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tv   U.S. Senate Confirms Seema Verma  CSPAN  March 13, 2017 2:24pm-6:18pm EDT

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agreement which will enable us to guarantee living in the u.k., but also guarantee the u.k. citizen. the application on the home office is looking at this and as they always do, looking how they can improve. >> mr. speaker, since 2010, the full-time staff equivalent cut e affordable care act, i just want to point out once again how different this bill is from what
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the president promises. for a while now, i've spoken about how the president talks like a populist and promises one thing but governs from the hard right, delivering something entirely different. president trump talked tough on wall street but appointed wall street insiders to his administration and started to try to roll back wall street reform. he said he'd stick up for working people, but just about an hour after his inaugural where he said that, one of his first actions as president made it harder for average families to afford a mortgage. the president plans to repeal and replace the affordable care act, and that is the most recent and most glaring example of this trend that the president speaks one way and does another. there is a stunning gap between how the president talks about health care and what his bill, trumpcare, would do.
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the bold promises of better care for everyone at lower costs come from an alternative reality that is legislation which studies show will cover fewer people at higher costs. higher costs, less care. like much of his administration thus far, trumpcare is another game of say one thing, do another. say you'll protect the working people of america and then go forward in ways that hurt them and hurt them severely. let me offer a few examples about trumpcare and how the words the president stated are so different than the reality. during the campaign, the president said he was not going to cut medicaid, quote, like every other republican. he tweeted that he was, quote, the first and only potential g.o.p. candidate to state that there will be no cuts to social
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security, medicare, medicaid. let me repeat that. this is president trump's own tweets. he will be the -- he said on his tweet, he will be the first and only potential g.o.p. candidate to state there will be no cuts to social security, medicare and medicaid. trumpcare, however, directly contrary to the president's promise during the campaign, takes an ax to medicaid, which covers 68 million americans. instead of having the federal government match a percentage of each state's medicaid costs, which can rise and fall according to how much the state actually needs, trumpcare would give states only a fixed amount of money per enrollee each year. if costs are higher than expected, trumpcare wouldn't cover the gap. according to the center on budget and policy priorities, this change would amount to a
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$370 billion cut to medicaid over ten years. the president said he was the first and only g.o.p. candidate to promise not to cut medicaid. his bill cuts it by nearly $400 billion. nearly two-thirds of americans in nursing homes rely on medicaid. this cut goes right after seniors and could make it more difficult if, say, you're a 45 or 50-year-old with a parent in a nursing home. you would be faced with a horrible choice. take your parent out of the home and not give them the care they need or shell out huge amounts, thousands and thousands of dollars out of your own pocket which you may not have. so much for the president not cutting medicaid. it's a broken promise to so many poor people, people elderly in
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nursing homes and their children. the president also said we're going to have much -- a much better health care plan at much less money, but studies have shown that if you're in the middle class, trumpcare will cost you about $1,500 more a year. if you're an older american between 55-64, your costs would increase by over $5,000 a year. the 55-64-year-olds may be the most vulnerable. their health care costs tend to be higher than others, and their costs would go up by $5,000 a year. another promise by president trump broken when it comes to trumpcare. the president also said, quote, we're going to have insurance for everybody. his words, not mine. we're going to have insurance for everybody.
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some estimates of trumpcare estimate suggests that it will kick roughly 15 million americans off the insurance rolls. the c.b.o. will likely have a more definitive estimate this evening putting an exclamation point on what we already know: trumpcare will cost millions of americans their health insurance. another promise by donald trump broken. the president spoke repeatedly on the campaign trail about expanding treatment for americans suffering from opioid addiction, but trumpcare trumpcare would end the affordable care act's requirement that addictive services and mental health treatment be covered under medicaid in the 31 states that chose to expand medicaid. the president promised more help for those suffering from opioid addiction. the president's action in trumpcare cuts it.
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even on drug prices the president says one thing and does another. just a few weeksing a he stood in the well -- just a few weeks ago he stood in the well of the house of representatives and said, we should work to bring down the artificial high price of drugs and bring them down immediately. so you'd think trumpcare would have something that does that. unfortunately, it does not. trumpcare does absolutely nothing to address the high cost of drugs. in fact, drug prices might start going up faster. trumpcare eliminates a current requirement that insurers actually give patients the value of the health insurance they're paying for. this is a blank check to insurers to cover less and charge more out of pocket for a whole host of services. most experts agree that insurers could charge much more for prescription drugs or even
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ration care. so again another trump promise broken. he was going to work on getting costs lower immediately. not in his bill, which he introduced a few weeks later. it might indeed raise prices for the cost of drugs for average americans. and in the broader sense, trumpcare violates what this president promised to working america. he promised to be a champion for working america. he promised to be their voice. that's how he presented himself in his inaugural address. but trumpcare would hurt working americans the most, making them pay more for les -- for less ca. it seems the only people who benefit -- the only group who benefit financially, if you're in the top .1% of earners, trumpcare gives you a nearly
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$200,000 tax break, on average. this is the group that benefits -- they may not be the only group, but they are the group that benefits the, who far and a-- the most, far and away. if you are in the middle class, if you are having youing l to make it into the middle class, your costs are going to go up by thousands of dollars a year. so many of these people voted for trump for president, but the only people who get that huge tax break of an average of $2 00,000 a year are the top 1%. in a very real sense, donald trump is giving a huge tax break for the wealthy and then making working americans, average americans, pay for it. to some it might seem that the whole purpose of trumpcare is to give that huge tax break for the wealthy. in his inaugural address, president trump spoke of an america where for far too long a
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small group has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. trumpcare seems designed to fulfill that vision, not alter it. it makes it easier, even easier on that small group, shifting even more costs onto the people. so the first few months of the trump administration has been broken promise after broken promise to working families. trump's words, we're going to help working america, middle-class america. trump's actions take the burdens off the shoulders of the top 1% and put them on the shelters all other americans. and trumpcare might constituent the greatest broken promise of them all. that's why i suspect our republican leadership in the house is rushing this bill through the chamber.
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they don't want the american people to see it and learn what's in it. i don't think they want their own members to have much time to consider it. that's why it was released on a monday and a vote on committee was scheduled just a few days later. already the bill has gone through one committee markup in the house without a score from c.b.o. after years of criticizing democrats for rushing through health care, after chanting "read the bill, read the bill" over and over again, republicans are trying to pass their health care plan in two month months, n democrats took almost a full year to debate and pass the affordable care act. even republican senators like my friend from arkansas, senator cotton, are telling their colleagues in the house to pause and start over. the republicans in the house ought to listen because this mess of a bill will badly hurt
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millions of americans. even though we disagree on substance, i would echo my friend from arkansas, senator cotton, in saying to house republicans, stop and think about this. you can drop repeal and come to talk -- come talk to us democrats about reasonable fixes to the affordable care act instead of blindly moving forward with this sham of a bill. that would be a much better way for your party and for our country. and one final point on another matter, mr. president, today the leadership of the senate -- democratic leadership of the senate and the chair of the appropriations committee sent a letter to leader mcconnell and chairman cochran. we, of course, laid out our concerns about the budget and reiterated the guiding rules
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that helped us pass a budget for the first time in a while last year. we believe that we should stick to the spending levels that were agreed to in december, that we should maintain a parity between defense and non-defense, and there should be no poison-pill riders. it is rumored that one of those poison-pill riders might be a supplemental added to the c.r. that would call for paying for president trump's wall. that will not stand. the president wants a wall but hasn't answered so many questions about it. what about eminent domain and the procedures to acquire land from private landowners? what's the design of the wall?
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where's it going to be located? how's it going to be paid for and how much does it cost? 5'-- and don't you think we ougt to give the president time to have mexico pay for the wall? that's what he said throughout his campaign: mexico will pay for it. and so that's why both democratic and republican members of congress that represent the border states object to this wall. it will be inappropriate, in our judgment, to insist on the inclusion of such funding in a must-pass appropriations bill that is needed for the republican majority in control of congress to avert a government shutdown. it is truly a poison pill, and we would urge our colleagues not to allow the president to include this in a must-pass bill that avoids shutdown of the government. thank you, mr. president, and i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of health and human services. seema verma of indiana to be administrator of the centers for medicare and medicaid services. mr. hatch: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president, i rise today to speak in favor of the nomination of mrs. seema verma to serve as administrator of the centers for medicare and medicaid services. i think we can all agree that this is a critical time for health care in america. health costs continue to rise, and patients face growing uncertainty over coverage. at the same time, the health of too many americans continues to decline. health costs continue to grow. and millions of new baby boomers
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are being -- becoming eligible for medicare each and every year. and i mighted a, you heard -- and i might add, you heard the minority leader talk today as though democrats have had nothing to do with all this mess. well, it's much to the contrary. congress and our new president stays intense pressure to address these challenges and the stakes are very high. i am confident ms. verma is up for that challenge. she has over two decades of experience working with state health care and industry leaders to reform and improve services for the most vulnerable members of our communities. ms. verma's experience as an entrepreneur and industry leader allowed her to work extensively on a wide variety of policy and strategic projects involving medicaid, insurance, and public health in conjunction with the indiana governor's office, state
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medicaid agencies, state health departments, state departments of insurance, the federal government and private companies and foundations. she's had a tremendous amount of experience in those areas, and i have every confidence that she will be a great leader. there will if you professionals in her country that have her level of close relationships with state leaders that will be as critical as congress and the administration work to repeal and replace the affordable care act, the so-called affordable care act. it's anything about affordable. medicaid represents an enormous burden on state budgets, and we now have an unprecedented opportunity to reform a federal entitlement program long in need of structural changes. ms. verma is the ideal candidate to ever see the reform of medicaid -- of the medicaid program and take steps administratively to give states the flexibility they've been clamoring for.
