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tv   Survivors of Club Q Shooting Testify on Anti-LGBTQ Violence  CSPAN  December 30, 2022 9:01pm-9:39pm EST

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supports c-span as a public service, along with these other television providers, giving you a front row seat to democracy. >> testimony now from survivors of the club q mass shooting. they talk about the rise in lgbtq violence and say they believe that hateful rhetoric from the right was a contributive factor in the shooting. republican members pushed back against the claims and crime in general across all sectors of society is the problem. this is just over three and 15 minutes.
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a hearing on the rise of anti lgbtq violence. we do expect testimony from two survivors of the late november shooting in club q, colorado springs. >> -- will appear in rep. maloney: remotely who are not recognized should remain muted to avoid background noise and feedback. i will recognize members verbally but members retain the right to seek recognition verbally. in regular order, members will be recognized by seniority, lastly, if you want to be recognized outside of regular order you may identify that in , several ways. you may use the chat function to send a request,
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or you may unmute your mic to seek recognition. we will begin the hearing in just a moment when they tell me the livestream is ready. the committee will come to order. without objection, the chair is authorized to declare a recess of the committee at any time. i now recognize myself, for an opening statement. it is with a heavy heart that i convene today's hearing to examine the rise of extremism and violence against lgbtqi+ people in the united states. last month, a person with an ar-15 style assault rifle entered club q, a nightclub that served as a haven for lgbtqi+ people, in the colorado springs community, and opened fire on unsuspecting bar patrons and staff. the attackers depravity robbed us of five innocent lives. if daniel aston,
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raymond green, kelly loving, ashley poe and derek rump. more than a dozen people were injured in the rampage, and family members of loved ones who were left reeling have been forced to pick up the pieces. my heart breaks for those who endured this ruthless act of violence. the club q shooting represents an attack on all sacred places. for lgbtqi+ people, across the country, that offer the promise of community and refuge from rampant bigotry. in attacking club q, the shooter targeted the sense of safety among the lgbtqi+ people across the country, a feeling of security to which they are entitled. the attack on club q in the lgbtqi+ community is not an isolated incident, but part of a broader trend of violence and intimidation across our country.
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earlier this month, a group of extremists appeared at a lakeland florida arts festival, featuring drag performances, to harass and intimidate performers and attendees. the extremist group, whose faces were concealed by masks, carried a banner with anti lgbtqi+ slurs, and raised their arms in nazi salutes. and in my own community in new york city, home of stonewall, the international capital of the lgbtqi+ rights movement, a man was arrested for throwing bricks at the windows of a gay bar on four different occasions. these actions are the culmination of years of anti lgbtqi+ extremism that began in state houses across the country, and spread to social media platforms before boiling over into the communities where they
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reside. in 2018, republicans and state governments across the country introduced 110 pieces of legislation targeting the health and safety of lgbtqi+ people. in the past legislative session, this number tripled to more than 340 pieces of anti-lgbtqi+ legislation. these bills, which villainize lgbtqi+ people in classroom settings, and target health care for lgbtqi+, and more directly threaten the freedom of lgbtqi+ to live authentically and safely. for example, one piece of legislation signed into law by florida governor ron desantis prohibits teachers from even mentioning lgbtqi+ people in
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classrooms. this, quote, don't say gay or trans end quote, law, erases the existence of lgbtqi+ people, and families, and muzzles our nation's brightest educators. within one month of florida passing this legislation, two additional states passed similar bills. in total, 48 bills in more than 20 states have considered eliminating, or suppressing lgbtqi+ people, and history in the school curriculum. here in congress, dozens of house republicans have cosponsored federal legislation to prohibit federal funding for schools with curriculum that affirms lgbtqi+ people. and republicans at every level of government have gone even further, to villainize transgender people, targeting
