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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  January 9, 2015 3:00am-5:01am EST

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. but that's the idea. it's not just this issue. it's getting to what we call regular order, open amendment process and open debate. and i hope that can foster more bipartisanship on this measure and on other legislation. because we'll have this debate on the floor. people will have their opportunity to bring forward amendments. we'll debate those amendments we'll vote on them if you get 60 votes, they pass and get included. and that's how it's supposed to work on the senate floor. so it is a bigger issue than just this bill. it is about returning to regular order and an open amendment process. and i want to thank our leadership, both senator mcconnell, our leaders, our leader on this energy committee, senator murkowski for their willingness to do that. i believe that's how the senate is supposed to work. and in terms of who do we work for? we work for the american people. and in poll after poll, 2/3 want this project done. so there's a lot of
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opportunities to try to, you know, position this certain ways as to who it's for and so forth. but if you ask the american people, by a margin of 2-1 consistently over years, they've said they want it. and last i checked, that's who we work for. and as far as a turning point, i'm listening to some of these arguments, and they've got to be music to opec's ears. some of these arguments are going to guarantee that we continue to import oil from the middle east. and i'm pretty sure that's not what americans want. and any other alternative type of energy that any member of this committee or anyone else wants to bring up, go do it. this legislation doesn't stop one of those ideas. go do it. but the reality is, if you understand economics, economics come into play. and opec and other countries are going to continue to manage this oil price so that things work for them, not us. so i believe we need to compete when it comes to oil and gas and we're doing it.
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and that's why prices are down at the pump. and the american consumer is benefitting to the tune of billions of dollars because of that right now. but we can't do it without the infrastructure. and the construction jobs that go into building this pipeline are good jobs just like the construction jobs in a highway bill. i don't know how you can say construction jobs on a highway bill are good, but these aren't. virtually every labor union in the country supports this project. so i respect everybody's point of view. i look forward to the debate. i want to remind the members that the state department after six years of study continues to say it has no significant environmental impact. i understand they want to debate other issues. that's fine, we can do that. and i'm sure that we will do that. but that's just the point. we're going to get that opportunity, aren't we?
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and it's long overdue. and so, again, my sincere thanks to the chairman and to the ranking member who has been helpful in this process. and i know we'll work on many other pieces of legislation, some in which we agree and some we don't. i look forward to productive debate on the senate floor. >> thank you, senator hoeven. and thank you, all. i do think it's important as we begin this new congress. the issue of the day, the week perhaps, i don't know, maybe the month, i don't know. is energy. because when you think about our nation's economy, when you think about our ability to engage in commerce of any kind, when you recognize energy plays in making
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this all happen, it's basic stuff. i go back to my book, energy 2020, the cover of this pamphlet is the world at night. the globe at night as seen from space. and when you look at the dark parts on the globe, the places where there's no electricity where people are living a lifestyle we would not enjoy, it is because of a lack of energy. not access or affordability.
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and it is a subject that when people are sitting in their homes as they're talking with their families about those issues, those concerns that worry them some of the most basic needs to keep warm. energy is pretty basic. and again, as i mentioned, i can distill it to one bumper sticker. energy is good. but how we responsibly access it, how we utilize it, how we develop it in a way that benefits all is part of our challenge. i think it is an exciting one to begin the new year. and i'm very pleased to be able to work with all of you in the areas that are so important to us.
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i would like to give the final word to our ranking member and truly thank her for her willingness to work together to find common ground on some issues where i think we know that we have some perhaps philosophical divide. we have heard that reflected in this committee this morning. and i think it was a good barometer about some of the things we take up. and it makes our jobs more challenging in how we ensure that members of our committee feel heard and feel that they have been a participant in this process. so i thank you, senator cantwell, and i'm looking forward to working together with you. >> well, thank you, senator murkowski. and i can say one thing.
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i'm sure you and i are never going to forget this week. [laughter] and an opening of new energy committee effort. i will just close by saying, you know, when i first came to the united states senate in 2001 the very, very, very first piece of legislation that i had to deal with was new regulation on natural gas pipelines. because we had an explosion in washington that killed young children playing by the pipeline. so i learned at that moment how important the citing process the security issues, the maintenance of those pipelines and we're talking about something different, natural gas than the tar sands. but i learned how important all these issues are and the gaps in our regulatory oversight in public scrutiny of these he -- issues are sometimes lost in the organizations that the public doesn't even know or understand.
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so to me, i think it's time for the united states of america to update and make sure that we all understand whose responsibilities these are. and in issues like the tar sands, not paying into the oil spill trust fund, make sure the tar sands pays into the liability trust fund. but the bottom line is we are usurping a state authority here on a very important public interest security, safety and environmental issues. and i think my colleagues said it best. we have no right as a congress to be trying to dictate for a private interest. the usurption of those rights to be decided in the state of nebraska. i'm sure we will continue this debate. i'm hoping for the energy committee overall that we get off of this very quickly and on to a larger discussion about a broad energy strategy that we can work on together. i really do have great deal of
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hope for your leadership in this committee and the fact that this committee, you know, while i do think we have very different committees, i mean, very different members on our side and very different members on your side, i think in general this committee has been about regional focuses and bringing those regional focuses. not so much r & d politics. about the regions we represent. hopefully we can move forward on a larger job producing energy bill and work together very soon. thank you very much and we'll look forward to this discussion on the floor. >> thank you. and before i gavel out. i thought it was appropriate today. it is of simchian heritage.
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and senator cantwell will know they are from the pacific northwest my grandfather received this from someone who had left canada to come to alaska. and this has been something that has been on my father's desk since the time that i can remember. and i'm not quite sure what they would have called it. but i thought given the discussion today about transboundary issues that something of this descent should mark the beginning of this energy committee and hopefully a good and strong presence in the year. with that, we're adjourned.
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>> why is one of the first bills? >> keystone is one that came up. the senate majority leader and mcconnell said it was the first id. he wanted to send to president obama's desk. republicans want to push the president on this. they family have a vote to pass it or congress. in the house the bill is cosponsored by a number of republican. they are scheduled to vote on
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friday. >> it's not only one of the first to come up in the 114 it's the last in the 113th. what is different? is there anything different? >> i wouldn't say there is anything different in the house when it comes to democrats who will vote for or against the bill. the ones who are not on board don't plan on changing their vote. >> there were electoral concerns. the white house did not issue a veto threat. they did this time. what did they object to in this bill? >> they feel this bill circumvents the ongoing process
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with the state department and this is an administrative review. the president is the one who has the authority to say whether this pipeline is in the best interest of the nation because it crosses the border between canada and the u.s.. there is litigation in nebraska and they want that to be resolved before they issue the final resolution to the president. >> you covered the markup with the headline the senate panel advances the bill 13-9. it has gone through the process for six years, and it is still not through the process. americans one world war ii in a shorter amount of time. the democrats weeks, it was not a way a democracy works. would you say the debate on the
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senate side was a bipartisan debate? >> there is only one democrat that voted for the bill and that was also a cosponsor. there are a number of democrats on the bill. there are a total of nine behind it six cosponsors, but only one of them is on the committee you were talking about. the rest of the democrats voted against the measure. >> perhaps it is too far to vote for it. suppose he be does the bill. will the senate have the votes to override the veto? >> that's a tricky one. right now there are 63 that are behind passing the bill and sending it to the president's desk in the senate.
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that means they have a filibuster proof majority. it's going to be a hard push. even if that were to happen, the house doesn't have the votes to override the president's veto. >> you can read more at thehi and follow her on twitter. >> john boehner criticize president obama's veto threats of three republican bills, including the keystone pipeline. this is 10 minutes. >> good morning. it's good to see you.
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these measures would provide president obama a chance to take some step to build a stronger economy. unfortunately the president has been making steps to confrontation. the white house threatened to veto two of these bipartisan bills. given the chance to start with bipartisan, the president turned his back on the people's priorities. the president is in phoenix talking about the economy. he won't be far from the epicenter of the vw scandal where dozens died while waiting for basic care.
