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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  August 21, 2018 10:00am-1:17pm EDT

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dollars federal spending package containing the two largest appropriations bills for 2019, funding defense, labor, hhs, and the education departments. amendment votes will get underawatt 12:10 eastern today. more debates this afternoon, more votes possible today and for the rest of the week and now to live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. our father in heaven, who brought creation out of the void and order from chaos, we bless your holy name.
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guide our lawmakers. use their daily experiences of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, victory and defeat, for your glory. lord, continue to lead them with your merciful hands, providing for their needs as you direct their steps. thank you for preparing tables of peace and confidence for us in the presence of our enemies, inspiring us to rejoice because of your faithfulness. continue to protect the leaders of our various branches of government with the shield of your love.
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we pray in your great name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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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 resume consideration of h.r. h.r. 6157 which the clek will now report. the clerk: calendar number 500, h.r. 6157 an act making appropriations for the department of defense for the fiscal year of 2019, and for other purposes.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: the obama administration so-called clean power plan offered a typical story from that era, an innocent-seeming name, a pleasant sounding objective, but underneath an intrusive regulatory regime built not on effective policy but on far-left ideology. that's why i'm so grateful today the trump administration is introducing a plan to pair back this unfair, unworkable and likely not legal policy. remember, the far left tried to push through radical legislation like an energy tax through last congress. well, enough of us knew it would hurt competitiveness, victimize the poor and do little to give the american people a cleaner
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environment. instead of learning from those failures, the obama administration tried to go it alone and impose a radical agenda unilaterally. the so-called clean power plan they dreamed up would have had no meaningful effect on global emissions. it would, however, have packed up middle-class american jobs and sent them right overseas. it would have piled a heavier burden on to the most vulnerable families, lowered income americans who are hit the hardest when energy costs take off and this would have double-digit percentage increases in electricity costs in 40 states, including kentucky. unfair, ineffective, unaffordable, more than likely illegal. that's quite the pedigree, madam president. that's why i fought the administration's entire war on coal which was centered around
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this regulation tooth and nail. i submitted an amicus brief. i championed legislation to cancel it entirely. on two occasions i wrote to every governor in the nation and asked them not to be complicit in this overreach until the courts ruled on its legality. my colleagues and i have been at this for quite some time. that's why the president's actions today are so encouraging. today's proposed rule is the first step in the process. i look forward to engaging in this process as it moves forward toward a better outcome for kentucky and for the entire country. now, madam president, on another matter, the senate is considering the eighth and ninth of 12 appropriation measures for fiscal year 2019. they'll deliver on some of the most important promises we make to the american people. first, and foremost, is our
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promise to defend the nation and to meet our obligation to the brave men and women who do so. to ensure that if we send them into battle they'll be prepared and equipped to prevail. secretary mattis and our nation's top military commanders have made their assessments perfectly clear. our security and our interests are challenged every day across the globe by a wide array of threats whether it's nation states or terrorist groups. the destabilizing influences of iran in the middle east and russia in eastern europe and the challenges on the eastern peninsula and security of our allies and the stability ofdom commerce in the pacific, our leaders have outlined the strategies it will take to check them. they have explained how the past decade's pattern undermine read
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readiness. earlier this with year we did away with the arbitrary spending caps, we passed a defense bill that authorized the largest year-on-year increase in defense spending in 15 years. now this week we had the opportunity to follow through appropriating the next resources. the defense appropriations measure before us would support america's military installations at broad and home. it will help installations pliec fort cambell and fort knox. it supports the important work that goes on at those facilities and the communities that revolve around them. each of my colleagues, i'm sure, could offer similar reports directed at the military operations in their states. whether they are serving at sea or training with the 101st airborne division in kentucky, our men and women in uniform
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will receive some well-deserved benefits from the legislation we're considering today, that includes expanded access to on-base services for military. building for infrastructure and child and health services and the largest pay raise for our military personnel in nearly a decade. it's impossible to put a price on the sacrifices war fighters and families make in service to our nation, but it is within our power to give them the support they deserve. on behalf of a grateful nation, and that's precisely what this legislation will do. so i want to thank senator shelby and senator durbin who led this bill through the subcommittee process. i urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this bipartisan measure when the time comes to pass it. now, one final matter. our service members won't be the only americans who will be receiving well-deserved pay increases. as republicans, pro--opportunity
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agenda continues to take hold, our economy continues to steam ahead, and working families across the country are reaping the benefits. by now, we're all familiar with the fact that millions of american workers have received special bonuses, wage increases, or other new benefits from their employers as a direct result of our nation's new tax code. we're talking about nationwide employers from at&t to wal-mart and local businesses like gliers meat in kentucky and new hudson in pennsylvania. these are, in some cases, the multi-thousand dollar bonuses that my friends, the democratic leaders in the house and here in the senate tried to shrug off as crumbs. maybe in new york or san francisco, not much of anywhere else. remember they persuaded every one of our democratic colleagues to vote against tax cuts.
