picked by the white house to run the office of governmental affairs. providence got a lot of attention with their mayoral race. he had to twice leave office because of felony convictions. [laughter] he was unable to achieve his latest comeback. he ran as independent. the democrats endorsed him.
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he wins in oakland. gene had never been a popular mayor. you pick the first, second, third choices in mayor. she came in second choice. an aide to jerry brown -- barbara boxer sort of came in. chuck reed has been a big pension reform proponent. the guy he liked won with 51.5% of the vote. dave who lost. they will not roll back those pension reforms. phoenix voters, there was a local measure to put municipal employees into 401k's file plans. that was voted down. a couple of county races of note. another former "governing" cover
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subject -- craig watkins, the dallas county district attorney. he lost. he was famous for having a wrongful conviction unit that exonerated about 35 people. he had some personal problems. he had a car crash where he was driving while on a cell phone. his opponents say she'll continue the exoneration work. we will see watkins claim that was the real issue, not his personal problems. i mentioned i am from st. louis. michael brown was killed on a saturday and we had the primaries the tuesday before. he won the primary for county executive. the county prosecutor had an opponent in the primary but note opponent in the general
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election. he is a controversial figure for putting the case into that front of the grand jury rather than deciding whether to indict in his own. it became a very contested race. $3 million race. the republican nominee was a statehouse member. he ran a very -- he was extreme. he kept saying he is too extreme. some of the african-american officials endorsed stanger out of anger for the party not supporting charlie but also he is very close with the prosecutor. general frustration over ferguson. stanger got a key endorser from an african-american activist in st. louis. one of these dance, heavily populated counties.
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we also had paid sick leave passed in trenton, new jersey and over in oakland. it is a mixed bag on transportation with money for infrastructure. it was voted down in kansas city. austin, texas. seattle voted for more transit. there were bans on gmo's passed at the local level in california. there were a couple of places in california and texas that voted to ban fracking. finally, there was a soda tax measure for the bay area.
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in san francisco, berkeley and more than $10 million spent on those races. san francisco, a majority voted for it. 75%. most of this was from the beverage industry but there was some money -- michael bloomberg put in $400,000. berkeley approved it. i love this quote in the chronicle afterwards. roger salazar, the spokesman for anti-tax campaigns in both places, says san francisco would've mattered -- i don't think people will look at berkeley's results and see and think that is what the rest of the country would do. it is not exactly mainstream. this was the spokesman for the
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campaign. it is hard to believe a charmer like that was not successful. [laughter] >> other than free pot for poor people -- [laughter] -- any takeaway we should think about as far as these local elections? >> how do you manage -- if you're -- where you stand depends on where you sit. if you are a mayor in a big city with the state with a heavily republican state government, what do you do? big cities are always hated by the rest of the state anyway. i think that will be a tricky area for people to navigate. in general, the cities will be the blue labs of democracy while the states will be the red labs. >> we will take more questions
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from you all at this point. who by this question about the elections either at the state, local level? any of the initiative that caroline ran through? yes? >> you mentioned the mix bag as far as transportation, representing a national transportation association, we are very excited concerning the federal gridlock lately of the state races and the ballot initiatives. do you see given the mixed bag them taking different issues such as tolling, sales taxes in some of the northern states like michigan? >> i am not really knowledgeable. >> i am not super knowledgeable either.
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obviously, states keep wanting to build roads. it is a key priority. we have had a lot of public-private partnerships. i think that will be an area. governors do want money for transportation. what will be the innovative funding sources of the future? >> i am trying to think. >> you made the point that voters seem to be willing to set aside money that already exists for transportation or protect transportation funding from being used for other sources that may be less excited about increasing revenue for transportation. >> one interesting thing to note is tax increases at the state level generally are hard for
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voters to pass and they are unwilling to pass them at the state level. at the local level, voters are much more willing to pass a tax increase because they can see exactly where that money is going to. they can see if their taxes increase, the bridge i drive over every day to go to work or that is going to expand over the road where i sit in traffic every day. i think that is one factor that is really important. if you are trying to get the voters to pay for it which is always hard to do, it is much easier at the local level. >> i think we will continue to see contested battlefields over what kind of spending in transportation. is a just roads or roads and transit and so forth? i am pretty sure in the wisconsin measure that passed,
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it is all sorts of transportation funding. in texas, do you guys recall? >> it was just road transportation. >> there is a lot of demand for roads yet the desire to cut taxes. was a georgia a year ago that had the regional transportation taxes that failed? they tried to be strategic and had this long list of specific projects where people would know with the money is going. it kind of backfired because people said that is not my county. it is really tough. >> it is never local enough, right? in georgia, it was a nine county region. >> this what the state into that multicounty region. >> if it is not my road or my
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commute -- exactly. other questions? yes? >> all of you have mentioned health care. i am wondering what you think are the biggest, most significant takeaways on health care whether it be federal, state, local. aside from the obvious obamacare potential -- what are the biggest takeaways you see in this area? >> on health care -- >> there were a couple of ballot initiatives that were mostly in california. they failed. there was one to give the insurance commissioner the power to reject excessive premium hikes. this is something that insurance commissioners in other states do have. in california, they rejected
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that. interestingly enough, the health exchange in california actually opposed this ballot measure. that is because it gets really complicated, but they believe in the end the insurance commissioner has the power to reject premiums in california then it would put too much restrictions on the system which could raise prices and premiums. that was a really interesting one. >> i think it is going to be really interesting to watch. so much of the argument against obamacare is the changes to the health care system take away health care from people. if the republican governors who are either newly in office or who are newly emboldened, if they decide to cut back or end the medicare expansion or whatever they are going to be dealing with -- even in a
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conservative state, it'll be interesting to see if that approach flies or not. particularly arkansas over they have the private sector approach to the medicare expansion. it was passed as a compromise between the gop led legislature and the democratic governor. it nearly got overturned part way through even after he got put into place. now with the gop governor and a strengthened gop control of the legislature, if they will pull that back, it will take away a lot of health insurance from people. it might be seen as a critical and might not fly. >> i think they want to. a lot of the state legislators
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ran on that. they took the money from the feds to apply. i see that as a possible workaround. arkansas -- with the governor and the legislature -- they flipped two years ago and now they have a bigger majority. it is the first on the state is totally republican controlled since 1984. there will be this continuing tension that people could get it through obamacare. say they have a cash flow incentive for states to go with it. we will see some governors -- mike pence -- another republican governor in utah that they are negotiating with the feds about
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expansion. one thing to watch in health care is chip. the children's health insurance program which is supposed to go away under obamacare. that is not happening in a lot of states. funding expired and will that be a priority of this congress? i don't think it will go away. whether he gets to funding that it had been, it is been very expanded in the obama years. i don't know what will happen with it. >> another interesting take away regarding medicare expansion -- because it is a republican wave, it is unlikely we will see a lot of new states expanding medicaid. what is at risk is the states that have already expanded medicaid.
