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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  March 6, 2014 10:00am-12:01pm EST

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all of these clinics and all of these issues and created another bureaucratic hurdle. mr. president, again the good news is we came together in a bipartisan way and have a solution to those purely bureaucratic hurdles so that all of these clinics can move forward expeditiously. the house specifically passed a bill that would do that, that would take care of these bureaucratic hurdles. they passed it on the consent calendar by a whopping bipartisan margin. and so i come to the floor, mr. president, urging all of us to do the same. specifically, i have an amendment to the bill that also makes it even more fiscally sustainable by having a pay-for for any conceivable cost to this bill, and that is what my amendment would do. now, this v.a. clinic
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legislation was in the sanders veterans bill last week, and it was in the burr alternative. it was in both the democratic and the republican veterans packages. neither of those packages passed. the sanders bill was defeated on a budget point of order, which i supported, because i don't think it's properly paid for and is sustainable both in terms of our budget and, even more importantly for veterans, how the veteran system works and handles its current patient load. the burr bill never even got a vote. we have disagreements about those larger packages. those are real substantial disagreements. but in the midst of that, mr. president, i would hope we can agree to what we can agree on. and these v. clinics certainly -- and these v.a. clinics
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certainly fall into that category. we have cleared all objections to this v.a. clinic piece specifically. we have addressed all issues having to do with these v.a. clinics, in part through my amendment at the desk. the only possible objection i know of is the fact that a larger package is not passible. well, i understand their big arguments about that larger package. those are legitimate differences of opinion. i don't think that should stand in the way of us agreeing to what we can agree on and move forward with an important piece of the puzzle for veterans health care, which are these 27 community-based clinics around the country. and in that spirit, mr. president, i would a ask unanimous consent agreement whereby we would take up the house-passed bill.
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again, this house-passed bill was actually on the consent calendar, passed with a whopping bipartisan majority. we would adopt my amendment at the desk, which addresses some fiscal concerns with the bill, and we would pass it through the process. this would be our coming together, agreeing what we can agree on. that's what the american people want us to do as we work on all other aspects of health care and veterans benefits covered by both the burr and the sanders bills debated last week. and so, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of h.r. 3521, which was received from the house; that my amendment, which is at the desk, be agreed to; that the bill as amended be read a third time and passed and the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table. the presiding officer: is there objection?
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mr. sanders: mr. president, reserving the right to object -- the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: mr. president, i thank very much my colleague from louisiana bringing forth this very, very important issue. senator mary landrieu from louisiana has also raised this issue, as have many colleagues. and my friend from louisiana is absolutely right. this is an important issue, and this is an issue that should be passed. but i would say to my friend from louisiana that last week we brought forth the most comprehensive veterans legislation in the modern history of the united states of america, and that legislation dealt with many, many issues raised by veterans organizations who represent millions of men and women who have put their lives on the line to defend our country. let me very briefly,
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mr. president -- very briefly -- touch on some of those issues included in this comprehensive piece of legislation that lacked three votes. we got 56 votes. one senator was absent, would have voted. we need three votes to pass this. this would have addressed some of the serious claim serious pre claims backlog. it would have addressed the crisis of advanced appropriations to make sure if there is ever again another government shutdown, no veteran -- disabled veteran, no veteran on a pension would not get their check. this legislation included an enormously important provision expanding the caregivers' program so that wives and sisters and brothers taking care of disabled vets finally get the
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attention they deserve. that legislation would have addressed a terrible problem facing some 2,300 families today where men and women were injured in iraq and afghanistan, no longer can have babies, and they want help through in vitro fertilization or other processes, or adoption, to be able to have families. this addressed the very serious problem that many of our young men and women are not getting the education they need because states are not allowing them to get in-state tuition, and it addressed many, many other crisis, which is why that legislation had the support of the american legion, veterans of foreign wars, the disabled american veterans, the vietnam veterans of america, the iraq and afghanistan veterans of america, and in fact virtually every veterans organization in the country. so let me say to this my friend from louisiana, and i sa i say s
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sincerely: what i will not do is dismember this piece of legislation. what i will do is work with you and work with other republicans who voted against this comprehensive veterans legislation so that we can bring forth to the floor a bill that reflects the needs of millions and millions of veterans who are hurting today. so i look forward to working with my colleague from louisiana on a comprehensive bill, but at this point i object to his proposal. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. vitter: mr. president, reclaiming the floor and my time -- the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. vit vumr. vitter: i find that vy regrettable. of course i'll continue towork with the senator from vermont. of course i will continue to work on that larger package, which i have been actively involved in for sometime. and i'll continue that.