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well, the bureau of labor statistics recently found the employment cost index, that's everything that american employers spend on employee benefits has increased 2112% -- 212%. that is the strongest growth since the autumn of 2018. by this measure -- 2008. worker pay and benefits has logged a faster 12-month growth rate than we ever achieved in all of president obama's time in office. it's yet another data point. american workers, job creators, and middle-class families are enjoying one of their best economic moments in a long time. and it is thanks in part to republicans' economic agenda which is getting washington's foot off the break. so i'm proud that this week's appropriations bill will give american service members a raise and i'm also proud our healthy
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economy sl giving a raise to millions more americans and republican policies are helping to make that happen. mr. durbin: madam president. the presiding officer: the democratic whip. mr. durbin: madam president, pending before the united states senate today are two of the biggest p appropriations -- two of the appropriations bills we will consider this year. they are the eighth and ninth bills we will pass. one of those bills i had a direct interest in as the ranking democrat on the defense appropriations subcommittee. we're about to break a record. this spending bill for the department of defense is one of the largest increases we have seen in any given year. this bill is $607 billion for day-to-day operations for the department of defense and another $68 billion for something known for overseas contingency operations which is just another category of
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spending. this one bill on the department of defense come prices -- comprises 49% of all discretionary spending of the government of the united states of america. almost half of our discretionary budget is going to be spent in this bill. accompanying it is the bill on health and education, which is the second largest appropriation bill we consider, so between the two of these bills, we are talking about a massive government expenditure. let's reflect on that expenditure for a moment. there is no replacement for a strong national defense, but we should ask ourselves why, why does it cost the american taxpayer so much to defend america? the last budget deal that we're working under here provided a near-record increase for the department of defense going back almost 50 years, you can only find two or three other increases comparable. we're talking about a massive expenditure and a substantial historic increase in the
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department of defense. why? because we face enemies in this world. i am not naive about that. i believe it. when it comes to superpowers threatening us, the top of the list, russia. second on the list, china. well, how much do they spend when it comes to the defense budgets of those two countries? our two hard targets, the most threatening nations when it comes to the united states? well, that's where you have to step back and shake your head and say it can't be true, but it is true. the russian defense budget from 2017 to 2018, $78 billion. remember my earlier figures? we're going to be spending $700 billion, and their annual budget is $78 billion. how can there be such a disparity? well, some people have argued it's because of the accounting methods. it's the fact that russian soldiers are paid dirt wages and
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ours, thank goodness, are paid just compensation and given benefits. i accept all of that, but it still doesn't explain an almost 10-1 ratio of spending in the united states against spending in russia. so what about china? there's another nation, of course, that we are worried about in terms of our national defense. china is believed to spend about $175 billion a year. about one-fourth of our total defense spending. so here is russia spending about 10% of our defense spending, and we're concerned about the threat they pose to the united states and our allies, and here's china spending one-fourth of what we do, and we worry about their expanded roles in places like the pacific. what is baffling about that comparison is that we spend so much more than our major adversaries in the world, and yet many experts testify over and over again before congressional committees that we are falling behind in the
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development of key technologies, technologies like satellites, artificial intelligence, hypersonic missiles, and quantum computing. this just doesn't stand to reason that the united states of america, with all of its strength and all of its innovation and all of its ingenuity is being challenged in the world by countries that are spending a fraction of what we spend. the conclusion's obvious -- our large increase in military spending calls for more accountability in how these funds are being spent. i voted for secretary mattis. i respect him very much, not only for his service to our country as a general in the united states marine corps, but also as our secretary of defense. thank goodness he is on the job. i have a lot of faith in him. i believe he has a steady hand in the administration where there aren't too many steady hands. in march, secretary mattis sent
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a memo to every member of the department of defense, and here is the title -- being peerless stewards of the taxpayers' dollars. i have had the opportunity on two or three occasions to have direct conversation with secretary mattis about my concern, that we are dramatically increasing american spending over our adversaries and still we believe they have a competitive edge or a near-competitive edge in many critical areas. secretary mattis correctly assessed in this report that the pentagon needs a culture of performance and accountability in order to increase the trust and confidence that not only congress but especially the american taxpayer places in his team. we also have a prowrmt system, a purchasing system that sadly encourages poor behavior and poor results. i asked dr. michael griffin, the top research and development official in the department of defense why do we spend so much more in the united states and continue to fall behind?
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he said that many members of the department of defense are afraid to be the last to say yes to a program that may not succeed. too many decisions are pushed up the bureaucratic level -- bureaucratic ladder to higher levels, which strangles these programs in red tape and delays them even more. and if something goes wrong, failures are the subject of heated congressional hearings. we have seen that over and over again. from $20,000 toilet seats and similar scandals in the past. i agree with dr. griffin's findings. the department of defense needs to do so much more to change the culture of accountability at that agency. and we need to establish a new spirit of transparency. right now, every weapon system, every single one of them is sold to congress with a rosie scenario. technological breakthroughs at a modest cost. there is no difference between the sales pitch of a program
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that's easy to develop and one that's a giant risk. the department of defense needs to be more up-front, more candid, with what can go wrong, of what will happen if something does go wrong. very often, the contentious hearings that dr. griffin spoke about are not the result of a failed test but a broken promise. well, the pentagon hats much -- has much work ahead of it to improve its accountability, the world doesn't stand still. the defense bill before the senate makes major investments in innovation, and these are critical to our service members, their families, and to the defense of our nation. in this bill is $95.1 billion in research and development spending. remember, the total budget is almost $700 billion. $95.1 billion goes for r&d. this is the highest level of r&d funding programs in the history of the department of defense, even when adjusted for inflation, and i support it. the increases provided by the
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committee will include major investments in areas that are challenging and promising at the same time, artificial intelligence, satellite technology, and basic research. in addition, the bill provides $1.8 billion, just a small proportional amount to the total budget, and that money goes to medical research. that's a 5% increase over last year's spending. this department of defense research is just a fraction of what is invested at the national institutes of health, which i will address in a moment. it's resulted in breakthroughs ranging from breast cancer treatment to battlefield medical care. our soldiers, sailors, marines, members of the coast guard and airmen are surviving in battle because of this research at the department of defense. it is money well spent. with all the valuable investments that are included in this bill, i want to especially thank chairman richard shelby of alabama for all his work on this bill. it's been a real joy to work