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in indiana, ms. verma worked with governors daniels and pence to design a medicaid expansion program that extended health coverage to more than 400,000 low-income working men's. she did so in a way that empowered people to take greater responsibility for their own health by providing incentives to use health care resources efficiently. the promise ensured that many people got health coverage for the first time. now, this innovative program has become a national model for other states, and ms. verma's experience will be invaluable as we work together to improve health care across the country and bring down the costs thereof. in addition to her work in indiana, ms. verma has developed several other medicaid reform programs, including 1,115 medicaid waivers for iowa, ohio, and kentucky.
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her firm helped design tenness tennessee's coverage expansion proposal and also provided technical assistance to michigan when the state implemented its medicaid waiver. she also helped guide the transition of iowa's medicaid program to a managed care program and supported strategy efforts for maine's medicare -- or, excuse me, medicaid plan. having worked as a consultant on these myriad projects, she knows firsthand what is needed to make the promises work effectively. her job as c.m.s. administrator will not be easy, and that's a heck of an understatement. c.m.s. a the world's largest health insurer. it has a budget of over $1 trillion and processes over 1.2 billion claims a year for services provided to system some of our -- to some of our
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nation's most vulnerable citizens receiving medicare and medicaid. as sufficient, this is a critical -- you as such, this is a critical agency and we need a qualified, dedicated leader at the helm. she is certainly that. the in addition to ensuring that medicare and medicaid work effectively, ms. verma will also be charged with helping to ensure the longevity and solvency of the existing medicare trust fund, which is projected to go bankrupt in the year 2028. maintaining the solvency of the medicare program while continuing to provide care for an ever-increasing beneficiary base is going to involve skillful negotiation and a lot of knowledge and subpoenas. all told -- knowledge and subpoenas. all told, between now and 2030, 76 million baby boomers will become eligible for medicare. even factoring in deaths over that period, the program will grow from approximately 47
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million beneficiaries today to roughly 80 million beneficiaries in 2030. this will also create challenges that will require steady leadership at and at times -- and at times decisive action. i believe she is especially qualified to lead c.m.s. and modernize its programs to increase the effectiveness of health care delivery. she brings the experience and bipartisan solutions that can and should unite people across the political spectrum in addressing some of the greatest challenges in our health care system. ms. verma has a keen understanding of patients' needs. she certainly has the expertise to create a health care model this country needs and improve the lives of the 100 million americans covered by medicare and medicaid. at a time when the health care challenges we face are very real
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and extremely complex, our nation needs leaders like ms. verma who have demonstrated their ability to deliver results. now, i know that many people have different ideas about the best direction for the medicare and medicaid programs, and how we should meet the complex challenges facing c.m.s. while we can disagree on policy, we should all agree that the agency needs smart, experienced leadership at its helm. that being the case, i urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting ms. verma's nomination to this important position. i personally am very grateful that she's willing to dive into this very difficult process and problems right in the middle of much politics being played and willing to do the job that america needs at this particular time, and especially those who need health care. with that, mr. president, i
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suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call: quorum call:
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mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i ask consent the call of the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president, a couple of issues i'm going to speak on. i was asked earlier this morning about what president trump has
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tweeted, basically charging former president obama with having spied on him in a way that would be mainly illegal. of course, president obama's advisors have denied any such thing happened. if it did happen, of course, it would be a matter of grave constitutional -- grave constitutional issue and if such a thing did happen, it would be criminal conduct. now, many people are saying, well, is it true or not? was mr. trump telling the truth in his tweet or not? there's a very simple response on this. there's one person who knows whawhether it's true or not and
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he's been -- that's attorney general sessions. attorney general sections made it very -- general sessions made it very clear in his confirmation hearing -- well, he said a number of things at his confirmation hearing but one, of course, was that he would be independent. mr. president, th president trup has leveled very serious, very serious charges against former president obama. i happen to feel that the charges are false but let's have a definitive voice. the attorney general shall have the courage and independence to simply say mr. trump is telling the truth or he's not. it's a very simple matter. i would hope that the president and everybody else would keep asking him because eventually somebody has to answer that question. and the attorney general can.
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now, mr. president, on another matter, the senate is soon going to consider the nomination of david friedman to be u.s. ambassador to israel. unlike several of president trump's other nominees, we know a great deal about mr. friedma mr. friedman's views or the challenges he would confront if he was confirmed. unfortunately just because he's made a career of disparaging and inflammatory statements about u.s. policy in the middle east about former u.s. officials, about the palestinians, even about american jews who might have views that differ from his own. we've all had the opportunity to read articles mr. friedman has written. we've heard the outrageous, unfounded verbal attacks he's launched against those who disagree with him. he's written falsely that president obama and secretary kerry engaged in, quote, blatant
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antisemitism, closed quote. the liberal jews are, quote, far worse than -- closed quote. and they, quote, suffer a cognitive disconnect in identifying good and evil, closed quote. at the state department's 400-year history of antisemitism, closed quote. so the state department under both republicans and democrats has a history of antisemitism according to mr. friedman. and why does he say this? he said because diplomats appointed by both republican presidents and democratic presidents have not always seen eye to eye on every issue of israel's leaders. and israel's policy of, quote, criticizing disloyal arab citizens while simultaneously
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bestowing upon them the benefits of citizenship, closed quote. now, these comments alone in which he has said in effect if those diplomats appointed by both republican presidents and democratic presidents, the administration and policy by both republicans and democratic presidents, that if they don't agree with everything israel wants, not everything united states wants but everything that israel wants, then it's wrong. well, those comments alone should disqualify him for the sensitive position. it's no surprise that tens of thousands of americans have signed petitions circulated by pro-israel groups opposing his nomination. he has also raised millions of
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dollars for israeli settlers. that's fine but he's voted to remove the two-state solution for the republican party's platform, even though democratic and republican presidents have supported it. regarding the two-state solution, he wrote, he said it's an illusion that serves the worst intentions of the united states and the palestinian arabs in one of the many articles he has penned for right-wing media outlet. then unequivocal renunciation of what has been the long-standing u.s. policy should also by itself disqualify him for the job of ambassador to israel. here's a person who wants to be our am boss door there -- ambassador there. i totally disagree with what u.s. policy is but make me ambassador there just the same. he's a person who is supposed to be carrying out our policy. and these statements act as not only an indicator of rejection
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of decades of republican and democratic policy, they are the words of someone who makes mockery of the term "diplomat" and has demonstrated no ability to be objective and instructive on sensitive issues on immense importance to u.s. security. our diplomats are there, they are supposed to be representing the united states of america first and foremost and the policy of the united states of america. they're not diplomats sent to another country to represent the other country. they're there to represent us. now, mr. friedman is certainly entitled to his own views as a private citizen, even if they are offensive, even though they go counter to u.s. interests and values. can anyone honestly say this nominee is qualified, suited to represent the american people in israel? remember, he's there to
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represent americans. five former u.s. ambassadors to israel who served under republican and democratic presidents appointed from ronald reagan to barack obama are among the thousands of americans who say that he's not qualified or suited to represent the interests of the united states of america. we are being asked to reconcile mr. friedman's record, his personal view, his deep ties to extreme factions in israel with his responsibility to objectively advance and defend u.s. interests, the united states interests. after all, he would be the united states ambassador to israel. unless one believes as he has repeatedly made clear he does, if the interests of the united states are always identical to israel, there's no way mr. friedman should be confirm confirmed. for as long as i've been in the
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senate and i note that's longer than anybody serving here, now that i'm dean of the senate, i cannot recall a time where not at a critical point in our relations with israel, not because of the doubts of the entiewring value of the relation -- enduring value of the relationship but the reflection of the importance of the deep partnershipartnership that we'vl supported, the republican and democratic presidents have supported. most importantly, as a result of our conviction, the security, stability, prosperity of israel and the wider region are important to our own national security. that is why president obama signed the memorandum of understanding with israel. they included the single largest pledge of u.s. military aid to any country, any country anywhere in the world ever.
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ever. and why both democratic and republican administrations have put so much effort into pursuing peace between israelis and palestinians. in an alliance as long-standing as ours with israel, which has far-reaching consequences for the entire middle east and beyond, requires effective daily management by an experienced diplomat who not only has knowledge of the region but the necessary temperament and appreciation of our country's short and long-term interests. i was here when our country worked with israel and egypt, when president sadat and prime minister begin negotiated what was a very difficult peace agreement between the two of them. both of them put the interests
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of the region first, and that agreement has remained. and i remember when prime minister rabin and king hussein of jordan, two who fought against each other, personally negotiated a peace agreement and the united states strongly supported that. i was privileged to be there when they signed the agreement at aqaba. as i was present as prime minister begin and president sadat signed their agreement. now, i do not see how anyone could conclude that mr. friedman possesses a requisite
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temperament nor that he appreciates the critical distinction between the interests of our country and the united states and the parochial interests of an extreme constituency in israel that he has fiercely advocated for over the course of his long career. indeed, he is telling the spokes man of the israeli settlement that mr. friedman has supported financially for years, said its inhabitants would regard him as their representative in the united states. these are the israelis. they are represented in the united states as the israeli ambassador. so it's not the role of the u.s. ambassador to represent another country. that's how mr. friedman is perceived in israel because that's the way he has behaved.