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but basically the senator from vermont is holding a very tiny piece of it hostage, a tiny piece that will have no impact, whether it is in or out in terms of passage of that broader bill. what is happening is we have a piece that, on its substance, on the substance of the clinics themselves, no one objects to, a piece that passed the house by a huge, overwhelming bipartisan majority. and yet it's not going to pass here today or perhaps anytime soon because it's held hostage over larger fights. i'll continue to work on that broader veterans piece. i support a broader veterans bill, if it's styled the right way and if it's fiscally responsible. i support the burr alternative. i'll continue to look for common ground between that burr alternative and the sanders
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bill. but whether this clinic piece is in or out of that discussion will have zero impact on passing that piece. i honestly think it will have zero impact. so i just find it really unfortunate that we can't get this done in the meantime, that what my colleague considers the perfect is now the enemy of the very good and we can't serve veterans by coming together on what we do agree on and acting in the meantime. with that, mr. president, i would urge my distinguished colleague from vermont to reconsider over time, as we work on this larger veterans bill, because we could pass this today. the house would pass the slightly modified version immediately, and we would be moving on with 27 community-based clinics around the country, which veterans in
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all of those communities desperately need. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. oh, excuse me, mr. president. if i could just be recognized for 30 additional seconds, i would like to enter into the record and ask unanimous consent to do so a colloquy, written colloquy between myself and senator inhofe regarding these clinics. i thank senator inhofe for his active cooperation in moving these clinics forward, and i ask unanimous consent to submit this written colloquy for the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. vitter: with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. sanders: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: mr. president, let me he iterate my hope -- let me reiterate my hope that the senator from louisiana will in fact work with us. it is my intention to see that this bill get to the floor again before memorial day. i think we owe it to the men and women who have put their lives
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on the line to defend this country to address their serious needs. the issue of these 27 medical facilities are one of those needs, but there are many, many more. and i look forward to working with the senator from louisiana, and other senators, to do what the veterans communities want us to do and to go forward on what will be the most significant piece of legislation to take care of the needs of our veterans passed in several decades. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. mr. thune: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak up to 12 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president, i, too, want to lend my voice to -- i was listening to the discussion that just occurred on the floor. i don't think there's any group
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of americans more deserving of our support than the men and women who have worn the unilateral for the purpose of this country -- the uniform of this country and so bravely and courageously defended america's freedom and our democracy. and i and i soa hope, like my cs who speak spoke just a minute ago, that we can come to an agreement that would allow us to do the things on which we agree. there are so many things -- i think that 80% of the debate last week between what the senator from vermont proposed and the senator from north carolina proposed were the same things, and we ought to be able at least to $those things we agree on -- to do those things we agree on and address some of the vital and urgent needs our veterans' communities have. there is a bill that's come over from the house of representatives that addresses many of these issues, not as comprehensively as was proposed last week by the senator from vermont or the senator from north carolina, but obviously we've got some issues that need to be addressed that will
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support and help those americans who have borne the cost of battle for our country and defended america's freedoms. and we should work together to define that agreement and move legislation forward that would address those needs. mr. president, i come to the floor today to talk about the pain that obamacare and the obama economy are causing americans. cbs, "the new york times" released a new poll last week that found that there was widespread dissatisfaction with president obama. 59% of the american people are disappointed in the president's presidency, the poll found, while 63% think the country is on the wrong track. just 38% of people in this country approve of the president's handing of the economy and 39% approve of his handing of foreign policy. and when it comes to the president's signature law, obamacare, just 6% -- 6% -- of the american people think the law is working well. a whopping 92% support changing
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the health care law or repealing it altogether. in similar news, gallup reported last month that its economic confidence was negative for every single state. only -- only in d.c., the district of columbia, home of too many disconnected democrat politicians, did gallup find a net positive view of the economy. so needless to say, the american people are, to put it mindly, dissatisfied. why are they dissatisfied? because they spent five years waiting for the relief that they were promised and it hasn't arrived. a pew research center poll in september found that 63% of the american people believe that the nation's economic system is no more secure today than it was before the 2008 market crash. the same poll also found that majorities of americans report that household incomes and the job situation hardly recovered at all from the recession. mr. president, the president may have inherited -- president
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obama may have inherited a difficult economic situation, but he's had five years to make it better. instead, he's making things worse. over the past five years, household income has declined by $3,600. income inequality is at its highest point since the great depression. the number of americans receiving food stamps has soared to over more than 47 million, almost 48 million americans receiving food stamps. that means that one in five, literately one in five american house hoeds is on food stamps p. ten million americans are unemployed, almost four million in the latest six months and the latest unemployment rate is at jimmy carter-era lows thanks in part to americans who have given up hope of finding a job and dropped out of the labor force altogether. then -- and then there's the president's health care law.