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their ability to access necessary health care, and restricting their freedom to participate as full members of our society. these hateful pieces of legislation have fueled dangerous rises in extreme anti lgbtqi+ rhetoric, following the passage of florida don't say gay or trans law, vitriolic social media content accusing members of the lgbtqi+ of being groomers, skyrocketed by more than 400%. the committee received a video submission from ms. sarah kate ellis, president and ceo of glaad, one of the nation's leading lgbtqi+ media advocacy organizations, explaining the proliferation of anti lgbtqi+ extremism across our media landscape. and its relationship to the kind of
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violence we observed at club q. i would like to play this video now, if we could. -- >> thank you chairwoman maloney, thank you leaders from colorado springs. glaad tracks and report dangerous conditions for lgbtqi+ americans, and i want to be very clear, we currently live in an unsafe america for lgbtqi+ people. the horrific attack at club q is yet one more avoidable symptom of a larger epidemic, plaguing our nation. a culture of anti lgbtq rhetoric and violence from politicians and political extremists. consider these facts that glaad tracked this year. over 300 anti lgbtq state and local bills proposed. bomb threats to 20 children's hospitals that offer medically safe health care to transgender youth. nearly 150 attacks on lgbtq events, and a new glaad poll found 48% of lgbtq people,
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and 72% of transgender to respond in fear for their safety in the current political environment. why is this happening? it starts with candidates and politicians who deliberately spread disinformation, and anti-lgbtq inflammatory political messaging. it continues with media. fox news aired a 170 anti-transgender segments in a three-week span. the new york times is approaching transgender health care as a debate as opposed to settled medicine, according to every medical association. this rhetoric gets amplified on social media, where hate gets organized into action. facebook, too often refuses to act on content that is spread live. on twitter, media matters, data shows them maliciously defamatory rumors, increasing over 1200% from nine accounts since elon musk took over. this behavior is all exacerbating
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when bad actors have easy access to assault weapons. there is a direct line from dangerous words to violent behavior from the lgbtq community. we can stop the lies and violence, only if we work together. we all deserve to be safe in america, thank you. rep. maloney: thank you. as republicans have fanned the flames of bigotry, democrats have remained committed to protecting and advancing the health, safety and rights of the lgbtqi+ people. last year, house democrats passed the equality act, landmark legislation that would ensure ion protections against discrimination for lgbtqi+ people into law. and this past june, to commemorate pride month this committee shepherd the lgbtqi+ data
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inclusion act to house passage. this groundbreaking legislation would expand federal data collection efforts to improve our ability to understand and address the specific challenges facing the lgbtqi+ people. more than 200 house republicans voted against each of these pieces of legislation. as a long time public servant, the fight for lgbtqi+ equality is one that has always been close to my heart. as a new york city council member, serving the very community where the famous queer activist eddie windsor resided, i was proud to introduce the first legislation recognizing domestic partnership in state history. just last week, congress took the historic step of protecting the right to same sex marriage under federal law, and president biden signed it into law, yesterday, whether 5000 americans on the lawn of
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the capitol, appreciating this act. but the work of ensuring that lgbtqi+ can live authentically and safely has only just begun. today, we will hear from some of the nation's leading experts regarding the rise of anti lgbtqi+ extremism. the damage that it inflicts upon our communities and the steps that we must take to eliminate it. i am pleased to welcome the new president of the human rights campaign, miss kelly robinson, for her first appearance before congress. we will also hear directly from survivors of the violent club q attack. and i'm deeply grateful for the bravery of these individuals in recounting their horrific experiences. their testimony will serve as a tremendous public service for their community and for our nation, thank you. let us honor
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them by re-committing to the bold action necessary to ensure that every person in the united states can experience the freedom to live authentically and safely, regardless of who they love or how they identify. i now yield to the distinguished ranking member, mr. comer from kentucky, for his opening statement. mr. comer: thank you, madam chair. i want to thank our witnesses who have joined us today for a live committee under chairman maloney's tenure. i will have more to say about that in the conclusion of the hearing. my thoughts and prayers go out to the colorado and florida shooting victims, families and friends. no one should have to experience what you have all experienced. let me clearly state, as we have consistently said, republicans condemn violence in all forms.
