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tv   U.S. Senate 11082017  CSPAN  November 8, 2017 3:59pm-6:00pm EST

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this. it's not news to them. they've lived this for a long time now. they know it well. they know businesses aren't expanding here. they've seen businesses close. they've seen a slowdown in the start-up of new businesses. they know their wages haven't gone up in many years. they understand this shadow. businesses don't expand. workers laid off. money moves abroad. it's because of this high tax that doesn't meet up with increase in costs or decreases in costs, creating a dead weight loss on our economy. they understand it. and they know that corporations pass that tax on to them in the form of lower wages. but here's the good news. help is on the way. lowering the corporate tax rate lowers the rate of return needed to make the investment work. it removes the shadow that blocks the economic sunlight. suddenly businesses are operating here in the green. more investment in factories, buildings, equipment, i.p. means more americans are more
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productive. and that makes total sense. you get more done when you have a new computer than when you have an old clunky one. he produce more when you have a new machine on the line. workers become more productive and the companies pay them more both because they are bringing in more and because they want to keep those workers to do more. that's what happens when you lift that economic shadow that we talked about. you create more jobs and wage competition grows income. this isn't just economic theory. as you can see here on this chart, wages increase and wage increase is significantly higher in areas with lower tax rates. we need not just economic theory, we need economic results. high tax countries like the united states have weak wage growth of the united states is down here amongst this chart representing the highest statutory corporate rate
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countries. high-tax countries like the u.s. have weak wage growth. you can see that here. low-tax countries, with the lowest tax rates. low tax rate countries see wage growth of 3%, and even 4% because they don't live under that dead weight loss zone of high corporate taxes. it also matches my experience in talking with companies in colorado. u.s. multinational corporations doing business in colorado have told me that they want to expand here but they just can't justify it when they look at the tax rates that we have here versus around the world, especially in europe. i've even heard from some foreign-based companies. this sort of reform -- i ask unanimous consent to completely remark. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. gardner: entice them to invest more in the s. this is real and the american
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people need it. it is good television to say that american families will get money from lowering the corporate rate. it is tempting to look at corporate profits and think thap corporations don't want to invest here. that's wrong too. the right thing is it to tell businesses that they should invest here because they can make more money. that's why president obama called for corporate tax reform. that's why former treasury secretary larry summers said that lowering the competitive disadvantage faced by multinationals is as close to a free lunch as taxpayers will get. that's what we do by lowering the corporate tax rate. that's why american families end up with $4,000 more in their pockets. once this fully takes effect, that increase is permanent. mr. president, we have a historic opportunity. the american people need and deserve a new and better tax code, a modern one designed for
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today's world not a natari world. i ask that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to join with us and deliver real results for the american people. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: mr. president, i ask that my intern zack foot be granted privileges of the floor for the balance of the day. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: thank you. a few moments from now we're going to come to this chamber to vote on the nomination of peter robb to serve for the general counsel on the national labor relations board. quite frankly, if we allow this individual to be confirmed, it will be a severe slap in the face to american workers. this is an individual who has made a career out of attacking the ability of american workers to get a fair share of the wealth they create, and yet here is a proposal to put him in a
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leadership position at an agency whose purpose is to fight -- to make sure that workers get fair treatment. how does that make sense? take someone whose fought to undermine the ability of workers his entire life and put that person in charge of making sure that american workers are treated fairly? certainly it goes exactly in the opposite of the argument that candidate trump made when he said he was going to stand up for american workers, but when push comes to shove, the president wants to shove workers down into the ditch. it boils down to this. the national labor relations board was established 62 years -- excuse me -- 82 years ago in the middle of the great depression to protect workers by encouraging and promoting had their -- promoting their right to collective bargaining.
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think about the power of association so that workers can have the opportunity to have a fair share, to have a basic foundation. that has been behind every advance we made as a middle class in america, be it the 40-hour workweek, safe working conditions, standard benefits. each and every advance led by the workers' ability to organize. yet, here the president wants to put in place an individual who has done everything possible to take away that right, that ability to weigh in for basic, fundamental fairness for workers. the responsibility of the national labor relations board is more important today than ever. all we have seen -- we have seen the impact of policies on behalf of the priviliged and the powerful -- privileged and powerful, intersection stagnate
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while the reach have seen their riches grow. we have seen anti-worker forces led an assault on the right of workers to organize and to secure safe working conditions and fair wages. here we are at a time when america's workers have seen four decades in which their wages have been flat or declining while the rich and powerful have stripped off the growing wealth of this nation for themselves. income inequality has soared, wealth inequality is massive, and here is one more person being nominated to accentuate that inequality, inequality in wealth, to accent the way that inequality, that inequality in income. back in 1981 when mr. robb was the lead attorney to certify the
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traffic controllers association, the union was striking and mr. robb -- as commentator at the time said, forever, quote, undermine the barring gaining of american workers and their labor unions. when he was last working as a -- on the team at nlrb, this nominee was there. we saw -- and this is recounted in a book called "right turn" -- altered the long-standing policy, narrowing the scope of activities for labored protections, lowering the cost to employers of unlawful activity and otherwise narrowing or excusing the employer without informing unions before it was
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changed or declaring impasse. more recently, mr. robb represented dominion energy, successfully defeating a union-organizing drive at the millstone power station, bragging that he was able to delay the election for, more than two years after the day the petition was filed. he doesn't want workers to have a fair chance to vote on organizing a union or to work to press for a first contract or to seek fair wages. he spent his career fighting against workers having that fair shot, defending companies against allegations from union -- from unfair labor practices, allegation from union members regarding unfair labor practices, including age and sex
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discrimination. never once in this long career has he been on the side of the american worker, not once. therefore, he has no place to be at the head of an organization intended to support the ability of workers to organize and to press for a fair share. it is unthinkable that this nominee would ever even come to this chamber. it is certainly part of an endless stream of attacks by those who have kept their wages flat and declining for decades. when will we see an end to the oppression against the workers of america. one act after another by this administration, president trump and his team undermining fair wages for workers in this nation, it is outrageous. this nomination is outrageous, and i encourage my colleagues to vote no.