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every u.s. president has understood the importance and the heightened sensitivity of the post. they chose their nominees accordingly, both republicans and democrats as presidents until now. that's why every previous nominee to be ambassador to israel has been confirmed by voice vote or by unanimous consent. mr. friedman was voted out by a narrow party-line vote in the foreign relations committee. mr. friedman's hearing provided him the opportunity to disparage his concerns about divisiveness including the many disparaging remarks he has made and close identification in support with the israeli settlement movement. during the hearing, he renounces on diplomatic language. he suggested to deliver in the heat of the election cycle and
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his capacity as a private citizen. the fact is he recanted so much of what he has said prior to the election cycle that foreign relations committee chairman corker asked why he was willing to disavow so much of his past record in order to earn the committee's support. in response to why he was willing to disavow so much of what he said in the past, he described the role of u.s. ambassador to israel as, quote, the fulfillment of a life's dream, of a life's work, a live study of the people, the culture, the politics of israeli society. i'd say two things about this. one, i recall a nominee for another position who when he was asked questions about extreme
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positions, he had taken it for years. he started disavowing them all. i finally asked him, i said are you having a confirmation conversion? and that nominee, a nominee of a republican president when he came before the senate was defeated because of republican votes as well as democratic votes. now, now, i always worry at a confirmation conversion when it comes about for two or three days of a confirmation hearing and you want to set aside years and years and years and years of deeply held beliefs for those two or three days of the hearing, just how long that will last. you know, there is an important distinction between knowing and respecting a country's history of its people and believing that
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one's own personal ambition and that country's interests are inextricably linked. mr. friedman's remarkable confirmation conversion falls far short of convincing evidence of changing his title to ambassador will cause him to divorce his life's work and objectively serve the national interests of the united states of america. if mr. friedman is confirmed, he should immediately entangle his business and personal interests in israel and commit to being the representative of americans, all americans, conservative and liberal jews, conservative and liberal non-jews and a general anyone partner in the efforts to promote security and stability for israelis and palestinians alike, not just because it's in their interests but it's in the
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interests of the united states. we all want what is best for the american people. we also share a desire to find a viable solution to the israeli-palestinian conflict, protect the rights and security of both peoples. neither goal can be achieved by pursuing policies that further inflame tensions in the region and the roll of the united states as an honest broker for peace. now, there are a large number of qualified americans of both parties who could capably support that role. mr. friedman is not among them. again, mr. president, no country is given more financial support -- has given more financial support to the military -- no country has received from the united states more financial support for its
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military than israel. and doing that we do it to support their security. our interests have to be first and foremost when we're talking about the united states. the united states expenditures of his taxpayers' dollars and who is a united states ambassador. the interest of the united states has to come first. we can and should have the interest of israel, the interest of the palestinians, but we have to remember we are united states citizens and senators first. mr. president, on another matter, this week is sunshine
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week. it's a time we rededicate ourselves to transparency in government. it's important to all of us. we celebrate one of our nation's most defining characteristics, the government of, by, and for the people does not operate in secret. our democracy depends on an informed public. it's critical that public officials be truthful with the american people. we're not even two months into this presidency, it is clear that the administration is not meeting that standard. the attorney general has yet to come forward and tell us whether the president was telling the truth when he accused president obama of breaking the law and spying on him. the president's nominees made a
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real stunning and difference to the truth. his nominees lead the treasury department, e.p.a., - -- h.h.s. and justice department. they have all misled congress while testifying under oath. as they take control of their agencies, i remind them that our laws demand an open and transparent government. last year, congress took a strong step to reaffirm our commitment to open government. we passed a foia improvement act. this was a bipartisan bill. i co-authored it with the deputy republican leader, senator cornyn of texas. it was the most significant reform to the freedom of information act in over 50 years. a law that senator cornyn and i wrote. it codified the presumption of openness. it put the force of lobby behind
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the notion that sunshine, not secrecy, is the default setting of our government. given what we have seen thus far, this administration's nominees, transparency, accountability and open government are more important than ever. it is no surprise that next week when the president's supreme court nominee appears before the senate judiciary committee, i will insist on real answers from judge neil gorsuch because there are real concerns about his record, his judicial philosophy. we also can't ignore the fact that judge gorsuch was nominated by president trump only after being vetted by extreme interest groups that did all that in
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secret. it is alarming and unprecedented for a president to outsource the nomination process in this way. the president's top advisors assured attendees at a conservative conference that they know that judge gorsuch has a vision of -- has the vision of donald trump. that's saying that donald trump of course called the media the enemy of the american people, and the president could not be more wrong. as we note during sunshine week, our constitution provides for freedom of the press because a democracy cannot survive without it. the press serves a critical check on our government, shines the light on corruption, exploitation and success. my parents owned a weekly newspaper before they started their printing business. i was brought up to believe in
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the importance of the first amendment. so sunshine week's emphasis on transparency won't be just this week. it should continue into the hearings next week. the supreme court is one of the least transparent parts of our government, and these hearings are one of the only opportunities for the american people to get a glimpse into the institution that protects their most essential rights. there are real questions about the kind of justice that neil gorsuch would be. they need to answer them openly and honestly. i think he realizes he cannot do it with the kind of dodges and misrepresentation we've heard from other nominees. mr. president, i do not see anybody seeking the floor, so i will suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll, please.
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quorum call: quorum call:
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mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: i ask consent the quorum be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, last friday i went to rockford, illinois, and had a round table discussion about health care. there's a lot of debate about health care in congress and certainly in washington, but what i've tried to do is take this issue home and ask the people who actually are responsible for providing health care to the people i represent what they think about the new republican alternative to the affordable care act. what i found is that with virtually no exceptions, they are all gravely concerned that the changes that are going to be made to the health care system in america, which represents a dramatic portion of our economy, could have a very negative impact on the real lives of people across my state and across the nation.
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hospital administrators were there to talk about this issue. swedish covenant is one of the hospitals well-known and respected in the area. o.s.f. as well. and the administrators of both of these hospitals talked about the negative impact on cutting back medicaid coverage. what the republicans are suggesting in their proposal is that the expansion of medicaid to provide health insurance for low-income americans would continue until 2020 and then be cut off, and they would argue, we will make it more cost-efficient. we'll let the governors come up with alternatives. well, the governors aren't very happy with this because they know the cost of health care continues to go up, and they are fearal in when you too i to put this all together the net wall street -- they are fearful when you try to put this all together, the net result is fewer people covered by medicaid. the affordable care act in
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illinois now have health insurance. who are they? i met ray rom00. nowski, a musician. he's made most of his income during his life during work as a munition. ray, in his 60's today, has never had health insurance until today. because he has medicaid, he finally patted his wallet and said, i've finally got that card where i can walk into a hospital or clinic and get good treatment. the first time in his life, and he's in his 60's. judy is ad friend of mine -- judy is a friend of mine in southern illinois. she works in the hospitality industry. hardworking lady, that's the kind of job she's had her entire lifetime she never, ever had health insurance, not once. she worked 20, 30, 40 hours a workweek, sometimes two different jobs but never without
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health insurance. now she has if because of the affordable care act. and thank goodness she does because she's been dyinged with diabetes. she needs that kind of care. what happened before when people like ray and judy got sick. before the affordable care act, they'd showed up at the hospital, go into the emergency room and get treatment. but they wouldn't be able to pay for it. so what happens to those speansences at -- so what happens to those expenses at the hospital? they're passed along. the ref us pay. anyone who has health insurance and goes in for treatment, part of it is going to be for your treatment or for four family. the other part is for uncompensated care. now the republicans believe they have a new idea. let's restrict the access to medicaid. let's restrict the health insurance that's available to people like ray and judy. they're still going to get sick and still come to the hospital. and their costs are going to be
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passed along to others. speaker of the house paul ryan, a neighbor in the state of wisconsin, stayed it is all about competition -- said it is ball competition and choice. when it came to competition and choice, ray and judy didn't have a chance. they didn't make enough money. but they did get coverage under the affordable care act and they stand to see that coverage endangered if not lost under this new approach. we also had representatives of the nursing association in illinois. these are women and men who are the most respected medical providers. just take a look and ask whether people have higher respect for doctors or whom ever. it's always the nurses, number one, because the nurses are the ones who are there day after day, hour after hour, in the hospital rooms with the people we love who desperately need medical care. the nurses are opposed to this republican replacement plan as well. the doctors, the american medical association, the only state medical society, they're also opposed to it because they
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looked at the republican competition and choice alternative and said at the end of the day, fewer people will have health insurance and the costs will go up dramatically for some. we had a representative of the american association of retired persons there, and they're especially opposed to it. why? we had a provision in the affordable care act which said the disparity in premiums can never be more than 3-1. well, the republicans decided as part of their replacement to make that 5-1. who's going to pay five times instead of three times the base premium? seniors. those over the age of 55. they built this into their proposal, the republicans did, and aarp has come out against it. second thing to know is the affordable care act has really brought some savings to health care. we wish there were more, but that savings in health care is translated into 10 more years of solvency for medicare.