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the president promised his health care law would lower costs while allowing you to keep the plan and the doctor that you like. in reality, health care costs have skyrocketed and americans have been losing their doctors and their health care plans in droves. seniors are being hit hard by cuts to the medicare advantage program and low-income seniors are being hit the hardest. meanwhile businesses are struggling with the law's burdensome taxes and regulations while workers struggle with reduced hours and fewer opportunities. a recent report from the congressional budget office found that the president's health care law will reduce the number of full-time workers by up to 2.5 million over the next ten years. then there's last week's report from the center for medicare and medicaid services that found that 11 million small businesses are going to see workers have their premiums increased as a result of obamacare. and yesterday, in an attempt to improve the democrats' deadly worsening election prospects in november, the administration
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announced yet another, another obamacare delay for a select few health plans as well as a carveout for the administration's union friends. it's no wonder americans are so unhappy. but despite the abundance of evidence that their policies have failed, the democrats and the president continue to dismiss american stories. in fact, the senate majority leader had the gall the other day to get up on the floor of the united states senate and say every single obamacare horror story is untrue. that's right. instead of looking at the overwhelming evidence that obamacare just isn't working and maybe rethinking his support of that law, the majority leader decided to accuse every single american who's had a bad experience with obamacare of lying about his or her story. that's a lot of denial right there. they say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different result. yet, that's just exactly what
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democrats and the president are doing. instead of looking at the evidence of the past five years and rethinking their policies, democrats are just piling on more and more of the same. with americans hurting for jobs and opportunities, democrats have taken to advocating a hike in the minimum wage, a policy i might add that the congressional budget office said would result in up to one million fewer jobs and a policy that would hit the lowest-income workers the hardest. and then, then there's the president's budget. the president's budget proposal would have been a great opportunity for the president to rethink some of these failed strategies of the past five years and to focus on controlling spending and promoting economic growth. instead the president produced a political document that panders to the far left wing of his party and he is choose any type -- eschoose meaningful reform. his budget increases spending by 63% over the next ten years and adds another $8.3 trillion to
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our $17 trillion debt. and to pay for some of that spending, the administration is proposing even more tax increases, over $1 trillion worth of new tax increases on top of the $1.7 trillion in tax increases the president has already gotten since he came to office. the administration has even backed away from changes to our broken entitlement programs by gradually raising the eligibility age for medicare which would have helped put the medicare program on a stronger financial footing going forward. and as for balancing the budget, well, that's a fantasy. the president's budget doesn't even pretend to balance. with two years left in his presidency, it appears that the president has given up on governing and resigned himself to playing election-year politics. his lame-duck budget will further grow the federal government while the middle class continues to shrink. if the president and democrats really want to help americans the way they claim to, there are
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real steps that they could take right now to start turning our economy around and putting americans back to work. instead of a job-killing minimum-wage hike, they could support initiatives to reduce the cost of hiring and to give businesses incentives to hire workers. instead of perpetually extending unemployment benefits they could support legislation like a bill i've introduced to provide relocation resources to allow the long-term unemployed to move to areas where the job market is stronger and strengthen federal worker training programs. this would help give the unemployed what they really want, not months of meager government benefits, but steady, good-paying jobs with the potential for growth. speaking of jobs, mr. president, if the president wanted to create jobs immediately, he could instantly, today, with the stroke of pen that he talks about approve the bipartisan keystone pipeline and the 42,000-plus jobs that it would support. all it would take is a stroke of that pen that he keeps talking
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about. and then there's trade promotion authority. the president did talk about trade promotion authority in his state of the union address but he abandoned it shortly afterward to address some democrats' political concerns about pushing the policy in an election year. trade promotion authority would help farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs and job creators gain access to one billion new consumers around the globe. the president were serious about creating jobs for americans, he'd be urging the majority leader to take up this bipartisan legislation today. finally, the president should be supporting bipartisan efforts to repeal the costly medical device tax in his health care law, a tax on pacemakers and insulin pumps. according to a recent study, more than 30,000 jobs in the medical device industry have been affected by this burdensome provision in the law. yet, this tax isn't eliminated soon, even more jobs in this industry are going to be lost or