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in a lot of those cases, it is not necessarily because the governor has come out against medicaid expansion. it is oftentimes the legislature. it will be really interesting to watch what seems like is going to be some battles between republican legislatures and republican governors. many have said i am not necessarily against it, i am going to watch it and look at the numbers. even a lot of republican governors have adopted medicaid expansion. it will be interesting to see how that pans out. >> i think we have time for one more question. yes? if you could just wait for the microphone. >> i will take a different path with this question. what about trickle-down?
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one of the areas that have potential agreement between the white house and republican majority is tax reform. how to do you see that lining up with a lot of the local initiatives, priorities? i will take transportation again as an example. the last time the transportation, federal tax was raised was in 1992 and it was a tax reform initiative. in previous congress, the same thing. how does that line up with not just transportation, but also some of the health care issues? how is this going to impact the new legislatures? are they going to have priorities? >> lou, that goes back to your point about we will see how the nationalized these elections get. do you have any other thoughts on any other specific issues? what do you see in terms of
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trickling down from d.c.? >> it depends on whether the president and congress decided to pursue policy as opposed to skirmishing for a better position in 2016. >> do you want to take bets on that? [laughter] >> exactly. there is certainly an opening for some serious policy advancement and compromise, but we do have a presidential election coming up. there will be a lot of pressure on congress from presidential candidates and so forth to try to fight the next battle instead of trying to actually consolidate gains and make policy.
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>> i think we are going to have to end things there. i would like to thank alan greenblatt, louis jacobson, caroline cournoyer. i would like to thank all of you for the governing election briefing this morning. thank you so much. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] next, the u.s. ambassador to the united nations samantha powers. she talks about the u.s. role of the un's peacekeeping effort. then president obama's remarks at friday's cabinet meeting. gillespie'sed
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announcement he is conceding that virginia u.s. senate race. the c-span city's tour takes book tv and american history tv on the road, traveling to u.s. cities to learn about their history and literary life. --t weekend, we parted with we partnered with charter communications for a visit to madison, wisconsin. >> it is a glorious service. - the call comes to every citizen. struggle tonding make and keep government representative. he's probably the most important political figure in wisconsin history. most important in the history of the 20th century of the united states. he was a reforming governor. what progressivism
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is. he was one of the first to use the term to self identify. he was a united states senator who was recognized by his hearers in the 1950's as one of the five greatest senators in american history. he was an opponent of world war i. stood his ground, advocating for free speech. above all, he was about the people. in an era after the civil war, america changed radically from a nation of small farmers and small producers and small manufacturers, and by the late 1890's, we had growing inequality and we had concern about the influence of money in government. so he spent the later part of giving speeches all over wisconsin. if you wanted to speaker for
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your group, bob latta fall it would give the speech. he went to county fairs. he went to every kind of event you could imagine. and built a reputation for himself. for900, he was ready to run governor, advocating on behalf of the people. he had two issues. one, the direct primary. no more selecting candidates in the convention. two, stop the interests. specifically the railroads. >> watch all of our events from madison next saturday starting at noon on c-span2's book tv. >> the u.s. ambassador to the u.n., samantha power, talked about peacekeeping missions around the globe and the united states role in supporting and reforming operation spirit she spoke at the american enterprise institute for just under an
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hour. >> good afternoon. i do apologize, but we have been running a little late. ambassador power has a legitimate excuse. she was in a cabinet meeting. i never had such a good excuse. we will use it and not abuse it today. i am the senior vice president for defense policy studies at aei. it is a pleasure to welcome ambassador power. i think this is your first time here, ambassador power. all the more welcome. today ambassador power will talk about peacekeeping, united nations peacekeeping, and ideas for peacekeeping. there are 120,000 men and women
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who are serving in u.n. peacekeeping roles around the world. increasingly, they are under threat from kidnapping and worse, and increasingly there is no peace to keep. the united states spends more than any other nation to support peacekeeping operations idea united nations. and the american people ask are they getting value for their money. ambassador power will give a short talk and the new continuation of conversation and open things up to the audience. let me welcome her to the podium. [applause] >> hello, everybody. i have come here today to talk about u.n. peacekeeping.
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there is a lot going on in the world right now. elie wiesel shared with me the following thought -- the winds of madness are building, and i know -- are blowing, and that is how it feels great the urgent, critical issues on our plate should not diver us from an important fact, which is that the united states has a vital interest and a critical role to play in strengthening peacekeeping to meet demands that peacekeepers are currently struggling to meet around the world. i start from a basic premise -- conflicts in faraway places matter in various ways to the united states. these conflicts matter because we recognize that violence within any particular country can quickly caused national and regional instability, displacing millions of people, upending markets, and spilling over into neighboring countries. conflicts undo the hard-earned progress countries have made
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toward building democracy. they weaken both governments and civil society, and they allow criminals and repressors to thrive. they also matter because the instability created by these conflicts increasingly attracts extremist groups, who can use the vacuum of authority to terrorize civilian populations and plan and launch attacks. the suffering caused by these conflicts can be a powerful recruitment tool. even conflicts that are not field at the outset by extremist elements can attract and foster them, or, because state authority breaks down, places of conflict can be comfortable places for extremists to hang out unmolested. whether it be darfur, mali or the central african republic, we endure these crises at our peril. not only does curbing violent conflict make us safer, it is also consistent with what our
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hearts tell us is right. a number of public opinion polls have shown that large majorities of americans support action to prevent mass atrocities from occurring in other parts of the world. we do not want to live in a world where more than 9000 kids are recruited in less than a year to become child soldiers, as has happened recently in south sudan. we do not want to live in a world where religious or ethnic communities who have lived together for decades in harmony, such as muslims and christian in the central african republican, learn to hate and fear and demonize one another. neither do america's foreign-policy leaders. the possible next chairs of the senate foreign relations committee and another can become a senators corker and mccain, have long been strong advocates of preventing such atrocities.