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medicare is a lifeline for 40 million or 50 million americans. so we gave it 10 more years of solvency with the changes in the affordable care act. now we're waiting for a score from the congressional budget office, but the early indicationindications are we'reo lose four years of solvency in medicare because the republicans want to bring in, quote, competition and choice. turns out that that phrase is not going to be good for the future of medicare, one of the other reasons why the american association of retired persons opposes the republican proposal to replace the affordable care act. this bill will be scored this week by the congressional budget office. it was interesting to watch the sunday shows and watch the procession of republicans calling themselves fiscal conservatives who came in and discounted any conclusions from the congressional budget office. interesting. when we wrote this bill, we waited sometimes for weeks for
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the congressional budget office to give us a score. is this bill going toed a to the deficit or -- is this bill going to add to the deficit or reduce the d.v.d.? we had to wait to find out. is this bill going to cover more people or not? we had to wait to find out. the republicans went ahead without a congressional budget office score and what they've done over the weekend is downplay the credibility of an office which democrats and republicans have relied on for decades. it shows that they're very concerned. i think they know what they're going to find. i am aa. frayed it's going toed a to the -- i'm afraid it's going to add to the deficit and reduce health insurance for americans. 10 million to 15 million americans could lose their health insurance. that's half of all those in the past six years who have gained health insurance. it would also increase out-of-pocket costs by $1,500 a year. seniors paying approximately $5,000 more a year because of the 5-1 premium change i
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mentioned earlier. it would basically end medicaid as we know it and the governors are telling us this is a bad idea because it would shift the cost onto the families and to the governors to find ways to save money. it would shorten the solvency of medicare trust fund by four years. it would allow insurers to once again charge older people significantly more than younger people for health insurance. and the republicansed ad a little grace note -- and the republicans added a little grace note there. they defund planned parenthood and cut 12% of the funding for the centers for disease control. here's something which i. you may not know: because of family planning efforts in america in the last 30 years we are now at the lowest point in teenage pregnancies and the lowest point in unplanned pregnancies. so information and education are paying off. to reduce unwanted pregnancies, unplanned pregnancies, and i mighted a the likelihood -- and
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i might add the likelihood of abortion,s. as republicans say we're going to defund planned parenthood, for hundreds of thousands of women that means stopping their access to the health care that they trust across america. so in the name of choice, the republican plan reduces choices for women when it comes to health care by defunding planned parenthood. to top it off, the bill cuts taxes for the very wealthy. those making over $1 million a year in income get a $50,000 tax cut because of the republican proposal for this new health insurance approach. and if you happen to be in the wealthiest .1% of americans, average tax cut of nearly $200,000. they just can't help themselves. we put together a revenue source so that we can dramatically expand health insurance coverage in this nation. we now have the lowest percentage of uninsured americans in our history, and
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the republicans, because they are opposed to it, have said, we're going to cut the taxes that help people pay for their health insurance and we're going to reduce the options that are available to them. so for americans it means less coverage, higher costs. wheel see when it -- we'll see when it goes to the house of representatives on the floor. the most conservative republicans don't like it. certainly the democrats don't like it. the question is whether speaker paul ryan has enough votes. it has united america. the republican approach has united america in opposition. i don't know of a major health-providing group that supports it. not one. not doctors, not hospitals, not clinics, not aarp, patient groups; all say the same thing about trumpcare. we cannot support the bill, the american medical association said. we cannot support the bill as drafted because the expected decline in health insurance
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coverage and the potential harm it would cause to vulnerable patient populations. the american medical association goes on to say, we are concerned with the proposed rollback of medicaid expansion. medicaid expansion has proven highly successful in providing coverage for lower-income individuals. the a.m.a. cannot support provisions that repeal the prevention in public health trust fund and we cannot support provisions that prevent americans from choosing to receive care from physicians and qualified providers, including those associated with the planned parenthood affiliates. the american medical association saying to the republicans they reject their proposal for health care and warning them not to cut off funding for planned parenthood. what does the american hospital association say? we cannot support the bill, the republican bill, in its current form. they go on to say, in addition to the lack of a c.b.o. score, we have some additional policy
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concerns. for example, it appears that the effort to restructure the medicaid program will have the effect of making significant reductions in a program that provides service to our most vulnerable populations. that's from the american hospital association. they estimate in our state of illinois that we could lose up to 90,000 jobs by repealing the affordable care act without a suitable substitute. 90,000 jobs in my state. president trump made a lot of news when he went to visit one of the manufacturing companies after he was first sworn in and saved a couple hundred jobs. i'm glad he saved those jobs and hope he saves a lot more. but if he's going to eliminate 90,000 jobs in my state, people who work in hospitals, some of the best-paying jobs in communities, and for goodness sakes that isn't hiring americans, that isn't focusing on creating jobs in this country. it's the oppose. the american -- it's the
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opposite. the american nurses association says the bill threatens health care system advocate, access and delivery across the nation. the bill changes medicaid to a per capita funding model, eliminates the prevention fund, restricts millions of women from access to critical health services, repeals income-based subsidies that millions of people rely on and these changes in no way will improve care for the american people. what the u.s. conference of mayors? here's what they said. states will be forced to end coverage and eliminate health care for low-income seniors, people with disabilities, children and working families. the g.o.p. plan is bad for cities, bad for people who live in cities, and bad for people who provide health care in cities. it's interesting, we had a representative in our rockford meeting of the disabled community. they are scared to death of this republican alternative because these folks many times are in
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serious need of very expensive health care. and if they are pushed off into the so-called money-saving insurance plans that really are empty inside and don't provide coverage, it could be devastating to these families. they have been through it over and over. the american association of retired persons said this republican bill would weaken medicare's fiscal sustain sustainability, dramatically increase health care costs for americans age 50 to 60 and put at risk the health care of millions of children and adults with disabilities and poor seniors who depend on the medicaid program for long-term services. it could hasten the insol have i is i of -- insol have i is i of medicare for up to four years. i remember when candidate donald trump was telling us he would do nothing to hurt medicare. now the first major piece of legislation that comes up threatens the solvency of medicare. the national committee to preserve social security and
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medicare, here's what they said. we oppose the bill to repeal the affordable care act. it would weaken medicare solvency, threaten access to medicaid long-term care, require near seniors to pay more for less health care. the bill puts seniors and people with disabilities at significant risk of ending up uninsured or losing access to needed care. in my own state, the illinois health and hospital association says this organization has serious concerns with the direction of this bill. it would cut coverage for hundreds of thousands of illinoisans and impose a cap on federal medicaid funding. our state is unable to absorb funding cuts without impacting health care for all patients. and i was surprised last week when the republican governor of illinois, bruce rauner said of the republican plan, quote, my first blush read is illinois won't do very well under the changes they are recommending. he was careful not to say things
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about federal legislation. this he understands, by cutting back in medicaid is going to impose a new debt on our state and reduce coverage for hundreds of thousands of people in our state. so we said to the republicans, you want to repeal the affordable care act c? you've been dead set on doing this for six years. please come up with an alternative that at least expands the coverage of health insurance and makes it more affordable. they tried and they failed. but now they're going to push it through as a matter of showing political purity. they don't care that there's not a single group of medical providers in this country that support their plan. they obviously don't care that the american association of retired persons believes this is not good for seniors across the board. i heard the director of o.m.b. say, that group, they're going to end up opposing us and then they're going to ask people to donate to them. it's true they live on donations, but they're taking a bold position here in saying the republican approach to this is going to hurt seniors across
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america. talk to the disability community, you'll hear exactly the same thing. talk to the advocates for children. i am listening for the first group that says this is good for the country or good for people when it comes to the cost or availability of health insurance and i haven't found it yet. i don't know what they're waiting on but they can't produce it. what we're looking for is just the opposite. if you will take repeal of the affordable care act off the table, i'll pull up a chair. it's not perfect. it can be improved. and i'm ready to sit down and do it on a bipartisan basis. but it's our way or the highway when it comes to the republican majority on this bill. i hope we can do better. i think the american people expect us to do better. at the end of the day they want a better health care system, not one that's worse. not one that supposedly gives them, quote, choice in competition. and yet they have less coverage in their insurance companies and end up paying more for it.