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the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: mr. president, president trump has been in office now for nine months. he has laid out his agenda to grow the economy and help hardworking americans. president trump's administration has taken important steps to roll back the regulatory rampage of the last eight years of during the last administration, the environmental protection agency issued harmful and punishing overreaching regulations that hurt workers in my home state of wyoming. according to the chamber of commerce, from 2008 to 2016, the e.p.a. issued regulations that cost our economy over $6billion each year, significantly more than any other federal agency. these rules had real-life impacts. the obama administration's so-called clean power plan would have closed power plants and cost america jobs.
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mr. president, we can have both clean air and a growing economy. we have proven it. my goal is to make american energy as clean as we can as pass as we can without raising costs on american families. president trump shares that goal. that's why e.p.a. administrator scott pruitt has led the charge in cutting red tape. the e.p.a. has taken important steps to roll back the clean power plan and other punishing e.p.a. regulations. i mean, it's interesting. annual cost of high-impact rules by the agency, 2008 to 2016, 13 rules of the e.p.a., in the red right here, billions and billions and billions, over $60 billion. administrator pruitt needs his full leadership team in place at the agency to complete the task. so today this senate is going to vote on cloture so he we can consider the nomination of william william. he -- he has been elected.
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he has more than three decades of experience in environmental policy. he worked as an environmental engineer, public servant the e.p.a. and environmental lawyer. his time at the e.p.a. includes two years of service as the acting administrator of the office of air and radiation, the same office he has now been nominated to lead. e.p.a.'s office of air and radiation is important in terms of the division within the agency. it develops national programs, policies to limit air pollution. one of the responsibilities of this office is to implement the clean air act and it is a big job. mr. president, here you have a chart. most e.p.a. regulatory burdens come from the e.p.a. air regulations. 94.5% from the office of air and radiation in 2014, only 5.5%
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from all other e.p.a. offices regulatory burden that same year. under the obama administration the air office was one of the biggest regulatory abusers. according to the office of management and budget, they were responsible for 95% of the costs of the regulation. mr. warham is important for this role. bill warham is the right man for the job. former environmental obama justice official said this. he said i believe he is committed to achieving clean air for all citizens and carefully following sound and current science. marcus peacock praised mr.
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mr. wareum will pull up his sleeves and make the clean air act work as a practical -- practical matter is second to none. he will pursue policies that will protect america's air and allow our economy to grow. i urge all senators to work for cloture on mr. w ranch eum's nomination. i yield the floor. mrs. murray: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. as president trump continues to undermine workers, it is critical that the nlrb is independent and committed to promoting collective bargaining. when corporations fry to take advantage -- try to take advantage of their employees, workers should be able to turn to the nlrb to intervene. unare fortunately, mr. robb's career as a corporate lawyer fighting against lawyers gives
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me great concern he will not have workers best interest at heart in this role. so i will be voting no on this nomination and i urge my colleagues to stand up for workers and do the same. i yield back our time. the presiding officer: all time is yielded back. the question occurs on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: have all members voted or wish to change their vote? on this vote the yeas are 49. the nays are 46.
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the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table and the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action. there will now be two minutes of debate equally divided. the senate will be in order. senators please cease your conversations. move them off the floor. the senator from delaware. mr. carper: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: colleagues, i rise in opposition of the nomination of william wehrum to be e.p.a. administrator for air and radiation. president george w. bush nominated mr. wehrum for the very same job in 2005.
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he was not confirmed then, was able to serve -- could i have order, mr. president. could i have order. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. the senators will please take their conversations out of the well, off the floor. the senator has the right to be heard. mr. carper: thank you. he was not confirmed then but was able to serve in that role on an acting basis, acting basis, something he could not lawfully do today. at the time i voted against mr. wehrum's nomination because i feared he would impede efforts to clean our air and protect the health of americans. sadly, my fears have been proved well founded. 27 times, 27 times the courts found that clean air regulations that mr. wehrum helped craft did not follow the law or protect public health. since leaving e.p.a. in 2007, mr. wehrum has spent his time suing the agency. mr. wehrum was ereducive when answering our questions when asked which clean air he
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supports, key not name a single one, not one. his extreme views are not good for public health and the legal uncertainty that stands from his judgment would not be good for american businesses. that's why i call on all of you, my colleagues, to join me in opposition to this nomination. thank you. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. a senator: mr. wehrum has been nominated to serve as the e.p.a. administrator for the office of air and radiation. he has more than three years of experience in environmental policy. mr. barrasso: he worked as an environmental engineer and environmental lawyer. his time at the e.p.a. includes years of service as the acting administrator of the office of air and radiation, the same office he's now been nominated. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. barrasso: i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: the clerk will crort. the clerk: wep the junldz signed senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate do hereby move to bring to a crow debate on the nomination of william l. wehrum to be
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assistant administrator of the e.p.a. signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum has been waived. the question is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of william l. wehrum of delaware to be assistant of the environmental agency shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the yeas are 4, the nays are 46. the motion is agreed to.