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with him. we have disagreed on a few things, don't get me wrong, and i'm sure we will continue to, but we have known one another for many years. we respect one another, and we have determined that this critical bill will be part of the success report that comes out of the senate as we break here for the labor day recess. chairman shelby has been receptive to many suggestions and comments and i have tried to be the same when he has made ideas as part of his proposal in this bill. i want to commend him for all his work to get the appropriations process on track, not just on this bill but on the others as well. we stand a real chance in the united states senate of sending most appropriations bills to the president before the end of the fiscal year on the last day of september, a feat that has not been accomplished for the defense budget in ten years. to chairman shelby's great credit, he understands that moving this defense bill along means also moving other appropriations bills with it. while there may be some tough
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votes coming up, we have come a long way to reestablish regular order in the last few months. i'm happy to be part of this bipartisan solution. i hope that the house will come back soon and join us in this effort. we would love to see them again. and now, madam president, let me say a word about the other appropriation bill that is part of our package on the floor. this bill, the labor-h.h.s.-education bill includes funding for the national institutes of health. for the past six years, i have made this a focal point of my work here in the senate. i don't take particular credit for the results, but i have done my darnedest to encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make this a priority. i am happy to report they have. for the fourth year in a row, congress is on track to provide the national institutes of health with funding increases of at least 5% real growth. a $2 billion increase in this bill. in the fiscal year 2019 labor,
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health health and human services and education appropriations bill in the senate, we will help to ensure that our nation's best and brightest medical researchers have the funding they need to conduct research on the diseases and conditions that impact every single american. n.i.h. researchers are currently trying to develop cures for cancer, to figure out developments to delay or prevent the threat of alzheimer's, to better help those living with heart disease or diabetes. between 2010 and 2016, the food and drug administration approved 210 new drugs in that six-year period of time for treatment in the united states. every single one of these new drugs was developed with funding by the national institutes of health. i hope that as we move forward to conference with the house on this bill, we can include at least a 5% funding increase for the centers for disease control and prevention, as well as other agencies that allow america to literally lead the world in medical innovation.
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this bill provides $3.7 billion for the prevention and treatment of the scourge of opioid addiction. it will help our federal agencies better respond to this ongoing public health challenge. it includes provisions that i requested to help the c.d.c. address the toll of violence in the city of chicago and assist with the legionnaires' disease outbreak in quincy, illinois. it rejects president trump's efforts to slash the federal work study program by including an increase in the maximum pell grant of $100. and it includes $5 million for the open textbook pilot program, helping college students across america with the exploding costs of higher education. it's a good bill, and i want to commend senator patty murray of washington, the democrat, and roy blunt of missouri, the republican, for crafting a bipartisan fiscal year 2019 labor, health and human services and education appropriations
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bill, but i do think that we should be addressing the skyrocketing drug costs that every single american is well aware of, something that we all talk about, but the underlying bill doesn't address. well, i have filed a bipartisan amendment with my friend and colleague from iowa, republican senator chuck grassley, to improve price transparency and direct consumer drug advertising. if i ask you whether you have seen any ads for drugs on television and you answer no, then i know automatically you don't own a television, because the average american sees a drug advertisement about nine times a day. now, why do the drug companies spend so much money advertising on television in the united states? doesn't every other country do the same? nope. it turns out that the united states and new zealand are the only two countries that allow pharma, drug companies, to advertise their products on television directly to consumers. why would pharma spend
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$6 billion a year advertising so many different ways of americans buying these drugs? because it's profitable. americans finally after the five, six, seven, eighth time they have seen it can not only pronounce but even spell xarelto. they go to the doctor and say i need a new blood thinner, i need xarelto. it turns out to be a very expensive prescription drug. how about the drug cumeira? you can't escape them. humeira was designed to deal with rheumatoid arthritis, a very serious illness that many americans face. then they found out that humeira might have some fall when it comes to something called psoriasis? what is that? it's the red patch on my elbow.
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they said you ought to consider humeira to deal with psoriasis. here is an ad. it's the one thing they don't disclose on the ad. it costs 5,500 per month. now, i would like to have perfect skin on my elbow, but at a cost of 5,500 per month. would you think twice about asking for this drug from your doctor if you knew it was going to cost this much? of course you would. so senator grassley and i have a simple amendment. the drug companies that want to advertise on television ought to advertise the price of their product as well. pharma hates this idea like the devil hates holy water. the notion of actually disclosing what these drugs cost would not only give you a jolt as you hear 5,500 a month for humira, it would also dramatize the increases in drug costs that we see happening all the time. so senator grassley and i have a bill, an amendment before this senate that is going to call for
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the disclosure of dug pricing. don't you think the american people deserve this information? you want to buy a car? guess what? look at the passenger side, behind the driver's seat in your car. look at the window. there is a little disclosure about exactly what you would have to pay for that car, but when it comes to paying for prescription drugs, pharma doesn't want to tell you. they want you to finally face it at the cash register. i think americans have the right to know earlier and more about the cost of these prescription drugs. 76% of the american people, incidentally, agree with that position. so let's hope that this amendment which is bipartisan and is supported, incidentally, by 76% of americans, the american association of retired persons, the american medical association, and hold on to your hat, president donald trump supports this provision as well. so we have an amendment which is bipartisan and is supported by the administration which should be included in this bill which
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will move us toward price disclosure. i think it's overdue. we also need to increase the funding for the center for disease control work on congenital heart disease, the most common and deadliest category of birth defects. i'll be filing an amendment to increase the funding of this program from $4 million to $7 million, a modest amount in a bill of billions of dollars but one that would help 2.4 million americans living with congenital heart disease. i also plan to file two amendments to help sum of the 44 million americans -- some of the 44 million americans who are struggling with student loan debt by bringing sanity to the way student loans are treated in bankruptcy. unlike most types of debt, student loans are extremely difficult, almost impossible to discharge in bankruptcy. why? two reasons. a debtor has to meet a high bar of showing, quote, undue hardship, closed quote, in order to get student loans discharged and the department of education
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pays private contracting firms to fight the students tooth and nail in court if they try to seek a discharge of their student debt because of economic hardship. my amendments would bar the use of federal funds to pay these contractors who contest undue hardship claims in bankruptcy court when the claims are brought by certain student debtors. listen to the categories of people that we have included in this amendment, people that i think would be deserving of discharging of their student debts in bankruptcy court. number one, veterans who have been deemed unemployable because of a service connected disability. number two, family caregivers of veterans or of the elderly or disabled family members. three, people receiving social security disability whose only income is social security payments and four, borrowers who have finished school but have spent at least five years at a