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mr. president, i'd like to ask consent that the second statement i'm about to make be placed in the second part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: thank you, mr. president. i've been coming to the floor recently to discuss the russian involvement in our last presidential election. you'll remember two months ago some 14 different intelligence agencies all came to the same conclusion that vladimir putin and the russians were trying to impact the outcome of the presidential election. the intelligence reports which were unclassified and available to the public said expressly that the russian intent was to defeat hillary clinton and to elect donald trump. i quickly add this was not a report from the democratic national committee. it was a report from our intelligence agencies. and they went through all the efforts taken by the republicans when they were hacking into computers and releasing information during the course of the campaign. i think this is serious business. it's the first time i know that a foreign power has tried to
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influence the outcome of american presidential election. people in western -- people in eastern europe and people in many parts of this world are used to the russians getting involved in their campaigns, trying to run their favorite candidates and elect them. we shouldn't have to put up with that in the united states of america. and so many of us have called for a real investigation of what the russians were up to. i think we ought to have a bipartisan commission, an independent, transparent commission to look into the involvement of the russians. otherwise we're sitting ducks for them to try it again two years from now in the next election. we know -- and this is public information -- there were at least 1,000 people sitting at computers in moscow trying to hack into america to try to find enough information that they could release to influence the outcome of the election. they're not going to quit. they're going to continue to do this. and the question is, what will we do about it? we've already seen the national security advisor to the president, general flynn, retiree sign when he misled the
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american people and vice president pence about conversations he had with the russians. two weeks ago we saw that the attorney general of the united states, jeff sessions, recused himself from investigations involving russia and the campaign because of conversations he had had, which he didn't disclose before the senate judiciary committee. almost every week there are more disturbing revelations emerging. not by any honest or open disclosure, mind you, but about the curious alliance between president trump and the inner circle and vladimir putin, if there was one. key figures such as the national security advisor i mentioned and the current attorney general were caught not disclosing communications with the russians. allied intelligence reportedly confirms that members of the trump campaign had repeated communications with those thought to be in russian intelligence. close trump associate roger stone appeared to have advanced knowledge of when russian hacked
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information on hillary clinton was going to be released by wikileaks, something he presumably could only have known if he was at least discussing it with the russian hackers. and all the while the administration has been saying nothing about putin's actions, about this attack on the united states or about russia's ongoing cyber and military aggression in europe. in fact, instead of addressing and responding to this russian attack head on, the president has incredibly been parroting russian strategic interests instead. let me repeat, that for my largely silent republican colleagues -- and there have been a few exceptions but most will not come to the floor and discuss this matter -- the american president, the same party of ronald reagan, has failed to acknowledge this major attack on our nation and refused to take action in response. how is this possible? why is the majority party so silent in face of these major national security issues?
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there is a simple way to resolve these questions. first, president trump should do what every presidential candidate has done in modern history and disclose his tax returns. why won't he do that? what is in there that is so worrisome to him that he has defied all of the requests from media and from others across this nation for him to do exactly what every other presidential candidate has done? the president should also be totally cooperative with any investigation about campaign contacts, including by his former campaign manager, paul man fori -- paul manifort and michael flynn and carter page. how do we explain reports between those contacts and russian intelligence in the military also needs to answer questions about roger stone's comments that suggest he had knowledge of wikileaks having and using and strategically
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timed releases around periods when the campaign was struggling the information that had been hacked by the russians? tell us why the administration has criticized hundreds by twitter when there's any perceived slight from entire states to major league baseball to the united steel workers, but not the communist k.g.b. agent who conducted an attack on our nation and democracy. we need to know why only repeated denied intelligence information, why they not only repeatedly denied intelligence information about russian attacks, but in fact in july of last year encouraged the russians to hack into their opponents' campaign. all of these things are being watched closely by nations around the world. several weeks ago i went over to poland, to lithuania, and to ukraine, and one of the polish leaders said to me, we're watching. if you don't take the russian invasion of your presidential election seriously, how will
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you take the russian invasion of our country seriously? well, it's a legitimate question, because the russians are up to a strategy which we've seen over and over again. this time the americans were the victims. we need full cooperation by the white house. we need an independent commission. i have suggested that we pick people that are beyond approach -- reproach, people that we can trust. i've mentioned general colin powell, a man who served our country so honorably, and our military, then served in a republican white house, then served as a republican secretary of state. i would accept colin powell as the head of a commission to get to the bottom of this, because it is a national security issue which he has undoubtedly had some background in dealing with in years gone by. there are many good people to turn to. but until we get the straight answers, we can expect the russians to continue to try to find ways to invade our political process. mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of
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a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll, please. quorum call: quorum call:
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mr. roberts: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. roberts: i ask unanimous
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consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. roberts: thank you, madam president. madam president, i rise today to speak about the historical and unprecedented wildfires that burned through southwest kansas last week. we had fires in 21 of our kansas counties, roughly one-fifth of our state. high winds and dry conditions caused fires of the highest classification to blaze across central and western kansas some 30 to 40 feet high. burning more than 700,000 acres of land making this the largest wildfire in our state's history. the kansas division of emergency management has said it could take weeks to determine the full extent of devastation from the fires. clark county, kansas -- clark county, kansas officials, the county hardest hit, estimated a
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devastating loss of anywhere from 3,000 to 9,000 head of cattle. that's just one county. as i indicated, clark county was the hardest hit by the wind-blown fires with over 85% of the land in the county consumed by these prairie fires. hundreds of thousands of acres in one county, over 700,000 in regards to our state. on friday i drove south from dodge city, kansas, through range and ranch land i didn't even recognize. what used to be gently rolling prairie dotted with herds of cattle and crisscrossed by fencing is now reduced to black and dust -- blackened dust. friends of mine lost their ranch when a 40-foot wall of fire roared out of the valley over the bluff and burned out their operation. we have unimaginable damage to
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land and property but also a heart wrenching scenes of wildlife cattle burned, wounded and wandering. many kansans lost everything. according to sheriff john ketchron of clark county, 31 houses and over 440,000 acres were burned there. we have long-time friends there, john and carol swaizy. we've known them for years. john said to me with tears in his eyes, pat, it took me 43 years to build up this operation and it took about an hour to take it all down. riding with sheriff ketchron, we were assessing the town of ashland where a volunteer firefighterring force managed to save the town when it became surrounded in flames. some volunteers were fighting fires elsewhere in the area and learned their own homes have been engulfed and lost.
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i met with people, brave people, in the towns of englewood and ashland, kansas in the heart of clark county who had just come through frightening experiences fighting the unpredictable and unstoppable fires. some are out driving cattle away from the fires and had become separated from loved ones when the flames turned, they were left to pray for their safety. kaelin scott with a high plains journal calls it the worst day of her life. and she wrote a courageous and honest account of the day. i read her words now. i think i had them going the right way and then the wind switched. now i just don't know. when i heard the crack in my husband's voice yesterday afternoon, i knew it was bad. he's normally the calm, cool, and collected one. a family friend alerted him to the fire in clark county, very near the scott farm after we
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returned home from burying my dad yesterday. coming back from a funeral. when they said the closet neighbor was -- closest neighbor was being evacuated, he went as quickly as he could fearing for the cattle herd he worked for the last five years to build following the death of his own dad. i stayed behind with the boys at our house. that's 40 miles away. when the wind switched at my house from southwest to the north, i began to worry even more and i called him. at this point he was waiting out the fire and smoke in the wheat field helplessly watching the house and the barn burn. i wanted to be at the farm so bad but i there wasn't much that could be done. when he made it home unscathed, i was pretty happy but sad at the same time. knowing there was nothing we could do to fix what it took
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mother nature mere minutes to destroy. 52 cows are on the farm with about half or three-fourths of them with young calves. most are accounted for. all the grass is gone as is the hay stockpile. he went and watered the cows this morning. some are scorched and others have udde oners with burn -- udders with burns. one mom was calling for her calf. i made my way early this afternoon to see the farm or what's left with it with my own eyes. as bad as i wanted to be down there, a piece of me dreaded the drive. the closer i got to the farm, the worst it got blowing dirt, darkening skies because of the dust and the awful winds. i pulled in the drive like i'd done a hundred times, nearly 20 years i have been part of the family and i had to stop my
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vehicle. the tears came. and the heartbreak overwhelming. i thought of the old white farm house with the wonderful front porch where my husband spent a large majority of his childhood. my fondest memory is when we'd stop and see my husband's grandma pauline. she always had something sweet to eat and a cold drink at the kitchen table. the home had been around for 100 years. and still had a large portion of the family's momentos in it. it was reduced -- it was reduced to ashes and rubble. all that is standing is the chimney. i couldn't see the barn around the trees but i again had to stop and sit when i pulled around the corner. the barn, the old barn with its red siding, i remember when my father-in-law had it painted and how proud he was because it looked so good.