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lamar alexander mr. president? mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. standard alexander the elections are on th the american minds. many expanded medicaid. in my home state of tennessee, because of the affordable care act's structure, premiums have gone up 176% over the last four years and another 58% on average for 2018 is predicted. tennesseans, like millions of americans are going through open enrollment and have sticker shock when they see the prices of the health insurance that they might buy. and the 178 million people who are getting their insurance on the job, that's 60% of us, know that they might lose their job. they might change their job, and they might be in the individual market themselves and might find
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themselves exposed to these skyrocketing premiums and the chaos that results from that. this is especially difficult for americans who have no government subsidy to help them buy insurance. there were in 2016, according to the department of health and human services, about 9 million of those americans. there are 350,000 people in tennessee who buy insurance in the individual market. that means they don't get it on the job. they don't get it from the government. they go out and buy it themselves. 190,000 of those pay the whole brunt. so if the insurance costs go up 176% over four years, another 58% this year, that means the songwriter, the farmer, the self-employed person has a very difficult time buying insurance. it's a terror terrifying prospective. that's why health care is on the minds of the people. and one would think that the
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american people might turn around and look at washington and say, well, why does the president of the united states and why don't members of the congress, the republicans as well as the democrats, get together and do something about the skyrocketing premiums? well, mr. president, what would you think if i told you this -- that the president of the united states, president trump, last month called me and asked me to do just that. he said, i don't want people to be hurt over the next couple of years while we're continuing to debate the long-term structure of health care in the individual market. so why don't you get with senator murray, the senator prosecute washington, she's the ranking democrat on the health committee, why don't you try to work something out so people won't be hurt during these two years. he said, i have to cut off the cost-sharing payments because the court has said they're not legal. but we can put them back. go negotiate. see what you can do. the try to get some flexibility for the states. well, fortunately, senator murray and i were already
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working on that, and to have the president's call was encouraging to me. he called me three more times over the next two weeks. and the long and short of it is, we produced a result. here's what the result looks like. and i'm going to talk about it from the point of view why republicans are supporting it. some -- senator murray and the democratic senators were here earlier saying why they were supporting it. senator rounds, the former governor of the state of south dakota, a man who understands insurance very well, who helped develop this proposal, we're here today to say this happens to be one of those bills where there are good reasons for domes support it and there are good reasons for the republicans to support it, and the president has asked for it. here's what it does. from my point of view, the so-called alexander-murray legislation, which was recommended to the senate by senator murray and me and by -- recommended to the senate, there were 12 republicans and 12
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democrats who were original cosponsors, including senator rounds and myself. that doesn't happen very often here. that's a quarter of the senate offering a bipartisan bill on a contentious subject to the senate. here's what it does. one it lowered premiums. in 2018, where the rates were already set, it requires the states to work with insurance companies and give rebates for the high premiums that have been already set. and in 2019, it will lower premiums. that's the first thing it does, and the first reason why i and many republicans support it. because the premiums are lower, mr. president, it also means fewer tax dollars going to pay for obamacare subsidies. that's another reason republicans and conservatives like the idea of the alexander-murray bill. another reason we like it is because because there are lower subsidies, there is less federal debt. the congressional budget office has examined our bill and says it actually saves money over ten
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years. nearly $4 billion. and then there are other reasons we like it, because it gives states flexibility, increasing the variety and choices of the insurance policies they can recommend. that's the biggest difference of opinion we have between that side of the aisle and this side of the aisle. they want washington to write the rules. we want the states to write the rules. and on this, we agreed to make some changes so states can write more rules. for example, the iowa senators, senator grassley and senator ernst, are cosponsors of the bill because of the language in the alexander-murray amendment would permit the federal government to approve the iowa waiver. iowa has a way that it wants to use the federal dollars to ensure more people -- to insure more people, to enroll more people, give them lower costs. it would allow new hampshire to use medicare -- medicaid savings
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to help pay for its obamacare waiver. both the democratic senators and the republican governor of new hampshire have asked for that. it allows minnesota to use a stream of federal funding so it could have its own waiver. it would allow oklahoma, which has been waiting to get its waiver approved, and what do we mean by waivers? what this means is that states can look at the people in their state and make their own decisions or more of their own decisions about variety of choices. alaska did that earlier. they're the only state that has been able to use the section 1332 innovation waiver, as we call it, and they were able to create a special fund for very sick people and then to lower rates for everybody else by 20% and to do 85% of that with federal dollars. mr. alexander: no new federal dollars, 15% by the states. so the reason republicans like
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the alexander-murray bill, the reason we have 12 of us on this side of the aisle cosponsoring it along with 12 democrats is lower premiums, less tax dollars for obamacare subsidies, less federal debt, more flexibility for states, a new so-called catastrophic insurance policy so that you can buy a policy with a lower premium and a higher deductible, so that a financial -- a medical catastrophe doesn't turn into a financial catastrophe. all of those are reasons to support it. so, mr. president, here is the long and short of it. the america have health care on their minds. certainly true in tennessee where the rates are up 58%. certainly true in virginia yesterday, certainly true in maine. i see the senator from maine who is here who has been an important part of the discussion. the people of america say, well,