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the house and senate took some steps in the right direction but the system is still broken and needs to be transformed in a way that puts the needs of veterans before the bureaucracy. we are prepared to offer a long-term vision. we have yet to see it. we have yet to see authorization for the use of military force to defeat our terrorist enemies. i continued to remind the president historically the commander in chief has written a new authorization for force sent it to the hill and work to build bipartisan support. i would urge him to do so. if he does, republicans would be willing to work with him to get
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it approved. the house will take actions to stop unilateral action when it comes to immigration. republicans are an agreement this is a serious matter. the american people don't support it. i said we would fight it tooth and nail. i meant it. >> gas taxes are historically low, and the highway trust fund is almost insolvent. is this the right time to consider increasing the gas tax? >> i never voted to increase the gas tax. finding -- funding this is important. we are going to have to work our way through. >> what is your timeline?
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how long are you willing to work to get something to the president before you and senator mcconnell do-it-yourself? >> i made it clear. the white house typically will ask for the use of military force and solution. i would hope the white house will move quickly. >> what if they don't? >> we will see. >> you said you never voted for an increase in the gas tax, but it doesn't sound like you are ruling out the possibility of including it in a tax reform deal. >> when the democrats had total control of the congress, they couldn't find the votes to raise the gas tax. it's doubtful they will raise the gas tax again. >> what about an increase in the income tax? >> a lot of people with a lot of ideas. we have got to find a way to deal with crumbling infrastructure. we need to do it in a long-term program that is in fact funded.
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>> you said immigration is a priority. it this a wise time to be putting the homeland security department at risk. there is a real risk to have a continuing resolution without any certainty. do you have any validity to that argument? >> i don't believe the funding of the department is at risk. what is at risk is the rule of law and sanctity of america's constitution. the president has taken actions that are beyond the scope of his ability, and congress cannot sit here and look the other way. we have to take action, and we will. >> can you imagine something like this happening after 9/11? given the attacks in paris can you imagine the homeland security budget would be up for debate a day after something like that happen? >> the issue is not about money.
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members of congress support funding the department. you cannot allow the president to go around the congress and around the law and take unilateral action like he has. >> we talked about this. it involves obamacare. is that really obstruction? we knew that the will -- there were those issues. is that truly democratic obstruction? >> at a minimum he could have waited a few hours, maybe could have waited a few days. we weren't even taking our oath of office when they were issuing veto threats. come on. >> about 25 members of your own congress voted against you.
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why is there so much conservative opposition. >> i have given some thought to this, as you might imagine. the american people are frustrated. they are frustrated with the struggling economy. they don't think washington is listening, and they want action. i talked to americans every day and this frustration that is out there, they need to take it out on somebody. they take it out on the president. they take it out on me. it comes with the territory. >> did it frustrate you? >> i had the most conservative voting record in the congress. it does pain me to be described this way. what pains me the most is when they describe me as the establishment. i am the most antiestablishment
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speaker we have ever had. who is the guy who believes in regular order? me. who believes in allowing more members to participate from both sides of the aisle? me. i am pretty comfortable in my own skin, and i am going to do my best to show all our members and those who voted against me that i am up to the job i was given. >> on immigration and this bill if it doesn't get 60 votes in the senate, some sort of bill that turned back executive order, will you never turn back the bill? >> the house is going to work its will. once the house works its bill, the senate will work its bill. we have options.
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there are a lot of options available to us. we will see what the senate can do with it. >> will you allow an open rule on the homeland security bill for this issue of immigration? >> i don't know what the rules committee will decide. i have got my doubts that it will be a truly open rule, but i suspect there will be amendments allowed. >> you said yesterday you know this man. you defended him publicly. what do you say about his votes against the creation of a martin luther king holiday with one around the corner? >> talk about these votes.
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is there any discussion that might lead to an agreement? >> leaders from both parties will meet with the president. i imagine there will be some discussion. >> [indiscernible] yesterday you were talking about figuring out what to do. some want answers. some don't. have you remain consistent about what you're going to do going forward? >> my focus is on the american people's priorities. we have got an economy that is improving a bit, but most americans aren't seeing it. we are going to stay focused on the
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american people's priorities. this conversation will continue, and we will come to some resolution in days and weeks ahead. >> the u.s. house takes up their version of the pipeline bill. in the senate a procedural vote on the keystone legislation was set for monday. the debate on amendments to the bill will occur as soon as wednesday. today a workshop on lobbying strategies in the regulatory process. we will be live for a for them featuring faculty and professional lobbyists. -- a for him -- forum featuring faculty and professional lobbyists. president obama went to
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tennessee do preview parts of his upcoming state of the union address and to talk about jobs and the economy. we will have live coverage here on c-span 3 and watch our live coverage of the state of the union on january 20. >> friends, colleagues countrymen. as the people bank you for sending me here -- thank you for sending me here, let's welcome all of the new members and their families for a truly historic day. today is an important day for our country. a new republican majority accepted its new responsibility. we recognize the enormity of the task before us. we know a lot of hard work
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awaits. we know many important opportunities await as well. >> see the new members. the best access is on c-span television, c-span radio, and >> next, advocates for ending the u.s. trade embargo with cuba hold a news conference. speakers include missouri governor jay nixon and members of congress. the agriculture coalition for cuba hosted this event. it's an hour and 20 minutes. >> it's cold outside, but it's warm in here. good afternoon, and welcome to the public launch of the agricultural coalition for cuba. i am the chair of usacc.
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it represents a broad cross-section of the agricultural community. membership, and it's growing, is listed in the charter we just released a few minutes ago. we are excited to introduce our members and our mission to you today. we are especially pleased to see such a robust turnout. we believe this is indicative of not only the policy imperative but moral imperative in front of us as an industry and as a country. we are especially pleased to see such important bipartisan support expressed here today. we are appreciative secretary vilsack and senator klobuchar senator moran, and the rest of our guests for your presence here today and governor nixon we appreciate you flying in from your home state of missouri just for the launch. participation from respected leaders such as yourself is
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representative of what our coalition believes is the general sentiment of the u.s. congress. in addition, we understand that the majority of americans support lifting the embargo on cuba. that support has only been growing since the president's announcement on december 17. the usacc is not the first group to support change in the relationship with cuba. we are joining a chorus of voices from across america. there are many groups and some of them are here today that have been at this for a long time. of note is the voice of the u.s. business community, the u.s. chamber of commerce who administers the u.s.-cuba working group and who has led -- who led a historical delegation to cuba in may, 2014, to assess the changing business climate. the chamber has had a public position for a long time for many years supporting the end to the embargo. the vice president of the
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americas program is leading the chamber effort and is here with us today. the usacc is an outgrowth of a history of support to change the status quo with the u.s.-cuba policy. our industry has long supported liberalizing trade and travel with cuba. the u.s. agricultural community was instrumental in the year 2000 in opening humanitarian channels so that we could have free flow of u.s. food products and agriculture products to cuba. through the formation of usacc we are reenergized. we are reenergized to establish cuba as a market for u.s. food and agriculture products and as an industry we are reenergized to advance the end of the embargo. the sanctions are harmful to the cuban citizens and harmful to our country. we would like to offer high quality, affordable, safe food to the cuban citizens. 54 years of unilateral
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sanctions is an experiment that has gone on far too long. it is a failed policy and it is time that we offer our two countries a better option. commercial engagement can and will promote positive change beyond the isolationism that plagues -- that currently plagues our relationship. our coalition will achieve our purpose by advancing constructive dialogue here in the united states on u.s.-cuba policy. we will actively engage to end the embargo. we will work with key stakeholders to build momentum that drives historical change. we will take public platforms and explain the moral imperative of liberalizing trade between the two countries. trade is a tried and true policy that creates opportunity for citizens on both sides. open markets work to engage the economy, allow for development of entrepreneurs, empower
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businesses, raise income, and lead to a higher standard of living. it is a choice between freedom or not. we recognize the past difficulties between our governments and we can learn from it. but what we know we can collectively own is the future of u.s. cuba relations. we truly understand that refreshing relations between our countries is about peace and prosperity for our citizens and for the latin american region. at this point i would like to introduce the usacc vice chair paul johnson to make a few comments. paul has been dedicated to this issue for quite sometime. paul? >> good afternoon. my name is paul johnson. i'm the executive director of the illinois cuba working group and the vice chair of the usacc. in the past 20 years, i've either lived worked, or studied in cuba and have found that after 50 years of embargo
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there is a powerful movement for normalizing trade with cuba coming from the grass roots. particularly farmers who believe in putting people first and politics second. farmers from california to minnesota, kansas to alabama virginia to iowa support normalizing trade with cuba. in illinois together with the illinois soybean growers association we unanimously passed a resolution in the state general assembly calling for improved trade relations with cuba proving that this issue has bipartisan support. we believe that improved trade strengthens lives by bringing economic opportunities to the 11 million cubans. we want to expand into new markets and be competitive. we recognize that competition from brazil, the eu, canada, or china won't fade just because we re-enter the cuban market. over the next few months we will work with congress to help shape the policy that makes our
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products competitive which will ultimately add jobs for farmers, local elevators truck drivers, port workers, financial service providers and small business trade companies around the united states. making our products competitive requires reducing cuban costs by providing u.s. exporters with financial credit, export credits, direct banking, and back hauls which will reduce our logistical costs. in order to have back hauls we need true trade -- import and export -- where we can export what we do most efficiently and import what cuba produces swell. in conclusion, the embargo has not served the interests of the united states or cuban citizens for over a half century. we believe that economic development is freedom. we look forward to working with both d.c. and havana to create more stable agricultural and
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commercial relations. our message is that u.s. strength and cuban sovereignty is more powerful than u.s.-cuba embargo. >> if you feel inclibed to clap you're more than -- inclined to clap you're more than welcome. at this point it is quite an honor to introduce you mr. secretary, and thank you for your leadership. when the announcement came out on december 17 i believe you were in chicago at the time but you were the first to mention the importance of this announcement to the u.s. agriculture community. so please, with no further ado the secretary of agriculture. [applause] >> thanks. thank you very much. it's certainly an honor to be here with my good friend, governor nixon, who hails from the heartland as i do. good afternoon to all.