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unfortunately, democrats use committee time and resources today to blame republicans for this horrendous crime. this is not an oversight hearing. this is a blame republicans so we don't have to take responsibility for our own defund the police and soft crime policies. just a quick review of the facts tells us that individual responses for these heinous crimes was not a stranger to law enforcement. in fact, the shooter was arrested last year for violent threats against their mother. no doubt about it, this individual has a saddened troubled past, with no parental support. but democrats, as usual, have jumped to conclusions while ignoring the facts. why? because it is politically convenient to blame your political opponents. it is easier to blame republicans and having a serious discussion about the rise of the violent crime across the nation, including this individuals plans in club q, in colorado. it is easier, but also irresponsible, and reckless. instead, we should
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be focusing on the alarming rise of violent crime across our country today. crimes that target all races and ethnicities. we are seeing rises and threats in crimes across many communities and institutions, including historically black colleges and universities, asian communities, jewish communities and christian communities. churches, pro-life institutions are facing a historic increase in violence targeted attacks, which largely go under reported. the department of justice has remained fairly silent as well. the rise in crime in america is the second largest concern for americans, second only to this administration's inflation crisis. recent data shows the violent crime increasing by 1.4% -- 4.2% in the first few months of 2022. in new york, violent crime increased by more than 40% compared to 2021, in los angeles, homicide reached their highest levels in 15 years during the first half of 2020. in new orleans, homicide increased by 40%. right here in
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d.c., homicide grew 14% from 2020 to 2021. crime is simply out of control, in large, democratically led cities. the extent of the rise in crime might be worse than the current data shows. recent reporting reveals that the fbi's national crime data for 2021 was largely incomplete, lacking data from 37% of law enforcement agents nationwide. the fbi's national crime data does not include for crime reports for new york, los angeles, and most crime stricken cities in the country. on this committee, we should be using our time and resources to conduct oversight into the rise of violent crimes committed against all americans and organizations. every day, americans, no matter what side of the aisle, live in a high crime environment. the democrats defund the police movement has successfully taken resources from, and crush the morale of police forces across the
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country. without the police, we lose our first line of defense for victims of all crime. in addition, democrats are focused on electing leftist prosecutors, with soft on crime policies, allowing crime to run rampant in the united states. no one wants to see horrific crime at events, no one wants to see horrific events like what happened in colorado and florida occurring in america. more needs to be done to reverse soft on crime policies, re-fund the police to make the streets of america, cities and towns safe again. i look forward to hearing from our witnesses today, especially about the spike in crime across the country. under policing, an increase in violence against all americans. thank you madam chair, i yield back. rep. maloney: the gentleman yields back. before we introduce our witnesses, i would like to ask unanimous consent to allow congress member david cicilline and mondaire jones to participate for the purposes of
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asking questions. without objections, so ordered. we now introduce our first panel of witnesses. please note these witnesses will only be giving statements, they will not be taking questions. first, we will hear from michael anderson, a survivor of the club q shooting. then, we will hear from mr. matthew haynes, founding owner of club q. finally, we will hear from mr. james slaugh, a survivor of the club q shooting, and the witnesses will be unmuted so we can hear them. please raise your right hand. do you swear or affirm the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god? let the record show, the witnesses answered in the affirmative. thank you. without objection, your written statements will be made part of the historical record of this meeting. with that, mr. anderson, you are now recognized
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for five minutes for your testimony. mr. anderson: to the distinguished members of the house oversight committee, thank you for inviting us here today. growing up in lakeland, florida, i was taught in my private, religious school, by many conservative voices, to hate who i was, that being born gay was something to reject. a younger person should never have to feel that way. so i waited, silent, suffering until i was 16, and then i came out. it was places like gay bars and clubs that helped me embrace who i was, and formed me into the man i am today. club q was, and will once again be a safe place, not just for the lgbtq community, but for everyone else as well. if you are fortunate enough to intimately know lgbtq people, you will find some of the kindest, funniest, accepting and most welcoming people. those are the people who found a safe place in club q, and deserve to once again have that safe space. on november 19th, 2022, a deranged shooter entered club q,
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armed with an assault rifle, a pistol and an incredibly disturbing amount of ammunition, and even more disturbing amount of hatred in their heart, all while cowardly hiding behind a bulletproof vest. this shooter entered our safe space, in our home, with the intention of killing as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. they used a military style weapon, that solely exists for the intention of killing other human beings, and began to hunt us down, as if our lives meant nothing. i was bartending that evening when the attack began. i felt more terrified than i ever have before in my life. i ran for my life that night, and hid, praying, hoping the violence would end. when i stared down the barrel of the gun, i realize that i stood no chance against a weapon of that power, magazine capacity and seemingly automatic firing rate. while i prepared for my life to end in that moment, i prayed, i panicked, and i prayed some more. god must have heard my