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why doesn't the president and the congress, the republicans and the democrats in both bodies get together and do something about it? well, i'm happy to report we have. we've got a proposal, a bipartisan proposal. it doesn't solve every problem, but it limits the damage, it lowers premiums, it avoids chaos, it saves federal tax dollars, and it has the support of -- of a significant number of republicans and democrats, and it's done at the request of the president. so i hope that when the president returns from asia, he will go to his desk and find a nice package there with a bow on it, presented by senator murray and me, 24 of us in the united states senate, republicans, democrats, that does exactly what the american people i think want us to do -- lower premiums, avoid chaos, work together, take a step in the right direction, and let's see if we can help the american people in that way. mr. president, i know the
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senator from south dakota is here, and i want to thank him for his leadership on this. he, along with the senator from maine who is here, senator king, has spent a good deal of time working on this piece of legislation that has a lot that democrats like and a lot that republicans like, so much so that we're able to recommend it in a bipartisan way, and i know he may have things that he may want to say about the bill. thank you. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination: environmental protection agency, william l. wehrum of delaware to be an assistant administrator. the presiding officer: the senator from maine. mr. king: mr. president, i don't wish to take much of the senate's time, but i want to emphasize and echo the comments made by the senator from tennessee. he and his ranking member, patty murray of washington, have done
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a magnificent job, and what i want to emphasize is not necessarily the content of the bill which he has outlined expertly, but the process by which this bill has come to the united states senate because to me it's an example of how this place can and should work. there were a series of four essentially all-day hearings. there were workshops where all senators were invited and i think at least half the senate attended several of those workshops. we had a bipartisan witness list, we had governors, we had insurance commissioners, we had experts on the health services industry from around the country, and the result was a piece of negotiated compromise but -- negotiated, compromised, but thoroughly worked through piece of legislation that can do exactly what the senator from tennessee outlined -- lower premiums, end the chaos in the individual market, save the federal government money over the period of the next ten or 20 years, and really make a difference for the people of maine. but i particularly want to
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compliment and express my appreciation to senator alexander and senator rounds for the work that they have done to bring this issue to this point, and i deeply hope, as senator alexander, as the senator from tennessee just said, that when the president returns from his trip, he will see this agreement, bipartisan agreement or in my case a nonpartisan agreement that's come forward to really solve some serious problems. it doesn't solve all the problems, but it's a step forward, and it also is exactly what the american people want us to do, to talk to each other, to listen to each other, to gather the data and the information, and to come up with legislative proposals that make common sense and will make a better place, a better health care system, and serve our citizens and our people across the country so much more in a better way than the current arrangement. so, again, i want to compliment
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my colleague from tennessee and i also -- and also my colleague, senator rounds, from south dakota for the work that they have done on this. we're at a place where we can really do something good, not only substantively, but by also showing the nation how this body can and should work. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. rounds: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. rounds: thank you, mr. president. let me just begin by acknowledging the leadership of chairman alexander and ranking member murray have offered, and also let me just say how much i have appreciated the hard work that senator king from maine has participated in as well in this process. they have worked together side by side to try to find some common ground while still retaining and protecting the principles which they all hold with regard to how health insurance long term should be approached. coming to a bipartisan agreement on this very important piece of
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legislation is only the first step. as you know, a deal was announced last month to give states permanent flexibility to avoid some of obamacare's most crushing mandates while also temporarily authorizing the cost-sharing reduction or c.s.r. payments for two years. that is what the piece of legislation that we're referring to in this particular case, the alexander-murray legislation would do. this agreement, mr. president, is a win for conservatives who have spent the past seven years promising to relieve the american people of obamacare's skyrocketing premiums, limited choices, and federal chokehold. for the first time since obamacare was forced on to the american public, the alexander-murray legislation is an opportunity to provide permanent, meaningful opportunities for states to opt out of some of obamacare's most egregious mandates under the
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1332 waiver program, while making health care more affordable for their constituents. mr. president, as a former governor, like my colleague, mri understand that the best decisions are made at the state and local level, not by federal bureaucrats. empowering states with new opportunities to innovate and strengthen their individual health insurance markets in a way that meets the citizens' unique needs is a first step in repealing obamacare and allowing the marketplace to once again be competitive and innovative. in exchange for the permanent 1332 waiver changes, we have agreed to temporarily authorize the administration to make c.s.r. payments for two years, similar to the provisions of the better care reconciliation act which 49 republican members of
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the united states senate supported earlier this year. recall, mr. president, that president trump announced recently that he would stop the c.s.r. payments after a federal court found them illegal because they had not been appropriated by congress. not surprisingly, the previous administration had continued making these payments, a practice which president trump rightfully and correctly stopped after months of warning that he would do so. we applaud the president for returning this appropriations decision to its constitutional place, with congress. we also recognize that there are millions of americans who will face steep premium increases come january as a result of this challenging decision. this is in addition to the already skyrocketing premium increases that americans are