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i'm certainly pleased to be here this afternoon at the launch of the u.s. agriculture coalition for cuba. i want to thank the national press club for making today's event possible. i'm honored to be here today among so many of the nation's agriculture leaders who are advancing the interests of american agriculture here and abroad. particularly as we look back on 2014 and in fact the last six years, the efforts of the leaders in this room and others have shown real results for american farmers and ranchers. farm exports topped $152.5 billion in the past fiscal year, which is a record high. it's part of the best six years we've seen in agricultural exports in the history of the country. the new farm bill has been implemented in record time and contains strong investments to continue the tools that support american agriculture, allowing farmers and ranchers to continue to profit. today we gather to discuss an
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expanded opportunity for american agriculture. for our farmers and our ranchers. allowing them to do business and to expand business opportunities in a country just 90 miles from our border -- cuba. the policy changes which were announced by president obama in mid december broke what a failed approach that had isolated us from the rest of the hemisphere and isolated ordinary cubans from the outside world. the president's changes are aimed at giving cuban citizens new opportunities to gain greater control over their own lives. they also help to expand significantly opportunities for america's farmers and ranchers to sell goods in cuba. we're removing technical barriers between u.s. and cuban companies and creating a far more efficient, less burdensome opportunity for cuba to buy
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u.s. agricultural products. these policy changes will help make our products far more price competitive. they'll expand choices for cuban shoppers at grocery stores and create a new customer base for america's farmers and ranchers. cuba imports about 80% of its food, which means that there is significant economic potential for our producers. it is a $1.7 billion market. our rice growers, our wheat growers, our corn growers soy producers, poultry and pork and beef producers all have opportunity in this new day. historically agricultural products have been one of the few goods allowed to be exported to cuba under the long-standing u.s. embargo. our producers have taken advantage of that opportunity to the extent that they've been able to. haven't recent years been less competitive compared to our
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foreign competitors particularly the eu? policy changes announced by the president are significant. he has done what he can do to address some of the barriers that exist to expanded agricultural exports to cuba. there are still legislative hurdles to cross. the president and this administration look forward to engaging with congress in an honest and serious debate about what we can do to produce and promote positive change in cuba. that's where america's great farmers and ranchers come into play. throughout history it has been agriculture that has served as a bridge to foster cooperation understanding, and an exchange of ideas among people. the founding members of the u.s. agricultural coalition for cuba have been engaged in cuba and with cuba for many years. hosting trade missions to cuba and serving as ambassadors for
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our brand of agriculture. i have no doubt agriculture will play an extraordinarily important role in conversations to come as we expand our relationship with the cuban people in the years to come. let me add as a personal note it was roughly 50 years or so ago that a soviet leader came to my home state of iowa. during the course of his opportunity and his visit to the u.s. he had an opportunity to see the extraordinary power of american agriculture. i think it convince him -- convinced him the soviet union was in a losing proposition. i have no doubt that as we expand opportunity to introduce american products to the cuban market cubans will begin to ask some serious questions about their system, why they can't produce the great diversity the enormous opportunities that agriculture presents. it's an interesting conversation. it's a conversation long overdue. i'm certainly pleased that the coalition is going to help
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foster continued conversation. thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you, secretary vilsack. on december 17 when the announcement was made by the president, one of the first calls i received as chair of the u.s. agriculture coalition on cuba was from governor nexton's office. how can i help? how can he help? how can he lead? and so today you have with you a governor who is willing to lead. we're very much looking forward, governor, to your message on the importance of the trade relationship and on your plan for your leadership and how you plan to build the bipartisan support among other governors to make sure that we're telling the story here in washington. thank you.
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>> good afternoon. specifically i want to thank secretary vilsack for his leadership on these issues. he has been very helpful to governors and others through the last few years on this one in particular. he and i and other governors have had opportunities and former governors. traveling with me today is our head of agriculture richard ford ayes. that's not by accident. we are excited and glad to be with this bipartisan group of senators representing agriculture and business leaders and i am very proud to be here representing missouri and agriculture states across the country who stand ready to seize this tremendous opportunity to strengthen our farm families, grow our economy, and create jobs for expanded trade with cuba. let me give you our perspective from the heartland. from missouri's farmers and ranchers are truly feeding
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clothing, and fueling the world. in 2013 as a state we exported more than $2.2 billion in agricultural products around the globe. we're also if not the most diverse, arguably the most diverse agricultural state. we're in the top 10 states for exports of corn, soybeans, cotton, cattle chickens, hogs, and turkeys as far as rice production we are moving up quickly as one of the top rice producers and exporters also. over the past six years, i have seen a tremendous demand for these products and the direct economic benefits such trade can have on the families and communities in our state and in states around our country. we have been to china brazil, taiwan europe, korea, and quebec. signing trade agreements to sell over $10 billion additional of mizz oury products in these countries.
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a significant portion of the entered into and are now executing have been foreign province to our state. direct state-to-state matters dealing with the governors, leaders in those areas. i want to tell you our compatriots on that side are just as excited as we are at the subnational level. it is the place where a significant amount of trade gets done and no sector is stronger than the agriculture sector. so given the opportunity to compete, missouri farmers and ranchers and american farmers and ranchers feel we can win against anyone. we know the more goods we sell overseas the more good jobs we create back home. pretty simple. when it comes to cuba, we are not on a level playing field. because of current sanctions american producers can only interact with cuba through a complicated process that greatly limits our ability to sell goods, stifles our ability to create more jobs, and
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prevents us from bringing more dollars home to the u.s.a. meanwhile, other countries are stepping up to fill the void and taking advantage of america's limited role. for example, brazil alone has quadrupled its exports to cuba. quadrupled. we are prepared to compete in that zone given a level playing field for sure. folks, in a competitive world we cannot ignore 11 million customers 90 miles from our country. this is a trade competition that u.s. farmers should be winning and are prepared to win. the fine folks in the show me state are ready to step up and lead the way. cuba needs products we produce. corn soybeans, rice, pork, beef poultry, and other products. we are going to be leaning forward in a significant way to try to do the best we can to be the first state along with others and i'm working with other governors to make sure we're not the only one as we
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work together to -- all we need is really an open door. and the innovative, hard working farm families will do the rest. we got the products. we got the technology. we can do it. i respectfully, me as well as others i've had a chance to talk to, call on members of congress to support our farmers, support the free market, and support this outstanding opportunity to strengthen our economy right here at home. now is the time for congress to follow through and remove these financial restrictions. lift the embargo and do away with the self-imposed barriers holding us back. this is an extremely bipartisan issue. i am very glad to see the bipartisan support here from both the senate and the house. rest well assured it is also extremely bipartisan among governors in our country. we have presented, been presented with an historic opportunity. we must not and will not let it pass us by.