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prayers, because two brave men stopped the shooter moments before he would have inevitably found me. i saw my friend a lying on the floor, bleeding out, knowing there was little to no chance of surviving that bullet wound. i had to tell him goodbye while i continue to fear for my life, not knowing if the attack was truly over. i can still hear the rapid firing of bullets today, it is a sound i might never forget. it is a sound that i hope no one here or anywhere else in this country has to hear. i say all of this not because it is easy to do so, but because it is important to do so. i plead you all to appeal to your heart, your morality and your humanity do something about this issue. i want to thank president biden for fighting to reinstate the assault weapons ban. i sincerely hope that you will support that reform so we can prevent more people from needlessly dying at the hands of that weapon. not only am i embarrassed for our country's international reputation of
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inaction on gun reform, i am frankly disgusted. between 1994 and 2004, america's mass shooting incidents dropped dramatically. following the expiration of the assault weapons ban, which the republican party allowed to expire under president bush, we now have an epidemic of domestic terrorism and violence. be trying to do something is now. what needs to be done is placing the lives of children and adults above our unhealthy obsession with assault rifles. and you are some of the ones who can make a difference. many in our government say nothing can be done. this epidemic of violence is just the price we must pay for freedom in this country. that is a lie. the facts speak for themselves, and you are denial of this gun violence reality is not a policy proposal. i encourage you all to work together to save our children, and adults. and in turn, save ourselves and the soul of our nation. to the
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politicians and activists who accuse lgbtq people of being abusers and grooming children, shame on you. as leaders of the country, it is your obligation to represent all of us, not just the ones you happen to agree with. hate speech turns into hate action, and actions based on hate almost took my life from me, at 25 years old. i beg you all to consider your words before you speak them. someone might use those words to justify action. action that might take someone's life. to my fellow lgbtq community, events like this are designed to discourage us from speaking and living our truth. they are designed to scare us from living openly, courageously and proudly. we must not succumb to fear, we must live prouder, louder than ever before. we must continue to be who we are, for who we are is exactly who we are meant to be.
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and to the children watching this, feeling you might not be like the other kids, i understand you, i see you. you deserve to be exactly who you are, no matter what anyone else has to say. in the words my personal icon, christina aguilera, you are beautiful the matter what they say. words can't bring you down, so don't let them bring you down today. chairman maloney, i thank you for making this a priority. to the house oversight committee, thank you for hearing us today. i hope my truth can help usher america into its next, and greatest chapter yet. my name is michael anderson, i am 25 years old, a proud, gay man. now, i am the survivor of mass shooting. i hope we can work together to end this carnage in our country, thank you. rep. maloney: thank you very much. with that, we now recognize mr. matthew haynes, you are now recognized for your testimony. do you want to turn on your microphone?
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mr. haynes: thank you, good morning. my name is matthew haynes, i am the founding owner of club q in colorado springs. first, i like to acknowledge and thank our local lgbtq organizations, the city of colorado springs, the state of colorado and the national team at glaad, and so many other organizations for the effort and support they have all provided to our community. thank you, chairman maloney. such an accurate and telling opening statement. and thank you, the house oversight committee, for creating space and time to meet with us today. i know that we, our club q community are in the thoughts and prayers of so many of you. unfortunately, these thoughts and prayers alone are not saving lives. they are not changing the rhetoric of hate. none of us ever imagined that our little bar in colorado springs would be the target of
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the next hate crime. and i repeat, we were targeted, for the next hate crime. last week, 305 charges were filed against the club q shooter. 48 of these charges were hate crime related. the number 305 alone, graphically illustrates just how heinous this act was, and how many people in this community were impacted. it also illustrates how much damage can be done when you take hate, and access to military style assault weapons, putting those together is carnage. we were lucky that night that the casualties were not much higher. when we opened 20 years ago, colorado springs was a very different place. i am proud to have remained in colorado springs over the years, even when we did not feel
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welcomed. club q has been a home for the community for 20 years. we are proud to say it will once again become our home. one man, full of hate will not destroy us. now is a critical time for national, state, local communities -- sorry, community and religious leaders to drop the politics and work with our leaders and small business owners, to support and affirm lgbtq events, venues, communities and most importantly, people. we need safe places like club q more than ever. we need you, our leaders to support and protect us. we have received hundreds of hate comments. i cannot read them all, but i will read you a few examples. i woke up to the wonderful news that five mentally unstable [bleep] lesbians, and 18 injured. the only thing i am mad about is