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so have the committees' current chairs, senators levin and menendez. the question is, what should america do to stop them? the united states has a lot that we must do right now. we have a lot on our plate. our troops are fighting isil in the middle east. they are deployed to west africa to beat back ebola, and they continue to serve valiantly in afghanistan, all of us as we faced substantial budget cuts. crises from eastern ukraine to gaza continues to cascade on the broader foreign policy horizon. as president obama said at west point, america must always lead on the world stage, but we should not go it alone. even if the united states has an interest in seeing confident but were civilians protected, at the mean that u.s. forces should be doing all of the abating.
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we should not send the u.s. military into all places where conflict is burning, civilians are hurting, or extremists are lurking. because we have to less capable military does not mean we should assume risks and burdens that should be shared by the broader community. this is were peacekeeping comes in. when conflicts in congo, mali, or south sudan, peacekeeping is the best operation we had. peacekeeping chores other countries shoulder the burden like intruding treats and sharing the cost of operations. provided that peacekeepers deliver on their mandates, multilateral peacekeeping also brings a degree of legitimacy in the eyes of the local population.
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because missions are made up of troops from multiple countries with strong representation from the global south, spoilers and militants have a harder time cynically branding them as having an imperialist. designs even in places where the united states has decided to deploy troops, we have benefited from being able to hand off to the united nations as we did in haiti, allowing the peacekeeping operation been to provide longer-term support for security, rule of law, and political transition. the multilateral nature of peacekeeping helps address the free rider problem we see in so many matters of international skew to come from the spread of ebola to the rise of isil to the recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters, whereby countries with vested interests in addressing threats rely on the united states to do the lion's share. we need other countries to stand up rather than stand by. we start from the premise that in a world where we had a vested interest in seeing the violent
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conflicts curbed and seeing suffering prevented, america needs peacekeeping to work. precisely at this moment when we recognize this crucial role that peacekeeping can play, shoring up u.s.' interests, demands are outpacing what we can deliver. we're asking peacekeepers to do more than at any time in history. there are currently 16 u.n. peacekeeping missions worldwide, made up of 130,00 personnel, at least 100,000 of them being uniformed military and police, impaired to 75,000 total personnel a decade ago. that is not to mention the more than 20,000 peacekeepers fighting in the african union's mission in somalia. this is by far the most peacekeepers that have ever been active in history. yet the numbers only tell a
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small part of the story. the strain on the system would be challenging enough if we were asking peacekeepers simply to do what these to do, to monitor cease-fires between two contending states. but we are giving peacekeepers brought and commanding responsibilities in increasingly inhospitable domains. we're asking them to contain, and at times even disarm violent groups like the countless rebel groups in the democratic republic of the congo. we are asking them to ensure safe delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance, such as by escorting emergency shipments of food and medicine to civilians as peacekeepers have done in south sudan. we're asking them to protect civilians from atrocities such as those been carried out in the central african republic. and we're asking them to help provide civility in countries emerging from brutal civil wars, as in liberia, and in virtually all of these missions we are
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asking them to carry out these duties in countries where governments are extremely weak and often unable to meet the basic needs of their citizens. today, 2/3 of u.n. peacekeepers are operating in active conflict areas, the highest percentage ever. peacekeepers often employed to areas where rebel groups and militias have made clear that they intend to keep fighting, and the warring parties in moderate politics increasingly include violent extremist groups who terrorized civilians and you peacekeepers openly, treat peacekeepers as legitimate targets. but precisely at this moment when we are asking more of peacekeeping than ever before, and as we recognize the crucial role that it can play, we see both the promise and the pitfalls of contemporary peacekeeping. we see life-saving impact when peacekeepers are willing and able to fulfill their mandates,
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and we see the devastating consequences when they are not. a few examples. in south sudan, where a new civil war has displaced more than a million people and killed more than 10,000, just since last december, the u.n. peacekeeping mission has arguably played a critical role in preventing even more bloodshed. on december 15, a day that infighting between -- government soldiers went house to house searching for ethnic men and executing them in the streets. in one incident, soldiers crammed between 200 and 300 men into a small building an open fire on them through the window, killing nearly all of them. in the city of -- rebel forces targeted the homes and looting. in response the u.n. gates of the space to civilians fleeing
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the violence, eventually taking in more than 100,000 displaced persons. on a trip to south sudan, i took in august, i visited a u.n. base where more than 17,000 people were taking shelter. rough as the conditions were for the people on the base, and they were rough, many of them were living in foot-high for deep filthy water, they told me they had access to food and clean drinking water and protection from deadly attacks, which was more than could be said for the south sudanese outside of the gates. two decades earlier, recall when civilian sought refuge under the flag, peacekeepers made a different choice. in april 1994, some 2000 rwandan tutsi sought records in a base. hutu were chanting "hutu power," drinking banana beer, and brandishing machetes.
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when orders came for the peacekeepers to evacuate, they followed orders. they had to fire over the heads of tutsi to get out. not long after to the peacekeepers walked out of the school, militia members walked in, butchering everyone inside. that was then. now we have u.n. mission in south sudan opening its gates and staying with its people at time of great need. at the same time, south sudan today demonstrates the continuing challenge of rapidly deploying peacekeepers and equipment they need. at the outset of this the summer conflict, which continues to this day, the security council swiftly authorized an emergency surge of 5500 troops, nearly doubling the number of troops there on the ground in south sudan. yet almost one year later, the
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mission today is still more than 2000 troops short, severely restricting the ability to project force and provide security for civilians outside the camps. it has also suffered from a chronic shortage of helicopters. this restricts the ability and effectiveness, often in life or death situations. in the democratic republican of congo, there is similar good news, bad news. after years of stagnancy, the u.n. has played a really important role in the last year and a half in disarming and defeating powerful rebel groups. alongside congolese forces, these efforts have been led by a mission unit known as the force intervention brigade. the commander, who has been absolutely critical to a heightened emphasis on preventing atrocities, told
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fellow peacekeeping commanders at a recent security council meeting to change their mindset and to stop reporting just what happened yesterday and instead start reporting what we did yesterday, so the accountability is for what we did in the face of what is happening. and the brigade under him has put these convictions into action, neutralizing a number of powerful rebel groups, including the m-23, which had committed atrocities against congolese civilians. the general has set an example of putting himself on the front lines of this aggressive effort, in patrols with his troops and even traveling personally to the headquarters of one rebel group to tell its leader to lay down their arms or face a frontal assault. this is not your mother's or your grandmother's peacekeeping. and yet even with this singular leadership, we still see you in peacekeepers in congo fairly routinely failing to protect civilians.