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low income of less than $24,000 a year. those are the four categories of people we think deserve a break when it comes to student loan debt. i hope my colleagues will join me in helping disabled veterans and their caregivers and others included in this amendment. the second amendment would focus exclusively on disabled veterans and family caregivers. finally, i'll file two amendments to protect students from our secretary of education betsy devos. secretary devos is planning to repeal or rewrite obama-era defense and gainful employment rules that help students being cleated by for-profit colleges and universities. you want to hear the story? you only need to hear two numbers. 9% of the kids coming out of high school go to these for-profit schools, university of phoenix, devry, and similar schools. 9% of students go to that type of school. yet over 30% of all student loan
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defaults are from students who attended these for-profit schools. why? 9% of the students? 30% of the student loan defaults? two reason reason -- reasons. number one, they charge too much, they're dramatically more expensive than the higher education and secondly, their diplomas aren't worth the paper they're written on. the students learn after they graduate they can't get a job to pay back their student loans. so i think in this situation, secretary devos is doing exactly the wrong thing. she's not holding these schools accountable. she's making it tougher for the students who are lured into the traps. i'm pleased many of my colleagues have joined in this effort. the secretary of education should not roll back important protections for students and taxpayers and the secretary should not eliminate federal student debt relief from borrowers defrauded by predator for-profit schools like core rint ya and i. -- corinthian and i.t.t. tech. it's my hope they will be
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included in the final bill. final, these bills may not include everything i want or everything other members want. they are good compromises which i plan to support. madam president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: majority leader. mr. schumer: madam president? the presiding officer: democratic leader. mr. schumer: today, president trump's nominee for the supreme court will be making the rounds in the senate. i'll be making with him this afternoon. several members of the judiciary committee will be meeting with him over the course of today and the rest of the week, as well some other members. i hope that he comes prepared to answer direct questions about his writings, speeches, opinions, and judicial philosophy. the nominee has weighed in on a number of legal issues publicly and in his role as a circuit judge.
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there's little reason why he should be unable to answer direct questions about his judicial philosophy, his record, and already -- in already decided cases. i also hope he's willing to shed some light in the areas in his record that remain opaque. the senate and the public have only been able to see a finey fraction of the nominee's extensive written record because, unfortunately, the republican majority continues to block access to the great bulk of these document. i'd ask judge kavanaugh, i'll ask our republicans what are they hiding. we did make a little progress last night after the parliamentarian ruled that the rules of the senate allow every senator to see the committee documents. chairman grassley graciously agreed that any committee member could see them without muss or fuss. so we very much appreciate that. the supreme court justice, whether it's judge kavanaugh or
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not, will have immense influence over the lives of every american for generations to come. most americans think this is sort of an abstract or political argument. it's not. the actual rulings of kavanaugh will affect just about everyone's life in america in very significant and material ways. the next supreme court justice may some day determine whether or not the president must comply with duly issued subpoena. the next supreme court justice may some day soon determine whether americans with preexisting conditions will be able to afford health care. the next justice some day soon may determine just how much states can restrict a woman's constitutionally guaranteed right to make her own medical decisions. to say nothing about labor rights, civil right, voting rights, environmental protections, and more. all of these things, part of the
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well spring of america are affected by the supreme court's rulings and as we know, judge kavanaugh will be a crucial vote on just about every one of those issues with the 4-4 division on the court today. judge kavanaugh in his meetings with senators today and the days ahead has a responsibility, a responsibility not to duck, not to hide behind false legal shiv louse saying i can't discuss this, the case may come before me. he has the responsibility to inform the senate as to his beliefs and philosophy. so the senate can conduct its constitutional duty to advise and consent. on another matter, it seems that every day we read about a new danger to our health care system caused by president trump and his party in congress. only a few days ago, it was announced that the court -- that the court case which concerns the constitutionality of protections for americans with
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preexisting conditions, texas v. the united states, will begin on september 5. remember, president trump's department, justice department has refused to defend protections for preexisting conditions in court. what an abomination. just about every american has someone in their family, many in their immediate family, who have an illness. someone might have diabetes. someone might have asthma. god forbid something worse. those are preexisting conditions. that family will not be able to get health insurance. that family risks that their present insurance will expire and they won't get anything new. and here this administration is trying to take away that protection, so important to so many americans. and yet that's what's happening. so senator manchin and casey have introduced a resolution asking the senate legal counsel
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to step in to defend the law since the administration won't. i hope we get a vote on that resolution soon. i don't see how anyone couldn't be for it. now, sadly, madam president, the justice department's decision to abandon protections for preexisting conditions is far from the only example of president trump's repeated sabotage of our health care system. over and over again he tries to undo the health care americans have without even understanding what he's really doing. on day one, president trump issued an executive order aimed at the health care law. it was the very first thing he did. he then proposed legislation with congressional republicans to repeal the health care law, devastate medicaid, and eliminate protections for tens of millions of people with preexisting conditions. that failed. but congressional republicans managed to repeal the coverage
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requirement in their tax bill of all places. and put nothing in its place. causing unnecessary premium increases across the country. americans know as their premium increases gallop upward, that is republicans here in the senate and president trump in the white house that have caused this to happen. now he continues to do that. he's expanded the availability of junk insurance plans that bait americans in with lowest rates while providing only the flimsiest of coverage. again, if these junk insurance plans become the law, the rule, the mode, so many people will lose their ability to protect themselves when they have preexisting conditions. these actions by president trump, aided, abetted, encouraged by congressional republicans who either agreed with him or failed to challenge
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them meaningfully have had devastating results for so many americans. premiums have risen by double digits in a bunch of states. the direct result of republican sabotage and the insurers themselves, they are the ones who raised the rates but they say hey, it's republicans in the senate, house, and white house who are causing it. those are insurance agencies. they don't tend to favor democrats but they have to protect themselves and their clients. prescription drug costs continue to rise after promising tough action on prescription drugs, the president and congressional republicans have hardly lifted a finger. the united states is now last, dead last among industrialized nations in maternal mortality. the u.s. is the only industrialized country in the world with rising maternal mortality rights. despite all of our advances in genetics, nutrition, surgery, the u.s. is getting worse at
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caring for mothers. we should hang our heads in shame about that. we should do something about it. come on, republican colleagues. your voters are no different than our voters and independent voters. they care about good health care at an affordable cost. please do something about it. join us. but instead of grappling with these problems and proposing solutions, president trump, congressional republicans just launch attack after attack after attack on our health care system, particularly women's health. that worked in the 2016 campaign because they said they had a plan to replace it with something better. no plan. no plan emerged. and it's not working for them now. it's just not working for them. the american people overwhelmingly prefer democrats to republicans on health care and health care is the number one issue in state after state after state.