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thank you for the opportunity to speak not only on behalf of my state but for governors across the state as we are ready to compete to open up, expand markets, and grow our economy. thank you. [applause] >> like any good event we have to roll with the punches. though your agenda aside. we'll get to it holistically but because of the arrival of our elected officials we may go a bit out of order. i hope you're comfortable that. our next guest is a democrat from california, sam farr. he's from the 20th district. congressman farr, what you may not know, is that i actually hail from your district. i grew up in gonzalez, california was educated at the public school of gonzalez high school, and what i know about you is you have been a strong leader for agriculture and it's
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absolutely fitting we would have you here today to speak on behalf of the u.s. agriculture coalition for cuba. it is my great honor, sir. >> theaning you very much. well if i leave office, you may see somebody qualified to run for it. [laughter] >> i'm very excited you're having this press conference and by what's happening. i think this is going to be one of the great modern events of america. we have for the first time torn down our iron wall. and the iron wall that i've been -- had the privilege of visiting cuba about six or seven times and i'll never -- one of the most memorable moments was that all night dinners with fidel castro. they never started until 11:00 or 12:00 at night and it was just a monologue but it was
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interesting because we had the california rice growers association and california chicken council and the wine growers, wine growers giving him wonderful california wine which he insisted could not be as good as spanish wine. because that's what they had in cuba. i traveled all over this wonderful island, largest island in the caribbean with constituents who have sister city policies. i've been to the international conferences on drug trade where i was with our coast guard who had to wear a civilian uniform in the american mission there, and asked me to come as a member of congress because the united states just wasn't present and we should be because all our allies on the drug trade in the western hemisphere and europe were there and america was missing.
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over and over again the -- america has been missing from this. and missing in so many ways because we have, with the embargos we've put on -- that congress put on and clinton signed into law, it just put all these restrictions on anybody who wants to just be a legitimate honest, innocent player and let's find out and discover. let's see if we can negotiate. there's all these bars against it which president clinton, i praise the boldness with which he made this really, you know, essentially did everything in his power to lift the restrictions as you have against cuba. the governor is absolutely right that we'll have to change the law and lift some of the restrictions. i don't think it's going to be easy. it is going to be very difficult and i think the
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politics will emulate from the agricultural states. i think it's governors that have been with their delegations to cuba that have seen first hand that there's an opportunity for market here, for our state to not only send out products but to send our intellectual capacity, send our technical wherewithal, send our students send our constituency, just develop what is normally the opportunities that are -- that exist when you can travel freely. it's not going to be easy. cuba i think is going to be more overwhelmed than we are. i think our politics will be difficult. i think their politics internally and their social system to essentially create a free enterprise market in cuba, although they need it, they need it most of all in food, cuba is a well educated country. it's a people that have a can-do at tude. they really like americans.
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they love americans. despite these embarringos that have made it so difficult for their lifestyle. what i see is that -- and they live in poverty. i was a peace corps volunteer in colombia, south america living in a very poor barrio without water and lights and power and learned the culture of poverty. as we know it without access to education, without access to healthcare, without access to water and lights and power and a safe place to sleep is -- that's not the problem in cuba. it's not a culture of poverty. it's a culture of hunger. they do not have the food, they can't produce it on the island. their economy is in shambles. their purchasing power is very weak. they just cannot buy and grow the food. they know what they want. one of the interesting things about fidel castro is that when he asked the head of our chicken federation in
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california, well what is the content of the food you feed your chickens? he says, well i'm the lobbyist. he says i really don't know what food. how can you represent an organization that sells chickens without knowing what they eat? and he went down and listed what brazil fed their chickens and then why they were buying chickens from brazil. but the point of it is they know what they need. they just can't get access. we haven't allowed them to get access because we've got all these financial prohibitions against spending money there using the dollar using a credit card, of trading. have to pay for it in dollars in advance before the product even leaves the united states. that's not done in any other trade negotiation in the world. the other thing that's shameful is that every other country in this hemisphere has diplomatic
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and trade relations with cuba. every one of them. i went with president obama to a summit and there wasn't a president of the caribbean islands or nations or latin american nations that didn't chastise the united states for having this archaic policy that wouldn't allow cuba to join the hemispheric unity. now that we will i think when he goes to this conference, next summit in panama, he'll be welcomed. because now we'll be able to unify this entire hemisphere. you may think it's a small island but the significance of being able to bring in 11 million people and make them like the rest of the people in this hemisphere, when you think about it, as we go out and compete against the world we have every type of agriculture that there is in the world, every single thing is grown in this hemisphere. we have more ability for producing electrons than any other hemisphere in the world. all of the solar, all of the
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wind all of the hydro all of the oil. i mean you name it. every possibility of producing energy exists. if we could just unify this whole hemisphere and this is what these presidents are all talking about is the hemispheric energy policy. we wouldn't need a drop of oil from any other part of the world. we could send electrons all around the hemisphere. we have no wars in this hemisphere between countries. we speak the entire hemisphere can speak in three languages, portugese, english, and spanish. a little french from quebec and all the rest is in our languages. so the opportunity to unify and by bringing cuba into the tent and opening up all of these new i think tourism is in my district the most asked question. every time people hear about me going to cuba, how can i go? why can't i go?
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i have very close professional friends saying if i go illegally will i get caught? i said, probably not. here's how you do it. i think the battle and i'd love to hear my colleagues, the battle is going to be in congress because you have a really small minority of interests, cuban americans who, by the way can go to cuba without a license. any cuban american can. cuban american members of congress can go. you can't. they can send money to their relatives there. you can't. their relatives in cuba can now invest. we can't. so there is almost -- there's almost an interest there that i hope some of you in the press will look into about conflict of interest with members of the house and senate who want to restrict others from getting the privileges that they now have.
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but it's going to be a fight. as they say, i think that the conservative viewpoint is going to be a -- the politics is going to be motivated by the agriculture interests who like the governor pointed out have already made contact and their states and their ag interests, their business interests already know what the opportunities are and they'll have to pressure their congress members and senators to follow through on being able to implement this incredible announcement of the president. so i -- i mean, you please, the point there that we'll gain market share that we've lost actually that's gone down because of fewer -- the financial hurdles that our country's had, fewer hurdles for other countries, and cuba's shortage of hard currency and perception that the u.s. policy
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will not change, so now those days are over. the currency will be an issue. but i think we'll make it. so my advice or recommendation is that we're going to internally start a new cuba working group. we have that when missouri congresswoman joann emerson, we had a working group an equal number of democrats and republicans. we had a lot of policy. it was very difficult to move it. because leadership from the cuban americans in congress were adamantly opposed to doing anything. we're in key positions and could use procedural -- those things will still be possible but you can overcome them by the will of the people and politics of america. this is grass roots politics. the american people want to go to cuba. business people want to do business in cuba. they have to voice that, use their political voices to show those members of congress that indeed we ought to follow through in legislating accordingly.