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i remember when he laid the brick in front of the tack room and built a new door for it. my boys explored everyism of it when we -- every inch of it when we worked calves last fall. you could almost hear the horses munching in the stalls decades ago when you stood in the center alley. now it's just a charred pile of tin. i realized the house and barn are just buildings. things can be replaced, but, dang, it's so hard to see it all reduced to ashed and rubble, to see part of the scott family history more than a hundred years just be gone just like that. it's hard. we've had an incredible friends and family offering help, hay and feed and it's heart warming to know how much people care. like i heard a resident on the news this morning being interviewed, it's just what southwest kansas people do, help
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and survive. here is a picture that was taken on kayline and spencer scott's wedding day. it's a beautiful spot. off in the distance is the clark county lake, its rolling hills, cattle country, cattle and grass. looking at this picture now, it's not hard to wonder how this land will come back to provide for so many as it has for generations of kansas farms and ranch families whose sweat and blood have produced for kansas, our nation and, yes, the world as well. there's the other picture. they got married here, happiest day of their life. saw this and it became just about the worst day of their life. and yet having seen this devastation firsthand, i don't wonder about kansas and our ability to rebuild. it is in our state motto, to the
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stars, through difficulties, and one of the emergency management centers, i met joyce eddinger and i asked her what i could do to help, she just said, the lord will provide. she had lost virtually everything. i think that pretty well sums it up, the faith of kansans give us courage to rebuild, the courage to come through fire. ashland said senator, we're going to need help. we really don't want it, but we are going to need it. i am so proud of the people of my state who have come in without help before they were even asked. i have been in contact with all of our producer groups in can sarks the kansas livestock association, the kansas farm bureau who along with our state agencies have been leading the volunteer -- voluntary relief effort. i commend them for their efforts in collecting hay for cattle as well as monetary donations. coming in from all parts of the
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united states and volunteer coordination for repairs to property and fencing. congressman roger marshal of the first congressional district and my colleague here and friend in the senate jerry moran, we've been in touch with the department of agriculture with regards to assistance that should be available to farmers and ranchers in counties that have suffered loss. here's what we're trying to fix. this fellow walking across here to that bluff that overlooks that valley that spencer and kayline looked over and this fellow is chad penning who is my top gun in kansas, that's me with my hands in my pockets. it's pretty rough to see ground like this that was grass and look at the utter devastation. folks, when that wind blows and that dust starts up again, we could be in even more trouble. so cleanup is under way but
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we're trying to -- we're trying to get help, cut through the red tape and get a disaster declaration. i just talked to the governor this afternoon. and primarily it's the emergency conservation program, the livestock indemnity program, the equip, the key program, the environmental quality incentives program. this won't make people whole by any means but it will give them hope. so cleanup is under way. kansas is a bootstrap state. it's not just about building new fencing. we have families who have lost the farm house and all the equipment they need to rebuild. many livestock producers have had the gruesome task of euthanizing cattle that have been badly burned. we have to remove the carcasses. we have to find land for the survivors to graze. and we have a lot of uncertainty. how long will it today for the grasses to come back? when can we get rain to avoid a
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dustbowl? it's really too soon to tell. but we have been through disasters before. almost one year ago we had the anderson creek fire and we have come through trnderses and ice -- tornadoes and ice storms. recoveries of this magnitude, however, requires us to cut through the red tape. it requires us get the right information to producers so they know how to apply for aid and then to expedite it. and, yes, it requires us to look at our programs to see where we can improve them. now, this fire has not received much attention in the national media. you see, we're a flyover state. all we do is produce food and fiber for kansas and our nation and for a troubled and hungry world, but i do want to commend members of the press in kansas, especially photographer bo rader
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of "the wichita eagle" took this photo of chad and myself walking through rangeland outside of ashland. the wtion wichita eagle" has gone out of their way to show what this fire looks like to real people. other newspapers are telling this story. the same is true with the tv and the radio crews who have told about the town evacuations and safety notices to our people. this is what they do. rest assured, as chairman of the senate agriculture committee, i am committed to the kansans i serve. they know me. i know them. i know clark county and the other 20 counties will come back. we will ensure they get the help that they need at -- madam president, it's just not a model. it's who we are.
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i yield back.
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mr. roberts: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. roberts: it occurs to me as i look carefully around this body that a quorum is not present. i suggest that a quorum is not present. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. cornyn: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: madam president, i'd ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: madam president, last week our colleagues in the house of representatives introduced the american health care act, legislation that will deliver on a promise we made to repeal and replace obamacare. to replace it with health care options that won't force people to buy an insurance product just because the government tells them to do and penalizes them if they don't, but one that trial fits the -- but one that actually fits the needs of their family at a price they can
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aafford. it is no secret that obamacare was oversold when the president said if you like your policy, you can keep your policy. if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. and an average family of four would save $2,500. that has just mott proven to be true. the and obamacare to boot has wreaked havoc on our economy and on american families just trying to stay healthy. in my state, in texas, it's led to fewer health care options, sky socketing premiums -- skyrockeskyrocketing premiums ad deductions so high that insurance plans are rendered almost useless. about a third of texas counties have only one insurance option, and that's the case throughout the nation. nearly one-third of all counties in the country have only one insurance company offering plans on their state's exchanges. the truth is, obamacare never hased ad up to better coverage
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at a more affordable price. it's never delivered more options, just the opposite, and it's never kept its promises when it was being sold to the american people. so now is the time for us to do right by the american people by delivering more access to quality health care at a price americans can afford. now, the american health care act doesn't just tinker around the edges of obamacare. it's a complete do-over. this bill, for example, repeals obamacare's individual mandate, the requirement that you buy government-approved insurance and if you don't, we're going to fine you. that's repealed. it repeals the employer mandate. i still remember being in tyler, texas, talking to a gentleman who owned a restaurant saying he had to lay off some of his full-time starving putting them on part-time, just to avoid the penalties that go along with the employer mandate.
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and, oh, by the way, he introduced my to the single mom who now instead of working in one full-time job had to work two part-time jobs just to keep food on the table for her family this bill also repeals the medical device tax. this is an incredible tax on medical innovation, which wasn't on income but literally on gross receipts, forcing jobs to move from the united states to places like costa rica in central america. this bill repeals obamacare's medicare payroll tax increase, the net investment tax increase, the obamacare tax on prescription drugs, and the obamacare health care health insurance tax. this is a full repeal of obamacare that we've been promising for years now. and, madam president, i want to point that this bill also provides unprecedented
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entitlement reform. now, some of the main cost drivers for the federal government are not the 30% of federal funds that we appropriate each year that is largely divided between defense and non-defense spending. entitlements are driven by the fact that they're not capped or pegged to an inflation rate, where medicare, social security, and medicaid. this legislation actually begins to put medicaid -- the health care plan for the most vulnerable in our country -- on a reasonable path to sustainment. this bill also makes sure that the states that share in the cost of medicaid can manage their own state budgets in a much more responsible way. so this bill is the first real medicaid reform since the program was created, which perhaps most importantly gives
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more authority, more flexibility to the states in order to manage the dollars that they spend, in order to manage not only the dollars that they come up with through their own tax rolls as well as the federal portion as well. and, as i said, it puts the medicaid program ton a path towards fiscal responsibility. this legislation, i believe, is critically important across the country and for my state of texas, too. in texas, every other year when the legislature meets and tries determine how to ahe locate its -- he locate its -- allocate its bucket, they work really hard to try to make sure that medicaid isn't the the single largest expenditure in the state budget. right nowness about a third of that total budget that's spent on medicaid alone and the federal government essentially ties the hands of the state in terms of managing the health care delivery system to help those most vulnerable low-income folks in our state.
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so with this legislation not only do states like texas have an ability to manage the expenditure of the money to focus on chronic diseases, people who are using our health care system a lot because of the nature of the illnesses that they have, but it is to help encourage medical homes so that people have ways of managing their health care to stay healthy longer and to reduce health care expenditures. so this legislation will help texas and the rest of the country have a way of reining in spending while serving those who need medicaid the most. you'll hear some of our friends across the aisle say this is about kicking people off of medicaid. well, that's not true. medicaid expenditures for those people currently on medicaid will not change at all, as long as they remain on the roll. that includes those who live in states that expanded the
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medicaid coverage from 100% of federal poverty to 138%. those people will stay on medicaid as long as they're eligible. under this new legislation, medicaid is put on a sound fiscal footing so the program is still around for our children and grandchildren. another important feature of the american health care act also is that it establishes a patient and state stability fund to equip texas and other states to meet the specific health care needs of their patients, particularly those, as i said, with low incomes and those suffering from chronic illnesses. it'll provide more money to community health centers that is do a lot of heavy lifting to make sure families are healthy and people get access to the treatment they need regardless of whether they actually have health insurance or not. in texas, we have hundreds of community health centers serving more than one million texans
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each year. under the american health care act, they'll be able to do their job more effectively, too, and keep more texans healthy. responsible entitlement reform is something we should be all about. it serves the american people not just for tomorrow but for decades down the road. and i believe that most importantly, what this legislation does is it finally delivers on the promise that we made back during the debate over the affordable care act. now that the affordable care act has proven itself to be unsustainable and not deliver on the basic promises, fundamental promises upon which it was sold to the american people, i believe it is important we keep our promise to repeal it and replace it with more choices of affordable health care at a price people can afford. it's the conservative answer to health care that will empower individuals, provide more options and competition and responsibly help those who need
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care have more access to it. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. boozman: thank you. i rise to honor jim rollins. dr. rollins is a superintendent of the spring dale arkansas public schools whr he has served since 1980. dr. rollins started his career in the classroom as a science teacher in north little rock. since that time he has consistently sought to provide students with a quality education. the work he has done leading
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spring dale's public schools speaks for itself. dr. rollins' motto when it comes to education is teach them all. this worthy goal has been especially important in spring dale where enrollment has grown from 5,000 students when dr. rollins arrived in 1980 to nearly 23,000 students today. many of these students are part of immigrant families where english is not their first language. more than 55% of the district's students are not proficient in english, and around 70% qualify for free and reduced lunches. as you might imagine, this has presented unique challenges to educators in spring dale. in order to meet these challenges and ensure that the school system is doing everything that it can to provide these students with a great education, dr. rollins
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has introduced innovative programs that cater to immigrant families including the yew "newsweek" population in springdale. the superintendent dr. rollins has fostered an atmosphere where families feel welcome and understood so that parents, students, teachers and administrators are working together to create a supportive environment that leads to growth in the classroom. in the spirit of engaging the entire family in the education of every child, dr. rollins has helped lead an effort in springdale schools to promote english as a second language instruction for students and parents. this year dr. rollins is once again being recognized for his outstanding efforts in the achievements that the springdale public schools has enjoyed under his leadership. dr. rollins is being recognized as one of the education week's 2017 leaders to learn from,