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on the evening of june 6, assailants attacked civilians at an outdoor church service in a congolese town. many people called the nearby u.n. base, only five miles away. they were begging for help. in some instances they were using the free phones that peacekeepers had provided them more than 30 people were mass considered, eight of them kids. one victim was a four-year-old boy who was burned to death. these are the stakes of what gets done right and what gets done wrong. we're not done in this case.
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today peacekeepers are playing a critical role alongside the french to help root out extremists. u.n. peacekeepers are helping those in mali to reduce displaced persons by 60%, and their presence has prevented extremists from taking towns like timbuktu, where the community is reconstituting its long tradition of religious tolerance. at the same time, the peacekeeping mission in mali faces serious challenges in projecting force over the vast territory north of the niger river. the mission has struggled to establish base camps and sustain them in an austere environment with unusable roads. the mission has had to spend millions of dollars to transport water to its troops in that environment. worst of all, u.n. peacekeepers are facing unprecedented attacks by extremists. to give a few examples, on august 16 a suicide bomber drove a pickup truck in with explosives into the heart of a u.n. camp and detonated. two peacekeepers were killed and seven others were wounded.
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on september 18, five chad peacekeepers were killed when their truck rolled over an ied. on october 3, there was an ambush, which killed nine peacekeepers from niger. suffice it to say, when peacekeeping was created six decades ago, it did not have suicide bombers or ied's in ind. when we deploy peacekeepers into some of the most complex areas in our time, some of these problems would likely be evident even if the world's most advanced militaries were the ones wearing blue helmets. regardless of the problems i have described -- slow troop deployment, the challenge of keeping units fed and hydrated, the failure to confront aggressors and protect civilians -- are problems that are in the u.s. interest to see addressed.
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i would like to share four ways the united states and our partners can strengthen peacekeeping second better meet the demands of 21st-century conflicts. first, the pool of countries that deploy troops, police, and military enablers has to expand. peacekeeping is increasingly funded by developed countries and manned by developing countries. this is unsustainable and unfair. it will not produce the peacekeeping forces that today's conflicts and our national security demand. it perpetuates divisions between the two camps when we have a shared interest in seeing peacekeeping succeed. that is why vice president biden convened world leaders at the general assembly in september for a peacekeeping summit, to press for more commitments from capable militaries and to demonstrate our common cause with those who are performing this dangerous ask. we are encouraging european
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militaries, many of which are drawing down from afghanistan, to return to you in peacekeeping were they play a very active role in the 990's. we are asking east asian militaries to bring more substantially to peacekeeping, some for the first time. these countries will not only bring more troops to operations, but also potentially niche capabilities, such as the surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities that dutch and mali, which should help prevent deadly attacks on peacekeepers and civilians like the ones that have taken the lives of more than 30 peacekeepers in mali in the last year. at the september summit, many of our partners answered the u.s. and the u.n. call. colombia announced it will deploy its troops to you in
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peacekeeping. japan announced it will change its domestic legislation to permit greater participation in peacekeeping. indonesia announced it will more than double deployment of troops to u.n. peacekeeping operations and create a standby force to permit rapid deployment. more than two dozen other countries, from sweden to chile to china, made commitments. we will continue to urge more contributions of the coming year, and world leaders will reconvene in september 15 to make new pledges to peacekeeping. as for our own military in addition to our heightened efforts in afghanistan, against isil, and ebola, the united states also sent about 1400 troops to the multinational peacekeeping force in sinai.
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as vice president biden said, we are reviewing gaps that the united states is in position to fill, and that includes building base camps as we are currently doing for the mission in the central african republic. we're also doing more to share our unique knowledge of confronting asymmetric threats like the ones that peacekeepers are confronting in mali and somalia, lessons we learned from more than a decade of war n afghanistan. they're doing more to help peacekeeping missions make better use of advanced technologies, such as counter-ied equipment. our second goal in this effort is to ensure that countries with the will to perform 21st-century peacekeeping have the capacity they need to do o. because african leaders see firsthand the consequences of unchecked conflicts, several have been at the forefront of embracing a new approach to peacekeeping, seeking to execute the tasks assigned to peacekeepers and in particular the responsibility to protect civilians.
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the african union has demonstrated a commitment to building rapid response capability on the continent, and the united states is leading a coalition of international partners in support to this end. in august, president obama announced a new initiative at the u.s. africa leaders summit. united states will invest $110 million each year for the next five years to build the capacity of a core group of six countries -- ethiopia, ghana, rwanda, senegal, tanzania, and uganda -- and we are hopeful our allies in nato and elsewhere will join. and then make a commitment to protecting civilians from violence. to give one example, rwanda's troops were some of the first boots on the ground when conflict erupted in the central frican republic.
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because rwandans reinforced their mission, people from other countries trust them. aggressors who would attack civilians fear them. the united nations has trained hundreds of thousands of peacekeepers in the past decade to the global peace operations initiative launched under resident bush. it is an important supplement to that effort. our military experts will work alongside partners like rwanda to strengthen their institutions and capabilities so they can deploy troops when crises emerge and they can't supply and sustain their forces in hostile and inhospitable nvironments.