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facing because of obamacare, because of the concept on which it is built. the american people didn't ask for obamacare. they shouldn't be unfairly punished. by extending these payments for only two years, our legislation will stabilize the market and help provide a smooth transition as we continue to work on a full repeal and replacement. providing a smooth transition away from obamacare has been included in every serious republican health care plan to date. we have to have a transition in order to move away from the existing health care plans. in fact, i cannot think of a single g.o.p. colleague who doesn't support a smooth transition so we don't hurt families as we move away from our current unworkable system. it is also important to point out that alexander-murray is merely a step one in the total repeal and replacement of obamacare. you see, because of house and
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senate rules, the 1332 waiver changes outlined in our bill are not eligible to be included in budget reconciliation legislation, which is the vehicle being used to repeal and replace obamacare by congressional republicans, which we continue to work on. we need both bills. this is a two-step process. we fully expect there to be an opportunity for us to finish the full repeal and replace of obamacare next year and are united in our desire to get it across the finish line. but 1332 waiver changes found in this bill require bipartisan support in the senate, period. it requires 60 votes. that is not available to us or it is not part of the remaining part of the challenge of the total repeal and replacement. we need both bails in order to get this done. we have also included additional
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insurances within this bill to make sure our bill doesn't bail out insurance companies, as senator alexander has stated earlier. c.b.o. or the congressional budget office confirmed this in an october report, noting that its benefits to taxpayers and low-income policyholders, not insurance companies. i also want to point out that there is also a fiscal case to be made for continuing the c.s.r. payments in the short term. the nonpartisan congressional budget office, once again, the c.b.o., found that the federal government will be on the hook to subsidize care of the individuals who otherwise would receive premium assistance via the c.s.r. payments. now, the c.s.r. payments have ended. insurers who stay in the individual marketplace will be forced to raise their prices to compensate, and instead of costing $7 billion, as it was this year under the use of c.s.r.'s, the c.b.o. estimates
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the disruption caused by abruptly ending the c.s.r.'s will cost the federal government an average of $25 billion annually, more than four times the current rate. a fact that obamacare is fail something not a partisan issue. members of both parties have acknowledged that it is rapidly sinking. our colleagues on the other side of the aisle believe that it is fixable. republicans believe we have to go in a delivery direction. -- in a different direction. democrats have failed to admit the failure. they recognize it is sinking. they think it is fixable and until now have been unwilling to make any concessions to the law that they were solely responsible for creating. we must seize the opportunity to provide states with much-needed relief from obamacare and show that states are far better at coming up with health insurance rules, which are tailored to
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their individual needs. the only trade-off is fulfilling our promise to stabilize the individual market temporarily while we continue our work to repeal obamacare and replace it with a truly competitive market-based system. in the meantime, states will already be given that option under our plan. let me just share, sometimes when you look at a bipartisan piece of legislation, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle will point to the fact that they wanted to stabilize the market now. republicans will point to the fact that we need to stabilize the market and provide the opportunity for the full repeal and replacement to become effective. obamacare started in 2009. it was passed in 2009. and yet it took until 2014 for all of the impacts to actually begin to accumulate. five years.
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to undo it will take time for the states to create their fixes. we have to pass the legislation, h.h.s. has to create the rules, and then at the local level, at the state level, the state legislatures have to create the laws once again that were torn apart by obamacare in the first place, then their divisions of insurance and their departments of health have to actually create the rules, the insurance companies that are out there that want to compete once again have to be able to contract with doctors and hospitals, they have to go on out and not only write the contracts but -- that will comply with the law and the regulations, but then they also have to go on out and to market that product to individuals, and upon the exchange from one contract under obamacare to a contract with a competitive where insurance carriers can actually offer different types of products to group plans or
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individuals will take time. that transition can hardly not be done in less than two years. thus the need and the offer in all of the republican proposals to take this two-year time period and to actually help the american people get through this very difficult time without hurting them more than what they will already feel the pain of the continuation of obamacare. it simply takes two years to make any reasonable transition happen. and with that, once again, mr. president, i would like to acknowledge the hard work of the senator from tennessee, senator alexander, and the way in which he has created a team effect, a team plan on getting this through. senator murray, working side by side with senator alexander in trying to find common ground in which her colleagues see the importance from their perspective while statement those of us on this side of the aisle are reflecting on the
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first step in a long-term goal of the repeal and replacement -- for the first time, we have the first chance on obamacare. we have for the first time an opportunity to take a step statutorily with a 60-count vote to actually make changes in the substance of obamacare. it's high time. it's high time to get started -- it's time to get started. it's time to work forward. we can slow down the damage. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: i would like to make remarks that would not be counted against my postcloture time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. carper: it is kind of ironic that the four of us that
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are gathered here -- it is kind of ironic that the four of us that are gathered here are former governors and we're interested in getting things done. we're interested in working across the aisle. we want to be able to achieve better results for less money. i want to applaud senator alexander and senator murray for their efforts to try to ensure that we begin to do that. i think my friend from south dakota gives much credit to president obama in attacking what was originally bipartisan legislation introduced here in 1993 by senator orrin hatch with 22 republican cosponsors, later became romneycakes the idea behind their proposal was there ought to be exchanges in every state, that the people could join that didn't have health care coverage. number two, there would be a sliding-scale health care credit, number three there would be an individual mandate that said you don't have to get