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thank you very much for -- and this ag coalition is absolutely essential to making the policy work. more essential than any other thing. that and the financial institution that have an interest in opening up credit and business exchanges and being able to use credit cards in cuba and things like that are going to be the two most motivating forces to be able to change american policy at the congressional level. so congratulations on this new year. and there's exciting new assignment that i think is going to make it work well to serve both in congress and report it very well in the press. thank you. our next speaker is representative kevin cramer from north dakota. mr. cramer, we know you -- here
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you are. thank you very much. we are absolutely honored by your presence today, sir and very much looking forward to your message to share with the usacc. thank you. >> thank you very much. well, as a means of introduction, let me start out by saying this is a big week for me and at this moment i can -- it's doubled in important importance as i look out among you. the keystone xl pipeline it's a big deal. kind of fun i have to admit. a little easier for me to talk about things like pipelines given my background as a former energy regulator. but this is a little different. it's also a big week because my friend rodney davis is here as well who represents the congressional district in illinois that is home to the illinois state university, the football team that's going to lose to north dakota state
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university saturday in the championship game. that's another matter all together. it's a big week. you know, i don't really know, frankly, how i ended up here. but i suspect it has something to do with fact that among the initial choir, the initial pushback from republican members of congress to the president's idea, one voice out of north dakota said, i don't know. it doesn't seem that dumb to me. and so here i am. and actually, prior to being an energy regulator in north dakota i did have the depreat honor of serving eight years in the cabinet of governor ed shaffer. i was his tourism director for 12 years. don't snicker. it was the least visited state in the country. but today i walk around washington without a coat on. [laughter] i spent the second term as ed's
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director of economic development in finance and became very close. now, when ed told me he was moving me over, we should call him secretary here, shouldn't we? secretary of agriculture in this town. from tourism to economic development and finance i said, governor, what i know about finance you could tap into a small thumb ble. he said, i understand that. thank you very much for your confidence. but he said, we don't need a banker. we need a marketer. we need someone who understands markets. someone who understands how to sell a product, sell a place, sell a state, sell an idea. and so that was my training before becoming a regulator. the reality is that while north dakota is represented in this room and certainly represented by your coalition and congratulations on forming it. it is a fantastic idea. as you know, this town moves based on good information that is presented to members of
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congress and then more importantly strong persuasion from the people that elect members of congress. and you all know how to do that with the coalition. i've got some advice as well i think sam sums it up quite nicely. but, frankly, what moves me and what motivates me and really what caused me to come out early with support for the idea of trading with our neighbors 90 miles off our coast and normalizing relations to the degree ta we -- that we should and can. we'll talk about that in a little bit. not so much about the peas and lent ils and beans and corn and wheat and potatoes and products we grow in north dakota. i understand that they're interested in other products like rice and things that aren't grown in north dakota. but that's good. that's a great outcome. we have the opportunity, you know, in the early window and the early first half of the
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2000 decade in north dakota to sell about $30 million worth worth of peas and durham and spring wheat. so we know a bit about it. we're excited for the opportunities. but the real excitement to me is the opportunity to influence an oppressed country for liberty, the opportunity to spread democracy. the opportunity to do what farmers do naturally and that is feed hungry people. if the result of spreading democracy is we sell more of our commodities to a hungry world, that's awesome. that's awesome. that's trade ought to be part of diplomacy. trade ought to be part of democracy spreading trade out to be a part of influence and persuasion. that's what trade is. the economics are the other benefits. i don't apologize for them. i'm grateful for them.
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so that's what drives me. the fact, you know, i think there are some things that tend to be overstated on all sides of all issues. we've had a week of overstating issues on all sides. is cuba a big market compared to china? no. but it is 11 million people. right? they are 90 miles away right? they are people that are already inclined to want to be like us to the point that some want to be us. that's pretty cool. we have a running head start. geographically intellectually, culturally. we have an opportunity that should not be squandered to spread liberty spread democracy, and to sell products. we have to look out for some things for sure. nobody is naive enough to think we're just going to open it wide open and somehow be the only beneficiary. i mean, north dakota also grows sugar beets. we are very familiar with the importance of fair free trade
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in our hemisphere and the importance of what happens when it's not adhered to by our partners. so we need to keep all the protections in place as well. that's why i think, and this is a heavy lift, but that's why i think incrementally we can make the case to our colleagues based on the spread of democracy, based on the economic opportunities for our farmers as well as others, manufacturers, intellectual developers, you know, who knows? imagine the infrastructure opportunities that maybe, you know water pumpers in north dakota and texas might have in a place like cuba as they rebuild and build to meet the demands of the current century as opposed to the last one. there is no end to those opportunities in my view. we still have -- we have to have a relationship for that to happen. we can do it with a short leash and test it incrementally. we can open it up little by
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little and provide assurances to those colleagues of ours in both the house and the senate that might not be inclined to go all in. i get it. but i've learned in my short time in congress that persuasion does not happen quickly. almost nothing happens quickly. almost nothing happens. but that's another issue all together. my advice besides congratulating and encouraging you is to go into this coalition of your group, the coalition of congressional supporters, go into it with us arm and arm with good advice, back and forth, to provide political encouragement and cover when necessary. that's a real part of our work. and then to of course help us be persuaded and be persuaders. and you can do that providing
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good information and of course grass roots backing, back home. thank you for the opportunity. it's an honor to be with you and certainly to be with my colleagues in congress. thank you. >> congressman cramer reminded me of actually a compelling point. both the u.s. and cuba are members of the world trade organization. cuba offers most favored nation status to every other w.t.o. member so even if we do begin to loosen restrictions, it's actually going to take our ability to get permanent normal trade relations, normalizing the trade relationship to get us on equal footing. at the moment every other w.t.o. member is getting preferential access to that market. thank you very much, congressman cramer. at this point i would like to welcome congressman rodney davis from illinois. thank you. [applause] >> thank you. i'm glad my colleague from
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north dakota is still here today. i have to differ with his opinion on what's going to happen at the f.c.s. national championship game this year. what he didn't tell you is he's actually going to provide me with bison jerky once my illinois state hits north dakota license. thank you, kevin. it is an honor to be here but i'm here because of a prism of experiences i had because i had a chance to travel to cuba. in 2005 as a staffer for another member of congress, i went to cuba. i saw the conditions that the cuban people live in. many who opposed lifting the embargo agree with me that i, along with them, don't want to see the castro regime continue. i want to see communism lifted in cuba so the cuban people can
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experience the same freedoms we experience here in the united states of america. we just differ on how to go about doing that. and from my personal experience from an agricultural state like illinois, i believe that opening more trade with agricultural products, hopefully most of them from illinois, and then the rest of the states like north dakota, and others, i believe increasing the trade that we already have with the cuban nation is going to allow america to invest in a cuban economy that is going to free the cuban citizens from the conditions that they live under now. the district i represent in central illinois has a very rich tradition in agriculture -- from agricultural manufacturers food processors like kraft in champaign or our farm progress in decatur, illinois, agriculture makes my
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district's economy run. i've also seen first hand how manufacturing jobs in my district are supported through trade. i'm somebody who has long before the president announced his prospective changes in policy to cuba has advocated for more normalized trade relations with the cuban people. so his actions didn't get me here today to talk about this issue and, frankly, i am not somebody who supports trading prisoners in regards to further ideas. while i am ectatic that mr. gross is home, i am not ectatic that this administration decided to release others to make that happen. frankly, i think that could encourage more americans being used as collateral and i do not think that was a good idea.
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long before that happened, i think the cuban people will only experience freedom through american investment. american investment is what we have an opportunity to put forth. illinois agricultural products are essential to this trade and these opportunities. illinois is the number one producer of soybeans. illinois is number two to my birth place iowa, in corn production. illinois farmers are responsible for 8.3 billion in total ag exports. in my state, my district relize upon trade relations to actually sell our products and create our jobs. and feed the rest of the world. but we can't compete with competitors like brazil argentina, and europe under the current policy conditions. that's why i'm standing here today to hopefully see those remedied.
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by improving trade relations and bringing cuba a nawaz the global economy and lifpblging them again to the american economy cuban citizens will have the opportunities that i saw first hand they need. after 54 years, i think a new approach is needed. that's why i stand here in favor of increasing trade relations with our cuban friends, our cuban citizens, and our friends. by releasing the cuban people from isolation and opening their country to our ideas and our products, the castro regime will no longer be able to use the united states as a scapegoat for the failed policies of communism. i thank everyone for being here today. i appreciate your support for this idea. and i wish everyone success in the future in opening up opportunities for all americans to help the cuban citizens through trade. thank you.