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in exchange for this support, these countries have committed to maintain the forces and the equipment necessary to undertake rapid deployment. third, we need to build a global consensus in support of the mandates peacekeepers are being asked to undertake. the security council first tasked a peacekeeping mission with the responsibility to protect civilians in sierra leone in 1999. this was in the face of that brutal civil war in their country. today, 10 missions constituting almost 98% of u.n. troops across the world are charged with protecting civilians. a number of large troop contributors openly express skepticism at the scope of responsibilities the council as subscribed to their troops. these countries cite this traditional principles of peacekeeping, operating with
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consent of parties have remaining impartial, and using limited force. this approach is understandable. many of the countries that subscribe to this view served in some of the earliest peacekeeping missions, and which blue helmets were deployed at the invitation of warring parties to observe a cease-fire along a demarcated line. such as one between israel and syria or india and pakistan. in that context, it was that peacekeepers had the parties' consent and that they observe and reported infractions. for more than 20 years, peacekeeping has steadily evolved, and we must question how relevant these principles remain to places like mali at south sudan where peacekeepers are called on to defend peace nd protect millions. as the ethiopian prime minister argued, we cannot ask extremist groups for their consent, remain impartial between legitimate governments and brutal militias, or restrict peacekeepers to using force and self-defense while mass atrocities are taking place around them. if peacekeeping is to be
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effective in the 21st century, we have to close the gap between the mandates the international community asks peacekeepers to undertake and their willingness to successfully execute those mandates. if not, it puts the lives of civilians and peacekeepers at risk and undermines the legitimacy of peacekeeping everywhere. recently, some of the largest and longest-serving -- introduced have demonstrated a willingness to tackle this issue head on. over the last year, bangladesh has conducted a conference of internal review to craft a new peacekeeping strategy aimed at adapting to the demands of contemporary peacekeeping. it has recognized the evolution of peacekeeping and pledged to make protection of civilians and essential component of its troops' training. meanwhile, pakistan removed a sector commander who failed to deploy his troops to protect civilians under attack, and that send a message to
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pakistan's 8000 peacekeepers worldwide that such action was not condoned. last week pakistan declared to the u.n. that it was committed to robust peacekeeping to protect civilians. translating these shifts in posture into unity of purpose will take time, but these are promising steps, and we will work with our partners and the u.n. to encourage more like them. in turn, we must take seriously and seek to remedy the truth when dealing with countries' frustrations that they lack sufficient opportunity to share with the security council the practical experience of their troops undertakings on complex and robust mandates which put in harm's way their men and omen in uniform. fourth, we need to press the u.n. to make bold institutional forms. it is easy to criticize the u.n. for all the problems we see on the ground, but that the same time as we create much-needed capability for failures and for abuses, we
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should take note of some profound changes that the u.n. secretary has made to peacekeeping since the catastrophic failures of rwanda and srebrenica to improve logistics and procurement, the united nations has made dvances. last year we spearheaded the effort to enact further reforms, including longer troop rotations, to preserve institutional memory, financial penalties for troops who show up without necessary equipment to perform duties, and financial premiums for troops who are willing to accept higher risks, incentives and risks. ban ki-moon has just announced a new review of eacekeeping.
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while we do not expect a review to remedy deficiencies in capabilities and shortages in political well, the review should address the shortcomings in peacekeeping that the u.n. itself has the ability itself o fix -- inadequate planning, slow troop employment, even mission leadership, unclear and unenforced standards for troop performance, inadequate measures to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse, insufficient accountability for failure to protect civilians, and an inefficient division of labor between peacekeeping operations and other u.n. agencies. most of the issues i've just described the u.n. secretary can take a strong leadership role. member states then in turn have to step up. you have to have both for lines of effort ensuring peacekeeping better addresses 21st-century hallenges.
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they demonstrate the need for u.s. leadership and to exercise that leadership, the united states must pay our u.n. dues in full. i understand the frustration many americans feel that the united states paying a substantial share of the peacekeeping budget. and with the u.s. share rising of the past decade, due to the formula that the united states negotiated in 2000 which allows our regular budget contribution share, we agree that the formula should be changed to reflect the realities of today's world. until that happens, we also insist on paying our full dues at this critical moment. if we do not, he will dramatically undercut our power to achieve the reforms needed. we will undermine our leadership. and we will potentially underfund important african-led missions, such as the ones in mali and the central african republic.
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this does not mean we sign over large check and look at the other way. on the contrary, as stewards of taxpayer funds over the last six years, we are pressed hard to improve the cost efficiency of peacekeeping and to prevent significant costs. through u.s.-led reform efforts, the u.n. has cut the per-person peacekeeper cost by 15%. we've also aggressively fought cost increases, saving hundreds of millions of dollars per year. we have pressed to streamline and right-sized missions where arranted by changing conditions on the ground. in the ivory coast we've cut the number of troops in half, from 10,000 to around 5000. in haiti, we've reduced the number after the from 9000
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after the 2010 earthquake just over 2000 today, and we were on course to do the same in liberia prior to the outbreak of ebola. these efforts ensure that governments do not use peacekeepers as an excuse not to take responsibly for their own citizens' security. and streamlining missions in this manner frees up troops and resources that are needed elsewhere. we will continue to work to make peacekeeping as efficient as possible without undermining its effectiveness in close coordination with congress. as congress reconvenes next week to consider a spending bill, i plan to continue working with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to find a path forward on this critically important issue. before closing, let me touch briefly on a trip president obama asked me to take last week to take stock of the international response to the ebola outbreak in west africa. long before ebola hit sierra leone and liberia, civil wars did. and both nations hosted u.n. peacekeeping missions. the u.n.'s mission in liberia s ongoing.
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when peacekeepers arrived in sierra leone in 1999, the cease-fire between parties was shaky. or than 50,000 people had been killed and rebel groups had amputated the limbs of 20,000 people. over the next six years, the u.n. sierra leone mission was performing a lot like the contemporary missions i described earlier. it suffered some very serious failures and setbacks, including credible allegations of an outrageous pattern of sexual abuse by troops, and less than a year after the mission deployed, rebels kidnapped hundreds of peacekeepers, killed four of them, and renounced their cease-fire. talk to sierra leoneans, as i did last week, and you recall a mission that had an impact in helping sierra leone rebuild after a devastating conflict. these efforts helped disarm 75,000 fighters, including child soldiers.