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so for their own political benefit, republicans here in the senate and in the house ought to wake up, wake up because the old playbook which may have worked in 2014 and 2016 when you weren't in charge, it was a democratic president and a democratic senate for part of that time, that ain't no more. you're in charge and you put nothing in its place, nothing, just negativity. in poll after poll after poll, the american people say that health care is the number one issue. they don't want to go back to a time before we offered protections for americans with preexisting conditions. they don't want to go back to a time when insurance companies charged women and seniors and older americans more for the same, exact coverage. they don't want to go back to a time when insurance companies could deny ma ternt care, mental
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health treatment, prescription drug coverages and more but that is where president trump and our republican colleagues want to take us. i'd say to all those blue collar folks who voted for president trump, he promised you better health care. is he -- is he delivering it? go look at your bills. go look at health care, and if he's not, maybe you will help bring some change to washington, real change, so that your health care costs will get lower and your health care will improve. i yield the floor. and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. alexander: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: thank you, madam president. madam president, the united states senate has developed a bad habit, and that bad habit is treating presidential nominees as innocent until nominated. i hope to see better behavior during the next few weeks as the senate begins hearings on president trump's nomination of judge kavanaugh to be a member of the united states supreme court. instead of treating judge kavanaugh as someone recently released from san quinten prison, i hope we treat him with dignity and respect so americans can better understand about his
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temperament, about his intelligence, about his character. that's what we should want to know about a presidential nominee to the supreme court. the current rudeness is a recent phenomenon. historically senators have recognized that bipartisan approval of qualified nominees helps improve the esteem of the court. it confirms its impartiality, it strengthens it as an institution. for example, conservative justice anthony scalia was confirmed unanimously by this body even though he was perhaps the most conservative justice on the court. on the other hand, justice ruth ginsburgs with confirmed with only three votes against her even though she may arguably be the most liberal judge on the court. but were obviously well qualified, good character, high intelligence, good demeanor, and therefore the senate unanimously in one case with only three no
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votes in the other case confirmed the president's nomination. more recently, half the democrat senators voted to confirm president bush's nomination of chief justice john roberts. in 2014, i voted to confirm president obama's nominee sonia sotomayor because -- not because i agreed with her but because i thought she was obviously well qualified for the position. some senators insist that judge kavanaugh should tell them how he might decide a case. that reminds me of the story of senator howard baker, the former majority of the united states senate, who was a practicing lawyer in the mountains. he said he was once a mountain judge before a -- he had a case, boys give me just a moment, i had a telephone call and i pretty much know the facts. judges are not supposed to sty the case before the facts.
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that's why we have a judicial system. justice ginsburg said that she would, quote, give no hints, no forecasts, no previews of what her legal views might be in she were to be confirmed. this rule is now known as the ginsburg rule. justices are supposed to follow the law and decide cases when the cases are presented, not before justices are confirmed or while they are being confirmed. and, of course, a justice's opinion and decision can be surprising. i spent -- that's been throughout the history the supreme court. roosevelt was surprised by justice scran -- scalia said, the judge who always likes the results that he gets is a bad judge, unquote.
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in 2006, i voted for judge kavanaugh when he was president george w. bush's nominee for the united states circuit court of appeals for the district of columbia. last month i attended president trump's nomination of judge kavanaugh at the white house. it is said that you only get one chance to make a first impression and judge kavanaugh certainly took advantage of his one opportunity that night. i was impressed again with judge kavanaugh when i visited with him in my office a few weeks ago. we discussed federalism, how to strengthen the supreme court as an institution, and other matters, but never once did i ask him how he might vote on a particular case. i will not announce how i will vote on his nomination until the hearings are complete. some democrat senators have already announced their opposition to judge kavanaugh. well, i wonder why have a hearing?