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>> thank you for your bold leadership, your words of wisdom. next we will hear from a long-time supporter of u.s. agriculture as it relates to cuba. senator rand, we know you're not here just for today. you're here for a history of leadership on this issue. and we welcome your leadership and we're looking forward to hearing what you have to say. thank you. >> thank you very much. >> thank you all very much for the chance to be here and to visit just briefly about this issue. i was somewhat offended by your emphasis on the words "long time" but it actually is the year 2000 so nearly 15 years ago we offered a successful amendment on the house floor carving out an exception for food medicine, and agricultural commodities from the embargo. it was a very contentious circumstance with lots of
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discouragement by some in charge from offering that amendment. and i remember the outcome of that vote. 301 to 116. 301 house members 116 to 116 house members said it's time for change in the policies with our country's relationship to cuba. a majority of democrats and a majority of republicans both said that day that it's time to do something different. in kansas, and i said this on the house floor previously, in kansas, we'll try something once and we don't always expect it to be successful the first time. we might try the second time. maybe even a third time. but i would tell you that cansans have enough common sense and are smart enough to know that after trying something for 54 years you ought to try something different. and if the goal of u.s. policy is to change the nature of cuban citizens and the relationship with their government, what we've been doing has not worked. and it's not surprising it hasn't worked because it's a
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unilateral sanction. when we don't sell agriculture commodities, manufactured goods, when we don't trade with cuba, it's not that they're not getting agriculture commodities or manufactured goods. it's just that they're buying them from someone else. kansans and americans are smart enough to know when you're there by yourself all you're doing is harming yourself. of course in a state like ours and we can go through the litany of agriculture commodities that we produce, the list is long but when wheat, for example, is not sold to cuba, it's not that they're not buying wheat. it's that they're being purchased from some other place, our competitors. generally canada, european union. we are a natural supplier of agriculture commodities to cuba. the cost of transportation from europe to cuba is about $25 a ton. the cost from a port in the united states is $6 or $7 a ton. there is a natural opportunity
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for us and we ought to take advantage of that. so i've been at this issue for nearly 15 years. i will admit to taking a leave of absence for the last couple years. i announced in the appropriations committee after previously offering the amendment that was successful again in the senate appropriations committee. two years ago i said i'm done. until alan gross is released and i'm pleased to say that is accomplished and i'm pleased to be involved in a very active way to see one there are no more alan grosses held in captivity in cuba but the change in policy by the united states is something congress and any administration ought to embrace. it just makes sense. [applause] we're at work. i started on this issue as
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somewhat self-interest in agriculture, in particular kansas agriculture. i would say in the time we engaged on this topic it became clear it is something even more noble than the trading relationship, that selling opportunity. it's about changing the opportunity that cubans have in relationship to their government. i happen to believe a growing economy, greater standard of living creates the opportunities for the cuban people to make demands upon their government that otherwise they'd be spending their time trying to figure out how to put food on their family table. if we can have that relationship, economic relationship that americans can travel to cuba, if cubans can come to the united states, as the -- my former colleagues in the house have indicated this morning, i think there is a noble calling of trying to make the world a better place for all citizens of the world including those who live in cuba. so common sense says we ought to do this. and in fact our morality says that we ought to do this. let's make the difference. let's make the change. and i think this is a congress
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that has the ability to do that. i would encourage the treasury department to alter their regulations. redefine when the cash up front has to be delivered. remind them that they can do that without congressional authorization. i would encourage them to go ahead and change the regulations back to the way they were for several years in which a bank can issue a letter of credit and let's begin this process of developing that economic opportunity for american agriculture with cuba today. and then members of congress will work on the broader issues of how we alter the statutory provisions related to the embargo. appreciate the folks here today. it's an honor to be here with my colleague senator klobuchar. i look forward to working with her and others to make certain good, common sense policies prevail and american agriculture causes are advanced and there is greater prosperity
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on farms across the country and that the cuban people have a better shot at a better life. thank you very much. >> good common sense and morality are drivers. we certainly appreciate the words of senator moran. our next and last speaker from the hill is senator klobuchar. senator, we know you to be one of the most thoughtful policy people on the hill. you weigh the complexities of an issue you think about all sides and all stake holders and you put good policy in front of politics or party. we really appreciate your bipartisanship and support on this. we also know that in 2010 you were a leader in responsoring a bill to advance trade relations with cuba. and so this is a natural fit for you and we appreciate that you're here to show your leadership. thank you.
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>> all right. the last speaker. what does it say? what is it they say, everyone said everything but not me or something like that. so i am excited to be here. we finally had our last vote of the day. and so time to get to work on some of these really important issues. i appreciated what senator moran said as well as the other people that were here. i think he sees this as a bipartisan issue with a lot of support and it's moving forward. i want to acknowledge representatives from minnesota. cargill, the country's largest private company, one of the sponsors here. and one of the of the reasons a minnesota based company, that our unemployment in our state is down to 3.7%. why is that? it's a lot because of exports, a lot because of agriculture production. we are number three for sweet corn number two for hogs. you didn't guess that in the country.
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and number one for turkeys. a fact to remember for the weekend. i have spent my day hearing people complaining about the weather in washington today. i think what is it, 20 degrees. tomorrow in minnesota it is going to be 33 below zero wind chill so the minnesotans are here to bask in the sun. we think it is very warm here. i also appreciate all the work that's gone on with this policy with the administration and all of the businesses and agriculture interests that for so long have been advocating for a change in policy. i can tell you i see the strength of exports in our state. i saw it throughout the down turn where we kept our head above water and it was a lot because of the fact that we have companies from 3m to cargill that believe in that global market and believe that it means jobs in america. and we see cuba as a market of 11 million people. 11 million new customers that can buy american products and
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to me that means jobs in america. american agriculture has been at the forefront of advocating for common sense policy, changes that would promote congress with cuba, and revive a relationship between cuba and america, which everyone in this room has now just this past weekend, the minneapolis tribune featured the story from fairmont, minnesota. one of three farmers who travel to havana in 2002 to watch the arrival of the first u.s. grain shipment to cuba in 40 years. despite that commercial opening over a decade ago, we have not made the kind of progress we should make. agricultural experts to cuba grew to nearly $700 million in 2008. but they sank below 300 million last year. export restrictions prevent them
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-- have continued to hobble growth in the market, and the embargo prevents humans from obtaining food we take for granted in our country. as one human rights activist wrote, it is impossible for cubans to buy staples like eggs or cooking oil without turning to the underground market. rationing forces people to stand in line for hours for things like poultry and fish. on the 50th anniversary of the cuban government in 2009. it provided families with an extra half pound of ground beef, but that beef wasn't u.s. beef. the event was sponsored by the venezuelan government. i say it is time that americans stopped taking credit for the hamburger to venezuela. we have new opportunities. today we have begun our path
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that i think is the right path. the process to jumpstart our ties with cuba is a positive step forward. increasing travel and commerce between our countries will create new economic opportunities for american farmers and businesses, and will help improve the quality of life of cubans. 11 million people. that is a big market for american goods and american jobs . like the members of congress that are spoken today, i have long advocated for modernizing our relationship with cuba. i led a bipartisan bill to make it easier to finance exports to cuba. the bill was led in the house by ranking agricultural chair colin peterson. my home state of minnesota, as i mentioned, is big in exports. we exported 20 million products to cuba in 2013. with the president's action alone, the minnesota department of agriculture estimates that exports could increase by
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another 20 million. increasing agricultural exports and promoting normal commercial relations with cuba will also help ensure that cubans can provide for their families. it will reduce the fear that comes with struggling to just get by. the growing community of cuban small farmers and co-ops need advice and assistance to aid in the transition from large state owned agricultural enterprises to a more entrepreneurial system. u.s. agriculture can help develop a new generation of cuban agriculture. but the success of this policy shift and the potential for openings does not hinge solely on the u.s. the cuban government must take serious steps to reform politically and economically. we need to see substantial improvement in the cuban government's respect for democracy and human rights. it must free political prisoners and to stop arbitrarily arresting people for political speech. it must take steps to liberalize
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the state-centric economic system if it truly helps to benefit from the growing interest in commerce with the united states. democrats and republicans can work together in the new congress to support a common sense relationship with the u.s. and cuba. you just heard that from senator moran, and you are hearing it from me. this is not a partisan issue. members on both sides of the aisle recognize that continuing along the same path with respect to cuba has not achieved our objectives, and has hurt americans by restricting travel and business opportunities abroad. even in the depths of the cold war, attorney general robert kennedy, one of castro's most fervent opponents, soft to rescind the travel ban noting that the band was "inconsistent with traditional american liberties." i know many of our colleagues have concerns about the shift in policy, and i hope we can have a
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robust and substantive debate. but congress must avoid obstructive actions like blocking the confirmation of ambassador to cuba or the funding for diplomatic activities. instead, congress should conduct reasonable oversight to ensure that our policies are enhancing our economic interests in expanded commerce and travel and cultivating new political freedoms in the country of cuba. 50 years of the embargo and travel that have not secured the cuban interest. it is time to try a different approach. i thank you all for being here today. i'm sure you are glad this is your last speech from someone on the hill. i look forward to the good changes that are starting to take place. i especially look forward to working with senator moran who got on the commerce committee. i have been on that committee for a long time, and i hope they will see action out of the commerce committee, in addition
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to foreign relations and the other committees dealing with these issues. i look forward to working with all of you, and taking a practical approach that will be good for the people of cuba. good for the people of the united states, and good for the people of minnesota. thank you very much. [applause] >> you hear the words common sense and practical. while the senator said this was the last speech from someone on the hill, today, yes, but not tomorrow. we will be hearing more and more from our representatives and senators on the hill about this policy. this is just the beginning. at this time, we would like you want to get a little comfortable. we are going to call our industry leaders to make a few comments, and we will then engage in an interactive q&a with the press. we thank the press for taking the time to come and hear us and let us tell our story.