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which highlights four thinking district leaders who are working to enact and inspire change in our nation's public schools. dr. rollins is certainly very deserving of this honor. you only need to look at the work he's done over several decades to understand that he has dedicated his professional life to improving public education, outcomes for every child in the springdale education district. the teachers and parents in his district have also had wonderful things to say about dr. rollins and his leadership in their community. i'm so pleased that his trailblazing work among springdale's public schools has been noticed by national educational organizations. dr. rollins has made arkansas very proud, and we are so grateful for his leadership and commitment to educating children, no matter where they come from or their station in life. i'm honored to know
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dr. rollins, appreciate his friendship and look forward to his continued stewardship of the public school system in springdale and the positive influence he has on education throughout arkansas. congratulations, dr. rollins, on a job well done. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. wyden: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: i ask unanimous consent to vacation the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wyden: madam president, the hard numbers are now in on trumpcare, and there is no sugar coating them for the american people. 24 million americans get kicked off their insurance plans. $8830 billion is -- $880 billion is slashed. a payday worth hundreds of billions of dollars goes out to the wealthiest and special interests. that's what's going to be dropped on miss verma's plate if she is confirmed and if the bill
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passes. it's her nomination for debate right now. we should make no mistake that she's going to be in charge of the specifics. if trumpcare passes under section 132, the new administrator would be able to give states a green light to push sick patients into high-risk pools when the historical record shows that these high-risk pools are a failure when it comes to offering good coverage that's affordable. the new administrator would be in charge of section 134 and could decide exactly how skimpy trumpcare plans would be and how much more americans would be forced to pay out of pocket for the care that they need. the new administrator would handle section 135 that paves the way for health insurers to make coverage more expensive for
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those approaching retirement a age. and that is, mr. president, just the start. the fact is trumpcare is about enormous tax breaks for the fortunate few financed by raiding medicare, gutting medicaid, and hurting older people and the sick and those who are of modest income. miss verma would have the job of implementing all this at the centers for medicare and medicaid services. my view is the senate cannot debate this nomination without debating the matter of the trumpcare program itself because it will be a very huge part of the job. so today i'm going to walk through some of the specifics with respect to trumpcare beginning with the scheme that i
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call robin hood in reverse. if you look at the funds, it's clear that this is an eye popping transfer of wealth away from older people, from women and kids, from the most vulnerable directly into the wallets of the fortunate few. no part of the trumpcare bill shows us more clearly than the fact that it steals from the medicare trust fund to pay for a tax cut that goes only to the most fortunate, only to those who make a quarter million dollars or more per year. mr. president, everybody in america who brings home a paycheck has a little bit taken out each and every time for medicare. it's right there on the pay stub. it's automatic. under trumpcare the only people who are going to see on medicare
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tax cut are the people who need it least. so i want to repeat that. everybody in america when they get a paycheck, they see a medicare tax and everybody pays it. and we understand why it's so important. going to be 10,000 people turning 65 every day for years and years to come. the only people, the only people who are going to get that medicare tax cut are the people who need it least, and that tax cut that's going to go to the fortunate few will take three years off the life of the medicare program depleting the program in 2025 instead of 2028. that particular cut breaks a clear trump promise not to harm
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medicare. all through the campaign, mr. president, then candidate trump was very, very firm in saying he would do no harm to medicare. he said and i quote, you can't get rid of medicare. medicare is a program that works. i'm going to fix it and make it better but i'm not going to cut it. the promise not to cut medicare lasted about six and a half weeks into the trump administration before it was broken. the bottom line is trumpcare raids medicare. it raids medicare and causes harm to medicare in violation of an explicit trump promise during the campaign. and it brings medicare three years closer to a crisis to pay for a tax cut for the wealthiest in america. so you have this enormous
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eye-popping transfer of wealth from working people and seniors and people of modest means to the most fortunate and somehow people have the chutzpah to say it's a health care bill? i don't think so. it is a huge, huge tax windfall for the fortunate. there's also the tax break on investment income. once again this is a break that's going to only go to the most fortunate among us, and with the investment tax break, the overwhelming majority of the benefit, nearly two-thirds of it will go to the top one-tenth of 1% of earners in america. so that looks like an awful lot of money going to the fortunate few, mr. president, but we're not even done there.
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on top of all this, there is yet another juicy tax. this time for healthy insurance executives' salaries, another juicy tax cut for executives who are making over $500,000 per year. now, it is not just medicare that's getting raided under this proposal. some of those who are hit the hardest by trumpcare are those approaching retirement age. if you are an older american of modest income, 5 or 60 and you've owe 55 -- 55 or 60 and you have to get private insurance in the market, trumpcare is going to cause your prices to go through the extras fear. parts of -- extra stratosphere. in my home state, a 60-year-old who brings home $30,000 a year could see their insurance costs go up by $8,000.
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mror more.much of this is due te call an age tax. it's a key part of trumpcare. it's another key part of what miss verma will be in charge of implementing. the bill would give health insurance companies the green light to charge older people five times as much as they charge younger people. mr. wyden: so if you are a person of modest means, a few years away from qualifying for medicare, and your insurance premiums jump by $8,000, that means you're just out of luck. you're going to be locked out of the system. you're basically going to have to hope that you just don't get sick before you're eligible for medicare. and those tax credits that you hear so much about from trumpcare advocates, they aren't
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going to be of much consolation to you. that's because trumpcare puts a hard cap on your tax credit as an older person, just $4,000, and the odds are good that it wouldn't come close to covering the expense of a decent insurance plan. now i'm going to turn to medicaid because trumpcare doesn't just make little changes around the margins. doesn't strengthen or preserve this program that covers 74 million americans. mr. president, trumpcare hits medicaid like a wrecking ball, and it has particular implications for seniors. and i'm going to walk us through those. the medicaid nursing home benefit is very much at risk now because of the trumpcare cuts as it relates to medicaid.
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medicaid picks up the bill for two out of three nursing home patients. these are the people who worked a lifetime, raised kids, put them through school, scrimped and saved all they could. these are the people, mr. president, who in kansas and in oregon and across the country, they never went on the special vacation. they never bought a boat. all they did was try to scrimp and save and educate their kids. but the fact is growing old in america is pricey. and after a few years of balancing the rent bill against the food bill and the food bill against the medical costs, what happens is a lot of seniors just exhaust their savings. mr. president, when i was director of the oregon great panthers, what i saw in my state and it's duplicated everywhere, was older people walking every
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single week on an economic tightrope, balancing those food bills against the medical bills and the medical bills against the rent bills. and they just couldn't keep up. and they burned through all of their funds, they burned through their modest savings. so when it's time to pay for nursing home care, they have to turn to medicaid. today in america, the medicaid nursing home benefit is a guarantee that those vulnerable older people, the people who are walking on that economic tightrope, that they're going to be taken care of. trumpcare breaks the medicaid nursing home guarantee, and it goes even further than that. a lot of states -- mine is one -- worked hard to give more care choices to seniors as well as those with disabilities.
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maybe instead of living in a nursing home or an institution, they would rather be in the community. maybe they would rather live at home where they're most comfortable. trumpcare could mean that those home and community-based choices could disappear as well. so what we're talking about, mr. president, is that with these cuts in medicaid, at a time when in kansas and oregon and across the country what we have tried to build for older people is a continuum of services. there would be help at home, there would be help in terms of long-term care facilities. there would be a wide array of choices. and because of medicaid, there was enough money to fund these choices, to fund this continuum of care for vulnerable older people. now as a result of the medicaid
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cutbacks, my concern is there is not going to be enough money for any of these choices, not going to be enough money for the nursing home benefit, not going to be enough money for home and community-based services. and suffice it to say, my own home state has indicated to me that they're very concerned about the cutback in home and community-based services. nobody wants to see older people get nickel and dimed for the basics in home care they rely on and good nursing home benefits, yet when it comes to medicaid, trumpcare would effectively end the program as it exists today, shredding the health care safety net for older people and millions of others in our country. it puts an expiration date on the medicaid coverage that millions of americans got through the affordable care act. for many, it was the first time
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they had health insurance. it brought an end to an era where those individuals could turn only to emergency rooms for care, and now trumpcare is going to cap the medicaid budget and just squeeze it and squeeze it and squeeze it some more until vulnerable people will just not be able to get care. now, the program is particularly important for seniors and the disabled, and i want to make sure that people understand what it means for children as well, for those in the dawn of life as well as those in the twilight of life. medicaid pays for half of all births and kids make up half of medicaid's enrollees. it's important to remember that in many cases, these are kids
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that already have the odds stacked against them. they're from low-income families, they're foster kids, they're kids with disabilities. we know that they're already facing an uphill climb. medicaid, though, has been there now with the affordable care act to make sure that they could see family practitioners. pediatric specialists, that was just unheard of for these youngsters, mr. president, before the affordable care act. and when a kid needs emergency care, medicaid is what makes it affordable. trumpcare puts that in danger. so i have talked p what it -- about what it means for older people and what it means for the disabled and what it means for kids, and i'm just going to keep on going, mr. president, because now that we have the hard numbers in, the hard numbers have arrived here in real time
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from the budget office that's charged with giving us this analysis, it's important to talk about what it means because budgets are not just facts and figures and cold sheets of paper. they're about your hopes and aspirations, and the hopes and aspirations that i've had since those days when i was director of the oregon gray panthers, which was to make sure that people had affordable, quality, decent health care choices, because in america if you don't have your health, you really are missing much of what makes life so special in our country. so the bill also takes an enormous toll in other areas, and i want to mention next opioid abuse. by slashing medicaid, trumpcare is going to make america's epidemic of prescription drug
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abuse-related deaths even worse. the papers this morning had accounts, mr. president, about how families were losing most of their children to opioid addiction. most of their children lost opioid addiction. on the front pages of the papers. medicaid is a key source of coverage for mental health and substance abuse disorder treatment, particularly after the affordable care act, but this bill takes away the coverage from millions who need it. republican state lawmakers, to their credit, have spoken out about this issue. and frankly, it just ought to be a head scratcher for anybody who remembers the last presidential race when a parade of candidates rolled through state after state in the primary race that had
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been hit hard by the opioid crisis and all of those candidates were trying to outpromise the one who had spoken previously in terms of how they would help solve the opioid crisis. then-candidate trump was one of the most out spoken on saying that he would fix the opioid crisis. he said he was the guy who could end the scourge of drug addiction and get americans the help they need. instead, what we have is trumpcare that makes the opioid crisis worse, and there is no getting around it. trumpcare puts states in the unimaginable position of having to decide whose medicaid to slash. are they going to tell seniors that the nursing home benefit is no longer a guarantee, and
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they're going to have to get in a long waiting line for an opportunity to get a place in the local nursing home? should they tell pregnant women that births are no longer covered? what about telling mothers and fathers that their kids are cut off and they'll have to hope for the best or make their way back to the emergency room? now, mr. president, i also want to touch on a final point that really deserves some discussion and hasn't gotten much and the finance staff has been looking at it, and that is how trumpcare really creates a disincentive to work, because i think trumpcare and ms. verma's role implementing it is going to have a substantial effect on american workers and entrepreneurs.