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why ask for more records to examine if you have already decided how you're going to vote? mr. president, during my years as governor of tennessee, eight years, i appointed probably 50 judges. in doing so, i look for the same qualities that i look for in considering the nomination of judge kavanaugh -- intelligence, character, temperament, respect for the law, and respect for those who come before the court. i did not ask one applicant to be a tennessee judge out of that entire 50 how he or she might rule on abortion or immigration or taxation, and political party membership was far down my list of considerations when i had the job as the chief executive of a state of appointing judges. i hope that the united states senate will return to the practice of inquiring diligently
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about the qawskses that -- about the qualifications of a nominee, about intelligence, about character, about temperament, and get away from this bad habit of treating presidential nominees for the supreme court as if they had just been released from san quentin and as if they were innocent until nominated. i thank the president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: mr. president, i would ask that the quorum call be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. enzi: mr. president, i rise to offer an amendment aimed at helping to ensure the integrity of the budget enforcement process in future years. before i do so, i'd like to again acknowledge the hard work the appropriations committee has put into the fiscal year 2019 spending bills. we have made significant progress so far this year, particularly considering that this is the first labor, health and human services, and education appropriations bill to be brought to the senate floor for amendment in nearly 11
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years. i commend the committee and its leaders for their efforts and the spirit of cooperation that's made this feat possible. as it stands now, this appropriations bill is subject to a point of order under section 314 of s. con. res. 70, the fiscal year 2009 budget resolution authored by the former democratic senator and budget committee chairman kent conrad. that point of order aims to prevent mandatory spending increases on appropriations bills. my amendment remedies this violation while maintaining the proposed increase to the maximum award. the amendment that i'm offering relates to the budgetary effects of the substitute amendment's proposed increase to the maximum discretionary pell grant award for the award year 2019-2020. if anybody has been able to
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follow that so far, you ought to be on the budget committee. and now i'm going to give a lot more detail that will be equally as difficult because it needs to be a part of the record to show why we need the amendment that i'm talking about in order to avoid a point of order and to get the increase for this year that is being requested. as former chairman of the help committee, i understand how important pell grants are in making college more affordable and accessible, especially for students from my home state of wyoming. that's why i want to be very clear that my amendment would not cut pell grant funding for the 2019-2020 award year or prevent future increases in the maximum annual award. my amendment simply deals with how we account for such increases in the federal ledger. first a little background may be helpful on the pell grant program which has one of the most complicated funding
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profiles in the entire federal budget. the pell grant program is funded by a mix of annual discretionary appropriations and a so-called mandatory add-on award and a permanent mandatory funding stream. my amendment deals with the interaction between the discretionary and the mandatory add-on funding streams. each year, the appropriation committee includes a provision in the department of education spending bill specifying the maximum discretionary pell grant award for the upcoming award year. the substitute amendment would increase that maximum award for the award year 2019-2020 by $100 to 5,135. -- to 5,135. c.b.o. estimates this change will follow a $175 increase to the maximum award provided in
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fiscal year 2018 and will increase mandatory spending on the add-on by $39 million in fiscal year 2019. pretty complicated. a lot of dollars, a lot of different places. even though the substitute specifies the maximum discretionary road is $1,135 for 2020, underscoring rules -- that's how we keep track of how much money we're going to -- owe c.b.o. has to assume this maximum award extends through 2028. that means the $39 million annual mandatory cost of this provision also extends through 2028 giving it a ten-year score of $390 million. the substitute amendment includes an offset for the $39 million cost in the first year. but leaves the remaining $351 million in mandatory spending scored the fiscal year 2019
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unpaid for. again, underscoring rules, once that $350 million and estimated future spending is incorporated into the baseline, it would not be subject to budget enforcement in future years and would never need to be paid for. that's the problem that we face regularly around here and this is the problem that my amendment aims to address. my amendment would maintain the maximum discretionary award for 2019-2020 to $5,135, preserve the $100 increase proposed by the appropriations committee while preventing the estimated $351 million increase in estimated future year spending from being rolled into the baseline where it can escape enforcement or even notice in future years. it would require congress to offset future mandatory spending increases just as the substitute
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amendment would do for the first year. if we can do it now, we should be able to do it in the future. let me repeat. my amendment would not reduce the maximum pell grant for the 2019-2020 award year or prevent future increases to the maximum award. in fact, it maintains the proposed increase to the maximum people grant -- pell grant for the 2019-2020 award year. let me repeat. as it now stands, this appropriations bill is subject to a point of order under section 314 of s. con. res., the fiscal year 2009 budget resolution authored by former democratic senator and budget committee chairman kent conrad and passed. that point of order aims to prevent mandatory spending increases on appropriations bills. my amendment remedies this violation while maintaining the proposed increase to the maximum
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award. that's just a good government amendment and i urge my colleagues to support it. let's not be spending into the future and doing -- where the money is coming from. let's go ahead and make the award for this year and let's find a way to pay for it next year. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: if we're in a quorum call, i'd move to be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blunt: mr. president, this is the first time in 11 years that a chairman of the labor, health, and human services, and education subcommittee has had a chance to stand on the floor and present a bill. this is a subcommittee that i'm honored to get to chair. it's a subcommittee, mr. president, i'm honored to get to be on with you. and it's a subcommittee that is led on the other side by senator murray from washington, the ranking member on this committee. this is not a bill that either senator murray or i would have