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we do believe that the story will again telling itself, but nevertheless i call my colleague and vice chairman paul johnson to facilitate the discussion with industry leaders. >> recognizing that time is short, we will jump right in. starting with betsey ward, president and ceo of the usa rice federation. >> i will go quickly, and start by talking about rice and cuba. the cuban market for rice is not theoretical. it is real, large, and compelling. cuba is the second largest importer of rice in the americas. there was a time, a long time ago that cuba was the number one export market. anyone visiting cuba knows that rice is the mainstay of their diet. present in nearly all cuban meals.
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annual per capita consumption is one of the highest in the world 200 pounds. compared to the u.s., which is 27 pounds a year. you understand the cuban saying that it can't be called a meal if it doesn't have rice. they grow about 400,000 metric tons a year, but to meet high demand they import 600,000 metric tons. our industry has been pressing for open trade and travel with cuba since the mid-1990's. we were the first u.s. commodity to reenter cuba in 2001. we continued to sponsor trade missions and participate in forums here and in cuba. we did have sales during the early 2000's. we sold 64 million in 2004. our sales have fallen to zero starting in 2009. our loss has been vietnam's gain. they are the primary supplier of rice to cuba. we think it's a loss to the cuban people as well.
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they are forced to eat an inferior product that traveled 16,000 miles to get to them. it is less than 700 miles from havana to u.s. rice ports. we know the cuban people prefer u.s. rice. when i travel there and we were selling rice there, when consumers learned u.s. rice arrived they would line up for hours to get a chance to get some. the stores couldn't keep our rice on the shelves. given the cuban preference for u.s.-grown rice and the obviously just a goal advantages rice farmers enjoy, we can quickly displace low-quality asian-origin rice and capture more than half of this market within five years, once any and all restrictions are lifted. i'm thrilled to be here today and proud to be a member of the new coalition and be so many steps closer to free and unfair -- free and fair trade with cuba. thank you. >> thank you betsy. alan tracy, president of the
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u.s. wheat association. >> thank you. in 1988 -- excuse me, 1998, some of our members, particularly the kansas wheat commission and the north dakota wheat commission and others paid a visit -- paid for a shipment of flour to be donated to cuba. u.s. wheat facilitated that shipment, went to cuba and help to the millers use it. they were ecstatic. it was just 20 tons of flour but the bakers used it so much more suited to the 100-graham roll that is a standard part of the diet, well behind rice but a standard part of the diet. they wanted to have it. as soon as the legislation allowed them to begin exporting in 2002, the donation had been to the care affiliates not to
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the government, by the way. once we began to make sales we moved up to about half of the market, just under half of the market from 2004 to 2008. down to about zero in 2011. long-term, the prospects are that it should be about a million-ton market. they import nearly that much. to put it in perspective, we should be able to garner 80% to 90% of the market, as we do for the rest of the caribbean. it's simply logical. they like the product. in today's dollar terms, that's about $250 million a year. to paraphrase year after year , that adds up to real money. we recognize there is a lot of work to do, but we welcome this first step to us and the real
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meaning of the step by the administration as it puts them in favor of fostering trade rather than frustrating it. we look forward to the lifting and changing of some regulations that are currently in place that caused the decline. the cube instantly got frustrated with having to deal with us, and our competitors found their way in again. that's again the first step. we long called for the elimination of the embargo including in the journal of commerce in 1999, i believe it was. so we look forward to working with the coalition on behalf of u.s. wheat producers and the logical and sensible relations with the people of cuba. thank you. >> thank you. dale moore with the american farm bureau federation. >> thank you, paul. one of the things we have a lot
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of details about, we have honorable folks that talked about how important opening trade with cuba is. when we look at this, i don't think there is a farm organization or commodity organization or ag industry sector partner that hasn't had on their books for sometime the importance of lifting this embargo. we fight these unilateral embargoes on somebody different fronts over so many different years. this one has stuck around far too long. as my boss said when the president made this announcement , he said, do you have any idea what our talking points are on cuba? i had to admit this was not an issue that we had on the radar. so it was a very pleasant surprise right before christmas. it's something our farmers and ranchers across the country appreciate, the effort to get this process started. as you saw a little bit ago, it is great to see the bipartisan effort on the hill rolling to
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help us make this a reality on a broader sense. i can add anecdotes and stories but ird have the one minute signal in the corner of my eye. thank you very much. >> thanks. next the president of the u.s. hide and leather association representing the north american meat institute. >> we were told moving up here to cut our speeches down to minute from four and trying to figure out the most important thing to say in one minute. it's difficult. you think it is all important. but the meat and poultry industry, one of the primary goals of the coalition is to increase the economic prosperity of the cuban people. but when i -- what people don't realize is how much of a benefit that will create for our own industry. the goal offers a direct benefit to u.s. poultry producers especially. cuban consumers seek to add higher value animal protein to
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their diets. one of the first products the newly minted middle-class consumer buys in the world economy is additional animal proteins with additional income. cuba is a real market for u.s. poultry. despite existing financial burdens under the embargo, u.s. poultry exporters established a substantial foothold in the market. through october of last year the u.s. exported $128 million $128 million of poultry meats to cuba. a high of $160 million in 2012. this is a real market for us already. but frankly these numbers could be better. finally, we think is important for our industry to see what is on the horizon in terms of expected future gains. with the expected future expansion of tourism and hospitality, the meat and poultry companies are in
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position to supply those industries with the high-quality products they will need to service foreign visitors coming to the island. this will have implications for other markets as well, especially if they receive european tourists or tourists from tpp countries that might be looking to u.s. meat and poultry for the first time. we want them to know if they are visiting cuba, they are eating texas ribeye or iowa pork tenderloin. so thank you. >> last but not least, the president of cargo america's. >> i will try to not confuse being the last speaker with the keynote speaker. i will keep my comments brief. senator klobuchar talked about the farmer who was in havana for the discharge of the first shipment to cuba. he was with cargo when they sold the corn to cuba.
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after initial success and sales early and mid-2000's, unfortunately we saw business drop automatically out of the u.s. going to cuba. the reason is that the united states agriculture does not compete on even footing. a year ago, or three or four years, maybe, i had the opportunity to work in mexico. mexico is a net deficit producer of agriculture. when mexico imports commodities, the majority comes from the united states via ocean-bound vessels, the port of veracruz. in the last four years, 95% of corn that mexico bought has come from u.s. farmers and the u.s. gulf. cargo has offices in the dominican republic. over the last year, half of the corn that the dominican republic has imported came from the u.s. sadly today, the u.s. is not
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competitive selling corn to cuba. we are not competing on even footing. we have a long history of believing in and supporting open and free trade. that comes from 150 years of experience doing business in 67 countries and seeing the benefit free trade and open markets can bring to people and people's lives. around 20 years ago, when trade relations change with vietnam -- since then, we have seen the power of free trade, not only for our business, but for our customers and two entities, where we work and do business in vietnam. last year, we completed work on building the 70th school for children in vietnam. sadly today, we don't have the opportunity to help communities and customers thrive in cuba like we do in other countries. this won't change without broader action. therefore, we are supportive of changes to the law to help u.s.