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sent overseas. mr. president, it's not surprising that the american people are unhappy. obamacare and the obama economy have done nothing to ease the struggles americans have faced since the recession. instead are proposing new initiatives democrats and the president continue to push for more of the same and to double down on the same failed policies. mr. president, five years is long enough. it's time for democrats to abandon their failed economic experiments and to work with republicans to pass legislation that will actually create jobs and opportunities and put americans back to work. mr. president, we can do that. we can do that today. the president can pick up the phone that he talks about, call the majority leader, ask him to bring up any one of these initiatives that i've mentioned on which there is broad bipartisan support. keystone pipeline, trade promotion authority, initiatives
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that would grow jobs. repealing the medical device tax. there were 79 votes in the united states senate on an amendment to the budget last year in support of repealing that onerous tax. there are things that we can do together, that we can do today that would create jobs, grow and expand this economy, lower the cost of hiring people in this country so that we can get more americans back to work with good-paying jobs that will help lift them higher in their economic circumstances and give them a better and a brighter future. mr. president, i hope that that's what the president will choose to do rather than following through on so many of these election-year ploys, if you will, that are simply designed to help win elections come election day rather than do something that is really meaningful to help middle-class families and the american people. mr. president, i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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under the previous order the senate will be in a period of morning business until 10:30 a.m. with senators
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permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each, with the time equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees, with the republicans controlling the first half. morning business is closed. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate will proceed to the executive session to consider the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, rose eilene gottemoeller of virginia to be under secretary of state for arms control. the presiding officer: the time will be equally divided between the majority leader and the republican leader or their designees. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider -- the senator from new jersey. mr. menendez: thank you, mr. president. it is always good to see my distinguished colleague from new jersey presiding before the senate. i come to the floor to support the nomination of rose eilene gottemoeller for under secretary of state for arms control and
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international security. she has been the acting under secretary since february 2012. she is a distinguished public servant who has played a vital role in addressing the critical proliferation challenges the united states faces. in my mind it would be difficult to find a person more appropriate to take on the variety of new and old proliferation threats we face. rose eilene gottemoeller was the chief u.s. negotiator of the new strategic arms treaty with the russian federation, and during the clinton administration she served in the department of energy overseeing its nuclear proliferation portfolio. during the period of 1993 to 1994 she was at the national security council overseeing the denuclearization of the ukraine, kazakhstan and belarus, a topic of some important given the current crisis in the ukraine. mr. president, as we consider this nomination, it is worthwhile reviewing the array
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of issues and nonproliferation threats that we face. in syria, we're facing riddling the regime of its chemical weapons arsenal seeking to keep pressure on assad to fulfill his commitments and verify syria is in full compliance of provisions to destroy its chemical weapons production, mixing and filling. the united states is engaged in the complex process is transport and safely destroy syria's chemical weapons stockpile. second, on the issue of iran's nuclear program we are entering a critical stage in negotiations. as i noted in remarks on the floor last month, we must, in my view, maintain the pressure on iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. as part of our negotiations, we must insist on the most stringent measures to verify whether iran is in compliance with agreements it has signed. and we need to ensure that any final deal that might be signed can be precisely monitored,
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providing us a warning signal at the first hint that iran is seek to go achieve nuclear breakout. third, in terms of north korea, the united states stated we will not accept north korea as a nuclear weapons state which would potentially unleash an arms race in the region and threat our security and that of our allies. fourth we have to maintain and sharpen efforts to prevent terrorists from getting their hands on and/or using nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. despite all our difficulties with russia, it is vital to continue to implement and verify the arms control treaties we have them, particularly the new start treaty. these treaties are not something we do as a favor to russia. they are a vital measure for limiting the potential dangerous nuclear escalation that might occur in a crisis. all of these reasons and many others, we need to confirm the nomination of rose eilene
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gottemoeller so she can fully assume her new responsibilities as under secretary of state for arms control and international security. with all the authority necessary to represent the united states security interests in the international community. having said that, i know there are differences within the senate about the question as to how we should approach nonproliferation issues, but i think regardless of those differences, i believe there are a number of things we can all agree upon. we can all agree we face a new and more complex set of proliferation threats, the danger of nuclear adversaries using their nuclear capabilities to blackmail partners and allies. in response to these threats, we all agree we need a more modern and flexible nuclear enterprise and updated policy that can