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drafted on our own, but our job was not to draft a bill, that was a bill that i thought was the perfect way for me to vote on, the perfect way for all of these agencies to be run. there is a reason that this bill hasn't been on the floor in is he years. it's big. it's complex. it can be contention. but senator shelby, the chairman of the committee, senator leahy, the lead democrat on the committee, have made an incredible good-faith effort to try to come to the floor with a bill that talks about how we spend the money. there's not much new in here about all of the things that we could try to determine in this bill about social policy and about issues that all of us feel strongly about, but there are other committees whose principal job is to do that. our committee's principal job is to decide how we establish the priorities for the country by how we spend the money. senator mcconnell and senator
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schumer have also both had to agree that if we're going to get these appropriations bills on the floor, if we're going to have all the members of the senate for the first time in the case of this bill get a chance to debate this bill for the first time in 11 years, that's not going to happen if we try to have a big authorizing bill and a big ppropriating bill all -- a big appropriating bill all wrapped into one. i see the ranking member has come to the floors right after i praised he and floor shelby for the unique relationship they have had that has allowed us to get this bill on the floor. this bill deals with everything from medical research to home energy assistance to employment opportunities and training programs and pell grants for people who are trying to go to college that don't have the resources that would allow them to do that otherwise. it is the largest of the
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nondefense discretionary bills, about to% of all the nondefense spending is in this one bill. so you take that bill and add it to the defense spending bill, and sudden lid you're looking at roughly -- and suddenly you're looking at roughly 62% of all the spending of the federal government, which still sounds like a pretty big bill, but it's the first time in the case of the labor, health, human services, education, and then we've got that unique add-on, and related agencies, just to get the footprint a little bigger. it is the first time in over a decade that members have been able to come to the floor and say, no, we'd like you to spend the money here rather than here, and, by the way, mr. president, as you understand, to do that that member also is saying, here's where we're going to take the money from to pay for it, so it's not just on the floor and you get to make up all the spending you want to that those of us on the appropriating
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committee didn't have a chance to do. there is still a finite amount of money, and so the amendment, like your amendment, senator kennedy, that will be offered right after we finish this morning's discussion and go to votes, you had to come up with an amount of money to pay for that. and i'm fully supportive of the amendment that you and senator reed came up with to deal with the pressing issue of suicide prevention and the disturbing suicide rates, and in my state, in missouri, suicide rates have increased by 36% above where they were in the year 2000. 36% increase. too many of those are our veterans. too many of those are people who serve on the front lines of homeland security and police and veterans. all of that is something that we need to look at. and here's your opportunity,
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which you took the opportunity of, to say, no i think there's a better way to spend a -- some of this money than the committee spends it. that's what we've missed for the last 11 years when -- oh, 69 of the senators didn't have any say as to what 31 of us that serve on the appropriations committee need to debate and talk about. so we bring this to the floor. there were 6,164 ideas that came to senator murray and i, 6,164 member requests that -- ideas as to how this could be the best possible bill. i think most of those are reflected in what we do. we're -- in this bill we talk about fighting the opioid epidemic. we talk about promoting college affordability, strengthening the workforce and having them better
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prepared for the jobs that are out there to be filled than they would otherwise see. now, both sides would approach drafting this bill differently. we'd both start out with some significantly different set of priorities, but we've been able to reach an agreement that neither of us would have drafted on our own but not the job that -- that wasn't, again shall the job we were given. we've been able to present a bipartisan bill to the full committee and have that bill referred out of the full committee 30 yes and 1 no, bringing that bill to the senate floor. it represents a compromise on both sides. it represents stepping back a step on issues that authorizers can deal with at a later time on both sides, and certainly i appreciate not just senator leahy and senator shelby's leadership here but also senator murray's in helping determine
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what those priorities would be and should be. i see senator leahy is standing on the floor and i'd be glad to -- yield theyield to him for a co. mr. leahy: i just want to applaud what the senator from missouri just said. he's had a lot of experience both in the other body and here in the senate. he and myself have been here at a time when we actually voted on these bills and got them done. i would note, mr. president, he's been a tremendous help in getting us this far. senator murray, because of her necessary absence, i will manage her part of this bill when it's up, she has worked very hard
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with him. i think as the senator from missouri just said, the vote it had in the appropriations committee -- keep in mind, the appropriations committee goes across the political spectrum of both parties. and we got it out unanimously. i commend senator shelby, too. we are opposed to authorizing legislation on the right or the left unless there's total agreement with everybody because we want to get this -- we want to get these bills done. we still have to go to conference with the house when they come back in a few weeks, and we want to have a solid vote here. so i thank the senator from missouri for the work he has done. we are getting somewhere, and as someone who has been here for a long time, i'm rather happy to see that. so i yield the floor and i thank the senator for yielding. mr. blunt: i thank the senator
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from vermont for his leadership and, again, this is the first time in over a decade where the 69 people who aren't on the appropriations committee get to come to the floor and offer amendments and think about what this bill does. let's talk about some of the things it does for -- we worked really hard, particularly over the last four years, to do the kinds of things we ought to do on health care research. this bill, for the first time, reaches a long-held goal of the national plan to address alzheimer's disease of getting that annual research dollars up over $2 billion. in fact, it's $2.34 billion, exceeding what it hadn't the long-term goal. but the goal here should not be how much money we spend. it should be finding a way to solve this problem. this is a significant increase over where we were last year, but it quadruples where we were four years ago.