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the blue helmets decommission more than 42,000 weapons. they helped 500,000 people who were displaced. after helping the first democratic election in 2005, the u.n. peacekeeping mission as drawn down. one of the questions that kept running through my mind as i toured freetown last week, what if peacekeepers had never come? what if the country had still been at war? how much faster with the virus have spread? how would doctors and nurses be able to fund the country to help support that country's week health system right now? how would the military be able to help build ebola treatment units or bearer operations if they were tied down fighting ebels? we rarely ask these questions of peacekeeping.
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we see the many ways that peacekeepers come up short, the slowness to deploy, failure to protect civilians. what cannot see what is impossible to see is the counterfactual. what would any of the more than a dozen countries where u.n. peacekeepers are deployed today look like without a peacekeeping presence? and as the missions do their jobs, as in sierra leone, they make themselves obsolete. they draw down, troops come home, not to parades. in spite of having risked their lives, they come home to anonymity. yet this what if question is one we must ask ourselves with every mission -- what would have happen in south sudan if no u.n. peacekeepers had been present, or if the u.n. had not opened its gates to those people? what if the u.n. had not opened those gates to those people
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fleeing the violence? what would the central african republic look like today if no african or european union peacekeepers -- no u.n. peacekeepers, had come to prevent attacks all by civilians -- of civilians, being massacred with abandon. the violence and suffering would likely have been much worse. the one in question does not let anybody off the hook. not peacekeepers, not that countries that fund and support peacekeeping and authorize the admissions. nobody gets off the hook. it does remind us of why this effort was so worthwhile and why american leadership is so critical. it is because places like sierra leone and south sudan and the central african republic are better off than they would have been without peacekeeping does not mean that the institution is where it needs to be.
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nor does it mean that we are satisfied with peacekeepers filling parts but not all of their mandates, or peacekeepers standing up to protect civilians some of the time rather than all of the time. we are not. when the stakes are as high as they are in these conflicts, when shortfalls can result in atrocities committed, communities uprooted, and communities being split along ethnic and religious lines, getting it right some of the time is not good enough. peacekeeping must be consistently performing and meeting our expectations. we will keep working with our partners to bring about the kinds of reforms upon which the security of millions of people around the world may well depend. thank you.
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>> good to go? >> good to go. >> if you can hear us, marvelous. i want to make sure we get at least a little bit of time and not have any of the throat clearing questions about how good you look today.
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you said something that was very interesting to me as a former congressional staffer, on peacekeeping. >> thanks for that. >> you are welcome. >> you want congress to react that money. at the same time, how much are the chinese contributing? >> the chinese share of peacekeeping has doubled. it is up around 5% now. >> and you want us to go to 27 percent? >> you are all numbers. >> i am old. the share now that we are billed for is 28.4%. which means that 72.6% -- 71.6% is others. but we are paying a large share. >> you should have stuck with what i said before.
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that sounded better. that is going to be a hard case to make. there is a lot of bipartisan support for particular missions, whether it is the syria/israel line, which is now active -- it used to be just sheep, and now it is all nusra. south sudan, of course, the united states -- i think it is true that when you raise the issue of peacekeeping in the abstract, people blanched a little bit. if you can disaggregate it and look at the protection of civilians in the central african republic, and muslims as well -- i think we have a lot of support. >> you make some very specific and persuasive cases. a couple of the ones you just mentioned are really tough.
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peacekeepers, i think you rightly outline -- not delivering peace, but keeping peace prevailing. obviously, the peacekeepers -- ot a peacekeeping operation, but you mentioned the multinational forces around al qaeda. how do we manage these situations where peacekeepers are more than -- should they be taken out? >> many of them would like to not be present in those roles. refreshing the conversation with the american people, with congress, is so important. the truth is, we do spend a lot of time rightly drawing attention to the ways in which they fail this environment. with no anti-ied equipment, with no iav's, with extremists
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in your neighborhood -- there are no obvious candidates to take their place, if we cannot reinforce the efforts they are making. on the list of options, allowing vacuums to persist or civilians to be slaughtered wholesale -- we are in a situation now where we are trying to change the training, change the capabilities, change the mindset. there is a lag between the missions of the kind you have described and i have described in the traditional mindset that many of these broad. we have been in this evolution as well from the 1990's. now, as i said, the huge percentage of conflicts -- the huge percentage of u.n. peacekeeping being performed not in conflict areas.
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the exception is when there is actually peace to keep. if there were a door number two, i think we would all walk through it. instead, what we have are these imperfect coalitions of people who are willing to put themselves on the line in service of international peace and security and protection of civilians. we cannot hope to wish them well and hope these tensions resolve themselves. >> are these contributors all going to be game for the notions that they could be in the sorts of conflicts now? >> let me give you an example. with each country, it is a specific dialogue. we need a new contact on the rules of engagement they need to embrace, if for no other reason than the major of the environment they are operating n.
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just to give one example, mali, 30 peacekeepers have been killed this year. and you have african companies wanting to walk away? no, they want more robust rules of engagement. i do recognize that if you do not deal with a crisis in the neighborhood, coming to a community near you, you have a lot of political will. you either have a shortage of will, and some capable and experienced forces, or you have a huge amount of will and some issues of equipment, being able to sustain themselves. we have to close those gaps. >> if you would be kind enough o identify yourself.
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she is coming. she is right here. >> hello. >> and identify yourself. >> first of all, then you for all the discussion. i saw my first peacekeeping mission in 1960, in the congo. it took the life of the secretary-general. the countries in the congo had so many peacekeeping missions. how much of that did they pay hemselves? >> a country like the congo, i think the answer would not only be nothing, but it would be also that they look to the international community to support their security forces who are operating now
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side-by-side with the peacekeepers, taking on some of hese armed groups. there are exceptions like in cyprus. you had a developed country where they do contribute a very substantial share of the peacekeeping. your larger point in congo, i use the phrase "stagnating" about years of peacekeeping missions in congo that produced no dividends, at least in terms of overall change. aybe civilians were safer here because there might be a peacekeeper in the neighborhood, but when you look at the net crisis, it looks like more of the same, year to year. this is an example -- they are using a forced intervention brigade, where you had three african armies willing to be part of this -- south africa, which are raring to go against
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armed groups. they are also using uavs to monitor the border and see whether arms are coming across or actors in the region are getting involved in problematic ways. i think there is actually something different that has brought about meaningful changes for the past year and a half. when you look in the congo, it is harder to say. >> young lady back here. > i am caroline. i study peace and conflict resolution in africa. there has been a tendency for african countries to want to consolidate peacekeeping efforts, and want to find larger units to deal with issues. one of the more recent is the overarching protocols within security governance, these larger themes.