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coverage but if you don't, you're going to have to pay a fine. number four, an employer mandate said you have to cover your people. number five, insurance companies, you cannot refuse to cover people with a preexisting condition. barack obama had nothing to do with that. we continue to hear folks deride the idea of the exchanges and the things -- the five points i just mentioned as obamacare. he had nothing to do with it. we took -- when we marked up the affordable care act, we took really those ideas from 1993 legislation here, 23 republican cosponsors, romneycare, proposed and implemented i think this 2006. it worked. we were looking -- when we were marking up the affordable care act, we were looking for stuff that worked to get people coverage in a cost-effective way. the republicans in 193, using what i think was originally a heritage idea, romney in 2006, they had a good idea and it used market forces. what we've never done since the
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affordable care act went into force is to make a good -- enable a good republican idea to work. and i think what senator alexander has put together and senator murray can help move us closer to that step. some other things i think we ought to do include reinsurance plan along the lines that senator kaine and i have introduced. i think it has a fair amount of support in a lot of quarters. the other is to make sure if we're not going to have an individual mandate -- i think we ought to, but we're going to take it away, what can we put in its place to make sure we have in the exchanges, young, healthy people. so you have a group of folks in each state in the ex-chaplains that are insurable, without the insurance companies losing their shirts. one of the great things about what senator alexander and senator murray are trying to do here is if we could just take this small step to ensure that the cost-sharing reductions that are really helping lower-income people with their co-pays and deductible costs, if we can do
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that along with the waiver, which i support, this can be a confidence-builder, maybe we could do some other things like the reinsurance ideas that we have and others have. and the individual mandate, if there is a better idea than the individual mandate, by golly, let's do that. let's do that. we need healthy, young people in the exchanges. and my hope is that we can find common ground and make it on a little broader range of ideas to bring us good coverage, good health care coverage at an affordable price and then turn -- kind of pivot to the affordable care act itself and the stuff in the affordable care act that ought to be changed, drop. let's do that. and the portions of it that ought to be preserved, let's do that as well. i again want to command my friends for coming up with that -- i again want to commend my friends for coming up with this very good step and my hope is we can get a vote for it. the irony -- i remember the
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insurance folks today. we don't agree on everything, but one of the things i heard from them, if we were to do with senator alexander and senator murray called for with respect to cost-sharing reductions, if we would do some kind of reinsurance plan along the lines that tim kaine and i have suggested but not necessarily that, and if we do something to make it sure the individual mandate is going to be in place, stay in place so we get young people in the exchanges, if we do those three things, they told us we can bring down premiums anywhere from 30% to 35%. who benefits the most? as it turns out, not just the pooh emwho are getting their coverage in the exchanges. but who else benefits the most is uncle sam. because if you reduce premiums by 30%-35%, uncle sam who pays all these tax credits to buy down the cost, uncle sam reaps a benefit as well. that helps us bring down the size of the deficit, which is
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good. i was just inspired by your words, both of you. i wanted to say that and to applaud your efforts. it is a pleasure and honor to work with you on this. i look forward to doing more of that. thank you. mr. alexander: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: i want to briefly thank the senator from delaware. as the senator from south dakota said, this has been a very contentious issue, but we thought if we listened enough, we might find a few things we could agree on. senator murray and i not only involved our committee, which is a committee of 22 or 23 senators, but we invited anyone not on the committee to come, meet with the witnesses, the governors, the state insurance commissioners for an hour before the hearings. mr. president, we had nearly 60 senators involved in the entire process on those four days. that's pretty remarkable when you have 60 senators, more than
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half of whom are not on the committee of jurisdiction, to attend and participate. and that helped develop what wedom of the p earn with the best attendance was senator carper. the senator from delaware is not a member of the committee, but he came to every one of the committee meetings. he often stayed for the hearings themselves. i want to thank him for his active participation. boiling it all down, i think what we're trying to say is there is a lot we still don't agree on. but we've heard the american people. health care is on their minds. they're signing up. those in the individual market are getting sticker shock, if they don't get any government support. and for the next couple of years, we have a plan that will avoid chaos and begin to limit the growth of premiums and in 2019 reduce premiums. and in addition to that, it will give americans a new plan to buy called the catastrophic plan that would give many states the
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opportunity to use some of their own ingenuity to create a larger variety of choices. that's a good set of options to respond to the american people who say, why don't the president and the congress work together to do something about health care? it doesn't solve all the problems, but it's a step in the right direction, and it's something we can build on. i thank the senator from delaware for his contribution, and i thank the senator from south dakota for his, and i hope when the president returns from asia that he'll look at the agreement that he asked us to produce, that i hope he will support it. if he does, i believe it'll be part of the law when we go home for christmas. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. and -- mr. carper: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: thank you, mr. president. to that i'd p.s., if i could, my hope is is that during president trump's visit to japan, he asked the leader of the japan, why is
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it that japan they only spend 8% of their g.d.p. for health care. they get better rurals than we do and they -- they get better results than we do. that's a good question. i hope the president and prime minister abe got into that. that's a subject that i need to turn away from now. what i'd like to do is say, mr. president, i rise in opposition to the nomination of bill wehrum to be e.p.a. assistant administrator for air and radiation. we have seen this movie before. like many sequels, this one may actually be worse than the original. my opposition to this nominee should not come as a surprise to my colleagues or to mr. wehrum because in 2005 president george w. bush nominated him for the exact same position. air administered for clean air and radiation at e.p.a. i opposed his nomination it as did many of our colleagues, and he was not confirmed.