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we're spending $277 billion tax dollars a year on alzheimer's and did he mention shah-related care. a lot more private money is spent than that. maybe three times that amount in private money and lost work as caregivers step back to help people with these terrible diseases of dementia and alzheimer's. but $277 billion. so this bill does about 1% of that in research to try to solve a problem that taxpayers are overwhelmed by. it is a problem that by 2050, if we don't find a solution, we'll be spending about twice today's defense budget, mr. president, on alzheimer's care. twice today's defense budget, $1.1 trillion of today's dollars
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being spent on alzheimer's care if we don't do what we need to. this is the only leading cause of death that doesn't have a treatment, doesn't have a cure, doesn't have a way to prevent it. obviously the right kind of discovery, the right kind of medical advancement can change the lives of millions of american families now and in the future if we do that. i'm pleased to see where making that investment. i'm also pleased to see that after a 12-year period when there wasn't any increase in health care research spending at all, that we continue to find money in many cases by eliminating programs that weren't working to where we will have had a 30% increase in n.i.h. funding over the last four years. and what four years to be doing
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that. understanding the things we know now about the human genome, understanding how each of us us is different from all the rest of us and each of us have a different capacity to fight disease than any other person does, if you can figure out how to maximize that, things like i am -- immuno therapy in cancer, where years ago many cancers were untreatable or by radiation or therapy, now you can figure out in your own system how to fight back. that is the n.i.h. kind of research victory we need to now continue to find out why it works on some cancers and why it doesn't work on others. this kind of research and commitment to n.i.h. not only helps individuals and helps
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families, but, frankly, at a time when health care is dramatically changing has the ability to help our economy. the economy that figures out new ways to be in this health care fight is also going to be the economy that has the job opportunities and the transformational opportunities to be part of that. not only are we looking at health care research, but also we're looking at research as it relates to the opioid epidemic. the opioid costs to the economy is now anticipated to be about $500 billion a year in lost work time, in other costs related to the opioid epidemic. this bill provides a significant targeted opioid funding. this is the fourth year in a row that we have increased our funding. and again, this is really only the second time that we've had any more money to do it with. we've had to look at programs that weren't working and cut and
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reduce and combine those programs to really fight back on the opioid epidemic which is now the, and for a couple of years has been the number-one cause of accidental death in the united states. number-one cause of accidental death in my state of missouri. the 73,000 people that died last year with overdoses exceed the number of people that died in car accidents which for decades had been the number-one cause of accidental death until opioids replaced it. we have $1.5 billion available for state opioid response grants, understanding that every state is different and, frankly, the more things that we try to do in different ways, the more likely we are to find the things that work. so we have that. more money for community health centers to expand behavioral
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health and substance abuse disorder services. there's an increase here in the ability to improve surveillance and prevention efforts in the illicit drug space or the drug abuse space. more money to research pain management. part of the n.i.h. money, $500 million, is designed to find more ways to research for better pain management and better ways to, if you have become addicted to drugs and opioids specifically, to end that addiction in an effective way. more money for the hardest hit rural communities. and some of our members have advocated strongly for a drug problem that is more of a rural drug problem on a per capita basis than it is an urban drug problem. more money for children and families who are put at risk by
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opioids. i saw a news report just this week of the number of kids focusing on kids being raised by their grandparents because their parents wound up with an opioid addiction problem that drove their life in a way that their children were not only in danger and ignored, but had to go somewhere else. this bill prioritizes education programs through a student's life, focusing on programs that provide the most flexibility again for states and communities to meet the needs of families, children, their workforce in their state. there are increases for head start, increases for title 1 support for low-income schools to help them meet academic challenges. more money to meet the goal that the federal government set decades ago where individuals with disabilities are assisted within the school context as the
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federal government determine they had to be, but the federal government has been wanting and coming up with the money that was committed to do that decades ago. we continue to make steps in the right direction there, and i think in this bill some substantial steps. the flexible funding so that schools can look at more science and math and stem education, more computer science education, more ability here for schools to take some of their funds and look at school safety. nobody wants to see kids go to school in an environment that's not as safe as we can possibly make it. this allows more flexibility for local administrators and local school boards to decide how they're going to meet that school safety need. we look at impact aid and charter schools and programs that create both competition and fairness in a way that i think
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the people we work for will like. this bill maintains the significant investments that were made last year on college access. the best way to minimize college debt is to get done, is to finish. year-round pell, something we returned to after something years of having only the normal tradition school year pell, year-round pell is maintained in this as part of our federal commitment to have people going to school. and if you're an adult going back to school, if you're somebody who's a first-time college attender in your family or for whatever reason you're paying for your own school, the most likely way to get done is don't interrupt a pattern that's working. this bill allows that to continue. we also do things that i think better prepare our workforce for the workplace. it's a bill we look forward to working with members to see how
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it can be improved, just like the amendment that we'll be voting on soon that again i'll repeat deals with suicide prevention in ways senator kennedy and senator reed have suggested and i support. and with that, mr. president, i will conclude my remarks and ask unanimous consent, mr. president, that there be two minutes of debate equally divided in the usual form prior to the vote on the kennedy amendment. also, mr. president, i have eight requests for committees to meet today -- the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blunt: thank you, mr. president. -- and the second request is eight committees to meet today during today's session of the senate. they have been approved by the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. blunt: thank you. and i would yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: so ordered. the question now occurs on the nelson amendment number 3773. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. 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?
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if not, the yeas are 95, the nays are zero. the amendment is agreed to. there will now be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote in relation to the kennedy amendment. mr. kennedy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. kennedy: mr. president, my amendment, number 3703, is pretty straightforward. it'll increase funding for the national suicide prevention lifeline by an additional $2. 8 million. it's a bipartisan amendment. it's fully offset. it's not adding money to the budget. i think it'll do a great deal to make sure that anyone battling depression knows that there's someone out there who is listening. our national suicide prevention hotline, as you know, supports a national network of local crisis centers. to date, they've answered more
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than 10 million calls from people in distress, and they estimate that over the next four years they will take 12 million calls. we underfund them. it's embarrassing how much we underfund them. again, this will add an additional $2.8 billion to their budget, and it is fully offset. with that, i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the yeas and nays are order. who yields time in opposition? without objection, all time is yielded back. the question is on the amendment. under the previous order, the question now occurs on the kennedy amendment, number 3703. yeas and nays were previously ordered. the clerk will call the roll.
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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 95, the nays are zero. the amendment is agreed to. under the previous order, the senate stands in recess untildi.
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>> we will get started. untildi. i am one of the resurgent team. my day looks somewhat different from that. i am the founder of an organization called campaign psychic. back in the day, i used to be one of the deputies inside the republican national committee. from there, i moved on and ran judicial nominations for a great guy for jacek


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