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that the [bleep] had courage to subdue the wonderful killer, i hope more shootings happen. have a blessed day. " "the shooter was doing god's work, five less [bleep], not enough. those that stopped him are the devil." "all gays should die," this is hate. it is not just us experiencing this, our hero, army veteran rich vieira and his wife, jessica told me that they and their daughter have also been receiving similar hate messages. finally, my husband and i had the honor to attend the white house ceremony for the signing of the respect for marriage act yesterday. it was honestly the first joy and pride i have felt since these horrific events at club q. and while the protections for marriage, like my own were signed into federal law, i could
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not help but reflect that 169 members of congress voted against that bill. 169 of your colleagues, hiding behind excuses, semantics and other reasons, sent a message to me -- and it was a clear message, that the entire community, sorry, to me and the entire community, that you don't respect that marriage. and through your inaction and your vote, you, as a leader sends a clear message, it is okay to not respect the basic human rights of loving who you love, and it's okay to disrespect and not support our marriages. we are being slaughtered and dehumanized across this country, the communities you took to protect. lgbtq are not political issues, they are not lifestyles, they are not beliefs or choices. they are basic human rights. so i ask you today, not simply what are you doing to safeguard lgbtq americans, but rather what are
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you, or other leaders doing to make america unsafe for lgbtq people? club q is grieving. we are rebuilding, we are fighting. let's stop this from happening again, thank you. rep. maloney: thank you very much. and mr. slaugh, you are now recognized for your testimony. mr. slaugh: thank you. my name is james slaugh, i want to thank the house oversight committee and chairwoman carolyn maloney for allowing me to share my story today. i want to start with my coming out story, as it involves my family, their support and in the beginning, homophobia. my sister charlene actually helped pave the way for me to come out, for me to feel safe. she was forced out of the closet by our mother, and ultimately forced out of the
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house. when she was, our household went through a transformation. in the end, after a long process of learning and understanding, our mother chose her children and accepted who we are. it was this road that allowed me to feel safe enough, at 24 years old to say, hey mom, i like guys in a conversation. she recently passed away. but before she died, for the past 15 years, she became an advocate for our community. she chose love, love will win in the end. this goes especially in her religious circles, who dehumanized us. the events of november 19th were a nightmare come true, one of my biggest fears. right before midnight on the eve of the transgender day of remembrance, my boyfriend, john carlos and i were about to leave club q, when a shooter walked in. several pops rang out. i immediately felt a searing pain in my arm. i
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fell over on the ground, knowing i had been shot, in my right arm. it was not working, but i was able to call 9-1-1. i saw everyone on the ground, glass panes shattered, blood running for my arm and chest, or shrapnel had come through. john carlos was next to me, shot in the leg, but thankfully, alive. to my horror, my sister charlene was bleeding out. she had been shot over five times. my heart branded as she tried to dial 9-1-1 with a good arm outstretched. i called out to her, i heard no response. i do not want to imagine what may happen, had the shooter not been taken down that night. five wonderful people were still murdered, and may we never forget their names. ashley paw, raymond green vance, daniel aston, derek romp and kelly
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loving. we miss each of you. club q was the second home and save space, not just for me, but for all of us. their names, outside of these spaces, we are continually being dehumanized, marginalized and targeted. they fear based and hateful rhetoric surrounding the lgbtq+ community, especially around trans individuals and drag performers leads to violence, it incites violence. we should not have to fear being shot when we go to our safe spaces, or anywhere for that matter. it was only after this violation of our safe space that i came to realize, though, we have a lot more love in this world. before sunrise, we were already receiving messages from all over the world with affirmations of love. people who we have never met, giving us their best wishes. a family friend immediately started a gofundme, and we experienced a ton of support. when i left the hospital, i was brought to tears
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just by the memorial that have been created in front of the club, in front of my safe space. i want to thank the colorado victims advocates who have been instrumental in our recovery, helping with funds, and of course for the staff at glaad who have simply been amazing, it helping me use my voice. hate rhetoric from politicians, religious leaders and media outlets is at the root of attacks like this club q, and it needs to stop now. rhetoric that makes people feel less than four feeling different, rhetoric that threatens to silence what sports we can play, what bathrooms we can use, how we define our family and who i can marry. every american is, especially those elected to positions of power, has the responsibility and a choice to use their words consciously. hate starts with speech. the hateful rhetoric you have heard from elected leaders is the direct cause of the horrific shooting at club q. we
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need elected leaders to use language that reflects love and understanding, not hate and fear. i urge lgbtq americans and allies to join together today as one community. hateful people want to drive us back into the closets and live our lives in fear, but we can't be afraid. no bullets will stop us from being proud of who we are, or will injure the love and support that exists in our community, thank you. rep. maloney: thank you for sharing your incredibly powerful testimony with us today. we appreciate you taking the time to be with us, to join with our committee hearing, and you are all excused. thank you so much. we will briefly recess while the panels switch. ank you so much. we will briefly recess while the panels switch.
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