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it's my true that trumpcare creates a substantial, significant disincentive to work. today, if you're on medicaid, you're able to pick up a few extra hours at work or go out and accept a higher paying job without the fear that you'll lose access to care. that's because under the affordable care act, low-income americans get the most help when it comes to paying insurance premiums. a lot of persons can get health insurance for less than $100 a month. now, let's compare that with the trumpcare approach. under the trumpcare plan, those who are walking an economic tightrope, bringing home barely more than the minimum wage, they don't get the most help. they don't get the most help, and they could see their insurance costs go up by thousands and thousands of
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dollars each year, which would effectively mean they would be locked out of the health care system. so for millions of persons staying on medicaid would suddenly look a lot more attractive. making a little more money and losing your medicaid coverage could mean losing your access to high quality health care altogether. so my view is nobody's been able to counter this. trumpcare in effect would keep americans trapped in poverty. entrepreneurs and americans who want to go back to school to pursue a degree would face the same dilemma. somebody wants to quit their job and pursue their dream of starting their own business ought to be able to do it without a fear that they wouldn't be able to any longer afford health care. the same goes for those who want to go back to school full time to pursue a degree or
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certification. trumpcare makes insurance unaffordable for those persons. now, mr. president, trumpcare is going to be the big issue on mss confirmed this afternoon in the senate to administer this office. we all understand that this bill has been taking a pounding from all sides. moderate republicans, those who consider themselves conservative republicans are against it, covers from both parties are against it. democrats are united. the aarp, the american hospital association, the american medical association, the american nurses association have all come out against the bill. not any surprise to me. i don't think these groups think that health care and health care legislation is primarily about
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ladling out big tax breaks for the fortunate few, but that's what this so-called health care bill does, and it's financed by raiding medicare, by gutting medicaid and by hurting older and sicker and lower income americans. there has been a lot of happy talk about why you ought to support this bill, but what i have tried to do is lay out this afternoon the broken promises. this weekend, for example, the new secretary of health and human services said, and i quote, i firmly believe that nobody will be worse off financially in the process that we're going through, understanding that they will have choices that they can select the kind of coverage they want for themselves and for their families. that statement from the secretary of health and human services is just disconnected
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from the facts. the simple math shows that trumpcare forces millions of people, particularly older people, less affluent people, to pay thousands of dollars more for their health insurance. the o.m.b. bror, the budget director mick mulvaney was questioned on why trumpcare breaks the promise of insurance for everybody. his response was that trumpcare is about access and the bill, quote, helps people get health care instead of just coverage, but we all understand access doesn't mean a lot if people can't afford to get coverage. that's the future that trumpcare is going to bring for millions of americans. i asked ms. verma the most basic questions during her confirmation hearing so we could get even a little bit of an insight into how she would approach these issues.
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i asked for one example. these are not gotcha questions, mr. president. these are the questions you ask if you want to know about running a program involving a trillion dollars. i said one example, ms. verma, of what you do to bring down the cost of prescription medicine. i gave her three or four to choose from. i particularly would like to see more transparency and lifting this cloud of darkness surrounding how medicines are priced. she didn't have any answers to any of these questions. so here's where this nomination stands. ms. verma gave the finance committee and the public virtually nothing to go by in terms of how she would approach this job. it's a fact that if confirmed she would be one of the top officials to implement trumpcare, a bill that raids
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medicare, slashes medicaid and kicks millions of americans off their health plan to pay for a tax cut for the wealthy. so i'm unable to support this nomination. i urge my colleagues to oppose it. i ask unanimous consent that i be allowed to enter an additional statement and associated documents into the record, and i yield the floor at this time, mr. president. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, the question occurs when on the verma nomination. the yeas and nays have been requested. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: have all senators voted? does any senator wish to change their vote? on this vote, the ayes are 55, the nays are 43.
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the nomination is confirmed. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senate majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i move to reconsider the vote and i move to table the motion to reconsider. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to table. all those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion to table is agreed to. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: all those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion to proceed is agreed to. mr. mcconnell: i move that the senate proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 23, daniel coats, to be director of national intelligence. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. all those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, office of
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the director of national intelligence, daniel coats of indiana to be director. mr. mcconnell: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. the clerk: cloture motion, we, the undersigned senators, in accordance of the rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of daniel coats to be director of national intelligence, signed by 17 senators. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent the reading of the names be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. all those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion to proceed is agreed to. mr. mcconnell: i move the senate proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 19, herbert r. mcmaster, jr., to be lieutenant general. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. all those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it.
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the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, army, lieutenant general herbert r. mcmaster, jr., to be lieutenant general. mr. mcconnell: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. the clerk: cloture motion, we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of lieutenant general herbert r. mcmaster jr. to be lieutenant general, signed by 17 senators as follows. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that the reading of the names be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the mandatory quorum calls be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. all those in favor say aye. those opposed, say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to h.j. res. 43.
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the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report. the clerk: h.j. res. 42, joint resolution disapproving the rule submitted by the department of labor relating to drug testing of unemployment compensation applicants. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the appointments at the desk appear separately in the record as if made by the chair. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: now, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tuesday, march 14. further, that following the prayer and pledge, the morning business be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, and morning business be closed. finally, following leader remarks, the senate resume consideration of h.j. res. 42. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection.
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so ordered. mr. mcconnell: so if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order, following the remarks of senator cruz. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cruz: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cruz: mr. president, i rise today to commend the senate for taking up legislation that i have introduced along with my colleague in the house, chairman kevin brady, to reverse yet another instance of executive overreach by the obama administration. h.j. res. 42 passed the house 236-189, with senator on both sides of the aisle, during nearly unanimous republican support, and i urge my colleagues in this chamber to swiftly approve this legislation and to send it to the
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president's desk for signature. in the bipartisan middle-class tax relief and job creation act of 2012, congress permitted but did not require states to assess state unemployment compensation or insurance program applicants for drug usage under two circumstances. workers who had been discharged from their last job because of unlawful drug use and workers looking for jobs in occupations where applicants and employees are subject to drug testing. the unemployment insurance program is designed to facilitate swift re-employment by requiring applicants to be able to work and actively seek employment in order to be eligible. the 2012 job creation act noted that if a worker lost a job due to drug usage, that worker would have established themselves as not being fully able or available to work. further, under appropriate
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state-level programs, states could choose to restrict benefits for individuals who fail drug tests as well as to design programs to help them overcome their drug use and become work ready. a number of states have responded to this opportunity. we are not helping anyone by leaving them in a position where they are dependent on and addicted to drugs. in texas, for example, the texas legislature passed senate bill 21 which not only sought to secure the quality of job applicants, but it also provided help to those who needed it but would not have sought out that help otherwise themselves. the wording of the 2012 job creation act clearly shows that congress specifically intended to provide states the ability to determine how to best implement these programs for their citizens. however, the obama department of labor substantially narrowed the law to circumstances where
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testing is legally required, not merely allowed. such an arbitrary definition undermines the ability of states to conduct drug testing in their programs as permitted by congress. this regulation is overly prescriptive. it removes state implementation and it ignores years of congressional concern on both sides of the aisle. i want to thank chairman brady for taking the lead in the house on dealing with this overreach and for his leadership on h.j. res. 42-to-repeal -- to real estate peel this resolution. this joint resolution has broad support including in president trump, from texas' governor abbott from mississipp mississis governor bryant, from utah's governor and wisconsin's governor.
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all deal with drug use and tailor their problems to meeting that problem. this is yet another step in overturning the obama administration's executive overreach that has done so much damage. so encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this measure and return discretion to the states and to the people. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the presiding officer: under
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do not dream : without objection. mr. wyden: madam president, the mr. wyden: madam president, the being a hard numbers aren't wheh trump care and there is no sugar coating for the american people. 24 million americans get kicked off their insurance plans. $880 billion/friends medicaid in the first decade. a payday worth hundreds of


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