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article to compete in cuba. thank you. >> thank you. at this time, this is the moment where we will open up for questions. so please feel free to say who you are and who you are affiliated with, and please make sure you make use of the knowledge of our industry leaders. we will start with the first question. sorry, we have a roving mic. >> rich edson from fox business. to build on something senator moran said he talked about trade relations. do you get the sense that the administration can do more than it already has done unilaterally, or are we at a point where it really is up to congress to liberalize this? >> i know that there are a number of regulations that have been in place they have figured out where most of the strings
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end that they can start pulling on. i am an agriculture guy. so that limits my ability to interpret treasury rules. i would say, though, that the president having made this decision, made this announcement, i figure he is pushing the envelope about as far as he can in hopes that it sparks action on the hill, which clearly it seems to have done. >> i think they can do things administratively, and one is establishing banking relationships with cuba. that was something in his announcement. that is helpful. you don't have to go through the third bank. the issue of payment in advance -- right now, cubans want to buy from us, but they have to pay for it before it even leaves the united states. you can tweak that so it is not paid until it gets to cuba. fundamentally, the issue for us is our ability to compete with
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other suppliers, the availability of credit. that is something congress will have to address. we cannot offer them credit, and so our competitors can. and they don't have a lot of cash to spend on goods. i think that is really a congressional action. >> regulations do have force of law. we have to comply with regulations. trade thrives uncertainty, so we need to have that clarified as much as -- with asthma defective and useful change as the administration can foster on its own. i don't think we have that yet. but the greater step is to allow for the full normalization of trade relations, to allow all the changes we envision to go forward, both in trade and hopefully eventually in the relationship with >> next the cuban government.
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-- with the cuban government. >> next question. >> in a similar vein. do you expect, how quickly do you expect treasury to come up with regulations? a final regulation, or do you expect and to propose a notice of change that could take a while before the actual change takes place? >> we would expect they are moving swiftly. we don't have answers on specific dates. my guess is they would follow the law and allow for a comment period. but our guess is that they plan to move swiftly next question? >> i encourage them to do an interim final to allow the time for comment and allow the change to become effective immediately. >> are you going to establish an office in washington to coordinate activities?
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how will this be managed? >> this is a effort where we all have our offices. we meet when we can. but essentially we are a coalition. we don't have an office. no bricks and mortar. but that means we will be out there. any other questions? >> yes. one other one. the u.s. and cuba and trade and economic council suggested that one reason trade or sales to cuba have been so popular is they have been on cash. in some cases when cuba has bought from other countries, they have not paid on time. he wonders whether it is a good idea to extend credit to cuba. what are your views on that? >> i just add that will be up to the individual companies involved.
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what we would seek would be to have the ability to offer terms more favorable than we currently have. it isn't so much the credit for my standpoints as all the hoops they have to go through in order to open the line of credit. they often have to go to a european bank, which opens a line of credit in the united states. obviously our competitors don't have to do that. there are restrictions on the ships themselves that call on havana and later call to u.s. ports. those have increased the shipping costs. these are the kinds of things we would like to see fixed. but again, this is a first step. we don't expect to have our full trade relationship restored overnight. it is a very important key step to have the administration be fostering rather than frustrating trade. >> the next question.
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>> amanda becker with reuters. in this comment period at treasury and commerce, i wondered what your plans were, how actively you will be submitting positions or information to let them know what you have at stake in this. >> yes, yes, and yes. and yes. we have already come to establish different working groups and are working on solid recommendations. any other questions? ok. with that, let us thank you for your time and attention. we know time is limited here in washington, and you have spent a good portion of your afternoon with us. let me reiterate something i said at the start of this conversation.
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54 years of unilateral sanctions is an experiment that has gone on for way too long. we certainly appreciate the comments of our political leaders when they talk about common sense and being practical. our association is about common sense and being practical. it is about, as senator klobuchar said the 11 million people 90 miles south of the coast. it is those 11 million people who deserve an opportunity to move up the rungs of the poverty ladder. we don't believe we can do it with just singular agricultural trade flows going south. what we believe is that for greater openness and normalization of relations that allows not only u.s. agriculture but other american businesses across manufacturing, medical technology etc. to take advantage of that opportunity in the markets, and to help the cuban people begin to grow their incomes and enhance their standards of living. so we are very much about a
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holistic approach, and we will be using our voice with the u.s. congress, which we believe is for the most part bipartisan on this issue. in fact, we do believe we have the majority of congress believing in this commonsense approach. not only the majority of congress, but also the american people. the american people want a different approach to cuba, and that's what the u.s. agriculture coalition is offering. so thank you very much. with that, we conclude our public lunch. [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]
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very much. i ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks. the speaker pro >> t thank you so much, mr. speaker. the recent concessions by president obama to the castro regime mark a drastic departure from one of the most consistent tenants of the united states foreign policy and traditional american values and sets a dangerous precedent for other rogue regimes to emulate. the pardoning of convicted cuban spies follows an ill advised exchange with the taliban in which the rhetoric emerging from the white house to justify is actions has been unnervingly similar. as predicted the course of policy by this administration on caving to terrorist demands
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makes the united states more vulnerable and we set those rep -- we see those rep cushions manifest themselves across the globe. just recently venezuela's thug jumped at the opportunity to request an exchange of a convicted criminal in the united states for the freedom of pro democracy leader lopez who has been jailed in venezuela. this is not the way to protect national security interests throughout the world. this is the way of putting them in jeopardy. when we hoist americans to convicted spies we set a dangerous precedent for the world to follow. the cuban regime has already signaled strongly that it will not unclench its fist despite recent developments. on december 30, just 13 days after president obama's announcement the cuban regime arrested nearly 60 activists
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seeking to express themselves freely. this in addition to the arrest of more than 200 activists on human rights right day. that's rich. just seven days before the announcement normalizing relations. yet the administration proudly and openly touts the promise but yet unproven release of 53 dissidents as a major breakthrough. when in reality the net result will mean hundreds more in castro's ghouling a's. castro will release 53 and arrest 60 more in the next months. this shows the failure of the administration's argument and proves there's no intention by the castro's to move in the direction of reform or freedom. instead, president obama has created an atmosphere that emboldance the regime to continue its violent tactics with no concern of consequences from this white house. we must not forget that cuba not only poses a threat to its
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people but also threatens us here at home. cuba must remain a state sponsor of terrorism because it has not changed its terrorist ways. for example, in the year 2013 cuba was caught helping another dangerous regime, north korea, evade u.n. scurenl resolutions of sanctions by shipping arms and munitions to the regime. a t a time when many in congress and even the white house are trying to punish the nords korean regime for its cyber attacks against the u.s. we cannot forget that those rogue regimes helped north korea like the one in cuba. the castro regime continues to thumb its nose at u.s. by harboring fugitives such as new jersey state trooper killer joe an chess mard, by harboring puerto rican terrorist moral less and bank robber hernda and many other whose have fled u.s. justice for the shores of cube
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avement these are just a few of the reasons why the administration must reexamine its relationship with castro and impose strict sanctions against the thugs, not offer it concessions for all of these transgressions. just like a zebra cannot change its stripes, the castro regime cannot and will not change its anti-freedom, terrorist ways. it is our duty to support democracy and be a voice for those 11 million cubans oppressed throughout the island. by appeasing dictators we have disappointed people all over the world who are struggling to achieve freedom. and the white house has betrayed core american values and principles the respect for human rights, and the right for people to choose their own destiny. as the first cuban american born member of congress, who went from being a political refugee fleeing the oppressive and brutal castro regime to a senior member of this hallowed
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and cherished body, i will fight tooth and nail to ensure that the cause for freedom and democracy in cuba is not forgotten. until the oppressive yolk of tyranny installed by the castro brothers has been lifted, and the regime has been replaced by a representative democracy like the one we have here in our cherished nation, i have a moral obligation to freedom-loving people everywhere, and i will not ever forget that responsibility. thank you, mr. speaker, for the time.
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>> part two of the movie which is after the war reconstruction is really the heart of the protest in the sense that this is where the blacks are just appalled by the portrayal of freed slaves. this is a scene showing what happens when you give former slaves the right to vote, the right to be elected, the right to govern. it's a scene in the south carolina legislature where their first and primary order of business is to pass a bill allowing for interracial marriage because again in griffith's hands black men are solely interested in pursuing and having white women. ♪
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>> after returning to the white house from a trip to arizona president obama went directly to the french embassy via motor cade where he signed the condolence book. the president was accompanied by the french ambassador to the u.s. the president wrote on behalf of all americans i extend our sympathy and solidarity to the people of france following the terrorist attack in paris. as allies we stand united with our french brothers to ensure that justice is done and our way of life is defended. we go forward together knowing that terror is no match for