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we have also seen them come into a conflict resolution role, in congo. i wonder where you see the future of the african g.a.r. and conflict resolution in the region. >> to distinguish that group a little bit and a little bit of effort -- there was a security reform piece. i should've said at the beginning, i hope it goes without saying that the political processes, the mediation and the national reconciliation, that that is the first order priority, of course, of international efforts. the best you are going to do
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with the security forces is, hold the militias at bay and hopefully defang them and protect civilians. unless you have that parallel peace at work, where you try to give rise to what gives conflict in the first place, you are going to say -- welcome all. that is what we have seen in the congo over many years. without getting into the technical aspects of what the regional effort is seeking to achieve, i think what we have seen in parallel to these improvements, and this aggressive attitude on the part of the peacekeepers, is way more regional ownership of what is happening. in an interesting and noteworthy development, they have stepped up not only in that region, but also in the central african republic. countries are stepping up to provide peacekeepers that have not before.
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they are looking to expand the forces and make sure they have the training capabilities they need. it is probably not worth going so deep into the specifics of what the regional effort is right now. there would be no solution to congo on the peacekeeping side. it is going to come through a political process. there is a deterrent to the armed groups, where they feel like they need to surrender their weapons or face something n the security side. find a place where their constituents can find a home. you have to walk that at the same time. >> she has a plane to catch and i do not know how she is going to get it in 45 minutes. >> thank you so much. thank you for coming. >> thank you all.
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>> well, this morning we learned that in october, businesses added 209,000 new jobs. the unemployment rate fell again. the private sector has added 10.6 million new jobs over the last 56 months. this is the strongest job growth that we have seen since the 1990's. all this is a testament to the hard work and resilience of the american people. they have been steady and strong digging themselves out of the worst economic crisis since the great depression and what we need now to do is make sure we build on this momentum because we recognize that despite the solid growth, despite the drop in unemployment, there are still a
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lot of folks out there who are anxious about their futures, who are having trouble making ends meet at the end of the month or saving for the future college education or being able to make sure that they are able to retire with dignity and respect. and so everything that we do over the next two years is designed and geared towards insuring that folks who work hard in this country are able to get ahead. obviously we had a significant midterm election. as i said at the press conference, my attitude has been and will continue to be that goodness don't necessarily come from just one party and i'm looking forward to seeing the leaders of both democrat and republican caucuses this afternoon. let's have a chance to share with them both what i think we need to be doing to build on the economic momentum that we already have and make it even stronger, but i'm also going to be interested in listening to hem in terms of areas where we
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think it's possible to work together, whether that is putting people back to work through stronger manufacturing here in the united states and selling more to countries around the world is one of the major topics we're going to be discussing during my asia trip next week, whether it's figuring out how we can build on some modest new investments that we have been making in early childhood education, we know that works and there is strong bipartisan support around the country for some of those investments. let's see if he we can do more. all of these issues are ones in which there is a strong possibility bipartisan cooperation as long as we set politics aside for a moment and focus on the people who actually sent us here. in the meantime, in these regular meetings that i'm having with my cabinet, i have been emphasizing to them from day one and will reiterate in this meeting the fact that separate and apart from legislative activity, we have
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the capacity to continually improve how we deliver services to the american people. a part of what's happened over a quarter to several decades is that people sometimes feel as if the federal government is distant and it's not customer friendly and there is too much bureaucracy and because of the fine work of many of the members of this cabinet, what we have been able to do is start chipping away at some of the old ways of doing business and start substituting new ways of doing business to improve customer service but make sure the people are getting the help they need. we got the chance to welcome and have a conversation with our new secretary of veterans affairs, bob mcdonald, who is coming from the private sector, but also is coming from west point and an extraordinary legacy of service in our armed forces and what we're already
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seeing is that bob is able to start skimming down the wait times for people in terms of appointments they need but reducing homelessness for example with our h.u.d. secretary donovan and now castro, we decreased homelessness by 30%. a lot isn't by new legislation, it's about us focusing more on these problems and managing them better and continually listening to the american people to see how we can be more helpful. so there are a lot of opportunities for us to do that here today. i think we're going to take an inventory on the progress that's being made in various departments. we're also going to focus on the fact that between now and the end of the year, there is still immediate work that needs o be done.
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we have made progress in building the kind of public health infrastructure we need to deal with any eventualities with respect to ebola, it's a concern domestically but most importantly, a concern internationally. we'll get reports from those who have been actively involved in that fight and ron will tell us how the work we need to be doing with congress can help advance and ultimately stamp out this epidemic overseas to make sure the american people re safe. we also have some significant national security issues. we got to make sure that our efforts against isil are probably funded. that is an opportunity for
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secretary of defense hagel to brief us on the progress in our campaign against isil in iraq and our work in syria of the bottom line is that as i have told my white house staff, i have shared in the past with many of my cabinet, we are extraordinarily privileged to be in a position where every single day we can have a positive impact in some way on the lives of the american people. and what i have started out on this journey with joe biden and we traveled around the country, we were constantly reminded of the hard work, the accepts of community, the -- sense of community, the sense of family that exists in every pocket and every corner of this country, the same kinds of values that joe grew up on and i grew up on. and what we want to do is make sure that between now and the time that the next administration takes over that every single day and every single agency we are constantly finding ways to build on those values and to make sure that we
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are making this country safer and more prosperous. i know that based on the conversations i have had with this cabinet, there is no lack of enthusiasm or energy in achieving that goal. all right. thank you very much, everybody. thank you. >> the president also met with congressional leaders from both parties today at the white house and made these brief remarks before the start of the lunch. >> while i want to thank the leadership of both of the house and the senate for being here for this lunch post-election. as i said the other night,
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obviously the public has had a good night and i congratulated mitch mcconnell and speaker boehner for running very strong campaigns. as i also said the day after the election, what we have seen now for a number of cycles is that the american people just want to see work done here in washington. i think they're frustrated by the gridlock. they would like to see more cooperation and i think all of us have the responsibility, me in particular, to try to make that happen. and so this gives us a good opportunity to explore where we can make progress on behalf of the people who sent us here. the good news is today we saw another good set of jobs numbers. we now have had 56 consecutive months of job growth, up more than 10.6 million jobs have been created and the unemployment rate now is down to 5.8%.