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respond to new threats and old threats we face. and i hope we can agree that we need to confirm this nominee to be in a position with authority to help update and implement those policies with the full authority of the position. what i would say to the senate is at the end of the day there are some who may disagree on verification and compliance procedures or on the nature of the modernization of our program, but we cannot disagree on the significance of the threats we face and the need to have a team in place tasked with representing our security interests at the highest national level. this is not a time to say no to confirming a qualified, experienced nonproliferation expert when so much is at stake in syria, north korea and iran and negotiations with russia, not when we imagine the consequences of what the spread of these weapons can bring. so i urge my colleagues to
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confirm this nominee in the national security interest of the united states and look forward to a strong support of her nomination. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor and observe the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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senator mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. officer without objection. senator and, plms, i ask unanimous consent to speak up to seven minutes as in morning business. officer without objection. yohance i rise with a heavy heat that i pay troibt the life and legacy of a friend, jim young. jim passed away on february 15 after a courageous battle with
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pancreatic cancer. my thoughts and praishesz are with his wife schiller lay, his children and his grandchildren during very, very difficult ti time. even as we mourn his passing, we celebrate his deep flofer his family, his tremendous commitment to his community, and his impressive example of leadership. jim's family, friends rx his coworkers, admirers a cross nebraska and our great nation are mourning the loss of a life defined by great service and by great leadership. it is my privilege today on the floor of the united states senate to honor his legacy. jim knew the importance of hard work and commitment to purpose. that's how he climbed the ladder of success to be the president and the chief executive officer and later chairman of the board
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of union pacific corporation. jim's integrity was unquestioned. he loved his work and carried his enthusiasm beyond u.p. as he led the american association of railroads and other professional organizations. jim's leadership spurred impressive reinvestment in growth in the railroad, but many would say his true accomplishment was his focus on a positive work environment and taking care of his co-workers. his concern for their well-being was genuine, and they knew it. it would be difficult to categorize jim's greatest contributions beyond his tremendous impact on u.p. and the railroad industry because jim did everything. he loved our great state. he loved his hometown of omaha.
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he set a shining example of what it means to give back to the community. the list of boards on which he served and organizations for which he volunteered could literally fill a book. from the greater omaha chamber of commerce to the joycelyn art museum, the university of nebraska to the salvation army. jim's commitment to serving and to improving the lives of others is just simply unmatched. he did not take for granted his success and dedicateed time and attention to assisting those who had less, fewer resources. evidence of his generosity can be found in all corners of the community. it would range from the jim and shirley young scholarship program at jim's alma mater, the university of nebraska at omaha. he was involved in the knights
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of exarbin and a servant and a church leader and a youth sports coach. i am so confident that i speak for all nebraskans when i say we have lost a great leader and a community partner. i feel like i have lost a friend. jim gave of himself in all he did. from the board room to the ball field, his presence is going to be so missed, but it is my sincere hope that jim's wife shirley, his children and his grandchildren find comfort knowing that so many lives were made better because of his efforts. jim leaves a vibrant legacy of leading by example, inspiring others by believing in every single person's potential and of dedicating both time and treasure to opening doors of opportunity for those who just needed a champion.
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it would be difficult, mr. president, to imagine a more meaningful life legacy. mr. president, i thank you. i yield the floor. i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. boos: barrasso: thank you mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the question is on the gottemoeller nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be.
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and the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: anyone wishing to vote or change their vote? anyone wishing to vote or change your vote?
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if not, the ayes are 58, and the nays are 42. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the clerk will report the spaulding nomination. the clerk: department of homeland security, susan eleanor spaulding of virginia to be under secretary. the presiding officer: under the previous order, there are two minutes of debate equally divided. mr. reid: time is yielded back. the presiding officer: without objection, all time is yielded back. if there is no further debate, all those in favor, say aye. all those opposed say no.
quote
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the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the clerk will report the roth nomination. the clerk: john roth of michigan to be inspector general. the presiding officer: under the previous order, there are two minutes of debate equally divided. mr. reid: i yield back the time, mr. president. the presiding officer: without objection. there is no further debate. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider are considered made and laid upon the table.