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prior to his nomination this time -- rather, prior to his nomination in 2005, mr. wehrum was an industry lawyer and later a political employee at the e.p.a. he served as chief counsel to jeff homestead, then the acting assistant administrator for air and radiation from 2001 through 2005. and while serving at e.p.a. at this time, mr. wehrum had a concerning track record of suppressing scientific information and the work of the e.p.a. career staff. deferring to industry on issues of public health and not responding to my colleagues and to me when we were then serving on the environment and public works committee. president bush eventually nominated mr. wehrum to fill jeff holmstead's seat and to serve as assistant administrator for air and radiation at e.p.a. something that mr. wehrum would not be able to lawfully do
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today. we have here behind me to my left, mr. president, an editorial from 2006 -- april 2006 in "the new york times" published -- they published and editorial opposing his nomination that mirrored my concerns at the time. and i quote from this editorial. the holmstead era at e.p.a. will be remembered chiefly for its efforts to weaken the clean air act, particularly with respect to rules governing mercury. mercury emissions in all the power plants. to manipulate science and elevate corporate interest above those of the public. mr. wehrum, who served as mr. holmstead's deputy and doctrinal hit man, could make things worse. close quote. that's a direct quote interest this editorial. mr. president, remember this is "the new york times" editorial from 2006 opposing mr. wehrum's nomination for the very same
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position that he seeks today. during the environment and public work committee's consideration of mr. wehrum's nomination in 2005, i voted against him because i feared he would continue to fail our clean air and protect public health. despite the fact that mr. wehrum was not confirmed due to his inability to secure the 60 votes needed for cloture on his nomination he was able to serve as acting assistant administrator for e.p.a.'s air office for two years. since leaving the e.p.a., mr. wehrum has returned to industry and serves as an industry lawyer in litigation against e.p.a. since returning to private sector, mr. wehrum has reflected on his time spent at e.p.a. doing so, he didn't point to the good work he did at the agency to advance public health mission or the lasting protections he helped put in place that made a difference in
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the lives of ordinary citizens. instead he noted that his tenure at e.p.a. was really good for business, saying, and i quote, he said i'm a much better lawyer now than when i first joined the agency. to really get to know how the agency works and how it ticks, i think that is very valuable. i've expanded my capabilities which will hopefully allow me to be effective in generating business and clients. in generating business and clients. end of quote. sadly, my fears in 2005 were well-founded and only one thing has changed. one thing has changed. the senate rules with respect to the number of votes we need to consider and confirm a nominee. mr. wehrum is confirmed this week, it will be because he is a beneficiary of the senate's elimination of the requirement that 60 votes are needed to consider nominees. it will not be because he's any better suited for this important
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job. mr. president, let me walk through some telling numbers with you and our colleagues this evening. the first number, 31. 31 is the number of times that mr. wehrum has represented industry against the e.p.a. in federal court since 2009. 31 times. let me be very clear on this. after serving in an unconfirmed capacity for six years because he was too far outside the mainstream to be confirmed by this body, mr. wehrum then left the agency and has spent his years since then suing that very same agency in attempting to weaken environmental and public health protections on behalf of his industry clients. many of these lawsuits are still ongoing and the majority of the pending lawsuits mr. wehrum has represented the interest of big oil. look at another poster here. number 27. what's 27 refer to? it refers to the number of times that public health groups
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prevailed in court when challenging bush-era clean air regulations that mr. wehrum helped to craft because they did not follow the law or sufficiently protect public health. failing to follow the -- failing to follow the clean air act intent meant delays in public health protections and uncertainty for businesses across america. now i don't doubt that mr. wehrum is a fine lawyer. so why were so many of his rules, the rules he helped to write found to be unlawful? the confirmation process is essentially a job interview. not a job interview with e.p.a. in a sense not really a job interview with us. but just as much a job interview with the american people. in this case mr. wehrum is essentially applying for the job he already had at iewp, -- e.p.a. and you'd think that
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would be easy but mr. wehrum's resume shows a great deal of the work he done in his last job as acting administrator for air and radiation was not up to par. and in this job, subpar work, impacts millions of americans, especially children and the most vulnerable among us. the next number, number 10. ten is the number of additional years that children were exposed to toxic air emissions from power plants because of delays mr. wehrum help put into place while at the e.p.a. the next number, 8. number 8 refers to the number of days before mr. wehrum's latest confirmation hearing that he was in a courtroom arguing against rules that would protect 2.3 million miners, construction workers and bricklayers.