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so business is out there investing, hiring. the economic indicators are going stt right direction. as i travel to asia for the g-20 summit, i'm going to be able to say we have created more jobs here in the united states than every other advanced country combined and they notice that we're doing something right here, but what we also know is that the american people are still anxious about their futures and that means that what we can do together to ensure that young people can afford college, what we can do together to rebuild our infrastructure so that we're competitive going forward. what we can do together to make sure we have a tax system that is fair and simple and unleashes the dynamism of the economy. what we can could together to keep the progress we have been making in reducing the deficit while still making the investments we need to row.
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those are where i'm interested in hearing and sharing ideas. i am committed to both speaker boehner and leader mcconnell is that i am not going to judge ideas based on whether they're democrat or republican, i'm going to be judging them based on whether or not they ork. i'm confident that they want to produce results as well on behalf of the american people. so i appreciate they're graciousness in coming here and i'm very much looking forward to giving them some updates on progress we've been making on issues like ebola and isil. there are some specific work that has to get done the next several weeks before the new congress commences and my hope is that even as we enter it into a new congress, the previous congress has the opportunity to still make progress on a whole bunch of fronts and i'm confident we can get that done. so thank you, again.
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appreciate it. you're going to be the first to find out, major, along with everybody else. thank you, everybody. thank you. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] >> one woman is beating every 15 seconds in this country by a husband or a partner. that is one woman every 15 seconds. this issue alarmingly is swept under the rug in this country
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probably and most likely because most of the perpetrators are male. the only way this will ever change is if men are willing to look at their own bad behavior and address it head on. >> listening to your talking about 2,000 some bills being on harry reid's desk to be presented for whatever, well, each and every one of those bills have a repeal of what they call obamacare or of the affordable care act. so the whole effort is that needs to be -- that point. i just heard your comments from a lady who called in and said -- i'm watching your show by the way. that it would be good rather than having democrats comment
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and republican comments, like democrats and republicans basically fight it out verbally on the show. if you ever decide to do that i'm up for that. >> continue to let us know what you think about what you're watching. >> in the virginia u.s. senate race republican ed gillespie has conceded to mark warner. he says he will not seek a challenge. the lead is numbers shows senator warper leading by more than 16,000 votes or nearly a percentage point. his is about 15 minutes.
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>> thank you all. thank you. thank you so much. thank you all. thank you all. glad you could come on such short notice. it's so great to see so many great friends and so many volunteers and supporters. it's hard to make time on a weekday. catsdz yes and i are happy to be here today and just want to give you a little update on where things stands. as you know, the canvasing is just about completed. the official tally is now more than sf,700 votes larger than
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it was on election night. obviously it did not move in the direction that we hoped it would. and so i've called mark warner this morning to can congratulate him on his reelection to thank him for his public service to our commen commonwealth, and to wish him and his family well. it was a nice vferings and i hope that he does well obviously in his continued service for the commonwealth of virginia for the country. this is obviously a hard-fought race and i'm proud of the campaign we have run and i love every minute of it. [applause] well, thank you very much.
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so we ran an issue driven campaign with specific proposals to create jobs hold down health care costs and reduce prices. we began this race 25 points down and were outspent more than two to one and in the end a shift of 9,000 votes could have changed the outcome of this election. and if i believed there were any conreceiveable way that we could find a viable path to win through recount i would fight now as hard as i have for the past 10 months of this campaign for our policies and principles brufment i ran because i love our country and our commonwealth and it would be wrong to put my fellow virginians through a recount when in my head and in my heart i know that a change in outcome is not possible. we have heard from supporters
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and voters concerns about some irregularities, concerns about the ballots. we forwarded those to the republican party to follow up to ensure that one every legitimate vote is counted and two that we protect against any such irregularities in the future. but even factoring in any of these votes being counted and after careful analysis of the careful elections here in the commonwealth that have been even closer than ours. and in consultation with our legal team i've concluded that the numbers aren't there and i've decided to accept the decision. models, onths and 56 that cost so many -- to call so many of them our new friends we could not have come this close without a tireless effort and countless hours of the mighty mighty g-force. [applause]
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guys, i love you all and we urprised a lot but you weren't surprised at all. you have made all along and kept working hard even in the face of being told it was hopeless. and i want to thank all our volunteer whose were there from the beginning. i'm so grateful for all those volunteers in the nominating process and came on board. many of them were tea party voters who were initially skeptical of my candidacy but after getting to know one .nother better it was clear these patriotic americans are often marginally deemized in the media and it's wrong.
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i hope our campaign helps liberty movement and tea party movement going forward and we continue to rally behind our nominees no matter which door they have come in to the process. we could not have gotten this close in this election if we didn't take our positive message to voters who haven't traditionally supported republicans campaigning in every corner of the commonwealth. our campaign information was translated into seven languages and we went to those who were for too long written off and taken for granted. we went to ethnic festivals, homeless shelters, food banks and the recovery community. and after getting to know one another better it was clear that their concerns are my concerns and mir concerns are their concerns.
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and those efforts paid off. as a party we need to carry it forward. but now i'm going to began extolling credits so be patient for me. throughout the campaign we ran with congressional candidates. i'm so happy to thank my longtime friend barbara comstock for winning in the 10th congressional district. in the seventh district a new friend that i made in the course of this campaign dave bradley doing a great job representing the people of the 7th. they will be effective leaders for the people that elected him to be leaders for our commonwealth. and i want to congratulate another long-time friend susan shute and another new friend mica edmunds for running such
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mpressive races as well. virginia has one of the finest delegations. and it was a joy, a pure joy to run with rob whitman, scott, randy, robert, bob, and morgan. they are all strong voices for us in the united states congress.