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the president will be immediately notified of the senate's actions and the senate will resume legislative session. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to consideration of s. 1752, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 51, s. 1752, a bill to reform procedures for determinations to proceed to trial by court-martial for certain offenses under the uniform code of military justice, and for other purposes. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that order with respect to consideration of s. 1752 and s. 1917 be modified so the debate time is equally divided between senators mccaskill and gillibrand or their designees,ual 0 other -- with all other provisions in the previous order remaining in effect. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. reid: i have a cloture motion at the desk that i ask the chair order reported. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: cloture motion, we the undersigned senators, in
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accordance with rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, hereby move to bring to a close the debate on s. 1752, a bill to proceed to trial by court-martial for certain offenses under the uniform code of military justice, and for other purposes, signed by 17 senators as follows -- -- mr. reid: i ask that reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i have 11 unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session. they have been approved by me and senator mcconnell. i ask consent these requests be agreed to and be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: mr. president, when american men and women decide to defend our freedoms as members of the united states armed forces, they do so with full knowledge that they could make the ultimate sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our country. these are real courageous men and women. while we can't protect every member of our military from the harm at the hands of america's enemies, we should at least guarantee them protection from harm at the hands of their
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fellow service members. the need to address the problem of sexual assault is not lost on the military officers and officials with whom i have met. they acknowledge there is a problem. i believe they are working in good faith to fix it. the vast majority of the united states military personnel are appalled by sexual assault in the ranks as are their commanders. i applaud their dedication to this nation and their fellow service members. i applaud the action of those who have zero tolerance for these crimes. but i am convinced that congress must act aggressively to eliminate a military culture that not only allows sexual assault to happen but too often punishes the victims when it does. we already took some action to combat this sexual assault in the defense authorization bill. i'm glad today that we will vote on proposals to further action. congress cannot stand idly by while the blight of sexual assault continues. every military leader has the
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responsibility to take a stand with us for zero tolerance approach to military sexual assault, stand by the victims of sexual assault and stand with the good men and women they command. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: we're going to have two votes at about 2:00. i ask consent that the additional time until 2:00 p.m. be equally divided and controlled. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from new york. mrs. gillibrand: i rise today to speak about the need to strengthen our military and stand by our brave men and women in uniform by passing the bipartisan military justice improvement act. i want to start by thanking all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for the seriousness
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with which they have approached this issue and the effort they have put into looking at the solution survivors of sexual assaults in the military are asking for, and i want to specifically thank my friends from missouri and new hampshire for their determination and leadership in fighting for victims of sexual assaults in our military. i look forward to voting for their bill on the floor today. i would now like to defer the colloquy to senator inhofe. mr. inhofe: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: madam president, when the majority leader a minute ago said congress cannot idly stand by and not do anything, i -- i have to remind him that we have been doing this for quite some time. we have been working on this,
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the problem of sexual assaults. the reality is that congress has been aggressive in instituting reforms to tackle the sexual assault in the military since fiscal year 2009, the defense authorization act, we have enacted 47 provisions, either directly addressing sexual assault or instituting reforms to the uniform code of military justice that will improve efforts to address allegations of misconduct. now, these reforms have strengthened the protections and the care of the victims while preserving the rights of the accused. these historic reforms are vital to ensuring the sound and effective and fair military justice system. now, i -- i look at the -- the bill that we are considering that will be coming up in a short while, and the bill would modify the court-martial convening authority in a way that i believe creates really serious procedural problems.
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in a january 28, 2014, letter to the department, it cited -- and i'm going to -- some really technical problems. i will quote now from that letter from the d.o.d. quote -- "potentially irreconcilable and could result in long delays in bringing some cases to trial and if a conviction ultimately results could produce still more years of appellant litigation, perhaps ultimately culminating in its conviction's reversal. now, the matters that are really worse are the bill includes a requirement that the new military judge advocate billets required to perform these duties must be taken from existing billets. this is what we have been fighting about and arguing about, the problems we are having in the overall military. no billet growth is authorized from this, so it could have to come from existing billets.
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i received a personal letter from the judge advocate general of the army, general caprino, and he wrote me and he said the bill would not be cost neutral according to initial estimates. the army would require an additional 50 judge advocate colonels along with the increase of about 200 judge advocates and other ranks and about 150 legal support staff. that's a quote. she went on to say in -- these are with quotes, that this is happening at a time when the services are attempting to reduce their personnel costs to accommodate shrinking budgets and that is just tim impact on the army. on november 18, 2013, the department of defense provided he an assessment of the devastating impacts of the gillibrand bill, the defense office of cost assessment and program evaluation estimate that total cost of

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