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according to mr. wehrum, people are -- and i quote him, people are designed to deal with dust. people are in dusty apartments apartments -- environments all the time and it doesn't kill them. end of quote. the next number is 2, the number of times the d.c. circuit court cited alice in wonderland in its decisions to reject e.p.a. rules that mr. wehrum helped craft because in the court's view the regulations were based on fantasy rather than following the rule of law. the next number is 1. 1 is the number of times it lang rished in a law firm that represented industry and happened to be mr. wehrum's former employer made it verbatim, verbatim in the clean air regulation that mr. wehrum stated he was extensively involved in preparing. think about that. zero. zero, the number of times that
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mr. wehrum advocated in court for stronger clean air regulations since leaving the e.p.a., especially a troubling number for those of us living in downwind states like delaware. we live at the end of america's tailpipe along with our neighbors in maryland, new jersey, pennsylvania, new york and folks all the way up to maine. zero is also the number of times that mr. wehrum expressed a desire to protect public health when i met with him prior to his confirmation hearing. mr. president, mr. wehrum sits before us today nominated for the very same position he was nominated for 12 years ago. after reviewing mr. wehrum's record, talking to him in person, listening and reading his answers during the hearing process my position has not changed since 2005. primarily because his views do not appear to have changed. like other e.p.a. nominees, mr.y
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of the questions asked of him. even convincingly forgetting a case that he worked on against the renewable fuel standard in national chicken council versus e.p.a. what was clear in the answers he did give in his conversation with me is that his public health -- is that public health simply is not mr. wehrum's main concern. in fact, when asked what clean air act regulation he does support, he answered, and i quote, these are his words, i represent clients in private practice. it is my legal ethical duty to zealously represent their interests. close quote. well then, this job interview with the american people, interview to be the assistant administrator for the office of air and radiation, the american
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people are his clients. the fact that he cannot or has refused to name a single regulation that helps to ensure that they and their families have clean air to breathe is almost as disqualifying in and of itself. but whether it's carbon, whether it's mercury pollution, silicon or other toxic air pollution, mr. wehrum continues to show he sides with polluters over science and doctors every time. mr. wehrum's extreme views will not be good for public health. and, quite frankly, the legal uncertainty that has resulted from his past work will not be good for american businesses. businesses need certainty and predict ability. i hear this for years and they don't get it with this kind of work that he's done. mr. president, complete me close by reminding our colleagues that next week we celebrate the 27th anniversary
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of the clean air act. 27 years. 27 years ago we weren't debating how to weaken or delay our clean air laws. instead we passed bipartisan legislation that would improve and strengthen our clean air laws based on the very best science, based on the very best science. and in the process we strengthened our economy too. 89 senators, including some who still serve in this chamber, voted to approve the clean air act amendments in 1990. as a congressman over in the other body at that time, i voted along with them. the republican president then, george herbert walker bush, signed the bill into law 27 years ago today. think about that. 27 years ago today it was commonsense legislation. it was bipartisan. and we're all the better for it. mr. president, when the clean air act amendments of 1990 passed congress, i was a
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congressman in the house, i voted in favor of that bill. i was proud to be part of helping to pass that monumental law because i believed in it and i still believe today that we can protect our environment, we can grow our economy at the same time. and we have the job numbers to prove it. mr. president, we've had some delays in implementation, but by and large the law has been a huge success and has benefited just about every american. for every dollar we spend installing new pollution controls in cleaning up our air, we've seen $30 returned in reduced health care costs, better workplace productivity and saved lives. $30 return in every $1 that we spend installing new pollution controls. the bottom line is fewer people are getting sick. missing work because of the clean air act. the clean air act amendment of 1990. when it comes to the rhetoric
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surrounding clean air regulations there's a lot of fake news that people like to peddle. but, mr. president, as the saying goes, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion but not to his or her own facts. and here are the facts: our economy did not take a slide because of clean air protections. quite the opposite is true. the obama administration implemented the clean air act based on the best science to date, and now our air is cleaner and we have seen eight years of economic growth. i'll say it again. we have seen eight years of economic growth, the longest stretch in our history. and energy prices at the pump and the meters were lower than when president obama took office. lower, not higher. the beauty of our clean air laws is that they are not static. our clean air protections keep up with the latest science and
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the latest technology. and as we learn more about what makes us sick, about what is impacting our environment, and about what could be done to clean it up, the e.p.a. has the authority under the clean air act to make adjustments, to make it better. to ensure that it protects more people, not fewer. and that has been the trajectory to date as technology and science develop, we do and shall do our clean air regulations. that's also the story of our country. through innovative and creative solutions, we strive for progress in order to have a better life here at home and to lead the world in tackling the environmental challenges of our time. policies have been tried and have been proven not only unsuccessful but even dangerous. we don't need to continue to move backwards. we need to move forward.
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so, mr. president, i leave you and my colleagues with this. i'm sorry to say that mr. wehrum has worked deliberately to halt that progress, to delay that progress, and to roll back the clean air laws that have been protecting america and americans for decades. unlike many of the nominees who have come before us this year, unfortunately we don't have to speculate about how mr. wehrum would do in this position. we've already seen it. we've already seen it. and the results were not good for the rest of us. as his clients at the time -- at this time, we deserve better representation. today americans deserve leaders at e.p.a. who will be impartial and look out for the interest of all americans. not just big oil and the powerful clients who can afford mr. wehrum's legal bills. mr. president,ve


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